Saturday, January 18, 2003

And We're Back

Hide the women and children and bar the doors! Yep, Half-Bakered is back.

I found I couldn't stay away. My desire to shoot off my mouth in a forum that reaches literally dozens of folks was irrepressible, it would seem. Some folks say this is the surest sign of being a writer. May be; I'd like to think so.

Anyway, I'll be doing more of what H-B was (nearly) famous for -- taking the CA to task, scrutinising our government and media, and making fun of Mike Fleming. And now that I'm not anonymous, you can expect a bit more personalisation. I'll be doing less volume than I was before, and with a broader national scope as well, so the face of H-B may be a bit different. But I'm still the same curmudgeon I've always aspired to, so your regular drink of DysPepsi will there for you again. You're welcome.

Many, many thanks to the generous folks who expressed some form of sadness at the previous demise of H-B. That played a part in my return. Also, my admiration to the three tentpoles of Tennessee blogging: Bill Hobbs, Instapundit and SouthKnox Bubba, who remain as always my models. Lots more spreadable thanks to the many, many other bloggers like Rapmaster, SayUncle, William Burton, LeanLeft, Justin, Rich, and more names I know I'm forgetting as I write this, for keeping on.

As I said, it won't be as much as before. Today's burst will doubtless be unusually prolific. But it does feel good to be back. I hope I fill a need.

And for another surprise, read the next post.

Thanks to all of you.
Allow Me To Introduce Myself

Hi there, you may know me as Half-Bakered, but in the real world my name is Michael Roy Hollihan. Call me Mike, as all my friends do. I'm coming out of anonymity as I relaunch Half-Bakered. Do I still worry about retribution if the Commercial Appeal ever notices my unrelenting criticism of their biased reporting and coverage? Of course, but I'm pretty sure I over-estimated my profile and the chances of that happening.

As I mentioned way down below, I'm working on a personal domain ( where I'll be moving Half-Bakered. I'm still working on the funding and domain host selection, but that's coming along. But since I'm doing that, anonymity made little sense.

If you're curious about me, I have a lot of stuff scattered around the 'Net and in UseNet in my real name. It was a decision I made when I first got on the 'Net back in 1997, to be me and not hide behind a mask of wannabe. Do Google searching under my name and you'll find hours of mirth and amusement.

So, I'm standing proud. I am me and this is what I have to say. Some folks seem to like reading this blog, and that makes me very bashfully honored. I'm never confident of my writing skills, nor my ability to put across my opinions and thoughts persuasively, much less exposing the personal philosophy that animates and delineates this blog. But I've learned to like the taste of foot over the years; this only means I'll have a slightly larger audience next time.

As always, please feel free to send your own ideas and thoughts, or stories and links. I'm fairly good by myself, but we're much better together.

My name is Mike Hollihan and this is my blog.
A Marvel To Behold

Part of the reason I started Half-Bakered was that I was stunned at how the local paper, the Commercial Appeal, could, day after day, twist and distort stories with impugnity. No one called them on their sins of commision and omission, their mischaracterisations, their water-carrying, and their outright assassinations of their enemies.

So, this story provokes the usual ire in me. Historic events are paved over with the asphalt of oblivion and retinted with the rosiness of business-as-usual.

Covering the opening sessions of the Tennessee State Legislature, Paula Wade and Richard Locker write:
Republicans nominated Rep. Diane Black of Hendersonville to oppose Naifeh, but the Covington Democrat won the votes of all 54 House Democrats plus 11 Republicans.
And there you go, history dropped down the memory hole. For the first time, Republican House members ran someone against the tin god Naifeh and actually made a credible showing! But the way Wade/Locker write it, you don't learn that those 36 votes even existed. They instead focus on Naifeh's raw numbers and disappear the opposition, making Naifeh seem far more powerful than he is.

Which is the point, I assume. Naifeh lost a lot of public credibility during the latter days of the Income Tax War, especially when he and Sundquist began to play their power games with the State government itself. Then Naifeh encounters serious opposition in his re-election, from a last minute write-in candidate, no less! It was only his prescient gerry-mandering of his House district, to bring in more Democrats from neighboring counties to balance the votes he was losing in Tipton County, that saved his bacon.

And then Tre Hargett (with vocal support from political writer/adviser Frank Cagle), tries to organise the House Republicans into a voting bloc, another first. Their 36 vote showing is moderately impressive, simply for the accomplishment. But it's the fact of organised opposition to Naifeh, in public, that's meaningful. (Bill Hobbs, writing in covers this.) And all that gets brushed aside by two writers with an agenda. A pro-tax agenda.

Anti-tax writers and talk show hosts have vowed to recruit primary opponents and target Republicans who supported Naifeh, who championed the ill-fated income tax proposal last year.
It's already happened, and changed the face of the Legislature! Now, seeing Naifeh wounded and bleeding, anti-tax/pro-fiscal control Republicans are motivated, at last. (BTW, the "anti-tax writers" remark is a first for the CA. They usually don't deign to notice any competition like that. And I'm pretty sure they're referring to Frank Cagle here, as he's been the most visible drum-beater for Republican unity against and opposition to Naifeh.)

And that electoral backlash against Republicans who support Naifeh is most likely going to intensify. As Bill Hobbs reports today, via the Tennessean, Naifeh is taking his revenge. It's only to be expected from a political thug like Naifeh, but too many legislators seem to keep expecting a junk yard dawg to act nice. They're fools and they deserve their coming defeat. It's only our having to suffer them for two more years that hurts.

You can expect the Commercial Appeal, and Tennessee's other papers, to lionise these useful idiots in the meantime, as they renew their press in the coming Legislative session, for an income tax.
Pardon My Puke

Sorry for the Mike Fleming-style title, but I'm really getting tired of Sunquist retirement stories like this one, from the Commercial Appeal.

His own party disowned him. He's a true pariah. He became the most irrelevant man in Tennessee politics almost overnight. He ignited an Income Tax War that lasted for four years and kept the State from dealing with important issues that still plague us. He tied State government into knots, deliberately, and made common cause with his political enemies, for no good purpose. His legacy will be one of shame, anger, futility, hostility, waste and corruption.

His only fans seem to be in the newspapers, where they write this McArthurian, "old heroes never die, they just fade away" drivel. The papers should be wondering what took him so long to leave and encouraging little children not to kick his ass on the way out the door.
Disturbing Linkage

I'm sorry not to have time to chase this one down better, but I want to put what I have here and hope someone else will run with it, in the best blogosphere fashion.

In the past couple of weeks, there's been news, not well covered here in America, of arrests in Britain and France of terror suspects who may have been planning to use ricin as a terror weapon.

Ricin is easily produced and spread by skin contact. It will cause violent death in a few days, if not spotted and treated. Its symptoms can sometimes be confused with pneumonia, which makes it dangerous as many people will simply live with it too long rather than go to a doctor.

Well, this story from Australia's The Age, from September of last year, contains some disturbing information linking Iraq, indirectly I admit, to ricin. The story is titled "Why Inspections Won't Work" but it actually shows how they just may have. It documents the travails of the former UN inspectors.

From the story:
Taylor eventually got to his man, a university professor and expert on ricin, a favoured toxin for individual assassination. He also eventually uncovered the professor's hidden papers (some tucked inside old magazines in an outer office), which included documents showing ricin research results on animals, its efficacy as a weapons agent and details of the production process. The papers also revealed that the biological section of the Iraqi Scientific Research Centre, a civilian program, was involved in support of the military's biological weapons program.Nothing better reveals the extent of Iraqi deceit than the saga of the missing growth medium. Growth medium is the dry nourishment required to feed deadly bacteria to reproduce them. In 1995, David Kelly, then the senior British UNSCOM inspector, met an Israeli intelligence officer in a safe apartment on First Avenue and 38th Street in New York. The Israeli handed over documents proving that British and German companies had exported 32 tonnes of growth medium for bacteria to the Iraqis - substantially more than could ever have been required for normal civilian use. Only one conclusion could be drawn.
There's a very frightening story lurking here. I can feel it. I hope someone can do some leg work and look into it.

Thanks to the always witty and incisive Tim Blair for spotting the Age story and mentioning it in his blog.

Also, note the mention of German companies in the quoted part. When the Iraqis released their 13,000 page "report" on weapons of mass destuction, the names of many German companies were contained therein. They've been doing big business with Iraq, including nuclear reactor building, for years, often in violation of the UN embargo.

All their bluster last fall, especially Gerhard Schroeder who was running for re-election as President, against war with Iraq, seems now not to have been motivated by any pure anti-war sentiments, but by simple ass-covering. Good thing they've since shut the hell up.
We Have Already Won The War

Technically, we're already chased Al Qaida into chaos and rout, but the evidence that we've already won the War on Terror is irrefutable.

As Instapundit would put it, "Advantange, America!"
Gays and Guns

OK, OK. To some of you, "gays and guns" seems an oxymoron, and to others it's a scary thought. In this picture and in this story you'll learn about the Pink Pistols. Nope, they're not a punk rock band. They're a group of gays taking harrassment back to the harrassers in the classic American fashion, taking the idea of self-defense very seriously.

But in the Associated Press coverage is a stark, stark example of media bias.

In March 2002, Miner shot intruder at her home. Miner doesn't know if she was targeted because she and her girlfriend live openly in the Boston suburb of Arlington. But like other members of a burgeoning group called the Pink Pistols, she is challenging the notion that gays and guns don't mix.
What notion? Who ever said "Gays and guns don't mix."? Who's been promoting it?

But there you are. The assumptions and biases of the writer are taken for granted and form the subtext of the story's point of view. The writer assumes you share it, too. Nowhere is there objectivity, but if you challenged the writer I guarantee they'd be shocked at the assertion.

And this from an AP story, which will be picked up and rereun, without change, by papers all over the country.
Why There Will Be No Korean War

Science fiction writer Orson Scott Card is best known as the writer of the Speaker For The Dead and Alvin the Maker series of novels, and for a lot of good short stories. He's less well-known as a Mormon.

But who knew he was a political analyst? This column of his is a spot-on look at the differences between Iraq and Korea and how we'll handle each. Very perceptive in a Kissingerian realpolitik way.
Trent Lott

OK, it's way too late now, but it all happened while I was away.

Trent Lott makes some stupid remarks, which he should have known better than to utter in public, which this dinner was as C-SPAN was taping it. Almost immediately, some angry, appalled Republicans begin to get the word out and by late Saturday it's all the talk of conservative forums on the Internet.

By Monday morning, the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy is in total uproar, with many, many calls for Lott to step down. But over on the Democratic side, not a peep; and on the major news outlets, not a peep.

By Tuesday, calls for Lott to move over are deafening on the Right to the point that Rush Limbaugh joins in, though tenderly. The New York Times and the Washington Post finally pick it up, almost a week later, and then the story finally takes off.

The smart thing to do was for Lott to apologise and step down. But that's not in his make-up. Lott is all about "me, me, me." His actions from Day One as Senate Majority Leader have been one mis-step after another (the secret deal before he took office to share power with Dems), and his handling of the Clinton impeachment sealed the deal. He also loves the pork, to the point he forced the Navy to accept a carrier group it didn't want in order to provide jobs to his home state. At every confrontation with Democrats, he's caved, and time after time he makes deals with Democrats that assumes their good word, only to watch them renege later and stab him in the back.

Everything about Lott's actions and statements during his last flap were all about saving himself. He derailed the President's "big mo" post-election plans, and Republican excitement at their historic victory, putting his own stupidity, his lust for power and perk, front and center. He also pushed race, the Republicans' target-on-the-back, to the front of the news, from obscurity. He gave the Dems a powerful weapon, gratis.

Even today, as the 108th Congress convenes, race is still being used against Republicans. It should never have been. There should have been, and was expected to be, a smoothly accelerating run into the new, Republican year.

Thanks to Trent Lott, it's been a bumpy lurch. The only good thing about it is the ascencion of Bill Frist to the Leadership. But even that should have happened within days, not weeks, and with minimal fuss, not major media hoopla.
Protests Fizzle, Media Ooohs and Ahhhs

The major media have been touting the anti-Iraqi war protests around the world today. It's been hyped in that way that says the media support it, but won't do so openly.

And the result? ABC Radio News said, "In the biggest protests since the Vietnam War, tens of thousands (emphasis mine) of protesters...." Anti-Vietnam protests drew much larger crowds, and they weren't hyped and international coordinated as this one was. And CNN has some pictures that show very sparse "crowds." Seems a fizzle.

But the media will still hype the hell out of it. They seem to have refound their anti-war footing, and regained their nerve.

Also, read Instapundit to read more about the organizers of the protest--ANSWER. They are being blandly promoted as some anti-war group, but are in fact a Stalinist, anti-America bunch. True wolves in the clothes of bleating, liberal sheep.
Broder on Hastert

Washington Post columnist David Broder has a good column on House Speaker Dennis Hastert, the Grey Man of Republican politics. He's self-effacing and quiet, but gets the job done, in stark contrast to former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who managed to do little good at all. It'll be interesting to see how Hastert and Frist work together.
Engines On, Coming Up To Thrust

OK, I think I have it now. Looks good in Mozilla and Netscape. You MSIE folks will just have to accept what you get. But you're used to that anyway.
Another Day, Another Test

Still working out some kinks. Bear with me. Content coming, I promise.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Test, Test...Is This Thing On?

Hi, y'all. Just warming up prior to a return of the blog. Don't get too excited yet, OK?

I deleted the old template and am having to reconstruct it. Things are going slowly. I'd forgotten how much fun the Blogger Template can be -- so much arcana and tweaking of HTML code. Whee!