We have an election coming up next week, related to ballot propositions on the state, county, and local levels.
Looking them over, I’d like to offer the following positions for your consideration.
STATE OF TEXAS
Clarifies in law the legislature’s transfer of Angelo State University from Texas State University System to Texas Tech University System.
Yes – a technical correction
Issues $500 million general obligation bonds for student loans
Yes – reluctantly. We need to restore tuition caps
Limits the ad valorem tax on a homestead to the most recent market value or a 10 percent increase from the value of last year’s appraisal.
Yes – while it fails to go far enough in capping property taxes, that is no reason for not taking the incremental step.
Authorizes up to $1 billion in bonds from the state general revenues for maintenance, repair and construction projects
Yes – too many projects have been delayed too long, and must be completed in the short term. The Battleship Texas project and the law enforcement provisions alone are reason enough to pass.
Allows cities under 10,000 to vote to authorize the city to enter agreements encouraging revitalization programs by deferring ad valorem taxes
Exempts ad valorem tax on one vehicle used for both professional and personal use
Allows the government to sell property acquired through eminent domain back to the previous owner at the price paid by the government in acquiring the land
Yes – though it should be mandatory in those cases in which projects are cancelled.
Clarifies and alters procedures related to making and using home equity loans
Yes – but this proves that there are things in the Texas Constitution that don’t need to be there
Allows legislature to exempt totally disabled veteran’s homesteads from ad valorem taxes and changes the method for determining the amount of a disabled veteran’s exemption
Eliminates the authority for the office of inspector of hides and animals
Yes – since the office is no longer in existence
Requires a record vote on any final passage of a piece of legislation except local bills, and assures Internet access to those votes
Yes – a good government bill, though the local bills should not be exempt
Authorizes Texas Transportation Commission to issue $5 billion in bonds for highway improvement projects
No – let’s rein-in the Trans Texas Corridor
Authorizes the denial of bail to a person who violates certain court orders in misdemeanor family violence cases.
Permits judges reaching mandatory retirement age to finish their terms
Yes – though we ought to be eliminating the retirement age completely
Establishes the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and authorizes state to issue up to $3 billion in bonds from the general revenue for research
No Recommendation – I’m still struggling with this one
Allows Texas Water Development Board to issue up to $250 million in additional bonds for clean water in economically distressed areas
The issuance of $190,000,000 Harris County road bonds and the levying of the tax in payment thereof.
The issuance of $95,000,000 Harris County park bonds and the levying of the tax in payment thereof.
The issuance of $195,000,000 Harris County bonds for a central processing and adult detention center and the levying of the tax in payment thereof.
The issuance of $80,000,000 harris county bonds for a medical examiner's forensic center and the levying of the tax in payment thereof
The issuance of $70,000,000 Harris County bonds for a family law center and the levying of the tax in payment thereof.
PORT OF HOUSTON AUTHORITY
The issuance of $250,000,000 Port of Houston Authority bonds for port improvements (including related transportation facilities, security facilities and environmental enhancements) to provide economic development and the levying of the tax in payment thereof.
In accordance with Texas law and Section 5.21 of the Charter of the City of Seabrook, Texas, shall the City Council of the City of Seabrook, Texas be authorized to issue bonds of the City in the amount of $2,500,000 maturing serially or otherwise at such times as may be fixed by the City Council not to exceed 40 years from their date or dates and bearing interest at any rate or rates, either fixed, variable or floating, according to any clearly stated formula, calculation or method not exceeding the maximum interest now or hereafter authorized by law as shall be determined within the discretion of the City Council at the time of issuance, and to levy a tax upon all taxable property in the City sufficient to pay the interest on the bonds, and to provide a sinking fund for the payment of the bonds as they mature, for the purpose of making permanent public park improvements as follows: the Pine Gully Enhancement Project located at 502 Pine Gully, Seabrook, Texas, including acquisition of approximately 8.433 acres of property immediately north of Pine Gully Park, construction and improvement of such property, all as more specifically described in Resolution 2007-14, and all matters necessary or incidental thereto.
The straight-and-narrow proceedings of federal court took a striking political detour yesterday during a hearing in Camden for six men accused in a terror plot against Fort Dix.
The U.S. district judge presiding over a pretrial hearing for the group known as the "Fort Dix Six" threw sharp words from the bench when shown a campaign flyer being circulated by Republicans vying for state legislative seats in Burlington County.
The flyer, which was entered into evidence because of its potential impact on jurors, implies that Democratic Assembly hopeful Tracy Riley is a terrorist sympathizer.
The reason? Her husband, Michael Riley, is defending one of the men accused in the alleged plot to gun down soldiers at Fort Dix, the Army base in Burlington County. One of the men is expected to enter a guilty plea today.
Judge Robert B. Kugler, who examined the flyer for its impact on potential jurors, did little to conceal his shock.
"Wow," Kugler said, inspecting the mailer that Riley had handed him. "I had heard this was going on. . . . It's pretty despicable stuff, honestly."
When I was a seminarian, the brother of my moral theology professor was representing Jeff Dahmer, and Fr. Pat pointedly reminded us that ensuring that a client’s rights and interests are protected is appropriate to the degree that one neither lies to undercut justice nor acts to become enmeshed in the client’s crimes (like Lynn Stewart did). After all, no sane person would have argued that my professor’s brother was condoning or supporting murder or cannibalism by representing his client.
Now I’m not going to get into the propriety of the ad – after all, if we are going to continue to follow the misguided policy of treating terrorists as criminals rather than enemies of the state, we are going to have to afford them the right to an attorney. It is a part of our system, and an attorney for a terrorist is no more responsible for his client’s crimes than is the attorney for a murderer or a child molester. Based upon this belief, I know that as a candidate I would not have signed off on this campaign flyer for that very reason.
That said, I don’t believe that the issue of the flyer should have been dealt with in the manner it was, especially not in open court. The attorney in question, the husband of the candidate opposed in the flyer, expressed concern about contamination of the jury pool. It was his job to raise the issue. But for the judge to make the comments that he did from the bench – in particular, the attack from the bench on one of the candidates supported by this campaign literature – seems to me to have crossed a line into inappropriate political involvement by a judge. By making said criticism from the bench, he implicitly endorsed the defense attorney’s wife. Such criticism should not have been made at all. As such, Judge Kugler ought to be sanctioned for unethical conduct.
I’ve said it every time folks complain taxes are too low, or that they don’t deserve a newly implemented tax cut – they don’t need to keep that cash they feel isn’t rightfully theirs. And so I offer this suggestion to the latest “I’m not taxed enough” whiner – Warren Buffett.
The United States' second-richest man has delivered a blunt message to the Bush administration: he wants to pay more tax.
Warren Buffett, the famous investor known as the "Sage of Omaha", has complained that he pays a lower rate of tax than any of his staff - including his receptionist. Mr Buffett, who is worth an estimated $52bn (£25bn), said: "The taxation system has tilted towards the rich and away from the middle class in the last 10 years. It's dramatic; I don't think it's appreciated and I think it should be addressed."
An analysis of his arguments shows that he wants to treat capital gains like income and wants social security contributions to be unlimited. That this would grind the economy to a screeching halt is overlooked by Buffett, but that is neither here nor there to the billionaire.
The thing is, though, that Buffett can already overcome the horrors of being undertaxed. As columnist and blogger Don Surber points out, he can diverst himself of his excess wealth quite easily. All he has to do is cut a check and mail it in.
Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 6D17
Hyattsville, MD 20782
Put your money where your mouth is, Warren – determine what you should pay and then actually pay it. Otherwise you lack any and all moral authority to call for higher taxes for other Americans.
Bad News From Iraq – If You Are A Dem
If this keeps up, there won’t be enough dead soldiers for the eventual Democrat nominee to stand on when declaring defeat in Iraq.
The number of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq is headed for the lowest level in more than a year and a half and the fifth consecutive monthly decline.
Twenty-seven Americans have been killed in action in October, with one day left in the month, Pentagon records show. That would be the lowest monthly level since March 2006, when 27 servicemembers died in hostile action, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Pentagon reports.
The total number of U.S. deaths, including accidents, in October so far is 35, records show.
A new strategy, backed up by 30,000 more U.S. servicemembers, has led to a decline in violence and weakened al-Qaeda, commanders say. The U.S. military started building combat outposts and moving troops outside major bases earlier this year in an attempt to provide more security.
That strategy led to higher U.S. casualties in the spring, as the new troops moved into areas that had been insurgent sanctuaries. Combat deaths in April and May were the highest for a two-month period since the war started in March 2003, records show.
More recently, casualties have declined as security has been established. "I think we've turned the corner," Brig. Gen. John Campbell, an assistant commander for the U.S. division in Baghdad, said Tuesday in an interview from Iraq.
The Surge is working. Victory will happen, if we stick with the strategy and support the Iraqis. That means, though, that we can’t elect a candidate who is counting on American defeat as a path to electoral success.
Dems Demand Mukasey Do What They Won’t -- UPDATED AND BUMPED
It really is the height of hypocrisy for certain Democrats to demand that a nominee for a Cabinet slot declare before confirmation something that Congress lacks the courage to legislate itself.
Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware said late Monday that unless Michael Mukasey defines waterboarding as torture, he won't vote to confirm the attorney general nominee.
Biden said he is waiting on a response from Mukasey to a letter he and all the Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee members sent last week asking the nominee to clarify answers he gave about waterboading during his confirmation hearing earlier this month. The presidential candidate indicated that he considers Mukasey's responses to lawmakers' questions at the hearing evasive at best.
"I think Judge Mukasey's comments on waterboarding were outrageous, especially given that he's seeking the job of attorney general," Biden told FOX News. "Anyone who thinks that waterboarding is not torture, is not fit — and will not have my support — to be attorney general."
Well, Senator, I personally think that any member of the Senate who insists that waterboarding is torture but has not introduced legislation to make it unambiguously illegal under American law is not fit to be a member of the Senate – and certainly not to be President. After all, it is the province of the legislative branch to make the practice illegal under American law. Why not be man enough to take the lead, sir, so that the question is settled?
UPDATE: Again yesterday, there wasmore piling on from Democrats, who won't act to put their view unambiguously into law. Is it political grandstanding on their part, or simply their own moral cowardice?
Attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey told Senate Democrats yesterday that a kind of simulated drowning known as waterboarding is "repugnant to me," but he said he does not know whether the interrogation tactic violates U.S. laws against torture.
Mukasey's uncertainty about the method's legality has raised new questions about the success of his nomination. It seemed a sure thing just two weeks ago, as Democrats joined Republicans in predicting his easy confirmation to succeed the embattled Alberto R. Gonzales.
* * *
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the Judiciary panel's chairman, reacted with blunt dissatisfaction, saying in a statement yesterday that he will continue to delay any vote on Mukasey until the nominee answers more questions from lawmakers. "I remain very concerned that Judge Mukasey finds himself unable to state unequivocally that waterboarding is illegal and below the standards and values of the United States," he said.
But Leahy, who said last week that "my vote would depend on him answering that question," stopped short of declaring he will oppose the nomination. Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), also issued a statement criticizing Mukasey but did not say whether he would vote no.
"We asked Judge Mukasey a simple and straightforward question: Is waterboarding illegal?" Durbin said. "While this question has been answered clearly by many others . . . Judge Mukasey spent four pages responding and still didn't provide an answer."
Senator Durbin, why don't you introduce legislation to make it clear that waterboarding is illegal? Could it be that you know it is an effective tactic, one that has produced hard intelligence in the past and will in the future, intelligence that has safeguarded the American people? Could it be that you don't want your name attached to any measure that takes this effective technique off the table when American lives are at stake? What about you, Senator Leahy -- same questions.
Either act legislatively on waterboarding, Senators, or shut up about it and let the confirmation vote proceed.
I agree with the New York Times here -- Congress needs to act to make it easier for those who have helped the US in Afghanistan and Iraq enter the US legally.
Congress has finally pried open America’s door to Iraqis and Afghans who have served this country at great risk. Congress needs to go a lot further, adding more visa slots and approving resettlement benefits that would allow these people to grab the lifeline the United States has been far too slow to offer.
Translators, interpreters and thousands of others have aided American troops and diplomats — and have become targets for militants. Under current American law, 500 Iraqis and Afghans per year who have worked for the United States armed forces for a year, may obtain special immigrant visas.
I remember 1975 very well, when I was a kid on Guam. I watched refugees stream into the temporary camps around the island as Saigon fell to the Communists, with planes landing on the runway only a mile from my house at NAS Agana. Many of these were Embassy employees and their families, or others who would be seen as collaborators by the Communists -- and countless others were left behind. We must not allow such a situation to happen ever again, where those who help us are abandoned.
There is legislation for a 10-fold increase in the number of people admitted from these countries. Congress should support it -- especially if Democrats are preparing to abandon Iraq as part of their policy of surrender and defeat in the face of victory.
As Mitt Romney scours the South for endorsements from evangelical leaders, he is getting some unusual advice on how to explain his Mormon faith: Don't try to be one of us.
``I told him, you cannot equate Mormonism with Christianity; you cannot say, `I am a Christian just like you,''' said Representative Bob Inglis of South Carolina, which is scheduled to hold the first primary among the Southern states. ``If he does that, every Baptist preacher in the South is going to have to go to the pulpit on Sunday and explain the differences.''
This advice, which reflects the views of many Southern Baptists and other evangelicals, makes Romney's co-religionists bristle. ``The fact that we are Christians is non-negotiable,'' said Kim Farah, a spokeswoman for the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
What you have here is a twofold problem. On one level, you have the theological issue of how to classify Mormonism. Most Christians, and certainly most evangelicals, would struggle with classifying the LDS Church as within the pale of orthodoxy due to its distinctive theology and additional scriptural claims. There is serious room for theological discussion, but not in the context of a presidential campaign. Romney needs to dismiss the issue, regardless of the adamant claims of LDS authorities that Mormons are Christians. It just isn't relevant to Romney's needs as a candidate.
Besides, that issue isn't relevant to the presidential campaign. What Romney needs to do is focus on the shared values and policies, as well as his independence from official church control. That should be easy to do, given both the social conservative stance taken by the LDS Church and its long-standing history of recognizing the political independence of the Mormon faithful, including officeholders. But Romney needs to act soon on this issue, lest it continue to be a distraction.
Those who disagree with him are not merely wrong, they are mentally ill!
Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich questioned President Bush's mental health in light of comments he made about a nuclear Iran precipitating World War III.
"I seriously believe we have to start asking questions about his mental health," Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, said in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial board on Tuesday. "There's something wrong. He does not seem to understand his words have real impact."
Kucinich, known for his liberal views, trails far behind the leading candidates in most Democratic polls. He was in Philadelphia for a debate at Drexel University.
So I guess the next step is for Kucinich to insist that the President of the United States be subject to forced mental health treatment until he adopts policies more to the Ohio congressman's liking. I believe that was the tactic favored in the Soviet Union for many years -- but Kucinich is so far left that he probably finds nothing wrong with that.
Of course, there are those who think that Kucinich is as lacking in intellectual and political stature as he is in physical stature -- and one look at his website makes it clear that he might well have personal expertise in mental illness. After all, he thinks he is a serious presidential candidate, which is among the most delusional beliefs I've ever heard of.
Ex Post Facto?
Is it just me, or does this sound like an attempt by Barney Frank to impose an ex post facto liability burden on companies involved in subprime mortgages?
But the losses at Merrill and Countrywide show that the market economy is working as it's supposed to. Companies that made overly risky decisions are having to pay for them, and to adjust their business models accordingly. Over the long run, everyone should be better off as firms learn from the subprime mistake.
The question is whether market discipline is enough, or whether government needs to reinforce it. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) is working on a comprehensive bill that would impose legal liability on the "securitizers" of mortgage debt. Mr. Frank's proposal would let borrowers sue issuers of bonds that are backed by "no doc" mortgages or other products that do not meet "minimum standards for reasonable ability to pay." To those who suggest that this would chill the mortgage-backed securities market, Mr. Frank notes that the proposed penalties are not unduly onerous. The most a borrower could sue for would be cancellation of a loan and court costs; there are "safe harbor" provisions for securitizers who generally follow sound practices or offer to settle with a borrower out of court. And Mr. Frank candidly replies that, given the recent excesses, the market could use a little chilling.
Now let's consider this. The legislation would make actions that were legal and proper at the time the occurred a form of fraud today -- and allow those who knowingly and willingly entered into contracts sue to cancel their debts. I recognize that these are civil, not criminal penalties, but doesn't this seem to be at odds with our constitutional heritage -- imposing liability where none existed before? I hold no brief for the mortgage industry, but do shudder to think of the implications of this legislation.
October 30, 2007
Romney Notes Hillary’s Lack Of Experience
Frankly, Hillary Clinton lacks the basic qualifications to be President. She has never led anything of any significance, and her best known “accomplishments” were her failed health care plan, her questionable trading in cattle futures, and her smearing of those who correctly pointed to her husbands misdeeds as being part of a “vast right wing conspiracy”.
But now she and her campaign are upset over a single word.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney said last night that electing Hillary Clinton is akin to putting an “intern” in the job - a potentially loaded statement where a Clinton presidency is concerned.
In remarks that drew immediate fire from the Clinton camp, Romney said on Fox’s “Hannity and Colmes” last night, “She’s never had the occasion of being in the private sector, running a business, or, for that matter, running a state or a city. She hasn’t run anything, and the government of the United States is not a place for a president to be an intern.”
Frankly, Clinton may be a decent lawyer, but she has no management experience of the sort that would qualify her for the leadership of America’s executive branch. That’s not to say that a single term legislator is unqualified for the office, but the junior Senator from New York’s record is pretty sparse, and indicates no aptitude for the presidency.
Besides – if Hillary had been competent enough to do the jobk of an intern, the nation might have been spared the indignity of her husband’s impeachment.
Unprecedented copper thefts have spurred a crackdown to stop the damage, as at least 16 states have passed or proposed new laws, and businesses have boosted security and offered bounties for information on the thieves.
The crackdown comes as losses to businesses hover around $1 billion, the U.S. Department of Energy reports, and as escalating thefts have disrupted the flow of electricity, slowed construction projects and knocked out irrigation networks crucial to commercial farms.
Seizing on rising worldwide demand and surging value for the popular metal — up from 80 cents per pound in 2003 to about $3.50 this year — thieves sell stolen copper for millions of dollars in cash, state and federal authorities say.
"We're trying to do everything possible to fight this epidemic," says Adam Grant, spokesman at Nevada Power, where copper thefts have more than doubled since last year. "It's crazy."
My favorite law? One in Washington State that immunizes those from whom copper is being stolen from liability for injuries to the thieves. This puts me in mind of something that happened about 20 years ago. I recall there being a big market in vintage bricks, often taken from old, abandoned buildings. One guy in St. Louis was killed when a building collapsed while he was removing bricks from a wall. Seems he decided to start on the first floor and work his way up…
NY Sun Refutes Chait and Surowiecki
In the last 50 years, every federal tax cut has produced increased revenue for the federal government. Repeated observation has shown that the connection exists, as surely as the connection between cigarettes and lung cancer, or consumption of alcohol and intoxication. That’s why it is almost inexplicable that certain liberal writers have been out to debunk the connection between tax cuts and increased revenue.
As the Democrats prepare to attempt one of the largest tax increases in American history, their allies in the press corps are softening the ground with a campaign against the ideological underpinnings of the Bush tax cuts. People can debate any particular tax increase or tax cut. But the left-wing side of this debate is rolling out a new argument. In publicity material for a new book, "The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked By Crackpot Economics," the author, Jonathan Chait, puts it this way: "The notion that tax cuts can cause revenue to rise, though now embraced by every leading Republican politician, is rejected by even the most conservative economists."
On the Web site of the New Yorker, the magazine's financial page columnist, James Surowiecki, writes, "The supply-side argument that, in the United States, tax-rate cuts pay for themselves — that, after cutting taxes, the government actually ends up with more revenue — has little or no support within the mainstream economic profession, and no hard empirical data to back it up." He likens it to "saying that the best way to treat sick people is to bleed them to let out the evil spirits."
Messrs. Chait and Surowiecki are playing fast and loose with the facts. The first few pages of Mr. Chait's book are packed with the names of economists who back supply side ideas — Arthur Laffer of the Laffer Curve, who has been on the faculties of Pepperdine, the Southern California, and Chicago; Robert Mundell, the 1999 Nobel Laureate who is a professor of economics at Columbia; Martin Feldstein of Harvard; Lawrence Lindsey, who was an associate professor at Harvard from 1984 to 1989; and Glenn Hubbard of Columbia.
Now the two authors are correct in their statement that not every tax cut will increase revenue. There is a point, which I do not see us as having reached yet, at which revenue will decline – otherwise a tax rate of 0% would produce infinite revenue. But to dismiss the idea that tax cuts produce more revenue as flawed is fundamentally wrong. But much like Al Gore does on the global warming issue, the two writers seek to define anyone who disagrees with them as being “outside the mainstream”, despite the fact that it is demonstrably untrue and also irrelevant. After all, truth is rarely determined by a majority vote.
The Sun then goes on to point out that the various GOP tax cuts have invariably been accompanied by increased revenues. That is empirical data, which the pro-tax Left attempts to explain away as the vagaries of the business cycle. Interestingly enough, though, the two phenomena seem to correlate so strongly that it is impossible to ignore the connection and dismiss it as mere coincidence.
But it is the conclusion that interests me the most.
Even framing the issue as primarily about government revenue, however, concedes the terms of the debate to the left-wingers — as The Great Bartley comprehended. No doubt crucial government activities need to be funded. But as the political season wears on, the candidates — and the journalists who follow them — will come into contact with more and more voters who when they think of "revenue" don't first think of the government's bottom line, but of their own household's. You don't need a Ph.D. or a seat on the faculty of an Ivy League university to know that tax cuts let individuals keep more of the money they have earned, allowing them to spend it as they see fit, rather than as some bureaucrat or lobbyist-influenced politician wants to spend it.
The right way for politicians to approach these issues is by putting the individual's wallet ahead of Washington's, an approach that puts property rights and incentives for hard work and growth ahead of government revenues. Understanding incentives has always been a key to the supply-side argument. It's good politics and good economics. While the Party's deep thinkers of today may dismiss it as hoodwinking, hijacking, crackpottery, or evil spirits, there was a time the Democrats were on the right side of the issue. Ask JFK. Our own prediction is that to the extent the tax issue drives the debate in 2008 — and we think it will be a big factor, though not the only one — the key point won't be which candidate wins the votes of the economics faculties, but which one can show voters he or she understands it's their money, and Washington should take as little as it possibly can.
Indeed, the assumption of Chait, Surowiecki and their ilk is that they begin with the assumption that your income is a government resource, and that the government should get first dibs on it. The reality, however, is different – we have a moral right to every penny of our income, though we relinquish a portion of it for NECESSARY government programs. That does not mean every idea proposed by the latest pandering politician seeking votes.
They go on to say this is good news for local Indians and those who like squirrel meat – and bad news for the squirrels.
Romney And Religion
Now I've indicated multiple times in the past that I am a Romney supporter. I've also indicated that I find his religion to be irrelevant to the issue of his fitness for office. So I agree, at least in part, with this column written by Martin Frost for FoxNews.
Sometimes things happen in American politics that make no sense at all. We are experiencing just one of those moments in the 2008 presidential campaign.
I thought that the concept of a religious test for public office in our country was put to bed once and for all when John Kennedy, a Catholic, was elected president in 1960 and Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, was nominated for vice president in 2000.
Now we have a candidate with a record of accomplishment, Mitt Romney, who is consistently lagging in the polls with the most credible reason being that significant numbers of Republican primary voters will not support him because of his Mormon religion.
When voters, particularly in the South, are asked to identify candidates that they would not support for president under any circumstances, Romney leads the list. Romney is rejected as a potential presidential candidate in this type polling more often than other polarizing figures such as Rudy Giuliani. It has become increasingly clear that many conservative voters will not support an otherwise qualified candidate who happens to be a Mormon.
As a Democrat, I wouldn’t vote for Romney in the general election if he is nominated by the Republican Party. But I’ll be damned if I can understand why he should be disqualified from seeking his party’s nomination because of his religion. This makes no logical sense in the world’s greatest democracy in the 21st century.
The question is, how many of those opposed to Mitt Romney are really opposed to him based upon his religion. In my experience, that number seems smaller thatn some in the media might like to make it. Pressed a little harder, most individuals who raise the Mormon issue will come back to questions about Romney's past positions on important issues, and wonder if he is really conservative enough. The religious issue simply becomes the tipping point for them, the one on which the question of shared values becomes decisive.
Now I think that such individuals are wrong -- but I don't think religious issues are necessarily irrelevant in making political choices. While I'll gladly vote for any Christian or Jew who supports my views on major issues, even I have a tipping point -- I don't know that I could bring myself to vote for an individual, for example, who was a Satanist, because our value systems would be too greatly at odds. Is that a wholly rational position, one consistent with my stated beliefs on religion and elections? Maybe not, but then I've never met anyone who was wholly consistent on the values they espouse.
There are those who will argue that the Constitution forbids religious tests for office. They are right, but they ignore what that restriction really means. That provision restricts government itself from requiring or forbidding certain beliefs or practices, but does not extend to the sanctity of the voting booth and the individual's weighing of a candidate's relative merits for office.
Now for all I find myself unable to accept Mormon religious doctrines (and I have studied them, having once been painfully smitten with a Mormon girl who would allow our relationship to progress no further unless I converted) and the historical roots of that faith, I have rarely met a Mormon whose fundamental decency I have doubted. That gives me a certain confidence that Romney's values and mine are congruent, even if not identical. It is why I can support his candidacy for president with a clear conscience, and why I can urge my fellow Americans (of whom my fellow Republicans are but one subset) to support him for the presidency in 2008.
Sharpton Raises Racial Grievance Over Garage Flag
Good grief -- have we so few issues of importance in the field of civil rights ad race relations that so-called "civil rights leaders" (all-to-often merely racial grievance mongers) are reduced to protesting something as absurd as this.
Nobody got shot, but Vice President Cheney still fired up controversy Monday when he went hunting at a private club that hangs the Confederate flag.
A Daily News photographer captured the 3-by-5 foot Dixie flag affixed to a door in the garage of the Clove Valley Gun and Rod Club in upstate Union Vale, N.Y.
"It's appalling for the VP to be at a private club displaying the flag of lynching, hate and murder," said the Rev. Al Sharpton. "It's the epitome of an insult."
Sharpton demanded Cheney distance himself from the exclusive club where the Stars and Bars was flown, and said he might hold a prayer vigil there.
I'm curious -- how many folks, including club members, even knew that the thing was there before the picture was taken? Probably not many. If AlSharpton is going to try to make a cause celebre out of this, it proves that the racial climate in this country even better than I had believed.
Indeed, if a flag in a garage and the six felonious thugs from Jena are the worst offenses the racial grievance mongers can muster, then I'd argue it is time to zero-out the civil rights division of the Department of Justice -- its work is done.
This Would Be Awesome: Ted Olson for Virginia Senate Seat?
I’m hearing rumblings that high-ranking Republicans want to coax former Solicitor General Ted Olson to run against Mark Warner in next year’s Virginia Senate race…
And it might still leave him in contention for a future Supreme Court seat – one which is richly deserved.
Pro-Border-Jumper Groups Seek To Stop Law Against Illegals
Because after all, we wouldn’t want to make those breaking the law feel uncomfortable, stigmatized or unwelcome.
One of the toughest state laws targeting illegal immigrants takes effect Thursday in Oklahoma, prompting efforts by immigrants trying to block it and work by state agencies to comply.
The law makes it a felony to transport or shelter illegal immigrants. Businesses, which are barred by federal law from hiring illegal immigrants, can be sued by a legal worker who is displaced by an illegal one.
The measure denies illegal immigrants certain public benefits such as rental assistance and fuel subsidies.
"It's clearly one of the most restrictive policies" in the country, says Cecilia Muñoz of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights organization.
Muñoz says she's particularly concerned about a provision that gives local police the authority to check immigration status. Such policies create fear among all Hispanics, including those in the country legally, and may contribute to discrimination, she says.
On Thursday, the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders filed its second lawsuit against the measure. The group says it is unconstitutional because immigration is a federal, not state, responsibility.
I’m particularly troubled by their attempt to block the provision allowing legal workers to sue employers of illegal immigrants. After all, according to the advocates for the border jumpers, those folks are only doing the jobs Americans won’t do. Could it be that they are afraid of being proved wrong when there is a flood of lawsuits from American citizens who want jobs but are being undercut by those with no legal right to be in (much less work in) the United States?
Heck, the real news would be if she wasn’t voting Republican.
Sorry, sister: Laura Bush says experience as First Lady may count, but she won't vote for Hillary Clinton just to see the first female President.
Putting party over gender pride yesterday, Bush said she wasn't at all conflicted over opposing the first woman with a real chance to break the marble ceiling.
"It doesn't matter to me - I hope it doesn't matter to other people," the First Lady said. "I hope that people will choose the candidate that they think really has the views that they want.
"I'll be supporting the Republican," Bush added on "Fox News Sunday."
Now let’s see.
Republican wife of a sitting Republican president gets asked of she is going to vote for a Democrat in the upcoming election. What do you think she would say? The question itself is asinine.
"If 9/11 was really an inside job, you wouldn't be driving around with a bumper sticker bragging that you were on to it. Fantasy is a by-product of security: it's the difference between hanging upside down in your dominatrix's bondage parlor after work on Friday and enduring the real thing for years on end in Saddam's prisons."
And similarly, if the Bush Administration were truly the fascist regime the anti-war crowd keeps claiming it is, those making the claim would have long since been imprisoned or executed for the audacity of their claims.
BRITAIN'S first Muslim minister said he was "deeply disappointed" yesterday after being detained at a US airport where his hand luggage was tested for traces of explosive materials.
Shahid Malik, the MP for Dewsbury and an international development minister, was returning to Heathrow after meetings and talks on tackling terrorism, when he was stopped at Dulles Airport near Washington yesterday morning.
He was searched and detained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) - the department whose representatives he had been meeting on his visit.
You, sir, at least fit the profile of a terrorist. We regularly see nuns and Medal of Honor winners searched at random as a condition of air travel. Why should you be treated any different? And if, as you claim, all of those getting the special search that day were Muslims, it appears that someone may have been awake to the fact that Muslims are the folks who have been committing the bulk of terrorist activity over the last 20 years or so.
An Interesting Reflection
The great Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban in 201. It was a great loss for the cultural heritage of all humanity. Roger Cohen reflects on that loss today, following a recent visit to the site.
People still speak of the Buddhas as if they were there. The Buddhas are visited and debated. A “Buddha road” just opened. It boasts the first paved surface in Afghanistan’s majestic central highlands and stretches all of a half-mile.
But the 1,500-year-old Buddhas of Bamiyan are gone, of course, replaced by two gashes in the reddish-brown cliff. They were destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban in their quest to rid the country of the “gods of the infidels.” The fanatical soldiers of Islam blasted the ancient treasures to fragments.
“It is easier to destroy than to build,” Mawlawi Qudratullah Jamal, then the Taliban information minister, noted on March 3, 2001. True enough, but few in New York or elsewhere listened.
Memory, however, is another matter. It is stubborn and volatile and hard to eradicate. The keyhole-like niches in the rock face are charged. Absence is presence. The visitor is drawn into the void as if summoned, not by vacancy, but by the towering Buddhas themselves.
Cohen clearly intends this to be a call for peace, but I think that the quote from Mawlawi Qudratullah shows the problem we face in the current conflict. Our enemy thinks nothing of destruction for destruction's sake, to the point that bombarding Buddhas or flying planes into buildings, not to mention engaging in terrorists bombings and beheadings, are not only not unthinkable but are instead second nature to them. We are faced, then, with new barbarians whose goal is nothing less than the destruction of our society, and we must continue to stand against them or allow them to succeed due to a pacifism born of laziness. Our society has been one of of great building in every field of endeavor. What lasting contribution to the world has our enemy built in the last six centuries?
Cohen ends by noting that fear is not the answer. He is right -- but neither is surrender to the forces of evil that would engulf us in a tidal wave of destruction.
A Muslim inmate says prisoners around the country are regularly mistreated by their jailers because of religious faith. The Supreme Court is considering his case Monday.
The issue in the inmate's lawsuit is whether he can sue prison officials for allegedly confiscating two copies of his Quran and his prayer rug.
Abdus-Shahid M.S. Ali, a convicted murderer, says the books and rug are among the personal items that have been missing since 2003, when he was moved from a federal penitentiary in Atlanta to a facility at Inez, Ky.
Muslim inmates have been subjected to "very hard times and bad treatment" at the hands of federal, state and local prison employees because of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Ali says in court papers.
Ali is serving a sentence of 20 years to life in prison for committing first-degree murder in the District of Columbia.
So we know the true nature of the guy making the complaint -- he is a cold-blooded killer. I guess that doesn't stand in the way of his being a good Muslim, does it? Religion of Peace and all that.
Ali says the items he turned over to prison officers in Atlanta for shipment never arrived at Inez.
In the Supreme Court, the question is whether federal prison officials qualify as law enforcement officers and are therefore exempt from suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act of 1946. The statute bars liability claims against law enforcement officers involved in detaining property. Two lower federal courts ruled against Ali.
Besides the two copies of the Quran and the prayer rug, Ali is missing stamps and other personal items worth $177 that he says weren't sent along to Big Sandy penitentiary in Kentucky.
Gee, growing up my family moved at six times -- and every time, something got lost in transit. My complete medical records for the first six years of my life were lost by the Department of Defense when they were shipped from Naval Hospital Balboa to Naval Hospital Bethesda, though the rest of the family records arrived just fine. Sounds like the same thing here. But I guess you can get more press claiming confiscation than simple loss.
October 28, 2007
Actions Vs. Words
A new site dealing with the threat of Islamic terrorism has opened -- Kafir Canada.
If the first major post (second overall) is any indication, the site will become an important one in the fight against those who would do violence against us in the name of the Muslim faith, as well as those who object to efforts to combat Islamic terrorism. Provided, of course, the Canadian government doesn't try to shut it down for speaking the truth.
Unite (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees) has been trying to wedge a foot in the door at Cintas since 2003. Unable to get enough worker support to force an election, Unite wants to skip the customary secret-ballot and force 17,000 Cintas workers to join the union and pay dues. But Cintas and its workers have said no thanks.
"What they're asking for is they want me to agree to put all of our people in a union without giving them a chance to vote for themselves," said CEO Scott Farmer, after the shareholders meeting on Tuesday. "Our position is that our employees have a right to say yes - but they also have a right to say no."
So Unite has resorted to desperate attacks on the Cincinnati-based uniform company.
Unite copied license numbers from Cintas workers in Pennsylvania, to snoop in personal information and harass them at home. The union has been ordered to pay the workers $2,500 each. Unite also published a false press release that caused Cintas stock to drop $300 million, according to a defamation suit by Cintas that is going to trial in Warren County court.
"For four-and-a-half years now our people have heard it all," Farmer said. "The union is not going anywhere, but I consider it a failed campaign."
For every "sweatshop" accusation from Unite, there are dozens of Cintas workers who like their jobs and want no part of a union. Many have signed petitions asking Unite to stop harassing them.
If a business engaged in such tactics to stop their workers from unionizing, they would be subject to criminal and civil penalties. If that business engaged in such tactics to break an existing union, they would be subject to criminal and civil penalties. When will unions be subject to the same sort of penalties -- and when will our government quit coddling the union thugs and seeking legislation to force workers into unions they don't want?
The Three Fallacies Of Single Payer Health "Insurance"
I think this really sums the matter up quite nicely, since the Democrats seem to believe that we have enough extra cash around to "insure" the health of every single American and any illegal alien able to sneak across the border.
The first fallacy should be obvious to anyone. The government does not have any extra money! In fact, our government owes $9 trillion, give or take a few billion. That is what we call the national debt, but really, it is not owed by the government; it is owed by you and me. Every time some politician gets another bright idea to give away a million dollars here or $250,000 there, it comes out of your pocket. Don’t just believe me; ask your pocket.
The second fallacy may be more subtle. What is being called “health insurance” by the politicians is nothing of the sort. As we have already established, insurance is a financial gamble where you put money at risk on the chance that you will reap a reward later. Notice the word “risk.” But the only one assuming any risk in the “feel-good” version of insurance being proposed by Clinton, Obama, Edwards and the gang is the American taxpayer. What they are talking about is “free health care,” not insurance. But it is only free for the sick person; instead of them paying for their own care, you and I pay for it.
* * *
Which brings us to the unstated third fallacy of the health-care debate, the one which is pivotal and sadly which is accepted as truth by the vast majority of people. It is this: If there is something that is good for me, I am entitled to it, whether I can afford it or not.
Put more simply:
1) We can't afford it.
2) It is socialism, not insurance.
3) It isn't a right.
Interestingly enough, medical care used to be affordable for the overwhelming majority of Americans. Then the government got involved in paying for it for those who couldn't? The result? Prices went up to the level that health insurance became a necessity for everyone else -- which drove costs still higher. After all, when you have to document every aspirin in triplicate and submit the paperwork to get reimbursed, that pill that costs a penny to buy does start to cost $4 to administer..
A Matter Of Death
I hold a certain ambivalence towards the death penalty. On the one hand, I have deep concern over its use upon the innocent. At the same time, I recognize that some crimes are, by their very nature, so heinous that no other penalty is adequate to express society's outrage. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that some offenders -- and not just murderers -- clearly forfeit the presumption of a right to life by the very nature of their crimes.
The United Methodist Church here is the kind of politically active place where parishioners take to the pulpit to discuss poverty in El Salvador and refugees living in Meriden. But few issues engage its passions as much as the death penalty.
The last three pastors were opponents of capital punishment. Church-sponsored adult education classes promote the idea of “restorative justice,” advocating rehabilitation over punishment. Two years ago, congregants attended midnight vigils outside the prison where Connecticut executed a prisoner for the first time in 45 years.
The problem, of course, with the whole "restorative justice" concept is that there is no real way of making whole the victims and the community in certain cases. And that is precisely the problem in the case at hand.
So it might have been expected that United Methodist congregants would speak out forcefully when a brutal triple murder here in July led to tough new policies against violent criminals across the state and a pledge from prosecutors to seek capital punishment against the defendants.
But the congregation has been largely quiet, not out of indifference, but anguish: the victims were popular and active members of the church — Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11. On July 23, two men broke into the family’s home. Mrs. Hawke-Petit was strangled and her daughters died in a fire that the police say was set by the intruders.
The killings have not just stunned the congregation, they have spurred quiet debate about how it should respond to the crime and whether it should publicly oppose the punishment that may follow. It has also caused a few to reassess how they feel about the punishment.
Yeah -- the liberal "principle" at work here gets really hard to stand by when it hits too close to home. All of a sudden one is forced to reexamine what one believes when the hard, cold reality and unspeakable evil intrudes. Sure, ideas like "restorative justice" sound great in theory -- especially when one talks about property crime -- but it doesn't work when you have three dead loved ones to deal with. They are not going to be restored.
At the heart of the debate are questions about how Mrs. Hawke-Petit’s husband, William, who survived the attack, feels about the death penalty. The indications are conflicting. Sensitive to his grief, many of the church’s most ardent capital punishment opponents have been hesitant to speak against the capital charges brought against two parolees charged with the killings, Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes.
“I’m treading lightly out of respect for the Petit family,” said the church’s pastor, the Rev. Stephen E. Volpe, a death penalty opponent. “I do not feel we, in this church, ought to make this tragedy the rallying cry for anything at this point.”
Yeah -- but if this was some other family from some other church, would you be more than willing to do so? If so, then that is either a sign that you are unwilling to stand by your principles when they are inconvenient, or that you know that they are wrong but unwilling to own up to that reality. After all, if you really believe that your position is coming out of the Gospel, then you need to proclaim it when it is hard, not just when it is easy -- unless it is less about the Gospel and more about a political agenda sugar-coated with a veneer of religion.
At the same time, there is a widespread belief that Mrs. Hawke-Petit was opposed to capital punishment. Having her killers put to death would be the last thing she would want, many say.
“It’d be so dishonoring to her life to do anything violent in her name,” said Carolyn Hardin Engelhardt, a church member who is the director of the ministry resource center at Yale Divinity School Library. “That’s not the kind of person she was.”
At least two church members say they think that Mrs. Hawke-Petit endorsed an anti-death-penalty document known as a Declaration of Life. The declaration states a person’s opposition to capital punishment and asks that prosecutors, in the event of the person’s own death in a capital crime, do not seek the death penalty. The documents have been signed by thousands of people, including Mario M. Cuomo, the former governor of New York, and Martin Sheen, the actor.
“She was a nurse and she would not cause harm to anyone,” said Lucy Earley, a congregant who notarized at least a dozen declarations during an appeal at the church and said she thought Mrs. Hawke-Petit’s was among them.
Declarations of Life are often kept with a person’s will or other important papers; sometimes they are filed with registries. But it could not be independently determined whether Mrs. Hawke-Petit had signed one. Although the family’s home was heavily damaged in the fire and no independent copies have surfaced, death penalty opponents both inside and outside the church have kept trying to find one. A clear indication that Mrs. Hawke-Petit rejected capital punishment could help them mobilize, they say, not only in the Cheshire case but also on behalf of the nine people on Connecticut’s death row in Somers.
The opponents also say that a signed declaration by Mrs. Hawke-Petit opposing capital punishment could help counter the public outrage to the killings — outrage that has pressured state officials to suspend parole for violent criminals.
I'm about to make a really terrible sounding statement -- the views of Jennifer Hawke-Petit (or her daughters, or her surviving husband and other family members) on the death penalty are at best tangentially relevant to the eventual sentence given in this case. When prosecuted, the case will not be prosecuted in her name -- it will be prosecuted in the name of the people of the state of Connecticut, recognizing that the offense committed was not just against her and her family, but also against society as a whole. Indeed, the question is what do the people of Connecticut view as an appropriate punishment for the horrific events that took place this summer -- views quite clearly expressed in support of the death penalty.
But I put a different question to those anti-death penalty ideologues who urge that the victim's views should be the overriding factor in determining the sentence for murder -- if a victim left behind some clear demand for the execution of their murderers, would you be equally passionate in demanding that execution be the only option at sentencing? If their clearly articulated religious views supported the death penalty, would you insist that they be the guiding force in this case? Or would you argue, in typical liberal fashion, that your views are so much more compassionate and humane and advance than theirs and that your views must therefore override the wishes of the victim? You don't need to answer -- we already know.
Still, if proof of Mrs. Hawke-Petit’s sentiments did surface, it would have little standing in court, lawyers and prosecutors say.
“Our job is to enforce the law no matter who the victim is or what the victim’s religious beliefs are,” said John A. Connelly, a veteran prosecutor in Waterbury who is not involved in the Cheshire case. “If you started imposing the death penalty based on what the victim’s family felt, it would truly become arbitrary and capricious.”
Michael Dearington, the state’s attorney who is prosecuting the suspects in the Petit killings, said he did not know whether Mrs. Hawke-Petit had signed a Declaration of Life. Asked if he knew Dr. Petit’s views on the death penalty, he replied, “I have a no comment on that.”
Interestingly enough, the article goes on to indicate that Dr. Petit is in support of the death penalty in this case. That creates an interesting problem for those who talk about "restorative justice", because it appears that the one surviving victim may have a very different view of what it will take for justice to be done. And while there is an anecdote regarding the use of the Prayer of St. Francis at the memorial service for his murdered family, and his struggle with the word pardon, let us not forget that forgiveness and justice are not mutually exclusive concepts in the Christian tradition, or in the American legal system.
I'm going to stop the fisking at this point. I do so for two reasons.
1) Much of the rest of the article constitutes a rehashing of the same issues raised earlier. and a focus on some genuinely good and decent works of the congregation. Frankly, I admire much of what is reported here, and do not doubt the people of the congregation are men and women of faith seeking to follow the Gospel. While I disagree with them on some points (in particular the death penalty issue), I respect them and mean nothing in the way of disrespect for them in anything I have written.
2) It hits too close to home. Jennifer Hawke-Petit, you see, was a friend of my wife's when they were growing up in Pennsylvania. She attended the couple's wedding, and the baptism of Hayley, their oldest daughter. She worked for Jennifer Hawke-Petit's father for a time. The events of this summer caused much anguish around our home, and much talk the victims and their families. I choose to honor those things revealed by not speaking of them more publicly in this forum.
Noting that Jindal, 36, chose the nickname Bobby in place of his given name, Piyush, as a toddler and converted from Hinduism to Christianity in high school, some have accused him of being a "potato": brown on the outside, white on the inside.
Shameful. Absolutely shameful. And no more acceptable than the "Is Obama black enough" meme of a few weeks back.
“People want to make everything about race. The only colors that matter here are red, white and blue."
Why won't the media -- and too many Americans of minority ethnicities -- begin to embrace the views of one of the great men of twentieth century America?
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today....
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
Bobby Jindal has embraced that vision. The voters of Louisiana have embraced that vision. The Republican Party has embraced that vision. When will the press, the ethnic and racial grievance mongers, and the Left embrace that vision?
And that it is not revealing of a great deal about the lawyer making the argument.
The first jury trial Mrs. Clinton handled on her own, for instance, concerned the rear end of a rat in a can of pork and beans. She represented the cannery, and she argued that there had been no real harm, as the plaintiff did not actually eat the rat. “Besides,” she wrote in her autobiography, describing her client’s position, “the rodent parts which had been sterilized might be considered edible in certain parts of the world.”
The jury seemed to buy her argument, more or less, as it awarded only token damages. But no one was particularly happy about the case or her performance. Her former partner, Webster L. Hubbell, told one of her biographers that she was “amazingly nervous” in speaking to the jury.
Tell me, friends, doesn't that sound like precisely the sort of argument that she would make in favor of socialized medicine?
'Shoot first' laws make it tougher for burglars in the United States
Of course, they do manage to find (and extensively quote) a liberal whiner to make it appear that making things tougher for burglars is a bad thing.
But for the Freedom States Alliance that fights against the proliferation of firearms in the United States, these new laws attach more value to threatened belongings than to the life of the thief and only serve to increase the number of people killed by firearms each year, which currently is estimated to stand at nearly 30,000.
"It's that whole Wild West mentality that is leading the country down a very dangerous path," said Sally Slovenski, executive director of the alliance.
"In any other country, something like the castle doctrine or stand-your-ground laws look like just absolute lunacy," she continued.
"And yet in this country, somehow it's been justified, and people just sort of have come to live with this, and they just don't see the outrage in this."
I'm sorry, I can't help but be outraged that you believe I should give a tinker's damn about the life and safety of someone who breaks into my home. Especially given crimes like this high profile incident that recently took the life of one of my wife's childhood friends and her two daughters.
Guglielmo Olivotto, an Italian prisoner of war, died with a noose around his neck, lynched at a military post on Puget Sound 63 years ago. Samuel Snow, 83, hopes that people will stop blaming him and the 27 other black soldiers convicted of starting the riot that led to Mr. Olivotto’s death. It was one of the largest Army courts-martial of World War II.
This week, a review board issued a ruling that could lead to overturning the convictions of all 28 soldiers, granting honorable discharges and providing them with back pay.
The board found that the court-martial was flawed, that the defense was unjustly rushed and that the prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, a young lieutenant colonel who went on to fame three decades later as a Watergate special prosecutor, had important evidence that he did not share with defense lawyers.
All of the 28 have died except for Mr. Snow and another soldier.
Leon Jaworski went on to fame and fortune after railroading these men. Why did he ignore the evidence and insist upon sending them to prison? Could it have been the race of Jaworski's victims -- and of the murderer?
And I wonder -- Jaworski's grandson, Joe Jaworski, is seeking to unseat my state senator. Will he have the integrity to condemn his grandfather for this clear example of prosecutorial misconduct?
Busybodies Insist Upon Imposing their Standards On Halloween Decorations
the mock hangings — considered relatively new to the panoply of Halloween mock-menace — have been displayed openly. And they are defended vigorously by people like Jennifer Cervero of Stratford, Conn., who this week removed the figure of a man hanging from a noose in her tree, after protests, but still finds the complaints of racial insensitivity she received “completely overblown and ridiculous.”
“We do up all the holidays really big, and this Halloween we decided to go for the big Wow,” said Miss Cervero, who is white and lives with her mother and sister in Stratford, a mostly white suburb of Bridgeport.
The resulting display included a plastic corpse with its head ripped off, a mechanical ghoul whose head spins around, a rotting corpse — and the offending figure, which she bought from an online catalog that lists it as Item HG-005078: Inflatable Hanging Victim Prop, which she hung, per instructions, from a tree. It cost $89.99.
The Rev. Johnny Gamble, pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church in Stratford, heard complaints from parishioners and went to see it for himself.
“At first, I couldn’t believe my eyes. But there it was. A mannequin of a black man, hanging from the neck,” said Mr. Gamble, who is black.
When he knocked at the door, Joyce Mounajed, Miss Cervero’s mother, told him the figure was not meant to be a black man, but was dark-hued to convey the idea of decaying flesh. It was “just a decoration,” he said she told him.
“I told her, ‘We don’t decorate like that. That is a symbol of lynching,’” Mr. Gamble said. “What if my great-grandfather was lynched? There are no two ways of looking at this; that thing is extremely offensive.”
My response to Mr. Gamble would have been "You don't decorate like that? Fine. We do. That constitutes evidence that there are, in fact two ways of looking at this. Welcome to America, the land of freedom. Now quit trying to impose your politically correct values on me and get off my property before I call the cops and have you arrested for trespassing."
War On God In Veteran's Cemeteries
Rather than allow the traditional flag-folding ceremony as an option at the burial of our nation's veterans, the long-standing tradition has been banned by a government bureaucrat? Why? Because of a complaint over a reference to God.
Flag-folding recitations by Memorial Honor Detail volunteers are now banned at the nation’s 125 veterans graveyards because of a complaint about the ceremony at Riverside National Cemetery.
During thousands of military burials, the volunteers have folded the American flag 13 times and recited the significance of every fold to survivors.
The first fold represents life, the second a belief in eternal life, and so on.
The complaint revolved around the narration in the 11th fold, which celebrates Jewish war veterans and “glorifies the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”
The National Cemetery Administration then decided to ban the entire recital at all national cemeteries. Details of the complaint weren’t disclosed.
Administration spokesman Mike Nacincik said the new policy outlined in a Sept. 27 memorandum is aimed at creating uniform services throughout the military graveyard system.
He said the 13-fold recital is not part of the U.S. Flag Code and is not government-approved.
And, of course, we can't have anything that isn't in the Flag Code. So let's ban the ceremony by government fiat. As I recall, though, the Flag Code also bans disrespectful burning of the flag. I guess that some speech is just a little more equal than other speech.
But most distressing is that a single complaint has resulted in the destruction of a long-standing tradition, and its denial to those who find comfort in the ceremony at a time of loss. Wouldn't a reasonable approach have been to require that the family be asked as a part of the funeral arrangements whether the ritual was welcome?
Imagine arising on a fall morning in 1947 to read this in the paper.
In late June, three of Adolf Hitler’s senior military officials were found guilty of war crimes, including the notorious henchman Hermann Goering. Iraqi law required that they be executed no more than 30 days after the German courts rejected their final appeals.
That deadline has passed, but the men are still alive and in United States custody. The execution has been delayed because of questions raised by some German politicians and a spirited behind-the-scenes discussion involving senior German and American officials over the death sentence of one of the other men, Joachim von Ribbentrop, the former foreign.
Now, Mr. von Ribbentrop’s fate has become a test case for reconciliation and whether Germany's’s fractious parties and political alliances can work together to resolve the difficult issues surrounding his death sentence. There are also doubts among some German officials about the fairness of his punishment.
Of course, no such article would ever be written. No such dispute or delay would ever have been allowed to override justice being done. Indeed, the New York Times would have been shouting for blood, and condemning any who dared stand in the way of the sentences being carried out.
In late June, three of Saddam Hussein’s senior military officials were found guilty of war crimes, including the notorious henchman known as Chemical Ali. Iraqi law required that they be executed no more than 30 days after the Iraqi courts rejected their final appeals.
That deadline has passed, but the men are still alive and in United States custody. The execution has been delayed because of questions raised by some Iraqi politicians and a spirited behind-the-scenes discussion involving senior Iraqi and American officials over the death sentence of one of the other men, Sultan Hashem Ahmed al-Jabouri al-Tai, the former minister of defense.
Now, Mr. Hashem’s fate has become a test case for reconciliation and whether Iraq’s fractious sects and political alliances can work together to resolve the difficult issues surrounding his death sentence. There are also doubts among some Iraqi officials about the fairness of his punishment.
Beyond the heated arguments about Mr. Hashem’s guilt lies the fraught question of whether Iraqis are ready to stop the retributive killing of members of the former government. It seems that some of them are.
Beyond the heated arguments about Mr. Hashem’s guilt lies the fraught question of whether Iraqis are ready to stop the retributive killing of members of the former government. It seems that some of them are.
I don't know about you, but that this article is being written with such an approving tone strikes me as rather chilling. But then again, given the tendency of the mass media to give aid and comfort, if not explicit support, to the enemies of America, maybe I couldn't be surprised. No doubt they would find a few positive words for the condemned Nazis today.
Ron Paul Starts Radio Campaign
Well, looks like Ron Paul is going to try to expand his base beyond the internet lunatic crowd. Now he's trying to infect attract the general public with a radio and television campaign.
Hoping to defy more expectations, Rep. Ron Paul is ratcheting up his maverick Republican presidential campaign by launching TV and radio commercials in early primary states and setting an ambitious $12 million fundraising goal.
For a candidate often relegated by pundits to second- or third-tier status, Paul's ability to make a big entry into advertising wars is unusual.
With just over two months until the first primaries, experts question whether the libertarian-leaning congressman from Lake Jackson can expand his intense following to make a credible showing in these early contests.
Officials with Paul's campaign acknowledge they have an uphill battle, but say they plan to broaden his support with an advertising campaign that includes $1.1 million in television spots that begin airing Monday in New Hampshire.
Now the Paul campaign is sitting on a chunk of cash, and has apparently decided to use it to communicate his sometimes reasonable, sometimes bizarre message. That is great, because there are some positive points in his message, things that I do agree with. Unfortunately, he has become a magnet for every conspiracist, lunatic, and extremist out there, as I've pointed out more than once.
Since he'll take their endorsement and their money without comment, I wonder if any of his money will go to Stormfront Radio?
Democrats seemed to be trying "to drill enough small holes in the bottom of the boat to sink the entire Iraqi enterprise, while still claiming undying support for the crew about to drown," said Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia.
Racist Commentator Condemns Jindal As An "Uncle Bob"
When you see a person of color, you expect someone with similar values, views, beliefs — someone in touch with the emerging new majority. With Jindal, you get someone who very deliberately and proudly downplays his race in order to seek his own individual path. That kind of independence under certain circumstances may be commendable. But only if you happen to agree with his ideas that range from free-market health care, intelligent design instead of evolution, anti-choice and a fenced-in America.
In other words, independent thought is only OK when it leads you to the same conclusion as everyone else. "People of color" have no right to be diverse, the argument goes, because it somehow betrays the collective and their interests.
Tell me, though -- what is it about being Asian-American that requires one support socialized medicine? Is there some reason that one whose ancestry comes from East that obliges one to accept Godless evolution over the notion that there was a Creator of some sort? Does an Oriental heritage mandate taking the anti-life position on abortion? And is there something peculiarly and exclusively Occidental about a desire to see the sovereignty of the United States upheld and our immigration laws enforced so that all who come here are law-abiding?
One would think not, if one is a thinking person. There is no mandatory race-based political ideology, just as there is no exclusively "White" position on these issues that must be upheld lest one be a race-traitor. Indeed, suggesting such a thing would be seen as proof positive that one is a racist of the most vile ilk. And that is precisely the category to which individuals of good will must consign Emil Guillermo and the editors who allowed his piece to be published.
Because after all, the Asian community is a diverse one, encompassing multiple cultures, languages and religious faiths, not to mention histories. With all the contempt for assimilation and support for diversity mouthed by Guillermo, why does he insist that every individual of Asian-American heritage must behave as a part of a Borg-like left-wing racial collective?
Seems like a much more fitting punishment for this crime, even though we can't do it under our system of laws.
A man who tossed a 10-week-old puppy off a third-story balcony during an argument with his girlfriend was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday by a judge who said he wanted to "send a message."
Javon Patrick Morris pleaded guilty to animal cruelty after throwing the animal off a North Charleston apartment balcony in March.
The animal, a Yorkiepoo, was in a soft-sided container. It suffered severe head trauma, among other injuries, and had to be euthanized.
Morris, 22, said he was sorry before his sentencing in the Charleston County Courthouse. But Circuit Judge Edward Cottingham, who's owned nine dogs, seemed taken aback by the severity of the crime.
"You mean he threw a helpless animal off three floors because he was mad at someone?" Cottingham asked 9th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Stephanie Bianco.
Of course, we would have to make the drop proportionally higher – I think the Empire State Building’s observation deck might just be high enough.
Dhimmicrats Allow Candidates To Appear In Michigan
But only for one special group – Arabs/Muslims. If you are a Christian, a Jew, a Hispanic, or an African-American in Michigan, the Democrat presidential candidates are not allowed to seek your vote.
Hundreds of Arab-Americans and members of the Washington political establishment will meet in Dearborn this weekend for a national conference amid concerns that while Arab-Americans are increasingly courted for votes, attempts also are made to exclude them from the public discourse.
The sessions are considered significant enough that the Democratic chairs of the party in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina extended a singular exemption from a ban on candidates campaigning in Michigan -- in a dispute over scheduling the primary -- so that candidates could attend the National Leadership Conference of the Arab American Institute, beginning today.
Can we get someone to file a complaint with the US Department of Justice over this issue? It is a clear violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, granting special political privileges to one ethnic/religious group that are not extended to other Americans.
Portland School To Follow Laws Protecting Minors
One good thing is coming out of the decision to allow schools in one Maine community to dispense birth control to children as young as 11. These same schools will now start following state law and require the reporting of sex involving those under the age of 14 to the authorities.
Portland's school-based health centers have not been reporting all illegal sexual activity involving minors as required by law, but they will from now on, city officials said Thursday.
Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson questioned the health centers' reporting practices after the Portland School Committee decided last week to offer prescription birth control at the King Middle School health center.
The King Student Health Center has offered comprehensive reproductive health care, including providing condoms and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, since it opened in 2000. The school serves students in grades 6 to 8, ages 11 to 15.
Maine law prohibits having sex with a person under age 14, regardless of the age of the other person involved, Anderson said.
A health care provider must report all known or suspected cases of sex with minors age 13 and under to the state Department of Health and Human Services, she said. Abuse also must be reported to the appropriate district attorney's office, Anderson said, when the suspected perpetrator is someone other than the minor's parent or guardian.
"When it's somebody under age 14, it is a crime and it must be reported," Anderson said. "The health care provider has no discretion in the matter. It's up to the district attorney to decide."
It seems that school officials hadn’t bee following the law, including the health care “professionals” at the school clinic. I hope that while the local DA subpoenas the records of the clinic to determine whether past criminal violations have not been reported, and that appropriate sanctions are taken against the licensure of those who failed to follow the law.
After all -- we in education have a legal obligation, not to mention a moral one, to protect the children in our care.
Academic Freedom For Muslims – Not For Jews
Is anyone else disgusted that a public university would cave in to a request likethis?
Yesterday, the University of Delaware asked Asaf Romirowsky to step down from an academic panel at the University of Delaware because another panelist, University of Delaware political scientist Muqtedar Khan, didn't want to share the podium with anyone who served in the Israeli Defense Forces. Romirowsky, who holds joint American/Israeli citizenship and lives in Philadelphia, had been invited to join Khan, his colleague in political science, Stuart Kaufman, a staff member of the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, and a graduate student to discuss anti-Americanism in the Middle East. The program was organized by the College Republicans, the College Democrats, and the Students of Western Civilization Club. The Leadership Institute provided the funds for the panel, which met on the University of Delaware campus on Wednesday evening. The students offered Romirowsky the opportunity to come to campus next week and speak alone, with no other panel members who might object to his presence.
Khan is not just a faculty member at the university – he is also a staff member of the Brookings Institution and spoke the same day at the Pentagon. That he would make the request indicates his inability to fairly deal with any Israeli student – and perhaps any Jewish student. It also indicates that he is someone who has no place helping to guide and direct the formation of our national defense policy.
But more disturbing than the request is the willingness of a public university to give in to the demands of an anti-Semitic pig like Khan. The appropriate response would have been to rescind the invitation to Khan – and to review his employment status in light of the questions raised by the request. To take the path they did was to cave in to dhimmitude.
Brittainy and Madison were hoping their dad, Maj. Robert Thomas, would come home from Iraq in the next couple of weeks.
So it's no wonder they were bowled over when he walked into their school's gymnasium during a student program about patriotism Thursday.
"I thought we were just going to read our (essays) about patriotism," said Brittainy, 11, and a fifth-grader at Atwood Elementary School in Macomb Township. Atwood is in the L'Anse Creuse Public Schools district.
"I had no idea my dad was going to be here," she said. "I'm just really happy my dad is home."
Madison, 6, was also surprised.
"I thought my dad would be home for my birthday on Nov. 8," she said. "I guess I was wrong."
The girls' father returned home Thursday morning after serving in the Army in Iraq for about a year.
I encourage you to read the rest of the article. I’m proud of these fellow educators who handled this special situation with class and dignity – and who turned a special family event into a special learning experience for the whole school.
And call me a sucker, but I cried while reading about the event.
Legislators Return Qurans
Now we can argue over whether or not the response to receiving the books is the correct one, but I think this situation raises a different question that is being overlooked.
Two dozen Oklahoma lawmakers plan to return copies of the Quran to a state panel on diversity after a lawmaker claimed the Muslim holy book condones the killing of innocent people.
The books were given to Oklahoma's 149 senators and representatives by the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council.
* * *
[Council Chairperson Marjaneh] Seirafi-Pour said the gift was a way to introduce the council to lawmakers so they could use it as a resource to "serve their offices and constituents." Oklahoma lawmakers also received a copy of the Bible earlier this year from The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
Now did anyone catch the troubling detail in the excerpt? If you didn’t, go back and look again. The books were given to the legislators by an official governmental panel. Why was that? Isn’t that a violation of the constitutional separation of mosque and state? How much government money was spent procuring the books and distributing them to the legislators? Were the sacred texts of other religious groups also distributed by the Governor’s Ethnic American Advisory Council, or did they specifically act to establish Islam as the state religion of Oklahoma? Do Buddhists, Hindus, and other religious believers qualify as second-class citizens in the eyes of these multi-culti buffoons, if their books were not also distributed to enable legislators to “serve their offices and constituents”? Given the large population of Native Americans in Oklahoma (certainly outnumbering Muslims), were Cherokee and other tribal religious texts also put into the offices of legislators?
And don’t try to compare that to the gift of the Bibles, because those came to the legislators from a private organization, not an arm of the government. These Qurans came with the official imprimatur of the executive branch.
Where is the freakin’ ACLU on this one, folks? Or do the rules that apply to Christians not apply to Muslims?
UPDATE: I just came across this information regarding the distribution of the Qurans.
Gov. Brad Henry's Muslim advisory council is offering personalized Korans to lawmakers to mark the state's centennial, with each copy to be embossed with the Oklahoma state seal and the recipient lawmaker's name. The all-Muslim group — plain-vanilla-named the American Ethnic Advisory Council — asked lawmakers to notify it if they didn't want a Koran, which the group described as "the record of the exact words revealed by G-d through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad." So far, 24 have declined.
Of course, it's the rejection of the Korans that's making headlines, not their state-sealed if privately funded distribution. No one asks what the Koran has to do with Oklahoma's centennial, for Pete's sake; or why a government organization is proselytizing about "the exact words" of Allah; or how those words in that book sound to non-Muslims leery of Islam's age-old message to convert, submit or die. In our weird world, it's not the Islamic message that's branded hateful or even insensitive; it's the person who rejects it. This is the technique that usually shuts people up.
If this is correct, the books themselves are privately funded – but still being distributed by a government panel. This still seems to be creating a “mosque and state” problem to me.
Second, why is an “Ethnic American” group composed solely of Muslims? Even if, as Diana West notes later in the column, it was intended to be a group to be composed of members of the "Middle East/Near East community", why are there no Arab Christians or Middle Eastern Jews? Why doesn’t its name clarify what “ethnic Americans” it is intended to “advise” about if it is intended to be an exclusively Muslim group? Could it be intended to disguise the “mosque and state” violation in question?
But that isn't enough for the NYTimes, which has the audacity to complain about the president being driven by ideology.
The House approved a revised bill to finance the children’s health insurance program yesterday by a 265-to-142 margin — a strong mandate, but still not enough to overcome another promised veto by President Bush.
If the president carries out this threat, we hope Congressional tacticians can find a way to enact this important measure over the adamant, ideologically driven opposition of Mr. Bush and House Republican leaders. The health of millions of children who lack insurance cannot be held hostage to the president’s visceral distaste for government and its essential role to protect the weak, or his desire to protect the tobacco industry.
Desire to protect the tobacco industry? Where does that one come from?
And is it just me, or is the complaint by the editors of the New York Times to ideologically driven positions on policy issues somewhat akin to complaints about from a hooker about the loose sexual morality of women in contemporary society?
Andrew Sullivan -- Hypocrite
The fine conservative site RedState recently announced its decision to ban comments favoring Ron Paul by newly registered members, based upon a documented problem with the Ronulans. Whether or not this is the correct move is subject to debate, but it is hard to call teh decision illegitimate in light of the behavior of many Ron paul supporters around the internet.
Erickson thinks that they're a human political cocktail of Code Pink activists and Neo Nazis, and he doesn't expect them to vote for anyone other than Paul.
All thinks that a lot of them are those who buy into Paul's message of limited government and fiscal responsibility.
I don't think I qualify as a Neo-Nazi or a Code Pink activist. Full Wired story here. But here's a simple message to Ron Paul supporters. You're welcome here. The Dish believes in expanding the range of debate among conservatives, not crushing it. And any cursory look at the degenerate state of American conservatism would not lead you to think your problem is too much diversity of opinion.
Really, Andrew? That's odd -- you don't allow comments at all from anyone, though you do allow trackbacks.
Tell me, sir, how your no-comment site promotes dialogue and debate. Seems to me that your comment-free zone stifles that debate. As such, I hope you don't mind if I refer to this as a classic case of "do as I say, not as I do" hypocrisy on your part.
UPDATE: And as proof of Andrew Sullivan's hypocrisy, guess what -- it appears that he's refused my trackback! So much for promoting open debate!
October 25, 2007
Ron Paul Takes Nazi Cash!
Matt, David, and the rest of the folks at LoneStarTimes.com have dug up what ought to be a big scandal -- Ron Paul is taking campaign cash from Nazis, including the owner of the biggest neo-Nazi site on the internet (and the current husband of the former Mrs. David Duke).
A LoneStarTimes.com investigation has conclusively established that a leading figure in the American neo-Nazi / White-Supremacist movement has provided financial support to Ron Paul’s 2008 Presidential campaign.
Now LST has been raising the issue of links to Paul's website (including a fundraising widget) from Stormfront for some time now, without response from the Paul campaign. Paul has not renounced support from white supremacists like Black and Stormfront, despite his campaign being made aware of the links from the racist site. Furthermore, Paul's association with (and courting of) 9/11 Truthers, rabid anti-Zionists, and militia supporters clearly walks him to the extreme fringe of American politics -- right to the very neighborhood inhabited by the neo-Nazis.
Interestingly enough, Ron Paul supporters commenting at LST are defending the acceptance of white supremacist cash, and arguing that LST is in the wrong for revealing the connection.
Will Ron Paul do the right thing in this case? Or will he keep the cash, thereby verifying that he is the candidate of the freaks, weirdos and nutjobs of the internet?
That means YOU, mainstream media producer/reporter/outlet!
A LoneStarTimes.com investigation has conclusively established that a leading figure in the American neo-Nazi / White-Supremacist movement has provided financial support to Ron Paul’s 2008 Presidential campaign.
Previous LST posts have focused on banner “widgets” appearing on the front-page of Stormfront. It is important to emphasize that these are NOT “advertisements” placed on Stormfront BY the Paul campaign, but rather publicly-available graphics that Stormfront’s owner has chosen to place himself, with links directly to Paul’s donation page.
Nevertheless, LST has in the past several weeks raised a series of questions for the Paul campaign; specifically–
Can Paul confirm that the donation widgets appearing on Stormfront are the result of the site owner’s actions, not the campaign’s?
Will Paul take measures to block Stormfront as a referring URL to his own website, so that no future donations can possibly flow into his campaign from a site that serves as the on-line nexus of neo-Nazism?
Will Paul ask his own web-staff to trace past donations that were made by anyone arriving at his campaign’s webpage from Stormfront, so that these contributions can be rejected?
Will Paul explore if there are any legal actions available to try to remove his donation widget from Stormfront, and if so pursue them?
At the very least, will Paul personally state publicly, vigorously and unmistakably that he rejects the support of white supremacists, and that he will not knowingly tolerate their involvement with his campaign in any form or to any degree?
LoneStarTimes.com’s managing editor Matt Bramanti left multiple messages last week for officials in Paul’s national campaign press office seeking comment. None were returned.
In the interim, a number of grassroots supporters of Paul’s campaign– including many honorable and regular readers of LST– have argued that…
It is unfair to hold Paul responsible for receiving political support from racists/neo-Nazis if that support was unsolicited by Paul;
Paul hasn’t, in fact, solicited white-supremacist support; AND
Paul’s campaign has no practical way of knowing whether or not a specific financial contribution made has come from a neo-Nazi.
These abstract debates are now moot– a contribution to the Paul campaign by a known white-supremacist has been identified.
The evidence is as follows:
Black proudly and openly identifies himself as Stormfront’s guiding hand, and publishes a contact address on the Internet– PO Box 6637, West Palm Beach, FL, 33405
A search by LST of public databases indicates that there is only one “Don Black” residing in West Palm Beach, Florida, zip code 33405
A 7/16/01 USA Today article identifies Black’s wife as being named “Chloe”
That same article identifies Chloe as being the ex-wife of close Black associate and former “Grand Wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke
Minutes of a 9/7/07 City of West Palm Beach code-compliance hearing identify “Chloe H. Duke” as owning a residential property located at 203 Lakeland Drive
According to Federal Election Commission records, on 9/30/07 the Ron Paul presidential campaign received a $500 contribution from a Mr. Don Black, who lists his address as 203 Lakeland Drive and identifies his occupation as “self-employed/website manager”
In light of these facts, we believe our previously asked questions continue to have merit.
A final note– it is traditional in political campaigns for candidates to return contributions from “toxic” donors once sufficient public scrutiny and outcry has been generated.
The difficulty in this instance is that if Ron Paul returns these funds to Mr. Black, all he will have done is given a neo-Nazi $500 more dollars with which to spread his psychotic bile.
We would therefore like to suggest that the Ron Paul campaign donate Black’s $500 to any of the following worthy recipients–
One Family Fund (which works to rebuild the shattered lives of Israeli victims of Arab terror; $500 would make Dr. Paul a “healer”)
Aish Ha’Torah (dynamic Jewish educational foundation; Aish donations are set according to funky Kabbalah-based giving levels–$18, $36, $180, etc.–but for $500 Dr. Paul could simultaneously become a “Friend of the Wall” and a “Gate of Wisdom,” which would entitle him to both a Sterling Silver Menorah bookmark with certificate of authenticity from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and a Western Wall Images CD with over 500 unique photos of life at the Western Wall– perfect “re-gifting” items for the fast-approaching Hanukkah season)
We try to be helpful.
Matt Bramanti, Managing Editor (Gentile Stooge) David Benzion, Publisher (Z.O.G. Chapter #1948 President) LoneStarTimes.com
The Republican National Committee (RNC) enjoyed a more than $2 million fundraising edge over the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in September, continuing a year-long pattern. And although the Republican committee’s money margin over the Democratic committee is less than was typically the case before the GOP lost control of Congress in the 2006 elections, it remains the GOP’s brightest spot in a year in which the Democrats’ U.S. Senate and House campaign units have built up big fundraising leads of their Republican counterparts.
The RNC raised $5.8 million in September, according to its latest filing with the Federal Election Commission, compared to $3.7 million for the DNC. That continued an RNC winning streak that it has sustained through every month of this year.
Overall through Sept. 30, the RNC raised $63.1 million, and began October with $16.5 million in cash on hand. The DNC raised $40.5 million and began October with $3.3 million left to spend. The DNC has $2 million in debts, while the RNC is debt-free.
Could it be that we are seeing that the people are supportive of GOP principles, but less than happy with the direction taken by some GOP incumbents who are willing to compromise away all principles in an effort to win praise for their “bipartisanship”?
Dem Pol To Take Money From Troop Defaming Buddy
David Crosby used to be a talented musician, before he burned out every last brain cell with all those drugs. And Congressman John Hall used to have a modicum of musical talent – not much, but enough to score a couple of light-weight pop hits along the way. But in his new position, should he really be having a fundraiser featuring Crosby, given the latter’s recent insult to the troops?
Rep. John Hall, D-Dover, is refusing to cancel a planned performance Sunday at a campaign fundraiser in Bedford by longtime friend and fellow musician David Crosby despite Crosby's recent statement that when a U.S. soldier arrives in Iraq "he finds out the job is killing somebody else's mother and sister."
Crosby appeared on the program "Hardball" last week, commenting to host Chris Matthews on young Americans volunteering to serve in Iraq.
"On the one hand, you have got a young kid who is patriotic, who loves his country, believes in it," Crosby said. "And he's being told, yes, this is the truth. And we have got to go in there to protect your mother and your sister."
Crosby added, "And he goes over and he finds out the job is killing somebody else's mother and sister."
Bad enough that he won’t dump the musical has-been from the fundraiser, but Hall also lacks the decency and integrity to defend our men and women in uniform by repudiating his friend and supporters slanderous comments. If you need any proof of how unfit John Hall is for office, that should do it for you.
Turnabout Is Fair Play?
Remember when the Democrats had a guy stalk Senator George Allan, looking for some miscue to exploit until they found one poorly chosen word? Well, it looks like a conservative student in Michigan is doing the same thing, and the Democrats – and the educrats he works for – don’t like it one bit.
A politically conservative student armed with a video camera and a Web site is trying to force a Democratic congressional candidate out of his teaching job at Central Michigan University.
Dennis Lennox, a 23-year-old junior, has posted videos on YouTube of himself questioning assistant professor Gary Peters about campaigning for office while holding a prestigious position at the university.
Some say Lennox is persistent. Others accuse him of pandering for attention.
"What I'm doing isn't about getting media attention," said Lennox, a political science major. "I'm speaking for the hundreds of students, alumni, taxpayers and even legislators who have complained because Gary Peters won't pick between Congress and campus."
One college administrator appears to have assaulted Lennox, and there are attempts to prevent him from filming on campus, or from filming public employees. I guess the First Amendment only applies to Democrats and liberals – and that they really don’t consider turnabout to be fair play.
Not A Great Electoral Strategy
Ileana Hernandez is seeking the office of county commissioner in Pike County, Pennsylvania.
Someone splattered a campaign sign with paint. Someone also dumped dirty diapers in front of her campaign office..
Hernandez, a Democrat who is the first Latino woman to run for the office, said the vandalism "could be both racist and sexist — it's Pike County."
Her opponents have criticized the both acts of vandalism. But I can’t help but think that labeling the people you hope to represent as a bunch of racists and sexists is not the best pat to high political office – especially when your victories in previous elections in the county has proven that neither race nor sex has been an obstacle to your political success.
Dubin Labels Opponents Hateful
In case yesterday’s post about Illinois Senator Dick Durbin didn’t make the point clear, this comment should. Disagreeing with him is not legitimate – indeed, it is a sign of not of principled disagreement, but of something much more ugly and unacceptable.
llegal immigration remains at a legislative impasse — and that may be a good thing for GOP chances since the party’s base in the South and West tends to be vehemently opposed to any accommodation with illegal immigrants.
In his post-vote assessment, the Dream Act’s chief sponsor, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois said, “In a campaign year, it is a very difficult issue. If it’s tough this year, it’s tougher next year.”
Some senators, he said, “are running scared” on the illegal immigrant issue.
“Switchboards light up, the hates starts spewing, and people get concerned, to say the least,” Durbin told reporters.
Go that, people? Cacting your congressional representatives is not laudable participation by citizens in the political life of the Republic. It is, instead, an exercise in hatred – you know, one of those things the Democrats tell us must be criminalized. When you opposed this piece of Durbin-sponsored legislation because it made a mockery of our borders and amounted to nothing less than amnesty for entire families, you committed a hate crime.
Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week Program Brings Out Pro-Islamic Fascists At Emory
Writer and activist David Horowitz was brought in to speak at Emory University by the College Republicans as part of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. The response of those opposed to his message was not debate or discussion – instead, it was to resort to fascist tactics to silence the speech they oppose.
Protesters began their efforts as soon as Horowitz was introduced with boos and chants of "Heil Hitler." Despite the people who stood with their backs to Horowitz and the shouting of obscenities and other remarks from audience members, Horowitz attempted to deliver his speech that covered academic freedom and radical Islam. The loud chants, sign-waving, and disruptive gestures continued to escalate from audience members until the atmosphere was so chaotic that even the police present were unable to subdue the crowd. Horowitz was led off stage and left the campus under tight security, and the event came to an abrupt end.
Rather than remove those engaged in harassment and disruption under relevant disorderly conduct statutes and university regulations protecting academic freedom, the authorities removed the victim instead and silenced his message. You should have tazed them, bro!
Is academic freedom dead in America? Or is it available only to those with a politically correct message and the dictators they coddle?
Is it time for the federal government to begin investigating – and prosecuting – the repeated series of civil rights violations committed by Islamists, illegals, and Leftists against conservative Americans?
Liberalism In Action
For a brief moment, I thought we were dealing with a rational liberal columnist.
Then I got to the fourth sentence.
Liberals, put it behind you. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney shouldn't be treated like criminals who deserve punishment. They should be treated like psychotics who need treatment.
* * *
Impeachment's not the solution to psychosis, no matter how flagrant. But despite their impressive foresight in other areas, the framers unaccountably neglected to include an involuntary civil commitment procedure in the Constitution.
Still, don't lose hope. By enlisting the aid of mental health professionals and the court system, Congress can act to remedy that constitutional oversight. The goal: Get Bush and Cheney committed to an appropriate inpatient facility, where they can get the treatment they so desperately need. In Washington, the appropriate statutory law is already in place: If a "court or jury finds that [a] person is mentally ill and . . . is likely to injure himself or other persons if allowed to remain at liberty, the court may order his hospitalization."
I'll even serve on the jury. When it comes to averting World War III, it's really the least I can do.
Looking for a job in government, one with real policy influence? Are you experienced and competent, and willing to think outside the box? Then Bobby Jindal wants you!
BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal is taking resumes from people looking for jobs at a new Web site, Louisiana Transition
"We are considering every position within the administration an open one and encouraging everyone interested to apply. We are looking for the best and brightest folks out there interested in working to bring our state a fresh start," Timmy Teepell, director of Jindal's transition team and chief of staff when Jindal takes office in January, said in a statement.
The transition team will form committees to choose the Jindal administration's cabinet members, according to Rolfe McCollister, chairman of the transition efforts.
Jindal will have a month longer than most incoming governors to handle transition because he won in Saturday's primary, not a November runoff.
Louisiana government has been a mes for years, and that was quite clearly demonstrated two years ago. If you want to be a part of the reform movement, click the link above and apply to be a part of the solution.
Why The Fire Response Is So Good
I've not written much about the California wildfires, but I've certainly been praying about them -- I've got family in the area, and have been sent some really chilling pictures of fires on hillsides.
I have, however, gotten into more than one argument over why the evacuation and housing of those displaced is different.
Some will be tempted to attribute the quick action exclusively to race. After all, San Diego County, where most of the more than 800,000 wildfire evacuees live, is predominantly white (66 percent) and well-to-do (9 percent poverty rate) compared to the mostly African American (67 percent) and poor (28 percent poverty rate) victims of New Orleans. But that would be simplistic.
Because of well-organized disaster preparedness planning at the state and regional levels and drills that are continually performed, California is considered the gold standard of emergency response. After devastating fires in 2003, San Diego County invested in the automated reverse 911 system, which this week urged San Diego County residents to evacuate. And Californians have something that Louisianans, in particular those in New Orleans, didn't have when they needed it most: leadership, in this case from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the San Diego mayor on down. That there have been just five fatalities in an inferno that has burned an area twice the size of New York City shows what can result from clear and coordinated leadership.
These fires are regularly occurring events. They have plans to deal with them, and are not afraid to implement them. And everybody does communicate. Race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status are not even a factor in this equation.
And besides -- do those who want to argue that the response to Katrina was incompetent insist that every disaster get the same sort of response? Or would they prefer that we as a nation have learned from the mistakes of 2005?
Think Before Sending!
Do you really want that email read by just anyone? After all, it can happen, either through your mistake or the forwarding habits of others.
First, let’s make one thing clear. Does the local superintendent of schools want to kill any of her teachers? No, she does not.
In fact, for the most part, residents seem relatively pleased with the performance of the Catskill schools superintendent, Kathleen P. Farrell, who in less than three years has gained a reputation as a can-do presence in a tough job.
* * *
Back and forth the discussion went, until Oct. 3, when Dr. Farrell wrote an e-mail message to the district’s director of facilities, John Willabay. She vented a bit and then allowed: “Please go KILL these people....Please, please, please.”
Then she sent it — not just to him — but, accidentally, to an unknown number of others as well, including Terri Dubuke, a sixth-grade teacher who was one of the critics. Ms. Dubuke read it in shock and referred it to the teachers’ union, and the matter was discussed at a closed-door school board meeting on Oct. 17.
It is stuff like this that causes our principal to caution us regularly at faculty meetings about being too quick to respond in anger or with a sarcastic tone.
But my question is this -- why does Farrell still have her job? After all, the head of the district union points out the disparity in treatment.
“If a student had written that, we would have been under lockdown and the student would have been escorted from the building,” she said. “Same thing if it had been a teacher. But when you have the person doing the policing writing it, none of that happens.”
Not only would a student or teacher have been escorted from the building, it is quite likely that a kid would have been expelled or a teacher fired. After all, we must have zero tolerance for threats of violence, even silly, blowing off steam type of threats that are not threats at all. Otherwise the little sociopath in third period could claim discrimination when his "People to slay" list is found along with detailed plans on how to assault the school.
Shouldn't the rules apply to everyone? And if not, doesn't that show the silliness of the zero tolerance rule?
It appears that they may have found the seal of one of the most infamous women of the Bible.
An ancient seal that surfaced in Israel more than four decades ago belonged to the biblical Queen Jezebel, according to a new study released on Tuesday by a Dutch university.
The seal, which some scholars date to the ninth century BCE, was first discovered in 1964 by the Israeli archeologist Nahman Avigad, with the name "Yzbl" inscribed in ancient Hebrew, Utrecht University said.
Although it was initially assumed that the seal belonged to Jezebel, the powerful and reviled Phoenician wife of the Jewish King Ahab, there was uncertainty regarding the original owner both because the spelling of the name was erroneous, and because the personal seal could easily have belonged to another woman of the same name.
Moreover, the unknown origin of the seal, which was not found in an official excavation but purchased on the antiquities market in Israel, has left Israeli archeologists uncertain of its ownership for the last 40 years.
But the study by Utrecht University Old Testament scholar and Protestant minister Dr. Marjo Korpel, 48, concludes that the seal must have belonged to Jezebel, based on the symbols that appear on it.
Will it ever be possible to authenticate the seal with 100% certainty? No, it won’t – but once again, we have archaeological evidence that seems to corroborate the existence of biblical figures. And while that doesn’t “prove” that the Bible is 100% accurate, it does show that it contains at least some elements of historical truth not available elsewhere.
Another Chinese Space Advance
Does this signal that China will have men on the moon before the US returns there?
China has launched its first lunar orbiter, on a planned year-long exploration mission to the Moon.
The satellite, named Chang'e 1, took off from the Xichang Centre in south-west China's Sichuan province at 1800 local time (1000 GMT).
Analysts say it is a key step towards China's aim of putting a man on the Moon by 2020, in the latest stage of an Asian space race with Japan and India
Earlier this month, a Japanese lunar probe entered orbit around the Moon.
India is planning a lunar mission for April next year.
NASA says it is on path to a 2020 return to the Moon – but we have spent the last couple of decades concerned with the Space Shuttle and not manned exploration beyond earth orbit. And after the Moon comes Mars – will the Red Planet see a Red Chinese flag before the arrival of the Red, White and Blue? And what of the other spacefaring nations – India and Japan? Are they interested in manned programs or not?
What A Pity He Didn’t Mean It
Too bad – I might have considered breaking my pledge not to vote for John McCain if he had.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain told workers of small weapons factory that he not only wants to catch Osama Bin Laden if elected, but said he "will shoot him with your products".
"I will follow Osama Bin Laden to the gates of hell and I will shoot him with your products," McCain said.
You know, I like the image of an American president personally dispatching the archfiend of al-Qaeda to Hell with an American-made weapon. Heck, I’d vote for Hillary if she would make that commitment. Especially if she promised to do it live on national television.
And shame on Dick Durbin. After all, Congressman Tancredo was precisely right in his call to enforce our nation’s immigration laws in the very building where they were made.
Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado, a Republican presidential candidate whose fierce opposition to illegal immigration is the center of his campaign, contacted the immigration service yesterday demanding that agents raid a senator’s news conference.
“If we can’t enforce our laws inside the building where American laws are made, where can we enforce them?” Mr. Tancredo said in a statement.
Now as it turns out, the participants in the press conference for this misguided piece of amnesty legislation are all holders of temporary legal status, despite having come to this country illegally. But Tancredo’s point is spot on – members of the legislative branch should not be permitted to flout the nation’s laws by bringing lawbreakers into the Capitol itself. Such flagrant disrespect for the law is unacceptable, and a call for the enforcement of the law is appropriate.
Which is why Dick Durbin showed why he is a disgrace to the state of Illinois and unfit to serve in the Senate.
“Congressman, have you no shame?” Mr. Durbin said in a statement, indirectly comparing Mr. Tancredo to Senator Joseph McCarthy and his anti-communist hearings in the 1950s.
What is shameful about demanding that the laws made by Congress be enforced in the very building where they were passed by a majority of both houses? How on earth is this comparable to the oft-caricatured excesses of Joseph McCarthy, who was at least right on one point despite all his excesses – as has now been extensively documented, there was an extensive infiltration of the United States government by Communist operatives directly or indirectly in the service of the Soviet Union.
Of course, Durbin is the same guy who compared our own troops to Nazis, Soviet gulag guards, and the murderous Khmer Rouge. It is clear that it is he who has no shame – and so should be regarded accordingly.
Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) vowed yesterday to block the renomination of a government energy board's chief until the Bush administration scales back its push for new high-voltage power lines in his state.
Casey took to the Senate floor to declare that he would put a hold on the renomination of Joseph T. Kelliher as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He denounced the boundaries of a "national interest electric transmission corridor" to promote the construction of new power lines in the Mid-Atlantic states.
The corridor, finalized earlier this month, includes most of Pennsylvania as it stretches from Virginia north to Upstate New York. It marks the first time the government has used new powers granted under an energy bill passed in 2005.
Senator, it is an unfortunate reality that your state sits right between New York and Virginia. That means, for better or for worse, that the transmission lines must cross your state as part of the national power grid. If you are that opposed to allowing it to do so, perhaps we can accommodate you by cutting off the Pennsylvania from our nations’ power supply – something that I’m sure many Pennsylvanians will object to come January when the temperatures drop into single digits. But if you want to cripple the energy distribution network, you and your state need to be taken out of it completely.
Once again, the Democrats in Congress want to impose a nightmare, called the DREAM Act, upon the American people -- creating one more incentive for illegal immigration.
Mickey Kausnotes some of the problems with the bill -- even while dispelling some incorrect claims about the proposal.
P.S.: Applicants would have to live in the U.S. for five years and eventually graduate from high school or get a GED. But Numbers USA claims that the bill would "be a rolling amnesty drawing more illegal aliens here in the future to apply for amnesty." [E.A.] Is it possible that the bill has no cutoff date--no requirement that applicants have entered the country before such and such a day--meaning that it would function as a formal standing offer to people in other countries who might be thinking of coming here illegally in the future: 'Sneak across the border before your kids get too olad and they will get legalized'? ... Even the recently-defeated Kyl-Kennedy "comprehensive immigration reform" had a nominal cutoff date, but I don't see one in the text of the DREAM Act. I must be missing something. Or have the bill's opponents buried the lede? ...
Update--Asked and Answered: Thomas Maguire is a closer reader of the law than I am, and emails to note that the bill does require (in section 3 (a)(1)(A) ) that an illegal immigrant have lived here for five years "immediately preceding the date of enactment of this Act." So there does appear to be a cutoff. ... The bill still acts as a magnet, of course, because a) future illegals know that if they come now another compassionate DREAM Act is likely to be passed in future years, and b) there are ample possibilities for fraud--claiming that you were here before the deadline and daring the authorities to disprove it.
And Kaus gets it exactly right in that last paragraph
I remember the Simpson-Mazzoli Act in the 1980s -- the one-time, never-again amnesty bill wrongly supported by Ronald Reagan. It was supposed to end the immigration problem forever -- and today we have 5-10 times ads many illegal immigrants in America as we did 25 years ago, all clamoring for grants of US citizenship (or at least permanent legal status). We've been down this path, and seen it doesn't work. This will simply draw the next generation of illegals waiting for "compassion" from the bleeding-hearts.
Besides, what is the result of giving these folks citizenship? They gain the immediate right to bring in the parents who broke the law by coming here in the first place -- sort of the equivalent (to use a somewhat inexact analogy) of allowing the family of a bank robber to keep the interest on the fruits of his crime, or a drug dealer's kids to keep the house and car bought with the proceeds of his illegal acts.
1. No Amnesty. Do not provide legal status to illegal aliens. Amnesty undermines U.S. law and policy, rewards bad behavior, and is unfair to the millions of immigrants who follow the law and are awaiting legal entry into the United States. In some cases, those law-abiding and aspiring immigrants have been waiting for several years.
2. Attrition through Enforcement. Reduce the number of illegal aliens through increased enforcement against unauthorized alien workers and their employers. Without illegal employment opportunities available, fewer illegal aliens will attempt to enter the country, and many of those illegally in the country now likely will return home. Self-deportation can also be maximized by stepping up the enforcement levels of other existing immigration laws. This course of action offers a reasonable alternative to the false choices currently proposed to deal with the 12 million or more aliens already in the U.S. illegally: either arrest and deport them all, or give them all amnesty. Attrition through enforcement is a more reasonable and achievable solution, but this approach requires additional resources for enforcement and border security ...
4. Reduce the Jobs Incentive. Ensure employee verification by requiring that all U.S. employers use the Department of Homeland Security's electronic database (the E-Verify system) to confirm that a prospective employee is authorized to work in the U.S. Now that the technology is proven, provide sufficient resources to make the system as thorough, fast, accurate, and easy-to-use as possible.
5. Bolster Border Security. Finish building the 854-mile wall along the border by 2010 as required by 8 USC 1103. Extend the wall beyond that as appropriate and deploy new technologies and additional resources to enhance detection and rapid apprehension along our borders by 2012.
In other words, real borders, real enforcement, and the denial of incentives to come or to stay. This is the position that is popular with the GOP base, and with the American people at large. We welcome immigrants -- but only those who come here in compliance with American law. I'm open to increasing the number of openings for legal immigration, but not until we get a handle on the problem of illegal immigration and those who have already jumped the border.
My one complaint -- not enough in the way of employer sanctions. I've got no problem with seeing HR staff, business owners, and corporate executives frog-marched out the door and stuffed into waiting squad cars after their arrests for facilitating the violation of immigration laws by employing illegals. And i don't care what party these folks give to -- we need to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders.
Of course, my fundamental immigration proposal has always been:
Round 'em up! Ship 'em back! Rawhide!
We Need More Schools Like This
I've said it before -- we try to send too many folks to college. The result is that kids who would do well in a trade sort of tune out a high school curriculum that they don't see as relevant to them.
“How many of you guys got a hooptee, raise your hand?” Carlos Caraballo asked his senior auto shop at Automotive High School in Brooklyn.
A dozen boys, roughly half the class, raised their hands and began discussing their hooptees. The term is street slang for a cheap, functional car favored by city youths who often tinker tirelessly to make the car a speedster.
Hooptee repair prowess is not the guiding mission at Automotive High, in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, but it is a fringe benefit, said Mr. Caraballo, who teaches auto mechanics at the school, the largest auto trade school in the nation.
Besides training in repairing cars and other aspects of the industry, Automotive offers a regular high school education.
Why am I such a big fan of programs like the one at Automotive High? Maybe it has to do with seeing kids at my school light up when they talk about their co-op (our name for the vocational program) classes, and the skills they are learning there. Or maybe it is having seen the good such programs do during the years, after his retirement from the Navy, when my dad ran a Job Corps center on the West Coast. But either way, I know that we have too many students for whom college is either not an option or not their choice. Let's go back to the days when we had an educational program for them, one that got them both the basic skills they needed to be a literate, functional, educated member of society AND the skills they needed to function in the workplace.
Bush To Call For Transition To Freedom In Cuba
The Cuban People, not Raul Castro, must chart the nation's path after Fidel Castro receives his infernal reward.
President Bush is planning to issue a stern warning Wednesday that the United States will not accept a political transition in Cuba in which power changes from one Castro brother to another, rather than to the Cuban people.
As described by an official in a background briefing to reporters on Tuesday evening, Mr. Bush’s remarks will amount to the most detailed response — mainly an unbending one — to the political changes that began in Cuba more than a year ago, when Fidel Castro fell ill and handed power to his brother Raúl.
The speech, scheduled to be given at the State Department before invited Cuban dissidents, will introduce the relatives of four Cuban prisoners being held for political crimes. A senior administration official said the president wanted to “put a human face,” on Cuba’s “assault on freedom.”
Cuba has been under the yoke of Communism for longer than I have been alive. Cubans have been scheming to escape that terrible oppression for all of that time -- even though their country has gotten the Michael Moore Seal of Approval when the USA has not.
Cuba will be free again, and in my lifetime. I still hope to see Fidel -- or at least Raul -- end up like Mussolini.
He Says Osama; You Say Obama
These slip-ups are really not surprising, given that we have a presidential candidate with an unusual name that is only a single letter off from the name of our terrorist enemy.
In a slip of the tongue, Republican Mitt Romney accused Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama of urging terrorists to congregate in Iraq.
In the midst of criticizing Obama and other Democrats on foreign and economic policy Tuesday, the GOP presidential hopeful said:
"Actually, just look at what Osam — Barack Obama — said just yesterday. Barack Obama, calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield. ... It's almost as if the Democratic contenders for president are living in fantasyland. Their idea for jihad is to retreat, and their idea for the economy is to also retreat. And in my view, both efforts are wrongheaded."
Romney apparently was referring to an audiotape aired Monday in which a speaker believed to be terrorist Osama bin Laden called for insurgents in Iraq to unite and avoid divisions. The authenticity of the tape aired on Al-Jazeera television could not be immediately confirmed.
Romney was addressing a Chamber of Commerce meeting. Spokesman Kevin Madden said: "He misspoke. He was referring to the audiotape of Osama bin Laden and misspoke. It was just a mix-up."
Now let's remember that the first major screw-up in this regard was made by Ted Kennedy, so there really is not any reason to claim partisan motivations. And remember as well that Romney had been talking about the presidential candidate when he made the switch to discussing the terrorist leader -- hence the mental slip that led to the verbal slip.
Oh, yeah -- and the fact that Obama's support for the cut-and-run-and-surrender policy of the Left does, in fact, encourage terrorists to gather in Iraq to come together to defeat America.
A South Carolina high school freshman has been expelled from school for possession of a butter knife.
Amber Dauge was by all accounts a good student at Goose Creek High School. She had joined the Junior ROTC program and was a member of the school's chorus. But she says officials have overreacted to an honest mistake.
"I know I made a really stupid decision, but I don't think I should be expelled for it," Amber told WCIV-TV, the ABC affiliate in Charleston, which first broke the story.
"She was at home making toast and she looked up, saw the clock, and said, "Oh I'm going to be late," her stepfather, Steven Heinz, explained to ABC News' Law & Justice Unit.
"She ran out the door and locked herself out with the butter knife still in her hand."
"Now, she could have rang the doorbell and got us up and left the butter knife at home," Heinz said.
"And she could have dropped the knife on the porch, I guess. And I guess she could have, when she got to school, walked in and turned it in [school officials] … but she left it in her locker and forgot about it."
Heinz said Amber opened her locker a week later, and the butter knife fell out. A fellow student made a wisecrack about the knife that was overheard by a teacher, who reported it to school officials, according to Heinz.
Amber was immediately suspended for five days, pending an expulsion hearing that officials say was mandatory under by the school's "zero tolerance" policy toward weapons or potential weapons.
I love the fact that they are giving the girl a hearing prior to the mandatory expulsion, after which the letter was mailed on the same afternoon, indicating that there was already a decision made prior to the hearing.
One school official makes it clear that this was essential, given the heinous nature of Amber’s offense.
"It's not what we would consider to be a traditional butter knife," Bailey told ABC News. "Even though it's blunt on the end, it does have a serrated edge."
Bailey acknowledged Amber's clean disciplinary record — beyond a minor uniform infraction. "Despite the fact that the student was an exceptional student, this has nothing to do with how good she was in the classroom. She was in possession of a knife."
Oh, heavens – a serrated edge! Sounds like the knives my wife and I use for dinner each night. I mean, she might have been able to engage in an act of violence like slicing a banana or cutting a sandwich in public! She had to go, especially given the flagrant disregard for uniform policies in the past. This child is clearly a menace to society who should be locked up!
At least the administrative ass in question does have some compassion for the family.
"Certainly, if it was my child, I would have a different perspective," she said. "But if you're a school administrator, your perspective has to be broader. You have to consider the safety of the entire student population."
What a moron – there was no safety issue here. But in the interest of making sure that no parent complains that their child has been discriminated against after their child starts hacking up classmates with a samurai sword, possession of anything that bears a vague resemblance to a dangerous weapon (including a harmless kitchen utensil) must be banned and harshly punished.
What To Do With Nazi War Criminals Six Decades Later
The Austrians are facing this issue right now – and not to the satisfaction of some groups tracking those involved in documenting the Holocaust.
She seems harmless enough now, the elderly figure in a dressing gown peering round the door to her flat.
Erna Wallisch, an 85-year-old grandmother, rarely ventures out, spending her days drinking coffee and being cared for by her family.
But the image she presents belies a dark past which has put her seventh on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's list of most-wanted Nazi war criminals still at large.
Under Austria’s laws, the statute of limitations has run out on Wallisch’s crimes. But are there some crimes that deserve no statute of limitations? Is there no place else that she could be prosecuted – perhaps Poland or Israel? How long should participation in crimes against humanity be subject to punishment – or should such individuals be subject to the perpetual threat of punishment for their participation in genocide?
To this end, Romney should give not "the Kennedy speech" but his own account of the religious question. He needs to explain how he can fairly ask that we not hold his faith against him, even as he insists that religious people should vote for him because of the values his faith has taught him. Mormonism should not be an issue. Consistency is another matter.
Dionne is right -- Romney should not give "the Kennedy speech". After all, that speech was a cave-in to the forces of bigotry in the name of political expidiency. JFK argued that yes, everything that the bigots had said about Catholics was true, but he would be an "Uncle Pat" and not act that way.
What Romney needs to do is stand up and extol the religious diversity and pluralism of this nation -- and point to the fact that it is shared values and policy preferences that matter, even if the basis for those values are different. He should point to the fact that Mormons participate in our nation's political life on all sides of the debate, free from Church interference -- from Harry Reid on the Left to Orrin Hatch on the Right. As such, he should insist upon being judged by the policies he proposes and the character he demonstrates, not the sign in front of his house of worship.
Hence his call for the disparate factions in Iraq to unite.
Osama bin Laden called for Iraqi insurgents to unite and avoid divisive "extremism," speaking in an audiotape aired Monday and apparently intended to win over Sunnis opposed to al-Qaida's branch in Iraq.
In the audiotape broadcast on Al-Jazeera television, bin Laden said insurgents should admit "mistakes" and that he even advises himself not to be extreme in his leadership.
So, will the cut-and-run-and-surrender crowd that has been crowing that the war is lost finally admit that it is not?
The Joy Of Economics
How much should we spend to combat global warming? That's the great question put forward by economist Steven E. Landsburg in Slate. He walks his readers through a whole host of assumptions that underlie a calculation of how much is enough.
The answer? It depends.
First, I'll make the extreme assumption that our environmental recklessness threatens to shave 1 percentage point off economic growth forever. Because of compounding, our disposable incomes will be reduced by 9.5 percent a decade from now and by 63 percent a century from now—perhaps because we'll spend 63 percent of our incomes relocating coastal cities. Now toss in some standard (but arguable) assumptions about risk aversion and discounting. (Note to econogeeks: I assumed a risk-aversion coefficient of 1, and I discounted future generations' welfare at an annual rate of 5 percent, partly because we might care less about them and partly because we're not sure they'll exist.) Run this through your calculator, and you'll find we should spend up to about 17 percent of our incomes on climate control—provided that our investment is effective. That's an expenditure level that I expect would satisfy Al Gore.
Change the numerical assumptions, and you'll change the numerical conclusion. Make the discount rate 1 percent instead of 5 percent, and you can justify spending up to a whopping 62 percent of our incomes on climate control; lower the discount rate to 10 percent, and you can't justify spending more than 8 percent of our incomes.
And that is based upon what Landsburg describes as an extreme view of the crisis. My read of the article? Even the most alarmist view of the level of crisis cannot justify the huge expenditures and changes proposed by Gore and the man-made global warming crowd -- especially when one looks at the historical record and sees the many beneficial impacts of the (oft discounted) natural cycle of global warming. After all, Landsburg is making extreme assumptions in his calculations, so more reasonable ones would reduce the percentage of our incomes needed to reduce climate change.
Holy Land Fiasco
It looks like the HolyLandFoundationcase will need to be retried in Dallas, given yesterday's bizarre happenings when the verdict was read.
A deadlocked federal jury here did not convict any leaders of a Muslim charity who were charged with supporting Middle Eastern terrorists, and the judge today declared a mistrial in what has been widely viewed as the government’s flagship terror-financing case.
* * *
The case involved a total of 197 counts, including providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, years of investigation and preparation, almost two months of testimony and more than 1,000 exhibits, including documents, wiretaps, transcripts and videotapes dug up in a backyard in Virginia.
After 19 days of deliberations, the jury acquitted one of the five individual defendants on all but one charge, on which it deadlocked. A majority of the jurors also appeared ready to acquit two other defendants of most charges, and could not reach a verdict on charges against the two principal organizers and the foundation itself, which had been the largest Muslim charity in the United States until the government froze its assets in late 2001.
It seems pretty clear that this case will be tried again. Here's hoping that it is better presented to the jury with a clearer narrative that will bring about a conviction. After all, money is fungible -- therefore any money given to a terrorist organization has the effect of paying for terrorism, even if it is earmarked for "charitable" purposes.
October 22, 2007
Larry Craig Humor
My father (age 73) sent me this last night. Who knew he watched YouTube?
Watch and enjoy!
Quite honestly, this may be the funniest thing I have seen on the topic.
Hasta La Vista, Austin!
How bad is AirAmerica doing? The local affiliate in Austin just switched over to become another one of the ubiquitous Spanish language AM stations here in Texas -- despite the fact that Austin may be the most liberal spot in Texas.
Air America, the home for defiantly liberal talk radio, has quit Austin’s air waves, though it can still be heard online or on XM Satellite Radio. Its previous broadcasting home in Austin, KOKE 1600 AM, has started following a Spanish-language format.
Dave Kaufman, Air America’s vice president of affiliate relations, said Monday the shift happened last week as part of an expected change in station ownership. “Definitely disappointed,” Kaufman reacted. “Whenever we lose any affiliate, it’s disappointing. This was an affiliate better than many, not as good as others. And in a state capital, it’s tough” to take the loss.
A dismayed blogger dug up Arbitron ratings suggesting low listener-ship on the Austin outlet: “Can’t even pull 1 percent in Austin, TX? Amazing but true. don’t ask me why. This is a city that is overwhelmingly Democratic, but the right-wing talk radio stations in town consistently get much better ratings.”
Kaufman played down the ratings, though, saying: “Many stations have better ratings, many have lesser ratings.”
If they can't make it there, can they make it anywhere? I don't think so.
And yet somehow the liberals are deluding themselves into expecting liberal victories in Texas next year.
The unauthorized dig of a trench this past summer by the Moslem Waqf on the Temple Mount, in the course of which it was assumed that precious findings were destroyed, apparently had a thin silver lining. Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) personnel monitoring the trench-digging have, for the first time, found traces of the First Temple.
* * *
Archaeological examination of a small section of this level, led by Jerusalem District Archaeologist Yuval Baruch, uncovered fragments of ceramic table wares, animal bones, and more. The finds date from the 8th to 6th centuries BCE; the First Temple existed between the 9th and 5th centuries BCE, having been built by King Solomon in 832 and destroyed in 422.
This will certainly make it harder for those who claim the Jews never had a temple on Temple Mount -- but then again, the Muslim radicals don't really care about historical finds like this one.
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto warned Sunday that Taliban and al-Qaida militants have gained ground in Pakistan, making her first public appearance since narrowly escaping a suicide assassination attempt that killed 136 people.
But she said the bombing could unite her and other forces opposed to extremism, including military ruler President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
''He's been the victim of assassination attacks and so have we,'' Bhutto told a small group of journalists inside her heavily guarded Karachi residence. ''I think certainly it will unite all those who are against extremism.''
If she is right, these attacks will provide the necessary ingredients for a new Pakistan, one that embraces democratic values and rejects extremism and terrorism. If that is the case, perhaps the scores killed during her return will not have died in vain.
In doing so, he gives voice to a position advocated by the Cold War critics of the Left and the neo-isolationists of the Buchananite Right -- and the Paulite nutjobs.
The third leg of the tripod, though, is the interesting one, because it's something that comes out of the far left. In fact, it's so far to the left that it wouldn't fit into today's Democratic party. I'd like to see an acknowledgment and rejection of some of the brutality of American foreign policy. I'd like us to explicitly own and reject what we did in places like Iran before the Shah, and in Guatemala.
The first two legs, small government and Constitutionalism, are positions strongly supported by the Right today. Unfortunately, the third leg is a return to the foreign policy of the GOP of the post-WWI era. As we learned with dismay later on, such policies are doomed to failure -- especially in a world that has become even more interconnected than it was in the first third of the twentieth century.
The Invisible Hand At Work
There once was a fellow by the name of Joseph Kennedy.
As the stock market crashed, he started buying undervalued stocks.
He quickly became one of the richest men in America -- and created an American political dynasty.
In a down real estate market, they came to buy. They came early, they came in numbers and they came with bank checks for $5,000.
By 10 a.m. Saturday, more than 700 people filled a hall in the convention center here for what real estate agents say is the largest auction of foreclosed properties ever in Minnesota, with more than 300 houses or apartments for sale in two days. Opening bids ranged from $1,000 — for a three-bedroom house — to $729,000, for a five-bedroom house on 11.9 acres. The crowd was standing-room only, with more waiting to enter. Some were looking for homes, others for investments.
“It’s a symptom of the foreclosure crisis,” said Jim Davnie, a Democratic state representative in Minnesota. Mr. Davnie said he had concern that areas already hit by the foreclosure crisis would now be hit by investors buying properties to rent them out, “which makes neighborhoods less stable than owner-occupied housing.”
But in the loud, overcrowded hall, the misery of subprime loans, exploding adjustable rate mortgages and slumping sales meant one thing: opportunity.
And that is the reality of a market-based economy. There are winners and losers, people who have acted unwisely and those who take advantage of the resulting misfortune. That is part of the visible working of Adam Smith's invisible hand.
Am I saddened by the loss of homes to foreclosure? Yes, I am, for each one represents a tragedy for an individual or a family. But at the same time I realize that the economic cycles will bring in those who win -- and become rich -- every time someone suffers such an economic misfortune.
Haven't They Heard Of Ronald Reagan?
I was going to ignore this article on internet hacking in Russia, until I got to the very end.
“I don’t see in this a big tragedy,” said a respondent who used the name Lightwatch. “Western countries played not the smallest role in the fall of the Soviet Union. But the Russians have a very amusing feature — they are able to get up from their knees, under any conditions or under any circumstances.”
As for the West? “You are getting what you deserve.”
Gee, I guess they don't teach about Ronald Reagan over there. Too bad, because it was his willingness to challenge a corrupt and unstable Soviet system that enabled the peoples oppressed by the Communist regime to rise up against the tyrants his policies had weakened.
Clinton Playing Drudge?
Matt Drudge has an incredible gift for sifting the news and finding important stories. He is lso teh recipient of a lot of early tips. In one recent case, though, was he played by the Hillary Clinton Campaign to get early, prominent coverage of a fundraising coup?
As Senator Barack Obama prepared to give a major speech on Iraq one morning a few weeks ago, a flashing red-siren alert went up on the Drudge Report Web site. It read, “Queen of the Quarter: Hillary Crushes Obama in Surprise Fund-Raising Surge,” and, “$27 Million, Sources Tell Drudge Report.”
Within minutes, the Drudge site had injected Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s fund-raising success into the day’s political news on the Internet and cable television. It did not halt coverage of Mr. Obama’s speech or his criticism of her vote to authorize the war in 2002, but along the front lines of the campaign — the hourly, intensely fought effort to capture the news cycle or deny ownership of it to the other side — it was a telling assault.
Mrs. Clinton’s aides declined to discuss how the Drudge Report got access to her latest fund-raising figures nearly 20 minutes before the official announcement went to supporters. But it was a prime example of a development that has surprised much of the political world: Mrs. Clinton is learning to play nice with the Drudge Report and the powerful, elusive and conservative-leaning man behind it.
As noted above, this is the same Matt Drudge that rose to prominence on his coverage of her husband's Oral Orifice Oval Office dalliance with Monica Lewinsky. That makes Drudge a card-carrying member of the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" -- but Hillary seems to be prepared to sell her soul for good coverage.
If she has one to sell.
October 21, 2007
Bobby Jindal Wins In Louisiana
FuturePresidentBobbyJindalwas electedour nation'syoungest governor -- and the first Indian-American to ever reach such an office. The Republican Congressman will replace the incompetent Kathleen Blanco, whose failures during Hurricane Katrina led directly to the deaths of thousands of Louisianans during and after the storm, as well as delayed the federal response to the storm by her inaction.
Rep. Bobby Jindal (R) became the nation's first Indian American governor Saturday, outpolling 11 rivals in Louisiana and drawing enough votes to avoid a runoff election next month.
With about 90 percent of the state's nearly 4,000 precincts reporting, Jindal had 53 percent of the vote. His nearest competitor, state Sen. Walter J. Boasso (D), had 18 percent.
Louisiana holds an open gubernatorial election, with candidates of all parties competing. By drawing at least 50 percent of the vote, Jindal avoided a Nov. 17 runoff race with Boasso.
"Let's give our homeland, the great state of Louisiana, a fresh start," Jindal said to a cheering crowd at his victory party, according to the Associated Press.
Jindal, 36, was making his second attempt to become Louisiana's first nonwhite governor since Reconstruction. The last one was P.B.S. Pinchback, a black Republican who served briefly between 1872 and 1873, at a time when many white voters were disenfranchised.
And who disenfranchised those non-white voters? That would be the Democrats, who were outraged by the notion of a non-white holding political power in the state. The more things change, the more they stay the same -- given the race-based smears of Democrats against Jindal during this and his previous race for governor.
Good luck with Louisiana, sir -- you have quite a task before you, overcoming Louisiana's legacy of Democrat rule, which has left it the nation's poorest, most uneducated and most unhealthy state.
I look forward to voting for you in 2012 or 2016 when you are the GOP nominee for President.
The seven-month investigation found 2,570 educators whose teaching credentials were revoked, denied, surrendered or sanctioned from 2001 through 2005 following allegations of sexual misconduct.
However, the article also points out that there are some 3 million educators in the US.
Let's do the math.
There you have it -- less than 1/10 of one percent of teachers received any sort of sanction for sexual misconduct. And if you factor in the total number of teachers who taught during that time, the percentage is even smaller. After all, teachers retired or left the profession or died during those five years, and they were replaced with new teachers.
But even if one assumes the number is ten times as high -- 1% -- that still puts the frequency of sexual abuse at or below the national average for groups like clergy, lawyers and doctors -- and parents.
I've had a former colleague in teaching forced from the profession due to sexual misconduct. I have no tolerance for it, and would report in a heartbeat any teacher I knew of who engaged in such activity. But I continue to be reminded of this situation that I wrote about a few years back.
I watched a colleague suffer through such an accusation a few years ago. A decent, compassionate, dedicated man, he had a trio of girls who were doing poorly in his class accuse him of giving them lewd looks and groping them. It wasn't true -- they just wanted out of his class so they could get As instead of Bs. He was suspended from work, and had to go home and tell his pregnant wife about the accusation (it was a difficult pregnancy, and his wife lost the baby that week). Once cleared, he was still the subject of rumors -- even though one of the girls admitted that she had lied. Even today, four years later, there still lingers a hint of scandal around his name, and certain parents will insist that their children be assigned to other classes. It is certain that he will never be hired as an administrator in this or any other district, despite completing his certification requirements a few weeks after the accusation was made; I wonder if he could even get a teaching job outside of the district. After all, there will always be those who will remember the accusation and be certain that these girls didn't lie.
Some may criticize me for this, but for once in my life I'm going to agree with the NEA on an issue.
“Students must be protected from sexual predators and abuse, and teachers must be protected from false accusations,” said NEA President Reg Weaver, who refused to be interviewed and instead released a two-paragraph statement.
I want abusers out of the classroom -- but I also want real sanctions against those who make false accusations of sexual misconduct knowing that it puts them in control and let's them punish a teacher who "made the mistake" of assigning a student the grade they earned or punishing a disciplinary infraction that a student committed.
Will The Democrats Condemn This Practitioner Of Rendition?
You know, if they really think that those who use it to go after terrorists are violating the Constitution and international law.
Beginning in 1995, the Clinton administration turned up the speed with a full-fledged program to use rendition to disrupt terrorist plotting abroad. According to former director of central intelligence George J. Tenet, about 70 renditions were carried out before Sept. 11, 2001, most of them during the Clinton years.
I'll take serious the Democrat complaints about rendition when they demand that Bill Clinton be turned over to an international court for prosecution.
Let's start pressing senior democrats on this point -- including the current front-runner for the Democrat nomination.
Heck, let's start asking how the Democrats can consider selecting a nominee known to be, by their standards, an international criminal and human rights violator.
Peace: The Palestinian Definition
Explaining once again why "Palestine" can never be permitted to exist as a state -- and why the world needs to accept that the only viable solution to protect Israel is to remove the Terrorstinians from Gaza and the West Bank and resettle them around the Arab world.
Palestinian gunmen planned to assassinate Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert when he came to the West Bank in August to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a security chief told Israel's Cabinet on Sunday, a meeting participant said.
Shin Bet security police director Yuval Diskin said gunmen loyal to Abbas' Fatah movement planned to attack Olmert's convoy as it entered the West Bank town of Jericho on Aug. 6. Israel notified Palestinian authorities and they arrested an unspecified number of Fatah militants, the participant said.
It was not clear why Israel, whose military operates freely in the West Bank, left it up to Palestinian security sources to apprehend would-be assassins if they thought Olmert's life was in danger — or why they allowed the trip to proceed.
Although the men admitted they planned the attack, the Palestinian Authority released them last week, the meeting participant said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose details of closed-door meetings.
This catch and release strategy for terrorists does not work -- and proves that none of the Terrorstinian leadership is serious about real peace.
October 20, 2007
And Yet They Claim To Love America And Support The Troops
From customers to congressmen, the removal of dozens of photos of U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan – many of them with relatives who use the Paso Robles Post Office, where the pictures had been on display for years behind the counter – inspired outrage Friday.
The photos were taken down after a customer complained that the display was pro-war. When the issue came to the attention of the regional postal center, they asked that Paso Robles postmaster Mike Milby and his staff take them down because they violate a regulation against displays of non-postal business material at any U.S. post office.
“It’s an emotional issue and people look at their post office as a hub of the community, but the post office is there to do postal business and it’s not a place to post things or make displays,” said postal spokesman Richard Maher.
I wonder if we will next hear from some felon or family member complaining that the wanted posters are stigmatizing, too, and so need to go because they result in hurt feelings.
In time of war, why is support for the troops in a government building considered inappropriate anyway?
Fine -- But Is It Necessary?
I love the Harry Potter books. I was quite sad to see them end. And I wept at the death of Albus Dumbledore in the sixth book of the epic series.
And so I ask this question with all due respect to the incredibly talented author -- why do you find it necessary to make this announcement, and why now, given its seeming irrelevance to the story?
Harry Potter fans, the rumors are true: Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay. J.K. Rowling, author of the mega-selling fantasy series that ended last summer, outed the beloved character Friday night while appearing before a full house at Carnegie Hall.
After reading briefly from the final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," she took questions from audience members.
She was asked by one young fan whether Dumbledore finds "true love."
"Dumbledore is gay," the author responded to gasps and applause.
She then explained that Dumbledore was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, whom he defeated long ago in a battle between good and bad wizards. "Falling in love can blind us to an extent," Rowling said of Dumbledore's feelings, adding that Dumbledore was "horribly, terribly let down."
Dumbledore's love, she observed, was his "great tragedy."
Frankly, it seems to me that this adds nothing to the story. And while it answers a question about his family (or lack thereof), I don't see where the detail really matters. Rowling really included nothing that can be seen as contributing to this conclusion in the books themselves (my reading of the final novel left me understanding that the "great tragedy" was his role in his sister's death).
Is there any particular reason that Dumbledore should not be gay? No, there is not, and given my high regard for the gay educators I work with I have no problem with a gay man in the position of headmaster. But because of the nature of the the role that Dumbledore fills in the story, I do not see any particular reason that his sexuality is even relevant. I fail to see the information as enriching the story in any manner. As such, I argue that Rowling ought to have remained silent in regard to this particular detail.
People ask Fred Thompson, the former senator from Tennessee and television and film actor, what he would do during his first 100 days in office, should he be elected president.
“I really don’t know what I would do in my first 100 days,’’ Thompson candidly and conversationally told an audience today. “It would depend on the circumstances.
“But I know what I would do in the first hour,’’ Thompson told an assembly of religious right voters assessing the Republican field of presidential candidates today. “I would go into the Oval Office and close the door and pray for the wisdom to know what is right’’ – and with that, people stood and applauded the drawling, homespun candidate.
“I would pray for the strength to do what is right,’’ the candidate said. “May God give us all the strength and wisdom to do what is right for our country.’’
That Thompson failed to state even one policy key move for early in his presidency is troubling. Hasn't he devised some centerpiece for his campaign?
On the other hand, my darling Democrat suggests that the Thompson Administration would begin with "sex on the Presidential Seal in the Oval Office with that trophy wife of his."
I could handle that -- think of it as purifying the place after Bill and Monica.
Oh, and I have a vision of my first hour in the White House if I ever became President.
NY Times Applauds Protection For American Al Qaeda
Most Americans are unfamiliar with "Azzam the American", a US citizen from California who is now an active member of al Qaeda and who serves as the terrorist group's spokesman. Well, thanks to the efforts of Senator Ron Wyden, this traitor who is in the highest echelons of the enemy we fight may not be wiretapped like any other terrorist leader due to his citizenship. The New York Times applauds this extension of protection to our enemies in time of war.
There were bright spots in the week. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon managed to attach an amendment requiring a warrant to eavesdrop on American citizens abroad. That merely requires the government to show why it believes the American is in league with terrorists, but Mr. Bush threatened to veto the bill over that issue.
President Bush imposed new sanctions Friday to punish Myanmar's military-run government and its backers for a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
Expanding on sanctions imposed last month, Bush ordered the Treasury Department to freeze the U.S. assets of additional members of the repressive junta. He also acted to tighten controls on U.S. exports to Myanmar, also known as Burma. And he called on the governments of China and India to do more to pressure the government of the Southeast Asian nation.
''The people of Burma are showing great courage in the face of immense repression,'' Bush said in the Diplomatic Room of the White House. ''They are appealing for our help. We must not turn a deaf ear to their cries.''
I realize that the NY Times has never met a dictator they didn't like, with the possible exception of Hitler. But they can at least follow the lead of those Burmese who oppose the military junta rather than that of the murderous regime.
OK, Dems -- Match It!
After the Left lied about Rush Limbaugh and his attitude towards the troops, the broadcaster decided to go one better -- he turned it into a charity auction. The result? A $2.1 million dollar winning bid for a letter from the censorious (and mendacious) senators -- which Limbaugh will match.
Too bad none of thenationalmedia can bring themselves to truthfully report what Limbaugh actually said, instead choosing to side with the Democrats and the Soros-funded organization that began the smear against the host.
Here's the challenge that Limbaugh made, and that I join in making -- MATCH THE BID!
You folks can do it -- with 41 of you, it comes to only a bit over $50K each. MATCH THE BID!
Every one of you who signed is a millionaire. MATCH THE BID!
And while we are at it, let's talk about your billionaire sugar-daddy, George Soros. MATCH THE BID!
Or quit making it out that you are patriots who care about the country or the troops.
Inhumane Mexican Immigration Policy Kills 24 Central Americans
The bodies of two dozen people washed ashore Friday in southern Mexico after emergency officials received reports that a boat carrying Central American migrants capsized in the Pacific Ocean, a state official said.
Mexican authorities were searching the waters for more bodies around the coastal town of San Francisco del Mar, 200 miles up the coast from the Guatemalan border.
Sergio Segreste, the Oaxaca state public safety secretary, said 24 bodies washed ashore.
Mexico has a much harsher immigration policy than the US does. Hypocrites.
Obama: Acknowledging Actuarial Realities Is Racist
After all, this comment is not based upon racism – it is based upon looking at the relative life expectancies within different racial groups.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Friday the head of the Justice Department's voting rights office should be fired for saying minorities often die before they reach old age.
A department spokesman said the Oct. 5 remarks by John Tanner had been "grossly misconstrued."
During a panel discussion on minority voters before the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles, Tanner addressed state laws that require photo identification for voting, and remarked that elderly voters disproportionately don't have the proper IDs.
"That's a shame, you know creating problems for elderly persons just is not good under any circumstance," Tanner said, according to video posted on YouTube. "Of course, that also ties into the racial aspect because our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first.
"There are inequities in health care. There are a variety of inequities in this country, and so anything that disproportionately impacts the elderly has the opposite impact on minorities. Just the math is such as that," Tanner said.
Good grief – that last paragraph sounds like the platform of the DNC. Now if Senator Obama wants to declare it to be racist, I’ll support Tanner’s firing immediately upon the disbanding of the Democrat Party and the resignation of every Democrat holding elected or appointed office on the same basis. You go first, sir.
Responding to overwhelming pressure from every civilized person on earth with any semblance of intelligence, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee today announced that it had voted to terminate its charter. Just prior to the unanimous vote, the Committee voted to rescind numerous past prizes - including the 2007 prize to itinerant comedian and performance artist Albert Gore of the United States - and award those prizes and all future prizes to the United States military.
"This about face by the Nobel Peace Committee," stated former Committee Chairman and former leader of the Norwegian Labor Party, Trygve Andreesen, "came after hundreds of millions of civilized people sent e-mails, letters, telegrams, text messages, voicemails and carrier pigeon messages demanding that we stop giving awards to Islamic martyrdom supporters like Jimmy Carter, frauds like Rigoberto Menchu and corrupt mass-murderers like Yassir Arafat."
I love the alternate recipient – the single greatest force for good over the last hundred years.
Mel Martinez, the public face of the Republican National Committee as its general chairman, announced he was stepping down from his post on Friday after serving only 10 months.
"I believe that our future as a party and nation is bright and I have every intention of continuing to fight for our president, our party and our candidates," the Florida senator said in a statement.
His departure was abrupt and his job will not be filled. Martinez wasn't expected to step down until a Republican presidential nominee was selected. The earliest that could occur is February.
Martinez said he was relinquishing the job to spend more time focusing on his constituents and because the RNC had achieved the objective he set when he assumed the job in January.
"It was my goal as general chairman to lead the party as it established the structure and raised the resources necessary to support our presidential candidate and ensure Republican victories next November. I believe we have accomplished those goals," Martinez said.
The decision not to replace Martinez is a sign of how little he will be missed.
That said, we need someone in the position of chairman – and I believe now, as I did ten months ago, that Michael Steele should be that man.
Hatch Act And Political Activity
This article deals with the petty question of forwarding or sending emails by employees.
The presidential campaign season is underway, so be careful what you do and say in the federal workplace -- especially in an e-mail.
That was the key warning at a Senate hearing yesterday on the Hatch Act, which prohibits certain political activities in the federal workplace.
Sending or even forwarding an e-mail on your government computer that advocates the election or defeat of a political candidate can put you in violation of the law and possibly get you fired, federal officials said.
The Hatch Act, passed in 1939, restricts the political activities of federal employees, giving them a shield to ward off pressure from their supervisors or political bosses. Yesterday's hearing examined the law, how it is enforced and whether it may be too rigid in the age of the Internet.
Federal employees still cannot engage in political activity while on duty, in a government office, using a government vehicle or wearing an official uniform. They cannot run for office in a partisan election. They also cannot use their official authority to interfere with an election, and they cannot solicit or receive political contributions.
In 1993, Congress eased some of the restrictions to permit federal employees to take an active role in political campaigns. The changes have allowed federal employees outside of office hours to manage political campaigns, serve as delegates to political conventions, organize fundraisers and distribute brochures for a political party on Election Day outside polling places.
Two of the teens enmeshed in the nationally known "Jena Six" case helped present the most anticipated award during Black Entertainment Television's Hip Hop Awards show broadcast Thursday night.
Carwin Jones and Bryant Purvis were introduced by Katt Williams, a comedian and the awards show's host, as two of the students involved in a case of "systematic racism."
By no means are we condoning a six-on-one beat-down," Williams said during his introduction of the teens, one of whom is still facing attempted murder charges in connection with the attack on white student Justin Barker. "... But the injustice perpetrated on these young men is straight criminal."
As Jones and Purvis walked onto the stage at the Atlanta Civic Center, where the awards show was filmed on Saturday, they were greeted by a standing ovation.
"They don't look so tough, do they?" Williams joked as the teens stepped up to the podium.
Both Jones and Purvis thanked a number of people, including family, friends, the "Hip-Hop Nation" and the thousands who came to their small hometown to rally behind their case.
Bullcrap. What was done did condone the lynching of Justin Barker, an innocent white teenager, based solely upon his race. And the only systematic racism I see is the continued attempt to paint these guilty thugs as anything other than what they are – guilty thugs. What happened to them was straight justice – their lionization by the racists at the BET Awards is straight criminal.
Something remarkable happened at 44 Henry St., a grimy Chinatown tenement with peeling walls. It also happened nearby at a dimly lighted apartment building with trash bins clustered by the front door.
And again not too far away, at 88 E. Broadway beneath the Manhattan bridge, where vendors chatter in Mandarin and Fujianese as they hawk rubber sandals and bargain-basement clothes.
All three locations, along with scores of others scattered throughout some of the poorest Chinese neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, have been swept by an extraordinary impulse to shower money on one particular presidential candidate -- Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Dishwashers, waiters and others whose jobs and dilapidated home addresses seem to make them unpromising targets for political fundraisers are pouring $1,000 and $2,000 contributions into Clinton's campaign treasury. In April, a single fundraiser in an area long known for its gritty urban poverty yielded a whopping $380,000. When Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) ran for president in 2004, he received $24,000 from Chinatown.
At this point in the presidential campaign cycle, Clinton has raised more money than any candidate in history. Those dishwashers, waiters and street stall hawkers are part of the reason. And Clinton's success in gathering money from Chinatown's least-affluent residents stems from a two-pronged strategy: mutually beneficial alliances with powerful groups, and appeals to the hopes and dreams of people now consigned to the margins.
Interestingly enough, about one-third of these folks cannot be located using conventional means like property, telephone or business records. Some are unknown at the address they gave under campaign finance laws. Some indicate they gave contributions because they were ordered to, in a manner almost akin to a protection racket. And a few cannot even legally give to a campaign, as they lack a green card.
A showdown between anti-war activists who last month defaced a Marine recruiting office and flag-carrying patriots took over a street in Berkeley on Wednesday with noise levels that reached a half-mile away at the University of California in town.
Berkeley police officers kept the Code Pink contingent of about 150 separated from the group of about 500 led by Move America Forward, the nation’s largest pro-troop organization. The incidents of abhorrent behavior were rare, but included an anti-war demonstrator trying to knife a pro-troop supporter and two code Pink followers burning flags.
A group of Code Pink protesters surrounded a woman and pushed her around after she said that her brother and other family members were protecting the United States in Iraq. The young woman shook with fear and wept.
Well, we know that violence is the stock in trade of the Left, both here and abroad.
But this is the part that I find particularly disturbing.
There were no arrests, and numerous police officers stood watch, including Berkeley Police Chief Doug Hambleton at one point. "As long as people stay peaceful, we're as happy as we can be," Hambleton told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Excuse me, but the opening paragraphs mention two acts of assault, one of them involving a deadly weapon, against the patriots supporting the troops by the terrorist-sympathizing crew that has branded office’s Marine recruiters as “liars,” “traitors,” and “assassins”. And the chief of police wants to describe the activity as peaceful, and his officers did not consider the incidents to merit arrest? Are you kidding me?
Al-Qaeda and the Taliban threatened to kill her -- and indicated once again proved that they are more than willing to slaughter innocents in an attempt to carry outtheirmalignagenda.
Two powerful bombs detonated next to a truck carrying former prime minister Benazir Bhutto late Thursday, just hours after she returned from exile to a triumphal homecoming. More than 120 people were killed and hundreds were wounded in one of Pakistan's worst episodes of political violence.
Bhutto, who arrived in this coastal city Thursday afternoon after eight years away, appeared shaken but unhurt following the blasts. Security officials said the explosions had been set off within several yards of her vehicle as it inched through the streets, with Bhutto being cheered by thousands of supporters. Only minutes before, she had descended from the roof of the vehicle and into an internal compartment.
Later reports indicate that the death toll continues to creep higher (I saw the number 200 mentioned in one report), and over 400 are wounded. I'm curious -- will this persuade some folks of the continued need to fight al-Qaeda, no matter where they are found?
Ms. Bhutto’s greatest challenge will be to redeem this tawdry trade-off by using her popularity and skills to leverage this modest political opening into something resembling genuine democracy. Her first step should be to insist that those parliamentary elections are open to all, including her longtime political rival, Nawaz Sharif, another former prime minister. His previous tenure, like hers, was badly flawed. But they are Pakistan’s two most popular politicians, and without the participation of both of them there can be no Pakistani democracy.
Washington’s help will be crucial in this effort. For too long it has coddled General Musharraf for his supposedly stalwart policies against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. But recently, those policies have seemed scarcely more credible than his hollow promises to accept the constraints of law and democracy or his commitment to free elections.
After belatedly recognizing that the general’s misrule was dangerously strengthening, not weakening, extremist forces in Pakistan, Washington helped engineer the deal that permitted Ms. Bhutto’s return. Now, it must help her and Pakistan truly move toward democracy.
Bhutto is a flawed figure, as are Sharif and Musharraf. In an ideal world, none would be considered as acceptable leaders to head a government. However, if their presence on the political stage in Pakistan can lead to a resurgence of democracy, it is better than the status quo that has existed for the last eight years and the descent into Islamism that would follow the success of the murderous thugs that left scores of dead and dying in the streets in their attempt to murder the popular and charismatic opposition leader.
Time For SCHIP Compromise
The President proposed a $5 billion dollar increase and expansion of the SCHIP program so that more poor children would be covered by the program -- and the Democrats have in turn claimed that he and his supporters are hate children if they don't support a $35 billion increase that would include not just poor kids, but also their parents and the kids of the middle class. Yesterday the veto of the program wassustained.
A failed veto override on a major children's health insurance program yesterday prompted House Democratic leaders to promise to push a new version of the bill, daring Republicans to oppose them.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the new proposal will contain only minor changes. Just before the vote, she had declared: "This is a banner issue for the Congress of the United States."
The vetoed bill would have expanded the $5 billion-a-year program by an average of $7 billion a year over the next five years, for total funding of $60 billion over that period. That would have been enough to boost enrollment to 10 million children, up from 6.6 million, and to dramatically reduce the number of uninsured children in the country, currently about 9 million, supporters say.
While Pelosi is willing to talk to Bush, she stressed that Democrats will accept nothing less than an expansion to 10 million children. "That's not negotiable," she said.
And therein lies the problem. Speaker 11% and Senate Majority Leader 11% and the rest of the 11% Party are so beholden to the Far Left "center" of their party that they are unwilling to consider substantive changes to the bill that could get it near unanimous support.
George W. Bush rightly vetoed the Democrat expansion of the GOP created and supported program, and now he and congressional Republicans are offering a somewhat larger expansion than initially proposed by the GOP -- I've heard figures around $11 billion, as well as the exclusion of illegal alien children and limits on those covered to "only" 300% of the poverty level. These are reasonable changes which Americans support. Will Speaker 11% quit playing politics with children's health and make sure that the children of the poor continue to receive medical coverage?
Our ancestors wiped them out tens of thousands of years ago. Were they able to call for help? New evidence indicates that perhaps they could.
Neanderthals, an archaic human species that dominated Europe until the arrival of modern humans some 45,000 years ago, possessed a critical gene known to underlie speech, according to DNA evidence retrieved from two individuals excavated from El Sidron, a cave in northern Spain.
The new evidence stems from analysis of a gene called FOXP2 which is associated with language. The human version of the gene differs at two critical points from the chimpanzee version, suggesting that these two changes have something to do with the fact that people can speak and chimps cannot.
The genes of Neanderthals seemed to have passed into oblivion when they vanished from their last refuges in Spain and Portugal some 30,000 years ago, almost certainly driven to extinction by modern humans. But recent work by Svante Paabo, a biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has made it clear that some Neanderthal DNA can be extracted from fossils.
That is an exciting use of DNA to learn more about the past, including the development of the human species.
Of course, there is other evidence of Neanderthals being able to speak -- and type.
But the judge is out of town, so we have to wait until Monday to see if the case against these supporters of terrorism was proven beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury.
In an unusual twist in the closely watched and long-running trial of a Muslim charity accused of financing Palestinian terrorists, jurors reached a verdict on Thursday, but their decision was sealed until Monday because the presiding judge was out of town.
Paul D. Stickney, a magistrate judge who accepted the verdict from the jury forewoman about 3:15 p.m., said that he did not have the authority to read it and that it would remain sealed until the return of Chief Judge A. Joe Fish.
Judge Fish is at a conference in West Palm Beach, Fla., his office said in an e-mail message.
The jury spent 19 days considering 197 counts against the Holy Land Foundation, which at one time was the largest Muslim charity in the United States, and five of its organizers and supporters. The case is widely seen as a test of the government’s tactics in trying to cut off what it says is American financial support for terrorist groups.
Here's hoping for a guilty verdict Monday morning, sending the clear message that funding terrorists will not be tolerated, whether directly or indirectly.
Next up -- indict the unindicted co-conspirators in this case, including CAIR.
Mad As Hell And Not Going To Take It Anymore
Yeah, maybe her response was a little over the top, but one can certainly sympathize with her plight.
Fear not, fellow Americans! In these dark days of war, pestilence and Paris Hilton, a new hero has arisen. She is none other than 75-year-old Mona "The Hammer" Shaw, who took the aforementioned implement to her local Comcast office in Manassas to settle a score, and boy, did she!
This was after the company had scheduled installation of its much ballyhooed "Triple Play" service, which combines phone, cable and Internet services, in Shaw's brick home in nearby Bristow. But Shaw said they failed to show up on the appointed day, Monday, Aug. 13. They came two days later but left with the job half done. On Friday morning, they cut off all service.
This was the company that has had consumer service problems serious enough to prompt the trade magazine Advertising Age to editorialize that Comcast and other cable providers should spend less on advertising and more on customer service. And has spawned a blog called ComcastMustDie.com that's filled with posts from angry customers.
Yeah, I'm not terribly happy with Comcast, either, after their recent takeover of Houston cable programming and resultant poor service. They made changes to the lineup and channel locations this week -- and simply decided to place MSNBC, which was scheduled to go on 80, on 99 instead -- without telling anyone or ever making a public announcement. I guess that we were supposed to get psychic vibes from the brain of Keith Olbermann?
Actually, this case reminds me of a recent incident I had with a local fast food place. They almost never get the order right -- and that evening was no exception. As I stood complaining, the response of the management was that I needed to quit complaining and questioning the competence of his employees because "we screw up bigger orders than yours all the time".
And they wonder why we aren't competitive. Pass me that hammer, Granny!
October 18, 2007
Cold Civil War
Mark Steyn comments on this phenomenon, but I think he fails to adequately address the underlying problem behind displays such as this.
Americans do not agree on the basic meaning of the last seven years. If you drive around an Ivy League college town -- home to the nation's best and brightest, allegedly -- you notice a wide range of bumper stickers, from the anticipatory ("01/20/09" -- the day of liberation from the Bush tyranny) to the profane ("Buck Fush") to the myopically self-indulgent ("Regime Change Begins At Home") to the exhibitionist paranoid ("9/11 Was An Inside Job"). Let's assume, as polls suggest, that next year's presidential election is pretty open: might be a Democrat, might be a Republican. Suppose it's another 50/50 election with a narrow GOP victory dependent on the electoral college votes of one closely divided state. It's not hard to foresee those stickered Dems concluding that the system has now been entirely delegitimized.
The problem, it seems, is not that the two sides are unwilling to talk. The problem is instead that one side has determined that any outcome other than one favoring them and their preferred policy outcomes is illegitimate. However, the American people have rejected those outcomes on a consistent basis in every presidential election since 1968. All but three of those races have been won by moderate-to-conservative Republicans – and the three victories by Democrats have been won by individuals who ran as centrist Democrats. New Deal liberalism – not to mention great Society liberalism – has been rejected by the American people at every opportunity. And since the more extreme liberals have been rejected nationally at every opportunity, these same liberals insist that it must be chicanery and fraud that has been at the heart of the defeats. After all, they have embraced the Marxist paradigm that their desired ends are “progress” (hence the adoption of the term “progressive”).
But if the Left rejects the legitimacy of the Right and the success of its ideas and policies (if not always its candidates), where is there room for dialogue? Wherein is the ground for compromise and collaboration when the most vocal elements of that Left coalition insist that their opponents are not merely wrong, but actually are evil and must be crushed? How can we achieve consensus when the starting point of one side is that the other is no different than Hitler and that compromise is collaboration of the sort engaged in by Norway’s Quisling or the Vichy government in France?
If politics is, as has oft been said, the art of the possible, does the intransigence and denunciation of deviation from the ideologically pure platform demanded by the most vocal element of the Left constitute the death-knell of the politics of consensus-building in America? And if one side becomes so invested in its ideology that the defeat of the American military by a foreign foe is seen as a net positive or its agenda, does there remain any hope for the future of American politics as we once knew it?
Whether because of the news from Iraq, or the messages from the White House, Americans are less pessimistic than they were about the future prospects in Iraq. The percentage of those who believe that things are getting better for U.S. troops has increased from 13 percent in March and 20 percent in August to 25 percent now.
Those who believe things are getting worse have fallen from 55 percent in January and 51 percent in March to only 32 percent in this new Harris Poll.
Notice they just can't bring themselves to acknowledge the reality of success in the opening paragraph.
No doubt we will hear new choruses of “We’re Losing – Surrender Now!” from the Democrats. After all, undermining the troops and the war effort are their best hope of electoral victory next year.
"Where are you going to get that money? Are you going to tell us lies like you're telling us today? Is that how you're going to fund the war? You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old, enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement," Stark said.
"President Bush's statements about children's health shouldn't be taken any more seriously than his lies about the war in Iraq. The truth is that Bush just likes to blow things up in Iraq, in the United States, and in Congress. I urge my colleagues to vote to override his veto," he continued.
The fact that this piece of filth feels safe enough to make such statements if proof that the President is not the dictator or violator of rights that the insane Left claims he is – if he were, then Stark would be hustled off to a prison or gunned down in the streets.
Instead he will be applauded by the rest of the pathologically dishonest Left as a hero – again, proving that the liberties of Americans are safe and sound.
Once upon a time, in a more civilized age, the President and Stark would appoint seconds to determine the date and place where the two men would settle this matter with pistols or sabers at dawn – though the content of his remarks prove that Stark is no gentleman, and he would therefore be unworthy of an affair of honor.
Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and Mr. Hankey (D-South Park)
Separated At Birth?
My fellow Americans, in the coming presidential election, the voters of this nation will plot a course for the future. There are many candidates, each of whom brings a different vision of that future. But only one has the conviction and strength to lead this great country. Only one is a popular television and film actor ready to face the challenges of the 21st century head-on. And, most importantly, there is only one candidate with a bombshell trophy wife nearly a quarter-century younger than himself.
I urge each and every one of you to run a Google image search and see the evidence for yourself: photo after photo of a tall but wrinkled and sagging 64-year-old man—that's me—standing at various gala events, his arm wrapped around a stunning woman with glowing orange skin and beautiful platinum- highlighted hair. A bold woman, squeezed into a dress with a plunging neckline so low her enormous breasts seem almost ready to leap out and scream, "Hey world—look at us! We are married to a famous man we saw in Die Hard 2 when we were in college!"
And in typical Onion fashion, this one gets even better and better.
Now if only we could find someone who does a good Fred Thompson voice to do an MP3 version of this.
Over the years, as it became Exhibit A for critics of shareholders’ class action lawsuits, the law firm of Milberg Weiss often enjoyed the support of Democrats who called the suits an invaluable weapon in the universal conflict between big business and the little guy.
The Democrats, in turn, enjoyed the support of Milberg Weiss and its partners, who together have contributed more than $7 million to the party’s candidates since the 1980s.
Last year, the firm was indicted on federal charges of fraud and bribery. But the political partnership has not been entirely severed. Since the indictment, 26 Democrats around the country, including four presidential candidates, have accepted $150,000 in campaign contributions from people connected to Milberg Weiss, according to state and federal campaign finance records. And some Democrats have taken public actions that potentially helped the firm or its former partners.
The recent contributors include current and former Milberg partners who had either been indicted or were widely reported to be facing potential criminal problems when they wrote their checks. One, William S. Lerach, was a fund-raiser for John Edwards’s presidential campaign until his guilty plea last month. Melvyn I. Weiss, a founder of the firm, gave the maximum $4,600 to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York in June. Other firm members contributed to the presidential campaigns of Senators Barack Obama of Illinois and Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware.
I guess than Pelosi and Reid not only failed to drain the swamp, but they an their party's candidates are giving support to the alligators instead. But then again, corruption is a fine old Democrat tradition!
Is democracy on its way back in Pakistan? The return of BenazirBhutto may be the signal that it is.
Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan on Thursday to a massive and joyous homecoming, as thousands of her supporters rallied at the airport here and tens of thousands more gathered nearby to celebrate the end of her eight years in exile.
Ignoring assassination threats and a suggestion from President Pervez Musharraf that she delay her return, she arrived on a plane from Dubai at a time of immense turmoil in Pakistan -- with her presence adding another layer of uncertainty.
Stepping onto the tarmac at 2:16 pm local time, she briefly glanced upward and said "It's great to be back home. It is a dream come true."
Jostling through a scrum of hundreds of reporters and photographers documenting the moment, she headed for a planned trip to the tomb of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Pakistan's founder, a journey that will take her through streets lined with until thousands of supporters.
Aides predicted that perhaps 1 million Pakistanis would gather to welcome her in a reception expected to last for days. But they had also arranged tight security and a bullet-proof vehicle and stage trappings for her first appearances.
"My return heralds for the people of Pakistan the turn of the wheel from dictatorship to democracy," Bhutto said at a news conference in Dubai, where she has spent much of her exile.
Some argue that her deal with Musharraf undercut the movement against him, but if her return signals a weakening of his power, she has done a great service to the people of Pakistan. After all, a peaceful transition from the general's rule is a good thing, compared to the convulsions seen in many other parts of the world as military leaders are challenged.
The nation's largest consumer electronics chain says it has pulled all analog televisions off store shelves. Flat panel and high-definition screens have taken their place.
Beginning in February 2009, broadcasters plan to stop transmitting analog signals, although people with older sets can still get programming via special converter boxes, set-top box or direct satellite.
The Minneapolis-based chain says it told its stores to stop selling the products at the beginning of the month.
More than 60 million U.S. households currently rely on an antennas or analog cable. Cable operators are required to guarantee their customers will receive broadcast channels until February 2012.
After the first of the year, the government will be making available coupons that can be used to buy converter boxes. Best Buy will sell coupon-eligible converter boxes starting early next year.
As one of those folks with nothing but analog sets in my home and analog cable running into it, I'm not happy with the upcoming change. But Best Buy is making a responsible decision (something i rarely say -- I hate Best Buy) in light of the upcoming change in broadcast standards.
President Bush warned today that Iran would be raising the risk of a “World War III” if it came to possess nuclear weapons.
* * *
“If Iran had a nuclear weapon, it’d be a dangerous threat to world peace,” Mr. Bush said. “So I told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”
Personally, I don't care if they have the knowledge to make the weapons. I want to be assured they don''t have the materials and the facilities to make the weapons.
After all, they are a terrorist-supporting regime of questionable stability.
This isn't a surprise, given the number of generations in the past you would have to look to find the common ancestor.
In an interview with MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell this afternoon, Lynne Cheney revealed that while researching the Cheney family tree for her new book "Blue Skies, No Fences," she discovered that the Vice President Cheney and Barack Obama are related -- albeit distantly. According to Mrs. Cheney, the two politicians are eighth cousins.
*** Update *** The Obama campaign emails NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan that the Chicago Sun-Times actually wrote about this relation back in September, although the article notes that Obama and Cheney are 11th cousins -- not 8th cousins.
*** Update II *** Our mistake: The Sun-Times says that Obama and George Bush are 11th cousins, and Obama and Cheney are ninth cousins once removed. It seems we're all related....
What does it prove? Nothing.
Disney Demands: Ditch Deity
No mention of God allowed in Radio Disney ads for a new movie – The Ten Commandments.
It's a movie about the Bible, but family-friendly Disney Co. is moving heaven and earth to make sure the word "God" is stricken from some advertisements promoting an upcoming animated film on Moses and the Ten Commandments.
Radio Disney was to broadcast a radio spot for Promenade Pictures, makers of the film "The Ten Commandments," but the company sent an e-mail earlier this month instructing that the phrase "chosen by God" be stripped from the script.
"Our BS&P [Broadcast Standards and Procedures] said Both scripts need to include the studio mention and omit the following line: CHOSEN BY GOD.... Please let me know if you have any questions," reads the e-mail, sent Oct. 2 to Promenade media buyer Casey Baker by Radio Disney Network sales.
The network claims that the problem isn’t the mention of God, and that there is no prohibition on religious references in their BS&P – but the letter says otherwise.
I’ll definitely see the movie – indeed, I may make it the first I have seen in a theater in at least three years – but I think I’ll continue a personal boycott of Disney products.
The “Out-Of-Touch-With-Reality”-Based Community Rants Regarding Rhodes
I wasn’t going to comment on the Randi Rhodes fiasco from yesterday. Yeah, it shows the fact-free, paranoid style of the American Left, but I found it unseemly to use her unfortunate accident to score political points. After all, I’ve fallen when the dog has given an unanticipated jerk of the leash in an unexpected direction, and had one of my grad school professors go under the knife after blowing out a knee in just such an accident (though Dr. Lind was on cross country skis at the time).
Adolph Hitler's right wing thugs regularly 'mugged' opponents and members of unpopular groups even before he came to power....Given Randi Rhodes courageous outspokenness about the sinister intentions of the right wing, it is not unreasonable to suspect that this non-robbery assault is an attempt by Neo-conservative thugs to silence her views.
Hitler was a National SOCIALIST – by definition, a left-winger. If you doubt me, look at his economic and political program and tell me which party it more generally tracks with. One hint – it begins with a D.
Have you ever noticed that when one of ours shoots one of theirs (Reagan, Ford, Wallace), it's always an amateurish lunatic like Squeaky Fromme or John Hinkley [sic] acting alone and without a plan or a mind, and that little or no blood spills, but that when they come after one of ours (Malcolm, JFK, MLK, RFK), it is a flawlessly executed surgical strike from triangulated professional snipers who leave no witnesses or other loose ends behind, just the corpse of a formerly great liberal leader and an unwitting patsy to take the fall (Oswald, Bremer, Sirhan)?
Let’s look at this, can we.
JFK was shot by a Communist. That makes him one of yours.
RFK was shot by a Palestinian terrorist because RFK supported Israel. Again, that makes the perpetrator one of yours.
Malcolm was shot by his fellow Black Muslims. Again, that would make the assassins part of the leftoid coalition.
Dr. King was murdered by a racist criminal – I believe that would make him a part of the Democrat constituency as well (after all, the KKK was a Democrat paramilitary terrorist adjunct).
And by the way -- I hope Rhodes is doing better, and that she s fully recovered in time for her radio show today.
A Child’s Tears Inspire A Song
I’m looking forward to hearing this song – not just because of my fondness for Martina McBride, but because of the story behind it.
This is the story of a defeated senator, his crying daughter, a Nashville songwriter and Martina McBride, the country music star.
It begins in Pittsburgh on election night 2006. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), losing to Democrat Robert P. Casey Jr. by a wide margin, gathered his wife and six children around a hotel ballroom microphone and conceded.
The little girl at his side, Sarah Maria Santorum, then 8, wept. She squeezed her eyes and wiped her tears. She buried her face in her father’s arm, pulled away and cried some more — all on live, national television.
The image became an instant Internet sensation, fueled by snarky blogs like Wonkette, which declared it the “official screenshot of the 2006 congressional midterm elections,” and was debated for weeks on comment boards.
Now it’s a country music single.
McBride released the song, “For These Times,” on Monday — a social commentary inspired, in part, by Sarah Maria Santorum.
* * *
Hundreds of miles away from the Pittsburgh hotel, where the Santorum children took their pre-marked positions on stage — their names were scribbled on masking tape pressed to the floor — Leslie Satcher watched the election returns on a big-screen TV in her Nashville home.
The songwriter already had one hit with McBride (“When God-Fearin’ Women Get the Blues” in 2002), and was trying for a second.
Inspiration struck on election night.
Satcher and her husband — “big Fox News junkies” — were riveted by the scene.
“I saw the cameras zoom in on that little girl,” Satcher said.
“That’s awful. They are not even showing Rick. They are showing her crying. She is hurting, and she knows her dad is hurting.”
As blogs parsed and parodied the image — some gleefully made fun of it, others questioned the wisdom of putting a distraught child in front of the camera — Satcher went to church. Her pastor held up the Bible.
“For these times in which we live, you are going to need this book,” he said. Satcher scribbled the words into the back of her book.
At 3 a.m., she wrote the song.
It is a song of love, of compassion, and of faith – things which are highly valued by most Americans, including Satcher, McBride, and the Santorum family.
The song pans the picture.
In these times in which we live
Where the worst of what we live
Is laid out for all the world on the front page
And the sound of someone’s heartbreak
Is a sound bite at the news break
With a close shot of the tears rollin’ down their face
Blessed be the child who turns a loving eye
And stops to pray
For these times in which we live
One can think what one likes of Rick Santorum, but the exploitation of the image of that hurting child by the many of the same lefty bloggers who later decried even asking questions about Graeme Frost and his family is more than a little bit hypocritical. And their level of compassion is revealed in some of the comments connected to the Politico story I’ve quoted above proves that compassion and decency are not concepts that they truly understand.
And let me add a note of full disclosure – my opinions of Rick Santorum go back significantly longer than most Americans. You see, we graduated from the same high school, though our school careers did not overlap (he’s class of 1976, I’m class of 1981). More than once during my high school years, I was compared to the future senator by teachers we were blessed to have shared. And I look forward to his eventual comeback, because I know that he is too good a man to be kept down by the results of the 2006 election.
Bobby Jindal, the wiry and wired Republican son of Indian immigrants, doesn't look like a Louisiana good ol' boy and he doesn't talk like one either.
At 36, he has a resume that should place him closer to retirement than to yet another career. A Rhodes Scholar, Jindal was accepted to the medical and law schools of both Harvard and Yale (though he attended neither). While still in his 20s, he served as president of the University of Louisiana System and as assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He successfully reformed Louisiana's Medicaid program and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004.
* * *
St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jack Stephens told me that many voters have "buyer's remorse," and, "we've come to place a high value on intellect."
Also, in the days after Katrina when state and local leaders were tangled up in red tape, Jindal materialized with his sleeves rolled up -- without cameras or fanfare -- and said, "What do you need?"
Shortly thereafter, trucks, food and medicine began arriving in St. Bernard, where most of the parish's 27,000 residential units were damaged or destroyed.
Dems are troubled by Jindal because he is too Catholic and too non-white for them. Speaking as a Republican, I could not care less about his ethnicity, and I find his strong faith (combined with his incredible intellect) to be appealing. After all, he and I are both members of the party that has always opposed racism.
Heck – I wonder if he might be a good fit as the VP candidate in 2008?
t has become something of a cliche: politicians launching their electoral campaigns on late-night talk shows, in a calculated attempt at hipness.
But a late-night comic announcing his presidential candidacy on a late-night talk show - now that is a hall-of-mirrors maneuver worthy of Stephen Colbert. The man known to viewers for his portrayal of a fulminating right-wing blowhard said on Comedy Central on Tuesday night that he will be a candidate in his native South Carolina.
* * *
Colbert, who in real life is a Democrat, said he would file papers to run in both parties' primaries.
It is hard to take the guy seriously in any event, but if he is going to make a run, shouldn’t the equal time rules apply across the board?
Judging Rudy By His Enemies
When I see article like this one, I makes me consider the possibility that he may be the best candidate we have on the GOP side.
t’s the middle of October and Rudy Giuliani is still leading the race for the Republican nomination. His old enemies in New York can’t understand it.
“It’s totally unbelievable,” said Charles Rangel, the dean of the New York Congressional delegation and a longtime adversary of Mr. Giuliani. “I refuse to believe that this could possibly happen to our country. I have too much confidence in our country to believe that this could really happen.”
On the other hand, I don’t have nearly as much confidence in our country – after all, two Bill Clinton terms proved how low the bar can be. And the fact that Hillary Clinton is the leading Dem candidate makes it even more obvious.
They had better have gotten this one right. The American public will not support NASA after another high-profile disaster, not after the sort of deliberations known to have taken place over this launch.
The space shuttle Discovery will launch on schedule next Tuesday even though questions remain about small defects on heat shield panels along its wings, NASA managers said Tuesday.
After an all-day meeting in which engineers debated technical issues that could affect the mission, managers decided to keep the shuttle’s Oct. 23 launching date for a mission that will take a key component to the International Space Station.
N. Wayne Hale Jr., director of the space shuttle program, said there were still questions about the degrading of a coating on 3 of 44 panels on the leading edges of the Discovery’s wings. While not fully understood, Mr. Hale said, the problem appeared to be an acceptable risk.
Noting that the shuttle is an experimental vehicle that should never be considered completely safe to fly, Mr. Hale said managers who heard all the arguments voted to fly on schedule, although some had a few reservations. Mr. Hale said the decision was not made to keep the shuttle launching program on schedule, a criticism of the space agency that was voiced by investigators after the 2003 Columbia accident.
“We are not going to let schedule drive us into making a decision,” Mr. Hale said at a news conference late Tuesday after the meeting at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “The preponderance of evidence, in my mind, is that we have an acceptable risk to go fly.”
Spaceflight will never be a risk-free proposition. Catastrophic failure will happen from time to time. I think everyone realizes that. But the recent debate over this launch has pitted safety issues against scheduling issues, and it looks like scheduling won out. Even if that isn't the case (and hale says it isn't), the appearance will be damning if anything goes wrong.
Lantos asked Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Jerry Yang and Senior Vice President and General Counsel Michael Callahan to appear November 6.
"Our committee has established that Yahoo provided false information to Congress in early 2006," Lantos said in a written statement. "We want to clarify how that happened, and to hold the company to account for its actions both before and after its testimony proved untrue. And we want to examine what steps the company has taken since then to protect the privacy rights of its users in China."
* * *
"We have now learned there is much more to the story than Yahoo let on, and a Chinese government document that Yahoo had in their possession at the time of the hearing left little doubt of the government's intentions," said Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey.
"U.S. companies must hold the line and not work hand in glove with the secret police."
In other words, Yahoo was more than willing to give up information about a user to allow the Chinese government to suppress legitimate speech.
The time has come to ensure that American companies do not become cooperators in oppression.
Andrew Sullivan notes what will be the big selling point for the GOP candidate in 2008, quoting Bob Jones III of the university of the same name.
Rudy is already using her to win the nomination as well. They all will. Just mention her name in a conservative direct-mail pitch and the money is yours. Will they also unload on any Democrat? Sure. But only one Democrat can raise the money for the GOP like she can - and already is. And only one brings (almost) everybody back into the big tent. There's a reason they're already bashing her. Because they know it works.
Given Mrs. Clinton's negatives, it is a strategy that could work.
That said, I wish it wasn't Bob Jones III, head of an institution with a rather sickening history (and theology) that was saying it. Just as I wish it was someone else making this important point.
"As a Christian I am completely opposed to the doctrines of Mormonism," he said. "But I’m not voting for a preacher. I’m voting for a president. It boils down to who can best represent conservative American beliefs, not religious beliefs."
I've said in the past, I'm voting for a president, not a theologian. I fundamentally disagree with many distinctly Mormon beliefs. But I'm voting for a political leader based upon political principles -- and if the best candidate is a Mormon (or a Buddhist, or a Hindu, or even a Muslim) I'll cast my vote for that individual with pride and joy, knowing that I have done my duty for my country.
Jena Hearing -- A National Embarrassment
No, not the incident itself, which has a host of disgraceful angles involving both black and white individuals.
1) Sheila Jackson-Lee, who disgraces Houston on a regular basis, hysterically screeching and raving about being a mother. Excuse me, Congresswoman, but your job yesterday was to be a legislator and to conduct yourself with the dignity of your office.
2) Al Sharpton. Given his involvement in the Tawana Brawley fraud, as well as his willingness to railroad the Duke lacrosse players, he no more deserves to be treated as a leader in healing racial division that David Duke.
3) Rev. Brian Moran of the Jena NAACP.
Several other Republicans on the panel questioned whether the white beating victim, Justin Barker, had been forgotten in all the uproar, but Rev. Brian Moran, president of the Jena NAACP chapter, said that the most pressing issue is justice for the six teens facing criminal charges.
Excuse me, sir -- don't you realize that this is precisely the same argument used by Kluxers, namely that something other than justice for the victims of racial violence was more important? Six black boys ambushed and assaulted a white boy as he lay helpless on the ground because of the color of his skin -- the obscene stupidity of the noose (in which no one was hurt) incident THREE MONTHS BEFORE and the subsequent failure to bring criminal charges provides no justification for giving lenient treatment to the criminals in this REAL LYNCHING of a student not involved in that other incident.
Chinese officials warned the United States today not to honor the Dalai Lama, saying a planned award ceremony in Washington for the Tibetan spiritual leader would have “an extremely serious impact” on relations between the countries.
Speaking at a Foreign Ministry briefing and on the sidelines of the Communist Party’s ongoing 17th National Congress, the officials condemned the Dalai Lama as a resolute separatist and said foreign leaders must stop encouraging his “splittist” mission.
“Such a person who basely splits his motherland and doesn’t even love his motherland has been welcomed by some countries and has even been receiving this or that award,” Tibet’s Communist Party boss, Zhang Qingli, told reporters during the congress.
“We are furious,” Mr. Zhang said. “If the Dalai Lama can receive such an award, there must be no justice or good people in the world.”
The Dalai Lama, a Nobel laureate, has lived in exile since the Chinese army crushed an uprising in his homeland in 1959 and is revered as the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists. He is scheduled to receive the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday after President Bush receives him at the White House today.
My big regret is that the President does not choose to receive him as the legitimate leader of the Tibetan government in exile.
A White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, emphasized that the meeting was “with a spiritual leader,” not a political official, and he said it was thus appropriate that it be held in the president’s residence, not the Oval Office.
The complaints of the Communist regime cannot obscure the abuses of the people of Tibet or the level of respect appropriate for this man of peace and dignity. The yapping of the Pekinese puppies cannot undermine the importance of a giant like the Dalai Lama and his voice as spokesman for an oppressed people.
After all, being the relative of an accused criminal – even a terrorist – does not make you part of a protectedclass.
The 12-year-old sister of a Fort Dix terror suspect alleges she was attacked at a township school in an apparent hate crime, an Islamic group said Monday.
The sister of Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, one of six men accused of plotting an attack on the Burlington County military installation, says she was choked and punched at Carusi Middle School in an incident last month, according to the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The assailant allegedly said, "There's a terrorist on the loose," and told the girl, "Your brother will never come back," according to Afsheen Shamsi, a CAIR-NJ spokeswoman.
"It does seem that she was targeted because of the alleged plot that her brother had engaged in," said Shamsi. "It's really sad and terrible."
The civil-liberties group has scheduled a news conference today at its Princeton headquarters to demand that the FBI and state Office of Bias Crimes investigate the alleged attack and find and prosecute the assailant.
Now there is clearly an assault here, and it needs to be dealt with as such. But the attack seems to be based upon her brother’s involvement with the plot to kill American servicemen – not upon this girl’s race, ethnicity or religion, unless one wishes to argue that being a terrorist is part and parcel of being either an Arab or a Muslim. As such, there is no way to call this a hate crime.
More disturbing to me, however, is the fact that it has taken over three weeks for this to be reported to the authorities.
By the way, it is my hope that the attacker is correct in one of his comments – I hope that the terrorist scumbag never sees another day of freedom.
Two girls at a Florida high school were booted from a football game for painting their bodies to show school spirit, even though boys with painted bodies were allowed to stay.
Manatee High School student Monica Cummings, 17, and her friend Jessyca Altenbach, 17, painted their entire bodies in school colors for a big game this week.
However, both were kicked out of the game in the first quarter.
"People think we did it to be rebellious senior teenagers but we did it because we wanted to show school spirit," student Monica Cummings said. "That's all we did it for."
School district policy states that it is up to administrators to decide whether something is appropriate or not and in this case, the principal decided that the girls' outfits were not appropriate.
Once the girls came in, there were a number of people who came up to the principal, the assistant principal and other school administrators who were very upset over their appearance, school spokeswoman Margi Nanney said. "We have never had complaints about the men or the boys."
It is ugly.
It is tacky.
But inappropriate? No more so than when guys do it – and there needs to be a “one-size-fits-all” policy for stuff like this. After all, the girls did cover all areas that they society (and the law) expects them to cover with clothing. Would those tops have gotten them kicked out if they had not done the body-painting?
Then Why Are You Telling Millions Of American Kids
My students and I get the daily "treat" of Channel One news in our classroom during fifth period. I think it serves a small purpose, in that it does expose some of the kids to the only news they will get in an average day. And it has sparked interesting comments.
But there was a line in today's broadcast (October 16, 2007 -- at 7:55 in the video) that struck me as somewhat over the top. In discussing the current debate over the House resolution on the Armenian genocide, they explain why Turkey is so important, and include the description of the country as "a secret ally of Israel".
Secret? Not if it can be discovered by student journalists like the folks at Channel One. And certainly not after they disclose it to students at 11,000 schools. But not to worry -- the relationship between the two nations is quite public knowledge -- as this Wikipedia article shows.
You know – the Democrat Party and the leading Democrats who were responsible for the coup, and who perpetrated the violence and murder.
Oh, and the News & Observer newspaper and other newspapers still publishing today that actively advocated for the removal of blacks from political power in Wilmington.
Why are these organizations not included in the demands? Why are the descendants of Josephus Daniels (later the Secretary of the Navy under Democrat Woodrow Wilson) and other participants not facing threats of litigation if they don’t pay up? Could it be that the NAACP knows that the political party and media outlets that instigated this rebellion and overthrow of lawful authority are today reliable allies – as are many of the individuals who would be impacted by the attempt to make them pay for events that occurred long before their birth?
Besides – the state has deeper pockets, since it can always tax the citizens more. And the NAACP loves higher taxes, more government spending and additional social programs which are what this lawsuit is really about. Otherwise
Reparations by those not responsible to those not personally wronged – like belated apologies for slavery – are misguided and dishonest efforts to assuage guilt of those who have done nothing wrong on behalf of those who believe themselves to be perpetual victims of the past.
Via the University of Chicago Law Faculty blog, I learn that the Chicago website has posted an MP3 file recorded in 2006 of the late Professor David Currie reading the U.S. Constitution (link to the hosting page rather than the file). It's a big file, but a download is well worth it: Currie has a marvelous voice, and hearing the Constitution read aloud gives you a particularly keen sense of the structure and internal consistency of the document. Super cool.
I've downloaded it -- you should, too.
Taking The Back Door In
Now refugees from Cuba are taking the safer, longer way into the US -- through Mexico!
Cubans are migrating to the United States in the greatest numbers in over a decade, and for most of them the new way to get north is first to head west — to Mexico — in a convoluted route that avoids the United States Coast Guard.
American officials say the migration, which has grown into a multimillion-dollar-a-year smuggling enterprise, has risen sharply because many Cubans have lost hope that Raúl Castro, who took over as president from his brother Fidel in 2006, will make changes that will improve their lives. Cuban authorities contend that the migration is more economic than political and is fueled by Washington’s policy of rewarding Cubans who enter the United States illegally.
In fact, unlike Mexicans, Central Americans and others heading to the southwestern border of the United States, the Cubans do not have to sneak across. They just walk right up to United States authorities at the border, benefiting from lax Mexican enforcement and relying on Washington’s “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which gives them the ability to become permanent residents if they can reach United States soil.
That is what José Luis Savater, 45, a refrigerator repairman from Havana, did in early October to reach southern Florida, which remains the goal for most migrating Cubans.
Two questions spring to mind in light of this story.
1) If we are now getting Cubans coming across, why would anyone doubt that terrorists are (or at least could) infiltrate the US in this same manner?
2) Why are these Cubans coming to America? Didn't they get the memo from Michael Moore that they have it better in Communist Cuba, with its great health care and benevolent leader?
Absolutely tragic -- but at least this terrorist scumbag didn't do greater damage to even more innocents.
A mother who tried to stop her son from carrying out a suicide bomb attack triggered an explosion in the family's home in southern Afghanistan that killed the would-be bomber, his mother and three siblings, police said Monday.
The would-be bomber had been studying at a madrassa, or religious school, in Pakistan, and when he returned to his home in Uruzgan province over the weekend announced that he planned to carry out a suicide attack, Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said.
Surviving family members told police that the suicide vest exploded during a struggle between the mother and her son, said Juma Gul Himat, Uruzgan's police chief. The man's brother and two sisters were also killed.
Family members said the would-be bomber gave his family $3,600 before telling them he intended to carry out the attack, Himat said.
And another such bomber who lost his nerve accidentally detonated his vest while taking it off before turning himself into the police, resulting in only his own death. I'm curious -- does he still get his virgins?
Also, this information needs to be proclaimed worldwide -- after investigation of allegations against US troops in Afghanistan made recently, the following has been determined.
There was no desecration of the Quran or any religious symbol by U.S. forces.
Now, if the Muslim world would become more interested in the desecration of their faith by terrorists, the outrage over this non-incident could be directed to better ends.
Two co-defendants in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery case in Las Vegas, Nevada, have agreed to plead guilty to reduced charges and testify against the former football star, officials said Monday.
Walter Alexander and Charles H. Cashmore said they will testify against Simpson and three other co-defendants, and will include in their testimony that guns were used in the alleged robbery.
In return for Alexander's cooperation, Clark County District Attorney David Roger promised to seek a suspended sentence on a charge of conspiracy to commit robbery, according to Clark County Court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer.
Earlier Monday, Cashmore appeared before Judge Joe M. Bonaventure and said he would plead guilty to an accessory to robbery charge, court information officer Michael Sommermeyer said.
Clark County District Attorney David Roger announced in court that Cashmore would testify against Simpson and four others. Cashmore is scheduled for arraignment on October 23.
Imagine if they had managed to turn Al Cowlings against OJ before the murder case -- he'd have long since had a needle in his arm or a life sentence.
Answer -- it is early. A crappy showing by Obama in the early states will derail his campaign, like happened with McCain in 2000 and Dean in 2004. The issue, therefore, is not the state, but is instead the calendar.
Republican presidential hopeful John McCain is back, two months after he was given up for dead.
For most of 2007, McCain was the prohibitive favorite among GOP voters. No one else came close.
Then, suddenly, his campaign — swollen with overhead and consultants — began to come apart at the seams.
It wasn’t long before it reported a financial crisis: It was broke.
Roughly half of McCain’s staff left or was let go. His longtime political soul mate, John Weaver, split, leaving McCain alone to run his campaign.
Meanwhile, the national media began to write McCain’s political obituary. You almost could feel the one-time leader’s polling numbers dropping toward the single digits.
Today, amazingly, the campaign of the U.S. senator from Arizona is very much alive.
McCain was helped by progress in Iraq and a strong showing in a recent New Hampshire debate.
Also, the John McCain of old is back, saying what he means and letting the chips fall where they may. He is much more comfortable campaigning as an insurgent than as an insider.
Sorry, but I won't be signing onto McCain's campaign any time soon. Other than Ron Paul and Sam Brownback, McCain is the last individual in the GOP race i would vote for. His hostility to the First Amendment is shocking, and i will not be a party to the destruction of that most precious part of the Bill of Rights by supporting his candidacy for the GOP nomination.
Indeed, I'm not sure that I could support the GOP ticket if he is on it in either spot -- though I think he would be a great Secretary of Defense or Homeland Security.
In Olso Friday, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was not awarded to the Burmese monks whose defiance against, and brutalization at the hands of, the country's military junta in recent weeks captured the attention of the Free World.
The prize was also not awarded to Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and other Zimbabwe opposition leaders who were arrested and in some cases beaten by police earlier this year while protesting peacefully against dictator Robert Mugabe.
Or to Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest in Vietnam arrested this year and sentenced to eight years in prison for helping the pro-democracy group Block 8406.
Or to Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Uyyouni, co-founders of the League of Demanders of Women's Right to Drive Cars in Saudi Arabia, who are waging a modest struggle with grand ambitions to secure basic rights for women in that Muslim country.
Or to Colombian President Àlvaro Uribe, who has fought tirelessly to end the violence wrought by left-wing terrorists and drug lords in his country.
Or to Garry Kasparov and the several hundred Russians who were arrested in April, and are continually harassed, for resisting President Vladimir Putin's slide toward authoritarian rule.
Or to the people of Iraq, who bravely work to rebuild and reunite their country amid constant threats to themselves and their families from terrorists who deliberately target civilians.
Or to Presidents Viktor Yushchenko and Mikheil Saakashvili who, despite the efforts of the Kremlin to undermine their young states, stayed true to the spirit of the peaceful "color" revolutions they led in Ukraine and Georgia and showed that democracy can put down deep roots in Russia's backyard.
Or to Britain's Tony Blair, Ireland's Bertie Ahern and the voters of Northern Ireland, who in March were able to set aside decades of hatred to establish joint Catholic-Protestant rule in Northern Ireland.
Or to thousands of Chinese bloggers who run the risk of arrest by trying to bring uncensored information to their countrymen.
Or to scholar and activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, jailed presidential candidate Ayman Nour and other democracy campaigners in Egypt.
Or, posthumously, to lawmakers Walid Eido, Pierre Gemayel, Antoine Ghanem, Rafik Hariri, George Hawi and Gibran Tueni; journalist Samir Kassir; and other Lebanese citizens who've been assassinated since 2005 for their efforts to free their country from Syrian control.
Or to the Reverend Phillip Buck; Pastor Chun Ki Won and his organization, Durihana; Tim Peters and his Helping Hands Korea; and Liberty in North Korea, who help North Korean refugees escape to safety in free nations.
But I can understand the decision of the Swedish politicians who make up the selection committee. Faced with the possibility of giving the award to some individual or group that had engaged in real humanitarian work, often at great personal risk or cost, they instead made the courageous choice to give it to a washed-up politician who made an error-riddled film and who hypocritically lives a lifestyle with a sasquatch-sized carbon footprint while demanding that the rest of us cout back on our environmental impact -- or face government mandates that we do so.
After all, it was a morally superior move to try to embarrass the American president and seek to influence the American election. I mean, having previously given it to a terrorist, a communist dictator, and a lying novelist, why sully the Nobel Peace Prize by giving it to true workers for peace and human rights?
The US Constitution does not apply to those outside the US. And it certainly does not apply to enemies who are actively fighting our men and women in uniform. But a warped view of the Bill of Rights seems to have cost some soldiers their lives earlier this year.
In the early hours of May 12, seven U.S. soldiers - including Spc. Jimenez - were on lookout near a patrol base in the al Qaeda-controlled area of Iraq called the "Triangle of Death."
Sometime before dawn, heavily armed al Qaeda gunmen quietly cut through the tangles of concertina wire surrounding the outpost of two Humvees and made a massive and coordinated surprise attack.
Four of the soldiers were killed on the spot and three others were taken hostage.
A search to rescue the men was quickly launched. But it soon ground to a halt as lawyers - obeying strict U.S. laws about surveillance - cobbled together the legal grounds for wiretapping the suspected kidnappers.
Starting at 10 a.m. on May 15, according to a timeline provided to Congress by the director of national intelligence, lawyers for the National Security Agency met and determined that special approval from the attorney general would be required first.
For an excruciating nine hours and 38 minutes, searchers in Iraq waited as U.S. lawyers discussed legal issues and hammered out the "probable cause" necessary for the attorney general to grant such "emergency" permission.
Finally, approval was granted and, at 7:38 that night, surveillance began.
"The intelligence community was forced to abandon our soldiers because of the law," a senior congressional staffer with access to the classified case told The Post.
"How many lawyers does it take to rescue our soldiers?" he asked. "It should be zero."
Excuse me – the enemy on the field of battle does not have a right to the protection of the Constitution. He does not have a right to have a warrant issued before we intercept his phone calls, no matter where the hub is. And our soldiers do have a right to expect that the full range of American resources will be deployed to rescue them – and that does not include a battalion of attorneys to muck up the process and prevent prompt action.
Any new FISA legislation needs to make this clear. And if it does not, the President should veto it, and follow the precedents set by FDR to engage in intelligence gathering without warrants.
The U.S. military believes it has dealt devastating and perhaps irreversible blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a declaration of victory over the group, which the Bush administration has long described as the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq.
But as the White House and its military commanders plan the next phase of the war, other officials have cautioned against taking what they see as a premature step that could create strategic and political difficulties for the United States. Such a declaration could fuel criticism that the Iraq conflict has become a civil war in which U.S. combat forces should not be involved. At the same time, the intelligence community, and some in the military itself, worry about underestimating an enemy that has shown great resilience in the past.
I'd rather not see a premature declaration of victory -- after all, there are other foes to be defeated in Iraq. But it is good to know that one of the worst is in the process of being crushed -- and it provides some hope that the rest are in similarly dire straights.
Krugman Tries To Smear Gore Opponents As Deranged
When Charles Krauthammer coined the term "Bush Derangement Syndrome" some years back, he was well-within his competence in doing so. After all, he is a trained mental health professional. Now that Paul Krugman tries to label those of us who think that Al Gore did not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize as suffering from Gore Derangement Syndrome, I'd like to point out that he is practicing medicine without a license.
On the day after Al Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize, The Wall Street Journal’s editors couldn’t even bring themselves to mention Mr. Gore’s name. Instead, they devoted their editorial to a long list of people they thought deserved the prize more.
Krugman then goes on to list other folks opposing the hypocritical carbon sasquatch who demands that everyone except him cut back on their "carbon footprint" while selling latter day indulgences to violators.
And given that there is not a clear scientific consensus in favor of man-made global warming (whatever the political or pop-culture consensus), opposition to the Gore agenda is not a sign of mental illness -- it is a sign of critical thinking.
WaPo Reporter Killed
I have a soft spot for stories of reporters killed while doing their job -- I have ever since one of my college friends was killed covering a story on drug trafficking in South America.
On Sunday afternoon, Salih Saif Aldin set out for one of Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhoods. He knew exactly where to go. He nodded, smiled, grabbed his camera. There was nothing he needed to say.
Saif Aldin always came back -- from death threats, from beatings, from kidnappings, from detentions by American soldiers, from the country's most notorious and deadly terrain -- but on Sunday he didn't. The 32-year-old Iraqi reporter in The Washington Post's Baghdad bureau was shot once in the forehead in the southwestern neighborhood of Sadiyah. He was the latest in a long line of reporters, most of them Iraqis, to be killed while covering the Iraq war. He was the first for The Washington Post.
"The death of Salih Saif Aldin in the service of our readers is a tragedy for everyone at The Washington Post. He was a brave and valuable reporter who contributed much to our coverage of Iraq," said Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of The Post. "We are in his debt. We grieve with his family, friends, fellow journalists and everyone in our Baghdad bureau."
At 2 p.m., Saif Aldin took a taxi from The Post's office to Sadiyah to interview residents about the sectarian violence there between Shiite militiamen and Sunni insurgents. It was his third trip to the embattled neighborhood within a week. For him, there were no red zones, no green zones, no neig