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July 31, 2002

MILTON FRIEDMAN AT 90: Champion of freedom and economist Milton Friedman turns 90 today and Arnold Beichman marks the occasion with a tribute in today's Washington Times.

Friedman's record of achievement is a testament to the enduring power of good ideas even when those ideas aren't popular. Beichman writes that "many of his ideas, which were regarded only yesterday as outrageous by the liberal-left, have become widely accepted and in some cases, have even become the law of the land. School vouchers, a volunteer army, decriminalization of drugs, privatization of Social Security, abandonment of government licensing and floating exchange rates are some of the ideas conceived or improved upon by Milton. From a military standpoint, probably the most important of his ideas was that the government should abolish the draft and introduce an all-volunteer army of professionals. That, too, was a revolutionary proposal. President Nixon adopted the idea, and it was that volunteer force that won the Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan, and which is now preparing for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein."

And why, Beichman asks, did Milton turn down a career in government? The answer is classic Friedman: "Abraham Lincoln talked about a government of the people, by the people, for the people . . . Today, we have a government of the people, by the bureaucrats, for the bureaucrats, including in the bureaucrats the elected members of Congress, because that has become a bureaucracy too."

  • B. Sides @ 10:59 PM
  • NOW, GO TO YOUR ROOM AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU DID! Jim Traficant went to jail for accepting bribes. Yet when Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey is caught doing the same thing, he's punished with . . . a good talking-to. To be precise, the Senate ethics committee "severely admonished" Torricelli for accepting gifts from businessman David Chang at a time Torricelli was helping Chang. After repeated denials that he ever accepted big-ticket cool stuff from Chang, Torricelli confessed to the ethics committee this week that he did accept the aforementioned cool stuff. As a result of an investigation initiated by the Clinton Justice Department (seriously!!!), David Chang is in prison for making illegal contributions to Torricelli's 1996 campaign. (If only Chang had paid the Clintons for a night in the Lincoln Bedroom, he'd be a free man today.)

    The ethics committee's written reprimand is about as severe as Ward Cleaver sternly lecturing Beaver for not washing his hands before dinner. Although Torricelli's fellow senators call it accepting "gifts," their determination of what Torricelli did sounds a lot like something else: "Continuation of a personal and official relationship with Mr. Chang under circumstances where you knew that he was attempting to ingratiate himself . . . over a period of years when you were taking official actions of benefit to Mr. Chang evidenced poor judgment." In the World's Most Exclusive Club, taking bribes magically becomes "evidencing poor judgment."

    Isn't it a tad disconcerting that lawmakers refuse to use precise language? So let's be precise. Kids accept gifts from Santa Claus; Robert Torricelli accepted bribes from David Chang . . . and he got away with it.

  • B. Sides @ 11:33 AM
  • DON'T READ THIS ON FULL STOMACH: "If the Iraqi army crossed the Jordan River, I would personally grab a rifle and fight, and die." — Bill Clinton, speaking at a Jewish charity fundraising event in Toronto, July 29, 2002

    So many punchlines, so little time to type them.

  • B. Sides @ 8:22 AM
  • July 30, 2002

    CORRUPTION'S SILVER LINING: Is there really a corporate corruption scandal? P.J. O'Rourke writes that "It may be semantics. When senators and representatives get together in Congress to fix prices on prescription drugs, they're national heroes. When pharmaceutical company CEOs get together on the golf course to fix prices on prescription drugs, they're indicted." But if there really is widespread corporate corruption, P.J. sees not-so-obvious benefits:

    "Auditing scandals will no doubt improve the sex lives of accountants. Bean counters were previously thought to be drab and unattractive creatures. Now accountants are considered cute--by their fellow prison inmates . . . Potentially, our own sex lives also are improved. Numerous senior executives' trophy wives will soon be running around unattached. We wouldn't have stood a chance with these women before the legal bills arrived and the skinny blondes got poor."

  • B. Sides @ 7:54 AM
  • July 29, 2002

    WHY HE LOST 49 STATES: In today's Wall Street Journal, former senator and Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern unknowingly demonstrates the same detachment from reality and lack of perspective which led a majority of voters in 49 states to give him the finger in 1972.

    In this maniacally self-centered screed, George seems less troubled by the murder of thousands of his fellow Americans on September 11 and the ongoing threat our country still faces than he is about being inconvenienced by stricter airport security and, oddly enough, the encroachment of technology. Get a load of these excerpts:

    "The computer has become a new weapon of mass destruction to overrule our minds and our common sense. Did I tell you that I am terrified by computers, e-mail and the Internet? The only things worse are automated telephones that tell you to press numbers 1 through 99 and then inform you that the item you want is no longer in stock. Civilization is crumbling before these awful gadgets--although my grandsons are threatening to show me that they are not any more dangerous than the atomic bomb or AIDS."

    This pile of Luddite manure has me wondering if one of George McGovern's many post-1972 jobs was ghostwriting for UNABOMBER Ted Kaczynski.

    McGovern saves his lowest remark for last: "I'll probably yield to the computer age eventually despite my strong instincts against it. But deep inside I'll never yield to the airport terrorism that President Bush has imposed on us as his answer to Osama bin Laden."

    I don't agree with all the airport security policies adopted after September 11, but for McGovern to label those policies as "terrorism" perpetrated by President Bush is so beyond reason that I'm surprised the Journal published it. If tighter security at American airports qualifies as "terrorism" in McGovern's World, what label does he reserve for the July 4 suicide attack at the Los Angeles airport in which two people were murdered? What does he call the domestic hijacking of four airliners to slaughter over 3,000 Americans?

    Deeming as "terrorism" something relatively trivial such as logistical inconveniences is an egregious insult to the memory of the innocent people murdered by terrorists. Only a self-absorbed, anti-American, counterculture asshole such as George McGovern would think otherwise.

  • B. Sides @ 11:48 AM
  • BEGINNING THE WORLD OVER AGAIN: Opinion Journal's Brendan Miniter pens a poignant column today about restoration and reminders in lower Manhattan.

  • B. Sides @ 11:09 AM
  • July 28, 2002

    TAKE OUT SADDAM FIRST: Blogging pioneer Andrew Sullivan links to this remarkable editorial in which the Los Angeles Times strongly endorses ousting Saddam:

    "With the collapse of the Taliban and Bin Laden's disappearance, the Iraqi leader remains the great symbol of virulent anti-American, anti-Israeli and anti-peace defiance. Unlike the hesitant Syrians and Libyans, he is unequivocal about the need to destroy Israel, tomorrow if the Arabs would only allow his troops to get to Israel's borders. Hussein, furthermore, is the great financier of Palestinian suicide terrorism. Every family of Palestinian shahid (martyr) receives between $10,000 and $25,000 from him, an amount almost 10 times the average annual income of Palestinians . . . Hussein's removal from power and the fall of his regime would thus be a devastating blow to the rejectionist front. It would immediately change the balance of political and propaganda power in the Middle East and the entire Muslim world. It would send an unequivocal message to Syria, its Hezbollah ally in southern Lebanon and the ayatollahs in Iran that the regional rejectionist party is over. It would force jihadists and Bin Laden's remaining followers to recognize that the destruction of the Taliban in Afghanistan was not an isolated Western victory and that they are next in line . . ."

  • B. Sides @ 6:21 PM
  • WHO GIVES A DAMN? The Sunday Mirror reports that British prime minister "Tony Blair has clashed with President George Bush over the go-ahead for a war on Saddam Hussein." And if that's not enough to make you roll your eyes, get a load of this: "The PM," the Mirror reports, "wants a fresh mandate from the United Nations for any military action." Churchill this guy ain't. (When will western governments figure out that the United Nations is of no relevance and exists only to promote the looting, redistributionist interests of larcenous totalitarians?)

    Reports such as this remind me of a comedian who referred to England as "America's retarded cousin." While the United Kingdom is a longtime ally of the United States, it is by no means a key ally. Judging from today's NY Post article regarding Operation Polo Step, President Bush understands this and is moving forward with plans to oust Saddam.

    Under a Blair government, Columbia plots a course and Britannia follows begrudgingly. That's unfortunate. I'm amazed that the party of Margaret Thatcher (or, more accurately, the party which abandoned Margaret Thatcher) can't oust Blair and his Labourites from power and restore Britain to a role of world leadership.

  • B. Sides @ 10:32 AM
  • OPERATION POLO STEP: That, according to the New York Post, is the Pentagon's temporary code name for the American invasion of Iraq. The Post's sources say that the invasion could come as early as October or as late as the spring of 2003. I think much of the information in this article is deliberately diversionary; the Pentagon leaks misleading information, the press reports it, then the Pentagon feigns outrage over the leak. It's my ever-so-humble opinion that the attack on Saddam will commence no later than September 11. One item in the Post article that's especially telling: Australia is strongly urging Aussies in Iraq to leave ASAP. Coincidentally, Aussies are also being urged to evacuate Australia before The Crocodile Hunter movie opens there.

  • B. Sides @ 9:50 AM
  • July 26, 2002

    INTERESTING TIMING: In an editorial urging Senate Democrats to invite Citigroup snake-in-the-grass Robert Rubin to testify about Enron, the Washington Times points out an interesting fact: "Since Mr. Rubin arrived at Citigroup in 1999, Enron's use of the controversial financing ballooned from less than $1 billion in December 1998 to nearly $5 billion in June 2001, five months before Enron went bankrupt." Add to that the fact that Rubin made phone calls to the Treasury Department to discuss a possible bailout of Enron and you have a compelling reason to ask Rubin to testify; it should be a no-brainer. Why, then, is Senator Joe Lieberman, the chairman of the investigating committee, refusing to invite Rubin to testify? I suspect that had Rubin been a treasury secretary in a Republican administration, he would've already been hauled before the committee and demonized by the New York Times and the Left's other accomplices in the press.

  • B. Sides @ 2:30 PM
  • THE DAY'S MOST UNSHOCKING NEWS: Cocaine contributed to the death of Who bassist John Entwistle. You don't have to be Quincy to have predicted that. Using cocaine is beyond stupid; using cocaine when you have a heart condition is straight-up retarded. Say what you want about cocaine, but it does have a way of purging dumbasses from the human gene pool.

  • B. Sides @ 8:21 AM
  • July 25, 2002

    THE POT CALLS THE KETTLE BLACK: The House passed its version of the corporate fraud bill today and judging from the remarks of House speaker Dennis Hastert, you'd think Congress is made up of selfless, green-visored, penny-pinching men and women committed to protecting the public purse from abuse, misappropriation and mismanagement: "Today's message from Congress to CEOs and corporate boardrooms is clear . . . If you steal, cheat or commit some other white-collar crime, you'll face the same consequences as law-breaking street thugs by spending time behind bars."

    It's also "clear," Mr. Speaker, that you and the 432 congressmen who voted for this bill are demagogic hypocrites.

    Combine all the losses associated with the corporate accounting scandals and the figure doesn't approach the nearly incomprehensible accounting fraud, looting and waste knowingly perpetrated each day by the federal government. Columnist Mark Steyn offers up just a few examples:

    "Pick any Federal agency you like. WorldCom's $4-billion is less than a third of the $12.1-billion Medicare misplaces every single year. It's less than a thirtieth of the $142-billion the Federal Government has overspent its supposedly binding budgets by in the last five years. It's less than one-sixtieth of the new US$248-billion farm subsidy bill, three-quarters of which goes to a bunch of multimillionaire play-farmers like Ted Turner and David Rockefeller."

    And let's not forget that the granddaddy of all federal frauds, Social Security, is what Milton Friedman calls "the biggest Ponzi scheme on earth."

    All this brought to you by the Republican and Democrat "street thugs" in Congress.

  • B. Sides @ 6:37 PM
  • BREAKING NEWS: Bill Clinton is a liar! I know, I know....I couldn't believe it either, but it's true. Wow — my head is spinning! Give me a moment to compose myself....[deep breath]....OK.....

    In today's Clinton Fan Club Newsletter (formerly known as the New York Times), the most classless president in American history claims that Republicans in Congress thwarted his saintly efforts to change corporate auditing laws to prevent accounting firms from simultaneously serving as a client's auditor and business consultant. While inspecting construction of the monument to his 8-year-long frat party, Clinton told reporters, "Arthur Levitt, my Securities and Exchange commissioner, tried to stop the Enron accounting issues — using the same accounting company being consultant and accountant — and the Republicans stopped it . . . Harvey Pitt was the leader trying to stop us from ending those kind of abuses. This is a matter of record."

    When it comes to Bill Clinton, there are only two things that are "a matter of record" — his DNA and the contempt citation he received for lying to the face of a federal judge. So it comes as no surprise that Clinton's "matter of record" assertion that Republicans alone thwarted his efforts to ensure the integrity of corporate accounting is crapola (that's Italian for "false"). As Clinton pollster and strategist Dick Morris wrote in the New York Post last January, plenty of Republican and Democratic officeholders get plenty of cash from accounting firms, but "very few have passionately fought their cause in Washington as diligently as Chris Dodd," the Democratic senator from Connecticut.

    Morris maintains that it was because of "Dodd's tireless efforts that Arthur Andersen was able to act as both 'independent auditor' and management consultant to Enron for $100 million a year . . . In 1995, it was Dodd who rammed through legislation, overriding President Clinton's veto, to protect firms like Andersen from lawsuits in cases just like Enron. The Dodd bill limited liability for lawyers and accountants for 'aiding and abetting' corporate fraud by their clients, making them liable only for their 'proportionate' share of the blame, rather than for the entire fraud. So, if an accounting firm kept secret the true picture of a corporation's finances, it would only be liable for part of the total fraud on the investors." (An aside: Clinton would have us believe that his veto was rooted in his desire to protect investors from shady accounting practices; in truth, Clinton vetoed the bill because the trial lawyers lobby, which opposes all efforts to limit liability of any kind, told him to do so.)

    "But Dodd's services to Andersen," Morris continues, "didn't stop there. Every analysis so far of the Enron scandal lays much of the blame on the conflict of interest that Andersen faced in auditing and consulting for Enron at the same time . . . when the SEC tried to bar this practice, so ridden with conflict of interest, it was Chris Dodd, along with Rep. Billy Tauzin (now R-La., though a Democrat until August 1995), who according to the Associated Press 'brokered a deal' to stop the SEC action. As a result of Dodd's intervention, the SEC agreed not to issue a ban on the practice of auditing and consulting for the same client."

    Once again, Bill Clinton lied. And the New York Times seems okay with it.

    The unquestioning, almost worshipful tone of this New York Times report makes me wonder if editor Howell Raines is Bill Clinton's new intern. Hey, Howell — ya got a little sumpin' on the front of your dress!

  • B. Sides @ 7:37 AM
  • July 23, 2002

    CITICROOK: The New York Times is just now getting around to noticing that Citigroup and Enron were in cahoots. The Times reports today that Citigroup cooked its books to assist Enron in concealing the energy company's fraudulent, house-of-cards finances. Curiously, the Times makes no mention of the front-and-center role Clinton treasury secretary and Citigroup snake-in-the-grass Robert Rubin played in the Enron charade, including his calls to the Bush Treasury Department begging for a government bailout of Enron.

    The Washington Times, however, mentioned Rubin's complicity. A lot. And way back in April too. A lawsuit filed by the University of California's pension fund against Enron alleges a buffet o' bad stuff about Rubin and Citigroup. "The lawsuit contends," the Times reports, "that Mr. Rubin and Citigroup, with eight other Wall Street firms and two Enron law firms, had inside knowledge about Enron's questionable finances and colluded with the company to deceive investors to protect their billions of dollars of Enron investments." The lawsuit also claims that in return for greenlighting an Enron partnership which was created "to conceal debt and inflate profits," Citigroup executives were allowed to invest $15 million in that very partnership; and that after loaning Enron $4 billion "in the months before its bankruptcy filing, Citigroup lent Enron $2.4 billion disguised as pre-paid swaps that were channeled through a Citigroup subsidiary in the Cayman Islands . . ." No wonder Rubin made panicked calls to Treasury looking for a bailout — the collapse of Enron stood to expose Citigroup as Enron's enabler.

    For more on Rubin's slippery ways, read this item from two years ago by University of Mexico law professor Timothy A. Canova. According to Canova, Secretary Rubin was seeking a job with Citigroup while also urging President Clinton to sign legislation which would result in saving Citigroup from being forced to sell its insurance underwriting business.

    So much for the Democrats' efforts to tie these business scandals to Bush and Cheney.

  • B. Sides @ 11:30 AM
  • July 19, 2002

    ATTABOY, DICK! Three cheers for Dick Armey. The House majority leader nixed the national ID card provision from the House's version of the homeland security bill. President Bush is in favor of the national ID card, but that wasn't always the case.

    In the days immediately following the September attacks, Oracle honcho and all-around creep Larry Ellison offered to "donate" national ID card software to the federal government. (Contrary to his claims, Larry's "donation" was more of a foot-in-the-door and wasn't motivated by love of country. When pressed to clarify his act of philanthropy, Larry admitted that he would have to charge the federal government to upgrade the big brother-ish software.) President Bush initially rejected hysterical calls for a national ID card; the president seemed to understand that the lack of a national ID card program had nothing to do with the attacks on America. So it looked like Larry Ellison would have to give up his fascist dreams of an Oracle/federal government partnership to profit from the loss of his fellow citizens' freedoms. Then, for reasons never explained, the president changed his mind, and a national ID card provision was added to the White House's homeland security proposal.

    I hate to be picky, but the Constitution does not grant Congress the authority to require citizens to have congressionally-mandated identification (though a strong argument can be made that that is precisely what the Social Security number has become.) The 10th Amendment to the Constitution should make disposition of this issue simple: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." This is an issue for each State and the citizens of each State to consider and, if deemed necessary, to enact. I'm glad that Dick Armey cited this very reason.

    The September 11 attacks, the suicide attack at the Los Angeles airport's El Al counter, the Daniel Pearl murder, the bombing of the Christian church in Pakistan, the attack on the USS Cole, the bombing of our embassies in Africa, the bombing of our troop barracks in the Khobar Towers, the '93 World Trade Center bombing, and the attempted assassination of George H.W. Bush in Kuwait were not the result, even in part, of the lack of an American national ID card. They were wholly the result of other nations hiring mercenaries to make war on the United States. Requiring Auntie Em to have a national ID card when the threat we face is in the form of middle-eastern Muslim terrorists is beyond stupid and is yet another government proposal to sprout from the freedom-sapping roots of political correctness.

    After September 11, I fully expected the opponents of freedom to play on people's fears to further the cause of big government. What I didn't expect is that when it came to their appallingly unconstitutional, Orwellian national ID card, they would find an ally in President Bush.

  • B. Sides @ 9:57 AM
  • July 17, 2002

    THE E.U. FOLLIES: For pure hilarity, it's tough to beat the socialist bilge oozing from the simple minds at the European Union. The EUrinals (as Mark Steyn calls them) have sought to subject member nations to regulations on matters ranging from the thickness of tomato sauce to the curvature of bananas. Now the E.U. may have gone too far. According to the British press, E.U. busybodies may bar (no pun intended) pubs and taverns from having happy hours. Needless to say, tavern keepers and drunks are not happy.

    Folly of this magnitude is the stuff of rebellion. Should the E.U. enact this encroachment on the free market and the advancement of cirrhosis, I recommend pubs in E.U. nations abandon Happy Hours and replace them with F.U. E.U. Hours while retaining happy hour pricing. Cheers!

  • B. Sides @ 3:38 PM
  • LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Apparently, being a delusional dumb ass is a genetic condition. Opinion Journal's James Taranto compiles some stunningly foolish comments by Frank Lindh, the father of traitor John Walker Lindh. Frank believes his son is a regular yankee doodle dandy: "Never, in all the interrogations . . . did John ever say anything against the United States — never once. Not one word. John loves America, and we love America. God bless America." Uh, yeah. By that reasoning, Benedict Arnold would be considered a Founding Father.

    It gets better.

    After his patriotic progeny got off easy with a 20-year jail sentence, Frank hacked up this loogie: "Nelson Mandela served 26 years in prison. He's a good man, like John. Some day I hope — I hope that the government will come around even further and say that even 20 years is wrong for this boy." Boy??? Is Frank under the impression that his ornery son was arrested for shoplifting a handful of Bazooka bubble gum from the Marin County Five-N-Dime, or pinching a freshly-baked apple pie from Aunt Bea's window sill?

    Speaking of apples, they don't fall far from the tree, do they?

  • B. Sides @ 7:27 AM
  • July 15, 2002

    SLAP ON THE WRIST: John Walker Lindh gets twenty years prison time in a plea bargain agreement. This traitor commits the ultimate act of treason — taking up arms with a foreign power against his own country — and may have played a role in the death of an American special operations officer, and he only gets twenty years? Unless the government's case was fabricated, there was no reason to plea bargain. Why plea bargain a case in which the defendant is so obviously guilty? This makes no sense. Perhaps the prosecutors are too damned lazy to put forth the effort to secure justice for the American people; after all, most bureaucrats aren't exactly renowned for breaking a sweat on the job.

    The disposition of the Lindh case is more than unfortunate. It's a message to those who would betray their country that the risk is minimal; had Lindh been involved in drug trafficking, he would've received a stiffer penalty. President Bush is ably prosecuting the war on terrorism; his Justice Department, however, more than dropped the ball in prosecuting the highest profile criminal case to come out of that war. Juan Padilla, the American who was arrested for dabbling in the particulars of building a dirty bomb, was turned over to the Pentagon where he will face a military tribunal. Why wasn't the same done with Lindh?

  • B. Sides @ 3:59 PM
  • 'NEO-NAZI' TARGETS CHIRAC: A man described by French officials as a neo-Nazi (What's the difference between a neo-Nazi and a regular Nazi?) fired a rifle at French prez Jacques Chirac yesterday. Missing his mark, the gunman was quickly subdued and is under arrest. However, France is expected to formally surrender to the would-be assassin later today.

  • B. Sides @ 10:25 AM
  • July 13, 2002

    MARTHA'S GOT A BRAND NEW MAG: Plummeting stock prices, insider trading investigations, and allegations of being an uberbitch can't keep Martha Stewart down.

  • B. Sides @ 10:43 AM
  • July 11, 2002

    "THIS SUCKS!": To say it's been a bad week for Major League Baseball is putting it mildly. The All-Star Game was called off in extra innings because neither team had any pitchers left. Irate fans were, rightly, demanding refunds. After the non-game, an unhappy young fan was asked by Fox News for a comment as he left the stadium. "This sucks," the lad replied. Make that kid the State Department's spokesman! Apparently, TV viewers thought it sucked from the git-go: ratings were down about 9% from last year's All-Star Game broadcast.

    Compounding baseball's woes are rumors of a possible strike. (There's something more than funny about millionaires on strike.) Just before labor negotiations were set to resume today, baseball commish Dud Selig claimed that one team may not make its payroll next week and another team may not have the funds to finish this season. He declined to name the teams.

    What accounts for Major League Baseball's current state of sucky-ness? There's no shortage of fingerpointing. Players blaming stingy owners. Owners blaming greedy players. And some blame the commissioner. Check out this AP photo of Dud Selig just moments before he called the All-Star game. Dud's body language isn't exactly what's associated with the histrionics of bold leadership. If anything, that photograph is a fitting symbol of baseball's sorry state. Judging from the accompanying article, New York Post columnist Michael Morrissey thinks Dud is responsible much of MLB's rot : "Once again, the priorities of millionaire players came at the expense of fans. In the middle of the 11th inning, Torre and Brenly reconsidered their decisions to use All-Stars as liberally as toilet paper and asked the most ineffectual leader in sports to bail them out. In front of his hometown fans and with people all over the world watching live, Selig played his role of incompetent, idea-bereft commissioner to the hilt during a conference with the managers."

    That Selig is in over his head is obvious. But the problem pre-dates the Selig era and is more fundamental than players demanding too much or owners paying too little. Major League Baseball has gradually abandoned its core business: selling tickets to fans. Instead, the league and its owners concentrate on selling broadcast rights, selling merchandising rights and conning local and state governments into providing taxpayer-funded stadiums. In other words, MLB has removed the customer, i.e. the ticket-buyer, from the economic equation. The consequences are obvious: embarrassingly low paid-attendance at stadiums, exorbitant ticket and concession prices, declining television ratings and, as this week's All-Star Game demonstrated, an inferior product.

  • B. Sides @ 1:34 PM
  • July 10, 2002

    "THE RAKOFF RULE": Wall Street Journal contributor Pete du Pont zings the federal judge in southern district of New York, The Divine Jed Rakoff, for his dopey, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals-caliber reasoning in striking down the federal Death Penalty Act of 1994. Governor du Pont's broadside was preceded by this one.

  • B. Sides @ 8:58 AM
  • July 09, 2002

    A WAR OF WORDS: Mark Steyn cautions the Feds against using benign, nonjudgmental language to characterize acts of Islamist terrorism:

    "Osama and al-Qaeda are a small problem, which since September 11th has been managed about as well as can be expected. But the broader culture of 'intolerance' in certain unassimilated communities is a potentially much bigger problem. You win wars not just by bombing but by argument, too: Churchill understood this; he characterized the enemy as evil, because they were and because it was important for the British people to understand this if they were to muster the will to see the war through. In Vietnam, the U.S. lost the rhetorical ground to Jane Fonda and co., and wound up losing the war, too. It's critical that the same thing does not happen here. The organizations that purport to represent Muslims in North America and Europe have their own excuses for turning a blind eye to the torrent of hate from respectable sources within the Muslim world -- mosques, media, government. There's no reason why the FBI and other U.S. agencies should sign on to their fictions."

  • B. Sides @ 6:29 PM
  • AXIS OF EVIL ROSTER: Though not enumerated as such by President Bush, the Saudi regime is a charter member of the Axis of Evil. Unprincipled, conniving, dishonest, ungrateful and two-faced, the Saudi "royals" are the French of the Middle East. But the House of Saud (feel free to roll your eyes at that hoity-toity moniker) is countless laps ahead of the French when it comes to brutal repression of their own countrymen and financing the murder of innocents abroad. It was no accident that most of the September 11 hijackers were Saudis, and the Saudi regime's behavior since then — stonewalling US investigations of suspected Saudi terrorists, denying the US permission to use its military base in Saudi Arabia for the war on terror, and financing and publicly endorsing Palestinian suicide bombers — confirms that the "kingdom" has chosen sides in the war on terror against the United States.

    Why, then, hasn't the United States acknowledged the obvious by designating Saudi Arabia as a terrorist sponsor? Oil, of course. Military historian Victor Davis Hanson writes in the current issue of Commentary, " . . . Americans are finally seeing militant Islam not merely as a different religion, or even as a radical Jim Jones-like cult, but as a threat to our very existence. Saudi Arabia is the placenta of this frightening phenomenon. Its money has financed it; its native terrorists promote it; and its own unhappy citizenry is either amused by or indifferent to its effects upon the world. Surely it has occurred to more than a few Americans that without a petroleum-rich Wahhabism, the support for such international killers and the considerable degree of ongoing aid to those who would destroy the West would radically diminish."

    If America's war on terrorists and the nations which employ them as mercenaries is to be successful, there must be a recognition by President Bush and US policymakers that the Saudi regime finances, encourages and protects terrorists intent on destroying America. And if oil concerns stand in the way of that recognition, then either expedite development of new domestic and foreign oil sources or seize Saudi oil fields.

  • B. Sides @ 11:00 AM
  • July 08, 2002

    FBI CONCLUDES HE PLANNED IT. WELL, DUH!: After extensive sleuthing, FBI bureaucrats have concluded that homicidal bigot Hesham Mohamed Hadayet actually planned to kill people at the Los Angeles airport on July 4. However, the culturally sensitive g-men are reluctant to classify Hadayet's attack as a terrorist act because no evidence has been found connecting him to terrorist groups. Translation: bureaucratic paranoia of breaching political correctness guidelines prevents the FBI from labeling an obvious Islamist terrorist as an Islamist terrorist.

    And since when does one have to be part of a recognized terrorist group to be a terrorist? Whether he was taking orders or freelancing, the timing of Hadayet's attack (Independence Day), his targets (people gathered around an Israeli airline counter at an American airport), and his method of attack (kamikaze-like) leaves no doubt that this dope was a soldier in the Islamists' war on America.

    But while the FBI was busy looking for evidence that Hadayet was a disgruntled loner with no political ax to grind, an Arabic newspaper in London may have unearthed a very big ax indeed. The report says Hadayet may have met twice with bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.

    I have a question. Is Springfield's incompetent Chief Wiggum now in charge of the FBI? Nah...can't be; any policeman who'd raid a Mafia hangout and yell, "FREEZE, yuh filthy Eye-talians!" isn't exactly preoccupied with the political correctness of his investigations. But Robert Mueller is; he's in charge of the FBI and avidly in favor of incorporating p.c. into FBI anti-terrorism efforts. Shortly before the attack on LAX, Mueller spoke at an American Muslim Council luncheon where he assured his audience that the United States is a tolerant nation and is not at war with Islam. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Bob...that's nice and fuzzy and all, but there's one problem: you were addressing the enemy! The founder of the AMC is a member of the terrorist gang Hamas. Just days after the luncheon, two innocent people were dead at the El Al counter in Los Angeles. Mueller's AMC speech and the subsequent FBI investigation of the LAX attack are strong indications that FBI needs a new director. David Horowitz agrees.

    P.C. obsessions short-circuited security procedures which were meant to prevent events like those of September 11, 2001, and the see-no-evil FBI investigation of Hadayet proves that the short circuits aren't repaired. As long as the FBI and other civilian bureaucrats are more concerned with not offending Muslims than preventing Muslim extremists from murdering Americans, our domestic security is severely compromised. Columnist Mark Steyn put it succinctly several weeks ago: "political correctness kills."

  • B. Sides @ 12:29 PM
  • July 07, 2002

    A POX VACCINE ON THEE: The big cheese of bloggers, Instapundit, poses a chilling good news/bad news analysis of reports that the Feds are considering widespread vaccinations against smallpox.

    If the Feds move forward with mass vaccinations, take it as another indicator that war with Iraq is imminent.

  • B. Sides @ 11:34 AM
  • July 06, 2002

    A BAD WEEK FOR SADDAM: First, his stepson was arrested in the United States and deported (What's the matter with kids these days?). Next, according to Geostrategy-Direct (full text requires subscription), the equally-doomed Iranian regime directed an Iraqi Shiite-head faction to cooperate with U.S.-led efforts to oust Saddam. Then, also according to Geostrategy-Direct, 7,000 American troops arrived in southern Turkey and efforts are underway to "restore" air bases in the northern Iraq province of Kurdistan.

  • B. Sides @ 7:55 AM
  • July 05, 2002

    STOP THE PRESSES! The Increasingly Irrelevant New York Times thinks it has a scoop today. Get this — and keep this to yourself because it's very hush-hush — the United States is planning to attack Iraq!!! Seriously! Quite the shocker, huh? Actually, the Times is merely reporting the latest version of the ever-changing war plan as leaked by the Pentagon. It's amusing to watch major news organizations rushing to break the latest Pentagon disinformation whisper as a big scoop; a leak from a month or two ago had it that uniformed military advisors convinced President Bush not to attack Iraq. Of course, the Pentagon's skillful disinformation campaign is aimed at keeping the enemy guessing. Given the wildly contradicting news reports of the last six months regarding the Bush Administration's plans for Iraq, I'd say the disinformation effort is going swimmingly.

    Now for a little reckless speculation. Disinformation aside, the United States will attack Iraq. And it will happen before September 11, 2002. And it will be done so with overwhelming force. And we will use bases in Turkey, Qatar, and, yes, Jordan. And we will win in short order.

  • B. Sides @ 10:48 AM
  • July 04, 2002

    IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

    The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

    He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary
    for the public good.
    He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing
    importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be
    obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to
    He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large
    districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of
    Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and
    formidable to tyrants only.
    He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable,
    and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole
    purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
    He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with
    manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
    He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to
    be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation,
    have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining
    in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and
    convulsions within.
    He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that
    purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to
    pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions
    of new Appropriations of Lands.
    He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to
    Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
    He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their
    offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of
    Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
    He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the
    Consent of our legislatures.
    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the
    Civil power.
    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our
    constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their
    Acts of pretended Legislation:
    For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
    For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders
    which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
    For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
    For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
    For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
    For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
    For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring
    Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its
    Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for
    introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
    For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and
    altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
    For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested
    with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
    He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection
    and waging War against us.
    He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and
    destroyed the lives of our people.
    He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to
    compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with
    circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most
    barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
    He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to
    bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their
    friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
    He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured
    to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages,
    whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all
    ages, sexes and conditions.

    In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

    Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

    We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

    Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
    Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
    North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
    South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
    Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
    Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
    Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
    Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
    New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
    New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
    New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
    Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
    Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

  • B. Sides @ 7:38 AM
  • July 03, 2002

    PEGGY PONDERS THE POSITIVES: Wordsmith and Wall Street Journal contributing editor Peggy Noonan puts America's problems on the backburner for now and focuses on what's right about our 226-year-old Republic.

    Included in Peggy's prestigious list of "lights that did not fail" the American people:

    "Blogging. The 24-7 opinion sites that offer free speech at its straightest, truest, wildest, most uncensored, most thoughtful, most strange. Thousands of independent information entrepreneurs are informing, arguing, adding information. Imagine if we'd had them in 1776: 'As I wrote in yesterday's lead item on, my well meaning cousin John continues his grammatical nitpicking with Jefferson (link requires registration) 'Inalienable,' 'unalienable,' whatever. Boys, let's fight. Start the war.' Blogs may one hard day become clearinghouses for civil support and information when other lines, under new pressure, break down."

    Read the entire column. It's Peggy at her best.

  • B. Sides @ 1:59 PM
  • "FREEDOM'S CHECKLIST": The Wall Street Journal's Claudia Rosett has an Independence Day wish list.

  • B. Sides @ 10:57 AM
  • A MATTER OF NATIONAL SECURITY?: WorldCom CEO John Sidgmore says bankruptcy is to be avoided because his company "is a very key component of our nation's telecommunications and security infrastructure," the Washington Times reports. SecDef Donald Rumsfeld is apparently confident that Sidgmore is overstating WorldCom's importance in that regard.

    The Times suggests that Sidgmore is making the national security argument in an effort to retain government contracts. I think there's more to it; Sidgmore is crafting the case for a taxpayer bailout.

  • B. Sides @ 8:46 AM
  • July 02, 2002

    CORPORATE CORRUPTION HYPE: Andrew Sullivan examines the outrage, fingerpointing and foreign reaction over recent corporate accounting scandals in America, and judges them to be overblown relative to the massive economic growth of the last twenty years. In response to a recent accusation by the Democrats' doughy 2000 election standardbearer that these corporate scandals are the result of the Bush Administration "fighting and working on behalf of the powerful, and letting the people of this country get the short end of the stick," Sullivan writes:

    " . . . what we're seeing now is less a portent of the future than a retroactive snapshot of what was going on a few years ago. From Enron to Andersen to Tyco, these were Clinton era abuses, in some cases exposed by the Bush era Securities and Exchange Commission. The same goes for Xerox and WorldCom. If these abuses had occurred as the first stock meltdown had been occurring, they might have been able to define an era. But now, in a different, more sober age, they seem like symptoms of a period already past. In some ways, they were deeply consonant with Bill Clinton's cultural ethos. When the president of the United States acted as if the only ethical criterion that mattered was what he could get away with, it's not entirely surprising that this attitude seeped outward into the general zeitgeist. I'm not saying Clinton was responsible for this corporate corruption - just that his administration was responsible for policing it and for setting the moral tone of the country. And the boom began to spiral out of control at exactly the time that Clinton was fighting impeachment and desperately needed economic exuberance to insulate him from potential political suicide. No-one in the White House had an incentive to poop the party then. So although the Democrats have done much to associate George W. Bush with his old friend Kenneth Lay, Lay's cultural resonance is far more complicated. Perhaps that's why it's hard to think of this current spate of scandal as something new and significant, as opposed to old and predictable."

  • B. Sides @ 6:23 PM
  • THE DIFFERENTLY-SPINED PERSON OF NOTRE DAME: Oddsock Productions, an aptly named British theater company, has decided that "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is offensive to hunchbacks and will, accordingly, stage its adaptation of the Victor Hugo classic as "The Bellringer of Notre Dame". Hunchbacks in London are grateful. London Scoliosis Association spokesman Libby Biberian — herself a hunchback — remarked, "I welcome it because in the past the title has caused some problems with our members in that people use it as derogatory term — throwing names and making comments at the possible similarities." There is no word yet from the Association of Audible Tone Dispensers whether the term "bellringer" is offensive to its membership.

  • B. Sides @ 12:53 PM
  • LEGISLATING FROM THE BENCH: U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff has ruled the federal Death Penalty Act of 1994 unconstitutional because juries can make mistakes and that constitutes a violation of due process. Judge Rakoff, who cannot make mistakes and is reportedly able to turn water into wine, pontificated "on the one hand, innocent people are sentenced to death with materially greater frequency than was previously supposed and that, on the other hand, convincing proof of their innocence often does not emerge until long after their convictions.'' And how many mistaken federal death penalty verdicts compelled Judge Rakoff to issue this edict? Answer: zero. The AP reports that The Divine Jed "based his findings on a number of studies of state death penalty cases. He said he used those studies because the number of federal death sentences, 31, was too small to draw any conclusions...'There is no good reason to believe the federal system will be any more successful at avoiding mistaken impositions of the death penalty than the error-prone state systems already exposed,' Rakoff wrote. "

    Rakoff is obviously opposed to the death penalty; that's fine. But he's using the federal bench to advance his own political agenda. If Judge Rakoff were intellectually honest, he would contact his congressman and senators and urge them to repeal the Death Penalty Act. Instead, he has twisted the Constitution to equate due process with a correct verdict, based his rulings on subjective studies unrelated to the statute in question and usurped the legislative power of Congress. The arrogance boggles the mind.

    If nothing else, Rakoff has demonstrated that he's amply qualified for elevation to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • B. Sides @ 9:33 AM
  • July 01, 2002

    HE'S NOT GAY: But he is a traitor.

  • B. Sides @ 11:10 PM
  • WHO GIVES A DAMN? (OR, IN THIS CASE, WHO GIVES A WHAM?): Creepy has-been rock singer and public restroom jerker George Michael doesn't like George W. Bush.

  • B. Sides @ 2:03 PM
  • Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11


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