Thursday, March 10, 2005

Review of the Star Wars Trailer 

Once again, I remind you, my life is a real joke sometimes. I spent all day and night working on a 35-page appellate brief and spent 2 1/2 hours studying Civil Procedure. (BOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRIIIIIINGGGGG!) Then, I got home at around 11 or so and immediately went on the laptop to get the Star Wars Trailer. (You can download it here)

After breaking it down and re-watching it frame-by-frame like it was the Zapruder film, all I can say is that this really does look like the movie the last two should have been. It looks dark and nasty, and there is nothing feel good about it. (Although I expect to be quite happy after leaving the theatre) This is the way it is supposed to be. That criminal George Lucas expects it to be the first Star Wars movie to be PG-13, and he doesn't have a problem with it, which is a good thing. (Although I hope he doesn't chicken out. After all, this movie is a guaranteed winner no matter what)

I cannot wait until May 19th. You?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Episode III Trailer 

If you are a deadbeat loser like me, and can't wait until tomorrow night to see the new Star Wars III trailer, then you can get it here. I watched it 6 times in a row. Not the best quality, but not bad either.

Yeah, I believe every word of this 

Ex-Marine Says Public Version of Saddam Capture Fiction

A former U.S. Marine who participated in capturing ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said the public version of his capture was fabricated.

Ex-Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh, of Lebanese descent, was quoted in the Saudi daily al-Medina Wednesday as saying Saddam was actually captured Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, and not the day after, as announced by the U.S. Army.

"I was among the 20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days in the area of Dour near Tikrit, and we found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced," Abou Rabeh said.

"We captured him after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed," he said.

He said Saddam himself fired at them with a gun from the window of a room on the second floor. Then they shouted at him in Arabic: "You have to surrender. ... There is no point in resisting."

"Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam's capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well," Abou Rabeh said.

Abou Rabeh was interviewed in Lebanon.

Yeah, OK. Here's a reminder of what Saddam looked like when he was captured. It sure doesn't look like he was living in a house to me.

I am sure we will hear the rebuttals from our fine soldiers in the next day or so.

Uh...let's not 

This, my friends, is why I despire Kofi Annan and the U.N.

Let's accept Hezbollah: Annan

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations must recognise Hezbollah as a force to be reckoned with in implementing the UN resolution calling for the withdrawal of all Syrian forces from Lebanon and the disarmament of the country's militias, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said later on Tuesday.

He was responding to a question about the disarmament of Hezbollah, which showed its strength on Tuesday at a huge pro-Syrian rally in Beirut attended by thousands of people who chanted anti-US slogans.

Annan said the world needs to accept that in every society different groups may hold different views. "Of course, we need to be careful of the forces at work in Lebanese society as we move forward," he said.

"But even the Hezbollah — if I read the message on the placards they are using — they are talking about non-interference by outsiders... which is not entirely at odds with the Security Council resolution, that there should be withdrawal of Syrian troops," Annan told reporters.

"But that having been said, we need to recognise that they are a force in society that one will have to factor in as we implement the resolution," he said.

Only Kofi Annan would take that protest in Beirut seriously, conveniently disregarding the fact that Hezbollah bused in most of those people. Some "moral authority" the U.N. has. When people protest for freedom, they have nothing to say. But when there is "support" for terrorists, Annan can't legitimize it fast enough.

Annan is scum. I will never forgive him for his actions (and inactions) in letting the Rwanda genocide happen.

Monday, March 07, 2005

"I am not Saddam Hussein" 

This is a direct quote from that scumbag Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who said this in Time magazine:

"Please send this message: I am not Saddam Hussein. I want to co-operate."

I'll bet he does. Bush means business, and clowns like him know it.

Mark Steyn has more brilliance here on this subject.

Let me tell you about North Korea - if I can afford it 

Someone linked to a website promoting travel to the worker's paradise North Korea. They aren't too happy about it. Get this:

Due to some inconsiderate people linking directly to our multimedia we were forced to take the content offline since it generated too much traffic.

This kind of careless linking to high-profile sites is typical of the internet where people no longer respect that such links could make free content less available.

We will never charge money to pay for the bandwidth, so if people are going to expect high-quality content they should make their own copy of the large file and share it from their own server.

Questions can be sent to support@korea-dpr.com for technical advice.

Thank you and have a nice day.

The Honeymoon is Over 

Now that Bush has been re-elected, and the main goal of the press is to portray Hillary as a moderate and popular with Republicans, our friends in the media will no longer be writing puff pieces on that "maverick" John McCain.

McCain Group Got Big Cable Donation

WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain pressed a cable company's case for pricing changes with regulators at the same time a tax-exempt group that he has worked with since its founding solicited $200,000 in contributions from the company.

Help from McCain, who argues for ridding politics of big money, included giving the CEO of Cablevision Systems Corp. the opportunity to testify before his Senate committee, writing a letter of support to the Federal Communication Commission and asking other cable companies to support so-called a la carte pricing.

McCain had expressed interest in exploring the a la carte option for years before Cablevision advocated it, but did not take a formal position with regulators until after the company's first donation came in. Cablevision is the eighth largest cable provider, serving about 3 million customers in the New York area.

I hope he saved all of those fawning stories about him, because those days are over, especially since he is considered a threat to Hillary in 2008.

All the news that fits, they print 

I could not help but laugh at this part of a New York Times editorial.

The Republicans are claiming that 51 votes should be enough to win confirmation of the White House's judicial nominees. This flies in the face of Senate history.

Next thing you know, those damn Republicans will claim that the 14th Amendment allows states to keep felons from voting, or that Article I Section 2 forces the House members to stand for election every 2 years.

Seriously, if this flies in the face of history, they must mean real recent history. But, like many have always said, to liberals, history started 10 minutes ago.

Gee, I wonder where they got this idea? 

Kuwaitis demonstrate for women's suffrage

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Around 500 Kuwaiti activists, mostly women, have demonstrated outside parliament to demand female suffrage amidst tensions in the Gulf Arab state over a government drive to grant women political rights.

"Women's rights now," chanted the crowd, which included women dressed in abayas, or traditional long black cloaks. Some of the demonstrators at Monday's protest wore veils over their faces.

"Our democracy will only be complete with women," said a placard written in Arabic. "We are not less, you are not more. We need a balance, open the door," said one written in English.

For the New York Times, the AP, and CNN, it will be "unclear" as to why these demonstrations are taking place at this point in time. For everyone else, it will be crystal clear.

By the way, am I the only one that finds it interesting that everytime you see protests in foreign countries, especially ones where English is not spoken, most of the signs are in English?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Bush sends his greetings! 

I love this part of an article in the New York Times today:

But it is unclear what kind of additional pressure Mr. Bush and his European allies are willing to bring. In Martyrs' Square here, the scene of many demonstrations in recent weeks, thousands of protesters came Saturday morning to watch a broadcast of Mr. Assad's speech on projection screens, at times booing and jeering, or calling "Liar!" and "Bush sends his greetings!"

The protesters, many dressed in white, waved Lebanese flags and called for "freedom, sovereignty and independence."

I wonder if that choice of words has anything to do with what our fine American soldier said when he captured Saddam in that spider hole.

They were about to execute a "clearing procedure" -- firing into the hole or dropping a grenade into it -- when someone saw upraised hands belonging to a bearded, bedraggled man. The man had a pistol but did not fire it.

When the soldiers assisted the man from the hole, he said, in English: "I am Saddam Hussein. I am the president of Iraq. I want to negotiate."

The soldiers replied: "President Bush sends his regards."


A communist would never lie 

I wonder how much the media will push this storyline on us:

Italian Journalist Rejects U.S. Account

ROME - The Italian journalist wounded by American troops in Iraq after her release by insurgents rejected the U.S. military's account of the shooting and declined Sunday to rule out the possibility she was deliberately targeted. The White House said it was a "horrific accident" and promised a full investigation...

Sgrena, who works for the communist daily Il Manifesto, did not rule out that she was targeted, saying the United States likely disapproved of Italy's methods to secure her release, although she did not elaborate.

"The fact that the Americans don't want negotiations to free the hostages is known," Sgrena told Sky TG24 television by telephone, her voice hoarse and shaky. "The fact that they do everything to prevent the adoption of this practice to save the lives of people held hostages, everybody knows that. So I don't see why I should rule out that I could have been the target."

I love the way she put this. She never said she was a target, only that she does not rule it out.

The U.S. military has said the car Sgrena was riding in was speeding, and Americans used hand and arm signals, flashing white lights and warning shots to get it to stop at the roadblock.

But in an interview with Italian La 7 TV, Sgrena said, "There was no bright light, no signal." She also said the car was traveling at "regular speed."

I find it difficult to believe that our troops shot at the car for no reason. Simply, put, I think she is full of crap. Here's my favorite part:

Suddenly, she said, she remembered her captors' words, when they warned her "to be careful because the Americans don't want you to return."

Sgrena wrote that her captors warned her as she was about to be released not to signal her presence to anyone, because "the Americans might intervene." She said her captors blindfolded her and drove her to a location where she was turned over to agents and they set off for the airport.

I would not be surprised if her kidnapping was staged. Never trust a Communist-sympathizer, nor anyone who rates a BBC puff piece.

Oh,, and via Little Green Footballs comes this howler contained in another left-wing teabag rag, the Guardian:

Sgrena told colleagues the vehicle was not travelling fast and had already passed several checkpoints on its way to the airport. The Americans shone a flashlight at the car and then fired between 300 and 400 bullets at if from an armoured vehicle.

Yeah, sure. If our people fired 300 to 400 bullets, no one would be around to talk about it now.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Picture of the weekend 

I jacked this picture off of MillenniumFalcon.com. You gotta love it.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Bush is so incompetent... 

...he can't even create terrorists in Iraq anymore.

Militants Scour Europe for Iraq Fighters

BERLIN - Islamic terror groups are becoming increasingly active in Germany and coordinating with militants across Europe to recruit fighters to join the insurgency in Iraq, equipping them with fake passports, money and medical supplies, security officials say.

Laugh of the weekend 

I saw this at Powerline and laughed uncontrollably:

Niger cancels 'free-slave' event

The government of Niger has cancelled at the last minute a special ceremony during which at least 7,000 slaves were to be granted their freedom.

A spokesman for the government's human rights commission, which had helped to organise the event, said this was because slavery did not exist.

If slavery didn't exist, why schedule the event to begin with?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Mark Steyn - Man of Brilliance 

In a nutshell, this is why I think Mark Steyn is the top writer in the world today.

The other day I found myself, for the umpteenth time, driving in Vermont behind a Kerry/Edwards supporter whose vehicle also bore the slogan ‘FREE TIBET’. It must be great to be the guy with the printing contract for the ‘FREE TIBET’ stickers. Not so good to be the guy back in Tibet wondering when the freeing thereof will actually get under way. For a while, my otherwise not terribly political wife got extremely irritated by these stickers, demanding to know at a pancake breakfast at the local church what precisely some harmless hippy-dippy old neighbour of ours meant by the slogan he’d been proudly displaying decade in, decade out: ‘But what exactly are you doing to free Tibet?’ she demanded. ‘You’re not doing anything, are you?’ ‘Give the guy a break,’ I said back home. ‘He’s advertising his moral virtue, not calling for action. If Rumsfeld were to say, “Free Tibet? Jiminy, what a swell idea! The Third Infantry Division go in on Thursday”, the bumper-sticker crowd would be aghast.’

But for those of us on the arrogant unilateralist side of things, that’s not how it works. ‘FREE AFGHANISTAN’. Done. ‘FREE IRAQ’. Done. Given the paintwork I pull off every time I have to change the sticker, it might be easier for the remainder of the Bush presidency just to go around with ‘FREE [INSERT YOUR FETID TOTALITARIAN BASKET-CASE HERE]’. Not in your name? Don’t worry, it’s not.

A man of brilliance he is. Anyone want to dispute that?

[Update: I fixed the article, so I believe you do not have to register now. If you still do, or have have to register for site, don't. Go to Bug Me Not to get a login. I always do.]

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The UN Fights Back 

Captain Ed has this interesting story.

Wanna bash Bush? Just run a poll 

I cannot believe how many anti-Bush stories are based on polls. I just love this headline in the New York Times:

New Poll Finds Bush Priorities Are Out of Step With Americans

Americans say President Bush does not share the priorities of most of the country on either domestic or foreign issues, are increasingly resistant to his proposal to revamp Social Security and say they are uneasy with Mr. Bush's ability to make the right decisions about the retirement program, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Yeah, OK. We are supposed to trust a poll by the 2 biggest Bush-defamers out there. (By the way, whatever happened to that "300 tons of missing weapons" story these two put out there a week before the election?) For laughs, let me analyze a few parts:

Still, 42 percent now say that Mr. Bush would have been better off trying to counter the threat of North Korea before invading Iraq, compared with 45 percent who think Mr. Bush was correct to focus first on Iraq.

If we went after North Korea first, the poll would have said we should have gone after Iraq first. This is a waste of a paragraph.

Four months after Mr. Bush won a solid re-election over Senator John Kerry, 63 percent of respondents say the president has different priorities on domestic issues than most Americans.

And that means...what? Bush has different priorities than me too. So what?

Asked to chose among five domestic issues facing the country, respondents rated Social Security third - behind jobs and health care.

Shocking! A New York Times/CBS polls finds that Americans' priorities are exactly the same as the Democratic Party platfrom.

And nearly 50 percent said Democrats were more likely to make the right decisions about Social Security, compared with 31 percent who said the same thing about Republicans.

Must be the same "nearly 50 percent" who voted for Kerry.

Lisa Delaune, 37, a student from Houston and a member of the Green Party, said in a follow-up interview, "My opinion is that the president favors big business over the health and well-being and overall stability of the entire American population."

Exactly what one would expect from a Green Party member. Does anyone take those people seriously outside of the Times?

And Mr. Bush does not appear to be much more in step with the nation on what the White House has long viewed as his strong suit: 58 percent of respondents said the White House did not share the foreign affairs priorities of most Americans.

4 months ago, Bush was re-elected. Yet, overwhelming majorities are against both his foreign and domestic policies. Why believe the vote totals when polling says otherwise?

And here's a Times staple: Someone who voted for Bush who disagrees with him.

"I don't think he's listening to the people concerning Social Security," said Beverly Workman, a West Virginia Democrat who said she voted for Mr. Bush. "I think the public wants him to leave it alone."

This is my absolute favorite part:

On North Korea, 81 percent said that that nation does indeed now have nuclear weapons.

We need to have a poll to decide if North Korea has nukes or not? Oh, please. Let me leave you with one of my favorite cartoons, which tells you all you need to know about polling.

Teaching tomfoolery in Berkeley 

Betsy, one of my favorite bloggers, who I am sure is a fine teacher, has this revealing post about how Berkeley high school teachers are taking out their contract woes on their students. Read it.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Constitution? The Supreme Court once heard of it 

Were I a legislator, I would certainly vote for a law that banned the death penalty for those who committed the offense before they were 18. (Just like I would vote to disallow abortions by those under 18 without parental consent) If all I cared about were the outcome, I would not have a problem with the outcome of Roper v. Simmons, in which the Supreme Court (only 16 years after saying otherwise) found that executing those under 18 is unconstitutional.

Read Kennedy's majority opinion, especially Part IV. (And, especially read Scalia's brilliant-as-usual dissent) I do not care much for the "national consensus" rationale, but I can deal with that. What I really despise is the Court citing international treaties, especially ones that we are not a signatory to. Here's an example of what I mean, from Kennedy's opinion:

Our determination that the death penalty is disproportionate punishment for offenders under 18 finds confirmation in the stark reality that the United States is the only country in the world that continues to give official sanction to the juvenile death penalty. This reality does not become controlling, for the task of interpreting the Eighth Amendment remains our responsibility....

It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty, resting in large part on the understanding that the instability and emotional imbalance of young people may often be a factor in the crime. See Brief for Human Rights Committee of the Bar of England and Wales et al. as Amici Curiae 10.11. The opinion of the world community, while not controlling our outcome, does provide respected and significant confirmation for our own conclusions.

Not controlling? Yeah, right. At least he admits that the world community provides confirmation for the opinion. There is no hiding that, so he might as well say it. I especially find it troubling that Kennedy cited the U.N. Convention on the Rights of a Child, because the United States has not ratified it, and because of the way the U.N. themselves treat young girls all across the world. Perhaps Kennedy should instead lecture Kofi Annan on that treaty, and not us. Kennedy is a judge, not a legislator. His reasoning and justifications are those of lawmakers, and it is disgraceful. Like I said, I agree with the outcome, but no one voted for Kennedy to make the law.

And get this part. Someone needs to remind Kennedy that we kicked the British out of here a long time ago, and that Parliament does not make our laws.

Though the international covenants prohibiting the juvenile death penalty are of more recent date, it is instructive to note that the United Kingdom abolished the juvenile death penalty before these covenants came into being. The United Kingdom's experience bears particular relevance here in light of the historic ties between our countries and in light of the Eighth Amendment's own origins. The Amendment was modeled on a parallel provision in the English Declaration of Rights of 1689, which provided: "[E]xcessive Bail ought not to be required nor excessive Fines imposed; nor cruel and unusuall Punishments inflicted." As of now, the United Kingdom has abolished the death penalty in its entirety; but, decades before it took this step, it recognized the disproportionate nature of the juvenile death penalty; and it abolished that penalty as a separate matter. In 1930 an official committee recommended that the minimum age for execution be raised to 21. House of Commons Report from the Select Committee on Capital Punishment (1930), 193, p. 44. Parliament then enacted the Children and Young Person's Act of 1933, which prevented execution of those aged 18 at the date of the sentence. And in 1948, Parliament enacted the Criminal Justice Act, prohibiting the execution of any person under 18 at the time of the offense. In the 56 years that have passed since the United Kingdom abolished the juvenile death penalty, the weight of authority against it there, and in the international community, has become well established. (citations omitted)

I cannot believe that our Supreme Court is citing to what the House of Commons said on the issue 75 years ago. That is beyond ridiculous. Our law may derive from English law, but that surely does not mean that English Law should have any relevance now.

One more thing. What exactly is Kennedy talking about here?

"When a juvenile offender commits a heinous crime, the state can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic liberties, but the state cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity."

What does that mean? Is that a legal concept? At best, it sounds like something a legislator might say when trying to get votes on his side. (Granted, as a law student I should not be criticizing Kennedy like this, but I suspect if I offered this exact sentence as reasoning in a paper, my professor would flunk me.) That part is really interesting especially in light of the first paragraph of the first part of Kennedy's opinion.

Simmons proposed to commit burglary and murder by breaking and entering, tying up a victim, and throwing the victim off a bridge. Simmons assured his friends they could "get away with it" because they were minors.

Sure seems to me that Simmons had a mature understanding of his own [in]humanity.

Kennedy lets loose this howler too:

Over time, from one generation to the next, the Constitution has come to earn the high respect and even, as Madison dared to hope, the veneration of the American people.

Yeah, everyone except Kennedy and 4 other justices on the Court.

And one more thing:

Enough about Kennedy. Justice Scalia says it best:

The Court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our Nation's moral standards--and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures. Because I do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment, any more than the meaning of other provisions of our Constitution, should be determined by the subjective views of five Members of this Court and like-minded foreigners, I dissent.

And more of Scalia's briliance:

The Court should either profess its willingness to reconsider all these matters in light of the views of foreigners, or else it should cease putting forth foreigners' views as part of the reasoned basis of its decisions. To invoke alien law when it agrees with one's own thinking, and ignore it otherwise, is not reasoned decisionmaking, but sophistry.

The Wall Street Journal has this terrific editorial on this.

Orin Kerr offers some good analysis here.

Even the Harvard guys at Ex Post, who agree with the outcome as I do, see Kennedy's opinion as indefensible. {ed. They are from Columbia, not Harvard)

[Update: A law school classmate e-mailed to tell me that the Court only uses the international cases and treaties when interpreting 8th Amendment. That is incorrect. They have used it in Due Process and Equal Protection cases too]

[Update II: Ex Post are from Columbia. Ex Parte are the Harvard guys. I regret the error.]

A 12-year run is over 

After tonight, I can no longer say that I missed every single episode of NYPD Blue.

'NYPD Blue' Signing Off After 12 Seasons

I never watched the show. Not once. Perhpas the prospect of seeing Dennis Franz's ass scared me away.

Hypocrisy of the Highest Order 

Read this quote:

[The university] released a statement Tuesday that said the "case is not one of academic freedom, but rather one of inappropriate behavior outside the classroom by a university professional. His attitude was threatening and disrespectful to students."

Ward Churchill? Of course not. Read this.

America-bashing only goes so far 

Sooner or later, Gerhard Schroeder will be gone. He got himself into office by bashing America, and now the Germans are reaping everything they deserve.

German jobless rate at new record

The figure of 5.216 million people, or 12.6% of the working-age population, is the highest jobless rate in Europe's biggest economy since the 1930s.

Here's my favorite part:

The German government insists its efforts to tackle the stubbornly-high levels of joblessness with a range of labour market reforms are only just getting under way.

The core is the "Hartz-IV" programme introduced in January to shake up welfare benefits and push people back into work - even if some of the jobs are heavily subsidised.

So, basically, the same welfare paid out, only they get to say the jobless rate is lower. This is what Socialism is, and why it has failed everywhere it has been tried.

My feelings can be summed up in a word that all Germans understand: schadenfreude

Your tax dollars at work 

Data Suggest Obesity Is Rampant in NFL

Really? My eyes have been telling me the same thing for years. Have you seen Corey Simon lately? Or Gilbert Brown?

Next thing you know, they'll have a study telling us that hockey players have higher dental bills than the average.

Star Wars Episode III Fan Trailer 

Someone was kind enough to send me this link to a fan-created trailer for Revenge of the Sith. Hurry up and watch it before George Lucas has his legion of stormtroopers, er, lawyers, shut the site down.

The trailer is pretty awesome. I have seen all kinds of spoiler pictures, and some small video clips too. I'd love to know how this guy got these shots from the film. Inside job, perhaps? (Oh, and General Grevious looks like one mean mother-shut your mouth!)

By the way, someone tell that greedy bastard George Lucas that if he hasn't gotten tired of extracting my money from me (along with millions of other suckers), that I have a great idea for him. Release the original trilogy in its original form on DVD. None of those idiotic "Greedo shoots first" re-edits, or changing Darth Vader's dialogue from a pissed-off "Bring my shuttle" to "Alert my Star Destroyer to prepare for my arrival." That should make him another $50 million or so a lot quicker than selling worthless Mon Motha action figures.

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