January 31, 2007

Biden Just Another Racist Dem

Im simply stunned. After all, even Robert The Kleagle Byrd wouldnt say something this stupidly bigoted. But Joe Biden did.

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy ... I mean, that's a storybook, man."









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Terror Plot Foiled In England

And this one was particularly vile, even by the incredibly low standard already set by the jihadi pigs who infect much of the world.

EVIL Muslim terrorists were to kidnap a British soldier on UK streets and force him to plead with Tony Blair for his life in return for a pull-out of troops from Iraq, The Sun can reveal. The soldier would have been filmed begging the PM to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan in a sick propaganda stunt. Army sources said the target was a British Muslim soldier in his 20s. He would eventually be beheaded on film in a sick mirror of the torture and savage killing of British hostage Ken Bigley if Mr Blair refused. Senior security sources say the plot would have put the most unbearable blackmail pressure on the Premier to act. It would also have sent shockwaves through the entire British Armed Forces - putting the fear of God into every man and woman in uniform on or off duty. The fact that the arrests were made in Birmingham could suggest that soldiers recovering from wounds in military hospitals there might have been targeted.
So will the terror-supporting auxiliaries of the anti-war movement consider condemning this planned atrocity? Or is this simply one more instance that we have to understand the feelings and grievances of the swine who seek to perpetrate such acts?

|| Greg, 08:19 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (136) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Nanny-Stater Seeks Light Bulb Ban

This is simply one more area in which the government need not and ought not be involved in making the decision for consumers.

A California lawmaker wants to make his state the first to ban incandescent lightbulbs as part of California's groundbreaking initiatives to reduce energy use and greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

The "How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb Act" would ban incandescent lightbulbs by 2012 in favor of energy-saving compact fluorescent lightbulbs.

"Incandescent lightbulbs were first developed almost 125 years ago, and since that time they have undergone no major modifications," California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine said on Tuesday.

"Meanwhile, they remain incredibly inefficient, converting only about 5 percent of the energy they receive into light."

Levine is expected to introduce the legislation this week, his office said.
If passed, it would be another pioneering environmental effort in California, the most populous U.S. state. It became the first state to mandate cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, targeting a 25 percent reduction in emissions by 2020.

Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) use about 25 percent of the energy of conventional lightbulbs.

Personally, Im of the belief that a better name for the bill is the How Many Legislators Does It Take To Strip You Of Your Freedom Act. And I say this as someone who made the choice to convert most of the lights in my home to the CFL bulbs that this act would mandate. I simply do not believe it is the place of the government to be making such choices on our behalf.
What next? The Shut Off The Lights When You Leave The Room Act?

|| Greg, 08:16 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Religion Of Peace?

What do you think of these numbers?

In a poll conducted five months ago, and broadcast on Britain's Channel 4 TV, nearly 25% of British Muslims said the July 7, 2005, terror bombings in London, which killed 52 innocent commuters, were justified. Another 30% said they would prefer to live under strict Islamic Sharia law rather than England's democratic system.

Now, one in four justifying terror may not be a majority, but it certainly isn't a "small fringe" either.

In other countries, the figures are no less unsettling. A survey published in December found that 44% of Nigerian Muslims believe suicide bombing attacks are "often" or "sometimes" acceptable. Only 28% said they were never justified.
According to the annual Pew Global Attitudes Survey, released in July 2006, "roughly one-in-seven Muslims in France, Spain and Great Britain feel that suicide bombings against civilian targets can at least sometimes be justified to defend Islam." The report also found that less than half of Jordan's Muslims believe terror attacks are never justified. In Egypt, only 45% of Muslims say terror is never justified.

Now you may argue that these views are not representative of Islam but they are not the views of a tiny minority, either. Rather, such views are clearly those of a large minority of the Muslims in the world, and must therefore be grappled with as a part of a larger reality one in which appeals to the more high minded views of Islam are likely to be ineffective given the more radical views of the jihadi pigs and their supporters.

|| Greg, 08:15 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (18) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Now Here's A Teacher Blog I Want To Check Out

Not gossiping about the day at work, not bitching about conditions, not even engaging in great debates about educational philosophy and policy -- a blogger/podcaster who is actually about TEACHING with his online work!

Fourth period on a midwinter Thursday, Christmas vacation a fading memory by now, and Lars Brownworth took his accustomed place in front of an American history class at the Stony Brook School here. He had been guiding these seniors through the Gilded Age lately, and for this session he planned to personify the era in the form of the oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller.

For 45 minutes, Mr. Brownworth deftly orchestrated lecture, discussion and archival photographs to evoke Rockefeller in both his rapacious capitalism and social conscience. When the bell rang, out shuffled the audience, a dozen teenagers who might or might not remember any of this material beyond the next exam. In its satisfactions and its limits, such was the life Mr. Brownworth, the son of teachers, had gladly chosen.

That night, though, Mr. Brownworth, 31, set to work in his own apartment, writing an essay about Alexius I Comnenus, the Byzantine emperor from 1081 to 1118. After revision and rehearsal, the text would become the script for the latest installment of Mr. Brownworths podcast. And if form held, something like 140,000 listeners from Afghanistan to White Plains would hear it.

In barely 18 months, Mr. Brownworths podcast, 12 Byzantine Rulers (at, has become one of the phenomena of the podcasting world. A survey of 1,200 years of rather abstruse history, starting with Diocletian in 284 and finishing with Constantine XI Palaeologus in 1453, 12 Byzantine Rulers routinely ranks in the top five educational podcasts on iTunes, and in the top 50 of all podcasts.

Now I particularly like Brownworth's humble reaction to all the attention -- and to his fan base. He never imagined that anyone else would listen when he started this little project, which was much more for himself and his own edification than for attaining a wide-scale audience. I'm hoping that there is eventually a book in the works, and that it has the sort of wild success that his efforts deserve. But perhaps most importantly in my book, I hope his work sparks a few young people to actually consider history as an avocation, as a field of study, and as a passion in life. For as I've said more than once -- if I can turn on even one student a year to the glories of the past (or, n my government classes, to the beauty of the US Constitution), my teaching those students who just want a grade and a credit has been worth it.

|| Greg, 05:06 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (37) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 30, 2007

A Law Enforcement Conundrum

I really struggle over this situation from Tampa, which I can see as raising a whole host of issues. After all, what do you do when a crime victim -- especially the victim of a sexual assault -- is discovered to have an outstanding warrant when they report the crime?

A 21-year-old woman told police Saturday that a man grabbed her off Howard Avenue and raped her behind a building during the Gasparilla festivities.

But officers investigating the case arrested her after learning she had an outstanding warrant from her teenage years for failure to pay restitution.

She spent the next two nights in jail.

Police are reviewing their policies after the arrest, which one victim's advocate said could have "a chilling effect" on the rape investigation, the woman's well-being and the desire of future victims to contact police.

The woman's family is outraged.

The family is, of course, incensed over the arrest and jailing of the young woman, a feeling I can understand given the horrendous nature of the event she has just been through. At the same time, I can understand the argument that it is the duty of the police to enforce arrest warrants that have been issued when possible, without playing favorites.

But in this case, I tend to side with the family and the victim. The police knew where this woman lived, and how to contact her in the future. At some future point, after a suitable interval, the arrest could have been made. Indeed, this is one of those instances in which the matter probably should have been kicked to the prosecutor's office to see how they wanted the matter handled. No doubt a suitable arrangement could have been made for the young woman to deal with those warrants at a more appropriate time.

Yes, justice is important -- but mercy is at times the higher value.

|| Greg, 06:58 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Kennedy: Its Not Your Money, Its Our Money

That is the implicit position he takes in this little snippet of debate over tying the minimum wage increase to a tax cut for small businesses which will be adversely hit by this unfunded mandate by the federal government.

"How many more billions of dollars do we have to give you, Mr. Republican?" the Massachusetts Democrat shouted. "How many more dollars do we have to give you to get an increase in the minimum wage? It is shocking. It is disgraceful."

Lets look real close at this statement about the proposed tax cut. It speaks volumes about how Jabba the Drunk (D-Chappaquidick) understands tax policy and the federal role in the economy.

How much money do we have to give you?

Implicit in this is that the money made by a business or an individual, for that matter does not really belong to them. Rather, in Kennedys eyes every red cent of that money rightfully belongs to the government, and the portion that remains in the hands of the taxpayer is nothing less than a gift from the all-powerful government to the serfs that work to feed its insatiable appetite for tax dollars. Under this view, a tax cut is nothing less than a gift of government money to a private interest. Indeed, Kennedy doesnt seem to understand that, as a government mandate, the minimum wage is no less a tax on business that a straight tax on profits, and so the proposed tax cut is nothing less than a trade-of of one tax for another.

Kennedys view is antithetical to American thought. Government is supposed to be limited, a servant of the people. Indeed, when Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that we are endowed with the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, he was cribbing from John Locke, who argued that we had a right to life, liberty and property. Those who signed that document understood that the pursuit of happiness was, in fact, the pursuit of money and property. The Constitution of the United States concerns itself with limiting government power, and the Bill of Rights concerns itself with protecting the property rights of the people. Federal taxing and spending power were to be strictly limited, with the people entitled to the fruits of their labor with only a limited governmental claim upon their earnings.

Kennedys question is therefore grounded in a fundamental inversion of the founding principles of American government. There is therefore only one appropriate response in rebuttal to Kennedys cry of How much money do we have to give you, Mr. Republican? It is No, Mr. Democrat How much money must you take from the American people to feed the ravenous beasts of government spending and federal mandates?

Will there be a Republican courageous enough to utter those words?

Oh, and as a side note, the tax breaks for small business (tax swaps, if you recognize the minimum wage as nothing less than a tax upon business) did pass.

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Yes On Free Speech

Ive often railed against restrictions on political speech that masquerade as campaign finance reform. Personally, I dont believe in ANY restrictions on political speech, save for bona fide application of laws on libel and slander.

Today the LA Times takes a half a step in the direction of supporting the ideal enshrined in the First Amendment by urging that the Supreme Court take the opportunity of a pending case to make speech a little more free than McCain-Feingold allows. It ultimately comes down to a case of how certain forms of speech are classified.

The speech-curtailing measure at issue is part of the broader McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The centerpiece of that law banned "soft money" contributions to political parties that were used to circumvent limits on how much donors could contribute to candidates for federal office. What is glaringly offensive to the 1st Amendment is an accompanying ban on "electioneering communications" paid for out of the treasuries of independent organizations.

As defined by the law, electioneering communications are advertisements that mention a candidate for federal office and are broadcast within 30 days of a primary election or within 60 days of a general election. They need not (and usually do not) tell viewers to vote for or against a candidate.

Unfortunately, this means that there are vast chunks of the year when advocating grassroots action is illegal. After all, suggesting that a key senator or representative be contacted qualifies as electioneering, despite the fact that it clearly is not.

There are a lot of phoney "issue ads" out there ("Tell Sen. Smith you disagree with him about Iraq" can sound a lot like an endorsement for challenger Jones), but the court has to err on the side of preserving political speech. When it comes to speaking out about a candidate, opponents (and news outlets like ours) should not have a monopoly in the closing days of a campaign, especially if the outside organization weighing in is genuinely acting on its own.

The particular facts of the Wisconsin Right to Life ads are a compelling indictment of the law's overreach and should prod the high court to reconsider whether the law could be constitutional under any set of facts. The addition of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. may dictate a different outcome retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor cast the deciding vote upholding the limits in 2003.

But if the court isn't willing to go back to the drawing board, Congress should. An advertisement praising or criticizing a politician even one seeking reelection has more in common with the endorsement editorials that appear on this page than it does with the campaign contributions (in hard or soft dollars) that have received only minimal 1st Amendment protection from the courts.

The "bright line" that needs to be drawn is the one between financing someone else's message and articulating your own.

But more to the point, so what if it is, in fact, electioneering? Is it not the right of American citizens to speak freely on the election of our political leaders? Dont Americans have the right to associate together for precisely that purpose? Such speech is precisely what the First Amendment is meant to protect!

But then again, I also believe in unlimited, unrestricted campaign donation a system that worked for most of the history of the Republic, and which generated less corruption than the reforms designed to clean up politics.

|| Greg, 05:51 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (42) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

All In The (Terrorstinian) Family

Just a quick view of the family values of a typical Terrorstinian family following the murder of three Israeli civilians by a jihadi pig in Eilat.

The mother of Muhammad Faisal Saksak, the 21-year-old suicide bomber who carried out Monday's attack in Eilat, said she was aware of her son's plan to blow himself up and that she had wished him "good luck."

Dozens of Palestinians, chanting slogans against Israel and the US, converged on the family's home to "congratulate" them on the success of the attack.

A celebration over the intentional, planned, premeditated murder of random innocents clearly these people are neither civilized nor desirous of peace.

|| Greg, 05:49 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

President Seeks Oversight Of Executive Branch

I guess I dont see a problem with this executive order which has driven the NY Times insane.

President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the presidents priorities.

This strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts. It suggests that the administration still has ways to exert its power after the takeover of Congress by the Democrats.

Of course, this sort of goes along with such unreasonable power grabs as the one contained in this earlier document.

The President. . . may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices. . . [and] shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed. . . .

In other words, the executive power of the United States is vested in the President of the United States. Sounds rather like the role that the executive order envisions, doesnt it?

|| Greg, 05:48 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Toilet Uproar In London Jails

Involving, of course, our friends the Islamists.

Toilets in one London prison are getting a face-lift or rather, a change in direction to accommodate Muslim inmates who can't use them while facing Mecca, a British newspaper reported.

Government officials ackowledged using tax dollars for the changes to the facilities, but maintained that moving the toilets was part of "on-going refurbishment," according to an article in The Sun.

Islamic code prohibits Muslims from facing or turning their backs on the direction of prayer when they use the bathroom. Muslim prisoners complained of having to sit sideways on toilets so as to not break code.

Personally, Im for turning them all towards Mecca. If the inmates dont like it, they can hold it until their release or consider not engaging in criminal conduct so that they dont come back again.

|| Greg, 05:45 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Dan Patrick Introduces Appraisal Cap Limit Amendment

Radio host turned State Senator Dan Patrick has introduced a bill related to his biggest issue -- rising property taxes. The bill would set a vote on an amendment to the Texas Constitution setting the annual growth in residential appraisals a 3%, ending the current 10% cap that can effectively result in a tax bill that doubles every seven to eight years.

It will be an uphill fight, but Houston Sen. Dan Patrick on Monday filed one of his longtime priorities, a constitutional amendment lowering the annual cap on homestead reappraisals from 10 percent to 3 percent.

He also filed a related proposal to limit appraisal increases on vacation homes and other nonhomestead residential properties to 10 percent a year. At present, there aren't any limits on how much those properties can be reappraised from year to year.

As a conservative talk show radio host, the Republican freshman senator has long advocated lower limits on appraisals, a key ingredient in rising property taxes.

But a lower statewide appraisal limit wasn't recommended by a task force appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to study the issue because the chairman, Dallas businessman Tom Pauken, didn't believe the amendment can muster the necessary two-thirds votes in the House and the Senate.

Now I agree with Pauken -- this bill is unlikely to get the 2/3 vote necessary for the amendment to go to the people. However, it is important that this bill be filed and voted upon by the legislature. There has been a growing discontent over property taxes the last several years, and legislative stonewalling on the issue has been the obstacle to meaningful reform that will allow Texans to keep their homes. We deserve to know which legislators are for the taxpayer, and which ones are for the right of local governments to take an ever-increasing portion of our paychecks.

And for those of you who wonder why this is a big issue down here, consider this example. My property taxes for my very modest home run around $2500. With the 10% annual appraisal cap, they could double to $5000 by 2014. Each year the increase eats up every penny of my annual pay raise under my school district's current salary schedule -- and by 2022 would outstrip the raises on the current salary schedule by a rate of $2 for every $1 in pay raise. And if you stop to think about it, for Texans on a fixed income such increases can drive them right out of the houses they have owned for decades and in which they have raised families.

We need this appraisal cap now -- and if we don't get it, we need to know which legislators to vote out in 2008, regardless of party label.

|| Greg, 05:21 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 29, 2007

War On Terrorism An Over-Reaction To 9/11

This column goes to prove that some folks may have book smarts but no common sense -- or moral compass. Professor David Bell effectively argues that the terrorists didn't kill enough Americans on 9/11 to justify our response.

IMAGINE THAT on 9/11, six hours after the assault on the twin towers and the Pentagon, terrorists had carried out a second wave of attacks on the United States, taking an additional 3,000 lives. Imagine that six hours after that, there had been yet another wave. Now imagine that the attacks had continued, every six hours, for another four years, until nearly 20 million Americans were dead. This is roughly what the Soviet Union suffered during World War II, and contemplating these numbers may help put in perspective what the United States has so far experienced during the war against terrorism.

It also raises several questions. Has the American reaction to the attacks in fact been a massive overreaction? Is the widespread belief that 9/11 plunged us into one of the deadliest struggles of our time simply wrong? If we did overreact, why did we do so? Does history provide any insight?

Certainly, if we look at nothing but our enemies' objectives, it is hard to see any indication of an overreaction. The people who attacked us in 2001 are indeed hate-filled fanatics who would like nothing better than to destroy this country. But desire is not the same thing as capacity, and although Islamist extremists can certainly do huge amounts of harm around the world, it is quite different to suggest that they can threaten the existence of the United States.

Yet a great many Americans, particularly on the right, have failed to make this distinction. For them, the "Islamo-fascist" enemy has inherited not just Adolf Hitler's implacable hatreds but his capacity to destroy. The conservative author Norman Podhoretz has gone so far as to say that we are fighting World War IV (No. III being the Cold War).

I'm utterly speechless that an educated many would write this, or that an American publication would print this.

But then again, Bell is a college professor.

And the newspaper is the LA Times.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised at all.

|| Greg, 06:54 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (5) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Terrostinian Jihadi Murders Innocent Israelis

Does this atrocity remind Jimmy Cater of the difference between Israel and the Terrorstinians?

A suicide bomber has blown himself up in a bakery in Israels Red Sea resort of Eilat, killing three people in the first such attack inside the Jewish state in nine months.

Notice that the target was a bakery, not a military installation, and it is clear that the bomb was intended to hit civilians though there is an indication that a larger civilian target may have been intended.

It had been nine months since such an attack had been carried out a record of safety that can be attributed to the success of Israel in fencing out the terrorists. You know, the fence Carter decries in his book as oppressive.

No doubt the anti-Semitic former president will agree with this statement from the Terrorstinian Anarchys ruling Hamas movement, which is couched in language similar to his book.

"The Eilat operation is a natural response to the occupier's crimes against our people amid continued blockades, incursions, assassinations and arrests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," said Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan.

"It is the Zionist enemy who is responsible for the deteriorating situation among the Palestinians. The resistance is entitled to defend the Palestinian people.

Israel has made further steps towards peace with the Terrorstinians in recent weeks which have obviously been seen as a sign of weakness and resulted in this deadly assault.

|| Greg, 06:48 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Just A Note On Obamas Education And Upbringing

If anyone wonders how folks got the idea that Barack Obama went to a madrassa, they might want to consider this little bit of information.

In Indonesia, I had spent two years at a Muslim school, [Obama] wrote in his first memoir, Dreams from my Father. The teacher wrote to tell my mother that I made faces during Koranic studies.

So just a quick point while the school may not have been a madrassa, it was not a secular school in the fashion that we understand it. And given other evidence showing that Obama was enrolled in a Catholic school as a Muslim student, it is not unreasonable to suggest that he was raised, at least nominally, a Muslim especially given Islamic law defining the children of male Muslims as Muslims. Saying that is not a smear, is not an attack, and is not a lie it is a fair analysis of the facts as they exist, including the words of the Senator himself.

And frankly, I dont really care about that upbringing although I again note that it does raise interesting questions about his status under Islamic law and the effect of that status on his ability to conduct normal diplomatic relations with Muslim nations.

|| Greg, 06:42 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (88) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Do As I Say, Not As I Do Democrats

We can see what good ethics rules do for Democrats.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and two other prominent Democrats have failed to disclose they are officers of family charities, in violation of a law requiring members of Congress to report non-profit leadership roles.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, and Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana also did not report they serve as family foundation directors, according to financial disclosure reports examined by USA TODAY.

Ill take their commitment to ethics reform seriously after they start following the old rules that they considered too lax.

|| Greg, 06:35 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Nagin Aides Milking New Orleans Dry

How else can you explain this trend?

Salaries of top New Orleans administrators have nearly doubled in the past eight years, and paychecks for some positions have almost tripled, thanks to aggressive pay increases pushed through by Mayor Ray Nagin. But whether the city is getting a big bang for the big bucks is an open question.

The pay packages for top Nagin aides are well above those in Memphis and Nashville, Tenn., cities that were already substantially larger than New Orleans even before Katrina scattered the city's population across the country.

And the executive pay scale doesn't lag far behind Atlanta and Austin, Texas, bigger cities that also own and must pay top-flight managers to run some extremely valuable assets: an electric utility in Austin, and Atlanta's airport, the busiest in the country.

Yep that place is corrupt to the core.

|| Greg, 06:32 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Rev. Robert Drinan -- RIP

He was a priest and a liberal Democrat politician -- until the Vatican enforced canonical restrictions on clergy in politics. Father Robert Drinan served his nation in one of the most interesting periods of American history, and left his mark as a scholar in the quarter century since leaving public office.

The Rev. Robert F. Drinan, a Jesuit who served in Congress for 10 years until stepping down in response to a papal order, died Sunday. He was 86 and lived here in housing for the Georgetown University Jesuit community.

A university statement Sunday night said Father Drinan had recently been ill with pneumonia and congestive heart failure.

An internationally known human rights advocate, Father Drinan represented Massachusetts in the House of Representatives for 10 years in the 1970s, stepping down only after a worldwide directive from Pope John Paul II barring priests from holding public office.

Interestingly enough, secularist groups had no objection to this clergyman serving in public office or commenting on political matters. Indeed, many of the same voices that today decry the participation of conservative Christians in politics were angry at the Vatican for interfering in the American political system by insisting that Drinan and other priests not hold elected office.

I didn't agree with all the conclusions reached by Robert Drinan, or the theological basis for them. Still, I admired him as a many who saw the importance of the intersection of faith and politics, and who was unashamed of allowing his political stands to be informed by the moral foundation of the Christian faith.

|| Greg, 05:32 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Teachers Blogging

The Houston Chronicle has a great piece on blogging teachers -- ones that are much more education-oriented in their blogging than I am. It was interesting to see what some of the folks I read regularly have to say.

After long days of grading papers and disciplining rowdy children, a growing number of tech-savvy teachers are creating online journals to vent about the stresses of the profession.

Educators who have already embraced the technology called blogs (short for web logs) find themselves walking a fine, virtual line of conduct. They strive to entertain and inform, but can't violate their school districts' ethics policies or federal laws designed to protect students' confidentiality.

Most teachers who blog have opted to do so underground refusing to cite their names, workplaces or other identifying details to avoid potential professional pitfalls.

"School administrators tend to be pretty vindictive and they don't like people with different ideas from them. People who speak out are not regarded very highly," said Mike in Texas, an elementary school science teacher from East Texas, who started an online diary two years ago as a way of defending public education.

Though he often waxes about the value of the system, Mike in Texas has been known to rant about the "Mother of All Idiot Parents" or his boss, the "Clueless Principal."

"Some days I think I would like to have her job because I know how I would do things, and some days I wouldn't want that job for anything," he wrote in a recent entry. "Or as we say, some days you're the pigeon, some days you're the statue."

I don't blog about school very often, and I follow the trend above of not identifying anything about students. Indeed, other than talking about how I really do teach the best kids in the world, I say very little about them or my colleagues (about half-a-dozen of whom read my blog from time to time). I have had a couple of posts which indirectly identify my school and/or district (one noting the shooting death of one of our students, another commenting on a former student making good in professional sports, and a couple when the district has been in the news), but I agree with the comment about ethics -- I cannot be releasing confidential information, so I avoid the temptation of doing so by NUT writing about that part of my life.

|| Greg, 05:21 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Israeli Arab Joins Cabinet

Yes, it is a first -- but I'm curious how welcome a Jew would be in the government of most Arab nations. Oh, that's right -- many of those nations expelled all or most of their Jews following the birth of Israel!

Israel's cabinet on Sunday approved the first Arab Muslim minister of the Jewish state, a milestone marked here mostly by bitter criticism of what many lawmakers viewed as a politically motivated selection.

Raleb Majadele, a Labor Party legislator, was approved by a wide margin as minister without portfolio in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's cabinet. Only Avigdor Lieberman, minister of strategic affairs from the Israel Is Our Home party, voted against the nomination.

Majadele's appointment is "a significant, historic step toward equality and peace in the region," said Amir Peretz, the Labor leader, who chose Majadele for a cabinet post several weeks ago during an ongoing fight for the party leadership.

An Israeli Druze, Saleh Tarif, was appointed minister without portfolio in 2001. But many of Israel's roughly 100,000 Druze, members of a sect that broke with Islam centuries ago, do not identify themselves as Arabs and serve in Israel's army.

The move is controversial among Arabs, with some seeing it as a betrayal. Still, it is significant to note that Israeli Arabs have significantly better living conditions and more freedom than Arabs living in most of Arab countries -- and certainly better than the small numbers of Jews in those countries.

|| Greg, 05:10 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 28, 2007

Capitol Police Ordered To Permit Anti-War Vandalism Of Capitol Building

I think we can see one way that "regime change" in favor of the cut-and-run Democrats on Capitol Hill has made a difference -- anti-war vandals were allowed to spray-paint the Capitol while police stood by and did nothing.

Anti-war protesters were allowed to spray paint on part of the west front steps of the United States Capitol building after police were ordered to break their security line by their leadership, two sources told The Hill.

According to the sources, police officers were livid when they were told to fall back by U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Chief Phillip Morse and Deputy Chief Daniel Nichols. "They were the commanders on the scene," one source said,who requested anonymity. "It was disgusting."

After police ceded the stairs, located on the lower west front of the Capitol, the building was locked down, the source added.

A second source who witnessed the incident said that the police had the crowd stopped at Third Street, but were told to bring the police line in front of the Capitol.

In other words, standard police procedures were violated in order to permit a mass of protesters within the security perimeter around the Capitol

What is the explanation for this unprofessional conduct that allowed for the desecration of the Capitol?

Approximately 300 protesters were allowed to take the steps and began to spray paint "anarchist symbols" and phrase such as "Our capitol building" and "you cant stop us" around the area, the source said.

Morse responded to these claims in an e-mail Sunday afternoon,explaining that the protesters were seeking confrontation with the police.

"While there were minor instances of spray painting of pavement by a splinter group of Anarchists who were seeking a confrontation with the police, their attempts to breach into secure areas and rush the doors of the Capitol were thwarted," Morse said. "The graffiti was easily removed by the dedicated [Architect of the Capitol] staff, some of whom responded on their day off to quickly clean the area."

He added, "It is the USCP's duty and responsibility to protect the Capitol complex, staff and public while allowing the public to exercise their First Amendment rights at the end of the day, both occurred without injury to protestors or officers."

Now there is a fundamental problem with this statement -- vandalism of public buildings is NOT a First Amendment right. Neither is breaking a police line, which was the goal of the anti-war hooligans. Lawlessness, not the First Amendment, was allowed to prevail. I'm curious what Morse would have done had this group insisted upon taking their protest further, perhaps into the Capitol proper? This statement makes it sound like he would have again ordered his men to cut-and-run while additional damage was done to the Capitol. After all, orders had been given that no arrests were to be made.

Sounds to me like Chief Phillip Morse and Deputy Chief Daniel Nichols need to be removed from their position immediately -- and steps taken to ensure that such an event never happens again.

OTHERS BLOGGING THIS STORY: Bookworm Room, Hard Starboard, Hang Right Politics, Return of the Conservatives, Scott's Morning Brew, Moonbattery, Lifelike Pundits, Bearing Drift, That Political Blog, Michelle Malkin

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|| Greg, 07:31 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Difference Between Democrats And Republicans

I love this quote from Democrat Party press secretary Stacey Paxton.

"Mitt Romney should be held accountable for his contradictory record, as should all the Republican presidential candidates," Paxton says.

Translation: "Mitt Romney should be held accountable for learning and admitting his mistakes. Democrats are better for America because once they take a position on an issue they stick with it, no matter how demonstrably wrong or stupid that position is."

|| Greg, 03:06 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Romney: I Wasn't Always A Reagan Conservative

At least not with regards to abortion. That is what he had to say addressing the NRO conservative summit yesterday.

"On abortion, I wasn't always a Ronald Reagan conservative," Romney told a gathering of conservatives. "Neither was Ronald Reagan, by the way. But like him, I learned from experience."

During his 2002 campaign for Massachusetts governor, Romney said that while he personally opposed abortion, he would leave the state's abortion laws intact.

In his speech Saturday, he said he had had a change of heart after a discussion with a stem cell researcher.

And Romney is exactly correct on this matter --it was Reagan who loosened California's abortion laws.

And for those of you who are concerned about the gay rights issue, you would do well to remember how this issue has changed. In 1994, the issue was one of non-discrimination in housing and employment, as well as laws criminalizing homosexual relationships. It has since metastasized into gay marriage. One can easily support the earlier agenda on conservative principles while being unconditionally opposed to the latter. Indeed, his 1994 position was very close to that of Barry Goldwater -- the grandfather of the contemporary conservative movement.

If you want to hear the entire speech, you can listen here, via

|| Greg, 02:49 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (10) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Bollywoold Legend Nayyar Dies

This may surprise some of you, but my wife and I are both fans of India's Bollywood films. Really.

Back when my wife taught at a school with a 20% Asian student body, she had many Indian students. They introduced her to a number of aspects of Indian culture, including this one. And while we do not speak the language, many of the films are available with subtitles so we can enjoy.

That is how I became familiar with the work of O.P. Nayyar, who died today in India.

Indian music director O.P. Nayyar, who composed some of Bollywood's most memorable tunes of the 1950s and 60s, died on Sunday after a heart attack at his home outside Mumbai, a news agency reported.

Nayyar, 81, was famous for the use of Punjabi rhythms in his music and is credited with making stars of several leading singers, including Asha Bhosle, Press Trust of India said.

Indian film director Mahesh Bhatt described Nayyar as ``an audacious man who was a king in his time.''

Nayyar, who always dressed in white and was never seen without his distinctive black felt hat, was born in Lahore in what is now Pakistan in 1926.

He got his first break in 1949 when he was appointed music director on ``Kaneez'' (Junior), but recognition came with 1950s movies like ``Mr and Mrs 55'' and ``CID.''

Nayyar may have died, but his influence lives on today in much of Bollywood cinema.

|| Greg, 09:07 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Watcher's Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are On the Possibility of an Embargo of Iranian Oil by American Future, and Because the Language They Use Is Killing by INDC Journal.  Here is a link to the full results of the vote

Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:

VotesCouncil link
2  2/3On the Possibility of an Embargo of Iranian Oil
American Future
2Teacher Merit Pay
The Colossus of Rhodey
1  2/3Iraqi Refugees
Done With Mirrors
1  1/3Moderate Abbas: Aim the Guns Against Israel!
1  1/3A Mandatory Disaggregation
Eternity Road
1Too Much Munich?
Soccer Dad
1D'Souza and the Illiberality of Criticism
Right Wing Nut House

VotesNon-council link
4Because the Language They Use Is Killing
INDC Journal
2  1/3The Blitzing of Haret Hreik
Michael J. Totten
1  1/3Make the Child Pay
Baytown Bert's Blog -- The Way I See It
1To the Shores of Tripoli
The Belmont Club
2/3Maliki's Other Mistake
Captain's Quarters
2/3IQ and the Educators
Mean Mr. Mustard
Big Lizards
1/3Collateral Damage

|| Greg, 05:22 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Prayers For Molly Ivins

I find her positions wrong-headed and hateful, and her prose lacking in elegance. I don't even like her accent. But I would hate to see her voiced silenced at what is a relatively young age.

Sadly, Molly Ivins is back in the hospital, fighting the cancer she has battled on and off for the last eight years.

Nationally syndicated columnist Molly Ivins has been hospitalized in her recurring battle with breast cancer.

"I think she's tough as a metal boot," her brother, Andy Ivins, said Friday after a visit with her at Seton Medical Center in Austin.

Andy Ivins said his sister was admitted to Seton on Thursday. She spent Friday morning with longtime colleagues and friends, and was "sleeping peacefully" when he arrived later in the day.

A self-described leftist agitator, Ivins, 62, completed a round of radiation treatment in August, but the cancer "came back with a vengeance," and has spread through her body, Andy Ivins said.

My prayers are with Molly Ivins and her family at this time. As I so often say, some things are just too important to let politics get in the way. And when it comes to matters like this, I just can't bring myself to feel any animosity -- just compassion for my fellow human being.

Get well, Molly -- I don't agree with you, but I don't want to lose you.

|| Greg, 12:01 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 27, 2007

Deafening Silence On Karbala From Geneva Fans

It is rather sad that when a clear violation of international law provokes not a peep of outrage from those who claim to support those standards.

I guess the reason is, of course, that those who have waxed eloquent or raved vehement about the rights of captured terrorists only believe the US needs to abide by the Geneva Conventions -- the jihadi pigs who executed two prisoners in cold blood won't have a single voice raised against them by opponents of the war in Iraq. And they certainly won't be accused of crimes against humanity or violations of international law.

Those who insist so loudly on following Geneva Conventions rules regarding captured terrorists need to take a long, hard look at the latest atrocity in Iraq, news of which broke yesterday.

Four U.S. soldiers, one of them a New Yorker, were captured - and promptly murdered - last Saturday in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, 50 miles from Baghdad, officials confirmed.

Two of the slain soldiers were found handcuffed together in the back of a vehicle.

Soldiers die in combat, of course.

But the murder of disarmed and helpless troops - killing POWs, in effect - is what's at issue here.

The killers traveled in vehicles used by U.S. government convoys, wore U.S. combat fatigues, had American weapons and spoke English. That got them past an army checkpoint and into a U.S. compound - where they opened fire with grenades and rifles.

Among those killed was Pfc. Shawn Falter, 25, of Homer in northern Westchester. Officials confirmed that he was killed last Saturday after being ambushed in Karbala, but didn't name the two victims of the atrocity.

The murder of helpless captives is a stark reminder of the barbaric nature of the enemy that American-led forces face in Iraq.

Indeed, it puts into perspective the complaints about U.S. "atrocities" committed against prisoners at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

Frankly, complaints about degrading photos and alleged desecration of the Koran can't hold a candle to the savage abduction and execution-style murders of brave soldiers.

Those who have led the outcry over what they hysterically decry as U.S. "war crimes" in Iraq have a particular obligation to speak out against genuine atrocities of the kind committed by these terrorist insurgents.

Their failure to do so will only serve to confirm their actual motive: not to hold America to the highest moral standard, but to undermine the U.S. effort and ensure a Vietnam-style defeat in Iraq.

But then again, that this has been their desired outcome from the very beginning has long been evident to anyone who has listened to their rhetoric.

UPDATE: Bill Roggio raises this possibility.

The Iranians may be responsible the conducting the attack that resulted in the murder of five American soldiers in Karbala

Well, that would explain the why our troops need the authorization to kill Iranian operatives in Iraq.

|| Greg, 05:55 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Egyptian Cleric -- Islam Forbids Woman President

Does this mean that Hillary can't count on the Muslim vote in 2008?

Islam bars women from becoming head of state, Egypt's top Muslim cleric or mufti, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, ruled in an official fatwa or religious edict published.

"Under Islamic sharia (religious law), a woman cannot be head of state because it is one of the duties of the position to lead Muslims in prayer and that role can only be carried out by men," said the fatwa carried by leading state daily Al-Ahram.

Gee -- does this mean a vote for the Hildebeast is a vote against dhimmitude?

|| Greg, 05:31 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Local Dem Blogger/Activist Opposes Military In Houston

Well, John has always been a part of the "US military out of Iraq" crowd. Now he seems to have joined the "US military out of Houston" crowd.

Ellington AFB, home of the Texas Air National Guard 147th Fighter Wing, will soon be home to a $6 million Predator Operations Complex. The Predator, an unmanned surveillance plane would begin arriving in 2011. The complex will be used as a training ground for operations of the Predator and mostly for the surveillance of the border.

Local media as well as our politicians have put a positive spin on the loss of the 147th Fighter Wing as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, but few have questioned the safety of an unmanned 10,000 lbs aircraft flying over a densely populated area surround Ellington. The safe operations of these unmanned vehicles should be questioned as well as it's mission.

* * *

There has not been a public hearing for the communities that will be under the flight path of the Predators being flown by student pilots, but there should be. The loss of the 147th will be a large economical impact to the community, and the Predator has been offered as a way to offset this loss.

The Clear Lake community over the last 10 years have fought a number of issues such as a sludge farm, a train carrying toxic chemicals and a huge port. The community should be assured that an unmanned drone will not drop out of the sky like one did in Arizona.

John, of course, conveniently overlooks the fact that the F16s at Ellington, the trainer jets flown by astronauts, and the many commercial and private aircraft that fly over the area daily can "drop out of the sky" creating "a disaster for the community [which] should be of great concern." I don't see him proposing hearings on all aircraft, or the complete shutdown of all flight operations over populated areas of Houston (or even the Clear Lake area, where we both live). So I really don't believe this is about public safety.

No, I believe this is all about partisan politics. Congressman Tom DeLay and Congresswoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs were both supporters of keeping the 147th Fighter Wing at Ellington. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has been very active in getting the Predators to Houston, along with other mission changes that revitalize Ellington Field as a military base. I suspect that John, who suffers from Bush Derangement Syndrome has had his condition metastasize into Republican Derangement Syndrome, and is therefore willing to see CD22 and the Houston area suffer in an attempt to guarantee the reelection of his close buddy, Congressman Nick Lampson.

It is rather pathetic, really -- using scare tactics to frighten local residents and undermine national and homeland security for partisan advantage. But then again, why should we be surprised? He's a Democrat!

Then again, maybe he is just afraid that the Predators have monitoring devices that can pierce his Official Daily Kos/Democratic Underground Tinfoil Hat.

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|| Greg, 12:49 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (5) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Fan Favorite For American Idol

I've not followed American Idol this season, and have had only mixed interest over the last couple of years. However, I think I've found the person I want to see win -- Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Jarrod Fowler of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)

A Sailor assigned to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) has become a celebrity almost overnight as millions of Americans watched him advance to the next round of the "American Idol" competition on national television Jan. 16.

Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Jarrod Fowler said he has received numerous telephone calls, e-mails and even a few requests for his autograph after his audition for FOX's hit series "American Idol" competition aired earlier this week.
Fowler, who has spent much of his time over the past two days giving telephone interviews to local radio and television stations, says he was totally caught off guard by all of the attention.

"It's not just being on national television," said Fowler, "it's the chance to represent the entire crew of USS Ronald Reagan. I really want to say thanks to everyone who helped get me here."

The audition, which was taped back in September, took place in Minneapolis while Fowler was on leave. Fowler said he wore his uniform to the audition in order to represent both the Navy and the crew of Ronald Reagan.

* * *

Ronald Reagan is the Navy's newest Nimitz-class aircraft carrier and completed its maiden combat deployment in support of the global war on terrorism in 2006.

Let's hope Jarrod Fowler can win one for the Gipper -- and for every man and women in our nation's uniform at a time when too many Americans are ready to betray them and their mission in Iraq and the war on Islamofascist terrorism.

|| Greg, 11:22 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Houston Chronicle Opposes State Control Of "Creatures Of The State"

It is long-standing precedent, dating back over a century-and-a-half.

"The city is the creature of the state."
East Hartford v. Hartford Bridge Co.
10 How. 511, 533, 534, 13 L. ed. 518, 528

Indeed, counties, school districts, and other local govrnment entities are similarly creations of the state, subject to being regulated by, or even abolished by, the state within which they exist. For the state to limit their powers, including their taxing and spending authority, is therefore beyond question and perfectly appropriate -- especially when that change is coming at the institgation of We, the People.

The Houston Chronicle, on the other hand, doesn't think the state should call these "creatures of the state" to heel.

A commission appointed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to reform the property appraisal system has come out with a raft of proposals that provide little in the way of reform.

Instead, the panel chaired by Dallas businessman Tom Pauken is calling for mandatory rollback elections for any local government, excluding school districts, that spends more than 5 percent beyond what it spent the previous year.

For Texas communities struggling to pay for police, fire, public hospitals and other essential services that the state does not fund, this one-size-fits-all approach would undermine their autonomy to set budget priorities. It also would impose a burdensome rollback election system that would make it very difficult to get approval for necessary spending increases.

If the Houston Chronicle had ever been an honest broker in the debate on property tax relief, I might take the analysis that follows at face value. however, the editorial board has never met a tax increase they haven't liked, nor have they ever met a real tax relief proposal (especially for property taxes) that they have seriously supported. I don't know if they really believe that the government has first claim to the money in our paychecks, but it sure seems that way.

The reality in Texas is that under current law the assessed value of one's home can double every 7-8 years -- and with it, one's tax bill. Indeed, we have seen parts of the city of Houston and other local communities in which homeowners have been driven out of their homes by rising property tax assessments. It is a pattern seen around the state, and the taxpayers have demanded action. The currnt proposals are that action.

Now the Chronicle offers this conclusion.

The Texas Legislature has already addressed the issue of burdensome school property taxes, enacting new business taxes to pay for a one-third reduction in local school property taxes. It should now concern itself with state spending issues and leave local decisions to the elected officials best qualified to make them.

What the editorial fails to take into consideration is that the taxing and spending decisions of local governments are, in reality, state decisions due to the status of these local government entities as "creatures of the state".

That being the case, I've got a better idea -- the state legislature should set these limits upon local governments, which are, after all, creations of the state. Any local government entity finding itself unable to fund essential operations with the revenue available under the proposed 5% rate of growth should be abolished in the next legislative biennium.

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT Outside the Beltway, Is It Just Me?, Perri Nelson's Website, The Random Yak, Adam's Blog, basil's blog, Shadowscope, Stuck On Stupid, The Bullwinkle Blog,, The Amboy Times, Cao's Blog, Conservative Cat, 123 Beta, The HILL Chronicles, Woman Honor Thyself, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, stikNstein... has no mercy, The Uncooperative Blogger , The World According to Carl, Pirate's Cove, The Right Nation, Blue Star Chronicles, The Pink Flamingo, Dumb Ox Daily News, and Right Voices, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

|| Greg, 09:43 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

An Interesting Historical Pattern

Over at Blogs for Bush, Mark Noonan offers this for our consideration.

For your consideration and debate:

US Civil War: first time there is a Republican President - very large, Democratic anti-war movement.

Spanish/American War: Republican President - very large, Democratic anti-war movement.

World War One: Democratic President - no anti-war movement.

World War Two: Democratic President - no anti-war movement.

Korean War: Democratic President - no anti-war movement.

Vietnam War: As soon as a Republican took over the botched war from the Democrats - very large, Democraitc anti-war movement.

Last Ten Years of the Cold War: Republican Preisdent - very large, Democratic anti-war movement.

Gulf War: Republican President - very large, Democratic anti-war movement.

Kosovo War: Democratic President - no anti-war movement.

War on Terrorism: Republican President - very large, Democratic anti-war movement.

Discuss: what are we to make of this clear pattern of Democrats opposing any war they are not in charge of?

My personal thought on the matter -- Democrats consider the votes of their fellow citizens to be more dangerous than the bullets and bombs of enemies of America who seek to defeat and destroy our country. It is therefore more important that the elected representatives of the American people be defeated, rather than the enemy in the field.

|| Greg, 09:07 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 26, 2007

Unspeakable Animal Cruelty

What sort of person does this to a puppy?

Two teenagers accused of duct-taping a puppy's snout and paws and cooking the animal alive in an oven pleaded guilty Friday to animal cruelty and other offenses.

Prosecutors said Joshua Moulder, 17, and his brother, Justin, 19, broke into a newly refurbished community center, where they tortured and killed the 3-month-old puppy, damaged computers, broke glass and splattered paint on the walls.

The brothers then brought neighborhood children to see the dead puppy and threatened to kill them if they reported it, prosecutors said.

They will be sentenced next month.

Give them the max -- to be served consecutively.

Then publish the date, time, and location of their release on the internet.

And to all folks with an ounce of decency and even a sliver of a soul, never forget those names -- Joshua Moulder and Justin Moulder. May they be shunned from human society in perpetuity.

UPDATE: I received the following email tonight, with information related to this crime.

I run a blog on the case about the Atlanta "baked puppy" case that you posted about yesterday. I was wondering if you would consider putting up the address of the District Attorney so that people can mail letters supporting the maximum sentence for these criminals. Letters will go the judge (they should be addressed to Judge Thelma Wyatt Moore) but should be sent to: Assistant DA Laura Janssen Office of the Fulton County DA 136 Pryor Street, SW--Third Floor Atlanta, GA 30303

We're just desperate to have people write letters as soon as possible because the sentencing is scheduled for February 9th--not a lot of time. Also, we have composed a form letter so people don't even need to write their own. It can be downloaded here:

I urge folks to act appropriately. To learn more about the case, you can visit the blog referenced above.

|| Greg, 08:54 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Afghan Cultural Vandal Sent To Infernal Reward

This is the guy who oversaw the destruction of an ancient Afghan cultural treasure, a part of the world heritage of all humanity. I hope Satan had a warm spot reserved for him.

A FORMER Taleban official who oversaw the destruction of the 1,500-year-old Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001 was assassinated in Afghanistan yesterday.

Maulavi Mohammed Islam Mohammadi, who was the Taleban's governor of Bamiyan province when the giant fifth-century statues were blown up in March 2001, was killed on his way to Friday prayers in the capital, Kabul.

Frankly, he was one of those I would have liked to see receive justice before an international court -- but I'll concede this is an acceptable substitute.

|| Greg, 08:48 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (22) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Who Writes This Stuff?

Come on -- do you mean the editor didn't consider this opening paragraph just a little bit over the top?

WELLINGTON, N.Z. (AP) - New Zealanders' love affair with sheep gained official recognition Friday when the agriculture minister declared Feb. 15 "National Lamb Day."

The date selected marks the 125th anniversary of the first shipment of frozen meat from New Zealand to London.

|| Greg, 07:23 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Tailgating A Crime At Super Bowl

The NFL promotes tailgate parties at every stadium in the league. Indeed, it is one of the attractions of the gameday experience.

But at the Super Bowl this year, tailgating is banned even at venues not part of the stadium complex, including private property.

Die-hard football fans attending the Super Bowl game at Dolphin Stadium are getting a rude awakening after finding out that no tailgating of any type will be allowed on game day within one mile of the stadium.

"There is no tailgating allowed in the Dolphin Stadium parking lots," Sue Jaquez, a member of the Super Bowl XLI Host Committee, confirmed on Tuesday. "And there is no tailgating anywhere within a one-mile radius of the stadium." "And there are no RVs allowed."

* * *

Detective Nelda Fonticella of the Miami-Dade Police confirmed the Super Bowl rules.

If caught grilling or consuming alcohol within that one-mile radius of Dolphins Stadium, fans initially "will be warned and asked to pick up their things and leave," Fonticella said. "We're trying to make this a pleasant experience for everyone, and there will be plenty to do in the week leading up to the game."

I can understand the on-site issues but banning tailgating at off-site venues seems to be a bit of a draconian approach.

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|| Greg, 04:22 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Ive Lived In Texas Too Long

My first thought was to check the whereabouts of my Aggie friends at the time of the crime.

Suspects questioned in Bevo rape and beating

No, Longhorn fans, your mascot is safe I forgot that in St. Louis Bevo is one of the neighborhoods.

And on a serious note, lets all hope that the police nail the perps in this horrific crime.

|| Greg, 04:20 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (20) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why The Fairness Doctrine Is A Bad Idea

After all, it isnt that liberal talk radio is suppressed it is that it isnt commercially viable.

Al Franken, Randi Rhodes and Sam Seeder articulate liberal pundits don't sell well, even in Santa Cruz.

The trio are part of the nationally syndicated Air America, which was dropped from Santa Cruz radio station KOMY 1340 AM on Thursday and replaced with music from the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

The left-leaning radio network, aimed at taking on Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk shows, debuted on Central Coast airwaves in July 2005, but local advertisers never bought in, station owner Michael Zwerling said.

"We didn't sell a single ad in a year and a half," Zwerling said Thursday. "I thought liberal radio would work as a viable advertising business in the most liberal town in America. I was wrong"

Santa Cruz isn't the only place Air America has problems. The network is struggling nationwide and filed for bankruptcy four months ago.

Zwerling put Air America on the air as an alternative to the Limbaugh program, which plays on KOMY's sister station KSCO 1080 AM every morning.

Limbaugh is a major moneymaker for the station, Zwerling said, and his show pulls the highest ratings of any program on KSCO or KOMY.

So lets look at this. Youve got a station owner offering both points of view, using different stations to do so. One format flops, while the other is hugely successful. Does it make any sort of sense to require that the station owner continue to broadcast what no one wants to listen to? And notice, please, that this is a very blue part of a blue state where liberal talk has failed if they cant make it there, can they make it anywhere?

What this shows is that the reason for the lack of diversity on talk radio is not that stations wont book the format for political reasons it is because they cannot find an audience for the format. Any attempt to require that viewpoint be aired is nothing short of suppression of the speech that people want to hear in favor of that they reject. How is that in the public interest?

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|| Greg, 04:18 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Study Finds Obvious Conclusion

My only reaction to this headline is No shit!

Teens shouldn't text and drive, study warns

And neither should anyone else. Duh!

And to think that someone paid good money to find out what anyone with a lick of common sense could have told them.

|| Greg, 04:15 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Perry Seeks TSU Fix

I've written more than once about the pathetic excuse for an educational institution that is Texas Southern University. It isn't that there are not good people there -- I acknowledge that there are -- but rather that the powers that be have run the place without any regard to principles of sound management or ethics. That is how the school finds itself in constant financial difficulty.

But for some reason -- I suspect a desire not to give offense to the African-American community by closing the historically black institution (it began some six decades ago as the Texas State University for Negroes, in an attempt to stave off desegregation at UT & Texas A&M) -- Gov. Rick Perry has ordered the Regents (who have shown themselves incompetent to oversee the operation of the school) to develop a plan to get the school on sound financial footing.

Startled by the depth of Texas Southern University's multimillion-dollar financial woes, Gov. Rick Perry has ordered its board of regents to start making "tough decisions" to fix the problems or resign.

"It can't be a Mickey Mouse deal," Perry spokesman Robert Black told the Houston Chronicle on Thursday. "It can't be a Band-Aid."

In private meetings last week, Perry demanded that TSU's regents come up with a concrete plan within 30-45 days to start fixing problems plaguing the university's finances this year.

Next week, the terms of three of TSU's nine regents expire, giving Perry the opportunity to name new members.

Perry also plans to announce a blue-ribbon panel that will develop a long-term plan for TSU, including defining its academic mission.

One fear, which the governor's office said it hopes to avoid, is that TSU would be merged into another university.

Houston Democrats Sen. Rodney Ellis and Rep. Garnet Coleman underscored the importance of protecting the historically black university and keeping it independent. They noted its long history in shaping Houston's black middle class.

"TSU is in the neighborhood where I grew up. It isn't just an institution I represent," Coleman said. "It's more than that. TSU represents some of the best of black Texas and black Houston."

Ellis said he is a graduate of the university, along with political notables including the late U.S. Reps. Barbara Jordan and Mickey Leland and lawyer and former U.S. Congressman Craig Washington.

I know it would be nice to keep the school open, but we can do better by the students of this institution. It is walking distance to the University of Houston, and so I again suggest that the time has come to merge the two schools and place TSU in the University of Houston system. Just as Prairie View was merged into the Texas A&M system and saw great strides made in the years that followed, the same would be true of TSU -- and wasted duplication of services and positions could be eliminated, as I noted a few days ago.

The time has come to deal with the myriad problems at TSU by recognizing that this relic of the Jim Crow era is no longer viable. End it, don't mend it.

UPDATE: Tom Kirkendall over at Houston's Clear Thinkers offers a deeper analysis, reaching the same conclusion.

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|| Greg, 05:38 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

NASA Continues Rocket Design

The next generation of manned space vehicle continues to be developed on schedule.

The new rocket that will replace the space shuttle for carrying crews to the International Space Station is on schedule and within weight guidelines, NASA officials said Thursday.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administrations associate administrator for exploration, Scott Horowitz, said that the design of the rocket, the Ares I, was progressing well and that the rocket should be ready for its first test flight on schedule in 2009.

This tracks with what I've been hearing from some of the local guys involved in this project and those on related components of the future of space exploration.

|| Greg, 05:22 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (37) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 25, 2007

Bomb It On The Pad?

I wonder -- will the Israelis act to make sure that this potential Islamo-Spy Satellite never makes it off the launch pad?

RAN is on the verge of launching a satellite into space that could herald a new dimension in Tehran's strategic capabilities, Aviation Week and Space Technology says on its website.

The recently assembled, 30-tonne ballistic missile-turned space launcher could also be used for testing longer-range missile strike technologies, the magazine said in a report for its January 29 issue.

The Iranian space launcher "will lift off soon'' with an Iranian satellite, said Alaoddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, according to the weekly.

It is decidedly not in the interest of either Israel of the United States to have "Big Mullah" watching over us. And since the test could also be a pretext for testing long-range ballistic missiles, it seems to me that it would be best if it suffered a horrible accident, courtesy of the IAF.

|| Greg, 07:54 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Be Afraid -- Be Very Afraid

Forgive me if I don't give a rat's hindquarters about the worry, concern, and anxiety caused to illegal immigrants by the fact that ICE is starting to take its mandate to handle immigration matters seriously.

Cook Rosa Maria Salazar's eyes dart anxiously to the door as customers file into the Salvadoran cafe in a heavily Hispanic neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles.

"We're terrified. The police could come for us at any time and deport us," she said in Spanish earlier this week as diners fingered maize tortillas stuffed with beans and pork scratchings and chatted softly.

The 55-year-old undocumented worker from Guatemala is among many Hispanics deeply shaken by recent immigration raids at the heart of Latino communities in southern California.

The-seven day Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sweep, dubbed "Operation Return to Sender," targeted jails across five counties in the Los Angeles area, where police took 423 of what they called "criminal aliens" into federal custody for deportation, after being held on charges unrelated to their immigration status.

Federal agents from seven teams also fanned out in local communities, where they nabbed 338 undocumented immigrants, more than 150 of whom were classed as "immigration fugitives" -- foreign nationals who ignored final deportation orders.

The raid was the latest in a series of get-tough enforcement measures by ICE in the United States, but the largest action of its kind in California, where more than a third of the population is Hispanic.

"We hadn't seen anything like this here before, and it came as a shock," said Antonio Bernabe, a community worker who runs a day labor program at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

"The police didn't just take people with deportation orders, they took anybody ... guys who were just hanging out in the street and even from a Jack in the Box restaurant ... and now people are afraid to go out," he added.

Fear is precisely what these folks ought to be feeling following the latest round of immigration raids. Indeed, every single border-jumping immigration criminal ought to live in constant terror of deportation. That isn't hatred or bigotry talking -- that is respect for the rule of law.

Indeed, my only objection is that there are at least 12 million more of these folks at large, violating American law with every breath they take on our nation's soil -- and that they are not yet frightened enough to get the hell out of the US in order to re-enter in a legal manner, at which point I will gladly welcome them with open arms.

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|| Greg, 06:56 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Gay Sheep Controversy (BUMPED & UPDATED)

Normally with a headline like that I'd be making a couple of Aggie jokes at the expense of my buddies who went to school in College Station. But believe it or not, there is a controversy raging over certain experiments being conducted in Oregon and elsewhere to determine the differences between gay and straight sheep, and seeking to discover what stimuli might trigger one set of sexual behavior or the other.

SCIENTISTS are conducting experiments to change the sexuality of gay sheep in a programme that critics fear could pave the way for breeding out homosexuality in humans.

The technique being developed by American researchers adjusts the hormonal balance in the brains of homosexual rams so that they are more inclined to mate with ewes.

It raises the prospect that pregnant women could one day be offered a treatment to reduce or eliminate the chance that their offspring will be homosexual. Experts say that, in theory, the straightening procedure on humans could be as simple as a hormone supplement for mothers-to-be, worn on the skin like an anti-smoking nicotine patch.

The research, at Oregon State University in the city of Corvallis and at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, has caused an outcry. Martina Navratilova, the lesbian tennis player who won Wimbledon nine times, and scientists and gay rights campaigners in Britain have called for the project to be abandoned.

Now this research does raise all sorts of questions. First, it could very well help determine the source of homosexuality -- nature, nurture, or choice -- and place it squarely in the "nature" column. But it also raises the possibility of being able to "correct" whatever causes homosexuals to deviate from the biological norm. If such "treatment" becomes available, should it be permitted? Should it be required? And should parents be permitted to make that determination for their unborn or minor offspring -- or should the choice be reserved to individuals who have reached some arbitrarily determined age of reason/consent?

How close are we to reaching the point where such issues need to be considered? Possibly closer than one might imagine.

Approximately one ram in 10 prefers to mount other rams rather than mate with ewes, reducing its value to a farmer. Initially, the publicly funded project aimed to improve the productivity of herds.

The scientists have been able to pinpoint the mechanisms influencing the desires of male-oriented rams by studying their brains. The animals skulls are cut open and electronic sensors are attached to their brains.

By varying the hormone levels, mainly by injecting hormones into the brain, they have had considerable success in altering the rams sexuality, with some previously gay animals becoming attracted to ewes.

* * *

Potentially, the techniques could one day be adapted for human use, with doctors perhaps being able to offer parents pre-natal tests to determine the likely sexuality of offspring or a hormonal treatment to change the orientation of a child.

Now I'll be the first to concede that I haven't the foggiest notion of how long it might take to translate such work from sheep to human. It seems, though, that we might be talking a matter of a decade or so, given these results. So we need to start giving the matter serious consideration. Should there be research that could lead to a "cure" for homosexuality -- or is it a condition that needs to be cured? Where are the ethical lines here? Are they the same as the political ones?

And I'll be honest here -- I don't have any answers that I am comfortable with.

What do you think?

UPDATE -- 1/25/2006: Since I posted this on December 30, 2006, there have been some more developments. The NY Times offers this new article on the controversy.

Ms. Navratilova, who also received a response from the university, said she remained unconvinced.

The more we play God or try to improve on Mother Nature, the more damage we are doing with all kinds of experiments that either have already turned or will turn into nightmares, she wrote in an e-mail reply to a reporters query. How in the world could straight or gay sheep help humanity?

Now I realize that Ms. Navratilova's long career in professional tennis makes her a leading expert in the field of bioethics, so I'll ask her and other opponents of this research one simple question -- where do you stand on fetal stem-cell research?

|| Greg, 06:29 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (18) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Multi-Culti Over-Sensitivity In China

This coming Chinese New Year marks the beginning of the Year of the Pig but you wont see any porkers on Chinese television, due to sensitivity to Chinas small Muslim population.

Companies looking to reach China's consumer market with pig images during Year of the Pig celebrations next month will have to adjust after a national television network adopted a policy to be sensitive to the country's small Muslim population, according to published reports.

China Central Television said it would ban all verbal and visual pork references from advertisements during Lunar New Year celebrations next month, the Wall Street Journal reported. This week, the network banned a TV ad from Nestle SA featuring a smiling cartoon pig and the message, "Happy new pig year."

CCTV's ad department said the regulations are intended to avoid offending Muslims, who consider pigs unclean animals. China's 20 million Muslims comprise less than 2 percent of the population, the Journal reported.

"China is a multiethnic country," the network said in a notice. "To show respect for Islam, and upon guidance from higher levels of the government, CCTV will keep any pig images off the screen."

Lets see 20 million Muslims, out of a population of 1.3 billion, are sufficient to suppress the culture of the overwhelming (98%) majority. I dont know about you, but I find crap like that to be at least as offensive as a pig is to Muslims.

|| Greg, 05:12 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Union Membership Down

The stats are clear fewer Americans are members of labor unions.

The number of wage and salary workers who were union members dropped to 12 percent of the work force last year, the lowest percentage since the government started tracking that number over two decades ago.

The number of workers in a union was 20.1 percent in 1983, when Bureau of Labor Statistics first provided such comparable numbers, and that number has been declining steadily. More than a third of American workers, about 35 percent, were union members in the mid-1950s.

The question, of course, is what this means. Is it a question of the growth of the workforce in areas of the country with right to work laws? Is it related to the increase in professional, white collar jobs over the more commonly unionized blue collar fields? Or is it a question of unions having ceased to meet the needs of workers as perceived by workers?

Unions, of course, are using this statistic to bolster the case for legislation that they claim would make it easier to for workers to unionize.

The continuing decline in union membership, documented in the BLS report released Thursday, comes as organized labor is pushing for legislation in the Democratic-controlled Congress making it easier for workers to form unions.

That proposal, called the Employee Free Choice Act, would let workers form unions more readily by simply signing a card or petition, impose stronger penalties on employers who violate labor laws, and allow for arbitration to settle first contract disputes.

Advocates of the legislation say they doubt that it will get signed into law by President Bush, but that they think passage in Congress would make eventual signing of the law more likely.

Supporters say the law is more fair to workers because employers can't mount a campaign to prevent formation of a union. Opponents say it deprives workers of the right to vote privately on their union preferences, and can lead to union intimidation of workers.

The union membership rate for government workers, 36.2 percent, was substantially higher than for private industry workers, 7.4 percent.

The problem with this legislation should be obvious. Given the history of thuggish union tactics to coerce membership, the card check method opens workers up to harassment and coercion that a secret ballot does not. And as recent Supreme Court arguments show, unions are all about coercing workers even those who act affirmatively to opt out of membership into supporting political activity and paying for services that they do not want to be involved in.

Quite bluntly, this country does, in fact, need an Employee Free Choice Act. But rather than the current legislation that seeks to deny workers choices, such legislation should start with the presumption that workers do not want to be members of a union, and which abolishes both the compulsory union shop and the agency fee for non-members. Let workers have a truly free choice on whether or not they join a union and recognize that over 90% of private sector workers have chosen not to join. I suspect that the membership figure would be far lower in the public sector were it not for the compulsory union membership required by many school districts and other government entities. Indeed, the free choice most needed is for workers to be permitted to say "no" to having their paychecks pilfered by corrupt union bosses.

UPDATE: Want a good reason for ending the constitutional abomination of forced unionism, especially in the public sector? Look at this case from Ohio, involving the Ohio Education Association.

Told by a union official to pay forced dues or "change religions," a teacher in southern Ohio is challenging a state law that allows only those public employees who belong to certain denominations the right to claim religious objection to paying union dues.

Carol Katter, a mathematics and language arts instructor in the St. Marys district, filed a federal complaint in the U.S. District Court in Columbus this week over an Ohio law that prevents the lifelong Catholic from diverting her dues from a union she refuses to fund because it supports abortion on demand.

Katter filed the complaint against top officials of the State Employment Relations Board (SERB) for religious discrimination in enforcing Ohio Revised Code section 4117.09(C), which states:

"Any public employee who is a member of and adheres to established and traditional tenets or teachings of a bona fide religion or religious body which has historically held conscientious objections to joining or financially supporting an employee organization and which is exempt from taxation under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code shall not be required to join or financially support any employee organization as a condition of employment." (emphasis added)

In other words, the law in Ohio is that a public employee is required to fund religiously repugnant speech unless their church also opposes union membership in all instances. I guess they haven't heard of the First Amendment up there, or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They also are ignoring a federal court ruling from last year in a nearly identical case which held that public employees with religious objections to union affiliation could not be forced to pay union dues.

But as far as I am concerned, there is an even more basic issue -- upon what legitimate grounds can government require payments to a private organization as a requirement for holding a public-sector, taxpayer funded job? What next -- a return to the days when government employees were expected to make contributions to the "correct" political candidates as a condition of keeping their jobs? That practice is no more repugnant to the First Amendment than the situation found in Ms. Katter's case.

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|| Greg, 05:11 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (42) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Im Curious What Is There To Investigate?

White students hold a party with a theme that offends minority students. Minority students complain. School launches an investigation. Why?

Authorities at Tarleton State University said they plan to investigate a Martin Luther King Jr. Day party that mocked black stereotypes by featuring fried chicken, malt liquor and faux gang apparel.

"I feel like there is no excuse for this type of ignorance," said Donald Ray Elder, president of the Stephenville school's chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Photographs posted on social networking Web site showed partygoers wearing Afro wigs and fake gold and silver teeth. One photo showed students "mocking how African-Americans do step shows," Elder said. In another picture, a student is dressed as Aunt Jemima and carries a gun.

"That upsets me," Elder said. "That's someone who knows nothing about Dr. King, because Dr. King was totally about nonviolence."

Wanda Mercer, the school's vice president of student life, said an investigation was planned into the Jan. 15 party.

I guess I dont see the need to investigate. The First Amendment guarantees a right to freedom of speech and freedom of association even speech and association that are offensive and repulsive, such as this event appears to be. But obnoxious activity is not the basis for a government entity to investigate or (one would presume this is where the investigation is headed) impose sanctions. Stupidity is not a crime.

|| Greg, 05:10 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

In Treatment For What?

Are we seeing opposition to homosexuality finally classified as a mental illness? Has the Soviet model finally taken root here at home, with dissent from left-wing ideology declared to be a grounds for psychological intervention?

Isaiah Washington, who does the healing as a doctor on "Grey's Anatomy," is the patient now.

He's in therapy for his use of an anti-gay slur against a castmate.

"With the support of my family and friends, I have begun counseling. I regard this as a necessary step toward understanding why I did what I did and making sure it never happens again," Washington said in a statement Wednesday. "I appreciate the fact that I have been given this opportunity and I remain committed to transforming my negative actions into positive results, personally and professionally."

Good griuef sounds like the sort of self-criticism that went on at Maoist forced labor camps. What next medication and shock treatment like at Lefortovo Prison in Moscow?

Mind you, Im not defending Washingtons boorish actions Im just questioning the basis for this therapy.

|| Greg, 05:08 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

What Do You Think?

A football player promises a fan during an interview that if his team makes the Superbowl, he will take the fan along. The team makes the SuperBowl. What should happen?

That is a controversy raging in the Chicago area, after Bears safety Chris Harris made such a promise to Bryan Lange during a 40-second interview for a public-access television show.

Months before the Chicago Bears clinched their first trip to the Super Bowl in 21 years, safety Chris Harris stared into a video camera and promised to take fan Bryan Lange with him to Miami if the team made it to the big game.

The apparent promise -- made during a 40-second interview with a public access television show last June -- might have seemed like a longshot at the time.
But now that the Bears are in, thanks in part to Harris' big plays last Sunday, Lange is trying to hold Harris to his words.

Lange, a construction worker from Crystal Lake and a Bears season ticket holder, has set up camp on the road to Halas Hall this week with a sign saying, "Chris Harris You Promised.''

He also posted a clip of the interview he filmed at a charity event at www.psychobabble

In it, Harris tells Lange -- who goes by the name Chong on a show called Psycho Babble -- that his goal is to make it to the Super Bowl.

Says Lange: "If you guys make it to the Super Bowl, I'll sell my Harley to go.''

Harris replies, "You won't have to sell it. I will give you tickets.''

Lange replies, "I'm going to hold you to it. I've got you on tape.''

Harris, looking at the camera, then agrees: "It's on tape. If we win, he's going.''
Lange concludes the interview by saying, "Chong is going to the Super Bowl with the Bears on Chris Harris' dollar.''

Harris agent calls Langes demand unreasonable, based upon the fact that Harris only can purchase 15 tickets and has about 40 family members who want to attend the game. Lange and his supporters think Harris ought to take him along. Personally, I think someone in the Bears organization ought to scrounge up a ticket to keep a fan happy and get some good publicity out of the deal.

|| Greg, 05:07 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Peace At Hand?

Or is this one more illusion of progress?

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have pledged to forge a peace between their countries, calling the vision of two states, side by side, the only path.

With Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas watching, Livni told the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum that a Palestinian state is "not an illusion. It's there, it's achievable".

Livni urged the international community to support moderates in the Middle East.

She told Abbas that "compromising with extremists will not promote anything" - a clear reference to Hamas and other militant groups.

Abbas listened intently, nodding his head, and afterwards greeted her warmly with a long handshake.

He reiterated that if he cannot form a unity government with Hamas officials, he will move to call early elections, but gave no specific timetable.

Abbas was addressing a large crowd of political leaders, corporate bosses and others at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting.

He said that such an agreement would help strengthen the hands of moderates in the region and fight extremism of all types.

But will Hamas, Hezbollah, and the other extremists in the region allow such a deal to happen. After all, the entire origin of the conflict was the refusal of Arabs to live with a two-state solution that Israel embraced from its inception. Can the Palestinians quit murdering Jews long enough to achieve what could have been theirs six decades ago?

|| Greg, 05:05 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Does This Bode Well For The Colts?

Or will they just be well rested for the big game?

Bears finally asleep as cold wave hits Russia

Oh -- wrong bears!

|| Greg, 05:04 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why Does This Headline Make Me Feel Self-Conscious?

Could it be that it is uncomfortably close to the truth?

Study: Americans spend more time with computer than spouse

Well, Ill know for sure if the divorce papers include Intel, Microsoft, and my ISP as responding parties.

|| Greg, 05:04 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Bravo Tancredo!

This is a move which should have been made long ago.

White House hopeful Tom Tancredo said Thursday the existence of the Congressional Black Caucus and other race-based groups of lawmakers amount to segregation and should be abolished.

"It is utterly hypocritical for Congress to extol the virtues of a colorblind society while officially sanctioning caucuses that are based solely on race," said the Colorado Republican, who is most widely known as a vocal critic of illegal immigration.

"If we are serious about achieving the goal of a colorblind society, Congress should lead by example and end these divisive, race-based caucuses," said Tancredo, who is scheduled to pitch his long-shot presidential bid this weekend in New Hampshire.

Tancredo's request, relayed in a letter to Administration Committee Chairwoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, D-Calif., revived his effort to change House rules to abolish the groups. Besides the Congressional Black Caucus, Democrats also have a Hispanic caucus with 21 members, and Republicans have a comparable Hispanic conference with five full members and 11 "associate" members who are not Hispanic.

The request comes in the wake of reports that freshman Rep. Stephen Cohen, D-Tenn., was refused admission to the Congressional Black Caucus because he is white. All 43 members of the caucus are black.

However, given the tendency of Congress to exempt itself from so many laws, I dont believe that our elected leaders would ever have the integrity to hold themselves to the same standard that they expect of We, the People.

|| Greg, 04:55 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (47) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Join The Resolution!

If certain senators want to pass resolutions undercutting the war effort in Iraq, then it is only appropriate that those of us who believe that effort has the effect of aiding the enemy have an obligation to speak out. A coalition of bloggers, spearheaded by Hugh Hewitt and NZ Bear have put together a coalition of bloggers to speak out on the matter.

Hewitt explains the effort this way.

Yesterday General Petraeus testified that the Biden/Warner resolutions and those like them encourage the enemy.

What does it mean, "to encourage the enemy?"

It means that the enemy gathers will and strength from the prospect of a collapsing political will to seek victory in Iraq and stability in the region.

With that additional strength and will the enemy redoubles and retriples efforts to kill American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

In short, it means that more Americans will die.

If there is ever an issue for which a filibuster is obviously called, it is such a resolution, especially in the aftermath of such testimony.

Either the Republicans believe General Petraeus, or they don't. These are not a "non-binding" resolutions in the sense that they have no consequences. Either of them will have terrible consequences.

Don't believe me. Believe General Petraeus.

And act accordingly. next week should mark an epic and important debate in the United States Senate. I hope that 39 Republicans will join at least Senator Joseph Lieberman is standing by the troops and their commander in iraq, as well as the president.

In my lifetime America has walked away from one set of allies, to its eternal disgrace. We must not do so again, lest we repeat April, 1975 all over again.

The resolution that this coalition proposes can be found over at Truth Laid Bear.

If the United States Senate passes a resolution, non-binding or otherwise, that criticizes the commitment of additional troops to Iraq that General Petraeus has asked for and that the president has pledged, and if the Senate does so after the testimony of General Petraeus on January 23 that such a resolution will be an encouragement to the enemy, I will not contribute to any Republican senator who voted for the resolution. Further, if any Republican senator who votes for such a resolution is a candidate for re-election in 2008, I will not contribute to the National Republican Senatorial Committee unless the Chairman of that Committee, Senator Ensign, commits in writing that none of the funds of the NRSC will go to support the re-election of any senator supporting the non-binding resolution.

I believe this is key -- there is no room for those in the GOP who would abandon the troops in the field in this manner, and we must say so clearly. I therefore urge you to sign the pledge, refer like-minded friends to the pledge, and contact your Senators and the Senate leadership to insist that they oppose any resolution that undercuts the war effort.

This is a defining issue of our time -- we must not fail in this effort, or history will judge this nation harshly. Assuming, of course, that failure does not leave our enemies writing that history.

The following are also blogging on the issue.

Reverse Spin
The Wide Awake Cafe
Say Anything.
Bear To The Right
Captain's Quarters

UPDATE: Hewitt wrote his column today about the Pledge.

|| Greg, 05:29 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Kerry Is Out

Buh-bye, John. Not that you ever stood a chance in 2008.

Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who narrowly lost the presidency to George Bush in 2004, announced today that he would not proceed with a second bid for the White House because he preferred to use his position in the new Senate majority to press for an end to American involvement in Iraq.

We came close, certainly close enough to be tempted to try again, there are powerful reasons to want to follow that fight now, Mr. Kerry said, invoking his 2004 race, at the conclusion of a 30-minute speech attacking Mr. Bushs Iraq policy on the floor of the United States Senate. Ive concluded that this isnt the time for me to mount a presidential campaign. It is the time to put my energy to work as part of the majority of he Senate and do all I can to end the war.

Mr. Kerrys announcement of his political plans, if unveiled in an unorthodox place, was not a surprise, notwithstanding his early statements that he would run again for the White House. He was in effect bowing to a Democratic Party that was clearly unreceptive and that had turned its attention to new candidates, in particular Senators Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who got into the race over the past week. Many Democrats had said they expected Mr. Kerry would ultimately decide not to run after assessing how much strength he had in his party; as it is, most of his aides from the 2004 campaign have moved on.

So Kerry will forgo another run for Commander-in-Chief so he can stay in the Senate and undercut the troops and the war effort from there. Looks like he wants to be at the very heart of the effort to lose a war for the second time -- and he knows from experience that he can help do so much more effectively with irresponsible words in the Senate.

|| Greg, 05:14 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 24, 2007

Iran Threatens Destruction Of Israel, US

But the Dems like Harry Reid and Jim Webb insist that George Bush isnt allowed to do anything but make nice with the mad mullahs and the Holocaust-denying/desiring leader of Iran. Will it take a nuclear holocaust on American soil to get the Blame-America-First Party to come around on the issue, or will continued rhetoric like this be sufficient?

Israel and the United States will soon be destroyed, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday during a meeting with Syria's foreign minister, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) said in a report. "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assured that the United States and the Zionist regime of Israel will soon come to the end of their lives," the Iranian president was quoted as saying. "Sparking discord among Muslims, especially between the Shiites and Sunnis, is a plot hatched by the Zionists and the US for dominating regional nations and looting their resources," Ahmadinejad added, according to the report.

Is it time to start the bombing yet, Democrats be damned? Or do we let this genocidal maniac get nukes and carry out his plan to make Israel Juden frei -- and radioactive for at least the next 25,000 years?

|| Greg, 06:10 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

More Nifong Misconduct Charges

Looks like the NC Bar is charging Mike Nifong with even more and even more serious professional misconduct.

The state bar has added ethics charges to a complaint filed against the prosecutor who brought sexual assault charges against three Duke lacrosse players, accusing him of withholding DNA evidence and misleading the court.

The new charges by the North Carolina State Bar against Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong were announced Wednesday and could lead to his removal from the state bar, according to a copy of the updated complaint.

Looks like Nifong is going down. These charges, if upheld, will virtually require that the disgraced prosecutor be disbarred.

At what point will his misconduct be seen to have so poisoned this case as to make any charges unsustainable?

|| Greg, 06:07 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Law Which Must Be Struck Down

Congress, not cities, regulates interstate commerce. This law, while intended for a noble purpose, must therefore be struck down.

The fate of a District law banning rail shipments of hazardous materials was back before a federal judge yesterday, nearly two years after the prohibition was enacted by the D.C. Council.

The law, which was prompted by fears that the Capitol and other landmarks are vulnerable to a terrorist attack on rail lines that skirt downtown, was quickly challenged in 2005 by CSX Transportation Inc., which controls the key freight routes through the District. The law has never taken effect. Yesterday, a judge heard arguments to determine whether it ever will.

If this law is permitted to stand, it would be the first of many such regulations that would have the effect of rendering entire segments of track unusable by railroads, or forcing the massive rerouting of shipments to meet with each little towns ordinances. Sorry that goes against the fundamental constitutional order of things, assuming the courts properly construe the Constitution.

|| Greg, 06:05 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Sorry The Truth Hurts, Jimmy

From Jimmy Carters speech at Brandeis University.

"This is the first time that I've ever been called a liar and a bigot and an anti-Semite and a coward and a plagiarist." Carter paused and squinted at the audience. "This has hurt me."

Experts have demonstrated that your assertions are wrong. Participants in events have noted how you misrepresent them. Materials from another book have been used without attribution. And your claims of a Jewish conspiracy clearly echo the anti-Semitic canards of earlier generations and hate-filled ideologies.

But I will give you credit for stepping back from the most dangerous thing you wrote in your false, disgusting, and despicable book.

In particular, some students challenged Carter on a sentence that has brought him much grief. On Page 213 of his book, Carter wrote: "It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel."

This sentence, the students noted, suggests that suicide bombings are a tactic of war, to be suspended only when peace is achieved. Carter agreed -- and apologized -- and said this sentence was a great mistake on his part.

"The sentence was worded in an absolutely improper and stupid way," Carter said. "I apologize to you and to everyone here . . . it was a mistake on my part."
He added that Palestinians who embrace terrorism draw no support from him.
Calls for the destruction of Israel, he said, "are completely obnoxious to me. I would have no brief for them and no sympathy for them."

But you still stand against the security fence, which has been the most successful means of preventing terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. Maybe you dont mean to support terrorism, Jimmy, but your advocacy for tearing down that anti-terrorist barrier does provide the terrorists with aid and comfort.

And you are still a disgrace to this country, Jimmy as well as a liar and a bigot and an anti-Semite and a coward and a plagiarist."

|| Greg, 06:04 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Scalia On Bush v. Gore -- Get Over It

On one level, I have to agree with Justice Scalia on this point but on another level, I think he is dead wrong.

During an appearance at Iona College, Scalia said Florida's handling of the recount, which was the key to determining whether Republican George W. Bush or Democrat Al Gore became president, was a clear violation of the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.

"Counting somebody else's dimpled chad and not counting my dimpled chad is not giving equal protection of the law," Scalia told an audience of 700 who attended his speech at the Mulcahy Gymnasium.

Scalia, who was appointed to the court in 1986, noted that seven members of the court agreed that Florida's handling of the recount represented a violation of the equal protection clause. The controversial part of the ruling - which caused a 5-4 split on the court - was the decision that there was not enough time for Florida to develop proper standards to count the ballots.

"The whole world was laughing at the world's greatest democracy," Scalia said "They could not complete an election."

Scalia's comments about perhaps the most controversial decision of his tenure came during a brief question-and-answer period that followed his half-hour speech. He let it be known that it's time for people to stop rehashing the decision.

"It's water over the deck - get over it," Scalia said, eliciting a loud burst of laughter from the audience.

Now as a practical matter, I think that Antonin Scalia is correct over six years after the fact, the time is long-since past for folks to let their hate and vitriol fall by the wayside. On the other hand, I think there is precedent value in this case that is important, and it therefore needs some rehashing. After all, the equal protection analysis of the case does have serious ramifications for future election cases.

There is also a comment quoted at the end of the article that I think needs to be dealt with a comment from a young man in the audience, not Justice Scalia.

Scalia also savaged the notion of the Constitution as a living document, noting the problem with that view.

"The Constitution is not a living organism, for Pete's sake," Scalia said. "It's a legal document."

Accepting a living Constitution, Scalia said, means, in reality, giving the governing majority the ability to constantly rewrite the document to meet society's views of the day and add new rights and new governmental powers that were never intended by the authors. He warned that such a practice is not healthy for a democracy.

"Freedoms will be eliminated just as freedoms will be added," Scalia said.
The best example of the living-Constitution argument, Scalia said, is the evolving view of the 8th Amendment, which forbids cruel and unusual punishment.

At the time the Constitution was adopted, he explained, the death penalty was a commonly accepted punishment but now it is argued as unconstitutional.
Abortion, Scalia noted, is another issue that is being framed in constitutional terms when it is better handled by legislatures.

On this point, Scalia is 100% correct. Legal documents are supposed to be static, and interpreted according to the original language and intent of those who entered into the contact. After all, would you sign a mortgage or a contract that was a living document that evolved and changed over time in ways that you could not foresee? Of course not.

There is a process for making changes to the terms of legal documents but it isnt make it up as you go along, which often appears to be how certain justices approach some elements of the US Constitution. That is the amendment process, one which is little used and often neglected as activist judges simply recast and reconstrue the language that is already there in ways antithetical to the historical understanding and common-sense reading of the document.

And then there is this comment, made by one of the students in attendance, that I think needs to be dealt with.

"I think he was a little biased," said Josh O'Brien, a junior at Iona who is majoring in political science. "He showed a conservative bias. ... I think that as the times change, the laws also have to change."

OBrien simply misunderstands the view that Scalia and the originalists have of the law and the Constitution. I know of no one who holds to a strict constructionist view of the Constitution who disagrees with the idea that the law must change as the times change. Where we part company with the living document proponents is HOW the law and the Constitution must be changed. Simply put, we believe that the process laid out in Article V should be followed. The alternative makes constitutional law the equivalent of quicksand, with no certain meaning to any provision.

UPDATE: Looks like Kennedy and O'Connor have also spoken on the case.

"A no-brainer! A state court deciding a federal constitutional issue about the presidential election? Of course you take the case," Kennedy told ABC News correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburg in her new book, "Supreme Conflict."

Kennedy said the justices didn't ask for the case to come their way. Then-Vice President Al Gore's legal team involved the courts in the election by asking a state court to order a recount, Kennedy said.

* * *

O'Connor said the Florida court was "off on a trip of its own."

She acknowledged, however, that the justices probably could have done a better job with the opinion if they hadn't been rushed.

Still, O'Connor said the outcome of the election would have been the same even if the court had not intervened.

She was referring to studies that suggest Bush would have won a recount limited to counties that Gore initially contested, although other studies said Gore might have prevailed in a statewide recount.

I do have one problem with this new article, though -- while it repeatedly argues that the case was decided 5-4, that was not the case. The decision was 7-2 that the recount as conducted under the supervision of SCOFLA (Supreme Court of Florida) was unconstitutional. The 5-4 portion regarded the remedy -- whether there should be another recount or not. Unfortunately, the appropriately named SCOFLA had run the clock out in such a way as to make a recount impossible under the constitutional and statutory deadlines that existed under Florida and federal law.

|| Greg, 06:03 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

An Interesting Insight

Here is a historical tidbit on the retirement of Justice Sandra Day OConnor and the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. It seems that the pair wanted to avoid the possibility of a double vacancy and that Rehnquists decision to stay forced OConnor out. But then again, she wanted to go, given her husbands slow descent into the twilight world of Alzheimers disease.

By June, with only weeks left in the term, O'Connor went to visit her old friend again. Even though he had been coming to the court every day, she, like the other justices, still believed he would be retiring soon. She'd begun to think she would spend one more year on the court before retiring herself.

She knew that Rehnquist believed emphatically that the court shouldn't have two retirements at the same time. She guessed that he would imminently announce his retirement, allowing her to stay one more year.

She guessed wrong.

He stunned her by telling her: "I want to stay another year."

O'Connor was caught off guard. Rehnquist's implication was clear: She must retire now or be prepared to serve two more years. Rehnquist was unilaterally deciding both of their fates.

Now these two had known each other for over half a century, dating back to Stanford Law School. I believe Ive even read, though I do not remember where, that at some point the two future justices may have dated once or twice. They were certainly more than colleagues, they were friends.

And that leads me to wonder. Was Rehnquists decision one predicated upon personal stubbornness and a refusal to face his on mortality? Or was it a personal sacrifice by one friend on behalf of another trying to stick it out so that OConnor could have that last bit of quality time with the man she loves, despite Rehnquists own infirmity? I dont know, but Id like to believe it was the latter. And while his decision resulted in that very double vacancy that the Chief Justice wished to avoid, I believe the result is a stronger Supreme Court.

|| Greg, 06:02 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Book Em, Dano

If these three young men are, in fact, guilty as charged, they need to be locked away for a very long time.

Three football players at Guilford College, a school with a Quaker background, face assault and ethnic intimidation charges after an attack on three Palestinian students, authorities said.

The victims were beaten with fists, feet and brass knuckles early Saturday by attackers who called them "terrorists" and used racial slurs, the News & Record of Greensboro reported Tuesday.

School officials believe about 12 people were involved in the altercation, Nic Brown, spokesman for the college in Greensboro, told The Associated Press. Administrators were still trying to determine whether some were fighting or trying to break it up, Brown said.

"We've had a very, very unfortunate event, unfortunate conflict among students who actually knew each other, and who had lived and interacted in the same residence hall with no conflict among themselves," Brown said.

Authorities charged Michael Bates, 19, of Reidsville, North Carolina; Michael Robert Six, 20, of Greensboro, North Carolina; and Christopher Barnette, 21, of Semora, North Carolina, with ethnic intimidation and assault and battery, according to court documents. They were released Monday on $2,000 (euro1,500) bail.

Now Im opposed to the ethnic intimidation charge on principle, but the assault charge alone is disturbing. The victims of this attack, assuming this was an unprovoked altercation, did nothing to deserve what happened to them. Forget the ethnicity angle and focus on the real crime seemingly random violence against fellow human beings.

But I do urge that everyone wait until the investigation is complete and the evidence is in -- because there seems to be a lot more evidence left out of this report than what is included.

|| Greg, 05:12 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 23, 2007

Does Ron Paul Believe In 9/11 Conpiracy Theories?

If, as this quote indicates, he does, then perhaps we local GOP activists need to work to get rid of him. This exchange occurred on the Alex Jones radio show. (MP3 here)

CALLER: I want a complete, impartial, and totally independent investigation of the events of September 11, 2001 . I'm tired of this bogus garbage about terrorism. Ask Michael Meacher about how he feels about this bogus war on terrorism. Can you comment on that please?

HON. DR. RON PAUL: Well, that would be nice to have. Unfortunately, we don't have that in place. It will be a little bit better now with the Democrats now in charge of oversight. But you know, for top level policy there's not a whole lot of difference between the two policies so a real investigation isn't going to happen. But I think we have to keep pushing for it. And like you and others, we see the investigations that have been done so far as more or less cover-up and no real explanation of what went on.

JACK BLOOD, GUEST HOST: I think it's fair to say that of all the candidates out there, the one most interested in reopening the investigation and clearing the questions is Dr. Paul; and you should be commended for that.

Now maybe he was humoring the moonbat caller. Maybe he was lacking in his normal grace with the English language. Or maybe he was revealing a side to his views that places him so far outside the mainstream as to require people with common decency and common sense to take action against him.

Needless to say, I'm disturbed -- and I hope the good congressman will clarify his views and explain (if he can) these comments.

H/T Right Wing News

|| Greg, 07:42 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (6) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

What Is A Natural Born Citizen?

That is the question that columnist and blogger Daniel Friedman asks in this piece, Can I Be President?

Forget Giuliani, McCain, Romney, Obama, and Clinton. There is only one candidate that every American envisions in the White House: oneself. Which American, at least as a child, never once daydreamed of sitting behind the big desk in the Oval Office leader of the free world fighting evil and protecting freedom?

And I was no different. Well, slightly different. I was born and raised in London, spoke the Queen's English, and never heard the date 1776 mentioned in school. But as an American citizen born to an American mother and a British father I too dreamed of being president. Sure being prime minister was cool, my friends certainly thought so, but who dreams of being Robin when you can be Batman?

A high school teacher shattered these dreams (don't they always?) by telling me that "natural born citizen means born in America." Sidekick it was from then on. But while living in Brussels a few years ago, an American colleague pointed out after I told him that he was doing his children a disservice by not having them in America that it's unclear whether children born to American citizens overseas really can't be president.

Friedman notes that many people argue that he cannot. On the other hand, my answer has always been quite the opposite that natural born, rather than native born, would certainly be inclusive of those born American citizens regardless of their place of birth. That would include those Americans born abroad to American citizens, such as military dependents, the children of diplomats, and other expats. After all, if they are not naturalized citizens, they must be natural born citizens.

|| Greg, 04:44 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Option May Be There But They Wont Take It

Ive always supported legislation like this it proves that those who claim that they are not taxed enough either really dont believe it or are just plain hypocritical.

Mainers could contribute to their favorite state government programs through the state Web site under legislation a Sabattus lawmaker proposed.

Republican Rep. Scott Lansley said his is a serious proposal even as he smiled at its name, the Tax Me More Fund.

"I got a lot of people who laughed about it at first and then said thats a good idea and signed on as co-sponsors," Lansley said last week. He said the name makes a broader political point.

"People are either going to be hypocrites about it and not do it, or they are going to be out there saying, I should pay more taxes for this or that program," he said. "Well, if you think that a program needs more money, here you go, pay more in taxes through this fund."

Lansley said the measure would make it easy for Mainers to pay additional "taxes" by making contributions through the state government Web site.

So I hope all you folks in Maine will get behind this proposal and that every person who argues that taxes are too low will simply cut a check to the Tax Me More fund in their own state (if they have one). After all, if you REALLY believe that you are keeping money that should not be yours, this is the perfect way to divest yourself of it without imposing your personal morality on the rest of us!

|| Greg, 04:43 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Cruise As Christ?

If you needed any more evidence that Scientology is a cult for over-privileged, intellectually-deficient celebrities, here it is.

TOM Cruise is the new Christ of Scientology, according to leaders of the cult-like religion.

The Mission: Impossible star has been told he has been chosen to spread the word of his faith throughout the world.

And leader David Miscavige believes that in future, Cruise, 44, will be worshipped like Jesus for his work to raise awareness of the religion.

A source close to the actor, who has risen to one of the churchs top levels, said: Tom has been told he is Scientologys Christ-like figure.

Like Christ, hes been criticised for his views. But future generations will realise he was right.

Cruise joined the Church of Scientology in the 80s. Leader L Ron Hubbard claimed humans bear traces of an ancient alien civilisation.

Uhhhhh yeah.

But then again, what do you expect of a hoax made up by a hack science fiction writer?

|| Greg, 04:41 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

N-Word Fine In Brazoria?

I don't know how they will enforce this one without running afoul of the First Amendment.

Brazoria Mayor Ken Corley wants offensive use of the "n-word" to be punishable by a fine of up to $500 in his town.

"It's not a particular problem in Brazoria," Corley said, "but it's a national problem."

Corley said he got the idea while watching two black ministers talking on television about how offensive that word is. "I just think it would be great if this little town of Brazoria, with 2,800 people, leads the way in fighting against this offensive language," said Corley.

He said if the ordinance passes, he may ask for it to be expanded to include other racial slurs.

He believes Brazoria would be the first place in the country where the racial slur would be outlawed. But at least one legal expert said Monday that such an ordinance may not stand up in court.

The ordinance wouldn't forbid anyone from saying the word, Corley said, but would outlaw using the word in an offensive or aggressive manner. Violators would be charged with disturbing the peace, he said.

"It would be up to somebody who was offended to file a complaint, like any other disturbance complaint," he said.

Ah, but who will decide what constitutes an "offensive" use of the word, and what constitutes an "inoffensive" use of the word? Will I, a white man, be able to file a complaint against a bunch of teenagers standing on the corner saying "nigga this" and "nigga that"? Or will this be a crime that only a black can report, because "its a black thing"? The article makes clear that it would be the latter. since "friendly" uses of the wod would be allowed.

And if the expansion to cover other terms is made, will it become a de facto "hate speech" ban, which is repugnant to the First Amendment?

What can I say -- their hearts are in the right place, but the authors of this ordinance need to wrap their minds around the Constitution.

|| Greg, 05:26 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Public Financing Killed By Hillary?

It is a rather interesting notion, isn't it? The liberal Democratic solution to the so-called 'corruption" caused by campaign donations may be about to be killed -- by Senator Hillary Clinton!

The public financing system designed to clean up presidential campaigns in the wake of the Watergate scandal may have died on Saturday when Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) announced her bid for the White House.

Little noticed amid the announcement rollout was a page on her Web site in which she asked potential contributors to give her campaign checks of up to $4,200. That figure signaled not only that she plans to forgo public funds for primary season but also that, if she becomes the nominee, she will not take public money for the general election.

By opting out of the system, Clinton will be able to spend as much money as she can raise, both for the primaries and for the general election, rather than being forced to abide by strict spending limits imposed by the Federal Election Commission on candidates who accept public financing.

Others have opted out of public financing for the nomination campaigns, but Clinton is the first since the current structure was created in 1974 to declare she will forgo public financing in the general election as well.

Clinton's decision will put pressure on other candidates in both parties to follow suit, and if they do, the 2008 campaign will complete what has been the rapid disintegration of a system designed to rein in unlimited spending in presidential campaigns.

I have to ask -- does Hillary's decision make her the candidate of corruption and special interests? Or does it make her a free speech heroine? Or, more realistically, does it put her somewhere in the middle?

From my standpoint, this is a good thing. The Founders, in their infinite wisdom, established a system which allowed for unlimited speech on political matters -- provided you could afford it. What Clinton is doing is simply departing from the constitutional monstrosity that was established over three decades ago, and returning to the originalist paradigm.

Now if we can only do away with the other part of this abomination -- the contribution limit. After all, if a candidate has the right to spend as much as he or she wants for purposes of engaging in political speech, there is no legitimate argument for preventing a candidate's supporters from donating as much as possible to that cause. After all, Americans associating for purposes of engaging in political speech is not a crime -- it is a right under the US Constitution.

And by the way, I'd like to encourage my readers to help kill this offense agains free and full participation in the electoral system -- DO NOT check the box on your tax return directing your money to public financing of presidential campaigns!

|| Greg, 05:17 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 22, 2007

And I Wish Him Well

A quick news flash about state Senator Mario Gallegos of Houston -- the recently elected president pro tem of the Texas Senate.

State Sen. Mario Gallegos underwent liver transplant surgery late Friday night and is recovering at the Texas Medical Center, according to his family.

Gallegos, a Houston Democrat, had cirrhosis of the liver, which necessitated the transplant.

Gallegos had said earlier that his doctors estimated he will need 18 days of recovery time after his surgery before he can return to work.

I don't like the man's politics, and I'll work against him in 2008 -- but in 2007, I wish him only the best of health and the smoothest of recoveries.

Because, as I have said so often, some things are simply more important than mere politics.

|| Greg, 06:52 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

"Razzie" Nomination Thrills My Wife

I am married to a wonderful woman, who I love dearly. I can think of only one character flaw that she has (well, other than voting Democrat -- just kidding, dear!). That is her ability to hold a grudge for a very long time.

And ever since we first started dating, I've known that she held a grudge against a certain no-talent actress she knew growing up -- one she refers to as "that bitch" and whose appearance on a television screen causes a quick grab for the remote.

And so this "professional recognition" for her childhood rival warms my beloved to the very depths of her soul.

At least someone was happy Sharon Stone reprised her notorious femme-fatale role with "Basic Instinct 2."

The box-office bomb received seven nominations Monday for the Razzie Awards that mock the bottom of Hollywood's barrel, among them worst picture and worst actress of the year.

* * *

Stone previously won a Razzie as worst-actress for 1994's "The Specialist" and "Intersection."

"She's what we call a Razzie repeat offender. Perhaps even a recidivist," Wilson said.

"Basic Instinct 2" also had a nomination for worst screen couple for Stone's "lopsided breasts." Also nominated were co-star David Thewlis for worst supporting actor and the movie's director, Michael Caton-Jones.

And as my darling shouted when she heard that second nomination -- "They aren't even real!"

|| Greg, 04:05 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Richardson Enters The Race

Gov Bill Richardson of New Mexico has declared his candidacy for the Democrat nomination for president. And sad to say, he doesn't really have a chance of getting the nomination, despite being the best qualified of the bunch.

Democrat Bill Richardson took the first step Sunday toward a bid to become the first Hispanic president, saying the country needs his extensive experience as a governor, cabinet secretary and ambassador.

The 59-year-old New Mexico governor announced in a video posted on his Web site that he would set up an exploratory committee that will allow him to begin raising money and assembling his campaign organization.

His candidacy would make history as the field of Democratic candidates would be the most diverse ever. On Saturday, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said she wanted to be the first female president. Last week, Sen. Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) of Illinois jumped in, a formidable contender who would be the first black commander in chief.

Richardson, whose father was an international banker from Boston and whose mother was Mexican, said he believes the country "has changed enough" that voters are ready for a woman or minority president.

And I've dealt with that issue in the past -- I'm more interested in a qualified president than I am in one who can check off boxes on an affirmative action form. With his resume, Richardson should not be playing the ethnicity card -- he should be touting his qualifications and the relatively weak credentials of Edwards, Obama, and Clinton. Bill Richardson is a substantive candidate, unlike the rest of the Democrat field. And while I tend to disagree with his policy positions, I find him to be presidential timber in a way the rest are not.

Oh, and one other note on the ethnicity thing. Not long ago, I was talking presidential politics with one of my classes when we finished up a bit early. When I mentioned Richardson as a Hispanic candidate, they dismissed him -- on the basis that his Anglo name doesn't connect with the average Hispanic. Now I wouldn't make much of that observation by a group of tenth graders, except for the fact that the class was 2/3 Hispanic and many of the students are first generation Americans. I wonder if that reflects a wider sentiment, or merely a limited vision based upon age and lack of political sophistication.

UPDATE: Captain Ed has two good analyses at Captain's Quarters -- one about Richardson as Hillary's worst nightmare, and the other noting that he is the most well-rounded of the Dem candidates so far.

|| Greg, 06:14 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

No, Newt, No!

Don't think about it, don't talk about it. Just rule it out completely right now. You are not what the GOP and the nation need in 2008, Mr. Gingrich.

First, Newt Gingrich said he would run for president in 2008 only if no other Republican emerged as a clear front-runner. Now, the former House speaker says he will run only as a "last resort."

His assessment came in response to a question by Chris Wallace, host of "Fox News Sunday."

"You sound as if you think about running for president as a last resort, not as a first resort?" Wallace asked.

"Exactly," Gingrich answered. "I mean, nobody's ever said it quite that way, but you're right."

Gingrich said he first hoped to influence the presidential race by providing candidates in both parties with his "solutions" to problems such as health care, energy, education, national security and immigration.

I'm sorry Newt, but while you may be one of the brightest idea people in the conservative movement, you've got some pretty high negatives among the general public. And given that your love life is almost as sordid as Bill Clinton's, do you really think that you can serve as a credible standard-bearer for a party that still considers family values to be one of its cornerstone issues?

There's simply no place for you in the 2008 race -- or any other year, either.

|| Greg, 05:58 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

You Are Going To Need A Passport

Call it one more attempt to tighten border security in this age of terrorism -- US citizens returning by air from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean will now need a passport to get back into the country. And starting next January, ANY border crossing will need one -- even just to zip over to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls or go shopping in Juarez or Tijuana. And that requirement applies to children, too -- not just adults.

A United States citizen flying home today from a ski jaunt in Canada, a beach break in Mexico or a honeymoon in Jamaica can flash a drivers license or a birth certificate at airport customs officials and walk on through.

Tomorrow, those documents will no longer work.

Starting then, United States citizens, including children, returning to this country by air from any country in the Western Hemisphere will have to present a passport.

In another change, citizens of Canada and Bermuda traveling to the United States by air will also have to show passports to enter the country. Previously, they too could use drivers licenses and birth documents.

* * *

The new measure applies only to air travelers. Officials in the Department of Homeland Security said they expected to roll out the same restrictions for passengers arriving by land and sea by Jan. 1, 2008.

I understand the need for border security, and I support it. Still, I cannot help but wonder about the impact on the tourism industry. And we are still failing to deal with the real border security issue -- the constant flow of border-jumping immigration criminals into this country from Mexico, who simply bypass all border control checkpoints and go to work without documents. I find it rather galling that my government is more interested in making it difficult for me to travel in and out of the country legally than they are to stop the illegal border crossings.

|| Greg, 05:29 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Starving The Elderly

That seems to have become the way that many health care institutions in Great Britain are dealing with their old folks. And this is the universal health care model that the Democrats wish to follow in the United States?

A health minister made the shameful admission that elderly people are effectively being starved in care homes and hospitals.

Ivan Lewis said some are given just a single scoop of mash as a meal.

Other bedridden pensioners are 'tortured' with trays of food placed just out of their reach.

The minister's words are a stunning acknowledgement of how the care system still lets down the frail and elderly after nearly ten years of Labour rule.

They follow years of campaigning by charities and the Daily Mail to expose appalling deficiencies in the care of the over-65s.

Mr Lewis will launch an official campaign this week to improve the quality of food offered to thousands of vulnerable old people.

But his belated move drew a lukewarm response from campaigners. Help the Aged said: 'This is an issue we have been lobbying over for a long time and something the Government has known about for years. I hope it gets the proper attention and investment now.'

A spokesman for the charity Independent Age said: 'The Government has now finally realised, after years of campaigning, that it has a problem. Now it has to ensure its plans and initiatives are carried forward.'

See what happens when government subsidies remove the need to provide adequate care? Adequate care stops.

|| Greg, 05:16 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 21, 2007

Burma To "Destroy The Christian Religion"

There is a silent persecution going on in Burma, and most people do not know about it. What is more, the hints have been available for some time, but little has been done.

Now there is a document available that makes this evil undeniable.

The military regime in Burma is intent on wiping out Christianity in the country, according to claims in a secret document believed to have been leaked from a government ministry. Entitled "Programme to destroy the Christian religion in Burma", the incendiary memo contains point by point instructions on how to drive Christians out of the state.

The text, which opens with the line "There shall be no home where the Christian religion is practised", calls for anyone caught evangelising to be imprisoned. It advises: "The Christian religion is very gentle identify and utilise its weakness."

Its discovery follows widespread reports of religious persecution, with churches burnt to the ground, Christians forced to convert to the state religion, Buddhism, and their children barred from school.

Human rights groups claim that the treatment meted out to Christians, who make up six per cent of the population, is part of a wider campaign by the regime, also targeted at ethnic minority tribes, to create a uniform society in which the race and language is Burmese and the only accepted religion is Buddhism.

The term for such a program is "genocide".

Will people of good will speak out?

Will world leaders?

Will the United Nations?

More to the point -- will anyone do anything to stop it?

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