Well, that guy has nothing on the poor bastard in Illinois that police Tasered not once, not twice, but 11 times. While he was having a seizure.
Police officers from two Chicago suburbs are being sued after one of them allegedly Tasered a man having a diabetic seizure because the diabetic involuntarily hit the officer while being taken to an ambulance.
Prospero Lassi, a 40-year-old employee of Southwest Airlines, filed the lawsuit (PDF) with a federal court in Chicago last week, following an April 9, 2009, incident in which Lassi was taken to hospital following a violent diabetic seizure -- and being Tasered 11 times while unconscious.
That day, Lassi's roommate found the man on the floor of his apartment having a seizure and foaming at the mouth, according to the statement filed with the court. The roommate called 911 for help, and police officers from the Brookfield and LaGrange Park police departments arrived to help with the situation.
As police officers were helping the paramedics move Lassi to an ambulance, Lassi -- still in the midst of the seizure and described as "unresponsive" -- involuntarily smacked one of the officers with his arm.
"Reacting to Mr. Lassi’s involuntary movement, one or more of the [officers] pushed Mr. Lassi to the ground, forcibly restraining him there," the complaint states. "[LaGrange Park Officer Darren] Pedota then withdrew his Taser, an electroshock weapon that uses electrical current to disrupt a person’s control over his muscles, and electrocuted Mr. Lassi eleven times.
As I wrote in response to Joel's post, I hope the federal court ruling doesn’t lend credence to the effort to ban law enforcement from using Tasers altogether. I don’t dispute for a moment that police have abused Tasers. But I worry that in their absence, police would be even more inclined to use their nightsticks and guns.
That said, those two cops in Illinois shouldn't just be fired and sued for what little they have. They should go to jail for assault. They give good officers a bad name.
I've seen Death Cab For Cutie's "I Will Possess Your Heart" video before. And it's pretty old. Hardly "New Year." But I've never seen it in its full long form until tonight. It's beautifully shot, and I can't believe the band had the budget for this at the time.
Even if you're not a fan, this is still a sight to see (for a music video).
To call Patterico a thorn in the paw of the LA Times is to say that "paw" means the whole body and "thorn" means flesh-eating disease. He's been running his annual "Los Angeles Dog Trainer Year in Review" for the last seven years, and his 2009 run-down of bias, willful distortion and general stupidity at the LA Times is quite comprehensive. I recommend reading the whole thing if you're interested in a detailed breakdown of the meltdown of one MSM lion.
Here are a few highlights ...
On "WHITEWASHING THE ACORN SCANDAL":
Peter Dreier wrote a fact-challenged op-ed claiming that Giles and O’Keefe had received assistance at only two ACORN offices. (The documented number was at least five at the time the op-ed appeared.) Dreier also incorrectly claimed that “not a single person who signed a phony name on a registration form ever actually voted” — although one person who did was later convicted only of false registration and not voter fraud.
On the "SYCOPHANTIC COVERAGE OF OUR HERO BARACK OBAMA":
- The paper uncritically reported that opposition to Obama’s health care plan was fueled by angry mobs of right-wing extremists. Typical of editors’ attitude was this strawman from a front-page “news analysis” which claimed Obama “has seen the healthcare debate sidetracked by false warnings that government ‘death panels’ would be employed to snuff out Grandma.” Naturally, genuine concerns about rationing of health care were not discussed in this polemic.
- When Obama held a town hall meeting on health care, he declared: “I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter.” This was an easily provable lie, and editors failed to tell readers about it.
- The paper dutifully ran a picture of doctors in white coats — an image designed to lend credibility to Obama’s health care plan — and didn’t tell readers that the White House had passed out the coats beforehand to any doctor not already wearing one
On "ANTI-REPUBLICAN BIAS AND ANTI-TEA PARTY SENTIMENT":
- Stimulus plan good . . . tea parties bad. And inconsequential. When KFI’s John and Ken hosted a taxpayer revolt that drew 8000-15,000 people, the paper refused to cover it, for transparently phony reasons. Editor David Lauter responded to hundreds of angry readers in one e-mail — and failed to use a “bcc” line, meaning he shared each angry reader’s e-mail address with all the others. If you’re thinking: “What a moron!” then you have plenty of company.
- They did, however, find space to cover one tea party . . . a toddler tea party given by Katie Holmes and Angelina Jolie. The paper later did a fact-challenged hit piece on John and Ken.
Editors acted as stenographers for Ahmadinejad after his dubious re-election.
On "THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY:"
Editors claimed that Sen. John Cornyn said he “would probe deeply into Sotomayor’s past comments and rulings to see if her heritage colors her ability to make fair decisions.” This was a lie, as Cornyn said no such thing. Editors then sent the false claim down the memory hole.
And on, and on, and on ...
As a former newspaperman who now edits an online publication (and writes for several), reading Patterico's take-down of the LA Times makes me think: I can no longer rely on the MSM standard as "good enough" for publication. My standards must be (and are) way higher.
Police went to a southwest Houston apartment to break up a disturbance but ended up finding something else, KPRC Local 2 reported Wednesday.
A woman called police on Monday and said a man was forcing his way into her apartment in the 5300 block of Elm Street.
When officers went inside, they found something that made them concerned enough to call the bomb squad.
They found an AT-4 shoulder-mounted rocket launcher. It can shoot a missile nearly 1,000 feet through buildings and tanks.
"It gives infantrymen the advantage with an ultra-light weapon that can stop vehicles, armored vehicles as well as main battle tanks and fortifications," said Oscar Saldivar of Top Brass Military and Tactical on the North Freeway.
That type of rocket launcher has been used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The man reportedly had jihadi literature, too. Robert Spencer finds these details alarming: "Rocket launcher? Check. Jihadist writings? Check. But no worries -- the Feds found no ties to terrorism!"
Well, that's typical. And it's hardly a crime to possess jihadist propaganda. But wait... what? How is it the man won't be charged with a crime for having a battlefield weapon in his apartment?
Because it was disarmed and deactivated, of course -- a detail we learn four paragraphs from the end of the story. I really hate it when the media buries inconvenient information like that. And this is one case where I think Spencer may have gotten a bit caught up in the TV report's sensationalism.
Believe me, I know what I'm talking about when it comes to disarmed rocket launchers. I read recently that the spent LAW tube I had when I was a kid has since been outlawed. I got rid of mine years ago in a move. But what a stupid law. The only thing dangerous about it was the fiberglass lining the inside!
Update: Confederate Yankee echoes my point above. His headline is perfect: "Houston Wets Itself Over Glorified Pipe."
Xeni Jardin has an update on the two bloggers being hassled by the Transportation Security Administration for posting the new airline security directive following the attempted Christmas Day terrorist bombing in Detroit. Go read it.
Update: Oh, and while you're at it, you might as well read Annie Jacobson's story, which includes an interview with Steven Frischling. (He sure seems accessible!) Jacobson wrote the book on TSA incompetence.
Our friends at Lake Superior State University have released this year's list of 15 overused words and phrases that should be banished from our beleaguered public discourse. Although it's difficult to argue with the vast majority of the school's picks, last year's list was notable for including "monkey," which drove Dr. Zaius into a poo-throwing frenzy. Nevertheless, Lake Superior has established a pretty good track record over 35 years, and the 2009 list features only one word -- app -- with which I would quibble.
The 2009 lexicographical legion of dishonor features:
• Shovel-ready: "A relatively new term already overused by media and politicians."
• Transparent/transparency: "In reality, political transparency is more invisible than obvious!"
• Czar: "First it was a 'drug czar' [banished in 1990]. This year gave us a 'car czar.' What's next? A 'banished words czar'?"
• Tweet (and all variations): "Pointless…yet has somehow managed to take the nation by storm. I'm tired of hearing about celebrity X's new tweet, and how great of a tweeter he or she is."
• App: "Is there an 'app' for making this annoying word go away? Why can't we just call them 'programs' again?"
• Sexting: "Any dangerous new trend that also happens to have a clever mash-up of words, involves teens, and gets television talk show hosts interested must be banished."
• Friend (as verb): "'Befriend' is much more pleasant to the human ear and a perfectly useful word in the dictionary."
• Teachable moment: "What might otherwise be known as 'a lesson.'"
• In these economic times: "Overused and redundant. Aren't ALL times 'these economic times'?"
• Stimulus: "It is no longer a grant, it's stimulus money, stimulus checks, etc."
• Toxic assets: "Whatever happened to simply 'bad stocks,' 'debts,' or 'loans'?"
• Too big to fail: "Just for the record, nothing's too big to fail unless the government lets it."
• Bromance: "Have we really reached the point where being friends has to be described in a pseudo-romantic context? Just stop it already!" (Not soon enough for me!)
• Chillaxin': "It should receive bonus points for its ability to exhort the opposite reaction from the receiver."
• Obama (as prefix or root): "Obamanomics, Obamanation, Obamafication, Obamacare, Obamalicious, Obamaland... We say Obamanough already."
Any other nominees?
Here's the last Scripps-Howard column of 2009: Is America successfully deterring terrorism?
Joel says: "A state-centric solution to disrupting and defeating non-state actors is doomed to fail because terrorists don't need the state. Like the crazy new airline rules, the war in Afghanistan amounts to using a sledgehammer to swat a fly that's not even in the same room."
I say: "What we have is a massive federal government that does a great job of wasting billions of taxpayer dollars to maintain the illusion of security. What we need is a government that worries less about treating every airline passenger as a suspect or offending the sensibilities of foreigners and concentrates more on saying no to people from countries that would do us harm."
Thanks to everyone who actually read the column this year. Joel and I enjoy writing it, and we get a kick out of seeing it appear in papers all over the country. (We're also big in South Korea.) We're thinking about trying some different things in 2010, and we're likely to tie the column in more closely with the podcast. We're more blessed than cursed to live in such interesting times.
Let me be clear here: These aren't necessarily the 10 best books of the aughts. Just the 10 best books that I read. I tried to figure out if I should split into fiction-nonfiction categories, but that didn't really suss out very nicely. I spent the first half of the decade immersing myself in novels and the second half in essays and long-form reporting. We all go through phases, I guess, and my Top 10 list reflects mine.
• White Teeth, Zadie Smith: Smith has proven to be a prodigious talent, and her novel On Beauty is probably more complete in its artistic expression. But this first novel -- set among an interracial British family -- was imperfect but oh so damned interesting.
• The Road, Cormac McCarthy: I know, Oprah, blah blah. Like Smith's White Teeth, maybe this isn't the "best" of McCarthy's novels -- but it is his most accessible: Written less baroquely than some of his other works. I finished it in one weekend. But it stayed with me since then.
• Fiasco, Tom Ricks: The Iraq War has produced a ton of finely reported and written books. But this piece by then-Washington Post reporter Ricks did more, probably, to document and define how the early years of the war had gone so devastatingly wrong -- from the decision to invade to a host of post-invasion decisions that exacerbated a tense situation.
• Consider the Lobster, David Foster Wallace: Wallace was probably best-known as a novelist: His 1,000-page Infinite Jest is a required lit-hipster endurance test. But it was in his non-fiction that Wallace -- freed from the demands of experimentation -- really shined, and this collection of essays proves it. Covering everything from porn to meat-eating ethics to talk radio, Wallace still dropped plenty of five-dollar words. But he did so in the service of smartly entertaining and informing his audience.
• The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate, Robert Caro: If you want to know what power looks like -- how it's accumulated, how it corrupts, how big Texas businesses behind George W. Bush have always been around -- this volume of Caro's indispensible and ongoing biography of LBJ is a great place to start.
• Saturday, Ian McEwan: Atonement was his most celebrated work of the decade, but this novel -- set in one day of the life of a London doctor shortly before the invasion of Iraq -- has stuck with me longer. I think it's because -- unlike many people who took stark positions for or against the invasion -- Dr. Henry Perowne is honestly conflicted: He knows the regime of Saddam Hussein to be terrible, but he also knows the war might well end up being terrible. This novel isn't about Iraq, but it's not not about Iraq, either. And in Perowne's wrestling, McEwan articulated the not-quite-sure attitude that many people felt before the war.
• Pastoralia, George Saunders: I don't know what to call this collection of short stories. Meta science fiction, maybe? It's dyspeptic and cynical -- and it's darkest story, "Sea Oak," about a woman who returns from the dead ready to start doing all the fornicating she'd never done in life, might well be its most inspiring.
• Gilead, Marilynne Robinson: I'll say the same thing I did about Sufjan Stevens' Illinois album: I’m not a Christian, but this novel comes as close as any sermon or piece of art ever has to making me reconsider.
• The 9/11 Commission Report: Not only well-reported -- as it should be, given that the resources of government were at its disposal -- it's also surprisingly well-written.
• The Dark Side, Jane Mayer: There are many accounts of how the Bush Administration took us down the road to torture in the War on Terror. This is the most definitive.
...from bloggers who post information about the agency's latest hamfisted security measures.
Travel blogger Chris Elliott on Sunday posted the full text of "SD 1544-09-06 authorizing pat-downs, physical inspections" in the wake of the failed Christmas Day crotchbombing. On Tuesday, Elliott was paid a visit by Special Agent Robert Flaherty of the TSA, who served him with a subpoena. Elliott dutifully posted the full text of the subpoena on his blog as well.
"So if I’m reading this correctly, the TSA wants me to tell them who gave me the security directive," Elliott wrote on his blog Tuesday. "I told Flaherty I’d call my attorney and get back to him.
"What would you do?"
I'd do what Elliott did: Lawyer up, and disclose as much as I safely could to shame the powers-that-be into dropping this preposterous investigation.
The feds, naturally, are acting deadly serious with the bloggers even as they bungle national security in the wake of a near-catastrophe in Detroit. "Security Directives are not for public disclosure," a TSA spokesman said in a statement published by TPMmuckraker. "TSA's Office of Inspections is currently investigating how the recent Security Directives were acquired and published by parties who should not have been privy to this information."
TSA agents also visited Steven Frischling, who blogs for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and who posted the same directive Sunday around the same time as Elliott. Frischling described his experience to Wired magazine:
"They’re saying it’s a security document but it was sent to every airport and airline... It was sent to Islamabad, to Riyadh and to Nigeria. So they’re looking for information about a security document sent to 10,000-plus people internationally. You can’t have a right to expect privacy after that.”
Frischling... said the two agents who visited him arrived around 7 p.m. Tuesday, were armed and threatened him with a criminal search warrant if he didn’t provide the name of his source. They also threatened to get him fired from his KLM job and indicated they could get him designated a security risk, which would make it difficult for him to travel and do his job.
“They were indicating there would be significant ramifications if I didn’t cooperate,” said Frischling, who was home alone with his three children when the agents arrived. “It’s not hard to intimidate someone when they’re holding a 3-year-old [child] in their hands. My wife works at night. I go to jail, and my kids are here with nobody.”
Frischling, who described some of the details of the visit on his personal blog, told Threat Level that the two agents drove to his house in Connecticut from DHS offices in Massachusetts and New Jersey and didn’t mention a subpoena until an hour into their visit.
“They came to the door and immediately were asking, ‘Who gave you this document?, Why did you publish the document?’ and ‘I don’t think you know how much trouble you’re in.’ It was very much a hardball tactic,” he says.
For anyone who questions whether these two bloggers stupidly helped terrorists obtain sensitive security information, read that first Frischling quote one more time. We're sharing security directives with countries that either harbor or finance our enemies.
Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin recounts her own experience on an international flight over Christmas weekend and points out: "As soon as airlines and airports began implementing the directive—and that began before the bloggers posted their copies—the contents of the directive were no secret. So why the strong-arm tactics?" To which Glenn Reynolds answers: "They’re sending a message, the way the Bush Administration didn’t with other leaks."
I would note, too, that as the TSA was playing "hardball" with an American blogger, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national, was cooling his heels, licking his wounds, and happily exercising his "right to remain silent" in a federal prison cell. Prudence might dictate interrogating Abdulmutallab to learn more about other would-be bombers who were training alongside him in Yemen or perhaps glean information about his handlers in London and Amsterdam.
Or maybe it's no big deal? That's probably it. No doubt there is plenty of time for the feds to get to the bottom of all that after they plug this embarrassing leak at the TSA.
(Hat tip: Ed Carson at Investor's Business Daily.)
Another reason to put this year behind us? Mullah Omar and co. says 2009 was a "successful" year. "The enemy does not have a constant policy," an unsigned statement said, according to CNN. "Sometimes they talk about sending more soldiers and other times they speak of an early withdrawal. Their thinking is irrational."
Oh, yeah? Well, tell it to the Marines.
Hawaii's ABC affiliate, KITV, reported a few hours ago that conservative radio talk show giant Rush Limbaugh "was rushed to a Honolulu hospital on Wednesday afternoon with chest pains."
According to the story:
Paramedics responded to the call at 2:41 p.m. at the Kahala Hotel and Resort.
Limbaugh suffered from chest pains, sources said. Paramedics treated him and took him to Queen's Medical Center in serious condition.
He was seen golfing at Waialae Country Club earlier this week. The country club is next to the Kahala Hotel and Resort.
The radio show host had been in the islands during the holidays. Coincidentally, his visit comes at a time when two of the nation's most powerful Democrats, President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are also staying in Hawaii.
So this is the way we do business now. (And it should go without saying that Atrios was right.) Limbaugh has said some terrible, terrible things over the years. Heretical things. Perhaps even -- quelle horreur -- seditious things! He wants Obama to fail, you know. What was interesting about the blow up that followed his remarks earlier this year was the way in which Limbaugh's critics conflated and confused the president of the United States with the country as a whole. Despite what some enlightened minds might think, we really haven't come so far in 200-plus years. There are more than a few Americans who wouldn't object to resurrecting the old English offense of "imagining the King's death."
I'm a conservative, but I'm not as much of a Limbaugh fan as I used to be. I hardly begrudge him his success and I surely respect his influence and reach. On balance, it's probably a good thing that Limbaugh is still on the air.
He'll be fine, in all likelihood. But let us not feign shock and amazement at the boorishness of people who hoped Limbaugh dropped dead on the links this afternoon. I'm not going to lie: I neither mourned nor toasted the death of Senator Ted Kennedy earlier this year, but I'm plenty glad he's gone. Kennedy was an enemy of constitutional government and a menace to liberty. I've no doubt there are many Americans who feel the same way about Rush Limbaugh. They're wrong, of course, but there's really no argument one way or the other. We don't argue anything anymore. We shout, bleat, blort, feel, assert, assume, fulminate, snark, sneer, denounce, declaim and flame.
But argue? No, sir. Argument has long since gone out of style.
I suggested yesterday that the failed Christmas Day Crotch Bombing indicates the bankruptcy of trying to defeat Al Qaeda by occupying Afghanistan. A look at Umar Abdulmutallab's history suggests more along these lines, indicating that his radicalization began ... in Britain. John Burns writes in the Times:
In recent days, officials in Washington and London have said they are focusing on the possibility that his London years, including his possible contacts with radical Muslim groups then, were decisive in turning him toward Islamic extremism.
That view, if confirmed, would offer a stark reaffirmation that Britain, the United States’ closest ally, poses a major threat to American security. Critics say the British security forces have failed to adequately monitor and restrain the Islamic militancy that thrives in the vast network of mosques that serve the nation’s 1.5 million Muslims, and on university campuses across the country where nearly 100,000 of the 500,000 students are Muslims, including many, like Mr. Abdulmutallab, from overseas.
I think it's safe to say we won't be invading and occupying Britain. Nor should we.
There's no silver bullet that will win the "War on Terror." Truth is, it can't be won -- at least, not in the sense that we'll completely deter every radical Muslim who dreams of inflicting damage on the United States. Which is why our investment in fighting that war should be proportionate to what's possible -- and directed toward efforts that have maximum effectiveness. The war in Afghanistan fails the test: tens of thousands of troops spending billions of dollars in a country where fewer than 100 Al Qaeda operatives are thought to be located. And it's doing nothing to keep Al Qaeda from attempting attacks on America. It's time to bring the troops home and focus on sustainable efforts to reduce and manage the risk of terrorism.
Hard to believe, but our Monkey Comrade and my friend and collaborator Joel Mathis has been plugging away at the Philadelphia Weekly version of his blog, Cup o' Joel, for about a year now. He reached a milestone today with his 1000th post, which deals with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's failed Christmas Day crotch bombing.
Hmmmm... I believe there may be a column in there somewhere...
Congratulations, Joel, and keep 'em coming.
Christopher Hitchens asks the right questions at gets at the truth about airline "security" at Slate:
The answer to the first question is: Because we can't—or won't. The answer to the second question is: Because we can. The fault here is not just with our endlessly incompetent security services, who give the benefit of the doubt to people who should have been arrested long ago or at least had their visas and travel rights revoked. It is also with a public opinion that sheepishly bleats to be made to "feel safe."
Monkey Brad is afraid of the blog software, so I thought I'd hijack (most of) his Twitter thread and post it here, so everyone can join in:
Monkey_Brad: @ExJon @jlakely @benboychuk @robbl Hey, shouldn't we be debating the best music of the decade? (Yes, I know when it really ends, but c'mon.)
benboychuk: (adds @joeldermole) That's easy. The album of the decade is Fire by Electric Six. "Let's start a war..."
Monkey_Brad: God bless the dude who made those goofy hamster-critter videos with the Gay Bar soundtrack.
jlakely: I like The New P0rnographers ... But who listens to albums anymore?
benboychuk: Old guys like us, I assumed.
Okay, Monkeys and Monkey-watchers, lay it on us: What's the best album released between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2009?
Rethinking “Rethinking Mathematics”
A Review of A Zany, Fun Approach to Mathematics Education!
As 2009 winds down its tumultuous track and heads into 2010, let us begin the next year in a Spirit of Cooperation & Unity. After that, well. Who knows? But we can at least begin by all agreeing that this is a travesty on ice.
The supplemental textbook Rethinking Mathematics is part of the all-devouring “Rethinking Schools” project, and goes wrong pretty much at the subtitle:
Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers
Let’s let the project’s proponents speak for the text:
“This unique collection of more than 30 articles shows teachers how to weave social-justice principles throughout the math curriculum…”
“Rethinking Mathematics will help teachers develop students' understanding of society and prepare them to be critical, active participants in a democracy.”
"I thought math was just a subject they implanted on us just because they felt like it, but now I realize that you could use math to defend your rights and realize the injustices around you..."[9th grade student]
And my favorite:
“With clarity and insight, this book shows how teachers who are dedicated to social justice can act on their commitments in a subject that has, for too long, been seen as simply a technical area."
Huzzah! We can finally inject social justice propaganda into one a' them “technical” areas of study! Because, you know, there’s really no such thing as objective truths, technical studies, or subjects that parents can rely on to be agenda-free!
Click "Read More" to read the whole painful thing.
On Christmas Day, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to take down a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with explosives attached to his personal undercarriage. When I first learned this news, my first thoughts were: Why the hell is there a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit? Who the hell would want that connection?
My next thought was: Lord! Are we all gonna have to learn how to pronounce Abdulmutallab? C'mon! I mastered the pronunciation of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but he was worth it. It makes me appreciate the fact that the original shoe bomber was named Richard Reid.
Anyway, Abdulmutallab was subdued by passengers with heavy burns to the terrorist, and (hopefully) minor burns to the lead hero, Jasper Schuringa. Other facts in this still-breaking story:
Some posts tonight from around the right side of the blogosphere on this incident.
If the facts remain broadly as outlined, this incident has serious implications for airline travel: A man is on the no-fly list but is allowed to board the plane. Everyone flying on an inbound long-haul flight to the United States is forced to hand over excessively large amounts of liquids and gels and put the small amounts permitted into separate plastic bags, yet the no-fly guy's material for bomb-making sails through undetected.
This time the last line of defense worked. Next time, the paradise-seeking jihadist might get lucky and find himself sitting next to, say, Charlie Sheen, too immersed in a lengthy treatise on how 9/11 was an inside job to notice the smoldering socks in the next seat; or to the same kind of nothing-to-see-here crowd who thought Major Hasan's e-mails were "consistent with his research interests."
More from Steyn, in another post:
Well, the authorities have reacted to the Pantybomber in the usual way:
Passengers getting off both U.S. domestic flights and those arriving from overseas reported being told that they couldn’t get out of their seat for the last hour of their flight. Air Canada also said that during the last hour passengers won’t be allowed access to carry-on baggage or to have any items on their laps.
That's great news, isn't it?
This was a failed terror plot. But with failures like this who needs victories? If that Air Canada rule becomes generally applicable, that last hour will be a big time-waster for some of us. But no doubt some enterprising jihadist will attempt to self-detonate in mid-flight or shortly after take-off, and pretty soon we'll have to sit in isolation for the full seven or eight hours. Another couple of attempted takedowns and they might as well ship us freight.
Pardon me if I'm being overly cynical here, but we know the Obama administration has backed off on any number of the Bush administration's anti-terror policies on the ground that they were too draconian. In pursuit of Obama's policy of "engagement" with those who hate us, has the administration loosened no-fly restrictions? Has it allowed people like Abdulmutallab to take international flights to the U.S. on the ground they are merely misunderstood ambassadors for a peaceful movement? Is the administration's soon to be embarked upon review of how the "intelligence community" is "integrating itself" the precursor to a massive transfer of blame from Obama's radical staffers to intelligence professionals?
Mr. Schuringa more than made up for what governments usually cannot, or will not, do: he acted, boldly and decisively. When governments fail to protect us through excesses in incompetence or political correctness, it is We the People who must rise up and defend our freedom.
Indeed. But how we're gonna protect ourselves when we're not allowed to get up out of our seats at zero hour? Me. I'll defy the new "law" if the situation arises.
This reminds me of my stance on gun control laws (which I am against, though I don't own a gun.) I have the greatest respect law enforcement agencies, but the cop ain't much use to you at the moment the bad guy is breaking into your house. Once the incident is over — and you didn't take steps to protect yourself — all the cops can do is draw your chalk outline. Or, in the case of an airline terrorist attack, troll the sea floor for the remains of you, a couple hundred passengers and the black box.
And the "law enforcement agencies" in charge of airline travel ain't any use to us at all when they are ignoring no-fly lists, frisking grandma, and taking the travel shampoo out of my carry-on.
Californians may be pleased to learn that the Legislature passed significantly fewer laws this year than usual, thanks in part to the budget crisis. Hey, we've got another multi-billion dollar deficit brewing for 2010...!
Legislators approved only 872 bills in their 2009 regular session, and just 632 have become or will become law by Jan. 1.
While that may seem like a lot more new laws than we need, it's actually the fewest bills passed, and the fewest signed into law, in more than 40 years.
The biggest reason for the drop-off is money – or the lack thereof. Simply put, most new laws have a price tag, and the state is too broke to afford more than a relative handful.
Still, that didn't keep lawmakers from trying. During 2009's regular session and seven "extraordinary" sessions, they introduced 3,056 bills, proposed constitutional amendments and resolutions – an average of 25.5 per member.
That's about the same number as in 1939, when the state and country were wrestling with the Great Depression.
See... every dark cloud does have a silver lining!
Who knew? Rich Lowry has the details.
All applaud this tree, which is acceptable ... at least until the data can be fudged by the enviro-scolds to frown upon it.
From Lowry's column:
Following it all closely will be the new Christmas scolds, who are as annoying as the old Christmas scolds, except greener. H. L. Mencken famously put down the Puritans — decidedly cool on Christmas celebrations — as people worried that someone, somewhere may be happy. The new Christmas scolds worry that someone, somewhere may be emitting CO2 over a glass of eggnog: Blessed is good, merry is nice, peaceful is advisable — but carbon-neutral is absolutely essential. ...
Ralph Reiland of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review points to a web publication called Alternative Consumer that recommends “A Freegan Christmas.” The festivities will include Christmas trees fashioned out of shopping bags and a celebratory vegetarian meal. No cards and no wrapping paper, of course. Someone captured the spirit of this holiday program long ago, “Bah! Humbug!”
It’s not an endorsement of every Christmas excess to appreciate merrymaking and gestures of generosity. After all, the Magi didn’t necessarily have to travel, or offer their gifts of frankincense and myrrh. That they did points to the ultimate reason for the joyous celebration of the season. Merry Christmas!
Yes. Merry Christmas everyone! I, for one, am enjoying the festive aroma of my natural tree. (For the record: I bought it from the guy on my corner and carried it home on foot. So, out of laziness and happenstance ... I'm "green" this Christmas.)
Those mobster-themed videos are good fun, Ben. But nothing that can compare to The Star Wars Holiday Special, where the unintentional comedy scale redlined ... then exploded. This was the first sign that trouble was ahead for Lucas' franchise, decades before his abominable prequels.
I LOVE the intro, as we learn which "stars" will be sullying their careers by being connected to this debacle. Oh, and the interminably long minutes that tick by with nothing but Wookie language and maudlin music to keep us interested.
This is awesome! Because as soon as I saw Star Wars, I was insatiably curious about what life was like for Wookies on whatever planet they live on. Apparently, it's just like our lives — if we lived in trees, spoke in wails and grunts, and had a cheesy soundtrack running in the background. Oh, and if we were a lot hairier.
A very touching scene with Han, "Lumpy" and Chewy's family.
Oh, and let's not forget the big finish, with a song by Carrie Fisher!
"Don't you squeal or rat us out / or you will end up dead!"
And now, the Mad TV Rudolph Trilogy...
Merry Christmas, everyone.
For there can be no other possible explanation for this:
Or for this:
(Via Gateway Pundit)
Well, it sure isn't at the bottom of a bottle of Old Grand Dad, I can tell you that, Senator.
Truthfully, I don't think Sen. Baucus is drunk here at all. I think this is how he really "debates." This video, incidentally, makes a nice companion to Timothy Egan's lament about political cowardice.
(Hat tip: Brooks Bayne on Twitter.)
Look, I'm not a great fan of a lot of what has passed for political discourse over the past decade. But this Opinionator post by New York Timesman emeritus Timothy Egan is dumber than Hell. Egan argues:
In many ways, the budget vote 16 years ago ushered in the modern era of hyper-partisanship. Right-wing talk radio hosts were just entering their steroid phase, threatening any Republican who voted for a bill that ultimately led to budget surpluses.
And what's more:
From then on, nobody could “respectfully disagree.” Moderates were called wussies, traitors and socialists. When Republicans gained control of everything, the fringe Democratic left took their rhetorical cues from their angry counterparts on the right. This year, things became courser still with the “tea party” extremists, who taught Republicans in Congress how to shout “You lie!” to the president and cast aspersions on something so innocuous as a pep talk to school children.
Finally, on the decision of the Senate Republican caucus to unanimously oppose the Reid health care atrocity:
What the Senate has done this week will not break the economy or cure all that ails a profoundly imperfect health care system. “What we are building here is not a mansion,” said Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. “It’s a starter home. But it’s got a great foundation.”
For that, it deserved at least a handful of Republican votes. Can the bill, without its public option, making reforms that many in the G.O.P. advocated in last year’s election, really be so one-sided that not one lone Republican could support it?
I was hoping for a profile in courage, just to signal a truce of sorts during this awful epoch of toxic nastiness. Instead, we got cowardice. But by the rules of political combat dating to 1993, the opposing party can take no other stance.
First, to this notion -- a threadbare cliché, really -- that our politics now are uniquely divisive. Seems to me we've seen far more divisive politics in American history. But can our present troubles really be traced to Phil Gramm in 1993? I think a strong case could be made for Ted Kennedy in 1987. Or it may have been a few years earlier, when Tip O'Neill told the party faithful at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, "The evil is in the White House at the present time..." Or it may have been earlier still. Egan's historical window is much too small, in any event.
Second, on this idea that Republicans are cowards for not voting for this stinker of a bill. By now, thoughts on bipartisanship should be clear. It's more likely that Republicans will chicken out if and when it comes time to fix this mess.
Finally... Well, it really should go without saying, shouldn't it?
The case of three Navy SEALs facing court martial for striking a terrorist captive in custody is the latest story of U.S. servicemen who may have gone too far in the course of fighting America's war against jihadists. But Americans have done much worse than that, Warren Kozak writes in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal:
You don't have to dig too deep to understand that war brings out behavior in people that they would never demonstrate in normal life. In Paul Fussell's moving memoir, "The Boys' Crusade," the former infantryman relates a story about the liberation of Dachau. There were about 120 SS guards who had been captured by the Americans. Even though the Germans were being held at gunpoint, they still had the arrogance—or epic stupidity—to continue to heap verbal abuse and threats on the inmates. Their American guards, thoroughly disgusted by what they had already witnessed in the camp, had seen enough and opened fire on the SS. Some of the remaining SS guards were handed over to the inmates who tore them limb from limb. Another war crime? No doubt. Justified? It depends on your point of view. But before you weigh in, realize that you didn't walk through the camp. You didn't smell it. You didn't witness the obscene horror of the Nazis.
Earlier, Kozak recounts a similar story about German and American POWs during the Battle of the Bulge. "Was the U.S. a lesser country because these GIs weren't arrested? Was the Constitution jeopardized?" he asks. "Somehow it survived."
Perhaps. But no worse for wear?
Men have struggled over the centuries to find a "permanent peace." The League of Nations even made a treaty once. Abolishing war is a folly. But maybe the greater folly is the effort to civilize it.
Today is December 23rd which, as everyone certainly knows, is Festivus.
I will start with the Airing of Grievances. Despite tremendous patience on the part of Monkey Management, and a thoughtful post by Ben on The Atrios Rule, there appears to be one among our frequent commenters who is incapable of any measure of self-control, civility, and maturity.
Which brings me to the second Festivus tradition, the Feats of Strength. As a Festivus gift to "the rest of us," I am exercising my power as an Administrator to disable this person's account until they're ready to stop acting like a child.
I'm probably not the best test case for this question based on many of my posts and comments around here, but an article in Science magazine posits that conservatives are "happier" than liberals. Or, at least, residents of "red" states feel happier than residents of "blue" states. The New York Times, riffing in a story about the study, says of to its home-state readers:
It’s rather dismal. If there were a National Happy League, we’d be the New Jersey Nets. We’re No. 51 out of 51 [Ed note: The District of Columbia was polled to get the list to 51].
This is an enormous generalization, but I've long thought that was true — that liberals are grumpier (or at least have less mirth and joy in their lives) than
liberals conservatives — based on anecdotal evidence, my observations of political discourse over many years spanning all sorts of varieties of who is "in power," personal experience, and other reasons I won't get into here ... at least not at this late hour. But, it appears that the polling data says says so, too, when it gauges "Gross National Happiness." As John J. Miller at The Corner says:
One snap conclusion, from scanning the list: Red states are happy, blue states are sad (relatively speaking). Make of this what you will.
And I suspect that we might make something of that conclusion around here. That all said and shared, I'm sure Joel and Khabalox will disagree with that study — and, in fact, insist that the opposite is true — yet still have a joyous Christmas. At least I hope so, because I wish it upon them.
The Karate Kid remake, starring Jaden Smith (son of Will, who is directing, and Jada Pinkett), hits theaters next summer. The trailer, which premiered this week, is impressive. Jackie Chan plays the Miyagi character. At 55 years old, Chan is still the master. Why, even the snobs at /Film and the slobs at FilmDrunk think the trailer is decent. (Well... OK, not really. Those FilmDrunk guys are unbelievably cruel.)
There was a bit of grousing awhile back from fans of the original that this project was a kind of sacrilege, yet another in a ceaseless line of remakes and reboots from a creatively bankrupt Hollywood. And for awhile, it looked as though Columbia Pictures would rename the film "The Kung Fu Kid."
I liked the original with Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita and I've enjoyed watching it again with my son now that we're both training in the martial arts. And I'm not sure "Take your jacket off... put it on..." is quite as pithy or memorable as "Wax on, wax off." (What I really want to know is: Who is the Kreese character and will he say "Sweep the leg" in Chinese or English?)
But let's not get too carried away. The Karate Kid was very much a product of its era -- from the hairstyles to the ridiculous pop soundtrack. Some of it holds up, some of it looks hackneyed and lame. Based on the trailer, the remake looks promising.
I dare to call this a remarkable event in modern popular culture. Modern comedy, especially on Comedy Central, drips with cynicism. The network's biggest shows — South Park, The Daily Show, The Sarah Silverman Program and (perhaps to a lesser extent) the Colbert Report — take potshots at everything traditional in America. I find a good bit of that funny, but start to get tired of it after extended exposure. It's always been a mystery to me how a network that makes its bones by continually mocking (often in bad faith) the values of Middle America thrives. Perhaps the majority of America — the non-elites — are not as stupid as Jon Stewart seems to think we are, and we have the self-confidence to laugh at ourselves.
Yet, on Comedy Central no less, Colbert presents a little song that is sincere, respectful, honest and (gasp!) wholesome. Note that Colbert produced a "Christmas" special, not a "Holiday" special. The distinction is important, especially in today's climate.
Still true today. So ... in the Christmas spirit, I re-post it again today. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas, everyone!
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|A Colbert Christmas: Colbert/Costello Duet|
(Man do I wish Comedy Central videos would format better for ordinary blogs.)