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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Blogging this week will be light. I'll be at a client site so no web-news-reading breaks. >grin< I'll try to kick out some things in the evening, if time permits.

Could this be the real "Deep Throat"?
W. Mark Felt, who retired from the FBI after rising to its second most senior position, has identified himself as the "Deep Throat" source quoted by The Washington Post to break the Watergate scandal that led to President Nixon's resignation, Vanity Fair magazine said Tuesday.

"I'm the guy they used to call Deep Throat," he told John D. O'Connor, the author of Vanity Fair's exclusive that appears in its July issue.

Felt, now 91 and living in Santa Rosa, Calif. reportedly gave O'Connor permission to disclose his identity.

Some think he's telling the truth, though Woodward and Bernstein aren't saying anything.
Carl Bernstein, who with Bob Woodward broke the story as Washington Post reporters, issued a statement neither denying nor confirming Felt's claim. Bernstein stated he and Woodward would be keeping their pledge to reveal the source only once that person dies.

NBC News commentator Chris Matthews, who wrote a book about Watergate, said he wasn't surprised, adding that Felt "has always been the leading suspect."

Friday, May 27, 2005

You think our military recruiting problems are bad...
Insurgents in Iraq attached explosives to a dog and tried to blow up a military convoy near the northern oil centre of Kirkuk.

The canine bomb went off but the only casualty was the unfortunate animal, said police. The militants wrapped an explosive belt around the dog and detonated it as the convoy passed through Dakuk, 25 miles south of Kirkuk, said the town's police chief, Col Mohammed Barzaji.

"The dog was torn apart by the explosion which caused neither injury among the soldiers nor any damage."

Col Barzaji said the bomb had been detonated outside a Shia mosque. "Eight suspects have been detained."

I wonder if this means that the terrorists are running out of martyrs.

When guns knives are outlawed, only outlaws will have knives.
A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase - and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.

They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon.

The research is published in the British Medical Journal.

The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.

They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen.

None of the chefs felt such knives were essential, since the point of a short blade was just as useful when a sharp end was needed.

Never mind the nanny-ism going on here, but imagine that some folks would like 10 British chefs to tell the rest of the UK what kinds of knives they can and can't have in the kitchen. Is this the kind of European "thinking" the gun-control left would like to see here?

Next on the list: knife sharpeners! Oh, the humanity.

Captain Ed has still more information on why poll numbers can be deceiving (especially those coming from CBS).

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Palestinian Authority is getting ready for a slate of worthy candidates in the upcoming election.
Several alarming candidates, including Marwan Barghouti and a terror chief known as "Hitler," have announced their candidacy for the upcoming PA elections.

Many terrorists currently serving time in Israeli prisons will be permitted by the Palestinian Authority to run in its upcoming parliamentary elections. Among them will apparently be convicted Fatah terrorist Marwan Barghouti, seeking a seat in the PA parliament.

Another terrorist candidate is wanted Al-Aqsa Brigade chief Jamal Abu Roub, who goes by the nickname “Hitler.”

“Hitler” told Fox News reporter Jeniffer Griffin that he expects to win a seat because he gives his people “dignity and safety.” Fox News screened footage of Abu Roub publicly executing an Arab accused of helping Israel. He has been running from Israeli security forces, but appeared in public to campaign - with the reporter - assuming Israeli forces would not apprehend him while he spoke with a Western reporter.

Asked whether he thought the nickname “Hitler” would affect his election chances, Roub said, “I got this name because of my personality. I am a guy that has a strong personality and uses violence, if needed, to respond.”

With stories like this, it can be difficult to believe that the PA really wants peace. Why do some folks not understand that?

Oh please.
The thought that John Bolton might be confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations brought one Republican senator to the brink of tears on Wednesday.

Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) choked up on the Senate floor, as he urged his colleagues to vote against Bolton's nomination on Thursday:

''I'm afraid that when we go to the [Senate] well, that too many of my colleagues -- (voice breaking) -- that too many of my colleagues are not going to understand that this appointment is very, very important to our country," Voinovich said.

So important that he didn't bother to show up for most of the committee meetings. Sorry, don't buy the sudden emotionalism.

Last Friday, I noted that a panel of liberals were going to get together and discuss media bias. Yeah, right. My prediction was...
Somehow, Newsweek jumping on a single-sourced story that is embarrassing to Bush, the military and America in general will be characterized as perfectly normal, while the reaction to it will be painted as censorship.

Well, I was pretty darn close. Here's Eric Alterman from the panel.
Alterman also expressed concern for the establishment press, which "must, on a daily basis, come face to face with an administration obsessed with secrecy and which belittles and browbeats reporters at every opportunity.

"Note how quickly [White House Press Secretary] Scott McClennan [sic] blamed Newsweek for the rioting in Afghanistan last week," he said.

"Despite the fact that his bosses presided over the invasion of Iraq and the well-documented abuses at Abu Ghraib and Bagram, the administration -- along with a whole host of ready-for-prime-time conservative talking heads -- pounced on one sentence in a short blurb, claiming that it caused irreparable harm to the 'image of America' in the Muslim world," Alterman added.

If I recall, it was the rioters that were upset at Newsweek (although anything would've been an excuse for them). When Scott McClellan notes this, it's somehow "browbeating".

True to form, these folks simply bring up the usual suspects...
In his opening statement, [Al]] Franken named "the Fox News Channel, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, the Washington Times and, of course, talk radio" as media that work in league with the Bush administration and corporate-funded think tanks.

...and ignore the boatloads of liberal bias from virtually every other media outlet. The "myopic zeal" is amazing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

While I don't think the latest pictures of Hussein in his BVDs was in good taste or newsworthy, this is a little much.
Amman - A daughter of Iraq's ex-dictator Saddam Hussein was "outraged" by the published pictures of her jailed father dressed only in underwear, an aide said on Monday.

"She was shocked and outraged because of the pictures," which appeared in a British newspaper, the aide of Raghad Hussein told AFP.

"She described the pictures as inhumane, and wondered why her father is not being treated as a human being and the father of three daughters," the source said.

If this is the worst thing that happens to him, he's still being treated extremely better than those he tortured or raped. Spare me the violin music.

The stem cell research bill looks like it's on its way to the President's desk, and the President looks like he's going to pull out his veto pen for the first time in his two terms of office. has taken an official position, although not all the Directors agree with it, and there's a healthy debate taking place over there.

One of the issues being discussed is whether or not these frozen embryos are human life. Some of this I talk about in an essay I wrote years ago, "Just One Question", which asks a single question to determine the "human-ness" of the cells of a fertilized egg. One comment on the thread notes:
We are not all in agreement that the nouns "human", "person", "baby", "child", etc. apply to a blastocyst immersed in liquid nitrogen that is never going to be implanted into a woman's uterus.

Of course, if being implanted in a uterus is the measure of a man or woman, "never say 'never'" is a maxim to live by. President Bush spoke on this subject yesterday in the presence of 21 children who had previously been immersed in liquid nitrogen.

Not in direct answer to this, but to an earlier question in the same thread, another comment gives a more practical answer to that objection:
If these embryos weren't human, the researchers wouldn't want them. It is their humanity that is of value.

I don't see that their humanity is even debatable.

But regardless of which side of that debate you're on, if it's not settled by science yet, the stem cell research bill pushes things on anyway with eyes wide shut. Given the continuing advances in scientific knowledge about life, and given the tenacity with which government programs cling to their own life, a plausible future is that we determine that these blastocysts or embryos (or whatever you want to name them) are indeed human life, but we continue to put taxpayer money towards human experimentation. What's actually more plausible is that once this government program is in place, any discovery of their further human-ness will be squelched or minimized, sacrificed on the altar of "generally accepted science"', in much the same way those who don't tow the "global warming" line are getting ostracized. Once we take this direction, the ship of state (and science) will be very slow to react, if it reacts at all, to further scientific discoveries that would stop the gravy train.

Mixing government & science is typically a dangerous thing, and tends to entrench scientific thought in order to get taxpayer money. This should be enough to be against this bill, regardless of your stance on the humanity issue.

(Cross-posted at and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

UPDATE: Turns out that indeed all the Directors at agree with the position that the President should veto the bill; hence it's an official position. I misidentified one of the dissenters in the comments (a featured and prolific contributs to RS) as one of the Directors.

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - tv screens floats in air balloons with projector in korea [#1 on Yahoo! Search]

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Having been so busy yesterday, I didn't have time to post my call to Bill Bennett in a timely manner, so here it is now.

Bill had compared the reactions to the Newseek "Quran flushing" story and the CBS "fake memo" story, and thought the former was more a reaction to the media, while the latter was a reaction to Dan Rather specifically. He had a point, but I called to note that I thought a good portion of the reaction was to the media as well, since the "myopic zeal" the CBS had while pursuing that story was an epidemic throughout most of the mainstream media. As my example, I noted that Michael Isikoff, who was on the "Quran flushing" story, had bigger and better-sourced stories spiked by Newsweek and a newspaper he used to work for. Bill corrected me, noting that it was the organizations that spiked the story, not Isikoff himself. In any event, while Dan Rather was a lightening rod for conservative criticism, I think much of the reaction was to the media in general, and explains why their numbers are dropping.

Listen to "Considerettes Radio"! [This recording from Bill Bennett's Morning in America (WGKA, Atlanta, GA on 5/23/2005 7:55am EST (362K).]

So while I was away from the news most of the day yesterday, the deal was done, and at least 3 justices are finally going to get a vote. I've been reading around the blogosphere this morning, and the general tenor is that both sides aren't entirely happy with this, but Republicans are more dismayed with it, and I think for good reason. Democrats got to make Frist look weak, didn't give up the filibuster of judicial nominees, and if they do use the filibuster again, Republicans look like bullies.

This paragraph from the article annoys me.
The agreement, crafted over the past several weeks by seven Republicans and seven Democrats, also opened the way for yes-or-no votes on two other of President Bush's judicial picks who have been in nomination limbo for more than two years - William H. Pryor Jr. for the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Janice Rogers Brown for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Basically, as "MachoNachos" over at RedState noted, "We've gone from being run by 45 senators to being run by 14." Hugh Hewitt has come up with a few silver linings among the clouds, but he's still not thrilled.

And neither am I. Just remember:
The agreement, which applies to Supreme Court nominees, said future judicial nominations should "only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances," with each Democratic senator holding the discretion to decide when those conditions had been met.

When it gets right down to it, an "extraordinary circumstance" to a Democrat is "judging while Republican".

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Homespun Bloggers Symposium question this week is:
What do you think about "The Sun" publishing the pictures of Saddam? While I haven't seen all the pictures, the one everyone seems to be talking about is the one of the former dictator in his "tighty whities."

Will this event further fan the flames of Islamic hatred for the West and the occupiers of the Coalition? Or will this blow over? Abu-Graib it's not in my book.

I think that whoever took those pictures ought to be nailed for it. Also, like the "Koran flushing" story retracted by Newsweek (even if had been true) I don't see what the newsworthiness of it was. It seems a rather petty use of newsprint.

That's really all I can say on the matter. It was stupid and never should have happened, either from the photographer.s end or from the tabloid's end. On balance I don't think it'll have much affect on "the Muslim street" (tm). The same folks who dragged Saddam's statues through the streets hitting it with their shoes would probably not mind. Others would object on a number of different grounds. But overall I don't see this making much of a difference. No new bin Ladens will be created out of this.

I'm not a big fan of polls, and this article in the Chicago Tribune explains some of why that is. Regarding polls done during the last Presidential election:
[T]he headlines were written and the issue was framed without the underlying poll data being scrutinized. The race was always "on" and likely much closer than the headlines suggested. Damage was done to the candidate perceived to be losing momentum, first to Kerry when the number of Republicans outnumbered Democrats and then to Bush when the demographics shifted back to historical patterns.

Damage was done because most people believe what they read, trusting that the data had been vetted.

There's more about polling non-Catholics about direction the Catholic church should take, polling a disproportionate number of liberals on that question, and polls about Social Security and the judicial filibusters. As Instapundit does, I'm thankful that the Tribune had the guts to come out with this story, especially one that includes this paragraph:
I don't think many would argue with the view that the media as a group is left-of-center, and I contend that this poll went unquestioned because it fit the media's Democratic-leaning views. That is, the poll jibed with the media's own hypothesis that the Catholic Church should change and so the conclusion seemed right.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - engagement rings under $100 no credit card needed to order can pay with a money order [#7 on Yahoo! Seach]

Friday, May 20, 2005

This is rich; left-of-center folks concerned about media bias.
In the wake of a firestorm on the House floor over a Newsweek article about desecrating the Quran, a dozen members of Congress have planned a forum next Tuesday on media bias, RAW STORY has learned.

Among those scheduled to testify are Air America Radio host Al Franken, Media Matters chief David Brock, AmericaBLOG's John Aravosis, a Washington bureau BBC reporter, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting's Steve Rendell and Mark Lloyd, from the progressive thinktank Center for American Progress. Wonkette's Ana Marie Cox has also been invited.

The panel will be hosted by ranking House Judiciary Committee Democrat Rep. John Conyers, Jr (D-MI).

To be honest, I don't know specifically each person or group's leaning, but of the 7 I'm pretty confident that 5 are liberal. If this is supposed to be a fair and balanced look at bias, it's neither. What's more, the conclusions have already been written. How convenient!
“I think a number of Democratic members have been disturbed about what is and what isn’t being covered in the corporate news media," a House aide said, speaking of the event. "Specifically, there’s been a great deal of disappointment of the media’s coverage of the Iraq war and the Downing Street memo and great concern about the White House’s efforts to intimidate media outlets such as they’ve done in the Newsweek matter.”

Somehow, Newsweek jumping on a single-sourced story that is embarrassing to Bush, the military and America in general will be characterized as perfectly normal, while the reaction to it will be painted as censorship. And as an Ann Coulter column noted (mentioned by Clayton Cramer), Isikoff sat much longer on better sourced stories when they were embarrassing to Clinton. This, too, will be glossed over, if mentioned at all.

And "intimidate media outlets such as they’ve done in the Newsweek matter"? Please, not even Terry Moran, who is the one who asked Scott McClellan "who made you editor of Newsweek", doesn't even go that far.
What I, in fact, agree with the substance of what Scott McClellan was saying, that it would be a good thing for Newsweek to come out try to undo some of the damage that was done by its report.

He agreed that the use of the bully pulpit to rally supporters to pressure Newsweek is perfectly legitimate. McClellan did not instruct Newsweek as to how to handle the situation, but suggested it would be a good idea to do a bit more. And Moran agreed. How about these Democrats? Think they'll consider this?

Hold not thy breath.

Via David Ridenour comes a pointer to this article, showing the consequences of not towing the global warming line.
PROFESSOR David Bellamy is likely to lose his role as the figurehead of two leading wildlife organisations because of his refusal to believe in man-made global warming.

The television presenter and conservationist is the president of Plantlife International and of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts. Both organisations have given warnings that wildlife faces a catastrophe because of global warming.

They have been acutely embarrassed to discover that while they have been campaigning to raise awareness, their president has been leading seminars and writing articles in science magazines declaring that man-made warming is a myth.

Last week Plantlife International, Britain’s leading charity dedicated to the conservation of wild plants, wrote to Bellamy to say that his term of office would end in the autumn and he would not be asked to renew it.

His presidency of the Wildlife Trusts — which has 562,000 members and manages 2,500 nature reserves — also ends in the autumn and is unlikely to be renewed.

Stephanie Hilborne, chief executive of the Wildlife Trusts, confirmed that Bellamy’s position was due to be discussed at a board meeting at the end of this month.

“We are not happy with his line on climate change. It is a very serious situation and there is a lot we need to talk about,” she said. “Our views certainly differ from our president’s and that is not a good situation to be in.”

Sounds a lot like removing a high-ranking church leader for failure to preach what the church believes. That's something I think is reasonable, and these folks are certainly free to decide who they want leading them. I just find it interesting that scientists, who say they're looking for the truth, and who generally hate being compared to religious people, don't give any quarter to those who disagree with the orthodoxy.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

This from Q&O's Jon Henke:
Make no mistake, if the positions were reversed, Republicans would not hesitate to filibuster some judicial candidates from a Democratic President, and Democrats would not hesitate to change the rules to prevent that filibuster. What is at stake here is not a Senate tradition or principle that is inherently liberal or conservative. What is at stake here is merely power; the only principle involved is utility: Republicans want to install judges who share their ideology; Democrats want to stop them.

Were the Parties involved reversed, there's no doubt whatsoever that their positions would be as fluid as their circumstances.

Sorry, but the roles have been reversed in the past. If the Republicans had truly thought the filibuster was an option for judicial nominees with majority support in the Senate, it would have happened by now. (How else do you explain Ruth Bader-Ginsberg? >grin<)

My blogger-in-law Jim Jewell did his civic duty this week and was the foreman on a jury. His post about the events of the trial is here, and here's how he ends it.
But the trial will not go away in my mind. Surprisingly, it is a heavy weight to stand in judgment on another human being. There was a solemn responsibility that we felt to rule justly. We recognized that we would be altering the life of this generally likeable man—he didn’t have any previous convictions—if we found him guilty. But he had clearly snapped, and may do it again and put these women in further danger if he was not punished for what he had clearly done.

I prayed for Alfie last night, that God might be with him and redirect his life. And I prayed for peace in the family.

Some might wonder why it had such an effect on him, since it was "just" another domestic violence case. However, while I've never sat on a jury myself, I can understand his sentiments.

Looks like Howard Dean is courting the extreme left. Look at how the centrists in his party react to him.
Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean was in Phoenix Wednesday but the state's top Democrat -- Gov. Janet Napolitano-- steered clear of the liberal bulldog during his Arizona visit.

Dean addressed a rally hosted by the Young Democrats of Arizona and attended by state Democratic Party chairman Jim Pederson. Pederson is a shopping mall developer and is considering a challenge next year to GOP U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl.

But the head of the Democratic ticket, Napolitano, was not at the Dean appearance and had no meetings scheduled with the former Vermont governor and vanquished 2004 presidential candidate.

Napolitano spokeswoman Jeanine L'Ecuyer gave the obligatory scheduling conflict as the reason for no face time with Dean. Napolitano was in Mesa Wednesday morning, appeared on the local National Public Radio affiliate for a lunchtime interview and was scheduled to meet with high-tech and business executives this afternoon regarding the "sales factor" tax cut bill.

The Democratic governor has thrived politically in Republican-oriented Arizona by appealing to moderate voters and portraying herself as a pro-business, centrist. Napolitano is up for re-election next year and could face a challenge from U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona or Marilyn Quayle, the wife of former vice president Dan Quayle.

The governor has avoided getting mixed in with the more left-wing, Michael Moore/MoveOn factions of the Democratic Party. Napolitano did not endorse Dean or another Democratic presidential hopeful last year until after Sen. John Kerry won the Arizona primary and had essentially secured the nomination.

They're running away from Dean, who's supposed to be rallying the troops. Maybe it's because of nuttiness like this:
Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean extended the American tradition of presumption of innocence to terror kingpin Osama bin Laden, but reiterated today that Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay – who has neither been indicted nor convicted – is "guilty."
"I've resisted pronouncing a sentence before guilt is found," Dean said during the 2004 Democratic primary campaign. "I still have this old-fashioned notion that even with people like Osama, who is very likely to be found guilty, we should do our best not to, in positions of executive power, not to prejudge jury trials."

That was then, this is now.
On Saturday, in an address to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention, Dean said DeLay ''ought to go back to Houston where he can serve his jail sentence," referring to allegations of unethical conduct against the GOP leader.

Today, the Democratic chief reiterated his comments – which were condemned by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. – telling the Arizona Republic: "There's corruption at the highest level of the Republican Party, and they're going to have to face up to that one of these days, because the law is closing in on Tom DeLay.

"I think he's guilty ... of taking trips paid for by lobbyists, and of campaign-finance violations during his manipulation of the Texas election process."

So much for being old-fashioned.

Christopher Hitchens notes that a New York Times article that seems to be mystified as to why the Iraqi "insurgency" keeps getting worse and worse. Hitchens suggests that the folks who are confused just need to read al Qaeda press releases.
The Bin Ladenists did have a sort of "governing program," expressed in part by their Taliban allies and patrons. This in turn reflected a "unified ideology." It can be quite easily summarized: the return of the Ottoman Empire under a caliphate and a return to the desert religious purity of the seventh century (not quite the same things, but that's not our fault). In the meantime, anyway, war to the end against Jews, Hindus, Christians, unbelievers, and Shiites. None of the "experts" quoted in the article appeared to have remembered these essentials of the al-Qaida program, but had they done so, they might not be so astounded at the promiscuous way in which the Iraqi gangsters pump out toxic anti-Semitism, slaughter Nepalese and other Asian guest-workers on video and gloat over the death of Hindus, burn out and blow up the Iraqi Christian minority, kidnap any Westerner who catches their eye, and regularly inflict massacres and bombings on Shiite mosques, funerals, and assemblies.

This is the same problem that folks had who read "Mein Kampf" and figured, "Nah, he couldn't really mean that, could he?"

Hugh Hewitt got an interview with ABC's Terry Moran, who castigated Presidential spokesman Scott McClellan about supposedly telling Newsweek what to print. I caught some of it on the radio, but the full transcript is up at Radio Blogger. This passage seemed pretty revealing:
There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong. I think that that is a hangover from Vietnam, and I think it's very dangerous.

Most of the interview was Terry trying to make the media look like the victim and defending it from any criticism from the President or his spokesman. He apparently has no idea what conservatives think about the news coverage.
HH: Why are you guys so thin-skinned? Why don't you understand the contempt the White House press corps is held in by the American public?

TM: Well, I do understand that. I understand it both on the right, people who don't want any kind of challenge to the president they support, and people on the left who think we went easy on the president, and allowed him...

HH: Terry, wait. Time out. Where do you get this, don't want any kind of challenge to the president they support. They're just sick and tired of journalists with big heads and little resumes, acting like they know how the world works.

The idea that the right doesn't want any criticism of the President is simply Kos-like in it's misunderstanding. Conservatives have been very disappointed at a some of the legislation this Republican President has put forth or signed into law (tariffs, huge expansion to Medicare, bankruptcy "reform", etc.). With regards to the war, the right has been as upset with, for instance, Abu Graib as the left, while, unlike the left, keeping it all in a larger perspective. Comparing the deaths of people over a supposedly flushed Koran, to the war dead is preposterous; liberating a country and bringing free elections is not morally equivalent to the anger of protestors. Yet when conservatives point that out, liberals suggest that the right doesn't want "any kind of challenge to the president they support". That's an amazingly biased assertion in and of itself.

You'd be interested to know that Terry's brother Rick is a conservative (the most conservative of the 10 kids in their family) and has a blog "Right Wing Nut House". He has a good post on this topic called "Blood is Thicker than Politics" that is a wonderful testament to the bond of family regardless of political persuasion.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

25 years ago today, Mount St. Helens exploded, wreaking unimaginable destruction and sending ash all over the world.
In an explosion heard 690 miles away in Canada, an ash-laden, superheated version of hell exited the mountain laterally and rioted northward at hundreds of miles per hour. It obliterated nearly everything in its path for eight miles, sandblasting old-growth forests down to bedrock. As far as 19 miles from the volcano, large evergreens were mowed down like grass. The lateral blast was followed by a vertical explosion of ash, enough to cover a football-field-size mound 150 miles high. The ash fell in measurable amounts in 11 states and soon circled Earth. Finally, mudflows overwhelmed local rivers, bullying their way down to the Columbia, where for weeks they blocked shipping lanes.

How has the fragile environment recovered? Not in a slow, linear fashion as most scientists expected, but in a far more rapid return.
In a paper published last week in the journal Science and in a forthcoming book, [Virginia Dale, a plant ecologist] and two other researchers summarize 25 years of watching recovery on the mountain.

They saw lakes, opaque with ash and choked with debris, turn clear and quickly become nutrient-rich playgrounds for frogs, toads and salamanders, which somehow showed up in the inhospitable blast zone.

In the first year after the eruption, as a handful of isolated plants called lupines emerged from avalanche debris, they saw honeybees "in the middle of nowhere, making a beeline to pollinate the plants," said Dale, who works at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

They also saw trees behaving in ways that were contrary to botany textbooks.

Dale, whose research was paid for by the National Geographic Society, said that western hemlock trees, which typically grow under heavy shade, outraced Douglas fir to sunny spots in the avalanche zone.

"We thought some plant species would come in and die off, to be replaced by others in an orderly succession," she said. "What we found was everything was happening at once. It was humbling."

Turns out planet Earth can handle this sort of disaster in stride. Time to rewrite those botany textbootks, as well as a few others. The trees did get a helping hand from >gasp< Big Lumber Corporations(tm).
Timber operators, too, have been surprised. The eruption destroyed 68,000 acres of trees on private land owned by the Weyerhaeuser Corp. It also blanketed most of the singed forest with several inches of ash, which is mostly silica and contains none of the organic nutrients needed by conifer trees.

Unsure what the ash might do, Weyerhaeuser decided to go ahead and replant, by hand, about 18 million Douglas fir seedlings. Last week, ash was still thick on the forest floor, as Bob Keller, a Weyerhaeuser manager, showed off a thriving crop of trees that is pushing 70 feet in height.

"We found that ash retained moisture and suppressed weed growth," Keller said. "This stand is taller and the diameter of the trees is greater than outside the blast area. It was a good investment to go back in and replant."

Imagine that; the profit motive can actually be compatible with conservation and ecology. Well, I suppose that's news to some folks.

The riots in Afghanistan may have been pre-planned.
JERUSALEM - Muslim protests throughout the Middle East regarding a now-retracted Newsweek report that claimed U.S. Army interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had flushed a Quran down the toilet are being organized by anti-Western jihadists and were planned several months ago with the magazine article serving as a convenient trigger, a senior Israeli security source told [WorldNetDaily].

He warned that if not quelled, the gatherings can turn into violent mass anti-American revolts.

"Jihadists have been planting the seeds for quite some time for mass anti-American protests in the Middle East, particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where pro-Taliban elements have been looking for an excuse to revolt against what they see as Western imposed governments," the security official said. "The Newsweek article was just the excuse they needed."

I've not blamed Newsweek directly for the death (and neither have some other conservative bloggers), but why give these people ammunition with irresponsible journalism?

Dan Rather's last stand has fallen.
CBS said Wednesday it is cancelling the Wednesday edition of "60 Minutes," insisting the decision was made because of poor ratings and not last fall's ill-fated story about President Bush's military service.

Dan Rather, the newsmagazine's lead correspondent, will contribute stories to the Sunday edition of "60 Minutes," said CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves.

"This was a ratings call, not a content call," Moonves said Wednesday.

This was his consolation prize after leaving the "CBS Evening News". However, given the ratings for that in the past years, it's hard to see why he got anything.

And by the way, Les: Don't you think that the ratings of "60 Minutes II" were a result of the content?

And so it begins.
Concluding it was time to act, the Republican-controlled Senate began debating one of President Bush's most contested judicial nominations Wednesday in a showdown over whether the White House can place like-minded judges on the federal bench over the objection of minority Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., called the Democratic blockade of seven Bush U.S. Appeals Court nominees "radical," and said one of those judges, Texas judge Priscilla Owen, should be confirmed despite Democratic accusations that she is a "judicial activist" who pursues an ideological agenda.

"Vote for the nominee. Vote against the nominee," Frist said. "Confirm the nominee. Reject the nominee. But, in the end, vote."

To hear Democrats decrying "judicial activism" is hypocrisy of the highest order. First of all, it's liberal judicial activism that forced Massachusetts into same-sex marriage and it's liberal judicial activism that found a right to an abortion in the Constitution.

Second, another nominee who's been tarred with the "judicial activist" brush, William Pryor, has proved by his actions that he isn't an activist. A Christian himself, he followed the law in removing the Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama courthouse, in spite of his opinion that the monument was appropriate in that setting.

But that proof is entirely glossed over by Democrats because, in truth, it's not general "judicial activism" they're worried about. They love it when it plays into their hands. They're trying to get rid of judges based on their philosophy--their "deeply held beliefs", as Sen. Shumer put it--that is a "radical departure from our history", as Ken Starr put it. (And that's how Starr really put it, vs. what you may have heard from CBS.)

Just a simple self-congratulatory post. Nothing to see here. Move on.

Last Friday, I actually got a link from Michelle Malkin and didn't even know it. Actually, she linked to the BNN version of my "Reid smears Saad" post. (Thanks so much to Technorati for the tools to find this out.) So hey, sign up to write for BNN and get noticed!

And thanks to The Sundries Shack for linking there, too. Jimmie also notes that Orrin Hatch was smeared and counters it as well.

Carl Frank, writing at Blogger News Network, explains why the "nuclear option" is actually quite properly referred to as the "Constitutional option". Looking at the text of the Constitution itself, court precedent, and historical debate on this issue by the Founding Fathers, he creates a compelling argument that, for judicial nominees, the filibuster is unconstitutional.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

An informative yet short history of the filibuster can be found at, with a pointer to a much more in-depth treatment of it.

Heh, love this suggestion.
Think about it, a Second Amendment group says: Given the violence pegged to Newsweek magazine's erroneous report, maybe it's time for the press to accept waiting periods before exercising its First Amendment rights, just as the press has backed waiting periods on law-abiding Americans before they exercise their Second Amendment rights. The Second Amendment Foundation calls Newsweek magazine's apology and retraction "lame," given the fact that people have died as a result of its May 9 "Koran-flushing" item. "Newsweek reporters and editors should be subject to the same kind of 'cooling-off' period they advocate for gun buyers," Gottlieb said. "In their heated rush to print a sensational story to discredit American soldiers and the Bush administration, they started a chain reaction that ended in worldwide acts of violence." Gottlieb wondered if Newsweek or its owner, the Washington Post, would submit stories for FBI clearance before they publish, just as gun owners must get government permission to buy a gun. "The Second Amendment is the only civil right in this country that Americans can't exercise unless they get government permission," he noted. "A Newsweek story just killed or injured more than 115 people, but they don't have to face government scrutiny before turning on the press."

Now, I don't actually think that Newsweek should have to get permission to run with stories, although I do think that, during wartime, they ought to be a bit more careful. Consider that Newsweek killed more people with their words than the overwhelming majority of gun owners have with their guns.

Oh fer goodness sake; now the NCAA is considering banning Indian nicknames.
After wrestling with the politically delicate issue for more than four years, the NCAA may be close to rendering a verdict on the use of Native American mascots and nicknames — from Indians and Braves to Redmen and Savages — by 30 of its member universities.

The governing body will conduct the first in a series of summer meetings next month and could decide by August whether it can and should impose a ban on Indian imagery, which critics charge is demeaning and even racist.

If they'll just replace those nicknames with those that supposedly "demean" whites, there won't be any problem. Ask the "Fighting Whites" (Motto: "Every thang's gonna be all white"), an intramural basketball team of "Native American and non-Indian students of the University of Northern Colorado". The idea was to satirize and protest the whole Indian mascot thing, but it backfired when (imagine this) no one cared.

I first talked about the "Fighting Whites" 2 years ago when one of the team members, noting brisk sales of T-shirts and other "Fighting Whites" gear, had this to say: "It's obvious some of the people are taking it the way it's not supposed to be taken. They think it's cool and we're honoring the white man." Silly me, I was supposed to be offended. Guess I didn't get the memo.

By the way, if this ban is passed and some of these teams need a new mascot, just remember that the "Fighting Irish" and the "Fighting Scots" are already taken.

(Cross-posted at Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

Pat Buchanan thinks conservatism--true conservatism, in his mind--is dead.
Pat Buchanan speaks of American conservatism in the past tense.

"The conservative movement has passed into history," says the one-time White House aide, three-time presidential candidate, commentator and magazine publisher.

"It doesn't exist anymore as a unifying force," he says in an interview with The Washington Times. "There are still a lot of people who are conservative, but the movement is now broken up, crumbled, dismantled."

Now, I don't know that I adhere to what Buchanan considers "conservatism", but I do find myself pretty firmly on the right side of the political spectrum, but perhaps somewhat to the left of Pat. But even from my vantage point, I have to agree that some of his points have merit.
Mr. Buchanan, a former adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan, says conservatism "is at war with itself over foreign policy, over deficit hawks versus supply-siders."

Unnamed phonies, he suggests, have infiltrated the movement.

There are "a lot of people who call themselves conservative but who, on many issues, I just don't consider as conservative. They are big-government people."

I, too, find Republicans more and more going the "big government" route in order to win elections. For those who'd then insist that there isn't all that much difference between Republicans and Democrats, I'd have to point out that the bigness of the government some Republicans want is far, far smaller than the nanny state Democrats have given us. (Witness the Social Security debate; Dems want full government control, and wail and gnash their teeth when anyone suggests you be given control of your own money.) But at the same, the Republican party does seem to be losing the social issues in general.
But it is culture and values that matter for Mr. Buchanan, who for more than 40 years has helped shape American conservatism.

In his 1992 speech to the Republican National Convention in Houston, he declared: "There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself."

He is still fighting that war.

"American culture has become toxic and poisonous," he says. "Take a look at what Hollywood produces today and what it produced in the 1950s. The alteration is dramatic."

He suggests that in some respects, traditionalists might be fighting for a lost cause. "We say we won a great victory by defeating gay marriage in 11 state-ballot referenda in November," he says. "But I think in the long run, that will be seen as a victory in defense of a citadel that eventually fell."

As he later says, "I can't say we won the cultural war, and it's more likely we lost it."

The evidence? He says it was all over the tube, in prime time, at last year's Republican National Convention, which featured California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York Gov. George E. Pataki and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, all social liberals.

I think the big reason the same-sex marriage amendments passed so overwhelmingly is that the left turned up the heat to fast on the boiling frog. Had the move to same-sex marriage been more gradual, these votes may have never been held, let alone passed.

Unlike Buchanan, however, I do hold out optimism for the future, and partially because of the same-sex marriage issue, and partially because the blogosphere is allowing conservatives to route around the MSM, who won't report well enough on conservative issues or present them in a fair light. Oh yes, the left certainly has it's bloggers, but many of them are just echo chambers and apologists for the MSM (e.g. Kos' backing of CBS's and Newsweek's irresponsibility). The election of more and more Republicans and all levels of government is a testament to this. However, to many of the Republican politicians themselves are trying to play the same game as the Democrats are with their constituents; vote for me, and I'll send home the gravy train. That's not how to run a government, but I think the blogosphere, and citizen action via the Internet in general, is going to hold these guys accountable.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Today on "Considerettes Radio", I talked with Carol Plat Liebau and Peter Robinson who are filling for Hugh Hewitt while he's on vacation. The topic was the recent NARAL ad protraying John Roberts as supporting abortion-clinic bombers. According to the web site, this portrayal is false. However, CNN is still going to run the ad.

Why would CNN run an ad that says is false? Maybe they don't put much credence in what says. Well, except that during the 2004 election campaign, they went repeatedly to that web site to find information for debunking some of the candidates' claims. And now all of a sudden, when there's a concerted liberal effort to discredit a conservatie Supreme Court nominee, they ignore it? Sounds like a rather convenient a change of heart.

Listen to "Considerettes Radio"! [This recording from The Hugh Hewitt Show (WGKA, Atlanta, GA) on 8/10/2005 6:35pm EST (277K).]

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Can having an abortion put your future babies at risk? A new study says most emphatically "yes".
Having an abortion almost doubles a woman's risk of giving birth dangerously early in a later pregnancy, according to research that will provoke fresh debate over the most controversial of all medical procedures.

A French study of 2,837 births - the first to investigate the link between terminations and extremely premature births - found that mothers who had previously had an abortion were 1.7 times more likely to give birth to a baby at less than 28 weeks' gestation. Many babies born this early die soon after birth, and a large number who survive suffer serious disability.

The research leader, Dr Caroline Moreau, an epidemiologist at the Hôpital de Bicêtre in Paris, said the results of the study, which appear in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, provided conclusive evidence of a link between induced abortion and subsequent pre-term births.

Will women be warned about this?
A spokesman for Marie Stopes International, which is the largest provider of abortions outside the NHS, said that women seeking terminations were not told of increased risks of premature births "because so far, they have not been established".

A previous study was inconclusive, but this one makes the link quite clear, according to the story. The question now is, will all those pro-abortion advocates who claim to care so much for the mother let her know the full ramifications of her choice?

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - lybian recipes [#22 on AltaVista]

Friday, May 13, 2005

You've heard of cutting of your nose to spite your face? The Border Patrol is cutting off much more than that.
U.S. Border Patrol agents have been ordered not to arrest illegal aliens along the section of the Arizona border where protesters patrolled last month because an increase in apprehensions there would prove the effectiveness of Minuteman volunteers, The Washington Times has learned.

More than a dozen agents, all of whom asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, said orders relayed by Border Patrol supervisors at the Naco, Ariz., station made it clear that arrests were "not to go up" along the 23-mile section of border that the volunteers monitored to protest illegal immigration.

"It was clear to everyone here what was being said and why," said one veteran agent. "The apprehensions were not to increase after the Minuteman volunteers left. It was as simple as that."

Another agent said the Naco supervisors "were clear in their intention" to keep new arrests to an "absolute minimum" to offset the effect of the Minuteman vigil, adding that patrols along the border have been severely limited.

Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar at the agency's Washington headquarters called the accusations "outright wrong," saying that supervisors at the Naco station had not blocked agents from making arrests and that the station's 350 agents were being "supported in carrying out" their duties.

Deny as they might, when more than a dozen agents all agree that this was the message, someone higher up needs to be relieved from their position. After it is proven that the border can be secure but it isn't, sounds like they're going out of their way to manufacture data to "prove" the opposite. Here's another example of the differences in thought between management and the guys on the line.
The Naco supervisors blamed the volunteers for unnecessarily tripping sensors, disturbing draglines and interfering with the normal operations of the agents. They said that their impact on illegals was "negligible" and that civilians should leave immigration enforcement "to the professionals."

Several field agents credited the volunteers with cutting the flow of illegal aliens in the targeted Naco area, saying the number of apprehended illegals dropped from an average of 500 a day to less than 15 a day.

When you can't argue the facts, create your own. President Bush needs to step up to the plate and show some leadership here. Fighting for your judicial nominees is great, but don't forget the borders, please.

Where to start on this one. Here's the source piece from the Washington Times about Harry Reid hinting at confidential FBI information on a judicial nominee.
Minority Leader Harry Reid strayed from his prepared remarks on the Senate floor yesterday and promised to continue opposing one of President Bush's judicial nominees based on "a problem" he said is in the nominee's "confidential report from the FBI."

Those highly confidential reports are filed on all judicial nominees, and severe sanctions apply to anyone who discloses their contents. Less clear is whether a senator could face sanctions for characterizing the content of such files.

"Henry Saad would have been filibustered anyway," Mr. Reid said on the floor yesterday, about the Michigan Appeals Court judge who is nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

"All you need to do is have a member go upstairs and look at his confidential report from the FBI, and I think we would all agree that there is a problem there," Mr. Reid continued.

Republican staff members and supporters of Mr. Bush's nominees were outraged.

"Can you think of a better way to trash someone's reputation?" Sean Rushton of the conservative Committee for Justice asked after seeing a transcript of the remarks. "Say that there is bad stuff from an FBI investigation in a file somewhere and leave that hanging. This is character assassination of the lowest order and completely improper."

I'll second that emotion. Reid knew full well he couldn't give out specifics, so he opted to let folks' imagination run wild. This is a smear, plain and simple.

Well, OK, apparently not simple enough for Kos. First, Kos calls this story a smear on Harry Reid, of all people. Look, if quoting you verbatim is a smear, you can't blame the reporter. What's Kos' reply? Smear Charles Hurt, the reporter. He quotes blogger Matt Singer of "Left in the West", who "did some digging", and notes that the only reporting Hurt's done on DeLay are favorable to DeLay. Yet if you actually read them, they're pretty balanced. One of them even mentions the payment for one of the trips coming from Jack Abramoff, which both puts DeLay in a bad light and also runs counter to Singer's claim that Hurt is easy on Abramoff as well. And that's just in perusing the first 3 entries in the Google search Singer suggests.

Secondly, Singer goes after one of the sources Hurt uses in his piece; Manuel Miranda. Hurt has apparently used him quite a bit in the past. OK, let's put him aside for the moment. What about Sean Rushton, Sen. Orrin Hatch or Michael Bouchard, who also appear in the article? Or even Mr. Reid himself, the prime source? Hurt's information wasn't single-sourced, and besides, the main thrust of the article are Reid's words on the Senate floor. The best Singer and Kos can do is take jabs at the opinions of one of Hurt's sources for a comment and in doing that suppose that they've ruined the story's credibility. Kos calls Hurt a "partisan hack", but at least Hurt reported facts and reaction to those facts. Kos and Singer simply say that one guy gets quoted too much, and misrepresent Hurt's writing. That's partisan hackery.

Utterly absent from Kos' post is any reference or reaction to the actual quote by Reid. So he ignores the crux of the matter, and yells about all sorts of side issues, and he still refers to a "Right Wing Noise Machine"? Please, with all the noise Kos and his folks make, that meme either needs to be properly attributed to the the Left Wing, or it should be retired.

(Cross-posted at and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

UPDATE: Matt Singer responds, and I reply in his comment section. As is typical, anyone who leans slightly to the right sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard to him, but he's completely deaf to left-wing bias.

And welcome to Radio Equalizer readers!

Via Amy Ridenour comes a link to this Claudia Rosett article about the UN Oil-for-Bribes Palaces Food program. Some folks who've been the most vocal about not getting kickbacks from Hussein should be worried.
The latest insights into this cosmos of U.N.-fostered corruption come by way of a bipartisan report just released by the Senate Permanent Subcomittee on Investigations, or PSI, led by [Sen. Norm] Coleman. In detail, with supporting documentation, the report shows how Saddam Hussein, via Oil-for-Food, gave rights to buy millions of barrels of underpriced Iraqi oil to two politicians who supported his regime: former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua and British Member of Parliament George Galloway.

Why should they be worried?
That’s news, because both Pasqua and Galloway have denied allegations that they received any such riches from Saddam’s regime. Galloway last year won a libel suit in the U.K., against the British Daily Telegraph, over similar allegations — which were based on documentation different from that produced by Senate investigators.

Welcome to the tip of the iceberg. Remember how some countries were bucking to keep Saddam in power? Here's why.
Another of the report’s findings is especially interesting in light not only of Saddam’s subversion of Oil-for-Food to bust sanctions, but also as context for the hot debate within the U.N. Security Council just prior to the U.S.-led military overthrow of Saddam in 2003. The report explains that the prime targets of Saddam’s scheme to buy influence were “individuals and entities from countries on the U.N. Security Council.” Both documents and interviews with former senior officials of Saddam’s regime confirm that “The regime steered a massive portion of its allocations toward Security Council members that were believed by the Hussein regime to support Iraq in its efforts to lift sanctions — namely, Russia, France, and China.”

And yet there are still folks who hold the United Nations in such high esteem and insist that it's the only body that should be allowed to determine who can and can't go to war or how disputes should be settled. What it winds up being is a one-stop-shopping mall for bribery.

And this is interesting:
Citing interviews with Saddam’s former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan, and an unnamed former senior Iraqi official, the Senate report says that Iraq's Baathist regime, in doling out rights to buy cheap oil through the U.N. program, “gave priority to foreign officials, journalists and even terrorist entities.” Ramadan, Saddam’s former vice president, told Senate investigators that such oil allocations were “compensation for support.”

Ms. Rosett lists some of the terrorist organizations, but I've emphasized a different word; journalists. Now that's a list of names I'd really like to see. I have a feeling they'd not all be from Al Jazeera.

This post is just a very light version of all the information Claudia Rosett has been uncovering about this scam. This latest report is yet another blockbuster. RTWT

(RTWT = Read The Whole Thing)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

They're upping the ante again. First, same-sex marriage advocates did an end-run around the legislature to the courts. Those opposed met them on that field and trounced them handily. In Nebraska, the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage got 70% of the vote. Augustine at notes that those in favor are now taking their case to the feds. He quotes Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning who testified about this to the Senate Judiciary Committee
In 2000, more than 70% of Nebraskans voted to amend the Nebraska Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. In 2003, the ACLU and Lambda Legal Foundation together sued Nebraska in federal court, arguing that the Nebraska amendment unconstitutionally denies gay and lesbian persons equal access to the political system. This is the first federal court challenge to a state’s DOMA law.

My office moved to dismiss the suit, but last November, the Court denied our motion to dismiss. The language in the Court’s order signals that Nebraska will very likely lose the case at trial.

Thus Democrats who sang the "will of the people" song in an extremely tightly contested 2000 presidential election are now willing to ignore a landslide vote to force their will on a vast majority of Americans. You know, of course, that when they get met on that field, they'll complain and sue and everything, just like they did at the state level, but that's OK. We can take their childishness in stride and continue the fight. Bruning sums it up.
Unfortunately, in spite of efforts in states such as Nebraska to preserve the traditional definition of marriage, recent court rulings have created a legal domino effect that may impose a national policy on gay marriage.

I am not here to debate with you the moral issue of whether same sex marriage is right or wrong. I am here because of the reality that four judges in Massachusetts could eventually invalidate Nebraska’s ban on same sex marriages.

In short, I believe the people of the United States would prefer to have policy decided by their elected representatives, and not by appointed judges.

They would, and they've done everything by the rules. When gay rights activists and the ACLU change the rules, we've adapted and won (receiving the requisite name calling). Now they're changing them again. It's time to either get the judiciary to wake up, or we'll just have to adapt again. I fear it'll have to be the latter. I hate chipping away further and further at states' rights, but the ACLU would rather fight one battle than 50, and states' rights are the biggest impediment to that. In their eyes, we ought to have one-size-fits-all laws, and that's just a recipe for disaster.

Anti-semitism is still alive and well in France.
Metz, France - Scores of tombstones were overturned in the Jewish cemetery at Sarreguemines in the eastern French region of Moselle, a police chief said on Wednesday.

The profanation, in which about 65 of the 500 graves in the cemetery were knocked down and piled on top of one another, occurred between Sunday and Tuesday and was discovered by a municipal employee. The cover was lifted entirely off one of the graves.

Police chief Alfred Bickel said a forensic unit was seeking fingerprints and other evidence at the scene.

In addition, a swastika was carved at the entrance to a Christian cemetery nearby, police said.

In February, the human rights monitoring body of the Council of Europe said it was concerned about a sharp increase in anti-Semitism in France.

How can this be happening in such a "progressive" country like France? Liberals keep trying to make the U.S. in Europe's image, but more and more it doesn't sound like a place I'd like to live.

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - original cast wanted for silence of the lambs [#7 on Yahoo! Search]

(What I find very interesting is that most of these search engines give you some idea of the context of the words you search for, and if you were really looking for information about the cast of the movie, you could tell from the context of my entry in the search that my page had absolutely nothing to do with it. And yet, the web surfer came here. Hey, glad you have you, although...very interesting.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

This puts the lie to the Democrats' call for a return to the Fairness Doctrine.

Two congressional Democrats called Wednesday for an investigation into recent activities by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, suggesting that efforts by the Republican chairman of the private nonprofit to add more conservative programs onto PBS may violate federal law.

In a letter released Wednesday evening, Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., and Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., asked CPB Inspector General Kenneth A. Konz to investigate the contracting, hiring and policies of the corporation, which distributes federal funds to public television stations. Both congressmen are ranking Democrats on committees that have oversight of public television.

They called recent actions taken by CPB Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson ``disturbing'' and ``extremely troubling.''

A CPB spokesman could not be reached for comment. But in a recent interview with the LOS ANGELES TIMES, Tomlinson defended his efforts to expand conservative perspectives on PBS, saying he merely wants to increase the network's audience.

Bill Moyers has been giving us hard-left slant on news and opinion for years with nary an investigation like this. Again, "fairness" to them means the suppression of conservative voices. They decry the large audiences of right-wing talk radio, but are utterly deaf to left-wing monopolization.

It's official. While I've been able to do some grilling in the backyard while some of my northern family were still running their snow blowers, I'd count today as the first official grilling of the 2005 season. Just got the pool up again (a liner on PVC piping, nothing much), did the annual repatching of the known holes, and started the process of dumping the requisite chemicals in it to make it swimmable. I have mild Italian sausage on the grill this evening.

I have the usual nature sounds from my woodsy backyard complete with pond (small lake..I dunno, it's at that awkward size). But along with the chirping of birds, I have the sounds of suburbia; plane flying overhead, a rather low news helicopter at one point, low bass thumping from neighbor's music, and the occasional train (we're a couple miles from a rail line).

Well, these sausages cook up pretty quick, so it's upstairs with them and suppertime. See you back here again.

Al-Qaeda's last stand?
The war in Iraq is increasingly looking more like a showdown with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda followers than a battle primarily against Saddam Hussein loyalists.

The shift is making the fight a focal point of the U.S. global war against Islamic terrorists and one that might dictate whether the U.S. wins or loses, said a senior official and an outside expert.

"If they fail in Iraq, Osama and his whole crew are finished," said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, a military author and analyst.

Remember this when the left talks about the "insurgency" in Iraq. They try to make it sound like Iraqis themselves are rising up against the Coalition when in reality the vast majority are coming in from the outside.
The changing dynamic was highlighted this week when the U.S. military launched a major offensive in western Iraq, primarily against foreign jihadists who crossed the border with Syria to join the al Qaeda network in Iraq led by Abu Musab Zarqawi. In a troubling sign, U.S. officers said Zarqawi's terrorists seemed well-trained and well-equipped.

They're throwing everything they have into this, which lends credence to the thought that they see this as a make-or-break situation.
The U.S. offensive, code named Operation Matador, entered its third day yesterday in the dusty border towns west of Baghdad near Syria. The command said three Marines and more than 100 enemy fighters have been killed.

"In the Muslim world and extremist world, this fight for Iraq is their key battle," said Gen. McInerney. "If they lose it, they lose the war. And so the imams are inciting young people, not particular well-educated, to head to Iraq. Most are going through Syria via Damascus.

"This is why Iraq is such a fundamental part of the global war on terrorism. When we finally defeat Muslim extremists, it will be the battle in Iraq that defeats them."

The war's changing nature is also illustrated by the list of the high-ranking enemy announced as captured by the new Baghdad government. Virtually all of those caught since December have been identified as lieutenants of the Jordanian-born Zarqawi, not operatives for Iraq's former dictator Saddam Hussein.

It's not all good news (the report talks about the new terror cells that Zarqawi has recruited), but it's not nearly as dismal as some would have you believe. We're making great strides in killing terrorists (while they are there rather than here), and the enemy is getting increasingly desperate.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

From the Blogger News Network comes this editorial by "Superhawk" about Bush's trip to Georgia (the one near Russia, that is). After noting a news story about the huge outpouring of support from the gathered crowed, Superhawk asks:
Why is it that the people in countries that until just a few short years ago were groaning under the yoke of communist dictatorships seem to be the only ones who truly understand what Bush is fighting for in Iraq and around the world?

Are people in France, Germany, Scandanavia and elsewhere in the increasingly apt term "old Europe" smarter than their cousins in eastern Europe? Are they more resistant to American propaganda? Are they nuts?

I think it's pretty clear that the people in the newly freed republics of eastern and central Europe see a kindred soul when they look and listen to George Bush. What sounds like empty rhetoric when the President speaks of freedom to the cynical mountebanks and dilletantes of western Europe and our own home-grown moonbats, those words have extraordinary meaning and resonate deeply among peoples who only recently experienced only oppression and brutality.

What do Georgians know that many American lefties don't know? They know what it's like to live under actual oppression, vs. those in the U.S. who think that somehow we're living under the boot of some dictator.

A little perspective, people.

One month from a nuclear Iran?
Iran is following the path laid out by North Korea. The goal is to get whatever assistance the world will give to develop nuclear power for "peaceful purposes." Once the "point of no return" is reached and the country has everything necessary to make an atomic bomb with no further assistance, then the rogue regime can thumb its nose at the world. Since it is much more difficult to disarm a country that possesses nuclear weapons capability, the game depends upon the success of lying long enough to drag out the process until the point of no return is reached.

Israeli intelligence claims that Iran will reach the "point of no return" in June – one month from now. From then until the mullahs actually have a deliverable atomic weapon is anybody's guess, from a matter of months to one year, to the end of the decade. Intelligence experts appear to disagree about how long this interval will take.

The experience with Kim Jong Il should have convinced even the liberals that the process of negotiating with rogue regimes is a fool's game. Terrorists are patient.

Just ask Jimmy Carter.

In the meantime, while Europe fiddles, Hans Blix (I was hoping I'd never have to type that name again) is blaming the U.S. for the Iran & N. Korea situations.
Washington isn't taking "the common bargain" of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as seriously as it once did, and that's dimming global support for the U.S. campaign to shut down the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector said.

Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, by questioning the value of treaties and international law, has also damaged the U.S. position, Hans Blix said.

"There is a feeling the common edifice of the international community is being dismantled," the Swedish arms expert said.

When it comes to Iran and North Korea, Bolton is entirely correct. We are not the problem; it's people who think you can negotiate with rogue states, and who really believe that they'll actually abide by the negotiations, that are the problem.

It doesn't work that way. Just ask...well, you know.

The 100th day after a President takes office is, by recent tradition, a milestone. How about the 100th day after a big promise from a guy who lost the presidential election? PoliPundit, the guy who brought you the timer that has been counting these 100 days, knows how to celebrate; fax the guy a reminder.

Monday, May 09, 2005

I've been very delinquent of late noting the weekly "Best of the Homespun Bloggers" post. This week's items cove Darfur, the Good Humor man, and the dangers of pizza delivery.

A bit of advice for the Democratic Party from Walter Cronkite:
I've got some other exceedingly interesting pieces up my sleeve, like a proposal that the Democratic Party organize a convention this year to debate and resolve a platform that would provide the confused electorate some idea of what the party stands for…a regretfully missing ingredient in the politics of the moment.

Um, Walter, they already have these sorts of things, every 4 years. They're called "political conventions", and the Democrats did, in fact, have one last year. Problem is, they did tell the country what the party stands for; hatred of Republicans, more illegal immigration, a million more abortions this year, hatred of Republicans, higher taxes, propping up failing public schools (and failing Iraqi dictators), and hatred of Republicans. They told the country what they stood for and the majority of the country rejected it.

So then...what's your next bit of advice?

A dismal view of the future of blogs from Bryan Preston.
As a tool and a medium for upsetting the MSM, blogs are about to become as fashionable and interesting as pet rocks and hula hoops.

Two points of evidence:

1. The Huffington Post is now live, dull and insipid. But because it brings so many of the glitterati under one blog roof, it will soon dominate the blogosphere in a way only Yankee fans can appreciate and respect domination. Well, up to this year anyway.

2. The New York Times may soon start its own blog. When the Old Gray Liar gets in on a fad, that fad is over.

I'm not as down on the future of blogs as Bryan is, but I do see his point. When the big companies get into a business, the little guys soon get forgotten. When Microsoft gave away Internet Explorer with Windows, Netscape's incredible lead was destroyed. But that doesn't mean permanent dominance; witness the Firefox browser and how it's making inroads.

First of all, the blogs he's talking about are opinion / news blogs. Thus they'll have no effect at all on blogs like Gizmodo that report on other things (in this case, the latest in electronic gadgets). They'll still be around and kicking. They'll also have no effect on diaries, music, or photo-blogs, and the thousands that are like them. So these folks have nothing to fear from Arianna.

What I suspect Bryan means is that opinion / news blogs (like his and mine, for example) could go the way of the dodo as the big sites start to have the eyeballs gravitate towards them. This could very well happen if these new blogs prove themselves in the marketplace. As Hugh Hewitt has said in the past, a blog's stock in trade is its credibility with its core audience, both those who agree and disagree with the point of view presented. If it lacks or loses that, it's a goner in terms of readership. Now, while I personally think that readers of the Daily Kos ought to have more sense than to read some of the rantings of a guy who says "Screw 'em" to folks who support our military, Markos does have an inside track on a lot of what goes on in the Democratic Party and his screeds against anything Republican certainly hits a nerve among his readership. Thus, big name blogs, I think, will certainly hang in there just fine. Some single-writer blogs will probably adapt to group blogging to compete with the likes of Huffington.

As to those farther down the blogging ecosystem, I have a feeling that a lot of the writing is cathartic. I know mine is. (It's the only explanation as to why I've kept doing this for 3 years for my 40 visitors a day. >grin<) I think many of us will get pruned away as our small audience shrinks, but I don't want to discount the obscure blogger who continues on to try to make a difference, hoping to catch a few eyeballs who find him or her via a search engine.

But dead? I don't think so. The blogosphere may be in its heyday with respect to the number of folks doing it, but I don't think it's going to be a quaint early-21st-century relic. Folks have been coming up with ways to get their opinions out for millennia, and I don't think that's going to change. Whether it's via what we now consider a "blog" or something else remains to be seen, but the citizen pundit/journalist is here to stay, I think.

UPDATE: Though perhaps Arianna isn't here to stay. "LA Weekly" has an early return, but it's still very early.

(This entry also appears on Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

Friday, May 06, 2005

The tax cuts are still generating positive economic news.
The nation's economy churned out 274,00 jobs in April, the Labor Department reported today, many more than expected.

The robust surge in employment, reflecting a positive outlook among employers about the immediate future, conflicted with other recent data suggesting a slowdown or "soft patch" in the country's economic expansion.

In fact, the Labor Department revised some of that data today, saying that 93,000 more jobs were created in February and March than previously reported.

"What soft patch?" said Steven Stanley, of Greenwich Capital Management, in a note to clients. "After a weather-induced dip in job growth in March, hiring roared back in April. . . . The totality of this report is incredibly robust."

"It shows that the economy has a lot of underlying strength," Gary Thayer, chief economist of A.G. Edwards and Sons Inc. in St. Louis, Mo. told the Associated Press.

"It suggests that the cooling off we've seen is not a significant problem. High energy prices are hurting confidence, but don't appear to be hurting job creation," he added.

April's job growth was distributed widely across the non-farm economy, with particular strength in construction, mining, food services and health care, today's report said.

And the increase in jobs, with more folks paying taxes, would help explain the increase in tax receipts. If you believed the Democrats back when they were dissing the tax cuts, you'd be bewildered at this point, thinking that none of this should be happening. Worse, they're still suggesting that we repeal the tax cuts when it's those extra dollars in people's pockets that are revving the economy back up and giving businesses a reason to do more hiring.

Global warming might be an effect of a cleaner atmosphere. No, really.
Reversing a decades-long trend toward "global dimming," Earth's surface has become brighter since 1990, scientists are reporting today.

The brightening means that more sunlight - and thus more heat - is reaching the ground. That could partly explain the record-high global temperatures reported in the late 1990's, and it could accelerate the planet's warming trend.

"We see the dimming is no longer there," said Dr. Martin Wild, a climatologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and the lead author of one of three papers analyzing sunlight that appear in today's issue of the journal Science. "If anything, there is a brightening."

Some scientists have reported that from 1960 to 1990, the amount of sunshine reaching the ground decreased at a rate of 2 percent to 3 percent per decade.

In some places, the brightening of the 1990's has more than offset the dimming, Dr. Wild said. In other places, like Hong Kong, which lost more than a third of its sunlight, the dimming has leveled off, but skies remain darker than in the past. In a few places, like India, the dimming trend continues, he said.

The new papers also call attention to a major gap in the understanding of climate. Scientists do not exactly know what caused the dimming and the brightening, or how they affect the rest of the climate system.

There's that phrase again: "Scientists do not exactly know...." But many certainly want to impose policies based on it. Scott Ott of the satire site ScrappleFace hits the nail on the head yet again.
"However," the U.N. report states, "the new evidence that more sunlight pouring through a cleaner stratosphere may have spurred the temperature increases shouldn't cause people to lose faith in global warming. In others words, don't let contradictory evidence stand in the way of your conclusions. We urge the nations of the world to approve the Kyoto protocols on global warming while there's still time."

Right on, Scott.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

This is somehow...surprising?
Talks between Iran and the EU's three biggest powers on the future of Tehran's nuclear program are near collapse as Iran threatens to resume sensitive atomic activities, European diplomats said on Wednesday.

In a deal reached with Britain, Germany and France last November, Tehran agreed to suspend all nuclear fuel-related activities while both sides tried to negotiate a long-term solution regarding Iran's atomic ambitions.

But Iran, unhappy with the slow pace of talks, said over the weekend it would resume some work related to enrichment, a process of purifying uranium to use in nuclear power plants or atomic weapons.

"It doesn't look good," a diplomat from one of the three nations told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "The talks could collapse."

And fear of such a collapse is exactly what Iran needs to hold over the EU's head. Europe's motto lately has been, "Speak softly and carry a wet noodle", hoping that talking nice and making big promises will keep madmen from using nukes. Well, just ask Jimmy Carter how North Korea's holding up their end of the bargain. However, some folks have the guts to prepare for what may be required.
JERUSALEM – With Tehran announcing it will shortly resume some nuclear activities in spite of ongoing negotiations with European countries, a private report that was issued to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon urging an American or Israeli pre-emptive strike against Iran has been gaining some steam here.

"Iran is determined to pursue all legal areas of nuclear technology, including (uranium) enrichment, exclusively for peaceful purposes," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told a United Nations conference yesterday. He was the fourth Iranian official to make such remarks the past few days.

An EU negotiation team represented by Germany, France and the UK, which has been seeking guarantees Iran will not use its nuclear program to develop weapons, said if Tehran follows through with the threat to enrich uranium it could refer the country to the U.N. Security Council for punitive action.

An action almost certain to be blocked by Russia, because...
Reports continue to stream in that Iran – with the assistance of Russia – has been moving ahead with its nuclear program. Several reactors with advanced production capabilities have been built, and Russia has been contemplating providing Tehran with rods that are able to enrich uranium, a deal that was first reported last September.

Russia also recently trained a group of senior Iranian nuclear scientists and has installed a mobile anti-missile system to protect Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor, with similar systems allegedly in the works for other Iranian nuclear facilities, including a facility in central Iran.

We can't rely on the UN to keep the world safe from a nuclear Iran; it's that simple.

James Taranto is hitting on all cylinders in his essay "Why I'm Rooting For The Religious Right" (free registration required for link), which explains why he's doing that in spite of not belonging to that group. This is just a group of quotes from the article that I have to give a hearty "Amen" to.
I am not a Christian, or even a religious believer, and my opinions on social issues are decidedly middle-of-the-road. So why do I find myself rooting for the "religious right"? I suppose it is because I am put off by self-righteousness, closed-mindedness, and contempt for democracy and pluralism--all of which characterize the opposition to the religious right.
For the most part, the religious right has responded in good civic-minded fashion: by organizing, becoming politically active, and supporting like-minded candidates. This has required exquisite discipline and patience, since changing court-imposed policies entails first changing the courts, a process that can take decades. Even then, "conservative" judges are not about to impose conservative policies; the best the religious right can hope for is the opportunity to make its case through ordinary democratic means.
Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, recently framed the abortion debate in this way: "What we want to debate is who gets to choose: Tom DeLay and the federal politicians? Or does a woman get to make up her own mind?" He also vowed that "we're going to use Terri Schiavo," promising to produce "an ad with a picture of Tom DeLay, saying, 'Do you want this guy to decide whether you die or not? Or is that going to be up to your loved ones?' " Many voters who aren't pro-life absolutists have misgivings about abortion on demand and about the death of Terri Schiavo. By refusing to acknowledge the possibility of thoughtful disagreement or ambivalence, Mr. Dean is giving these moderates an excellent reason to vote Republican.

Curiously, while secular liberals underestimate the intellectual seriousness of the religious right, they also overestimate its uniformity and ambition. The hysterical talk about an incipient "theocracy"--as if that is what America was before 1963, when the Supreme Court banned prayer in public schools--is either utterly cynical or staggeringly naive.
And the religious right includes not only Christians of various stripes but also Orthodox Jews and even conservative Muslims. Far from the sectarian movement its foes portray, it is in truth a manifestation of the religious pluralism that makes America great. Therein lies its strength.

This is a wake-up call to moderates, and even socially conservative Democrats, as to how liberals are trying to "frame the debate", as opposed to just debate the issues. They use labels like "extremist" and "theocrat" to avoid reasoning; dissing instead of discussing. That's all they have left, apparently.

I thought all those tax cuts would reduce the federal coffers.
After three years of rising federal budget deficits, a surge of April tax receipts brought unexpected good news to fiscal policymakers -- the tide of government red ink appears to be receding.

The Treasury Department this week reported there would be a $54 billion swing from projected deficit to surplus in the April-to-June quarter, after an unanticipated gush of tax payments poured into the Treasury before the April 15 deadline. That prompted private forecasters to lower their deficit projections for the fiscal year that ends in September.

Yes, there's always a surge in April as folks settle up the taxes from the previous calendar year, but if you believed what Democrats keep saying about the tax cuts you'd have thought that the April take would be lower. Instead there were billions more than anticipated.

Here's more about the turnaround, but I want to highlight a sentence below in bold to ensure some folks don't miss it.
April, however, turned out to be a far better month than anticipated. Taxpayers were confronted with unexpected tax bills, many from capital gains and the alternative minimum tax, a parallel income tax system designed to hit the rich but that is increasingly pinching the middle class. The Treasury announced this week that it will repay $42 billion in federal debt in the third April-to-June quarter, instead of borrowing $12 billion.

Remember, when Democrats say they just want to increase taxes on the rich, hold on to your wallet. A change in capital gains taxes does not just hit the rich. If you have capital, they want to gain from it.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Some classic ScrappleFace:
Elderly residents still recall stories of the dust clouds that rolled through Salina as herds of Darwinists thundered across the Kansas plains unchallenged by competition -- unquestionably dominating, and some say destroying, their environment.

But as selective pressures mounted, Darwinists forced to fend for themselves in the natural arena of logic often fell prey to scrappy skeptics who contended for equal space in the Darwinist's natural habitat.

Some celebrate the success of the skeptics as healthy for the overall environment, while concerned conservationists race against the clock to raise funds and public awareness to rescue and shelter the Darwinist.

As they were driven from the public square in recent decades, Darwinists sought shelter in classrooms where they received protection from competing species and intellectual predators.

There's more, with relevant links. Too funny, and too right.

Is science really all about getting at the truth, or has the majority of today's scientific community been sucked into playing politics?
Two of the world's leading scientific journals have come under fire from researchers for refusing to publish papers which challenge fashionable wisdom over global warming.

A British authority on natural catastrophes who disputed whether climatologists really agree that the Earth is getting warmer because of human activity, says his work was rejected by the American publication, Science, on the flimsiest of grounds.

A separate team of climate scientists, which was regularly used by Science and the journal Nature to review papers on the progress of global warming, said it was dropped after attempting to publish its own research which raised doubts over the issue.

The controversy follows the publication by Science in December of a paper which claimed to have demonstrated complete agreement among climate experts, not only that global warming is a genuine phenomenon, but also that mankind is to blame.

With the Kyoto treaty, there's a lot of politics involved in the global warming debate. Well, I call it a debate. Apparently major science publications would rather stifle dissent. In doing so, they become complicit in the myth that the scientific community is united in their view of global warming.
The author of the research, Dr Naomi Oreskes, of the University of California, analysed almost 1,000 papers on the subject published since the early 1990s, and concluded that 75 per cent of them either explicitly or implicitly backed the consensus view, while none directly dissented from it.

Dr Oreskes's study is now routinely cited by those demanding action on climate change, including the Royal Society and Prof Sir David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser.

However, her unequivocal conclusions immediately raised suspicions among other academics, who knew of many papers that dissented from the pro-global warming line.

Keep that in mind when you hear the myth.

(via Pejmanesque)

If you really believe this...
Iran is determined to carry out uranium enrichment and rejects the idea that ceasing this activity can be the basis for objective guarantees that it is not making nuclear weapons, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi told a non-proliferation conference at the United Nations.

"Iran for its part is determined to pursue all legal areas of nuclear technology including enrichment exclusively for peaceful purposes," Kharazi said Tuesday.

...then you probably believed the North Koreans when they said that they wouldn't make a nuclear bomb. (Thank you, Jimmy Carter, who's one of those who believed them.)

Monday, May 02, 2005

Still recovering from my hard drive debacle. What made matters worse is that the backup that I did have from the end of January didn't have the key file for my Outlook E-mail. Talk about a sinking feeling. All my work E-mail has disappeared.

However, I've gone through all the 7 stages of grief >grin< and so I'm reconstructing what I can from the archive of my sent E-mail for the previous year. Best I can do at this point.