HolyCoast: May 2005

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Deep Who?

A mystery going back to the early 70's has been solved:
The Washington Post today confirmed that W. Mark Felt, a former number-two official at the FBI, was "Deep Throat," the secretive source who provided information that helped unravel the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s and contributed to the resignation of president Richard M. Nixon.

The confirmation came from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story, and their former top editor, Benjamin C. Bradlee. The three spoke after Felt's family and Vanity Fair magazine identified the 91-year-old Felt, now a retiree in California, as the long-anonymous source who provided crucial guidance for some of the newspaper's groundbreaking Watergate stories.

I'm old enough to remember the chaos that surrounded Nixon during the Watergate investigation, though I wasn't paying much attention to the daily rantings of Woodward and Bernstein. And I've never heard of Mark Felt. I thought the infamous Deep Throat might have been a compilation of several people that W&B threw together to hide their sources.

This announcement must really fry Woodward and Bernstein who had the rug pulled out from under the announcement they hoped to make someday after the guy died. There goes the pay-per-view revenue.

Food Sightings

We've previously discussed the "virgin in a burrito" type stories where someone swears that various deities are appearing in their happy meals. Taco Bell has decided to have a little fun with these stories and has created the Food Sightings Museum. You can go there and look at some of the examples they've posted and vote on what you think of them. Some of them are quite a stretch - you really have to be looking hard to find anything.

Given the history of some of these cases, it might be worth looking a little harder. One lady found the Virgin Mary in her grilled cheese sandwich and later sold it on eBay for $28,000. Another guy discovered a drawing of the runaway bride on his toast. He sold it for $15,000.

I had something on my flour tortilla today that could have passed for Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Do you think I could get anything for that?

Consoling George

Some college pranksters in Ohio have decide to have a little fun with Sen. Voinovich's crying jag in the Senate the other day. They've created ConsoleGeorge.com and its worth going over there to have a look (h/t The Corner). This is my favorite image from the site:

Marry, Yes...Hanky Panky, No

I can't make this stuff up:

HOMOSEXUAL priests in the Church of England will be allowed to “marry” their boyfriends under a proposal drawn up by senior bishops, led by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The decision ensures that gay and lesbian clergy who wish to register relationships under the new “civil partnerships” law — giving them many of the tax and inheritance advantages of married couples — will not lose their licences to be priests.

They will, however, have to give an assurance to their diocesan bishop that they will abstain from sex.

Anybody want to bet how well that's going to work?

America's Obsession With the Babe

I wrote the other day about the obsession ABC had with IRL driver Danica Patrick, almost to the exclusion of everybody else running in the Indy 500. Paul Campos of the Rocky Mountain News has some thoughts on that issue as well (h/t RealClearPolitics.com):
The media frenzy surrounding Danica Patrick's participation in this year's Indianapolis 500 was telling. Janet Guthrie broke the gender barrier at Indy a quarter-century ago, and the race has featured a female driver in 12 of the last 14 years, so by this point Patrick's gender in itself hardly qualified as news. Yet Patrick received far more media coverage than Lyn St. James ever did, who took part in the race seven times in the 1990s, when a woman in the Indy 500 was still novel.

The media's fascination with Patrick also flies in the face of declining coverage of the event overall: Indy car racing has suffered a massive loss of popularity over the past 15 years, especially in comparison to its NASCAR rival. Indeed, many of the stories about Patrick speculated that a victory in the 500 might "save" Indy car racing, by once again making it an economically viable sport. (Patrick finished fourth).

The reason Danica Patrick is supposed to save Indy racing is that she is, sociologically speaking, a "babe." A conventionally attractive young woman, Patrick has been the subject of feature stories in publications such as People, which normally pay as much attention to the Indianapolis 500 as they do to Mongolian yak races.

I thought the ABC broadcast was way over the top with their adulation of Patrick. They had a lengthy puff piece in the pre-race show featuring her, and even had her trying to downplay her looks, though she admitted that her looks had opened doors for her that otherwise might not have opened. Let's face it, if she looked like pole sitter Tony Kanaan, would the media have been interested?

It's too bad it works this way, because Patrick is a talented driver and all the noise about her appearance takes away from that. The IRL has some big problems. For one thing, many of the drivers are not Americans, and many have strong accents when they attempt English, and I think this automatically creates a divide between them and the American racing fans. No matter how good the racing might be, people want to be able to relate to the drivers, and it's hard to do if you can't understand what the guy is saying.

I would hate to think that the IRL has to rely on the success of one cute female driver to save the league. If they do, they've got big, big problems.

John Kerry, Bible Scholar and Speed Reader

You can tell that John Kerry still has his sights set on the White House. He's out shaking babies and kissing hands, or kissing something like that, that is when he's not rereading the entire New Testament:

"I went back and reread the whole New Testament the other day. Nowhere in the three-year ministry of Jesus Christ did I find a suggestion at all, ever, anywhere, in any way whatsover, that you ought to take the money from the poor, the opportunities from the poor and give them to the rich people," Kerry said.

Kerry has yet to officially announce whether he's in the running for the 2008 nomination, and he didn't take questions from the media Friday.

Do you really believe that Kerry reread the whole New Testament? I believe that about as much as I believe he ran guns into Cambodia. This is yet another example of Democrats trying desperately to get religion in the hopes of appealing to those Christian conservatives who won't have anything to do with a Democrat.

I'm no Bible scholar myself, but I don't remember anywhere in the gospels Jesus addressing tax policy.

Give it up, John. Whatever you're selling, we're not buying.

Euro Takes A Beating After French Vote

Looks like all those Americans who'd like to take a cheap European vacation just might get their wish:
The euro fell more than one percent to its weakest level against the dollar in seven months on Tuesday after France's rejection of the European Union constitution sparked worries about reform prospects in Europe.

Analysts say the euro zone needs deep reforms because of its anemic growth and low confidence, but the French vote underscored voters' distrust of a reform drive that could limit social protection.

In response, French President Jacques Chirac named Dominique de Villepin as the new prime minister, following a government reshuffle in the wake of Sunday's referendum. Villepin was seen as a Chirac loyalist who is unlikely to reintroduce reforms.

I don't think things will get better with the new prime minister. If you remember, ole Dom de Villepin was the snooty Frenchman who led the fight against the US in the UN during the runup to the Iraq war. He was almost single-handedly responsible for "freedom fries" and "freedom toast", which for a brief time even made it on the menu of Air Force One (until some humorless State Department type made them change it).

The Dutch vote on the EU constitution on Wednesday, and right now it appears that they will reject it as well. The French vote may give some of the Dutch cold feet (who wouldn't get cold feet in wooden shoes!), so the rejection could be even larger than the 55-45 margin in France. If they reject it as well, the EU will be severely damaged and the Euro could continue to slide. If that continues, look out Europe, the Yanks are coming!

By the way, for those of you not familiar with the European languages, "EU" is pronounced "Eeeyyyyyeeewww", just as if you stepped in something disgusting.

Monday, May 30, 2005

France Has Their Own Red State/Blue State Divide

I saw this interesting graphic on Powerline:

In this case the blue areas generally support the party of the right, or Chirac's party. The red areas are more leftist, so the colors are opposite of what they represent in the U.S. election map.

Still, it's interesting that the areas that supported the EU constitution are the more heavily populated, urban areas, similar to the blue counties in the U.S.

However, in both the U.S. and French elections, red was right.

Eating Disorders Become Their Own Religion

Eating disorders have been around for a long time, and probably started getting the attention they deserved when Karen Carpenter died as a result of a long battle with anorexia. Lately other stars like Mary-Kate Olsen have also fought public battles with the disorder. But apparently some girls have elevated their eating disorders to almost a cult status (from FoxNews.com):
They call her "Ana." She is a role model to some, a goddess to others — the subject of drawings, prayers and even a creed.

She tells them what to eat and mocks them when they don't lose weight. And yet, while she is a very real presence in the lives of many of her followers, she exists only in their minds. Ana is short for anorexia (search), and — to the alarm of experts — many who suffer from the potentially fatal eating disorder are part of an underground movement that promotes self-starvation and, in some cases, has an almost cult-like appeal.

Followers include young women and teens who wear red Ana bracelets and offer one another encouraging words of "thinspiration" on Web pages and blogs.

...Experts say the Ana movement also plays on the tendency people with eating disorders have toward "all or nothing thinking."

"When they do something, they tend to pursue it to the fullest extent. In that respect, Ana may almost become a religion for them," says Carmen Mikhail, director of the eating disorders clinic at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.

She and others point to the "Ana creed," a litany of beliefs about control and starvation, that appears on many Web sites and blogs. At least one site encourages followers to make a vow to Ana and sign it in blood.

People with eating disorders who've been involved in the movement confirm its cult-like feel.

"People pray to Ana to make them skinny," says Sara, a 17-year-old in Columbus, Ohio, who was an avid organizer of Ana followers until she recently entered treatment for her eating disorder. She spoke on the condition that her last name not be used.

I, too, have an eating disorder...I like to eat regularly and often too much. However, I think I'll skip trying to make overeating into a religion of its own.

The Other Big Race

I posted yesterday on the Indy 500, and here's the report on the other big race, the Coke 600 from Charlotte. I watched about half of it last night and finally finished the other half this morning. It was much more of a wreck-fest than I'm used to seeing in this race.

The track had been ground down to smooth it out a little bit since the last race, and the result was record speeds, and record cautions. Turn two seemed particularly dicey as many of the cautions were caused by single car spins coming off that turn. It was not a good night for teammates either. Early in the race, right after car owned Chip Ganassi arrived from Indy, Casey Mears wrecked and took out his teammate Sterling Marlin. Later Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran all over his teammate Michael Waltrip and effectively put both of them out of the race. Finally, late in the race, Brian Vickers caused an accident that put teammate Jeff Gordon in the garage.

By the end of the night, the cars looked like they had been running at Bristol instead of Charlotte. Most of the cars were carrying various patches and pieces to smooth out damage from earlier incidents. There was a lot of good racing, and the ending was as suspenseful as the ending of the 500.

With 10 laps to go Joe Nemechek was leading and pulling away by 20 car lengths. He looked like a sure winner, and then lost the right rear tire and spun into the fence. This made for about a 6 lap green flag run to the finish led by Bobby Labonte. Labonte was sporting unfamiliar colors this weekend. Teammate Jason Leffler drives the FedEx sponsored 11 car, but failed to qualify for the race. The Joe Gibbs team, fearing a sponsorship disaster with FedEx out of the race, put the FedEx colors on the 18 car of Bobby Labonte. They were apparently able to work out a deal with Interstate Batteries for the race.

Gibbs Racing insists that Leffler's job is secure in the 11 car, but with veteran driver Ward Burton sitting on the sidelines, I would guess that Leffler better step it up or Burton may find himself back in Nextel Cup and Leffler will be looking for a ride.

Labonte led nearly all of the remaining laps with Jimmie Johnson coming hard. Johnson threw his car hard into turns three and four on the final lap and just squeezed by Labonte by half a car length at the finish line. After 600 miles of racing, the winning margin was about 6 feet. Given that Johnson is sponsored by Lowes, who also sponsors the track, it was a sponsor's dream for the track promoter and the 48 team. Congrats to Jimmy and the Hendrick Racing organization for winning their third 600 in a row.

You can read more about the race at NASCAR.com.

Bad Combination - Shooting Range and 4-Year-Old

Shooting ranges and four-year-olds are not a good mix. A lot of things went wrong in this situation (from FoxNews.com):
A 4-year-old boy was fatally wounded when he wandered behind a paper target while family and friends were practicing shooting, authorities said.

Evan Davis Klassen, of Chisago City, was shot around 1:45 p.m. Sunday at Lake Vermilion (search), where a group of about a dozen people had gathered for the Memorial Day weekend.

"They thought they had the kids under control," said Sgt. James McKenzie of the St. Louis County Sheriff's Department.

While the paper target didn't completely obscure the child, he was wearing camouflage pants that made him difficult to see against the foliage, McKenzie said.

A 40-year-old man fired a handgun about 30 feet through the target and into the boy, he said.

McKenzie called the shooting as "a pretty straightforward accident" and said no charges were likely to be filed. The man's name and relationship with the boy were not released.

After the shooting, people rushed the boy to a nearby lodge. Emergency medical workers arrived, but there was nothing they could do, McKenzie said.

French Say Non to EU and Chirac

The French citizenry, who are not exactly known as "joiners" (see the Iraq war), have rejected the new EU constitution, effectively slapping their president Jacques Chirac right in the kisser. For all of those who love to comment about President Bush's approval rating, which generally runs somewhere around 50%, Chirac, the man who would be president of the world, has an approval rating of 32% among his fellow Frenchmen.

Chirac admitted defeat, but also took a shot at his countrymen:
"It is your sovereign decision, and I take note," Chirac said. "Make no mistake, France's decision inevitably creates a difficult context for the defense of our interests in Europe."

This has thrown the EU into turmoil and is causing a slide in the value of the Euro. Poor babies.

Mark Steyn, who always has an interesting take on things, discusses the campaign by the EU to gain ratification of the constitution:
Following Sunday's vote in France, on Wednesday Dutch voters get to express their opinion on the proposed ''European Constitution.'' Heartening to see democracy in action, notwithstanding the European elite's hysterical warnings that, without the constitution, the continent will be set back on the path to Auschwitz. I haven't seen the official ballot, but the choice seems to be: "Check Box A to support the new constitution; check Box B for genocide and conflagration."

Alas, this tactic doesn't seem to have worked. So, a couple of days before the first referendum, Jean-Claude Juncker, the "president" of the European Union, let French and Dutch voters know how much he values their opinion:

"If at the end of the ratification process, we do not manage to solve the problems, the countries that would have said No, would have to ask themselves the question again," "President" Juncker told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

Got that? You have the right to vote, but only if you give the answer your rulers want you to give. But don't worry, if you don't, we'll treat you like a particularly backward nursery school and keep asking the question until you get the answer right. Even America's bossiest nanny-state Democrats don't usually express their contempt for the will of the people quite so crudely.

Juncker is a man from Luxembourg, a country two-thirds the size of your rec room, and, under the agreeably clubby EU arrangements, he gets to serve as "president" without anything so tiresome as having to be voted into the job by "ordinary people."

I doubt we'll see WWIII in Europe over this, but things will be tense in Brussels for awhile.

Thank You Veterans!

A special thank-you to all the veterans who have served in any capacity in our armed forces, and especially to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country.

My father-in-law, Roy Jennings, has a silver star and bronze star, as well as a couple of purple hearts from his service in Europe in WWII, and it's fascinating to hear his story and read his privately published book of his days in the service. Given that he was only 18 or 19 when he was going through his wartime experiences in France and Germany, it's hard to believe the difficult and dangerous things we ask our young people to do for us.

Thank you again for all of us.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Danica Third Loser; ABC/IRL Threaten Suicide

Of course I'm kidding with the title of this post, but after watching the coverage of the Indy 500, I'm not sure I'm that far off. I've never watched a race where the broadcast spent so much time concentrating on one driver. It's obvious that ABC and the IRL were rooting big time for Danica Patrick, the 23 year old female rookie who ended up 4th in the race today. They must be very disappointed that she didn't win.

No question she's a talented driver and belongs in the big leagues of IRL racing, but there were 32 other drivers competing and I'm guessing some of them had fans too. It's pretty clear that my earlier assumptions about her importance to the IRL and the ratings on ABC were well founded. Now that the IRL finally has a female competitor that doesn't look like a guy, they sure are doing everything they can to take advantage of the situation.

I had to laugh at one point in the race. On lap 56 during a sequence of green flag pit stops, Patrick became the first women to lead a lap at Indy. Todd Harris, the ABC announcer, proclaimed that she was the first woman in history to "turn the trick". I could almost hear the producer banging his head on the console with that comment. I'm not sure that's the analogy he was going for.

In other news, congratulations to Englishman Dan Wheldon on his first Indy 500 win. I'm sure he ran the whole 500 miles, but given the emphasis on Patrick, I didn't see much of him until the end of the race.

More Koran Abuse Surfaces

Scott Ott reports on more disgusting tales of Koran abuse:
Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan rioted today in response to new reports that copies of the Koran were desecrated when two American buildings collapsed after being struck by American airplanes in September of 2001.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) revealed that fragments of the burned and soiled Korans were discovered in the ruins of the World Trade Center towers in New York City.

A spokesman for the ACLU said the Bush administration did little to prevent the damage to the Islamic holy books, that apparently belonged to Muslims who worked in the office towers until their "unjustified termination" during the morning of September 11, 2001.

"This is just another example of U.S. insensitivity to cultural diversity," said the unnamed ACLU spokesman. "To add insult to injury, anonymous sources say that some of the Koran fragments may have been unceremoniously dumped in a landfill."

Sort of puts it in perspective, doesn't it.

Just What We Need, More Grab Abu Photos

The ACLU, always looking for new ways to tear down the country, has convinced a judge in New York to release additional photos of prisoner abuse from the Grab Abu prison in Iraq. This is just what the world needs - another excuse for the nutcases of the world to get their panties in a wad.

ACLU lawyer Megan Lewis told the judge she believes the government has pictures of abuse beyond the Abu Ghraib images that sparked outrage around the world after they were leaked to the media last year.

Some of the thousands of pages of documents the government has released to the ACLU seem to refer to such images, and the government has not denied that additional photos exist, she said. The judge decided some pictures from Abu Graib could be released to comply with the Freedom of Information Act while others must be redacted or were not relevant to the ACLU's request, Lewis said.

She said the judge's findings likely would clear the way for the release of other pictures of detainees taken around the world by U.S. authorities.

``I do think they could be extremely upsetting and depict conduct that would outrage the American public and be truly horrifying,'' she said outside court.

You can almost hear the excitement in the ACLU lawyer's voice as she dreams about the damage to the U.S. that the additional photos will cause.

Will these photos reveal anything worthwhile about the prisoner abuse? Of course not. Everybody already acknowledges what happened and that it was disgusting and not worthy of the U.S. military. Reasonable people also know that the abuse was caused by a handful of people and is not common practice among our armed forces.

What will be the result of additional photos? More Muslims will die in stupid riots overseas and more U.S. troops will die in Iraq and Afghanistan as the insurgents get all fired up again. More needless loss of life.

One more thing, the ACLU will prove once again that they are basically an anti-American organization.

1100 Miles of Racing Today

If you're a fan of motorsports, this is great day for you. First you have the Indy 500 and the boys and girl in their glorified go-karts, and later in the day, the Coke 600 featuring the NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers from Charlotte, NC. Some of the NASCAR guys used to do the "double" and compete in both races on the same day, but Indy moved their race back an hour and that has made it almost impossible to complete Indy and still get to Charlotte in time for the 600.

One of the more controversial NASCAR drivers, Robby Gordon, is creating a little controversy in the IRL with his comments about female phenom Danica Patrick. Robby has done the double more than once, and he has competed quite a bit in IRL cars. If it wasn't for the schedule problem, I'm sure he'd still be trying to do both races.

Much of the media exposure for this year's Indy 500 has focused on Patrick. Is is because she's the first woman to make the field? No, she's just the cutest female to make the race, and if she were to win, she'd be a huge media personality. I'm sure the IRL and their sponsors are secretly rooting for her, since Indy is the only race that draws a sell-out crowd. At most IRL races you could shoot off a cannon at the grandstands and probably not come within 100 feet of a fan.

The current conflict has to do with her size. She weighs about 100 pounds, 105 pounds less than pole sitter Tony Kanaan. Since the cars in the IRL have to weigh the same and they don't take into consideration the driver's weight, some are complaining that she has an unfair advantage since she will be carrying 105 pounds less weight which should make her car perform a little better. Robby puts it this way:

"The lighter the car, the faster it goes," Gordon said. "Do the math. Put her in the car at her weight, then put me or Tony Stewart in the car at 200 pounds and our car is at least 100 pounds heavier.

"I won't race against her until the IRL does something to take that advantage away."

The Indy Racing League does not consider the weight of the driver in its race specifications. The car has to weigh at least 1,525 pounds before the fuel and driver are added, and teams in Indy have estimated that Patrick will gain close to 1 mph in speed because of her small stature.

You might say, what's the big deal about 1 mph? Well, in a three hour race a car with a 1 mph advantage will lap the field. That's a pretty big winning margin.

NASCAR does it a little different. If the driver weighs less than 200 pounds, the teams are required to add weight to the car equal to the difference between the driver's weight and 200 pounds. This rule was added a few years ago to allow the teams to hire bigger drivers without suffering a weight disadvantage. NASCAR didn't want its driver lineup to look like a bunch of jockeys.

With this change you can have big guys like Michael Waltrip and Dale Jarrett compete with little guys like Mark Martin without an advantage going to the stature-impaired.

Both races should be interesting. This is NASCAR's longest race and that extra 100 miles is pretty tough on both the drivers and the cars. Look for some otherwise strong cars to have problems in that last 100 miles.

Now it's time to sit back, relax, and fire up the TiVO.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Comity or Comedy?

Captain Ed tells of the attempt by Harry Reid to exploit the "deal" within minutes of the triumphant press conference:

The signatures of 14 Senate centrists, seven from each party, spilled across the last page of a hard-won compromise on President Bush's judicial nominees. But whatever elation the negotiators felt, the Senate's Democratic leader did not share it.

In the privacy of his Capitol office last Monday night, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., asked for commitments from six Democrats fresh from the talks. Would they pledge to support filibusters against Brett Kavanaugh and William Haynes, two nominees not specifically covered by the pact with Republicans?

Some of the Democrats agreed. At least one, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, declined.

Details of Reid's attempt to kill the two nominations within minutes of the agreement, as well as other events during this tumultuous time, were obtained by The Associated Press in interviews with senators and aides in both parties. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing confidentiality pledges.

This will probably be the shortest-lived "saving of the Republic" in history.

Oliver, Stoned

From Drudge:
Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone was arrested on suspicion of drug possession and driving while intoxicated, police said Saturday.

Stone, 58, was arrested Friday night at a police checkpoint on Sunset Boulevard after showing signs of alcohol intoxication, police Sgt. John Edmundson said.

A search of his Mercedes turned up drugs, Edmundson said. He did not specify what kind.

Imagine my surprise.

Mayor To Face Charges in NY Gay Marriage Case

Unlike California, New York believes that people who willfully break the law deserve to be charged with a crime:
The village mayor who challenged New York law by attempting to marry gay couples will face trial, the state's highest court ruled Friday.

New Paltz Village Mayor Jason West faces 24 misdemeanor counts of violating the state's domestic relations law by marrying couples without marriage licenses last year. West's defiance of a law that state officials say forbids gay marriage made the little Hudson Valley village a flashpoint in the national gay marriage debate.

I mention California, because to this day Mayor Gavin Newsome of San Francisco has not been charged with a crime, even though gay marriage was clearly illegal in California when he decided on his own to start marrying gay couples. The Attorney General is not doing his job.

Follow-up on Tragic Crash

The story I reported earlier about the accident involving local kids on their way to the prom just gets sadder and sadder. The boy who died was a scholar/athlete at Servite High School, and the girl who was killed was his girlfriend who had just that day been reelected president of the student body at JSerra High School (both are Catholic private schools). Had the girl made it to the dance, she would have been crowned "Queen of the Spring Fling" later that evening.

In one of those spooky cosmic coincidences, here's what had happened earlier in the day involving the girl who died:
Later, Gilmore recounted the campaign speech Gillian gave the day she died, asking students to re-elect her as ASB president.

She put on a skit. She stood behind a screen while performers, including Ashley, acted out in pantomime.

The topic was, "What Would School Be Like Without Me?"

The performers pretended to cry.

Gillian came out from behind the screen.

Everyone was happy.

That kind of stuff gives you cold chills when you think back on it.

I had earlier wondered how many of these kids were wearing seatbelts. Three of the survivors who remained in the vehicle had their belts fastened. They all suffered major injuries, but they'll live for another day. The two fatalities were sitting together in the back seat and neither had belts on. The third person who was ejected from the vehicle had been riding in the cargo compartment in the back of the vehicle. They had 6 people in a 5 passenger car.

What a shame that all it took were a couple of bad decision to ruin so many lives. If you have teenages, as I do, have them read the following stories. It just might save their lives someday (registration may be required, but do it, it's worth it):

Drive to dance ends in tragedy

Teens were liked, admired

If nothing else, remind your kids about some important rules:
  1. The driver can't afford to be distracted. Life is too precious to trade it for a pack of gum you dropped on the floor, or a cell phone call.
  2. Never, ever ride in a vehicle without using the seat belts. If belts aren't available, call home.
  3. Never overload any vehicle, let alone an SUV. It's better to take two cars than have people riding in spaces that aren't designed for passengers.
  4. If you're driving an SUV, keep the control inputs smooth. Jerking the wheel makes a top heavy vehicle very unstable and it may be impossible to control.

Is That Even Possible?

I saw this headline on FoxNews.com:

Hooters May Get Bigger

I bet they get a million hits on that one.

Adventures in Stupidity

School yearbooks used to have silly pictures and joking statements from the students, but didn't used to contain threats, real or imagined, against the President of the United States (from Newsmax):

High school yearbooks were recalled so that administrators could black out a joke caption under one student's picture: "most likely to assassinate President Bush."

Mesa Ridge High School officials recalled about 100 yearbooks earlier this month and had staffers use markers to obscure the words in them and in the still-undistributed copies. The Secret Service even launched an investigation.

"They kind of ruined our yearbook," said Christina Tredway, who just graduated from the school just south of Colorado Springs. Most students thought the blacking-out was a bad idea since the caption obviously was a joke, she said.

Widefield School District officials called the caption a prank that wasn't caught before the yearbooks were printed, and district spokesman James Drew said future yearbooks will be triple-checked before printing.

Lon Garner, special agent in charge of the Secret Service's Denver District, said the agency would look into the incident because all threats against the president must be investigated.

"That's our mission," he said. "That's what we do."

There were several other joke captions in the book, including "most likely to forget his gown at graduation." Names of those involved were not released.

As much as the students would like to think that this is funny, making threats against the president is a federal offense, and somebody on the staff at that high school should have been editing that book and caught that stupid statement long before it ever got in print.

Could it be that the faculty member assigned to supervise the yearbooks didn't remove it because he/she also thought the statement was a joke and appropriate for a student yearbook?

Friday, May 27, 2005

We Got Zonked

I love this photo that I found on the Miami Valley Conservative Alliance site:

The graphic is from WuzzaDem. Anybody old enough to remember "Let's Make A Deal" and host Monty Hall will remember that the show often ended up with the winner choosing from three curtains. Two had "fabulous" prizes, and the other one was something stupid and worthless. If you chose that one, you were said to have been "zonked".

Well, Monty McCain zonked us with the "deal" on Monday. Maybe we can trade him for somebody else.

Rev. Al Newest Drive-Time Shock Jock

The Rev. Al Sharpton, fresh from berating President Vicente Fox in Mexico City, will be coming the airwaves near you (from Newsmax):

The Rev. Al Sharpton has signed a deal to bring a left-wing voice to the radio airwaves.

Incredibly, Sharpton calls it a "balanced” voice.

The controversial civil rights leaders and former presidential candidate’s two-hour show will air during "afternoon drive” as early as August.

Hugh Hewitt watch out - there's a new sheriff in town (or is it inmate)!

Beach Party at Geffen's House

The sacred conclave of Malibu beach has been opened to the unwashed hordes:
Coastal-access advocates set foot on the sand at Tinseltown titan David Geffen's sprawling beachfront estate, some for the first time, celebrating the opening of a 9-foot-wide public pathway to the ocean.

Creation of the walkway came after Geffen reluctantly made good on a 22-year-old legal promise to let the public onto part of Carbon Beach, a mile-long stretch of sand east of the Malibu Pier. The public will have access to the path as well as most of the beach in front of the Geffen estate.

Geffen had installed video security cameras that scanned the paved path off Pacific Coast Highway and every inch of beachfront in front of his house. The cameras were watching for "trespassers" stepping out of the public right of way and onto his private sand.

Several times during the Thursday visit, a security guard came out to order visitors off Geffen's property. Once, a guard demanded that a beach umbrella leaning several inches over the imaginary boundary line be moved.

If you get some of Geffen's "private sand" on your bottom, do you have to shake it off by squatting over his property line before you leave?

Knife Control

Leave it to the British to take weapons bans to a new level:

Doctors say knives are too pointed

A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.

A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase - and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.

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

The research is published in the British Medical Journal.

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

Government inspectors will now come to your home before meals and cut your meat for you.

NBC Takes A Shot At DeLay

NBC television, in an effort to be cute, decided it was okay to slur a Republican on one of their shows:
U.S. House of Representative Majority Leader Tom DeLay accused NBC on Thursday of slurring his name by including an unflattering reference to him on the NBC police drama "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."

DeLay's name surfaced on Wednesday night on the show's season finale, which centered on the fictional slayings of two judges by suspected right-wing extremists.

In the episode, police are frustrated by a lack of clues, leading one officer to quip, "Maybe we should put out an APB (all-points-bulletin) for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt."

In a letter to NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker, DeLay wrote: "This manipulation of my name and trivialization of the sensitive issue of judicial security represents a reckless disregard for the suffering initiated by recent tragedies and a great disservice to public discourse."

NBC responded this way:
NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly responded in a statement that the dialogue in question "was neither a political comment nor an accusation."

"The script line involved an exasperated detective bedeviled by a lack of clues, making a sarcastic comment about the futility of looking for a suspect when no specific description existed," Reilly said.

He added: "It's not unusual for 'Law & Order' to mention real names in its fictional stories. We're confident in our viewers' ability to distinguish between the two."

I'll believe that when they write a slur of Ted Kennedy into the show the next time they do a drunk-driving story.

Local Teens Killed On The Way To A Dance

Boy, I hate these kinds of stories:

A carload of teens headed to a JSerra High School dance flipped over Thursday night on the San Joaquin Hills (73) Toll Road, killing a boy and a girl and seriously injuring four other youths.

The crash occurred about 7:10 p.m. when the driver, a 16-year-old San Juan Capistrano girl, lost control on the northbound tollway near Newport Coast Drive, police said.

"A passenger ... attempted to correct by turning back toward the No. 1 lane, and the vehicle rolled over several times," California Highway Patrol officer Chris Johnson said.

Three people were ejected.

I hate this story on a number of levels. For one thing, I take this road to my office two or three days a week, so I'll be passing the spot where this happened quite often. But more importantly, I have a 16 year old daughter and I can't imagine the loss it would bring if she was suddently gone in an accident like this. These kids were also from local high schools which will hit the community hard.

As is often the case with youth driving accidents, it didn't need to happen. From the reporting it sounds like the 16 year old driver was distracted by dropping something in the car, and another kid grabbed the wheel when the car started to drift into the median. The TV pictures showed the vehicle to be some type of SUV, and those cars don't react well to yanking the wheel in the opposite direction. The result was multiple high speed rollovers.

I've got some questions that I'm sure the CHP will be asking:
  1. How fast were they going? That particular stretch of road is at the bottom of a very long hill and I often see cars going in excess of 80.
  2. Had the 16 year old driver completed the required 6 month probation period during which she would not be allowed to carry non-family member passengers? That's an incredibly good law, but often ignored.
  3. How many of the kids were wearing seatbelts? At least three were ejected, which rarely happens if seatbelts are worn.

I'm glad to hear that there apparently wasn't any alcohol involved, though it won't make it any easier for the families of the victims. This is one of those poignant reminders of how fast life can go from thrills and excitement to tragedy.

UPDATE: From the LA Times, the car was traveling about 70 MPH and the vehicle was an Isuzu Rodeo.

UPDATE2: From the Register:

The two teenagers killed in an SUV rollover on the San Joaquin Hills (73) Toll Road were not wearing seat belts, and that likely contributed to their deaths, the California Highway Patrol said today.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Thou Shalt Not Kill Thyself...Except from 9 to 5

James Taranto at Best of the Web Today reports on an interesting problem in Canada:
"A Canadian province will shut its 24-hour suicide hotline and replace it with one that operates only during business hours," Reuters reports from Toronto:

Prince Edward Island, a small province on Canada's East Coast, says it is too expensive to operate the hotline around the clock. Starting June 1, it will be open only between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. . . .

"How many times, when you get upset or worried or concerned about things, is it in the middle of the day? It's usually at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning when you wake up," said Joan Wright, executive director of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention based in Edmonton, Alberta.

The hotline received about 1,400 calls a year and about 50 were from people contemplating suicide, health groups said.

"One of the things I was hearing is the government felt there weren't enough suicide-related calls," Wright said.

"Canada's suicide rate has been consistently higher than the United States," reports the Web site of the Calgary-based Centre for Suicide Prevention. Maybe that's because our suicide hotlines, like this one in San Francisco, are open 24/7.

This from a country whose medical care system is the envy of the Democrats.

Bolton Blocked - How About a Recess Appointment?

Apparently the goodwill which supposedly broke out in the Senate on Monday has already evaporated with a new filibuster of John Bolton. The Dems have decided to postpone the final vote on Bolton until next month, but Bush still has one big arrow in his quiver. Now that the Senate is in recess, I would love to see Bush punch the Dems right in the eye and make Bolton a recess appointment. In fact, while he's at it, he could appoint William Myers to the 9th Circuit and Henry Saad to the 6th Circuit since neither one of these guys are likely to get a floor vote.

These appointments would put all three guys in office through the end of 2006. By that time Bolton will have either destroyed the world as we know it (as feared by the Dems), or will have proven to be an effective advocate for the US with that bunch of thieves on Turtle Bay. After the Dems lose some more seats in 2006, confirming Bolton in 2007 will be no problem.

Go for it Mr. President - the base has had a bad week and you could turn it all around with a stroke of your pen.

A Jerk or A Loon?

John Podhoretz, writing in The Corner, offers his thoughts on Sen. "Weepy" Voinovich's three-hanky speech in the Senate yesterday:
There he was, Sen. George Voinovich, the Republican from Ohio, choking back tears and then weeping as he spoke against John Bolton in the well of the Senate. I have to tell you, my first response was that he has gone totally crackers. The rhetoric he used was, quite simply, bananas. I mean, he fears for the lives of his grandchildren if Bolton is confirmed?

But then, I remembered -- and we should all remember and
keep posting the fact that -- George Voinovich was fined $1,500 by the Federal Aviation Administration when he was governor of Ohio for insisting on his personal plane taking off even though the FAA had declared a no-fly zone at the Cleveland Airport because President Clinton was in town. "Shoot us down!" he screamed at an air-traffic controller. Then he spent six months fighting the FAA fine on the grounds that -- well, he didn't have any grounds. There are numerous interpretations of the incident. 1) He's a jerk. 2) He's a loon. 3) He's a jerk and a loon. 4) He's a loon and a jerk. 5) He's a jerky loon. 6) He's a loony jerk.

For the record, I go with the simple "jerk." And I hope his press secretary calls me to complain about this, which press secretaries of hotheaded, self-indulgent, loudmouth senators often do because their hotheaded, self-indulgent, loudmouth bosses insist they do so. Oh, how I hope.

Cryyyyying....Over You

I've seen some really silly stuff done in the Senate lately, but metrosexual Ohio Senator George Voinovich's crying jag over the Bolton nomination may be the silliest yet:
During a long day of heated debate, most criticism of Bolton came from Democrats, but one Republican was similarly outspoken -- Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio.

After a long speech about what he called the loss of U.S. credibility in the world and Bolton's harsh management style, Voinovich choked up and struggled to hold back tears as he asked for Bolton's defeat. He said too many senators didn't seem to understand how crucial the U.N. job was to America's image abroad.

"I know some of my friends say, 'Let it go, George, it's going to work out.' I don't want to take the risk," Voinovich said. "I came back here [to the Senate] and ran for a second term because I'm worried about my kids and my grandchildren. And I just hope my colleagues will take the time ... and do some serious thinking about whether or not we should send John Bolton to the United Nations."

Let's reflect just a moment if we can. Back during the Bolton hearings, Senator "Weepy" Voinovich didn't bother to attend when Bolton testified. He had the opportunity to ask him any question he wanted, but he didn't show up.

It was only as the final vote was being prepared that Weepy showed up, and after hearing the Democrats talk about what a meany Bolton was, got cold feet and suddenly discovered objections that he hadn't known were there. His little performance that day threw the whole committee into an uproar.

Since then, in what appears to me to be a face-saving effort, he's gone out of his way to oppose Bolton. Yesterday he sent a letter to all Senators urging them to reject Bolton, which was then followed by his tearful speech.

What is it with Ohio? A lot of good Republicans fought hard to make sure that state went for Bush, and our reward is Weepy and the other senator, Mike DeWine, one of the Gang of 14, both of whom have stabbed Bush in the back.

The good news is Bolton will be confirmed despite Weepy's three-hanky speech. The vote will be close, but he'll win.

DeWine may have unwittingly created some problems for his son, Pat. Pat is running in a primary next month for an open seat in Congress, and the folks back home are not happy. While you may argue it's unfair to punish the son for the sins of the father, a lot of Ohio voters are going to do just that, and a primary that Pat was thought to be able to win easily may be lost as a result. This is a safe Republican seat, so whoever wins the nomination will win the general election.

Politics is a contact sport, and DeWine senior should have taken a moment to consider how his joining the Gang of 14 could affect DeWine the junior's chances. The Republican base is very, very unhappy, and if they can't take it out on DeWine the senior, look for junior to pay the price.

Extraordinary Inconsistency

Byron York in The Hill does a nice job of deconstructing the "deal" made by the John McCain and the 13 dwarves, and points out how amazingly inconsistent the whole process of confirming judges really is:
If you have been trying to come up with a logical pattern in those statements, forget it. There isn’t one. The fact is that the deal reached by the “Gang of 14” to avert Republican use of the nuclear/constitutional/Byrd option has revealed the arbitrariness and incoherence of the judicial confirmation process.

Start with Owen.

Democrats filibustered her for years. The main reason was their objection to the way she read a bypass clause in a Texas law requiring underage girls to notify their parents — not get their approval, just notify them — before having an abortion. For that, Democrats called Owen an activist and an ideologue.

They dug in their heels and threw out two centuries of Senate tradition to stop her.

And now they’re letting her through? Why?
And what about Pryor? The former attorney general of Alabama, Pryor was, like Owen, filibustered mostly over the issue of abortion. But unlike Owen, who appeared the picture of moderation at her confirmation hearing, Pryor, when he went before the Judiciary Committee back in June 2003, made no attempt to hide his views.

For example, Pryor had in the past called Roe v. Wade “the worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.”

At the hearing, when Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) read Pryor’s words to him and asked him whether he still believed that, Pryor answered, simply, “I do.”

Later, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), trying to give Pryor an escape route, asked whether the “abomination” quote was accurate.

Pryor said that it was indeed accurate, and what was more, “I stand by that comment. I believe that not only is [Roe] unsupported by the text and structure of the Constitution, but it has led to a morally wrong result. It has led to the slaughter of millions of innocent unborn children.”

Democrats called Pryor an extremist. They dug in their heels and threw out two centuries of Senate tradition to stop him.

And now they’re letting him through? Why?

Why did Pryor and Owen — not to mention Brown, who angered Democrats when she referred to the New Deal as America’s “socialist revolution” — once constitute such a threat to the judiciary that they were filibustered, and now they do not even rise to the level of “extraordinary circumstances”?

And just to throw in one other case, why did Democrats — back in 2002, when they were in the majority — approve the nomination of Michael McConnell to a place on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals?

McConnell didn’t argue around the edges of the abortion debate. Instead, in 1998 he wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal titled “Roe v. Wade at 25: Still Illegitimate.” He also wrote, in a law-review article, that “abortion is an evil, all too frequently and casually employed for the destruction of life.” And just so no one would be mistaken about where he stood, he endorsed a constitutional amendment that would outlaw abortion altogether.

So McConnell was confirmed — by Democrats! — while Owen and Pryor were filibustered.

The Gang of 14 are demanding that President Bush consult with them on future nominations, but given the amazing amount of confusion on just what kind of judge is acceptable, how is the president supposed to have any idea of who is acceptable and who isn't? If I was president, I would ignore these peons and keep nominating whoever I want.

I imagine that's just what President Bush will do.

The Senators Who Loved Themselves

Peggy Noonan writes a devastatingly funny and right on target piece on the "deal", and the Senators who brought it about:
You've heard the mindless braying and fruitless arguments, but I'm here to tell you the facts, no matter what brickbats and catcalls may come my way. Lindsey Graham defied the biases of his constituency to do what was right, not what was easy. Robert Byrd put aside personal gain to save our Republic. David Pryor ignored the counsels of hate to stand firm for our hopes and dreams. Mike DeWine protected our way of life. These men are uniters, not dividers.

How do I know?

Because they told me. Again and again, and at great length, as they announced The Deal. And I believed them, because I am an idiot. Or as they might put it, your basic "folk" from "back home."

Listening to them I thought of some of the great and hallowed phrases of our Republic. "The rooster who thought he brought the dawn." "The only man who can strut sitting down."

She saved some of her more pointed comments for John McCain (Media-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (Idiot-SC):

John McCain wryly reminded us not to miss A&E's biography of his heroic Vietnam experience. Joe Lieberman referred to the group as "this band of brothers, and sisters." But my favorite was Lindsey Graham, who said, "I know there will be folks 'back home' who will be angry, but that's only because they're not as sophisticated and high-minded as I am. Actually they're rather stupid, which is why they're not in the Senate and I am. But I have 3 1/2 years to charm them out of their narrow-minded resentments, and watch me, baby."

Oh, excuse me, that's not what he said. That's only what he meant. It was the invisible scroll as he spoke. The CNN identifier that popped up beneath his head as he chattered, however, did say, "Conceited Nitwit Who Affects 'Back Home' Accent to Confuse the Boobs."

Oh wait, that's not what it said. It said, "R-South Carolina." My bad.

Actually, what Mr. Graham said was, "People at home are gonna be mad at me for a while." He said he decided to support the deal because "kids are dyin' " in Iraq, "Social Security is comin' up," and "this is a lot bigger than me." If only he knew that is true.

Ouch! She then sticks the knife in and gives it one more good twist at the end of the piece:

Back to the senators. Why did they put on that performance the other day? Yes, it was sheer exuberant egotism; it was the excitement of the TV lights; it was their sly conviction that if they laud themselves they will be appearing to laud the institution; and it was, no doubt, the counsel of their advisers that in the magic medium of television, if you declare you are a "hero" often enough people will come to associate the word "hero" with you. Advisers, you must stop telling them this. Please.

I think everyone in politics now has been affected by the linguistic sleight-of-hand, which began with the Kennedys in the 1960s, in which politics is called "public service," and politicians are allowed and even urged to call themselves "public servants." Public servants are heroic and self-denying. Therefore politicians are heroic and self-denying. I think this thought has destabilized them.

People who charge into burning towers are heroic; nuns who work with the poorest of the poor are self-denying; people who volunteer their time to help our world and receive nothing in return but the knowledge they are doing good are in public service. Politicians are in politics. They are less self-denying than self-aggrandizing. They are given fame, respect, the best health care in the world; they pass laws governing your life and receive a million perks including a good salary, and someone else--faceless taxpayers, "the folks back home"--gets to pay for the whole thing. This isn't public service, it's more like public command. It's not terrible--democracies need people who commit politics; they have a place and a role to play--but it's not saintly, either.

I don't know if politicians have ever been modest, but I know they have never seemed so boastful, so full of themselves, and so dizzy with self-love.

There. Thank you. I yield the floor.

You really ought to read the whole thing. There's lots of good stuff I didn't have room for here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Does This Mean the Lines Will Be Even Longer?

From the department of "who cares?":
The American Family Association announced yesterday an end to a nine-year boycott of The Walt Disney Co. that also was supported by several other conservative organizations (HolyCoast: Really? Who?).

AFA said it sees some positive changes in the entertainment giant (HolyCoast: Like Gay Days?) and wants "to focus on more current and flagrant issues that address the same concerns AFA initially had with Disney."
Given the mile long lines that we've experienced every time we've gone to Disneyland the last several years (as you can tell, we didn't honor the boycott), somehow I don't think Disney missed the AFA folks.

Boycotts like this are generally meaningless, and I think this one proved to be just that.

Some further thoughts...For many years the Southern California districts of the Nazarene Church held a "Nazarene Night" at Disneyland, usually the last Friday night of January. At that time the park closed at 6pm and reopened to the private party at 7, and from 7 until about 1am the Nazarenes had the place to themselves.

I remember attending this event from the time I was in junior high up until the early 90's when they stopped doing the event. My group even sang there one rainy night in 1983, and Nazarene night was always fun for me because I often ran into people I knew from various Nazarene churches in Southern California where I'd performed.

After the event was canceled, I asked a pastor why they quit Nazarene Night and was told that the Nazarene church decided to stop patronizing Disneyland due to Disney's gay-friendly policies. Frankly, I thought this was a stupid reason to stop going to the park. Did it punish Disneyland? No, it punished the Nazarene families who were deprived of a relatively inexpensive trip to Disneyland. Some valuable family memories were sacrificed.

That's why to this day I don't like boycotts - they're usually pretty ineffective.

The Filibuster Deal Explained

The Spoons Experience explains the filibuster deal for you (h/t Galley Slaves):

A burglar breaks into your house and steals $500.

Outraged, you declare, "I am going to put new locks on the doors, install an alarm, and sue that burglar to get my money back!"

The burglar, who happens to be your next door neighbor, asks, "Don't you think that's a little extreme?"

You hesitate, "Well... uh... I don't know...."

The burglar proposes: "How about this? I'll give you back $300. You promise not to change the locks or install an alarm, and don't go to the cops with this. In return, I promise that I won't break into your house and steal from you anymore unless I really, really need the money."

I think he's got it.

Hezbollah: Come and Get Us!

In yet another case of ego trumping brains (no I'm not talking about the Senate), Hezbollah has made an announcement:
Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah Wednesday acknowledged for first time that his Lebanese guerrilla group has more than 12,000 rockets and that all of northern Israel is within reach.

"All of the north of occupied Palestine, its settlements, airports, seaports, fields, factories and farms is under the feet and hands of the Islamic resistance," Nasrallah said.

Is it really wise to invite the Isreali Defense Forces to come out and play? Those boys and girls take their work pretty seriously, and knowing the approximate range of the rockets in question, wouldn't have to work too hard to figure out where they might be.

Having made this announcement, they've now given the Israelis ample reason to conduct raids into the area where the rocketeers may be hiding. Good planning, Hezbollah!

Owen Confirmed

The Senate finally had a chance to vote on Priscilla Owen - after four years - and she has been confirmed 56-43. Does this mean that being conservative is no longer an "extraordinary" circumstance worthy of a filibuster? Probably not.

Apparently NARAL, main proponent of abortion in this country, has decided to define "extraordinary circumstance" for us (from Political Diary):
Anyone who believes this week's deal on filibusters solved anything will be disabused of that illusion within weeks if there is a Supreme Court vacancy. On Monday, NARAL Pro-Choice America declared that the "extraordinary circumstances" cited by the Senate moderates as the only acceptable reason for invoking a judicial filibuster should include any nominee who declines to state a position on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 abortion-rights case. Despite ample precedent in previous confirmation battles that judicial nominees should not publicly commit themselves on how they would vote in a particular case, silence in the Senate is unlikely to be an option in the future -- unless it is exercised by Senators themselves.

In other words,for a judge to receive an up-or-down vote, they must announce how they will rule on cases BEFORE they hear them, assuming of course they announce a ruling of which NARAL approves.

The more I read about the "deal", the less I'm inclined to believe that it will last very long.

Department of the Obvious

This headline is in the news today: Child Population Dwindles in San Francisco

Gee, I wonder why?

And then there's this: Most boys at Christian schools say no to sex

Tomorrow's headline: Sun Comes Up in Morning

Has-Been Band Sues NBC Over F-Word Ban

Has-been rock band Mötley Crüe has been banned from The Tonight Show and they're suing:
In the latest twist in the broadening battle over decency standards, the glam-metal band Mötley Crüe filed suit against NBC yesterday. The suit states that the network violated the group's free-speech rights and weakened its sales by banning it after Vince Neil, the lead singer, used an expletive on the air in a Dec. 31 appearance on "The Tonight Show."

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Los Angeles, accuses the network of censoring the band to mollify a Federal Communications Commission that has been increasingly quick to levy steep fines for broadcasting indecent material on television and radio. The lawsuit says the network, which banned the group after Mr. Neil inserted an expletive into his New Year's greeting to Mötley Crüe's drummer, Tommy Lee, added insult to injury by promoting a summer reality series featuring Mr. Lee.

The band, known for 1980's hits like "Shout at the Devil" and "Girls, Girls, Girls," is requesting a ruling that NBC's ban is unconstitutional, a court order forcing the network to lift it, and unspecified financial damages tied to the band's reduced media exposure.

"We meant no harm, but it feels that we're being singled out unfairly," said Nikki Sixx, the band's bassist. "This is a discrimination issue, pure and simple. All we've ever asked is to be treated like everybody else, which is why we're taking this action." In a statement yesterday, NBC said: "To ensure compliance with its broadcast standards, NBC has the right to decide not to invite back guests who violate those standards and use an expletive during a live entertainment program. The lawsuit Mötley Crüe has filed against us is meritless."

...As a result, the band said, a previously planned appearance on NBC's "Last Call With Carson Daly" was called off. The band also said it was barred from appearing on other network programs, including "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," and media exposure that cost it prospective ticket, merchandise and album sales, as well as corporate sponsorships. Even without appearances on the network, the band's new double album, "Red, White & Crüe," composed primarily of previously released songs, has sold a surprising 349,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Still, when the ban went into effect, just before the release of the album, it "was a tender, important time for them," Mr. Miller said. "NBC's action was overkill."

A "tender" time for Mötley Crüe ? Poor babies. I guess Tommy Lee will have to go back to making porn videos.

El Presidente Apology Tour Rolls On

I told you the other day that Mexican president Vicente Fox should have just shut up after making his stupid statement that illegal aliens will do "jobs that even blacks won't do". Since then the poor guy has been plagued by demands for apologies from such moral luminaries as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Sharpton met with Fox the other day, and upon leaving the meeting, announced that Fox had agreed to come to Harlem and speak to Sharpton's constituency.

Wait a minute, said Fox's spokesman. We never agreed to that. Would Sharpton just make something like that up?? Yes, he probably would.

Under pressure, Fox has now agreed to come to Harlem. Fox has forgotten the first rule of holes...when you're stuck in one, stop digging.

Now the NAACP has invited Fox to speak at their annual convention.

The NAACP has invited Mexican President Vicente Fox to speak at its annual convention as part of its continuing effort to unite blacks and Hispanics and avert disharmony between the two ethnic groups.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Fox told a group of businessmen in Mexico that "there is no doubt that Mexicans, filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work are doing jobs that not even blacks want to do there in the United States."

The Mexican president has refused to apologize for those remarks, including in a meeting yesterday with the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Julian Bond, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said that the organization is "justifiably proud of our many efforts to find common cause with citizens of all races and with our growing immigrant population" and that Mr. Fox's comments caused "great concern" among members.

He added that the convention offers Mr. Fox a unique opportunity to explain what he meant.

Somehow I doubt that Fox will take them up on that, but he's surprised me before. It's bad enough when American presidents pander to that organization, but I doubt if the Mexican people would look kindly on their president groveling to the NAACP. Then again, Fox can't run for reelection, so I guess if he wants to come to America to be spanked by the civil rights left, he has that right to do so.

Madder Than a Warm Eskimo

The folks at the top of the world are afraid their days may shift from icy to balmy, and they want the European Union to do something about it. But is that really the issue?
Indigenous leaders from Arctic regions around the world called on the European Union on Tuesday to do more to fight global warming and to consider giving aid to their peoples.

In their first visit to EU headquarters, three leaders representing the eight-nation Arctic Council met with officials at the European Commission and several EU lawmakers to push their campaign, warning their way of life was at risk.

Chief Gary Harrison, who represents the Athabaskan peoples in Alaska and Canada said urgent action was needed from the 25-nation EU, the United States and Russia.

"Maybe we can put pressure on and maybe they can turn the corner" and help, Harrison said.

The Arctic region is home to about 4 million people, including more than 30 different indigenous groups.

Larisa Abrutina, vice president of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, which represents 40 different indigenous peoples, said her people should be able to share from the wealth in oil drilling and similar projects in the north.

"We don't get a share in the wealth in the exploitation of resources," she said.

As you can see, the real issue here is not that the ambient temperature might rise from -30 degrees to -26 degrees, but oil money. They know there's black gold up there and they want their piece of the pie.

I've got an idea - let them build casinos! Hey, it's made millionaires out of Indian tribes in California with 10 or 15 tribal members. I'm sure a "Bellagio Bering Sea" could do the same for them.

Can you make a stretch dogsled limo?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A Great Bass Voice is Silent

Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of Tony the Tiger, the Pageant of the Masters, and numerous attractions at Disneyland, has died at the age of 91.
Ravenscroft may be best recognized for his signature roar, "They're grrrrreeeat!" for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, which he did for more than half a century. But Southern California art fans cherish his 20 years of thoughtful, nuanced narration for the summertime Pageant of the Masters. And those who frequent the Happiest Place on Earth can hear his animated tones in Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, the Enchanted Tiki Room and the Haunted Mansion.

"Disneyland wouldn't have been, and wouldn't be, the same without him," said former park President Jack Lindquist. "It's all part of the experience. You can't go home with a ride, but you can go home with a memory, and part of that is the audio - the sound part of it. His voice was one of the things that made it all come alive."

For years, Ravenscroft provided narration for Disneyland's steam-powered railroad that circles the park. Today, he can be seen and heard as one of the singing busts in the Haunted Mansion's graveyard scene. Those "yo-ho, yo-ho's" in Pirates of the Caribbean are his, too.

Ravenscroft's relationship with Disney extended into movies. He did voices for four decades, contributing to "Cinderella," "The Jungle Book," "Mary Poppins," "Alice in Wonderland," "Lady and the Tramp" and many others.

"To me, he was one of the true voices of Disney that were recognizably Disney, and there weren't many of them," said Kevin Rafferty, a senior show writer and director for Disney Imagineering. "He was a very gentle, gentle man, a wonderful guy, a pleasure to know, and a pleasure to work with."

Ravenscroft was also a dedicated Christian. I had a chance to meet the great bass back on New Year's Eve of 1986. The quartet I was in a the time performed at a fund-raising banquet that featured Thurl, as well as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. That was quite a night.

Of course Thurl gave his patented Tony the Tiger growl, but he also sang and talked about his career. Somewhere I have a picture with him...I'll have to dig that out.

His voice, and his gracious manner, will be missed.

These Guys Might Find Out How Good Their Insurance Is

I think you could define this as "tempting fate" (from Drudge):

As a church insurance guy, if I saw this sign outside one of my client's churches, I'm afraid I've had to counsel them to change it, whether I agree with it or not. I'm afraid these guys are just asking for some zealot to come and burn the place down or harm the pastor or one of the members.

The pastor's not the least bit apologetic though:
A sign in front of a Baptist church on one of the most traveled highways in the county stirred controversy over religious tolerance and first-amendment rights this weekend.

A sign in front of Danieltown Baptist Church, located at 2361 U.S. 221 south reads "The Koran needs to be flushed," and the Rev. Creighton Lovelace, pastor of the church, is not apologizing for the display.

"I believe that it is a statement supporting the word of God and that it (the Bible) is above all and that any other religious book that does not teach Christ as savior and lord as the 66 books of the Bible teaches it, is wrong," said Lovelace. "I knew that whenever we decided to put that sign up that there would be people who wouldn't agree with it, and there would be some that would, and so we just have to stand up for what's right."

I'm sure some will consider this courageous, but sometimes there's a fine line between courage and foolishness, and I think they may have crossed over that line.

UPDATE 5/26/05: According to Special Report with Brit Hume, the pastor has had a change of heart, and realizing how offensive the sign was to Muslims, changed it. Good move.

Frist Didn't Do Himself Any Favors

I think we now know why presidents rarely come from the ranks of the Senate. Senators are more worried about comity than principle, and about maintaining their country club atmosphere than about getting something done. Decisions made by Senators are about as firm as jello.

The seven Republicans who negotiated this terrible deal slapped Frist right in the face, and he had a couple of options as to how he could react. He could do what he did - stand there and try to make it look like it's a good thing, or stand up to the GOP 7 and tell them and the world that they betrayed their party and their president. Frist chose Plan A. As Hugh Hewitt noted "If Senator Frist can't talk Ohio's Mike DeWine and and South Carolina's Lindsey Graham off the ledge, voters will wonder how he can talk Great Britain and Italy into future coalitions of the willing. "

What's next? Hopefully votes will be scheduled quickly on Owens, Rogers and Pryor and those judges will be quickly confirmed. Harry Reid has already promised a filibuster of Judge Meyers, so I say, bring it on. I'd love to see an attempt at the nuclear option anyway, even if the GOP 7 have decided to vote against it. Let's let the Dems filibuster Meyers, call for a cloture vote, get a ruling from Vice President Cheney that filibusters are not allowed for judicial nominations and put it to a vote. I'd love to have all these guys on the record voting with the Dems. We can use those votes to beat them over the head when they decide they want to go for higher office. I think this is the only way the Frist has a chance to redeem himself as a leader and potential president.

Don't get me wrong - I'm no big fan of Frist and I'm hoping someone better will come along for the GOP in '08. But somebody, somewhere, is going to have to stand up for the GOP and slap these Democrats down. The minority does not get to make the rules, and can't make the rules unless the majority lets them. Right now the GOP majority is all too willing to let the Dems make the rules and that's the fastest way I can think to turn off the conservative base and lose the majority in future elections.

Of course, if the GOP is not going to act like the majority, then who cares whether we have a majority or not.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Text of the Senate "Deal"

Here's the text of the Senate Compromise, courtesy of Bench Memos (h/t Hugh Hewitt):

We respect the diligent, conscientious efforts, to date, rendered to the Senate by Majority Leader Frist and Democratic Leader Reid. This memorandum confirms an understanding among the signatories, based upon mutual trust and confidence, related to pending and future judicial nominations in the 109th Congress.

This memorandum is in two parts. Part I relates to the currently pending judicial nominees; Part II relates to subsequent individual nominations to be made by the President and to be acted upon by the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.

We have agreed to the following:

Part I: Commitments on Pending Judicial Nominations

A. Votes for Certain Nominees. We will vote to invoke cloture on the following judicial nominees: Janice Rogers Brown (D.C. Circuit), William Pryor (11th Circuit), and Priscilla Owen (5th Circuit).

B. Status of Other Nominees. Signatories make no commitment to vote for or against cloture on the following judicial nominees: William Myers (9th Circuit) and Henry Saad (6th Circuit).

Part II: Commitments for Future Nominations

A. Future Nominations. Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the Advice and Consent Clause of the United States Constitution in good faith. Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.

B. Rules Changes. In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment to or interpretation of the Rules of the Senate that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or Rule XXII.

We believe that, under Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, the word “Advice” speaks to consultation between the Senate and the President with regard to the use of the President’s power to make nominations. We encourage the Executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration.

Such a return to the early practices of our government may well serve to reduce the rancor that unfortunately accompanies the advice and consent process in the Senate.

We firmly believe this agreement is consistent with the traditions of the United States Senate that we as Senators seek to uphold.

I could drive my 40' bus through the holes in this thing. Even before I finished typing this, Sen. Harry Reid announced that he would filibuster Judge Myers, one of Bush's appointees. Apparently it didn't take long to find "extraordinary" circumstances.

The GOP clearly got taken. They promised to oppose the nuclear option without any conditions or reservations. The Dems left the door open to do whatever they want. The Republicans that negotiated this are simply idiots.

I take you back to my previous post on The Senate, Defined.

John McCain's Political Suicide

John McCain will never be president, and we can all be thankful for that. He signed his own political death warrant tonight by helping engineer the so-called compromise with the Dems that will prevent the triggering of the nuclear option.
Centrists from both parties reached a compromise Monday night to avoid a showdown on President Bush's stalled judicial nominees and the Senate's own filibuster rules, officials from both parties said.

These officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the agreement would clear the way for yes-or-no votes on some of Bush's nominees, but make no guarantee.

Under the agreement, Democrats would pledge not to filibuster any of Bush's future appeals court or Supreme Court nominees except in "extraordinary circumstances."

For their part, Republicans agreed not to support an attempt to strip Democrats of their right to block votes.

The complete details are yet to come, but it appears that McCain, along with other GOP "moderates" have agreed to throw some of President Bush's judicial nominees under the bus in exchange for a vague promise by the Dems not to filibuster future judicial or Supreme Court nominees except in "extraordinary circumstances".

Now what kind of an idiotic agreement is this? I guarantee you that Bush's first Supreme Court nominee will meet the test for "extraordinary circumstances" and will be filibustered, especially when you have Chuckie Schumer, Ted Kennedy and other libs deciding what is extraordinary.

As a conservative, I have no use for the GOP moderates. Revelations 3:16, though not talking specifically about moderates, phrases it quite well in the Revised Standard Version: So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.

John McCain could use a good spewing.

A Defector From The Left

Every now and then, and not nearly often enough, someone on the left wakes up to the realization that he's siding with nincompoops and decides to rejoin the ranks of the sane. Such is the case of Keith Thompson from Petaluma, CA. Keith writes about his journey from the dark side in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Nightfall, Jan. 30. Eight-million Iraqi voters have finished risking their lives to endorse freedom and defy fascism. Three things happen in rapid succession. The right cheers. The left demurs. I walk away from a long-term intimate relationship. I'm separating not from a person but a cause: the political philosophy that for more than three decades has shaped my character and consciousness, my sense of self and community, even my sense of cosmos.

I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.

I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere -- reciting all the ways Iraq's democratic experiment might yet implode.

My estrangement hasn't happened overnight. Out of the corner of my eye I watched what was coming for more than three decades, yet refused to truly see. Now it's all too obvious. Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World country because they hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom.

Welcome home, Keith. You can read the whole thing here.

Howard The Donkey Explains It All

We talked the other day about a planned appearance by Howard Dean on Meet the Press. The DNC Chairman went on the program yesterday and was basically eviscerated by Tim Russert. One of the readers of The Corner send in Dr. Dean's Greatest Hits from yesterday's show:
Dean's "Greatest Hits"

DEAN: When the Republicans were in power, they kept a
much larger percentage of President Clinton's nominees
to the bench. They didn't do it with the filibuster,
they did it by bottling them up in committee and not
allowing them to move forward.

MR. RUSSERT: The numbers are pretty similar actually.

DR. DEAN: OK. They're similar.


DR. DEAN: Right now the Social Security tax is only
on the first, I think, about $85,000 worth of wages.
I saw an economic analysis the other day that said if
you remove that cap entirely that Social Security will
be solvent. [You think somebody discussing Social
Security reform would know it's $90,000.]


MR. RUSSERT: Here's the Democratic National Committee
Web site this morning. It is, in effect, a mug shot
of Tom DeLay. You can see his height in the back with
inches there, a serial number, 18821. Is that
appropriate, a mug shot?

DR. DEAN: I don't think it's appropriate for Tom
DeLay to be in Congress, Tim. I really don't.


DEAN: Some of the things that the president said on
our way into Iraq, they just weren't true, and I don't
think that's right. So...

MR. RUSSERT: Such as?

DR. DEAN: Such as the weapons of mass destruction,
which we have all known about, but the...

MR. RUSSERT: Well, you said there were weapons of
mass destruction.

DR. DEAN: I said I wasn't sure, but I said I thought
there probably were.


MR. RUSSERT: When did the president ever suggest that
Saddam Hussein was responsible for September 11?

DR. DEAN: He didn't. His nuance--his people
suggested that. He suggested that in a nuanced way in
many of his speeches.


DEAN: We ought not to lecture each other about our
ethical shortcomings.


DEAN: You know what I'd prefer to see, frankly? I'd
prefer to see medical practice boards around the
country, state by state--because people do believe
different things about this in different states. I'd
prefer to see medical practice boards around the
country set ethical guidelines for abortion.


DR. DEAN: Well, first of all, [Bernie Sanders is] not
a socialist, really.


DR. DEAN: He hasn't said that for a while.

MR. RUSSERT: Oh, he has a--he wrote in his book:
"Outside or in the House, I am a Democratic

DR. DEAN: Well, a Democratic socialist--all right,
we're talking about words here. And Bernie can call
himself anything he wants. He is basically a liberal
Democrat, and he is a Democrat that--he runs as an
Independent because he doesn't like the structure and
the money that gets involved. . . . The bottom line is
that Bernie Sanders votes with the Democrats 98
percent of the time.

If you're a Republican, you've just got to love the guy.

A Friend is Hurting

John Schroeder at Blogotional and I enjoy trading good-natured barbs at each other about our respective preferences in auto racing (he's an IRL guy and I'm a NASCAR guy), but I'm hurting for my friend John today because he's hurting. One of his closest friends, a guy he's known since junior high school, was killed in a car accident. You can read John's tribute to his friend here.

Keep John and his friend's family in your prayers, and if you'd like to leave a note of encouragement for John, you can leave a comment on his site. I'm sure he'd appreciate it.

Godless Geeks

Christian churches have long been in the business of reaching out to non-believers. Well now the non-believers are reaching out to non-believers. Of course, if this is going to happen anywhere, it's going to happen in San Francisco:
As they watch religion increasingly dominate American political discourse, nonbelievers will gather in San Francisco today for their first "All Atheist Weekend" -- in an effort to put a friendlier face on godlessness.

"We're trying to do what church people call outreach," said Jim Heldberg, a Pacifica software salesman and onetime Methodist who coordinates the group San Francisco Atheists.

"We feel very threatened by what's going on in this country, but we realize that we can't just sit here in a corner by ourselves," Heldberg said. "If we do, the religious right is just going to run us over."

So Heldberg and other leaders of the Bay Area's five chapters of atheists -- from the "Godless Geeks" club of the Silicon Valley to the crew at the Rossmoor retirement community in Walnut Creek -- have put together a weekend designed to bring together the God-unfearing and "have some fun," Heldberg said. They will chat about their favorite mainstream film, "Contact," the 1997 flick in which Jodie Foster plays an alien-seeking astronomer with a lot of atheistic questions.

The president of a national atheist organization will speak this evening in a room at the Commonwealth Club, which is not sponsoring the event. A Michael Moore-styled atheist "opinion documentary" will have its world premiere Saturday at a small theater in South of Market, and atheists will be treated to a one-man multimedia presentation and a fund-raising dinner (to pay for the Commonwealth Club rental).

The goal is to do what organizers commonly call "herding butterflies" -- turning atheists into activists.

You have to admit it probably takes more faith to defiantly believe there is no God than to believe there is a God to who cares about what's going on in this world He created. Maybe one of these activist atheists will come out with their own best seller: The Purposeless Driven Atheist.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Possible Source of the Newsweak Mess

Rich Lowry reports at The Corner about the possible source of the Newsweak Koran-flushing story:
From Newsweek's Koran follow-up: "In light of the controversy, one of these incidents bears special notice. Last week, NEWSWEEK interviewed Command Sgt. John VanNatta, who served as the prison's warden from October 2002 to the fall of 2003. VanNatta recounted that in 2002, the inmates suddenly started yelling that the guards had thrown a Qur'an on or near an Asian-style squat toilet. The guards found an inmate who admitted that he had dropped his Qur'an near his toilet. According to VanNatta, the inmate then was taken cell to cell to explain this to other detainees to quell the unrest. But the incident could partly account for the multiple allegations among detainees, including one by a released British detainee in a lawsuit that claims that guards flushed Qur'ans down toilets."

Also, note these alleged incidents of mistreatment, all markedly minor: "In fewer than a dozen log entries from the 31,000 documents reviewed so far, said Di Rita, there is a mention of detainees' complaining that guards or interrogators mishandled their Qur'ans. In one case, a female guard allegedly knocked a Qur'an from its pouch onto the detainee's bed. In another alleged case, said Di Rita, detainees became upset after two MPs, looking for contraband, felt the pouch containing a prisoner's Qur'an. While questioning a detainee, an interrogator allegedly put a Qur'an on top of a TV set, took it off when the detainee complained, then put it back on. In another alleged instance, guards somehow sprayed water on a detainee's Qur'an. This handful of alleged cases came out of thousands of daily interactions between guards and prisoners, said Di Rita. None has been substantiated yet, he said."

If this is how this all got started, then it sounds like Newsweak was just a little too anxious to make the Administration look bad, and it bit them bigtime.

Can We Knock It Off With the Hitler Comparisons?

There's a storm brewing in the Senate with each side comparing the other to Hitler:
The Senate debate over judicial filibusters has inflamed passions on both sides of the aisle, leading members of both parties to compare the other to Nazis. Pennsylvania Republican Rick Santorum (search) is now apologizing for calling Democratic rhetoric, "the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying 'I'm in Paris, how dare you invade me.'"

Santorum says, "Referencing Hitler was meant to dramatize the principle of an argument, not to characterize my Democratic colleagues." Santorum's remarks come two months after West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd compared Republican tactics to a Nazi power-play, saying, "Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality...instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal. And that's what the nuclear option seeks to do."

Of course, various Democratic support groups have been equating President Bush with Hitler for years, but that doesn't seem to get much attention from the Senate Dems.

All of these comparisons are nonsense. Can't we all agree that on the scale of human depravity, Hitler is pretty much in a class by himself? Comparisons to Hitler do not serve to elevate the evilness of the target, but simply minimize the evil of Hitler. If you say Bush = Hitler and you apply any sort of reasonable thought to the president, you have to realize that though you may not agree with some of the things he does, overall he's not that bad a guy. Therefore if Bush = Hitler, Hitler was not that bad a guy either. You see how that works? (It looks like I'm finally getting to use my high school algebra.)

How about if we all acknowledge that Hitler was the personification of evil in the modern world and leave him out of future comparisons. The comparisons only serve to elevate Hitler.