QandO Firing on All Cylinders

I don’t have a Blog of the Day type of category, but if I did, Jon at QandO would get the prize today. Check out his takes on the following:
* Washington, DC government offices are now installing dispensers for free condoms
* Jon gives the best explanation of rational libertarianism I’ve heard.
* The economy is expanding even faster than we thought — it’s looking like a boom.
* Jon doesn’t believe that Hillary will run for president in ’04. I’m not sure I agree, but he makes a good argument about her strategy of late.
If you haven’t blogrolled QandO, be sure to do so now!

The Midnight Blog Court: An Epic Poem

As part of my trial for acceptance into the Society of the Minnesota Master of the Horse, the second task given by Hugh Hewitt was to write an epic poem, mentioning at least ten blogs, including that of the Lord High Commissioner himself, as well as taking swipes at FratersLibertas and the Elder, and one at James Lileks, too.
I decided to proceed, despite the inherent dangers of taking on so many veteran bloggers, by writing an epic poem based on the Gaelic poem Cúirt an Mheán-Oíche (The Midnight Court). This poem can be found in both English and Irish here, for those who want to see how poorly I satirize fine literature. The poem is a great example of an aisling, a dream-vision poem, and in fact is one of the classics in Irish literature.
For my purposes here, I took out most of the 1000 lines or so, the sex, the humor, and the talent, and what’s left is below. Just click on the link below to read Cúirt-Blog an Mheán-Oíche, or the Midnight Blog-Court.
UPDATE: The Elder reacts: “If there were still any questions about the disastrous consequences of drinking Hugh’s Kool Aid, they should be addressed by this “Epic” poem.” Is that what I was drinking? No wonder …
Also, Atomizer has a new action figure for sale, although what it has to do with Hugh Hewitt, I have no idea.

Continue reading “The Midnight Blog Court: An Epic Poem”

Hoagland Crystallizes the Iraqi ‘Insurgency’

Jim Hoagland, in today’s Washington Post, deflates the myth of popular insurgency in Iraq with the reality of the motives of this gang of thugs, using an entertaining metaphor:

Think of the worst divorce case you have ever heard about, and then imagine the embittered ex-spouses armed with Kalashnikovs and bombs instead of legal motions over alimony and property, and you get some sense of what Iraq’s Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds are going through right now.
Other motives are also involved. Those so inclined can emphasize the religious fanaticism of the jihadists who have taken the battlefield in Iraq or the Arab fervor stirred by foreign occupation. I grant that both exist, and come back to the fundamental force of this counterrevolution: The warring Arab Sunnis of Iraq want the money. And they want to regain the privilege of dominating the country’s other population groups.

Hoagland underscores the mercenary/power motivation by emphasizing that the convoy attacked in Samarra, which resulted in 54 dead ‘insurgents’ and 0 dead Americans, was transporting new Iraqi currency to banks, a fact that has been overlooked or at least underplayed by the media here. These insurgents are nothing more than bank robbers, or worse, Mafia-style gangsters who are fighting to win back control over their now-broken criminal enterprise. They are the equivalent of Capones or Gambinos, and they don’t want liberation for liberation’s sake; they’re fighting for the freedom to oppress and terrorize and slaughter the majority of Iraqis in order to maintain their opulent, criminal lifestyles.
Read the whole piece; it’s definitely worth your time.

LA Faces An Election Scandal

The LA Times breaks a story today about alleged election fraud in mayoral and City Council elections:

[John] Archibald and 13 of the Casden firm’s subcontractors were indicted last month on charges of conspiring to illegally funnel more than $200,000 in campaign contributions during 2000 and 2001 to Los Angeles City Council members Jack Weiss and Wendy Greuel, City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and Kathleen Connell, who was a candidate for mayor. Archibald and the subcontractors have pleaded not guilty to the felony charges and are free on their own recognizance.
Prosecutors said the Casden firm, which has a $100-million Westwood development pending before the city, had sought to buy influence with the contributions. Larry J. Higgins, owner of a Sun Valley termite-control company, testified that he had the impression that he needed to make the political donations as a condition for getting a contract from the Casden firm. He has been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony.

This appears to be a tgypical shell-game conspiracy, where wealthy political contributors attempt to launder large political donations through their employees, except in this case, subcontractors were also pressured into laundering the donations. It’s hard to judge how strong the case is until it goes to trial. But Angelenos aren’t accustomed to election scandals in their city politics; LA has been relatively clean up until now, or at least LA politicians have been good at keeping up a clean appearance. Whether than image survives depends if elected officials are pulled into the case.

Jeff Jarvis and Hugh Hewitt React to Dean’s Hardball Interview

Jeff Jarvis isn’t pleased with Howard Dean, by any stretch of the imagination:

Howard Dean says he’d “break up” media companies. This is the worst of political pandering: Big media companies have been made into the boogeymen du jour and so he announces he’ll go after them. No legal basis. No constitutional justification. Just because they’re there.

Jarvis quotes the same part of the transcript that I posted earlier, and reaches much the same conclusion I did, although he puts it more directly:

Translation: He’s going to meddle in news. He’s going to decree who can and can’t own media outlets. He’s going to break up companies for sport and political pandering. He’s not concerned with the First Amendment. He’s not concerned with the realities of the media business today (if you don’t allow some level of consolidation, then weak outlets will die).
Yes, I work in big media. But I don’t own it. I just work in it because I love news and media and I cherish the lack of government involvement in media in this country; I cherish our freedom of speech; I am a First Amendment absolutist. I do not want to see government meddling in our free speech.
This isn’t Europe, Howard. Not yet, anyway.

Ouch. Hugh Hewitt expands on his earlier comments in a brief Weekly Standard column posted tonight, focused on Dean’s indifference to where bin Laden may be tried, if captured:

Incredibly, most Tuesday morning papers ignored this exchange, and the Boston Globe’s Susan Schweitzer reported it this way: “Asked whether Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein should be tried in the United States or the Hague should they be captured, Dean responded that the issue was premature for discussion because the “the president can’t find either one of them.” … Dean’s ignorance on the matter isn’t the major point of the exchange. His indifference to the idea of bin Laden being brought to America is a stunning display of his detachment from the war on terror. Republicans hope that Dean doesn’t self-destruct before he gets the nomination, but the country ought to be getting all of Dean’s quotes, not just those the reporters think make good copy.

Once again, the major media want to ignore Dean’s foot-in-mouthism, even when he directly threatens their interests. One wonders how much longer this will go on. One thing is for sure — the Bush campaign isn’t ignoring it, not by a long shot.

Marching Orders

I had the audacity to ask Hugh Hewitt, the Lord High Commissioner of the Blogosphere, to induct me into the Society of the Minnesota Master of the Horse (seeing as I’m in Minnesota, and I’ve been compared to at least one end of the horse on many occasions). Hugh kindly wrote me back and explained that there are three tests a blogger must pass in order to be inducted into Society, the first of which is to denounce the folks at FratersLibertas in a particularly shameful way. The first step I could take in that regard would be to blogroll them here. I should have done it earlier, of course, but I’ve been hitting their site through Power Line, being the lazy Captain that I am. But now I’ve added them to the Northern Fleet, and you can almost hear the lustre fading away from them. Besides, as Tim Robbins’ favorite blog, FratersLibertas should be accustomed to scorn. (Of course, karma being what it is, I have no doubt that I’ll find out Barbra Streisand has started to link here sometime soon, and what little credibility I have will be out the window.)
Not long after I got the e-mail from Hugh, I received a cautionary message from The Elder at FraterLibertas, warning me of losing my soul by giving into the Lord High Commissioner, telling me I would be nothing but his vassal, and imploring me to resist his siren’s song. But his voice, Elder … it calls to me … resistance is futile …
Of course, I had no idea that it was The Elder’s birthday today until I read in today’s Star Tribune … which as anyone from the Twin Cities knows, is the absolute authority on truth in the Upper Midwest.

Howard Dean: All Hat, No Cattle, Take 2

After visiting Hugh Hewitt, Mickey Kaus and Best of the Web, I’ve discovered that the Hardball interview had a lot more landmines for Howard Dean than I first saw. First off, he seems to be flunking post-Cold War geography:

The key, I believe, to Iran, is pressure through the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is supplying much of the equipment that Iran I believe mostly likely is using to set itself along the path of developing nuclear weapons. We need to use that leverage with the Soviet Union, and it may require us buying the equipment the Soviet Union was ultimately going to sell to Iran, to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The Soviet Union, you may recall, disappeared in the early 90s. Dr. Dean may have been in surgery that day — who knows? — but if George Bush had made a reference to “East Germany” in the present tense, I think that would be making headlines. I seem to recall a media kerfluffle when he couldn’t come up with the name of Pakistan’s current leader during the last election. So far, I don’t see the media rushing to publicize Dr. Dean’s faux pas.
However, it may just be because there’s an embarrassment of riches in the Matthews interview. Take, for instance, this exchange:

CHRIS MATTHEWS (host) : Who should try Osama bin Laden if we catch him? We or the World Court?
DEAN: I don’t think it makes a lot of difference. I’m happy…
MATTHEWS: But who would you like to, if you were president of the United States, would you insist on us trying him, since he was involved in blowing up the World Trade Center, or would you let The Hague do it?
DEAN: You know, the truth is it doesn’t make a lot of difference to me as long as he is brought to justice. I think that’s the critical part of that. [Emphasis added.]

So the man who wants to lead the American people doesn’t really care if OBL is brought to American justice? Just where does he think 9/11 happened, anyway? Perhaps he’d feel differently if terrorists had struck Montpelier; lucky for him no one can find Montpelier. As Hugh Hewitt notes, in several posts on this subject:

My colleague from Chapman University Law School, Professor John Eastman, speculates that an international tribunal charged with prosecuting bin Laden would probably be constituted without the authority to impose the death penalty, so Howard Dean must either be ignorant of that issue or indifferent to bin Laden’s trial before a tribunal that can sentence him to death in the U.S., and one in the Hague which might be obliged to send him off to plot new strikes from a cell. Dean didn’t even know enough to ask Chris Matthews what Matthews meant by a the “World Court.” …
In Howard Dean’s world, bin Laden gets 30 years to life. And a fine.

This position is the equivalent to saying that, if Dean were running for President in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, that he wouldn’t care who defeated the Japanese, just as long as someone did it. Osama bin Laden masterminded the worst attack on the American mainland since our Civil War, and to be so nonchalant about his fate speaks volumes about the character of the man whose primary mission as President would be the security of the nation and its citizens.
If Dean really does get the nomination, after building up a drawerful of statements like these, he will be lucky to carry his home state and DC. Someone will need to rescue the Democrats from their own folly; I predict that Hillary may be drafted in the latter part of the primary season to wrest the nomination from Dean, or the Democratic Sanity Brigade will elevate Gephardt or Lieberman — if such a brigade even exists these days.

Howard Dean: All Hat, No Cattle

You have to love Chris Matthews; even though his loud and brash approach can wear on me after a while, it’s that attitude that really exposes pretenders such as Howard Dean. Matt Drudge has posted an excerpt from the Hardball installment with Dean, where Dean announced that he would “break up giant media enterprises” out of a concern “how deeply media companies can penetrate every single community” in America. Not surprisingly, since Matthews works for one of those “giant media enterprises” (GE), Matthews attempted to pin Dean down on specifics:

MATTHEWS: Well, would you break up GE?
DEAN: I can`t — you…
MATTHEWS: GE just buys Universal. Would you do something there about that? Would you stop that from happening?
DEAN: You can`t say — you can`t ask me right now and get an answer, would I break up X corp…
MATTHEWS: We`ve got to do it now, because now is the only chance we can ask you, because, once you are in, we have got to live with you.

Matthews goes on to ask about Fox, and gets the same non-answer. He didn’t ask about Disney or any other corporation, but Dean insisted on keeping as vague as possible:

MATTHEWS: Well, how about large media enterprises?
DEAN: Let me — yes, let me get…
DEAN: The answer to that is yes.
I would say that there is too much penetration by single corporations in media markets all over this country. We need locally-owned radio stations. There are only two or three radio stations left in the state of Vermont where you can get local news anymore. The rest of it is read and ripped from the AP.
MATTHEWS: So what are you going to do about it? You`re going to be president of the United States, what are you going to do?
DEAN: What I`m going to do is appoint people to the FCC that believe democracy depends on getting information from all portions of the political spectrum, not just one.

So what we have here is a candidate exercising his mouth without having a clue as to how to back up what he’s saying — which is nothing new for Howard Dean. Having the intent of nominating FCC commissioners who are inclined to block mergers is a reasonable policy goal. Announcing that, if elected, you will break up major corporations without so much as an outline of a plan to accomplish it is much, much different, and extremely scary, especially for the many investors in these corporations.
Can somebody please remind me why Howard Dean is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination?
UPDATE: Jon at QandO has, as always, an excellent take on this. He points out that the mergers resulted from the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was not on Bush’s watch. Plus, he explodes the fallacy of “concentrated ownership” in the Internet era.

Gun Control: A Consistent Failure

According to the Fraser Institute, restrictive firearms laws and gun confiscation programs have been expensive failures in various Commonwealth countries (via Instapundit).
In England and Wales:

Both Conservative and Labour governments have introduced restrictive firearms laws over the past 20 years; all handguns were banned in 1997.
Yet in the 1990s alone, the homicide rate jumped 50 percent, going from 10 per million in 1990 to 15 per million in 2000. While not yet as high as the US, in 2002 gun crime in England and Wales increased by 35 percent. This is the fourth consecutive year that gun crime has increased.

In Australia:

While violent crime is decreasing in the United States, it is increasing in Australia. Over the past six years, the overall rate of violent crime in Australia has been on the rise – for example, armed robberies have jumped 166 percent nationwide.
The confiscation and destruction of legally owned firearms has cost Australian taxpayers at least $500 million. The cost of the police services bureaucracy, including the costly infrastructure of the gun registration system, has increased by $200 million since 1997.

In Canada:

Over the past decade, the rate of violent crime in Canada has increased while in the United States the violent crime rate has plummeted. The homicide rate is dropping faster in the US than in Canada.
The Canadian experiment with firearm registration is becoming a farce says Mauser. The effort to register all firearms, which was originally claimed to cost only $2 million, has now been estimated by the Auditor General to top $1 billion. The final costs are unknown but, if the costs of enforcement are included, the total could easily reach $3 billion.

In order to really parse the data, you will need to download the complete study, which is available here in PDF format. There are a number of graphs demonstrating that highly restrictive gun-control policies have failed to lower crime rates in these countries; indeed, in comparison to the US, these rates have grown enormously, during a period where the US has liberalized concealed-carry laws in 35 states.
Especially striking is the drastic increase in violent crime rates in England and Wales. Prior to enacting the restrictive firearms bans, the violent crime rate had met the US rate at slightly above 600 per 100,000 (the US had been declining, while English/Welsh rates had been slightly increasing, for the previous decade). After 1997, the rate more than doubles in two years, without any other economic or social explanation. The English/Welsh rate is now 1,400 per 100,000, while the US rate has declined to around 500 per 100,000.
What other explanation can there be except that disarming law-abiding citizens makes them open targets to criminals, who are highly unlikely to comply with firearms bans in the first place? This dovetails with the report from the Guardian, as posted by Strange Women Lying in Ponds:

Handgun crime has soared past levels last seen before the Dunblane massacre of 1996 and the ban on ownership of handguns introduced the year after Thomas Hamilton, an amateur shooting enthusiast, shot dead 16 schoolchildren, their teacher and himself in the Perthshire town. It was hoped the measure would reduce the number of handguns available to criminals. Now handgun crime is at its highest since 1993.

When do we finally get some recognition that disarming law-abiding citizens is bad policy and should be stopped?