damnum absque injuria

July 31, 2004

Moron the ACLU

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 3:02 pm

Below is the questionnaire the ACLU sent me. Each loaded question has three possible answers: Yes, No, and Not Sure. Notice that “no, I don’t completely agree but…” is not among them, just “not sure.”

Misdirected Mail

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 2:33 pm

Whenever a conservative attacks the ultra-liberal agenda of the ACLU, apologists inevitably surface, saying “gee, the ACLU is neither right nor left, they consistently support everybody’s civil liberties, blah blah blah.” My favorite example is their inexiplicable support in the 1970s for the right of a group of Nazis and Klansman to yell “fire” in a crowded theater “we hate Jews” in an overwhelmingly Jewish neighborhood. It’s almost as if the ACLU apologists are so far out in left field that they actually expect conservatives to identify with the Klan or the Nazis, with whom they have nothing ideologically in common.

Apparently, ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero didn’t get the memo about the allegedly apolitical ACLU. Get a load of the fundraising letter I received from him yesterday.


July 30, 2004

Garamendi’s Power Grab

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 8:44 pm

Today’s editorial in the Los Angeles Dog Trainer lavishes praise on California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi for his recent decision to block an acquisition by Anthem, Inc. of BC Life & Health Insurance Company (which the Trainer erroneously identifies by its former name, “Wellpoint Life Insurance Company”). Quoth the Trainer:

Their feud escalated last week when Garamendi turned down the company’s deal to acquire Thousand Oaks-based WellPoint, which insures more than 7 million Californians through its Blue Cross of California subsidiary. Any day now, Anthem is expected to take Garamendi to court for his admirable stance as the only regulator to stand in the way of the acquisition.

I haven’t been following this struggle, so for all I know, there may be legitimate reasons for Garamendi to oppose the merger. I can say, however, that if such reasons exist, Blue Cross is not among them. Contrary to the Trainer, no one “insures” anyone through a subsidiary; the subsidiary itself does that. This may sound like petty semantic quibbling, but it’s not, as the California Department of Insurance has authority to regulate one company but not the other. Go to the Department of Insurance web site and look the companies up. You’ll find a profile for BC Life, a life and disability insurer regulated by the DOI. You won’t find a profile for Blue Cross of California, however, as that company is not an insurer regulated by the DOI, but an HMO regulated by the Department of Managed Health Care, a separate agency which, as best we can determine, did not object to the proposed acquisition (which the Trainer erroneously described as a “merger”).

Garamendi’s decision to approve or deny Anthem’s acquisition should be based entirely on what he believes BC Life – not its subsidiary – would do. It should have nothing to do with any considerations of what Blue Cross of California would or wouldn’t do. That’s the DMHC’s business, not the DOI’s.

UPDATE: Here’s a link the the DMHC’s order of approval (PDF) of the merger Garamendi wants to block.

You’ve Seen the Best, Now See the Rest

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:17 am

Ryan at Tasty Manatees features the worst of the web.

UPDATE: Reader Tim points out that Tasty Manatees has been suspended. No idea as to when this happened, why, etc.

July 29, 2004

Atchersway Ouncilcay

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 8:16 pm

Uhthey Ouncilkay azhay okenspay. Ongratulationskay ootay Attericopay orfay uhthey inningway ounclkay entryay, “Ontrolkay Oomray,” anday ootay Essay-Aintray Anvaskay orfay uhthey inningway oncouncilnay entryay, “Eettinggay itay outay.”

Snopes Said It, I Believe It, That Settles It!

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:10 pm

Lonewacko rightly takes Snopes to task for labeling as “false” the undetermined allegations that Annie Jacobsen and her husband witnessed a terrorist dry run on Northwest Air Flight 327 on June 29. Snopes’s research is much more cursory than what I’ve seen on a number of blogs, enough so that Kevin Roderick, who agrees with their conclusion, was unimpressed by the Mikkelsons’ pronouncement. Similarly unimpressed is Patterico and, I suspect, Michelle Malkin, Spoons, and just about everyone else who hasn’t decided that Annie Jacobsen was the real terrorist. The original Snopes entry said nothing of the fact that 13 of the 14 terrorist/musicians/cads/whatever were traveling on expired visas, so Barbara Mikkelson updated it yesterday in an attempt to swat that issue down. Quoth Ms. Mikkelson:

Much has been made of the discovery that the Syrian musicians were supposedly traveling on “expired visas.” This claim stems from a misunderstanding of what the expiry date on a U.S. visa signifies.

She then goes on to explain that technically speaking, a visa “expires” on the day it can longer be used to enter the country, which is not necessarily the same as the “exit date,” by which the holder is required to leave. Based on this, we are asked to assume that as of June 29, only the expiry dates, not the exit dates, had passed. She cites no sources to corroborate this, however. The only external source she does cite is to a U.S. State Department page that explains this aspect of U.S. immigration law generally, and which says nothing about Mehana et al. in particular (nor could it, as the page was last updated in May, 2003).

On the other hand, this article by Audrey Hudson of the Washington Times, which has been quoted extensively by several bloggers but ignored by Snopes, quotes Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Dean Boyd at length. In it, Mr. Boyd confirmed that 13 of the 14 musicians had entered the country on May 30, and that their visas had expired on June 10. If, as Snopes asks us to believe, the visas had really just “expired” with respect to their entry dates, and the men were lawfully in the United States at the time, one might think that Mr. Boyd would have brought this non-technicality up. He did not. Instead, he had this to say:

“The bottom line is there should have been an ICE agent called in to participate in the questioning, but there wasn’t. We believe if an ICE agent were there, they could have detected the visas had expired.”

Conspicuously absent is a further elaboration along the lines of “but then again, they weren’t trying to enter the country, so ICE would have also ‘detected’ that there was nothing wrong.” Everything he said – or at least, everything Hudson saw fit to include in the article – indicates that ICE has confirmed that at least 13 of the 14 had visas that had “expired” in every sense of the word, just as you probably understood the term yourself before reading this blog entry or Snopes’s.

Either Audrey Hudson or Barbara Mikkelson fell down on the job.

UPDATE: Syrian Ambassador Imad Moustapha does Snopes one better by falsely claiming in a letter to the Washington Times that Mehana and his musicians had previously performed at the kennedy Center, the Lincoln Center and Juilliard. Hat tip: Michelle Malkin. When Jacobson called him on it, he denied having made that claim. O-kay.

UPDATE x2: Audrey Hudson now reports that a second passenger (h/t: Political Musings) has corroborated Annie Jacobsen’s allegedly false report. Advantage: Not Snopes.

July 28, 2004

Kanis Loopus

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:30 pm

Looks like Spoonsy doesn’t like the competition. He says “Anybody but Sully” but means “Anybody Who is Spoons.” I get it. Go ahead. Contribute to his “cause” if you want. I’m sure the poor, suffering dogs will understand, as will the IRS when you claim the nonexistent spoon deduction instead of the recognized charitable one. Feh. Whatever the hell “feh” means. Just, feh.

Dish Network Rip-Off

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:29 pm

What Dish Network saves you in lower rates, it makes up in chutzpah. My latest bill includes two so-called “service fees” that are completely unjustifiable. One is a $5.00 “transaction fee” they charged me for the privilege of reducing my monthly programming from America’s Top 180 to America’s Top 120. No “transaction fee” was charged when I increased the programming in the first place. Apparently, what they call a “transaction fee” is really a “we’re not going to make as much money off you as we used to, so screw you” fee. I called them up and said “no, screw you,” and that junk fee was ultimately waived.

The other junk fee, which was not waived, is the $4.98 “DISH VOD Service Fee” they’ve apparently been soaking me for since November. That fee, according to a supervisor, is for the “service” of having a relatively new DVR that records up to 100 hours. Of course, that “service” is performed not by Dish, but by the DVR itself, which I own. Paying Dish for the privilege of actually being allowed to use a hard drive in a device I own makes no more sense than sending a $5.00 a month “service fee” to Dell or Western Digital for the privilege of being allowed to store data on a hard drive that I bought from them. What will they think of next? An “unlimited recording privilege fee” for anyone who admits to hooking up a VCR to his TV set?

I’m curious as to whether or not these fees are legal, or if they have even been tested in court. They strike me as a complete and total rip-off, so I have to think they are vulnerable on some level, either from regulators or from private plaintiffs. Note that I am focusing on Dish only, whose device is nothing more than a VCR with a hard drive, which requires no special signal or additional programming to support it. TiVo and Replay charge monthly fees, too, but to the best of my knowledge, in their case you are paying a monthly fee to receive a signal needed to make the unit work properly. Dish, by contrast, is simply soaking its consumers because it can (or, at least because it thinks it can).


Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:00 am

What he said.

UPDATE: This, however, is funnier still. We love you, Jim, but you really need to get a grip. Some goes for you, Lauren. Sheesh. Some people just can’t take a joke.

July 27, 2004

Kanis Familiaris

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 11:38 pm

Spoons, in classic form, has launched a counter-pledge drive encouraging readers to contribute to him instead of he who must not be named. Laurence Simon has taken it one step further by starting a Give Your Money To Anyone But Andrew Sullivan Project. Count me in, on behalf of Mrs. X’s dog rescue group, Underdog Rescue. Underdog’s been around for a little more than a year, and has placed almost 200 dogs in good homes. Donations are tax-deductible. What more do you want?

Spoons’s goal is to beat Sully on a pro-rata traffic basis. His site averages 1,319 hits per day, or 2.3% of Sully’s 56,809. My current average is much lower, at 295, so all I need is 0.5%. That’s not a lot to ask, and unlike most bloggers’ tip jars, this one is for a good cause. If your mouse pointer has ever hovered over the PayPal button on my sidebar, you may have noticed that a text box pops up reading “Donate to Underdog – Not to Me, for Chrissakes.” Perhaps you thought that meant “don’t click this button, go to Underdog’s site instead.” Actually, it doesn’t mean that. What it does mean is “click this button, and any donation will go to Underdog, not to me, for Chrissakes.” I don’t see a dime of it. No, really, I don’t see a dime of it, so if you contribute, I’d appreciate if you also drop me a line to let me know you did. That way I’ll know if I’m on track to make the 0.5% goal or not.

As more and more bloggers join in on the Give Your Money To Anyone But Andrew Sullivan Project, Spoons’s idea of having each blogger match Sully’s pro rata becomes increasingly unrealistic. No matter. Do it anyway. Anything that results in more money being contributed to people who aren’t Andrew Sullivan than to people who are can’t be all bad. It’s just that if you choose my tip jar, you’ll actually get two separate good feelings instead of one. Did I say two? I forgot about the tax deduction. Make that three.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin is on it. Now this thing really may take off.


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