Patterico's Pontifications


SPLITTING INFINITIVES: Xrlq's excellent post on an error-laden Ass. Press story got me thinking about split infinitives. I noticed that the AP story in question split an infinitive, and I thought that it was about the only thing in the story that the AP got right. I think that splitting infinitives is sometimes necessary to avoid sounding stilted.

Since people have generally teamed up against me on the quotation mark controversy and the "an historical" controversy, I figured I'd offer bloggers yet another chance violently to disagree to violently disagree with me on a grammatical issue.

UPDATE: Xrlq notes that this is (as you might think) a debate that others have already had. The good Prof. Volokh has previously weighed in, in favor of split infinitives -- to which Xrlq responded with this rather complicated discussion. Xrlq appears to (basically) agree with Prof. Volokh and me, but argues that it's not really splitting an infinitive because the "to" is not part of the infinitive. [Previous grammatical awkwardness in the preceding sentence corrected, thanks to an observation by Xrlq in the comments. Gotta be careful with your grammar when you're talking about grammar!] Xrlq denies that this is hairsplitting, but I'm not so sure. Read his post and reach your own judgment.

In any event, it's nice not to have people swarming to disagree with me the way they did the last couple of times. (I'm still right.)

CALBLOG ON ANTI-SEMITISM: Calblog has a nice essay on Anti-Semitism and the Cure, bringing together some of the recent outrages that show this particular form of discrimination is still alive and well in the world. Justene's solution: teach your children about it.


WELCOME: Welcome to the two new Bear Flaggers: and Jockularocracy.

INCREDIBLY STUPID COLUMN EXPOSED, OR, WHY YOU SHOULD THINK TWICE WHEN YOU'RE THE ONLY GUY IN THE WORLD WITH AN AMAZING INSIGHT: Hahahahahahaha. A guy named Wayne Madsen at a leftist site called CounterPunch has an entire column making fun of George Bush for supposedly forcing military personnel to eat that famous Thanksgiving dinner at 6 a.m. The only problem, as Brian O'Connell points out, is that they ate the dinner at 6 p.m.

Based on his sloppy mistake about the time, Madsen writes a whole piece mocking the supposed 6 a.m. dinner. In the process, he makes plenty of idiotic statements. For example, he claims that

our military men and women were downing turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and non-alcoholic beer at a time when most people would be eating eggs, bacon, grits, home fries, and toast.
He also says:

I would have thought most of the troops, many of whom are support personnel who work relatively normal working hours, would have been more surprised when they were ordered to get up before sunrise to eat Thanksgiving dinner between 6:00 and 7:30 A.M.
Madsen is proud that he is the only guy who figured this out. He says that "the abysmal and sycophantic Washington and New York press corps seems to have completely missed the Thanksgiving 'breakfast dinner.'" So why does he think nobody else remarked on the unusual timing of the dinner?

Chalk that up to the fact that most people in the media never saw a military chow line or experienced reveille in their lives. So it would certainly go over their heads that troops would be ordered out of bed to eat turkey and stuffing before the crack of dawn.
Or, Mr. Madsen, you could chalk it up to the fact that you are an idiot.

This is rich. Hurry and look before they figure out how stupid they were and take it down. Maybe one of you computer-savvy types can even save us a screen shot, to preserve the evidence. That way we can all laugh at this imbecile for years to come.

(Via Pejmanesque.)

UPDATE: It gets better. O'Connell confronted Madsen with the evidence (click on the O'Connell link above for the update), and Madsen is sticking with the story! He is basing his argument on a Washington Post report that contains an obvious typo. O'Connell pointed out the mountain of proof that the dinner really took place in the evening (again, see O'Connell's update), and Madsen appears to be ignoring it.

This means that the ridiculous piece will probably stay up at Counterpunch, as a powerful testament to liberals' desperate need to believe the worst about Bush -- even when doing so proves them to be utter fools.

UPDATE x2: Thanks to Eugene Volokh for the mention, but the credit goes to Brian O'Connell for catching this nonsense. Make sure to visit his posts (linked above) for the full story.

UPDATE x3: A commenter to this post says Madsen has "apparently retracted" the story. Well, sort of, but not really. As Brian O'Connell notes, Madsen has a statement at Indymedia which acknowledges that the story is bogus. But the original article is still up at Counterpunch, with no retraction or admission of error as of 9:15 a.m. Pacific time on Sunday, November 30. That ain't much of a retraction, in my book. [UPDATE: Actually, O'Connell says in the comments to this post that he e-mailed Madsen about this "retraction" and Madsen says that the Indymedia statement is not his. So there has been no retraction at all -- not even one of the half-assed variety.]

Madsen's bogus story is still making its way through the loony portion of the internet. The Counterpunch version is linked at anti-war site WHATREALLYHAPPENED.COM and is copied at the Jeff Rense site. Until Madsen issues a correction at the source, this lunacy will continue to spread -- to the great amusement of many like myself.

UPDATE x4: Anticipating Madsen's inevitable decision (still not forthcoming!) to remove this idiocy, intrepid reader Richard has saved us a copy, here. Bookmark it, as an enduring document of the left's persistent willful blindness to obvious facts in their pursuit of Bush-bashing.

WOULD THIS BOTHER YOU?: The other day I was driving home from work, waiting to get onto the freeway, when I saw something that made me mad. I wonder whether other people would react the same way.

On this particular stretch of road, cars line up to access the freeway onramp during the evening commute. Inevitably, when cars line up like this in Los Angeles on a predictable schedule, you will see street vendors and/or beggars. On this block, I always see the same two people: a guy selling flowers (roses for $5) and another guy who just stands there and begs for money. I sometimes buy roses from the one guy; I never give anything to the other one.

Usually these two fellows are separated from each other. The flower guy tends to stand on the curb offering his flowers. Sometimes he has fruit. By contrast, the beggar walks up and down the rows of cars, trying to make eye contact with you, and forcing you to respond to his request for money.

But on this particular day, the two were standing right next to each other: the one guy with the inexpensive flowers, and the other with nothing to offer but his outstretched hand. In front of me, I saw a car pull up to the two of them, lean out the window, and give money -- to the beggar.

Understand: both men are clearly poor. The only difference I could see between them (other than their differing races) is that one of them was offering goods in return for money, and the other was not.

It made me angry that someone would give money to someone who was doing absolutely nothing to earn it -- right in front of the nose of the guy who was working for his meager living.

Am I the only one annoyed by this?

AMMUNITION TO RESPOND TO LIBERALS: For the next time you are in an argument with a liberal, you can respond with the following facts when he/she says:

Why isn't the President regularly attending military funerals, like his predecessors did? They didn't.

Why do we never see any public show of support by Iraqis for the American presence? We have.

FROM THE "EVERYTHING'S NOT COMPLETELY PEACHY" FILE: Comes this Fox News story about powerful explosives apparently abandoned and concealed in haste on the outskirts of Albuquerque.


IT'S FREE, AND YOU CAN FIND IT RIGHT HERE: Click here for what you're looking for. . .



If you are not immediately redirected to, please click here.

SPY WIPER HELP: For those looking for help because their browser was hijacked by Spy Wiper, read this post and the comments. A potential fix is in the comments; let me know if it works.

UPDATE: I am keeping this post at the top of the page for at least the rest of the day, and possibly longer, due to the interest this is getting from people victimized by this company. This also means that you may be missing new posts if you stop reading with this one.

UPDATE x2: Xrlq has useful links on the topic.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, LEGAL GENIUS: Regarding the Michael Jackson case, renowned legal idiot expert Jeffrey Toobin says: "The Jackson team trashed this kid, and that's an interesting approach."

"Interesting" how? As in "unpredictable"?? We never thought Mark Geragos would trash the victim??? What in the hell are you talking about, Toobin?


THE INDEPENDENT GOES GOBBLE-GOBBLE: The British rag The Independent shows it is a serious news publication with this headline about Bush's trip to Iraq: The Turkey Has Landed. (Hat tip: Calpundit.)

I HATE STRONGLY DISLIKE HATE SPEECH: From Best of the Web comes this silly story:

Gonzaga University has reaffirmed the value of freedom of speech after unfairly disciplining a student group for posting fliers with allegedly 'discriminatory' language," the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education announces in a press release.

As we noted last month, the Young Americas Foundation chapter at the Catholic campus in Spokane, Wash., got in trouble for using the word hate -- though it was merely citing the title of guest speaker Daniel Flynn's book, "Why the Left Hates America."

"Administrators chose to place a disciplinary letter in the group's file for using the words "the left hates" on the fliers, suggesting that that use of the word 'hate' was 'discriminatory' and might constitute 'hate speech.' " This presented administrators with a logical conundrum, since if the word hate is "hate speech," all they can say without running afoul of their own stupid rule is that it might constitute "speech."
I assume that administrators will not be troubled by the conundrum, but will rather apply adapt Congress's age-old rule that "the rules we make don't apply to us."

WHY THE UNITED NATIONS IS USELESS: Israel cannot even get a resolution passed by the United Nations calling for the protection of Israeli children. As explained in this BBC story:

Israel has withdrawn its first United Nations draft resolution in nearly 30 years in the face of strong opposition. The Israeli draft, which called for the protection of Israeli children from terrorism, mirrored one on Palestinian children passed earlier this month.

But mostly Arab opponents of the text introduced changes Israel could not accept, ambassador Dan Gillerman said.
(Via Watcher of Weasels.)

THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING A U.S. CITIZEN: Meet the only guy on the planet who wishes that he were a Mexican citizen rather than an American citizen: David A. Garcia. Yesterday, Garcia was arrested in Mexico for the murder of a Burbank police officer, and was turned over to U.S. Marshals. As our local Dog Trainer explains:

Mexican authorities have previously resisted returning fugitives to the United States to face the death penalty, but most of those cases have involved Mexican citizens. Garcia, like his parents, is a U.S. citizen.
Too bad.

GREAT AGGREGATOR: I have discovered a great aggregator called BlogLines. It was recommended by The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler. It has many advantages over AmphetaDesk, which I had previously used. It requires no downloads. It allows you to organize your blogs into folders. Most important, it remembers what you have read so that you don't need to scroll through miles of already-viewed items.

This tool will save you hours of time. Check it out now.

COUNCIL WINNERS: The Watcher's Council has spoken. The winners are:

Winning Council entry: The Weaseliest of Weasels by Free Will


Winning non-Council entry: Revolution - Beyond Instalanche by The Politburo Diktat (aka the Commissar).
A special congratulations to the Commissar for the latter post, which is (like most of the Commissar's entries) quite entertaining. And I'm not just saying this because I have a place (Pattericosk) on the Commissar's Map of the Blogosphere, which is explained at this post.


THE HAMMER COMES DOWN: Michael Jackson's attorney Mark Geragos recently said: "We will land on you like a ton of bricks, we will land on you like a hammer, if you do anything to besmirch this man's reputation."

In unrelated news, the Los Angeles Dog Trainer today reports that certain unnamed sources say Jeffrey Borer, the XtraJet Executive being investigated in connection with the surreptitious taping of Jackson aboard an XtraJet aircraft, has been an FBI informant for years. The Dog Trainer has also learned that Borer was in federal prison. Borer vigorously denies having been an FBI informant.

The story says: "Geragos could not be reached for comment." Very interesting, since Mark Geragos is very rarely unavailable for comment. But I'm sure the unnamed sources have no connection to him, or to the threat quoted above.

SPY WIPER HIJACKING UPDATE: I have noticed that I have been getting a lot of Google hits from people looking for information on Spy Wiper. Apparently due to my recent post about how my browser was hijacked by this company, Patterico is high on the Google list when you search for "Spy Wiper." Moreover, Patterico is apparently the top site not maintained by the company (and thus the first site that people click on if their browsers were also hijacked).

BoiFromTroy has disclosed that he had the identical thing happen to him, quite recently. He reports that the offending company is called "Mail Wiper, Inc." and is based in Georgia. Given his report, other similar reports, and the numerous Google searches, I believe that this is an experience many people are having right now. I would therefore like to invite comments on two topics:

1) If you have had your browser hijacked by this company, describe your experience in the comments. Tell us the date and exactly what happened. I sense there is a lot of frustration out there. Please vent it here.

2) I would also like to hear from anyone with insights on what can be done to stop this company's hijacking of people's browsers. I am less interested in technical fixes, virus software, etc. and more interested in legal opinions as to steps that can be taken against the company. Is this illegal? To whom should people complain? Any and all relevant suggestions are welcome.

UPDATE: I put a potential fix in the comments. It worked for at least one person. Please leave feedback as to whether it works for you.


POOR, POOR RETALIACRATS™: The Washington Post decries the tactics of the Republicans in Congress, who the Post says have not been negotiating sufficiently with Democrats. The Post calls this "contempt for the minority." To use a favorite phrase of Angry Clam's, boo freakin' hoo. What about the contempt for the majority shown by Democrats who filibuster perfectly qualified judicial nominees?

UPDATE: Reader L.V. writes with this thoughtful comment: "4 radical freaks you moron. Jackass conservatives tried to filibuster 60 the last time around. Like that wasn’t a waste of my tax dollars. [expletive]ing hypocrite."

Another leftist helping to raise the level of discourse. Thanks, L.V., and a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

NEW HOME PAGE: After two awful days of having Talking Points Memo as my home page (to avoid the home page that browser hijackers Spy Wiper forced on me), reader and General Good Guy Steve G. has taught me how to edit my registry and reset my home page. Patterico is now my home page. Thank you, Steve!

P.S. I also finally managed to fix the permalinks, which I broke by adding comments.


Los Angeles officials have asked that manufacturers, suppliers and contractors stop using the terms "master" and "slave" on computer equipment, saying such terms are unacceptable and offensive.

. . . .

Dennis Tafoya, director of the affirmative action office, said in a separate memo that an "exhaustive search" had been undertaken to find all such labels and replace them with more "appropriate" ones. A form was sent to all departments to identify equipment carrying the labels "master" and "slave" or any other offensive terms.
Your tax dollars at work.

Keep this story in mind the next time some liberal argues that waste in government is a myth.

(Thanks to reader Steve G. for the pointer.)

UPDATE: This is apparently going all around the blogosphere. I have to say that Baldilocks has the best comment I have seen on it so far. Something about Ritzes. Go see it for yourself.

Dale Franks says: "Next thing you know, male/female connectors will be named patriarchal/oppressed connectors."

UPDATE x2: Even Kevin Drum thinks this is stupid.

PROOF THAT GOD UNDERSTANDS IRONY: First there was the guy who was critically injured while being initiated into the Ku Klux Klan. And now comes another example of God's sardonic sense of humor, via this story from the Anchorage Daily News:

A local businessman who had just finished testifying against a proposed no-smoking ordinance in Homer collapsed with a heart attack in the city council chambers Monday night and could not be revived.

Robert Keys, 70, a former smoker, told a packed city council meeting he thought businesses should have the option to decide for themselves how to limit smoking. He said he sat at a table of smokers every morning for coffee and conversation at a local restaurant without trouble.

"It hasn't bothered my health any. I'm 70 years old and still kickin'. Pretty good, too," Keys testified. In fact Keys, a veteran, said he'd just had an echocardiogram about six weeks ago at the hospital at Elmendorf Air Force Base.

"They told me I had the heart of a very young person. So I think all this baloney about it affecting people's health is just that. Baloney."

Keys returned to his seat in the council chambers. Less than five minutes later, gasping noises from Keys interrupted further testimony. The room was cleared and emergency help summoned. . . . Attempts to resuscitate Keys en route to the hospital were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead of cardiac arrest in the emergency room at South Peninsula Hospital, Homer Fire Chief Bob Painter said.
Thanks to reader Laudio (Dean I) for the pointer.

Q&A WITH DISABILITIES ADVOCATE: Those who have followed the Schiavo case may be interested in this Q & A with disabilities advocate Stephen Drake regarding end-of-life planning.

LET THEM SING IT FOR YOU: This is interesting. Bonus points if you can guess each song and artist. (Via Dave Barry's Blog, as pointed out by reader Dean L.)


QUOTE OF THE DAY: Regarding the secret taping of Michael Jackson by "XtraJet", Jeffrey Borer, an XtraJet corporate officer, defended the company's decision to investigate the possibility of selling the tapes. According to Borer, once the tapes were discovered, the company "explored the opportunity as any businessperson would."

Now that's good business.

ARNOLD TERMINATES LICENSES FOR ILLEGALS: Arnold is having an effect already.

UPDATE: Xrlq is suspicious.

UPDATE x2: Or maybe not. See comments.

SCRAPPLEFACE SCORES AGAIN: If you haven't read it already, you must put down that bag of Cheetos and immediately read the ScrappleFace Interview with the Chinese Premier. Brilliant.


TED RALL, SCUMBAG (REVISITED): I first learned that Ted Rall supports Howard Dean at xrlq's blog, here. Eugene Volokh has a good explanation why Dean should be embarrassed. And I have posted about Rall a couple of times myself, here and here.

COMPUTER PROTECTION RACKET: Some company has started an internet protection racket. They somehow commandeered our browser and changed our home page. Now, when we open Internet Explorer, we are taken to a page that tries to sell us a program called "Spy Wiper." This page does tricks like popping our CD-ROM open, or launching Notepad. Then we get a warning that says (I am paraphrasing): "If your CD-ROM popped open, or your Notepad launched, you need to download our program."

I'd give you the link, but I'm afraid that if you went there, the same thing might happen to your computer.

If I had the people responsible for this here, it would be simple; I could just strangle them. As it is, I must settle for some other solution. If you have suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

UPDATE: I have received requests from computer-savvy people for me to publish the URLs of the site that hijacked my browser. Here they are -- but beware: if you don't know what you're doing, don't click on them:
The first one is the one that pops open your CD-ROM and launches a menacing message on Notepad.

Through a comment at xrlq's site, I saw a link to something called "Hijack This." But how do I know this isn't another scam program? (By the way, it's probably just coincidence, but this all started about 24 hours after I installed and ran Ad Aware 6.0 -- a program I downloaded after reading about similar problems others had been having.) I don't know what programs to trust anymore.

UPDATE x2: It happened to BoiFromTroy too.

UPDATE x3: Well, I fixed the problem in a strange way. I first followed BoiFromTroy's advice, and installed all Windows updates and got rid of all cookies. This didn't fix the problem. Then I remembered that the liberal blog Talking Points Memo has a feature whereby you can make that site your home page by clicking on the appropriate link. So I did that, and Spy Wiper's page was gone.

I had previously set the Drudge Report as my home page, and frankly, I'd rather have that (or Patterico, for that matter) as my home page, rather than Talking Points Memo. But Josh Marshall is preferable to Spy Wiper, so until someone explains how I can take back control of my computer, this will have to do.

UPDATE x4: Problem fixed, thanks to reader Steve G. No more having to look at Josh Marshall's self-satisfied mug every time I open a new browser. Thanks, Steve!

I still want to make this company pay. I am soliciting suggestions as to how to accomplish that, at this post.


WEEKEND BEAR FLAG LEAGUE REVIEW: It's four days since the last Bear Flag Review. What can Bear Flaggers do in just four days? Take a look and see:

Aaron has this provocative rant about Islam.

Ith's blood boils.

Deb, who is very busy, gets her 20,000 visitor while she snoozes.

The Angry Clam has a photo of a goofy guy and a pun to go with it.

Baldilocks notes the anniversary of the death of a good man on November 22, 1963: C.S. Lewis.

Blogosferics does its own linkfest.

BoiFromTroy attempts to bump up his Google standings for the benefit of people looking for the Paris Hilton video.

Justene is now truly the mother hen. now has e-mail updates. You can subscribe by e-mailing them at

Citizen Smash says that, like Howard Dean, he has had back pain. But he came by it in a different way.

Cobb notes some interesting public opinion polls, including religious divides on gay marriage.

Bill Quick says (in strong words) that the Dean medical deferment is irrelevant to his campaign for President.

Dale Franks says that Afghanis feel safer than they did three years ago. Can we let them vote in the 2004 presidential election?

Xrlq has a brilliant translation of the Infotel demand letter to Justene.

E-Claire has disturbing information about turkey & gravy-flavored soda pop -- that information being that such a thing exists.

Spooky reports on the prescription drug plan.

Howard Owens says that real writers write because they love to do it, not to build a large audience. That's also why you do a Bear Flag Review.

Infinite Monkey David says Lee Harvey Oswald was sent from the future.

The Interocitor whacks the wacky Ninth Circus.

The Irish Lass reminds us of her post on 100 Things You Should Do in California -- a post well worth a reminder.

The Left Coast Conservative has ended his affair with Mountain Dew. I say you're better off without her. By the way, the secret ingredient in turkey and gravy-flavored soda pop is: turkey and gravy.

Lex Communis is on a road trip, but had a post noting a discussion on inclusive language.

Michael Williams slams the ACLU's incessant yapping, and has a scary theory to boot.

Miller's Time discusses a real-life episode of Gilligan's Island.

Molly recommends a stocking stuffer, for those who like this kind of thing: a talking Ann Coulter doll. I can think of a few liberal in-laws who would enjoy this. . .

The Mulatto Advocate sheds the s88239886 identity. Isn't it nice to be a name and not a number?

Pathetic Earthlings has a different gift idea for those who don't want the Ann Coulter doll: flourescent fish.

Patio Pundit has this disturbing picture of a turtle chowing down.

Patrick Prescott asks you not to wish him a "Happy Turkey Day." I would add only this: make every day Thanksgiving. Every person reading this has a lot to be thankful for. Don't take life for granted.

Patterico has comments! (Well, I have a comments feature, anyway. I'm still working on the actual comments. Help me out by leaving one!)

PrestoPundit discusses Hayek and gay marriage.

The Right Coast has a recipe for scotch and water. It's more involved than you might think. The secret ingredient is: scotch. (Blended scotch.)

Breaker blasts John Dvorak's dissing of blogs. Drop Breaker a comment to prove Dvorak wrong.

Bryon Scott is back!

The Shark fisks notorious jerk Ted Rall.

SoCalLawyer keeps us up to date on lap dancing in L.A.

Tone Cluster says World War III is on our doorstep.

The Window Manager discusses the Pulitzer awarded to genocide denier Walter Duranty.

UPDATE: As a bonus, BoiFromTroy (who often shoulders the work of the Review) is presenting a Rocky Top Sampler. It is given in honor of the "alliance" (whatever that means) between the Bear Flag League and the Rocky Top Brigade.

BERLIN PHIL AT DISNEY: I saw the Berlin Philharmonic at Disney Hall Friday night. They performed Bartok's "Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta" and Schubert's Ninth Symphony. The Bartok is familiar to anyone who has seen Kubrick's "The Shining." It is great music -- very spooky, and well suited to a horror film. Unlike Esa-Pekka conducing Haydn's Creation (which I saw recently), Rattle trusted the acoustics of Disney Hall to carry the softest pianissimos to the highest points in the hall. When the few dozen audience members afflicted with tuberculosis were not hacking away, Rattle's calculation was very successful.

As when the Vienna Phil performed the Schubert Ninth in Orange County a year or two ago, I noticed a wonderful crispness to the woodwind section, especially during the repeated triplets in the first movement. But unlike the Vienna Phil, the Berliners really have swing. You can tell that each individual player really feels like both an accomplished artist on his/her own, and a part of an organic unit. The players really get into the music in a visible way I have never seen with any other orchestra.

The usual L.A. standing ovation was greeted with unusual behavior by a conductor. Rattle travelled throughout the orchestra. shaking hands with individual players in the woodwind, brass, and percussion sections. He rarely bowed from the podium, choosing instead to stand among orchestra members, as if to deprecate his own position as conductor, and rather to acknowledge the huge talent of the orchestra itself. It was a welcome and appreciated gesture.

RIGHT-WINGERS: In a fairly rare "Nixon goes to China" moment, I would like to open a discussion about some things that right-wingers tend to believe that I think are wacky positions. (And now that I have comments, you can tell me why I'm wrong.) For example:

The environment. Any position in support of the environment is derided as "tree-hugging" by conservatives. Why? Do we really want the whole country to have the same air quality I enjoy here in Los Angeles?

Cigarette smoking. It's unhealthy. It's annoying. It's an unfortunate addiction some people have. Like most addictions, most of the addicts would like to kick it. Why is the ability to smoke all over the place somehow a big civil rights issue for conservatives?

Animal rights. Yes, PETA is a pack of idiots. But we can't define those who support animal rights by the actions of the morons at PETA. (I hate it when left-wingers define my beliefs according to some stupid thing Ann Coulter said.) Many animals have thoughts, emotions, and some ability to communicate. Why is it considered comical to speak on their behalf?

I am sure there are more, but let's start with these. Plenty here to offend most regular readers, I'm sure.


COMMENTS: Despite blog comments leading someone to get threatened with a lawsuit recently, I have decided to experiment with allowing readers to leave comments. Tell me what you think by, well, leaving a comment.

This is highly experimental. I like controlling the content of the blog, and I'm reluctant to give that up. However, I have had at least one loyal reader repeatedly pester me to do this. (You know who you are . . . Dean.)

UPDATE: I am tempted to imitate Citizen Smash and start an "open thread." Since my traffic is much, much lower than his, it would be pretty hilarious -- kind of like watching a talk show on a public access cable channel.

BAD WRITING IN THE NEW YORK TIMES: This NYT story about Howard Dean's draft-dodging has this curious sentence: "His back condition did not affect his skiing the way the rigors of military service would have, he said, nor did it prevent him from taking odd jobs like pouring concrete in the warm months and washing dishes when it got cold."

Yup, nothing affects your skiing like the rigors of military service.

WATCHER'S COUNCIL: The winners are listed here. This week goes to the patriots. Alpha Patriot has the winning Council entry, Where are the Factory Jobs Going? Patriot Paradox has the winning non-Council entry, Iraq is Better Off.

ADDITION TO BLOGROLL: The Politburo Diktat has earned a place on Patterico's blogroll. I first mentioned this site in this post from three weeks ago. It just keeps getting better and better. Visit the Commissar today.

P.S. The Commissar currently has great advice on how to build your blog audience.

UPDATE: I have also added Dean's World, another blog I visit regularly.

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD -- TO PRISON: Phil Spector has been charged with murder. Spector has long deserved a lengthy prison sentence for the murder of the Beatles album "Let It Be." However, efforts to charge him for that offense foundered recently, when the victim surfaced unexpectedly, stripped naked, and apparently sounding great.


A Silicon Valley computer programmer has been arrested for threatening to torture and kill employees of the company he blames for bombarding his computer with Web ads promising to enlarge his penis.

. . . .

[Charles] Booher threatened to send a "package full of Anthrax spores" to the company, to "disable" an employee with a bullet and torture him with a power drill and ice pick; and to hunt down and castrate the employees unless they removed him from their e-mail list, prosecutors said.
I think we have all had similar thoughts. No jury would convict Booher.

The president of the company, Douglas Mackay, denied sending the spam. He "blamed a rival firm which he said routes much of their unsolicited bulk e-mail through Russia and eastern Europe. Mackay said such firms gave a bad name to the penis enhancement business."

Is that like giving a bad name to Infotel?

MORE HENTOFF ON SCHIAVO: Nat Hentoff continues his Schiavo crusade with an article titled It's Not Only About Terri Schiavo. Hentoff makes some chilling comparisons between the Schiavo situation and the Nazis' disregard for the lives of those who were disabled. Here are some excerpts:

In 1920, a prominent German lawyer, Karl Binding, and a distinguished German forensic psychiatrist, Alfred Hoche, wrote a brief but deadly book, The Permission To Destroy Life Unworthy of Life. . . . Binding and Hoche emphasized that "the incurably ill and the mentally retarded were costing millions of marks and taking up thousands of much-needed hospital beds. So doctors should be allowed to put them to death."

Then came Adolf Hitler, who thought this was a splendid, indeed capital, idea. The October 1, 2003, New York Daily News ran this Associated Press report from Berlin:

"A new study reveals Nazi Germany killed at least 200,000 people because of their disabilities—people deemed physically inferior, said a report compiled by Germany's Federal Archive. . . ."

. . . .

Among the defendants at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders and their primary accomplices in the mass murder were German doctors who had gone along with the official policy of euthanasia. An American doctor, Leo Alexander, who spoke German, had interviewed the German physician-defendants before the trials, and then served as an expert on the American staff at Nuremberg.

In an article in the July 14, 1949, New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Alexander warned that the Nazis' crimes against humanity had "started from small beginnings . . . merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitude of the physicians. It started with the acceptance, basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as life not worthy to be lived." That shift in emphasis among physicians, said Dr. Alexander, could happen here, in America.

. . . .

Not long before he died, Dr. Alexander read an article in the April 12, 1984, New England Journal of Medicine by 10 physicians—part of the growing "death with dignity" brigade. They were from such prestigious medical schools as Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Virginia. These distinguished healers wrote that when a patient was in a "persistent vegetative state," it was "morally justifiable" to "withhold antibiotics and artificial nutrition (feeding tubes) and hydration, as well as other forms of life-sustaining treatment, allowing the patient to die." They ignored the finding that not all persistent vegetative states are permanent.

After reading the article, Dr. Alexander said to a friend: "It is much like Germany in the '20s and '30s. The barriers against killing are coming down."
Please do not e-mail me to tell me that I am claiming that anyone who thinks Terri Schiavo should be allowed to die is no better than a Nazi. I do not believe Hentoff is making such an argument, and I would endorse no such argument. I fully understand that, at least in theory (as determined by some probate judge in Florida), this is a decision that Terri Schiavo made herself.

But I do share Hentoff's concern that we be careful about labeling lives as not worth living. Of all the slippery slopes in the world, this is one of the worst. Best to stay on completely level ground.

PROOF THAT PLEDGES ARE BAD: See? If I had taken the "no Michael Jackson posts" pledge, how should I show you his face melting?

NEW WORD: A woman discussing Michael Jackson on the radio tonight used the word "scenarioalize." She said: "I just can't scenarioalize that."

And that is how this post was inspirationalized.


THIS COULD ALSO EXPLAIN WHY THEY EAT KIDNEY PIE: Via Reason comes this true story about a woman who suffered brain damage from a stroke, and started speaking with a British accent as a result. (It's apparently not a hoax, but an instance of a rare but documented medical phenomenon which is further explained here.)

I have suspected that a British accent is a sign of brain damage ever since I read those quotes about Bush from the mayor of London (who, I am informed, speaks with a British accent). My belief was reinforced yesterday as thousands of people with British accents toppled a statue of George W. Bush in Trafalgar Square.

UPDATE: I am experimenting with tracking this post back to Outside the Beltway. Not easy with Blogspot. Wish me luck!

BUSH WANTS SCHIAVO CASE TO GO TO A JURY: Lawyers for Gov. Jeb Bush are seeking a jury trial to decide whether Terri Schiavo really wanted to die instead of being fed though a feeding tube.

Where have I heard this argument before? Oh, that's right -- here, in my article about Schiavo at That article discusses other appropriate procedural protections for Ms. Schiavo as well, if Bush's lawyers are interested.

P.S. In the linked story (first link on this post), Bush's lawyers defend Terri's Law as providing an "extra layer of protection" for Schiavo. Her husband's attorney, George Feiger Felos, mocked this argument, saying: "An extra layer of protection? That's a nice sounding platitude. Who does Terri need protection from? The courts?"

Uh, no, George. From your client.


OUCH!: When you look up "dislocate" in the dictionary, you see this picture. (Via Dave Barry's Blog.)

DEAN'S PLEDGE: Dean Esmay is making a pledge not to talk about Michael Jackson for 6 months. He invites others to make similar pledges.

For me, this would be a little like pledging not to discuss toe lint. I have no interest in the subject and don't expect to. However, having failed at a previous quasi-pledge not to discuss a certain topic (Schiavo), I am reluctant to jump on the pledge bandwagon. I can only pledge not to discuss that which does not interest me.

UPDATE: To clarify for those who like to read things the wrong way, my point is not that I don't care about child molestation. It is that I don't care about Michael Jackson.

THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE MEMOS: Here are .pdf versions of the memos obtained by the Wall Street Journal regarding judicial nominations, as discussed in this post from Sunday. (Via How Appealing.)

In addition to the language I quoted on Sunday, there's more gold in these. For example, take this quote by a Democrat staffer: "most of Bush's nominees are nazis." Or the quote that certain civil rights organizations "would like to postpone actions on these nominees until next year, when (presumably) the public will be more tolerant of partisan dissent."

Such predictably cynical sentiments. . . Read it all.

JOHN BURTON SAYS YOU ARE A RACIST: That is, if you oppose the ridiculous law providing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. According to this Sacramento Bee story, Burton says the grassroots efforts to reverse this silly law are "fueled by racism":

"I say the issue is racism," the San Francisco Democrat told reporters Tuesday. "Do you think if these people were white and not brown skinned we would be talking about it? I don't."
(Via The Southern California Law Blog.)

PEACE IN OUR TIME: Beldar Blog reports on this New York Times article, which states:

The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency is scheduled to take up a resolution this week by France, Germany and Britain that seeks to compel Iran to halt enrichment and reprocessing of uranium and holds out the lure of cooperation, including sharing nuclear technology for civilian use.
Sounds good to me. Make the same deal with Al Qaeda too, and we will have gone a long way towards peace in our time.

Taking a page from the book of the mayor of Londontown, I say: Europe may well be "the greatest threat to life on this planet" whose policies will "doom us to extinction."

P.S. Beldar says:

I would very much like to see each Democratic presidential candidate asked the following yes/no question: "Do you support the notion of 'sharing nuclear technology for civilian use' with Iran?"
Me, too. Ain't holding my breath.


WHAT INFINITE MONKEYS REALLY PRODUCE: In honor of the Infinite Monkeys blog, I would like to resurrect a post of mine from May, which relates the results of a scientific experiment which actually placed a bunch of monkeys in a room with a computer and a keyboard.

What happened? Shakespeare? Uh, not exactly. Go here to find out.

SATIRE OR REALITY? YOU BE THE JUDGE: ScrappleFace reports: NARAL to Pay Half of Scott Peterson's Legal Fees:

The National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) today announced it would pay half of the legal fees for the defense of Scott Peterson, who is accused of killing his wife and unborn son. Mr. Peterson was bound over for trial in California yesterday after an 11-day preliminary hearing.

"We don't know whether Mr. Peterson is guilty of killing his wife," said NARAL President Kate Michelman. "But no matter what he did to the fetus, it's okay because the fetus is not a human. It's an outrage that the court is putting Scott Peterson on trial for something that America's fine abortion doctors do legally hundreds of times every day."
NARAL is so outlandish it often provides its own satire. As a result, when I saw this headline on my news aggregator, I initially thought it was for real.

LIEBAU ON THREATENED INFOTEL LAWSUIT: Over at California Republic, Carol Platt Liebau has this post about scumbag outfit Infotel's threatened lawsuit against Justene Adamec of Calblog. Liebau compares the threatened lawsuit to a threat "to sue the owner of a bullhorn because some thug walked by and yelled something actionable into it." Good analogy. Read her whole post. (Via Xrlq.)

BEAR FLAG ROUNDUP: The Accidental Jedi has the latest from the Bear Flag League here.

MORE ON RETIRING THE TERM "HOMICIDE BOMBER": Regarding the synagogue bombings in Istanbul, James Taranto reports:

Fox News Channel reported Saturday that "Turkish police aren't sure yet if the explosives were set off by homicide bombers or remote control." So according to Fox, those who murder people using remote-controlled bombs aren't "homicide bombers."
Good point. This is the perfect illustration of a point that Taranto and Patterico have both made before: the term "homicide bomber" is not as descriptively accurate as "suicide bomber."

Everybody understands that suicide bombers are generally trying to commit homicide. But if you just say "homicide bomber," you leave out crucial information about whether the bomber was trying to commit suicide. This can lead to ridiculous results, as the Fox News example shows.


OVER 10,000 HARANGUED: As of yesterday, the site has had over 10,000 unique visitors.

UPDATE: That's according to Site Meter. According to Extreme Tracking (which I think I installed earlier), I passed 10,000 several days ago.

I was also interested to learn that almost half of those 10,000 visitors are from last month. I had almost as many visitors in October as I had the entire year leading up to October. So things are really picking up.

Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: A reader says my Schiavo coverage is responsible for the increase in traffic, and praises my decision to ignore the boycott by my long-time reader. I don't know whether the Schiavo coverage is the sole explanation, but whatever the reason, I appreciate the interest.

Also, I am happy to report that the long-time reader's boycott is (I believe) over, despite my persistence with the Schiavo story.

Now let's all hold hands and sing Kumbayah.

GWB VS. KIDNEY PIE: The London Times quotes the mayor of London as saying that George W. Bush is "the greatest threat to life on this planet" whose policies will "doom us to extinction." (Via The Interocitor.)

I thought the greatest threat to life on this planet was British food.

ADVICE TO ARNOLD: Arnold Schwarzenegger is now our Governor. If I could give Governor Schwarzenegger any advice on how best to succeed, I would tell him:

* Keep state money flowing to the local governments for basic local services like police and fire departments. If you don't, the backlash will be broad and fierce.

* Don't let your success be defined by things you can't control -- such as whether you can work with the Democratic majority in the Legislature. President Bush made this mistake when he promised to "change the tone" in Washington. He reached out to your uncle Teddy on several issues. Now Teddy Kennedy is saying that the justification for the Iraq war was a "fraud" that was "made up in Texas." You can't control the pit of Democratic vipers in Sacramento. Go above their heads to the people.

* You ran on an image of leadership. Live up to that image. There are tough choices to make. Don't dodge these difficult decisions. Make them, and justify them to the people. This will not be easy. You must show strength and determination. If you do this, the people will follow.

(Cross-posted to the blog.)


UPPEDANTE, MEET DIM. DIM, MEET UPPEDANTE: Yesterday, I wrote a post that purported to quote the demand letter sent by Infotel lawyers to Justene Adamec. (For the background, see her post here.) The letter was (I thought) a clear parody of the Nigerian e-mail scams that practically everyone on Earth has received in their in-boxes at one time or another.

Nevertheless, some guy named uppedante came completely unhinged and started posting comments calling me a racist all over the place (so far I have seen them here, here, and here). On Calblog, uppedante called the letter a "desperately needy and awkward attempt at thinly-disguised racial humor." And on Xrlq's site, he called it a "pathetic attempt at racial humor." And on the leftist Atrios blog, uppedante said the letter "absoltuely reeked of smarmy racism."

If I "absoltuely" must explain the joke, I refer you to, where the Nigerian e-mail scam is discussed. If you read the link, you will see that the Nigerian e-mails are poorly-written letters from stupid con artists who are obsessed with making a buck at any cost. I can openly say such nasty things about Nigerian scam artists, who will almost certainly not serve me with a frivolous lawsuit.

At least the Angry Clam got it.

Finally, because I am all about bringing people together, I would like to introduce uppedante to another clueless buffoon who trolls comment boards making inane, insulting, and inaccurate statements. Uppedante, meet Dim the Army Janitor.

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

UPDATE: The real letter is at Xrlq's site, here. I leave it to you to decide which letter (the parody or the real thing) contains more grammatical mistakes and generally idiotic statements. I know what my vote is.

UPDATE x2: I have to admit, the contents of this letter are amusing.

For instance, as an example of "invasion of privacy" this lawyer quotes a comment that states: "Suffice it to say that the head honcho Gofdon Frank, drives a Porsche, late model of course, and owns a Harley Davidson." By terming it an "invasion of privacy" the lawyer, of course, confirms this information -- but how could publishing what a guy drives be an invasion of privacy anyway??

And then there is a line in the letter referring to a recording a commenter claimed was made up by the company. Here is the line from the letter, complete with a "sic" added by the lawyer: "I'm confident that we can make them go away, but hopefully putting [sic] the recording up will help others." Apparently the lawyer was disturbed by the correct spelling of "putting."

TALK LIKE YOUR GOVERNOR POST: I don't have the energy to participate in this Talk Like Your Governor Day thing all day long. For me, humor comes rarely, in quick bursts, and takes too much energy to keep up constantly. (Plus, when I do attempt humor, people sometimes don't get it -- see the post above for one example.) But here is one post honoring the day, in anticipation of this afternoon's inauguration:

I am happy to be here in the Sacramento, so much closer to Stanford, where you know I have been spending some time lately and all those kinds of things.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

GOAL: FEWER HANDS RAISED: This Steve Lopez column about some eighth graders visiting a fancy restaurant as a reward for academic diligence rang a bell with me. He relates that, at the meal, one of the students asked an assistant principal if she had ever seen someone shot in the head. Lopez says that another student spoke up, and another.

And now it seemed as if everyone at the table had a story about a shooting. The student next to me said he had been shot at and was with a friend who was shot and killed, and he proceeded to go into great and graphic detail about the gang activity in his neighborhood.
This reminded me of a similar question I once asked of fifth-graders in Compton. I was teaching a weekly class about the criminal justice system, and there was a skit that involved someone being shot. I asked the students to raise their hands if they had ever heard gunfire from their houses.

Every hand in the room went up.

I asked them to raise their hands if a family member or friend had been shot.

Every hand but two went up.

Again, these were fifth-graders.

I don't have a simple solution, but this is a pretty good indication of what the problem is.

RADICAL PROPOSAL: DEPORT ILLEGAL ALIENS WHO ARE CRIMINALS: Here's a story you'll never see in the Los Angeles Dog Trainer, but that did appear in the L.A. Daily News: Is L.A. Soft on Illegals?. The story recounts how Daryl Gates ordered LAPD officers to "stop asking suspects, witnesses and victims about their immigration status." The policy might make sense for witnesses and victims, but for suspects?

The most amazing thing in the article is this:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers stationed in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Twin Towers Correctional Facility check the immigration status of inmates and decide whether to deport them when their term is finished, jail Lt. Tim Murphy said.
Decide whether to deport illegal immigrants who are in jail?

Look, I understand that we don't have the resources to deport all illegal immigrants. But it seems like a no-brainer to start with the criminals. If a single immigration agent is worrying himself with illegals who have not already been convicted of a crime serious enough to warrant jail time, while illegals are being deliberately released from jail, there is something seriously wrong.

ANTICIPATING THE BERLIN PHIL: The New York Times offers this account of the Berlin Philharmonic's Carnegie Hall appearances under Simon Rattle. It's whetting my appetite for the upcoming Disney Hall concert by the Berliners (they are giving two, but I am attending only one.)


SPAM HARVESTERS REJOICE: Via the Angry Clam comes these e-mail contacts for Infotel Publications.


The spambots will no doubt pick up these addresses, but that is the unfortunate side effect of telling you where to write your angry letters about this.

IT'S CONFIRMED: ESTRADA WAS BORKED DUE TO HIS ETHNICITY: The Wall Street Journal has obtained Democratic staff strategy memos from when the Democrats were in charge of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2001-02. You can read excerpts here.

The most interesting thing in the memos is their discussion of Miguel Estrada. The memos confirm what we knew all along: Estrada was borked in large part because he was Latino.

A November 6, 2001 memorandum to Democrat Senator Dick Durbin informs Durbin of a scheduled meeting with leaders of liberal interest groups regarding "the most controversial and/or vulnerable judicial nominees." A follow-up memo from the next day states:

November 7, 2001/To: Senator Durbin

. . . .

The groups singled out three--Jeffrey Sutton (6th Circuit); Priscilla Owen (5th Circuit); and Caroline [sic] Kuhl (9th Circuit)--as a potential nominee for a contentious hearing early next year, with a [sic] eye to voting him or her down in Committee. They also identified Miguel Estrada (D.C. Circuit) as especially dangerous, because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment. They want to hold Estrada off as long as possible.
There you have it, straight from the ass's mouth.

Now sit back and watch the mainstream media ignore this.

DEMAND LETTER MADE PUBLIC: I have obtained that demand letter from Infotel lawyers to Justene. (For background on this, go here. Briefly, the situation is that a blogger has been threatened with a lawsuit for comments made by other people on her site -- despite clear law saying she can't be held liable under such circumstances.) I think that the demand letter should be published for all to see:









It's worse than I'd thought.

(Caution for irony-impaired: may not be actual letter. Beware possible parody.)

UPDATE: If you have never heard of the Nigerian e-mail scams, and you really need the joke explained to you, click on this link.

LEARN MORE ABOUT INFOTEL: Via Right on the Left Beach comes this link, showing the numerous complaints that the Better Business Bureau has received about Infotel Publications, the scumbags who threatened to sue Calblog.

The BBB says:

The Bureau has received numerous complaints concerning this company's selling practices. Most complaints claim their business was billed for a directory listing which was never ordered, or that Infotel sales personnel claimed to be asking for a renewal of a listing when none existed.

. . . .

This company has an unsatisfactory business performance record with the Bureau due to a pattern of complaints claiming deceptive selling practices, a pattern of complaints concerning credit and billing procedures, and for failure to eliminate the cause of those complaints.
They forgot to mention that their lawyers apparently like to harass people with plainly frivolous lawsuits.

GOOD TAKE ON FILIBUSTER: Brit Hume on Fox News Sunday just made a good point: the filibuster of Bush nominees by the Retaliacrats™ appears to violate the sacred principle of "Let Every Vote Count."

Here, we know how the vote would come out -- the Bush nominees would win. But the Retaliacrats don't want the vote to take place. They're closing the polls. They're harassing the voters. They're taking every undemocratic step possible to keep the "Neanderthals" (as Teddy K. sensitively termed nominees like black woman Janice Rogers Brown) off the courts.

Don't let anyone tell you this is anything but unprecedented. I have seen no evidence that Republicans ever blocked any Democrat nominee that provably would have won a floor vote. That is what is happened here, and it is an outrage.

"Count Every Vote" and "Let Every Vote Count"!


COMMENTARY ON STUPID THREATENED LAWSUIT: BlogoSFERICS has this roundup of commentary on the ridiculous threatened lawsuit against Justene of Calblog.

TERRI'S LAW IN JEOPARDY: It looks like Terri's Law is about to be struck down. Apparently it would violate her constitutional right to be murdered by her husband left alone by the Florida Legislature.


A felon, but in politics
Polite, lunatic! No fibs!

DEATH TO TED RALL INFLAMMATORY RHETORICAL DEVICES: John Scalzi is again defending Ted Rall (sort of). Scalzi, whom I generally like, and whose literacy drive I support and link to below, has the misfortune of being Rall's friend. Scalzi has previously published a quasi-defense of Rall's cartoon making fun of the surviving family members of those murdered by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists. (I say "quasi-defense" because Scalzi is always careful to say that he is not really defending Rall -- but then he always seems to be sort of sticking up for the guy.)

Anyway, you will remember from my post below that the latest Ted Rall flap concerns his column in which he assumes the voice of an Iraqi soldier bent on killing Americans. Rall really seems to get into it, to the point where it's difficult to separate the views of the "character" from the views held by Rall. Part of the problem is that you know that Rall agrees with much of what he has the soldier say. For instance, the Iraq war is referred to as "Dick Cheney's cynical oil war" in which many "poor and uneducated" soldiers "do not understand that they are being used as pawns." There is no doubt that Rall believes this.

After Rall has his soldier say these anti-American things -- things that we know Ted Rall believes -- Rall then has the soldier say more anti-American things, like this:

Unfortunately, we can't help these innocent U.S. soldiers. They are victims, like ourselves, of the bandits in Washington. Nor can we disabuse them of the propaganda that an occupier isn't always an oppressor. We regret their deaths, but we must continue to kill them until the last one has gone home to America.
You really have to wonder if Rall agrees with this point of view too. When you read the piece as a whole, it really sounds like he does. But Scalzi says people should not jump to that conclusion, and explains that Rall's apparent desire to see American soldiers killed may be simply an "inflammatory rhetorical device."

When I read Scalzi's explanation, I thought to myself: what a great idea! Why not publish my own piece using an "inflammatory rhetorical device" regarding what some other people might think should happen to Ted Rall?

I immediately started drafting a satirical piece called "TED RALL MUST BE KILLED." Much as Rall's piece "took the point of view" of an Iraqi who wanted to kill American soldiers, my piece took the point of view of people so offended by Rall's commentary that they might want to kill him. I thought that I made this point of view seem very rational indeed. I noted that Rall's commentary (as exemplified by the cartoon and column mentioned above) not only appeared to be reflective of a fundamentally soulless and evil human being, but also amounted to something close to treason, by giving aid and comfort to the enemies of this nation.

The piece did not reflect my opinion, of course. It goes without saying that nobody deserves to be killed in this country, except murderers executed through due process of law. The First Amendment protects Rall's right to be the unbelievably offensive asshole that he is. I began writing the piece simply to show that the use of an "inflammatory rhetorical device" can be so incredibly inappropriate as to be indefensible. The draft I began was, I thought, compelling in its verisimilitude. And I thought it made a pretty good point, about Rall's outrageousness (unlike Rall's piece, which -- if not intended as a tract favoring killing our soldiers -- is utterly inexplicable and pointless).

But I couldn't finish it. Part of the problem is that I just can't lower myself to Rall's level, even for purposes of satire. Another part of the problem is that what I wrote didn't come out funny -- at all (kind of like Rall's cartoons and columns). If there is a witty way to satirize views as repugnant as Rall's, it will have to be done by someone far more clever than I. (Perhaps the inestimable Xrlq is up to the job; I'm not.)

So, no, I don't wish death for Ted Rall, and I can't even say so as a "joke." But I would love to see his brand of thoughtless, offensive commentary die a slow and horrible death.

UPDATE: Here's a guy who sounds like Ted Rall from the right -- and he's not even trying to be funny. Disturbing stuff.


FROM THE "REPUBLICANS SUCK AT P.R." DEPARTMENT: How are the Retaliacrats™ getting away with making it appear that their filibuster is somehow the Republicans wasting valuable legislative time?

P.S. And how did they convince anyone that the legislative time was valuable, or that wasting it is a bad idea?

FROM THE "DUH, I IS A LAWYR BUTT I CAN'T REED SO GUD" DEPARTMENT: Justene, the operator of Calblog, is being threatened with a lawsuit based on comments published on her blog -- comments that were written by other people.

Whether such a lawsuit could succeed is not even a close question. Section 230 of the 1996 Telecom Act provides that "no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." In plain English, you can't be sued for comments made by someone else on your blog.

This language was applied by the Ninth Circuit (presumably the relevant jurisdiction for any lawsuit against Justene) in the case of Batzel v. Smith, 333 F.3d 1018 (9th Cir. 2003).

I think the more interesting question is whether Justene can countersue for malicious prosecution. I tend to think she can.

UPDATE: Jeff notes that she would first have to win the lawsuit, since successful termination of the underlying suit is an element of a malicious prosecution claim.

UPDATE x2: The Interocitor has this recent and disturbing ruling from a California state court.

UPDATE x3: Here are anagrams for Infotel Publications, the company that threatened to sue Justene.

UPDATE x4: Read what the Better Business Bureau says about this company here.

UPDATE x5: I have obtained a copy of the demand letter sent to Justene and have posted it here.

LITERACY DRIVE: Donate money to John Scalzi's literacy drive. Read about it here.

TED RALL, LONG-TIME SCUMBAG: Many bloggers (like this one and this one) have been pointing to this piece by Ted Rall as evidence that he is a scumbag.

But much worse is this cartoon of his, which mocks the families of those murdered on September 11, 2001. Anyone who has seen this cartoon does not need further evidence to decide that Ted Rall is a despicable, soulless being.

UPDATE: Instapundit has more on "the Rall backstory."


SHEESH, ANOTHER XRLQ-PATTERICO "DEBATE": Miller's Time thinks Xrlq and I have been having a "debate" about the whole a/an thing.

This reminds me of when Xrlq and I allegedly had a "debate" about partial-birth abortion. Everybody always thinks we're debating, even when it seems to me like we're agreeing.

A OR AN?: Infinite Monkey Ben gets it right. (The original discussion, with update, is here.)

POP VS. SODA VS. COKE: Via faithful reader Dean comes The Pop vs. Soda Page, graphically detailing regional variation in the use of the terms "pop," "soda," and "Coke."

(Full disclosure: I am from Texas. There, when you ask for a Coke, people say: "What kind?")

The site is full of interesting detail. A large interactive map of the country, broken down by which term is used, is here. A detailed chart of the statistical incidence of different terms in different states is here.

UPDATE: A reader named Ruth from Texas takes issue with my generalizations regarding Texas: "Texas is a big state. I'm from Texas, too. When I say I want a coke, I mean coca cola, nothing else, specially not an RC! Maybe it's an age thing, but I suspect it's regional. I've lived in Odessa as a young child, then in high school in Rockport. I also have managed to make it to 67 without liking any cola but Coca Cola, maybe it is the REAL thing."

I'm with you, Ruth. No Pepsi, no RC -- Coke!


A HISTORIC MOMENT: (Warning: I'm going into Safire mode here, so if you don't like grammar rants, you can safely skip this post.) I was recently reminded that I get annoyed when people say "an historic" something. It's getting to the point where it's a historic moment when people don't use the word "an" in front of the words "history" or "historic."

Don't get me wrong. This is not really an huge pet peeve; hearing this usage is not going to give me an heart attack or anything. I don't mean to sound like I'm in an huff about it. It's just that this usage might have made sense across the pond, back in the days of 'enry 'iggins. But there's no point to it anymore, at this point in our hhhhistory.

P.S. I don't like to rely on style manuals to tell me how to speak or write properly; I'd rather trust my instincts. But for those who like to go by the book, read the column at this link, which explains that

The Wall Street Journal Guide to Business Style and Usage calls for a with historic because the h is sounded, just as it is in a holy man or a honking horn.

The general rule today is to use a before sounded consonants and an before vowel sounds or unvoiced consonants, including the pronounced y sound as in a year or a utopia. But of course, it's an apple or an hour with a vowel or vowel sound.

But an historic or an historical event regularly rears its ugly head -- a vestige from British usage that once called for an when the first syllable was unaccented: a history, but an historic or historical event. Nowadays, even in Britain, using an with historic or historian is considered an affectation.
There you have it, straight from an horse's mouth.

UPDATE: Xrlq properly points out that one of the rules cited by the WSJ in the quote above sounds silly: the part about using "an before vowel sounds or unvoiced consonants, including the pronounced y sound as in a year or a utopia." I should have read the whole quote more carefully before seeming to agree with it. "An utopia"? "An year"?? Uh-uh. Nope.

I did say that I rely on my own opinion rather than that of the experts -- this is a good illustration of why.

THE BONFIRE IS BURNING: Don't miss the blogosphere's worst posts of the week at the Bonfire of the Vanities.


FINAL LETTERS HOME: The New York Times today publishes excerpts from the final letters of some of the soldiers killed in Iraq.


TODAY'S MUST-READ: Stop whatever you are doing right now and read this post by Stuart Buck, about Miguel Estrada. It is the best commentary I have ever seen on the Estrada nomination. Buck argues that, if Title VII were to apply to the judicial nomination process, Estrada would have a very good lawsuit, based on the transparently false justifications Senate Democrats have advanced for rejecting him.

Although Estrada gave up some time back, Buck's post still has quite a bit of relevance, in light of the current railroading of Janice Rogers Brown.

HENTOFF ON SCHIAVO: Via LilacRose comes the latest Nat Hentoff column, which rationally discusses the case of Terri Schiavo.

Also, thanks to LilacRose for linking to my column on regarding the court system's failure to protect Terri Schiavo's life the way it protects the lives of capital murder defendants.

HIGH COURT WILL HEAR GUANTANAMO APPEAL: The AP reports that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether the captives being held at Guantanamo may contest their captivity in U.S. courts.

Eugene Volokh predicts that the Court will find jurisdiction lacking. Since the good Professor is generally parsimonious with his predictions, I'd lay money on this one.

MCCAIN-FEINGOLD DECISION WEDNESDAY?: Crediting law professor Rick Hasen, Eugene Volokh reports that we could have a decision on the notoriously unconstitutional McCain-Feingold law on Wednesday.

UPDATE: Wrong again, Hasen!


END OF THE WORLD: Described here. (Via Aaron's Rantblog.) (Shockwave presentation -- not for those who avoid profanity.)

WATCHER'S COUNCIL WINNERS: A couple of great posts won the weekly Council vote. Xrlq had the winning Council entry with Gun Control "Logic." Rosemary Esmay had the winning non-Council entry: a post with the wonderful, wonderful title Why I Left the Democratic Party.

It was my honor to be nominated for the category of best non-Council entry, but I have to say I really enjoyed Rosemary's entry. It is required reading for the wife today.

RETIRED GROCERY CLERK'S OP-ED ALMOST CERTAINLY NOT WRITTEN BY UNION LAWYER: Anyone else read the op-ed by the retired grocery clerk in yesterday's Dog Trainer? It had the clever title Grocery Retirees Have a Beef Too. I have to say, it was pretty damn well-written for a piece by a former grocery clerk. I especially liked the references to Greek mythology. Now that I think about it, running bananas and milk over a supermarket scanner is a lot like the eternal struggle of Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain.

Great stuff. I was sure when I read it yesterday that it wasn't ghost-written by union officials or lawyers. I'm even more convinced now that I have read actual examples of writing by actual grocery employees, as featured by Xrlq.

If the guy really wrote this himself, I suggest that he use his considerable writing skills to freelance and make some money, rather than bitching about his retirement package. His sore hip obviously presents no impediment to his writing, and he won't have to feel like Sisyphus forever fighting the bananas and milk.

UPDATE: Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to imply that one cannot have a blue-collar job and still be a good writer. Take this cabbie, for example. (Warning: linked item contains profanity.)


MAYBE IT'S NOT ADULTERY, BUT IT'S ALSO NOT HAPPENING TONIGHT, MISTER: Via Eugene Volokh comes the word that the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled yesterday that oral sex is not adultery.

Many people (like Prof. Volokh) read this and think: "Bill Clinton is now vindicated" (disclaimer: vindication valid only in New Hampshire).

I read it and think: I'd hate to have been a fly on the wall last night at the homes of the married male Justices of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. I'm guessing that was an ugly scene.

COLUMN AT CALIFORNIAREPUBLIC.ORG: I have an column up today at You can read it by clicking here.

The column argues that the court system should treat the life of Terri Schiavo with at least the same respect as it treats the lives of suspected or convicted murderers. This is a subject I have mentioned before, but the column is a more comprehensive look at the way the lives of capital murder defendants receive more protections than that of someone in Ms. Schiavo's situation.


QUIZ: Pick the best answer. Recently, Al Sharpton:

1) Finally admitted Steven Pagones didn't rape Tawana Brawley, and said he would pay the judgment he owes Pagones for defamation, instead of buying another expensive new suit for the next presidential debate.

2) Apologized for his role in instigating deadly race riots in New York City.

3) Said that Democrats should not filibuster Janice Rogers Brown.

You probably already know the answer, but if you don't, it's here.

WELCOME TO "HOW APPEALING" READERS: Thanks to How Appealing for linking to my post below on Judge O'Scannlain's Federalist Society talk. Welcome to any readers who found their way here from How Appealing. If you enjoy what you read here, please bookmark the site, drop me an e-mail, and visit again.

BEAR FLAG LEAGUE MERCHANDISE HAS ARRIVED: Yesterday I received the Bear Flag League merchandise that I had ordered from The Bear Flag League Store. Coffee cups, a shirt, and a mouse pad. It all looks very sharp. As the holiday season approaches, these are obvious gifts for your friends who enjoy conservative internet commentary.


JUDGE O'SCANNLAIN SPEAKS AT FEDERALIST SOCIETY MEETING: Today I attended a meeting of the Los Angeles Federalist Society, at which Ninth Circuit Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain gave a talk on splitting the Ninth Circuit. Among those in attendance were Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, and Bush nominee Carolyn Kuhl.

Judge O'Scannlain began by noting Judge Kuhl's pending nomination, and stating his belief that judicial confirmations are far more difficult today than when he was confirmed in 1986. He said that only 6 weeks passed from the day that President Reagan first called him to inform him of his nomination, to the day he was confirmed by the Senate. He acknowledged that the confirmation process has since become much more difficult. He said that he hopes Judge Kuhl will be confirmed soon -- a statement that received a warm round of applause from those in attendance.

Judge O'Scannlain then moved on to his main topic: splitting the Ninth Circuit. Many of the reasons he cited in favor of splitting the circuit were similar to the reasons he gave in this interview with Howard Bashman. Judge O'Scannlain distributed a handout with numerous charts demonstrating that the Ninth Circuit is unique in terms of its size, geographical breadth, and heavy caseload. In addition to workload concerns, the huge size of the circuit creates the danger of inconsistent precedents. For these reasons, Judge O'Scannlain clearly believes that a split is going to happen sooner or later.

What interested me were some of the non-statistical arguments he made in support of a circuit split. For example, he cited the recent en banc decision allowing the California recall election to go forward as an argument in favor of a circuit split. Judge O'Scannlain reminded the audience that he was on the eleven-judge en banc panel which voted unanimously (11-0) to allow the election to go forward. But, he noted, the original panel was unanimous (3-0) in favor of the opposite result. In light of that fact, Judge O'Scannlain wondered whether the judges on the en banc panel were truly representative of the entire circuit. He noted that there were more than 11 active judges who participated in neither the original decision nor the en banc decision -- enough to form a completely different en banc panel that could (in theory) come to a different decision. Judge O'Scannlain favors a small enough circuit that all active judges can participate in an en banc panel without its becoming too unwieldy.

Judge O'Scannlain also said that he thinks there is more recent momentum in Congress favoring a circuit split because of the Pledge of Allegiance case. He said that this was a bad reason to split the circuit, and that the case for the circuit split should rest on the statistical arguments he gave, not on the existence of cases like the Pledge of Allegiance case. The Ninth Circuit's reversal rate was another factor that Judge O'Scannlain said should not be considered as a valid reason to split the circuit.

Judge O'Scannlain discussed some of the different proposals for splitting the circuit, which he had already discussed at length in his interview with Howard Bashman. Judge O'Scannlain said that, in his opinion, much of the angst over the precise manner of splitting the circuit was unnecessary. After all, he said, the new Twelfth Circuit would almost certainly adopt Ninth Circuit precedent as its governing precedent on day one -- just as the Eleventh Circuit had adopted Fifth Circuit precedent on the first day after the split of the Fifth Circuit. Also, he noted that any of the proposed splits would still result in a majority of Democratic appointees in the new circuits.