Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Marlowe's Shade is on the case

BOSTON, Massachusetts - A mosque is rising in the heart of Boston. Not just
any mosque, but the largest mosque in the northeastern United States.

At a cost of $22 million, the 60,000-square-foot Islamic Cultural
Center will be a prominent symbol of the growth of Islam in America. But the
project is under fire, as some say it will also be a symbol of radical Islam.

The Islamic Society of Boston is under scrutiny for ties to radicalism.
But the society says it does not tolerate extremism. And yet, some former and
present leaders of the society have been tied to extremism.

The connections go right to the foundation of this mosque and the
Islamic Society of Boston, or ISB.


Blogger PapiJoe over at Marlowe's Shade has been relentless covering this issue and documenting the Boston Globe's continued series of puff piece articles on this controversial, taxpayer subsidized facility. He is doing so great work and the media in Boston is starting to take notice.

The excellent blogger LaShawn Barber wrote an article this week in National Review titled, The Blogosphere’s Smaller Stars,

The thing about history, though, is that the efforts of minor players often
go unnoticed. During the (Dan Rather) scandal, high-trafficked bloggers were
interviewed on radio and television and mentioned in countless news articles.
Two appeared on the cover of Time magazine. But smaller, lesser-known, and
lower-trafficked blogs that didn’t get press coverage served a valuable function
during Rathergate. By linking to well-known blogs, articles, documents, and one
another, they made worthy contributions. A few even conducted their own
independent, journalistic-style investigations (often scooping the
professionals).

You can add Marlowe's Shade to the list of bloggers doing the job of the MSM, providing original research and commentary that is far more balanced and insightful than the local press. Congrats PapiJoe on some great work. We appreciate your efforts.


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Bush: Time for Social Security Reform is NOW

Bush: Now's The Time To Confront Social Security


WASHINGTON Dec 16, 2004 — President Bush said Thursday that "now
is the time to confront Social Security" to deal with a projected $3.7 trillion,
75-year shortfall and give younger workers the ability to invest some of their
contributions into personal accounts.

Trying to follow this issue through MSM coverage is very difficult. You cannot fully discuss such a topic in a 3-minute TV piece. On Pundit Review Radio we have spoken with some of the leading proponents of social security reform in very comprehensive, long-form interviews which should give you greater understanding of the problem, potential solutions and what it
is really at stake.

Pundit Review Radio, Interview with Charles Jarvis

Mr. Jarvis served in the Reagan and Bush I administrations and is currently Chairman and Chief Executive of USA Next and United Seniors Association (USA).

We discussed President Bush's vision for an ownership society including his plans for individual voluntary retirement accounts in which American workers could invest a percentage of their social security payroll tax into the stock market. It was a very interesting discussion and we hope to have Mr. Jarvis back on the show soon to go into greater detail on this important topic.

Pundit Review Radio, Interview with Don Luskin

Mr. Luskin is chief investment officer at Trend Macrolytics LLC, an independent economics and investment consulting firm serving institutional investors. He is also a columnist for Smart Money Magazine and National Review.

We were very grateful to spend 30 minutes with Don Luskin talking about all aspects of social security reform. It was a very copmprehensive discussion and one which I think you will enjoy.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Kausfiles on the case of Marc Rich, and his benefactor

February 8, 2001

Why It's OK To Be Shocked by Mr. Clinton's Recent Misbehavior


The Rich pardon wasn't just seemingly corrupt and shameless--it was
also incompetent. That's something we're not used to from Bill Clinton.
It's fair to say that the main reason people willingly suspended their judgment
about him--his saving grace--was that he seemed to be on the ball as far as
his job was concerned. When the time for a decision came, he found out
all the necessary facts, stayed up all night, and eventually made the right call
(on the economy, on taxes, on welfare, on trade). Yet here he reviewed the file,
stayed up all night, and made a terrible decision--a decision he surely now
realizes was terrible, a decision that he'd unmake today, were it possible, if
only to escape the indelibly bad PR it's brought him.

Did he make this mistake because, as some news reports have implied,
his staff wasn't there to talk him out of it? If so, how many other boneheaded
decisions were prevented only because Clinton was surrounded, until the last few
moments, by competent aides--surrounded the way we're supposed to now be wishing that Bush is surrounded? Far from telling us nothing, the Rich pardon casts a whole new, retrospective light on Clinton's presidency. What if Robert Rubin,
Bruce Reed, and the others hadn't been there? ...

December 13, 2004

Even if the latest allegations about Marc Rich--that he helped broker Saddam's oil-for-food deals--prove accurate, that won't be the main reason Clinton's pardon of the fugitive financier was scandalous. Saddam could presumably always get someone to broker his lucrative schemes--if not Rich, then another high-level operater. The Marc Rich pardon was scandalous mainly because it taught a generation of young Americans that you could buy your way out of punishment. ... But buy with what? ... Here's an instance where the convenient case for public figure privacy in matters of sex--made most conveniently by Clinton himself, but also by Jeffrey Toobin,*** Andrew Sullivan, etc.--completely breaks down. It turns out to be fairly important whether Clinton was or wasn't not having sexual relations with Denise Rich, Marc's glamorous ex-wife, who lobbied for the pardon. It's hard to explain Clinton's gross error any other way. (Lord knows I've tried!) ... Someday some historian will focus on this interpersonal causal chain and win a National Book Award for his provocative thesis--as Philip Weiss memorably put it, "Follow the nookie." But if reporters had been more irresponsible in reporting on Clinton's personal life--and less cowed by the Stephanopouloses and Carvilles--actual voters would have had this highly relevant information in real time when they made their decision in 1992. ... P.S.: Do Democrats really want to elect the woman who let all this happen under her nose? Just asking! ...


This is such an important story on so many levels. The corruption at the UN goes right to the top and has major implications for the United States. With each revelation, the reasons for the lack of support at the UN become clear. Half of the vaunted security council was on the take to the tune of multi-billion of dollars (or Francs if you prefer).

It also tells us so much about Bill Clinton. His critics were right. He lacked the character and integrity that the office requires. Sure he was a natural politician who could connect with people, but his weaknesses were far more consequencial than his strengths. From his feckless war on terror, to his lost second term, the story of Bill Clinton is a story of selfishness and waste. He wasted all of that charisma and potential because he had no integrity or moral boundries.

Marc Rich is a free man because Bill Clinton can be bought. Clinton did learn one thing from the Marc Rich pardon, there are a lot of people who come knocking once you let it be known that you have a price.

December 7, 2004, Bill Clinton Helps Launch Chinese Seach Engine
NEW YORK (AP)—Former president Bill Clinton on Monday helped launch a new
Internet search company backed by the Chinese government which says its technology uses artificial intelligence to produce better results than Google
Inc.

"I hope you all make lots of money," Clinton told executives at the launch of Accoona Corp., which donated an undisclosed amount to the William J. Clinton Foundation.

Saudis, Arabs Funneled Millions to President Clinton's Library
BY JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the New York Sun
LITTLE ROCK, ARK. - President Clinton's new $165 million library here was
funded in part by gifts of $1 million or more each from the Saudi royal family and three Saudi businessmen.The governments of Dubai, Kuwait, and Qatar and the
deputy prime minister of Lebanon all also appear to have donated $1 million or
more for the archive and museum that opened last week.

Democrats spent much of the presidential campaign this year accusing President Bush of improperly close ties to Saudi Arabia. The case was made in Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11," in a bestselling book by Craig Unger titled "House of Bush, House of Saud," and by the Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Kerry."This administration delayed pressuring the Saudis," Mr. Kerry said on October 20. "I will insist that the Saudis crack down on charities that funnel funds to terrorists... and on anti-American and anti-Israel hate speech."The Media Fund, a Democratic group whose president is a former Clinton White House aide, Harold Ickes, spent millions airing television commercials in swing states with scripts such as, "The Saudi royal family...wealthy...powerful...corrupt. And close Bush family friends."Perhaps as a result, the Saudi donations to the Clinton library are raising some eyebrows.

Pundit Review Radio: Blogsphere Week in Review

This week on Pundit Review Radio we began the show with a small tribute to David Brudnoy, Boston talk show legend and inspiration to all who welcome a thoughful exchange of ideas. We also discussed Bill Bennett's fascinating column on the impact of blogs in this past election. He tied the blogs together with talk radio and looked at the profound influence they have on the MSM. Finally, we looked ahead to 2008 and what the Dems need to do between now and then if they ever hope to win another national election.


Pundit Review Radio: Interview with Don Luskin

This weekend we interviewed one of our favorite pundits, Don Luskin. Don is the man behind the excellent blog Poor and Stupid, the author of the widely read Ahead of the Curve column on Smart Money online and the driving force behind The Krugman Truth Squad at National Review.

Don was gracious enough to spend a full half-hour with us to discuss all aspects of social security reform. If this is an issue that you care about, you do not want to miss this interview. We also discussed the outlook for tax reform, the economy and the stock market in 2005. As always, Don was fantastic and we appreciate his coming back on the program and sharing part of his weekend with Pundit Review Radio.



Friday, December 10, 2004

Pundit Review Radio Update

On Pundit Review Radio (12/4) we did our Blog Week in Review segment where we highlighted the best posts that we found in the blogsphere. Included in the discussion were Patterico's Pontifications and Hugh Hewitt's Weekly Standard column on the Groningen Protocol as well as baseballs steroid problem where we took a look at what was happening at some baseball blogs.



Pundit Review Radio: Interview with Protein Wisdom

Sorry for the technical difficulties. On the last edition of Pundit Review Radio we interviewed Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom. As you would expect, he was hillarious. We tried to keep up folks, we tried.



Thursday, December 09, 2004

Introducing The Sully's

AndrewSullivan has been naming "awards" after people who write things that he finds offensive. I've lost track of how many there are at this point. He has more categories than the Grammy's. Here is his latest,


THE MALKIN AWARD: Every now and again, you have to hand it to a polemicist.
Here's one single sentence from Michelle Malkin's latest column:

Perhaps too much drug-addled '60s nostalgia has burnt out the
bleeding-hearts pacifists' brain cells.One sentence; four cliche-ridden,
playground insults. Can you beat it? Contestants can be nominated from
either right or left; but the sentence must be entirely devised to insult;
it should be completely devoid of originality; it must have at least two
hoary, dead-as-a-Norwegian-parrot cliches; and it must assume that readers
already agree with the writer. Arbitrary mean-spiritedness wins extra
points. Nominations for the Malkin Award are now open.

This post got me thinking about starting my own awards, The Sully's. In order to be nominated for a Sully, you must take a once cute/humorous schtick and overuse it to the point of self-parody.

The first nominees for a Sully are....

Michael Buffer, the let's get to rumble guy.

Ted Nugent, the wild and crazy outdoor guy.

and in the special lifetime achievement category,

The Where's The Beef Lady from the Wendy's ads

Nominations are always welcome at punditreview@hotmail.com or in the comments section. Thanks.

UPDATE: This seems to be catching on. (Hat Tip, Junk Yard Blog)

Monday, December 06, 2004

Sen Reid, We demand a writing sample, pronto

So much for new Democrat minority leader Harry Reid being the anti-Daschle. This weekend on MTP, he ripped on Clarence Thomas,
Russert: Why couldn't you accept Clarence Thomas?

Reid: I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I
think that his opinions are poorly written. I don't--I just don't think that
he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice.


James Taranto of OpinionJournal.com's Best of the Web observes,

Now, we haven't read Thomas's entire oeuvre, but we've read quite a few of his opinions, and we wouldn't describe any of them as "poorly written"--much less so poorly written as to make him "an embarrassment to the Supreme Court." (One of our favorite opinions of recent years is Thomas's dissent in Grutter v. Bollinger, the 2003 case upholding racial preferences in college admissions provided they're vague enough.)

Here it is, an example of one of Clarence Thomas' poorly written opinions,

Like (Fredrick) Douglass, I believe blacks can achieve in every avenue of
American life without the meddling of university administrators. Because I wish
to see all students succeed whatever their color, I share, in some respect, the
sympathies of those who sponsor the type of discrimination advanced by the
University of Michigan Law School (Law School). The Constitution does not,
however, tolerate institutional devotion to the status quo in admissions
policies when such devotion ripens into racial discrimination. Nor does the
Constitution countenance the unprecedented deference the Court gives to the Law
School, an approach inconsistent with the very concept of "strict
scrutiny."

No one would argue that a university could set up a lower general admission
standard and then impose heightened requirements only on black applicants.
Similarly, a university may not maintain a high admission standard and grant
exemptions to favored races. The Law School, of its own choosing, and for its
own purposes, maintains an exclusionary admissions system that it knows produces
racially disproportionate results. Racial discrimination is not a permissible
solution to the self-inflicted wounds of this elitist admissions policy.

The majority upholds the Law School's racial discrimination not by interpreting the people's Constitution, but by responding to a faddish slogan of the cognoscenti. Nevertheless, I concur in part in the Court's opinion. First, I agree with the Court insofar as its decision, which approves of only one racial classification, confirms that
further use of race in admissions remains unlawful. Second, I agree with the Court's holding that racial discrimination in higher education admissions will be illegal in 25 years. See ante, at 31 (stating that racial discrimination will no longer be narrowly tailored, or "necessary to further" a compelling state interest, in 25 years). I respectfully dissent from the remainder of the Court's opinion and the judgment, however, because I believe that the Law School's current use of race violates the Equal Protection Clause and that the Constitution means the same thing today as it will in 300 months.

Read the whole thing.

Think what you will about his opinion, but it is certainly not poorly written. What does it say about Harry Reid? Taranto wonders if this opinion is because of Thomas' color. I don't think so. Clarence Thomas is one of these people with whom the Democrats/Left think they can say anything about without consequence. He has been demonized and has become part of the Democrat folklore of evil conservatives. He's John Ashcroft, one generation earlier.


Mainstream media doesn't think this is news?

in Afghanistan and Iraq


Protein Wisdom Interview...coming soon

For the thousands upon thousands of Protein Wisdom fans who are looking for the interview he did with Pundit Review Radio this weekend, we ask for your patience.

Because of some ongoing "difficulties" at our station, WBIX, we will be delayed for a day or so before we can post the interview. Here is a good update on those "difficulties.

Thanks for your patience.

UPDATE: It looks like it will be Thursday, much later than usual. Sorry for that.

Dear Matt Damon: SHUT UP and write the damn check already!

Boston Globe,

BANKING ON KERRY Actor Matt Damon tells Diane Sawyer tonight that
supporting John Kerry was, "financially, the stupidest thing that [he] could
do," but the election was about more than money. Interviewed with his "Ocean's
Twelve" costars on "Primetime Live," Damon says he doesn't need or want the fat tax break he's getting from the Bush administration. "I personally would like to give millions of dollars back," he says. "This guy -- this president -- is giving me millions of dollars. Do you think I need that?" (No, as a matter of fact, we don't.) Damon also credits his parents for instilling a strong work ethic in their kids: "My mother, because she was a professor . . . never made as much money as she deserved to make, but she loved what she did. And my father, who went and took a job to make enough money to provide for us, but never loved his job," he said. "So both of them said, 'Boys, whatever you do, make sure that you love to do it. Unless you have children to provide for, in which case you have to suck it up and . . . do whatever you need to do.' "
Hey Matt, didn't your mother teach you that only phony blowhards talk the talk without walking the walk. I'm pretty sure you can afford a pen. Shut up then if you are soooo outraged and write the damn check. Let's see it. SHOW ME THE MONEY! Another Hollywood blowhard, clueless, out of touch and insulting to us, the little people.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Baseball Can't Stand Success

It was only five weeks ago that the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series in eighty-six years. It was a great moment for everyone associated with the game, even Yankee fans. Somehow, baseball is never satisfied with success and they have to go out and screw things up. Instead of a player strike, they have now given us a massive scandal involving performance enhancing drugs and the game's best players.

Got Juice? Major League Baseball does.

Tim Kurkjian of ESPN is claiming that what Pete Rose did is worse than that of baseballs juice guys. The guys at TalkingBaseball.com disagree,
I am in no way excusing Pete Rose's behavior. But what these men have done over
the past few years is much worse than betting. They used drugs, illegal ones at
that, to cheat and gain an edge. That is, in my mind, all there is to it.

BaseballMusings.com however, agrees with ESPN’s Kurkjian,



Betting on your own team to win is a form of cheating, because Pete didn't bet
on his team in every game. So he sent a message to gamblers on days he didn't
bet on the Reds that the Reds were going to lose. He also very well may have
managed differently with money on the game or not. It's not a victimless crime.

Personally, I think the difference is in how the sport addresses the issues of gambling and drugs.

Baseball is forever scared because of the 1919 Black Sox scandal in which nine players were paid to throw the World Series.

Because of this scandal, there is a sign posted in every major league clubhouse which states that gambling is the cardinal sin in the game and would lead to permanent banishment.

Pete Rose is such an unsympathetic figure not because he has never shown any remorse, but because he never thought the rules should apply to him.

Players have taken illegal drugs for decades. You could even say the Babe was taking illegal drugs when he was boozing during prohibition. Anyway, the problem of performance enhancing drugs is a relatively new one. Until 2001 the game did not even acknowledge them. Even today, the penalties are absurdly light.

The sad fact that the most powerful union in the country represents people who make an average of $2.3 million per year.

When the steroid problem hit the papers a year ago, Jonathan Leshanski of AtHomePlate.com made a great point,


The truth is that everyone in baseball, with the exception of the clean
athletes, benefits from this illegal use of supplements and stimulants. The
owners get more home runs, more records being broken and more star players,
which will put fans into the seats. The agents want huge numbers and huge
seasons so that they can negotiate bigger and longer-term contracts for the
players and make bigger commissions for themselves.

Perhaps the biggest factor however is the fans - the average fan does
not care that someone’s production jumps 50% from one season to the next or that
a player puts on 40 lbs of muscle during the offseason. They love to see 73 home
runs, 300 wins and other records being shattered. Only the purists, those who
really love the game, are concerned about tainted records and artificial numbers
that are not in line with a player’s lifetime production.

I guess that makes me a baseball purist.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Santa not coming to state revenue coffers

Drudge had a headline today that read "Wal-Mart to Launch Advertising Blitz To Salvage Season".

TheStreet.com says, Holiday Blues

Instapundit has been pushing the theory that online shopping is behind the weak retail numbers,

Hmm. Maybe all my talk about the growth in online shopping this
Christmas season is right. Just saw a segment on Kudlow & Cramer saying that
online shopping is way up, and that it may be partly responsible for the
softness in other retail sales. And apparently a lot of women are shopping
online for the first time this year


This is a trend that will only get stronger over time, especially as more people get broadband connections and the price of PCs continue to plummet. It's just so damn easy to shop online. No nasty people, parking troubles or crowds but most importantly, no sales tax. The impact of online shopping is really huritng states ability to collect sales tax. For example,

Ohio says it's loss for the state's 88 counties could be about $100 million
and Michigan officials estimate their state will fail to capture more than $200
million in the current fiscal year.

The states don't like to see their mothers milk taken away and they are plotting their strategy,
The states -- united under the banner of the "Streamlined Sales Tax
Project" -- are building the legal and technical foundations for a system in
which online merchants would be required to collect taxes on all Web sales and
forward the money to the state where the buyer lives. The states are working to
harmonize their tax laws in effort to convince Congress to overturn a 1992 U.S.
Supreme Court ruling that said such a plan would overburden out-of-state sellers
with a confusing patchwork of tax regulations.

Keep in mind that when you buy something over the Internet, even though
many online retailers don't collect taxes at the point of sale, you probably are
still required by law to report the purchase to your state's bean-counters. Most
states have so-called "use tax" laws on the books that require citizens to
report and remit taxes on items they buy out-of-state and online, but such laws
are notoriously tough to enforce and very few consumers bother to comply with
them.

No kidding, people aren't volunteering to pay more taxes? John Kerry was on to something.

This could turn out to be a great fight between the great unwashed (us) and the politicians (them) desperate for more of our money. Pressure from the public is behind the recently renewed three-year ban.

Red Herring, Dec. 2004
Online spending will surge 23 to 26 percent over last year’s holiday shopping
season, consumer research company comScore Networks predicts, as web sites are
expected to make more than $15 billion during November and December this year.

Given the factors cited above, in three more years the amount of online shoppers will really be huge and the states will be even more desperate. If we don't keep bitching, they'll keep pinching.

Kerik Cashes In Before His Appointment?

When Tom Ridge resigned as Secretary of Homeland Security, the reason was that he wanted to of course, spend time with his family, but he was allegedly telling associates that he wanted to go out into the private sector and make some money for his family. Good for him. Twenty years of honorable government service, not including his heroism in Vietnam. Go for it. And thank you for a job well done.

His replacement rumored to be ex-NYC police chief Bernard Kerik. Most of you are familiar with him from his role during 9/11 and his more recent work training the Iraqi police forces.

Whereas Ridge is leaving to make some money, perhaps Kerik knew he was heading back into government life as he recently sold 306,498 shares of controversial stun gun maker Taser (Nasdaq: TASR). The estimated value of that sale is $11 million dollars according to Barron's. That should take the sting out of his $145,000 salary as Homeland Security.

Kerik is on the Board of Directors and his filing is available for all to see. I have no problem with Kerik making moeny in the private sector. Taser has been a wildly successful stock this year, up 378.96%! Why not sell some?

Taser is rather controversial and their CEO does seem like a loose cannon. If there are any corporate governance skeletons in the closet, Kerik may have to answer for that, and his fat compensation, during his comformation hearings.