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January 29, 2004

You've got to read this...

Mark Steyn, at his funny, incisive best, on the Democratic travelling circus in New Hampshire.

January 29, 2004 at 05:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The latest rolling head

BBC Director General Greg Dyke has resigned, saying; "I don't want to go. But if in the end you screw up you have to go."

January 29, 2004 at 04:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Should the Democrats put an end to their two party party?

Robert Reich, the well known FOB, professor and former US Secretary of Labor, has an interesting OpEd in today's NYT arguing that the Democrats should end the left/right split within their party by decisively rejecting the centrist policies of the Democratic Leadership Council.   By unifying around a consistent ideology, the party would then be able to build a broad-based political movement around the policies and prescriptions of what Howard Dean refers to as the "Democratic wing of the Democratic party".   While naturally I think that most of these left-wing policies are unworkable, counterproductive, and proven failures (both here and abroad), it is refreshing to hear an honest liberal advocate a real political battle of ideas and ideology, rather than personality and spin.

In my view, one of aspects of Democratic politicians that most infuriate Republicans is their lack of candor regarding their true policy agendas.   Aware that many (most?) of their liberal policies are unpopular with the electorate, they position themselves as centrists while seeking to advance their true agenda through the courts and regulatory system, which are insulated from the influence of public opinion.   Many (most?) liberals support these candidates because they are "electable" but assume that their true opinions and political beliefs (assuming, of course, that any politicians really have them) are much more liberal than their public statements would suggest.

As Reich rightly points out, however, when "stealth" liberals are successful in getting elected, they find it hard to govern because they lack the broad-based political movement necessary to rally support for their policy proposals.   (The example Reich used to illustrate this point was the ill-fated attempt to sell the public on Hillarycare, but there are many other examples from the Clinton years.)

Personally, I would welcome a real, honest political referendum on the policies of the liberal left; higher taxes, particularly on the "wealthy", more government spending on domestic priorities, "fixing" welfare reform, more regulation of business and the environment, etc.   I doubt that any pol running on this platform would carry more than a handful of states.   But it would be more honest than the bogus "stealth" liberals that say one thing and do another.

January 29, 2004 at 04:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Just a Gigolo

I am not a big Ann Coulter fan, but this is an amusing column about John Kerry and his predilection for wealthy wives.

January 29, 2004 at 09:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 28, 2004

Beeb bashed by Hutton report

Judging from its website, today's Guardian edition is devoted to the fallout from Lord Hutton's report on the Kelly/WMD/"sexing up" issue.   Essentially, Hutton found that the BBC screwed the pooch, big time.   In reaction to the report, the BBC chairman Gavyn Davies resigned late this afternoon.   I suspect that his will only be first of the heads to roll over the coming days and weeks.

This is a big vindication for Tony Blair.   One can only hope that this sorry affair will result in some real reform at the BBC.   (But I'm not holding my breath.)

Here is a link to the full text of the report.

January 28, 2004 at 04:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NY Times correction of the week

Want to go on a free walking tour with a child molesting pervert?

Editors' Note

An article on Jan. 17 described a free Surveillance Camera Outdoor Walking Tour in Greenwich Village, led by Bill Brown, a Brooklyn resident who has been mapping the locations of hidden cameras in Manhattan for several years. The article quoted him as saying cameras were a sign of creeping control by the authorities and adding, "This is warping human beings."

Last Saturday Newsday reported that Mr. Brown was facing a misdemeanor charge of aggravated harassment in a recent case on Long Island that included evidence from a security camera.

A spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office confirmed yesterday that Mr. Brown was arrested on Jan. 8 in connection with an overtly sexual and threatening telephone call to a 9-year-old girl, placed from a Manhattan law office where he worked as a proofreader. The camera image showed that Mr. Brown was in the building when the call was made, the spokesman said. His arraignment is scheduled for March 11.

Newsday also reported that Mr. Brown had a record of arrests in Rhode Island. According to the state Attorney General's Office there, he was arrested six times between December 1993 and March 1994 on misdemeanor charges of making obscene telephone calls. He received probation.

The Times was not aware of Mr. Brown's arrest record at the time of the Jan. 17 article. He has declined to comment.

January 28, 2004 at 07:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 27, 2004

Spin, spin, spin the globe...

If you have spent anytime watching CNBC over the last couple of years, you've probably heard the catchy jingle which accompanies a series of vapid commercials for the German multinational Siemens.   The only lyric (at least that I can recall) is "spin, spin, spin the globe".

Lest we forget that politics is mostly spin, you should read Dorothy Rabinowitz's column in today's Opinion Journal regarding former Democratic frontrunner Howard Dean.   While I don't agree with her premise that it is too soon to write off Dean's candidacy, she makes the interesting point that Dean's famous "meltdown" in Iowa is largely a media artifact:

...on that famous night, the media bulletins referred to Mr. Dean's anger--the angry candidate had finally blown his top, his rage had exploded, etc. In fact, anyone watching that scene without the nudgings of expectation would have been hard put to find anger in that wild exhortation: though one would have found no lack of the posturing characteristic of Mr. Dean on the campaign trail--aggression that had made him the hands-down choice of those possessed by hatred of George W. Bush.

...All that said, Mr. Dean's performance was a far cry from an angry rant. He seemed, in truth, to be having fun. But the fun stopped cold, almost immediately when the consequences of this night made themselves clear. Word was now out: that Mr. Dean was practically finished, that he had borne out earlier suspicions about his incapacity to be presidential. Above all, there were the cartoons, the rhetorical questions, about whether a man of such angry temper could be trusted with the nuclear button. An absurdly antic concession speech had been transformed into an event of menacing size. So much so that the candidate's mental stability was now in question. By the next day Howard Dean's name had been added to the list of presidential aspirants alleged to have been undone by famous "defining moments." Picture Muskie weeping.

Rabinowitz makes an excellent point, but I think that its fair to say that there is some aspect of Governor Dean's character that American voters (including those in Iowa who made their decision before watching that famous "Aaaaargh!") found to be not quite Presidential.   I suspect that most voters have decided that Dr. Dean is just too angry and a little too volatile to be the leader of the free world.   The rant in Omaha merely provided entertaining evidence to support this conclusion.

Another one of my favorite female columnists, Peggy Noonan, had an excellent column in today's Journal persuasively arguing that General Wesley Clark is too weird to be President.   I've long been of this belief, but found Noonan's prose, as usual, compelling:

Gen. Clark gives off the vibrations of a man who has no real beliefs save one: Wes Clark should be president. The rest--the actual meaning of his candidacy--he seems to be making up as he goes along. It seems a candidacy void of purpose beyond meeting the candidate's hunger. He is passionately for the war until he announces for the Democratic nomination facing an antiwar base, at which point he becomes passionately antiwar. He thanks God that George Bush and his aides are in the White House, then he says they're the worst leaders ever. Anyone can change his mind; but this is not a change, it's a swerve, and without a convincing rationale. Last week, Brit Hume asked Gen. Clark when it was that he'd "first noticed" that he--Gen. Clark--was a Democrat. There was laughter, but that was a nice big juicy softball. Gen. Clark flailed and fumbled. Later he blamed Mr. Hume for being a Republican agent.
Clark should go back to Arkansas, where he belongs, and see if he can get his old job back at Stephens Inc.

January 27, 2004 at 08:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Interesting story.   Too bad its completely wrong!

The AP ran a feature last Sunday reporting that teacher's unions were gaining membership because of a backlash against education reform among teachers (perhaps because they didn't like being held accountable for actually having their pupils learn something).   Unfortunately (at least for Michael Gormley, the author of the piece), it appears that the exact opposite appears to be happening.   Here is what the excellent Educational Intelligence Agency had to say about the article:

Yesterday, New York Associated Press reporter Michael Gormley wrote a piece headlined “Education reform sends more teachers to join unions.” He opened with: “Union leaders say their ranks are swelling in part as a backlash to education reform measures that include public report cards on classroom performance and greater scrutiny of teacher competence.” The “swelling” is supposedly due to independent teachers’ associations suddenly joining up with NEA and AFT.

Gormley spoke to representatives of NEA, AFT, NEA New York, and New York State United Teachers, all of whom agreed with the premise, and with representatives of the “conservative Heritage Foundation” and the “conservative Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability” in New York, both of whom expressed skepticism (note, too, that the unions are not identified with an ideological term, such as “liberal”).

OK, we have a dispute. What evidence is there? Gormley provides one – and only one – example of this trend. “This month,” he wrote, “teachers in the Campbell-Savona Central School District in Steuben County joined the National Education Association of New York.” This seems to be quite a coup, until you do a little extra research and learn there are -- get ready -- 100 teachers in that district.

You have to read through to the eighth paragraph before you come upon: “The unions acknowledge, however, that there is no data on how many independent teachers’ associations are affiliating with the big statewide unions, or why.”

There are no data because it is not happening – especially not in New York, where over the past few years NEA New York has lost affiliates in Hicksville, Greece, Deer Park, and Gananda. NEA New York’s numbers for 2002 show 35,600 active members – a loss of over 1,000 members. Anecdotal evidence suggests this decline was not reversed in 2003.

Gormley’s timing couldn’t have been worse. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report four days before his article, and it showed yet another decline in union membership – both in workforce share and in raw numbers. New York, the most heavily unionized state in the U.S., saw a decline of 45,000 in union membership and a workforce share loss from 25.3 percent to 24.6 percent. In all, 33 states had lower union membership rates in 2003 than they had in 2002. Two others had no change.

Expect to see more articles in the future on trends in teacher union membership. The conclusions, however, may be quite different.

January 27, 2004 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 26, 2004

Did The Onion acquire the BBC while I wasn't looking?

Matt Drudge linked to this story which appears to have been published by the BBC:

Parrot's oratory stuns scientists

By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment correspondent

The finding of a parrot with an almost unparalleled power to communicate with people has brought scientists up short.

The bird, a captive African grey called N'kisi, has a vocabulary of 950 words, and shows signs of a sense of humour.

He invents his own words and phrases if he is confronted with novel ideas with which his existing repertoire cannot cope - just as a human child would do.

N'kisi's remarkable abilities, which are said to include telepathy, feature in the latest BBC Wildlife Magazine...

...He appears to fancy himself as a humourist. When another parrot hung upside down from its perch, he commented: "You got to put this bird on the camera."

Dr Goodall says N'kisi's verbal fireworks are an "outstanding example of interspecies communication"...

...Alison Hales, of the World Parrot Trust, told BBC News Online: "N'kisi's amazing vocabulary and sense of humour should make everyone who has a pet parrot consider whether they are meeting its needs.

"They may not be able to ask directly, but parrots are long-lived, and a bit of research now could mean an improved quality of life for years."

A telepathic parrot who fancies himself as a humorist?   World Parrot Trust?   Didn't Monty Python do a bit about this once?

January 26, 2004 at 07:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 25, 2004

Read whenever you get too wrapped up in the mundane realities of life

Some of our own, living and dying to defend us all.   (Not to mention fighting for other people who would like to have the rights and privileges that we have come to believe are an inalienable right.)

January 25, 2004 at 03:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack