Monday, October 31, 2005

Still At It

This is just too funny. Alito's family poses for a picture, and his young daughter is getting touched inappropriately by the Clinton portrait! Not only that, he has his other hand in his pocket. When will this guy stop? I know, I know, he can always invoke the famous Gloria Steinem defense, offered after Katherine Willey left the oval office visibly upset with shirt untucked - the President is permitted one grope, and maybe even a little slap and tickle if the first grope is not met with a smack. It might behoove Alito's daughter to return to the White House and give the portrait a solid hit, otherwise any future trial would just have Clinton arguing she was clearly looking for a good time. Unless she's actually looking for an internship which will offer her lots of experience.

Meanwhile I read in the paper yesterday that Clinton just gave a speech bemoaning the fact that the press lets politicians get away with lies. He was saying that in the context of criticizing the press for giving politicians the opportunity to lie by trying to present 2 sides to every story, and giving them the opportunity to comment. My guess is that he's not too concerned with the lies of his own party, so that in effect he is advocating ignoring Republicans in any story. The speech is rich in so many ironies, I wouldn't even know where to start in commenting, except to say that the comments, coming from him, are even funnier than the picture.

Which brings us full circle to the perjury and obstruction charges against Libby. Why wasn't he charged with illegally revealing the identity of a covert CIA agent? When you think about, any guilty person who pleads innocent is straight off guilty of perjury in one sense. In the case of Libby, how come the perjury charge is not directly followed by a charge for the crime that was the subject of the investigation? In this case, the two appear to be directly linked, whereas with Clinton, he perjured himself in such a way that he told the truth, it would not have established he was guilty of sexually harrassing Paula Jones. If Libby's lie was "I did not reveal the identity of a CIA agent," then establishing that is a lie establishes that he revealed the identity of a CIA agent. I find it all quite confusing.

My bet - he gets off. The grand jury that indicted him was comprised of a majority of black women living in DC. My guess is that in the context of a criminal defense, Libby's lawyers will arrive at a very different jury. I'm not saying anything racist here - only that the average black woman in DC is as about as anti-Republican as you can be. But at the end of the day, guilty or innocent, those who want to believe the administration is corrupt will go on believing it, the only difference being the size of the conspiratorial tale they must conjure. If he's guilty, he's the fall guy for what surely involved Bush and Cheney. If he's innocent, not only was he the fall guy, but someone "got to" Fitzgerald, the jury, or both.

Happy Fall Festival

The twins are off to kindergarten today to celebrate “Fall Festival,” a multicultural event that does not involve any costumes. Dr. Hawes informs us that because many of the students in the school hail from foreign countries that do not celebrate Halloween, the school feels that is incumbent upon them to make sure that such students are never able to assimilate to American culture, as doing so might lead to them to becoming financially independent and therefore not receptive to living in a nanny state run by Democrats who would seek to keep them in a state of perpetual servitude to the Party. Well, that’s not what she actually said, but it is true nonetheless.

We got a good bit of Halloween cheer in on Saturday, and plan to do more tonight of course. There is a downside to Halloween though, as the following dietary woes make clear.

Joey’s Saturday diet:

Upon completion of the soccer game (2:30 pm): one Capri Sun juice box and a bag of goldfish crackers, and whatever else he managed to abscond due to the lax parenting skills exhibited by his father.

At the neighborhood Halloween parade (3:30 pm – 5:00): a lollipop, a bag of pretzels, a fistful of candy corns, a couple of Hershey kisses, and whatever else he managed to abscond due to the lax parenting skills exhibited by his father.

At the costume birthday party for Bill and Joe (6:30 pm – 8:30 pm): a half a dozen rice crispy bars rolled up as balls, coated with something white with an M&M in the middle to look like human eyes, a couple of large chocolate chip cookies, a juice box (perhaps 2), half of a large helping of ice cream, and whatever else he managed to abscond due to the lax parenting skills exhibited by both his parents. In a testament to his self-restraint, he did not eat all of the ice cream, and did not have a piece of his own cake.

At approximately 3:00 am in the morning: threw up three times in his bed, all over his sheets, pillow, pajamas, and brother. In a testament to his optimistic outlook, he says, and I quote: “It is a good thing I didn’t eat all of the ice cream. I only ate half and a I threw up 3 times. If I ate it all, I would have thrown up five times.”

I read once that they did an experiment with a group of 2 years olds (I think that was the age), and later tracked their comparative life outcomes some three or four decades later. The experiment went like this: the 2 year old is offered a chocolate chip cookie, which he can eat right away. But he is also instructed that if he chooses to wait fifteen minutes before eating the cookie, he can have 2 cookies. It is a test of whether the later ability or inability to defer gratification is observable at such an early age – those who ate the cookies without waiting the fifteen minutes were far more likely down the road to end up as vagrant petty criminals.

I never applied the test to my kids, because if they failed I’d have spent all my remaining time prepping them for a re-take. We’d be sitting at the table, with the twins 15 years old, and I’d be explaining to them all of the bad things that will happen beyond not getting the second cookie if they ate the first with haste. And it would be to no avail. Some things are just better left unknown.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Leak This

Better write something about this before the hammer drops. There she is, our covert CIA agent and her patriotic husband, as originally shown in Vanity Fair, where Mr. Wilson actively speculated who would be cast in his role for the movie. Her name having been leaked, jeopardizing apparently every CIA agent in the field, they must have figured - what the hell, now that your very American sounding name has been revealed to the foreign enemies who knew you over five years ago, surely a picture won't add to the damage! Because lord knows that every Arab has the ability to recognize American names as if they've been spelling them out all of their lives. So the gig was up! Might as well have posed nude.

From what I've read, there is ample doubt as to whether leaking her name is actually a crime, and ultimately whether or not the special prosecutor believes it is will be revealed in the charges he brings - will Rove and/or Libby be accused of perjury and a criminal leak, or will it just be perjury? And if it is just perjury, in light of the fact that the reporters have obviously told all, why doesn't it go beyond perjury? Can you perjure yourself when being investigated for a non-crime? And if it is perjury, how does that gel with the fact that both Libby and Rove released their respective reporter buddies from agreements to keep their conversations confidential. Rove, in fact, maintains that he released Cooper from having to stay mum long before Cooper, and probably Rove himself, actually testified. So why would he lie and then let Cooper sing like a bird? I don't know the answers to these questions, but I am pretty damn sure that no one in the press has the two brain cells in their head required to ask them, or to understand that they are relevant.

My view is that these guys became a little over-zealous to discredit Joe Wilson, but I don't think anyone truly believes that Plame's name being revealed has damaged any CIA operations. If that were the case, I'm sure we would have heard the specifics now from the press. If anything, the fact that she sent her husband on the boondoggle, knowing her husband was anti-Bush, makes me wonder why we have a CIA trying to actively subvert policy. What they failed to realize at the time is that there were plenty of facts to discredit Wilson short of the fact that his wife got him the job. At the end of the day, this doesn't help Bush, but it doesn't hurt him as much as some on the left would hope for. If you hear people on the left talking about this, they want to build it up to support the claim that Bush lied to get us to go to Iraq, and Joe Wilson was their boy - exhibit #1. The problem is Joe Wilson is a liar. Here is what I wrote back in July 2004: I know that I linked to stories about this last week, but this more recent story builds a larger case against Honest Joe Wilson. Despite all of the vagueness that usually attends the "Bush is a liar" rhetoric, the "Iraq was trying to purchase uranium (for nukes) from Niger" is the one specific "lie" these people have clinged to from the get go. If you have any remaining doubts as to who the liars are, please read this article:

When you respond to a liar by pointing out actual lies, apparently that is a political hit-job, which is how the press has always characterized the Bush teams response to Wilson's NYT editorial. So it is OK for every liberal in the country to call Bush a liar without being able to substantiate the claim, whereas when the Bush team catches a liar on clear documentable lies, they are playing politics low and dirty.

But you're not going to get from the leak to the Big Lie (i.e. Bush lied to get us into Iraq) - people will, very correctly so, not infer the one from the other. At the end of the day, even if guilty, it's a crime not committed by any elected official, and it is a crime with no discernible impact outside of its effect on domestic politics. The shame is that it obscures the fact that Wilson is a complete ass, and by extension so too are those who cling to his lies as proof of Bush's.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Infidel Soccer

Soccer. I'm not a big fan, sorry. Seems to me that there is a strong correlation between loving soccer and poor economic performance. Nonetheless, my twins have now started playing ... and they're good! Last Saturday they collectively scored a "Hatch-trick" - 2 goals for Joe on breakaways, 1 from Billy, kicking away from the sideline near midfield, clearing the other seven players, and making a b-line right for the goal (there are no goalies). That's pretty much Billy's only hope for a goal - he has feet of clay, so the breakaway is not an option. It's as if they played with a fire inspired by the knowledge that paternal love is highly contingent upon athletic performance. Most kids don't figure that out until they're in therapy two decades later, when it is too late to go kick some ass on the soccer field. Not my kids! They're not only good athletes, they're smart too.

So anyway, I'm starting to warm up to soccer, though I still harbor the hope that my kids will be good at a real sport. Anyway, I was encouraged that maybe I'm too hard on soccer when I read a link sent by a friend to a NYT article that detailed a recent fatwah - one of these religious pronouncements made by mullahs or something. It is hilarious if it is true. It deals with the proper way to play soccer, which must by necessity avoid the arbitrary rules made up by the infidels. Professor Vic, by the way, has been a soccer ref for as long as I've known him, enforcing the infidel rules (he might want to watch his back with the Iranian he recently referenced in a comment). My favorite is number 6 - and these guys are close to getting nukes? It's a good thing we stole math from them centuries ago, because if they still had it in their possession, I'd have scored a lot lower on the SATs.

And here's a bad joke for you: When Castro's Moslem proctologist is giving him an exam, is he technically Infidel?

IN the name of God the merciful and benevolent:

1. Play soccer without four lines because this is a fabrication of the heretics' international rules that stipulate using them and delineating them before playing.

2. International terminology that heretics and polytheists use, like "foul," "penalty," "corner," "goal," "out" and others, should be abandoned and not said. Whoever says them should be punished, reprimanded and ejected from the game. He should be publicly told, "You have imitated the heretics and polytheists and this is forbidden."

3. Do not call "foul" and stop the game if someone falls and sprains a hand or foot or the ball touches his hand, and do not give a yellow or red card to whoever was responsible for the injury or tackle. Instead, it should be adjudicated according to Sharia rulings concerning broken bones and injuries. The injured player should exercise his Sharia rights according to the Koran and you must bear witness with him that so-and-so hurt him on purpose.

4. Do not follow the heretics, the Jews, the Christians and especially evil America regarding the number of players. Do not play with 11 people. Instead, add to this number or decrease it.

5. Play in your regular clothes or your pajamas or something like that, but not colored shorts and numbered T-shirts, because shorts and T-shirts are not Muslim clothing. Rather they are heretical and Western clothing, so beware of imitating their fashion.

6. If you have fulfilled these conditions and intend to play soccer, play to strengthen the body in order to better struggle in the way of God on high and to prepare the body for when it is called to jihad. Soccer is not for passing time or the thrill of so-called victory.

7. Do not set the time of play at 45 minutes, which is the official time of the Jews, Christians and all the heretical and atheist countries. This is the time used by teams that have strayed from the righteous path. You are obliged to distinguish yourself from the heretics and the corrupted and must not resemble them in anything.

6. Do not play in two halves. Rather play in one half or three halves in order to completely differentiate yourselves from the heretics, the polytheists, the corrupted and the disobedient.

9. If neither of you beats the other, or "wins" as it is called, and neither puts the leather between the posts, do not add extra time or penalties until someone wins. No, instead leave the field, because winning with overtime and penalty kicks is the pinnacle of imitating heretics and international rules.

10. If you play soccer, do not appoint someone to follow you called a "referee," since there is no need for him after doing away with international rules like "foul," "penalty," "corner" and others. His presence would be in imitation of the heretics, Jews and Christians and would follow international rules.

11. Young crowds should not gather to watch when you play because if you are there for the sake of sports and strengthening your bodies as you claimed, why would people watch you? You should make them join your physical fitness and jihad preparation, or you should say: "Go proselytize and seek out morally reprehensible acts in the markets and the press and leave us to our physical fitness."

12. If you finish playing soccer, do not talk about your game and say, "We were better than the opponent," or "So-and-so plays well" and so on. Instead be concerned with your bodies and their strength and muscles, and say, "We played only to drill in running, attacking and retreating, and to prepare for jihad in the name of God on high."

13. You should spit in the face of whoever puts the ball between the posts or uprights and then runs in order to get his friends to follow him and hug him like players in America or France do, and you should punish and reprimand him, for what is the relationship between celebrating, hugging and kissing and the sports that you are practicing?

14. You should use two posts instead of three pieces of wood or steel that you erect in order to put the ball between them, meaning that you should remove the crossbar in order not to imitate the heretics and in order to be entirely distinct from the soccer system's despotic international rules.

15. Do not do what is called "substitution," that is, taking the place of someone who has fallen, because this is a practice of the heretics in America and elsewhere.

These are some conditions and precepts so that morally aware youth do not inadvertently imitate heretics and polytheists when playing soccer ... Hell awaits those who die playing soccer according to rules established by heretical countries, at the head of which is America.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bush's Likely Historical Verdict

Here was my assessment of how Bush will be viewed with time and some perspective, made in a comment to the Al Gore gone wild post:

How history treats him will depend exclusively upon what Iraq looks like in ten years. It is likely that other nations in the middle east will be similar, for better or for worse. I think it is too early to tell. But in the end, if he gets through his term without another terrorist attack, no one can argue that he hasn't protected the country adquately. Recall September 12th - where would you have placed the odds that we'd go this long without any successful attack on US soil?

Here is James Taranto, of the Wall Street Journal, clearly cribbing my blog:

The reality is that President Bush's legacy will be judged on two things: whether America is successful in Iraq, and, if so, whether success in Iraq helps promote democracy and discourage terrorism elsewhere in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

If the former happens, history will recognize Bush as a near-great president; if the latter, as a great one. That's why Bush's foes in politics and in the media, here in America and overseas, have, with unseemly eagerness and impatience, embraced the idea that America is destined to fail in Iraq. And it is why they have to be feeling pretty blue after Saturday's successful constitutional referendum in Iraq.

What he added to my comments deserves further reflection: that Bush's foes have embraced the idea that America is destined to fail in Iraq with unseemly eagerness and impatience. As an example of this, consider the comments made by the Pulvarizer after my comment above:

Pulvarizer said...
Well Hatcher, you, and the gang of Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz/Pearle better not hold your breath for a truly reformed and democratic Iraq, because democracies don't form well in such a religiously divided environment. Democracy depends on a willingness to accept opposing views, and some form of concensus (The Federalist Papers and opposing views held therein are a prime example.) Iraq won't be able to foster that type of political environment, the Sunnis, Shia and Kurds are too pitted against each other, and it will take more than 10 years to heal that wound. Britain, France, and the US were composed of fairly homogenous cultures/religions when their democracies were formed. When we forced democracy on Japan/South Korea, same thing, a homogenous society of similar religious backgrounds. Not true in Iraq, or across many Middle East nations. As an opposing example, take Pakistan/India and their fight over Kashmir, large populations of opposing cultures/religions creates instability. A truly stable and democratic Iraq that will one day thank us for invading in 2002 is a pipe dream, but I have a feeling 10 years from now neo-cons will still be saying, "Give it another 10 years, these things take time." Boy, I wish I could use that excuse for my failures.

Ultimately, the neo-con theory that we can forcefully export democracy will be put next to the failed Domino theory of the Cold War (both of which have remarkable similarities, which the neo-cons fail to recognize.) The U.S. #1 goal is to promote STABILITY, not democracy (Realpolitik). If we can help nuture democracies along the way, great, but forcing it down a society that isn't suited for it, nor asked for it, is destined for failure. The post 9/11 world has changed the focus, but NOT the fundamental calculus of world politics. Let's talk again in 10 years.

I'm not unsympathetic to these arguments; they are in fact the same arguments that the paleo-conservatives (like Pat Buchannan) make in opposition to this war, and it is rather telling that liberals are willing to agree with Buchannan under circumstances where they think they might score points against Bush. I'm not persuaded by this view, because while the possibility of reform in the Middle East may have affected the calculus of the decision to go to war, I think it was viewed as more of a potential fringe benefit as opposed to a primary reason to go. Once you've gone and deposed the former leadership, you have 2 choices - put in your own thug and get the stability, or try to use the opportunity for Iraqis to govern themselves democratically. We've chosen the harder and more noble course, and the last time I checked, there were no liberals applauding the stability America enjoyed from guys like Pinochet in Chile, or the Shah in Iran.

But look at the tone of the comments, and ask yourself what the Pulvarizer is actually rooting for? You may be of the opinion that going in was a mistake, but it is the opinion of even most Democratics in Congress that leaving now would be a mistake. How can they think that if there is not ample potential, in their view, for a positive outcome. As much as it may pain people to consider the possibility that we will be successful, and that as a result Bush will in time be viewed as a great president, why on earth would you be rooting for any other outcome? Success would clearly be better for both us and the Iraqis, and the cost of fairly would be borne disproportionately by the Iraqis.

Go to Poland, today, and ask what the man on the street thinks of Reagan. The praise such a question would garner would make a liberal cringe, and I don't think that it is entirely inaccurate to suggest that many liberals would rather the Soviet Union survived the Cold War if they could keep to their conviction that Reagan represented a great threat to liberty. I think the same applies to Bush - there are those who secretly say to themselves with a degree of self-satisfaction whenever there is a setback in Iraq -"see, I told you so." I'm not suggesting it is true of the Pulvarizer, but I am suggesting it is true of many. There was even a professor in an American university who expressed a desire for a thousand Mogadishus (Black Hawk down), where 18 or so Amercian soldiers died in efforts to keep a set of thugs from murdering their fellow countrymen.

Right now, of course, Bush's approval ratings are low, but this will mean nothing in 10 years. It is only natural that they'd be low in the midst of a bold foreign policy that places most of the costs upfront, with the benefits, if we should be fortunate enough for them to transpire, coming later. It's like asking Professor Vic, in the middle of taking the Macro prelim in grad school (for the first, second, or third time - take your pick), whether the decision to go to grad school was a good idea. Bush could have done a better job articulating the case for war, but in ten years, regardless of what he did or did not say, actual events will matter most; what people theorized would happen in 2003 will not matter at all unless they were accurate. And arguably there have already been substantial benefits - removal of Saddam, Khaddafi abandoning WMDs, positive developments in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Lebanon. Not sure that all of these things will play out, but I know what I'm rooting for, and I'd be rooting for it even if Clinton were at the helm. Well, maybe. But if I weren't, at least I'd acknowledge I'm a sick man.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Yellow Belts for the Twins Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Negotiating For My Kid's Brown Belts

Hatcher: “Hey, Mr. Myagi!”

Master Yang: “That’s Master Yang.”

Hatcher: “Myagi, Master Wang, whatever. Look, we need to talk. My kids have been taking karate now for some …”

Master Yang: “Tai Kwon Do.”

Hatcher: “God bless you.” (Offers a handkerchief). “Now, back to what I was saying, my kids have been taking karate now…”

Master Yang: “Youw kids not take kawate, they take Tai Kwon Do.”

Hatcher: “Well, whatever. The point is I’m paying good money these last five months and all I got to show for it is two lousy yellow belts. For the kind of coin you’re taking from me, we should at least be at brown belt by now. And look at that kid over there with the blue belt breaking the stack of bricks with his head. My kids are at least that good, you’re just not giving them a chance.”

Master Yang: “Tai Kwon Do take many yea to pefect. Many skill you need befowe get bown belt.”

Hatcher: “Well of course I understand that. But that’s part of the problem now, isn’t it? I mean, Myagi taught Ralph Macchio that one move where he is up on one leg with his arms flapping like a bird about an hour plus into a $5 movie. Here I am close to a thousand dollars light, and my kids just stare blankly at me when I get in that pose and say to them: “If done right, no can defend.” I want to know why you’re not following the teaching techniques of masters like Myagi?”

Master Yang: “Myagi not master teacher. Myagi short-oder cook for cwappy Milwaukee soda shop. You go there, you should know”

Hatcher: “OK, I see how you wanna play it. Making references to Happy Days now, calling me Richie Cunningham. That’s it, Myagi, you’ve gone too far. The only reason I signed these guys up for this crap is so that, in the event that I should be killed by the leader of a rogue karate school, my kids would already be close to fully prepared to avenge my death by wiping out the leader of that rogue karate school and all of his evil minions. Now put ‘em up, and I’ll show you how we kick it South Jersey style.”

Hatcher takes a swing, and the details from there are fairly blurry, but I’m pretty sure I took about five kicks to the head within the span of a second, with a bunch of loudly enunciated “Ahhs” coming out of Myagi.

Hatcher: “Oh, kicking like a girl, huh? You grunt like Monica Seles, you fairy. The bad news for you is that I just tired you out with the rope-a-dope strategy. Now give me a second, while I open up this can of whoop ass on ya.”

Hatcher lunges at Myagi, and the details from there are fairly blurry, but I’m pretty sure I did about 2 flips before landing flat on my back with Myagi standing above me with his fist right at my neck.

Hatcher: “Who do I make that check out to again?”

Master Yang: “That would be Master Yang, Cunningham.”

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Al Gore Gone Wild!

Al Gore was giving a talk in Sweden yesterday, and offered up some interesting comments about what would be different had he been elected.

"We would not have invaded a country that didn't attack us," he said, referring to Iraq. H

e must have been referring to Iraq, because clearly Bosnia wouldn't apply. This is the same Al Gore who blamed Bush I for not finishing the job in Iraq back in 1991. Or is it the same Al Gore? I suppose it depends upon whether he's cheeking his medications again. Shortly after Bush II went after Iraq, I read a book written prior to that occasion that argued war was inevitable; it was written by a Middle East expert in the Clinton administration. He painted Gore and Albright as the Iraq hawks in the administration, trying to prod Clinton to pull the trigger and take out Saddam. Do you remember when they were seriously considering that? They had a town hall meeting in Ohio that was a disaster, with Albright taking the heat from the loony left, and the option was dropped like a hot potato. Yeah, foreign policy by town hall meeting ... were they serious?

"We would not have taken money from the working families and given it to the most wealthy families."

This always cracks me up. Tax cuts, which favor the rich, who themselves receive no direct welfare payments from the government, and who bear an overwhelmingly dispropotionately high share of the total income tax burden per person even after the tax cuts, are equivalent to taking the money from the poor and giving it to the rich. Because it's the government's money, and therefore it should all go working families.

Do you remember in the 2000 election, when it was revealed that Al Gore had donated a couple hundred dollars in total to charity? He justified his paltry givings on the basis that it is a significant financial burden sending your children to Harvard. Kerry and Edwards were perhaps the richest presidential ticket in history, and these guys complain that the tax cuts are coming to them, as if they are therefore obliged to buy more yachts with the tax savings. Have these people ever heard of private charities? I'd venture to guess that most fabulously rich people are liberal Democrats - why do they live so lavishly? Is it that they don't care about poor people? I'd say so. It's more important that your kids go to Harvard.

"We would not be trying to control and intimidate the news media."

I'll venture tow guesses as to what he might be alluding to here: poor Dan Rather, and the imprisoning of reporters who refused to testify in the Plame investigation. So, in the first instance, when a major news organization gets fed made up evidence that is clearly fraudulent, and people point this out, it amounts to control and intimidation. In the second instance, it turns out that the testimony of the two reporters in question could be damaging to a key aid of the President and a key aid of the Vice President. So the prosecutorial zeal in this case serves this administration in what way?

"We would not be routinely torturing people," Gore said.

No, instead we'd just standby and watch that happen in other countries. Now this is a statement, over and above anything one could imagine him saying, that proves we made the right choice in 2000. His fragile ego apparently is so in need of being assuaged that he makes a gross, unfair, and despicable comment that can only steel the will of our enemies. We have punished those responsible for Abu Ghraib, and a bipartisan commission has said that the administration was not responsible, and yet Al Gore wants to pretend and give credence to the notion that we are running our own version of the Gulags. And he makes in Sweden, where he knows he might be thanked with a Nobel Prize, following the equally despicable example of Carter. I have very few good things to say about Clinton, as most of you know, but even in his criticisms of the administration, he's expressed opinions that I don't share, but not in a way that equates us unfairly with who and what we're fighting. Gore should be ashamed of himself, and we should all breathe a sigh of relief that he's reduced to pandering to a bunch of Northern European socialists.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Old-time Parenting! Posted by Picasa

Old-Time Parenting

It cost me $20 to see the Yankees go down; worth every penny. A post-season without either the Yanks or the Red Sox - whew, thank God! Although I don't see much reason to watch anymore. For all of you Bush-haters out there, let me point out that this makes 5 fall classics under the Bush admin, and zero Yankee world champions.

The picture above is from historic Williamsburg. We had to go back to basics with poor Jake in efforts to reform his behavior. 24 hours in the rack, with the pounding rain, seems to have done the trick. It helped a little that his feet could barely reach the platform, adding to the pain. I have to say it has worked like a charm. He's behaved wonderfully since, although he's been a little bit listless, and his pulse is slightly weak. Hopefull with the turnover in the Supreme Court, these modes of punishment will make a comeback.

We escaped to the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg this weekend to avail ourselves of the large indoor waterpark on the premises. It is pure bourgouise heaven - SUVs and minivans parked as far as the eye can see in the lot, parents with 3, 4, and even 5 kids cramming them into the hotel rooms. Bland overpriced food being eaten by middle-aged balding men with paunches.

On Sunday night I ventured to the hotel bar to watch the Angels-Yanks game, struck up a conversation with some guy from County Mayo, Ireland whose been living in Northern Virginia for about 10 years. A half an hour later we're joined by 2 guys, one of whom is probably the biggest Wirish guy I've ever come across. Wirish is my term for an American guy, usually of Irish decent 5 or 6 generations ago, who wishes desperately he was Irish. Then the conversation was all Irish all the time ... Ughh. As if on cue, he said at one point to prove his bona fide "I've travelled to Ireland" credentials that the Guiness tastes a lot better over there. The guy was a walking cliche, and he said this as if it was a novel observation. I've been to Ireland, and they must have mistook me for a local, because the customs people didn't drag me into a room and hypnotize me into saying that Guiness in Ireland tastes a lot better than Guiness in the States anytime someone mentioned merry old Ireland. And let's face it - it tasts like oil in the states, so how hard can it be to improve upon that?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Can a Clump of Cells be Black?

First, a math/computer science joke that only balding men (some of which may have beards by coincidence) or women are likely to understand. There are only 10 kinds of people in this world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.


I found these comments about Miers very disturbing (from David Frum's diary on NRO):

"Her critics say the problem goes beyond what Miers does or doesn't know about policy -- and right back to a near-obsession with detail and process.

"'There's a stalemate there,' says one person familiar with the chief of staff's office. 'The process can't move forward because you have to get every conceivable piece of background before you can move onto the next level. People are talking about a focus on process that is so intense it gets in the way of substance.'

"One former White House official familiar with both the counsel's office and Miers is more blunt.

"'She failed in Card's office for two reasons,' the official says. 'First, because she can't make a decision, and second, because she can't delegate, she can't let anything go. And having failed for those two reasons, they move her to be the counsel for the president, which requires exactly those two talents.'"

I've worked for people like that, and it sucks. Another source I read said that she was obsessive about correcting typos and editing documents herself, another sure sign of trouble, and a classic symptom of the problems mentioned above. I think the root of this behavior is the sub-conscious knowledge that you are in over your head; rather than contemplate the problems that may stem from that, you convince yourself that the value-add of editing a document for its grammer (rather than its content) is why you get paid the big bucks. Thus convinced, you think it is OK that you don't understand the content, and you cast a suspicious eye at English graduate students who are capable of doing your job, and willing to do it, at $30 per hour.

Maybe she'll turn out to be a good judge, but I wouldn't be surprised if every good lawyer who ever clerks for her leaves with an extremely bitter taste in the mouth.


Meanwhile, Bill Bennett is getting skewered for recent comments, where he cited the Freakonomics argument that more abortions implies less crime. He made the mistake of saying that you could reduce crime by aborting every black baby, and then went on to say that would be morally reprehensible. He could have made the same point with any race, or with no race (i.e. all babies), but instead, in unscripted remarks, he focused on the race with arguably the largest crime problem. Now he is being skewered as a racist. Jonah Goldberg had the following remarks in a column today on NRO:

And Democrats and many liberals have been trying to distort what Bennett said. Former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe: "The point he was trying to make, I guess, he said, you know, if you were to go out there and kill the black babies, the crime would go down." Ted Kennedy and a predictably long list of others have called him a racist. Radio host Ed Schultz said: Bennett is "out there advocating the murder of all black babies."

There are too many ways in which this anti-Bennett backlash is cheap and tawdry to discuss here. (Though I should note that a considerable minority of liberal writers who loathe Bennett refuse to participate in the witchhunt.)

My first objection is more of a delicious irony. Notice how so many righteously offended liberals keep referring to fetuses as people. In the New York Times, Bob Herbert proclaims that Bennett considers "exterminating blacks would be a most effective crime-fighting tool." Schultz and McAuliffe say Bennett wants to exterminate "babies."

Funny, I thought the bedrock faith of pro-abortion liberals is that fetuses aren't babies. Isn't it interesting how this lynchpin of liberal morality evaporates the moment an opportunity to call Bennett a racist presents itself?

Can a clump of parasitical cells really claim a race? The other interesting aspect of this is that the origins of NOW were racist in nature - too many black people having these wild kids. Arguably the only person or organization that can be credibly accused of advocating abortion for the purpose of reducing crime by killing black "clumps of cells" is NOW. Bill Bennett is staunchly pro-life, and would counsel any black woman contemplating abortion to consider otherwise. What would Teddy counsel? How 'bout Jesse? He could have avoided paying out a lot of hush money.

The Anonymous Chartreuse Alcoholic

More reader uprisings, trying to dictate content here at Ideas Hatched, have once again proven successful. First, Tri-Cup, a recent employee of my firm who is now in law school, presses me for opinions on topics that matter.

Are you for the Miers nomination? If so, why do you believe that she is the best candidate for the position? Many conservatives, both the blogging variety and mainstream, don’t think that Bush made a good choice here. What’s your take? Conservatives have been leading the federal government for years, and this is the right’s big chance to reshape the court.

I am not really for it, but I'm not really against it. I wish I had the basis for a strong opinion either way, and for that I guess I am disappointed. Had it been Gozalez, I would have been pissed off, but every other candidate being considered outside of Gonzalez seemed to have all the right people excited. He could have chosen someone very conservative, and that person still would have sailed through the Senate because there are a bunch of Democratic Senators sitting in heavily red states facing re-election in 2006, and they all saw what happened to Tom Daschle.

I don't buy the "you have to be a legal genius to be a Supreme Court Justice" argument. If only a genius can understand the laws, how are the rest of us (or maybe I should say the rest of you) supposed to be able follow the laws? I think this pick was based on the following calculation: I have Scalia, Thomas, and Roberts there to do all the heavy thinking for my side; on the other side Souter and Ginsburg will be consulting emerging EU law for their opinions. All I need is someone who can clearly avoid voting with the dim bulbs, and she probably fits the bill. An all-star team is not always the best team; remember the Sixers had their Mark Iavarone, and the Lakers their Kurt Rambis. So maybe she's our Iavarone.

What about today’s arguments in the Supreme Court about Oregon’s assisted suicide law? It was opposed by Ashcroft and the Bush administration after Reno let it slide for years. Do you come down on the side of personal choice and states’ rights, or on the side of federal regulation of medical practices and the centralization of cultural norms?

Kind of like asking me when did I stop beating my wife. Well, gee, since you put it that way, I guess I have to steer away from the centralization of cultural norms. So let the honor killings of our Moslem sisters who have strayed from their virginity begin! And bring back the ritual burning of Indian women upon the death of their husbands!

Calling assisting someone in committing suicide a medical practice is a bit of a stretch; I can think of many ways to effectively assist, but it doesn't make me Marcus Wellby. I hope they strike it down; it is an inherently selfish act that is rightfully stigmatized, and giving it the explicit permission of the law is intended only to remove the stigma. There are ways to relieve physical pain short of death. If today we make it a "right," tomorrow it will be a business, and the next day it will be a duty owed by the old and infirmed to their families.

Or, if you like, choose another topic: military or political progress in Iraq, America’s energy policies, the structure and purpose of FEMA, the use of the military in future emergencies, or the federal government’s deficit . . .You’re my go-to guy on the right.

Well, let me give a little red meat to my liberal commentors - I think Bush's fiscal policy is an abomination. Not because of the deficits, and not because of the tax cuts, but merely for his penchant for spending. Ditto for the Congress. Ten years ago we were talking about eliminating the Department of Education; now it's bigger than ever.

Yeah Hatcher, weigh in on the national scene: Red Sox or White Sox? MORE SPORTS

You gotta go with the White Sox. The over-exposure of the "Idiots" after last year has me hating them nearly as much as I hate the Yanks. I fear this year will be the Yanks year. They have a lot of clutch players on that team playing well, and you can only deny them their rings for so long. I was amused, however, when A-Rod was pissed off after Texas pulled their starters early in the last game of the season in a move that led to the Angels getting homefield advantage. He said it violated some code of honor or some such absurdity; the poor Yanks, with their $200 million payroll, need help from the Rangers, who A-Rod milked for several years. So win your World Series, you losers. I think I'll go buy some shares on Tradesports right now (trading at $20, even with the White Sox, and $6 less than the Cards). The Cards pitching is a house of cards, and the White Sox are the White Sox. Easy money.

The legal separation of Kobe and Phil Jackson is officially over with NBA camps starting this week, and somewhere in LA there is a very happy psychiatrist keeping a seat on the couch open for the Zen Master. Now we'll see the value of Phil Jackson - taking a team that couldn't make the playoffs last year. Getting into the playoffs won't be enough to prove anything - they were close last year. Likewise, winning 1 series would make him a good coach. But Zen Master status would have to be revoked if he doesn't go to the third round of the playoffs.

Make sure to watch ESPN tonight airing a movie on Roger Bannister's breaking of the 4 minute mile at 7 pm EST. 4 minutes was thought to be a strict biological limit at the time, perhaps because of the symmetry of it - 4 laps needing to each be completed in exactly 1 minute. Now of course it is old hat; my guess is that some or several alums of my high school, which boasted an excellent cross-country team, have done it by now. Incredible Dirigible - can you confirm this?

One thing I do know for sure is that the Anonymous Chartreuse Alcoholic hasn't broken the four minute barrier.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Letter Home

Dear ACLU Mom,

Boy, I have to say, Mom, that college isn’t providing me the opportunities I had hoped I’d have when I arrived. So far there has been nothing for me to protest; no issue where I could flaunt my comparative moral superiority. You don’t know how lucky you were to have Kent State back in your day.

I mean, there’s just not a lot of potential out there these days. So far this school year, there are only two places lucky enough to have serious problems of social justice rearing their ugly heads. I just got a letter from my friend Hank, a freshman at UVa, bragging about how he’s been wearing a ribbon around campus to combat the recent racial incidences that have plagued their campus. He got to go to some big rally on campus, and he helped out printing up fliers to post around campus saying “Stop Racial Terrorism.” I know it’s a stretch – using terrorism to describe a few racial slurs being yelled from a car and some graffiti – but it’s something.

I do worry about the hyperbole of using terrorism in this context, though, because it seems to lessen the real racial terrorism perpetrated by Bush against the people of Iraq, the pacifists in Guantanamo Bay, and via the purposeful breaching of the levy to flood the poorest neighborhood in New Orleans. I heard about that last one when Louis Farrakhan came to campus and gave a great speech, welcomed by a standing ovation from the crowd, including the entire English department. Despite the lack of a galvanizing social cause, I do like the freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas that occurs on campus; and if a fascist like Ann Coulter ever comes to campus to try to threaten that freedom, you can bet I’ll be there with tomatoes in hand.

Anyway, even the UVa incidents aren’t all that great. Racial slurs being shouted from a car in a rural Southern town – is that the best we can do? Can you even trust that people heard these comments right given the Doppler effect (I learned about this in physics for poets – I wanted to take the real physics, but I know you think I should steer clear of mathematical formalism due to its oppressive effects on women and minorities)? Half of these incidents usually turn out to be hoaxes perpetrated by the victims, but I’d take it anyway over what I’ve got, which is a big zero.

The only other campus with any real social problem is Dartmouth, where some wacko Christian student gave a speech to the incoming freshmen, and referenced Jesus. I mean, who would think that someone who believes that religious malarkey could actually be smart enough to get into Dartmouth? Anyway, that truly does deserve the title “religious terrorism.” We had a long discussion about how wrong that speech was on so many levels in my mandatory “Understanding the Koran” class. I love that class.

Anyway, I don’t know if you can say anything to make me feel better. I guess I just expected more for the $30,000 tuition you are paying for my education. I mean, for $30K, I should have some issue that makes me feel like I am a really really caring and compassionate guy, more committed to social justice than people who go to lesser schools. Maybe you should write a letter with your next tuition check.

Thanks Mom! By the way, can you send me my allowance for the month in advance - $3000 doesn’t buy what it used to.



Tuesday, October 04, 2005

My Son the Genius

I took last Friday off from work, and so had the pleasure of walking the twins to kindergarten. As we are en route, Joey says out of nowhere that he is a genius.

“Oh yeah, is that right, a genius?” says I.


“What makes you a genius?”

“Cause I answer all the questions.”

Ah yes, but you come to realize later in life that it is not just the ability to answer all the questions, but also the ability to ask novel, interesting, and important questions that you can then go on to answer. Plenty of people can do one of these two, but not both.

Anyway, I pick them up later in the day, and as we are walking, Joey says that now, even his friends are calling him genius.

“Who called you a genius, Joe?”

“My friend Daniel.”

“Why did he call you a genius?”

“Because I wrote the word F-A-R-M all by myself without the teacher.”

Billy started cracking up; it was clear even to him that something more should be required before you’re fast-tracked to the special and talented classes. But maybe he's onto something, and I regret not trying to use that strategy during my thesis defense - when asked a question I had no hope of answering correctly, I should have simply walked to the board and written out "F-A-R-M", and they'd of backed right off.

I’d heard that self-esteem has become a big focus of early education, a development that I am not all that enamored with, but this is going a little overboard.

But I trust that Doctor Hawes, the principle of the school, who by the way is a Doctor, possesses all of the skills necessary to shepard my kid’s early education because, after all, she is a Doctor. Did I mention that she’s a Doctor? If I failed to, it’s not because she doesn’t insist upon that title from her kindergarten charges, because she does. It proves the long-held observation – the likelihood that you insist upon being addressed with the title for receiving a doctorate (as opposed to an MD) is inversely proportional to the prestige of the field and the institution. You’ll never see a professor of physics at MIT making kindergarteners call him doctor.

She seems like a very capable principle, and should view the responsibilities she has in managing a substantial staff, not to mention relationships with parents and the local government, as a position worthy of more respect that can ever be conferred via any degree. I have to remind myself of that every time she introduces herself, after which I crack a string of jokes to the Wife of Hatcher. I’ve even told the kids to ask her if they can get their flu shots from her this year. God I love having kids in school.

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