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June 30, 2007

Al Gore's Assault On Truth

The inconvenient truth is that science contradicts what he claims on more than a few points.

Many of the assertions Gore makes in his movie, ''An Inconvenient Truth,'' have been refuted by science, both before and after he made them. Gore can show sincerity in his plea for scientific honesty by publicly acknowledging where science has rebutted his claims.

For example, Gore claims that Himalayan glaciers are shrinking and global warming is to blame. Yet the September 2006 issue of the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate reported, "Glaciers are growing in the Himalayan Mountains, confounding global warming alarmists who recently claimed the glaciers were shrinking and that global warming was to blame."

Gore claims the snowcap atop Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro is shrinking and that global warming is to blame. Yet according to the November 23, 2003, issue of Nature magazine, "Although it's tempting to blame the ice loss on global warming, researchers think that deforestation of the mountain's foothills is the more likely culprit. Without the forests' humidity, previously moisture-laden winds blew dry. No longer replenished with water, the ice is evaporating in the strong equatorial sunshine."

Gore claims global warming is causing more tornadoes. Yet the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated in February that there has been no scientific link established between global warming and tornadoes.

Gore claims global warming is causing more frequent and severe hurricanes. However, hurricane expert Chris Landsea published a study on May 1 documenting that hurricane activity is no higher now than in decades past. Hurricane expert William Gray reported just a few days earlier, on April 27, that the number of major hurricanes making landfall on the U.S. Atlantic coast has declined in the past 40 years. Hurricane scientists reported in the April 18 Geophysical Research Letters that global warming enhances wind shear, which will prevent a significant increase in future hurricane activity.

Gore claims global warming is causing an expansion of African deserts. However, the Sept. 16, 2002, issue of New Scientist reports, "Africa's deserts are in 'spectacular' retreat . . . making farming viable again in what were some of the most arid parts of Africa."

Gore argues Greenland is in rapid meltdown, and that this threatens to raise sea levels by 20 feet. But according to a 2005 study in the Journal of Glaciology, "the Greenland ice sheet is thinning at the margins and growing inland, with a small overall mass gain." In late 2006, researchers at the Danish Meteorological Institute reported that the past two decades were the coldest for Greenland since the 1910s.

Gore claims the Antarctic ice sheet is melting because of global warming. Yet the Jan. 14, 2002, issue of Nature magazine reported Antarctica as a whole has been dramatically cooling for decades. More recently, scientists reported in the September 2006 issue of the British journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Series A: Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences, that satellite measurements of the Antarctic ice sheet showed significant growth between 1992 and 2003. And the U.N. Climate Change panel reported in February 2007 that Antarctica is unlikely to lose any ice mass during the remainder of the century.

Now Al Gwhore and his supporters claim that there is a consensus behind his claims -- but either he is lying or he believes that "consensus" trumps truth. It may be inconvenient, but it is time for him to tell the truth.

UPDATE: Al Gore conveniently avoids correcting his errors/lies in this NY Times column -- I guess he believes that an assault on a inconvenient truths is OK if Earth's in the balance.





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Immoral Moral Equivalency In Reporting

We've all seen some variation of this news report today.

Air strikes in the British-controlled Helmand province of Afghanistan may have killed civilians, coalition troops said yesterday as local people claimed that between 50 and 80 people, many of them women and children, had died.

In the latest of a series of attacks causing significant civilian casualties in recent weeks, more than 200 were killed by coalition troops in Afghanistan in June, far more than are believed to have been killed by Taliban militants.

It takes a while, however, to get to the reason for this tragedy -- and discern the moral responsibility for the deaths -- as well as where international law places the responsibility.

The bombardment, which witnesses said lasted up to three hours, in the Gereshk district late on Friday followed an attempted ambush by the Taliban on a joint US-Afghan military convoy. According to Mohammad Hussein, the provincial police chief, the militants fled into a nearby village for cover. Planes then targeted the village of Hyderabad. Mohammad Khan, a resident of the village, said seven members of his family, including his brother and five of his brother's children, were killed.

Oh, that is why the bombing tool place -- Taliban cowards hiding themselves among civilians.

What does international law say about such things. Since the terrorists and their supporters wax eloquent about the Geneva Conventions, it is convenient that the answer comes from one of them.

The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations. Article 28, Fourth Geneva Convention

The Taliban who attacked US and Afghan troops were a legitimate military target. Their hiding amongst civilians did nothing to make such an attack illegitimate -- and did, in fact, render them morally and legally responsible for any civilian casualties by violating this provision.

The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favor or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations. Article 51 (7), Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions

Now, if the Taliban wishes to claim the protections of the Geneva Conventions, then they are also bound by them -- and in violating these provisions, once again prove themselves to be beneath contempt.

But the media is too busy providing aid and comfort to our enemies to tell you such things -- because it does not fit their preconceived template for the news.

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Pelosi Blames Democrat-Approved Tactics In Senate For Failure Of Democratic Agenda

But it is really all the fault of the Republicans for not rolling over and playing dead, you see.

The problem for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn't just President Bush. It's the Senate.

Pelosi sounded more apologetic than celebratory Friday when she announced with her Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democrats' list of accomplishments six months after they seized control of Capitol Hill and promised "a new direction" in Washington.

"I'm not happy with Congress, either," Pelosi, of San Francisco, conceded.

She pinned the blame on "the obstructionism of the Republicans in the United States Senate."

Immigration has joined Iraq, stem cell research, Medicare drug pricing, the 9/11 Commission's recommendations and other promises in the dustbin of the current Congress. Heading into a July Fourth recess after a bruising failure on immigration, Congress has a public approval rating in the mid-20s, lower than Bush's and no better than Republicans' ratings on the eve of their catastrophic election defeat in November, when the GOP lost control of the Senate and the House.

Seems rather hypocritical to me -- after all, this is the woman who promised "bi-partisanship" but has never tried to deliver on that -- and is faulting the GOP for daring to use some tactics that ought to be familiar to both her and the mobbed-up Senate Majority Leader who was standing beside her as she delivered her comments.

"The Republicans are doing what the Democrats did," said Julian Zelizer, a history and public affairs scholar at Boston University. "They're using the power of the Senate filibuster, and the power in the House when you have narrow majorities, to make a do-nothing Congress -- even when there's a lot of issues on the table, even when there's a lot of interest in accomplishing things."

In other words, she is angry that the GOP would dare use the powers that the Democrats insisted upon as a matter of right when they were in the minority. I believe that the proper response is "Payback's a bitch -- and so are you, Nancy."





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Diabetic Dumped By AMTRAK Crew

Shocking. Appalling. Disgusting.

A 65-year-old St. Louis man is missing after Amtrak personnel, mistaking his diabetic shock for drunk and disorderly behavior, kicked him off a train in the middle of a national forest, according to police in Williams, Ariz.

Police said Roosevelt Sims was headed to Los Angeles but was asked to leave the train shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday at a railroad crossing five miles outside Williams.

"He was let off in the middle of a national forest, which is about 800,000 acres of beautiful pine trees," Lt. Mike Graham said.

Police said there is no train station or running water at the crossing, which is about two miles from the nearest road, at an elevation of about 8,000 feet.

If he was truly "drunk and unruly", the correct approach is to restrain him as would be done on an airplane, not dump him in the middle of a forest. That this could happen is sufficient reason for this diabetic to steer well-clear of any AMTRAK train.

Fortunately, Williams has been found dazed and disoriented -- four days after being unceremoniously dumped from the train. Here's hoping for criminal charges and a lawsuit against AMTRAK and the employees as individuals.

H/T Texas Fred





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Watcher's Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are A Stunningly Dishonest Piece of Advocacy Writing About the Supreme Court by Bookworm Room, and The Rupture by Seraphic Secret.  Here is the link to the full results of the vote.

Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:

VotesCouncil link
2  1/3A Stunningly Dishonest Piece of Advocacy Writing About the Supreme Court
Bookworm Room
2The Most Ridiculous Story of the Year? (2)
Cheat Seeking Missiles
1General Petraeus: Fighting On Two Fronts, Winning... and Playing for Time
Joshuapundit
2/3Dividing and Conquering, or Dancing With the Devil?
Big Lizards
2/3Life With An Old Dog -- Hard Lessons Learned Hard
Okie on the Lam
1/3A Sort of Haunted Look
The Glittering Eye
1/3Tinkering With Immigration Bomb Will Only Set It Off
Right Wing Nut House
1/3SciFi Channel: Humans As Invaders
The Colossus of Rhodey

VotesNon-council link
1  2/3The Rupture
Seraphic Secret
1  1/3Muslim Speaks at My Church, Calls Me Naive. Also Tough.
Anwyn's Notes in the Margin
1Secularist Europe Silences Pro-Lifers and Creationists
The Brussels Journal
1Are Idiots of This Magnitude Born or Made?
Dr. Sanity
2/3Women, Lost and Found
La Shawn Barber's Corner
2/3Iraq Report: al Qaeda Strikes at the Seams
The Fourth Rail
2/3U.S. Strategy at a Crossroads
Westhawk
2/3A Modest Proposal On Reforming Social Security Preceding the Boomer Flood
Immodest Proposals
2/3It's a Great Day for Freedom of Speech
Tapscott's Copy Desk
2/3The Human Rights Outrage In Iran... and a Challenge to Rosie O'Donnell and Her Ilk
Michelle Malkin





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June 29, 2007

Voice Of The Fifth Column

The enemy within.

Arab-American voters are abandoning the Republican Party in large numbers and only 10 percent of them want the United States to stay in Iraq.

* * *

Only one in 10 Arab-Americans wish for U.S. troops to stay in Iraq until they achieve "victory." Almost a third would prefer they leave immediately and more than half think they should withdraw gradually, according to a new poll released by James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute Thursday.

Given recent survey results showing that a frighteningly large proportion of US Muslims support suicide bombings and other terrorists activities, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Given that numerous Arab and Muslim groups are intimately involved in funding the terrorists, we shouldn't be shocked.

Indeed, we need to be vigilant and aware -- for like what we have seen in Great Britain, it is likely that the next terrorist attack in this country will come from home-grown jihadis.





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Voice Of Inanity

And now a few pearls of wisdom from that great sage, Roseanne Barr.

IMPEACH THE PRESIDENT AND THE VICE PRESIDENT, THEY ARE TRAITORS TO AMERICA, AND SO ARE ALL OF THEIR SUPPORTERS. IMPEACH! ANYONE IN CONGRESS WHO REFUSES TO SAVE OUR UNION FROM THESE TRAITORS BY DOING NOTHING NEEDS TO BE RECALLED. SAVE OUR TROOPS!!! SAVE OUR SCHOOLS AND HOSPITALS AND JOBS. FEED OUR HUNGRY AND POOR! SAVE THE DROWNING PEOPLE IN NEW ORLEANS! ANYONE WHO MENTIONS PARIS HILTON ONE MORE TIME MUST DIE!

No word as to whether she spit and scratched her crotch following the completion of this magnum opus.

030717roseanne.jpg

And to think that she couldn't make it on talk radio.





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Mel Martinez Abdicates Role As Senator, Party Leader

Making it clear that he believes that it is not his role to represent either the membership of the GOP or the people of the state of Florida, Senator Mel Martinez vowed to hold his breath until he turns blue.

The Chairman of the Republican Party on Friday lambasted Democrats and Republicans who helped kill an immigration bill in the Senate and challenged them to come up with a solution beyond ``just build a fence along the border.''

``The voices of negativity now have a responsibility to come up with an answer,'' RNC Chairman and U.S. Senator Mel Martinez, R-Fla. said.

``How will you fix the situation to make peoples' lives better? How will you continue to grow the economy? How will we bring people out of the shadows for our national security and for the sake of being a country that is just?'' he demanded.

In other words, he still doesn't get that 75% of Americans reject the bill he supported, and that the bulk of the GOP grassroots found its provisions repugnant. Rather than attempt to represent the beliefs of the overwhelming majority of Americans (or even the overwhelming majority of Republicans), Martinez has made it clear that he refuses to do anything other than attempt to revive the dead bill for a third go-round.

Martinez promised to work with members of the U.S. House of Representatives to try to revive the legislation, a measure the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials supports.

Yep -- a real man of the people, that Mel Martinez. So much so that he is prepared to ram the flawed amnesty plan down the throats of the American people, whether they like it or not.

Well, Mel, I've got a plan for you, one that I articulated the other night after the American people one in the Senate. Here it is again, with an addition based upon your comments.

So this time American citizens win and border-jumping immigration criminals -- and the craven politicians who support them -- lose.

Now it is time for some real immigration reform.

Build the fence/wall IMMEDIATELY. Set up a working system to verify legal status of every employee -- if VISA and MasterCard can verify the validity of my credit card in a matter of seconds, the US government should be able to do the same with regard to eligibility to work. Impose meaningful fines upon those who knowingly hire illegals -- and follow up with prison sentences for repeat offenders.

And, of course, as always there is one more element.

Round 'em up! Ship 'em back! Rawhide!

But based upon Mel's comments, I'd like to include this little addendum to the plan.

1. Fire Mel Martinez as Chairman of the GOP.
2. Expel Mel Martinez from the US Senate.
3. Revoke the citizenship of Mel Martinez.
4. Deport Mel Martinez back to Cuba, where his top-down leadership style and contempt for the voice of the people would make him a valuable asset to the Castro regime.

Now who can we get to include this new addition in the next round of immigration legislation?

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London Car Bomb

Fortunately it didn't go off.

London escaped what could have been its worst terrorist attack this morning when a car bomb packed with nails, gas canisters and containers of petrol apparently failed to detonate outside a popular West End nightclub hosting a 'ladies' night'.

Police were called to Tiger Tiger nightclub on Haymarket near Piccadilly Circus shortly before 2am when smoke was seen coming from the inside of a Mercedes car parked outside. Unconfirmed reports said that a man had been seen running away from the vehicle.

Inside officers discovered "significant quantities" of petrol, believed to be 60 litres, plus nails and gas cylinders.

The bomb itself was packed with nails to act as shrapnel.

If the device had exploded, police said that the shrapnel would have killed or injured anyone within a wide area. The bomb could have caused a fireball as big as a house followed by a large shock wave.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yards counter-terrorism command, said: "It is obvious that if the device had detonated there could have been significant injury or loss of life."

While later reports question the size of the bomb and the competence of the bomb-makers, it is clear that this was a serious attempt to terrorize London again.

Hot Air has a roundup of coverage, including a mention of the second vehicle which has caused the closure of Park Lane in London -- could there be a multi-bomb plot in the midst of Wimbledon and on the eve of the Princess Diana tribute concert?

MORE AT Michelle Malkin and the Counterterrorism Blog.





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Gross-Out Story Of The Day

Sad and shocking -- and not surprising, given the number of teen pregnancies in this country.

A middle school janitor doing end-of-school cleaning Thursday found what appeared to him to be a human fetus in a trash bag inside a locker, police said.

Police are unsure what was in the trash bag, and its contents were turned over to the Dallas County Medical Examiner, Dallas police spokeswoman Sr. Cpl. Janice Crowther said.

"It is hard to determine what is in the bag,'' Crowther said. "If it is a fetus, it has been there quite a while.''

A janitor was cleaning out Ben Franklin Middle School on Thursday when he came across the trash bag inside a locker in the girls locker room.

It could be several weeks before the medical examiner makes a determination, Crowther said.

Did someone bring her abortion for show-and-tell? And will the school's solution be to stop allowing students to use lockers rather than encourage abstinence?

UPDATE: No fetus -- just rotten oranges.





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June 28, 2007

Dead Again

Has a stake been driven through the heart of the amnesty bill?

The Senate voted today to effectively block efforts to overhaul the nations immigration laws, meaning that the issue is most likely dead until after the 2008 elections.

Needing 60 votes to bring debate on the contentious bill to an end a step called cloture and move it toward passage, proponents of the bill could only muster 46 votes in favor today, with 53 opposed.

In the debate leading up to the vote, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said, If we do not invoke cloture, the bill is dead.

So this time American citizens win and border-jumping immigration criminals -- and the craven politicians who support them -- lose.

Now it is time for some real immigration reform.

Build the fence/wall IMMEDIATELY. Set up a working system to verify legal status of every employee -- if VISA and MasterCard can verify the validity of my credit card in a matter of seconds, the US government should be able to do the same with regard to eligibility to work. Impose meaningful fines upon those who knowingly hire illegals -- and follow up with prison sentences for repeat offenders.

And, of course, as always there is one more element.

Round 'em up! Ship 'em back! Rawhide!





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Speaking The Truth On No Child Left Behind

I'm so pleased to see a leader in the field of education saying what those of us in the classroom know and say among ourselves -- NCLB has resulted in lower standards.

Thanks, Montgomery County School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast said yesterday that the federal No Child Left Behind law has created a culture that has education leaders nationwide "shooting way too low" and that it has spawned a generation of statewide tests that are too easy to pass.

In a meeting with Washington Post editors and reporters, Weast said the federal mandate, with its push for 100 percent proficiency on state tests, has driven states toward lower standards that don't prepare most students for college or careers.

"I think we've got to adjust up," he said. "Or at least give some flexibility for those who would like to adjust up."

Now you do get the obligatory state flunky intoning that the test is a floor, not a ceiling", but that is nothing but a pious lie. When the expectation is that 100% of the students pass a test, you lower the floor -- which puts the ceiling even further out of reach for everyone.





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Mullah-cracy Under Siege In Iran

Will the people of Iran rise up and seize their own freedom?

Irans parliament on Wednesday night agreed to press ahead with plans to introduce fuel rationing in the face of panic and rioting across the country over the proposals.

The protests presented a rare public challenge to Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the president, whose popularity has been based on his pledge to share oil revenues more fairly and cut living costs for ordinary Iranians.

After attending a closed parliamentary session addressed by the interior and oil ministers, Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, Irans parliamentary speaker, said fuel rationing, introduced at midnight on Tuesday, had to continue, to thwart US threats and the possibility of sanctions hitting petrol imports.

Though Iran is one of the worlds biggest oil producers, its lack of refineries means it must import about 40 per cent of its petrol of which it consumes about 75m litres a day. Iran imported $4.9bn (2.45bn) of petrol in the year to March 20. This year, however, the government is authorised by parliament to import only $2.5bn.

Sanctions appear to be working to destabilize the regime -- perhaps there will be no need for US intervention to free Iran.





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SCOTUS Says No To Race-Based School Assignments

In 1954, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that public schools cannot determine campus placement based upon a student's race. Today, over five decades later, in a 5-4 decision, the same rule was applied by the United States Supreme Court -- but four "liberal" justices effectively sought to overrule Brown v. Board of Education in order to permit districts to assign students to a school other than the one closest to their home based upon the student's race.

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected school assignment plans that take account of students' race in two major public school districts. The decisions could imperil similar plans nationwide.

The rulings in cases affecting schools in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle leave public school systems with a limited arsenal to maintain racial diversity.

The court split, 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts announcing the court's judgment. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a dissent that was joined by the court's other three liberals.

Perhaps the single best part of the opinion authored by the Chief Justice is this little bit of common-sense wisdom that was lost on the minority but should be carved on granite in every town square in America.

The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.

Justice Thomas was eloquent, powerful, and a bit more scholarly with this observation, but not nearly as pithy.

"What was wrong in 1954 cannot be right today," Thomas said. "The plans before us base school assignment decisions on students' race. Because 'our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens,' such race-based decisionmaking is unconstitutional."

It is important here to remember something about these two school desegregation/integration plans. These were not campus assignments pursuant to a court order to remedy past segregation -- in one case there was never a desegregation order and in the other the order had been lifted by the supervising court. But in each case the district decided that the race of a student should be the basis for the assignment of children to a campus other than the one that their place of residence would ordinarily dictate. A majority today rejected that concept -- although one Justice in the majority seems to be prepared to go wobbly on this bedrock principle of civil rights in education and join the minority in repudiating Brown v. Board of Education in some instances.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion in which he said race may be a component of school district plans designed to achieve diversity.

He agreed with Roberts that the plans in Louisville and Seattle went too far. He said, however, that to the extent that Roberts' opinion could be interpreted as foreclosing the use of race in any circumstance, ''I disagree with that reasoning.''

Particularly frightening is that the dissenters dared to claim that the majority's position upholding Brown's core principle -- that school assignments based on race violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment -- constituted an assault on Brown and that their repudiation of that principle constituted the ultimate fulfillment of it!

Justice Stephen Breyer, in a dissent joined by the other liberals on the court, said Roberts' opinion undermined the promise of integrated schools that the court laid out 53 years ago in its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

"To invalidate the plans under review is to threaten the promise of Brown," Breyer said.

The problem is that Brown does not call for integration -- it calls an end to legally-mandated segregation. Indeed, "integration" of schools is not required by the Constitution and would, in most places, require an unconstitutional distribution of benefits and burdens based upon race of the sort banned under Brown to accomplish.

The other day I asked if the precedent in Tinker v. Des Moines was dead? Based upon the willingness of a substantial minority of the court to abandon the fundamental principles of Brown v. Board of Education and the lack of firm resolution to uphold that seminal decision on behalf of equality of all students based upon race on the part of a fifth, I am left fearing for the future of race-neutral treatment in public education, even as I celebrate the decision in today's cases.

UPDATE: The New York Times, of course, comes out firmly in favor of violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in an editorial that ought to be called "Civil Rights: They're A Black Thing".

I wonder -- would they have been equally supportive of a plan designed to make sure that predominantly white schools didn't become "too black" and denied transfers for that reason?

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Wider Revival Of Tridentine Mass? (UPDATED AND BUMPED)

This would be an interesting development in the Catholic Church -- but is it nearly the calamity that liberals think it is?

It was one of the most radical reforms to emerge from the Second Vatican Council. The Mass, root of Roman Catholic worship, would be celebrated in the local language and not in Latin.

Now, little more than a generation later, Pope Benedict XVI is poised to revive the 16th-century Tridentine Mass.

But wait -- it is not an abandonment of the post-Vatican II liturgical reforms. Rather, it is simply the grant of greater freedom to use the Tridentine Missal -- revised and updated to eliminate any hint of anti-Semitism in light of Vatican II reforms -- where there are a sufficient number of people to warrant it.

And there is a pastoral need, both among Catholics who have remained loyal to the Vatican and schismatic groups that Benedict seeks to bring back into the fold. While I never found the Tridentine Rite to be particularly moving, I understand that there are those whose spirituality does benefit from the older form. Ultimately, it is the meeting of those spiritual needs that is central to the Pope's decision, which is appropriate given his role as the universal pastor of the Catholic Church.

UPDATE: Looks like the Pope has signed off on this and will shortly be passing the word to the faithful through the bishops.

Pope Benedict XVI has approved a document that relaxes restrictions on celebrating the Latin Mass used by the Roman Catholic Church for centuries until the modernizing reforms of the 1960s, the Vatican said Thursday.

Benedict discussed the decision with top officials in a meeting on Wednesday and the document will be published in the next few days, the statement said. The meeting was called to ''illustrate the content and the spirit'' of the document, which will be sent to all bishops accompanied by a personal letter from the pope.

Now there are a variety of objections from the usual suspects to allowing this change -- including objections from Jewish groups to Good Friday prayers for the conversion of the Jews. However, given the Great Commission to go forth in the world and make all its inhabitants disciples, I don't see where that should carry any weight with those who still believe that Scripture means what it says and says what it means.





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More Impeachment Nonsense

Seems like the chattering class is having wet-dreams about getting rid of Dick Cheney. In the latest example, we have a call to impeach Cheney over what amount to policy differences and questions of style. But the problem with the argument is that it really is less a case for impeaching the vice president than it is for impeaching President Bush.

The Constitution does not expressly forbid the president from abandoning his chief powers to the vice president. But President Bush's tacit delegation to Cheney and Cheney's eager acceptance tortures the Constitution's provision for an acting president. The presidency and vice presidency are discrete constitutional offices. The 12th Amendment provides for their separate elections. The sole constitutionally enumerated function of the vice president is to serve as president of the Senate without a vote except to break ties.

In contrast, Article II enumerates the powers and responsibilities of the president, including the obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. A special presidential oath is prescribed. Section 3 of the 25th Amendment provides a method for the president to yield his office to the vice president, when "he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." There is no other constitutional provision for transferring presidential powers to the vice president.

Yet without making a written transmittal to Congress, President Bush has ceded vast domains of his powers to Vice President Cheney by mutual understanding that circumvents the 25th Amendment. This constitutional provision assures that the public and Congress know who is exercising the powers of the presidency and who should be held responsible for successes or failures. The Bush-Cheney dispensation blurs political accountability by continually hiding the real decision-maker under presidential skirts. The Washington Post has thoroughly documented the vice president's dominance in a four-part series running this week. It is quite a read.

In the end, President Bush regularly is unable to explain or defend the policies of his own administration, and that is because the heavy intellectual labor has been performed in the office of the vice president. Cheney is impeachable for his overweening power and his sneering contempt of the Constitution and the rule of law.

The problem, of course, with this argument is that the President DOES have the power to delegate executive authority to a wide array of advisers and appointees -- indeed, the presidency has never been a one man job, hence the need for the Cabinet and a White House staff larger than many small towns If a president (any president) can delegate to appointed and/or civil service employees, then surely a delegation to the elected Vice President is not forbidden by custom, law, or the Constitution itself.

Fein, of course, rightly recognizes that George W. Bush would never be impeached -- and certainly not removed, by the Democrats in Congress. So instead he proposes going after Cheney, who is truly despised by the Left. The problem is that any removal that might come to pass under this scenario would result in the appointment of a new Vice President by George W. Bush -- one who must be confirmed by the Democrats unless they wish to look supremely arrogant in their attempt to overturn the results of the 2004 presidential election by disrupting the line of succession to clear the way for Nancy Pelosi to take the presidency.

SO who would be the likely nominee for VP in such a scenario? I could think of several individuals who would frighten the crap out of the Dems -- Condi Rice, Newt Gingrich, or another respected conservative -- who would suddenly be thrust into the position of front-runner for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. Faced with an incumbent VP, one with a great deal of good will from his or her recent elevation to the new office, the chances of the Democrats electing one of their own would be greatly diminished.

So come on, Cheney-haters -- take your best shot. Anything you do will serve to strengthen the GOP





|| Greg, 08:08 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

It's My Lawyer's Fault!

So much for Paris Hilton taking responsibility for her actions and acknowledging responsibility for her own decisions.

Paris Hilton may have a feud going with someone who isnt best-known for nightclubbing: her former lawyer.

The ex-jailbird heiress is furious with Richard Hutton, the lawyer who represented her in her DUI case, says a source close to the Hilton family, who claims that her camp is looking into possible legal action against him.

The way this case was handled was a disaster, the insider says. Nobody goes to jail for DUI that long. It was all the lawyers fault and were looking into what recourse we have. The source says legal action may be in the future.

Because we know, of course, that Hutton made her drive drunk, violate the terms of her probation, and behave like an arrogant little bimbo throughout the entire fiasco.





|| Greg, 07:43 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Queen Hatshepsut Identified

She ruled as queen over the land of Egypt nearly 3500 years ago. Her tomb was found by Howard Carter (who later discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun) over a century ago -- as was her mummy, which he left sealed in anther tomb as unimportant due to the lack of any identifying inscriptions or items.

hatshepsut1.jpg

Now, though, this ignored mummy has been identified as Queen Hatshepsut -- whose successor tried to erase all trace of her 15 year reign over the Valley of the Nile.

The British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered Hatshepsut's tomb while excavating at the Valley of the Kings in 1902. When he properly explored the tomb in 1920, two years before his famous discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb, Mr Carter found two sarcophagi, one for Hatshepsut and the second for her father, but both were empty.

Speculation about the riddle has, for years, focused on a separate tomb now known as KV60, which Mr Carter found and opened in the spring of 1903.

Inside he found coffins of mummified geese, which he removed, and the partially disturbed and decaying coffins of two women lying side by side. One bore the inscription of Sitre-In, Hatshepsut's wet nurse, the other was anonymous.

As the tomb was not royal it received little attention until the Egyptologist Donald Ryan reopened it in 1989. The sarcophagus marked with the name of the wet nurse was taken to Cairo museum, and the second unnamed sarcophagus remained behind.

Mr Hawass decided to re-investigate the mystery surrounding Hatshepsut for a television special to be aired by the Discovery network and his team removed the second sarcophagus to Cairo for a CT scan.

"That is the only mummy I have removed from the Valley of the Kings," he said.

The scan revealed that this mummy was an obese woman between the ages of 45 and 60 who had bad teeth. She also suffered from cancer, evidence of which can be seen in the pelvic region and the spine.

In search of more clues, Mr Hawass suggested a CT scanner be used to examine artefacts associated with the queen. One of those was a small wooden box that bore the cartouche, or royal seal, of Hatshepsut and contained a liver.

Embalmers typically eviscerated the dead before embalming them but preserved the organs in jars and boxes.

The CT scan also revealed a tooth in the box. Mr Hawass called in a dentist, Galal El-Beheri from Cairo University, who studied the scans of the tooth and of several female mummies.

"Not only was the fat lady from KV-60 missing a tooth but the hole left behind and the type of tooth that was missing were an exact match for the loose one in the box," Mr Hawass said.

The exact dimensions of teeth are unique to each mouth. The molar tooth in the box fits within a fraction of a millimetre with the space of the missing molar in the mouth of the mummy. The minuscule difference could be due to erosion of the gums after the tooth was extracted.

This is utterly incredible -- and shows how there is still so much to be learned about ancient civilizations through the work of archaeologists. This will be one to share with my students this fall.





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June 27, 2007

The Market At Work In Houston Talk Radio

No doubt this will be Exhibit A on the need for the Fairness Doctrine in the eyes of local Democrats.

Filling in for conservative talk-show host Michael Berry Tuesday morning, Houston lawyer Geoff Berg was direct with KPRC radio's listeners.

"I am a moderate," he announced. "Michael is a right-wing fanatic. We are going to disagree."

He was on point.

Listeners and apparently advertisers disagreed so much that KPRC/950 AM fired Berg after one day on the job, ending his brief stint as a talk-radio host.

"Right after the show, the producers told me that I'd done a great job as host," Berg said Wednesday.

"(But) later in the day, they said don't come back."

Berg's defense of gay marriage and adoption displeased KPRC listeners, many of whom were used to Berry's more conservative take on social and political issues.

"There were truly some vicious calls, but that's fine," he said. "That's what you'd expect in this business."

In this case, it was clearly market forces that knocked Berg off the air. And while I consider that to be too bad (and wish I had put him on when I ran out for breakfast this morning), I also believe that this is how it is supposed to work -- if the audience does not want a host, the station should not keep him around.

On the other hand, there are those who think radio listeners are little children who must be fed their broccoli, and would insist that Berg have a regular spot on KPRC in order to make sure that the station is "balanced" -- even if the listeners don't care to hear what Berg has to say, they need to swallow what Mama says is good for them before they are allowed to consume what they want.

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT Outside the Beltway, The Virtuous Republic, Perri Nelson's Website, AZAMATTEROFACT, DeMediacratic Nation, Right Truth, Webloggin, Stuck On Stupid, The Amboy Times, Leaning Straight Up, Conservative Cat, Pursuing Holiness, Right Celebrity, stikNstein... has no mercy, Pirate's Cove, The Pink Flamingo, High Desert Wanderer, and Right Voices, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.





|| Greg, 10:13 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Imams Seek To Overturn First And Sixth Amendments

Their attorneys have sought to close the courtroom to the press and the public because they don't like the coverage from the media. Fortunately, the judge in the case is issuing his rulings based upon American law, not sharia law.

A federal judge overseeing a lawsuit filed by six Muslim men who were removed from a US Airways flight last fall has declined to limit public access to the case.

Omar T. Mohammedi, a New York attorney for the six Muslim scholars, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he sought limited media access because he felt some of the coverage of the case has been biased against his clients.

"When you think of the media, and the way they have been portraying this case, it has not been very helpful. It has been biased," Mohammedi said. "That has caused a lot of stress, a lot of stress on our clients, as well as made it difficult for us to handle this case ... in a manner that it should be handled."

Mohammedi wanted the court to coerce press coverage favorable to his client -- or prevent press coverage completely by closing all proceedings and records to the media and the public at large. Someone needs to tell him that this is not the American way -- but then again, we have repeatedly seen how much respect Islamic radicals like these have for the American way.





|| Greg, 07:27 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Amnesty Bill Creating New Jobs

Forging the papers needed by illegal aliens to qualify for amnesty.

The head of a Mexican forgery ring was convinced he could make phony documents that illegal aliens could use to indicate fraudulently that they were eligible for a new amnesty, says a government affidavit recounting wiretapped phone calls the man made.

Julio Leija-Sanchez, who ran a $3 million-a-year forgery operation before he was arrested in April, was expecting Congress to pass a legalization program, which he called "amnesty," and said he could forge documents to fool the U.S. government into believing illegal aliens were in the country in time to qualify for amnesty, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent said in the affidavit.

In recounting a wiretapped telephone conversation, ICE agent Jason E. Medica said he heard Mr. Leija-Sanchez tell an associate the forgery ring could "fix his papers" to meet the requirements of a legalization program such as the bill the Senate is debating today.

"When Leija-Sanchez said 'if there's an amnesty, he can fix his papers,' Leija-Sanchez was referring to the possibility of pending legislation which would allow a certain class of illegal aliens to remain in the United States, as long as they can prove a term of residency in the United States with no convictions," agent Medica wrote.

"When Leija-Sanchez said 'he can fix his papers,' he was referring to the fact that the organization could fraudulently create or alter documents to falsely prove the requisite residency period," the agent wrote.

I guess they are just doing the jobs that American forgers won't do.





|| Greg, 07:11 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Get A Refund

From the fine folks over at GayPatriot.

PatriotPartner (John) wanted me to pass along some news to all of you who used to support the Republican Party before the Party left us and sold out Americas national security and citizenship to illegal invaders.

He called the Republican National Committee today and they are, in fact, giving him a refund of the entire amount of his donations to the party in the past twelve months. He also tells me that the RNC staffer is getting a lot of refund calls this week.

So now it is your turn to join in the cash-out of the Republican Party. CALL NOW!

Republican National Committee - 202-863-8500
National Republican Senatorial Committee - 202-675-6000
National Republican Congressional Committee - 202-479-7000

CALL FOR YOUR REFUND NOW!





|| Greg, 06:52 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Delay Wins Again

It's enough to make you feel sorry for Ronnie Earle, the corrupt, partisan, rogue prostitute prosecutor in Travis County. The Texas courts have AGAIN ruled that you there has to be a law on the books before you can charge someone with violating it.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals today refused to reinstate criminal conspiracy charges against former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and two co-defendants.

DeLay, R-Sugar Land, and political consultants Jim Ellis and John Colyandro were accused of conspiring to violate state election laws in the 2002 elections for the Texas House. But lower courts threw out the indictment on grounds that conspiracy to violate the election code was not a crime until 2003,

A majority of the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed.

DeLay, Ellis and Colyandro were charged with plotting to funnel illegal corporate campaign contributions to several Republican House candidates in 2002, when the GOP gained its first House majority of modern times.

According to his spokesman, Ronnie Earle and his staff are "reviewing" the decision. I don't know what there is to review -- the Court of Criminal Appeals is the highest court in the state when it comes to criminal law (Texas has, effectively, two supreme courts -- one for criminal cases and the other for civil cases). There is no federal issue at work here. The bogus charge is dead -- and with it, I suspect, any chance of getting a conviction on the other charges has disappeared, given that Earle's case against Delay depended first proving that he violated the conspiracy law.

It's no wonder, given his history of unsuccessful prosecutions of political opponents and prosecutorial overreaching, that Earle is regarded as the Texas equivalent of Mike Nifong.





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Dems Move Towards Airwave Censorship Bill

After all, government cant be letting the people decide what they want to hear, can we?

Democratic leaders say that government has a compelling interest to ensure that listeners are properly informed.

Its time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine, said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, theyre in a better position to make a decision.

Now lets take a look at that argument the compelling interest standard has been used by the courts to allow exceptions to the First Amendment in the past and not just in the case of broadcast media. Does the government also have a compelling interest to ensure that readers of newspapers, magazines, and websites are also properly informed? What Durbin has proposed here is nothing less than a standard that would allow the federal government to censor all media in the name of ensuring that We the People are properly informed according to our Lords and Masters with the federal government.





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Rosies Terrorist Chic

Well, like we didnt already know that Rosie was with the terrorists. Now she is posting pictures of her daughter dressed as a little terrorist.

Unemployed gabfest queen Rosie O'Donnell, who last went to war with Elisabeth Hasselbeck only to retreat from her position on "The View," has drafted a reinforcement in the form of her waif-like 4-year-old daughter Vivienne Rose, better known as "Vivi."

O'Donnell posted a video and photo of her little soldier on her Web site Rosie.com on Tuesday, which drew immediate reaction some not so kind about the media transformation of her daughter from little princess to bullet-toting guerrilla fighter.

I'm surprised that Vivi isn't wearing a little suicide vest -- you know, like the one the Taliban tried to get a six-year-old to detonate recently.

I wonder if this will secure her Joe Scarboroughs slot on MSNBC making that cable network fair and balanced in the eyes of Americas Left.





|| Greg, 09:47 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (23) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Frivolous Lawsuit Alert

Dismiss the suit. Fine the plaintiff. Disbar the lawyer.

A Romeo woman is suing the manufacturer of Starburst Fruit Chews in Macomb County Circuit Court in Michigan for "severe and permanent personal injuries" she received while eating the candy.

The attorney for Victoria McArthur filed the lawsuit Monday against New Jersey-based Master Foods USA asking for more than $25,000. She alleges that when she bit into a yellow Starburst fruit chew in April 2005, she began to feel pain in her jaw, and then began having difficulty opening her mouth.

This should be dismissed on the legal theory of Shit Happens!

And if this case is not dismissed, my mom broke a tooth on a chocolate chip in an ice cream cone from Basking Robbins. Can she recover for the pain and suffering?





|| Greg, 09:37 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Senate Revives Amnesty Bill

After all -- who really gives a tinker's damn about what the American people think about this legislation?

Legislation to overhaul the nation's immigration laws cleared a key hurdle yesterday when the Senate voted 64 to 35 to take up the measure again after a nearly three-week break. But opponents of the proposal insisted they would scuttle it by week's end.

The procedural vote squeezed past the 60-vote threshold needed to bring the bill back for debate, but even advocates said that was the easy part. The immigration bill must run a gantlet of 26 politically charged amendments and clear another 60-vote hurdle tomorrow to cut off a filibuster before a final vote Friday.

The bill's most ardent opponents forced the Senate clerk last night to read all 26 of those amendments in their entirety as a delaying tactic. "This is going to begin some very heavy trench warfare," Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said. "It's going to be like World War I."

Still, Bush administration officials who have championed the proposal insisted that a bill once left for dead was now on its way toward passage.

"We are confident in Senate passage, because we look at the alternative, and the alternative is nothing," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said.

"In the end, logic, common sense and wisdom will prevail," added Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez, in a shot against detractors, who continue to say the immigration bill's border security provisions are unworkable and its path to citizenship for 12 million illegal immigrants amounts to "amnesty" for lawbreakers.

And lest you doubt that this is an amnesty bill, even the President admitted that it is in a rare moment of truthfulness on the subject.

"You know, I've heard all the rhetoric you've heard it, too about how this is amnesty," Bush told supporters of the bill at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. "Amnesty means that you've got to pay a price for having been here illegally, and this bill does that."

Tony Snow and the White House Press office released a statment "correcting" the president's true statement.





|| Greg, 08:10 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 26, 2007

Ron Paul Swings Round The Bend

Well, this one is loony even for Ron Paul.

New Hampshire's convicted tax evaders Ed and Elaine Brown have gained a new supporter: presidential hopeful Ron Paul.

In an interview with RogueGovernment.com, the Texas congressman compares the Browns to Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Junior. He says the Browns are suffering like those leaders.

The Browns are holed up in their Plainfield, New Hampshire home and have threatened violence against federal officials if marshals come to arrest them. They were convicted of an elaborate scheme to hide millions of dollars in income. Their protest has become a rallying cry for anti-tax activists and militia members.

So now it appears that the renegade Republican has sided with convicted felons who threaten to murder law enforcement officials who attempt to take them into custody. This is support for terrorism by any other name -- if true.

However, Ron Paul denies that it is true.

Texas Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul said he did not compare a New Hampshire couple who refuses to pay taxes with Ghandi.

On Fox News Channel today, Paul said he doesn't know much about the case of Ed and Elaine Brown on Plainfield, N.H. but that he, like Ghandi, doesn't believe in violence to protest wrongs and it has appeared that the Browns have chosen another path.

I've not seen the interview, but I wouldn't be surprised if the initial report is true. After all, the site with the original interview describes it as follows.

Lee Rogers interviews Congressman and Presidential candidate Ron Paul about a myriad of issues in this interview. Lee discusses the following topics with Dr. Paul in this half hour interview.

Abolishing the Federal Reserve and the IRS, the restoration of honest money, the plunge protection team, the government standoff with Ed and Elaine Brown over the income tax, the broken health care system, abolishing big government agencies, the CIA/NSA, global government, the New World Order, the North American Union, semi-secretive organizations like the Council on Foreign Relations, American imperialism around the world, the billion dollar embassy being built in Iraq, the fraud of the global war on terror, illegal immigration, the move to tax and regulate the Internet by the establishment, the coming world ID system, the move towards fascism in America, the possibility of martial law being declared in the United States, the prospects of a new independent investigation into the attacks of 9/11 as well as the prospect of impeaching George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

In other words, Paul is associating with the radical fringe of the conspiracy movement. I think giving the interview to this fellow should be reason enough to disqualify Ron Paul from any serious consideration as a candidate -- especially given that it is incredibly easy to believe that the initial press report is true. After all, given the fact that Ron Paul gives aid and comfort to 9/11 conspiracy theorists and Truthers, would you really be all that surprised if he did come out in support of the Browns?

Fortunately, we at the national level have other choices besides Ron Paul. And in Texas CD14, GOP primary voters have the opportunity to replace Paul with Friendswood City Counncilman Chris Peden.





|| Greg, 09:42 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (16) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Journalist And Political Donations

Last week, MSNBC did a piece on the political contributions of journalists -- and noted that they are overwhelmingly to left-wing politicians and causes. Now personally, I have no problem with such donations if they are disclosed. After all, journalists are Americans (though I'd argue many are rather unAmerican) and have a right to participate in our political system.

Indeed, I agree with Randy Cohen, whose column, "The Ethicist" is syndicated by the New York Times.

Cohen had given $585 to MoveOn.org in 2004, when it was organizing get-out-the-vote efforts to defeat Bush. Cohen at first told MSNBC.com that he thought of donating to MoveOn.org as no more out of bounds than giving to the Boy Scouts.

"We admire those colleagues who participate in their communities help out at the local school, work with Little League, donate to charity," Cohen said in an e-mail. "But no such activity is or can be non-ideological. Few papers would object to a journalist donating to the Boy Scouts or joining the Catholic Church. But the former has an official policy of discriminating against gay children; the latter has views on reproductive rights far more restrictive than those of most Americans. Should reporters be forbidden to support those groups? Id say not."

Now I'd argue that his slanted comments against the Boy Scouts and borderline-bigoted comments about the Catholic Church show some other reasons why he probably isn't fit for the field of journalism or a column of the sort he writes (aside from the fact he has no formal training in ethics), he is essentially right. In a society that values expressive speech, why should those who speak for a living be banned from speaking as private individuals?





|| Greg, 08:36 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Iran Invades Iraq?

Well, maybe.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces have been spotted by British troops crossing the border into southern Iraq, The Sun tabloid reported on Tuesday.

Britain's defence ministry would not confirm or deny the report, with a spokesman declining to comment on "intelligence matters".

An unidentified intelligence source told the tabloid: "It is an extremely alarming development and raises the stakes considerably. In effect, it means we are in a full on war with Iran -- but nobody has officially declared it."

"We have hard proof that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have crossed the border to attack us. It is very hard for us to strike back. All we can do is try to defend ourselves. We are badly on the back foot."

The Sun said that radar sightings of Iranian helicopters crossing into the Iraqi desert were confirmed to it by very senior military sources.

Now I've got some question about the veracity of the report -- but if it is true, what will be the response of the Bush Administration? And will the Democrats still advocate unilateral retreat -- or will they instead insist upon petitioning Iran to negotiate the terms of America's surrender?





|| Greg, 08:13 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Charitable Giving Up -- Economy Healthy

A 1% increase (adjusted for inflation) in 2006 over 2005 -- and an increase of over 3% if one excludes disaster relief donations (there were no major disasters in 2006 -- but somehow Bush doesn't get credit for this like he got blamed for the 2005 hurricanes).

This increase shows two important things. First, the American people are a generous people who will rise to meet the needs of our country without crippling taxes. Second, it shows that the economy is fundamentally strong.

Giving historically tracks the health of the overall economy, with the rise amounting to about one-third the rise in the stock market, according to Giving USA. Last year was right on target, with a 3.2 percent rise as stocks rose more than 10 percent on an inflation-adjusted basis.

"What people find especially interesting about this, and it's true year after year, that such a high percentage comes from individual donors," Giving USA Chairman Richard Jolly said.

Individuals gave a combined 75.6 percent of the total. With bequests, that rises to 83.4 percent.

It isn't corporate giving that produces these results -- it is individual generosity.

Furthermore, this should be an indication of which Americans are most generous.

The biggest chunk of the donations, $96.82 billion or 32.8 percent, went to religious organizations. The second largest slice, $40.98 billion or 13.9 percent, went to education, including gifts to colleges, universities and libraries.

About 65 percent of households with incomes less than $100,000 give to charity, the report showed.

Religious donors and those of relatively modest means gave the biggest percentage of the money -- voters who tend towards the conservative side of the spectrum, not wealthy liberals.





|| Greg, 06:45 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 25, 2007

Richardson: Abortion Is A SCOTUS Litmus Test

Republicans are often asked if opposition to Roe v. Wade is a litmus test in the selection of judges. In light of these comments by Gov. Bill Richardson establishing a litmus test for judicial nominees, other Democrats be asked if support of that bloody precedent is a litmus test for the selection of future Supreme Court justices in a Democratic administration?

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Friday that if he is elected president, he would use abortion as a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees, rejecting candidates who don't support the 1973 decision legalizing abortion.

"I know that I am going to upset some people," Richardson said. "I would say, 'Do you believe Roe v. Wade is settled law?' and if they say, 'Yes,' they have a good chance of being picked. If they say 'No,' I will not pick them."

Dred Scot v. Sanford and Plessy v. Ferguson were both beloved precedents for Democrats in their day, and considered "settled law" by that party before they were overturned. Richardson therefore fits well in the tradition of his party in establishing a litmus test in support of a decision that says some human beings are less equal than others under the US Constitution.





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Iwo Jima Hero Dies

And with him, one more bit of history passes on into the mists of time.

Charles W. Lindberg, one of the U.S. Marines who raised the first American flag over Iwo Jima during World War II, has died. He was 86.

Lindberg died Sunday at Fairview Southdale hospital in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, said John Pose, director of the Morris Nilsen Funeral Home in Richfield, which is handling Lindberg's funeral.

Lindberg spent decades explaining that it was his patrol, not the one captured in the famous Associated Press photograph by Joe Rosenthal, that raised the first flag as U.S. forces fought to take the Japanese island.

In the late morning of Feb. 23, 1945, Lindberg fired his flame-thrower into enemy pillboxes at the base of Mount Suribachi and then joined five other Marines fighting their way to the top. He was awarded the Silver Star for bravery.

"Two of our men found this big, long pipe there," he said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2003. "We tied the flag to it, took it to the highest spot we could find and we raised it.

"Down below, the troops started to cheer, the ship's whistles went off, it was just something that you would never forget," he said. "It didn't last too long, because the enemy started coming out of the caves."

First Flag Raising Iwo Jima.jpg

Lindberg is the last of the survivors of that flag-raising. May he rest in peace, and may his service to this country never be forgotten.





|| Greg, 11:45 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Justice Served In Pants Case

And the plaintiff, seeking tens of millions for a pair of misplaced pants, gets not a penny.

The D.C. administrative law judge who sued his neighborhood dry cleaner for $54 million over a pair of lost pants found out this morning what he's going to get for all his troubles.
Nothing.

In a verdict that surprised no one, except perhaps the plaintiff himself, a D.C. Superior Court judge denied Roy Pearson the big payday he claimed was his due.
Delivering her decision in writing, Judge Judith Bartnoff wrote 23 pages dissecting and dismissing Pearson's claim that he was defrauded by the owners of Custom Cleaners and their "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign.
"A reasonable consumer would not interpret 'Satisfaction Guaranteed' to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer's unreasonable demands or to accede to demands that the merchant has reasonable grounds to dispute," the ruling said. " . . . The plaintiff is not entitled to any relief whatsoever."

Now it is possible that Pearson will not only lose his pants, but his shirt as well.

Financially, he could soon be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees incurred by the owners of Customer Cleaners. Attorneys for the Chungs have said they will seek such payments, as well as sanctions against Pearson for bringing the lawsuit. Bartnoff said in her ruling that she would decide those issues after both sides have filed their motions, counter-motions and legal briefs. Professionally, Pearson could find himself out of his $96,000-a-year job as an administrative law judge for the District government.

This was clearly a case of abuse of the legal system, given the Chungs made repeated offers to go above and beyond the call of duty to make him whole, even offering early on in the case to give him more than enough money to replace the entire suit after the judge insisted that the pants the owners produced for him (complete with the original tags that match his receipt) were not his despite matching the suit jacket.

Pearsons behavior will also likely cost him his appointed judgeship, because his term is up and his conduct has shredded any credibility he might have. After all, any man who can become so emotional over a pair of pants really doesn't have teh staility to be trusted to do justice, does he?





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Is Tinker Dead?

That is the question that springs to mind in the aftermath of todays decision in the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case. In allowing a public school to punish a student who unfurled a banner off school grounds based upon a perceived violation of the schools policy against permitting advocacy of drug use, that is a reasonable question. Does Tinker v. DesMoines, the seminal case dealing with student First Amendment rights, survive this decision?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that students can face limits on their rights to free speech.

Schools can rein in students' speech if it can be interpreted as promoting illegal drug use, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court's opinion.

The case stemmed from an incident in January 2002 in which a crowd of students, townspeople and teachers gathered on a public street in Alaska across from a high school to watch the Olympic torch relay pass in front of them as part of a parade in support of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games.

Student Joseph Frederick wanted to make a statement about his First Amendment rights in front of the television crews covering the event. As the crowd thickened, he unfurled a banner with the message "Bong Hits 4 Jesus."

Frederick had been bothered in his senior year by the lack of attention to the issue of freedom of speech in the United States, and at his school in particular.

In briefs, Frederick argued that he was only trying to assert his rights and that the message was not an attempt to "spread any idea."

Now the opinion in the case is not yet up on the SCOTUS website, so I have not had a chance to read it yet. However, it might be that last little admission that made the difference. I wonder if a banner reading Legalize Pot and displaying the logo of NORML (National Organization for the Repeal of Marijuana Laws) might not have resulted in a different decision, given that it would have clearly been express advocacy on a public policy issue.

On the other hand, we have repeatedly seen a trend in recent years towards allowing public schools to ban even serious speech of a political and religious nature on the grounds of offensiveness. In practice, this has meant that schools have repeatedly been permitted to censor speech opposing legal abortion and questioning the morality of homosexuality, not to mention objecting to affirmative action programs. The basis for such bans have been policies against racial, sexual, and sexual orientation harassment and the desire of the school to promote an unambiguous message of inclusion (of everybody except those who dissent from the officials position on these contentious public policy issues).

As a result, this case leaves me very worried. Tinker held that students do not surrender their civil liberties at the schoolhouse gate. Could it be that we are reaching the point that students do, in fact, require that students surrender those liberties? Rather than recognizing (as in West Virginia v. Barnette in 1943) that no public official, high or petty, shall define what the orthodox and acceptable opinions shall be held and expressed, we are going to permit school boards and their employees to determine what speech on matters of public importance shall be considered acceptable?

Perhaps most importantly, this decision leaves me a very basic question how does one prepare students to exercise their full rights as citizens of a free society in an educational setting where their civil liberties are regularly suppressed and their exercise punished? Are we instead educating them to be serfs or subjects rather than free men and women?

UPDATE: No sooner do I post this than the slip opinion in Morse v. Frederick appears on the SCOTUS site.

UPDATE II: Having read the opinion, it is clear that the holding of the court is that the War on Drugs overrides the First Amendment -- at least if you are a student at school. -- because Congress has declared anti-drug education to be a compelling government interest. This is not good.

UPDATE III: Justice Thomas, in his concurring opinion, indicates that he would overturn Tinker completely because it is not grounded in the Constitution. I guess he doesn't believe in the word "no law" in the First Amendment. This is particularly troubling due to the requirement that students attend school -- therefore resulting in the government mandating that the spend a part of the day in a setting in which their constitutional rights would be suspended.

UPDATE IV: Alito and Kennedy concur together in order to specifically affirm the central holding in Tinker.

JUSTICE ALITO, with whom JUSTICE KENNEDY joins, concurring.

I join the opinion of the Court on the understanding that (a) it goes no further than to hold that a public school may restrict speech that a reasonable observer would interpret as advocating illegal drug use and (b) it provides no support for any restriction of speech that can plausibly be interpreted as commenting on any political or social issue, including speech on issues such as the wisdom of the war on drugs or of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. See post, at 13 (STEVENS, J., dissenting).

They support Tinker, but still support what Justice Thomas calls an "ad hoc exception" to that case's central holding.

UPDATE V: Justice Breyer would have avoided the First Amendment question entirely and instead held for "qualified immunity" imposing a prohibition on the suit.

UPDATE VI: Fantastic dissent by Justice Stevens (joined by Justices Ginsburg and Souter) defends Tinker and points out that this case establishes a First Amendment exception previously rejected in American jurisprudence -- namely that mere advocacy of illegal behavior, absent an actual threat of imminent lawlessness, can be suppressed and punished.

Having read the opinions, I expect that the holding in this case will be used to justify the continued suppression of speech by religious and conservative students on issues like abortion, gay rights, and affirmative action, with schools arguing that the student speech on those matters undermines the mission of the school by contradicting the school policy on the matter. This will effectively further the notion that schools are indoctrination centers, not educational institutions.

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|| Greg, 09:41 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (9) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

What The Troops Think

Not that the anti-war crowd really gives a damn what the troops think, but it might be useful to hear what they have to day. Somehow, though, I doubt that "supporting the troops" will include following the advice of those who know the war best.

A deadline for withdrawal is an incentive for Iraqi political compromise. Levin thinks we ought to pressure Iraq's government with a warning tantamount to saying: "You better fix the situation before we leave and your country descends into chaos." He should consider the more likely result: an American exit date crushing any incentive for Iraqi leaders to cooperate and instead prompting rival factions to position themselves to capitalize on the looming power void.

My experience in Iraq bore this out. Only after my unit established a meaningful relationship with the president of the Samarra city council -- built on tangible security improvements and a commitment to cooperation -- did political progress occur. Our relationship fostered unforeseen political opportunities and encouraged leaders, even ones from rival tribes, to side with American and Iraqi forces against local insurgents and foreign fighters.

We can bring the war to a "responsible end" but still conduct counterterrorism operations. The problem with this argument is what a "responsible end" would mean. What is "responsible" about the large-scale bloodshed that would surely occur if we left the Iraqis behind with insufficient security forces? What is "responsible" about proving al-Qaeda's thesis that America can be defeated anywhere with enough suicide bombings?

The senator also seems to believe that America will have success fighting terrorists in Iraq with a minimal troop presence, despite the fact that 150,000 troops have their hands full right now doing precisely that.

We are "supporting the troops" by demanding an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Levin says that "our troops should hear an unequivocal message from Congress that we support them." He explains his vote to fund and "support" the troops while simultaneously trying to legislate the war's end. But what kind of "support" and "unequivocal message" do the troops hear from leaders in Congress who call their commanders "incompetent" or declare the war "lost"?

Such statements provide nearly instant enemy propaganda to every mud hut with a satellite dish in Iraq and throughout the Arab world. These messages do not spell support, no matter how you spin them. And they could inspire insurgents, making the situation more dangerous for our soldiers and Marines.

Veterans know firsthand that numerous mistakes have been made in the war. But that does not change the unfortunate reality: Iraq today is the front line of a global jihad being waged against America and its allies. Both Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have said so.

Those who seek withdrawal from Iraq are really proposing a policy of surrender that devalues every sacrifice made by the troops fighting against the forces of Islamofascist terrorism. Far from supporting the troops, such anti-war activists who back such a policy spit in the face of men and women in uniform just as surely as they did during the Vietnam war.





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McCain Out By Fall?

It appears that John McCains time is past.

THE former presidential front-runner, John McCain, may drop out of the 2008 race by September if his fundraising dries up and his poll ratings continue to drop, according to Republican insiders.

The speculation, vigorously denied by McCains camp, is sweeping Republican circles after a disastrous few weeks in which the principled Arizona senator has clashed with the partys conservative base on immigration and also alienated independent voters by backing President George W Bushs troop surge in Iraq.

Randy Pullen, chairman of the Arizona Republican party, said: Hes a battler, so Id expect him to carry on, but everyone is waiting to see what his new fundraising totals are. Thats pretty critical. If he doesnt have the money, he wont be able to run.

The second fundraising quarter for candidates closes at the end of June and McCains results should be known by mid-July.

The interesting question is this -- if McCain does leave the presidential race, how does his support break? Does it fracture, or go as a block t one of the other candidates -- possibly raising a second-tier candidate's profile or putting one of the front-runners into a commanding lead?





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SCOTUS Nominee Pipe-Dreaming

This is standard end-of-term fare -- but there doesn't seem to be any realistic possibility of a justice retiring as the current term ends. Still, some want to speculate about what would happen if a justice did step down.

Retirement speculation focuses on Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, both liberals. Stevens is 87 years old; and although Ginsburg is 13 years younger, her frail appearance has often prompted conjecture of poor health.

These justices have also taken to reading their dissents from the bench in recent months, a practice that Curt Levey, general counsel for the Judicial Confirmation Network, believes may signify their displeasure with being in the minority on several important cases.

Justice David Souter, 67, who was appointed by President George H. W. Bush, also is rumored to be considering retirement.

Jan Crawford Greenburg, author of the recent book, "Supreme Conflict: The Inside Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court," has written that the Bush administration has prepared a "short list" of possible nominees should a justice step down.

According to Greenburg, possible nominees include Janice Rogers Brown of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; Priscilla Owen and Edith Brown Clement, both of the Fifth Circuit; Diane Sykes of the Seventh Circuit; Loretta Preska, a New York Federal District judge; and Raoul Cantero of the Florida State Supreme Court.

While all six are considered conservatives who would fit the president's judicial restraint criterion, Preska and Cantero are more junior than nominees over the past 20 years. All justices since Scalia's nomination in 1986 have been elevated from the Federal Court of Appeals.

Quin Hillyer, senior editor for the American Spectator and a regular contributor for the conservative blog ConfirmThem, told Cybercast News Service that he knows of "nobody who really believes there will be a new Supreme Court vacancy" at this time.

Levey agreed with Hillyer to a point. Though there are no rumors of an imminent retirement floating around Washington, he told Cybercast News Service Friday: "I'm not sure you can take that as an indication one way or the other. These upcoming vacancies are such a closely held secret, so rumors often have no correlation to the truth. When [former Justice Sandra Day] O'Connor retired, the conventional wisdom was that [former Chief Justice William] Rehnquist was to retire, not O'Connor."

If any of the three justices mentioned were to retire, the replacement would certainly be more conservative. And each of the potential replacements mentioned is well-respected -- and it is interesting to note the presence of a Hispanic and a black woman on the list.

More likely, in my eyes, is a death between now and the 2008 election -- and every day closer to that election contributes to the difficulty of getting ANT nomination through the Senate. The precedent? Lyndon Johnson's unsuccessful attempt to elevate Justice Abe Fortas to the center chair in 1968 -- although I doubt that any potential nominee would be as scandal-ridden as that Johnson crony.





|| Greg, 06:26 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Family Court Hell

Yes, this is a British story -- but one has to wonder how often something like this happens in the United States, with fathers presumed to be dangerous and unfit and mothers presumed to have the best interests of their children at heart.

Every day there is some reminder of what Mark Harris calls 'the lost years'.

It could be his daughter's reference to a particular birthday party or a family holiday. It could be talk of exams sat, dentists visited or pop stars worshipped.

Each time it happens, he feels a stab of regret. 'I missed so much,' he reveals, with understandable bitterness. 'They took my daughter's childhood, her formative years, from me. Lisa is 20 now. I didn't see her between the ages of ten and 16. An awful lot happens in a child's life in that time, and I missed it all.'

Lisa missed a lot, too. She sits by Mark's side as he talks, a beautiful and assured young woman, but one still coming to terms with the fact that her father simply wasn't there when she needed him - and for an entire decade she did not know why.

'There were times when I needed a father figure - for reassurance and advice,' she says, with quiet restraint. 'There just wasn't one there.'

But the story of what happened to the Harris family isn't just another tragic case of broken homes and estrangement. Mark, Lisa and her two younger sisters were wrenched apart by the state.

Mark was not a feckless, irresponsible father. He did not walk out of his children's lives. Rather, he was ordered out by the family courts, and when he objected - insisting it was his right to see them - he was dealt with in a scandalous way.

Mark Harris went to prison for his girls. He was jailed for waving to them after a court order demanded he sever all contact. It was the most shameful chapter in an extraordinary ten-year custody battle.

He has now 'won' - today, two of his daughters live with him - only because they shared their father's determination to re-establish their relationship.

Sadly, even today, all it takes is a single accusation by a mother to get a father thrown out of the lives of their children. Even though the laws that created it are gone, the presumption of maternal custody is still strong, even in states where the law allows for joint custody. Even a hint of "abuse" (defined at a low level -- and often without any evidence to back the accusation) will be sufficient to deny custody to a father and impose strict limits on his visitation rights. I've seen it in too many cases.





|| Greg, 06:13 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (40) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Watcher's Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Gaza Becomes Hamastan, Part 2 -- Clarity and an Opportunity by Joshuapundit, and Be Not Afraid by Michael Yon.  Here's your link to the full results of the vote

Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:

VotesCouncil link
3Gaza Becomes Hamastan, Part 2 -- Clarity and an Opportunity
Joshuapundit
2  1/3Muslim And Christian? In One Body?
Cheat Seeking Missiles
2Happy Father's Day To the "Dragon Slayer"
Okie on the Lam
1  2/3The New York Times Spins Away
Bookworm Room
1  1/3A Tragic Case
Done With Mirrors
2/3Overstating a Problem
Rhymes With Right
1/3Yon On Baqouba
Big Lizards
1/3The Resilience of Olmert and Kadima
Soccer Dad
1/3A Conversation With My Dead Father
Right Wing Nut House

VotesNon-council link
3  1/3Be Not Afraid
Michael Yon
2Beware: Misleading Income Statistics Are Coming Your Way
Back Talk
1  2/3The American Left's Silly Victim Complex
Adbusters
1  1/3Twenty Years Ago in Berlin, Seeing the Rally Against Reagan
Gay Patriot
1  1/3Stacking the Deck Against Justice Thomas
Pillage Idiot
1A French Lesson for America's Grand Old Party
American Enterprise Institute
2/3What Is Your Purpose Here, Senator Reid?
BitsBlog
2/3War Against Iran
Somewhere On A1A...





|| Greg, 05:03 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 24, 2007

Reid's Office Gets Buddy A Vegas Hook-Up

Next time you are in Vegas waiting in a long line, why don't you give Harry Reid's office a call? They will get you VIP service and a complimentary upgrade!

The July/August issue of The Atlantic magazine includes a profile of Harlan Coben, author of 16 best-selling crime novels. The article identifies some of Coben's celebrity friends, including television host Bryant Gumbel, rock musician Nils Lofgren and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

* * *

The article's author, Eric Konigsberg, reports that he accompanied Coben on a book-signing tour that stopped in Las Vegas. He describes a telling scene:

"When we arrived at our hotel, the Luxor, the check-in line looked as if it would take 45 minutes," Konigsberg writes. "Coben e-mailed Reid's office, and it took about a minute for a secretary to call the hotel and arrange for a VIP check-in and a room upgrade."

Hmm. Now, we all know how things work in Las Vegas. The more money you have, the better treatment you receive. Few people around here really argue with that, right?

But this Harlan Coben scenario is a little different.

First, we have this novelist, who lives in New Jersey, securing a favor from Reid's office. Clearly, Coben was made aware sometime in advance of this incident that if he contacted the senator's office, any problems he encountered in Las Vegas would be taken care of. Is this a common activity at Reid HQ? Who else is Nevada's senior casino host helping out in this way? Coben may seem fairly harmless, but what about others who have benefited from Reid's succor?

Second, we have somebody in Reid's office dropping everything to place a call to the Luxor to fix an inconvenience experienced by the senator's friend. Is it possible that Reid's staffers might have more important things to do than ensure VIP treatment for a New Jersey-based novelist?

Third, we have the folks at the Luxor, an MGM Mirage property, immediately bending over to provide special treatment to Reid's buddy. What does this say about the relationship between Reid and the state's dominant industry? Doesn't this suggest something more than an arm's-length association? What does the casino expect in exchange for helping out Reid's friend?

I'm curious -- since when is it the role of Congressional staffers to "hook up" the friends their bosses? And what do the folks who do these favors for staffers expect to get in return? Seems like an ethics violation to me -- because after all, isn't the appearance of impropriety an impropriety? Or is that standard only for Republicans?





|| Greg, 12:11 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Iranian Attrocities

Just to remind you folks (especially liberals and apologist for Islamofascism) what real human rights violations look like, courtesy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. These are official photos from the official Iranian government news agencies, which ran these approving of the gross violations of human rights and human dignity they depict.

farsbrutal003.jpg
Masked Muslim moral police force a man wearing clothes deemed un-Islamic to suck on a plastic container Iranians use to wash their bottoms.

isna002.jpg
Bloodied, beaten, then taken away.

farsbrutal.jpg
Whipped for wearing a soccer shirt.

farsbrutal002.jpg
Behead all those who wear their hair too long.

isna.jpg
Another public beating.

farsbrutal005.jpg
The Iranian morality police arrest the infidel after forcing him to drink from the toilet watering cans hanging around his neck.

farsbrutal004.jpg
Another head busted open in the name of Allah.

H/T Michelle Malkin. Additional coverage at Gateway Pundit, Ali Eteraz, Iran Focus.

And by the way, lest you think that this is not based upon government policy, let me direct you to (of all places) an article from today's New York Times.

Young men wearing T-shirts deemed too tight or haircuts seen as too Western have been paraded bleeding through Tehrans streets by uniformed police officers who force them to suck on plastic jerrycans, a toilet item Iranians use to wash their bottoms. In case anyone misses the point, it is the official news agency Fars distributing the pictures of what it calls riffraff. Far bloodier photographs are circulating on blogs and on the Internet.

The countrys police chief boasted that 150,000 people a number far larger than usual were detained in the annual spring sweep against any clothing considered not Islamic. More than 30 womens rights advocates were arrested in one day in March, according to Human Rights Watch, five of whom have since been sentenced to prison terms of up to four years. They were charged with endangering national security for organizing an Internet campaign to collect more than a million signatures supporting the removal of all laws that discriminate against women.

Eight student leaders at Tehrans Amir Kabir University, the site of one of the few public protests against Mr. Ahmadinejad, disappeared into Evin Prison starting in early May. Student newspapers had published articles suggesting that no humans were infallible, including the Prophet Muhammad and Irans supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

I'm curious -- will we hear a peep of condemnation from the Left over this sort of stuff? Will the same folks who condemn the imagined "theocratic" tendencies of American conservatives speak out against the theocracy of the Islamofascists in Iran? Or does this sort of violence constitute "cultural diversity" that should be celebrated? You know, sort of like homicide bombings and honor killings.

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|| Greg, 07:39 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

An Act Of Love

There is really little to add to this story.

Sam Anderson never hesitated. Not for a moment.

The walk-on forward for the University of Houston knew the decision most likely would end his basketball career, but Anderson knew the man at the other end of the phone his cousin, Steven Anderson, 46 was desperate for help, and that's all that mattered.

Steven Anderson's health was rapidly deteriorating because of renal failure, so one day he thought of Sam and picked up the phone. It was his only option, and Steven had put off this phone call as long as possible.

After all, everyone in the Anderson family knew how much Sam loved basketball. It had been Sam's haven as a child back home in Detroit, a refuge from the cold realities of the streets, where friends were devoured by drugs and violence.

But Sam Anderson didn't hesitate -- he said yes to his cousin almost before the question was out of his mouth. It may (but may not) be the end of his basketball career -- but the beginning of something much more important, a healthy life for his cousin.

And by way of explanation, I put that "may not" up there for a reason. During my first year of teaching, one of our students gave a kidney to her sister, and then returned to be a starter on the basketball team the following year, and even received a college scholarship to play basketball. I hope that Sam Anderson can do the same. But even if he can't, the UH program offers him support.

Cougars coach Tom Penders said that the door always will be open for Sam Anderson, as a player or even if he wants to start coaching.

Anything to help "one of the most remarkable" people Penders has met.

"This is one of the greatest stories I've ever seen," Penders said. "All I can say is that Sam is going to heaven before I do."

Now there is a coach with his priorities in order.





|| Greg, 07:12 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (38) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Obama's Religious Hate Speech

I guess nobody told Barack Obama that he is running for President of the United States, not Theologian-in-Chief. And since he is espousing the theology of his dying, apostate denomination, I don't know why any of us are supposed to take his theological positions seriously.

Sen. Barack Obama told a church convention Saturday that some right-wing evangelical leaders have exploited and politicized religious beliefs in an effort to sow division.

"Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and faith started being used to drive us apart," the Democratic presidential candidate said in a 30-minute speech before the national meeting of the United Church of Christ.

"Faith got hijacked, partly because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, all too eager to exploit what divides us," the Illinois senator said.

"At every opportunity, they've told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design," according to an advance copy of his speech.

"There was even a time when the Christian Coalition determined that its number one legislative priority was tax cuts for the rich," Obama said. "I don't know what Bible they're reading, but it doesn't jibe with my version."

Of course, Obama doesn't back up that statement -- it is impossible to do so because it is called, in common parlance, a "lie". While the Christian Coalition did support tax cuts across the board for all Americans, it never supported tax cuts for the rich only. I guess that Obama's version of the Bible has only Nine Commandments, having deleted "Thou shalt not bear false witness."

But remember what Obama and the dying, apostate denomination he addressed believe is in keeping with their version of the Bible.

Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ, a church of about 1.2 million members that is considered one the most liberal of the mainline Protestant groups.

In 1972, the church was the first to ordain an openly gay man. Two years ago, the church endorsed same-sex marriage, the largest Christian denomination to do so. Obama believes that states should decide whether to allow gay marriage, and he opposes a constitutional amendment against it.

Funny, every version of the Bible I've ever encountered calls homosexuality an abomination or some synonym for that word. Would the Senator care to let us know what version of the Good Book he's reading that leaves that book out -- or should we assume that he doesn't read the Bible at all?

By the way, I'm curious -- when will Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and all the other left-wing groups that bleat about "theocracy" issue their condemnation of this theocrat?

More At The Influence Peddler, The New Conservative

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June 23, 2007

I'm Below Average

And this time I really don't mind making that admission, given the survey in question..

ts a question that often prompts a boastful answer or a bashful one: How many sex partners have you had?

Now the federal government says it has authoritative statistics, documenting that men are far more likely to play the field than women.

A new nationwide survey, using high-tech methods to solicit candid answers on sexual activity and illegal drug use, finds that 29 percent of American men report having 15 or more female sexual partners in a lifetime, while only 9 percent of women report having sex with 15 or more men.

In this age of AIDS, I am surprised that the numbers are still this high. But I wonder -- are all those guys sleeping with the same women, to get the 3-1 breakdown?





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June 22, 2007

What's The Deal Here?

The headline makes it pretty clear -- the story is about the president's energy proposal.

Bush touts proposal to cut back on gas

So why is this the opening paragraph?

It must take a lot for President Bush to cancel out on raising campaign cash for a fellow Republican.

In fact, the first FIFTEEN PARAGRAPHS are devoted to the relationship between the President and Senator Jeff Sessions, their conflicts over the immigration bill, political fundraising, and the president getting winded going up some stairs. Only in paragraph 16 do we get this first glimmer of information about the energy proposal.

At the power plant appearance, Bush touted his approach for cutting gasoline consumption as the Democratic-controlled Senate opened debate on a broad energy bill.

That would be the first of seven paragraphs on the president's objections to the Democratic energy proposal in Congress. By my count we have now gone 22 paragraphs without actually talking about the President's "proposal to cut back on gas."

But wait -- here it comes!

Bush wants the standard increased to 35 billion gallons a year by 2017. He calls it an "alternative fuels" standard, instead of a renewable fuels standard, because he would count so-called coal-to-liquid fuel and other nonrenewable sources.

That's right -- paragraph 23 actually deals with the topic indicated in the headline. Now we are in for some substantive reporting on the subject, right?

Wrong. The article has only two paragraphs left. I present them for your consideration.

He also pushed increased use of nuclear power, from the plant that is home to the first U.S. nuclear reactor to go online in more than 20 years. Browns Ferry's Unit 1 reactor began producing power again last month after being shut down for safety reasons in 1985. Its other two reactors returned to service in the 1990s.

The reactor was shut down two days after its restart when a leaky pipe burst and spilled non-radioactive fluid. Such problems prompted Greenpeace to call Browns Ferry "a strange poster child for a nuclear future."

Nope -- nothing about gas there.

And so we get a grand total of two sentences about the president's proposal to cut back on gasoline usage -- despite the fact that the headline was about the president's proposal to cut back on gas usage. Even if we are generous and count the criticisms of the congressional plan as "touting" the president's proposal, we still see only 1/3 of the story devoted to what the headline tells us the story is about -- and the third at that!

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President Low, Congress Lower

But Newsweek is really much more interested in the presidential numbers, hence the story being written in such an unbalanced fashion.

In 19 months, George W. Bush will leave the White House for the last time. The latest NEWSWEEK Poll suggests that he faces a steep climb if he hopes to coax the country back to his side before he goes. In the new poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday nights, President Bushs approval rating has reached a record low. Only 26 percent of Americans, just over one in four, approve of the job the 43rd president is doing; while, a record 65 percent disapprove, including nearly a third of Republicans.

Yep -- gotta look at the Bush numbers and talk about how bad they are. Frankly, the breakdown of the polling data makes me seriously wonder at the level of ignorance shown by my fellow Americans. For example, only 34% approve of the president's handling of the economy, despite the fact that we are in the 5th straight year of strong economic growth following the Clinton recession and the economic disruptions caused by 9/11 -- growth that can be directly attributed to the president's income tax cuts for all Americans who pay them.

But then Newsweek glosses over this number.

If there is any good news for Bush and the Republicans in the latest NEWSWEEK Poll, its that the Democratic-led Congress fares even worse than the president. Only 25 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing.

In the scariest news for the Democratic candidates seeking their partys nomination in 2008, even rank-and-file Democrats are unhappy with Congress, which is narrowly controlled by their party. Only 27 percent of Democrats approve of the job Congress is doing, a statistically insignificant difference from the 25 percent of Republicans and 25 percent of independents who approve of Congress.

Overall, 63 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, including 60 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Independents. Apparently, voters arent happy with anyone in Washington these days.

Newsweek, it seems, isn't interested in why the numbers are low, or what areas are driving the low congressional ratings. After all, they don't even ask about such things in their poll.





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June 21, 2007

Teacher Marries Student

I'll be honest -- I've had colleagues who have married former students.. It has always made me uncomfortable, though not necessarily acutely so. After all, when Mike and Jeannie got married, he was 30 and she was 22 -- and they had not started dating until she came to back to the school as a student teacher. I'll admit to being a little more uncomfortable with Dan and Melissa -- we all wondered how many hours after graduation he waited to ask her out, since they were openly dating within weeks of her receiving her diploma and were married about 18 months later -- and have an age gap of around 20 years. I was pleased, though, when the school I used to teach at fired our counselor when he married the class valedictorian in Vegas two days after graduation (four weeks after his divorce became final) and announced that they would be having a baby sometime around Halloween.

This situation, though, positively makes my skin crawl.

A 40-year-old high school science teacher and cross country coach who once worked in Guilford County has resigned his position and married a 16-year-old student.

Brenton Wuchae coached Windy Hager at South Brunswick High School, where she recently completed her sophomore year as one of the school's top runners. He also lives less than two miles away from the Hagers' home on Oak Island.

Wuchae married Hager in Brunswick County on Monday, according to a marriage license.

Hager's parents, Dennis and Betty Hager, said they did all they could to keep the couple apart after noticing a deeper-than-usual friendship forming between them. The parents said they tried to intervene by talking to the coach, going to school officials, pleading with police and sheriff's office detectives, even other teachers and students at South Brunswick.

But the Hagers say they reluctantly signed a consent form allowing their daughter to marry her coach.

Clearly, this relationship blew right through any and all student-teacher relationship boundaries, and he had to go. I know that this would have been a firing offense in my district, which has a strict "no dating the students" policy in place -- even if the student is 18 and the employee does not have any sort of authority over the student. We had a 22-year-old teacher from an elementary school let go a couple of years ago for dating an 18-year-old girl he knew from church, because she was still a student two months from graduation at one of our high schools. I don't want to even think about the sh!t-storm we would have if one of our teachers actually married a current student.

H/T Interested Participant





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Stem Cell Veto

I am a diabetic. I'm regularly told that my condition could be cured by means of fetal stem cell research. So let me express my opinion clearly on President Bush's veto of the bill giving federal funding for such research.

GOOD FOR YOU, MR. PRESIDENT!

President Bush yesterday vetoed legislation to expand federally funded embryonic stem cell research, saying that scientific advances now allow researchers to pursue the potentially lifesaving work without destroying human embryos.

Bush followed his veto -- his third since becoming president -- with an executive order aimed at encouraging federal agencies to support research that offers the promise of creating medically useful stem cells without destroying human embryos.

This story, however, overlooks the more basic point -- nothing in current law makes it illegal to do research on fetal stem cells. There are a number of approved stem cell lines that can still be funded, and there is absolutely nothing to prohibit any fetal stem cell research using private money. What this veto does is simply prohibit the use of federal money to facilitate the taking of any more innocent lives for scientific research.

There are some points to consider -- some practical, some moral.

1) If fetal stem cell research is so promising, why isn't private industry funding it to the level that these breakthroughs will be made quickly. After all, a cure for diabetes of Parkinsons would be immensely profitable. Could it be that Big Pharmaceutical (the drug equivalent of Big Oil) is so unsure of the potential that it won't put up the money for research -- or that it simply feels that federal subsidies are its right?

2) Large numbers of Americans have moral objections to the methods for obtaining fetal stem cells. Is it appropriate to take their money to fund something that offends their values at such a fundamental level? Do their values and policy preferences matter less than those of researchers and (some of) those with medical conditions that could be cured by such research -- and why?

So I applaud the stand by the president in this case. Just because Dr. Mengele some research scientists seek government funding to destroy Jewish prisoners in a concentration camp embryos n a laboratory does not means that government should facilitate such work -- or that it is morally acceptable if they get such funding.





|| Greg, 07:39 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (52) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Worst Congress Ever

That would be the verdict of the American People.

Just 14% of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress.

This 14% Congressional confidence rating is the all-time low for this measure, which Gallup initiated in 1973. The previous low point for Congress was 18% at several points in the period of time 1991 to 1994.

Congress is now nestled at the bottom of the list of Gallup's annual Confidence in Institutions rankings, along with HMOs. Just 15% of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in HMOs. (By way of contrast, 69% of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the military, which tops the list. More on this at galluppoll.com on Thursday).

So let me ask -- if the American people don't trust the Congress but do trust the military, do you think that maybe the notion of "supporting the troops" might best be expressed by letting them win instead of bringing them home?





|| Greg, 07:14 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Two Bits Of Global Warming Data

One on climate issues itself, the other on the notion of "consensus".

First, the issue of whetehr we are really dealing with a period of sustained glogal warming at all.

Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth. Beginning to plan for adaptation to such a cool period, one which may continue well beyond one 11-year cycle, as did the Little Ice Age, should be a priority for governments. It is global cooling, not warming, that is the major climate threat to the world, especially Canada. As a country at the northern limit to agriculture in the world, it would take very little cooling to destroy much of our food crops, while a warming would only require that we adopt farming techniques practiced to the south of us.

Imagine that -- it is the sun, not "greenhouse gasses" that we need to focus on in dealing with global climate issues.

And, of course, there are teh views of scientists.

In some fields the science is indeed "settled." For example, plate tectonics, once highly controversial, is now so well-established that we rarely see papers on the subject at all. But the science of global climate change is still in its infancy, with many thousands of papers published every year. In a 2003 poll conducted by German environmental researchers Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch, two-thirds of more than 530 climate scientists from 27 countries surveyed did not believe that "the current state of scientific knowledge is developed well enough to allow for a reasonable assessment of the effects of greenhouse gases." About half of those polled stated that the science of climate change was not sufficiently settled to pass the issue over to policymakers at all.

Somehow I don't believe the opinions of climate scientists have shifted so completely in the past four years, though I would like to see additional studies on the matter. Could it be, though, that our "friends" who adhere to the religion of manmade global warming have been fudging the data?





|| Greg, 07:11 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Good News From Iraq

But we don't get reports like this one from the mainstream media -- you have to go to Michael Yon's website instead for the real cutting-edge journalism about Operation Arrowhead Ripper.

Our guys are tough. The enemy in Baqubah is as good as any in Iraq, and better than most. Thats saying a lot. But our guys have been systematically trapping them, and have foiled some big traps set for our guys. I dont want to say much more about that, but our guys are seriously outsmarting them. Big fights are ahead and we will take serious losses probably, but al Qaeda, unless they find a way to escape, are about to be slaughtered. Nobody is dropping leaflets asking them to surrender. Our guys want to kill them, and thats the plan.

A positive indicator on the 19th and the 20th is that most local people apparently are happy that al Qaeda is being trapped and killed. Civilians are pointing out IEDs and enemy fighters, so thats not working so well for al Qaeda. Clearly, I cannot do a census, but that says something about the locals.

Yon is on the scene, while the MSM reports from press releases given to them in the Green Zone -- and the NY Times report buries reports of the success of the operation in an article detailing terrorist attacks in different parts of the country. I guess that is what passes for "supporting the troops" in New York -- give the terrorists top billing and make them appear more successful by playing up their murders of civilians instead of the American fighting man's righteous efforts to wipe out the forces of Islamofascism.

H/T Captain's Quarters

UPDATE: I just got pointed to this NY Times story that deals with Operation Arrowhead Ripper more directly -- and more positively.





|| Greg, 06:58 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 20, 2007

Is "Hate" An Essential Element Of A "Hate Crime"?

Maybe not, if the theory put forward in this prosecution prevails. The argument being made is that choosing gay victims to rob because they are perceived as easy targets is sufficient basis to convict of a hate crime -- even though the only "bias" shown is the belief that they won't fight back.

In her courtroom on the 21st floor of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn yesterday, Justice Jill Konviser-Levine sat and pondered the question of hate.

Bottom line, Justice Konviser-Levine ruminated aloud, is animus an element of the crime?

The crime in question was the killing of Michael J. Sandy, 29, a gay man who was lured to a parking area in Sheepshead Bay last October, beaten and chased into traffic. He later died in the hospital.

Prosecutors have said a group of young men contacted Mr. Sandy through an online gay chat room, selecting him as a robbery victim in the belief that a gay man would be unwilling or unable to put up a fight and unlikely to report the crime.

The defendants John Fox, 20; Ilya Shurov, 21; and Anthony Fortunato, 21 have been charged not just with murder, but with murder under the state Hate Crimes Act of 2000, which provides longer prison sentences for crimes motivated in whole or in substantial part because of a belief or perception regarding the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person.

Now let's be honest here -- these guys are creeps and deserve to be dealt with harshly. Indeed, I think the most appropriate punishment for them involves a needle in their veins -- or being drawn and quartered by city buses. However, to apply the law in this manner is to prove what many of us have always said about hate crime laws, namely that they constitute unequal treatment of the law by enhancing penalties for the same crime based upon membership in specially protected classes.





|| Greg, 06:12 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Creepy Candidates

Sometimes I think we have too many pollsters doing to many polls. So even though these numbers confirm what I felt in my bones, I have to wonder if this was really necessary.

Hillary Clinton checks in as the "creepiest" candidate in the hunt for the White House, a new Forbes magazine online character poll has found.

A full 15 percent of Americans say Clinton gives them the creeps - including 20 percent of men, compared to 10 percent of females.

No other active candidate comes close to Clinton, who's taken hits from pundits for getting shrill on the speaking stump, making people's hairs stand on end.

But former Vice President Al Gore, a non-candidate basking in the glow of an Oscar award for his recent documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," ties Clinton in the creep-out column at 15 percent.

Any woman who would make the policy proposals advocated by Clinton AND stay married to Bill Clinton should creep out any sane person.





|| Greg, 05:42 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Jolie Profile Promots Cult Of Celebrity

In case you haven't noticed, celebrities have become little demi-gods who are treated with fawning deference by the press. Why is that?

When was the last time you read a celebrity profile that was "disparaging, demeaning or derogatory"?

The rules of the game, as established by the glossy magazines and the stars' PR reps, ensure that "access" (well, a half-hour chat in a restaurant that enables the magazine to proclaim it has an "exclusive" interview) and the all-important exclusive cover shot are granted only to those magazines and journalists who will refrain from anything but fawning prose. It works out well for everybody. Celebrity journalists who play along get a good payday, magazines get newsstand sales bumps, and the rest of us are inculcated into the received myths of Celebland, the legends that sustain the illusion that it is somehow truly important.

Sure, it's possible to publish a rant on the Web (as U.K. journalist Brendan O'Neill did in a devastating piece calling Brad and Angelina "celebrity colonialists"), but such critiques are largely irrelevant to the vast, well-oiled, pap-dispensing Publicity-Industrial Complex (a phrase I believe I was the first to use, in an essay arguing that J.D. Salinger's rejection of this apparatus is a reticence to be admired rather than ridiculed).

The fact is, celebrities don't need a signed contractcelebrity profilers know that the power lies in the hands of PR people, who in many cases demand writer approval before committing one of their stars to a cover story. And no profiler who makes a lucrative living off elaborate fawning wants to do anything that might jeopardize his pre-approval status.

So when Angelina Jolie is proclaiemd "the best woman in the world" by Esquire, don't be surprised. And when celebrity activism gets trumpeted as proof of the heightened caring and moral superiority of the over-privileged entertainment class, don't be shocked. After all, questioning the validity of the cause or the contentions of the star can end your career.





|| Greg, 05:36 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Bloomberg Bails

I guess I'd get upset about this if the man had ever shown even an ounce of fidelity to GOP principles, but since he has governed like a liberal from the moment he took office I won't lose much sleep over Michael Bloomberg leaving the GOP.

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg abruptly left the Republican Party yesterday, declaring himself free of a "rigid adherence" to ideology and stoking speculation that he will use his multibillion-dollar fortune to mount an independent bid for the White House.

The founder of the Bloomberg financial media empire has repeatedly denied interest in the presidency. At a technology conference yesterday in which he attacked partisanship in Washington, he said: "I plan to be mayor for the next 926 days." But he has refused to rule out a run for the presidency, even discussing the possibility privately with close advisers and beginning to travel around the country, including a trip to the home of the nation's first primary, New Hampshire.

In a statement posted on the official Web site of New York City late yesterday, Bloomberg said that his plans "haven't changed" and that abandoning the Republican banner will better reflect his approach to governance. Bloomberg was a longtime Democrat before shifting his allegiance to the GOP before his first mayoral run in 2001.

"Any successful elected executive knows that real results are more important than partisan battles and that good ideas should take precedence over rigid adherence to any particular political ideology," the statement said. "Working together, there's no limit to what we can do.

For all the talk of a presidential run, I want to know where his base would be? It certainly won't be among the mainstream of the GOP, because a pro-abortion, anti-gun candidate who lacks Rudy Giuliani's record on terrorism simply will not draw from among conservatives. And as far as Democrats, they already have a whole raft of candidates who essentially hold the major tenets of Bloomberg's politics. Where is he going to draw votes?





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June 19, 2007

Charleston Tragedy

Prayers go out to the families and colleagues of these brave firefighters -- and to the people of Charleston.

At least nine firefighters re dead in a blaze that swept through a Charleston, S.C., furniture warehouse officials tell ABC News.

"There is the presumption they were tragically and heroically lost," Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley said early Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. "This is a tragic matter."

* * *

Witnesses said the store's roof collapsed, throwing debris over about two-dozen rescue workers. Onlookers were hit with flying ash.

"It was like a 30-foot tornado of flames," said Mark Hilton, who was struck in his eye.

No words can amplify the horror -- or the heroism.





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Toronto Government To Firefighters -- "Don't Support The Troops!"

When you can't even come up with a consistent explanation of why you want the magnets removed from the firetrucks, it is clear that catering to the anti-war/pro-terror extremists is the reason for the decision.

Our brave troops will still be fighting in Afghanistan this September even if the magnetic ribbon support decals on Toronto Fire trucks and ambulances won't be.

The city has ordered the Support Our Troop decals to be removed from all fire trucks and EMS vehicles on Sept. 4, the Sun has learned.

The reason? It depends on who you talk to. And there are lots of contradictions.

Some say it is because it was not brought to council for proper approval, others say protocol was not followed. Another reason given is it was a one-year project.

But many City Hall sources tell me it has everything to do with some complaints from a few anti-war citizens who have the ear of some leftist councillors -- and felt the ribbons were in support of the war in Afghanistan and not just in support of the troops.

I'm sure that there were a few folks in Toronto who sympathized with the Nazis during WWII and opposed the war as a result. Would their objections have stopped municipal efforts to support the troops in 1943? Why should their objections today stop efforts to support the troops now?





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Iranian Hypocrisy

The president of Iran and his senior ministers have long spoken openly about the impending destruction of Israel. So where do they get the moral authority to demand condemnation of Israel for statements about destroying Iran's illegal nuclear program?

The Iranian ambassador to the UN has complained that the UN Security Council has done nothing to stop Israel's ''unlawful and dangerous threats'' against Iran.

On Monday Javad Zarif protested a recent statement from Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz that Israel has not ruled out military action against Iran to disable its nuclear programme.

He also referred to a similar statement that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made in April.

Yiddish has a word for such an action -- chutzpah. Ironic, isn't it, that this Jewish dialect is the source of the only word that adequately describes this move by the terrorist state of Iran?





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Suicide Bombers Headed West

Good God! They even have a "graduation" of sorts for these barbarians!

Large teams of newly trained suicide bombers are being sent to the United States and Europe, according to evidence contained on a new videotape obtained by the Blotter on ABCNews.com.

Teams assigned to carry out attacks in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Germany were introduced at an al Qaeda/Taliban training camp graduation ceremony held June 9.

A Pakistani journalist was invited to attend and take pictures as some 300 recruits, including boys as young as 12, were supposedly sent off on their suicide missions.

The tape shows Taliban military commander Mansoor Dadullah, whose brother was killed by the U.S. last month, introducing and congratulating each team as they stood.

"These Americans, Canadians, British and Germans come here to Afghanistan from faraway places," Dadullah says on the tape. "Why shouldn't we go after them?"

Which means, of course, that we ought to be paying extra attention to young Muslim men of Asian descent -- and that we will instead step up our searches of crippled nuns using walkers, active duty military personnel, and families with sippy cups and bottles for their young children.





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DSL Becomes Affordable

You know, this development may make me give up my status as "the last dial-up customer in America".

Without any sort of fanfare, AT&T Inc. has started offering a broadband Internet service for $10 a month, cheaper than any advertised plan.

The DSL, or digital subscriber line, plan introduced Saturday is part of the concessions made by AT&T to the
Federal Communications Commission to get its $86 billion acquisition of BellSouth Corp. approved last December.

The $10 offer is available to customers in the 22-state AT&T service region, which includes former BellSouth areas, who have never had AT&T or BellSouth broadband, spokesman Michael Coe confirmed Monday. Local phone service and a one-year contract are required. The modem is free.

The plan was not mentioned in a Friday news release about AT&T's DSL plans, and is slightly hidden on the AT&T Web site. A page describing DSL options doesn't mention it, but clicking a link for "Term contract plans" reveals it. It's also presented to customers who go into the application process, Coe said.

The service provides download speeds of up to 768 kilobits per second and upload speeds of up to 128 kbps, matching the speeds of the cheapest advertised AT&T plan, which costs $19.95 per month in the nine-state former BellSouth area and $14.99 in the 13 states covered by AT&T before the acquisition.

I checked it out last night, and I am eligible. Since I'm paying $10 a month right now for dial-up connection that has been a little bit unsteady the last few days, I may just have to make the switch.

My question -- do other DSL providers start dropping their prices to match this AT&T offer? Will this set off a bidding war for customers?





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

SCOTUS Win For Common Sense

Imagine you are the passenger in an automobile pulled over by the cops. You open the door to get out of the car. What do you think will happen? We all know the answer to that question -- either via the speaker in the squad car, or at the point of a gun, you will be ordered to remain in the vehicle. It is standard police procedure.

So why on earth did the state of California think that the Supreme Court would hold any differently than they did in this case?

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled yesterday that passengers in vehicles pulled over by the police have the same rights as drivers to challenge the legality of the traffic stop when it results in an arrest.

The court said that passengers, like the driver, are "seized" by police when the vehicle they are traveling in is stopped and are thus covered by the Fourth Amendment and allowed to challenge unreasonable searches and seizures.

In the specific case before the court, a California passenger named Bruce Brendlin was charged with drug possession because of drug paraphernalia found in the car in which he was traveling. He argued that the discovery of the evidence was the result of an unconstitutional seizure because police lacked probable cause to make the traffic stop.

But the California Supreme Court said Brendlin had no grounds to make such a challenge because he had not been seized by the police and had given tacit approval to the search by staying in the car rather than leaving the scene.

The Supreme Court said that made no sense.

"We think that in these circumstances any reasonable passenger would have understood the police officers to be exercising control to the point that no one in the car was free to depart without police permission," Justice David H. Souter wrote for the court. During the case's oral arguments, several justices expressed that opinion.

Now California was one of only three states to have a court precedent that held passengers were not seized in such a situation -- proving that most state and federal judges have, at one time or another, been involved in a traffic stop and are able to recognize from experience what the evidence presented to them shows. That the decision would be unanimous was hinted at back in oral arguments, as several justices hammered the lawyer for the state of California.

Not that Mr. Brendlin will walk away from this case a free man -- the Supreme Court remanded the case back to the lower court in California to determine if there might be some other basis for allowing the evidence to be used -- such as the fact that as a felon on parole he had a more limited right against warrantless searches.





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Watcher's Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Judging People By Their Friends and Their Enemies by Bookworm Room, and Death or Glory Part II of IV by Michael Yon.  Here is a link to the full results of the vote.





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June 18, 2007

Has Global Warming Ended?

Well, maybe.

But only if you take the word of the man-made global warming advocating IPCC -- or at least their data.

The salient facts are these. First, the accepted global average temperature statistics used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that no ground-based warming has occurred since 1998. Oddly, this eight-year-long temperature stasis has occurred despite an increase over the same period of 15 parts per million (or 4 per cent) in atmospheric CO2.

Second, lower atmosphere satellite-based temperature measurements, if corrected for non-greenhouse influences such as El Nino events and large volcanic eruptions, show little if any global warming since 1979, a period over which atmospheric CO2 has increased by 55 ppm (17 per cent).

Third, there are strong indications from solar studies that Earth's current temperature stasis will be followed by climatic cooling over the next few decades.

Of course, the scientific data and the political agenda of the man-made global warming advocates -- so they ignore the data while insisting that they are latter-day prophets. They are at least partially right -- they are latter-day false-prophets of doom, ignoring what their own evidence clearly shows.





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Criminalizing The Practice Of Medicine

I've written on this subject before, so won't go into great details on my wife's health issues. Suffice it to say that she is able to function because of her pain management physician.

Not to worry, though -- the government is committed to make sure she is bedridden and in constant agony.

Ronald McIver is a prisoner in a medium-security federal compound in Butner, N.C. He is 63 years old, of medium height and overweight, with a white Santa Claus beard, white hair and a calm, direct and intelligent manner. He is serving 30 years for drug trafficking, and so will likely live there the rest of his life. McIver (pronounced mi-KEE-ver) has not been convicted of drug trafficking in the classic sense. He is a doctor who for years treated patients suffering from chronic pain. At the Pain Therapy Center, his small storefront office not far from Main Street in Greenwood, S.C., he cracked backs, gave trigger-point injections and put patients through physical therapy. He administered ultrasound and gravity-inversion therapy and devised exercise regimens. And he wrote prescriptions for high doses of opioid drugs like OxyContin.

McIver was a particularly aggressive pain doctor. Pain can be measured only by how patients say they feel: on a scale from 0 to 10, a report of 0 signifies the absence of pain; 10 is unbearable pain. Many pain doctors will try to reduce a patients pain to the level of 5. McIver tried for a 2. He prescribed more, and sooner, than most doctors.

Some of his patients sold their pills. Some abused them. One man, Larry Shealy, died with high doses of opioids that McIver had prescribed him in his bloodstream. In April 2005, McIver was convicted in federal court of one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and eight counts of distribution. (He was also acquitted of six counts of distribution.) The jury also found that Shealy was killed by the drugs McIver prescribed. McIver is serving concurrent sentences of 20 years for distribution and 30 years for dispensing drugs that resulted in Shealys death. His appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the Supreme Court were rejected.

McIvers case is not simply the story of a narcotics conviction. It has enormous relevance to the lives of the one in five adult Americans who, according to a 2005 survey by Stanford University Medical Center, ABC News and USA Today, reported they suffered from chronic pain pain lasting for several months or longer. According to a 2003 study in The Journal of the American Medical Association, pain costs American workers more than $61 billion a year in lost productive time and that doesnt include medical bills.

Contrary to the old saw, pain kills. A body in pain produces high levels of hormones that cause stress to the heart and lungs. Pain can cause blood pressure to spike, leading to heart attacks and strokes. Pain can also consume so much of the bodys energy that the immune system degrades. Severe chronic pain sometimes leads to suicide. There are, of course, many ways to treat pain: some pain sufferers respond well to surgery, physical therapy, ultrasound, acupuncture, trigger-point injections, meditation or over-the-counter painkillers like Advil (ibuprofen) or Tylenol (acetaminophen). But for many people in severe chronic pain, an opioid (an opiumlike compound) like OxyContin, Dilaudid, Vicodin, Percocet, oxycodone, methadone or morphine is the only thing that allows them to get out of bed. Yet most doctors prescribe opioids conservatively, and many patients and their families are just as cautious as their doctors. Men, especially, will simply tough it out, reasoning that pain is better than addiction.

Are there unethical doctors who over-prescribe medication? Certainly. Are there patients who abuse and/or sell their medication? Without a doubt. However, most severe patients take their medication in accordance with their prescribed dosages, so that they can continue to have a life. But what that also means is that my wife and I are on a 30-day leash -- during certain times of the month we cannot leave town or make plans because the doctor will not give refills without an office visit. She once had to go to the office with pneumonia because she was nearly out of her pain medication and was told that she would get no more unless she was seen by the doctor -- despite a phone call from our family practice physician's office confirming her condition. Why? Because the pain management doctor, following the latest regulations from the state and the latest court decisions will not open himself up to any more legal jeopardy than necessary by giving refills without actually seeing the patient, even if their condition is irreversible and unchanged.





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June 17, 2007

The Democrat Tax Plan

Here's what you get if the Democrats control Congress and the White House after the election of 2008.

If Democrats follow through on their budget promises, the American people will face the following: A $500 per child tax increase. A 55 percent Death Tax. A 13 percent tax increase for many small businesses. A 33 percent tax increase on capital gains. A 164 percent tax increase on dividends.

Indeed, it is worse than that. The $400 billion dollar increase in taxes supported by every Democrat running for President will impact 100% of Americans. Take a look at the impact in one Michigan Congressman's district.

A recent Heritage Foundation study revealed the Democratic plan would raise taxes by $3,019 for each person in my south-central Michigan district. Also, the Heritage study revealed this tax increase would cause 2,272 job losses in south-central Michigan and cost my district's economy $207 million.

Why don't we hear about this planned tax increase? Because they don't call it a tax increase -- instead the refer to it as "ending the Bush tax-cuts for the wealthy" by allowing them to expire. You know, tax cuts that reduced the tax rate of every single American who paid income taxes, and which freed millions of Americans from paying any income taxes at all.

Let me leave you with the words of a great American, speaking about tax cuts and their impact on the American economy.

"Lower rates of taxation will stimulate economic activity and so raise the levels of personal and corporate income as to yield within a few years an increased -- not a reduced -- flow of revenues to the federal government."

And no, that is not Ronald Reagan -- it is John F. Kennedy, whose words nearly a half century ago accurately predicted what the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 have done for our economy and government revenues.





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Two-Second Spots

What next -- subliminal ads?

It goes by so quickly -- sneeze and you'll miss it -- that it's almost not there at all. Just as one song on the radio fades away and another begins, a ghostly voice intones: "Iced coffee at McDonald's."

No elaboration, no product superiority claims, no "tastes great!" braggadocio. Just four words. And gone.

Way back when, radio commercials were 60 seconds long. Eventually, the :60 begat the 30-second ad, which begat the :15. More recently, some spots have shrunk to just five seconds. Now, "Iced coffee at McDonald's" is part of the vanguard of radio commercials that take this trend to its obvious next diminution: the two-second ad.

Two-second ads have been popping up anew -- briefly, of course -- on stations owned by Clear Channel Communications, the radio leviathan that developed the concept and began selling it to marketers last year. Listen closely, and quickly, and you'll hear the McDonald's adlet between spins of, say, "Spirit in the Sky" and "Another Brick in the Wall" on local oldies station WBIG-FM. Or you might hear the fast-food chain's jingle -- Bah-dah-bam-bam-BAH! -- between Billy Joel and Elton John tunes on WASH-FM, Clear Channel's soft-rock station.

The two-second spots may have an advantage, though -- longer commercials are just plain annoying, and listeners often change stations. these little blips are over before you know it -- if we start seeing more of these, perhaps it is because stations discover that it keeps the listeners tuned in.

But still, i sort of wonder if we are not reaching back into the age of subliminal seduction.





|| Greg, 09:13 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (37) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Brownback Staffer Appeals To Anti-Mormon Bigotry

It is time for Sam Brownback to step up to the plate and fire this individual. Indeed, it is time for each and every presidential candidate to forthrightly denounce this sort of bigotry, or explain why a candidates religion should disqualify him from office and which ones they believe ought to be disqualifying. You know in the interest of letting us know which Americans will be second-class citizens under their respective administrations.

Mitt Romney's Mormonism isn't something his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination talk much about in public, but his faith appears to have stoked a whisper campaign, engineered by an Iowa staffer for Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.).

In an e-mail obtained by The Fix, former state representative Emma Nemecek, the southeastern Iowa field director for Brownback's presidential campaign, asked a group of Iowa Republican leaders to help her fact-check a series of statements about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including one that says: "Theologically, the only thing Christianity and the LDS church has in common is the name of Jesus Christ, and the LDS Jesus is not the same Jesus of the Christian faith."

The e-mail appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to push negative talking points on Mormonism to influence power brokers in Iowa, where Brownback and Romney are engaged in a struggle for socially conservative voters in advance of the state's Jan. 14, 2008, caucuses.

Now let me reiterate something Ive said a number of times I have some grave doubts and hearty disagreements with Mormon theology. I dont believe Joseph Smith to have been a prophet any more than I believe Muhammad to have been one, and I reject as spurious the revelations both of them claim to have received. But just because I do not accept the theology of the LDS Church (or of Islam, for that matter) does not mean I believe the faith should be a disqualifying factor for any candidate for office.

Im particularly disturbed by the weak-kneed response of the Brownback campaign to this incident.

When informed of the existence of the e-mail, Brownback Iowa communications director John Rankin disavowed the tactic. "Although the forwarded e-mail did not originate from campaign staff and was not sent from a campaign account or on behalf of the campaign, it is unfortunate and regrettable that this e-mail was forwarded by someone working for the campaign, even if for fact-checking purposes on behalf of a publication," Rankin said. "This was against stated campaign policy, this will not happen again, and the staff member responsible has apologized for doing so and has been reprimanded."

So all that happens here is a reprimand? Really? Would the Brownback campaign have been so soft on an email that was clearly anti-Semitic? I think we all know the answer there. Also, why is a Brownback campaign staffer doing fact-checking on Romneys religion on behalf of some publication? This seems rather odd to me. And given the history of the religious issue in presidential politics, shouldnt Brownback, a Catholic, be especially sensitive to such bigotry? Frankly, this reflects poorly on Brownback.

And the questions I want answered what publication was Emma Nemecek doing research for? Why were they seeking comments from a political activist -- rather than an expert on religion -- regarding Mormon beliefs and practices? And why did she turn to fellow political activists for answers? Frankly, the explanation does not wash.





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June 16, 2007

Arafat Home Ransacked

It warms my heart that the home of arch-terrorist Yassir Arafat has been attacked and looted.

Enraged Fatah leaders on Saturday accused Hamas militiamen of looting the home of former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat in Gaza City.

"They stole almost everything inside the house, including Arafat's Nobel Peace Prize medal," said Ramallah-based Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman. "Hamas militiamen and gangsters blew up the main entrance to the house before storming it. They stole many of Arafat's documents and files, gifts he had received from world leaders and even his military outfits."

Too bad that they didn't dig up his rotting corpse and drag it through the streets in disgrace.





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Shipwreck Booty Recovered

Sorry about that title -- I've just wanted an excuse to use the word "booty" on the site.

But the related story is fascinating.

Salvagers discovered thousands of pearls Friday in a small, lead box they said they found while searching for the wreckage of the 17th-century Spanish galleon Santa Margarita.

Divers from Blue Water Ventures of Key West said they found the sealed box, measuring 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches, along with a gold bar, eight gold chains and hundreds of other artifacts earlier this week.

They were apparently buried beneath the ocean floor in approximately 18 feet of water about 40 miles west of Key West.

``There are several thousand pearls starting from an eighth of an inch to three-quarters of an inch,'' said Duncan Mathewson, marine archaeologist and partner in Blue Water Ventures.

James Sinclair, archaeologist and conservator consulting with Mel Fisher's Treasures, Blue Water's joint-venture partners, said the pearls are very rare because of their antiquity and condition.

Sinclair said pearls don't normally survive the ocean water once they are out of the oyster that makes them.

``In this instance, we had a lead box and the silt that had sifted into the box from the site of the Margarita, which preserved the pearls in a fairly pristine state,'' he said.

Four century old pearls preserved on the sea bed. That is amazing. And to find them loose, not in a setting, is even more amazing.

And to think they were found in a box smaller than a Kleenex box -- that is just stunning.

I wonder how much they will go for on the open market when the company starts selling to collectors?





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Nifong Going Down

First he quits.

Michael B. Nifong, the Durham County district attorney, announced Friday that he would resign, as he faces disciplinary charges for his handling of a sexual assault prosecution against three former Duke University lacrosse players who were later declared innocent.

Speaking in a barely audible voice in testimony before a disciplinary hearing panel, Mr. Nifong apologized to the players, their families and the North Carolina justice system.

His resignation came as a surprise on the fourth day of a hearing by the North Carolina State Bar, which has charged him with systematic abuse of prosecutorial discretion for withholding evidence and making improper pretrial statements.

It has become increasingly apparent, during the course of this week, in some ways that it might not have been before, that my presence as the district attorney in Durham is not furthering the cause of justice, Mr. Nifong said.

Joseph B. Cheshire, a lawyer for one of the three former players, said of Mr. Nifongs promise to resign: I believe it is a cynical political attempt to save his law license. His apology is far too late.

Not only did Nifong not further the cause of Justice, he actually ripped off her blindfold, forced her onto her knees and sodomized her on the steps of the courthouse in Durham on a regular basis last year. Cheshire is correct -- this apology is far too late, as well as woefully inadequate.

And now Nifong waits for justice.

UPDATE: Nifong found guilty by bar panel. JUSTICE SERVED!

Mike Nifong broke several rules of professional conduct during his disastrous prosecution of three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape, committing "deceit and misrepresentations," a disciplinary committee ruled today.

The committee must now decide if the longtime prosecutor in Durham County, who has already pledged to resign his post as district attorney, should be stripped of his law license.

The North Carolina State Bar charged Nifong with breaking several rules of professional conduct, including lying to both the court and bar investigators and withholding critical DNA test results from the players' defense attorneys.

Let's see -- guilty of "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation." But then again, we already knew that.

Here's hoping that the penalty s disbarment -- followed by a criminal prosecution for the violation of the civil rights of these three young men.

UPDATE II: NIFONG DISBARRED IN NORTH CAROLINA!

In a case that has brought one surprise after another, a disciplinary hearing panel found Michael B. Nifong, the Durham County district attorney, guilty today of ethical violations while pressing a false accusation of sexual assault against three former Duke University lacrosse players. The panel then ruled that Mr. Nifong should be disbarred.

But the ruling was almost an anticlimax to the case because in the penalty phase of the five-day ethics hearing, David Freedman, one of Mr. Nifongs lawyers, told the panel that Mr. Nifong believed that disbarment was the appropriate punishment in this case. The state also said it felt disbarment was appropriate.

After deliberating for less than an hour, the panel stated that any punishment short of disbarment would not be appropriate in the case.

In a lengthy statement, F. Lane Williamson, chairman of the disciplinary committee, said that Mr. Nifong had received due process, and thats what was nearly hijacked in the case of the Duke lacrosse defendants.

Six of the charges against Mr. Nifong involved dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, the most serious of the accusations against Mr. Nifong.

SOme questions remain:

1) When will the criminal charges for civil rights violations be brought against Nifong?

2) When will Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the other professional racists who presumed guilt on the part of the falsely accused young men offer their apologies?

3) What sanction will Duke administrators and professors whose words and deeds explicitly and implicitly damned the falsely accused young men face? This especially applies to the Duke 88, who have expressed no remorse for their condemnation of the innocent students (and their teammates) before any evidence was in the public domain?

4) When will the false accuser face some sort of justice?

Justice was done today in Durham -- but there is still a long way to go.

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The End Of An Institution

This is sad -- not unexpected, but still sad.

For more than a century, Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary has prepared teenage boys for the priesthood, largely unchanged as the city transformed around it from gritty industrial center to modern metropolis.

But another kind of change finally caught up with Quigley.

The 102-year-old seminary -- a Gothic-style building in a tony Chicago shopping district -- closed Friday because of a shrinking student body that has seen just one graduate ordained in the last 17 years.

It's the latest reminder that Roman Catholic preparatory seminaries have all but vanished in the United States, and highlights the church's struggle to find men willing to dedicate themselves to the priesthood.

I've got a couple of comments to make on this one.

First, I question the statistic at the end of the article. There was, for a time, Quigley South, before it was merged back into what was then known as Quigley North -- and when I studied for the priesthood in the early 1990s I had a number of friends and classmates who were graduates of that school and who were ordained during the early-to-mid-1990s. The single graduate statistic therefore ignores a large number of priests who were a part of the Quigley Preparatory Seminary system.

Second, I owe a great debt to Quigley. I studied for the priesthood at St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein for several years, though I left before ordination. For those who don't know, that is the major seminary run by the Archdiocese of Chicago. Many of my professors and my spiritual director were Quigley products, and for them I am thankful for the contribution of that seminary to my life and education.

Lastly, I think about how close i came to attending Quigley myself. As a ninth grader, I was taken on a tour of the two Quigleys by Father Gene Keusel during his tenure as archdiocesan vocation director. I found myself impressed by the school and the program -- but would have either needed to commute over an hour each way or live in a dormitory setting. At 15, I was not particularly excited in either option and my parents quickly rejected both options when we talked about them, so I stayed at the high school I was already attending (right across the street from the major seminary, as it happened). I've often wondered, though, how a different decision would have changed my life.

But I do agree with the assessments in the article. The closure of Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary does mark the end of an era -- both because of a change in when men join the priesthood and a change in our society. It is, however, a change for the better in my book, one in which men approach the priesthood with experience of the world rather than having been set apart for a dozen years before their ordination.

And to any Quigley alums reading this, may I offer you a hearty Ad Multos Annos!

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The Problem Was, They Didn't Want To Know

The recent publication of the Reagan Diaries has led columnist Helen Thomas to reflect on the man she covered for eight years when he was in the White House.

Read the newly published The Reagan Diaries if you want a true insight into the mind of the nation's 40th president.

The diaries written daily from 1981 until President Ronald Reagan left office in 1989 reveal him to be much more involved in the nitty gritty of national and world affairs than many White House reporters thought. He had often been portrayed as a detached "chairman of the board" kind of president.

The diaries show that Reagan had something to say about everything and everybody; his thoughts were often summarized in one handwritten sentence. His notations mixed the profound with the trivial.

Historian Douglas Brinkley, who edited the publication of the diaries, had to toss out chunks to boil the entries down to a 696-page memoir. But no one is short-changed.

Reagan comes across as deeper, funnier, more religious and more humble than he seemed when he was striding across the world stage. He is true to his public persona foe of communism, tax increases and organized labor and often the news media.

Now that shocks Thomas, who never took Reagan particularly seriously during his time in the White House. She, like much of the White House press corps, seem to have thought that Reagan was either simple-minded or playing to his audience, not necessarily someone who believed in what he was doing (or, at least, not someone who had given much thought to what he was doing). These diaries dispel that point of view. That leads Thomas to make this obesrvation.

As a reporter having covered him for eight years in the White House, I am sure the press could have done a better job if we had known the real Ronald Reagan.

But that is precisely the problem -- Reagan was right there for the press to see, his public persona very much an expression of the real man. They just didn't want to see, much less know, the real man. That is enough to make one question their coverage of the current president -- and any other leader, especially those of a conservative bent.





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What Happened To Separation Of Church And School?

Oh, that's right -- it only applies if something Christian is brought into a public school setting. Non-Christian practices and indoctrination may be done in public schools with taxpayer dollars without any challenge at all.

With the sound of their new school bell, the fifth graders at Piedmont Avenue Elementary School here closed their eyes and focused on their breathing, as they tried to imagine loving kindness on the playground.

I was losing at baseball and I was about to throw a bat, Alex Menton, 11, reported to his classmates the next day. The mindfulness really helped.

As summer looms, students at dozens of schools across the country are trying hard to be in the present moment. This is what is known as mindfulness training, in which stress-reducing techniques drawn from Buddhist meditation are wedged between reading and spelling tests.

Mindfulness, while common in hospitals, corporations, professional sports and even prisons, is relatively new in the education of squirming children. But a small but growing number of schools in places like Oakland and Lancaster, Pa., are slowly embracing the concept as they did yoga five years ago and institutions, like the psychology department at Stanford University and the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, are trying to measure the effects.

Now would the New York Times be writing an article like this if we were talking about a program that brought the meditative techniques of Trappist monks into the public schools as a way of helping students focus, concentrate, and learn? No, we wouldn't -- we would instead get a blistering editorial denouncing the use of public schools for proselytizing. Left-wing groups would be up in arms, issuing blistering press releases about impending theocracy. And the ACLU would have a lawsuit in the works, complete with a gay, transgendered, atheist, illegal immigrant girl in a wheelchair who claims to feel oppressed as the lead plaintiff.

But since this is Buddhism, those same separationist folks are more than willing to pronounce it secular and let the program continue. After all, the Left likes Buddhism -- you know, the Dalai Lama is sort of cool,Richard Gere is a Buddhist, and Paris Hilton even took some Buddhist books with her to jail. it is only those awful Christians we have to watch out for.





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

June 15, 2007

Planned Parenthood Milks Taxpayers

These numbers are shocking.

During its 2005-2006 fiscal year, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America performed a record 264,943 abortions, attained a record profit of $55.8 million and received record taxpayer funding of $305.3 million.

According to its annual report, income is divided roughly into three major categories: clinic income (fees charged to customers at clinics); donations (gifts from corporations, foundations and individuals); and taxpayer money (grants and contracts from federal, state and local government).

For the year July 1, 2005, through June 30, 2006, Planned Parenthood received $345.1 million in clinic income, $305.3 million in taxpayer funding and $212.2 million in donations. Total income reached $902.8 million while total expenses came to $847.0 million, leaving a profit of $55.8 million.

Over 1/3 of the organization's budget is coming from the pockets of the American taxpayer. This organization, which performs some 20% of all American abortions annually is pocketing over $300 MILLION in government funds each year.

Are you shocked, offended, and disgusted? So am I. Now let's go out and do something about it. And it starts with letting our fellow Americans know the degree to which their tax dollars are subsidizing abortion.

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Nifong: I Was Too Busy Running For Office

Why the grave miscarriage of justice against the three innocent Duke lacrosse players? Because Mike Nifong had an election to win.

The district attorney in charge of the Duke University lacrosse rape case told the North Carolina State Bar he failed to turn over evidence favoring the defense because he was busy campaigning for office, a disciplinary panel was told Thursday.

Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong told bar investigators that as he faced "an unprecedented number of challengers" in his first election campaign, "I was not always able to give the case my full attention."

Nifong cited his campaign in a letter to the bar as one of several reasons that "may possibly have contributed to my inadvertent failure to provide the evidence in question." Portions of the letter were read aloud at the third day of a trial in Raleigh that will determine if Nifong will lose his license to practice law.

Unfit.

Unprofessional.

Unethical.

Mike Nifong needs to be disbarred, and then tried for civil rights violations against these three young men.





|| Greg, 07:52 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Case Against Ron Paul

John Hawkins of Right Wing News and Conservative Grapevine makes his case against the Ron Paul candidacy in this week's column over at Townhall.com.

After noting Paul's flirtations with Trutherism, NAU conspiracism, and isolationism (among other things), He really gets to the heart of the matter in the final point of his column.

#9) Ron Paul is the single, least electable major candidate running for the presidency in either party: Libertarianism simply is not considered to be a mainstream political philosophy in the United States by most Americans. That's why the Libertarian candidate in 2004, Michael Badnarik, only pulled .3% of the vote. Even more notably, Ron Paul only pulled .47% of the vote when he ran at the top of the Libertarian ticket in 1988. Granted, Paul would do considerably better than that if he ran at the top of the Republican Party ticket, but it's hard to imagine his winning more than, say 35%, of the national vote and a state or two -- even if he were very lucky. In other words, having Ron Paul as the GOP nominee would absolutely guarantee the Democratic nominee a Reaganesque sweep in the election.

Now I don't know that I entirely agree with the assessment that he is the least electable major candidate -- I think that the American people would be more inclined to send Dennis Kucinich back to keep billy goats from crossing his bridge -- but Hawkins is correct in pointing out that the American people would not accept much of what Ron Paul stands for. Even in his district, he maintains his hold less because his constituents are in lockstep with him than because he is an incumbent with a war chest drawn from a national base who is therefore able to discourage primary challenges.





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When Harry Met Tony

Potter and Soprano, that is.

Bravo to Slates Dan Kois for his Sopranoized final chapter of the upcoming Harry Potter book.

Harry walked into the Three Broomsticks and took a seat in a booth near the back. Who were all the people in here tonight? They looked familiar, but Harry didn't know any of them. Was that Dolores Umbridge? No, just some woman in a hideous cardigan.

None of these diners knew yet that Voldemort was deadnot by Harry's hand, but killed instead by Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan, who'd happened upon He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named outside of London. They'd cursed him from behind and watched as the Knight Bus ran over his head with a horrible crunching sound.

Harry flipped through the channels on the wizarding wireless until he found a song that reminded him of the old days, "Do the Hippogriff" by the Weird Sisters. He remembered the crowds dancing to this song at the Yule Ball, years before; so many of those friends were long gone now, dead or in Azkaban. As the song began, Harry heard the tinkle of the bell above the front door as Ginny came in. She hurried to his booth and sat down.

"It's Percy," he told her, taking a swig of butterbeer. "He's testifying."

Lets hope that JK Rowling has written a more conclusive ending to the series than th Sopranos received.





|| Greg, 07:24 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Acknowledging Reality

I think this is less a case of Terrorstinian Anarchy President Mahmoud Abbas/terrorist leader Abu Mazen dissolving the government than it is of recognizing that the government had dissolved all by itself.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the Palestinian government Thursday and declared a state of emergency after rival Hamas forces took complete control of the Gaza Strip in what the Islamic movement called the territory's "liberation."

In a presidential decree, Abbas fired Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas and suggested that new national elections would occur soon. Abbas's decision ends the three-month-old power-sharing arrangement between his Fatah movement and Hamas, the two main Palestinian political parties.

Haniyeh, in a response delivered early Friday, said Abbas had not considered the "consequences" of his decision and pledged to continue to work with his Fatah "brothers." Other Hamas officials said Abbas's ruling had no legal effect.

Consequences? What consequences? What is going to happen because of this will Hamas start attacking Fatah facilities and killing Fatah leaders? Oh, yeah that is already going on!

Best outcome of each this scenario strangling the last Hamas terrorist with the intestines of the last Fatah terrorist.





|| Greg, 07:21 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Court Order Too Far?

What next? Court-ordered divorces? Court-ordered abortions?

A judge has ruled that a 24-year-old man is not allowed to have a girlfriend for the next three years.

The ruling came after Steven Cranley pleaded guilty on Tuesday to several charges stemming from an assault on an ex-girlfriend.

His lawyer says the no-girlfriend order is the first of its kind that he has encountered.

Cranley is probably a scumbag, based upon the charges he pled guilty to and no woman with a lick of sense should go near him. But at what point do we say WHOA! to a judges power to impose unusual conditions in a sentence especially when they impact intimate personal relationships?





|| Greg, 07:08 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 14, 2007

Happy Flag Day From The Democrats

Demflagday.jpg





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First New US Refinery In Three Decades?

Well, it could be, if they can jump through the hoops.

Little-known, privately held Hyperion Resources Inc. said on Wednesday it plans to build an $8 billion oil refinery, the first in the United States since 1976, at one of several sites under consideration in the U.S. Midwest.

Dallas-based Hyperion plans a 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery as part of the most environmentally sound energy center in the United States that will include a power plant fueled by petroleum coke, a refining byproduct.

The plant will refine crude from the Canadian oil sands in Alberta to feed the U.S. market, the company said.

Hyperion officials were in Elk Point, South Dakota, on Wednesday to announce they were considering the small town on the Missouri River as a possible site for the energy center.

Hyperion is in a race to build the first U.S. refinery in 30 years with Arizona Clean Fuels Yuma, which has been struggling for years to obtain funding for its nearly $3 billion refinery plan that has so far secured about $35 million.

So, we may have two coming on line in the next few years.

Any chance of Big Oil stepping up to the plate?





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

Ruth Graham Dies

And yet we who believe know that this is not the end, but rather a glorious beginning.

Ruth Graham, who surrendered dreams of missionary work in Tibet to marry a suitor who became the world's most renowned evangelist, died Thursday. She was 87.

The wife of Billy Graham died at 5:05 p.m. at her home at Little Piney Cove, surrounded by her husband and all five of their children, said a statement released by family spokesman Larry Ross.

"Ruth was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team," Billy Graham said in a statement. "No one else could have borne the load that she carried. She was a vital and integral part of our ministry, and my work through the years would have been impossible without her encouragement and support.

"I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth, and especially for these last few years we've had in the mountains together. We've rekindled the romance of our youth, and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day. I will miss her terribly, and look forward even more to the day I can join her in Heaven."

Ruth Graham has been bedridden for months with degenerative osteoarthritis of the back and neck and underwent treatment for pneumonia two weeks ago. At her request, and in consultation with her family, she had stopped receiving nutrients through a feeding tube for the last few days, Ross said.

Prayers for the Graham family in this time of loss -- and great joy that this night she is in Heaven with her Savior!





|| Greg, 06:11 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Jefferson Loan Incriminates Him Further

The FBI gave him $100,000. They found $90,000 in his freezer a short time later. I think we just found out where the missing $10,000 went.

Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) notified the House ethics committee weeks ago of a two-year-old loan he made to Vernon Jackson, the Kentucky businessman now in prison for bribing him, according to financial disclosures released on Thursday.

The late disclosure of the $10,000 loan could further hobble Jeffersons defense when his case goes to trial in January and embolden the members of both parties calling for his resignation. According to media reports in Kentucky, Jackson reported the loan to the FBI soon after he agreed to cooperate with the Jefferson inquiry in August 2005.

The $10,000 loan, which is still outstanding on Jeffersons 2006 financial statement, may play a more infamous role in the governments case against the embattled Louisianan. The $90,000 found in Jeffersons freezer came from $100,000 offered him by government informant Lori Mody in July 2005, but little is known of the remaining $10,000 other than its FBI status as accounted-for.

When will the DemocRATS start abandoning the sinking ship?





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SCOTUS Rules Against Union Efforts To Compel Political Speech

Non-union members may be protected from compelled political speech at the hands of the organization of which they do not wish to be a member. Unfortunately, Washington state has already stripped these workers of their protection by changing the law in question.

States may force public sector labor unions to get consent from workers before using their fees for political activities, the Supreme Court said Thursday.

The court unanimously upheld a Washington state law that applied to public employees who choose not to join the union that represents them in contract talks with state and local governments. The workers are compelled to pay the equivalent of union dues, a portion of which the union uses for political activities.

ustice Antonin Scalia, writing for the court, said the law does not violate the union's First Amendment rights.

But the state's Democratic governor and Democratic-controlled legislature recently changed the law to eliminate the provision that was upheld Thursday, blunting the impact of the court ruling.

The narrow issue before the justices was whether, as the law formerly prescribed, employees must opt in, or affirmatively consent, to having some of their money used in election campaigns.

The justices said that a state could indeed require such consent. But there also is nothing to bar the state from putting the onus on nonmember workers to opt out, or seek a refund of a portion of their fees.

That, in effect, is what Washington law now requires after the recent change.

Shame on the Washington politicians who stripped workers of the right not to be forced to give money for political causes they reject. For that matter, shame on any politician who does not support giving workers freedom from compulsory unionism.





|| Greg, 09:30 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Suicide Mamas

More Jew-killing terrorist scum stopped -- one of them eight months pregnant.

The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said Wednesday that it thwarted a double suicide attack set for Tel Aviv and Netanya last month, orchestrated by Islamic Jihad and meant to be carried out by two Palestinian women, one of them pregnant.

One of the women, Fatma Zak, 39, a mother of eight in her ninth month of pregnancy, has been director of Islamic Jihad's women labor department in Gaza City for the past four years. As part of her job, she was in direct contact with senior terrorists and served as a go-between for women interested in becoming suicide bombers.

The second suspect is Zak's 30-year-old niece, Ruda Habib, a mother of four. Both were arrested by the Shin Bet at the Erez Crossing on May 20, moments before entering Israel.

The two women admitted the plot and confessed to being Islamic Jihad operatives. They said they had used Israel's humanitarian policy to acquire entrance permits on a false medical pretext.

The women said they had planned to blow themselves up in Netanya and Tel Aviv, respectively, in a restaurant or a wedding hall. They said they were instructed to cross into Israel and then contact Islamic Jihad members from Ramallah, who were supposed to guide them to their targets and supply them with explosive belts.

Notice, please, that they were after civilian targets -- and admit to aiding in previous terrorist attacks. And the abuse of Israel's humanitarian policies to engage in terrorism makes it understandable why Israel sometimes looks askance at ambulances and other alleged Palestinian emergency vehicles.





|| Greg, 08:34 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Alito Advocates For Free Speech

If this speech is any indicator, it is likely that the Supreme Court's newest justice will be a great advocate for freedom of speech -- especially on the internet.

"I'm a very strong believer in the First Amendment and the right of people to speak and to write," Alito said in response to a question of "where's the line" on what can be posted on the Internet. "I would be reluctant to support restrictions on what people could say."

The newest justice, who was protective of speech rights as an appellate judge, added that "some restrictions have been held to be consistent with the First Amendment, but it's very dangerous for the government to restrict speech."

If his statement here is any indication, then expect him to support those seeking protection for their speech in the Court's two remaining First Amendment cases -- and for him to look askance at any government attempt to regulate internet political speech.





|| Greg, 08:29 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Hospital Horror

As bad as my wife's last hospital stay in March was, at least we didn't have to deal with anything like this.

A woman who lay bleeding on the emergency room floor of a troubled inner-city hospital died after 911 dispatchers refused to contact paramedics or an ambulance to take her to another facility, newly released tapes of the emergency calls reveal.

Edith Isabel Rodriguez, 43, died of a perforated bowel on May 9 at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital. Her death was ruled accidental by the Los Angeles County coroners office.

Relatives said Rodriguez was bleeding from the mouth and writhing in pain for 45 minutes while she was at a hospital waiting area. Experts have said she could have survived had she been treated early enough.

And I know just how bad any sort of bleed in the gastric system can be. Paula had one back in November, and received excellent care from the medical staff when we arrived at the ER on Thanksgiving morning. Indeed, it was a very close thing, with them telling me that even an hour's delay would have been fatal. That is why we have both shuddered as we have viewed news coverage of this horror -- Rodriguez could have and should have survived this emergency.





|| Greg, 07:25 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Hamas Winning Terrorstinian Civil War -- WIll Israel Intervene?

My guess is no -- at least not until Hamas returns to its primary mission of murdering Jews in the name of Allah.

Hamas gunmen consolidated their hold over large swaths of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after attacking military posts controlled by the rival Fatah movement, whose own fighters responded with a daylight raid in the West Bank, broadening the civil strife.

At least 21 Palestinians were killed Wednesday across Gaza, driving up the four-day death toll to at least 63 in factional violence that both Palestinian parties described as civil war.

The Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing that has begun referring to Fatah as the "Jew American Army," gave the Fatah-dominated Palestinian National Forces across northern Gaza until Friday evening to surrender their weapons and turn over their posts. The Hamas tactic, which has included broadcasting inaccurate claims from minarets that Fatah posts have fallen, has proved highly effective in prompting outgunned Fatah fighters to flee.

At least one battalion of the Palestinian National Forces was reported to have run out of ammunition and others may be approaching the end of supplies. Israeli officials have warned for months that Hamas has been stockpiling ammunition, small arms and explosives.

Personally, I think anything that results in more dead terrorists is a good thing for the world.

But there is some hope that the average Palestinian may recognize that the continuous blood-letting of the last several days is a bad thing.

Scores of Palestinians demonstrated in the streets of Gaza City calling for an end to the violence, to no apparent effect.

Now if only they recognize that an end to the murder of Israelis is in their best interest as well, perhaps we will get some peace in the region .

Oh, and just a little reminder about the hateful nature of the Terrorstinian factions doing the fighting.

Among yesterday's dead was a 14-year-old boy and three women, all killed in a Hamas attack on a Fatah security officer's home.

"They're firing at us, firing RPGs, firing mortars. We're not Jews," the brother of Jamal Abu Jediyan, a Fatah commander, pleaded during a live telephone conversation with a Palestinian radio station.

Minutes later both men were dragged into the streets and riddled with bullets.

After all -- killing Jews is what these (so-called) people are all about.





|| Greg, 07:17 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

F.O.O. (Friend Of Obama)

Just a reminder of the high personal standards set by Barack Obama in his personal and political life.

Antoin Rezko, an entrepreneur of considerable charm who found riches in fast food and real estate, is known around Chicago as a collector of politicians.

Back in the 1990s, Mr. Rezkos office was adorned with framed photos of candidates he viewed as up-and-comers. Among them was Barack Obama, a state legislator whose first campaign donations included $2,000 from Mr. Rezkos companies. As Mr. Obama built a career that carried him to the Senate in 2004, Mr. Rezko was there with him, holding fund-raisers and rallying support.

Now, as Mr. Obama runs for president, the once-beneficial relationship with his old friend and patron has become problematic.

Last fall, Mr. Rezko was indicted on federal charges of business fraud and influence peddling involving the administration of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois, whose picture was also on Mr. Rezkos wall. Since then, Mr. Obama, a Democrat, has had to answer questions about a land deal with Mr. Rezkos wife, Rita, and about other ties to him.

Since early June, Mr. Obama has given to charity more than $21,000 in donations that his Senate campaign had received from Rezko associates now linked to the federal inquiries. He gave away $11,500 from Mr. Rezko himself last fall.

And for all that Obama tries to distance himself from Rezko, he'll never be able to escape this one.

And when Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, bought a house in 2005, Mr. Rezko stepped in again. Even though his finances were deteriorating, Mr. Rezko arranged for his wife to buy an adjacent lot, and she later sold the Obamas a 10-foot-wide strip of land that expanded their yard.

The land sale occurred after it had been reported that Mr. Rezko was under federal investigation. That awkward fact prompted Mr. Obama, who has cast himself as largely free from the normal influences of politics, to express regret over what he called his own bad judgment.

Senator Obama is a very intelligent man, and everyone by then was very familiar with who Tony Rezko was, said Cindi Canary, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, a nonpartisan research group. So it was a little stunning that so late in the game Senator Obama would still have such close involvement with Rezko.

D.

I.

R.

T.

Y.

Seems to me he'd be a good fit on the ticked with Hillary, don't you think, given the high ethical standards they set for their friends and associates (and spouses).





|| Greg, 07:00 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (31) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Overstating A Problem

To be honest, there is less to this story than meets the eye, though you cannot tell that from the headline and introduction.

An internal FBI audit has found that the bureau potentially violated the law or agency rules more than 1,000 times while collecting data about domestic phone calls, e-mails and financial transactions in recent years, far more than was documented in a Justice Department report in March that ignited bipartisan congressional criticism.

The new audit covers just 10 percent of the bureau's national security investigations since 2002, and so the mistakes in the FBI's domestic surveillance efforts probably number several thousand, bureau officials said in interviews. The earlier report found 22 violations in a much smaller sampling.

Sounds bad -- until you read the next paragraph.

The vast majority of the new violations were instances in which telephone companies and Internet providers gave agents phone and e-mail records the agents did not request and were not authorized to collect. The agents retained the information anyway in their files, which mostly concerned suspected terrorist or espionage activities.

So the reality here is not that the FBI acted inappropriately, but that they received more information than they initially requested. Actual instances of inappropriate requests were a mere handful -- about two dozen.

Now why would the FBI keep the additional information received and how was it justified? Well, the Post explains that here.

Of the more than 1,000 violations uncovered by the new audit, about 700 involved telephone companies and other communications firms providing information that exceeded what the FBI's national security letters had sought. But rather than destroying the unsolicited data, agents in some instances issued new National Security Letters to ensure that they could keep the mistakenly provided information. Officials cited as an example the retention of an extra month's phone records, beyond the period specified by the agents.

Case agents are now told that they must identify mistakenly produced information and isolate it from investigative files. "Human errors will inevitably occur with third parties, but we now have a clear plan with clear lines of responsibility to ensure errant information that is mistakenly produced will be caught as it is produced and before it is added to any FBI database," Caproni said.

So what we have here is a situation in which the procedures were unclear and so agents acted to bring the information within the scope of the law after it had been erroneously given by someone else. Really, can you blame them? Would you want to be the FBI agent called to testify before Congress following a terrorist attack and have to explain why you destroyed a key piece of evidence that could have nipped the plot in the bud? I know I wouldn't -- and no amount of good faith in having done so would ever allow one to be absolved of doing so in the eyes of the American public. As it is, I expect that some of those records that have been isolated under current procedures could be the source of much contention if they ever prove to hold a "smoking gun" in a future terrorism case.

Oh, and the actual rate of violations?

FBI officials said the audit found no evidence to date that any agent knowingly or willingly violated the laws or that supervisors encouraged such violations. The Justice Department's report estimated that agents made errors about 4 percent of the time and that third parties made mistakes about 3 percent of the time, they said. The FBI's audit, they noted, found a slightly higher error rate for agents -- about 5 percent -- and a substantially higher rate of third-party errors -- about 10 percent.

Higher than we would like, but not an unreasonable rate given that we are dealing with a period that included the earliest anti-terrorism investigations with the new tools given investigators in the wake of 9/11. I wish we had a breakdown of these errors over time, to see if the rate has decreased from the earliest days.





|| Greg, 06:49 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Prayers For The Graham Family

It appears that the end of this earthly life is approaching for Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Rev. Billy Graham.

Ruth Graham, the ailing wife of evangelist Billy Graham, fell into a coma Wednesday morning and appears to be close to death, a family spokesman said. "She appears to be entering the final stages of life," said Larry Ross, Graham's personal spokesman.

* * *

"Ruth is my soul mate and best friend, and I cannot imagine living a single day without her by my side," Graham said. "I am more in love with her today than when we first met over 65 years ago as students at Wheaton College."

Ross said Ruth Graham was treated two weeks ago for pneumonia and her health temporarily improved before declining because of her weakened condition. Ross said she is being treated at her home outside Asheville, in the town of Montreat.

She celebrated her birthday on Sunday and was alert, Ross said. Billy Graham and four of their children are now at her side. The couple's youngest child, Ned, is flying in from the West Coast.

"Ruth and I appreciate, more than we can express, the prayers and letters of encouragement we have received from people across the country and around the world," Graham said.

"Our entire family has been home in recent days and it has meant so much to have them at our side during this time. We love each one of them dearly and thank God for them."

Her approaching death has led to an announcement about where the Grahams will be buried -- a decision that split the family in recent months as questions arose over whether the couple would be buried in her hometown near Asheville or at the new Billy Graham library.

With his wife, Ruth Bell Graham, in a coma at home in western North Carolina, the Rev. Billy Graham announced yesterday that she will be buried in the city of Charlotte and not in her beloved mountains at the site she said she favored as recently as a week and a half ago.

"After much prayer and discussion, Ruth and I made the decision to be buried beside each other at the Billy Graham Library in my home town of Charlotte, N.C.," Billy Graham is quoted as saying in a news release posted on the Web site of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The couple made this decision in early spring, the statement said, and decided to announce it "now that she is close to going to heaven."

Unfortunately, this does not appear to have ended the contention.





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

June 13, 2007

Slate's Strawman

You know, this argument is only persuasive if you accept its starting premise -- that those opposed to the current proposal giving amnesty to border-jumpers really hate immigrants and want to keep foreigners out of the US.

How do you justify a border fence? Why is it OK to consign millions of unskilled Mexicans to lives of desperate poverty? I'm told it's because Americans should care more about their countrymen than about a bunch of foreigners. OK, but how much more? Surely there's some limit; virtually nobody thinks, for example, that Americans should be allowed to hunt Mexicans for sport. So, exactly how much are you willing to hurt a foreigner to help an American? Is a foreigner's well-being worth three-quarters as much as an American's, or half as much, or one-quarter as much?

The column then goes on into a rather tiresome analysis of wages and ends with a fatuous comparison between our immigration policy and the three-fifths compromise (which the author gets precisely wrong -- but then again, so is his entire analysis) that is designed to paint advocates of border security as knuckle-dragging nativists who hate Mexicans.

The problem is, of course, that he is dead wrong. The overwhelming majority of us welcome immigrants from anywhere on the globe -- but what them to come here legally, and for our government to stop those coming illegally. Indeed, we recognize the need to make immigration from south of the border "safe and legal" -- not unsafe due to the means and location of illegal border crossing or dominated by criminals who have no regard for their human cargo.





|| Greg, 10:38 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Muslims Desecrate Muslim Holy Site, Korans -- Again

Notice that it isn't we infidels who have staged another attack on the Golden Mosque in Samarra -- it is Muslim terrorists.

Early morning blasts Wednesday destroyed two minarets at the same Shiite shrine in Samarra where an attack last year demolished the mosque's gilded dome and plunged the country into a wave of deadly sectarian violence.

No one was injured in the 9 a.m. explosions at the revered Askariya shrine in Samarra, about 65 miles north of Baghdad. But officials said it was just the sort of event that could spark a spiral of retaliatory attacks and make it harder to reduce the violence that has brought the addition of thousands of extra U.S. troops stationed at high-profile posts on the streets of Baghdad and elsewhere.

Let's hope for calm among the Shi'ites after this latest atrocity by al-Qaeda terrorists. When will it finally be acknowledged by the world's Muslims that al-Qaeda is not a friend to any of them -- and that the US is not their enemy?

And I'm curious -- how many Korans were desecrated in THIS attack?





|| Greg, 10:22 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Terrorstinian Civil War

Heck, let them keep on killing each other -- then let the Israelis come in and take out the rest of the murderous scum.

Gunmen of the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah sharply escalated their fight for supremacy on Tuesday, with Hamas taking over much of the northern Gaza Strip in what began to look increasingly like a civil war.

Five days of revenge attacks on individuals including executions, kneecappings and even tossing handcuffed prisoners off tall apartment towers on Tuesday turned into something larger and more organized: attacks on symbols of power and the deployment of military units. About 25 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded, Palestinian medics said.

In one Hamas attack on a Fatah security headquarters in northern Gaza near Jabaliya Camp, at least 21 Palestinians were reported killed and another 60 wounded, said Moaweya Hassanein of the Palestinian Health Ministry.

After a senior Fatah leader in northern Gaza was killed Monday, Fatahs elite Presidential Guards, who are being trained by the United States and its allies, fired rocket-propelled grenades at the house of Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, of Hamas, in the Shati Refugee Camp near Gaza City.

An hour later, Hamass military wing fired four mortar shells at the presidential office compound of Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah, who is in the West Bank, a Fatah spokesman, Tawfiq Abu Khoussa, said in a telephone interview.

Hamas is seeking a military coup against the Palestinian Authority, he said.

Hamas made a similar accusation against Fatah. Hamas, which has an Islamist ideology, demanded that security forces loyal to Fatah, the more nationalist and secular movement, abandon their positions in northern and central Gaza.

Let's remember, folks, that these two terrorist groups are part of the "unity government" of the Terrorstinian Anarchy. If this is their idea of unity, I fail to see how any reasonable individual can advocate giving the Palestinians a state of their own.





|| Greg, 10:03 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (20) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 12, 2007

Bettencourt Not A Candidate In CD22!

Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, this does not strike me as particularly good news for the GOP in CD22.

From an email sent out by Harris County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill about a meeting held today for party activists involved in taking back CD22 for the GOP.

Paul Bettencourt, Harris County Tax Assessor/Collector, was invited to attend the meeting to discuss the demographics of the district and his future plans. At the meeting, Mr. Bettencourt stated: I want to encourage an open primary for anyone who wants to serve the citizens of Congressional 22. Mr. Bettencourt also stated that, at this time, he is not planning to run in CD22. (emphasis mine)

The decision of Paul Bettencourt not to run for Congress in CD22 is the most momentous thing to happen since the courts ruled that Tom DeLay could not be replaced n the ballot last summer. Bettencourt, if he were to run, would be the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination and take back the congressional seat in this overwhelmingly Republican district.

More At Texas Safety Forum, Professors R-Squared, Texas Politics





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

Who Does CAIR Represent? (UPDATED)

One has to wonder, given that they've lost 90% of their members since 2001 and are primarily bankrolled by just two-dozen individuals.

Membership in the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has declined more than 90 percent since the 2001 terrorist attacks, Audrey Hudson will report in Tuesday's editions of The Washington Times.

According to tax documents obtained by The Times, the number of reported members spiraled down from more than 29,000 in 2000 to less than 1,700 in 2006, a loss of membership that caused the Muslim rights group's annual income from dues to drop from $732,765 in 2000, when yearly dues cost $25, to $58,750 last year, when the group charged $35.

The organization instead is relying on about two dozen individual donors a year to contribute the majority of the money for CAIR's budget, which reached nearly $3 million last year.

Word is that tomorrow we will learn the names of the organization's major contributors, courtesy of the FOIA request filed by the Washington Times. This could be interesting.

UPDATE: Cover-up? All donor names redacted by the IRS.





|| Greg, 12:10 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Safari For Windows

This is an interesting development.

Apple said Monday that it would make its Safari Web browser available for Windows-based PCs, opening a new front in its rivalry with Microsoft.

The announcement came at the end of a presentation made by Steven P. Jobs, Apples co-founder and chief executive, at the companys annual World Wide Developers Conference. It indicates that Apple is increasingly confident in its ability to compete against Microsofts desktop computing monopoly.

I'm downloading the program to see how it works -- though it is still in beta rather than a final release. Still, given that Internet Explorer and most other Microsoft software is released with as many bugs as your average beta software, I don;'t see a problem with that. You can get it here.





|| Greg, 10:50 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (22) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Teacher Strike In Massachusetts

I think the teachers are really setting themselves up for trouble, defying a court order to end the strike. But Im always shocked by the level of ignorance shown by some folks in responding to calls for better salaries and benefits for teachers.

An ongoing strike pitting Quincy teachers against town officials escalated yesterday, as parents complained their family summer plans are being thrown into turmoil.

Teachers vowed to ignore a court order forcing them back to work today. School officials canceled another day of school as talks with the teachers union stalled again last night.

This is splitting the city in two. People have a lot of opinions about this, said parent Kelly Tinney, who said she backs the teachers even though she had to switch shifts at work to care for her 9-year-old daughter.

Other parents arent as forgiving.

They only work 180 days a year and they get 90 percent of their health insurance paid, said Saori Caruso, whose daughter attends Bernazzani Elementary. My husband works a lot more and he has to pay nearly all of his health insurance.

I always find it interesting when I hear arguments like Carusos parents who are willing to spend inordinate amounts of money to get their child the latest luxury item, but think that they should pay their childs teachers on the cheap.

I also find this comment a bit silly as well.

Outside City Hall, parent Roberta Lee said of the teachers, If they want to do this, why cant they do it during the off season so the parents dont have to find day care and the kids can finish the year? Its not right.

Lets think here for a minute strike during summer vacation would have what impact, exactly? No one would notice, because the kids would be out of school. You wouldnt care or have to think about the issues because you wouldnt be inconvenienced in any way. A strike during the school year, however, sort of makes you think about how much value you place on what these teachers do for you and your children, doesnt it? Do you think that might just be the reason why the strike is occurring now and not in July?

Of course, Im not a big fan of strikes by public employees or of unions in general. And personally, Im pretty impressed by the pay and benefits offered by the schools up there in Massachusetts, compared to what we get down here in Texas. Since Im off school for the summer, Id be glad to come up and teach for you for a couple of weeks and would even be open to staying on permanently. So if there is anyone from the Quincy school district personnel department reading this, feel free to send me an email with an offer of employment.





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

The Engagement Ring

Here's an interesting discussion of a fun cultural issue -- do diamond engagement rings really serve a legitimate purpose in our day and age?

But there's a powerful case to be made that in an age of equitable marriage the engagement ring is an outmoded commoditystarting with the obvious fact that only the woman gets one. The diamond ring is the site of retrograde fantasies about gender roles. What makes it perniciousas opposed to tackily funis its cost (these days you don't need just a diamond; you need a good diamond), its dubious origins, and the cynical blandishments of TV and print ads designed to suggest a ring's allure through the crassest of stereotypes. Case in point: An American couple stands in a plaza in Europe. The man shouts, "I love this woman!" The woman appears mortified. He then pulls out a diamond ring and offers it to her. She says, in heartfelt tones, "I love this man." And you've probably noticed that these days diamonds really are forever: Men are informed that their beautiful wife needs a "Twenty-Fifth Anniversary" ring (note this ad's reduction of a life to copulation and child-rearing), and single women are told not to wait around for guys but to go ahead and get themselves a "right-finger ring." Live to be 100 and a woman of a certain class might find her entire hand crusted over with diamonds. A diamond company, you see, is unrelenting. In their parlance, "the desire is there; we just want to breathe more life into it."

But the desire wasn't always there. In fact, the "tradition" of the diamond engagement ring is newer than you might think. Betrothal rings, a custom inherited from the Romans, became an increasingly common part of the Christian tradition in the 13th century. The first known diamond engagement ring was commissioned for Mary of Burgundy by the Archduke Maximilian of Austria in 1477. The Victorians exchanged "regards" rings set with birthstones. But it wasn't until the late 19th century, after the discovery of mines in South Africa drove the price of diamonds down, that Americans regularly began to give (or receive) diamond engagement rings. (Before that, some betrothed women got thimbles instead of rings.) Even then, the real blingfest didn't get going until the 1930s, whendim the lights, strike up the violins, and cue entrancethe De Beers diamond company decided it was time to take action against the American public.

I got off easy on this one.

My darling wife and I, early in our dating, had seen an amethyst ring while out shopping, and she mentioned how she loved amethyst more than any other stone because purple is her favorite color. The ring itself had beautiful stained-glass window cut-outs on the side that were backed with more amethyst -- and since we were both seminary students that had a special meaning to us both. Lastly, the amethyst is my birthstone, which added to the significance.

When, some months later, we began talking about marriage, there was never any doubt in my mind about what ring I would get her -- and the fact that she mentioned the ring in another context around the same time served as confirmation that my decision was the right one. It came as something of a surprise to her when I slipped it on her finger -- and she assured me that no other ring would have moved her more. To this day, her friends still say that they envy her for having an engagement ring that MEANS something rather than simply fulfills the social expectation of a diamond solitaire.

But Meghan O'Rourke does raise a really interesting question as well -- in a day and age when women usually work and we are confronted with insistence upon gender equality and equity, does I make sense for a man to go into hock to buy several thousand dollars worth of diamond while the woman in return gives him . . . nothing? Are we really dealing with a relic of a sexist, patriarchal view of the world that needs to be abolished? Come on, feminists -- speak up!





|| Greg, 08:21 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Conservatives Against Rudy?

Frankly, I don't see there being much likelihood of conservatives bolting the party if Rudy gets the GOP nomination, despite the premise of this article.

A growing number of influential social conservatives are speaking out against Rudy Giuliani, with some threatening that they will take flight from the Republican Party in 2008 if the former New York mayor is the GOP nominee.

Giuliani's support for abortion rights and gay rights has not to date prevented him from winning the support of a sizable number of socially conservative voters, according to polls. But the continued strength of his candidacy is causing alarm among leaders of conservative advocacy groups, many of which have been major players in Republican politics.

Why don't I see this happening? Simple -- I don't see Rudy being on the GOP ticket in 2008, and certainly not in the top spot. He's going to the convention with a bunch of delegates, but not enough to win. And if we end up with some sort of brokered convention, my guess will be that we get a Romney-Thompson or Thompson-Romney ticket -- with Rudy offered the AG spot and an eventual Supreme Court seat and McCain installed as Secretary of Defense.

But let's assume for a minute that we are going to see Giuliani at the head of a GOP ticket -- what then? Are these conservatives really going to stay home or vote for a third-party ticket when the result will be the election fo a president much more hostile to their values? Will President Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama, or President John Edwards really help advance the pro-life, pro-family agenda more than President Rudy Giuliani? I'd like to think that these folks will recognize that the impact of that third-party vote would be infinitely worse that the impact for a vote for Rudy and a GOP Congress.





|| Greg, 08:11 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (19) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Like This Will Help?

Before transferring to be closer to home, I spent my first two years of college at a school with a strong honor code that forbade cheating. I thought that was great -- but every year we had students expelled for violating the honor code. I really wonder how much impact this new proposal from the TEA will have on the problem of TAKS cheating.

Students will be asked to sign honor pledges next year that they will not cheat on the state's high-stakes test, and school districts could suffer lower ratings if cheating is found, education officials said Monday.

Frankly, I don't know that having the kids sign honor pledges imposed from outside will have any impact on a kid bound and determined to cheat. But i do like this idea.

They'll also use several test versions in the same classroom, making it harder for a student to look over someone's shoulder and make cheating easier to spot if they do, because all seats will be assigned.

Having multiple versions in the same classroom only makes sense, in my book -- and my school has already implemented the assigned seats model and had encouraged it even before it was a mandate.

But for all the talk of "widespread cheating" on the test, the statistics do not really bear that out.

The education agency has been battling allegations of widespread cheating on standardized tests for the past 2 1/2 years. In 2006, Utah-based Caveon Test Security was hired to conduct a study of test scores, and flagged about 700 Texas schools for irregularities.

State investigations cleared most of the schools of cheating allegations. But 16, including four Houston charter schools, remain on the list of campuses with testing irregularities.

In a state the size of Texas, 16 schools is not that significant. And as is pointed out by one school administrator, the initial group of 700 schools got flagged for doing the thing that the tests were supposed to encourage -- improve student performance.

However, Gonzalez said he hopes TEA has a better independent audit than the one done by Caveon. Those flagged schools were publicly named before local officials had a chance to review and contest the data even though the vast majority were cleared.

"They dinged you if your scores were too good even if it was from all the tutorials and steps we took to help kids do better," he said.

In other words, finding a program that works was initially deemed evidence of cheating by the company hired to do the reviews. If such a standard is applied this year, I can only imagine how my school's leap in math scores will be interpreted -- even though it can be accounted for by changes in scheduling, class size, methodology and resources allotted to the math department.

Of course, I personally believe the TAKS test to be a joke. I don't believe it shows what it claims to show, and doesn't measure what it claims to measure. maybe, just maybe, the impending change to end-of-course tests will fix that problem.





|| Greg, 07:53 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

No Way To Run An Election

While I can understand the need and the desire to keep anyone affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood out of power, this is not the way to do it.

Egyptian security forces barred voters from entering polling centers in opposition areas Monday during the first national elections since the U.S.-backed government of President Hosni Mubarak pushed through constitutional changes that analysts say were intended to keep the Muslim Brotherhood from power.

In Awseem, a dusty town north of Cairo that is a Brotherhood stronghold, security officers lined up behind chest-high plastic riot shields to block all entrances to a locked polling place. Officers clenching automatic rifles alongside a row of police wagons effectively sealed off another voting site.

Residents in other towns around Egypt on Monday complained of police turning them from the polls and occasionally beating them. One person was killed in election-related violence, the Associated Press reported.

In areas loyal to Mubarak's National Democratic Party, voters surged into polling sites. In Bortos, also north of Cairo, a girl of 15 said she cast a ballot for the NDP, and children who appeared much younger than the voting age of 18 waved fingers stained with the pink ink used to mark ballots and boasted that they had voted.

Given other infringements on civil liberties in Egypt (restrictions on the rights of the Copts, prosecution of anti-government bloggers), this goes a long way to show just how unacceptable the Mubarak regime really is. Are we really improving the situation in the region by backing such a farcical election?





|| Greg, 07:30 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Terrorstinians Turning On Each Other

Maybe we'll luck out and they will wipe out their entire breed of terrorist scum.

Gunmen reportedly fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the home of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas today as the worst factional fighting among Palestinians in nearly a month appeared to intensify.

Earlier today, mortar shells hit the Gaza City office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, the Associated Press reported. No one was hurt in the two attacks, according to the A.P.

The prime ministers home and office had come under attack on Monday when violence elsewhere in Gaza left at least nine dead. The death toll on Monday made it the bloodiest day since a fierce two-week bout of internal violence ended in mid-May, and the number of dead appeared to rise again on Tuesday, with the A.P. reporting the death toll over the two days of violence now at 18.

The latest fighting has erupted despite a cease-fire that was supposed to come into force on Monday morning.

Now imagine that -- they violated a cease-fire. Sort of like they have every time there is supposed to be a cease-fire with Israel. When will the world recognize that the problem is not the Jews -- it is the Arabs.





|| Greg, 07:25 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 11, 2007

Koran Desecrated

Will Muslims riot against the terrorists?

NAIROBI - The Kenyan capital was rocked Monday by a bomb blast thought to be the work of a suicide bomber who blew himself to bits while clutching a copy of the Koran, injuring dozens of people.

It was a bomb explosion and body parts have been thrown apart, policeman Gabriel Omondi told AFP after the blast in front of the crowded City Gate restaurant on Moi Avenue, one of Nairobis main streets.

When false rumors circulate of Koran desecrations by American troops, Muslims riot. When false accusations claim a Koran has been desecrated by a Christian , that Christian often ends up dead in a mob action. So will there be a similar response to blowing up a Koran as part of a suicide bombing? Or do Muslim terrorists who desecrate the Koran during their acts of violence get a pass?

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|| Greg, 09:16 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Reminder About Palestinian Terrorism

Kudos to Mort Zuckerman for reminding the world that Palestinian terrorism pre-dates the Six-Day War.

The Palestine Liberation Organization, created three years before the Six-Day War, was dedicated to taking back all of Palestine from the hated Jews. We forget that the PLO carried out terrorist attacks in 1964, 1965, and 1966, when Israel was in possession of no occupied territories whatsoever. We forget that a victorious Israel immediately offered to return Sinai to Egypt and the Golan to Syria, only to be met with the Arab League's famous three "nos": no peace, no recognition, and no negotiation. If the Palestinians had wanted a viable state of their own, they could have had it long ago.

As yet another "peace plan" is being prepared to back Israel into a corner and give the Palestinians a baseline from which to start negotiating (for each new proposal giving them more becomes their new minimum standard in negotiations), the fundamental reality needs to be dealt with -- until the Palestinians are willing to fully and unambiguously recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, any attempt to create a Palestinian state serves only to empower Israel's enemies and undermine her security.





|| Greg, 07:31 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Death Penalty Saves Lives

Every study proves it. And the quicker it is implemented, the more lives it saves.

Among the conclusions:

Each execution deters an average of 18 murders, according to a 2003 nationwide study by professors at Emory University. (Other studies have estimated the deterred murders per execution at three, five and 14).

The Illinois moratorium on executions in 2000 led to 150 additional homicides over four years following, according to a 2006 study by professors at the University of Houston.

Speeding up executions would strengthen the deterrent effect. For every 2.75 years cut from time spent on death row, one murder would be prevented, according to a 2004 study by an Emory University professor.

And for all the folks criticizing the studies, there has not been a single study to show that they are wrong. People just don't like the outcome.

And this also overlooks the other important issue -- no one who is executed ever commits another murder, while those sentenced to life without parole or a lesser sentence have the capacity to (and, indeed, have) kill fellow inmates and/or guards at the facility where they are incarcerated. After all, how much deterrent effect is there in sentencing an individual serving a life sentence to another life sentence?

Now this is not to say that we should rush to execute anybody, or that we should lower procedural safeguards. However, it does indicate that eliminating the death penalty results in a greater death toll.





|| Greg, 07:20 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (21) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

B-A-B-Y -- Why Can't The Houston Chronicle Use The Right Word?

Have we descended so far into the depths of pro-abortion political correctness that using the word "baby" is now forbidden?

A full-term fetus was found in a southwest Houston apartment Sunday after the mother went to the hospital, police said. Nurses at Ben Taub General Hospital became suspicious when the woman arrived there about 8 a.m., police said.

"It looked as if she had just given birth," said John Cannon, an HPD spokesman.

Hospital workers called police when the woman denied having a baby. Officers found the fetus inside the apartment in the 5100 block of South Willow.

Although the fetus appeared fully developed, HPD investigators couldn't say whether it was the result of a miscarriage or had been born.

"We'll have to wait on the medical examiners to rule on what happened, exactly, to the baby," said Sgt. Bobby Roberts, with HPD's homicide division.

The mother, about 23, was still at the hospital later Sunday, where detectives expected to question her again. They also want to speak with the father.

If we are talking about a "full-term fetus", then miscarriage is not an option. What we have is either a live-birth or a still-birth of a BABY! Why can't the Houston Chronicle have the decency to acknowledge as much?

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|| Greg, 12:31 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||