|the talking dog|
Iraq seems to be actively concealing weapons of mass destruction, and rubbing same in the face of UN inspectors. al-Qaeda seems to be alive and well, and doesn't seem to care less how many innocent non-combatant Africans it murders in the course of its campaigns of evil-in-the-name-of-Islam. So what is Kofi Annan of the UN concerned with? RIGHT! What the UN has been concerned with to the exclusion of virtually all else for decades: finding an excuse to condemn Israel! In this case, Kofi is demanding that Israel investigate and punish those responsible for the death of Iain Hook, a UK national and UNRWA employee killed at the Jenin UN-sponsored terrorist training camp.
I have bad news for Kofi: Israel will NOT punish the party responsible (Yasir Arafat) because the United States, amidst the house of cards it calls its "Middle East policy", is afraid to do so.
Kenyan officials just released the USA national and her Spainish national husband, picked up for the offense of trying to check out of the Hotel Paradise about two hours after the explosion there on Thursday. They do not appear related to the attack, as the focus of the investigation seems to be- surprise, surprise: al-Qaeda.
Meanwhile, in the "see, we can ALWAYS find an excuse to attack and kill Jews" department, the IDF apparently shot and killed a 16-year old Palestinian. The IDF is investigating. Oy.
Welcome to the start of the Christmas retail season, on this day, often called "Black Friday".
That day is more fitting for Israel today, as that nation mourns the multifarious attacks on it; despite a resounding victory over party rival Netanyahu, Premier Sharon called off his victory party.
Kenyan authorities are holding a dozen or so suspects in connection with the attacks there. Israeli officials are now urging Israeli tourists to vacation IN ISRAEL, where its perceived as safer!
Predictably, IDF troops blew up the homes of the two gunman who attacked the Likud party polling station and a nearby bus station at Beit Shayan in Northern Israel (leaving around 18 Palestinians homeless). Their attack, by Yasir Arafat (under the pseudonym AL Aksa Martyrs Brigade) was supposedly in retaliation for killing two Arafat henchman at the Jenin Terrorist Training Camp (the one operated by the UNRWA).
Your TD regards this particular type of "retaliation" (house leveling) as but a half measure. The gunmen are dead; they cannot be punished anymore. Their handlers and controllers will, in due course, be hunted down (and most likely killed, the response to which, will be yet another terror assault on Israeli civilians down the road). Rendering these killers' families homeless will just make the families more militant (if possible) and breed more hostility among current "non-combatants". Amazingly, this comes at a time when, apparently, even Palestinian polls show that Palestinian support for terror is declining.
Thus, I only have two suggestions: (1) don't do this sort of "family group retaliation" AT ALL, or (2) go all the way: expel the UN and UNRWA from Israeli controlled territory and LEVEL THEIR CAMPS -- forcing THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of Palestinians into TRUE refugee status -- forcing them to double and triple up with relatives, or forcing them into Gaza (where there is a large fence between them and Israel). Since the Palestinians feel seething resentment and hatred ANYWAY, better to justify it with something that actually increases Israel's security in the process.
Of these two alternatives, in case you haven't figured it out, I favor (1), just don't engage in this nonsense. The appropriate punishment should be meted out at the top: Mr. Arafat, who should be expelled along with his henchmen and minions. Unless, of course, this "cycle of violence" that helps keep Israeli voters hardened and voting Likud IS INTENDED by the ISRAELI SIDE, in which case, see above re: half measures.
In a surprise to no one, according to Haaretz, Israeli television projects Ariel Sharon as a huge winner in today's Likud party primaries, amidst three major attacks (two in Kenya, one thankfully missing a crowded Israeli jetliner). The political battle lines are now drawn, and the Israeli voters have quite a choice. We can count on the PA and its allies (which apparently now include al Qaeda) to do what it takes to harden the Israeli electorate with an unabating series of atrocities. Hopefully, peace and democracy will nonetheless end up the winners.
Your TD's inner sanctum has been saddened this week with the loss of Baby TD's babysitter's mother. And now, blogger Imshin of Not A Fish reports the passing of her mother. We send our condolences.
For our American readers, a happy, healthy Thanksgiving Day. As is traditional with New York's four major outdoor events (the Marathon, St. Patrick's Day Parade, New Year's Eve and Thanksgiving Day Parade), it is cold and unpleasant. Well, itís sunny, but in the 20's and windy, good enough for ME to stay inside.
Chris Hitchens, it come as a surprise to no one, has a longer take on the abomination of naming Henry Kissinger to the 9-11 inquiry commission. So what else is new? Dubya could just as easily have named HIS OWN FATHER, and NO ONE would have blinked. Or Rudy Giuliani. Or Bob Dole. Nope. Henry Kissinger. This Administration is just not inspiring confidence. What else is new.
On to the democratic process in...Israel. Fatah (that's code for YASIR %$$& ARAFAT) gunmen decided that they don't like democracy (what else is new), and they don't like Jews (ditto) -- so why not have gunmen open fire on a Likud polling station during the Likud primary? At least five people are dead, and two of the gunmen (who are not, and should not, be counted as people; this is why the 9-11 hijackers are never counted in death tolls). Sharon had a big lead going in, and it appears the primary will go forward despite this incident. But that's not all...
An unbelievable PAIR of terror attacks in Mombasa, Kenya at an Israeli owned hotel that has left at least 11 dead (including 3 Israelis) AND a missile launch at a charter plane with over 200 people on it heading for Israel.
Your TD woke up speechless. Sure, I expected to hear about a car bombing or something (one was thwarted, or at least failed), near Gaza, and the murder at the polling station wasn't that unpredictable. But Kenya? Attacking a nation's interests IN KENYA? Where have we seen that before...oh yes. Bin Laden (who we all know is alive, and possibly well, though we hope he is in severe pain).
This is a coordinated, unbelievable series of attacks on a free people in the middle of an election. Oh, it happens to be Ramadan, so I guess as long as the perpetrators didn't eat during daylight, murdering the infidel (and especially the Jew) is A-OK. Despite the endorsement of Mitzna by the PA, I think I can stand by my original thesis: the timing of these attacks is intended to drive Israeli voters as far to the right as possible. We'll see if it does. Whatever retaliation is taken (and this is now mandatory), I hope it includes something for Mr. Arafat personally (such as...expelling him).
Greetings. We are pleased as punch to report that TD's ravings under the loose title "La Cosa Nostra di Ramallah" will be part of this week's "Carnival of the Vanities" on our featured links Silflay Hraka and Blogcritics. The Carnival of the Vanities is a great way to see the best of the blog-world in one sitting. Enjoy!
Meanwhile, in the "I guess Hitler is dead and we can't seem to FIND bin Laden department", the President named "Ten Most Evil Men of Twentieth CenturyTM" member Henry Kissinger as head of the commission to study the events surrounding the September 11th terror attacks. I have nothing to add. Which is ALSO what we can expect from this commission.
Going into tomorrow's Likud primary, PM Sharon seems to be expanding his lead over FM Netanyahu. Bibi is brilliant, articulate, and widely regarded as untrustworthy. Two out of three do not appear sufficient this time.
On the Labor side, standard-bearer Mitzna has been invited to Cairo to consult with Hosni Mubarak. It seems that the Labor leader's credibility is growing by the day, although right now polls show he can expect to be crushed in the general election. Still...
The PA continues to send mixed signals. On the one hand, the PA's Supreme Court ordered the release of the official accused of financing the Karine A, consistent with the PA's famous revolving door for terror suspects. On the other hand, Fatah is urging the PA to confront Hamas and reassert its authority (though this could be defensive, if Fatah perceives that a Mitzna-led government, for example, might want to cut Fatah out and go directly to Hamas). Even more interestingly, a PA minister has expressed willingness to forgo the troublesome "right of return" as part of broader negotiations. That could be a PA ploy (as could its endorsement of Mitzna), or the PA could very well realize that there is a distinct possibility that its own recalcitrance may become a major issue, followed by its own expulsion.
Not that anyone is holding their breaths, but we could be seeing signs of the precursors for real movement.
Having taken notice of the talking dog, Likud-nik leadership has woken up and realized that IT had better get some press going into this week's leadership primary, and so, Binyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon are discussing the role the OTHER would play as FOREIGN MINISTER when THEY are selected HEAD OF LIKUD. Sadly, I agree with this assessment by Yoel Marcus: both candidates are, ostensibly, failures. Bibi (the Nixonian/Clintonian) is universally regarded as a liar and a charlatan, and Ariel has just failed -- failed miserably -- to stop the terror and violence, and failed to advance one millimeter towards a political settlement (I try to refrain from the term "peaceful resolution" -- the term "peace process" just upsets me viscerally).
On the other hand, an excellent point is made here, by Evelyn Gordon (with thanks to Tal G. in Jerusalem for the link). She argues that what Mitzna is proposing is called "appeasement" -- ostensibly rewarding the Palestinians for a successful terror campaign, in the way that Barak's unilateral withdrawal from South Lebanon was perceived as a Hizbullah victory, which only emboldened terrorists to double their efforts against the Jewish State.
I cannot argue with the problem that unilateral withdrawals from Gaza, and certainly from parts of the West Bank, without a "political price" paid by the Palestinian side, will be seen as a reward for terrorism. Further, I cannot argue that doing so will stop terrorism within Israel. It most certainly will not. BUT...
I have been unabashed in saying this (all the more significant as Israel seeks billions of dollars in American loan guarantees), Israel's principal asset is ITS MORAL AUTHORITY. Yes, Israel is held to a higher standard than its neighbors, and indeed, a higher standard than even the United States. That's what happens when you exist in hostile territory, heavily subsidized from abroad, because the very existence of your nation is BASED UPON ITS MORAL AUTHORITY.
Guess what? Israeli settlers shouldn't be in Gaza Ė itís not in ISRAEL'S national interest to have them there. Strategically, they present a problem (seemingly recognized only by Amram Mitzna!) but from a moral authority perspective, they are a disaster. The same is true (less true, but mostly true) for much of the West Bank. While a unilateral pullout may be perceived as a victory for terrorists, it is ALSO a victory for Israel: a recognition that the "Greater Israel" concept for anything much larger than the '67 borders will always present a problem. A free, democratic, JEWISH STATE just cannot have millions of Arabs who don't want to be under its control.
But I have ALSO said this: Israel invested BILLIONS in the settlements -- this investment can be traded against the troublesome "right of return" once and for all, because that's what friends do. If the Palestinians refuse to make such a deal, any pullout should include physical destruction of the settlements and scorched earth -- that's what you do for enemies.
Now don't get me wrong: Israel has YET ANOTHER moral duty to the Palestinians. Messrs. Rabin and Peres went out of their way to bring the criminal Arafat and his minions back from Tunis, and the Palestinians have suffered under his brand of organized crime ever since. Leaving Arafat and the current PA in charge, even with a complete immediate pullback to the '67 borders, would be as disastrous for the Palestinians as it is for Israel. It will just mean that Israel will have to re-occupy the territories within weeks (if not HOURS). I'm convinced that the one thing Bibi is right on is that: Arafat IS the problem (or at least a huge part of it) and he has to go. I don't care if the Palestinians would vote for him. If they choose to vote for him in exile -- their affair. But he has to go. Israel can then set up something like the Afghan "Loya Jirga" of the (non-Arafat, and preferably non-Fatah) Palestinians to select their own interim government, and that interim government can negotiate -- or NOT negotiate -- for an ultimate political settlement. But Israel will have re-gained the moral high ground, a strategic position it needs to hold.
Where is Raed? This Iraqi blogger is now on the Dog Run (the best damned links section on the internetTM). That's where. Salaam Alechim, Salam.
How to reconcile these three developments out of Israel, all involving Labor standard-bearer Amram Mitzna (other than he is brilliantly grabbing press at a time when LIKUD should be doing so, given that its primary is later this week!):
1) Mitzna states that Israel must negotiate, EVEN WITH TERRORISTS;
2) Mitzna tells a German language publication that he regards Arafat as a terrorist (although, naturally, one who he would negotiate with, even as he (like George W. Bush) urged the Palestinians to select another leader) and, give (1) and (2), quite naturally and inevitably;
3) Arafat is seeking a meeting with Mitzna.
Former PM Ehud Barak and others, by the way, are saying that Mitzna's stand on this is crazy -- after all the trouble Israel has gone through to make Arafat "irrelevant". Mitzna's response: Barak is irrelevant. You have to hand it to Mitzna for his cojones.
The fact is, though, he recognizes that he is so far behind right now, that a cautious campaign is not going to get him anywhere.
This is fascinating in light of documents unearthed by the IDF in raids on Gaza which show that Hamas is making inroads to Egypt, whereby Egypt wants to establish direct links to Hamas AS AN ALTERNATIVE to the PA.
Could we be watching the (heretofore) unthinkable? Is Mitzna laying the groundwork to decide that negotiating straight with (the insanely virulent but not regarded as corrupt-as-the- PA) Hamas might be more preferable to negotiating with Arafat? Could Mitzna have in mind something I have more or less hinted at would be a really good idea -- simultaneous unilateral pullouts AND expulsion of Arafat? I don't know, but the Israeli electorate is being faced with a choice that is getting more interesting by the day. We'll see what Likud voters provide by way of choice on that party's line.
In the "with friends like these, who needs enemies" department, we give you THIS endorsement that Amram Mitznah DOES NOT NEED: the endorsement of the Palestinian Authority! They are correct, of course, insofar as Mitznah DOES present the greater opportunity for a peaceful resolution (moreso than either Sharon or Netanyahu, the latter as a Nixonian/Clintonian, will not govern nearly so belligerently as he talks at campaign time -- but will not be as conciliatory as the insanely principled mayor of Haifa).
However, look carefully not at what the PA says, but at what the PA always DOES: terror is up (including an attempted NAVAL suicide attack a la the USS Cole which injured several Israeli naval personnel near Gaza.). I must hand it to the Psy-Ops guys in the PA. They play a good game.
Of course, it won't sell well to the Europeans to say that Israelis should vote for Likud because it is LESS likely to reach a political resolution and disturb the PA's protection racket, now isn't it? Anyway, just because the PA endorses Mitzna is NOT a reason to disqualify him...that's just what Arafat WANTS the Israeli electorate to think!
A hearty "Shalom" (as in both "hello" and in our wishes for peace) to new members of the Dog Run (the best damned links section on the InternetTM), all of whom blog out of Israel: Israeli Guy, Tal G. in Jerusalem, Balagan (an Israeli blogger who shifts between English and Portuguese), Ribbity Frog, Inner Balance and The News, Uncensored.
As I recall, either yesterday or today was the day some 39 years ago (your TD was 1 year of age, and has no idea where he was that day!) when President Kennedy was shot, leading to endless conspiracy theories over the years. A current conspiracy theory concerns high level Saudi government level involvement (as demonstrated by funding of the terrorists themselves) of the Septeber 11th events. our friends at Unqualified Offerings give us the sordid details here. Key point: the only people who seem NOT INTERESTED in following up these leads are officials of the BUSH ADMINISTRATION. Why? Draw your own cynical conclusions about inappropriate Bush families ties to the Saudi ruling family. I have. And those ties are SO strong that the United States, despite all the bluster, will NOT launch a military strike against Iraq -- NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS with the UN weapons inspectors. Why? Because a free, democratic, oil pumping Iraq is not in the Saudi national interest. I'm not sure if this is good news or bad for...Israel...
In the tragic "ooops" department, the IDF has determined that the killing of a UK national who was an employee of the United Nations Refugee Works Agency at the Jenin refugee camp was the result of an Israeli soldier's mistake, during a gun battle: the soldier thought a cell phone was a grenade. Military operations often lead to unfortunate consequences, and all things told, the IDF does a remarkable job of minimizing incidents like this. Still, it is unfortunate...
This leads cynical SOB's like myself to a fundamental question: why is the United Nations continuing to operate "refugee camps" for Palestinians who live in PALESTINE under the political control of THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY? UNRWA camps in Lebanon and Jordan are one thing -- but in the West Bank and Gaza? Sure, the Arab League loves the ongoing embarrassment of Israel (paid for with 25% American taxpayer money and virtually NO Arab money) and might I add, the UNRWA funds schools where "Palestine" is shown in the area between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, and frankly, probably funds and trains some of the most virulent terrorists in the world (I, as an American taxpayer, am outraged, but then, so what!). While at least one spectrum of the Israeli body politic is considering expelling Mr. Arafat and his crew (as in Mafia crew), maybe itís time it ALSO considered expelling the &^%$ UN and its &^%$% UNRWA from the West Bank and Gaza? If, when the areas revert to complete Palestinian control (and they will), the Palestinians want to invite the United Nations BACK, so be it. But it seems problematic to me to keep them now. (Besides, United Nations "refugee" camps have not had a good track record, be it terrorist havens in Jenin or "safe" havens in Srebrenica and East Timor.) Hey, Israel will be thought of as a pariah by most of the world no matter what it does- so it may as well do something in its self-interest! Expelling the UNRWA seems like a good idea to me!
Speaking of funding, the Bush Administration has just advised Israel it is seeking over $2 billion in military aid next year from Congress for Israel. So far, Israel is overwhelmingly popular in the United States (even without the famous Zionist conspiracy and the all-powerful Jewish lobby), and most Americans recognize that Israel suffers daily what the United States suffered on September 11th, and for the moment, American aid will be rather generously given. But Israel exists largely on the strength of its moral authority, and the current Sharon government seems hell-bent on testing just how far it can go in squandering that moral authority. This may become a bigger problem in coming years, as the current American Administration's ludicrous fiscal policies jeopardize the United States' ability to be as generous, particularly if a Likud government seems to be moving not an inch toward an ultimate political resolution with its involuntary Arab subjects.
Welcome "Welcome to Spleenville" the blog of Andrea Harris, to the Dog Run (the best damned links section on the internetTM). Ms. Harris, I will tell you, is possibly the cleverest person on the planet (having out-clevered, well, ME). This is a great blog, pleasingly laid out, with some biting commentary (and as a canine, you KNOW how much we appreciate biting commentary). So go! Read it! Come on! Move it!
I am also pleased to add "meta-blog" NYC Bloggers (of which your TD is a proud denizen of the F-line), and as part of expanded discussion of Israel, the website of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, English version, and Israeli blogger Imshinís ďNot A FishĒ. Welcome and shalom to all.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States.
Good evening, my fellow Americans, and a big Texas "Hi" to all you Russian folks, especially you, President Putin. I'm here in St. Petersburg, and I gotta tell you people, itís cold. REAL cold. I didn't expect it to be this cold. I know you people have a domed baseball stadium, and now I see why! For a place so close to Disney World -- MAN, THIS PLACE IS COLD!!! But, I didn't come here to complain about the cold, I'm used to running on indoor tracks. I came here to extend my hand and warm feelings toward you and President Putin. We suffer with you in the recent terror attack on your theatre in Moscow; like us, you are engaged in a death struggle against terror. So we have added Chechnya to the Axis of Evil. 'Cause they messed with Texas. And we can't have that, and don't you be worrying about NATO expansion right up to your ying yang, either becauseÖ
LIVE FROM NEW YORK, ITíS THE TALKING DOG!!!!!
Featuring, the Unseen Editor, with the Dog Run and the Talking Dog Orchestra...and starrrrrrinnnnnngggg: The Talking Dog.
The Talking Dog, Ladies and Gentlemen...
Thank you, thank you! Its great to be here, live on my own blog! So let's get right to it! Beauty contests were often to be perceived as competitive, but never quite like this, as over 100 people WERE KILLED in rioting near Lagos, Nigeria, home of the Miss World contest, when one newspaper (brilliantly) suggested that the Prophet Mohammed would have approved of the contest (in some way). Kudos to the pageant organizers for selecting one of the world's most corrupt and repressive shit-holes for staging their cheesecake contest, a place where pregnant women still nursing await their deaths by stoning under Sharia law. Again, GREAT SITE SELECTION CHOICE FOR A BEAUTY PAGEANT!
We'll be right back after this word at the expense of Holland America cruise lines where a ship is being sanitized in Florida after dozens contracted a nasty stomach virus. A cruise ship is just an ideal place for this sort of thing: confined, warm, moist, lots of elderly people, what can we say? Thankfully, no one has died from this (compare and contrast e-coli deaths from meat packing plants...no, on second thought, don't...)
President Bush and Prime Minister Blair jointly condemned the recent Jerusalem bus bombing, saying "Nothing justifies this". You think? Well someone disagrees: the suicide bomber's family and neighbors are all proud of him, as he took his battle right to the Jews. And they KNOW that there will be heavy Israeli reprisals, but that's the way it is now.
Think of the Palestinians in general (these morons, anyway, who will now set up a shrine to the mass-murderer they had the misfortune to have raised) as comparable to the stupid neighbors of Dapper Don John Gotti, who were so pleased with the Don's Christmas pageants and Fourth of July fireworks that he was regarded as a local hero and civic leader, rather than what he was: a *&&^^%^ criminal, whose minions had dozens of people or more killed in the course of their activities. So Hamas, which provides "community services", and presumably its parallel movements in Islamic Jihad, and possibly even elements of Fatah, is perceived similarly. This is horrible, of course (but might be truer than we would think): think of the Palestinians watching Jews killed in a spectacular explosion in the same way as residents of Howard Beach, Queens ooohhed and ahhhed at a John Gotti sponsored fireworks display. Itís the circuses part of the bread and circuses operation designed to keep the locals in order, even as they live under the thumb of organized thugs. (I'm coming round to the view that even many Palestinians are convinced that their leaders are so hopelessly corrupt, and that even if they get their own State, nothing will improve).
So the atrocities HAVE to be spectacular, because have to compensate for the endless corruption and penury endemic in the lives of Palestinians. Fortunately for the La Cosa Nostra di Ramallah, a large number of Palestinians still think the Israeli counter-strikes mean that they really ARE in a war of national liberation, and sadly, the IDF continues to help foster this fantasy, as invariably, more Palestinians are killed in the counterattacks (generally when the terrorists hide in population centers to create human shields) than Israelis are in the terror strikes. Although political conditions all around are ALSO contributing to the horrific status quo, we can only hope that the spirit of freedom and democracy that exists on the Israeli side and I am convinced ALSO exists on the Palestinian side (though no one dare speak it lest the thugs murder them as "collaborators") can take sway. Please God.
Good night, and God bless you all, everybody!!!
Heeeeeerrrrrreee's The Talking Dog!
Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight, we are pleased to introduce the newest member of the dog run, the best damned links section on the InternetTM) to, Belligerent Bunny Blog (another blogging animal!). The proprietress of the blog is named Anna (same as my daughter) and she posts LOTS of cute pictures of bunnies (I'm a sucker for that; Mrs. TD and I used to have a white lop rabbit; because of this, the blog may take a little longer to load). AND she mocks Jerry Lewis. Go! Now! (Well, after you get your daily dose of Talking Dog, that is!)
On to less festive news, not really appropriate for an opening monologue, I'm afraid, but another suicide bombing in Israel took place, many of the victims (at least 11 dead, so far) being (surprise, surprise) children. This is all predictable, of course: Israel has an election coming, and the terrorists led by Arafat (Bibi Netanyahu is right on this point: Arafat is not so much a "national liberation leader" as he is a criminal, or at least, organizer of criminals) seek to force the Israeli electorate to the right, and preferably to the hard-right. This keeps the pressure AWAY from anything approaching actual peace, so that Arafat, Fatah, Hamas and company can maintain their protection rackets and other criminal enterprises with respect to their MAIN terror campaign, the one against Palestinian Arabs.
Itís a lot worse than we all thought: the Palestinians who orchestrate this type of violence do NOT want their own state. YOU HEARD ME. They don't even want their own state even if it meant the destruction of the Jewish State. WHAT? These bastards recognize that THEIR PERSONAL POWER lies exactly in the way things are: a never-ending death struggle with Israel. Itís kind of like what has happened to the Irish Republican Army: it is now not so much a terror group as a protection racket in Catholic neighborhoods. THIS is what Arafat aspires to (he's ALREADY a billionaire from it!).
Even though Bibi is not merely Israel's Bill Clinton (he is ALSO its Dick Nixon) he is right on this point: Arafat and his minions should be expelled. I'm sold. Hopefully, whatever "resolution" on Iraq turns up will ease the political pressure on the US -- but this *&&^% HAS TO STOP. Mark my words: if Arafat is expelled, it WILL STOP -- almost as if by magic.
And just to show the vibrancy of ISRAEL'S democracy (in sharp contrast to ours), Bibi has now stated that if Sharon continues to advocate (even tepidly) the formation of a Palestinian state -- he will not join any future Sharon led government. That's fine with me, of course, but let's see how this plays out in the coming Likud primaries; it certainly would change the stakes in a general election, where the contrasts would be even starker between Mitzna's unilateral pullout and Netanyahu's version of a pullout: pulling Arafat out!
We'll be right back, after this brief legal eagle segment, brought to you at the expense of McDonaldís. Lawyers in federal court in New York (my fair city) have filed a class-action suit against McDonaldís claiming that its "food" causes obesity "in children". Well, folks, we ALL know that how a child is raised and what a child eats have NOTHING to do with the choices made by that child's PARENTS: itís all someone else's fault! And now, back to the show.
Two US servicemen were wounded in Kuwait by a Kuwaiti police officer, who then fled over the border into Saudi Arabia. The punchline is that our soldiers are nominally in both countries to protect those regimes! (I didn't expect much of a laugh out of that myself!) In similar comedy news, North Korea announces that its 1994 pact with the United States is void because of the cut-off of oil shipments. This IS funny. We declared the pact void because the POINT of it was a bribe to get North Korea to drop its nuclear program, which it went on with anyway. I think BOTH SIDES can agree that the damned agreement wasn't worth the paper it was inked on. What's NOT funny is what we have to do now: it may be necessary to take military action there. Not funny, at all.
Well, come back tomorrow when our scheduled guests will be George W. Bush, John Ashcroft and Bibi Netanyahu. Or check in for bulletins as they happen. Good night, everybody!
It looks like Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court will be appealing a federal district court's order that he remove, at his personal expense, a two-ton granite monument of the Ten Commandments he had ordered installed at the Alabama Supreme Court's courthouse.
Well, here we go again. We can argue from today till tomorrow that the federal district court should just quietly find a "ceremonial deity" kind of argument, and just let this go. Certainly, in God-fearing Alabama, we can suppose that the political cachet will be on the strident side of Chief Justice Moore. Yes, technically the federal court is right: the State of Alabama should not be seen promoting its (predominantly Christian) religion, in its Supreme Court of all places. And worst of all, the State will probably pay the legal costs of appealing this idiocy to defend the whims of its chief justice.
On the other hand, does this REALLY make a difference? Does anyone seriously believe that a judge with religious convictions is NOT going to take them into account in making a ruling, or that a judge without them will not? Isn't this one of those de minimis things we should just kind of smirk at and move on?
In the next few years, the social contract you have seen me refer to as "You can keep your guns and we can keep our porn" will be tested, especially as the likes of hard-ass righties like our President (and just because the media has decided that he is not a fire-breathing ogre does not mean that he is not a hard-ass rightie, especially on social issues and civil liberties) hold sway over more and more of our government, and proceed to pack our nation's courts with their fellow travelers. It pains me to see "our side" firing the first shots, over what strikes me as really trivial issues. Perhaps we should be saving our ammunition for the important stuff, like freedom from having the President lock up citizens without counsel or charge on his own whim?
Maybe that's just me.
[Editorís Note: Maybe it is just you. Take a look at the First Commandment: ďI am the Lord, your God, you shall have no other Gods before me.Ē Could that be construed to be intolerant? In violation of the Establishment Clause? Perhaps intimidating to a non-Christian? Or should we be ďsaving our ammunitionĒ until Judge Moore goes beyond big granite displays and promotes passage of a law that puts you on a suspicious characters list because you "misused the name of the Lord our God"?]
I will wait to see how (and if) my friend The Raving Atheist takes this issue up. This is, of course, the type of issue that drove him out of blog-retirement in the first place -- so let's see if he responds to this wake up call. The fact is most of the country probably would have absolutely no problem with posting the Ten Commandments in a courthouse -- and would NOT interpret it as the State shoving religion down their throat -- just makes it more interesting, as I see it.
Greetings, citizens. First, a happy 85th birthday to long-time senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Though Byrd was once a Klansman, he has put up good fights in his day for noble causes, and we hope, will ultimately expiate the sins of his youth (or at least, younger days!).
Our first guest today is Amram Mitzna of Israel, the Mayor of Haifa, and now the Labor Party leader and standard bearer, who won a landslide victory in Labor's primary. In ISRAEL, at least, a courageous, controversial position may be REWARDED by the electorate (compare and contrast, oh, the United States!). Mitzna, as you recall, has picked up Barak's mantle of unilateral peacemaking (such as the unilateral withdrawal from South Lebanon) and proposes unilateral pullouts starting with Gaza, and possibly untenable parts of the West Bank (like Hebron), coupled with negotiations. Right now, polls show Mitzna would be crushed by Likud, whether led by PM Sharon or FM Netanyahu, but there are nearly two months to the election, and the region presents explosive possibilities that could change things in a heartbeat. Haifa has been one of the few places in Israel where Arabs and Jews tend to get along, meaning, for example, that Hamas-Hizbollah-Islamic Jihad-Fatah suicide bombings there kill Arabs as well as Jews. This may explain Mitzna's unusual conciliatory tone (compared to, say, the Likudniks). We'll see. His plan is every bit as bold as Barak's -- maybe bolder. Maybe he can sway the Israeli electorate on this. Most Israelis are probably naturally more conciliatory -- but being in constant fear for one's own mortal existence changes things, does it not?
Our next guest is Ikrima Sabi, Mufti (or Islamic religious leader) of Jerusalem, who is merrily trying to stir up Palestinian Muslims into violence (as if they need another reason) by claiming that the IDF is forcing Muslim men to eat during daylight -- a big no-no during Ramadan. This doesn't sound likely (the IDF tends to be very sensitive to these sorts of things). This reminds me of Muhammed Atta's father, who, when told of the 9-11 events, was shocked and outraged at the slander that his son Muhammed...was alleged to have gone drinking in a topless bar the night before the atrocity. NOT that he was a psychotic murderer who killed thousands of innocent people, or may have triggered a potential world war in the process -- but that he broke an Islamic taboo against drinking alcohol. Priorities, people. If THESE are the priorities that REALLY float some people's boats (which, in some cases, led to killing Saudi school girls by forcing them back into a burning building because their faces weren't covered), then we will NEVER understand them, NOR SHOULD WE.
Our next guest is, sadly, the late Janis Coulter, a fellow Brooklynite who was killed at the Hebrew University terror blast earlier this year, who has just had a block (69th and Madison, here in New York) named in her honor. The more we keep in mind that the horrors of the Middle East are not faceless tragedies, but actual VERY PERSONAL murders, we may appreciate the seriousness of doing whatever is necessary to bring peace to that troubled part of the world. Even if it means seemingly crazy things like what Mitzna is proposing.
Our last two guests are President George W. Bush and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, who secured a big victory in the senate (90-9) passing their pet project, the Homeland Security Bill (I would now say "Sieg Heil"!, but that would invoke Godwin's Law, and I'm not willing yet to concede this argument!!!). Joining birthday boy Byrd in casting the proper vote against this liberty threatening travesty were Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts; Paul Sarbanes, D-Maryland; Jim Jeffords, I-Vermont; Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii; Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii; Carl Levin, D-Michigan; Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, D-South Carolina; and my man, the insanely principled Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin. Thanks to my own senators, Schumer and Clinton, for doing the expedient thing and voting with the President, and against the people and the Constitution.
The Senate just voted against a Democratically-sponsored provision to strip the non-Homeland Security related provisions (such as the "protect Eli Lilly From Liability Act") inserted in the House-passed Homeland Security Bill. The generally party line vote was 52-47 the wrong way, with the sainted John McCain joining the Democrats, the wimpy Mary Landrieu running for her political life in Louisiana joining the GOP, as did Minnesota wild man Dean Barkley.
It now remains to be seen whether any Democrat will have the cojones to make a filibuster motion, and if enough Democrats can be made to hold the line on this. I'm not optimistic.
In the coming weeks, as Israel prepares for its election, your TD will probably add to the already disproportionate time he spends in that part of the world.
Issue 1: democracy. In Israel, I'm sad to say, UNLIKE the United States, the so-called democratic process matters, in that there are real, huge, throbbing differences in policies between the parties. Hence, while Binyamin Netanyahu of Likud promises that among his first acts will be the expulsion of Yasir Arafat, (and Sharon promises more of the same current policy) Labor Party
frontrunner and Haifa Mayor Amram Mitzna pledges that HIS first act will be unilateral withdrawal from Gaza (including uprooting of settlements), continued negotiations, and possible further unilateral withdrawals from the West Bank. Which one is right? I tend to favor Mitzna's position, but then, I'm thousands of miles away, aren't I? Israeli voters will make their own choice -- (Labor voters will participate in a primary today) as in THEY HAVE A CHOICE! While the Europeans who have a choice between hard-left social democrats and harder left democratic socialists, or while we in America chose between the Demi-publicans and the Republi-crats, the Israeli electorate has real, divisive, philosophical differences among their candidates.
Issue 2: Air Safety. Turkish security reports that the attempted hijacker of the El AL flight to Istanbul was planning a September 11th style suicide crashing into a building in downtown Tel Aviv. Unlike pre-9-11 America, Israel ALWAYS expects something like that, which is in large part why it was able to thwart the hijacker. (Interestingly, today, the Transportation Department reported that it met the deadline for hiring new airport security screeners. Unclear on whether this represents a real or cosmetic improvement in U.S. air safety -- but this deadline was thought unattainable at one time.)
Non-sequitur: We are sad to hear of the passing of actor James Coburn, at 74.
Issue 3: Homeland Insecurity. The President is off to Prague (home of the famous non-meeting meeting that might have/might not have taken place between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence official) for a NATO summit so he can bring his view of the "War on TerrorTM" and the Iraq campaign to our NATO allies (including a number of new prospective NATO members). Meanwhile, at home, the sainted John McCain has stated he will join Democrats in voting to strip portions of the Homeland Security bill that are, evidently, not related to Homeland Security. This would force the two houses of Congress to reconcile their bills, which may end up killing them.
Ladies and gentlemen: the proposed bill is over 400 pages, and includes such charming provisions as expressly allowing secret meetings of the new agency (allegedly for YOUR PROTECTION!) and gutting many other Freedom of Information Act provisions, not to mention Admiral &^%^% Poindexter's proposed national database system. And don't forget the union busting, and ability to pack the government with more cronies for the President. This is a bad bill. Better it not be passed at all. 48 Democratic senators are plenty for obstructing bad bills. Senator Daschle, you are the Minority LEADER. Lead, damn it.
Predictions: Fresh from its victory in the D.C. Federal Appeals Court in a decision granting the government broad surveillance and wiretap power, Attorney General Ashcroft will NOT appeal this privacy threatening and dangerous-to-freedom ruling to the Supreme Court. I predict that although the Attorney General does not dance, he has happy feet at the thoughts of being able to use the government's new broad-based surveillance authority against whoever he wants now, under the guise of "fighting terrorism".
Abba Eban was regarded as the father of Israeli statesmanship. He served as Israel's minister of education and culture, as ambassador to the United States and United Nations, as deputy prime minister, and as foreign minister during the Six Day and Yom Kippur Wars. As diplomat and author, he was oft-regarded as the "voice of Israel", and was often tapped as the narrator of its national character and history.
(With thanks to The Jerusalem Post.) Abba (Aubrey) Eban was born in Capetown, South Africa, moved to England in his infancy, attended Cambridge where he later lectured, and served in the British Army in World War II. An active Zionist, he served in the Jewish Agency's delegation to the United States, and played a leading role in the effort to secure the passage of the UN resolution of November 29, 1947, for the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.
As foreign minister, Eban complemented Israel's military victories with diplomatic rhetoric, such as a famous speech at the UN during the Six Day War, declaring "Never in history has there been a more righteous use of armed force." He subsequently oversaw the crafting and the passing of Security Council Resolution 242, more than 35 years later still the keystone of Middle East diplomacy. During the Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir governments, Eban aligned himself solidly behind the cabinet doves. He rejected the notion that Israel should rule over the Palestinians and abhorred the idea of expanded borders which would change the character of the state.
Eban made the oft-quoted observation that "The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity". Ultimately, however, his more conciliatory stands made him an unlikely choice to succeed Golda Meir as head of the Labor Party (and hence, the premiership) when she resigned in 1974, and she was instead succeeded by Yitzak Rabin. Eban himself recognized the intrinsic contradictions necessitated by Israel's expansion and occupation of large numbers of Arabs: Israel purports to be both (1) a liberal, free and democratic state, (2) with a Jewish identity, that if it holds onto its occupied territories, (3) must disenfranchise millions of people, the contradiction that remains Israel's albatross.
Eban was a noted lecturer, and author of such works as The Maze of Justice, Zionism and the Arab World, Tide of Nationalism, and My People, My Country. His New Diplomacy was incorporated into university curricula in Britain and the US, his speeches were made into records. Eban's television series, Civilization and the Jews was viewed by an estimated 50 million Americans. Last year, he was awarded the Israel Prize for his lifetime contribution to Israeli and international diplomacy.
On a personal note, one of Eban's activities was making recorded histories of Israel, one of which was a part of your TD's Hebrew School curriculum. I have seen it pointed out recently that the reason many Europeans equate both Israel's and the United States' willingness to aggressively defend themselves as somehow "alien", is because both nations only even exist because of hard-fought struggles against seemingly overwhelming obstacles -- concepts alien to Europeans, who contrive bigger and more complex welfare states as THEIR form of struggle. Further, Israel's struggle for existence resulted in its statehood in the living memories of millions of people.
One of its founding fathers has just been lost.
Thank God its Monday. (I thought SOMEONE might enjoy that...oh well).
Around two dozen UN inspectors (and hopefully no spies!) showed up in Baghdad to prepare for their work; presumably, they will not have all that much to do when Iraq presents its list of WMDs. This is because Iraq insists that it HAS NO WMDs. Obviously, the inspectors are there to "verify" this, and they have been oft-frustrated in this task in the past. We hope for the best this time; if Saddam tries the EXACT SAME tricks he did back in '98, he can expect bombs over Baghdad very quickly. I'm expecting that Saddam will come up with NEW AND CREATIVE tricks this time. The diplomatic challenge for the President will then become enormous: holding back Cheney and Rumsfeld from a military campaign that most of the American people would probably support (by then, maybe even I would support it)! But he will refrain from it, I have every confidence, and hand this one to Kofi at the "hail Mary" stage. I keep running the geo-political equations in my head, and I just don't see the Saudis cottoning to a free, democratic, oil pumping Iraq on their border. I just don't.
So, in these troubled times when we must all watch what we say and do, we turn to the allegedly patriotic Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which just passed a bill (not yet signed into law) requiring students to recite the pledge of allegiance in school (and that's PRIVATE as well as public schools!), and sing the national anthem. (No word yet on whether the pledge includes "under God", but I'm sure that's what they mean.) This strikes me as similar to the "great loyalty oath crusade" from Joseph Heller's Catch-22. Its probably more accurate to equate this to Bill Clinton's great school uniforms initiative in his second term: a nice, symbolic gesture, to show "we mean business" in our schools at little monetary cost (query the cost on the long, slow road to degraded freedom), while not actually committing to make any REAL improvement in education.
A politically perfect situation, in other words, which may explain why it was passed unanimously.
The Variety headline would be something like...Terror Try in Tube Tied Up, as three conveniently unemployed North African males were taken into custody after what appeared to be a planned terror attack (cyanide gas and the like) in London's underground rail system, the Tube.
I really am beginning to think that a point made long ago by the great Mickey Kaus is extremely well taken: Europe's very generous social welfare system coupled with the nasty tendencies of Muslim extremists is the perfect storm formula to give some of the baddest dudes on the planet the time and money they need to plan horrifying terror attacks on the West. As cruel as many (including myself) happen to think that our "welfare reform" of recent years has been, reducing the time and money available for the people who would use that societal generosity to plan the destruction of that society seems a good effect. Europe should certainly reconsider some of its insane labor practices and free market restrictions that result in its high structural unemployment that leads it to HAVE the generous welfare provisions, because for every Horst Schmidt that benefits, there seems to be a Mohammed Atta there as well. Coupled with Europe's traditional vehement racism (which in many ways makes AMERICAN racism look quaint), which has the effect of keeping many swarthier North African males out of the work force -- and on social welfare -- not a good thing.
This one should be al Qaeda tells Al Jazeera of Alchemy of Evil, or in a 6-page statement sent to the Qatar-based Arabic news service, al Qaeda (by whoever its publicity department is these days) threatens New York and Washington (again) if the West doesn't cease support of Israel and Russia (in its Chechen war).
What can I say? In matters al Qaeda, my only advice is "follow the petro-dollars": al Qaeda CONTINUES to be funded by Saudi money (more of it each time you or I fill up our tanks); despite an unquestionable imperative to do so, our President has chosen NOT to throw down the gauntlet to his family's friends in the Saudi royal family and force them to stop doing so or join the Axis of EvilTM. Oy.
A special welcome to the Dog Run (the Best Damned Links Section on the InternetTM) to Samizdata (a Soviet era code word consistent with the libertarian bent of the blog) and Steve Silver (that being his name!). More great sites, amidst a group of great sites. Check 'em out, you WILL NOT be disappointed.
I am delighted to say Happy Birthday to Mrs. TD.
In less happy news (sadly, endemic of late), Palestinian gunmen ambushed a group of Jewish Sabbath worshippers on their way home from prayers in Hebron's Jewish quarter, and THEN ambushed rescue workers, leaving a dozen Israelis dead, along with at least three Palestinians. Hebron has always presented a problem. Though Jews have been there for millennia, they are nonetheless considered "settlers" because, for about two decades under Jordan's Judenfrei program (yes, the same formula of ethnic cleansing used by the Nazis), Jews were kicked out of the West Bank. At this point, around 400 Jews are surrounded by over 100,000 Palestinians, with the IDF constantly scrambling to protect them, and under Labor leader (and former defense minister) Ben Eliezer's urging, that presence was recently reduced, adding to vulnerabilities. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility (as if it matters) in retaliation for Israel's killing of one of its officials during a recent gun battle, interestingly at a time when Fatah and Hamas have agreed to a three month "cease fire".
At this point, this is "life as usual" in Israel, as that nation awaits its elections in January, and a potential "Wagnerian" attack from Saddam Hussein if and when the United States launches an attack upon Iraq. I do not envy the Israelis.
Meanwhile, after looking well, inept, in the War on TerrorTM as a result of old Osama's tape revealing that the evil one is still breathing, the Bush Administration is pleased to announce the capture of Al Tuna bin Salmon, or at least someone they describe as a "big catch" in Al Qaeda (without identifying him, and itís always a him).
In UNRELATED NEWS (although the American public, without being told, has taken the not-so-subtle hints from their President and conflated the two), Hans Blix, head UN inspector, has announced "spies will not be tolerated" on his UN weapons inspections team. (We'd better tell CIA Director Tenet to order his people off the inspection team -- Blix nixes spooks.)
And in legal eagle, we have a classic California three strikes case -- 25 to life for shoplifting $11 worth of stuff (although, at least this guy had a LOT of prior felonies). The United States Supreme Court will let us know their thoughts on the constitutionality of this law later -- probably in late Spring.
And in this decision near and dear to my heart, Department of Justice attorneys, as a class, are determined to be entitled to overtime, for working overtime. Though its been 15 years, I wonder if this means I have some money coming...
When the chips are down and your talking dog finds himself having somehow escaped from a federal brig in South Carolina (after he has been unconstitutionally declared an unlawful combatant based on the sort of things you are reading right now), and after weeks of by then living on grubs and lizards, and attempting to keep blogging sub rosa from various public libraries in the manner of the homeless blogger, I will make my way northward to Maryland, and by then hope to have collected enough bottles and cans to turn in for the deposit to be able to buy Unqualified Offerings a drink, in thanks for having warned you all: George W. Bush is NOT YOUR FRIEND. (TD warned you too, of course, but more people actually READ Unqualified Offerings! Unless of course, Unqualified Offerings by then finds himself also in a naval brig as an unconstitutionally declared unlawful combatant, in which case, never mind.)
UO's point? The new Homeland Security bill is as *&&^%^$%ly ominous as its name. It includes a proposal by Admiral John Poindexter for a national database of everyone's detectable activities, from your bookstore purchases to your E-Z pass toll payments, to your passport application, in one convenient location reviewable by friends of liberty like...AdmiralÖ*&&^^...Poindexter. (I could use REAL expletives undeleted, but I am in a *&&^%% mood.) In short, the Bush Administration means to curtail civil liberties to the extent possible under cover of "we have a war on", knowing of course, that its own State Department continues to allow Saudis (you know, the people who gave us 9-11) to have their own EXPRESS LINE into the United States, and that thus, by definition, actual security from al Qaeda will NOT be achieved (thus permitting FURTHER curtailments of civil liberties...).
Hey, while Congress is taking away our rights to privacy, how about re-imposing Victorian standards of inescapable penury via repeal of the bankruptcy law? The lame duck House of Representatives obliges us.
Hey, while we're at it, why not *&^% with the free market, and impose what should otherwise be private sector insurance obligations on the taxpayer, so that real estate developers (and insurers, of course) can have the taxpayer subsidize their activities and call it "national terrorism insurance"? Again, the lame duck House again obliges us.
This busy, busy lame duck Congress ALSO announces a deal on a 9-11 investigation commission, which is conveniently stacked with a Presidentially-appointed chairperson and the apparent requirement of at least ONE GOP commission member to approve issuance of a subpoena, though the Democrats in Congress get to pick the vice chairman, so it remains to be seen how this will work in practice. Isn't "compromise" wonderful? Rest assured, nothing substantive will emerge from this long-sought commission, where we can expect to see a deadlock of 5-5 or 6-6 on anything important.
The Unseen Editor points my attention to something else out of the great state of Florida (specifically Palm Beach County, home of the butterfly ballot and hanging chad) where the widow of a murder victim sued, among others, Nathaniel Brazill, the juvenile who pulled the trigger; the friend from whom he stole the gun; the school in which the victim teacher worked; and the manufacturer of the murder weapon. The jury awarded $24,000,000, of which $1.2 million was against the gun maker, and nothing against the juvenile killer (the school board was found liable for $10.8 million and the family friend for $12 million in liability) making this the first case where a gun manufacturer has been found liable for a murder.
Alas, a review of the case leads me to question whether a "state of the art" defense jumps out: whether the gun maker was obliged to manufacture a gun that minors weren't able to use, when no law required it to do so, and indeed, I am unclear if that technology even exists. Given what is at stake (the future of a firearms industry in this country!) we can expect an appeal. I have not studied the details of this case (lawyer's weasel words for "I have no idea what I'm talking about- but I'll say it anyway!Ē), but the liability of the "friend" whose gun was stolen seems easy enough. Fail to take appropriate precautions around your deadly weapon, and it may foreseeably fall into the hands of a nut. If someone steals your car and gets into an accident, you may find yourself liable (civilly) -- especially in "no fault" states. Itís just the way it is.
The school board seems harder to me, though I guess the implication is that if the school had better security, or metal detectors, or perhaps, required its teachers to carry firearms themselves, the plaintiff's husband might still be alive. The gun company seems hardest of all. Not only do they manufacture a legal product, but the use of its product is uniquely Constitutionally protected product. Further, the theory of liability strikes me as requiring the State of Florida to have had a law REQUIRING child safety locks, or something like it, and the gun manufacturer either failing to install them or doing so defectively. Guns, like cars, are dangerous -- especially in the hands of unstable minors. I don't know if this decision will stand; it strikes me as bad tort law. The state COULD impose the "child-guard" things (and it could do so without violating the Second Amendment, by the way). But where it apparently didn't, I'm not sure there's liability here. Florida, though, shows that it has some of the nation's most creative lawyers. Oy.
The operators of Ms. Cleo's Psychic hotline have agreed to a record settlement with the FTC, involving a $5,000,000 fine and forgiveness of over $500,000,000 in charges run up by millions of customers who thought that they were getting a free call, but instead, found at least several dollars in additional charges on their phone bills in their future... Ms. Cleo was remarkably reticent for a soothsayer at her deposition in the related FCC action, often invoking this world's Fifth Amendment privilege...I see...I see...Ms. Cleo's operators calling it quits, and coming up with another clever scam... "I called expecting a live chat with Britney Spears, and this loser from Compton with a Jamaican accent insisted on keeping me on the line so she could tell my fortune -- I want Britney! WAAAAAA!!!!!."
Aimal Kasi is scheduled to be executed tonight by the Commonwealth of Virginia for the killing of two outside CIA headquarters in 1993 during a shooting rampage. As he hails from Pakistan, security is being stepped up, and somewhere, somehow, someone in our government (still at Code Yellow, Mr. Sulu) says that "retaliation is possible". I'll keep that in mind. Obviously, Virginia is "cruising for business" for its criminal justice system (note to Messrs. Muhammed and Malvo), by showing that it really is good at executions. "Virginia is for Capital Punishment Lovers".
Itís nuance day, here in the wacky world of world affairs. We can now safely conclude that the evil one (accursed be he) is indeed alive, and on tape, as the Bush Administration now combs the tape for "secret signals" or hints as to Osamaís next move (here's a hint: it will be AN ACT OF $%%^^^ TERRORISM!!!). Hospitals are, apparently, one of the threatened targets. Perhaps. Along with bridges, tunnels, and everything else we can think of...
Shifting from Pakistan (where Osama doubtless is, under the protection of, or worse yet, beyond the control of, our esteemed ally in the War on TerrorTM, Presidentissimo Musharraf) to Iraq, the State Department and other arms of our government are analyzing Iraq's "defiant" letter of grudging "acceptance" which doesn't use the word "accept" of the arms inspection regime. Shall either side cutteth the crap: an advance team is on their way, Monday. If WE don't trust the inspection regime, then Dubya's 9-12-02 visit to the UN was really counterproductive to our national security interest, wasn't it? (Even if it DID help Jim Talent and Norm Coleman and the loathsome Saxby Chambliss become Senators). And if we DO trust the inspection regime, then let's PLEASE see what it concludes? Thanks...
Meanwhile, in a signal of some kind being sent to Axis of EvilTM member North Korea the Bush Administration has cut off fuel shipments. A nice first step, let's see how far we go with this. Hopefully, inroads are being made to the new (and old) Chinese leadership for help in this department. Mr. President, this North Korean situation, whereby a madman may well have the capability of destroying Seoul, Tokyo and Anchorage, right now, is far more pressing than Iraq -- no matter what Karl's polls say. Think about that on the Stairmaster this morning, Sir.
And so, we turn to the less nuanced (LOL) world of the law for today's legal eagle (maybe I'd better trademark that expression, before I get sued by the guy who HAS trademarked it!), you can just spit at this story: a group of Florida lawyers is initiating a class action suit against the chewing tobacco industry for, naturally, covering up the dangers of its products. Is NO ADULT in this country responsible for their own lifestyle and habit choices? Don't answer that.
Over at the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Olsen argued in favor of the constitutionality of the nation's various "Megan's Laws", and the High Court looked likely to uphold the constitutionality of these laws. It seems that convicted sex offenders WILL be held accountable -- forever. Not that itís a bad thing; I would certainly want to know if a convicted sex offender moved in down the block from where I live with my wife and 3-year-old daughter. One wonders, however, of the potential slippery slope of the fact that this IS a post-conviction punishment for a lot of offenders (as in many cases, and in all cases involving convictions prior to enactment of Megan's laws), and whether this amounts to an ex post facto punishment (usually found to be barred by our Constitution).
Elton John will soon be getting eye surgery to correct his vision, obviating the need for his trademark glasses. I know you all need to know this.
In the battle of the charm offensives, just hours after Iraq announces its purported intent to comply with UN inspection demands, the United States and United Kingdom insist that "any false statements in the acceptance letter will themselves constitute material breaches". Seems to me that somebody in Washington (and somebody in London) need BIG HUGS. Guys, get with the program. Saddam is a peace-loving man -- just ask him (or ANYONE in Iraq!). Lookit, he seems to have a plan; the freedom loving western warmongering democracies do NOT seem to have a plan. How about "we hope that Saddam has finally come to his senses, and we will give him every opportunity to come clean -- but the world cannot afford to have weapons of mass destruction under the control of Iraq, which itself has pledged to divest itself of them"? There, was THAT so hard?
The attorneys for the sniper suspects have asked the public to "keep an open mind". I guess the public will not reach any premature conclusions on how it wants the case to come out, be it hanging, lethal injection, firing squad... COME ON!!! At least work on a credible insanity defense for these mother *&&^%^s -- otherwise, please don't insult the rest of us! (Query, however, if, as pointed out by Unqualified Offerings, the brilliant maneuver of questioning the suspects while transferred from Maryland to Virginia and before local counsel can be appointed yielded statements that may later be used in evidence; I have strong doubts on that particular point. I warned y'all: make this case according to Hoyle and stop screwing around!)
The raves on the new Osama tape just keep coming. U.S. experts are now "95%" sure it is indeed the evil one himself. Osama threatens retaliation (in his own inimitable way) if Iraq is attacked, and he threatens his usual nastiness. An excellent analytical point is made by (our featured link) Steve Chapman here, specifically, the 9-11 attacks were an EXCEPTION to the pattern of Islamist terror violence. Usually, such attacks are made in, or contiguous to, Islamic areas, be it in Israel/Palestine, Indonesia, Islamic parts of the Philippines, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, or Kuwait; the rationale of such attacks in general (highlighted by the recent Kibbutz atrocity in Northern Israel) is that Moslems and non-Moslems, as the Islamists see it, CANNOT live together, and this point will be highlighted with extreme violence, the al Qaeda way. He may be onto something.
It seems to me that the War on TerrorTM has GOT to be about killing (not capturing, not bringing to justice, but KILLING) Mr. bin Laden, and if necessary, removing the Saudi regime in order to stop their continuing funding of Al Qaeda. Or we may as well call it a day on the old W.O.T. right now. Iraq is, at best, a sideshow to all of this (if not an outright diversion for domestic purposes to distract from the fact that the failure to capture or kill bin Laden is a really bad thing.) But what do I know?
More crazy stuff.
It looks like the Osama tape is actually him. Now the evil one can add a Rasputin-like quality to his already legendary existence. Despite having the crap blown out of his caves, and suffering from kidney problems, he lives to taunt everything that is good in the world yet another day. And no, it is NOT impolite to ask how an operation ostensibly designed to capture or kill one man and then after having failed to do so can still qualify as an unmitigated success (and why there is no POLITICAL fallout for this). Fortunately, these questions can be asked NOW, after mid-term elections. Of course, they will be asked by me. Don't look for any major Democrats (except maybe Al Gore) to ask them.
But, since the public evidently equates ALL Middle Easterners (just ask them Ė itís certainly how they voted!), how about that Saddam Hussein grudgingly accepting the UN inspections resolution (and over a day early at that!). Saddam surprised me a bit, by apparently doing so unconditionally. No matter. He is a smart man -- an evil bastard -- but a smart man. He has a game plan. The problem is, do we? Because inspectors are going to run into "ambiguities"; is weapons inspection regime "compliance" that some countries (maybe even MOST countries) think IS compliance and the United States does not, a casus belli? We'll all find out, I guess.
The IDF rolled into Nablus. Something tells me that cries for "humanitarian leniency", "easing up on curfews" and the like will be given less of an ear in Jerusalem. Just a guess.
In today's legal eagle, we go, once again, into the realm of "we had all better watch what we do and say" where a lawyer in Indiana bought himself a one-month suspension from legal practice for arguing, in a footnote to a brief to that state's supreme court, that a lower court, in deciding against his client, did so for no basis other than to find for the other party and then came up with a justification later. The Supreme Court of Indiana took umbrage at this "outrage". Obviously, truth is no defense. Query whether the affected lawyer will ask the United States Supreme Court's intervention on the basis of a First Amendment violation (and God bless you if you do, counsel.)
In law school, and more importantly in practice later, we learn a key maxim: it ain't personal -- don't make it personal. That includes making it personal with judges (they can be "in error, because"; but they can't be "out to get me or my client" -- even if they are; the correct response to your client's death sentence is, of course, "Thank you, Your Honor".). Naturally, one of the Indiana Supreme Court judges that smacked the offending lawyer in this case was also one of the judges criticized in the offending footnote. Always check that roster before hurling those invectives. Or best of all, don't hurl them at all.
Jeez, if you turned around tonight, you missed major stuff! So don't turn around!
First, Tom Daschle is showing signs of defeat, caving on the Homeland Security bill with a "compromise" whereby labor regulations in the new department can be challenged by the federal employees union, with an uneasy resolution mechanism that seems to give the President (and the Grover Norquist ideological wing) what they REALLY want in the name of Homeland Security: a wedge against unions, and a beachhead towards the dismemberment of the civil service system. Nice. Tom is showing as much character AFTER the election as he did before. Itís called a backbone, Tom. Grow one.
Bibi, Israel's Bill Clinton announced that if he is elected prime minister, he will expel Yasir Arafat from the occupied territories. You know what? I don't like it, but I'm starting to think Bibi may be right on this one. Yasir has shown no desire, or ability, to rein in his homies (forget Hamas, he can't, or won't, control Fatah!), and enough Israelis and Palestinians are dead as a result. Maybe getting him gone IS the answer. At least there will be a shot at reduced corruption. If there is an alternative, I'd like to hear it.
And, joining Harvey Pitt, new accounting board standards chairman William Webster announces his resignation. Like the sudden emergence of the Osama tape: AFTER the mid-term elections. Thanks for the considerateness of your timing, guys, especially you, Osama.
Finally, good news, somewhere, somehow: after a month in the hospital, the 13-year-old Bowie, Maryland boy shot by the sniper-bastards was released from the hospital today.
Achtung! Wilkommen Gunters Geblogger! You'd think this here blog would be known as der Sprechen Hundt, but its the same old talking dog on Gunters Geblogger -- so wilkommen, and for those of you who read German, enjoy the newest member of the Dog Run, the best damned links section on the InternetTM.
Oh, did I mention that Osama seems to be alive and making more tapes? He calls Bush "the pharoah of the century". I thought you'd want to know.
First, a warm Dog Run (the best damned links section on the InternetTM) welcome to Zizka of Vanitysite; Zizka is the only blogger I know of (besides yours truly) who puts it on the line and SAYS what blogging is all about, in Zizka's case, in the URL.
No citizen is safe, yada, yada, yada as the lame duck session of the Senate is set to convene, with Minnesota Wildman Dean Barkley pledged to remain "independent" (bringing Senate independents to two, though the other one, Jeffords of Vermont, votes Democratic on caucus matters, and a senator from Missouri, Jim Talent, will join in a few weeks, tilting the Upper House to the GOP). The Senate, and the House of Representatives, will be using the lame duck session to pass most of the federal budget, which they used the election as a basis to screw around and NOT do. In addition, homeland security may be on the table, and who knows what else our esteemed lawmakers can dream up.
Not to be confused with our lame duck government, across the world, despite the "urging" of Uzay Hussein (Iraq's version of Kim Jong Il, back when Kim Il Song Ė Saddam Ė was still alive) urged the Iraqi parliament to "accept with conditions" the UN inspection regime. The parliament instead, unanimously, the way Iraqis seem to do everything these days, rejected the measure, but referred it to Saddam Hussein himself for final determination. He'll accept the measure, with conditions, notably Arab members of the inspection teams, by Friday. At the urging of France and Russia, the United States will reluctantly accept this caveat...[yes, I know I'm giving you the news to come, but itís not like this is HARD...]
Meanwhile, what could bring down the British monarchy once and for all? The fact that the Royal family are largely a bunch of parasites living at public expense in extreme luxury and not paying their fair share of taxes? Scandal surrounding illicit affairs by the crown prince? Possible ramifications of unexplained details surrounding the death of Princess Diana? The fact that a monarchy in a modern industrial world is entirely anachronistic, and even the august House of Lords is quickly losing all of its "hereditary" members? Nope. What is threatening to topple the monarchy? Allegations of non-consensual gay sex in Prince Charles' palace, duly covered up with royal cooperation. As we say in Brooklyn: oy vay.
In today's "legal eagle", we give you this story whereby the Supreme Court of Virginia ordered AOL to disclose the identity of its subscriber who posted negative statements (arguably "non-defamatory", but negative nonetheless) concerning a company on a Yahoo! discussion board. The company brought an action in California alleging libel and "unfair business practices" against, among others, the heretofore anonymous poster. Even though the statement itself would not be actionable in Virginia, the Virginia Supreme Court recognized that it might be in California, and Virginia "public policy was not offended". Moral of the story: in these troubled times, we'd all better watch what we do and say, especially in the financial realm, where neither anonymity nor the First Amendment seem to constitute adequate protection from being sued. Those of you who blog under pseudonyms should also realize that there are limitations to your conduct, as well.
From time to time, I will pretend that this is some kind of "legally related" blog, or perhaps "the talking dawg blawg", and try to post what might be interesting (to some people) articles of "legal relevance". Such as these items.
Here is a story on the federal appeals court here in New York (the Second Circuit Court of Appeals) deciding to limit jurisdiction (meaning, the place where the case can be heard) under the federal "Anti-Cybersquatting Act" to the district where a domain name is registered, or the registrar is located (probably Northern Virginia or wherever ICANN may be found, I suppose), limiting a practice whereby a registrar could dump certificates into the court of the plaintiff's (in this case, Mattel) choosing (in this case, Manhattan). The lesson: get yourself a decent lawyer in Northern Virginia if you want to bring this kind of case to protect your trademarks and domain names; the court in New York just found a good reason to duck out of these cases. I have done very few cases in the copyright area, but lemme tell ya: the courts in New York are OUTSTANDING at finding jurisdictional reasons to dump these cases, if they can, so make damned sure you are in the right geographical location before wasting valuable time and money.
Here is a story about a state appellate court in Brooklyn (which we call "the Appellate Division, Second Department" -- not to be confused with "the Second Circuit") whereby the court reversed an order granting custody to the father of a 16-year old girl where the girl had expressed a preference for custody to the father, but apparently inadequate consideration went into the father's prior history of domestic violence (against the mother), finding that the Family Court did not provide an adequate hearing on this issue. (Interestingly, the very same Appellate Division Justice, Sondra Miller, who wrote the decision referenced here, once unilaterally overturned an order of temporary unsupervised visitation your TD had obtained for a client, insisting that the client-father could only receive SUPERVISED visitation, even though the law required a HEARING before this could be imposed (which had not taken place), a decision in turn later overturned by that very same Second Department. The lesson (aside from don't practice family law because its too damned frustrating) is: make sure you have a well-developed record in child custody cases before risking reversal by an appellate court. For lawyer and client alike, preparation is critical; it is in all cases, of course, but in child custody cases, more than just money is at stake.
Israeli governmental sources are calling the Kibbutz shootings of yesterday a "turning point" - even Fatah and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade (both a/k/a Yasir Arafat's homies) realize theyíve gone a bit too far. Well, take a look at the picture here, of Noam and Maton Ohayoun, the 4- and 5-year-old boys shot in cold blood, and provide any justification whatsoever for why they had to die. Sure, the Palestinians like the idea of a Likud government being reelected come January (the crazy Laborites, like that loony mayor of Haifa, might just want to make PEACE, instead of sowing the conditions of more martyrs). But this is different -- somehow, an atrocity amidst atrocities. We'll see. ANY turning point (frankly, in any direction but the present one) may be a welcome change. We hope.
And in more good news, the FAA reports that, box cutters of the kind purportedly used by the 9-11 hijackers were, according to the FAA manual for airport security screeners then in effect, supposed to be confiscated (but airlines had the discretion of NOT enforcing these rules, if in their security judgment, enforcing the rules would be too expensive to the airlines profit margins). Yup, ANOTHER issue left on the table by the feckless Democrats.
Why was there no commission of investigation of the 9-11 events, ALL of them? And why wasn't this THE issue of the Congressional election cycle (along with the question of why "threat to our security" Saddam Hussein has been allowed well over a year to build up his defenses against our inevitable onslaught)? Why was the Bush Administration not only allowed to get away with this, but apparently, to profit from it? Why did the country punish the party that sat on the sidelines and let them get away with this? We know the answer to the last one!
A hearty welcome this Veteransí Day (and a Happy Veteransí Day to all, especially to those of you still living in the pre-Clinton economy who can get this day off, as well as all you veterans) to the newest members of the Dog Run (the best damned links section on the InternetTM) Silflay Hraka (that's an obscenity in rabbittese from Watership Down) and Charles Murtaugh (that's his real name). Both are thoughtful blogs -- WAY more thoughtful than the piffle you'll find here. Enjoy them. That's an order.
Your TD has been so focused on man's inhumanity to man (such as, oh, itís been a year since Flight 587 went down -- NOT because of terrorism -- or anthrax, which was as we all know was the work of a LONE, DOMESTIC nut and UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES THE WORK OF FOREIGN AGENTS OR TERRORISTS, or the Palestinians, who are just so damned prolific in THEIR acts of evil (and NO, retaliating against and attempting to DETER evil is NOT ALSO EVIL...), I haven't mentioned a far more potent source of death and suffering (in His infinite wisdom): God (at least insofar as in "acts of God"). Thus, we have the story of nearly three dozen deaths in the Southeastern United States from a quite literally killer storm. As always, a number of deaths occurred in trailer homes. Itís an old trade-off: at the economic margins, we can't seem to build houses (or other buildings) that can withstand all of the conditions likely to be dished out, be it killer storms here, or earthquakes in Italy, Turkey and Mexico, or hurricanes in Homestead, Florida. Maybe we CAN file this in man's inhumanity to man after all...
As to the definition of man's inhumanity to man, we give you this horror story of how a mother and her 4- and 5-year-old children were cold-bloodedly murdered by a "Palestinian freedom fighter". Five victims of this killer were Revital Ohayoun, 34; her sons Matan, 5, and Noam, 4; along with Dor Yitzhak, 44, who served as the secretary of the kibbutz; and Tirza Damari, 42, of Elichin. Ms. Ohayoun was trying to shield the boys with her own body, to no avail. Itís really hard to say that the Palestinians have just grievances as they cheer when acts like this are done in their name. In fact, itís impossible.
Meanwhile, yet another Palestinian terrorist group has killed at least two at an Israeli kibbutz, and wounded several others, just ahead of a coming visit by...an American...peace envoy...
Meanwhile, Bibi is set to challenge Ariel's Likud leadership at a party vote on 28 November.
Where this stops, nobody knows. The only thing we know for sure is that under no circumstances will Israeli forces harm a hair on the head of Ringo Starr...er, Yasir Arafat.
Here's one to file under, oh, just TOO many categories: controversy over the disposition of the brain of German terrorist Ulrike Meinhof of the infamous Baader-Meinhof gang. One just can't add to this one.
John Kerry is pondering a run at the Presidency, getting in line with soon to be former Vermont Governor Howard Dean (the only major announced Democrat so far announced), Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt, the Professor and Mary Ann.
Out with Puffy, in with...Ben Affleck, as Jennifer "J-lo" Lopez announces her engagement to the movie star. Good luck to the happy couple (and no, I'm not Google-bombing -- I just put up this kind of celebrity gossip crap from time to time because it amuses me, OK?)
Arab leaders at a summit in Cairo supposedly endorse the UN Security Council Resolution mandating arms inspections in Iraq. Except for the use of force against Iraq, which they seem to oppose under any circumstances.
We here at the talking dog are delighted to welcome Avedon Carol to the dog run, the best damned links section on the InternetTM. I commend you to read her blog. As my brethren Brooklynites would say, 'dis is one class broad.
Meanwhile, I enjoyed a nice day outside yesterday with Baby TD (who I sometimes refer to as the Loquacious Puppy). NOW, also in the loquacious department, we give you not one, but TWO instances of counter-productive blabbermouthing:
1) John Lee Malvo admits to interrogators to being the triggerman in some of the DC area sniper shootings, thus pretty much eliminating any possible defense he has from receiving a lethal injection, care of the Commonwealth of Virginia. You can TELL these bastards about their right to remain silent, but you just can't make them use it. At 17, he obviously knows right from wrong -- he's just gone off. WAY off. It becomes hard even for avowed death penalty opponents (such as myself) to get too worked about this guy, who watched as random people he didn't know died at his own hand. Still, Attorney General Ashcroft helps me out here, by playing to the blood-thirstiest aspects of the mob. As I have said somewhere in this column, my capital punishment objection is operational: the state has yet to show that it is not too corrupt an institution to carry out the penalty, ESPECIALLY states like Virginia and Texas that carry it out relatively indiscriminately (and on the basis of which defendants are able to afford competent defense counsel). Still, no tears will be shed for Mr. Malvo (or Mr. Muhammad) when their inevitable final day comes.
2) Some genius in the Department of Defense (the Secretary himself perhaps?) insists on telling everyone (well, telling CNN anyway, who in turn is telling everyone) about the proposed war plans "if" Saddam doesn't comply with UN resolutions (which, on paper, he will!). Honestly, Saddam has been through all of this before, so I'm sure that he'll figure out more than a colorable basis for France and Russia (and whoever else wants to join in the fun) to rush to his defense, keeping the Security Council from affirmatively endorsing the use of force (and protecting their investments, of course). The President has now done what he accuses those few members of Congress who dared suggest that the use of force in Iraq be done pursuant to UN resolution (assuming you believe the bald-faced lie that Saddam's Iraq poses an imminent security risk to the United States): he has put our ability to take defensive military action in the hands of foreign bureaucrats. Fortunately, this is all according to plan...
Nancy Pelosi appears set to become the next House MINORITY Leader, though Harold Ford, Jr., 32, (Daddy's Seat - TN) is going to challenge for the job. Harold, let Nancy have it. At least she raises a lot of money, and stands for something, even if itís not likely to sway the voters of Georgia or Wyoming. Fortunately, I think Nancy has this one in the bag...
Elsewhere, Baghdad is "weighing" (I bet about 15-20 grams) the new UN resolution, and whether it will feign compliance... The answer is, YES, Iraq will feign compliance, France and Russia will delightedly note this, George will bang his foot on the floor, and then call up his Saudi masters and congratulate them on their plan working.
The weather appears to be beautiful here in the New York area; I hope to spend a good deal of the day outside with Baby TD. I urge those reading who can do so to go outside and enjoy the Saturday! Thinking about politics and war and peace today -- won't help that enjoyment!
Well, I suppose itís only a matter of time before the Vice President and I row across the Hudson, and he blows me away in a duel. I intend to make HIM row. Let's see if his heart holds out! Of course, there will always be my face on the three dollar bill!
An American national was among those killed by the Election Eve show of force in Yemen (which put a nice exclamation point on the 'GOP is tough on defense' perception in those 22 of 34 "red states" that selected senators on Tuesday -- how about that timing!). Among those NOT killed in the strike appear to be Osama bin Laden (according to the Chief of Interpol who says that not only does he think Osama is alive, but that he is up to "something troubling".)
If Osama is breathing, THAT is troubling.
(Another issue left on the table by the feckless Democrats.)
In the "be careful what you wish for" department, we have the United Nations Security Council unanimously passing the watered down Iraq-arms-inspector resolution drafted to secure French and Russian support. For text of the resolution, well, hereís the link.
Everything is going according to the evil plan conceived by the talking dog...no wait, you all know I had nothing to do with this (just call me "Cassandra" -- or Loretta, for you Monty Python fans). Hey, read the damned resolution. It says the Security Council shall "remain seized of the matter". Iraq will face "serious consequences". Sure sounds like "Cowboy George Gets to Blow the Crap Outta the Presidential Palaces Whenever He Feels Like It." NOT.
Once again: this is a watered down resolution designed NOT to facilitate military action, even as the President stuttered through a statement on that yesterday. Mr. President, more time with the speech coach and less with your track coach, PLEASE. This war and peace stuff is important, even if YOU don't think it is.
OK folks, both Houses of Congress are now safely secured through a combination of GOP bellicosity and Democratic wimpiness and ineffectualness. The tax cut is safely passed and will soon be made "permanent". In a few short weeks, some reactionary judges will be seated, bankruptcy repeal will be passed, the civil service system will be well on its way to extinction (in the guise of "homeland security"), and that's about it. Social security privatization and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve are key Democratic pander issues, so expect a filibuster in the close Senate, and they go nowhere. Folks, Dubya's work here is done.
Why go through the trouble of a costly war with Iraq that the Saudis oppose (and will end up HURTING the President's Saudi masters)? Correct: NO REASON. Which is why it won't happen.
The Poor Man explains here why America can be trusted with nuclear weapons. And no one else can.
At this writing (as the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbles about 180 points, roughly 1300 hours, EST), CNN is reporting (no link yet) that federal charges in the sniper case have been dropped, and the suspects handed over to...the Commonwealth of Virginia, because, quite frankly, that jurisdiction is not squeamish about executing a 17-year-old (unlike...the...federal government...that has a...law requiring...capital punishment recipients to be...at least...18).
Would I have been perfectly happy to have seen Mr. Malvo gunned down in a shoot out with police? Happy? I'm disappointed it DIDN'T go down that way. But it didn't. Hey, Mr. Muhammad is pretty much toast, in any jurisdiction (I'm confident that even my own home state would execute him). Malvo is a more interesting case.
Right now, we have no idea which one of these two bastards was the shooter (if not both) or how much influence the older Muhammad had on the younger Malvo (or vice versa), the sort of things that go into a determination of whether the ultimate punishment is appropriate (you know, after like, a TRIAL!).
So it's good to see that Attorney General Ashcroft has done exactly what I would expect of him: the politically expedient move of playing to the crowd, and the most bloodthirsty elements at that. The only thing missing is perhaps his (or the President's) turning of "thumbs down" to the cheers of the Coliseum. Ashcroft may not drink or dance, but he sure does appreciate a sporting event.
Well, in the "sorry to see you go...not" department Dick Gephardt seems to be preparing to announce he will not seek to stay on as House Minority Leader ('cause the jerk is runnin' for PRESIDENT! -- again). Ever since House Speaker Tom Foley got knocked out of his SEAT -- not just the Speakers' job, but he lost his actual House seat representing Eastern Washington state to George Nethercutt -- in the 1994 Gingrich-led "Revolution", Protean Dick has been top dog among Dems in the House, and the Dems have ALWAYS been in the minority since then. Coincidence?
Well, just as some people in this town (read the front page of the New York Times!!!) are saying that the election results will mark a return to 19th century gilded age robber baron practices (on the other hand, Andrew Carnegie funded my local branch library -- what's Bill Gates done for me?) a couple of folks from New Mexico decided to treat the Big Apple to something ELSE we haven't seen in 100 years or so: the Bubonic plague. Times, they're a changing. Back.
Having spent umpteen kazillion bucks for the absurd shop-lifting prosecution of a celebrity where everyone else in the world plea-bargains to a fine and probation, a point well made by TalkLeft here, it now appears that the prosecution will not even seek a jail sentence. I guess now one more Hollywood celebrity can't vote for the Democrats! There is now NO QUESTION in my mind that my assessment of California is correct: itís a Northeastern state. (I don't care where it is PHYSICALLY located, existentially, you can get to Los Angeles by Metro-North commuter rail in under 40 minutes).
and let's have a pair of boxing gloves clapping -- another big welcome to skippy the bush kangaroo to the dog run, the best damned links section on the internettm. skippy, you da kangaroo.
a special welcome to the dog run to skippy the bush kangaroo. skippy, you da kangaroo!!!
Hey everybody, remember war and peace (not the Tolstoy version, but the tawdry version that the President and company brilliantly parlayed into historic electoral victory)? The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to vote on an Iraq-inspections resolution by the end of the week.
And the resolution looks like it was suspiciously designed to satisfy...France and Russia (who are not expected to veto it as a result). It DOES NOT provide for automatic use of force, but essentially requires a "two-step" to go back to the UNSC if a "material breach" is found. Colin Powell would have been happy with this at the get go. There is PLENTY of wiggle room to allow tough talk and last-second Kofi deals. This looks suspiciously like a scenario envisioned by me in this post.
So far, things are playing out exactly the way some talking dog (what the hell kind of a name is that?) called them in mid-September... Am I that smart, or are Karl Rove and the Bush Administration that predictable?
This just in: Winona Ryder has been found guilty of felony shop-lifting charges, with the possibility of at least three years in prison on several counts. I will be the first to tell you how surprised I am. I predicted a not guilty verdict, and am duly chastened.
Not calling Ms. Ryder to the stand was obviously a blunder. Further, Peter Guber (head of the Sony studio that employed Ms. Ryder in at least three major motion pictures) must not have liked her after all.
Hey, itís California! Itís not like she MURDERED TWO PEOPLE WITH A KNIFE; we're talking about shoplifting, from SAKS, for God's sake. Thatís a SERIOUS crime under the laws of the great State of California.
The Unseen Editor has more or less succinctly anticipated my thoughts on this election (here is CNN's report). Since I find his analysis flawless, I'm just going to post what HE SAID, word for word; the views expressed just happen to be identical to those of The Talking Dog:
Ten years ago, the Democrats sold their soul to the Devil, who promised them the White House in return. He delivered on that promise, but just as in the movies about such Faustian bargains, the devil, so to speak, was in the details. Bill Clinton gave the Democrats their first two-term President since FDR. But in the process, in making the party over into a cult of his egotistical, morally bankrupt "let's make a deal" outlook, he has destroyed the party...and if the Clinton cancer is not soon cut out, 2004 will just be more of the same.
q Consider: but for the Jim Jeffords defection, the Democrats, despite supposedly having a more popular agenda, have now failed to re-take Congress in four straight elections (five, if you count when they lost everything in 1994).
q Was Gore REALLY wrong not to have Clinton campaign for him in 2000? Virtually EVERYONE he campaigned for this year lost.
q Is Hillary now the putative head of the party? Who else? Will the Democrats even realize she is a metastasis of the main malignancy? Self-promotion to the detriment of anything and everything else?
q Max Cleland, a triple-amputee war hero, lost to a Vietnam-era draft dodger because he was supposedly soft on homeland defense. This was perhaps the evening's greatest travesty, which is saying something.
q Terry McAuliffe!! It would be wrong to blame him solely for these defeats, but his unadorned money-grabbing, his mindless Republican-bashing, and most of all, his inarticulate pronunciations on why the Democrats deserved to (and would) re-take Congress are symptomatic of why so many of his partyís candidates lost. Thank you again, Bill.
Last night shows what happens to a soulless party. Why vote for imitation Republicans when you can have the real thing? When will the Democrats wake up to what Bill Clinton has wrought?
I was going to add that it was ironic that when the blue collar party lost a pair of Jeans (Carnahan and Shaheen), it lost the whole load of wash!!! For those who question the President's intelligence (I'm not one who does -- I MOCK it -- but I don't QUESTION it), forcing Daschle & Co. into pure defense, without an agenda of their own, proved brilliant. The Torricelli fiasco won New Jersey, but cost big time everywhere else. Why? Because "sleazy Democrat" is not a term of endearment. To me, this just shows how out of touch we are from the rest of the country in the Northeast (which, of course, includes California! 6 for 6 Dem senators in NY-NJ-Conn, 8 for 8 counting Massachusetts, 10 for 10 counting California Ė states which accounted for pretty much all of the American victims of the 9-11 attack on the WTC). And yet, it was fear-mongering about "national security" that played brilliantly IN THE REST OF THE UNAFFECTED COUNTRY!!! That, and SLEAZE!!!
Clinton is sort of the "toxic teflon man" -- not only does nothing he do stick to him, it bounces off, killing those around him (except, I suppose, for family members).
Speaking of Teflon, Harvey Pitt's Teflon-coating finally wore off, as he announced his resignation last night to go back to GETTING PAID for meeting with his clients! Go make some money, Harvey, and MAYBE let some OTHER Americans make some money who AREN'T close personal friends of the President?
Other big losers: the vacuous Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost out to Bob Ehrlich in Maryland; JEB, of course, won big in Florida; Dems won governorships in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Michigan -- but one can only conclude, lost the ball game.
Happy Election Day to our American readers. Roughly a third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives are technically up for grabs, as are the majority of the nation's governorships. In practice, there are very few truly contested seats: incumbency is really important. It is possible that there will be some sort of seismic shift in partisan power (as if anyone would notice); I'm not counting on it.
Meanwhile, in a place where elections really DO matter (at least in terms of discernible differences between the major parties on many major issues) Israel has called early elections, as PM Sharon was unable to cobble together a government from his minority position. Bibi Netanyahu has agreed to serve as interim foreign minister in the interim government, getting his wish for early elections in exchange for his cabinet service. The elections will take place within 90 days per Israeli law; I query whether this will bear any effect on the timing of the coming Iraq campaign.
We are saddened to hear that Jonathan Harris (Dr. Zachary Smith from Lost in Space) passed away, at 87.
As I write this, the Winona Ryder jury is still out on her shoplifting trial. Thankfully for Winona, itís a first offense. Interestingly, the Supreme Court will hear a case involving California's three strikes rule whereby misdemeanor shoplifting with a prior property crime becomes elevated not only to a felony, but a three-strikes felony with a virtual life sentence. Under California's cockamamie law, a third offense, if itís misdemeanor shoplifting, it can be elevated to felony status if the prior crimes involve property (such as burglary), BUT NOT if they involve personal violence such as rape or even murder!
This all reminds me of the ultimate gun scenario (called "Utopia II" or whatever else you want to call it) that the Unseen Editor and I (and some others) used to hypothesize: a world where every citizen of a certain age is ISSUED a fire arm by the state, with the understanding that because EVERYONE ELSE is armed, itís a fair fight to blow away whoever you want (up to six times, the number of state issued bullets issued for the purpose), and thus, not against the law to do so. However, it WOULD still be against the law to use the threat of your six shots to rob someone else (or to shoot someone under age, who does not have a weapon, of course). In short, this would end up a world where property is deemed far more important than people in the eyes of the law. California has beaten us to such a world!
Well, your TD is predicting that... George Pataki will be reelected Governor of New York (shocking, I know, but Tom Golisano will not pull it out, and Carl McCall, well, he just won't win either...); Frank Lautenberg will sorta be reelected senator in New Jersey; and Walter Mondale will (somehow) lose to that Norm Coleman guy in the Minnesota Senate race (as an aside, booing Trent Lott, who put himself out to come to what he thought was the memorial service for a friend, regardless of your politics, is just wrong). Liddy Dole will prevail over Erskine Bowles in the North Carolina Senate race; JEB Bush will HANDILY be reelected Florida governor; Tim Johnson will (barely) hold his South Dakota Senate seat; Max Cleland will somehow hold his Senate seat in Georgia; Mary Landrieu will NOT get an outright majority forcing a cockamamie run-off later in Louisiana...and the Senate will, when all this gets sorted out, somehow remain 50-49-1 Democrat, and the House will remain in GOP hands. Don't ask me any more specifics -- that's just my best guess.
And now, a liberal apostasy moment: Jim Jeffords did no one a favor by switching parties. WHAT???? Let me explain. The most damaging part of the Bush agenda (for those of us who do not wholeheartedly endorse the Bush agenda, in toto) was the tax cut: it essentially forces deficit spending to pay for most social programs, which in turn, puts pressure to reduce or eliminate them. And Jeffords voted for it. Had he remained a Republican, George W. Bush would have continued to have a free hand to pass his agenda (horrors! say liberals everywhere). BUT, if his agenda were as heinously unpopular as we of the liberal bent believe it to be, then two years of this unpopular Republican agenda being forced down the country's throat would have built up a national backlash, and both houses of Congress would now be on their way to Democratic hands! Instead, the Democrats will hold the Senate by a hair's breadth, if at all.
But it would be a minor blessing if they did not. WHAT????? As the Supreme Court of the United States told us by turning down review of the decision allowing Frank Lautenberg on the New Jersey ballot (while having no problem whatsoever intervening in Bush v. Gore) the Presidency -- not Congress -- is where the action is. The executive branch is the top dog, despite the intention of the Founding Fathers to make the legislative the superior branch. So? That's right: if Bush's agenda is REALLY as unpopular, mean-spirited, serving of the super-rich at the expense of the working man, violative of basic freedoms, etc. as we hard-ass liberals all seem to think it is, then passing it, unchecked, with a GOP majority in both houses, will help the Democrats. Indeed, just as Bill Clinton's first-term policies handed control of Congress to the Republicans, and this in turn perversely enabled Clinton to handily win reelection by playing off fear of an unchecked GOP in charge of all branches of government, handing all the branches of government to the Republicans WILL DOOM GEORGE W. BUSH IN 2004 (victory over Saddam or not). That may well prove more important than whether the feckless Tom Daschle gets a nicer office than the feckless Trent Lott. Do you think?
Today's jogger blogger takes us to the New York City Marathon, where, your TD having safely crossed into another age group (40+) also managed to achieve a first for his marathoning days: a time over 6 hours. Kudos to American runner Marla Runyan, who is legally blind, but can still see well enough to have finished 5th among women and tops among American women (no American, man or woman, has won this race since Alberto Salazar in 1982). [SELF INDULGENT SCREED ALERT: those who are not interested in TD's thoughts on running may skip over the next 4 or so paragraphs]. Obviously, given that the elite runners are over two miles ahead by the time those in TD's seeding class (the back) even hit the starting line, the top couple-o-thousand is right out from the get go. Still, your TD has (just 18 months ago) run a marathon over an hour faster than yesterday's (and once ran a marathon almost two hours faster). So I will take this opportunity to say, once again, how much I resent the President (who has once run a marathon almost 3 hours faster) for devoting such huge swathes of his work day to exercise (instead of to the duties of state) when the rest of the struggling citizenry, well, struggles. Itís a good thing you're probably only getting one term, Mr. President.
That said, although your TD's combination of personal stubbornness, coupled with a tad of masochism, will probably lead him to run more marathons, we're not so sure about New York. The race is massive (I was hardly the last finisher, and yet, over 30,000 people finished AHEAD of me). The logistics are absurd: competitors have to get to the starting line over three hours before the race, and then stand in the cold (and it was cold!). Somewhere on the course, either in Brooklyn or Manhattan (perhaps more than once) someone yelled out (to the crowd of walking wounded in which I found myself at that point) "You're all winners". In the sense of being able to finish a preposterously long foot race under one's own power, itís true. Of course, it didn't feel that way. The course is hilly and, frankly, largely unrewarding. The crowds are nice, but not enough. Especially to the fair to middling to awful runner.
My New York Marathon experience will likely be forever colored by the events of 2001. That the decision was made by the Mayor and the New York Road Runners Club to stage the race AT ALL was a minor miracle. Perhaps 9 or 10,000 people didn't show up to the start. The day was unnaturally warm and pleasant. The crowds were massive. There were THOUSANDS of flags -- people carrying flags -- some quite heavy looking! Firemen ran in full bunker gear. 22,000 or so showed up (and received the adulation of the Mayor, who started the race after a night flight from Arizona, and then immediately left to go back for Game 7 of the World Series). The runners were not merely the afternoon's entertainment -- they were, for at least that one, glorious day, the City's heroes. Anthrax was still floating around envelopes, and there was legitimate fear that a bridge or two might be mined. So security was off the chart. Earlier that week, the Yankees had hosted the World Series, but that was a confined event at one locale. The 2001 marathon was the first major city wide event since September 11th (only 7 or 8 weeks earlier).
In the field, hundreds, maybe thousands, of people wrote the names of loved ones lost on their shirts (as opposed to writing their OWN names, as yesterday). Police and fireman applauded along the route (as they did yesterday -- but somehow differently -- last year was a pure catharsis). The crowds were bigger last year (even if the field was smaller), and their presence, and the runners' presence, was a message to the world: try as you might, you bastards, we ain't going anywhere!
I guess a let-down should have been expected. The expectation of another life-affirming experience on my part was profoundly unrealistic. The 2002 race was fundamentally what the 2001 race was -- a footrace over a set course, and a long and painful one. Two thousand-one is simply not to be repeated. Please God.
Okay, the self-indulgent screed alert is now lifted.
The Justice and Development Party won big time in Turkey's national elections. Its leader states that he ain't too gung ho about an attack on Iraq (and points out that neither is most of the American public!). I wonder what Istanblog thinks of this? If this "don't attack Iraq" sentiment sticks, it meshes well with our good buddies the Saudi bastards, who have promised that the United States will NOT get permission to use Saudi airspace or bases to attack Iraq, even WITH a UN resolution authorizing such an action. Why are we protecting these fucking terrorists and terrorist sponsors again, instead of regime changing THEIR asses? Just asking. I mean, I don't even think the Iraq war is a good thing, myself, but one's still gotta wonder about the Saudi bastards. Still, in Turkey, we have a ruling party with Islamist roots, though it has vowed to continue Turkey's strong secular political tradition, and I have no doubt it will do so. Compare and contrast to the Saudi bastards. No, don't bother.
As we continue to wage the ongoing War on TerrorTM and plan the coming Iraq campaign (GWII), the President himself wages the REAL battle -- the one that the people that put him in office care about. That's right, the battle against the feckless Democrats (as waged by the feckless Republicans, led, of course, by our feckless President). May the best candidates win (LOL).
Finally, in TD hobby horse news Israeli PM Sharon is expected to survive at least three scheduled no confidence votes in the Knesset (though he has only 57 out of 120 votes secure himself, the opposition needs 61 outright to win and force early elections, and this does not look likely). Binyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu set conditions (early elections) on joining Sharon's government as Foreign Affairs minister -- conditions which Sharon refused. Bibi thus continues to impress me as a self-serving prick, out for his own interests ahead of the nation's, in short, Israel's Bill Clinton.
Unlike the self-centered SOB who preceded him, our current President's personal loyalty to those around him seems to equal theirs to him. Case in point, his steadfast support of SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt, who, by all rights, should be as large a political liability as he is a man. Big time, big firm lawyer Pitt continues to do things that can and should undermine investor (and citizen) confidence that the SEC is little more than another industry association, be it secret meetings with his (supposedly) former law clients (including the Big Five Ė no, Four -- accounting firms), or his current convenient failure to disclose William Webster's troublesome affiliations in nominating him for head of the accounting oversight body.
And yet, there seems little doubt that Bush will NOT (as any sensible leader would) demand Pitt's head -- er, resignation, any time soon. To my thinking, the CURRENT lapses of Pitt, as the direct head of the agency charged with enforcement of securities laws in this sort of "highly delegated" government should be treated a lot more seriously than, say, the theoretical lapses of the President himself at Harkin, seeing as those took place some time ago. But what do I know?
Hey, let's hear it for Vlad "the Curtailer" Pooty Poot Putin, for taking a page from the Bush Administration, and curbing that press freedom. We don't need any of that -- especially in times of crisis!
Tomorrow: "almost live" from the NYC Marathon; look for me near the back.
Is Shamil Basayev Russia's Osama bin Laden? The Chechen "warlord" has vowed "next time, no more Mr. Nice Guy" -- simply, we will not take hostages or make demands -- just wanton carnage. Nice. Russia has its hands full. Yes, its heavy handed action in Chechnya is justly condemned (on those few occasions when it is), and yes, what the Chechen separatists want is probably untenable (to be ruled by Muslims, in an overwhelmingly non-Muslim country). I suspect the wantonness and brutality of the theatre takeover in this post 9-11 world will ultimately backfire on the Chechens (just as I would hope that the suicide bombing tactic will backfire on the Palestinians, and we all hope, Al Qaeda).
Over to TD hobby horse news, in the "keep 'im inside the tent pissing out" department, Israeli PM Ariel Sharon has offered arch-rival Bibi Netanyahu Israel's foreign affairs portfolio. We will see if Bibi takes the job -- whether he is REALLY more interested in the future of Israel...or himself.
Who says you can't teach an old talking dog new tricks? Welcome to our format changed edition, with kudos to our Unseen Editor for his tireless efforts, and thanks to loyal reader Mary from the Great White North for her kind and helpful suggestions.
Sadly, tragedy in Italy, as an earthquake has killed over two dozen mostly small children. Locals are questioning the construction of the school building, whose collapse resulted in most of the deaths. I'm sure they will find that, as in Turkey in the not too distant past, substandard construction played a factor in the collapse; we are fortunate that here in the United States, we tend to be much stricter in our building standards and practices, though as the events of September 11, 2001 show, at some point, it may never possible to be strict enough in this regard.
Winona's lawyer is crying "frame up", or a motive that a witness has a husband who is a struggling screen writer looking to cash in on this story. My money remains on Winona walking (no matter how good a defense she puts on).
"Experts" are predicting "chaos" for next week's mid-term election. Tough call, but a good one! Lots of new voting machines and probable high turnout will likely lead to...chaos. So, amidst electoral chaos, I predict that JEB Bush will be reelected governor of Florida.
Meanwhile, the "snag" at the UN may be resolved
by...next week...conveniently after...the midterm...U.S.
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