Friday, December 20, 2002

Why Must Republicans Occasionally Burn One of Their Own at the Stake?

No tears will be shed here for Trent Lott. Whatever vestigial sympathy I might have had for him evaporated with his BET network appearance last week when he tried to attone for a minor sin with major groveling. As James Taranto phrased it, "Lott may be a segregationist, but at least he's not a principled segregationist."
Trent Lott may know how to exercise enough power behind the scenes to assemble a majority of the Republican Senators to keep his leadership position, but he was incompetent at moving legislation and was always a weak spokesman for the Republican cause.
Good riddance.
But, what irks me is that Democrats never have to sacrifice anyone to prove their worthiness. Senator Carl Levin also praised Strom Thurmond's 1948 presidential campaign without a peep of protest. John Kerry disparaged Italians the other, again, not a problem. Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus have dumped on Jews without a word or criticism and certainly no ostracism. And, by my count, Jesse Jackson has made four prime time speeches at the Democratic National Convention since referring to Jews as "Hymies" and New York City as "Hymietown."
In 2000, every Republican presidential candidate was asked what should be done with South Carolina's confederate battle flag. Nobody asked Senator Fritz Hollings about it. He physically ran the flag up in the first place when he was governor of South Carolina.
Bill Clinton, as governor of Arkansas, was known to employ the "n-word" frequently and signed legislation celebrating the confederate battle flag.
This is all very curious considering that Tom Daschle, Al Gore, and Bill Clinton have all complained that a conservative press is being mean to them.

Who was the stupidest last year?

Once again, it’s time to acknowledge the most idiotic comments uttered in all seriousness by America’s deepest thinkers. It requires a very a serious effort upon my staff’s part to choose the very dumbest of the dumb for recognition. There are so many contenders. But, we’ve done what they all said couldn’t be done. We’ve found the most unworthy candidates for the 2002 Kozmo awards.
The Black Helicopter Kozmo goes to PBS documentarian Stuart Tanner. “What's interesting about spending some time in the area is that you become aware of deeper and in some sense darker aspects of the conflict. To give you an example, the suicide bombing on Wednesday, the "Passover massacre," as the Israelis call it, whose interests did that serve? I'd say it certainly undermined the whole Arab summit and peace proposal. It strengthened Sharon's claim that Palestinians are not interested in peace. And it further damages the image of Chairman Arafat. And therefore sometimes you get darker currents of conspiracy theory, whereby people begin to think that maybe these attacks are allowed, because the timing of them would suit Israel politically so strongly.”
So there you have it. Ariel Sharon is blowing his own people to pieces for political advantage.
What sort of Kozmo should we give to former Clinton Health and Human Services Secretary Andrew Cuomo? During his campaign for the New York Democratic Party’s nomination for governor, he appointed pornographer Larry Flynt as a fund raising vice chairman. Somebody must have whispered that having Larry Flynt as a prominent member of his campaign team wasn’t so brilliant, so the appointment was quickly withdrawn. But, what sort of gubernatorial candidate needs to be told that?
The Ignoble Kozmo goes to the Nobel Prize Committee. These deep thinkers not only awarded a Nobel Prize to Jimmy Carter for his contributions to world peace (somebody please show me where the world is more peaceful thanks to him), but they announced that they regretted their choice for the 1994 Nobel Prize. That year, they split the award between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin. They now regret giving the award to Rabin!
The Skolarship Kozmo goes to the reverend Jesse Jackson. Last July, during a speech at the 93rd annual convention of the NAACP, Jesse Jackson accused president George Bush of being, “unliterate.” I am not kidding.
The Common People’s Kozmo goes to prominent Democratic congresswoman, Sheila Jackson Lee. Lee, who exalts herself as the voice of the powerless against the powerful, demands that she be chauffeured daily, at taxpayer expense, 200 yards from her luxurious apartment to her office. Once, her car blocked traffic for 23 minutes on one of Washington, DC’s busiest streets while Ms. Lee took her time getting to the car for her one block ride to work. When Lee at last appeared, a servile aide opened the door for her. At that moment, Lee decided to take out her cell phone and place a phone call, leaving the aid standing by the open door and the car still blocking traffic. After finishing her call, Lee still refused to get into the car, choosing instead to glare silently at her confused aid. Finally, the aid realized the error and removed Lee’s coat and shawl from her shoulders and placed them in the car. Finally, Ms. Lee consented to step into the car and allowed herself to be driven to her office. Champion of the downtrodden, this Kozmo’s for you!
The Artist Creativity Kozmo goes to former pop guru Nicholas Riddle. Showing just how easy it is to create art these day, Mike Batt, who gained minor fame in the 1970’s for creating the pop group, “The Wombles,” has assembled a new band called, “The Planets.” Apparently out of ideas, on their new album, they recorded “One Minute of Silence,” which is exactly what it sounds like – nothing for one minute.
That would be silly enough, except that Batt is being sued by Riddle, CEO of a music company, that claims that it owns the copyright to nothing. Riddle claims that, 50 years ago, composer John Cage recorded 4’33”, which was 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence. Riddle owns the rights to Cage’s work. And so, for defending his rights to nothing, Nicholas Riddle earns the Frivolous Litigation Kozmo.
Al Gore wins the Historical Myopia Kozmo. Not only did he claim to be the victim of a vast right wing media conspiracy last year, but he claimed to be a representative of the common man.
“There has always been a debate over the destiny of this nation between those who believed they were entitled to govern because of their station in life, and those who believed that the people were sovereign.” he wrote recently. He managed this without a trace of intentional irony, in a New York Times Op-Ed piece.
For those of you with short memories, Al Gore was raised as a child of power and privilege. His father was a Senator who wished to establish his own Kennedy-style political dynasty. Al Gore was groomed by his parents from birth to someday ascend to the presidency. If there is any man who believes that he is entitled to govern because of his station in life, that man would be Albert Gore Jr.
And just to show how little power and privilege has affected the Gore family, we have to give the Hillary Clinton Memorial Spoiled Brat Kozmo to Gore’s wife, Tipper. She wanted tickets to a sold out Bruce Springsteen concert for herself, her common folk husband, and his entire staff. The concert’s promoters did the best they could, but could only come up with four tickets, for which they asked the comparatively modest face value price of $75.00. Tipper refused to even consider paying for the tickets and told the promoters to forget it.
The Grassy knoll Kozmo could be handed out to the dozens on the Left who publicly proclaimed the notion that the Bush Administration assassinated the late Senator Paul Wellstone, of Minnesota. But, I decided to give it to the guy who, so far as I know, went public first.
Professor Michael Niman teaches journalism and media studies at Buffalo State College. He wrote that,” There is no indication today that Wellstone's death was the result of foul play. What we do know, however, is that Wellstone emerged as the most visible obstacle standing in the way of a draconian political agenda by an unelected government. And now he is conveniently gone. For our government to maintain its credibility at this time, we need an open and accountable independent investigation involving international participation into the death of Paul Wellstone. Hopefully we will find out, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that this was indeed an untimely accident. For the sake of our country, we need to know this.”
You know professor, a diagnosis of paranoia doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t all out to get you.
For the Pandering Kozmo, we have Spain’s King Juan Carlos who is actually considering apologizing to the descendants of the Moors who, were expelled from Spain in the 16th century.
There’s no word on whether or not the Moors are planning to apologize for invading Spain in the first place.
For a while I thought of retiring the Grand Poobah Kozmo, awarded to that one glittering nitwit who did or said the stupidest thing all year. After all, who could possibly outdo the reliably mean liberal political cartoonist Ted Rall, who on March 6, 2002 published a 6 panel cartoon mocking widows of terrorism. Perhaps the most tasteless of all the panels was the one ridiculing Daniel Pearl’s widow: “Of course it’s a bummer that they slashed my husband’s throat – but the worst was having to watch the Olympics alone!” she says to a bank of microphones.
In another panel, a WTC widow with a lap full of cash tells an interviewer: “I keep waiting for Kevin to come home, but I know he never will. Fortunately, the $3.2 million I collected from the Red Cross keeps me warm at night.”
You see what I mean.
It’s worth noting that in 1995, Rall won the Robert F. Kennedy award for journalism. He is also suing another editorial cartoonist for causing “emotional distress” because of a pointed satire aimed at him.
But rather than retire the prize, I’m going to name it after this year’s winner. Ted Ralls, the Ted Ralls Memorial Kozmo for the stupidest thing that anyone said or did during the entire year of 2002, goes to you!
I hope he doesn’t sue me!

Do we really want a white Christmas?

“How do I know that Christ wasn’t black?” my grandfather once asked. He was philosophizing, as he often did. He was under pressure because someone had “defaced” a monument to Jesus and Mary within his jurisdiction by painting their faces and hands black. Grandpa was the Town Marshall in Patagonia, Arizona, a mining town that was then in steep decline ever since the gold veins that were the reason for its establishment had been exhausted.
The defaced monument had been erected by a local woman at the conclusion of World War I. After her son had been drafted and sent to Europe to fight the Kaiser, she prayed for his safe homecoming and promised to build the shrine if God returned her son safely. Her son did return from the war whole and she kept her end of the bargain. She chiseled a cave into the side of the mountain and placed within it sculpted ceramic statues representing the birth of Christ.
The shrine became modestly famous and actually attracted a few tourists to the impoverished town each year. There were always fresh flowers left there by those who came to lift up a prayer in this very Catholic area.
So when a furious visitor complained to my grandfather that the statue had been painted black by someone apparently wishing to make a political point, grandpa was obligated to bring the perpetrators to justice. His pursued his investigation without much enthusiasm, primarily because he did not necessarily agree that the statues had been defaced. So far as I know, he never actually did anything. So far as he was concerned, someone had simply given the monument a fresh coat of paint.
Shortly thereafter, someone restored the statues to their original hues and the whole controversy died down.
My grandfather intuitively understood something that too many people never figure out – that Jesus Christ probably bore absolutely no resemblance to the sandy-haired, blue-eyed European looking fellow created by painters whose only image of the human race was that of their fellow Europeans.
The sincerely pious efforts of those European painters probably did a disservice to the cause of Christianity. It is far more likely that Christ bore a closer resemblance to Yasser Arafat than he did to that handsome example of Aryan perfection sitting at the table of Leonardo DaVinci’s “Last Supper.”
In an ideal world, the now traditional European representation of Christ would be harmless. But in a world of race baiting charlatans like Jesse Jackson, skin color rather than the message has become the big issue. Recently, African-Americans have embraced a synthetic alternative to Christmas called Kwanzaa. The ever so reverend Al Sharpton, Democratic candidate for president, announced his support for Kwanzaa because he believed that it would help “de-whiteify” Christmas.
It’s too bad that Al Sharpton and his ilk do not have the advantage of my grandfather’s wisdom. The whole point of Christ’s life was that the message he brought should be the point of emphasis and not necessarily the messenger. What the gospels glorify as virgin birth might now be called an unwed pregnancy. Christ came from the humblest origins possible within his contemporary culture precisely so that the message he conveyed to the world would have to stand on its own, independent of the messenger’s social status – or his skin color for that matter.
And it should be noted that the words of this man of the humblest origins eventually conquered the Roman Empire. The prestige and power of the Caesars was no match for the word of God, brought to the world by a man who emerged from the lowest social strata within a race of slaves.
I would advise all those out there, who believe that African-Americans need an alternative to Christmas simply because Renaissance era artists chose to depict Christ in their own image, to imagine Christ looking like whatever makes them comfortable. If you find it easier to accept the word while imagining Christ as black, Asian, or Hispanic, then go for it. It is, after all the message, and not the appearance of the messenger, that gives the reason to the season.
I have to wonder that if we did not have such a white Christmas, would anyone really feel the need for a de-whiteified Kwanzaa? Do we really need one more division in this country?

Friday, December 06, 2002

Make 'em Pay!

I received 68 e-mails the other day. None were fan mail or hate mail. They weren’t love letters or notes from friends. Two messages were work related and one was from my mother. The other 65 were “spam.” That makes me about average. Each and every American with an e-mail account should expect about 2200 junk e-mails over the next year. Experts (there are experts on everything) predict that number to rise to 3600 over the next four years.
Spam is a costly scourge. Spam messages are the electronic equivalent of remora or barnacles or tapeworms. Not only is the volume of spam increasing but, because spammers are including more elaborate graphics, each message uses more bandwidth and gobbles up more computer resources. Networks are becoming clogged and bogged down with this junk.
Among the messages was one offering pills that would increase my bust line by two cup sizes. My satisfaction was guaranteed! Two other messages promised me “male enhancement.” Earlier this week, I was offered software that would permit me to create counterfeit college degrees or Social Security cards.
In any given day, I can expect to receive several messages offering me debt relief, and several other offers of new credit cards, thanks to my great credit rating.
And, about once every other day, there is a message offering me a one-day trial subscription to porn sites.
I have even been offered the chance to become a spammer myself. For $139, I could buy a CD containing 400 million verified e-mail addresses and get in on the ground floor of this money making opportunity. It even included the e-mails of 6 million Chinese, establishing me in potentially the world’s largest market.
I know how this started. Once upon a time I rarely, if ever, received spam. Then, a little popup window offered me the chance to win a video game. I don’t play video games, but my son enjoys them. So, I filled out the survey that the drawing required and spam found its way into my mailbox the next day.
It began as a trickle. At first, I believed the little disclaimers at the end of the messages offering me the opportunity to “opt-out” of future mailings. “Click here” it advised.
So, I clicked there. But, the volume of e-mail kept increasing. I checked into the opt-out option and learned that, rather than removing me from the mailing list, it verified that my e-mail was an active account. To the spammer, when I clicked there, it was like a fisherman seeing his bobber dip below the surface of the water. He had hooked me. Now, he not only had someone he could continue to send spam to, but he had a verified e-mail address that he could sell to other spammers.
Attempts to control spam yield very little success. Supposedly spamming is illegal in Washington. But, I live in Washington and I don’t even know who to complain to.
A whole economic sector has sprung up to fight spam. Spam blocker software is often advertised in pop up windows. Occasionally, I even got a spam message offering me software that will protect my e-mail account from other spammers. Unfortunately, even the best spam-blocking software only manages to intercept about 10% of all spam. Spammers continuously adapt the messages to elude the anti-spam software.
We need a new approach. Banning spam will never work. There are First Amendment problems and it’s hard to track spammers down anyway.
But rather than actually legally ban spam, how about forcing spammers to pay for the computer resources they now exploit free of charge? If, for example, a spammer had to reimburse the recipient of one of his e-mails 1 cent for each message he sends, then somebody using that CD with 400 million messages would have to cough up $4,000,000.
This really makes perfect sense. Spammers are using resources for which they now pay nothing. Network administrators are being forced to invest money in new resources to keep the spam from overwhelming their systems. The people who are using these resources are the ones who should be paying for it.
But, if spammers were forced to pay for the resources they use, I doubt that they would use it in the first place. And my mailbox would be cleaner.

Another Liberal Exhibits his Commitment to Free Speech

Once again, a liberal has shown his contempt for those who dare to disagree with him. A man of dignity would resign. But, a man of dignity would not have done anything like this in the first place.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Another anti-gun lawsuit thrown out of court

Once again, a court has decided that gun manufacturers cannot be held liable for crimes committed by people using guns. The latest case was in Wilmington, Delaware. This is all common sense of course, but the anti-gun nuts are waging a battle of legal attrition to drive manufacturers out of business. The solution is to force those who file these frivolous lawsuits to pay the expenses of their victims, along with punitive damages.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Hillary Pays for that Hairdo????????

The big news last week is that John (champion of the common man) Kerry pays $150 to have his hair styled by the legendary Christofe. But what shocked me is that Hillary Clinton pays the same stylist the same money to have her hair done. Her hair looks like she cuts it herself with a weed eater and leaves where she finds it after her morning shower.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

The Cost of Peace

Already, the peaceniks are complaining that a war with Iraq would cost too much. Expect them to sieze the recent estimate of $200 billion. But, ask yourself, how much would coddling Iraq cost? After 9/11, I expect the number to be incalculable.
Plus, we could always take our own recompense from Iraqi oil fields.

On the Other Hand, There's Maureen Dowd

Someday, I would like to have my intelligence and wisdom validated by a column composed by simple-minded Maureen Dowd. Maureen finds fault with the appointment of Henry Kissinger to head up a commission tasked with discovering the truth about the 9/11 attacks (registration required). I have problems too. But, Maureen's cutesy, sophomoric criticisms leave me more sympathetic to the Bush Administration's thinking.
If you would like some mature, well-reasoned, if somewhat strident criticism of this appointment, read Christopher Hitchens commentary in Slate.

Even Thomas Friedman has it Figured Out Now

Saddam Hussein is a liar. The United Nations is a bunch of weenies. It's official now. Thomas Friedman (registration required) has arrived at that conclusion.
Yes, the great Thomas Friedman has ferreted out this information and now understands why George Bush insisted upon language inserted into the United Nations resolution 1441 that requires Iraq to produce any Iraqi and his family for inteviews outside the country so that information can be given without threat of retaliation from Saddam.
Friedman admits that he really didn't understand this paragraph at first. But he does now and credit Bush with some small measure of wisdom for insisting upon it.
It must be nice to gain the blessings of someone so wise and brilliant as Thomas Friedman.