Patterico's Pontifications



Liar, come home
Moo! I'm a lecher!
Oh, more malice
Me? I'm ole roach

UDAY ANAGRAM: I could come up with only one decent anagram for Uday Hussein:

U.S. say die, hun!

BOOING THE BOOERS: Michael Moore's first reaction to the booing of his speech was to tell reporters that it was five loud guys doing all the booing. Apparently somebody has showed him a tape that clearly shows the reality: that boos were filling the hall. So he has a new theory now: a couple of guys were booing, and then a large group of people "booed the booers." Yes, you heard right: "the majority in the balcony -- who were in support of my remarks -- started booing the booers." That's really what he said; I promise I am not making this up.


SADDAM ANAGRAMS: I spent some time tonight trying to generate Saddam anagrams and came up mostly empty. A lot of entries used a common vulgar three-letter word for the hindmost portion of the anatomy and perhaps ought not be repeated. Here are a couple of the other anagrams for Saddam Hussein:

U.S. said: End sham!
Sad USA ends him
He is as sand mud
Shade U.N. sadism
End Saudi shams

E-BOMB: A friend and I have been asking each other for the past couple of days: why isn't the U.S. just taking out Iraqi TV? Well, we finally have.

Query whether Al-Jazeera broadcast television from Qatar is still accessible by the Iraqi population. If so, Iraqis will still see our POWs being humiliated, and Saddam Hussein could still get a tape to them. But at least we're making it tougher for Saddam to get his propaganda out. Now what is bad about that?

CELEBRITY BOOING REVISITED: I may have been wrong below about the Hollywood celebrities booing Michael "Moore-on." This article in the Weekly Standard convincingly argues that the booing actually came not from the celebrities in the orchestra section -- who were shown on the screen sitting on their hands -- but rather from the balcony, where the rabble (normal people, in other words) are allowed to sit. This explains why you heard a lot of booing, but didn't see anyone booing (because the camera never shows the normals).

I didn't even realize they had a separate section for the normals. Chalk it up to my ignorance of the Oscars.


GOING TO BED: Looks like Saddam is wrapping up. He appears to have made some specific references to battles and commanders. I remain convinced this was a live speech.

I couldn't help having this thought as I watched this: I am awake. Bush is almost certainly asleep. (I think he should be, by the way. I wouldn't wake him up for this. It's almost 12:30 a.m. here, and 3:30 in Washington. I would worry if he were awake.) It's pretty weird to think I am watching a speech that strongly indicates Saddam is still around and feelin' fine -- at least a couple hours before the President will likely learn about it.

UPDATE: The speech is over and the talking heads are skeptical (at least on Fox News). Sorry, guys -- I disagree.

REAL-TIME ANALYSIS: The Saddam speech is still going on. For those who are eagerly checking in to Patterico's Pontifications for real-time analysis, you made the right choice. Here is my instant opinion, untainted by influences from talking heads:

1. That's him.
2. He looks fine.
3. He has not said anything specific to prove that this is not a tape (no newspapers held up or references to specific events), but I don't think it is a pre-recorded pep talk. Although the speech is mostly platitudes, his references to our land troops avoiding engagements are right on target. This might represent a good guess made before the fact, but I don't think so.

Conclusion: Saddam is alive and well.


INTERESTING: I was a little surprised (and pleased) to see that resident moron Michael Moore was booed by most Hollywood celebrities at the Oscars. Not that I was watching, but I heard about it on Fox News. . .

UPDATE: Some other guy with his own web site says it well, in commentary you can access here. (Caution: strong language is unexpurgated at the linked site.) My favorite lines from this commentary follow:

"When you get booed by Hollywood for making anti-Bush statements, you must really be an a--hole. . . Spin it how you like, tubby, but you got booed by a room full of liberals. Choke on that one."

STAYING UP FOR SADDAM'S HISTORIC SPEECH: Saddam (if that is indeed his real name) is giving a historic speech soon. How can you go to bed with that prospect in front of you? If it goes much past midnight and I am still waiting, I may give up. . .

HUH? Donald Rumsfeld says here that Al-Jazeera's footage of alleged prisoners of war was "a violation of the Geneva Convention." According to the article, Rumsfeld "said that the convention prohibits the photographing or interrogation by media of those captured in battle."

Wait a minute. Haven't we seen a lot of pictures (such as these) of captured Iraqi soldiers surrendering? What am I missing here?

LEGAL TIP FOR THE DAY: Mooning the judge is not a good idea.

BRITISH: We have to stop killing British soldiers. Things are hard enough on Tony Blair as it is. (I know we don't mean to, but still -- be careful out there!)


THE MOVIE COURT: My environment-hating friend runs a site called The Movie Court which posts movie reviews from various contributors (my friend and his buddies). My friend has a wonderful gift for writing. Here is a line from his review of "Birthday Girl":

"I have been known to say that I would pay money to see a movie consisting of nothing but Nicole Kidman reading from a telephone book. After watching this DVD rental, I almost felt like I had accomplished that goal."

These folks watch a lot of movies. Feel free to check it out.

MORE EVIDENCE AGAINST THE POLITICAL QUIZ: A friend who could not care less about the environment writes to say the political quiz labeled him a Green Party type whose political hero is Ralph Nader. Knowing my friend as I do (one of his favorite terms is "treehugger"), this information settles the question of the test's accuracy once and for all. Whether it is a practical joke or just the most wildly inaccurate test ever, I don't know. But its results are meaningless at best.


ONION RERUNS: Reruns include the classic story of the failed McDonald's character the "Hammurderer."


NICE ONE: Slate's Today's Papers feature often has clever headlines, but I especially like today's: "Bush Comes to Shove."


SOME USEFUL FRENCH PHRASES: Can be found here. Instead of learning those silly touristy phrases, learn how to communicate the thoughts you would actually be thinking while in France, like:

"Would you stop spitting on me while you're talking!"
"Voulez-vous cesser de me cracher dessus pendant que vous parlez!"

"As a child, was your cradle rocked too close to the wall?"
"On t'a bercé trop près du mur?"

Complete with pronunciation guide. Check it out.

GOOD LORD: I actually had to take Constitutional Law from this guy, who says: "Make no mistake: A man who took power illegally is now taking us into war."

Believe it or not, he is not talking about Saddam Hussein. . .

POLITICAL QUIZ: My Democrat brother-in-law scored as a Republican in the political quiz below. So did two Republican friends.

I have no idea what causes the bizarre results for some.

APOLOGY: Everyone else apologizes nowadays; why not join the crowd? Sorry for the lack of posts. I have been busy and preoccupied. It happens.

VANILLA SKY: Saw it this weekend. Why did the critics pan it? I really liked it.

ON THE BRINK: Hard not to be nervous about the impending war, even if you think it's necessary.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To my Dad. And Happy St. Patty's Day to all.


PRACTICAL JOKE QUIZ: Try out this quiz, which purports to say which political stereotype you are. But be warned: I think that it may be a practical joke. I took it twice (because I thought it was broken after the first time) and both times I got this:

"Socialist - You believe the free market can be beneficial, but that a large and powerful state is necessary to redistribute the wealth of the top classes to those of the bottom. You also think that basic utilities and transportation should be publicly owned. Your historical role model is Eugene Debs."

The thing is -- as you know if you know me -- I didn't say a single thing that was even remotely socialistic. So I think this quiz might be designed to yank people's chain. Please e-mail me your results and whether you think the quiz was accurate for you (or 100% wrong).

UPDATE: A friend says the quiz accurately described him as a libertarian. But it branded my mildly Democratic wife as a Fascist whose role model is Adolf Hitler. I still think the purpose of the site is to discombobulate people.


LAUGH FOR THE DAY: My nominee for best typo ever is here. (Caution: adult language.) Thanks to How Appealing for the link.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: My friend who posted the information on supporting the troops is also the author of a book called The Courage of Common Men: Texans Remember World War II, which consists of his interviews with World War II veterans from Texas. It is a truly compelling book, and I'm not just saying this because he is my friend. It is a realistic view of what WWII was like from the perspective of people who were there, including bomber pilots, men on submarines, infantry soldiers from the wars in the Pacific and in Europe, POWs, and countless others. Even people who are not WWII buffs should check it out.

SUPPORTING THE TROOPS: A friend of mine has posted information on where you can send donations that will help make our troops more comfortable as they travel to the Gulf.

SIMPSONS THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Anyone who knows me well knows that commonplace events frequently remind me of the Simpsons. I couldn't help but think of the show again when I read this story about Don Johnson being accused of money-laundering, after driving $8 billion across the Swiss-German border, claiming that he was on his way to buy a car:

"Among suspicious circumstantial evidence is that Johnson had just driven in from Zurich, a hub of Switzerland's secretive see-no-evil banking industry. Swiss officials said Wednesday they know nothing about the case.

"Secondly, while legitimate international commerce does at times involve transactions that can run into billions, the middleman is rarely an actor toting a suitcase.

"Finally, cars don't cost $8 billion."

If you are like me, you are reminded of the episode where a guy is explaining to Homer how he can tell that Homer's Super Bowl tickets are forgeries:

Ticket-Taker: Uh, sorry, fellas, but these tickets are counterfeit.
Wally: What?
Homer: Counterfeit?!
Ticket-Taker: Yeah, see, the hologram's missing ... and there's no such team as the "Spungoes" ... and finally, they seem to be printed on some sort of cracker. [takes bite of one]
Homer: [grabs tickets back] Stop eating our tickets!

I think it's the word "finally" that did it for me.

DUSTY RHODES, TAKE ME HOME: Lately there has been a set of minor squabbles surrounding a 9/11 memorial in La Habra, California. A couple of days ago some people vandalized it and the police stood by and watched, citing the First Amendment (do they act the same way when they come upon a tagger spraying a building with graffiti?) The latest is a woman who actually decided to assault the woman who maintains the memorial. Ah, peace lovers.

Really, the only reason I am discussing this is because I loved a quote I saw in this story from the Whittier Daily News about the alleged assault: "'It's great. There are more flags than ever now,' said Dusty Rhodes of Whittier."


WEAKNESS: A friend makes a good point today. We all buy this line about how being the big bully on Iraq will create more terrorists. Many say similar things about Israel: their aggressive tactics only fuel the fire. Yet when Israel does something conciliatory (or "shows weakness," depending on how you look at it), it seems only to encourage the terrorists over there. Case in point: Israel withdrawing from Lebanon sparked its own new round of terrorism.

Being a bully may encourage terrorism, but being weak certainly can as well.

I don't know what the solution is (other than following the advice of our resident sage Sheryl Crow and just not having enemies) -- but the debate should take account of this phenomenon.

TONY BLAIR: Don't know if you saw any of the raucous debate in the British parliament today. That Tony Blair is getting it from all sides, and stands up like a mensch. I'm even getting to be a fan of that Jack Straw guy.



Today I have felt like a liberal all day.

I heard Tom Daschle ask: "How can we pass tax cuts when we don't know the cost of the war, and the budget could be off by hundreds of billions of dollars?" and (though I know he's playing a political game) I agreed.

I heard that a House Republican has ordered cafeterias at the House of Representatives to call French fries "freedom fries" and French toast "freedom toast" -- and I thought: "What an idiot." The guy is so proud of himself he even put out a press release to brag about it.

I heard that a poll says "45 percent of Americans said Mr. Hussein was 'personally involved' in the [September 11, 2001] attacks, a number essentially unchanged from a month ago." Oh my Lord. Apparently this is old news, but I hadn't heard it. Not even the administration claims that Saddam was personally involved in September 11, and there is not a scrap of evidence to that effect. Even more amazing is that "44 percent of respondents said the United States should take military action against Iraq soon" -- fewer than hold the belief that Saddam was involved in September 11. No wonder the polls are all over the map -- I keep forgetting how ill-informed the public really is.


PRE-SURRENDERING: No doubt by now you've heard about Saddam's soldiers who surrendered to British forces conducting war exercises. Here was the situation according to someone on the scene: "The British guys on the front-line could not believe what was happening. They were on pre-war exercises when all of a sudden these Iraqis turned up out of nowhere, with their hands in the air, saying they wanted to surrender. They had heard firing and thought it was the start of the war. . . There was nothing they [the British] could do other than send them back."

UPDATE: I should have said -- I don't know if I really buy this. . .


FUN MUSIC QUIZ: I have sent this quiz to many people by e-mail, but there will be readers who have not seen it. It's kind of fun.

There is a chorale from the St. Matthew Passion by Bach which has been made into a popular song that most people know and like. To hear the chorale, go to this link and click on Track 5 on Disc 1. It is the chorale "Ich will hier bei dir stehen." What you hear is a 52-second excerpt.

What does it sound like? If you don't cheat, this could be one of those things that drives you crazy.

Don't give up too soon. Resist the temptation to click on the answer now. Give it a few hours, or at least a few minutes.

When you do give up, click on this link at track 9. You have to wait a few seconds for the main melody. (Just clicking on the link gives away the answer even before you listen, so don't click on the link until you have totally given up.)

Play the second clip and then immediately play the clip of the Bach Chorale again. Neat, huh? The similarity you hear, by the way, is no accident. For the proof, go here and page down to the section called "Written Interview: SongTalk." (Again, this is a spoiler, so don't do this until you have given up or you know the answer.)


GEEK QUIZ: The developers of this geek quiz say: "Oh no! Another geek quiz. This one's a little different, though. Rather than assuming you have to be a computer whiz to be considered a geek, we here at Thudfactor have tried to locate the essence, the quiddity, the spirit (if you will) [Editor's note: I won't] of geekiness. Because you know and I know that web developers, JAVA programmers, and network admins aren't the only geeks in town."

My results?

"You are 30% geek

"You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.

"Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

"You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

"Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

"You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

I should add that my wife predicted I would be 75% geek.


HELEN THOMAS: Looks like Bush broke tradition by not calling on Helen Thomas last night. Apparently, for quite some time she got to ask the first question at press conferences, and got to thank the President on behalf of the press corps. At the very least, she always got called on at some point. Last night, Bush broke the tradition.

Of course, it's not exactly traditional for a reporter to call the President the "worst President ever," as Thomas recently said about Bush. . .

I say, good for Bush.

DANNY RATHER: If you missed Brit Hume's reporting on Dan Rather's interview with Saddam, you missed the fact that the purported translator (who spoke with an apparently authentic Iraqi accent) was actually an actor named Steve Winfield, who "has a special flair for mimicking foreign accents." CBS has not said whether Winfield actually did the translating -- nor could CBS state whether Winfield even speaks Arabic.

Hume added: "Rather, by the way, told the Washington Post that he worked from a list of about 30 questions which he had rehearsed in advance in front of a mirror in his Baghdad hotel room, unconcerned apparently that the Iraqi regime routinely bugs the rooms of foreign visitors."


BREYER AND RYDER: Did anyone else catch this gem in Justice Breyer's dissent in Ewing (one of the pair of "Three Strikes" cases decided yesterday)?

"Nor is there evidence presented here that the law enforcement community believes lengthy prison terms necessary adequately to deter shoplifting. To the contrary, well-publicized instances of shoplifting suggest that the offense is often punished without any prison sentence at all."

To me, that appears to be a clear reference to the Winona Ryder case. In other words, if Winona wasn't tossed in the pokey for shoplifting, why was Ewing?

NORTH KOREA: There sure is an awful lot of talk about North Korea: why aren't we doing anything, why is Iraq more important, isn't North Korea worse, etc.

But I can't remember off the top of my head a single constructive suggestion as to what we should be doing. Ideas, anyone?

REMINDERS: Two reminders yesterday of why the federal courts are so important. California's Three Strikes law, as applied to repeat thieves, was upheld by a slim 5-4 majority. And our old friend Stephen Reinhardt (from the infamous Ninth Circuit) wrote an opinion turning California law on its head, with a ruling (described here) that officers may no longer search parolees without suspicion.

Even the Courts of Appeal matter, folks.

NEAT: I saw this picture after following a link on Andrew Sullivan's web site. It's a photo taken from the Columbia space shuttle on its last mission, and shows Europe at sunset.

UPDATE: I got suckered. It sure is a neat image, but according to (which I never would have thought to check regarding this), it ain't 100% genuine:

"Although this image does accurately depict the landforms described and the positioning of lighted cities to the right of the day-night terminator line, it doesn't represent an actual Earth view one might see from space. (The topography of the ocean floor would not be visible in a genuine photograph, for example.) Real satellite images or data may have been used in its creation, but this photograph is either a composite formed by merging multiple images from different sources . . . or a completely artificial picture generated by synthesizing data into a representative image."

Thanks to a reader (who prefers to be known as the "intrepid reader") for the heads-up.


HMMMMM: According to this story, France will not veto another U.N. resolution. The source: a French satirical newspaper called "Le Canard."

Is this like getting straight news from The Onion? I'm a little leery of taking my news from a French satirical newspaper, especially one whose name (in English at least) means "unfounded or false, deliberately misleading story."

ONION: The lead story in the Onion this week: Bush Offers Taxpayers Another $300 If We Go to War.

The best part is the backdrop behind Bush in the photograph (resembling those annoying backdrops he always has with simplistic slogans) reading: "War Pays."

RANDOM THOUGHT: I have been saying that no deal with Turkey means their military doesn't roll over the border into Kurdish territory when the war starts. Then it occurred to me: do we know that?

If they do it anyway, what do we do? Anything? Tell them they can't do it? On what principle?

LEAK ABOUT MOHAMMED: I had wondered why we learned of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's arrest so quickly, before intelligence had a chance to use information learned in the arrest to track down terrorists. According to USA Today, the Pakistanis leaked: "U.S. intelligence officials had hoped that Mohammed's capture could be kept quiet. That would have given investigators more time to analyze the mass of material seized with the al-Qaeda chief and a head start in tracking operatives throughout the world. . . . Pakistani officials reportedly leaked the information."

Who knows whether this is true or not, but it's the only explanation I have heard.

ESTRADA UPDATE: At least two Senators -- Senators Durbin and Kennedy -- have now asked Estrada some follow-up questions, and he has answered them. Read the questons and answers here.

Estrada answers many, maybe even most, of the questions in a very straightforward manner. The remaining questions are variations of: "How would you rule on such-and-such case?" -- the kind of question that nominees never answer. These questions were specifically designed to elicit a response that Durbin and Kennedy could trot out to support a phony claim that Estrada is still not being forthcoming. Even with respect to these questions, Estrada's answers are thoughtful, and designed to give as much information as can appropriately be given. The answers are much more thoughtful and revealing than "I won't say."

Watch to see how these questions and answers are characterized by Democrats. If you read the questions and answers, and then listen to the Democratic spin, I am confident you will be amazed at the extent to which the Democrats will lie and distort.

By the way, Republicans were going to force a vote on cloture (ending the filibuster) today. No word yet on the outcome, although we know it in advance.

COUNTERPRODUCTIVE: It does not help Bush for his spokesman Ari Fleischer to make basic errors about Saddam's disarmament. According to the Washington Post, when asked about the ongoing destruction of the Al-Samoud 2s, Fleischer "insisted, erroneously, that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein 'denied he had these weapons,' and cited the deception as one of the many reasons why Hussein could not be trusted. In fact, the Al Samoud-2s were among the few new items listed in an Iraqi weapons declaration submitted to the Security Council in December. . . ."

Nor does it help when administration officials make statements like this about still-ongoing negotiations with Turkey: "It's Turkey . . . The negotiating never stops." Ha, ha. Downside of making such a statement: it may further anger a country whose cooperation could save the lives of many American soldiers in the upcoming war. Upside: you might get a little chuckle from someone who thinks it's funny to make fun of the Turks. Tough call. . .


MAY I HAVE YOUR DAUGHTER'S HAND IN MARRIAGE: I am starting to think that asking for a "second" (eighteenth) U.N. resolution is a little like asking your bride-to-be's father for his permission to marry her. In today's world, such permission would be nice to have -- but if the answer is "no" it amounts to nothing more than an annoyance.

Nor should it be treated as anything else, when our national security may be at stake. (I'm talking about the resolution now. Stay with me.)

OUR PEACE PRIZE NOMINEE SPEAKS OUT: Well-known wise man, sage, and wearer of purple sunglasses Bono has this quote, showing his mastery of recent events: "I think America has no experience with terrorism or even with war. . . In Europe, we know a little bit more about these things."

Hey, Bono, we got about 3,000 families who need your wisdom on how America lacks experience with terrorism.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE: I mentioned recently that the White House had offered Democratic Senators several ways to get more information on Estrada without violating the historic confidentiality of internal Justice Department memos. Senators could submit written questions, interview Estrada further, or talk to any of several prominent Democrats who had supervised him at the Solicitor General's office and saw his memos. So far, no response -- not a surprise, but further illustration of how cynical and hypocritical the Democratic complaints really are.

HILLARY SUPPORTS BUSH: Surprisingly, Hillary has issued a statement in which she says she "fully supports" Bush's Iraq policy. (It's a bit of a change in position from when she complained a month ago that the administration was not sharing enough intelligence with inspectors.)

I predict that she will hedge on this at some point in the near future, explaining that her statement didn't mean she didn't have a hundred million criticisms of ways Bush has handled the matter. With the Clintons, you never know exactly where you stand. Another reason I like Bush.

MIND READER: This is kind of fun. This web site can read your mind. Click on this link and follow the instructions.

Don't try to figure it out. Just do it honestly and see if it works. If you want to have the effect ruined for you, the explanation is here.


LATEST ON KURDS SELL-OUT: Drudge is reporting that Turkey may vote again on allowing U.S. troops to enter Iraq from Turkey. They fell only 4 votes short of a majority last time. . .

MOHAMMED: Jeez Louise, did you see the the latest picture of this Mohammed guy? It was taken shortly after his arrest. I don't think Mr. Blackwell would approve of his appearance.

ESTRADA PRAISED BY DEMOCRATS: This editorial in the Wall Street Journal details the praise that Miguel Estrada has received from former top Justice Department Democrats who knew him well. Estrada is held in high esteem by former Solicitor Generals Seth Waxman and Drew Days III; Robert Litt, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General; and Randolph Moss, former Assistant Attorney General. The editorial also points out that Estrada successfully represented NOW in a "highly visible abortion-rights case" in the Supreme Court called National Organization of Women v. Scheidler.

This editorial is worth reading, regardless of which side of the issue you are on.

BARAKA GETS STANDING OVATION AT YALE: The former "poet laureate" of New Jersey, Amiri Baraka, recently spoke at Yale University. You may remember Baraka as the fellow who gained some notoriety for repeating, in supposedly "poetic" form and at taxpayer expense, the wholly discredited canard that "the Jews" were behind the September 11, 2001 attacks:

"Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed
Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers
To stay home that day
Why did Sharon stay away?"

You can read the entirety of this claptrap here. It's worth a look. Baraka's poem also contains these thought-provoking, taxpayer-sponsored insights:

"Who do Tom Ass Clarence Work for
Who doo doo come out the Colon's mouth
Who know what kind of Skeeza is a Condoleeza"

(It may enhance your understanding of this literary artwork to know that "Skeeza" is Ebonics for "prostitute.")

Anyway, this guy recently got a standing ovation at Yale. Here is a disturbing description of the talk, from a Yale student who was in attendance: "As [Baraka] cited 'evidence' of Israeli complicity in the World Trade Center attacks, many Yale students vigorously nodded their heads in approval and erupted into cheering. At the end of the event, the crowd leapt to its feet to give the former poet laureate of New Jersey a rousing standing ovation."

Baraka's talk was preceded by a guest column in the Yale Daily News by an assistant dean of Yale College, who defended his invitation to speak. After opening the article with a pro forma statement that she did not support Baraka's extreme statements, she went on to speak of him in glowing terms: "Many admire his legacy and leadership in the Black Arts Movement and want to know more about him." Contrast that with her condescending view of another speaker, whose crime was having served in the Israeli military: "When an invitation was extended for tea to a former Israeli general and soldier it seemed appropriate that it be protested."

I always thought my alma mater Cornell University was a hotbed of radicalism (sort of the Berkeley of the East Coast), but it looks like Yale is putting up some stiff competition.

The story is especially odd to me because I have always pictured Yale students and grads as emaciated, extremely pale white guys with blue blood -- you know, like Dick Cavett, William Buckley, and Tom Wolfe. The mental image of a crowd full of guys who look like that applauding a guy like Baraka is jarring, to say the least.

UPDATE: A reader writes to warn me that "most people" will read the last sentence as: "The mental image of a crowd full of [white people] applauding a [black man] is jarring, to say the least." Hopefully most people would not read it that way -- but my correspondent is undoubtedly correct that this is open to misinterpretation. So let me clarify, for those who try to find racism in any statement about a black person (and there are a lot of you out there). . .

I am amused by the mental image of a bunch of cadaverous, blue-blooded, ghostly-looking genteel guys (again, picture the always-restrained Dick Cavett) applauding a speech by a venomous, gutter-talking, hate-spewing radical who reads a poem with the kind of lines that I quoted above (Baraka read his poem at the talk). "I say, I say, mahhvelous. The bit about the doo doo coming from Colon's mouth, quite clever, old chap. And that Condoleeza is quite the skeeza, isn't she, old boy?"


SCOTT RITTER, THEN AND NOW: What in the world happened to this guy since December 1998? Then, he was criticizing the U.S. for not being strong enough on Iraq. A quote from the interview I mention here: "Iraq can in a very short period of time measure the months, reconstitute chemical biological weapons, long-range ballistic missiles to deliver these weapons, and even certain aspects of their nuclear weaponization program. . . You can't expect to enforce the law unless you have the means to carry out the enforcement."

Now, of course, he has done a complete 180. If any of my readers can provide an explanation of this transformation that does not involve Iraq's bribing or blackmailing Ritter, I am eager to listen.

DIALECTIZER: A fun web site is The Dialectizer. It takes your normal, stuffy English and turns it into Redneck talk, or any of 8 other dialects (including "Moron"). Here is a pretentious pontification from below, dialectized in "Redneck":

Caveat: ah do not indo'se th' idea of makin' impo'tant govmental decishuns acco'din' t'th' opinions of edito'ial page writers. In fack, some might say this hyar chart provides th' only valid argoomnt extant fo' filibesterin' Estrada! Fry mah hide! Nevahtheless, it is useful an' interestin' t'see this hyar info'mashun compiled in one place.

And here it is in "Moron":

Cabeat: I do not endorse de idea of makigg iportant gobehnminal decishuns accordigg t' de opinions of editorial page writehs. In fack, some mite say dis chart probides de on balid argumin extant f' filibustehigg Estrada! Doihh, COOL! Nebehdeless, duuhhhh, it is useful 'n innerestigg t' see dis inf'mashun c'pilid in one place.

Good stuff.

SELL-OUT OF KURDS SUDDENLY LESS OFFICIAL: The Turks have rejected the plan to let U.S. troops attack Iraq from the north.

The downside is that war planning just got a lot more complicated.

On the upside, we save $26 billion and avoid doing something immoral (allowing the Turks to sweep into Northern Iraq and oppress the Kurds).

THIS IS BIG: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks, has been arrested. You heard it here first (unless you accessed Drudge before you accessed this page).

UPDATE: This Dog Trainer article quotes a senior Pakistani intelligence official as saying: "If you catch Khalid Shaikh at this point, you will break the backbone of the entire network."

Let's not get cocky, but I'll repeat: this is big.

EDITORIALS ON ESTRADA: I just saw an interesting web page, which I heard about first (as so often happens) from the "How Appealing" web site. The web page, which is contained on the web site of the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, is a chart compiling the positions of editorial boards of newspapers across the country on the Estrada nomination. As of today, the tally is 66 to 8 against the filibuster.

Caveat: I do not endorse the idea of making important governmental decisions according to the opinions of editorial page writers. In fact, some might say this chart provides the only valid argument extant for filibustering Estrada! Nevertheless, it is useful and interesting to see this information compiled in one place.

CALLING THE BLUFF: Looks like the White House has done a pretty effective job of calling the Democrats' bluff on Estrada. Alberto Gonzales has sent Senators a letter, inviting them to try any or all of several ways to get more information from Estrada. You can read the short but very effective letter at the "How Appealing" site at this link.

My guess: Democratic Senators participating in the filibuster will either ignore the letter, or maybe send some unanswerable questions in writing. This ain't about principle, it's about politics.

YOU CAN'T USE WHAT YOU DON'T HAVE -- OR MAYBE YOU CAN: Iraqi officials have warned the Kurds that if America attacks Iraq, the Iraqi government will launch a chemical attack on the Kurds -- apparently using those chemical weapons that Saddam doesn't have.