31 / October
31 / October
Have a Spooktacular Halloween

Halloween, by virtue of adults wanting to act like children, is now less of a kids holiday. I've had less than a dozen trick-or-treaters at my door in as many years. I've witnessed scores of men dressed as women, women dressed as prostitutes, and college girls wearing their younger sister's school uniform outside my window (I can't say that I totally disapprove of everything I see around Halloween!). Halloween is not just less of a kids day, it's also less of a holiday. A great number of people treat every day as Halloween. It's fun to be someone else one day a year. But when you wear green hair and a costume 24/7/365, you might have identity problems. Razorblades in apples, pins in Snickers bars, and kids egging your house (or, larger kids catching you egging their house) were some of the biggest Halloween fears two decades ago. Today, it's an adult's world (no matter how many times the phrase "it's for the children" is invoked). There are scarier boogeymonsters around the corner for youngsters to beware.

A Random Number of Random Thoughts on the Alito Nomination

17. Let's get it on. For the first five years of his presidency, President Bush has avoided fights at all costs. He hasn't vetoed a single bill, he's one-upped liberals on disaster relief spending after 9/11 and Katrina, and he's caved to Democrat demands on the No Child Left Behind Act, McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform, and the creation of a Department of Homeland Security. Now, conservatives, who have had his back throughout his presidency, have pushed George W. Bush into his opponents after he had sought to flee the scrum by nominating a consensus candidate.

16. Do you think Hugh Hewitt still believes conservatives were wrong to oppose the nomination of Harriet Miers?

15. Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy, and Chuck Schumer, so disturbing in their friendliness toward Harriet Miers, are reassuring in their hostility to Alito.

14. The downside of experienced nominees is the paper trail of opinions that serve to alienate senators. The upside of experienced nominees is the paper trail of endorsements from senators who voted to confirm in the previous round of hearings. In 1990, Ted Kennedy believed Alito had "very distinguished record," while Frank Lautenberg dubbed him "impartial, thoughtful, and fair." Don't their 1990 endorsements make it hard to take their 2005 criticisms seriously? At the least, the Senators who once praised Alito but now oppose him indict their own judgment.

13. President Bush vetted past candidates for the Supreme Court by inquiring about their exercise habits. Did he drop this line of questioning for Judge Alito? How much, really, can Alito bench? Squat? Can he run a mile under seven minutes? What's his forty time?

12. It's easier to have a fight with liberals than it is to have a fight with conservatives: there are more of us than there are of them.

11. The new nomination transformed a political problem (Miers) into a political opportunity (Alito). It knocks an embarrassment off the front page (Scooter who?). It sets up a fight with unpopular opponents. Well played.

10. When you take time to fight your friends instead of your enemies, your enemies either get rest or join your friends in beating you up. Either way, taking on your friends is generally not a good idea.

9. Time will tell, but its opposition to Harriet Miers may turn out to be the conservative movement's finest hour. Coming as it did after conservatives slept through continued assaults on their principles, the Miers reaction startled--in a good, adrenaline-injection way. It certainly reflected a movement that knows its own strength and a political sophistication that it has rarely shown in the past.

8. If Harriet Miers was the most qualified person to fill an empty seat on the Supreme Court, does this make Sam Alito the second most qualified?

7. Hamilton wrote that the Senate provided "an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity." Which Bush high-court nominee do you suppose he anticipated?

6. Given that President Bush originally chose John Roberts to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, Samuel Alito makes the third person selected to replace O'Connor. Third time was also a charm in replacing Lewis Powell in 1988 and Abe Fortas in 1971.

5. Am I the only one grossed out by Alito, in his press greeting flanked by four GOP senators, noting how he had "faithfully" read precedent in his years as an appellate judge? What about when the Constitution contradicted those precedents? Oh well, America may not be ready for a FlynnFiles Constitutionalist sitting on the high bench.

4. And might this unwarranted respect for precedent have played a role in Alito negating a New Jersey law that banned partial-birth abortion? That decision is certainly scarier--trick or treat?--than any semi-coherent utterance out of Harriet Miers's mouth.

3. Irish have a reputation going into politics, the priesthood, and police work. Germans have made great military men. Will the stereotype for great judges now fixate upon Italians?

2. Leaving aside its ethnic stereotyping, Scalito is a pretty cool nickname for a judge. Let's hope it doesn't turn out to be one of those mock nicknames, e.g., dubbing a midget "stretch" or a "D" student in remedial math "Einstein."

1. Now George Bush can say with a straighter face that he didn't break his promise to nominate judges in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. In other words, he believes he fulfilled this promise and his supporters do too. Whether his Supreme Court nominees turn out the way of Scalia and Thomas--his first one really was more of a blank slate than Harriet Miers--is another matter.

Sam Alito, Supreme Court Nominee

President Bush threw his base a curveball in nominating Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Today, he threw some high heat at his opponents by nominating Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

28 / October
28 / October
It's Official: Libby Indicted

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's chief of staff, has been indicted on charges of obstruction of justice, perjury (two counts), and making false statements (two counts). (The prosecution let him off on what were, in my opinion, his greatest offenses: stealing a little kid's nickname and violating H. Ross Perot's trademark of promoting his middle name to replace his first name and demoting his first name to a mere initial.) In addition to Karl Rove's name not appearing in the indictments, the omission of actual charges on the release of CIA agent Valerie Plame's name to the media is striking. Today's indictments give further credence to the adage that it's not the crime, but the coverup.

Methinks You Doth Celebrate Too Much

Exhibitions of glee in response to Harriet Miers's declining to endure Senate confirmation hearings risk coming across as mean spirited, play into the Left's talking points portraying a reverse Borking, and seem premature given that we neither know who the next nominee will be nor if that person will be confirmed--let alone how that jurist will rule if ultimately sworn in.

The right side of the Internet was awash with cyber high-fives and online you-da-mans today in reaction to Miers killing her own Supreme Court nomination. "Thank God!," John Hawkins of RightWingNews declared, "I cannot even begin to tell you how happy this makes me." Hawkins, who concedes that "we're only 1/3rd of the way done," confesses to whooping and decides to grill a steak in celebration. "This is such a great moment, such a great day for conservatism!" "Hip-Hip-Hooray!!!," exclaimed IowaVoice. "Thank God, is all I have to say." The Llama Butchers energetically reacted: "Woo, ah say, Woo-Hoo!"

Conservatives scored a touchdown. The game isn't over. An excessive end-zone celebration only serves to anger the other team. It invites penalty flags. It provides teammates with false assurances. And acting as if you won when it is still the first quarter is bad form.

'Religious Right' Wrongly Charged for the Killing of Miers Nomination

Religious conservatives can't win for losing. First, they get blasted for invoking the evangelical beliefs of Harriet Miers in their support of her. Now, they're being blamed for the withdrawal of her nomination. Former Senator John Danforth blamed Christian conservatives for the Miers failure on CNN Thursday night, contemptuously refering to "these people" on at least a half-dozen occassions. James Ridgeway writes in the Village Voice that President Bush quashed Miers's nomination "just as his Republican supporters in Congress were coming to her defense against the Christian right." Tikkun claims that the the withdrawal of Miers demonstrates "how powerful the Religious Right really is."

Not every political drama conforms to neatly written scripts. Is Pat Robertson part of the "religious right"? How about James Dobson? Jerry Falwell? These stock villains in every leftist narrative about the threat to our democracy from evangelical conservatives all supported Harriet Miers. A motley crew of decidedly non-evangelicals played leading roles in opposing Miers: most conspicuously, Charles Krauthammer, Ann Coulter, David Frum, George Will, and William Kristol. Maybe in their spare time these conservative talking-heads hand out religious tracts, wear "WWJD?" bracelets, and condemn fornicators to a fiery eternity, but my right-wing blinders just don't allow me to see it.

Week Eight: Are You Ready for Some Football?

Week eight, the halfway point in the NFL season for seven teams, is here--and so is the FlynnFiles AYRFSF pool. Home teams are in caps. All picks are against the spread. Here are my selections: Redskins +2 over GIANTS, BENGALS -9 over Packers, LIONS -3 over Bears, Vikings +7.5 over PANTHERS, TITANS +2 over Raiders, COWBOYS -9 over Cardinals, Browns +2 over TEXANS, Dolphins +2 over SAINTS, RAMS +3 over Jaguars, CHARGERS -6 over Chiefs, Bucs -11 over NINERS, BRONCOS -3.5 over Eagles, PATRIOTS -8.5 over Bills, and, in the Monday-night matchup, STEELERS -10 over Ravens. Make your picks in the comments section below.

27 / October
27 / October
Miers Withdraws

Bush loyalist Harriet Miers did what political loyalists do when they're hurting their boss: she removed herself. With his Supreme Court nomination withdrawn, will George W. Bush learn from his mistake and nominate a judge who will unite the coalition that elected him? Or, will he seek vengeance against Miers's conservative opponents by again nominating a political crony and/or activist legal mind? We'll soon find out.

A Red Delusion Endures After Communism's Demise

Mikhail Gorbachev is touring the United States on a tour of the 20th anniversary of Perestroika, the reform campaign designed to prolong the Communist Party's hold on Russia and its satellite states. Last night, the former General Secretary of the Communist Party told an audience at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law that it's "hard to imagine a calm, safe, and secure world" with current poverty levels. "If people's lives are not becoming better," he held, "people begin to change their minds and say democracy is worthless." His analysis reveals that long after Marxism lost its grip on Eastern Europe, it still holds a tight grip on him. One of the main pillars of Marxism is the materialist interpretation of history. This provides a one-size-fits-all answer to whatever questions come along. Most who reflexively invoke the economic causation argument do so without realizing that it is one of Karl Marx's central ideas.

Like most of Marx's ideas, applying the materialist interpretation to current events displays its ineptitude. Did poverty inspire the multimillionaire Osama bin Laden to wage jihad against the United States? Why are Mulsims the combatants in a majority of current wars? Is it economics, or ethnic and religious hatred, that motivated Iran's president to proclaim that Israel should be "wiped off the map"? To see the world through a Marxist lens is to always see an economic explanation even when one relating to nationalism, ideology, or religion would do.

Chicago White Sox, World Series Champions

Congratulations to the world champion Chicago White Sox. Four very competitive games equaled, in this case, one lopsided World Series. In less than a week, Jermaine Dye, Bobby Jenks, Scott Podsednik, and company have negated the a history of a stingy owner, years of mediocrity, the "second-team" stigma in the Second City, baseball in shorts, and the Black Sox scandal. Eighty-eight years is penance long enough for the sins of a few rogue players. Last year, when the Boston Red Sox won after 86 years in the wilderness, my mind wandered to fellow New Englanders dead and gone; Mike Greenwell, Johnny Pesky, Tony Conigliaro, and other ghosts of Red Sox past; and my own years working at Fenway Park, Mecca of Baseball. The sight of Red Sox pennants and Johnny Damon posters atop graves while jogging through a Boston-area cemetary reenforced how much stronger generational and regional bonds are made by a mere baseball team. Chicago White Sox fans, undoubtedly, are feeling much of the same. You really don't know the sweetness of victory until you have tasted the bitterness of defeat.

26 / October
26 / October
Miers Bombshell

"The ongoing debate continues surrounding the attempt to once again criminalize abortions or to once and for all guarantee the freedom of the individual women's [sic] right to decide for herself whether she will have an abortion," Harriet Miers told a Dallas women's group in 1993, according to an explosive report in today's Washington Post. Miers then explained how "we gave up" the notion of "legislating religion or morality" years ago. "[W]hen science cannot determine the facts and decisions vary based upon religious belief, then government should not act." Leaving a dissection of Miers's flawed argument for some other blogger, it's enough for this discussion that Miers's argument is a pro-abortion rights argument straight from the Planned Parenthood playbook.

In 1989, Harriet Miers ran for the Dallas city council as a pro-life candidate. Four years later, she endorsed the right to an abortion using loaded language and code words familiar to those on the pro-choice (my apologies for the loaded language) side of the debate. In 2005, according to Christian conservatives mesmerized by President Bush, Miers is definitely pro-life. George W. Bush claimed to know Harriet Miers "well enough to be able to say that she's not going to change; that 20 years from now she'll be the same person with the same philosophy that she has today." The philosophy Miers holds today is anyone's guess. Her oblique 1993 lecture about the dangers of legislating morality and the scientific ambiguity about when life begins, in addition to other information streaming out, makes that guess more of an educated one every day.

Condi the Zombie

Condoleezza Rice is a zombie. I know this is true because I saw her zombie eyes with my own eyes at USAToday.com. It's not like the photo was in the Weekly World News or some other supermarket tall-tales sheet. USA Today, yeah the USA Today, uncovered the scandal of the living dead running the State Department. Okay, well, to my embarrassment Condi Rice is not actually a zombie. USA Today just photoshopped her picture to make it appear so. Michelle Malkin exposes the depravity of grudge-bearing journalists. Do check out the Malkin link because this story proves the nostrum that a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, two pictures are worth a thousand words. A few of those words are bias, deception, slant, mean-spirited, lie...

More Doctors, Less Lawyers

Ron Paul represents the 14th district of Texas in the House of Representatives, but taxpayers across the country view him as their representative too. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who last week courageously alienated his colleagues by attempting to defund the "Bridge to Nowhere" and other wasteful spending projects, is quickly becoming the senator at-large for taxpayers. Both Paul and Coburn, curiously, are medical doctors who have delivered thousands of babies. The lesson? Elect more doctors, defeat more lawyers.

Week 7 NFL Pool Winner Announcement

We have a new champion. William Clement, or is that just Wm. Clement, took the AYRFSF belt from Wayne Gro, four-time, four-time, four-time, four-time 2005 NFL pool champion. Clement won in dominating fashion, going 11-3-1 for the week. Key picks included the Chargers and Broncos, who beat the spread but not the competition. Favorites bested underdogs 7-6-1 on the week, while the home teams went 7-6-1 in beating the spread. In other words, it was a tough week in which educated guesses and hunches, and not "home team" or "favorite" formulas, ruled. Losers: show some love. Winner: reveal your winning strategy.

25 / October
25 / October
2,000

A black milestone has been reached: the 2,000th fallen American serviceman in Iraq. This is more tragic than 1,999 and less tragic than 2,001. In other words, 1,999, 2,000, and 2,001 are just numbers but the men and women who are dead are not. A military spokesman calls the 2,000 figure an "artificial mark on the wall." Michelle Malkin calls 2,000 a "bogus" mark. But there's nothing "bogus" or "artificial" about the 2,000 dead. They were people, Americans. They had families, friends, lives. Now they're gone.

But while we're on the subject of "bogus" and "artificial," it's worth noting that nearly 95 percent of U.S. deaths in Iraq occurred after President Bush gave his infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech. The war, we know now, wasn't a "cakewalk"--as warhawk Ken Adelman assured us it would be. The war has been paid for by U.S. taxdollars, and not by Iraqi oil assets as Paul Wolfowitz incorrectly told a House committee. President Bush and his underlings based the war pitch mainly on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. The administration now concedes that the WMD that they were looking to confiscate weren't there. Don't the vice president's insinuations on Meet the Press of an Iraq-9/11 conspiracy qualify as "bogus" and "artificial"? What about the forged documents detailing Iraq's efforts to gain uranium from Niger? Even the White House admitted that they bought a hoax on that one.

After inundating the American people with fantasies (a Saddam mushroom cloud over New York, a stable, free, and democratic Iraq, a "cakewalk" conflict) war cheerleaders are now calling reality (2,000 American war deaths) "bogus" and "artificial." Senator Hiram Johnson had it right when he said, "The first casualty when war comes is truth." Unfortunately, as today's bad news reminds us, truth isn't the only casualty.

NYT: Cheney Told Libby About Plame

"Scooter" Libby reportedly told a federal grand jury that he learned of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA employee from journalists. The New York Times reports today that Libby's notes indicate that he learned of Plame from his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney. This may or may not be a legal problem. This is a political problem.

The Most Overrated Player in Sports

The Atlanta Falcons won last night on Monday Night Football. Their much-hyped quarterback had very little to do with it. Michael Vick threw 26 passes for 11 completions that resulted in 116 yards. He threw three interceptions and no touchdowns. In six games this season, Vick has thrown for just 723 yards. In other words, his anemic passing totals on Monday Night Football are standard for 2005's Vick. Of the 16 quarterbacks in the NFC who have taken a majority of their team's snaps in 2005, Vick ranks last in passing yardage. This is Vick's fifth year in the NFL. He's never thrown for 3,000 yards. He's never connected on more than 16 touchdown passes. Yet his name his freely discussed with John Elway, Steve Young, Roger Staubach, and other fleet-of-foot Hall of Fame QBs.

Michael Vick claimed before this season that he is the best quarterback in the NFL. He's not. Vick's is one of the top-selling jerseys in the league. Sports-media figures have seriously entertained his pre-season boast. Obviously Vick isn't the only one who places Michael Vick above Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Brett Favre, and Donovan McNabb. Fantasies of what Michael Vick may do in the future don't beat what a dozen or so NFL quarterbacks are doing in the present.

Sure, Michael Vick can run better than any quarterback in league history. But quarterbacks pass. That's what they do. Running complements their game, but running doesn't make their game. How can it? Vick has rushed for 303 yards this season. Add that total to his passing yards and he still ranks near the bottom in yardage among NFL quarterbacks. He's electric. He's exciting. He's a gamebreaker. But the best? Not even close.

Rosa Parks, RIP

Montgomery, Alabama police arrested Rosa Parks in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. It matters little that Parks wasn't the first black person to refuse a seat to a white person. It matters little if Parks, an NAACP activist, planned the confrontation. What matters is that the courage of a 42-year-old seamstress sparked a bus boycott that resulted in the abolition of the racist transportation policies of Montgomery. The bus boycott in turn helped charge a greater movement that overturned racist laws and challenged racist traditions. Rosa Parks died a freer woman Monday because of the actions of Rosa Parks. May she rest in peace.

24 / October
24 / October
Cute But Ugly

Something about two cute thirteen-year-old twins wearing Hitler t-shirts weirds me out. I sense I'm not the only one disturbed by the arresting image of Prussian Blue, a faux-Olsen Twins white-supremacist music act, that the Drudge Report is highlighting. Something tells me that they're not going to be the next Supremes--but they probably don't care for the Supremes anyhow. "Songs like 'Sacrifice'—a tribute to Nazi Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy Fuhrer—clearly show the effect of the girls' upbringing," notes the ABC.com article about the pair. "The lyrics praise Hess as a man of peace who wouldn't give up.'" What??? Ugliness occassionally comes in pretty packages.

Miered

The White House strategy in selecting Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court was obvious: nominate a stealth candidate who will cause as little controversy as possible. The plan, so obnoxiously transparent, backfired. Now the White House is mired in a crossfire, taking incoming from the left, right, and center.

* More Americans believe that the Senate should not confirm Harriet Miers than believe that they should confirm her, according to a Rasmussen poll. Republicans support the nomination 48 percent to 20 percent, while Democrats oppose the nomination 40 percent to 20 percent.

* Democrat Chuck Schumer and Republican Arlen Specter agree that if a vote were held today on Harriet Miers, the Senate would reject her. "I think, if you were to hold the vote today, she would not get a majority, either in the Judiciary Committee or on the floor," Schumer remarked on Meet the Press.

* Tradesports, an online stock exchange/gambling-type site, lists a 25 percent chance of confirmation for Miers.

* Miers has become fare for jokes by television pundits--never a good sign. "I think Bush is going to appoint his accountant. 'The best mind I know on economics,'" Pat Buchanan quipped, in obvious reference to Bush nominating his personal lawyer to the Supreme Court, when asked about the president's upcoming pick to replace Alan Greenspan at the Federal Reserve.

* The Washington Times reports that the "White House has begun making contingency plans for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers as President Bush's choice to fill a seat on the Supreme Court." The Times's source explained: "White House senior staff are starting to ask outside people, saying, 'We're not discussing pulling out her nomination, but if we were to, do you have any advice as to how we should do it?'"

President Bush, for better or worse, is a stubborn man. He also values and practices personal loyalty. He'll stand by his woman. If Miers, out of loyalty to the president, withdraws, or the Senate rejects, look for Bush to spit in the eye of his conservative opposition. In other words, Alberto Gonzales, the nominee the Right feared even more than Harriet Miers, would be a far more likely replacement pick than Edith Jones, Miguel Estrada, or Janice Rogers Brown.

What's Portuguese for 'Keep and Bear Arms'?

Anti-gun zealots in Brazil thought their nationwide referendum to ban firearms was a slamdunk. As much as 80 percent of voters, according to polls, supported the ballot measure. "Most of the media supported the ban, so before the television spots, nobody gave it much thought, but when the pro-gun lobby got equal time the opinion really shifted," Jessica Galeria, a researcher for a Rio think-tank, told the Associated Press. "They were smart, using images of Nelson Mandela, Tiananmen Square and the Berlin Wall to link owning a gun with freedom." Brazilians got the message. On Sunday, they voted to defeat the gun ban by an almost 2 to 1 margin. Though Brazil contains 100 million less people than the United States, it witnesses significantly more gun deaths. Brazilians said no to giving a monopoly on gun ownership to the people who have done such a poor job protecting them. People living in dangerous places don't want to give up their guns, they want them close by.

23 / October
23 / October
Miers Opposition at Critical Mass?

"The crude people who crudely invoked [Harriet Miers's evangelical Christianity] probably were sending a crude signal to conservatives who, the invokers evidently believe, are so crudely obsessed with abortion that they have an anti-constitutional willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade with an unreasoned act of judicial willfulness as raw as the 1973 decision itself," George Will writes in a Sunday column that eviscerates advocates of Miers's Supreme Court nomination. "In their unseemly eagerness to assure Miers's conservative detractors that she will reach the 'right' results, her advocates betray complete incomprehension of this: Thoughtful conservatives' highest aim is not to achieve this or that particular outcome concerning this or that controversy. Rather, their aim for the Supreme Court is to replace semi-legislative reasoning with genuine constitutional reasoning about the Constitution's meaning as derived from close consideration of its text and structure. Such conservatives understand that how you get to a result is as important as the result." George Will's devastating, must-read column is one among a growing number of signs that opposition to Miers has reached critical mass.

22 / October
22 / October
Beware of Satanists Wanting Pot

If Scott Dyleski inscribed a cross on school grounds, carried around a Bible to class, and dressed in eccentric religious gear, one of his public school teachers might have sensed something was amiss. But because Dyleski drew a pentagram on school grounds, read the Satanic Bible, and dressed like the Undertaker, no one intervened--at least enough to derail him from becoming charged with murder. One man's fanatic is another man's free spirit.

Kevin Etheridge, also 16, explained to the Associated Press of his Lafayette, California classmate, "He was really Gothic, always wore a long, dark jacket." So did Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. The lesson of Columbine, some claim, was that teasing causes school-house massacres. A more apt lesson highlights the not-so-fine line between individuality and anti-social behavior. In a perverse way, the "teasing" theory transforms murderers into victims. But murderers are the murderers, not the victims. And the cruelty of students teasing them hardly matches the cruelty of teachers ignoring them. At least students notice, even if announcing it in an unkind way, the unhealthy behavior of the teenaged misanthropist. Just because a kid dyes his hair black, paints his fingernails black, wears black clothing, and listens to Slayer (or even The Cure) doesn't mean he's going to murder his neighbor because he mistakenly believes she's ruined his fledgling pot-selling business. It does mean that responsible adults should guide him in a better direction.

21 / October
21 / October
Million-Dollar Smile

Democrats hoped to use Tom DeLay's mugshot in campaign commercials. Instead, Tom DeLay should use Tom DeLay's mugshot in campaign commercials. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

World Series

I was happier this time last year. Oh well, after 86 years in the desert you can't expect every year to be an oasis. It's someone else's turn. And how appropriate that of the eight playoff teams, the six that have played for a title in the last decade didn't make it. Chicago and Houston did. The White Sox haven't won a World Series since 1917; the Astros, never. One team's drought begins to end tonight. Who wins? I predict Houston in seven games. Step up to the plate with your World Series prediction in the comments section below.

20 / October
20 / October
Week Seven: Are You Ready for Some Football?

Week seven of the NFL season is here, and it comes a few days early. Because of Hurricane Wilma, the Miami-KC game will be played Friday night. This means, unless you wish to forfeit that pick, you must get your selections in prior to the 7 p.m. (eastern) kickoff on Friday. Home teams are in caps. All picks are against the spread. Here are my picks. DOLPHINS -1.5 over Chiefs, RAMS -3 over Saints, VIKINGS +1.5 over Packers, TEXANS +15.5 over Colts, BENGALS -1 over Steelers, EAGLES -3.5 over Chargers, BROWNS -2.5 over Lions, Niners +12.5 over REDSKINS, Cowboys +3 over SEAHAWKS, RAIDERS -3 over Bills, Ravens +1 over BEARS, CARDINALS -3.5 over Titans, GIANTS -1.5 over Broncos, and in the the Monday night game, FALCONS -7 over Jets. Make your selections in the comments section below.

Post-Birth Abortions

An Oakland woman has been arrested for having three late-term abortions on a San Francisco pier. The victims were past the 7th, 15th, and 27th trimesters. In the United States, women generally have the freedom to choose before the 4th trimester, but after that point they face prosecution as there has been no Roe v. Wade-type case finding a right to a post-birth abortion in the Constitution yet. Have patience, the future is just around the corner. How far off is the day, really, when feminists speak derisively of the bad old days of coathanger abortions in back-alleys nighttime post-birth abortions on dimly-lit docks? No word yet if the National Organization for Women will publicly defend this murderer as they publicly defended the Texas mother who drowned five of her children.

Spanish Warrant for American Soldiers

A Spanish judge issued warrants Wednesday for the arrests of three U.S. Army tank crewmen who fired a round that killed two journalists staying in an Iraq hotel. Relying on the same authority, I am issuing a warrant for the arrest of Judge Santiago Pedraz. When your posse catches up with him, just make up a charge that suits you and proceed to administer punishment: a nature wedgie, a gookie cookie, and an Indian sunburn should suffice. As you send him on his way, kick him really hard in his hindquarters and say "hasta la vista." Pretend that you're proud of yourself for knowing Spanish. This will at once let him know that you're an American for using such a generic Spanish phrase, and reinforce his stereotype of Americans as ignorant cowboys. The effect of this will be to keep him thousands of miles away from us, and prevent his emigration to the United States even on the condition of the Moors return to Spain. Alright, you've heard my judicial order. Now saddle up and get this guy.

19 / October
19 / October
Week 6 NFL Pool Winner Announcement

Can anyone stop Wayne Gro? Gro threepeated as champ, eeking out a victory in a competitive week six by going 9-5. Key picks included road covers Jacksonville, San Diego, Carolina, Cincinnati, and New York (Giants). Those picks took some guts, but do the cowardly ever win at anything? Losers: humble yourselves. Winner: celebrate in the endzone.

Saddam on Trial

Joe McCarthy once told ex-Wisconsin governor Phil LaFollette, and brother of Senator Robert LaFollette, Jr., McCarthy's 1946 opponent, that he had a team of men who would go about the state wearing masks of his brother. They are going to randomly bump into people, McCarthy informed an aghast LaFollette, and say things like, "Hey, who do you think you are bumping into a United States Senator?"

Today in court, Saddam Hussein played the arrogant role McCarthy imagined for his Senatorial opponent. Jail humbles many a man, but not Saddam Hussein. I don't recognize "this so-called court," Hussein announced to the courtroom. Like some pathetic descendant of European royalty, he held on to his now meaningless title despite the change of government. He was still "president of Iraq," he declared. Perhaps his boldest move was pleading not guilty. Hussein tussled with guards, interrupted the prosecution, and even told the judge: "Who are you? What is all this?" Will he act so imperious when confronted with his executioner, or Who he meets after his execution?

Amidst the many negative stories--the truly negative, and those spun that way by reverse cheerleaders in the media--the trial (which is more than Saddam afforded to the innocent) of a murderer is a definite positive outcome of the Iraq war. Future General Amins, Colonel Qaddafis, and Colonel Mengistus, take notice of new consequences for old behavior. The law can catch up with any man, even a tyrant.

When Does 'Expel All Illegals' Not Mean 'Expel All Illegals'?

The Drudge Report headline screamed: "Homeland Security Chief: Expel All Illegals." The fine print said something altogether different.

Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff testified before the Senate Judiciary Commitee Monday, vowing to "return every single illegal entrant--no exceptions." Along with this laudable goal, Chertoff detailed increases in funding to fight illegal immigration, outlined problems such as "apprehensions of illegal immigrants exceed[ing] removals," and pointed to such solutions as Homeland Security eliminating "environmental challenges that had blocked completion of the 14-mile Border Infrastructure System near San Diego."

Unfortunately, Chertoff's tough talk belied the same weak policy--amnesty--the Bush Administration has been pushing on immigration for several years. Chertoff described "our overall border enforcement initiative...as a complement to the President's Temporary Worker Program." In other words, fighting illegal immigration will become a whole lot easier if we grant legal status to the illegals currently in the United States. A few hours after Chertoff highlighted the "get tough" aspects of border control, President Bush signed the Homeland Security's 2006 appropriations and remarked: "enforcement cannot work unless it is part of a larger comprehensive immigration reform program." And what would that "comprehensive immigration reform program" consist of? As President Bush sees it, "a temporary worker program that gives those workers we need a legal, honest way to come into our country and to return home."

"You see," the president explained, "we got people sneaking into our country to work. They want to provide for their families. Family values do not stop at the Rio Grande River. People are coming to put food on the table. But because there is no legal way for them to do so, through a temporary worker program, they're putting pressure on our border." Translation? President Bush believes the problem is our laws and not those who break them.

18 / October
18 / October
Chomsky World's Top Intellectual (Moron)

Voters in a British magazine poll named Noam Chomsky the world's top intellectual. This says something about the respondents to this poll. This says something about intellectuals. This says nothing about Noam Chomsky. In the late 1970s, Chomsky served as an apologist for Pol Pot's revolution in Cambodia. "The 'slaughter' by the Khmer Rouge," Chomsky and a coauthor wrote in the Nation magazine, "is a [Robert] Moss--New York Times creation." In the 1980s, he claimed that the standard of living in Cuba and the United States were roughly equal. In 2001, he warned of millions of civilian deaths if the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. The United States and its allies, he declared, "were in the midst of apparently trying to murder 3 or 4 million people." And all this to go after Osama bin Laden, whose links to the 9/11 attacks were "surprisingly thin." Beam me up, Scotty! If getting it wrong makes one an intellectual, then Noam Chomsky is tops.

Things That Haven't Killed Me

Witches. Fluoridation. Aliens Invading Grovers Mill, New Jersey. DDT. Agent Orange. Acid Rain. Saccharin. Asbestos. Poisoned Tylenol. Second-Hand Smoke. Cellular Phone Brain Damage. Latin American Organ Merchants. Y2K. A Dirty Bomb. Beachcombing Sharks. SARS. Mad Cow Disease. Bird Flu. That which does not kill me, makes me dumber.

Bush Falls Below the Political Mendoza Line

In baseball, they call it the Mendoza Line. Once a position player's batting average drops below the Mendoza Line (.215 or .200, depending upon whose definition you use), he has no business in the starting line up. They don't have a name for it in politics, but George W. Bush has crossed the wrong side of that line. His approval rating, according to a new Gallup poll, stands at 39 percent. Bush's meager support among liberals did rise, which just stands to demonstrate that growing your popularity on the Left generally results in shrinking your popularity among Americans.

17 / October
17 / October
The Ties That Bind, The Tears That Divide

The nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court has created a visable schism on the Right. A diverse collection of conservatives--David Frum, Pat Buchanan, George Will, John Podhoretz, William Kristol, Ann Coulter, Peggy Noonan--believe the nomination of Harriet Miers to be a mistake. Conspicuously absent from this list of conservatives are leading evangelical Christians, who, for the most part, have thrown in their lot with coreligionists George W. Bush and Harriet Miers.

Pat Robertson calls Harriet Miers a "superb pick." James Dobson guardedly holds that Miers "appears to be an outstanding nominee for the Supreme Court." Jerry Falwell labels Bush's nominee a "woman of great character, and a lover of Christ."

But would Robertson, Dobson, and Falwell really prefer a Supreme Court of activist judges who love Christ to a Supreme Court of strict constructionists who don't believe in Christ?

The identity politics surrounding the nomination of Harriet Miers has more to do with religion than gender. Depending upon who you believe, there are 50 million, or 75 million, or 100 million, or some other number of evangelical Christians in America. Their population on the U.S. Supreme Court is more precise: zero. Unlike Catholics and Jews, who are overrepresented on the High Court, evangelicals lay claim to no justice. The same feeling of exclusion evangelicals felt in representative politics during the 1960s and '70s, they are feeling today with regard to the Supreme Court. They want in. Can you blame them? But are Robertson, Falwell, and Dobson willing to sacrifice their principles just to get a place at the table? Miers's support for affirmative action, donations to various Democrats, membership in a Progressive Voters League, and advocacy of a feminist lecture series at Southern Methodist University, apparently, matters less than where she goes to church.

Partly for "been there, done that" reasons, and partly for the philosophical divisions within their faiths, Catholics and Jews have responded to Supreme Court picks based on their political rather than religious beliefs. After all, Catholics (Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy) and Jews (Douglas Ginsburg, Ruth Bader Ginsburg) nominated to the court have held views all over the political map. But evangelical leaders, based on their knee-jerk support for Harriet Miers, seem to believe that their religion is immune from the divisions that characterize Judiasm, Catholicism, and mainline Protestantism. What else explains the confidence of evangelical leaders in the president's pick? They, not the rest of us, know the people in the pews of their churches, so perhaps evangelicals such as Roberts, Falwell, and Dobson know something that the rest of us don't. Or perhaps, having entered the game of identity politics, they too will get burnt as other players, most notably African Americans, have.

In politics, the ties that bind are often religious, ethnic, and regional. The strength of these ties has the ability to tear ideological ties asunder.

Toledo's 'Day of Peace'

Taking a stand against Nazism by acting like a Nazi isn't taking a stand against Nazism at all. Americans, even ones convinced of the righteousness of their cause, have no right to pitch rocks at ambulances, loot barrooms, or attack police. Americans, even jerks, have the right to speak and assemble. But where did this unlimited right to speech come from? The Constitution says: "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech...or the right of the people peaceably to assemble." It doesn't say that the city council of Toledo can't prohibit Nazis from marching in a city park.

Since the city of Toledo couldn't stop the Nazis (the mayor did inanely declare a "Day of Peace," though), the citizens of Toledo did. It got ugly this weekend. The Nazis assembled to protest gang violence. Gangs protested the Nazis by engaging in violence. Which hate group do you suppose went home thinking it made its point?

"This never should have happened," Ed Kusina, 80, told the Associated Press regarding the racist group gathering in his neighborhood, and serving as an excuse for a riot, on Saturday. "They should have never let them march here." But the understanding of the Constitution pervasive in the legal profession dictates that citizens of Toledo like Mr. Kusina have no say in whether or not Nazis march through their hometown. Citizens of Toledo disagree, and through unofficial channels ensured that the will of the people--no Nazi march in Toledo--triumphed.

Is any debate about local governments regulating speech necessarily moot? The Constitution of Ohio, after all, contains a bill of rights that resembles the bill of rights in the Constitution of the federal government. But it differs in a few glaring ways, notably in that although the 1851 document affirms the right to speak freely, it holds that citizens are "responsible for the abuse of the right." Doesn't dressing up in a Nazi get-up and shouting racial insults qualify as an "abuse of the right"?

Tough cases make bad law. Banning speech, even extremist speech, is a bad idea. But banning self-government at the local level is a bad idea too. Voters, like mobs, will make mistakes. A city council prohibiting certain political speech is a mistake. Whether you think it is also unconstitutional depends on what you think the words "Congress shall make no law" means.

14 / October
14 / October
Harriet the Hack

The blank canvass is filling up. The picture is unpleasant. Harriet Miers, who no one ever accused of possessing the legal intellect of a Clarence Thomas or an Antonin Scalia, clearly won't even be a reliable vote with the Constitutionalist bloc of the bench either. George Bush promised his constituents Supreme Court nominees in the mold of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. Instead, he offered up Harriet Miers, a political camp follower of his who, in a moment of either insanity or sycophancy, declared the current president "the most brilliant man I ever met." There are many reasons any American should oppose the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Here are a few relevant to conservatives:

5. Miers's law firm donated money to elect Hillary Clinton senator. Miers herself donated money to Al Gore and Lloyd Bentsen during the 1980s. President Bush assured the Bushites who'd gone wobbly that "twenty years from now she'll be the same person, with the same philosophy." Is this because today's Harriet Miers is the same person, with the same philosophy, as the Harriet Miers of twenty years ago?

4. Miers joined something called the Progressive Voters League, but testified in 1989 that she would not join the conservative Federalist Society because it was "politically charged"--a designation she declined to apply to the NAACP. Can you picture Antonin Scalia joining any organization with the word "progressive" in its title? WWASD?

3. Miers successfully lobbied SMU to launch a feminist speakers program in the late 1990s, and then procured and made to donations to fund the women's studies department-administered endeavor. Speakers for the annual lecture include Gloria Steinem, Anna Quindlen, and Patsy Schroeder. Can you imagine Clarence Thomas, even under the effects of large doses of mescaline, ever helping to start and bankroll campus lectures featuring Susan Faludi?

2. During the 1980s, Miers supported divestment from South Africa, welfare spending, and a massive pay raise for city council members while sitting on that body in Dallas.

1. As David Frum points out, Miers seems to have a fetish for the word "diversity." Why not? It's gotten her this far. On the Dallas city council, she voted to revise height and weight requirements to help women applicants to the fire department. In the Bush White House, she helped persuade the administration to back racial preferences in the Grutter v. Bollinger case before the Supreme Court. All of this is no surprise considering that Miers headed a committee assigned to pick the next justice of the Supreme Court, and picked--who else--a hack lawyer with no judicial experience from Texas who fulfilled a political quota.

At least conservatives supporting past Supreme Court duds could claim ignorance.

13 / October
13 / October
D.U.Why?

Debra Bolton got pulled over in the city where I live for driving with her headlights off. A zealous policeman inquired if she had been drinking, and she eventually admitted that she had a glass of wine at dinner. Officer Dennis Fair claims Bolton failed the field sobriety tests. Bolton denies this. The officer then administered a Breathalyzer. Bolton blew a .03. She passed...or so she thought. "If you get behind the wheel of a car with any measurable amount of alcohol, you will be dealt with in D.C. We have zero tolerance," the arresting officer is quoted in the Washington Post story on the controversy. "Anything above .01, we can arrest." The ironically named Fair knows of what he speaks. The fifteen year police veteran makes about 100 driving under the influence (DUI) arrests each year. Fair arrested wife of late Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke in 1998, and on May 15, he arrested Debra Bolton. She stayed in jail that night until 4:30 a.m.

Drunk drivers are out of control. But are drunk-driving laws out of control too? The old standard of .10 blood alcohol content has been lowered to .08 in most states. DC makes drunk-driving arrests for many drivers who clearly aren't drunk. Locales routinely violate 4th Amendment protections, and similar state-level protections, in the name of drunk-driving-laws enforcement. Profiling, which in the case of drunk-driving seems to target 22-year-old white dudes (at least that's how I saw it at 22 after being pulled over stone-sober four times in one week in Virginia), inconveniences the innocent exponentially more times than it apprehends the guilty. The machines that evaluate drunkenness are quirky, with new-and-improved models every few years replacing flawed versions that had nevertheless been used to convict drivers (most drunk, some not) in the past.

Defense attorney Lawrence Taylor outlines the limitations of Breathalyzers: "The computers inside Breathalyzers actually multiply the amount of alcohol in a DUI suspect's breath sample 2100 times to get the blood alcohol concentration ("BAC"). This is because it is programmed to assume that the suspect has 2100 units of alcohol in his blood for every unit of alcohol in his breath. This is called the "partition ratio". But this ratio is only an average: actual ratios vary from as low as 900:1 to as high as 3500:1; if individual ratio is different, the BAC result will be different. Translation: If a suspect has a true BAC of .06% ("not guilty") and a partition ratio of 1300:1, for example, the machine will give a result of .10% ("guilty"). Convicted by a machine. His crime? He was not average."

If you are average, you know someone who's been affected by drunk driving. With U.S. DUI arrests nearing 1.5 million annually, it's hard not to know someone convicted of drunk driving. This is particularly true of my (age, race, sex) demographic. If Shiva were a thirtysomething white guy, even he wouldn't be able to count on his fingers the number of friends convicted of DUI. Most of these offenders have never seen the inside of a courthouse save for their DUI arrests. One Marine I served with got arrested for DUI in Maryland for sleeping in his parked, unignited car because he did not wish to drink and drive. There is such a thing as overkill, even in pursuit of a noble end (i.e., roads free of inebriated drivers).

Those most radically affected by drunk-drivers are no longer with us. The sheer number of alcohol-related auto-fatalities demands that we, as a society, 1. lock-up drunk-drivers, but not drivers who blow a .03 on a Breathalyzer test. 2. Pull-over drivers suspected of drunkenness, but not drivers unlucky enough to be on a certain road at a certain time; 3. deny licenses to alcohol-impaired drivers, but not to people who have been accused--but the state has failed to convict--of driving under the influence.

Drink. Drive. But don't do both at once. Even a glass of wine at dinner, as Debra Bolton discovered, can land you in jail. She's no criminal. The law that put her under arrest is.

Week Six: Are You Ready for Some Football?

Week six of the NFL season has arrived. Newcomers: join the fun and make your picks in the comments section below. Veterans: you know what to do. All picks are against the spread. Home teams are in caps. Here are my picks. COWBOYS -3.5 over Giants, LIONS -1 over Panthers, Falcons -4.5 over SAINTS, BEARS -3 over Vikings, Chiefs -5.5 over Redskins, TITANS +3 over Bengals, STEELERS -3 over Jaguars, Browns +5.5 over RAVENS, BUCS -4.5 over Dolphins, Patriots +3 over BRONCOS, BILLS -3 over Jets, RAIDERS +2 over Chargers, SEAHAWKS -9.5 over Texans, and, in the Monday night contest, Rams +13.5 over COLTS.

12 / October
12 / October
Zawahiri's Love Letter To Zarqawi

"God Almighty knows how much I miss meeting with you, how much I long to join you," begins Ayman al-Zawahiri's steamy letter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. "I think that if I could find a way to you, I would not delay a day, God willing." You can almost hear "It's Raining Men" playing in the background as Zawahiri writes. Had the repressed Mr. Zawahiri worked out his identity issues as a teenager, he would be happier and the world would be a better place.

All Hail Mediocrity!

THEN: "Even if he is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance?"
--Senator Roman Hruskra on Nixon Supreme Court nominee Harrold Carswell

NOW: "If great intellectual powerhouse is a qualification to be a member of the court and represent the American people and the wishes of the American people and to interpret the Constitution, then I think we have a court so skewed on the intellectual side that we may not be getting representation of America as a whole."
--Senator Dan Coats on Bush Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers

Week 5 NFL Pool Winner Announcement

Wayne Gro was co-champ. Now he is plain champ. Reader Wayne Gro, co-champ in weeks two and four, laid waste to the competition in week five. Gro went 11-3 in the AYRFSF pool, misfiring only with the Texans, Eagles, and Chargers. Flops give props Gro is tops. Eleven-win Gro: how did you know?

11 / October
11 / October
GOP Partisanship Leads To Bad Judges

The cowboys-and-Indians, good-guys-versus-bad-guys theme that pervades the rhetoric of many a GOP-hack talking head never fails so miserably than when attention focuses upon the courts. The Supreme Court is the most out-of-control branch of government. It is also the most consistently Republican. Republican presidents appointed seven of the nine current justices. In addition to the sitting disappointments, Republicans also appointed such past losers as William Brennan, Earl Warren, and Harry Blackmun. When it comes to the judiciary, count on the Democrats to wear black hats and (just so your life will hold an occassional pleasant surprise) count on Republicans to wear them too. This makes Constitutionalists outgunned.

Congressman Ron Paul addresses the partisanship that obscures the real line that divides good from bad judges. It is activist versus originalist, not Democrat versus Republican or liberal versus conservative, that separates wannabe legislators from true, blind justices. And because unelected judges have usurped the charge of elected legislators, the judicial appointment process takes on the baseness common in elections.

"The bitterness and controversy that often surround the nomination of Supreme Court justices in recent decades makes perfect sense when we consider the lawmaking and lawbreaking power that activist federal courts possess," the Texas congressman argues. "Federal courts in general, and the Supreme Court in particular, have long since ceased serving as referees who guard against government overreaching. Instead they have become unelected, unaccountable purveyors of social policy for the entire nation. Bitter partisan fights over Supreme Court nominees are inevitable simply because so much is at stake." If judges read the Constitution as it reads--and Ron Paul correctly points out that the document is "written in plain, forthright text, and there is nothing mystical about it"--rather than as they want it to read, then the political sympathies of the presiding judges would matter very little. When presidents grant primacy to the political sympathies of judges, e.g., Republican governor Earl Warren, Republican state senator Sandra Day O'Connor, Bush loyalist Harriet Miers, then the Constitution necessarily becomes secondary.

Ron Paul concludes: "The fundamental point that has been lost in our national discourse is this: the Constitution prohibits the federal government, including the federal judiciary, from doing all kind of things. Until we have federal judges who understand this, it matters little what political stripes or experience they bring to the bench."

Pakistan, Where They Burn the U.S. Flag, But Not U.S. Dollars

Pakistan's government gave $1 million to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The U.S. government has pledged $50 million to the victims of the earthquake in Pakistan. This comes atop $275 million in foreign aid allocated to Pakistan last year, and, hopefully, a good deal of charitable contributions from Americans recognizing the horror of Saturday's earthquake. Some Pakistanis have complained about the smallness of the U.S. government's financial commitment. No Americans, that I know of, have complained about the stinginess of the Pakistani government's Hurricane Katrina aid. It wouldn't occur to anyone to do so. Who expects Pakistan to come to the rescue when disasters strike? Even when disasters don't strike, many non-Westerners feel entitled to Western money. When the same people who burn U.S. flags, give a 10 percent favorability rating to America, and provide safe harbor to terrorists express ingratitude at hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, one has to wonder what level of U.S. aid would satisfy? Americans get burned twice over: first, by the U.S. government's habit of making donations with our money but without our consent; and second, by recipient nations berating us for not giving more. Is it culturally insensitive for Americans to expect a "thank you" instead of a "blank you" when giving up Fort Knox to foreigners?

Miers Helped Launch Feminist Lecture Series at SMU

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers helped establish an endowed lecture series in feminist issues at Southern Methodist University while an advisor for SMU's law school during the late 1990s. After advancing the idea, Miers donated and solicited donations for the women studies speakers series. SMU's website details that the lecture series "brings role models of vision and achievement to SMU to speak on gender and women's issues. It expands students' opportunities to hear and interact with nationally renowned speakers in the area of women's studies as well as strengthens intellectual ties between the University and the greater community." This year's lecture, to be held next month, will feature Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen. Save for last year's speakers, a pair of Southwest Airlines executives, all of the "role models of vision and achievement" showcased by the lecture series are on the left side of the political spectrum. Past speakers include Gloria Steinem, Susan Faludi, and Pat Schroeder. To loosely paraphrase the program's inaugural lecturer, universities need more feminist lecturers like a fish needs a bicycle.

10 / October
10 / October
Happy Indigenous People's Day Columbus Day

Five hundred and thirteen years ago, Rodrigo de Triana shouted: "Tierra! Tierra!" The sailor aboard the Pinta spotted land--the New World--after more than two uneasy months at sea. "I," Christopher Columbus noted of his first encounter with the natives, "in order that they might feel great amity toward us, because I knew that they were a people to be delivered to our holy faith by faith rather than force, gave to some among them some red caps and some glass beads, which they hung round their necks, and many other things of little value." Columbus reported that the "Indians" were "pleased" and "became our friends." Columbus found the encountered pleasing too, describing them as "very gentle." The relationship between Europeans and Native Americans went downhill from there.

The Indians gave the Europeans syphillis. The Europeans gave the Indians smallpox. Despite the best efforts of countermythologists to make it so, Europeans did not introduce the Indians to slavery or war. Columbus found evidence of both within a few days of arrival and noted it in his journal. He found no sign of iron, the wheel, or a written language. Europeans would export such handy staples of post-Stone Age societies to the New World. But Europe's military superiority, alongside the white man's lust for gold, religious converts, and land--as well as the geographic isolation of the Native Americans that impeded their immune systems to combat fatal diseases--decimated the primitive people in the decades that followed.

One's view of the Americas, or more specifically the nation that bears that name, generally determines one's view of Columbus. "Happy Columbus Day," like "Merry Christmas," is increasingly heard as an insult. Enemies of the Italian sea captain celebrate Indigenous People's Day, protest Columbus Day observances, and compare Columbus to Hitler. Columbus kidnapped, enslaved, and exploited, his detractors exclaim. Indeed, he did. He also discovered the continent Americans live upon. Truth commands that we remember his misdeeds. Proportion suggests that we remember him first for his magnificent find.

07 / October
07 / October
Open Thread

I've said all that I wanted to say this week. But the readers haven't. Clamoring to say what is forbidden by the contraints of normal thread topics, the readers demand an open thread. "Open a thread or I open your brain bucket," yells one bedraggled reader of the prolish element. And, fearing bodily harm, I relent and give them what they want. "Have your open thread," I say to the mob, "just do no violence unto me. Leave me! Leave me be!" After a two-month absence, open-thread Friday is back. Say anything, about anything in the comments section below...just don't hurt me!

Coralles-Castillo II

"These two should never fight each other again," trainer Joe Goosen reacted after May's savage bloodbath. "It's too much." If you missed the fight of the millenium, you don't want to miss the rematch. Diego Coralles and Jose Luis Castillo go to battle again this weekend. May's fight was the greatest boxing match I've ever seen. Boxing writer Steve Kim also called it the greatest match he had ever seen, Maxboxing.com's Doug Fischer tagged it "the best slugfest I've ever witnessed live," and ESPN.com's Dan Raphael dubbed the match "clearly the fight of the year and of the decade thus far." If you're a sports fan, spring $50 for the pay per view on Saturday--or find a friend or a bar showing the fight. If not, you can always spend your Saturday evening watching a TV movie on Lifetime as you usually do.

Closing Time

March comments will be closed to spam, and, unfortunately, legitimate comments, later this weekend. Speak now or forever hold your peace. FlynnFiles said goodbye (and good riddance) to anchorman Dan, helped to derail (no joke) a John Kerry-authored Senate resolution honoring Communist crackpot W.E.B. Du Bois, and bemoaned the postmodernist judiciary. But it was a topic previously ignored by FlynnFiles that generated perhaps more comments than any other in the history of this site: the 128th trimester abortion of Terri Schiavo. The case made strange bedfellows, combined elements of such issues as the death penalty, abortion, euthanasia, and the meaning of marital vows, and clarified issues relevant to the Easter season. Look back on March's posts, and don't wast this opportunity to get in the last word.

06 / October
06 / October
Batman's House Burns Down

Wayne Manor has burned to the ground--just as it did in the latest Batman movie. A conflagration engulfed the mansion used in the campy '60s television series, Batman, and razed the structure last night. No word yet on if the Batcave survives. I suspect arson. Who would commit such a dastardly deed? A few suspects come to mind.

Week Five: Are You Ready for Some Football?

Week five has arrived. Home teams are in caps. All picks are against the spread. Here are my selections: BROWNS -3 over Bears, PACKERS -3 over Saints, Bucs -3.5 over JETS, RAMS -3 over Seahawks, Patriots +3 over FALCONS, Dolphins +2.5 over BILLS, LIONS -1 over Ravens, TEXANS -3 over Titans, NINERS +14.5 over Colts, CARDINALS +3 over Panthers, COWBOYS +3.5 over Eagles, BRONCOS -7 over Redskins, JAGUARS -2.5 over Bengals, and, on Monday Night Football, Steelers +3 over CHARGERS. Make your picks in the comments section below.

Spies Like Us

On the day that former Pentagon aide Larry Franklin pled guilty to passing classified documents to an Israeli official and two AIPAC employees, U.S. government officials made public the investigation into a Filipino immigrant for spying inside the White House. ABC News reports, "Both the FBI and CIA are calling it the first case of espionage in the White House in modern history." Did Franklin Roosevelt's presidency occur "in modern history"?

05 / October
05 / October
Week 4 NFL Pool Winner Announcement

Wayne Gro and Potato Man are co-champions for the week four AYRFSF pool. Gro returned to the winner's circle through such key picks as the Chargers and Ravens over the banged up Patriots and Jets. Potato Man rode the home Raiders and home Skins to victory. The co-champions went 9-5 in what turned out to be a very difficult week to pick games (Who, really, are the home teams in San Antonio and Mexico City?). Losers: don't be late, congratulate, try not to hate. Winners: float, gloat, and showboat.

04 / October
04 / October
An Open Letter To All Conservatives

Dear Friends:

A man who lacks convictions can't betray them. This is why crying "betrayal" at President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court falls flat. Let us instead look in the mirror and see who, after five years of the Bush presidency, has really betrayed conservative principles.

When candidate Bush vowed to make education his top federal priority, and to provide prescription drugs for seniors at state expense, conservatives reassured themselves, and others, that these were mere campaign promises. When President Bush did what he promised to do, conservatives sought to mute criticism lest it help the Democrats in 2004. When candidate Bush characterized McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform as unconstitutional, and mocked "nation building" in his debates with Al Gore, conservatives applauded. When he signed McCain-Feingold into law, and embarked upon mammoth nation-building ventures, we didn't boo.

One could just as easily cite President Bush's nationalization of airport security, the farm, energy, and transportation bills, plan to grant amnesty to illegal aliens, unprecedented federal financing of embryonic stem-cell research, support for affirmative action, and grandiose vision of placing men on Mars to illustrate the point. If President Clinton had attempted any of this, would we have responded in the same quiet manner? All of this leads one to wonder if the raison d'etre of the conservative movement is no longer limited, Constitutional government, but non-stop electioneering to keep Republicans in power. Power is not an end but a means.

Principles lost are difficult to recover. After selling out our principles for the president's benefit, we now have the gall to accuse George W. Bush of selling us out? It's not difficult to understand why President Bush felt it politically safe to insult his base by nominating Harriet Miers: no consequences for past assaults on conservative principles results in future assaults on conservative principles. Fool us once, shame on the president. Fool us 137 times, shame on us.

The boogeymen of "President Al Gore" and "President John Kerry" are gone. All that remains is the Bush presidency--bigger government, nation-building commitments abroad, a growing national debt, and a Supreme Court that will likely be more liberal than the court President Bush inherited. This is not only disheartening, but a blow to the credibility of conservatives. By projecting "conservatism" upon President Bush, we have tethered our movement to the negative connotations of the Bush presidency. Will future voters think "Bushism" when they hear "conservatism," or will they think "limited government, personal responsibility, low taxes, strong defense, and family values"?

Despite a Republican Senate, a Republican House, seven of nine Supreme Court justices appointed by Republicans, and a Republican in the White House, conservative principles have less influence in our government than ever.

It is time to chart a new course.

Ronald Reagan, the greatest conservative leader of the past age, didn't shy away from a fight with Republicans when they fought against conservative principles. He challenged President Gerald Ford for the Republican nomination in 1976. The next year Ronald Reagan took on the Republican establishment that worked with Jimmy Carter to give away the Panama Canal. Then, he was called divisive, an unwitting ally of the Democrats, and worse. A few years later, he was called "Mr. President."

Reagan's example can serve us well today. Ronald Reagan didn't take his ball and go home in the face of a Republican Party that often warred with conservative principles. He recognized that liberalism existed outside of the Democratic Party. He realized the Republican Party was just as much his party as it was Jacob Javits's party. So, he put principle above party and battled the party when it trampled on his ideals. Though he failed in his first two attempts at the presidency, he persevered and won on his third try.

True conservatives holding office deserve our support now more than ever. Republicans who continually offend our principles don't deserve our support on the grounds that they share our party affiliation. Without demonstrating negative consequences, we will never get positive results.

Conservatism can withstand assaults from Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, and Nancy Pelosi. Assaults on conservatism from George W. Bush, Tom DeLay, and other big-government "conservatives" come at a greater price. When Republicans push liberal policy, we shirk our duty to fight back because we strangely believe that opposing Republicans can only help the liberals. But when we do oppose Republicans who push liberal policy, we help conservatives. Ronald Reagan knew this. Why don't his present-day admirers?

Let us begin by recognizing that though our party controls three branches of government, our cause does not. Before we can win over our nation, we must first win over our party.

Cordially,

DJF

03 / October
03 / October
Bush Picks Miers for Supreme Court

Candidate George W. Bush promised to nominate Scalias and Thomases if made president. Today, President George W. Bush nominated Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. Did Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia spend the Reagan years as Democrats or give money to Lloyd Bentsen and Al Gore?

2006 Is the New 1994

President Clinton's party lost 54 House seats in 1994. The composition of the Senate shifted from 56 Democrats to 54 Republicans. President Bush may feel his predecessor's pain after next year's Congressional elections.

Bad news has been the only news for Republicans lately. Republican bruises include Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby outed as Valerie Plame's "outers"; Tom DeLay indicted; Katrina's political Hurricane; $2.80 per gallon gas prices; growing opposition to the Iraq campaign; pathetic presidential gestures, and appeals to the public, on energy conservation; and the increasing sense that retaining power rather than decreasing the size of government stands as the Republican raison d'etre.

Add to this the notion, based on recent Republican victories at the ballot box, that the GOP is simply due for a loss, and the historic pattern of the president's party tasting defeat in mid-term elections, and you have a recipe for a Republican shellacking in 2006. But with the elections more than a year away, there's still time for the GOP to change the ingredients and dine on tastier fare.

Who Is the MVP?

The playoff seedings have been divied out, but the MVP awards haven't. In the American League, David Ortiz (.300, 47 HR, 147 RBI) takes on Alex Rodriguez (.321, 48 HR, 130 RBI). In the National League, Andruw Jones (.263, 51 HR, 128 RBI) takes on Albert Pujols (.330, 41 HR, 117 RBI). No injustice will be committed if any of these players receive the MVP award, but I give much love to the glove and name ARod and Andruw Jones my MVPs. Who gets your vote for AL and NL MVP?