Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wow, that's big of him!

Check out this from EFE news (a Spanish news agency) reported March 6:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will seek a constitutional amendment to extend his presidency until 2031 should opposition parties boycott the Dec. 3 presidential election, Chavez said in his weekly radio and television address March 5 that the United States was orchestrating the potential opposition boycott in an effort to undermine his presidency. The Dec. 3 election is the last one in which Chavez can legally participate under current laws.

I must say that it is remarkably magnanimous of Chavez to only ask for a twenty-five year extension to his presidency, as I would have expected him to press for a presidency-for-life.

Of course, given that Chavez is 52, a twenty-five year extension is pretty much the same thing. And who's to say that if he lives to be 77, Chavez won't push for yet another extension?

Don't hold your breath, Mahmoud

Posted without comment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency must compensate Iran for damaging its development by suspending its nuclear activities, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said March 7.


Check out this item from the Palm Beach Sun-Sentinel. I think in this case even I might be inclined to sue. Whoo-boy!

One sharp cookie

Check out this letter to the editor of from one Bradley Lehman of Hockessin, DE. The letter is not very long, so please give it a read.

Mr. Lehamn is just 17 years old. This is one bright kid. He sees very clearly what so many in the United States, blinded and unhinged by their hatred of President Bush, do not.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

As the old saying goes... can't make this stuff up!

The New York Times has a lengthy article on what they call "mixed-orientation" marriages. The first few paragraphs explain what the phenomena is. Paragraphs four and five cite some statistics that seem to try and convince the reader that this phenomenon of gay men (or, as the Times calls them, "men who have sex with men") married to women isn't as rare as the reader might first think.

Paragraphs six, seven and eight try to give some historical context, citing some famous gay men, past and present, who have been married to women. These are only anecdotal and hardly indicative of some burgeoning national trend. In paragraph nine, however, they do acknowledge that anything resembling exact numbers just aren't available.

They then quote a research anthropologist from Rutgers University, Helen Fisher, who says that, "human partnerships are shaped by three independent neurochemical brain-body systems, responsible respectively for sexual attraction, romantic yearning and long-term attachment." Ms. Fisher (I assume she does not hold a Ph.D. else the Times would have referred to her as Dr.) tells the reader that these "three independent systems help explain why people can be wildly sexually attracted to those they have no romantic interest in, and romantically drawn to — or permanently attached to — people who hold no sexual interest."

The article then continues on with a discussion of whether or not women who enter such relationships are truly deceived or if they are, in fact, deceiving themselves. They also cite what statistics are available on the success or failure of such marriages.

I have to admit, the article is pretty even-handed. It does attempt to show both sides while not condemning such unions. This is more than I expected from the Gray Lady.

But the real shocker is how the Times chooses to end the article. They finish with a look at one such "mixed-orientation" marriage. The last five paragraphs informs the reader of the marriage of Paulette and Jerry Cormack from (where else?) California (sorry, Nick!).

First let me invoke another old saying: "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt." Here's how the Times describes Mrs. Cormack's view of her "marriage":

For 34 years, Mrs. Cormack said in an interview, she has known that although she and her husband are sexually active together, his erotic desires otherwise focus almost exclusively on men. "It's not easy, but I truly do love him," Mrs. Cormack said.

As if that weren't pathetic enough (pathetic in the sense that Mrs. Cormack is deserving of sympathy) here's the last paragraph of the article:

He added: "I am totally committed on all levels to Paulette. I felt so intimate with her when I was caring for her during her cancer treatments — to me, that's a stronger expression of love than whether I'm having anonymous sex with a man." (emphasis added)

How can I possibly expound on such an extraordinary attitude?

Crap as an appetizer

This is what passes for rational commentary and persuasive speech from the Left in Oregon (but I repeat myself).

Voters selected this menu

After having been force-fed a steady diet of terrorist teriyaki in 2004, fearful Americans re-enthroned a delusional White House chef de cuisine who believes that he has a divine mandate to jam his recipe for theocracy down the nation's throat.

Consequently, a five-star evangelical eatery has its tables set for a battle between Planned Parenthood and the state of South Dakota. This fundamentalist food court is called Chez Scalitomas. And anti-choice members of its staff are now preparing the Lord's supper at One First Street NE in Washington, D.C.

For carnivores, the reactionary restaurant's road kill menu may soon feature eviscerated Roe vs. Wade served on a tasty bed of freshly slaughtered stare decisis. Vegans may be offered a delightful Garden of Eden salad topped with a heavenly creationist dressing intelligently designed by cordon bleu Bible-thumpers.

Voters asked for this born-again carte du jour. Now the meal they ordered from it is about to be served. Bon appetit!

What I don't understand is why a reputable newspaper would print such tripe. It's not even very clever. It contains all the usual tropes mouthed by the Left. It's certainly not original.

So, let's carve this turkey!

First you have the use of the word "enthroned", as if Bush were some kind of unlawful or illegitimate ruler. Bill Clinton served two terms and never once garnered more than 50% of the vote. Was he "enthroned", too?

Then is the mandatory claim that America is going to become a theocracy. Well, which is it, crunchy? Is he a monarch or a mullah? I won't even pretend to understand what the next paragraph is all about. The author seems to be saying that the theocratic lackeys of George Bush on the Supreme Court (only two of whom were appointed by him) are going to overturn Roe v. Wade. Well, so what if they do? Then what will happened is what should have happened before the disastrous Roe ruling was handed down. The people might actually get to decide if abortion should be legal.

What I don't get is the fact that, despite all the overblown rhetoric about rulers being enthroned and theocratic takeovers of society and democracy and its institutions being sacrificed, the author contradicts all his own breathless pronouncements in the title and the second-to-last sentence. " Voters asked for this born-again carte du jour." Yes, they did. Get over it.

Muslim Hyper-sensitivity

Check out this article from It details the reaction by Muslim students at Oregon State University to a column about "cartoon-gate" by an OSU junior named Nathaneal Blake.

The colum, entitled "The Islamic Double Standard", accuses Muslims of demanding a double-standard of sensitivity for their beliefs while extending little to others' beliefs. The reason for the Western media's indulging of this double standard, according to Blake, is that "[b]luntly put, we expect Muslims to behave barbarously".

This touched off the expected student protests and hyperbolic sound bites like this one from the OSU Muslim Student Association's vice president, Nada Mohamed:

Tears were flowing out of my eyes as I was reading [the column]. I felt like somebody was ripping my heart out.

I've commented myself on the double standard demanded by Muslims and won't rehash those arguments here.

What I wanted to draw your attention to was this item on the second page of the article on

[OSU Daily Barometer editor DD Bixby] said editors have been checking copy with Muslim students, and on Tuesday deleted one paragraph from a piece scheduled to be published the next day

What's that? The Daily Barometer appears to have accepted some kind of "Muslim sensitivity" editorial review board that is striking items from stories slated to be published in its pages. Haven't these people heard of a little thing we in America like to call the First Amendment?


Oscar Picks Revisited

I was pleasantly surprised to wake up this morning and find that I wasn't living in a "Brokeback World". I couldn't have been happier to go 2-for-5 in my Oscar picks.

I both pleased and hugely surprised that "Crash" picked up the Best Picture award. It really is a fine, thought-provoking, well-acted drama.

I don't think Clooney or Rachel Weisz deserved their Best Support Oscars, but those are traditionally the categories where the Academy is allowed to screw up (the Marisa Tomei rule). I think with Clooney was the sense, "Look, the guy is taking his charm and clout and trying to use them to do serious work that will provoke real conversations about topics without being a Sean Penn or a Sarandon/Robbins - polarizing figures - so let's reward him." I thought Syriana was really mediocre, but remember Clooney was nominated three times last night, so I think the sense was he had to win something.

I think the same could be said of Ang Lee and "Brokeback Mountain". "Mountain" was nominated for 8 Oscars but only won three. The Academy has to award it something, otherwise why was it so heavily nominated in the first place?

I thought "The Constant Gardener" was a long, boring mess of a movie and didn't really think anything about it was Oscar-worthy. In it, you take a member of an acceptable modern-day "bad guy" group - drug companies - and pit them against the plucky, "you-can't-tame-me-you-stodgy-British-diplomats" wife/heroine and stir. The story is like "Syriana" but for drug companies. Such characterization and demonization of drug companies is too facile by half.

You go, boyyyy!

A hearty congratulations to new Chief Justice John Roberts. Not only did the Roberts Court side with the defendant, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in the case Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR), but Roberts was able to do so unanimously. Not only were there no dissents, there weren't even any separate concurrences.

As such, it was a huge rebuke to the academy. The academy, in this case 36 law schools, filed suit against the DoD protesting that the Solomon Amenment (which provides for forfeiture of certain federal monies if the institution in question does not permit military recruiters the same access to students as other employers) was a violation of their right to free speech and free association.

It seems that the shrinking violets at these law schools just couldn't bear to be associated with the military and their [congressionally-mandated] "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Now, the obvious solution is the one that Chief Justice Roberts asked during oral arguments. If the law schools had a problem with the military and its policies, why not just not take the money?

But that was unthinkable to the law schools. Cynically, they insisted on a right to suckle at the federal teat, with none of the responsibilities (as if it were beyond the power of Congress to attach conditions to receiving federal funds). This would certainly be news to the states, who have had to lower the threshold for driving while intoxicated and the legal drinking age in order to keep receiving federal funds for maintenance of highways.

Roberts and Co. smacked the law schools down, 8-0. (Justice Alito, who was not on the bench during oral arguments, was prohibited from deciding the case.) Way to go!

And, yet there is another aspect to this case that has gone unexamined as far as I can tell. It is this: why wasn't FAIR suing the Congress? Maybe you can't and that's why. But if you can sue the DoD, why not Congress?

In any case, if the law schools represented by FAIR had a problem with the Solomon Amendment, why not take it up with Congress?

Come on! You know the answer as well as I do. Objecting to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was a pretext. The law schools were looking for a reason to deny military recruiters access to their students and they thought they had found it.

Does anybody really think that anyone would have conflated the law schools allowing military recruiters on campus with support for the military in general, or this policy in particular? Do the law schools allow RJ Reynolds and Phillip Morris to recruit on their campuses? Do you think anyone thinks that the nation's elite law schools support the tobacco companies? Of course not. The idea is ridiculous.

Many elite schools already deny ROTC access to campus and have since long before "don't ask, don't tell". (Trying to allow ROTC back on campus at Harvard was one of the disputes outgoing president Lawrence Summers was having with his petulant faculty.) This is just an extension of that policy. "Don't ask, don't tell" was merely the straw at which they grasped to do so.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

For Pete's Sake!

Check out this article.

Will someone please tell me why U.S. taxpayers are going to pay to rebuild a mosque that our troops didn't destroy (and presumably would have prevented from being destroyed had they been given the opportunity)?

Why don't we round up the Sunnis who blew the thing up and garnish their wages or freeze their assests, to be used to rebuild the mosque? Why doesn't some enterprising Iraqi approach al-Jazeera about broadcasting a telethon a la Jerry Lewis to raise money to rebuild the mosque?

Haven't we helped Iraq enough without paying for all the damage wrought by the insurgents?

The Opposite of Assimilation

For me, this story from the Chicago Tribune captures exactly one of the problems with immigration.

In this story the reader is told of the travails of Bridgeview's Universal School girls basketball team. What is the problem, you ask? The Universal School is a private school for Muslims. As such, the girls who attend it wear the long, flowing robe (called a jilbab) and headscarf (the hijab) that some seem to think Islam requires. Such garb is worn to promote modesty, which in and of itself, especially in this day and age of Brittany Spears and bared mid-riffs, isn't a bad thing.

(Never mind for a moment that it turns the idea of self-restraint on its head. This uniform for Muslim women serves a dual purpose. It also serves to keep the women from tempting the men. In the 100+ degree heat of Saudi Arabia, I have always found this stricture exceedingly cruel. The men are allowed to go out in their sun-reflecting white thobe, while the women must wear the all-black - and heat-absorbing - abbaya. I always think the same thing, "Why not ask the men to exercise a little self-control instead of enshrouding the women in what surely must be the most uncomfortable garb one could have devised for the desert heat?")

What is a bad thing is what the Universal School is considering demanding of its prospective opponents. In order to play basketball, the girls must, perforce, doff their long robes and headscarves. Horrified at the idea that male spectators would be able to see the bare arms and legs of 15-, 16- and 17-year old girls, the Universal School has decided that it must bar male spectators from the girls' games. This, in and of itself, would not be a problem if similarly-minded opponents abounded. The rub is that they don't. In the Chicago area there are only four other such schools.

Obviously this would make for a very short season. Or a very dull one, facing off against the same competition four or five times each season. So, Universal School would like to play some public school competition. Not a bad idea, you say.

The problem is that would-be opponents
"would have to agree to bar men and boys above the age of puberty from watching the games". This means that no fathers and not many brothers would be allowed to watch their favorite young hoopsters play. It would also deprive the opponents of much of their fan support. Not to mention the small fact that many public schools' girls basketball teams are coached by men.

According to the Tribune article, this "
dilemma underscores the balancing act many Muslims perform as they toggle between American and Middle Eastern culture".

Yes, it does. And at least one member of the Universal School girls' hoops team has the right idea.
"I don't want to have to impose our religious requirements on anyone else," Farhat Siddiqi says. Yet Ms. Siddiqi seems to be in the minority among her minority.

Apparently the Universal School has considered and rejected as impractical the idea of having the girls play in sweat pants and head scarves. Still, in reading the article, they seem unwilling to make any further concessions towards the larger majority. What's wrong
with the modest concession of allowing the girls play in short-sleeved jerseys and knee-length shorts like those favored by basketball players from high school through the NBA?

All of this is my long-winded way of underscoring one of the things that is wrong with immigration today. Instead of immigrating to America and embracing our culture while preserving parts of their own, modern-day immigrants seem intent on moving to America and recreating, in toto, their native cultures.

Yet in the elites' imposition of total obeisance to diversity, must we now bar fathers and brothers from watching their daughters and sisters play basketball so as to not offend the hyper-sensitivity of a small segment of our population? What's wrong with a few concessions from the minority?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Fundamental Misunderstanding of Economics

Check out this item from BBC:

The military chief of Nigeria's Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta declared "total war" Feb. 17 against all foreign oil interests in southern Nigeria. In an interview with The British Broadcasting Corp., Maj. Gen. Godswill Tamuno issued an ultimatum to all oil companies to leave the area by midnight Feb. 17. The group's "Dark February" campaign is aimed at stopping foreign exploitation of the region's resources, he said.

If I had been interviewing MG Tamuno, I think the follow up question I would have asked would have gone something like this:

"Well, if foreign oil interests don't exploit these resources, who will?"

What I think the General fails to grasp is that leaving all that oil in the ground doesn't benefit anyone. The Nigerians can derive economic benefit by allowing foreign oil companies to export the Niger Delta's oil reserves. The fact that the revenues from such exporting hasn't benefited the people of southern Nigeria is something MG Tamuno should take up with Abuja, not the oil companies.

France - what a joke

Responding to accusations that the French are working to overthrow Bashar Al-Assad, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman said, "Paris only wants Lebanon to fully recover its sovereignty in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559."

Oh. So now the French care about enforcing U.N. Security Council Resolutions. Where were they when the U.S. was trying to enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441?

Quick Hitter about Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program

Are you ready for a real howler? Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki said that the Iranian nuclear program isn't a threat because "...Iran's religious beliefs prevent it from developing nuclear weapons."