Reality and Sanity

June 30, 2006

Legislating The Market

The French have many problems with their growing Muslim population, high unemployent and general lack of a spine; but they find enough backbone to brazenly pass a law aimed at one–that’s right, one–successful business to force marketing changes: French Lawmakers Pass ‘iTunes Law’.

PARIS (AP) – French lawmakers gave final approval Friday to government-backed legislation that could force Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) to make its iPod music player and iTunes online store compatible with rivals’ offerings.

Both the Senate and the National Assembly, France’s lower house, voted in favor of the copyright bill, which some analysts said could cause Apple to close iTunes France and pull its market-leading player from the country’s shelves.

Yes, Apple should exercise the Wal-Mart option and yank the product altogether.

You would think that the French political class have some more pressing issues to worry about.

The Bust

Filed under: Stupid Criminal Tricks — Paul @ 1:26 pm

Don’t smoke weed in public; you never know who might be sniffing: Drive-Thru Pot Smoke Gives Pair Away.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) – A pair of pot smokers picked the wrong day to use the drive-thru window at a KFC restaurant in Buffalo. Two men in their 20s pulled up to the restaurant’s window and asked for the Wednesday special.

Meanwhile, a couple of narcotics detectives were inside ordering their food. That’s when a cloud of marijuana smoke wafted into the restaurant. The detectives then spotted the two men smoking what one of the cops called “the biggest marijuana cigar your ever saw.”

This nearly reads like a scene from a Cheech and Chong movie, except that the perps got caught.

What Can Energize Box Office Numbers?

Filed under: Hollywood vs. America — Paul @ 8:29 am

According to Hollywood director James Cameron, it’s movies in 3-D.

No, this is not a joke:

ONE of Hollywood’s leading directors called yesterday on studios, film-makers and distributors to wake up to the role that 3-D films can play in winning back audiences.

James Cameron, who was showered with Oscars for Titanic and who is directing a science-fiction 3-D film for 20th Century Fox, said that the technology enables cinemas to offer something that home entertainment cannot.

“I want to inspire people to come back to cinemas with an experience they can only have there,” he said. “Theatre owners, exhibitors and distributors should work to bring a sense of showmanship back to the cinema experience. Cinemagoing won’t go away, but it can get eroded. This is a wake-up call. Are we just going to lie down and let change roll over us, or do something about it?”

I got a better idea. I suggest you make movies people actually want to see.

Instead of making cute PC morality sermons or post-modernist debauchery, how about making movies that give people hope and entertain? There’s a reason classic movies have become cash cows.

How clueless can a guy be about his market?

June 28, 2006

Moonbat Swift Program Argument Smackdown

Filed under: Bias? What bias? — Paul @ 9:05 pm

Patterico has your complete, one-stop shop rebuttal.

June 27, 2006

I’m Surprised A Minnesotan Didn’t Think of This

Filed under: General Nonsense — Paul @ 8:49 pm

Yes! You too can have a glass-like ice skating surface in your backyard for $30,000: Vt. Man Creates the Backyard Zamboni.

EAST MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – Damian Renzello has been searching for smooth ice for years. Now he has created the ultimate outdoor backyard dream machine for ice lovers – the backyard Zamboni.

Renzello, who invented the Porta-Rinx, a backyard portable ice skating rink kit, and the Bambini, a pull-behind ice resurfacing unit, now has the solution for sale.

He has mounted a snow blower on the front of a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle, added an ice scraper blade underneath and mounted a water tank connected to pipes and hoses that lays down a film of water to create a glass-like finish to outdoor ice.

Called the Bambini Revolution, the machine will sell for about $30,000 to outdoor ice skating enthusiasts.

And that’s not all!

And he notes the Bambini is an all-purpose machine. It can serve as a snowblower to clear a driveway, it can mow a lawn in summer and it can spread liquid fertilizer from its tank.

I can see Mr. Renzello in a late-night infomercial hawking his invention with some hyped-up fawning blonde: The Bambini Revolution! Not only is it a complete land maintenece machine, it also walks the dog, picks up the groceries, vacuums the carpet and washes the dishes! Now how much would you pay?

Campaign Finance Reform Follies

The NY Times comes out in favor for campaign contribution limits, applauding the Supreme Courts decison to leave intact Vermont’s tiny thresholds intact: Campaign Finance Reform Survives.

The Supreme Court struck down Vermont’s reform-oriented campaign finance system yesterday. But more important was what it did not do. The court, ruling on the issue for the first time since the arrival of two new justices, declined to overturn 30 years of precedents upholding limits on campaign contributions. That makes the decision a setback for the anti-reform forces who want to open the spigots for corporate and special-interest money to flood into American politics.

Open the spigots for corporate and special-interest money to flood into American politics?

You’d think these guys have never heard of 527s, MoveOn.org or George Soros.

The decision striking down Vermont’s system was not unexpected. Vermont’s limits were the lowest in the nation — an individual could give just $400 to a candidate for governor or $200 to a candidate for state representative. Even some strong supporters of campaign finance laws worry that such low limits stack the deck in favor of well-known incumbents.

Hah. McCain-Feingold does that now, which is why I have long called it The Incumbency Protection Act.

Another part of Vermont’s law restricted how much candidates could spend, an approach that had already been struck down in Buckley.

Big-money interests that are challenging campaign contribution limits may be heartened by the fact that one state’s attempt to reform its campaign finance system has been rejected. But taken as a whole, the ruling is a strong reaffirmation of the principle that the Constitution permits reasonable limits designed to prevent what the court has called “corruption and the appearance of corruption.”

Actually, there is a far simpler way to handle “corruption and the appearance of corruption” in political donations. First, do away with all limits on contributions; anybody can give as much as they want, with this caveat: all donations recieved must be made public. All candidates for any office throughout the land must reveal the identity of the donor and the amount of cash involved. Everyone would know who gave what to whom, and voters could easily see any campaign awash in “corruption and the appearance of corruption.”

June 26, 2006

NY Times Updates

Filed under: Bias? What bias? — Paul @ 6:18 pm

If you haven’t already go read the lovely and articulate Michelle Malkin here and here. Plenty of links and reaction!

June 25, 2006

Why Hugh Hewitt is The Comissioner

Up on the MSNBC/Newsweek website: The Right: The Next Big Thing?Smaller headline: Conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt marries the power of talk radio with the reach of the ‘netroots.’ Watch out, Kos.

On July 4, Salem Communications, one of the country’s largest radio-station owners, will relaunch an old Web war horse called Townhall.com as a hub for its stable of stars (including Bill Bennett, Michael Medved and Hewitt himself). The hope? That “Web 2.0” wherewithal can transform what was once an op-ed clearinghouse into a single nerve center serving the separate conservative communities of talk radio and the Internet. To Hewitt, a valuable White House ally, the math is simple: add 6 million Salem fans to Townhall’s 1.4 million unique monthly visitors and you’ve got an audience six or seven times the size of liberal site Daily Kos, the Web’s biggest political blog. “We will overwhelm them,” he says…

…Should Dems be alarmed? “Absolutely,” says Hewitt. “Unless they don’t mind political exile.” Not everyone is so sure. “Kos can’t be duplicated,” says Salon.com blogwatcher Peter Daou.

Why would we want to duplicate the antics of the Krazy Kos Kidz? As Hugh says,

It’s not about getting people angry, it’s about being effective.

And we haven’t even started yet.

(Hat tip: Scott Johnson at Powerline)

Little Hope For Democrats in ’06

Filed under: General Nonsense, Stupid Democrat Tricks — Paul @ 9:55 am

Victor David Hanson offers a well-reasoned analysis of the Dems’ future election chances: Why the Democrats Won’t Win.

Will President Bush’s current unpopularity translate into a Democratic recapture of either the House or Senate this fall – or a victory in the 2008 presidential election?

Probably not.

Despite widespread unhappiness with the Republicans, it is hard to envision a majority party run by Howard Dean, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Why?

All sorts of apparent and not-so-apparent reasons. First, recent events and trends have complicated Democrats’ talking points about George W. Bush’s purported failings.

The so-called “jobless” recovery has seen low unemployment rates comparable to the Clinton boom years.

Last September, many people blamed what they viewed as a stingy federal government for the chaos following Hurricane Katrina. But now we learn individuals’ fraudulent claims and spending accounted for $1.4 billion in federal largess. Too much was apparently thrown around from big government too generously, rather than too little, too slowly.

Karl Rove was supposedly going to be “frog-marched” out of the White House in cuffs for a role in outing CIA agent Valerie Plame. Instead, the special prosecutor recently found no evidence that he was involved in any wrongdoing.

And then there’s Iraq. The recent killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the establishment of a complete Iraqi democratic Cabinet will not ensure a quick victory, as we see from the recent slaughter of American captive soldiers. But both events still weaken the liberal clamor that the American effort at birthing democracy is doomed in Iraq. Calling for a deadline to leave, as Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., and Sen. John Kerry, D-Ma., advocate, is not so compelling when the current policy is based on training the growing Iraqi security forces so that American troops can come home as soon as possible.

Thus, looking ahead to the elections, there is little that the Democrats will be able to capitalize on.

Much more like this in the rest of the column.

Dean Sticks His Fingers in His Ears, Yells “LALALALALA”

Filed under: General Nonsense, Stupid Democrat Tricks — Paul @ 9:02 am

Even though Iraq troop pullouts were rejected once in the House (256-153) and three times in the Senate (93-6, 86-13 and 60-39), Howard Dean continues down the same weather-beaten path: Dean Repeats Call for Iraq Troop Drawdown.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The head of the Democratic Party blamed the Bush administration’s “failed political leadership and lack of foresight and planning” for turning U.S. soldiers into targets for the Iraqi insurgency.

In his party’s weekly radio address Saturday, Howard Dean said the Republican plan of “stay the course” is not an option in the 3-year-old war and emphasized the Democratic call for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops to begin by year’s end.

He also rejected the Republican criticism that Democrats want to “cut and run.”

“Among the victims are brave American soldiers who are the targets of an insurgency because of failed political leadership and a lack of foresight and planning,” Dean said. “We don’t want another wall with 55,000 names of courageous Americans who were let down by their government.”

Another wall with 55,000?

Losing any of our troops is sad and unfortunate. That’s why we honor their sacrifices and bravery. But 55,000?

The AP and other news services recently marked the grim milestone of 2500 American deaths in Iraq. That’s in three years. Do the math, Howard. At that pace, 55,000 will be reached around 2072.

Back to Dean:

Dean argued that Republicans don’t have a plan.

“‘Stay the course’ is not a plan. Saying the problems in Iraq will be left to the next president is not a plan. Our troops deserve better,” he said.

Interesting how Dean (and the rest of the Left) conveiniently forgets that we still have troops in Bosnia, nearly a decade after Bill Clinton promised they’d all be home. How about that, Howard?

Dean added that phrases such as “peace is at hand” and “the insurgency is in its last throes” are made by what he called an increasingly desperate administration.

Uh, Howard, members of your own party voted down the Iraq pullout plan. What’s more, Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki offered the insurgents amnesty and the insurgents vowed to reject it. As Captain Ed observes:

That puts an end to the entire notion of negotiated peace with the insurgents. If they will not recognize the elected government as legitimate, then they will recognize no arbiter for a truce. The position leaves the insurgents outside the political process and in the sights of both American and Iraqi security forces. At the rate that their intel has improved, these groups may soon regret their stance.

This will come as a victory for Talabani, Maliki, and the new Iraqi government. Fourteen million people voted to put this government in power, which gives it a legitimacy that the sorry band of Iraqi deadenders will never win by blowing up security forces and civilians. The government has faced pressure to offer some sort of national reconciliation to the native insurgents, especially from the Sunnis in the center of the country. When Maliki makes this plan public, he will have given the best offer possible while maintaining self-determination for the Iraqi people. Their rejection takes the pressure off of the national government to be the prime mover for that reconciliation, and it will undermine what sympathy still remains for the insurgents.

What next? Expect a renewed security effort by the Iraqi government and a lot less pressure for an American wihdrawal in the near term. Maliki and Talabani have given themselves an open window for conducting further degradation of the insurgent networks. And now, the Iraqi people will know who to blame for the continuing violence — and the intel will improve that much more.

Howard, your stance, like those of the “insurgents,” is in its last throes. Give it up.

Howard reminds me of Baghdad Bob, who denied any of our forces advancing on Saddam and his government. Baghdad Bob’s game was deny everything in the face of unsurpassable odds, to the point that I said at the time “You could tell him the sky is blue and he would deny it.” I was waiting for American soldiers behind him waving to the cameras, like you see with a field reporter standing in front of a crowd.

Dean has plugged his ears and is shouting to cover up anything contrary to his views. Much like the mouse in The Last Great Act of Defiance, Dean will deny to the end.

June 24, 2006

The NY Times is Out of Control

Filed under: Bias? What bias? — Paul @ 9:28 pm

The NY Times publishes more classified info: U.S. General in Iraq Outlines Troop Cuts. Hat tip: LGF.)

WASHINGTON, June 24 — The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.According to a classified briefing at the Pentagon this week by the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the number of American combat brigades in Iraq is projected to decrease to 5 or 6 from the current level of 14 by December 2007.

Ace has been proven absolutely right with this statement:

The left continues to undermine national security in the most despicable, cynical way. I'm quite sure the reasonable liberals at the NYT and WaPo know full well that programs like this are absolutely vital, and their secrecy is likewise vital. However, they have made the most anti-American and evil sort of decision: While tools like this are vital for saving American lives, they will not permit any Republican President to use them. Only Democratic Presidents are permitted to employ the full panoply of powers for protecting American lives.It's blackmail, pure and simple. Either let a Democrat into the White House, or we will continue to sabotage American security and, in effect, kill Americans. We will keep secrets when a Democrat is in office, but not a Republican. So we offer the American people a choice: Let the politicians we favor run the country, or we will help Al Qaeda murder you.

Update: Captain Ed has a different take. I hope he's right.

Update II: The lovely and articulate Michelle Malkin reminds us:

Ed Morrissey thinks it's a controlled leak. But the law, as I've noted before, does not distinguish between "good" and "bad" leaks, "controlled" or "uncontrolled" ones. As Ed rightly notes, whatever the case, "the New York Times has once again specialized in publishing classified material on a story with only marginal news value."

Also, The Anti-Blabbermouth Army of Photoshoppers continues to supply Michelle with plenty of 21st century updates.

Not Far From the Truth

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul @ 4:02 pm

Great satire, like great comedy, has an element of truth to it. What is scary about this Scott Ott piece is that he might be far closer to truth than fiction: ScrappleFace: NY Times Program Expands Executive Editor Authority.

An Excellent Explanation of a S.W.I.F.T. Transaction

Filed under: Bias? What bias? — Paul @ 1:37 pm

King Banaian at SCSU Scholars has a must-read piece: What is a S.W.I.F.T. Transaction? The MSM who participated in exposing our methods to catch terrorists via wire transactions really had the "public interest" in mind. Oh yeah, Big Brother snooping on everyone's checking account:

A SWIFT consists of a one-page document containing the name and code of the originating bank, the date and time, the address and code of the receiving bank, the name and internal code of the officer initiating the transmission, the names and numbers of the accounts involved in the transfer, a description of the asset being transferred, the MT category of the transmission, and acceptable, standardized phrases as described above.

SWIFT transactions are typically large size because the cost of using the system is substantial. When I lived in Ukraine I only used SWIFT for receiving sums of about $10000, typically quarterly, for payment of expenses. The information on the slip that I would receive had codes for the banks, the accounts being transferred from and to (in both those cases, mine — I could not get dollars without a Ukrainian bank account) and the amount to be transferred.

How many people do you know participate in $10,000 international transactions every other day? All exposing this did is give aid and comfort to the enemy that want to kill us.
The NY Times, LA Times, WaPo and others who exposed the banking transactions have only one "public interest" in mind: winning Pulitzers.

U.S. Should Exercise The Nuclear Option (Energy…Energy!)

Filed under: Junk Science Propaganda — Paul @ 9:55 am

For over 25 years, the US has allowed Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas and Jack Lemmon to dictate our nuclear energy policy, the trio of stars in The China Syndrome. There were supposed to be 1000 US nuclear plants supplying power by now, only 100 exist. So successful were the “No Nukes” crowd in the 1980s, using The China Syndrome and the Three Mile Island incident to curtail and effectively eliminate any new plant construction. Now the US lags behind the modernized world in nuclear energy. (I have always found it facinating that liberals suggest we emulate the French in matters of love and war, but not their energy policies.) Olivia Albrecht states what should be painfully obvious to every US citizen: The U.S. Should Lead the Way in Nuclear Energy.

It is time for the U.S. to reassess nuclear energy as a tool in the sensible need to diversify our energy portfolio and to meet escalating energy demands in developing countries without putting additional strain on global energy resources. We must do so in a manner that promotes global energy security and upholds established non-proliferation policy principles. New technology, new policies and new global consortia can all contribute to the revival of nuclear energy as a viable, safe and secure energy source.

Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace and former adversary of nuclear energy now turned vocal proponent of the ‘nuclear option,’ explained in a recent op-ed that while other energy options exist, it’s all too clear that nuclear energy remains the only feasible option for the future.

Wind and solar power are intermittent, unpredictable and inherently uneconomical, thus limiting their capacity to replace mega power sources such as coal, nuclear or hydroelectric. Even natural gas – a fossil fuel – is consistently too expensive and its price often too volatile to risk justifying large investments. It is an unfortunate fact that hydroelectric resources are built up to capacity at this point.

Therefore, the next logical step is a reevaluation of nuclear energy — a fuel based system of uranium, which is both abundant and inexpensive.

The NY Times Responds to Outraged Citizens

Filed under: Bias? What bias? — Paul @ 9:08 am

***Scroll for updates*****

The Slimes defends its aiding and abetting the enemy by exposing terrorist-tracking techniques: Following the Money, and the Rules.

When government agencies are involved in continuing investigations that might infringe on Americans' privacy, it is important that some outside entity is keeping track of what is going on. That principle is particularly true now, when the United States is trying to learn how to live in a perpetual war on terror.Investigators will probably need to monitor the flow of money to and from suspected terrorists and listen in on their phone conversations for decades to come. No one wants that to stop, but if America is going to continue to be America, these efforts need to be done under a clear and coherent set of rules, with the oversight of Congress and the courts.

So the Slimes is more interested in oversight than in preventing say, the Sears Tower from a sudden unplanned implosion?

How many more people have to die horribly on American soil for the Slimes to realize this is a war? Will a US city end up a smoking crater because of their concern for "oversight?"

Scott Johnson at Powerline refutes the entire editorial in a single paragraph:

In its editorial on the subject today, the New York Times offers no shred of an argument concerning the possible illegality or overbreadth of the program. It cites no instance of abuse. Rather, the Times argues "these efforts need to be done under a clear and coherent set of rules, with the oversight of Congress and the courts." The Times purports to invoke the rule of law where no law has been broken, and where the Times itself has both broken the law and damaged American national security.

Update: Forgot to add the link to Powerline in the original post. All fixed!

Update II: Charles at LGF has reaction from Investor's Business Daily on the NY Times story: Eyes on the Prize.

Once again, major newspapers, led by The New York Times, have spilled secrets that will make Americans less safe and the war on terror harder to win. No doubt, Pulitzers are in order. We hope they're proud.

The decision by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal to print details of the government's secret program to monitor terrorists' finances couldn't come at a worse time.

The same day that program was revealed, seven men were arrested in Florida, part of a plot to create a terrorist "Islamic Army" and blow up Chicago's 110-story Sears Tower. The group hoped to hook up with al-Qaida, and even swore oaths to it.

Scary. If nothing else, this underscores the threat we're under — and why those who aid and abet our enemies must be watched.

Which is exactly what the program to watch terrorists' bank accounts did. It looked at bank transfers in the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, system to track the financial activities of terrorists and their friends.

It is a key part of our effort to dismantle the global terrorist threat and to render al-Qaida and its allies financially impotent. It worked — so well, in fact, that both Republicans and Democrats asked newspapers not to print the story.

The money paragraphs:

We're left to wonder: Is this criminal behavior? The newspapers will claim they have the right under the First Amendment to publish government secrets if they see fit. But that's rubbish. Since World War II, Congress and a series of legal decisions have made it clear the media aren't exempt from the Espionage Act — which forbids giving secrets to the enemy.

While the legality of printing secrets may be debatable, it's clear there's a crisis among media elites that have allowed hatred of the president and his party to taint their reporting. In the process, they've destroyed whatever claims to objectivity and fairness they might have once had. Far worse, they've given aid and comfort to the enemy in a time of war — and that is simply inexcusable.

Update III: The Washinton Times has weighed in: The Right Not to Know.

Once more the spoiler. Despite the earnest persuasion of the White House to preserve a useful weapon in the war against the terrorists, the New York Times has revealed the workings of a covert surveillance program, indisputably within the law, to use administrative subpoenas to examine, through a Belgian financial consortium known by the acronym SWIFT, the financing of international terrorism.

Once the story was out, the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal covered it as well. Now the program is damaged, perhaps severely so, and the financing of terror is harder to track. This is another unnecessary leak, six months after the New York Times revealed a secret National Security Agency terrorist surveillance program.
In its earlier scoop, the New York Times could reasonably argue legal uncertainty. Not this time.

The Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Miller in 1976 that no right to privacy attaches to the type of third-party financial-transaction information SWIFT has provided to the Treasury Department. The Right to Financial Privacy Act, enacted by Congress in 1978 in the wake of United States v. Miller, allows just the administrative subpoenas Treasury has been using. So does the Patriot Act.

The SWIFT transactions that Treasury has been examining are international in nature. The searches are specifically targeted at suspected or known terrorists, a "sharp harpoon aimed at the heart of terrorist activity," as Treasury Secretary John Snow puts it.

The claim that the rights of American citizens are infringed is irrational, unduly partisan, or both.

Read it all…

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