WC Varones

Don't lend your hand to raise no flag atop no ship of fools

Why has business dropped off for beauty salons in London?

Because the Metro Police will do a Brazilian for free.


- Internet joke as told by KOC.

Poetic justice

In response to the asinine Supreme Court ruling that greedy developers and their puppets on city councils can take people's houses, there's a movement to take Stephen Breyer's house and turn it into a park. This follows a similar proposal to take David Souter's house. I hope at a minimum this will bring legal headaches and annoying exposure to these judges, and help fuel a movement to pass anti-eminent domain laws locally and in Congress.

The "liberals" on the Court who voted for the interests of the rich and powerful over the little homeowner are Justices Breyer, Stevens, Kennedy, Souter and Ginsburg. I'm pretty sure Robert Bork and Douglas Ginsburg would have voted the other way, as would current nominee John Roberts. Judges preferred by Democrats are not "liberal" about anything other than abortion. Democrats have put terrible judges on the bench because of their myopic fixation on abortion, which blinds them to the serious consequences that these judges have on other areas of our lives.

Condi is #1!

... on Forbes' list of the 100 most powerful women.

Hillary is well behind at #26.

Welfare causes terrorism

Mark Steyn is at it again:

If you’re looking for “root causes” for terrorism, European-sized welfare programmes are a good place to start. Maybe if they had to go out to work, they’d join the Daily Mirror and become the next John Pilger. Or maybe they’d open a drive-thru Halal Burger chain and make a fortune. Instead, Tony Blair pays Islamic fundamentalists in London to stay at home, fester and plot.


HT: Kaus.

Mr. Bolton goes to New York

It's about time. John Bolton will get a recess appointment to the UN.

Santorum out

Not that he would have won, but it's nice to see that right-wing nutjob Rick Santorum is ruling out a presidential run.

On the turning away

Mark Steyn on the multiculturally sensitive response to terrorism:

Bomb us, and we agonise over the "root causes" (that is, what we did wrong). Decapitate us, and our politicians rush to the nearest mosque to declare that "Islam is a religion of peace". Issue bloodcurdling calls at Friday prayers to kill all the Jews and infidels, and we fret that it may cause a backlash against Muslims. Behead sodomites and mutilate female genitalia*, and gay groups and feminist groups can't wait to march alongside you denouncing Bush, Blair and Howard. Murder a schoolful of children, and our scholars explain that to the "vast majority" of Muslims "jihad" is a harmless concept meaning "decaf latte with skimmed milk and cinnamon sprinkles".

Mark Steyn has written some great stuff recently. I linked to his John Bolton piece earlier. I expect more of the same quality in the future.

HT: Alarming News.

*Pot-kettle alert: our culture still mutilates male genitalia.

Karma is brutal

Russia's biggest spammer murdered.

I'm against capital punishment, but maybe this will be a deterrent.

HT: Drudge.

Culture shock

Things I noticed upon returning to the US from Australia:

1. You can ride a bike without a helmet.
2. You can talk on a cell phone while you drive.
3. You can buy alcohol in a grocery store.
4. Employers will consider hiring you even if "you don't have any Australian experience."
5. You can get breakfast for less than $6.
6. Don't even bother trying to buy rounds in a pub. You'll just confuse people.
7. The bus drivers are not as polite, and won't make change, but the buses are cheaper and they have "transfers," so that you don't have to pay twice if you change buses.
8. Mexican food is a staple, not an exotic night out.
9. American newspapers, while still incredibly shoddy, seem like great reporting compared to the Australian papers which cover nothing well other than fashion, celebrities, and sports.
10. A job as a lifeguard is seen as a good way to make some money and be at the beach all summer, not as entry into a cult of local heroes.
11. Customer service call centers are open past 5pm, and the customer isn't always wrong.

John Roberts = Jah Rastafari?

OpinionJournal notes the principle of John Roberts:

He gives every sign of being a careful constitutionalist--for example, as a believer in federalism and the Lopez line of cases. One signal on this point is his 2003 dissent in Rancho Viejo, in which he questioned a Fish & Wildlife Service order to a developer to move a fence from its own property in order to accommodate an endangered toad.

"The hapless toad," he wrote, "for reasons of its own, lives its entire life in California" and thus could not affect interstate commerce. This implies a less expansive view of the Commerce Clause than the current Supreme Court majority, and suggests he would have joined the four dissenters in Raich, the Supreme Court's recent decision to let the federal government overrule state laws on regulating medical marijuana.

So-called "liberals" should move away from their myopic fixation on abortion, and realize that strict constructionists like Roberts can be great friends of civil liberties supporters. A more reasonable interpretation of the Commerce Clause, which Roberts suggests, is one of the most important possible steps in limiting the reach of an increasingly intrusive federal government.

Trolling Marines' funerals for votes

This didn't go as intended.

HT: Instapundit.

The Rude Pundit takes New York

If I were in New York, I wouldn't miss this show. I hope he comes to California.

Who is the Rude Pundit anyway? The guy is hilarious. I wonder if he's a comedy writer for TV, or maybe a political consultant freed from the rules of decorum by anonymity.

Yahoo Finance hires morons to write headlines

According to Yahoo, the Chinese Yuan was devalued!

Do they still allow civil unions?

GayPatriot wonders why more gays aren't supportive of the War on Terror, given what Islamist terrorists intend to do to homosexuals, and what Islamist governments currently do to homosexuals.

HT: Instapundit.

Eminent domain: not only wrong, but stupid too

Steven Malanga writes in the LA Times:

The city of Boston couldn't accumulate enough land to build the gleaming new $800-million convention center it wanted on the south side of town. So the city government used its powers of eminent domain to snatch about 20 properties from private owners to provide space for the center, justifying the seizure on the grounds that the new center would boost the local economy. Today, the recently opened Boston center sits idle much of the time. First-year bookings and attendance were only one-sixth of what the city projected. Taxpayers now find themselves on the hook not only for the center's construction cost but also for its operating deficit.

...

As one after another economic development scheme fails, politicians often wind up throwing good tax money after bad, and eminent domain encourages that bad habit. For instance, governments have rushed to "fix" their convention center mistakes with other nearby development that theoretically will boost the centers — which themselves were supposed to be the economic engines. Officials in upstate New York, for instance, used eminent domain to take property away from an owner who was unwilling to sell in order to build a planned subsidized hotel in downtown Syracuse, which the officials say will boost the city's flagging convention center — which itself was originally built to boost the hotel industry.

Politicians often justify such projects with consultant studies purporting to show big potential economic gains. But the track record of such government-sponsored economic studies is dismal. Urban policy expert Heywood Sanders of the University of Texas at San Antonio analyzed more than 30 studies supporting convention center construction and found them "consistently flawed and misleading."



Eminent domain, like the war on drugs, is not only immoral and anathema to Constitutional principles, but also a terrible waste of resources.

2008: Democratic nomination

Odds for the Democtratic Presidential nomination, calculated from the mid-point of the bid/ask spread on Tradesports this morning:



ContenderOdds
Hillary Clinton1.1 : 1
Mark Warner8.1 : 1
Joe Biden8.2 : 1
John Edwards15.5 : 1
Al Gore15.8 : 1
Evan Bayh15.9 : 1
John Kerry28 : 1
Bill Richardson 28.9 : 1
Tom Vilsack33.5 : 1
Barack Obama42.5 : 1
Jon Corzine43.4 : 1
Russ Feingold56.1 : 1
Wesley Clark59.6 : 1
Phil Bredesen61.5 : 1
Howard Dean89.9 : 1
Brian Schweitzer132.3 : 1
Ed Rendell180.8 : 1
Mike Easley221.2 : 1
Colin Powell665.7 : 1
Chris Dodd665.7 : 1
Pat Leahy999 : 1
Harold Ford999 : 1
Joseph Lieberman999 : 1


The Democrats are slight (51/48) favorites to win the election, so odds of winning the presidency would be roughly double the odds listed (without factoring in the issue that some Democrats would be more likely to win the general election than others).

Note for budding arbitrageurs: There is a structural imbalance in the market, with the totals adding up to more than 100%, meaning that buyers are over-enthusiastically bidding on their favorite candidates, and not enough sellers are there to meet them. Free money alert: short every candidate in proportion to his/her odds, and you will make a slight profit -- or a monster profit if an unlisted dark horse wins!

2008: Republican nomination

Odds for the Republican Presidential nomination, calculated from the mid-point of the bid/ask spread on Tradesports this morning:



ContenderOdds
George Allen4.1 : 1
John McCain4.4 : 1
Bill Frist7.2 : 1
Rudy Giuliani7.2 : 1
Mitt Romney10.4 : 1
Jeb Bush14.5 : 1
Chuck Hagel17.3 : 1
Condoleezza Rice18.6 : 1
Mike Huckabee34.1 : 1
Dick Cheney36.7 : 1
Newt Gingrich36.7 : 1
George Pataki40.7 : 1
Tim Pawlenty49 : 1
Colin Powell57.8 : 1
Rick Santorum75.9 : 1
Bill Owens 75.9 : 1
Tommy Thompson 82.3 : 1
Mark Sanford86 : 1
Sam Brownback89.9 : 1
Arnold Schwarzenegger152.8 : 1
Lindsey Graham 180.8 : 1
Haley Barbour249 : 1
Michael Bloomberg284.7 : 1
Tom Ridge499 : 1
Elizabeth Dole 665.7 : 1
Tommy Franks999 : 1


Having been out of the country for a few years, and never having been an East Coaster, I'm not up to speed on George Allen. Here's a good place to start.


NEWT GINGRICH????

Roberts nomination

The Coalition of the Chillin', those who maintained composure while others freaked out over the Senate's "Gang of 14" filibuster deal, are already declaring victory. They were right. Without the deal, the Democrats would have filibustered any nominee to the right of David Souter.

With the deal in place, President Bush consulted with Senators from both sides of the aisle, and got advance quasi-approval from moderates like Joe Lieberman (HT: Instapundit):

Lieberman offered reporters Wednesday three names he said could be considered without sparking a talk-athon. He would not say whether he brought them up to Rove.

He said federal appellate Judges Michael McConnell and John G. Roberts were "in the ballpark," and that "people tell me" appeals court Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson is "very similar."

Filibuster? I don't think so.

HT: AJ Strata.

UN color-coded terror alert system

Kofi Annan pronounces the UN "increasingly concerned" about Zimbabwe.

Arthur Chrenkoff reveals the UN's color-coded terror alert system.

HT: Instapundit.

Supreme Court: Edith Jones?

Speculation is flying that President Bush wants a woman to replace Justice O'Connor, and one of the names being mentioned is Edith Jones. I didn't know anything about Edith Jones, but I like what I read here.

UPDATE: Maybe Clement, not Jones. HT: Decision08.

You can't be a meat-eating environmentalist

Great statistics here on how wasteful and destructive meat production is to the environment.

A typical pig factory farm generates raw waste equal to that of a city of 12,000 people. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, factory farms pollute our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined....

Raising animals for food is grossly inefficient, because you have to put 20 calories of food into an animal to get just one measly calorie back in the form of flesh. The world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people—more than the entire human population on Earth....

Each vegetarian saves one acre of trees every year! More than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to grow crops to feed animals raised for meat, and another acre of trees disappears every eight seconds. The tropical rain forests are also being destroyed to create grazing land for cattle. Fifty-five square feet of rain forest may be razed to produce just one quarter-pound burger.
Of all the self proclaimed "environmentalists" on the left side of the aisle in Congress, I believe that Dennis Kucinich is the only one who's not a meat-eater and hypocrite.

California reform

I've just moved back to California after a year and a half in Australia. Some good things are afoot here.

Governor Schwarzenegger is proposing to end the gerrymandering system that has resulted in invincible incumbents and a bitterly partisan legislature. This is such an obviously necessary initiative that it should pass by an overwhelming margin -- if the unions don't stop it with a campaign of lies, distortions, and ties to the declining popularity of Schwarzenegger.

More on OpinionJournal.

Five arguments against Gonzalez

I'm convinced.

Speaking of Great Hispanic Hopes, what ever happened to Miguel Estrada, the filibuster victim? He withdrew his nomination after not getting a vote, but has not been renominated after the Senate deal on filibusters. Does he not have the stomach for the fight? Is there a skeleton in his closet? Is he just happy as a partner in a DC law firm?

HT: RealClearPolitics.

An anti-Bush Englishman rethinks his position

I have commented before on the distorted view of Europe's media and public regarding the United States and President Bush.

In this very thoughtful post, an Englishman has changed his world view after spending time in New York:

On September 11, I thought I knew the reasons why the attacks had taken place. And it was not my fault. Moreover, it was somebody else’s fault – the US’s – and they were reaping what they had sown. But in the past 12 months I have slowly come to understand that the wordview I held was tainted by a media that sees the problems in the world (dictatorship in Iraq, authoritarianism/terrorism in the Middle East, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, global warming) as being the fault of the United States. All of this from a country and a continent that seems to have done little itself to try to redress the balance in a world which it has corrupted/manipulated to a gargantuan degree during the past 100 years.

Americans are often (somewhat rightly) called insular and ignorant about the rest of the world. But having spent considerable time overseas talking with citizens of other countries and reading foreign news, I have seen that people in many countries are as misinformed about Americans as Americans are uninformed about them.

HT: Alarming News.

Saddam / Al-Qaeda link

The next time you hear how Bush lied about WMD in order to attack an innocent Iraq, have a look at this.

London bombers

Powerline points to a Sun article about the possibility that the suicide bombers were duped and didn't know they were going to blow themselves up.

Powerline scoffs, but the idea sounds reasonable to me. Based on their early morning demeanor and acquaintances' descriptions of their personalities, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they thought they were just doing a trial run, or carrying explosives for someone else.

UPDATE: More on the dupe theory here. HT: RealClearPolitics.

UPDATE 2: The Mirror weighs in, with an explanation of exactly how they may have been duped:

Our source disclosed: "The theory that they were not a suicide squad is gathering pace. They were the weakest link.

"We think it's possible they were told that when they pressed buttons to set off timers they'd have a short time to abandon the bombs and get away before the blast. Instead, the bombs exploded immediately."

That makes more sense than my early speculation about a trial run. HT: NYGirl via Alarming News.

The real John McCain

Huffington's Toast has it exactly right on John McCain:

Don’t be confused. Your pal “Mav” is one hundred percent in favor of free speech. As long as it doesn’t apply to politics.

Draft Condi!

The National Review writes about draft movements for the 2008 election.

The Schwarzenegger story is neither a draft nor a plausible possibility. Schwarzenegger would love to be President, but a Constitutional amendment will not happen.

The Draft Condi movement, though, could work:

U.S. News and World Report’s Washington Whispers recently reported an unnamed associate of Rice’s saying she could be drawn into running under the right conditions.

I agree entirely with Crystal Dueker and Richard Mason's characterizations of Dr. Rice's appeal:

Dueker says she was drawn to support Rice because of her experience in foreign affairs along with the lack of a clear GOP frontrunner. “If Dick Cheney were running, I would support him. He has the most qualifications. But since he is not running, that leaves Condi as the most qualified candidate. Diplomacy. Her work in Iraq, Afghanistan and even Kuwait has made dramatic improvements already. Condi’s fingerprints are all over that.”

Mason describes Rice as something of a fusion candidate: one with conservative principles and the ability to win friends across the globe while satisfying American interests.

“This is really a chance for Republicans to change perceptions of the party both at home and globally. The Washington insider knows Republicans have a much more diverse roster than they get credit for. But for the casual political observer, this could change everything. People like Dr. Rice are the future of the party,” Mason said.

Mr. Bolton goes to New York

It's about time. Insiders tell the Washington Post that John Bolton will get a recess appointment to the post of ambassador to the UN.

John Bolton will be like Jimmy Stewart (without the naivety) in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: an honest, straight-shooting man in a thoroughly corrupt institution.

HT: Trey Jackson.

UPDATE: Robert Novak says Bolton supporters want to try again to break the filibuster.

Who says the French are arrogant?

Jacques The Worm feels superior to Britain:

President Jacques Chirac celebrated Bastille Day yesterday by insisting that France had no need to "envy or copy" Britain.

Whether the point of comparison was food, health, education or science, France was in far better shape than its old rival, he said.

And how about that 10.2% unemployment and 1.4% economic growth, Jacques? Or the fact that your welfare state is so wasteful and expensive that it destroyed the E.U. Stability Pact?

Karol at Alarming News adds:

They're better at surrendering, they're better at ignoring their Islamist problems, they're just generally better at being arrogant and thinking themselves better than others. And if there was a prize for electing pompous, useless politicians, France would claim the gold every time.


What about their leading edge water conservation by infrequent bathing?

UN: shredding like Arthur Andersen and Enron

The UN is running the shredders at full speed. What could they possibly be shredding? Bad ad campaign ideas for Ted Turner's $1 billion propaganda blitz? Documentation of UN sex crimes? No, most likely it's just evidence about that pesky oil-for-food thing, where the UN allowed a murderous dictator to bribe his way out of any consequences for violating UN resolutions.

HT: Instapundit.

Rove / Plame

This OpinionJournal round-up amounts to a complete exoneration of Karl Rove.

But the DNC doesn't seem to get it. This e-mail comes from Executive Director Tom McMahon:

Dear W.C.:

So far, thousands upon thousands of you have told the White House that our national security has no place in partisan politics. Perhaps most impressive, the response has come from all walks of life.

It's not just Democrats who are outraged at Karl Rove revealing classified information as part of a partisan smear campaign -- and President Bush's failure to take action. Independents and Republicans have joined the chorus expressing outrage at this administration.

They join Republicans like former President Bush, who called those who leak classified information the "most insidious of traitors" and former Republican Party chairman Ed Gillespie, who agreed that this leak was "worse than Watergate."

I'd like to share some of the responses we've received from a few of these folks. Please read them below. And if you haven't yet added your name to the bipartisan call for the White House to come clean, do it now:

http://www.democrats.org/comeclean

And please reach out to everyone you know -- regardless of their
political affiliation -- by forwarding this email. This issue is much bigger than politics, and the cover-up needs to stop. President Bush's credibility and our national security are on the line.

Sincerely,
Tom McMahon
Executive Director
Democratic National Committee



UPDATE: Rove may not have outed a CIA agent, but John Kerry did.

Girls just wanna have fun; Republicans just wanna kill the families of geeky Democrats

Paul Begala is nuttier than the love child of Howard Dean and Rick Santorum:
"They want to kill me and my children if they can. But if they just kill me and not my children, they want my children to be comforted -- that while they didn't protect me because they cut my taxes, my children won't have to pay any money on the money they inherit," Begala said. "That is bulls*** national defense, and we should say that."

HT: PoliPundit.

Santorum is a bigot

Rick Santorum is in trouble for stupid comments again, this time for what he wrote a few years ago in a Catholic publication, where he made offensive comments linking tolerance for homosexuality to the epidemic of child molestation in Massachusetts churches:

It is startling that those in the media and academia appear most disturbed by this aberrant behavior, since they have zealously promoted moral relativism by sanctioning "private" moral matters such as alternative lifestyles. Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.


This is, of course, not the first time that Santorum has said offensive and downright nutty things. The problem with Santorum is not that he says wacky things he doesn't really believe. The problem is that he actually believes the homophobic things he says.

Many on the right support Santorum as a Senator, and some would support him for President, because of his consistent conservative voting record. But Santorum's kookiness and bigotry reflect poorly on the party that supports him.

More on this at PoliPundit and Captain's Quarters, who treat it as a gaffe more than as more evidence of what a nutjob Santorum really is.

We wouldn't want to offend them

The BBC is changing its stories to avoid using the word "terrorists" to describe the perpetrators of the London bombings.

The BBC's guidelines state that its credibility is undermined by the "careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgments".

Consequently, "the word 'terrorist' itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding" and its use should be "avoided", the guidelines say.

And just two weeks ago Karl Rove was under attack for observing that "Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."

HT: Ace.

Bring the troops home now!

No, not from Iraq, where they still have work to do, but from Germany, where 70,000 troops are still holding off the Soviet invasion.

Bases in Europe may be necessary for logistic and medical purposes, but they certainly don't require 70,000 troops. And couldn't they be relocated to a country like Poland that is not openly hostile to U.S. foreign and defense policy?

It does appear, though, that serious planning is underway to drastically reduce the number of troops in Iraq as Iraqi forces become capable of maintaining security in many regions of Iraq (HT: Huffington Post). That's great news, and I hope it's not overly optimistic.

Condi-mania hits the Outback

Sunday I was at a roadhouse 100 kilometers outside of Darwin in Australia's remote Northern Territory. I picked up a local paper, the Sunday Territorian. Once I got past the riveting local news ("Record crowd at Alice's camel capers" and "A 46-year-old woman was taken to the hospital suffering hand injuries after the vehicle she was driving collided with another..."), I was surprised to see that the Condoleezza Rice Presidential juggernaut has arrived even here. Reporter Julie Hinds writes:

"From my perspective, it's just not a woman, it's just not any woman, it's this woman, Condoleeza Rice," says Crystal Dueker of Fargo, North Dakota, national co-chair of Americans for Dr. Rice (Americansforrice.com). "She's got the iron will of Margaret Thatcher."

...

Dueker, who's been criss-crossing the country in her Mini Cooper, says she's always running into Condistas, a nickname for Rice supporters.
The article, which leads with the idea of any woman president and the novelty of a possible Hillary-Condi contest, is encouraging. I love the idea of Condoleezza Rice for President, and I'm happy to see that attention is building. Let's hope it continues.

UPDATE: It's a Knight-Ridder story, avaiable here (HT: Condi for President 2008). The Territorian's by-line doesn't mention Knight-Ridder, and makes it appear that Hinds works for them.
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