Saturday, March 25, 2006

Plagiarize THIS! (pt. III)

Don Surber does a takedown on Domenech:
He does not appreciate a thing, otherwise he would have been graceful and apologetic. Instead he gives long, turgid excuses like the child he is. …
Domenech cried like a baby that they were picking on him. He called a civil rights icon a "communist" on the day of her funeral. The rule I learned before I even went to school was "Don't dish it out if you can't take it!"
Indeed. The point he makes about the Coretta Scott King funeral is important. A funeral is not the place for politics. When Democrats used the occasion of Mrs. King’s death to try to score political points, Americans were disgusted.

And neither was Mrs. King’s death an appropriate occasion to raise the problematic history of Communist efforts to infiltrate and influence the civil rights movement. But while Domenech may be both impolite and a plagiarist, the links between the civil rights movement and the Communist Party were real -- and were very troubling even to those sympathetic to the movement, at a time when the United States was locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball standoff with the Soviet Union.*

As I reported last year:

[Jack O‘Dell] was dismissed from the staff of [Martin Luther] King's SCLC after a June 1963 White House meeting during which President Kennedy urged the civil rights leader to purge communists from his organization. According to King biographer Taylor Branch, President Kennedy put his hand on King's shoulder and urged him to "get rid of" [Jack] O'Dell and another SCLC aide, Stanley Levinson.
Both men, the president said, had been identified as communist officials by the FBI, which named Mr. O'Dell as the fifth-ranking member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA).

"O'Dell has always been identified with the far pro-communist left of the '50s," historian Ronald Radosh said yesterday.

That the CPUSA sought to influence the civil rights movement -- just as it sought to influence the labor movement before the AFL-CIO purged Communists from its ranks -- is a historical fact. And the lingering taint of that Marxist influence may to some degree explain the anti-American ideology espoused by some black activists today. Mr. O’Dell is a prime example. Now “an international affairs consultant” to the National Rainbow Coalition, he was chosen last year to speak at an MLK Day event at the Smithsonian:

Mr. O'Dell remained a staunch defender of communism for decades. At a 1985 event in Berkeley, Calif., on the 68th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Mr. O'Dell called U.S. opposition to the Soviet Union "an integral part of the belief system of racism and Western national chauvinism."
Last night, Mr. O'Dell condemned the United States for its "aggressive militarism," and called for a "new Reconstruction" to eliminate economic inequality. A Detroit native who now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Mr. O'Dell said Canada is ahead of the United States in creating the kind of society King advocated.

"Canada has a socially conscious democracy — not as advanced as Europe, but way ahead of the United States," he said.

Like most things in American history -- including the Democratic Party -- the civil rights movement was far more complex than the dumbed-down children’s story that’s now taught in our schools. I’ve interviewed a pioneering black journalist who views Abraham Lincoln as a white supremacist. I’ve also interviewed a white liberal historian who thinks it unfair when conservatives cite MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech to support their opposition to affirmative action -- since, in fact, MLK later strongly advocated affirmative action.

At some point, if I ever get time, I would like to write something about this business of building up historical figures as stainless heroes, or demonizing them as unspeakable villains, in the interest of gaining some contemporary political advantage. Back when I lived in Georgia, my job occasionally involved going to the library and looking through primary documents such as old newspapers from the Civil War era. If you’ve never done that kind of research -- if all you know about the past is what you were taught in school or read in some textbook written 100 years after the fact -- you have no idea what you don’t know about history. (This is, I think, one reason why early readers of DONKEY CONS keep using words like “stunning” -- a lot of this stuff is just left out of most history books.)

Think about today’s controversies. Fifty years from now, American kids will be taught the history of the Bush administration, about 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, et cetera. What will they be taught about those things? Will they view President Bush as a hero or villain? Will they consider the U.S. troops who’ve been killed in Iraq as heroes of a noble cause to liberate a nation from a brutal dictatorship -- or victims of a corrupt administration that “lied” the country into a “War for Oil”? Think about that, next time you pick up a history book.

(One author who has thought about history from an alternative perspective is Thomas Woods, whose POLITICALLY INCORRECT GUIDE TO AMERICAN HISTORY debunks some of the silly oversimplifications that make up the dumbed-down version of our nation’s past.)

Ultimately, however, facts are what matters. Facts are stubborn things, as John Adams said. And as Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, they are not entitled to their own facts.

-- McCAIN

DONKEY CONS: Buy it!
DONKEY CONS: Buy TWO!
DONKEY CONS: About the book


* By the way, have I ever mentioned how much I hate communism? I hated communism even when I was a Democrat -- there used to be a lot of Democrats like that, back before the Clinton presidency. Nowadays, Zell Miller is about the only anti-communist Democrat I can think of. Here’s some more of my anti-communist writing (100% plagiarism-free):

Commies Go Home!

Commie Coeds vs. Corporate Capitalism

"Commies" Author Ron Radosh

The Only GOOD Communist Is a ....

"Black Book" of Communist Crimes

Was Joe McCarthy Right?

Plagiarize THIS! (Part II)

OK, now Malkin's cutting Domenech loose. And considering he edited her last book, that's bad. Sorry to have been so behind the curve on this uproar.

I finally did a Google on the scandal and learned via Media Matters -- of all places -- that Domench had edited UNHINGED -- and went over to Malkin's site to see what she had to say. I also learned from Media Matters that Domenech had worked for Sen. John Cornyn and been a speechwriter for Tommy Thompson (which might explain that weird speech a few years ago where Thompson said, "Veni, vidi, vici").

And then I went to DailyKos (of all places) and there was the side-by-side comparison of ... a movie review. Who the heck plagiarizes a movie review? I mean, you go see a movie, you write a review. Domenech has got some 'splainin' to do!

NRO reports Domenech to be a serial plagiarizer. So I just went over to Domenech's Coram Deo, found something he'd written about Britney Spears for NRO, Googled a phrase (spears + "Lip Smackers") and ...

Ben! Stealing from the left-wingers at SALON? (By the way, I'm not claiming to be the first person to spot this. Like I said, I came late to this fisking, and I don't know who's already fisked what at this point.)

SALON:
This is what she looked like when you first saw her: pigtails, Catholic schoolgirl uniform, Lip Smackers baby-doll pink lips. She was a good girl, but suddenly gone bad, having tied her little white shirt in a knot over her Madonna-influenced midriff. She was a 17-year-old babe -- in both senses of the word -- who already knew too much.
DOMENECH:
Spears first hit the music scene just last year. ... Decked out in a Catholic schoolgirl uniform — complete with pigtails, pink Lip Smackers, and white shirt tied in a knot over an exposed midriff — she teased at disobedience, and dangerously tempted the voyeur.
The brand-name "Lip Smackers" made that the obvious phrase to Google. What guy knows the brand names of lip gloss? But why does anybody need to plagiarize a put-down of Britney, anyway? I realize that repeating "phony stuckup whore" for 700 words might not get you published at NRO, but it's better than stealing a cheesy description from Salon.

Perhaps the worst part: Domenech is homeschooled. Wow, that hurts. As a homeschooling dad, I consider the success of homeschool alumni a great indication of the movement's potential as an alternative to the government school system. So to see Domenech go down in flames like this ... it hurts.

-- McCAIN

UPDATE: Thanks to Dave Riehl for the link. (I am a primitive cave-blogger and don't know how to do trackbacks.) Dave has some good stuff on Domenech here and here, while Don Surber has updated his stuff here. Reason's Julian Sanchez has some stuff here.

Right now, with everybody blogpiling on Domenech, I guess he's probably feeling lower than a snake's belly (as he arguably should). But on the theory that he's Googling himself before deciding whether to jump off the Wilson Bridge -- which is probably what I'd be doing at this point in the crisis -- let me be the first to say:

Don't jump, Ben

Welcome to rock bottom, Ben. This is where you find out if you've got character. Think of George Patton, relieved of command, forced to apologize and sent to bide his time in England. Think of Sam Grant, the West Point grad who drank himself out of the Army and ended up working in his father-in-law's leather tannery. Think of George Washington, driven out New York in 1776 and retreating desperately across New Jersey to escape the victorious British, hoping he could do something to keep his army from falling completely apart.

Disgraced, shamed, defeated -- and ultimately victorious.

You are at the point, Ben, where survival is a victory in itself. Where you are, it's a huge challenge just to get out of bed in the morning and try to do something useful with the day.

You wonder if you will ever be able to outlive this monstrous embarassment. It's up to you -- but not entirely up to you. This is a time for some very serious and very humble prayer. You have just received a huge chastisement, a reminder that you are a wretched sinner in need of grace -- as are we all.

I know all this, Ben, because I've been there. Trust me -- I've screwed up big-time more than once in my life. And it takes time and prayer to get to the point where you can accept the chastisement as legitimate. Even if you feel you were falsely accused, even if you feel that your errors have been exaggerated and misinterpreted, there is a lesson here, if you will humble your heart enough to learn it.

When you get to that humble place, when you Get In Touch With Your Inner Sinner (dibs on that book title!), you will know what Jesus meant when he said to pray for your enemies and bless them that curse you. (Bless you, Atrios!) Go study the Bible, look at all the Israelites went through -- slavery in Egypt, 40 years in the wilderness, conquered by the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the Romans, and scattered to the corners of the Earth.

A Presbyterian minister of my acquaintance once pointed out that we Christians look at the Israelites worshipping the golden calf and think to ourselves, "Are they crazy? Look at the mighty works God did for them -- the plagues, the Red Sea, the manna. How could they forget God so quickly?" But, the minister pointed out, we are just like them: We forget what God has done for us. We are also a stiff-necked people, and it hurts our pride to admit that we cannot do things on our own. We look at our careers, our wealth, our families, our health and we think: "Look what I've done!"

Even praying people fall into this temptation: We forget how we prayed to get that job, how we prayed to find a spouse, how we prayed that we might recover from disease or misfortune. So when things are going well, we become self-satisfied, and when something doesn't go our way, we curse our luck. And we forget that, as Jonathan Edwards put it, we are sinners in the hands of an angry God. What right do we have to expect a live without sorrow or hardship? Why are we even alive to complain about anything? How many times have guardian angels saved us from destruction, without our even knowing it?

So welcome to rock bottom, Ben. I pray (as I'm sure many others are praying) that one day you'll stand atop the mountain -- and remember to give the glory to God.

-- McCAIN

Friday, March 24, 2006

Deep pockets and sticky fingers

Just doing a little research tonight, preparing to bring a little DONKEY CONS insight to the masses. It's sort of a connect-the-dots thing:

A. Democrats are demonstrably more prone to corruption than Republicans. The best available information indicates that in Congress since 1975, corrupt Democrats outnumbered corrupt Republicans by a factor of 3-to-1 (the actual scoreboard is 46 to 15, according to our research. When we say this, it apparently causes some liberals to scream, "What about Tom DeLay? What about Duke Cunningham?" Sorry to disappoint you, liberals: We counted them both among the 15.)

B. In recent years, big money liberals like George Soros have poured millions into pro-Democrat groups like MoveOn.org, without achieving any meaningful electoral gains for Democrats.

Could A explain B? In other words, do the Democrats not benefit from the full value of their contributors' donations because rich liberals are getting ripped off by the Donkey Con-men?

I'm just beginning my research, but take a look at this profile of Americans Coming Together. ACT's CEO was Steve Rosenthal, former political director of the AFL-CIO. Also "affiliated" with ACT was Andy Stern, president of SEIU -- both top union operatives.

An entire chapter of DONKEY CONS -- 16 pages, sourced with 58 endnotes -- is devoted to the corruption that labor unions bring to the Democratic Party, and we just scratched the surface. Linda Chavez and Daniel Gray wrote a whole book (BETRAYAL) on this subject. In just the three months since we finished the manuscript, former union activist Robert Fitch has published SOLIDARITY FOR SALE, and NYU professor James Jacobs has published MOBSTERS, UNIONS AND FEDS.

Because of Big Labor's fading strength -- only 12.5 percent of U.S. workers are union members now, and only 7.8 percent of private-sector workers are in unions -- most people don't pay much attention to the AFL-CIO anymore. And so most are probably unaware of how important union bosses are to the Democratic Party. In 1996, for instance, the AFL-CIO and the NEA exercised veto power over the entire campaign operation of the Democratic National Committee:
The FEC's final report concluded the AFL-CIO had "apparent veto power" over election decisions made by Democrats and that the unions had "the authority to approve or disapprove plans, projects and needs of the DNC and its state parties with respect to the coordinated campaign." ....
[T]he NEA effected its profound influence over Democratic campaign strategy through its role as a member of the "Coordinated Campaign Steering Committee," which set national and statewide campaign strategy for the election of Democratic candidates. In addition to the NEA and DNC, other members of the Steering Committee were the 1996 Clinton-Gore Campaign, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Governors' Association, the Democratic Leadership Campaign Committee, the AFL-CIO, and Emily's List. ...
[One internal memo stated:] "When the DNC and its national partners, including the . . . the AFL-CIO and the NEA agree on the contents of a plan, each national partner will give their funding commitment to the state."

OK, so the AFL-CIO bosses call the shots at the DNC. But we also know how widespread corruption is within Big Labor. Union officials are so routinely busted for ripping off the rank-and-file that there is a an entire Web site devoted to reporting union corruption.

Many readers of DONKEY CONS -- especially younger readers -- will be shocked by some of the accounts of union corruption packed into a single 16-page chapter. For instance, in 2005, top offficials of the Washington (D.C.) Teachers Union (WTU) were convicted for their roles in looting the union's coffers of nearly $5 million. WTU president Barbara Bullock spent her ill-gotten gains on such things as Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags, clothes from Neiman Marcus and $20,000 in wigs. So flagrant was this larceny that the union was nearly bankrupt. The thieves finally got caught when, in a desperate effort to pay the bills, WTU officials tried to increase union dues tenfold.

The WTU scandal was spectacular, but similar crimes are committed on a smaller scale all the time. For instance, courtesy of the National Legal and Policy Center, here are just some highlights for a few weeks of 2006:
  • JAN. 27: Michael Crogan, ex-secretary-treasurer for Local 1382 of the United Transportation Union, was sentenced to five months imprisonment, 150 days home confinement and three years supervised release for embezzling union funds totaling $31,700
  • FEB. 2: Tim Burke, formerly business manager and financial secretary for Roofers Local 42, was sentenced to probation for embezzling more than $30,000 in union funds.
  • FEB. 6: Hawaii union boss Tony Rutledge, son of legendary labor leader Arthur Rutledge, pleaded guilty to federal income tax violations, as part of a plea agreement Rutledge and his son Aaron had been accused of skimming more than $350,000 from a surfboard rental company, and also with diverting assets from Unity House, a non-profit that provides benefits to union members and retirees.
  • FEB. 10: James Jackson, formerly treasurer for Local 200 Unit 62 of the Longshoremen's union, pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling nearly $13,000 in union funds.
  • FEB. 15: Henry Michael Turner, former treasurer for the Machinists Local 2058, was sentenced to a year in federal prison and two years probation for his role in embezzling $40,474 from the union.
  • FEB. 16: Marcia Huizenga, ex-bookkeeper and office manager for Teamsters Local 822 was sentenced to 3 months in federal prison and 3 years on probation for embezzling $47,131 in union funds.
  • FEB. 27: Joseph Rocha, former business manager and secretary-treasurer for LIUNA Local 1082 sentenced to three years probation for embezzling $29,656 from his local.
  • FEB. 27: Robb Dutchuk, formerly secretary-treasurer for American Postal Workers Union Local 349, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota to three years probation for his theft from the local and ordered to make restitution in the amount of $18,812.18.
  • MARCH 6: Martin Ludlow, former Los Angeles City Councilman and head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, agreed to plead guilty to felony conspiracy to secretly divert more than $36,000 in union funds to his 2003 council campaign.
Get the picture? And so I'm looking at the union officials and ex-union officials involved in ACT and I can't help thinking to myself, "Are Soros and his deep-pocket liberal friends being scammed?" Here's a bit of a September 2004 Business Week story about Stern and Rosenthal:
Stern ... [is] building separate political muscle, shelling out an astonishing $65 million to elect John Kerry. ... Stern helped found the Democratic Party's most successful 527 political committee, America Coming Together, which is headed by former AFL-CIO Political Director Steve Rosenthal (a close personal friend with whom he has shared a New Jersey beach house for 25 years).

The son of middle-class parents in suburban West Orange, N.J., [Stern] got an Ivy League education at the University of Pennsylvania. ... His zeal for left-leaning social causes dovetailed with the traditions of the SEIU. As a young EIU official in the early 1980s, Stern joined other activists in the union to force through controversial resolutions opposing U.S. military intervention in Latin America. More recently he
threw his union's weight behind Howard Dean's Presidential campaign, switching to the more mainstream Kerry only after Dean flamed out. ...(His wife, Jane Perkins, from whom he is getting a divorce, headed the environmental network Friends of the Earth in the 1990s.)
How many SEIU rank-and-file members have Ivy League degrees and beach homes? Does the average working stiff give a rat's rear end about such liberal boutique causes as environmentalism and Latin American policy? Stern is living high on the hog and pouring millions in SEIU money into ratholes like the Dean and Kerry campaigns and ... for what? It's not just us evil right-wingers asking these questions, either. In January 2005, Tom Buffenbarger, president of the Machinists union (IAM), gave a brutal assessment of what the Democrats and the Soros-backed organizations did in 2004:
Even before passage of McCain-Feingold, Steve Rosenthal and his beach house buddy Andy Stern were targeting states like New Hampshire, Colorado, Virginia, Louisiana, Nevada, Maine, and Arizona.
Their lock-step troika of 527’s spent over $260 million in up to 20 states only to lose 16 of their targeted states.
Now along comes Andy Stern Dean-screaming that the sky is falling. And why? Because John Kerry lost Ohio by 119,000 votes!
Hells bells, the IAM knew Ohio was lost the moment the Kerry campaign decided our convention would be an
“off the record” event for its vice-presidential candidate.
We knew then that John Kerry didn’t understand the importance of the Cincinnati television market … didn’t understand the power of the jobs issue in Ohio … and did not connect with working men and women in the most critical battleground state of all.
We knew that the Democrats and their 527’s were wasting millions of dollars trying to persuade the undecided voters in the smallest states of the union.
But Andy Stern wants to blame everyone else for that defeat. He refuses to take responsibility for his role – and his pal Steve Rosenthal’s role – for their strategy, a strategy that wasted precious resources on tiny states.
They left the most powerful and potent unionized states out of their electoral equation. And, as a result, they lost the popular vote by 3.5 million votes. And they lost Ohio.
Maybe Buffenbarger doesn't know the inside scoop about political campaigning:

1. As long as the money keeps coming in, the staff gets paid no matter how badly the candidate loses.
2. The guys who place the TV ads earn a commission for every chunk of airtime they buy.
3. The relationships between top campaign officials and hired consultants offer many lucrative opportunities for clever operators.

There are plenty of people in Washington who know how the campaign game is played. There are folks with big estates out in the Virginia hunt country who got rich running campaigns. They get paid, win or lose. And sometimes a losing campaign can be far more lucrative than a winner.

In 2004, President Bush raised nearly $375 million for his re-election. His Democratic rivals -- the top seven contenders for the Democratic nomination, Kerry, Dean, Edwards, Clark, Gephardt, Lieberman and Kucinich -- raised a combined $518 million. That's $144 million more than Bush raised, and doesn't include the millions and millions expended separately by the DNC, the Dems' 527s or the unions. Yet Bush still won.

If I were George Soros -- or if I were a smart union boss like Buffenberger -- I'd hire some sharp accountants and some financial researchers, and I'd find out what's been done with all this money that's been thrown away on losing efforts. There's just too much money going into these campaigns, and too little to show in return, to keep taking it for granted that everybody's on the up-and-up.

Bipartisan agreement is a rare thing nowadays, but both Republican and Democratic campaign operatives -- for very different reasons -- are probably united in the hope that Soros and the other big Dem moneybags never wise up to how they're being scammed.

UPDATES:

5/15: Meet the New Boss
5/14: Begala: Dean Wasted DNC Money
5/10: MoveOn.org & the Politics of Deceit

5/3: MSNBC & MoveOn.org's Big Lie
4/15: Hardhats vs. Moonbats

3/28: Corrupt Union Officials Indicted


-- McCAIN

DONKEY CONS: Buy it
DONKEY CONS: Rave review
DONKEY CONS: Another rave review
DONKEY CONS: Yet ANOTHER rave review
DONKEY CONS: Vilmar loves it!
DONKEY CONS: WorldNetDaily loves it!
DONKEY CONS: About the book
DONKEY CONS: On Book TV

DONKEY CONS: On Capitol Hill
DONKEY CONS: About the authors

Plagiarize THIS!

Ben Domenech is OUT at the Other Paper (OP), and thanks to Julian Sanchez at Reason for the alert.

I've never understood out-and-out plagiarism. When I screw up, it's always an original screw up. I think I've invented new genres of journalism faux-pas -- but at least they're all mine. And if I was phoning it in from a bar in Brooklyn, I wouldn't dateline it from Baghdad. (Look, it's a West Virginia tobacco field!)

The first big plagiarism scandal at the OP I remember was Ruth Shalit, and I suspect that what Domenech did was basically what Shalit did: Accidental "cut and paste" plagiarism, an ever-present hazard of the digital age.

Shalit was very good at using Nexis searches to gather facts for the news-feature profiles she did at the OP. But the problem there is, in the process of assembling a story from Nexis files -- and this is true of just about any computer-assisted writing -- it is possible to forget what is from your sources and what is your own original wording.

I've never had this problem, but that's probably because I'm Old School, having learned the trade as a first-source reporter: There wasn't anybody to plagiarize from, because I was the only journalist covering whatever it was I was covering. Something else -- and I thank an old editor buddy Chris Barker for this early lesson -- one of my duties at my first newspaper job was compiling press releases for "news briefs" columns. Chris said, "ALWAYS re-write the press release. For one thing, PR people can't write worth crap. Also, there is another paper on the other side of town that gets the same press releases we get. If you don't re-write the press release, it might look like we're copying stuff from the competition."

But the OP puts an emphasize (especially in its Style section) on a certain attitude-laden snarkiness, which Ruth Shalit had in abundance. So she would do this shake-and-bake thing with Nexis research, interviews and a generous helping of snark and -- voila! -- a Style profile. Somewhere along the way, however, she forgot to re-write or attribute the stuff she got from Nexis and thus she appeared to be taking credit for stuff that other people had written.

I imagine that, coming from a blogospheric background, Domenech hadn't been schooled in the High School of Journalism Ethics as practiced by the Grand Poobahs. He probably culled a phrase here and a sentence there and slapped them into his columns and never thought about it. Technically, sure, it's plagiarism, but it's plagiarism without malice.

Having often been a Career Day speaker at schools and having at times supervised interns, I've sometimes quoted the old maxim that the three most important rules in journalism are accuracy, acccuracy and accuracy. But I always add that the second three most important rules in journalism are attribute, attribute, attribute. "The sun will rise tomorrow morning, forecasters said."

This is another lesson I learned early from Chris Barker. We were doing the "fall prep football preview," and I had interviewed the Pebblebrook High coach. I made the mistake of writing something like:



Coach Jones believes his Pebblebrook Falcons have the talent and speed to compete for the 5-AAAA East title this season.
"Wrong," said Chris. "You have have no idea what Coach Jones 'believes' or doesn't believe. You can't read people's minds. You know what he said, but you don't know what he thinks." And so the story was re-written:


The Pebblebrook Falcons have the talent and speed to compete for the 5-AAAA
East title this season, Coach Jones says.
So, always attribute. The problem for a columnist or a feature writer, of course, is that adding all those clunky attributions -- said, said, said -- can spoil the smooth flow of a story. The kind of snarky stuff that makes for an OP Style profile does not lend itself to "according to Justice Department sources familiar with the case" kind of attributions. The OP writers want to include biographical background info on Catherine Harris or Barbara Mikulski -- boilerplate stuff, in most cases -- without having to include an attribution.

That's fair game to an extent: A fact is a fact. Nobody owns a fact. Just because Associated Press was the first to report a given fact does not mean that every future reference to that fact must credit the AP. (It is, however, a common matter of professional courtesy, especially when covering a live breaking story, to give a hat-tip to whoever it was that broke a big scoop. But that courtesy has a short shelf life. You are not absolutely required, in 2006, to write: "The involvement of Nixon administration officials in the 1973 break-in at the Watergate Hotel, first reported by Woodward and Bernstein. ....")

But you can avoid plagiarism by: (a) using your own words to characterize basic factual material from secondary sources, and (b) using direct or indirect quotes, with attribution, when reporting anything distinctive or potentially controversial derived from a secondary source.

The Kossacks are claiming credit for exposing Domenech's plagiarism. OK. Whatever Domenech's errors, DomenechGate is not exactly like faking a 1973 National Guard document on Word or screwing around with the Beltway Sniper investigation.

Class dismissed. Buy DONKEY CONS.

-- McCAIN

UPDATE: OK, now that I've read the OP's statement and read Domenech's statement, I'm a little less clear about exactly what the deal is here. The OP says:


In the past 24 hours, we learned of allegations that Ben Domenech plagiarized material that appeared under his byline in various publications prior to [OP.com] contracting with him to write a blog that launched Tuesday.
An investigation into these allegations was ongoing, and in the interim, Domenech has resigned, effective immediately.

Wait a minute: Domenech was hired by the OP. Then the OP learned that Domenech had plagiarized in the past.

Eh? If he didn't plagiarize anything he wrote for the OP -- if he wasn't even accused of doing that -- why would he resign? For that matter, why would the OP investigate accusations that Domenech had plagiarized for other publications?

This doesn't make any sense to me at all. If Domenech plagiarized on NRO, it's up to NRO to decide how to deal with that. But unless Domenech plagiarized for the OP, why should the OP care? This is kind of like your girlfriend dumping you because she found out you had cheated on your former girlfriend two years ago.

The OP gets up in the pulpit:


Plagiarism is perhaps the most serious offense that a writer can commit or be accused of.

No, it's not. I'd say it would be much worse to accept a Puliter Prize for a completely bogus story about an 8-year-old heroin addict. But maybe that's just me.

What gives here? I'm looking at the stuff Domenech is accused of doing -- backtracking through a series of Kossack links to get to the original stuff -- and I'm going, "OK, this is not good, but it happened years ago." Among other things, Domenech lifted from a P.J. O'Rourke book and turned it into a column for his college paper.

His college paper? Since when does anybody in the real world get hassled for what they did in college? I mean, when I was in college -- to borrow a line from Dennis Miller -- I didn't just inhale, I drank the bong water. (Yeah, bong water is nasty, but after a few psilocybin mushrooms, you don't notice it so much.)

Geezy-peezy! Domenech cribbed something from a book in a student newspaper in 1999 -- and because of this, loses a gig at the OP in 2006? What next? Will the OP launch an investigation into accusations that Richard Cohen sexually harassed an 8th-grade classmate? Will Kossacks start digging around and discover something hideously kinky that George Will did in 1977?

If this is all they had, Domenech should never have quit.

Look, journalists are people, and people screw up sometimes. In which case you say, hey, I screwed up. But liberals ges away with this crap all the time and only rarely, only in the most egregious cases (Rathergate, "Tailwind," Jayson Blair) do they pay any price at all.

Meanwhile, the NY Times' correction page has become almost a running joke. You pick up Monday's NY Times and it says: "Half of what was in Sunday's paper was wrong."

Then you pick up Tuesday's NY Times and it says: "OK, we goofed: actually 63% of what was in Sunday's paper was wrong. And 63%, according to experts we consulted, is more than half. By the way, contrary to our Monday front-page story, Paraguay is not 'a small coastal province of Lithuania,' but is in fact an independent nation that we now have reason to believe is located somewhere south of New Jersey."

But Ben Domenech quits the OP because he plagiarized something in 1999? I haven't paid that much attention to the whole uproar, so maybe I'm missing some more serious or more recent accusations against Domenech. Still, this all seems a bit over the top.

And Ben, if by some chance you're reading this: Buy DONKEY CONS!

-- McCAIN

UPDATE II: Dan Riehl at Riehl Worldview says of Domenech:

If this thing had gone on any longer I wonder if we'd get to the part where your dog ate your old notes. ...
But clearly based on Domenech's response, he wasn't the adult to make that appen, not by a long shot. Domenech and RedState need to grow up.

Hmmm. I remember during the Ann Coulter "raghead" flap some people at RedState were really going hard on Ann, so maybe as a Coulter fan I should gloat at Domenech's embarassment. On the other hand, Domenech is very young, and young people do stupid things.

Then Dan says:

As regards the [OP], I do hope they consider finding another conservative voice. And not the next Sean Hannity, but someone serious who can attract attention without simply throwing spitballs at the Left. The blogosphere needs more adult discussion between Left and Right. The [OP] would be a very appropriate place for it to start.

A rare thing when I disagree with Dan, but:


  • "Throwing spitballs at the Left" is such fun!
  • An "adult discussion between Left and Right" would probably be about as fruitful as an "adult discussion" between me and my 3-year-old. Once the Right says, "Markets work, low taxes foster economic growth," and the Left answers back, "NAZI!" -- well, where does the "adult discussion" go after that?
  • Conservatives need to get over their idea of capturing or converting "mainstream" institutions for the Right. The OP, while not nearly as leftist as the NY Times, is never going to be a daily version of Human Events. And while there might be some advantage to having a platform within the OP for occasional bursts of common sense (George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Ann Applebaum on a good day), I can't see the value-added of having some token young conservative blogger there.
Better that conservatives should focus on developing and building their own independent institutions. If the liberals then try to play catch-up by creating their own faux-conservative niches, OK. But hoping for some conservative pundit to earn the MSM Seal of Approval strikes me as a waste of hope.

-- McCAIN

Thursday, March 23, 2006

WWII hero Desmond Doss dies

They don't make Christian pacifists like they used to, as my former employer, the Calhoun (Ga.) Times reports:

Desmond T. Doss, Sr., the only conscientious objector to win the Congressional Medal of Honor during World War II, has died. He was 87 years old.

Doss never liked being called a conscientious objector. He preferred the term conscientious cooperator. Raised a Seventh-day Adventist, Doss did not believe in using a gun or killing because of the sixth commandment which states, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). Doss was a patriot however, and believed in serving his country.

During World War II, instead of accepting a deferment, Doss voluntarily joined the Army as a conscientious objector. Assigned to the 307th Infantry Division as a company medic he was harassed and ridiculed for his beliefs, yet he served with distinction and ultimately received the Congressional Medal of Honor on October 12, 1945 for his fearless acts of bravery.

According to his Medal of Honor citation, time after time, Doss’ fellow soldiers witnessed how unafraid he was for his own safety. He was always willing to go after a wounded fellow, no matter how great the danger. On one occasion in Okinawa, he refused to take cover from enemy fire as he rescued approximately 75 wounded soldiers, carrying them one-by-one and lowering them over the edge of the 400-foot Maeda Escarpment. He did not stop until he had brought everyone to safety nearly 12 hours later.

When Doss received the Medal of Honor from President Truman, the President told him, “I’m proud of you, you really deserve this. I consider this a greater honor than being President.”

By the way, May 5, 1945 was a Saturday -- Sabbath, a holy day on which Doss was not normally required to serve. But he knew his Bible: "Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?" (Luke 6:9)

When we lived in Rome, Ga., my wife and I went to church with Mr. Doss's granddaughter, Tracy, and her husband Mike.

-- McCAIN

UPDATE: I wrote Mr. Doss' obituary for The Washington Times, and later linked for a Memorial Day tribute.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Psycho Cons

Dan Riehl points to a study by Berkeley social scientists Jack and Jeanne Block:
Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.
At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals. ...


The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity. The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective.

Right. And this got picked up by Ben Domenech at the OP (Other Paper), who notes the irony: "Whiny, socially warped, borderline insane - if that's true of conservative kids, how do red states ever find good public school teachers?" (Get it?)

Just as I was preparing to violently fisk this obsolete "pseudo-conservatives are all incipient fascists" crap, I was cruising the Corner and saw that Jonah Goldberg beat me to it:
Ever since Theodor Adorno came out with his scandalously flawed Authoritarian Personality in 1950, liberal and leftist social scientists have been trying to diagnose conservatism as a psychological defect or sickness.
Adorno and his colleagues argued that conservatism was little more than a "pre-fascist" "personality type." According to this school, sympathy for communism was an indication of openness and healthy idealism. Opposition to communism was a symptom of your more deep-seated pathologies and fascist tendencies. According to Adorno, subjects who saw Nazism and Stalinism as similar phenomenon were demonstrating their "idiocy" and "irrationality."
Psychological counseling, many argued, could cure these maladies. But for some it was too late. In 1964, an ad in the New York Times reported that 1,189 psychiatrists determined that Barry Goldwater was not "psychologically fit" to be president.
Exactly. Adorno and the so-called "Frankfurt School" theorists were German leftists who had fled Nazi Germany and spent the rest of their careers in the United States laboring to convince American liberals that every slight uptick in the GOP vote was a sign that brownshirts would soon be goosestepping down Main Street. This left-wing heritage of political paranoia is today carried on by the likes of Michael Moore, George Soros, Ralph Neas, Abe Foxman, Barry Lynn, Barbra Streisand, etc., etc. The weird thing is how a claim so transparently rooted in the Left's irrational fears is never second-guessed by those who take it as gospel when these "experts" say that conservatives are crazy.

Three points:

1. A main reason Adorno & Co. so misdiagnosed the situation is that they came from what my late friend Balint Vazsonyi called the Franco-German tradition. Continental Europe has a completely different political history and philosophical worldview than what Vazsonyi called the Anglo-American tradition. Here's the difference: In England and America, our tradition is liberty. It is liberty which Anglo-American conservatives seek to conserve, not some ancien regime or imperialist tradition. No German intellectual (left or right) in 1933 could comprehend the politics of, say, Sen. Robert Taft because Taft was seeking to preserve a system of ordered liberty that no German in 1933 had ever experienced.

2. Not long ago, I read a nifty little tract by an AEI scholar about criminal recidivism (I've got it around here somewhere, but not sure where), in which the author makes a basic point most people don't understand: Social science can "prove" anything. Set the standard of evidence low enough, don't use "control" groups, fail to account for all variables -- the sloppy, lazy, biased or mendacious social scientist can always find a way to "prove" whatever point he wants to make. To cite just a couple of the most well-known social science hoaxes, Margaret Mead "proved" that Samoans lived in Edenic bliss and Alfred Kinsey "proved" 10% of men are homosexual. You may recall more recently how Michael Bellesiles "proved" that few American colonists owned guns. So anytime you ever read how experts have "proved" something that seems to contradict common sense, trust your common sense.

3. I was a class clown from the time I started school. I am a total non-conformist, and my personality is about as "rigid" as Robin Williams. As a child, I was athletic (playing youth football, baseball and soccer) and adventurous (hunting, camping, Boy Scouts, motorcycle riding). In high school, I was involved in marching band, show choir, and student theater. In college, my chief recreation was chugging pitchers at the Pub. I've sang and played in rock bands, and I'm still a vicious karaoke singer. I've DJ'd in nightclubs and spoken to dozens of public gatherings. Given all these personal traits and life experiences that contradict the theories of these left-wing headshrinkers -- and given the broad diversity of my conservative acquaintances -- I can state without fear of contradiction that Jack and Jeanne Block are full of crap.

Crazy? Sure, I'm crazy, just not that kind of crazy.

-- McCAIN

Chicago election results

Apparently the new ballot system was confusing or the snowstorm in Chicago made it difficult for some dead Democrats to get to the polls in Tuesday's election. Or something:
Accusations of improprieties are flying in the race for Cook County Board president, as ballots will be counted by hand today in an effort to decide the winner.
Though challenger Forrest Claypool was holding a 53 percent lead with about 1/3 of all ballots counted, supporters of incumbent John Stroger are asking why so many of those uncounted ballots are from black precincts.
"Improprieties" -- in Chicago? Say it ain't so, Joe!

Remember: This is a Democratic primary. So if Stroger is a racist, he's a Democratic racist.

Meanwhile, in the suburban 6th Congressional District, Rahm "Hired Truck" Emanuel's handpicked candidate Tammy Duckworth was leading by just 700 votes with 89% of the precincts reporting. Duckworth, a carpetbagger brought into the district and lavished with big money from liberal activists across the country, had 43% of the vote to 41% for local Democratic businesswoman Christine Cegelis. Twice the money, 2% lead -- over Cegelis, the candidate who gave Rep. Henry Hyde the race of his life last time around. Sharp move, Rahm!

Of course, Emanuel himself cruised to victory with 83% of the vote -- a resounding vote of confidence in Rahm's ethics. And never mind all those guys in the Daley machine who've gone to prison for their role in helping elect the DCCC chairman to Congress.

UPDATE 7 a.m. EDT:

Duckworth wins by fewer than 1,200 votes, 43.8%-40.4% -- key cemetery precincts came through, eh, Rahm?

In the Democratic contest for Cook County Board president, as of 5:53 a.m. CDT, with 87% of precincts reporting, Stroger (52%) had a solid 20,000 lead over Claypool (48%) -- apparently the Stroger campaign's dead Democratic voters made it through the snowstorm better than did Claypool's dead Democrats.

But ... only 87% of the precincts counted at 6 a.m.? Hello? I'm glad this was a Democratic primary or they'd be screaming "disenfranchisement" and blaming Bush!

SUN-TIMES: Chicago election results.
TRIBUNE: Chicago election results.

Previous Chicago blogs at DONKEY CONS:

3/21: Chicago Corruption Hall of Fame
3/21: "Hired Truck" update
2/18: Hire 'em all!
2/4: Rahm's "Culture of Corruption"

--McCAIN

Crunchy animals

As mentioned previously, I did an interview with Rod Dreher, author of the new book, CRUNCHY CONS. Some conservatives (notably Jonah Goldberg) really slammed Rod's book. And a long discussion has ensued, including on National Review's blog devoted to the book, where Dreher brought up the issue of "animal welfare," based on the views of Matthew Scully.

It happened that I was eating my dinner at the time I was reading that blog, and it got me thinking: Maybe I am a "crunchy con," because I love animals -- especially when they're crunchy. Of course, I also like crunchy vegetables: crunchy french fries, crunch fried okra, crunch fried squash ...

And while I am all in favor of treating animals kindly (buy DONKEY CONS -- for the kittens), I have been known to become a bit impatient when I find the word "animal" next to "rights."

-- McCAIN

DONKEY CONS: Buy the book
DONKEY CONS: Find out more!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Chicago Corruption Hall of Fame

In case Americans were in danger of becoming deprogrammed, Democratic National Committee flack Karen Finney today used the occasion of the NCAA basketball tournament to drill us on -- all together now -- the Republican culture of corruption.

"March Madness may be fun for millions of Americans, but the Republican culture of corruption is no game," said Finney.

Poor Karen. The Dems need to get some better writers. Seriously.

Better writing over at the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, though, where columnist Tom McNamee last week inaugurated the soon-to-be world-famous "Chicago Corruption Hall of Fame" -- complete with a Selection Committee that includes dead members whose votes Tom gets to manipulate. ("Traditionally the cemetery vote in Chicago is controlled by the living," he writes, confirming a staple of Democratic politics that we write about in DONKEY CONS.)

Tom writes:
In case you missed my column last week -- family emergency kept you away, right? -- I announced the creation of a new Chicago Corruption Hall of Fame to recognize our hundreds, if not thousands, of home-grown stars in the highly competitive fields of graft and greed...Last week's inductees were William J. Lorimer, who bribed his way into the U.S. Senate; Tubbo Gilbert, a crooked cop whose misdeeds brought down the Democratic ticket in 1950; Richard LeFevour, the Greylord judge who fixed hundreds of cases; Tom Keane, the alderman who misused his position to get rich, and William McGarigle, the Cook County Hospital boss who let patients rot while he drank champagne.
After kicking deceased Sen. Paul Simon off the Selection Committee for being too "goody goody," Tom replaced him with Tubbo Gilbert:
Tubbo, also speaking from the grave, says I can do whatever I want with his vote. He's just happy to be back in the game.
Living members of the Selection Committee include Tom, a historian, and a government watchdog guy. Inductees this week -- henceforth, there will be only five so honored each year -- include a cavalcade of corrupt Democrats...

Pat Marcy...
Secretary of the 1st Ward Democratic Organization, the Chicago Outfit's political wing. He'd sit all day in a booth in Counsellors Row, a restaurant close to City Hall, and conduct important business -- rigging elections, bribing state legislators, paying off judges to fix trials, and greasing zoning and license deals. Marcy was a made member of the mob, which is like having tenure. The big mob boss, Sam Giancana, put him in charge of the 1st Ward.... He bought judges like they were on sale at Costco.
Michael Kenna and John Coughlin (AKA Hinky Dink and Bathhouse)...
They squeezed a regular buck out of every pimp, prostitute, gambler, bootlegger and speakeasy owner from about 1895 to 1945. The brothel keepers alone, one knowledgeable madam estimated, paid Hinky Dink and Bathhouse about $15 million over the years in return for protection. Kenna and Coughlin were trail blazers. Their monumental contribution to Chicago's dark side was to establish a culture of corruption in the 1st Ward that has yet to die.
Big Bill Thompson, mayor from 1915 to 1923...

In 1990, a group of 69 professors and other political experts voted Thompson the worst big-city mayor in the history of America.

(Gee, and we thought it was the crack-smoking, tax-dodging Marion Barry.)

The rest of McNamee's column is a great read, full of pimps, ho's, and general skulduggery -- the Chicago Way. Check it out HERE.

- VINCENT


McCAIN adds: Hilarious! To be fair and balanced, I will point out that Bill Thompson was a Republican, an interesting fact we describe in a note on page 241 of DONKEY CONS:
During Capone’s heyday, Chicago mobsters were more bipartisan in their politics. Republican William Thompson was Chicago’s mayor during Capone’s rise to power, but was defeated by Democratic reformer William Dever in the 1923 election. Dever’s crackdown on bootleggers prompted Capone to move his headquarters to suburban Cicero, Illinois, where Republican Mayor Joseph Klenha went along with the gangsters. Democratic Mayor Anton “10 Percent Tony” Cermak, recognized as “the father of Chicago’s powerful Democratic political machine,” was elected mayor in 1931. Cermak was supported by gangster Roger Tuohy, a Capone rival. Capone’s gang blamed Cermak when a police detective shot Capone henchman Frank Nitti in December 1932, and Cermak was assassinated two months later by Guiseppe Zangara—reportedly on orders from the Chicago mob.
Thompson was the last Republican mayor of Chicago. Nitti and his successors thereafter supported only Democrats, famously including Daley and JFK, who feature prominently in Chapters 3 and 4 of DONKEY CONS.

What is fascinating to me here is the remarkably consistent bias of academia. With all the notorious Democratic scoundrels who've been mayors of American cities -- New York's Jimmy Walker, Detroit's Coleman Young, the Daley dynasty in Chicago, the Morial dynasty in New Orleans -- well, of course the "professors and experts" had to name a Republican to the top honor!

DONKEY CONS: Buy the book
DONKEY CONS:
Find out more!

Chicago "Hired Truck" update

The latest and biggest guilty plea in Chicago's massive Hired Truck scandal:

Former Chicago city Clerk James Laski pleaded guilty Friday to taking bribes in return for getting friends business with the city's Hired Truck Program, making him the highest-ranking public official convicted in the ongoing investigation. ...
Laski admitted to taking $48,000 in payoffs.

Meanwhile, trial is delayed for Laski's top aide:

After denying a motion by defense attorneys to push back the April 17 trial date of Sam Gammicchia earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle on Monday decided to grant a new motion seeking the continuance after the defense said it could not hear clearly what was said on government-recorded tapes, which could be used as evidence, according to a court clerk.
The Hired Truck scandal, one of the most mind-boggling municipal corruption schemes since the Tweed Ring, has gotten little coverage outside the Midwest. You never see it on the national TV news, even though Rep. Rahm Emanuel -- chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee -- was elected with the illegal help of an "army" of city workers controlled by the corrupt Daley machine.

It's amazing how consistent corrupt Democrats are in their defense strategy. In Atlanta, ex-Mayor Bill Campbell's attorneys played the race card. In Chicago, they're playing the Hispanic card:
Al Sanchez said he wasn't interested in talking about the Hired Truck or the patronage hiring scandals he left behind in the Streets and Sanitation Department. ...
Sanchez stepped down as Mayor Richard Daley's top Streets and San man in June. But it's election time again, and Sanchez very much remains a player in the local political game.
No longer responsible for clearing Chicago's snow, Sanchez is free to focus on a heated state legislative race that could give the first indication of whether the City Hall corruption scandals have weakened Daley's staunchest Hispanic allies.
Sanchez is helping state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) as he seeks to weather a spirited challenge in Tuesday's primary. The race in Sandoval's 12th District is the main battleground in the power struggle between the pro-Daley Hispanic Democratic Organization and critics who blast the HDO as corrupt mayoral lackeys. ...

HDO defenders say the City Hall corruption cases have been unfairly portrayed as "Hispanic scandals."
Wait a minute: Is "Daley" a Hispanic name? Maybe I overlooked something, and Dan Mihalopoulos of the Chicago Tribune is similarly puzzled:
But the defendants in the hiring fraud case who are scheduled to face trial later this year have the definitely non-Latino surnames of Sorich, McCarthy, Sullivan and Slattery. And the only HDO-connected inmate among the dozens convicted to date is Angelo Torres, who directed the Hired Truck Program.
Still, it has become clear that federal authorities have HDO leader and former Daley aide Victor Reyes in their sights. When agents got a search warrant to raid the mayor's office last year, they cited witnesses who placed Reyes at the center of the illegal hiring scheme. Reyes has not been charged and denies wrongdoing.
Right: Nobody is being investigated for being Hispanic. They're being investigated for being corrupt. But playing on ethnic loyalty is a very old Democratic trick. Irish Catholics were the earliest and most durable of immigrant ethnic groups drawn into the Democratic fold like this, going back to the Civil War era. After the war, guys like "Big Tom" Foley and "Big Tim" Sullivan of Tammany Hall famously controlled the Irish vote in New York, as we explain in Chapter 3 of DONKEY CONS:
In the 1892 election, Tammany put young Sullivan in charge of the Lower East Side; the vote in Big Tim's precinct was 395 for Democrat Grover Cleveland to 4 for Republican Benjamin Harrison. Sullivan was outraged: "Harrison got one more vote than I expected, but I'll find that feller."
Irish votes were key to the big Democratic political machines in many U.S. cities. As newer immigrant groups -- Italians, Poles, Jews, Greeks, Serbs, etc. -- poured into American cities between 1880 and 1920, they too were organized by the Democratic machines. By the early 1900s, the Irish bosses of Tammany relied on Jewish and Italians gangsters -- Monk Eastman's gang among them -- as muscle in their brutal electioneering campaigns.

The Democratic machines were sort of a ladder of upwardly-mobile corruption for immigrants. Patronage jobs, corrupt officials, bribery: The newer immigrants entered this pyramid of graft at the bottom, and worked their way up over the decades. Grandpa Kelly who stepped off the boat in 1870 was a laborer and Tammany ward-heeler, his son became a precinct captain and saloon keeper, and by the 1930s, the grandson was a crooked judge or corrupt city councilman -- the American Dream!

This system was alway based on convincing immigrants that the Republicans were their enemies. If you voted Republican in 1864, this proved you were anti-Irish. If you voted Republican in 1894, this proved you hated Italians. If you voted Republican in 1924, you were an anti-Semite, and so on up to the present age, where voting Republican is portrayed by Chicago Democrats as hatred of Hispanics. It's all a scam, of course, but standard operating procedure for corrupt Democrats.

Which reminds me ... here's an update about Rahm Emanuel, courtesy of Robert Novak, who points out that the DCCC boss has a big stake in the Illinois Democratic primary race in the 6th Congressional District:
If Christine Cegelis (D) wins this race, it could be the most embarrassing day of DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel's (D-Ill.) life so far, a clear sign that his political skills are overrated.
Emanuel, who represents an adjacent district,
spent months looking for someone to prevent Cegelis from becoming the candidate.
He eventually settled on Iraq veteran Tammy Duckworth (D), who does not live in the district and apparently lacks grassroots support there. He helped her raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in a very short period of time, and pitched Duckworth's life story to every sympathetic reporter he could find in Washington, to great fundraising effect. But the question is how effectively all that money and all that press can be used at such a late stage to turn out the Democratic vote in this Republican district.
Cegelis has harnessed resentment at the national Democrats' interference. Despite the fact that she desperately lacks money, she has strong grassroots support, and her signs dot lawns across the district.
This one will be very close. The winner, whoever it is, will begin the general election almost bankrupt, far behind Republican candidate, State Sen. Pete Roskam (R).
"Almost bankrupt"? Sounds kind of like Howard Dean's DNC operation. I wonder if George Soros and his billionaire buddies are ever going to figure out why they keep giving and giving, and Democrats keep losing and losing. (When you're giving campaign contributions to support a party so thoroughly corrupt, you'd think you might ask for an independent audit once in a while.) But I guess Soros is just the latest example of how some immigrants always fall for the Democrats' scam.

Previously on CHICAGO:
2/18: Hire 'em all!
2/4: "Culture of Corruption"

-- McCAIN

DONKEY CONS: Buy it
DONKEY CONS: Buy TWO!
DONKEY CONS: About the book

New blog layout

Our webmistress, Sara, has re-designed the blog layout to match the color scheme of our new WEB PAGE.

In the process, however, we lost over a dozen links on the blogroll, which will be restorer in the next few days. So if you've linked us and we've blogrolled you in the past, you'll be blogrolled in the future, it's just going to take time for me to remember everybody that was there. Please e-mail me if we've left you off.

-- McCAIN

Monday, March 20, 2006

Sanity in New Orleans

While checking for the latest news about New Orleans, I came across an excellent column by New Orleans resident Steve Sabludowsky:
Jesse Jackson will ... stage a rally in New Orleans on April 1 to claim that the elections set later that month are unlawful although they have been approved by the U.S. Justice Department.
Even worse, he has used rhetoric that the New Orleans election process is akin to a “literacy test.”
Jesse Jackson should leave New Orleans alone.
His presence will only polarize an already angry city. ...
Wow. Talk about speaking truth to power. Sabludowsky fisks the election demagoguery and then makes some excellent points about the current situation in New Orleans:
Jackson should help those individuals in his rainbow coalition to understand issues such as FEMA maps, tenuous levees, real estate programs, lack of utilities, communications, jobs, education systems and whether it is wise to return, not whether they have a “right to return."
Injecting race in this election hurts much more than it helps.
New Orleans is a frail city. It needs help from everyone. It requires good schools
and little and no crime. It needs hard working people of all races and nationalities to play a constructive role so one day, social services can return. ...
New Orleans as a city cannot afford the poor and the needy. We are a city whose government has been chopped in half. ... We are a city that has no telecommunications infrastructure in place that is reliable.
We are a city that absolutely does not need any national or local leaders to throw race into the conversation.
Go read the whole thing.

When I blogged previously about Howard Dean's election demagoguery, I'd talked about the possibility that many Katrina evacuees might never return to New Orleans. But Sabludowsky points to something I hadn't even thought of: Many of the evacuees are children, mothers and the dependent elderly. If they returned to New Orleans now, they would only increase the social-services burden in a city that is barely scraping by as it is. Obviously, New Orleans needs money and able-bodied manpower to rebuild, but it doesn't have the infrastructure to take care of thousands of moms, kids and old folks.

What impressed me most about Sabludowsky's column is that I get the impression he is a liberal, but apparently not the kind of liberal who casts aside common sense in a desperate effort to turn every issue into an anti-Bush rant. He's definitely not happy with the federal response to Katrina, but at the same time he realizes that griping about past bungling by FEMA isn't going to help his city recover from the greatest U.S. natural disaster in recent memory.

One seldom hears that kind of common-sense liberalism in D.C., and in Washington -- where everybody seems to be obsessed with the partisan scorecard in the "permanent campaign" -- it's easy to forget such people exist. Somebody in Congress ought to get in touch with Sabludowsky and ask him to come testify at the next Katrina relief hearings.

-- McCAIN

DONKEY CONS: Buy it
DONKEY CONS: Buy TWO!
DONKEY CONS: About the book

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ruined by remakes

OK, you're a Hollyweird studio executive trying to figure out a sure-fire winner that will make enough profit so you can also afford to produce highbrow Oscar-bait about gay cowboys, racism and neocon imperialism. What do you do?

Remake an old Disney flick! Parents and grandparents who remember the movie from their childhood will take their kids to see it. The recognizable title and wholesome image makes it a pre-sold product for the cineplex, the Blockbuster rental biz and DVD sales.

But this is Hollyweird. You can't just re-make the original movie with new actors, contemporary costumes and settings, and improved special effects. No, you've got to re-draft the script, and update it to include fart jokes, divorced parents, age-inappopriate double-entendres, and ... evil pharmaceutical companies?

I kid you not. According to David French, the guys who scripted the remake of the "Shaggy Dog" apparently thought they were writing "The Constant Gardener":

The villain: A pharmaceutical company engaging in animal testing.
The clueless dad: A lawyer prosecuting an alleged animal rights terrorist for burning an animal testing lab (he's framed, of course).
The daughter: Animal rights activist who lies down in protest in front of the clinic. ...

In the end, of course, the heroic daughter enlightens "clueless Dad" who learns that animals are "just like us." Yuck.

French has an idea for his own movie, in which the family "disrupts a PETA protest and then walks hand in hand to a gun range for some good family time." He also mentions that the "Shaggy Dog" is from Tibet and thus is "very wise" as Buddhism-crazed Hollyweird reckons such things, but French says: "In my movie, the dog will come from Alabama."

Heh. Go read the whole thing.

So, who is David French? Former president of FIRE and a lawyer with the Alliance Defense Fund. Townhall columnist Mike Adams has named French as a Supreme Court justice in his shadow presidency.

As far as I'm concerned, "the dog will come from Alabama" is qualification enough to put French on the court. But as the ranking Libertarian on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- remember, in a shadow universe, all things are possible -- I have a couple of questions for the nominee:

1. Mr. French, according to a Reuters news article, in 2006 you supported Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president. Can you explain why, despite this fundamental failure of political insight, you were nominated to the Supreme Court by President George Allen?

2. What kind of wussy blogs on his wife's site?

Sure, Instapundit's wife has her own blog, and that's OK. But you don't see Glenn blogging there, do you? No. And why not? Because Glenn is a real All-American, red-blooded, right-wing he-man, that's why. Real men don't blog with girls because ...

Oh. Wait a minute. ...

Never mind.

-- McCAIN

UPDATE 3/22: I got a note from Nancy French, who reports: "Donkey Cons insinuated that David was not a real man for writing something that ended up on his wife's blog, an accusation that has upset David so much that he had to take a break from his needlepointing." LOL!

Nancy, tell him to put on his apron and bake some cookies -- he'll feel so much better.

Seriously, David seems to be a fine, manly man, and Nancy has a book of her own due out soon, an essay collection (envy alert!) called A Red State of Mind.

I hope to meet the Frenches when I get down to Tennessee sometime in the next few months. You see, I'm planning to do my 2006 Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza in Alabama this year, and there's a couple of fireworks dealers in Tennessee I need to visit.

Here's the last 2 minutes of my 2005 fireworks show. (WMV format; right-click and "Save Target As ..." to download.)

DONKEY CONS: Buy it
DONKEY CONS: Buy TWO!
DONKEY CONS: About book

Right and left, right and wrong

Jay Ambrose has a great column about the controversy over political correctness on campus:

[SUNY-Buffalo professor Lionel] Lewis tells us that the “biggest threat today to academic freedom may be David Horowitz,” the leftist-turned-conservative writer who is urging adoption of an Academic Bill of Rights by state legislatures and Congress. The American Association of University Professors contends that these rights would subject higher education to “political criteria” instead of “academic criteria,” which is 100 percent wrong. They would do the precise opposite. The rules would say you can’t hire, fire or promote because of political or religious beliefs, and that universities ought to expose students to a variety of “significant scholarly viewpoints.”
Go read the whole thing. Ambrose is correct that Horowitz's critics are accusing him of doing the exact opposite of what he's actually doing. Horowitz is trying to get politics out of the classroom, not trying to intrude politics into the classroom.

I keep reminding myself that we're here to promote DONKEY CONS (buy TWO), but if you haven't read David Horowitz's Radical Son, you ought to. Also recommended is Destructive Generation, by Horowitz and his old friend Peter Collier. And I recently interviewed Horowitz about his new book, The Professors.

-- McCAIN

Headline update (March 19)

This special Sunday ALL-BLOG edition of DONKEY CONS HEADLINE UPDATE(TM) is brought to you by Tonto, Tarzan and Frankestein:

PEACH: Ralph Reed still running
INSTAPUNDIT: Pollyanna?
SURBER: Not Pollyanna
CELEBRITIES: Surber links us!
PEACH: Dems jumping ship?
RIEHL: "Strawman" fisked
SURBER: CNN sucks
CRAMER: ACLU sucks
QD/SA: NCAA sucks
PEACH: Isakson not RINO!
QUINTON: Yankee slaves
BASIL: Picnic
SCHLUSSEL: Movie picks
JIBLOG: Cheesehead bloggers
BEVAN/RCP: Mugger fisks Sullivan
KUDLOW/RCP: America happy
MK HAM: Communitarian
HEWITT: Steyn out
DREHER: Mea culpa (h/t SA)

-- McCAIN

DONKEY CONS: Buy it
DONKEY CONS: Buy TWO!
DONKEY CONS: About book