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Willisms

« May 2006 | WILLisms.com | July 2006 »

Nazi Roots Of Islamofascism

grandmuftiss.jpg
Amin al-Husseini inspects SS troops.
mk2.jpg
pez.jpg

“Go out and murder the Jewish infidel in the name of the holy Koran . . . he who kills a Jew is assured of a place in the next world.”

Sounds like something Osama bin Laden would urge, doesn't it? Actually, this quote was uttered long before bin Laden was even born, by Amin al-Husseini, (1895-1974) Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. The biography of Husseini reminds us that the term 'Islamofascism' is no mere neologism aimed at extreme Muslims in the wake of 9/11 - it is also a reminder of the Nazi roots of extreme Muslim anti-semitism that still rages today.

Husseini was one of the masterminds of the Holocaust. Husseini met with Hitler in 1941, and according to Adolf Eichmann's deputy Dieter Wisliceny (later hung after Nuremburg for war crimes):

"The Mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan... He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate he extermination measures. I heard him say, accompanied by Eichmann, he had visited incognito the gas chambers of Auschwitz."

Husseini recruited 21,000 Bosnian Muslims into the Scimitar division of the Waffen SS, which fought Marshal Tito's partisans in Yugoslavia.

If you think Husseini learned his anti-semitism from Hitler, you might be surprised to know it might have been the other way around. As early as 1920 Husseini was organizing pogroms against Jews while 'Palestine' was still under British control, killing hundreds of Jews and injuring many more.

Husseini's admiration for and collaboration with Nazism is by no means an isolated case. Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, was also an 'ardent supporter' of Nazi Germany, as was Anwar Sadat, who spent four years in a British prison camp for collaboration with the Third Reich. In his 1978 autobiography, In Search of Identity, Sadat wrote:

"I was in our village for the summer vacation when Hitler marched from Munich to Berlin, to wipe out the consequences of Germany's defeat in World War I and rebuild his country. I gathered my friends and told them we ought to follow Hitler's example...."

One of the founders of Syria’s Ba'ath Party, Sami al-Joundi, said "We admired the Nazis. We were immersed in reading Nazi literature and books . . . . We were the first who thought of a translation of Mein Kampf. Anyone who lived in Damascus at that time was witness to the Arab inclination toward Nazism."

Gamal Abdel Nasser's brother Nassiri translated Mein Kampf into arabic, and was an enthusiastic supporter of Hitler.

A mere three years after the Holocaust ended, first secretary-general of the Arab League Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam declared in bloodcurdling language reminiscent of the Final Solution that the 1948 war against the young state of Israel “will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.”

arafat.jpg
Yasser Arafat

By the way, Yasser Arafat called Husseini a 'hero' - no surprise there, because Arafat's real name is Abd al-Rahman abd al-Bauf Arafat al-Qud al-Husseini.

Arafat was the Grand Mufti's nephew and he changed his name to obscure this fact. The torch was passed from Husseini to the Father of Modern Terrorism, whose Fatah party is now considered much more moderate than Hamas! Is it any wonder that books like Mein Kampf (a bestseller in Turkey and Palestine) and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion enjoy brisk sales throughout the Arab and Muslim world?

'Hitler' has even become something of a popular name for Palestinian children, and admiration for Hitler runs deep among many Palestinians.

Should it surprise us, then, to see pictures like this?

gbhitler.jpg

Posted by Ken McCracken · 30 June 2006 08:39 AM · Comments (38)

Quote Of The Day

Dave Price at Dean's World comes up with another good one - I gotta keep my eye on this guy:

. . . what would the U.S. do if Mexico demanded we return Texas, started referring to it as "the occupied territory," and began arming Hispanic separatist groups who fired missiles into our cities?

When you put it that way, I think the Israelis have shown remarkable restraint over the years.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 30 June 2006 05:48 AM · Comments (2)

Israel Arrests 64 Hamas Officials

. . . including ministers and parliamentarians. If Hamas doesn't like it, they have a simple way out: secure the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit.

Meanwhile, the Popular Resistance Committees are taunting the Israelis over Shalit's status, saying he could be dead or alive.

Update: the IDF has confirmed that Eliyahu Asheri was executed -

On Wednesday, elite police and IDF forces arrested Popular Resistance Committees operative Osam Abu Rajil, who was suspected to have been involved in the kidnapping. Abu Rajil led the forces to a mountainside north of Ramallah, where Asheri's body was found buried, Army Radio reported.

Update: Reuters reports that the al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade claims to have fired a chemical warhead at the Israelis, though the IDF has denied knowledge of any such attack.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 29 June 2006 06:36 AM · Comments (0)

Give Us Your Links!

Okay, I just rearranged my favorites in IE, and here is where I am at these days:

links.jpg

I still have a link to my old 'Am I A Pundit Now?' blog because I use the links and blogroll there quite a bit also, and of course I rely a lot on the WILLisms.com blogroll (which is why I occasionally bug Will to add certain things . . . ).

Blogging is often a hurried thing, and so for efficiency's sake I just run through these links, and I am almost certain to find something blogworthy along the way.

If you have any recommendations, send them along.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 29 June 2006 01:21 AM · Comments (8)

Flashpoint: Gaza

Gaza.jpg

Israel has widened its military actions in the wake of the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit. The Popular Resistance Committees which kidnapped Shalit, claims to have executed another kidnapped Israeli teenager, Eliahu Asheri, and the al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade claims to have kidnapped a settler from near the Israeli city of Rishon Lezion.

The Palestinian Authority has asked for a prisoner swap for the return of Shalit, whom Hamas claims is 'safe'.

mashal.jpg

Israel has buzzed Bashar Assad's seaside summer palace with four jets. Assad harbors Khaled Mashal, the supreme Hamas leader, in Damascus. Israeli leaders accuse Mashal of responsibility for Shalit's kidnapping.

Israeli troops arrested Palestinian Government Labor Minister Mohammed Barghouti, a member of Hamas, in the West Bank at a road block near Ramallah.

F-16 jets blew up three bridges on critical north-south routes through Gaza, and knocked out Gaza's140-megawatt power station destroying six new transformers. Half of Gaza's power came from this plant - the other half comes from Israel. Nearly 800,000 in Gaza are now without power. Gaza's economy is already in tatters - "roughly 40 percent of Gaza's residents live in poverty - defined by the World Bank as living on less than $2.20 a day - and unemployment is 55 percent." Water supply facilities in central Gaza were also destroyed.

Israeli artillery and naval gunboats shelled northern Gaza, attacking Kassam rocket sites and a rocket factory, and shelled the town of Beit Hanoun in preparation for a ground assault.

Israel has threatened even broader military action, and a possible thrust into Syria if Shalit is not returned.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 28 June 2006 07:51 PM · Comments (2)

Is The New York Times A Pack Of Treason Weasels?

New York Times editor Bill Keller is puzzled as to why the article revealing the existence of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT program, is creating such a firestorm. Yes, checking banking records to track terrorists is an obvious strategy, and yes the administration even announced its intention to do so after 9/11 (a program that the Times editorial board even advocated immediately after the WTC attacks). But the operational details have been unknown until now, and even the name of the program had been kept under wraps. The CIA has proven yet again that is is a keeper of secrets that can keep no secrets: Coalition of the Willing members and other international partners in the War on Terror must be wondering what details of cooperation with the United States won't likewise end up on the front page of the New York Times.

Hambali.jpg uzair.jpg
Riduan Isamuddin a/k/a Hambali
Uzair Paracha

Bill Keller's own argument that these revelations are no big deal because the administration itself 'trumpeted' its existence is refuted by the article in question: it mentions that Uzair Paracha was convicted in 2005 due to an investigation involving SWIFT, and that it was also instrumental in capturing Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali. Yeah, tracking financial records around the world is an obvious way to find terrorists, but apparently Paracha and Hambali didn't know enough details to avoid getting caught. As Hugh Hewitt has suggested, al-Qaeda can now reverse engineer Hambali's transactions to find out where they went wrong.

The government argued that "the anti-terror program would no longer be effective if it became known, because international bankers would be unwilling to cooperate and terrorists would find other ways to move money," and indeed, the New York Times may well have taken away a proven and effective tool in the War on Terror, a war that is primarily an intelligence-driven enterprise.

The rule in journalism now is that 'information wants to be free,' and if secrets can make it past the goalie it is a fair score (and the Pulitzer is the trophy). This however is an abuse of journalistic responsibility, and violates the balancing test that says if the harm of revealing secrets outweighs the public's interest in knowing the secrets, the press should voluntarily keep it under wraps.

Thus, what is so galling about the SWIFT revelation is that it was so completely gratuitous.

Lawbreaking, abuse of the legal process, incompetence and so forth are all fair game for reporting, in that abuses are detrimental to national security, and exposing these weaknesses actually strengthens the war effort. This breaks down however, when there are no abuses or illegalities, and disclosure does nothing to improve or strengthen national security, and in fact harms it.

Notice what the Times article does not mention. Unlike the NSA wiretap story it has no allegations of illegality. This is because the SWIFT program is perfectly legal: banking is probably the most heavily regulated industry in the United States, and the War on Drugs has taught us that there is virtually no expectation of privacy whatsoever in banking records vis-a-vis the government. The Supreme Court in United States v. Miller, 425 U.S. 435 (1976) held that there are no Fourth Amendment rights nor privacy rights in bank records, and there are hundreds of prosecutions every year for structuring and other forms of cyberlaundering where the government issues nothing more than a subpoena to obtain bank records. Nor has the Times asserted that there were any abuses of the SWIFT program.

The tepid justification the Times has offered is that the need to know about this program and the potential abuses therein is somehow in the 'public interest.' Well guess what, every single government program whether secret or not is a possible tool for abuse, and thus every conceivable government program and secret is a justified target for exposure according to the Times' self-serving standards.

The government has lived up to its end of the bargain by refraining from prosecuting journalists and thus not chilling their free speech. Journalists have not reciprocated, but this is not entirely their fault. The government is partly to blame for this, because the press and the Department of Justice have reached an accord whereby once secrets get out into the public, there will be no prosecution. There was no prosecution when the Chicago Tribune revealed that intelligence had broken the Japanese codes during World War II (leading to the turning point victory at Midway). Fortunately, the Japanese were not reading open source intelligence, and the government did not prosecute in order to keep the revelations from getting overseas.

The New York Times learned firsthand that there is no penalty for reporting national security secrets when it published the Pentagon Papers. In that case, New York Times. v. U.S., 403 U.S. 713 (1971), Supreme Court Justice Byron White

specifically cited section 793(e) of 18 U.S.C., on unauthorized possession of a document relating to the national defense, as well as sections 797 (graphical representations of military installations) and 798 (code and cryptographic information), and wrote: “I would have no difficulty in sustaining convictions under these sections on facts that would not justify…the imposition of a prior restraint.” [emphasis added].

The Justice Department did not take the step of prosecuting Daniel Ellsberg, because of the scandal surrounding the break-in of his psychiatrist's office, and so fate helped set today's hand-off policy regarding journalist prosecutions.

There are no such security or political issues in the SWIFT case, and this provides the government with a golden opportunity to put a check on a grossly irresponsible press that has proven itself incapable of policing itself. The Department of Justice needs to empanel a Grand Jury and haul the reporters before them to find out who leaked the details of this program to the press. Journalists have absolutely no immunity here - they can sit in jail for months for contempt of court as did Judith Miller until they give up the goods, and then DoJ can prosecute the New York Times itself. If they will not act responsibly, responsibility must be thrust upon them. The gravity of the War on Terror compels it.

In the meantime, we can forgive the poor Times reader if they can no longer figure out if leaks are good or bad. The SWIFT leak is the obverse of the hysterial reaction to the Plame leaks, a sort of ho-hum business-as-usual exposure according to the Times, with the salient difference that the SWIFT case actually impinges on national security. Which is why the liberal Times could care less.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 27 June 2006 10:25 AM · Comments (15)

Israel May Topple Hamas

Israel has vowed revenge if 20-year-old Israeli soldier Gilad Shavit, kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists of the Popular Resistance Committees, is not released. The Israelis may exact a huge price:

"We will make sure that the Hamas government ceases to operate if the kidnapped soldier is not returned to us alive," the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Shavit was abducted Sunday from a remote military post near Gaza. Israeli troops are massed along the border in response to the kidnapping.

Update: Israeli military forces have now entered Gaza.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 26 June 2006 07:32 AM · Comments (12)

'Silence Can Be A Weapon'

There has been a revolution taking place in warfare, and the U.S. leads the way:
In Afghanistan and Iraq, the locals quickly get to know when American troops are fighting in the area. They are the ones firing single shots. The other guys, be they Taliban or Sunni Arabs, fire their AK-47s on full auto. But it's the sparser American firepower that dominates. Better training, and high tech sights, make the U.S. troops very accurate. Snipers are much more in evidence, with up to ten percent of American troops qualified for this kind of shooting.

The Strategy Page article Where Has All The Firepower Gone? gives an excellent snapshot of this new type of creative warfare.

Thanks to Rodney Graves for the tip.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 23 June 2006 02:32 AM · Comments (5)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 347 -- Our Wealth Overwhelms Our Debts.

We're Rich, We Are-

Our national debt is not insignificant. What "we" owe folks in China and other countries is not insignificant. But it's also important to keep it in perspective.

For example:

liabilitiesassetsusa.gif
...when we treat the U.S. as one family, we can create a balance sheet that’s quite admirable: Assets: $66 trillion. Liabilities: $13 trillion. Owner’s Equity (or Net Worth): $53 trillion.

Neat. We're doing okay as a country, it would seem.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Talk Radio.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 June 2006 11:40 AM · Comments (5)

China Pressures North Korea On Missile Test

Thankfully, the only member of the six-party talks that is likely to cause North Korea to exercise restraint in testing its Taepodong-2 missile is warning Kim Jong-Il about his foolishness:

HONG KONG — China joined the US, Japan, France, South Korea and Australia in telling North Korea to refrain from testing a long-range missile, saying it may damage six-state talks on ending North Korea’s self-declared nuclear programme. China had told the North Koreans that there are “a lot of concerns”, Wang Guangya, China’s envoy to the United Nations, said in New York. “If they do it, then the political atmosphere among the major parties will be very negative,” Wang said. “You cannot say this action is a violation of this or that convention, but it would not be a constructive move.”

It might not violate 'this or that convention', but it does seem to violate the intent of the 2002 DPRK-Japan Pyongyang Declaration, which Pyongyang reaffirmed in 2004:

"The DPRK side expressed its will to extend its moratorium on missile tests beyond 2003 in the spirit of the declaration."
The United States meanwhile has wisely refused to engage North Korea in direct bilateral talks.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 22 June 2006 02:38 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 346 -- Talk Radio Personalities.

Evidence Of Mainstream Media Bias: The Best Alternative Media Sources Are Overwhelmingly Right-Of-Center-

Why do liberal talk radio folks do so poorly?

The numbers don't lie, after all:

topradiotalkers.gif

Source: TALKERS magazine.

Very telling. It's not that liberals have lots of smaller radio personalities, while conservatives have a couple at the top. That would be the reverse of the blogosphere, where liberals control a few sites at the very top, while MANY, MANY more medium-sized conservative sites flourish.

No, liberals fail at talk radio because liberal talk radio is nothing more than a reiteration of the establishment media message, with less professionalism and more honesty about biases.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Death Taxes Are Fundamentally Unjust.

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 June 2006 05:33 PM · Comments (7)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 60.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

huggy.gif

The actual caption:

South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, gets a hug from Senate Chaplain, George Meetze, wearing dark suit, as he begins the session Wednesday, June 14, 2006, in Columbia, S.C. Bauer is headed for a runoff against Republican challenger Mike Campbell. The winner of the June 27 runoff will face Democrat Robert Barber in the general election in November in the lieutenant governor's race. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, June 27. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:

comedians.gif

Winners from last week:

1.

Rodney Dill:

Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans have not aged well at all.


2.

DaveD:

"Leroy, you paint like I feel."


3.

Ken S:

"C'mon, man, sing it with me! To dreeeeeeeeeammmm... the im-POSS-iblllle dreeeeeeeeeammmm..."


Honorable Mention #1

SgtFluffy:

Holy Crap! Thats Jerry Lewis??

Oh Well

See that man over ther Pasquali, I want that man to die, die in a fire.


Honorable Mention #2

Zsa Zsa:

An aging Mark Hamill plays Luke Skywalker in the new musical "Flaming Yoda." Leroi Neimann plays C-3PO.


Honorable Mention #3

Rob B.:

The heavy bidding by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Niels Bohr's plutonium paperwieght at this years Jerry's kids beneift prompeted Mr. Lewis to throw in his "Pope Benedict visits Dante" night light and a personal back massage from Kevin Kilne to the Iranian despot.


Captioning is bliss.

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 June 2006 11:47 AM · Comments (23)

Quote Of The Day

Wow, a 'quote of the day' two days in a row? Pure coincidence, trust me. Couldn't pass up this goodie though, from Jonah Goldberg, offering a critique of Slate on its 10th anniversary:

Contrarianness is a great and good thing—when driven by reason and facts. But contrarianness for its own sake is often the very definition of asininity. Mavericks who break from the herd to point out hard truths can be heroes. Mavericks who break out from the herd just to get noticed are pretty annoying. If the emperor has no clothes, by all means say so. If he doesn't, saying otherwise for the sake of saying so is not only a tiresome shtick, it also reduces your credibility.
Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 21 June 2006 09:17 AM · Comments (0)

America Is Losing The Chocolate Race

  hersheybar.jpg

America is an undisputed worldwide powerhouse economically, militarily, and politically. The U.S. dominates in computing, science, communications, and a whole host of other fields of endeavor. I am ashamed to say, however, that America lags behind in one of the most important fields of all: chocolate.

American chocolate is the equivalent of Chrysler K cars from the 70's - absolutely terrible, and has the competition around the world just laughing at us.I hate to say it, but the iconic Hershey Bar, putative symbol of American chocolate-making prowess, just sucks. It has a waxy look, a waxy feel, and a waxy taste. No wonder - it has wax in it, and a very low cocoa butter content. Though in fairness, I've had Morinaga chocolate from Japan, and Lotte chocolate from South Korea that was even worse. You could wax your car with that stuff. Chocolate often contains carnauba wax, which is also literally used as a car wax.

lindt.jpg  

Europe has it all over America when it comes to chocolate. What really makes chocolate scrumptious is the cocoa butter content, and EU rules stipulate that "milk chocolate" must have at least 25% cocoa butter. U.S. FDA regulations stipulate a paltry 10% cocoa butter content by comparison (though 20% cocoa butter is required in white chocolate).

The Europeans also know what to do with chocolate - Americans don't even seem to know what the hazelnut is, and yet the Europeans mix hazelnuts and chocolate with abandon. They even make a chocolate-hazelnut paste called Nutella that is just awesome. (Nutella is made by the Italian company Ferrero, which also makes the tasty Ferrero-Rocher chocolate balls, which are pretty easy to find in the U.S.) Hazelnuts and chocolate is as natural a combination as soup and sandwich. And yet the uncultured American bourgeoisie seems to prefer . . . the peanut.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a chocolate gap. Go to your local supermarket and get some Lindt, as shown, or Toblerone, or some equivalent high-quality European chocolate, and taste the difference. We are AMERICANS dammit, are we going to let these European gourmands just push us around??

To borrow a phrase from the Democrats - America, We Can Do Better.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 21 June 2006 12:25 AM · Comments (10)

Quote Of The Day

From Dave Price, regarding Christine Rosen's critique of An Army Of Davids:

Rosen then misstates Instapundit's laconic news/opinion aggregation as "vacuity," a category error if I've ever seen one. This is like complaining that your car lacks a mizzenmast and tends to take on water in heavy seas.

. . . or like thinking that Rush Limbaugh is a 'journalist'. Many error-prone critiques of blogs do indeed arise from confusing the 'blog mission' with scholarship, journalism, or some other enterprise. And much of the ire towards blogs arises from thinking that blogs are trying to muscle in on these territories. But blogging has its own 'blogic' or blogging logic (trying to coin a phrase here), that is more spontaneous, personal and (ideally) self-correcting than those other enterprises. It is a different animal altogether.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 20 June 2006 03:12 PM · Comments (7)

Whaling Nearly Becomes Legal Again

Legal whaling is making a comeback:

A slim majority of nations on the International Whaling Commission voted Sunday in support of legalizing commercial whaling. The vote—33 for and 32 against, with one abstention—fell short of the three-quarters majority needed to overturn the 20-year ban on commercial whaling.

Is there undue influence and perhaps even corruption at work at this estimable international organization? Quoth Daniel Drezner:

In an effort to alter the status quo, Japan has attempted to pack the IWC membership with loyal votes, paying membership dues so microstates such as Dominica, Grenada, and the Solomon Islands can join. These countries have consistently supported Japan’s position in return for large dollops of official development assistance, preventing the creation of new sanctuaries for whales in the South Pacific. This, by the way, is why I love the IWC -- it's not that there isn't vote-buying in other venues (including the UN Security Council), it's just that the bribery at the IWC is so wonderfully blatant.

Who thought this would ever become an issue again? The world market for whale meat seems to be very limited - only the Japanese seem to value this delicacy. The legalization of whaling would not include endangered species such as the blue whale, so why all the blubbering?

Posted by Ken McCracken · 19 June 2006 05:42 PM · Comments (13)

Amnesty for Terrorists?

Officials in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government announced an amnesty plan for terrorists:
The plan, quickly and mysteriously released and rescinded by the prime minister's office last week, calls for a prisoner release and pardons for those "not proven guilty in crimes and clear terrorist activities" and a review of the process by which former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party are removed from public life.
The plan includes an organization that has shades of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission or El Salvador's Comisión de la Verdad:
The amnesty plan, which apparently includes many insurgents who have staged attacks against Americans and Iraqis, calls for the creation of a national committee and local subcommittees to welcome insurgents and begin a "truthful national dialogue in dealing with contradicting visions and stances," according to a version of the plan published in an Iraqi newspaper yesterday.
What seems oddest about this is that most domestic opposition comes from Democrats on this issue. I don't get it - they vociferously opposed Bush's de-Ba'athification plan, and much of the Democrats' leadership have been preaching cut-and-run and other linguini-spined positions - so this sudden on-cue 'tough guy' approach seems most out of character indeed. Perhaps, like a stopped clock, they occasionally lurch into the truth in spite of themselves.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 19 June 2006 02:35 PM · Comments (5)

Kos Gets Even Uglier

Wasn't Kos supposedly going more mainstream?

It seems to have become a repository of anti-semitic propaganda instead:

antisemiticpropaganda.jpg

The only things missing here are the Stars of David and the hook noses.

Yeah, I know this is a Kos diarist and not Kos himself. But that is his name at the top, is it not? Let's see if this gets pulled down or not.

In case you weren't aware of the background here, Yale University declined to hire mideast expert Juan Cole away from the University of Michigan. Joel Mowbray has a thorough article on the controversial Cole, outlining many of the reasons why he wasn't hired. One of the funny Cole incidents of late was when he accused Christopher Hitchens of being drunk while writing this article. Andrew Sullivan was with Hitchens when he filed the article (stone-cold sober, according to Sullivan) and gave Cole a nice smackdown. A blog classic.

As for Kos, good luck putting lipstick on this pig.

(h/t LGF)

Posted by Ken McCracken · 15 June 2006 05:54 PM · Comments (4)

Yeah, What He Said

Psychoanalyzing the Left is my own personal pet blogging project, so I love it when I come across things like this:

What makes a liberal a liberal? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself lately, perhaps because every liberal I meet nowadays seems to ask me how in the world I could be a conservative. My stock answer is that I’d love to be a liberal because, you know, chicks dig the progressives. But also because I’d love to resolve debates with clever rejoinders like “Halliburton!” or “Fox News!” or “Karl Rove!,” and because I’d love to engage in intellectual group hugs rather than confront awkward truths, and because I’d love to show how my heart is in the right place by supporting benevolent-sounding but historically discredited social policies which end up devastating the very communities they’re intended to benefit. So, yes, I’d love to be a liberal . . . except these pesky I.Q. points keep getting in the way.
Read the rest - Liberalism, on the Couch by Mark Goldblatt at NRO.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 14 June 2006 07:37 PM · Comments (5)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 345 -- Death Tax Rates Too High In America.

Double Taxation, Without Representation-

So, the death tax cloture vote was 57-41 last week. Irritating. It needed 60 and only got 57. My sources tell me that Chafee, Pryor, and Landrieu had all apparently pledged to be among the 60, within 24 hours of the vote. All three lied.

We need to abolish the death tax. Permanently. Here's why (.pdf):

deathtaxinamerica.gif

International tax competition is a good thing. The results are clear. Those with lower taxes win. They win jobs. They win investment. They win GDP growth. America needs to win the low tax competition. The death tax is holding us back.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Europe Needs Major Change.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 June 2006 04:30 PM · Comments (2)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 59.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

comedians.gif

The actual caption:

Comedic legend Jerry Lewis, left stands with artist Leroy Neiman next to the Friars Club statue at the Friars Club celebrity roast in Lewis' honor Friday, June 9, 2006 in New York City. Lewis has been 'roasted' previously in 1971, 1986 and also in 1955 with then partner Dean Martin. The comedian-philanthropist was named abbot of the Friars Club and then roasted by his peers.(AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, June 20. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:

pattykennedy.gif

Winners from last week:

1.

Mr. Right:

It's fun to dry out at the M-A-Y-O


2.

Mr Michael:

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) describes his A.A. Sponsor as being about 30" wide, 7 feet tall, and having extraordinarily good hearing in a news conference at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island June 5, 2006. (Stew Milne/Reuters)


3.

Rodney Dill:

"I side-swiped a cab, bounced over the curb, hit a few garbage cans, then I lost control of my car."


Honorable Mention #1

bullwinkle:

...and that's why I want to be treated like I'm black.


Honorable Mention #2

Rodney Dill:

"So then I says to Cynthia McKinney, just back that big A-- up."


Honorable Mention #3

Fersboo:

I like big butts an' I cannot lie. You otha brothas can't deny. That when a girl walks in wit' a itty bitty waist an' A round thing in yo' face. You get SPRUNG. Wanna pull up tough, cuz you notice that butt was STUFFED.


Captioning cures ailments of all sorts.

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 June 2006 03:06 PM · Comments (18)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 344 -- Europe Lags America In Globalization.

Very Michigan-like, Europe Is-

Relative to the United States, Europe is failing. Badly. Take France, for example:

...unemployment is averaging 10% this decade and has not been below 8% for 20 years. And, while the overall level of unemployment has remained stable – albeit at a shockingly high level – the unemployment rate among young men (in the 16-24 age group) jumped from 15.3% in 1990 to 21.4% in 2005.

Europe needs to seriously reexamine its ideas and policies, before its ideas and policies lead Europe to relative economic ruin. As we've seen, small-sounding differences compound into huge differences over time.

Here's why, from the Dallas Fed (.pdf):

#1, Economic Freedom:

dfchart1.gif


#2, Economic Growth:

dfchart2.gif


#3, Unemployment:

dfchart3.gif


#4, Productivity:

dfchart4.gif


#5, Not Long Ago, Things Were Different:

dfchart5.gif


#6, Innovation:

dfchart6.gif


#7, Labor Rigidity (or lack thereof):

dfchart7.gif


#8, Globalization Index:

dfchart8.gif

What all this adds up to is simple and straightforward:

More government interference in the economy is bad.
Freer markets, fewer regulations, and less government micromanagement and tinkering is good. Openness and innovation = good. Protectionism and subsidizing = bad.

We have some choices. The Michigan/Europe way. Or the American way. I choose success. I choose the American way.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Cha-Ching For The Government: Lower Taxes Have Produced "Record" Revenues.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 June 2006 03:00 PM · Comments (1)

The Zarqawi Effect

Terrorists from the al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade - a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fatah - kidnapped Benjamin Bright-Fishbein in Nablus last Saturday.

The terrorists released him as soon as they realized he was an American.

"Apparently, the kidnappers did not want to end up like Zarqawi," a defense official said.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 12 June 2006 08:29 PM · Comments (3)

Quotational Therapy: Part 103 -- Democrats & Earmarking.

Jim Moran Reveals His Cards A Little Too Early: Pork-

Democrats are giving us plenty of clues (and then some) regarding their plans, in the event that they regain the House of Representatives. The latest, from the would-be Appropriations Chairman, Jim Moran:

jimmoran.gif

The money quote:

“When I become chairman [of a House appropriations subcommittee], I'm going to earmark the s#1t out of it."

And more context:

If Democrats win back control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran said he would use his position in the majority to help funnel more funds to his Northern Virginia district.

Moran, D-8th, told those attending the Arlington County Democratic Committee's annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner on June 9 that while he in theory might oppose the fiscal irresponsibility of “earmarks” - funneling money to projects in a member of Congress's district - he understands the value they have to constituents.

“When I become chairman [of a House appropriations subcommittee], I'm going to earmark the s#1t out of it,” Moran buoyantly told a crowd of 450 attending the event.

Colorful language and campaign hyperbole aside, Moran has a lot to gain if Democrats topple the GOP's 12-year control of the House. His relative seniority of eight terms would make him a powerful member of any Democratic majority.

Moran is a prime example of everything that is wrong with politics today, particularly the Democratic Party. If Republicans in swing districts stay home to teach Congressional Republicans a lesson, the joke will be on voters.

Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Tom DeLay's Farewell Speech

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 June 2006 03:40 PM · Comments (6)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 343 -- Uncle Sam Awash In Cash.

Even With Substantial Spending Growth, Tax Receipt Growth Continues To Flourish-

2005 was a great year for government revenue growth, even amidst lower taxes (maybe because of lower taxes, if only partly). Government spending growth was swamped by revenue growth.

Well, 2006 is compounding that trend, through a comparable period (October through May) (.pdf):

fy06revenueoutpacingspendin.gif

Source: MTS (.pdf).

That's good news for those who seek smaller deficits. It's also good news for tax cutters.

Again, as usual, the bulk of the spending increases have been focused on national security, Social Security, Medicare, and Hurricane Katrina-related relief.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Growth Is Good.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 June 2006 03:10 PM · Comments (2)

Surprising Iraq Casualty Stats

Here is an unexpected statistic: nearly one-quarter (21.4%) of the casualties in Iraq were from non-hostile incidents - that is, they have no connection at all to combat:

Cause of Death Total Percentage
Hostile fire 2137 78.6%
Non-combat related 581 21.4%
Total 2718  

581 deaths from accidents and situations having nothing to do with combat seems quite high. But then again, in 1991, the year of the Gulf War, 1,787 soldiers died while on military duty worldwide, but of those only 147 were killed in combat during the first Gulf War (according to the Defense Manpower Data Center statistics provided by the DoD. Look at that .pdf and you will see the surprisingly large number of casualties every year that are self-inflicted, as well).

If you go to this page you can even see incident-by-incident how the non-hostile fatalities occured if you put in the right filter. Many are health-related as you might expect. Many are helicopter and other vehicle accidents. (The Iraq Coalition Casualty Count site is grim and efficient - and rather fascinating and well-put together).

Paul at Wizbang informs us, in addition -

An analysis of the Army's ground accident database, which includes records from March 2003 through November 2005, found that 60 of the 85 soldiers who died in Humvee accidents in Iraq or 70 percent were killed when the vehicle rolled, the newspaper reported. Of the 337 injuries, 149 occurred in rollovers.

Rollovers that some are blaming on needless uparmoring of Humvees. Paul is right about a little demagoguery going on here - some Democrats (Hillary!) have made a point of harping on the issue of body armor for the troops as well, to the point where troops objected.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 11 June 2006 10:47 PM · Comments (3)

Pundit Roundtable

Hello! Welcome back to the PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE, our semi-regular thrashing out of the issues. I am your host, Ken McCracken. Here is the topic for this week:

Topic : On a scale of 1 to 10, how important a development is the death of Zarqawi for Iraq? Why?

Now, I only got one response back this week from all the pundits I tried to contact. Normally, I would cancel the Roundtable, or put it off for another week. But considering our sole pundit is the QUEEN OF ALL EVIL I thought that might just be a bad idea. So here we have Roundtable newcomer, Rosemary Esmay!

"It is a 10 but not just for Iraq. So many important things will happen now because of Zarqawi's death. We need the Iraqi people to trust us, to want us to succeed. The Coalition Forces can't do this alone. They need to believe that this is for them and they need to help and they did. The Iraqis gave him up and we went in and killed his psycho ass. That reaffirms to them that we are true to our word. We are winning their hearts and minds and that is key for Iraq to be successful. We need them to want to stand up and fight for themselves and they are. This is a huge effort from people that have been beaten down and made to feel helpless. Every success boosts the confidence of the Iraqi people and makes them feel stronger and believe that they will be free.

Another reason his death is important is that it is a morale booster for the troops and for the American people. For the troops, nothing can be more rewarding than killing the monster responsible for the deaths of so many. The people need this even more than the troops. They have unfortunately been buying into the hype and hysteria that the Democrats, with the help of the media, have been spoon feeding them for years. We needed to kill this piece of crap and kill him good. I'd also like to add that the news that Zarqawi saw the U.S. military before taking his overdue trip to Hell is an added bonus.

The last reason is for the Democrats. Now that we have killed him, the Democrats and their "faux" liberal supporters can start digging up old news stories about Zarqawi having Al Qaeda training camps in Iraq prior to our invasion. Now they can start screeching about Bush not bombing, without Congressional approval, those terrorist training camps that they were in a country that didn't attack us, didn't have any WMDs, didn't have any connection to 9/11 and didn't have any involvement with Al Qaeda. Oops...

Apparantly, along with the Bush Derangement Syndrome, the "faux" liberals suffer from some type of memory loss and so they won't notice that this particular complaint makes them look like they ride the short yellow schoolbus of integrity. I know potheads with better short term memories.

For all of those reasons, that is why Zarqawi's death is rated a 10 in terms of importance.

The Host's Last Word: As a strategic victory in Iraq, killing Zarqawi is big, but not that big. I'd give it a 5. Zarqawi is not responsible for much of the ongoing terrorist violence in Iraq - the ex-Ba'athist dead enders are. I'd bump this up to a 7 if we could find out that Zarqawi was responsible for terrorist acts such as blowing up the Golden Mosque in Samarra, which led to the type of sectarian violence that Zarwqawi was so desperately trying to foment.

But the real victory with Zarqawi's death took place here, in the United States. I give it a 9. The MSM was forced to do wall-to-wall coverage on this critical political victory for George W. Bush, and this will no doubt bolster much of the lagging support for the war, ensuring that it does not succumb to 'Vietnamization'.

I keep saying this: the 'insurgency' cannot defeat us in Iraq - they can only defeat us here at home.

That's all! Come back next week for the next edition of PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 11 June 2006 02:50 PM · Comments (1)

10 Goofy Thoughts About Zarqawi's Death

The ego defenses were in high gear yesterday, as cognitive dissonance set in among many on the left in the wake of Abu Musab Zarqawi's death.

A virtual squirmfest of conspiracy-mongering, armchair quarterbacking and classic moobat dimthink ensued. A sight to behold.


1. It will make things worse in Iraq! It takes a special kind of stupid to make this argument. Are you surprised that ABC makes the argument also?


2. Zarqawi was an 'invented menace.' Or a strawman. Take your pick.


3. Killing Zarqawi doesn't change anything. It doesn't change anything? Well, we'll never know will we, after all the guy is now dead. That is like saying that killing this guy changed nothing during World War II. Right on cue, Jack Murtha said "I think we cannot win this." Take a bow, Jack.


4. I question the timing! You knew this one was coming. AllahPundit: "Send me any links you find of people questioning the timing, the stupider the better. Ten points if they tie it to Haditha, a thousand points if they tie it to the start of Yearly Kos." And sure enough, Democratic Rep. Pete Stark of California took the bait - "This is just to cover Bush's [rear] so he doesn't have to answer for Iraqi civilians being killed by the U.S. military and his own sagging poll numbers. Iraq is still a mess -- get out."


5. Another guy will just take his place. " . . . most likely Abu Masri. Just like gangs and the mob, when one goes, another rises up." - TalkLeft


6. Okay, we can bring the troops home now! "Our troops have done their job in Iraq." - John Kerry


7. Zarqawi was just small potatoes. "As terrorists go, he was what sportswriters might call a scrub." - Scott Thill

"There is no evidence of operational links between his Salafi Jihadis in Iraq and the real al-Qaeda; it was just a sort of branding that suited everyone, including the US. Official US spokesmen have all along over-estimated his importance. Leaders are significant and not always easily replaced. But Zarqawi has in my view has been less important than local Iraqi leaders and groups. I don't expect the guerrilla war to subside any time soon." - Juan Cole

"Zarqawi's importance to the tactical situation in Iraq has always been overstated, and I doubt he has any significance at all to the strategic situation." - Matthew Yglesias


8. Bush blew earlier chances to kill Zarqawi. "U.S. forces passed on taking him out three times." - Russell Shaw, citing this article by MSNBC, which claims: "long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger. In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide."

What a minute. You mean to tell me that al-Qaeda was in Iraq before the invasion, and they were cooking up WMDs? The devil you say!


9. He's not really dead. Or, he was already dead for some time, but spent a Weekend At Bernie's: "I can't help but wonder if al-Zarqawi wasn't killed some time ago and they just decided to announce it today and tell us he was killed in yesterday's raid." - TalkLeft (. . . again, which deserves some kind of award for hitting most of the above points all in one post).


10. Killing never solves anything. Michael Berg takes the extreme view over the death of his son Nick's murderer.


There are still more, such as "He deserved a trial, hot meals and cable t.v.," "his martydom will only create even more terrorists", "how many civilians died trying to kill this guy?" Play along at home if you like!

Thanks to Hotline and Dr. Sanity for the links.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 9 June 2006 11:54 PM · Comments (6)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 342 -- The Power Of Growth.

Growth Is Good-

Some more perspective on the global economy:

The global economy is roaring. "For the first time since 1969," reports a newsletter I rely on, Bridgewater Daily Observations, "not a single country in the world has had negative year-over-year growth."

Overall, the world economy is rising at a 4.4 percent rate, after inflation. At that pace, Gross Domestic Product doubles in 17 years, quadruples in less than a generation and rises by a factor of about 30 in a lifetime. Imagine the average nation being 30 times richer than it is today!

Okay, let's imagine it:

4point4.gif

4.4% growth is excellent. Not quite as fantastic as America's 5.3% Q1-2006 growth, but better than America's 3.5% 2005 GDP growth. And much better than the European Union's 1.7% 2005 GDP growth.

If the United States, at every level, aggressively pursued pro-growth policies (less and fewer taxes, less and fewer regulations, etc.), we may very well be able to sustain 5.3% growth, year after year, for decades. Then again, you never know. Let's just assume we could. Here's what that 0.9% additional annual growth would yield over a lifetime:

5point3.gif

A LOT more, in other words. Even with just 3.5% growth in 2005, the United States Gross Domestic Product (including inflation) added 10,000 dollars worth of value PER family. In just one year.

Now, let's take Europe's 1.7% rate over a lifetime:

1point7.gif

Weak.

Those percentage points-- and fractions of percentage points-- so boring and underreported, have amazing implications over time. In the long run, the divergence we're likely to see between the United States and Europe will lead to two drastically different societies, with drastically divergent standards of living.

More from a 2001 piece on how to tweak these percentages for the better (underlining mine):

Growing trade deficits signal improving economic conditions, while shrinking deficits often occur in times of economic trouble. During the last 25 years, the U.S. economy has on average grown about a percentage point faster, 3.5 percent vs. 2.6 percent, in years when the trade deficit expanded compared with years when it shrank. The unemployment rate on average fell 0.4 percentage points during years of rising deficits and rose 0.4 points when the deficit shrank. Manufacturing output rose much faster during years of rising trade deficits than during years of shrinking deficits.

America's largest trade deficits in recent decades occurred during economic expansions, its smallest deficits during recessions. It's no coincidence that as the economy shows signs of slowing down, the monthly trade deficit numbers have also begun to shrink with the economy's growth rate. (Those critics who demand that something be done to "fix" the trade deficit should be concerned that they might get what they ask for.)

Critics of trade liberalization often point to the trade deficit as proof that trade destroys jobs. If exports create jobs, they argue, then surely imports mean less domestic production and fewer jobs. In fact, imports and domestic production rise and fall together. Since 1987, manufacturing output in the United States has risen the fastest during years when the volume of imported goods has also risen the fastest. The two years of slowest import growth, 1990 and 1991, were the only two years in which manufacturing output actually fell. The same economic expansion that spurs manufacturing growth also attracts more imports and enlarges the trade deficit.

Another unfounded worry about the trade deficit is that it will saddle future generations with an unsustainable "foreign debt." It is true that foreign investors own about $1.5 trillion more in U.S.-based assets than Americans own in foreign assets abroad. But about half of foreign-owned assets in the United States are not debt but equity--direct investment in factories and real estate and portfolio investment in corporate stock. And the $1.5 trillion in net foreign investment in the United States is only about 16 percent of Gross Domestic Product, and 4 percent of the net wealth of all U.S. households and non-profit organizations. Net payments to finance our foreign "debt" were less than $20 billion in 1999, about one-fifth of one percent of GDP.

Growth has profound consequences over time. Economic consequences. Political consequences. Moral consequences. When we trade growth for the false promises of liberal utopianism, we are shaping the future-- profoundly-- for the worse.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Late Night Jokes.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 June 2006 03:32 PM · Comments (4)

Quotational Therapy : Part 102 -- Tom DeLay's Farewell Speech.

Liberalism, Partisanship, Etc.-

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Representative Tom DeLay gave his farewell address in the United States Congress yesterday. Here's an excerpt:

In preparing for today, I found that it is customary in speeches such as these to reminisce about the good old days of political harmony and across-the-aisle camaraderie, and to lament the bitter, divisive partisan rancor that supposedly now weakens our democracy.

Well, I can't do that because partisanship, Mr. Speaker, properly understood, is not a symptom of democracy's weakness but of its health and its strength, especially from the perspective of a political conservative.

Liberalism, after all, whatever you may think of its merits, is a political philosophy and a proud one with a great tradition in this country, with a voracious appetite for growth.

In any place or any time on any issue, what does liberalism ever seek, Mr. Speaker? More -- more government, more taxation, more control over people's lives and decisions and wallets. If conservatives don't stand up to liberalism, no one will. And for a long time around here, almost no one did.

Indeed, the common lament over the recent rise in political partisanship is often nothing more than a veiled complaint instead about the recent rise of political conservatism.

I should add here that I do not begrudge liberals their nostalgia for the days of a timid, docile and permanent Republican minority.

If we Republicans had ever enjoyed that same luxury over the last 12 years, heck, I'd be nostalgic too.

(LAUGHTER)

Had liberals not fought us tooth and nail over tax cuts and budget cuts and energy and Iraq, and partial-birth abortion, those of us on this side of the aisle could only imagine all the additional things we could have accomplished.

But the fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, they didn't agree with us. So to their credit, they stood up to us, they argued with us, and they did so honorably, on behalf of more than 100 million people, just like we did against President Clinton and they did against President Reagan.

Now it goes without saying, Mr. Speaker, that by my count, our friends on the other side of the aisle lost every one of those arguments over the last 22 years, but that's beside the point.

The point is, we disagree. On first principles, Mr. Speaker, we disagree. And so we debate, often loudly, and often in vain, to convince our opponents and the American people of our point of view.

We debate here on the House floor, we debate in committees, we debate on television and on radio and on the Internet and in the newspapers and then every two years, we have a huge debate. And then in November, we see who won. That is not rancor, that is democracy.

You show me a nation without partisanship, and I'll show you a tyranny. For all its faults, it is partisanship, based on core principles, that clarifies our debates, that prevents one party from straying too far from the mainstream, and that constantly refreshes our politics with new ideas and new leaders.

Indeed, whatever role partisanship may have played in my own retirement today or in the unfriendliness heaped upon other leaders in other times, Republican or Democrat, however unjust, all we can say is that partisanship is the worst means of settling fundamental political differences -- except for all the others.

Now, politics demands compromise. And Mr. Speaker, and even the most partisan among us have to understand that, but we must never forget that compromise and bipartisanship are means, not ends, and are properly employed only in the service of higher principles.

It is not the principled partisan, however obnoxious he may seem to his opponents, who degrades our public debate, but the preening, self-styled statesman who elevates compromise to a first principle .

For the true statesman, Mr. Speaker, we are not defined by what they compromise, but by what they don't.

Conservatives, especially less enamored of government's lust for growth, must remember that our principles must always drive our agenda and not the other way around. For us, conservatives, there are two such principles that can never be honorably compromised: human freedom and human dignity.

Now, our agenda over the last 12 years has been an outgrowth of these first principles.

We lowered taxes to increase freedom.

We reformed welfare programs that however well intentioned undermined the dignity of work and personal responsibility and perpetuated poverty.

We have opposed abortion, cloning and euthanasia, because such procedures fundamentally deny the unique dignity of the human person.

And we have supported the spread of democracy and the ongoing war against terror, because those policies protect and affirm the inalienable human right of all men and women and children to live in freedom.

Conservatism is often unfairly accused of being insensitive and mean-spirited, sometimes unfortunately even by other conservatives. As a result, conservatives often attempt to soften that stereotype by overfunding broken programs or glossing over ruinous policies.

But conservatism isn't about feeling people's pain, it's about curing it.

And the results since the first great conservative victory in 1980 speak for themselves: millions of new jobs, new homes and new businesses created thanks to conservative economic reforms; millions of families intact and enriched by the move from welfare to work; hundreds of millions of people around the world liberated by a conservative foreign policy's victory over Soviet communism; and more than 50 million Iraqis and Afghanis liberated from tyranny since September the 11th, 2001.

To all the critics of the supposedly mean-spirited conservative policies that brought about these results, I say only this: Compassionate is as compassionate does.


Read the entire speech (it's definitely worth a read) here.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Busby & Illegal Aliens

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 June 2006 10:11 AM · Comments (3)

Yet Another Terrorist Nailed

samhadana.jpg  
Jamal Abu Samhadana

Still more good news - Palestinian terrorist Jamal Abu Samhadana was also killed today in an Israeli air attack on a training camp of the Popular Resistance Committees in Rafah.

Samhadana had been appointed last month as chief of the Palestinian Authority's interior ministry - its security services. On his appointment, he had this to say:

"We have only one enemy. They are Jews. We have no other enemy. I will continue to carry the rifle and pull the trigger whenever required to defend my people."

In addition to his body of work with the PRC, the Telegraph article also tells us:

In recent months, he has directed the continuing barrage of Qassam rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, guaranteeing that he remains a high-priority target for Israel. Hours after his appointment, Zeev Boim, Israel's housing minister, said Abu Samhadana's new status conferred no immunity on him.

"We have a long account to settle with this notorious terrorist. Sooner or later, we will get our hands on him," he said.

And so they have.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 8 June 2006 09:39 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 341 -- Late Night Jokes.

This Is Where Most Americans Get Most Of Their Political Information-

Would you believe that President Bush is the #1 target of late night comedians?

Yep, it's true:

jokesonlatenighttelevision.gif

Okay. Nothing that groundbreaking in these numbers.

But these are slightly more meaningful:

In the first five years of his presidency, George W. Bush was the target of eighteen percent of the 15,400 jokes from late night talk show hosts Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Conan O’Brien. This compares to sixteen percent for Bill Clinton during the first five years of his presidency.

So, more jokes about Bush than Clinton, at comparable times in their administrations. Interesting.

What's even more interesting is remembering how Clinton jokes made some people like President Clinton. He was the cool guy. The frat boy womanizer. The dope smoker. The overeater. In the world of late night jokes, President Clinton was John Belushi. Today, the jokes about Bush are mostly just about what a terrible, unlikeable person he is (which is clearly bogus) (.pdf):

Almost a third of the jokes (101) told about President Bush mocked his intelligence. Other leading topics were Mr. Bush's declining popularity, his personality, the port security story, and the war in Iraq.

Not only that, but there are more Bush jokes this year than last year, by far (.pdf):

For 2005, 544 jokes were told about George W. Bush -- averaging about 45 jokes per month. That pace has more than doubled so far this year, as there have been 307 jokes directed toward Mr. Bush -- averaging 102 per month.

Late night jokes seem to parallel approval ratings. Causation? Correlation? And which direction? Who knows. But it is suspicious how the two run in tandem. But when you think about how many Americans get their political news from comedians, it's not that hard to see the connection.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Death Taxes Are Terrible.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 June 2006 04:44 PM · Comments (3)

Osirak + 25 Years

Via Wikipedia we find that today is the 25th year anniversary of the Israeli attack on Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor (creepily named after Osiris, Egyptian god of the dead by the mercenary French technicians who built it).

Widely reviled at the time (even by the United States) the wisdom of this illegal, pre-emptive attack is now appreciated by those who understand that nuclear weapons should never fall into the hands of psychopathic dictators.

Sound familiar?

Posted by Ken McCracken · 7 June 2006 06:51 PM · Comments (1)

Ooops, Ann

In my blackest of black hearts, I have had thoughts along these lines regarding some of the 9/11 widows:“These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people [manipulating] their husband’s death so much.”

Well, while playing Mad Libs, Ann Coulter decided to say this instead:

"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much.”

Yeah, this crosses the line. Loutish, says Rick Moran.

I would not go so far as to declare Ann Coulter persona non grata, for she is spot-on correct more often than she is dead wrong. It certainly detracts from the weight of whatever she might say in the future, though.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 7 June 2006 05:55 PM · Comments (6)

Iraq Jihadis Tried To Stage Child Massacre

. . . just as they have tried to stage so many other massacres:

[Capt. Andrew] Del Gaudio said he made a tough call after a roadside bomb killed four of his men in April. While securing the scene, he was shot at by a machine gun in a follow-up attack. When he aimed his weapon to return fire, he saw that the gunmen had a line of children standing in front of them and two men filming with video cameras. He held fire until the children moved out of the way but was shot in his hand, which was only inches from his face.

"Restraint almost cost me my life," he said.

If the Jihadis are capable of something like this, is it not also possible that something like Haditha was staged? Or at least exaggerated:

The media manipulation by the insurgents is brilliant and extremely effective. The press has become a puppet for the insurgents; the insurgents know exactly what they are doing with these "massacres" (quoted here because the investigation has not been completed, nor have any charges been filed) and the political nightmare they will cause the current administration. Bodies are produced for film, and there is zero fact-checking by the media--the media eat up this "news" like there is no tomorrow. A couple of hundred bucks paid by the insurgents to a few guys/ladies in the town where this "massacre" occurred to make up some bad news and pine for the BBC's or CBS's or whoever's cameras is a nice month's salary for many and money well spent by the insurgency.

All the Arabs (Sunni and Shia), Kurds and Chaldeans I have come to know well here will tell you that Arabs are emotional people who tend to exaggerate. A lot. Experience has shown that "50 insurgents hiding out in XX location" is five, at most 10. "Three hundred dead" at the morgue is at most 40. "A huge cache with WMD" is 45-50 weapons. It is a cultural norm and is accepted over here as a norm. It is reported in the West as fact. With no fact-checking.

When we convoy, all in the town/village know when and where there is a bomb/IED/VBIED that is targeting coalition forces. This is not so true in Baghdad, but in the outlying towns all know. What is the culpability for those people in the village/town? Would the Marines be guilty in the U.S. under the same circumstances?

The gullible press is indeed acting as an unwitting fifth column for the Islamofascists. Prepared to believe everything the Jihadis say no matter how outlandish, but almost never prepared to believe a thing our own troops on the ground say. It seems nearly miraculous that Capt. Del Gaudio's account even made it into the press.

P.S. Which reminds me of something even more unbelievable . . .

Read More »


Posted by Ken McCracken · 7 June 2006 04:31 PM · Comments (29)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 340 -- Death Taxes

Marxist Nonsense-

When I was in 9th grade, my Social Studies teacher really, really, really liked FDR. And there's nothing wrong with that. But as the year went on, her reasons for really, really, really liking FDR became apparent.

For her, it was the socialism thing. She was a socialist. Once, passingly, she fawned over the dramatically increased death taxes (from 20% to 45% to 60% to 70% to 77%) Franklin Roosevelt implemented in the 1930s. It finally evened the playing field, she asserted. How wonderful. How fair.

So I stopped her.

Aren't death taxes one of Karl Marx's 10 Communist Commandments (abolition of rights of inheritance)?

Don't they create massive inefficiencies by diverting so much capital into government coffers?

Don't they punish success, dissuade entrepreneurship, and undermine the importance of family?

Don't death taxes encourage rich people to spend their money gratuitously during their lives to avoid having it all confiscated at death?

Aren't a lot of farmers and small business owners considered "rich" because of the assets they have on paper, when, in reality, they lead somewhat modest lives?

And what about folks who have struggled (eating ramen and riding the bus) their entire lives, only to make it big at the very end? Is that fair to take away all (or even nearly all) of their money when they die?

Okay, maybe I didn't rattle off all of those particular questions. But I did ask several similar skeptical questions in rapid-fire fashion.

Her response had something to do with the death tax helping charities, helping everyone start life at a level playing field, and producing a great deal of funding for "the war" without hurting the bulk of regular Americans.

So, what about that last claim: does the death tax, which only hurts a few percent of Americans directly, produce any sort of windfall for the government, allowing lower taxes on everyone else?

The answer: No. Death taxes generate relatively little revenue for the government.

Indeed, the Tax Foundation notes that death taxes are not a big money maker for the government (.pdf):

deathtaxesdonotraisemuchmon.gif

The death tax currently produces <2% of federal tax revenues. Notice that under President Roosevelt that number rose in the beginning, then plummeted as people figured out ways to avoid paying it.

The Tax Foundation explains (.pdf) (underlining mine):

the estate tax has never been an important federal revenue source. In recent decades it has accounted for only 1 to 2 percent of federal receipts, and many economists argue that even this tiny figure may overstate estate tax revenues. Substantial evidence suggests the estate tax may actually raise zero or even negative federal revenue once the full economic effects of the tax are taken into account.

One reason the estate tax is a poor revenue source is that it encourages widespread tax avoidance. This avoidance in turn causes “revenue leakage” in the tax system. During life, wealthy estate holders face incentives to engage in complex estate planning to avoid estate taxation. This may include making gifts to children in lower tax brackets, making taxdeductible charitable gifts, or selling off assets while living in order to pay the current maximum 15 percent capital gains tax rate rather than the maximum 46 percent estate tax rate if assets are held until death.

More empirical evidence against the death tax (.pdf):

A 1994 study found that the estate tax’s 55 percent rate at the time had roughly the same disincentive effect as doubling an entrepreneur’s top effective marginal income tax rate.5 Thus, because of the estate tax an entrepreneur facing a 31 percent statutory income tax rate would behave as if he or she were facing an effective 62 percent income tax rate.

In other words, the death tax changes behaviors. Those changed behaviors are not good for the economy. One of those behaviors is the accounting-industrial complex that has grown up around minimizing/avoiding death taxes, not to mention just plain paying them (.pdf):

One 1992 study by economists Henry J. Aaron and Alicia H. Munnell estimated the cost of complying with estate taxes to be $1 for every dollar of revenue raised—nearly five times more costly per dollar of revenue than the notoriously complex federal income tax.

Taxes-- all taxes-- should be simple, low, straightforward, and foreseeable; that structure ought to be relatively stable, if not permanent.

Our economy needs to compete in a global marketplace. That marketplace includes more than ports and shops and factories and skyscrapers. It includes the marketplace of ideas. Of policies. Ironically, a wave of lowering taxes is sweeping across Europe today-- even in left-leaning countries. Much of Asia (Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, etc.) has had lower taxes for many years.

If we are concerned about jobs and American competitiveness, we can't let other countries beat us at our own low tax game. That includes income taxes, corporate taxes, sales taxes, death taxes, property taxes, import/export taxes, and every other category of taxes/fees/levees under the sun.

High taxes drive capital and individuals away. There's a reason "low taxes" and "pro-growth policies" go hand in hand. Anyone familiar with the concept of heat transfer understands that heat always flows to cooler spaces, away from hotter ones, when possible. Putting a piece of ice on your forehead on a hot day cools you off because you are transfering some of your heat to the ice cube, not vice-versa.

It's the same with high taxes. Just as energy flows from hot to cool, capital flows from high tax jurisdictions to low tax ones.

Let's repeal the unfair death tax. Let's keep fighting for lower-- and fewer-- taxes. And let's do it soon. There's an election coming up, after all.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Gross State Product Differences Are Not Arbitrary.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 June 2006 11:53 AM · Comments (6)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 58.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

pattykennedy.gif

The actual caption:

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) answers questions during a news conference at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island June 5, 2006. (Stew Milne/Reuters)

Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, June 13. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:

hmmisrael.gif

Winners from last week:

1.

Mr. Right:

BUSH: "I'm glad you enjoyed the KFC boxed lunch, Prime Minister... and yes that's a very common side effect."


2.

McCain:

The President's proctologist had strange tastes.


3.

Ken S:

"Mmmm...tastes like International Zionist Conspiracy"


Honorable Mention #1

Mr. Right:

BUSH: "Sorry, Ehud, Dr. Evil impressions only work when one uses the pinky... and no I am not giving you one milllllion dollars!"


Honorable Mention #2

cox:

Taken moments before the incident, Isreali Prime Minister Olmert is seen preparing to give President Bush a "wet willie."


Honorable Mention #3

Hoodlumman:

*You complete me.*

*You complete me.*


Captioning lowers cholesterol and balances budgets.

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 June 2006 10:22 AM · Comments (32)

Bilbray Beats Busby In The Prequel

. . . to serve the seven months left in Randy 'Duke' Cunningham's term in California's 50th Congressional District.

Yep, that was Francine Busby, of "you don't need papers for voting" fame.

The real election comes this November, when Republican Bilbray and Democrat Busby will likely square off again.

WILL FRANKLIN ADDS: This makes the DailyKos.com election record, what, zero-and-twenty (0-20) now? That site is the kiss of death for any candidacy, it seems.

Update: Kos has a cold (awwww . . . ), and by reading the comments I'd say that the 'moral victory' ego-salve meme is going to rear its ugly little head again.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 7 June 2006 06:46 AM · Comments (34)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 339 -- Gross State Product, Not Arbitrary.

These Trends Are Not Accidental-

Ideas matter. Good ideas succeed. Bad ones fail.

Indeed, while the overall U.S. economy is running full steam ahead, with every state (other than Louisiana) showing economic growth over the past year, some state economies are created more equal than others:

grossstateproduct.gif

Notice any trends?

Sure, there's the red/blue thing that holds up-- with only an occasional exception. Moreover, though, there's policy. As we've seen before, states-- red or blue-- with relatively lower tax burdens tend to perform better, economically; meanwhile, states-- red or blue-- with relatively high tax burdens tend to perform poorly.

That explains why New Hampshire, a state that went for George W. Bush in 2000, stands out in the New England region. New Hampshire has one of the better tax structures (possibly even the best) in the country. Meanwhile, Ohio has one of the worst.

Generally, though, Republican-dominated states are posting stronger economic growth than Democrat-dominated states.

Again, that's just a trend. There are definite exceptions to the trend. But, clearly, ideas matter. Policies matter.

When Republicans act like Republicans (and most do, despite some of the grumbling we hear these days), good policy becomes good politics. At the same time, how many elected Democrats do we know that truly act like Republicans?

That was rhetorical, but the answer is pretty close to zero. Just like Michigan's Gross State Product growth.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Manufacturing Sector Is On A "Record" Pace, Although The Media Won't Ever Admit Such.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 June 2006 09:55 AM · Comments (15)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 338 -- America's Manufacturing Base.

Way Awesome-

Did you know that American manufacturing is not in the toilet? That all of our manufacturing is NOT going to China? And that U.S. manufacturing has seen three straight years of growth?

Indeed, it is flourishing. You have to go back 27 years to find a longer positive streak than the United States currently has going.

BizzyBlog has much more on this absurdly underreported phenomenon, including an explanation of this chart:

manufacturingisawesome.gif

These are good times for the economy, folks. Very good times.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Ridiculously Awesome GDP Growth.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 June 2006 05:32 PM · Comments (9)

Quotational Therapy: Part 101 -- Francine Busby.

Are We Positive She's Not From Chicago?

The San Diego special election to replace corrupt Congressman Duke Cunningham took an interesting twist in recent days. The Democrat, Francine Busby, "misspoke" on the issue of illegal aliens voting. Here was the key quote:

"YOU DON'T NEED PAPERS FOR VOTING."

francinebusby.gif

And here's the longer exchange in context:

Busby said she was invited to the forum at the Jocelyn Senior Center in Escondido by the leader of a local soccer league. Many of the 50 or so people there were Spanish speakers. Toward the end, a man in the audience asked in Spanish: “I want to help, but I don't have papers.”

It was translated and Busby replied: “Everybody can help, yeah, absolutely, you can all help. You don't need papers for voting, you don't need to be a registered voter to help.”

Bilbray said at worst, Busby was encouraging someone to vote illegally. At best, she was encouraging someone who is illegally in the country to work on her campaign.

You can also listen to the entire thing in .mp3 format here.

Culture of corruption, eh?


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Pat Leahy wants Social Security benefits for illegal aliens

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 June 2006 10:39 AM · Comments (3)

Lies Of Omission About Kerry

Just remember the name Thomas Lipscomb when some dope tries to tell you that the Swifties claims were 'unsubstantiated':

Kate Zernike's story on the front page of the Memorial Day Sunday New York Times, "Kerry Pressing Swift Boat Case Long After Loss," is an unfortunate reminder of the Times's embarrassingly poor coverage of Kerry in the face of the Swift Boat Veterans' for Truth charges in the 2004 election. Now as then, the Times acts as if the issues involved were between Kerry's latest representations of his record and the "unsubstantiated" charges of the Swift Boat group. The Times used the term "unsubstantiated" more than twenty times during its election coverage and continues to make no discernable effort to examine any of the charges in detail.

But there was plenty of evidence in the work of other news organizations that some of the charges, and the Kerry military records themselves, were worth examining seriously. I found numerous problems with Kerry's records on his website in my own reporting for the Chicago Sun-Times: a Silver Star with a V for valor listed that the Navy stated it had never awarded in the history of the US Navy, three separate medal citations with some heavy revisions in Kerry's favor signed by former Navy Secretary John Lehman who denied ever signing them, to name two.


Posted by Ken McCracken · 5 June 2006 08:13 AM · Comments (60)

Pundit Roundtable

Welcome back on this lovely Sunday afternoon to another edition of PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE. I am your maître d', Ken McCracken. Here are our topics for this week:

Topic 1: What are your thoughts on the Big Guy in the Sky, theology and religion? Why is there Being rather than Nothing, anyway?

Topic 2: What is your favorite meal? (Give us recipes if you got 'em).

I am very pleased to introduce a new guest to the Roundtable, Tim Blair. Hello Tim, what do you think?

"I'm not religious at all -- confirmed an Anglican in 1978, I quit in 1981 -- but I maintain a fondness for Christianity, and (possibly due to domestic Italian influence) am increasingly interested in Catholicism. It's an abstract interest, mainly related to earthly rather than spiritual Catholic ideas.

My family mostly tend towards special-day (Christmas, Easter, baptisms, funerals, etc) church attendance. The Catholic wing attend weekly. The Baptist wing ... well, after they organized a family reunion at which no alcohol was served, we all kind of avoid them.

Why is there Being rather than Nothing? Beats me. You know, this might be a fun question to ask a pro-abortion person, considering their eagerness to consign potential Beings to the void.

Topic 2: Steak, rare, with Dijon mustard. Crayfish, lobster, and yabbies, served chilled with lemon juice and rock salt. Live rock oysters. Wasabi-hammered sashimi.

I had to look up yabbies to find out what they are. "Yabbies are an Australian freshwater crayfish and live in rivers, streams and dams. They can make good, low-maintenace pets because they can be kept in fish tanks (with lids) at home and only need to be fed every two days or so."

Next is returning pundit Laurence Simon, with his thoughts on these matters. Laurence?

"Is there someone looking down at us all?

Yeah, but It's usually Piper or Frisky looking down from the top of the bookshelf.

Topic 2: My favorite meal is the thin-crusted pizza at Kennealy's Irish Pub here in Hosuton, washed down with a few pints of Guinness.For home cooking, I grill stuffed jalapenos on my Weber. Nothing quite like a jalapeno filled with cheddar, a port wine cheese ball, or Havarti.

I am so glad that Pundit Roundtable regular Mark Coffey of Decision '08 (Because It's Never Too Early!) has allowed us to bring him back. Mark, what do you say?

"When considering religion, theology, and the big questions, the first thing we should note, since we're all political junkies, is that there is no compelling reason to leave religion out of politics. A religious person should be free to express himself, completely, in any sphere, as should an atheist. Our founding fathers fought against the establishment of an 'official' religion, but I don't believe they wished to exclude religion from the public sphere.

On a personal level, I consider myself a 'believer', but my concept of God is a bit unusual. I suppose some might call me a deist, or a follower of the 'blind watchmaker' theory, in that I believe that there is some underlying force of nature that set the rules of the cosmos. Some people pit religion against science - I think that's a shame. If you believe in God, you must believe, it seems to me, that He gave you the tools to think. I've always considered science and math to be, in a way, the very language of God. In that sense, I'm a bit like Einstein, with his talk of the 'Old One' (though, of course, I have only 1/500th of the ability of Einstein to decipher the Old One's clues).

I do believe that there is an underlying morality in the universe, as well, though, and that's where I part with the deists. I'm not a fundamentalist, in that I prefer to see much of the Old Testament as parable rather than history, but I do think that the sons of Abraham, be they Christian, Jew, or Muslim, have tapped into a well of knowledge that is divinely inspired.

As for Christ, well, I profess to be a Christian, but that's a somewhat private affair. Suffice to say that, even for a person who doubts His divinity, His teachings have a resonance that speaks through the ages.

I'm certainly not qualified, philosophically, to give Sartre or Hamlet a run for his money in considering the why of existence. It seems to me that humans are both blessed and cursed - we understand too much to avoid the awful knowledge of our impending doom, both individually and collectively, yet we know too little to answer the deepest mysteries that might provide us with some perspective and comfort.

Ultimately, religion and science are opposite sides of the same coin: both are humanity's attempts to at least make a start at that knowledge of the age-old questions.

Topic 2 is easy: pizza, pizza, pizza! The recipe - pick up the phone and call in!

Mmmm . . . lovely pizza.

I like mine with pepperoni and fungus.


The Host's Last Word: I was raised as a midwestern Unitarian, which is an extremely radical sect of protestantism, so radical that it is literally unrecognizable as christianity. I think I learned more about the Dhammapada in Sunday school than I did about the New Testament. The first sex education class I ever had was in Sunday school if you can believe such a thing. So, growing up, the whole God thing came with a pretty skeptical point of view.

I am an atheist, more or less. Too much evidence to the contrary for God's existence in my opinion, particularly due to the presence of evil in the world. I have a hard time believing that an all-knowing, all-powerful and loving God allows it to exist. Does not compute.

I think Being exists because Nothing got bored of itself, and decided it needed something to play with. Nothing merely negated itself, and voilà! here we are.

 

Teppanyaki!

I never knew about this type of cooking until I went to Taiwan, where they call it tiebanshao (and, naturally, the Chinese claim to have invented it. And the chefs don't flip shrimp into their chef hats). The best meal I ever had was an all-you-can-eat (!) tiebanshao, where the cook presented me with a large slab of seasoned and garnished dofu. Every single bite had unfolding layers of rich flavors, it was just marvelous. I like dofu any way you serve it, but I never expected it to be my supremo meal.

I hope to eat at Charlie Trotter's one day.

Well that's all for this week's gustatorial edition of Pundit Roundtable - see you next time!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 4 June 2006 02:07 PM · Comments (9)

The Goldstein Thesis + Two Cents

Ace is known as a snark artist in the blogosphere. Sometimes he takes the lampshade off his head however, and comes up with some thoughtful stuff. In his post Why Does The Unhinged Left So Hate Jeff Goldstein? he brilliantly deconstructs the psychology behind leftist 'thinking', such as it is, and shows it for what it is: ego defense. There is a bit I'd like to add to the thesis.

The default political stance for humans is conservatism. Your parents spent a lot of time and effort teaching you the rules of society that have developed into tradition in your social or ethnic group over many generations, and you learn how the status quo operates. It isn't really that much of a political conservatism per se, just a practical grappling with society as it has developed. Only when you know the rules, do you become free to question and break them.

This conservatism is for the common guy. The special, gifted, thinkers however are not satisfied being the hoi polloi. They self-select into an elite - an avant-garde who gain admission by rejecting the major tenets of society. Mind you, it doesn't take real brainpower to join - logic and reason are actually impediments to the suspension of disbelief required to think that Marxism, for example, is viable and should be emulated. Buying into the rhetoric of such failed philosophies such as Marxism actually reveals a gullibility and an inability to reason that runs counter to real intellectualism.

But that is not the point. Leftism isn't about pursuit of the truth - it is about feeling special. Leftism isn't about trying to find new and effective ways of doing things - it is about proving that you deserve to remain among the elite by accepting new ideas - any new ideas - as long as they skewer tradition. All it takes is knee-jerk contrariness, as in: the traditional concept of marriage is wrong and men should be allowed to marry men. There is no real examination of the worth and value of traditional marriage here, nor even a real investigation of its faults - just a desire to shock all of those billions of squares who think traditional marriage should stay what it is. Rejecting the peasant beliefs catapaults one into the elite. Mission accomplished. So then becoming a leftist 'thinker' is an easy task that requires very little thought: simply find a cherished traditional or conventional belief, and demand its repeal. The more outrageous, the better in fact.

Conventional belief: the victims of the 911 attacks were regular folk harming no one, who didn't deserve to die.

Repealer: those who died on 911 were 'little Eichmanns' keeping the wheels of the Nazi death machine well-oiled, and deserved to die for their past crimes.

See how easy it is? If you play along, maybe you too can earn big bucks as a tenured professor at a major university.

The good news is, leftism is a huge soporific that avoids the need to actually act upon any ideals. After all, we have heard repeatedly from the left that Bush is the new Hitler, and that we are living under a fascist state. If they really believed this, wouldn't they be manning the barricades? Either they think our fascism isn't really all that bad ( I guess because it is a strange fascism that, for some reason, allows the free flow of ideas on the internet), or once they merely mouth opposition to the 'fascism', the real task at hand -maintaining one's elite bona fides - has been accomplished. No need to get up from the keyboard and actually do anything about it. Expressing 'outrage' are the dues paid for ongoing elite membership - that is all that is required.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 3 June 2006 04:43 AM · Comments (40)

Latino 'Madrassa' Principal Speaks Out

. . . and embarasses himself with the types of racist bloviations worthy of the Ku Klux Klan:

We don’t want to drink from a White water fountain, we have our own wells and our natural reservoirs and our way of collecting rain in our aqueducts. We don’t need a White water fountain. So the whole issue of segregation and the whole issue of the Civil Rights Movement is all within the box of White culture and White supremacy. We should not still be fighting for what they have. We are not interested in what they have because we have so much more and because the world is so much larger. And ultimately the White way, the American way, the neo liberal, capitalist way of life will eventually lead to our own destruction. And so it isn’t about an argument of joining neo liberalism, it’s about us being able, as human beings, to surpass the barrier."
How's that Mexican way of doing things workin' out for your brethren south of the border, pal? Aren't so many of them risking life and limb to come here to escape just the sort of society you are proposing?

Via Michelle Malkin.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 2 June 2006 10:11 AM · Comments (39)

The Actor Becomes The Role

Sometimes an actor is so good in a role, they appropriate it. They define it. They lock out the competition. Here are my Top Ten Movie Blurb picks where the actor became the role. I know, I know - a few of these are television roles, and many of the portrayals here have no real competition. That is not the point. The point is rolemaking excellence, and those who have achieved it.

George C. Scott as General George S. Patton

The man and the part truly became one.

Sean Connery as James Bond

Oh sure, the Bonds come and go, but we all know who owns the role. Actually, I thought Roger Moore was just an outstanding James Bond as well, but he wasn't . . . supreme, the way Connery is.

Tom Baker as Doctor Who

I find Doctor Who to be a basically unwatchable show. Except when Tom Baker is playing the Doctor, then the show perks up and becomes interesting, and the $10 budget-a-show sets, costumes and special effects don't seem so distracting anymore.

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka

I heard Johnny Depp (who I like a lot) got good marks for his portrayal as Willy Wonka. Didn't see it. Didn't need to. Wilder is, was, and always will be Willy Wonka.

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes

Basil Rathbone was of course the most famous Holmes. But he was a cardboard cariacature in a deer-stalker cap compared to Brett's complex portrayal.

Here was Holmes as he was supposed to be: neurotic, intense, addicted (or so it was implied) and wavering on that thin line between genius and madness. The late Jeremy Brett was fascinating to watch in this role, it is a shame he never brought Holmes to the big screen.

 

Yul Brynner as Ramses II and King Mongkut

Okay so it's basically the same role, but who could ever play a pompous potentate better than Brynner?

Bela Lugosi as Dracula

Lugosi has had some excellent competition. The original Nosferatu was one of the creepiest things ever put on film. Christopher Lee, of course, filled this role admirably, and Gary Oldman was just spectacular in the role as well (in the most fun film version by far, in my opinion). But Lugois just became Dracula. It reminds me of Ed Wood's favorite phrase - "Bela, that was perfect!"

Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins

Hard to imagine anyone but Andrews pulling off this role: she had to be pretty but not sexy, stern but fantastical, and sing like a dove on top of everything else. Easily one of my top ten favorite movies.

Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli

Penn was just a little too believable as the clueless, dope-smoking Spicoli.

David Bowie as Andy Warhol

Basquiat is not a super-well-known film, and Bowie is not really the star in it, but it is fun, and worth watching for Bowie's performance alone if nothing else. Must be seen to be believed.

My last Top Ten Movie Blurb was All My Favorite Villains.

A few more ideas I have are All My Favorite Clowns, and Top Ten Movie Speeches (Carl Spackler from Caddyshack will show up I guarantee - "So I jump ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet . . ." ). Keep some popcorn handy.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 1 June 2006 12:03 AM · Comments (81)