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December 31, 2007

Not A Bad Choice

I wasn't upset last week when Time Magazine named Vladimir Putin as it's Man of the Year. After all, as it often reminds readers, the choice is the person who most impacted the world for good or evil.

Thus 1938 saw the award go to Hitler, followed by Stalin in 1939 and again in 1942. Another Soviet dictator, Nikita Krushchev, got the nod in 1957, while China's Chairman Den Xiaoping won in 1978 (and again in 1985) and Ayatollah Khomeni in 1979.

I'd have to argue that a similar argument can therefore be made about the selection made by the Dallas Morning News as Texan of the Year -- the law-breaking, border-jumping immigration criminal (although they called him "The Illegal Immigrant").

He breaks the law by his very presence. He hustles to do hard work many Americans won't, at least not at the low wages he accepts. The American consumer economy depends on him. America as we have known it for generations may not survive him.

We can't seem to live with him and his family, and if we can live without him, nobody's figured out how.

He's the Illegal Immigrant, and he's the 2007 Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year – for better or for worse. Given the public mood, there seems to be little middle ground in debate over illegal immigrants. Spectacular fights over their presence broke out across Texas this year, adding to the national pressure cooker as only Texas can.

And as with any such criminal, he is clearly detrimental to those of us who he victimizes by his presence.

Nationally, a Congressional Budget Office report released this month said illegal immigrants cost more in tax dollars than they provide, especially in the areas of education, law enforcement and health. Indeed, 70 percent of babies born in Dallas' Parkland Hospital in the first three months of 2006 were to illegal immigrant mothers. Taxpayers spend tens of millions of dollars annually subsidizing births in that one hospital.

Yes, boys and girls, that's right -- you and I are the victims of these folks, as they reach their hands right into our wallets to take from us money to provide them with benefits to which they have no legal or moral entitlement. The notion of some soft-heated, soft-minded judges that these folks are entitled to anything other than a bus ticket home and a computer entry denying them the privilege of ever crossing the border into the US again is the main thing preventing crackdowns on such benefits and the presence of such folks in our communities. Well that and the desire of Democrat politicians to get these folks legalized and voting Democrat, and businessmen who would rather hire cheap illegal worker than American citizens at American wages (and yes, that does include you, Bob Perry).

I don't care about most of the cultural issues -- I have no problem with new pieces added to the mosaic of American life. I speak Spanish (with a serious gringo accent, according to some of my students), like Mexican food, and love certain of the customs that these people bring with them. But I do believe that a measure of assimilation is a necessity, and to that end believe that learning English is a necessity rather than setting up the parallel cultural institutions we have seen develop.

Do I believe that we need to fight illegal immigration? You bet I do -- every bit as much as we needed to fight the twin menaces of Nazism and Communism, and as we need to fight Islamism today. Yet at the same time, I welcome legally immigrating foreigners from every country, provided they are willing to embrace America's history and values even as they share elements of their own with us. The choice is not between having immigration and having none. Rather, it is between having an orderly system with enforced immigration control, or the pell-mell invasion of our country by those who take more than they give.

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British MPs Complain Catholic Bishops Too Catholic

Yeah, heaven forbid (oops -- is that too "fundamentalist" for these MPs?) that Catholic bishops insist that Catholic institutions operate in a Catholic manner.

Roman Catholic bishops are to appear in front of a powerful committee of MPs amid fears that they are pushing a fundamentalist brand of their religion in schools. Bishops have called on parents, teachers and priests to strengthen the role of religion in education. In one case the Bishop of Lancaster, Patrick O'Donoghue, instructed Catholic schools across much of north-west England to stop 'safe-sex' education and place crucifixes in all classrooms.

Crucifixes in the classrooms! Quick -- pass the smelling salts! And the teaching of traditional Catholic sexual morality -- the horror of it all!

Perhaps this comment from one of the MPs is the most telling.

'It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith.

Yes, we can't have folks who are serious about a religious faith teaching the doctrines of that faith and controlling that faith's institutions. That won't work at all. It might cause people to believe that religious faith -- or at least CHRISTIAN religious faith -- matters.

And yet, oddly enough, militant Islamist organizations are allowed to freely operate in the UK without much restriction at all. I guess that the reason is that the MPs know that neither the "doctrinaire" and "fundamentalist" bishops won't detonate themselves in the face of criticism.





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Algerian Parliamentarians Demand law Against Exercise Of Human Rights

There is simply no other way to define what they are asking for here.

Lawmakers from the Algerian Islamic political party of al-Nahda have asked the government to intervene to slow down "the activities of Christian missionaries in the country".

Algerian MP Muhammad Hudeibi was quoted as saying this in the local el-Khabar newspaper.

"We want the government to cut down this type of activity because the expansion of evangelisation in Algeria has become an important problem and is not marginal as some think it is," said Hudeibi.

For some years, the local media in Algeria have reported on the activities of a number of missionaries, particularly those from evangelical and Protestant churches, who have succeeded in converting entire Algerian families to Christianity, particularly those who come from the eastern area of Kabilia.

"We condemn the government's silence with regard to this phenomenon," said the Algerian MP.

"We are collecting the signatures of other lawmakers in order to begin a discussion in parliament on this problem," he said.

"All 11 parliamentarians of al-Nahda have been mobilised, but we are convinced that others will also help us."

The Islamic party also asked the Algerian ulema or Islamic scholars and imams to give their opinion on the issue of Christian evangelism.

Actually, the opinion of Muslim scholars or religious leaders on this matter should be irrelevant.

After all, the right to change one's religion is an internationally recognized human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As such, banning proselytism or conversion would fundamentally be a violation of the human rights of every individual living in or visiting Algeria. That such human rights violations are daily committed in other Muslim countries is irrelevant -- and if it is argued that Islam forbids such activities, then it must be conceded by those making such a claim that Islam itself is the enemy of human rights.

H/T Gates of Vienna





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December 30, 2007

Texans 2007 -- .500 At Last!

After six years as a Houston Texans season ticket holder, this one was sweet.

The guys beat Jacksonville 42-28, and finally had a non-losing season. Not bad for the team with the most guys on injured reserve, and bitten by the injury bug the way they were all season.

But the highlight has to be this pair of kickoff returns by Andre Davis -- which came on top of a clutch fumble recovery he made on a Texans punt..

Andredavisfumblerecovery.jpg


andredavisdreturn1.jpg


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Receiver André Davis became the seventh player in NFL history to return kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game, and his extraordinary performance ignited the Texans to a 42-28 victory over Jacksonville.

The victory, accomplished over a Jacksonville team that rested seven starters, allowed the Texans to finish with a franchise-best 8-8 record – a six-game improvement from the franchise-worst 2-14 record of 2005.

Davis, who recovered a muffed punt that set up the Texans’ first touchdown, returned the last kickoff of the first half 97 yards for a touchdown that gave them a 21-14 lead they never surrendered.

Then, Davis returned the second-half kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown that boosted the lead to 28-14.

WOW!

I feel great about next year -- and we are all thinking playoff here in Houston.

And to the Texans, may I just say THANK YOU FOR A MEMORABLE SEASON.





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December 28, 2007

Bhutto Assassination Should Remind Us Of The Humanity Of Leaders

Andrew Sullivan links to this piece from a Pakistani blogger on the death of Benazir Bhutto. It reminds us all that, for all the international importance of this event, there is an aspect to such events that is frequently overlooked and yet more tragic still.

At a human level this is a tragedy like no other. Only a few days ago I was mentioning to someone that the single most tragic person in all of Pakistan - maybe all the world - is Nusrat Bhutto. Benazir’s mother. Think about it. Her husband, killed. One son poisoned. Another son assasinated. One daughter dead possibly of drug overdose. Another daughter rises to be Prime Minister twice, but jailed, exiled, and finally gunned down.

Today, in shock, I can think only of Benazir Bhutto the human being. Tomorrow, maybe, I will think of politics.

All too often, we forget that political leaders are human beings first -- mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters and a host of other relationships -- and politicians second. And so while our hearts ache and minds whirl this day as Pakistan continues in its orgy of violent despair following the terrorist murder of its favorite daughter, let us not forget that the Bhutto family has suffered a grievous loss that is more than equal to the loss suffered by the nation of Pakistan itself.

After all, Bhutto, who marked her 20th wedding anniversary only nine days before her murder, leaves behind not only her mother, but also an ill husband and three children. May we each take a moment to spare them a bit of the concern that we have spent on the political and security ramifications of this very human tragedy.

UPDATE: I've never quoted FireDogLake approvingly in the past -- but I'll make an exception for this personal remembrance of a very different Benazir Bhutto.

One of my sisters attended Harvard University as an undergraduate. I helped her move into her freshman dorm in Wigglesworth Hall on Harvard Yard. Wigglesworth was divided into suites with bedrooms and bathrooms off a sitting room with a fireplace. It was an old building and the suites looked like Sherlock Holmes' apartment.

* * *

In the stairwell that first day, the very first new friend my sister made was a cute little freshman in tan corduroy jeans with her dark hair pulled into two pigtails. She looked more like a high school freshman than a college student. She was tacking up fliers for some kind of cause (might have been related to world hunger) on the bulletin boards in the stairwell.

She was pretty and outgoing and introduced herself to us at once, "Hi, I'm Bennie, Bennie Bhutto." She offered to help move the bedding in, and may have carried up the pillows. She had arrived a couple days before my sister and filled us in on the lay of the land: Where the Baskin Robbins was; how to find the bookstore; you name it, she was willing to tour guide.

Over the course of my sister's freshman year, I often drove up to Boston to visit. From Bennie and from stories my sister told me, I learned that Bennie's real name was Benazir, but she had decided to use her nickname in order to fit in better in America.

There is more, much more, about the girl (age 16) who would become the woman. It explains a lot about the family dynamics that resulted in her rise to power, and the problems between her and her brothers. And I'm particularly struck by the closing paragraph.

Other people can analyze what her death means in political terms, in human terms. An intelligent, thoughtful woman is gone from this world, and I am saddened to learn that.

Indeed.





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Bin Laden Message Coming

Is this Osama's New Year's greeting to the world?

Terror leader Osama bin Laden will release a new Internet message that focuses on Iraq and an al-Qaida linked insurgent group, a terrorism monitoring group said Thursday.

The SITE intelligence group said the al-Qaida leader will discuss Iraq and the group the Islamic State of Iraq, a longtime foe of the Iraqi government and U.S. forces.

SITE, which provides counter-terrorism information to government and private groups, said the announcement of the impending message was posted to Islamic militant Web sites earlier in the day.

The posting said the message — titled `The way to contain conspiracies" — would last 56 minutes. It did not say when it would be released, but such ads usually precede the actual message by one to three days.

An interesting length, that 56 minutes -- perhaps to allow for commercial breaks on network television, given the ongoing strike by the Writer's Guild of America?

But more seriously, the fact that Osama is releasing a new video in time for the new year, and in the wake of the Bhutto assassination, leaves me wondering if this is not the signal of more terrorist action to come. And coming on the even of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, I wonder what bombshells it will have intended to influence the US electoral process.





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December 27, 2007

Ron Paul Officially Has A Primary Challenger In CD14

As has been known for months, Ron Paul is facing a primary challenger in CD14.

He is Chris Peden, a city councilman and mayor pro-tem in Friendswood, Texas. he officially filed as a candidate today.

I've met Chris. He's a good guy with great conservative values.

I encourage you to check out his website.





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A Case Of Bush Derangement Syndrome?

I wouldn't be surprised if this act of arson was precisely that. After all, why else hit this tiny museum exhibit?

A home where President George W. Bush lived as a young boy with his parents in Odessa, Texas, and that is now part of a presidential museum there was damaged on Thursday by a fire that investigators blamed on arson.

"I can tell you it has been determined that it was intentionally set, but I cannot discuss anything about evidence or possible suspects because this is an ongoing criminal investigation," said city of Odessa spokeswoman Andrea Goodson.

Museum administrator Lettie England said no motive for the blaze had been determined and there was no reason at this point to believe it was a political act. She said there were no notes or messages left at the scene.

England said in a telephone interview from the west Texas city that the arsonist spread some kind of flammable liquid on the door and front windows and set the fire.

Now I'll be honest -- I don't necessarily see this old house as particularly significant in any historical sense. Indeed, I'm at a loss as to why anyone would find this to be a building worth preserving, given that the seven months of the toddlerhood of the current President is probably not particularly significant, nor is that particular time frame really important to the lives of his parents. But regardless, torching the place cannot be defended.

Now the police have not assigned a motive for the blaze, which is classified as arson. But I really can't think of a more likely reason for the attack, because there would surely be easier targets for someone to hit.





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A Visit To An Ancient Ancestor

When I was 14 or 15, I had the opportunity to see the King Tut exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago. I remember standing about three feet from the case, just staring, with a sense of awe and wonder as I gazed at an artifact that was more than 200 time my age. To this day, I shudder as I think back upon that experience and my nearness to such a significant piece of human history.

And tonight, I find myself reveling in a similar experience -- yet one that is in some ways even more profound. You see, only a sheet of polycarbonate glass stood between my hand and this wonder today.

lucyfossil.jpeg

Yes, that is one of the most significant fossil finds in human history Lucy (known also as Dinkenesh in Ethiopia). She is currently on exhibit here in Houston until late April. I remember reading about the discovery of this fossil in the newspaper back when I was in sixth grade or so, and being amazed by the discover. I could not have imagined the opportunity to actually see this early hominid fossil up close. Call me a history geek if you want, but I found myself near to tears as I gazed down on this collection of fossilized bones and considered their significance.

Let me offer two videos of note related to this topic.

The first is about the exhibit here in Houston.

The second is about the discovery of Lucy and her significance to the stucddy of human evolution.

I encourage you to see this exhibit if you are near to Houston in the next few months -- and if it comes to a city near you while it is in this country, make a point of seeing it. It also is quite informative about the history of Ethiopia up to the modern day, and has many interesting cultural artifacts.





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MURDER IN PAKISTAN!

I was about to start typing about the attempted assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto when my wife shouted to me that the attack had been successful, and that the near-certain head of the next Pakistani government was dead.

Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday, shot in the neck and chest before a homicide bomber blew himself up at a campaign rally. Twenty others also died.

The assassin struck just minutes after Bhutto addressed a rally of thousands of supporters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. She was shot as she was entering her car. Her attacker then set off his bomb.

Bhutto was rushed to the hospital and taken into emergency surgery.

Outraged supporters of the martyred politician have placed the blame upon President Pervez Musharraf, though there is currently no evidence to support that presumption.

Her main ally, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been banned from the upcoming election by the Musharraf government, was reportedly at the hospital.

Nawaz Sharif, another former premier and opposition leader, arrived at the hospital and sat silently next to Bhutto's body.

"Certainly, we condemn the attack on this rally. It demonstrates that there are still those in Pakistan who want to subvert reconciliation and efforts to advance democracy," said deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey.

Pakistan's elections are scheduled for January 8. This event obviously raises the issue of whether the election can proceed on schedule, and of the legitimacy of the results if they do. Developments in the next several hours, and the next few days, will be critical to determining whether or not Pakistan emerges from its era of dictatorship, and whether it slides into political chaos.





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Imagine The Outrage

If a prominent right-wing blogger allowed one of his/her co-bloggers to post a piece like this on a blog and left it there. And this anti-Semitic piece of crap, worthy of those other socialists who ran Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, has been there since Christmas Eve.

Several months ago, at the suggestion of MSOC, I returned to this site, resolved that I would never again descend to the moral cesspit occupied by the haters. I would willingly engage in civil and rational discourse with anyone of good will, but if they refused, I would ignore them.

Unfortunately, the same persons whose emnity and hostility were so pervasive before immediately resumed their campaign to discredit me, not only rejecting my overtures of peace, but mocking them.

These hateful persons are Jews. At one point, I would have disregarded this fact, but I no longer can. This site has been nothing but the battleground of the Jew Wars, and it is not possible to escape the toxic fallout.

Some persons here have posted remarks offensive to Jews, remarks that no one would have regarded seriously if not for the Jews, as they stridently identify themselves, calling for banning and lynch mobs and denunciation of the posters whose words have offended them. They have made it very clear that they are willing to destroy this site, to make it a barren no-man's-land where no civil discourse can survive, unless the persons they charge with antisemitism are silenced and driven out.

I know that these Jews will continue to conduct their hate campaigns with impunity as well as self-righteousness, because the people in charge of this site regard them as friends, but they are false, treacherous friends, willing to destroy the site that has befriended them.

And these same persons, these Jews, have not only continued their malicious attacks on me, but others, also Jews, have joined their Hate Squad, solely on the grounds that they are Jews and have been offended by someone, and thus arrogate to themselves the right to hate and insult a person who has done them no harm and no offense.

And the consequence is this: I now find myself, for the first time in my life, hating Jews. I find myself hating the Jews on this site, both the Jews who have conducted their malicious campaign against me for so long and the Jews who have stood by in silent solidarity with them, never saying a word against their vile attacks, their cruelty and ugliness.

I find myself thinking that Proximity perhaps has the right idea, that Jews regard other human beings as objects, to be sacrificed to the interests of Jews. That Jews will always stand with other Jews no matter their guilt, and against non-Jews, no matter their innocence. The face of Jews has become unspeakably ugly in my sight, because of the ugliness of the Jewish haters here.

There you have it -- Jew-hatred is a rational response to Jewish condemnation of Jew-hatred. Courtesy of the Left-wing. And remaining un-deleted from that Left-Wing blog, and uncondemned by its owner.

But then again, what do you expect -- the owner proudly proclaimed how she revels in hatred in a WaPo profile last year.

And to think that a local lefty condemned my piece on the absurdity of taking Christ out of Christmas as an example of "hate that doesn't take a break".

H/T Captain's Quarters, Jawa Report, Moderate Voice, Gina Cobb, Neptunus Lex





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December 26, 2007

It Is Official -- Keeney Challenges Davis

John R. Keeney of Taylor Lake Village has filed to challenge John Davis for Representative in the 129th District.

As I've indicated elsewhere, I believe that we can do significantly better than the ethically troubled Davis, and Keeney seems to be just the man.

For more details, you can check out his website.





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Damned If You Do; Damned If You Don't

If ever there has been a case of reaching a conclusion first and then searching for evidence and a theory to back that conclusion, this is it.

A research paper that won a Hebrew University teachers' committee prize finds that the lack of IDF rapes of Palestinian women is designed to serve a political purpose.

The abstract of the paper, authored by doctoral candidate Tal Nitzan, notes that the paper shows that "the lack of organized military rape is an alternate way of realizing [particular] political goals."

The next sentence delineates the particular goals that are realized in this manner: "In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it can be seen that the lack of military rape merely strengthens the ethnic boundaries and clarifies the inter-ethnic differences - just as organized military rape would have done."

The paper further theorizes that Arab women in Judea and Samaria are not raped by IDF soldiers because the women are de-humanized in the soldiers' eyes.

So let's make this clear -- the act of rape occurs in time of war because the enemy has been "de-humanized" and the sexual assault of their women is therefore not seen as morally culpable. On the other hand, the failure to rape the women of the enemy is a sign that the enemy has been "de-humanized" and that sexual assault of their women does not happen as a result. In other words, every course of action that might be taken is a sign of the enemy having been "de-humanized", and a presumed racist attitude towards the enemy.

Am I the only one who sees the fundamentally absurd nature of this academic paper?





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Friends Of Ron Paul

H/T LGF

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Lone Star Times has an enhanced photo here.

Many of you will recognize Ron Paul.

You may not recognize his two friends -- Stormfront's Don Black and his son Derek. You know, big-time white supremacists and neo-Nazis. And, of course, Ron Paul campaign donors -- whose money Ron Paul insists upon keeping rather than doing the honorable thing like divesting himself of it by giving it to a charity that promotes racial tolerance or combats the putrid ideology of Don Black.

So let's see here. Ron Paul hangs out with racists. He takes their money. He and his supporters claim that the Constitution requires him to do so, because to do otherwise would be to violate the First Amendment -- despite the fact that Ron Paul has a First Amendment right not to associate with scum like the Black family and their followers.

On the other hand, Ron Paul claims that much of federal spending is unconstitutional -- yet he freely admits that he sponsors gobs of pork for his district. Of course, in doing so he actively sponsors what he believes to be unconstitutional spending -- you know, because his supporters and constituents demand it, of course. He claims that he is virtuous and pure because he votes against the bill that contains the spending, even though he knows that the spending line items he supports will be enacted anyway. So much for his principles and claims to be a strict constitutionalist -- if he were, he would refuse to put the spending into the bill in the first place on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

I'm curious -- since Ron Paul by his own admission is willing to lay aside his principles and alleged devotion to the Constitution for his supporters and constituents, why should we believe that he will not do the same for these hate-mongering campaign contributors?





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The Dictator Resurgent

Not long ago, I was expressing hopes that Fidel Castro would fade from the world scene. It appears that the Cuban dictator will not go gently into that good night (or, more likely, the gaping maw of Hell which awaits him).

Fidel Castro remains on the mend, gaining weight, exercising twice a day and continuing to help make the Cuban government's top decisions, his brother Raul Castro says.

The island's acting president gave the first clues about his brother's health in weeks, saying during a Monday speech that he has a "healthier mentality, full use of his mental faculties with some small physical limitations."

At 76, Raul is five years younger than his ailing brother, who has not been seen in public since announcing he had undergone emergency intestinal surgery and was stepping down in favor of a provisional government in July 2006.

But the younger Castro said his brother remains a key voice in government and that Communist Party leaders support his re-election to Cuba's parliament, the National Assembly — a move that could allow Fidel Castro to keep his post as president of the Council of State.

"We consult him on principal matters, that is why we the leaders of the party defend his right to run again as deputy of the National Assembly as a first step," Raul Castro said.

And so the dictatorship will continue. It is a pity, for the Cuban people deserve better than the decades of oppression they have suffered -- oppression which has caused their best and brightest to flee. And yet we can still hope for a brighter day for Cuba, one in which his corpse is treated with the abuse and contempt received by the body of the dictator Mussolini.





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Property Rights Trumped In California

California has a very odd view of property rights -- it seems that if you operate a business open to the public, you are subject to all the impediments placed upon government by the First Amendment. This means, of course, that if there are any "public areas" to the establishment, the public can come in and engage in speech that is detrimental to one's business or that or one's clients.

That leads to decisions like this one.

The California Supreme Court ruled Monday that privately owned shopping malls cannot stop protesters from demonstrating there to urge a boycott of one of the tenants.

In a 4-to-3 decision, the court said a San Diego mall violated California law protecting free speech when its owners barred protesters from distributing leaflets in front of one of the mall’s stores, asking shoppers not to give the store their business.

“A shopping mall is a public forum in which persons may reasonably exercise their right to free speech,” Justice Carlos R. Moreno wrote in the majority opinion.

Justice Moreno said shopping malls were entitled to enact and enforce “reasonable regulations of the time, place and manner of such free expression,” to avoid a disruption of business.

“But they may not prohibit certain types of speech based upon its content,” he wrote, like speech urging a boycott of stores.

Thre are, of course, two points in this article that leap rapidly to mind.

1) Why the heck can't private property owners prohibit any or all speech -- including based upon content -- as a proper and legitimate exercise of their property rights?

2) Why has this case taken nearly a decade to percolate through the courts? After all, this is based upon a protest that took place in 1998!

But the bigger issue in my book is that a shopping mall is not a public forum -- it is a place of business to which the public is invited for the limited purpose of shopping. To the degree that groups are invited in for other purposes -- such as carolers in the central plaza or antique car shows or other such events -- that is done to facilitate the primary purpose of the shopping mall, which is the sale of tenant merchandise. And to require that the mall permit speech explicitly intended to disrupt that the primary purpose of the mall seems to be an outrageous infringement upon the property rights of the owners and the rights of their tenants.





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December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas 2007

Christmas is a time of hope, of expectation. We mark the birth of a child whose tragic fate we know, and yet we exult because of the glorious triumph that grows out of that seeming ignominious death and the possibility that opens for each of us.

And yet, some years it seems that there is much in this world to despair over.

And so I offer you one of my favorite Christmas songs, which reminds us that the victory has already been won for us by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

And in this day when the prophets of faithlessness seek to disparage and deny the truth of the Gospel, I repeat with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow the most stirring words of this composition -- God is not dead, nor doth He sleep!

May each of you find your hearts filled with joy this Christmas, and may you find your spirit renewed with the Easter Promise contained within the Christmas Miracle.


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A Christmas Gift From George Washington

A Republic not a Monarchy.

There is a Christmas story at the birth of this country that very few Americans know. It involves a single act by George Washington -- his refusal to take absolute power -- that affirms our own deepest beliefs about self-government, and still has profound meaning in today's world. To appreciate its significance, however, we must revisit a dark period at the end of America's eight-year struggle for independence.

The story begins with Gen. Washington's arrival in Annapolis, Md., on Dec. 19, 1783. The country was finally at peace -- just a few weeks earlier the last British army on American soil had sailed out of New York harbor. But the previous eight months had been a time of terrible turmoil and anguish for Gen. Washington, outwardly always so composed. His army had been discharged and sent home, unpaid, by a bankrupt Congress -- without a victory parade or even a statement of thanks for their years of sacrifices and sufferings.

George Washington could have seized power.

His officers and men would have supported him.

The powers of Europe would have certainly reacted favorably.

And we might well live today with some royal family or other ruling over us, with not the notion of "a republican form of government" nothing but a pipe=dream of a few political scientists and philosophers.

Instead, Washington committed an act of moral and political heroism that ultimately lead to the creation of the nation we know today. Read about it here.





|| Greg, 10:36 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Kerry Threatens Hearings

So I'm hoping the New England Patriots lose this weekend, and end the season 15-1.

With the New England Patriots now one win away from finishing the regular season undefeated, Sen. John Kerry is stepping up his campaign to get the final game broadcast on national television.

The contest Saturday with the New York Giants is to air locally in Boston and New York. But outside those markets it is scheduled to appear only on the NFL Network, a cable channel that reaches just 35 million households nationwide while the league and cable operators dicker over pricing and distribution.

Kerry asked football Commissioner Roger Goodell today to move the game to NBC – and threatened Senate hearings if he does not.

“Under the unfortunate circumstance that this matter remains unresolved, leaving 60 percent of households across the country – including thousands in Massachusetts – without access to Saturday’s game, I will ask the Senate Commerce Committee to hold hearings on how the emergence of premium sports channels are impacting the consumer,” he wrote to Goodell today in a letter released by his office.

The Massachusetts Democrat added that he would “consider what legislative measures may be necessary to ensure that consumers are more than bystanders in this process.”

Actually, the appropriateremedy is for the cable companies to be required to follow the terms of their agreement with the NFL and make the NFL Network a part of their basic cable package. Unfortunately, a single state court set a nation-wide precedent on the matter some months back, allowing the cable companies to violate their agreement.

And if we can't make the cable companies abide by the agreement, maybe the time has come for Congress to mandate an end to monopolistic cable franchises -- so that consumers can have a choice in cable providers, just as they do with their long distance service..





|| Greg, 10:11 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Absurdity Of Taking Christ Out Of Christmas

Bravo to Dinesh D'Souza for making clear the absurdity of those who would expunge Christ from the public square and American culture.

But apply this logic to another holiday and its absurdity becomes manifest. Imagine if the ACLU filed lawsuits nationwide to remove all references to Martin Luther King on Martin Luther King day. The reason is that not everyone agrees that King's legacy was a positive one, and that the main beneficiaries of King's activism have been African Americans and other minorities. Southern segregationists, in particular, feel excluded from King's "beloved community." So in the name of diversity and tolerance all monuments and symbols and references to King should be erased. Instead Martin Luther King day becomes another "happy holiday."

This would be crazy. The answer to the ACLU would go something like this: "We are honoring King because we believe he has changed our civilization and our world vastly for the better. If you don't agree, by all means write a letter to the editor. But it is intolerance bordering on bigotry for institutions to get rid of all references to King simply because some people don't like him or feel excluded by his vision."

Like it or not, the Western Culture of which our nation is a part is in large part rooted in Christianity. Many of our cultural celebrations and practices are influenced by and connected to the Christian faith. Those who seek to wipe them out are not just attacking the faith of the overwhelming majority of Americans, but also the bedrock upon which our society rests.

Such individuals are welcome here. Our nation, our society, are built upon toleration of differing beliefs, even those which are so wrong-headed and intolerant as those of the Christ-erasers. But as in the hypothetical above, their sense of exclusion is not a legitimate basis for the suppression of the heart-felt beliefs of the majority.





|| Greg, 08:03 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

December 24, 2007

An Open Letter To Rep. John Davis

Yesterday evening, I sent the following letter to Rep. John Davis of House District 129, in my official capacity as GOP Precinct Chair for Harris County Precinct 333. After much consideration, I have decided to post the letter here, in the hope of encouraging other Republicans to contact Davis and encourage him to withdraw from the race. It is my belief that the people of District 129 and the State of Texas deserve better in the Texas Legislature.

* * * * * * *

Dear Rep. Davis:

This is a hard email to write, especially at this time of the year. Unfortunately, the filing deadline make this the appropriate time for me to say these things to you, despite the proximity to the holidays.

I have talked with a number of my fellow Republicans, both in my precinct and outside of it. Some are grassroots leaders, some are long-time activists, and others are simply voters with no other involvement in the political process. As I have spoken with them, I have heard several common themes run through their comments on your candidacy for reelection. These can be summarized as follows:

1. "I like John, but I'm not impressed with how he represents the district."
2. "John really doesn't present himself well in public settings -- I'm worried that will hurt him this year."
3. "I can't think of a significant accomplishment of his that has benefited our area."
4. "Constituent services are really slow."

As you can see, the image problem is big. Still, I think you could overcome these problems were it not for the point that was touched upon by every single person with whom I spoke.

"John has shown some really poor judgment in how he handles his campaign money and by casting votes for other legislators. He appears corrupt and sleazy, even if there is a reasonable explanation for everything."

Frankly, I do not believe you can overcome that perception among our own primary voters. Furthermore, I believe that this is a problem that will be exploited by the Democrats in the fall if you do survive the primary, and that you are likely to be defeated in November as a result. As such, I find myself unable to support or endorse your candidacy for reelection.

This morning I had a long talk with one my fellow worshipers following the service. This wonderful lady, a long-time Republican who has served as a precinct chair, RWC officer, and campaign volunteer for your campaign, looked me in the eye and said something that touched my heart quite deeply.

"I've known John and his wife for years, and am very fond of them both. As things stand, I just can't support him this time around. Unfortunately, this is going to be a very ugly campaign, and I would hate to see him put Jayne and the boys through it. Please tell him that he needs to drop out of this race for their sake, and for the sake of the people of the district. We just don't need things to be like this."

I have to say that she is right. I believe the best course of action for you, your family, and your constituents is for you to step aside and allow a someone else to be the GOP standard-bearer this November. I urge you to immediately withdraw as a candidate for reelection in House District 129.

* * * * * * *

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT Outside the Beltway, Stop the ACLU, Is It Just Me?, The Midnight Sun, Rosemary's Thoughts, Stix Blog, Right Truth, Shadowscope, Stuck On Stupid, Leaning Straight Up, The Amboy Times, Chuck Adkins, Pursuing Holiness, Adeline and Hazel, third world county, DragonLady's World, Pirate's Cove, The Pink Flamingo, Stageleft, Right Voices, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, 123beta, guerrilla radio, Adam's Blog, Cao's Blog, Big Dog's Weblog, Conservative Cat, Nuke's, Faultline USA, Allie is Wired, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, The World According to Carl, Blue Star Chronicles, Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.





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Why I Am Not A Democrat

I've commented on the long legacy of hatred and bigotry spewed by the Democrats since their foundation.

Columnist Bruce Bartlett has been kind enough to share some of that legacy with us -- from the founders of the Democrat Party to the present day.

We know what they were.

We know what they are.

We know what they always will be.

To cast a vote for a Democrat is to cast a vote against equality, liberty, and human dignity.

Here are the quotes assembled by Mr. Bartlett for your consideration.

Continue to be enlightened while reading "Why I Am Not A Democrat" »




|| Greg, 04:24 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Ultimate In Redneck Christmas Gifts

And someone in the Clear Lake area is getting one.

My wife and I were driving home from lunch and trivia at BW3 in Webster when we saw one of these in the bed of a pickup truck.

mossyoakrecliner.jpg

I would never have believed such a thing -- a recliner done in a Mossy Oak Camouflage! And what's more, I just discovered that you can even get a matching sofa and love seat.

You've gotta love any wife who would let that thing through the front door, that's for sure!

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT Outside the Beltway, Stop the ACLU, Is It Just Me?, The Midnight Sun, Rosemary's Thoughts, Stix Blog, Right Truth, Shadowscope, Stuck On Stupid, Leaning Straight Up, The Amboy Times, Chuck Adkins, Pursuing Holiness, Adeline and Hazel, third world county, DragonLady's World, Pirate's Cove, The Pink Flamingo, Stageleft, Right Voices, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, 123beta, guerrilla radio, Adam's Blog, Cao's Blog, Big Dog's Weblog, Conservative Cat, Nuke's, Faultline USA, Allie is Wired, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, The World According to Carl, Blue Star Chronicles, Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.





|| Greg, 03:09 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

More On Electronic Voting

In light of this editorial in the New York Times, I feel a need to repost what I wrote a couple of weeks ago on the topic.

* * * * * * *

Let's begin with this caveat: No system for casting and counting votes is fool-proof or fraud-proof. For that reason, I take the comments by Ohio's secretary of state with a grain of salt. That said, she raises an important point.

All five voting systems used in Ohio, a state whose electoral votes narrowly swung two elections toward President Bush, have critical flaws that could undermine the integrity of the 2008 general election, a report commissioned by the state’s top elections official has found.

“It was worse than I anticipated,” the official, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, said of the report. “I had hoped that perhaps one system would test superior to the others.”

At polling stations, teams working on the study were able to pick locks to access memory cards and use hand-held devices to plug false vote counts into machines. At boards of election, they were able to introduce malignant software into servers.

Ms. Brunner proposed replacing all of the state’s voting machines, including the touch-screen ones used in more than 50 of Ohio’s 88 counties. She wants all counties to use optical scan machines that read and electronically record paper ballots that are filled in manually by voters.

When the eSlate system was adopted here in Harris County, I strongly urged against it. I wanted to see an optical scanner system adopted because of the paper trail it would provide. That said, I figure that if I can trust an ATM with my money, I can also trust a system like the one we have and like those they have in Ohio.

"But," some will object, "doesn't this show that the machines can be tampered with?"

Yeah, it does.

But if the conditions are what I suspect they were, the test itself was essentially meaningless. The testers would have been given unlimited access to and time with the equipment, access to schematics and source code, and would not have faced any of the other security methods imposed by elections officials. These are not conditions that anyone tampering with election results is likely to face.

And let's not forget that there are ways to game an optical scanner system. You can still program the software to miscount votes. You can still add fake voters to the rolls or vote folks who were not at the polls. Ballots can still be tampered with after they are cast. In other words, optical scanners have many of the same flaws as both the paperless systems and the punch card system used in much of the country prior to the 2000 fiasco in Florida. No system is perfect.

Indeed, the only real safeguard of an election is the integrity of those who are involved in the process of running the election, from state officials to county and city elections officials to those of us who actually operate the polling places on Election Day. And so while I explicitly endorse a change to optical scanners, I am under no illusion that erroneous vote counts or outright election fraud can ever be completely eliminated until we can figure out a way to eliminate human fallibility and mankind's sinful nature from the equation.

* * * * * * *

Oh, and let me correct a point from the NY Times editorial -- the 2000 presidential election was not "irreparably harmed" -- every subsequent study of the 2000 vote has shown that the winner in Florida was George W. Bush. And if there was irreparable harm done, it was by Al Gore and his minions in their attempt to overturn the results of the election so as to award Florida's electoral votes to the candidate who lost the state. Fortunately, the repeated erroneous rulings by SCOFLA (Supreme Court of Florida) were overturned by the United States Supreme Court, which saved the nation from the irreparable harm of an election stolen through partisan chicanery and judicial malfeasance.





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Houston Chronicle Misses The Point

But then again, what else is new? They really don't seem to understand the dynamics at work in CD22.

People from across the globe live in the growing Houston suburbs that make up the 22nd Congressional District, which has been represented most recently by politicians born elsewhere in Texas: Tom DeLay, Shelley Sekula Gibbs, briefly, and now Nick Lampson.

But in the congested race for the Republican nomination to face Democrat Lampson in the November 2008 election, the candidates' roots, in and out of the district, have become an issue in the campaign.

* * *

The term "carpetbagger" was created for Northerners who moved to the South seeking riches after the Civil War. Republican contenders in the local race apply it to Lampson because he once represented a nearby congressional district that included his birthplace of Beaumont — although Lampson is quick to point out his family has deep roots in Fort Bend County.

Without naming names, some of the eight Republican candidates also use the term to favorably compare their home-turf credentials to those of their opponents in the March GOP primary — especially since at first glance there appears to be little room for the contenders to one-up each other on being conservative.

Speaking as a GOP precinct chair here in CD22, I don't care where someone was born -- but then again, I say that as a man who was born in an Army hospital in San Francisco and who moved into CD22 only 10 1/2 years ago. However, I think most of my friends and neighbors share that perspective.

The problem, of course, is not who was born where. The issue is really one of who knows the district and has roots here to represent it well.

If you look at the overwhelming majority of the GOP candidates, they are rooted in the communities of the district. That is true of Shelley Sekula Gibbs, Talton, Hrbacek, Manlove, and even Rowley. Squier cannot say that. And Pete Olsen, a good man beyond all doubt, hasn't lived here in 15-20 years, and I understand that he didn't even have a Texas DL or voter registration until a few months ago.

More to the point, there is the question of where the money is coming from to finance candidates. Most of these folks are getting the bulk of their cash from within the district (or at least the Houston area), while one is getting most of his cash from DC lobbyists and other Beltway insiders.

Too bad that they Chronicle missed what the real point of the discussion is all about. But then again, why am I surprised at the shamefully poor level of political reporting from what is supposed to be a major metropolitan daily? They've done a lousy job of it for years.





|| Greg, 09:20 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Watcher's Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are "The Courage to Do Nothing" by Big Lizards, and A Stand-up President by The Ornery American.  Here is a link to the full results of the vote:

VotesCouncil link
3"The Courage to Do Nothing"
Big Lizards
2  1/3Separation of Church and State, Secularist Style
Cheat Seeking Missiles
1  2/3More on the Teacher Accused of Insulting Religion in His Class
Bookworm Room
1  1/3Whatever Happened To Separation of Mosque and State?
Rhymes With Right
1The Very Deep Thoughts of Mike Huckabee
Right Wing Nut House
2/3Chávez Suspected of Foul Play
The Colossus of Rhodey
2/3Fish Tales at the PA Aid Conference
Soccer Dad
1/3I Bet Not
Done With Mirrors

VotesNon-council link
3A Stand-up President
The Ornery American
2A Muslim American
National Review Online
1  1/3Mearsheimer, Walt, and "Cold Feet"
Sandbox
1  1/3Only a Few Months and Hours Together But Memories for a Lifetime.
Wizbang
1The Pulpit and the Potemkin Village
Opinion Journal
2/3In the End, There Can Only Be One
The American Scene
2/3Manic Misinterpretations of Climate Change Capitulation by US in Bali
NewsBusters.org
2/3One on One: Debunking Dastardly Debate
The Jerusalem Post
2/3Handle Huckabee with Care
TCS Daily
1/3What Does It Mean To Be a Responsible Adult: Quotes Worth Considering
TFS Magnum
1/3A Blueprint for the Suppression of Dissent in Europe
Gates of Vienna

Congratulations to all. Interestingly enough, both my nominees came in #4 in the vote. Well, maybe we will do better next time.





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

December 23, 2007

SciFi Sound Quiz

I don't do geeky quizzes very often, but Hube over at Colossus of Rhodey scored an 85, so I had to try to beat him.

Take the Sci fi sounds quizI received 92 credits on
The Sci Fi Sounds Quiz

How much of a Sci-Fi geek are you?
Take the Sci-Fi Movie Quiz canon s5 is

Not only that, but I beat Jonah Goldberg from National Review, too!

OK -- who wants to shoot for a perfect score?





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Less Onerous A Restriction

Labor unions are up in arms over this one -- but ignore the fact that this is a restriction that can be easily circumvented.

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that employers have the right to prohibit workers from using the company’s e-mail system to send out union-related messages, a decision that could hamper communications between labor unions and their membership.

In a 3-to-2 ruling released on Friday, the board held that it was legal for employers to prohibit union-related e-mail so long as employers had a policy barring employees from sending e-mail for “non-job-related solicitations” for outside organizations.

The ruling is a significant setback to the nation’s labor unions, which argued that e-mail systems have become a modern-day gathering place where employees should be able to communicate freely with co-workers to discuss work-related matters of mutual concern.

Imagine that -- the work email system should be used for work. You aren't allowed to use your work email for union activity -- which is akin to using company letterhead for union solicitations.

There is, of course, a way around this. With all the FREE email programs out there -- Gmail and the like -- you can establish an address that you are can use for union activity as much as you want. And you can still send your notices TO employees at their company email address under the decision. And employees could, presumably, use their work address to email back to that free email address.





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

More ACORN Vote Fraud

And we know which party ACORN is a surrogate for.

Eight people have been charged with faking voter registration forms in St. Louis city and county in 2006, federal authorities announced today.

The federal indictments were unsealed this morning. Some of the accused have not been arrested yet, so their names are being withheld.

The eight people were employed as voter registration recruiters by ACORN, the not-for-profit Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. ACORN ran a voter registration drive for the general election in November 2006.

This organization is involved in such cases again and again and again. There have been indictments, and convictions, in a number of states. I therefore find it difficult to accept at face value the claim that they are opposed to vote fraud.





|| Greg, 08:39 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

December 22, 2007

A Holiday Primer For Ron Paul Supporters

After a Christmas party my wife and I attended last night, I have a few pieces of holiday advice for Ron Paul supporters.

1) Proper Christmas celebration headgear is a Santa hat, not a "Ron Paul for President" ball cap.

2) It is appropriate to share pictures (including those on your cell phone) of your family, pets, and close friends with other guests. It is not appropriate to share photos of Ron Paul with other guests in order to prove how close you got to him at a rally.

3) "He does have some interesting ideas" is properly understood as "He and his supporters are loons," not an opening to invite a Democrat to cross over to vote in the GOP primary (this is especially true when she is married to the GOP precinct chair/election judge).

4) "My cousin was seriously wounded in Iraq" is intended to shut down further discussion of Ron Paul, not encourage discussion of his plan to get us out of Iraq, the problem with the military-industrial complex, and Washington's words about entangling alliances in his Farewell Address.

5) "Would you like some more chips" are words intended to distract you from further discussion of Ron Paul by filling your mouth with food, not an invitation to discussion of the federal budget and Ron Paul's plans to eliminate everything that he considers to be unconstitutional federal spending.

6) No, we don't want to know when Ron Paul is going to next be on C-Span. Don't ask, don't tell.

7) Comments about the amusing video another guest saw on YouTube are small-talk, not a request for you to drag someone back to the host's computer to show her the latest videos from Ron Paul and his supporters.

8) Christmas is the birthday of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Sorry, that means we don't believe that Ron Paul is the Messiah, even if you do.

9) When someone steers the conversation to something other than Ron Paul (the guacamole dip, for example), that doesn't mean they want you to relate the new topic to Ron Paul and his campaign for President.

10) Shut up. We don't want to hear about Ron Paul. Really.

So, all you Truthers, conspiracy theorists, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other Ron Paul supporters reading my words from your room in your Mom's basement, feel free to print out this post and refer back to it so that your friends(?) and family members can have a Merry Christmas.

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT Outside the Beltway, Stop the ACLU, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, The Midnight Sun, Rosemary's Thoughts, guerrilla radio, 123beta, Adam's Blog, Right Truth, Stix Blog, Shadowscope, Leaning Straight Up, Cao's Blog, The Amboy Times, Big Dog's Weblog, Chuck Adkins, Conservative Cat, Nuke's, third world county, Faultline USA, Allie is Wired, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, The World According to Carl, Pirate's Cove, Blue Star Chronicles, The Pink Flamingo, Right Voices, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.





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Go Condi!

Proving that a certain GOP presidential candidate doesn't know jack about our nation's foreign policy.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stuck a toe in the presidential race Friday, taking strong issue after Republican Mike Huckabee accused the administration of having an "arrogant bunker mentality" on foreign policy.

"The idea that somehow this is a go-it-alone policy is just simply ludicrous," she said, briefly weighing in on politics during a State Department news conference in Washington. "One would only have to be not observing the facts, let me say that, to say that this is now a go-it-alone foreign policy."

In response, Huckabee said he held Rice in high regard but questioned whether she had read the entire Foreign Affairs journal article in which he made the "bunker mentality" remark that has drawn fire from fellow Republican candidates.

"Certainly she has a right to speak out. She's still a citizen. I respect her very much," Huckabee told reporters as he campaigned in Iowa.

But he added: "Did she actually read the article or is she reacting as others have to the headlines and to the synopsis that has been printed?"

No, Governor, she read the whole thing -- and she is reacting to the comments of an amateur who is willing to lie about our foreign policy for his own political advantage. Fine, we expect that from Democrats. We expect that from Ron Paul. And now it seems we should expect such things from you. What do all of these individuals have in common -- THEY ARE NOT CONSERVATIVES.





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Huckabee Seeks The Bigot Vote

Thanks to Blogs for Victory for highlighting the sort of folks Mike Huckabee sees as a vital part of his campaign.

The Republican presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, has been garnering attention in the media with his surge in political polls. However, a campaign stop this Sunday by Huckabee at a mega-church whose pastor sees Hitler as linked to the Catholic Church, could soon steal the spotlight.

According to Mike Huckabee’s campaign website, the controversial stop at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas will take place this Sunday, December 23. He will speak at the church's two Sunday services at 8:30 and 11:00 a.m.

Hagee is clearly a hate-monger of the worst sort. He not only peddles theological opposition to Catholicism (which is fine), but he actually resorts to historical lies to support his position (witness, for example, his comments on the Church and Hitler -- both Pius XI and Pius XII spoke out against Hitler repeatedly). If Huckabeast wants to court such folks -- who use the same rhetoric about Catholicism that the KKK did for generations -- then he is more than welcome to do so. But it is incumbent upon every decent Republican to condemn him for doing so. There is no place for such bigots and bigotry in the Republican Party.





|| Greg, 11:18 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Thank God It Doesn't Happen Here

I grew up a fan of the Washington Redskins, though I never had a chance to attend a game. Indeed, I finally did get to see them play in St. Louis when I was in my mid-30s, after the Rams moved there.

And today I am a big fan of the Houston Texans, with season tickets. But I would drop those tickets in a minute if this sort of stuff ever became the standard at Reliant Stadium.

I went to my last professional football game this month. My son and I braved frigid, remote FedEx Field to see our beloved Chicago Bears, the fallen Super Bowl champions, humiliated 24-16 by the struggling Washington Redskins. It wasn't the depth of our despair that will keep us away from football stadiums for good but the depravity of the fans.

I suppose depravity is a strong word. But what better describes drunken adult men, egged on by other grown beer-swillers, belly-shouting the most spectacular obscenities imaginable as they stand next to a 13-year-old boy? Every play was a competition to produce a more vile insult or a different suggestion about which Bear body part might be stuffed up which orifice. When the Redskins scored their first touchdown, four young women -- I'm guessing they were in high school -- turned around and did a little stripper's dance that made my son blush as I cringed. Even putting aside their ages, it was too cold to bare flesh.

Within 10 minutes of kickoff, I knew I had made a terrible mistake taking my son to the game.

The looming aggression and violence was more troubling than the foul language and drunken boorishness. Some of the men near us were enraged and barely in control of themselves. When Bears quarterback Rex Grossman went down with a knee injury, two obese drunks behind us bellowed that they hoped the [expletive] [expletive] would never walk again. They did this over and over, adding slurs and suggested tortures.

I had already pointed out to these gentlemen that there were kids around. They glared at me, furious. It was obvious to me that if I pursued it, there would be a fight or a screaming match.

And as a season ticket holder, I find this part of the story to be even worse.

My son wore a Bears jersey concealed under his layers of fleece and down. A man two rows in front of us who looked like Cpl. Klinger from "M*A*S*H" took it upon himself to needle my son every time something bad happened to the Bears, which happened a lot. He would turn and stare at him and wave goodbye in a threatening way. I know he was trying to be funny, ribbing us in good spirit. But when I asked him to stop, he just shook his head. The very nice man next to me, a season-ticket holder, told me that if I just waited until the second half, the guy would be too drunk to stand.

That isn't the way things are in our part of Reliant Stadium, or in other parts from my experience (and I've been to 90% of the Texans home games since the team was created). We have an alert staff of ushers and off-duty cops who make sure that everyone has a good time at the game, and that the place is family friendly. They even put up a phone number on the jumbotron for you to call if someone in your area is out-of-hand -- and they do take action.

Indeed, our biggest problem is fans coming from out of town to watch the games. I've been spit on by a Cowboy's fan and throughly cursed by a sluttily dressed Dolphinette for demanding that she quit move so that my wife could get to the bathroom from our handicapped accessible seat ("Move for the wheelchair!" was such an unreasonable expectation). One was thrown out of the stadium, and the other would have been arrested if he hadn't run off into the crowd. But other than the occasional drunk getting a bit out of hand, I've not observed the sort of problems described in this column here in Houston.

That's not to say that there isn't taunting -- there is. The funniest may have been a few weeks back when all the Saints fans started chanting "Reggie! Reggie!" after Reggie Bush made a first down near the goal line -- and when he lost the ball on the 1-yard line the very next play, we all dutifully turned around and reciprocated with the same chant of "Reggie! Reggie!" in honor of the running back we didn't draft a year ago. There was even a bit of laughter from both sides. And therein lies the key -- we are there for fun, for entertainment.

So Dick, I hope you don't give up on the NFL. If you get a chance, bring the boy down here to Houston for a game and see how football can be done right.





|| Greg, 11:08 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Tribute From On High

I've refrained from commenting on this matter for a couple of days -- I wasn't sure how to approach it -- but the story in today's Houston Chronicle merits some mention.

International space station astronaut Dan Tani offered a passionate tribute to his mother on Friday, two days before her funeral service in the Chicago suburb of Lombard, Ill.

Rose Tani, 90, died Wednesday of injuries suffered when her car was struck by a freight train in the community 20 miles west of Chicago.

"My mother was a complete joy," said Tani in a statement distributed by NASA, his first public comments on her death. "Those who knew her will know that words cannot describe her vitality, generosity and warmth. She was my hero. We will all miss her dearly."

The tragedy marked the first time an American astronaut has experienced the loss of an immediate family member while on a space mission.

* * *

Services for Rose Tani were scheduled for Sunday at 1:30 p.m., CST, at the First Church of Lombard United Church of Christ, where the family has worshipped for years.

Other survivors include sons Richard and Steven and daughter Christine.

Tani planned to record a tribute to his mother from the space station to be played at Sunday's service.

Also, Tani's family plans to record the service so that it can be transmitted to him later by NASA, said Evans.

My heartfelt condolences go out to the Tani family as they face this shocking tragedy. They are in my prayers at this time.

This is a reminder of something that NASA folks take for granted, but we outside of the space program never even think about.

"Living on the space station means that I experience all aspects of life — be they joyous or tragic — while circling the Earth without a convenient way to return," said Tani. "Of course, I was aware of this situation before my mission, and I fully accept that I will proudly complete my mission and join my family when I return."

Thursday night, the men from church had our annual Christmas party. I was part of the minority there who had no NASA connection, either current or former NASA employees or contractors. I asked about this situation, and was somewhat surprised to find that there actually was already a protocol for handling this sort of situation. And as Dan Tani points out, the reality of space travel is that there is really no option for coming home in such a situation.





|| Greg, 10:15 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Will New Fuel Laws Boost Houston Economy?

It may, according to some analysts, as the law's requirements of less safe, less popular cars with higher fuel efficiency kick in.

For automakers, tougher fuel economy laws signed by President Bush this week represent a big challenge. For Houston's petrochemical industry, they could mean big business.

To hit the targets, automakers not only will need to develop more efficient engine technologies, but reduce the weight of vehicles, a shift that could open the door for greater use of plastics.

Chemical plants in this region produce many of the raw plastics that already are being used to make auto components.

"Materials manufactured at our facilities in Texas and many other areas of the world will be instrumental in meeting customer needs and new industry standards," said Steve Henderson, president of the Americas for Dow Automotive in Auburn Hills, Mich. The company has manufacturing sites in Freeport, Seadrift and LaPorte that produce materials used in automotive components.

But while chemical companies see opportunity ahead, others see limits to how much plastic and other lightweight materials can be added to vehicles without compromising safety or increasing costs.

Of course the new law is going to compromise safety. Of course it is going to raise costs of vehicles even further. But damn it, it is going to get us to 35 MPG like the greenie-weenies insist we must in order to be in compliance with the dogma of the religion of global warming as proclaimed by the Prophet Al Gore.

But on the bright side, it will boost the local economy, even as more Americans die on the roads and highways of America.





|| Greg, 09:52 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Just A Minor Detail

George Romney did, in fact, march with Dr. King.

Shirley Basore, 72, says she was sitting in the hairdresser’s chair in wealthy Grosse Pointe, Mich., back in 1963 when a rumpus started and she discovered that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and her governor, George Romney, were marching for civil rights — right past the window.

With the cape still around her neck, Basore went outside and joined the parade.

“They were hand in hand,” recalled Basore, a former high-school English teacher. “They led the march. We all swung our hands, and they held their hands up above everybody else’s.”

And, of course, there is the press coverage that the Romney campaign has suppled.

No, Mitt Romney was not there -- though no doubt he attended other civil rights events with his father, to whom he was very close. But if this is what constitutes a "scandal" in Romney's background, there is truly a level of desperation among those who are seeking to discredit him. Why not focus on significant misdeeds like can be found in the past of Giuliani and Huckabee rather than a somewhat hyperbolic statement on Mitt's part regarding events that happened 40 years ago?





|| Greg, 09:34 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

BUMPED AND UPDATED: Horrible Story, Bad Reporting

UPDATE: Dear God, I recognized that this was a horrible tragedy. I didn't think the story could get any more gut-wrenching. It has.

Authorities now know the remains found Thursday morning by a commuter on the Gulf Freeway are those of a 12-year-old boy. They know he was a fifth-grader at Schneider Middle School, and that his mom reported him missing later that day.

But they don't know how Traveon Jamel Jordan LeBlanc ended up crossing the busy interstate, where it's theorized he was struck by several vehicles.

And that this boy's classmates spent much of the day on Friday, the last school day before Christmas, speculating that it might be their friend who had been killed and then having their fears confirmed, tears at my heart even more. may God send his healing mercy down upon his friends, his teachers, and his family .

* * * * * * *

Read this story of what appears to be a horrible accident here in Houston, and tell me what is missing from it.

Investigators are trying to determine the identity of a person they theorize may have been struck several times while trying to walk across the Gulf Freeway.

A motorist called police early Thursday morning to report seeing what appeared to be human remains in the main lanes of the freeway.

Investigators with the Houston Police Department and Harris County Medical Examiner's Office, while combing the freeway, would later find various pieces of a body.

The macabre scene, which police believe was the result of a pedestrian struck by several vehicles, slowed southbound traffic to a crawl for five hours.

Police could not determine the individual's gender or approximate age and investigators are calling on the public to help identify the person. Officials say the person could have been black. Little else is known.

"We're asking for anyone who was driving by that area before 6:40 (a.m. Thursday) to call us if they saw anything suspicious or out of the ordinary," said HPD spokesman John Cannon.

Police do not know when or if the person was killed after being struck by vehicles on the Gulf Freeway.

The article continues on in a similar vein to the end.

The more I read, the more I was struck by the missing detain. Where, exactly, on the Gulf Freeway did this incident occur. Surely we could have been given an exit or two in order to provide a frame of reference for readers. After all, the Gulf Freeway runs from downtown Houston to Galveston Island -- all of which is part of the Houston metropolitan area. And if you were not caught in the traffic jam, would you necessarily know where the incident took place. You know, especially if you were a teacher driving that stretch of road at 6:30 on the way to school and who didn't get out of school until 3:00 (I lived just off Gulf Freeway for four years and took it to work daily), you might never have been aware of the closed highway and the search for body parts.

Come on, Chronicle "professionals" -- why couldn't you offer your readers these salient details?

By the way, thanks to alert commenters on the website for noting that the incident took place between Airport Blvd and Edgebrook.Authorities now know the remains found Thursday morning by a commuter on the Gulf Freeway are those of a 12-year-old boy. They know he was a fifth-grader at Schneider Middle School, and that his mom reported him missing later that day.

But they don't know how Traveon Jamel Jordan LeBlanc ended up crossing the busy interstate, where it's theorized he was struck by several vehicles.





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

December 21, 2007

After All, We Paid For It

Imagine that -- work done with public funds needs to be accessible to the public. What a novel concept.

It is barely a drop of ink in the gargantuan omnibus spending bill that Congress just passed. But a provision that would give the public free access to the results of federally funded biomedical research represents a sweet victory for a coalition of researchers and activists who lobbied for the language for years.

Under the bill's terms, scientists getting grant money from the National Institutes of Health would now have to submit to the NIH a final copy of their research papers when those papers are accepted for publication in a journal. An NIH database would then post those papers, free to the public, within 12 months after publication.

The idea is that taxpayers, who have already paid for the research, should not have to subscribe to expensive scientific journals to read about the results.

That populist line -- spearheaded by patient advocacy groups seeking easier access to the latest medical findings and supported by libraries whose budgets have had trouble keeping up with rising journal subscription costs -- ultimately overwhelmed objections from journal publishers. Those firms had complained bitterly that proponents bypassed the congressional committees that could have carefully compared the new approach to less disruptive systems for making information available to the public, some of which are already being used by other science-funding agencies.

I love the response from one of the lobbyists for the journal publishers -- "It's not over yet."

Yes, it is. It is called FEDERAL LAW. Comply or die when the lawsuits fly.





|| Greg, 08:56 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Fred Out Of Cash?

This could be the big story of the political season -- and explain the solicitations that keep showing up in my email.

Fred Thompson’s plan is simple: Get on a bus and haul around to some 50 Iowa towns and cities between now and Jan. 3.

It’s the only option he has.

Thompson has little money left in bank and has had to slash his television presence here to a level well below that of Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. His cash crunch is so severe that he’s even had to freeze his direct mail plan.

So now, for the next two weeks before the caucuses, he'll be largely living off the land.

As I look at things, Fred Thompson OUGHT TO BE one of the top three candidates in the race. He OUGHT TO BE drawing support away from Rudy and McCain. But he never has managed to do so at a significant level, because he never really got the campaign off the ground. He is great in debates. he is great in person. But while everyone else was out on the campaign trail, Thompson has been significantly less active on every front.

This leads me to two conclusions.

1) Fred Thompson's only hope is a strong finish in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Second in any one of them would be great, but lower than third in more than one of them should drive a stake through the heart of his campaign.

2) Fred;s major asset now is that he is the ideal vice presidential candidate on any ticket except for McCain's (two Senators is a bad idea, though the Dems might do it). After all, Fred Thompson is the second choice of most Republicans, including this one. He effectively balances the ticket ideologically and/or geographically.

Six months ago, I suspected that I was standing inches from the next President of the United States when he flew into Houston. Now I'm pretty sure that he will max-out at Vice President.





|| Greg, 08:50 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Creation And Evolution

I'm a Christian.

I also believe, quite firmly, in evolution.

And I do not see a contradiction in the two.

Indeed, there are a pair of quotes in today's Michael Gerson column in the Washington Post that quite clearly reflect my point of view on the matter, each from author Leon Kass

The first notes that there is a rough parallel betwen evolutionary theory and the Genesis creation account.

Leon Kass, in his masterful work "The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis," observes, "The biblical account is perfectly compatible with the fact of a slowly evolving cosmos, with life arriving late, beginning in the sea and only later emerging on earth, progressively distinguished into a variety of separated kinds."

Indeed, if one does not read that account with a spirit of wooden literalism, that parallel is quite obvious. That would make the beginning of Genesis an allegory, rather than a history. And to those who object, may point out that if mere human beings are capable of using that literary technique, then so is an omniscient, omnipotent God.

But more important is the Kass quote that closes the column.

"Let us assume that creation is evolution," argues Leon Kass, "and proceeds solely by natural processes. What is responsible for this natural process? . . . Can a dumb process, ruled by strict necessity and chance mutation, having no rhyme or reason, ultimately answer sufficiently for life, for man, for the whole? . . . And when we finally allow ourselves to come face-to-face with the mystery that there is anything at all rather than nothing, can we evolutionists confidently reject the first claim of the Bible -- 'In [the] beginning, God created the heavens and the earth'?"

My argument is that no, that claim cannot be rejected. At the same time, God cannot be scientifically proven. There is no way to place God in a test tube or under a microscope slide, and there is no reagent that can test for his presence or absence. But as has often been pointed out, science and faith can be seen as -- and ought to be seen as -- complementary rather than contradictory. To place them at odds with one another is to present a false dichotomy, for coming to understand the divine miracle of creation AND evolution (which are, dare I say, one and the same) should not necessitate the the rejection of a Creator. Similarly, faith in a Creator God need not result in the rejection of the scientific laws and processes by which creation was carried out and which God gave us the intellect to understand. Indeed, both of those extreme positions fall well outside the boundaries of the Judeo-Christian faith tradition, and must be labeled heretical. Let them be anathema.





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

December 20, 2007

GOP Race A Toss-Up

Mitt and Rudy are essentially tied, with Huckabee within the margin of error of the two front-runners.

After holding a double-digit advantage over his nearest rivals just six weeks ago, the former New York City mayor now is tied nationally with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 20% among Republicans, just slightly ahead of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 17% and Arizona Sen. John McCain at 14%. Other polls show Mr. Giuliani's lead shrinking in Florida, one of the states he has built his strategy around.

With the poll's margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.1 percentage points, that puts Mr. Huckabee, who had only single-digit support in the previous poll in early November, within striking distance of the leaders. Mr. Romney's national support also has nearly doubled.

On the other hand, Huckabee leads in Iowa, so that could really shake matters up going into New Hampshire and South Carolina. And in a shift that may bode well for Romney, voters are now more concerned about the economy than about Iraq -- and Mitt's business experience will be a plus for him there.

My guess -- we may see a floor fight at the GOP convention, and a brokered ticket. My question is whether the resulting publicity will be a positive or negative thing for the GOP.





|| Greg, 06:51 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Ron Paul Still Clings To White Supremacist Cash

I first wrote about this in October -- but it seems that Ron Paul is still holding on to that racist cash, despite his fund raising success. I guess that there is no contributor odious enough to be rejected -- so expect Ron Paul to solicit cash from Michale Jackson, OJ Simpson, and Drew Peterson.

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul has received a $500 campaign donation from a white supremacist, and the Texas congressman doesn't plan to return it, an aide said Wednesday.

Don Black, of West Palm Beach, recently made the donation, according to campaign filings. He runs a Web site called Stormfront with the motto, "White Pride World Wide." The site welcomes postings to the "Stormfront White Nationalist Community."

"Dr. Paul stands for freedom, peace, prosperity and inalienable rights. If someone with small ideologies happens to contribute money to Ron, thinking he can influence Ron in any way, he's wasted his money," Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said. "Ron is going to take the money and try to spread the message of freedom."

"And that's $500 less that this guy has to do whatever it is that he does," Benton added.

Why is this a big deal? Aside from the fact that it tells us a great deal about Ron Paul's (lack of) ethics and morality, he has recently accused patriotic Christians of being fascists. How much credibility can he have on that score when he takes money from an actual fascist and refuses to divest himself of it? Seems to me that fascism in America already wears a Ron Paul for President button.

No one suggests that Ron Paul screen his donors -- but when he knows that he is getting cash from such a source, he has no business keeping it. And as I've suggested, Ron Paul does not need to return the money to Black -- give it to a charitable organization that Paul supports that is absolutely antithetical to Black's views, such as the US Holocaust Museum or the Congress on Racial Equality.

Lone Star Times, which first broke this story, has another possible revelation about Ron Paul's ties to Nazis, racists, and other scummy types.

MORE AT Captain's Quarters, Hot Air, Stop The ACLU, FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog, Liberal Values, The Liberty Papers, Kevin McCulloch

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT Outside the Beltway, The Virtuous Republic, Rosemary's Thoughts, Faultline USA, Adam's Blog, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, The Pink Flamingo, Celebrity Smack, Leaning Straight Up, Cao's Blog, The Amboy Times, Big Dog's Weblog, Wolf Pangloss, and Conservative Cat, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.





|| Greg, 06:32 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (8) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Bush, Dems, Unite For Less Safe, Less Popular Cars For Americans

Because if there were an actual demand for them, there would be no need for this legislation.

After a year of partisan combat and legislative stalemate, President Bush and Democratic congressional leaders came together yesterday for a holiday season consensus as they enacted legislation to promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) joined Bush for their first bill-signing ceremony with him since Democrats took over Congress in January, using the occasion to look past the disputes that marked a year of divided government.

* * *

The new law increases the fuel-efficiency standards for passenger vehicles for the first time since 1975, requiring new cars to average 35 miles per gallon by 2020 instead of the 25 mpg now required. It also requires fuel producers to use at least 36 billion gallons of ethanol and other biofuels by 2022, a fivefold increase over the current standard, to reduce the dependence on oil. And it includes new rules and incentives to encourage greater efficiency in light bulbs and buildings.

Americans have shown time and again with their checkbooks that they want bigger, more heavily powered vehicles. Increasing the fleet standards will likely require that the automobile manufacturers produce more small vehicles with less powerful engines. And we know that such vehicles are, by and large, less safe for drivers and passengers than the larger, heavier vehicles.

And for the record, I don't drive an SUV -- I drive a smaller vehicle that meets the 35 MPG standard (or at least comes close). I do so by choice.

When will the crew in Washington read Adam Smith?





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

Obama The Coward

I can understand that a politician may vote "present" on some legislation -- usually of little consequence -- when he is undecided. But Obama used it to avoid "NO" votes on politically sensitive yet popular legislation. Where is the leadership on that?

In 1999, Barack Obama was faced with a difficult vote in the Illinois legislature — to support a bill that would let some juveniles be tried as adults, a position that risked drawing fire from African-Americans, or to oppose it, possibly undermining his image as a tough-on-crime moderate.

In the end, Mr. Obama chose neither to vote for nor against the bill. He voted “present,” effectively sidestepping the issue, an option he invoked nearly 130 times as a state senator.

Sometimes the “present’ votes were in line with instructions from Democratic leaders or because he objected to provisions in bills that he might otherwise support. At other times, Mr. Obama voted present on questions that had overwhelming bipartisan support. In at least a few cases, the issue was politically sensitive.

The picture that emerges is of a legislator who was a follower much of the time rather than a leader -- and who lacked the courage of his convictions when confronted with tough votes. That isn't leadership for change -- it is political cowardice.

Remember, you don't get to vote "PRESENT" as president.





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

Adios, Tancredo

I like Tom Tancredo, and am in general agreement with him on immigration issues. That said, I never saw him as a serious candidate for the presidency.

Neither did anyone else. Tancredo is withdrawing from the race today.

Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo, whose forceful opposition to illegal immigration vaulted him to national prominence, plans to announce he is abandoning his long-shot bid for the presidency, a person close to Tancredo said Wednesday.

The five-term Colorado congressman planned to make the announcement at a news conference in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for Tancredo or his campaign.

Tancredo's campaign would only say he planned a "major announcement" Thursday.

The interesting question will be where he throws his miniscule support. Having seen one of the founders of the Minutemen endorse Huckabee, will he go that direction? Or will he instead go for one of the other candidates? And given the fact that the Tancredo campaign never really took off, does it matter as more than a symbolic gesture?

Expect to see Tancredo compete for the Senate seat being vacated by Wayne Allard.





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

December 19, 2007

Gee, Ya Think?

Some headlines just seem too obvious for words. Take this one from today’s Houston Chronicle.

Gunfire leads to the discovery of body

Shots fired. Dead body. Not a surprise. After all, when you are inside the city limits, it is unlikely that you are going to hear shots fired by someone hunting for game.





|| Greg, 07:18 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Edwards Comments Signal Need For Federal Marriage Amendment

Americans have made it pretty clear that they are against redefining marriage to be anything but one man and one woman. But it seems that John Edwards isn’t too concerned with what the American people thing – he wants to appeal to the left side of the Democrat base.

John Edwards said yesterday that if elected president, he would try to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, signed in 1996 by President Clinton, and do away with the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the U.S. military.

After a star-studded campaign event in this small town's opera house, the former North Carolina senator said the law known as DOMA is "discriminatory."

"I think we should get rid of DOMA; I think DOMA was a mistake from the beginning, and discriminatory, and so I will do everything in my power as president to do that," the Democratic candidate said in a three-minute meeting with reporters.

Asked by The Washington Times why the act is discriminatory, he bristled, then said: "I think it's discriminatory against gay and lesbian couples, that's what's discriminatory about it."

An Edwards staffer ended the press conference one minute later.

Interesting, isn’t it, that the staff made sure that Edwards didn’t do himself any additional damage there. After all, he pretty clearly revealed his contempt for the majority of Americans, including the majority of his own party. And while I think he is correct with his assessment of “don’t ask, don’t tell” as a nonsensical policy (see the great piece by my friends at GayPatriot on the topic), the gay marriage issue is different. When the American people have spoken at the polls, they have made it clear that the overwhelming majority of us oppose the redefinition of marriage away from its traditional definition as one man and one woman. We need a Federal Marriage Amendment now to stop a radical ideologue from overturning the will of the people on this matter.





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

But I Feel Fine?

Could an undetectable mini-asteroid be the end of the world as we know it?

AN ASTEROID too small to be picked up by telescopes could wipe out a city, killing up to a million people, a leading scientist has warned. Objects less than 460ft across are not currently detected, but research suggests they pack a far mightier punch than previously feared.

A computer simulation carried out in the United States shows asteroids as small as 100ft wide could cause "airbursts" similar to one that flattened 1,250 square miles of Siberian forest almost a century ago.

Dr Mark Boslough, in a report published in New Scientist, said: "It is becoming clear previous models are not right. If one of these events hit an area of high population density, it could kill a million people."

I’ve always wondered about the possibility of another “Tunguska event” occurring – and the effect of such an event over a city. Imagine the possibility of something like this happening over, for example, San Francisco or Paris or Tokyo. There would be mass devastation. Similarly, a modern blast of this sort in Russia or China might trigger a nuclear response before there was even time to investigate what happened.





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

Like This Is A Surprise?

The cell phone has become ubiquitous in America. Most of us have (at least) one. And they cost a pretty penny, too -- more than our land lines do. So why is anyone surprised by this report.

With Americans cutting the cord to their land lines, 2007 is likely to be the first calendar year in which U.S. households spend more on cell phone services, industry and government officials say.

The most recent government data show that households spent $524, on average, on cell phone bills in 2006, compared with $542 for residential and pay-phone services. By now, though, consumers almost certainly spend more on their cell phone bills, several telecom industry analysts and officials said.

"What we're finding is there's a huge move of people giving up their land line service altogether and using cell phones exclusively," said Allyn Hall, consumer research director for market research firm In-Stat.

As recently as 2001, U.S. households spent three times as much on residential phone services as they did on cell phones. But the expansion of wireless networks has made cell phones more convenient, and a wider menu of services, including text messaging, video and music, has made it easier for consumers to spend money via their cell phone.

"Frankly, I'd be shocked if (households) don't spend more on cell phones at this point," said Andrew Arthur, vice president of market solutions at Mediamark Research & Intelligence.

When taxes, fees, and everything else is taken into account, I spend something like $15 more a month for two cell phone lines on a family plan than I do on our home phone (until you throw in my internet service which comes on the same bill -- but that would be cheating). And when you look at families of four and five with everyone carrying a cellular phone, it must cost significantly more.

And, of course, there are the folks with no land line, just a cell phone.

My question is when prices will drop as demand increases.





|| Greg, 05:09 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Edwards In Front?

Well, that is what one poll tells us.

A new InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion poll out of Iowa shows John Edwards leaping from third to first place in Iowa, and the GOP field ever-tightening, as the Jan. 3 caucuses approach.

The Democratic poll, taken from Dec. 16-17 of 977 Democrats who said they intend to participate in the caucuses, showed Edwards with 30 percent, followed by New York Sen. Hillary Clinton with 26 percent and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama with 24 percent.

The poll, which is an automated survey taken overnight, suggests the former North Carolina senator - who has been steadily trumpeting his anti-special interest, populist message - is resonating in Iowa. Other recent polls showed Obama overtaking Clinton, and Edwards stuck in third.

But maybe not, folks, when you look at who is most likely to turn out for the caucus.

However, when the InsiderAdvantage poll’s sample group was narrowed to 633 Democrats most likely to caucus, Obama retained a 1-point lead. That poll gave Obama 27 percent, Edwards 26 percent and Clinton 24 percent. The tighter sample group had a margin of error of 3 percent, while the broader group had a margin of error of 2 percent.

In other words, Iowa is a toss-up for the Dems.

And for the GOP, too, with the same sort of mixed results depending on what your sample looks like.

On the Republican side, the broader poll of 835 voters who intend to caucus showed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 28 percent, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 25 percent. When the screen was tightened to 418 likely caucus-goers, the race flipped: Romney took 28 percent and Huckabee took 25 percent. The poll is a reversal from recent surveys showing Huckabee leading Romney by double digits.

The tighter sample group had a margin of error of 5 percent, while the broader group had a margin of error of 3 percent.

The short answer is that, two weeks out, we have a statistical tie in both parties. That means that Iowa belongs to anyone -- and with it, the (temporary) title of front-runner for the nomination.





|| Greg, 05:03 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

December 18, 2007

UPDATED: Putting Words in 41’s Mouth

UPDATE: Bill Clinton lied!

In a statement sent to CNN Tuesday afternoon, former President Bush’s chief of staff Jean Becker said that he “wholeheartedly supports the President of the United States, including his foreign policy. He has never discussed an ‘around-the-world-mission’ with either former President Bill Clinton or Sen. Clinton, nor does he think such a mission is warranted since he is proud of the role America continues to play around the world as the beacon of hope for freedom and democracy.

“President Bush is excited about several of the excellent Republican candidates running for president, and looks forward to discussing their candidacy once the Republican nominee is determined.”

* * *

I’m curious – did Billzebubba and Hildebeast get the approval of former President George H. W. Bush to associate his name and prestige with their insult directed at his son, the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Former President Bill Clinton said Monday that the first thing his wife Hillary will do when she reaches the White House is dispatch him and his predecessor, President George H.W. Bush, on an around-the-world mission to repair the damage done to America's reputation by the current president — Bush's son, George W. Bush.

"Well, the first thing she intends to do, because you can do this without passing a bill, the first thing she intends to do is to send me and former President Bush and a number of other people around the world to tell them that America is open for business and cooperation again," Clinton said in response to a question from a supporter about what his wife's "number one priority" would be as president.

I’m willing to bet that the appropriation of the name and reputation of the father to damage the son was done without the knowledge, much less the permission, of the father. It is a thoroughly disgusting, classless act. But it is also typical the unscrupulous manner in which the Clinton’s operate. After all, they are both very skilled liars.





|| Greg, 06:09 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Carefully Taught To Hate

Gotta love this video brought to you by the Religion of Blow the Infidels to Pieces!

A children's sing-along DVD for would-be suicide bombers is being investigated by police after being found on sale in one of Britain's terrorist hotbeds.

The disturbing disc of music videos - part of an Egyptian-made series - shows a young girl singing about following in the footsteps of her suicide bomber mother.
A group of self-proclaimed orphans also turn against the West over the plight of the Palestinian people.

The shocking DVD was purchased in Bradford, West Yorks, and full details of the Leeds-based UK distributors are contained on the back of the cover.

The West Yorkshire Police specialist counter terrorism unit are investigating the contents - which contain three tracks sung by children in Arabic with English subtitles.

There is just something fundamentally sick within a faith that so regularly produces crap like this. It has even ceased being shocking – especially after it has been determined that the bomb that marred Benazir Bhutto’s homecoming was actually strapped to an infant. Therefore, I can’t even profess to be surprised by the evil contained in the tape.

H/T Malkin





|| Greg, 05:01 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Hobbit Is Coming! The Hobbit Is Coming!

Great news on the cinematic front. Peter Jackson will be making the film version of The Hobbit.

Peter Jackson has won the battle for Middle-earth and is to make The Hobbit.

The Oscar-winning Wellington film-maker and Hollywood studios New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios announced today that they had resolved their legal dispute. Jackson and partner Fran Walsh will serve as executive producers on two Hobbit movies.

Pre-production will begin as soon as possible and both will be shot simultaneously, tentatively in 2009. The Hobbit is likely to be released in 2010 and the sequel in 2011.

I’m pleased to hear that Jackson’s masterful interpretation of Middle Earth will continue – but I do have one question. A sequel? What sequel? What sequel is the sequel to The Hobbit?





|| Greg, 04:58 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Paris Meets The Smurfs

My God – is the woman really this stupid?

The hotel heiress was so enamoured with the two dwarf actors - who were dressed as the blue cartoon characters to promote Haribo's new Smurf sweets at a Christmas market in, Berlin, Germany - she asked if she could take them home with her.

A source said: "When Paris saw the guys on the sweet stall she squealed. We heard her saying, 'Oh my, real life Smurfs. I always wanted one when I was a kid', before turning to her pal and asking, 'Can I take them home?'

"Then she added 'I didn't realise this is where they came from'."

“I didn’t realize this is where they came from?” You must be freakin’ kidding. Nobody is this far out of contact with reality. Surely this has to be a put on. At least I hope it is.





|| Greg, 04:56 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Ron Paul: Candidate Of Hate

After all, what else do you call a candidate who implies that patriotic Christians to be fascists (other than a contender for the Democrat nomination)?

Screw you, Congressman. You are no Christian. You are no patriot. You are, however, a disgrace to the state of Texas and to the nation as a whole.

These words will be remembered by every Christian in your district, and will be used to guarantee that not only will you fail to win the presidency, but you will lose your congressional seat as well.

And by the way – I won’t vote for Huckabee any more than I would vote for Ron Paul.

Yeah, I understand that he is quoting Sinclair Lewis – but since Ron Paul has adopted it as his own, I’m glad to treat it as such. By the way – nice use of the words of a socialist to impugn the faith and patriotism of your political opponents, you pathetic demagogue.

More At Stop The ACLU, Right on the Right





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Not Coming Back?

Fidel may be permanently surrendering power -- but I doubt it.

Fidel Castro indicated Monday in a statement read on state television that he was willing to hand over the reins of Cuba’s government to a younger generation of leaders. But his statement remained silent on whether he was speaking hypothetically or had a transition plan in mind.

“My basic duty is not to cling to office, nor even more so, to obstruct the rise of people much younger, but to pass on experiences and ideas whose modest value arises from the exceptional era in which I lived,” said the statement attributed to Mr. Castro, who is 81.

The ailing Mr. Castro, acting in a sort of emeritus role, has produced numerous commentaries in the 16 months since he had abdominal surgery and temporarily handed over power to his younger brother, Raúl, who is 76. But none of the statements until now have addressed the important question of Mr. Castro’s future as Cuba’s president, a position he has held for nearly five decades.

The most recent speculation in Havana had been that Mr. Castro might be trying to make a comeback. His health was said to be improving, and on Dec. 2 he was officially nominated as a candidate for the next National Assembly. The assembly meets in March to choose a 31-member Council of State, which will select the next president.

Because only assembly members qualify for the top job, Mr. Castro’s nomination as a candidate seemed to rule out the notion that he was retiring from politics and ceding power to Raúl, the defense minister and constitutionally designated successor.

I suspect, though, that this is just sort of a polite demurral. Castro will not let go of power -- informally, if not formally -- while he still has breath in him. He is just respecting the constitutional niceties, sort of like Saddam Hussein and many other dictators have done.

I still long to see Fidel and Raul hanging by their heels like Mussolini. Then there will be a great dawning of freedom for all Cubans.





|| Greg, 05:33 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Extreme Left Derails Bipartisan FISA Bill

Over the issue of retroactive immunity for telecom companies that cooperated with anti-terrorism efforts -- despite strong bipartisan support for that element of the bill.

By 76 to 10, with Democrats divided, the Senate voted to advance the bill for consideration. A measure to block it, which was led by Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut fell short, as those who wanted the bill to reach the floor got 16 votes more than the 60 needed to achieve that goal.

The margin was 76-10. How then, could it fail?

Only if the extremist-beholden Democrat "leadership" pulls the bill from consideration.

Amid deep and growing divisions among Senate Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) last night abruptly withdrew legislation that would have changed surveillance law and granted the nation's telecommunications companies retroactive immunity from lawsuits charging they had violated privacy rights.

Democratic leaders had hoped to complete an overhaul of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act before recessing for the year, since the current law governing the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program is set to expire in early February. But in the face of more than a dozen amendments to the bill and guerrilla tactics from its opponents, Reid surprised his colleagues when he announced there would not be enough time to finish the job.

"Everyone feels it would be in the best interest of the Senate if we take a look at this when we come back," Reid said, acknowledging the time crunch he faces in the "last hours" of this congressional session and the hefty number of agenda items remaining.

"Everyone"? Would that include all 78 members of the Senate who voted in favor of telecom immunity, or only "everyone" among the 10 who opposed it?

After the January return, there will be only two weeks to adopt a new FISA bill. Are Dems willing to (again) endanger American national security for partisan purposes?





|| Greg, 05:19 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Just Plain Strange

No, not the message -- with which I am in essential agreement.

No, I'm talking about the rather bizarre lighting and framing of the shot. Shouldn't it be the Christmas tree, not the window frame, that is illuminated?

Unless, of course, one is seeking to send a not-so-subliminal sumliminal message.

Who'd have thought, though, that we would ever reach a day in America that a commercial wishing people a Merry Christmas -- and explicitly reminding us that it is CHRISTmas -- would be somehow controversial. The message is dead-on correct. But the cheap lighting gimmick really goes a bit too far.

More Commentary at Captain's Quarters, Blogs for Victory, Andrew Sullivan (twice), Stumper





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Sharif Excluded Again In Pakistan

The former Pakistani Prime Minister is disqualified by the country's top election authority. But it appears his party will stay in the race.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lost his appeal against the rejection of his nomination for next month's parliamentary elections, an official said Tuesday, eliminating a key opposition leader from the crucial vote.

The Election Commission rejected Sharif's appeal Monday, commission spokesman Kanwar Dilshad said. Dilshad declined to give details, confirming only a report in the Urdu-language Jang daily Tuesday that Sharif was out of the elections.

Sharif, who has been campaigning for his Pakistan Muslim League-N party, has been demanding that President Pervez Musharraf restore Supreme Court judges he sacked during a 42-day state of emergency that he lifted over the weekend.

Sharif's party initially called for a boycott of the vote but decided against it after failing to muster support from other opposition groups for a united action.

Sharif and his supporters can't afford to sit this one out. If they do, they will be effectively excluded from the political dialogue after the election. Also, a significant showing by his party might get the former prime minister's political rights restored, as was done for Benazir Bhutto,





|| Greg, 04:09 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Watcher's Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Pearl Harbor... And 9/11 by Joshuapundit, and Men of Valor: Part IV by Michael Yon.  Here are (the full results of the vote:

VotesCouncil link
3Pearl Harbor... And 9/11
Joshuapundit
2A Deeply Flawed NIE Changes Nothing & Everything
Wolf Howling
1  2/3What the NIE on Iran's Nuclear Weapons Development Doesn't Say
The Glittering Eye
1  1/3Release of Iran NIE a Remarkable Testament to American Exceptionalism
Right Wing Nut House
1  1/3Explaining American Jews' Love for Israel and America
Bookworm Room
1Hoodwinkers and Their Codependents: In Search of Intelligent Intelligence on Iran
Big Lizards
2/3U.S. "Stingy" on Foreign Aid
The Colossus of Rhodey
1/3Another Sign: Islam Is a Human Rights Violation
Rhymes With Right

VotesNon-council link
3Men of Valor: Part IV
Michael Yon
2What Happens After the Surge
Pajamas Media
1  1/3What Iran's "Victory" Means
ShrinkWrapped
1Iran NIE and a Prediction
Middle East Strategy at Harvard
1In Politics Values Matter, Not Theology
Townhall.com
1William Katz: New National Intelligence Estimate
Power Line
2/3Exclusive IPT Investigation Uncovers HLF Jury Room Bullying
The Investigative Project on Terrorism
2/32007: Now, With Fewer Menorah Vandalizations, But More Anti-Semitism
Yourish.com
1/3Ineffective and Pointless -- But Very Costly
Klein Verzet

I got hit with a penalty this week because my votes got lost in cyberspace, so I might have otherwise finished higher in the standings. And had my vote gotten through, the only difference would have been that the Watcher would not have had to cast that tie-breaker vote -- but the results would have been the same.





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December 17, 2007

BUMPED AND UPDATED: Creating A Hostile Campus Environment

UPDATE: It appears that Francisco Nava is behind the threats and inflicted his own injuries. In keeping with my previous policy of condemning false hate crimes, I wholeheartedly condemn his actions.

In light of this development, I believe that Nava needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, as well as having appropriate disciplinary action taken against him by Princeton – which, in my opinion, should be expulsion. That said, the anemic reaction of Princeton University to earlier reports of threats – and to the current ones – is distressing, even if they originated with Nava. Princeton would have no doubt gone into crisis mode, as it did with the gay students noted in the McGinley columns referenced below, had the earlier threats (frauds that they were) been received by an outspoken minority student. If they had done so at that time, Nava's misdeeds would have been uncovered then and the later incidents would not have occurred. My fear is that this point will be missed in all the discussion of this serious series of incidents being fabricated. It should not be.

And before anyone asks, I specifically do not offer an apology to columnist Jason Sheltzer. I believe my assessment of his column, which was shared by numerous letter-writers published by the Daily Princetonian, is accurate. His column was motivated by the very sort of bias and bigotry that he condemned in the Anscombe Society -- and fell well-short of any standard of intellectual rigor.

* * * * * * *

An interesting situation has come into being at Princeton this week, one which is antithetical to the purpose of a university -- and which shows just how far down the path of fascism one side of the political/social/moral divide has descended.

Some quick background. A group of students organized a group called the Anscombe Society at Princeton University and obtained recognition two years ago. They have held a national conference, helped organize chapters on other campuses, and have recently seen one of their members named a Rhodes Scholar. They are an organization that promotes traditional moral values with regard to sexuality and gender -- positions that were definitely mainstream within my lifetime, and which are still overwhelmingly held by a majority of Americans. they seek to promote their views through debate, discussion and intellectual persuasion. And that is something that is threatening to the Left, and which cannot be allowed to remain unchallenged.

And so Princeton students awoke on Wednesday, December 12, to find the group attacked in in the Daily Princetonian a column by columnist Jason Sheltzer.

The Anscombe Society deserves a closer look, and what one uncovers isn't pretty.

I spent a few hours browsing through the Anscombe Society's website and reading the "Articles of the Week" distributed to their listserv. I found much more than benevolent admonitions to wait until marriage. Instead, the Anscombe Society has taken a strong stance against equal rights for gays and lesbians and is in favor of a return to "traditional gender roles."

In other words, Sheltzer declared the Anscombe Society to be a hate group. Interestingly enough, Sheltzer does not actually take the time to refute any of the positions the group takes or any of the arguments made in articles he quotes (I suspect he lacks the intellectual capacity to do so). Instead, he simply implies that the members of the Anscombe society are not "morally conscious" and that they promote "religious propaganda", and that they preach "wrongheaded notions."

Now perhaps it is purely coincidental, but within hours of the publication of Sheltzer's screed, someone acted upon it, seeking to ensure that such
wrongheaded notions" ceased being preached by those who are not "morally conscious".

Four officers of the Anscombe Society and a prominent conservative politics professor received threatening emails Wednesday evening from off-campus email addresses.

The five individuals received identical messages telling them they would "suffer," ordering them to "shut the fuck up" and declaring that "you are not welcome here." "We will destroy you," the message said.

Though the message did not explicitly mention the Anscombe Society, the four students who received emails were Anscombe vice president Jonathan Hwang '09, president Kevin Staley-Joyce '09, former president Sherif Girgis '08 and administrative committee chair Francisco Nava '09. Politics professor Robert George — who has publicly supported conservative causes, including the Anscombe Society's goal of promoting chastity — also received the message.

"It would be safe to say that the Anscombe Society is a common factor linking all of us," Hwang said. "It is the most intense reaction to the Anscombe Society that I've ever received."

University spokeswoman Cass Cliatt '96 said the University is investigating the threat but declined to elaborate because of security concerns. "The normal protocol for these types of threats is for public safety to determine the credibility and proceed to investigate," she said in an email.

Now I won't claim that Sheltzer is in any way morally, legally, or personally responsible for these threats -- though I would be willing to bet that Sheltzer would make precisely such an assertion if a conservative student had written such a piece against a liberal group and it had been followed immediately by death threats against that group's officers and adviser. After all, it would be the clearly foreseeable consequence of such speech, he and his fellow liberals would no doubt argue, claiming that such speech had created a hostile environment for and diminished the safety of the members of whichever protected class the group represented. Such threats would have become the university's top priority -- and "normal protocol" would have been suspended by the University, with the threats being immediately treated as serious and solidarity shown with the threatened group.

That didn't happen.

Indeed, it hadn't happened the last time Anscombe Society members had received such threats.

It is tempting to believe that this is only an isolated incident. It is not. These tactics are part of a pattern designed to silence members of our community who speak out against the hookup culture and sexual liberationist ideology.

Francisco Nava '09 returned to Princeton after the summer break feeling a new sense of intellectual liberation. He had resolved to a kind of political coming-out, deciding that he would, as he told me, "no longer mask my views on contemporary moral issues."

And so he joined the Anscombe Society as an active member. He spoke up in class and precept in order to defend the beliefs that do not just belong to him — they define him and his faith. It was then that he was first faced with personal intimidation here at Princeton University. Anonymously scrawled on a piece of paper and laid hauntingly in his mailbox, Nava found the aggressive message: "YOU HAVE FOUND THE WRONG CAUSE."

Though rendered a little "afraid and paranoid" by the malice behind such a threat, Francisco tried to let it slip from his mind. Mustering the courage to continue to speak out, he published a well-argued opinion piece in these pages entitled "Princeton's Latex Lies." Heralded by some and denounced by others, the article prompted campus-wide discussion of pertinent issues of health and morality.

Two days passed. Returning from Sunday morning church services, Nava discovered a new note written with the same ominous green and black ink as the first. It read, chillingly: "ONE MORE ARTICLE AND YOU WON'T LIVE TO SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY."

He wrote to me: "For several days I lived in fear of saying, writing or even thinking anything controversial in class or informally among my friends." Nava's foray into intellectual openness came to an abrupt, horrible stop. And only a week later, a third threat with the same message was placed in his mailbox.

On the afternoon of the second threat, Public Safety dutifully arrived on the scene and collected the letter as evidence. Presumably a report was filed and, as Nava, an alternate RCA, informed me, all reports involving students are forwarded to the administration. Herein lies the most disturbing detail: The administration of Princeton University knows that a member of its student body has had his life threatened. And nothing happened.

After nearly a month of waiting, he received a two-line email from Public Safety. But from Butler College, from Nassau Hall, from West College, there was nothing.

As Princetonian columnist Brandon McGinley points out, this stands in stark contrast to how Princeton had responded to another such incident around the same time.

It is instructive here to compare the treatment of Nava, the morally conservative Mormon student, with the administration's swift and forceful reaction to another incident on Princeton's campus.

Returning from Fall Break, some homosexual students found obscenities — apparently phalluses and other images — sketched on the blackboards outside their rooms. Within a few hours, Whitman College had RCAs, counselors and two deans to the scene. The LGBT Center sent out a notice about the event and encouraged students to mount pink triangles in their windows and doors to show solidarity.

On the afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 11, Nava sat alone in his room. There were no counselors. There were no deans. There was no University-sponsored center to raise awareness, offer support and encourage solidarity. There was just Francisco.

It seems pretty clear who is valued and protected by the university, isn't it -- and that if you are a conservative student with traditional religious values, you are not valued and will not be protected by the university when your life is threatened. You certainly will not receive the sort of outspoken, public support that gay students will receive when confronted with disgusting images. After all, what is one potentially dead conservative religious student when there are offended homosexuals to be comforted and lifted up? Such a conservative is not the victim of a hate crime (and, unlike the offended gay students, Nava was the victim of a crime) -- and besides, with his positions he deserves to be hated, reviled and harassed, right?

Now this would be a scandalous enough situation if the story ended there. It didn't.

Francisco Nava '09 was physically attacked by two men in Princeton Township Friday evening, sustaining a concussion but no other serious injuries. The assault comes on the heels of several threatening messages recently sent to Nava, apparently in connection with his involvement with the socially conservative Anscombe Society.

Details of the incident have not been confirmed by Princeton Township Police or the University Medical Center at Princeton, but Nava said in an interview Friday evening that he was walking from a borrowed car to the house of a boy he is mentoring when he was stopped by a man dressed in black and wearing a ski cap. According to Nava, the man said that someone was hurt and asked for his help. A second assailant, who was waiting around the corner, grabbed Nava from behind. Together, the two men checked him against a wall and repeatedly hit his head against the bricks.

"Eventually I just blacked out," Nava said in an interview last night. "I don't remember what happened; I just saw a bunch of white." When he came to, he said, the two men were still hitting him.

The two men told Nava to "shut the fuck up" as they left him lying on the ground. Though he was carrying a wallet, credit cards and a cell phone, the assailants did not take any of Nava's belongings.

Indeed, Nava draws the obvious connection between this act of physical violence designed to silence him and the threats that have been coming for months with no significant action by the university.

There have been two very interesting and eloquent posts on The Prox, the blog of the Daily Princetonian. Also interesting is the lack of comment there from columnist Jason Sheltzer. I guess his moral consciousness is out at the dry cleaners or some such thing.

And, for that matter, so was the moral consciousness of the Princeton University community as a whole. The scheduled event expressing solidarity with the conservative victims of these hate crimes did not happen after all. I guess they don't have enough PC points to qualify for support. But it appears that conservative students at Princeton plan on standing firm for their principles.

And somehow, neither the local paper nor the national media can be troubled to report the story. maybe its because Princeton itself refuses to issue an alert to students about the incident or take any serious action in response to the threats or the attack.

More At Instapundit, RedState, Right Coast, Fausta's Blog, TigerHawk, Gateway Pundit.

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT Stop the ACLU, Outside the Beltway, The Virtuous Republic, Rosemary's Thoughts, The Midnight Sun, sTIX bLOG, Right Truth, Shadowscope, Stuck On Stupid, The Amboy Times, Leaning Straight Up, Chuck Adkins, Pursuing Holiness, third world county, Woman Honor Thyself, Pirate's Cove, Celebrity Smack, The Pink Flamingo, Right Voices, Church and State, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, 123beta, Adam's Blog, Big Dog's Weblog, Cao's Blog, nuke's, Wake Up America, Faultline USA, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, The World According to Carl, Blue Star Chronicles, Global American Discourse, Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker, The Yankee Sailor, and OTB Sports, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.





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Whatever Happened To Separation Of Mosque And State?

We've got public colleges and universities installing special Muslim footbaths and other accommodations that would never be given to Christians, Jews, or other religious groups. Now we've got one school that has effectively created a mosque in what is supposedly a non-sectarian "meditation room".

Last week, I visited a Muslim place of worship. A schedule for Islam's five daily prayers was posted at the entrance, near a sign requesting that shoes be removed. Inside, a barrier divided men's and women's prayer space, an arrow informed worshippers of the direction of Mecca, and literature urged women to cover their faces.

Sound like a mosque?

The place I'm describing is the "meditation room" at Normandale Community College, a 9,200-student public institution in Bloomington.

Architectural features have been added to "accommodate" Muslims. Students are directed to follow Muslim practices when they enter the room. The only literature available there is Muslim. There is nothing there that accommodates members of any other faith group. And what's more, attempts by members of other religious traditions to use the facility have been met with acts of bigotry and intolerance from Muslim students.

Confrontations also erupted in the sex-segregated meditation room, according to Lunaas. "Muslim students just took it over. They made people who were not of the Muslim religion feel very uncomfortable, especially if they were female."

One female student tried to use the room when Muslim students were in it, said Lunaas. "She believed she should be treated equally. They were telling her to leave, to take off her shoes, to go to the other side of the divider."

The response of college officials?

[Dean of Student Affairs Ralph] Anderson said that in the incident involving the young woman, "both sides were probably out of line."

Both sides were probably out of line? How, exactly, was the young woman out of line? By trying to make use of a university provided facility? By refusing to follow a religious tradition not her own? While I am sure that there is significantly more to the story than we are told in this commentary piece, it seems pretty clear that refusing to abide by demands that she not use the space as an equal and in a manner that is in accord with her religious tradition is not "out of line". And if Anderson believes the young woman was "out of line" for making a forthright, and perhaps even heated, defense of her right to not be treated as a second-class citizen in a public space on a public college campus where she is a student, I think it is fair to say that the college is out of line in employing him in any capacity.

But then again, perhaps the reality is that we have reached an Orwellian situation where certain animals are more equal than others. And rather than the communist pigs of Animal Farm being more equal than the rest, perhaps at Normandale Community College we are dealing with Muslim pigs seeking to dhimmify the other animals on campus.

AnimalFarm.jpg

H/T Captain's Quarters, Powerline





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Choosing Life In The Face of Death

What do you do when you know your unborn child WILL die shortly after birth?

When Rob and Gina Harris found out they were expecting their first child they say were overwhelmed with gratitude and filled with thoughts and plans for their future family.

"We had all these visions and dreams for what our baby would grow up to be," said Gina.

Rob Harris said, "At our 20 week ultrasound we found out that he was a boy so I went out to the Nike store and had to buy a little sports outfit."

An ultrasound also revealed a problem about their unborn son, David.

"I didn't have amniotic fluid because David most likely did not have kidneys," said Gina.

Doctors explained that amniotic fluid is critical for lungs to develop. The condition that the Harris' son had is called Potter's Syndrome. It is extremely rare and extremely serious.

"The doctor told us that the babies usually die of respiratory failure after they are born," said Gina.

The doctor explained that as long as the baby was inside Gina's womb he'd be able to grow and thrive. Gina could provide everything her son needed. The question was: Could their son live on his own?

Gina Harris said her mind filled with thoughts and fears.

"I thought about how it would be to give birth to a baby that might not survive," she said. "I thought about being pregnant and people excitedly asking me about the baby and the future and me always knowing the future was so uncertain. I was scared."

"The doctor said that the majority of women with the diagnosis like this would terminate the pregnancy," said Rob. "And as he started to say that Gina said, 'No.' She just stopped him."

Gina says that in her heart she was certain of one thing. She was already a mom. She says God had given her a child and she already felt a deep connection with her son.

And so the couple affirmatively chose in favor of life for their son – knowing, as we all do, that this birth would lead to a death decades earlier than most of their child's peers.

And so they loved David, holding him and adoring him, for the six hours of life that their child was granted.

Some folks will criticize this decision – but like the Harrises, I see this as the only choice. Every new life is precious, and to snuff it out is simply wrong, even knowing that the child is doomed.

And with my wife and I having lost several babies to miscarriages, I know that I would give just about anything to have been granted even those few hours – and while I have not discussed the matter with her, I suspect that my wife would agree.

Bill Jempty of WizBang agrees, and shares the sad and painful experience of his wife with a similar choice. I offer my sincerest thanks to him for doing so. I encourage you to read his beautiful and touching story of the loss he and his wife experienced.

H/T Michelle Malkin, CatHouse Chat





|| Greg, 04:39 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Pardon In Saudi Rape Case

Proving that international pressure can move even Muslim extremists.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has pardoned a female rape victim who had been sentenced to 200 lashes for being alone with a man at the time of the attack who was not related to her, a Saudi newspaper reported Monday.

The case had sparked international outcry. In a rare criticism of its Mideast ally, the White House had expressed its ''astonishment'' over the woman's sentence. Canada called it barbaric.

Saudi Justice Minister Abdullah bin Muhammed al-Sheik told al-Jazirah newspaper that the pardon does not mean the king doubted the country's judges, but instead acted in the ''interests of the people.''

''The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair,'' al-Jazirah quoted al-Sheik as saying.

Notice, though, that last little proviso.

The king is sure that the verdict against the rape victim was a fair one -- including, presumably, the additional sentence for daring to speak out against the notion of punishing a victim of a crime.

These folks and their sharia code are simply barbarians.





|| Greg, 05:41 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Pope Speaks Against Hedonism

Like this is a surprise?

Pope Benedict XVI warned Sunday against seeking happiness in drugs or other "artificial paradises" and the self-centered quest for "pleasure at all costs."

Instead, the pope held up Mother Teresa — the Roman Catholic nun who devoted her life to serving the poor in India and elsewhere — as an example.

"Every day, she lived next to misery, human degradation and death," the pope told thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. "Yet, she offered the smile of God to everybody."

The pope, speaking during the traditional Sunday noon Angelus prayer, said real happiness cannot be found in cultures "that put individual happiness in the place of God, a mentality that has its emblematic effect in the quest for pleasure at all costs, in the spread of the use of drugs as an escape, a shelter in artificial paradises, which turn out to be completely illusory."

Imagine that -- a Christian leader urging people to avoid self-destructive pleasure and to serve others. Suggesting that people look to the example of the greatest Christian religious figure or our lifetime, and, through her, to a model of Christian service. It isn't a new message -- it is one as old as the Christian faith itself.





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When Will It End?

I'm really troubled that the theological issues of Mormonism keep being raised in the media. Especially when Romney has spoken publicly about this one before.

ormer Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” today that he wept with relief when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormon church, announced a 1978 revelation that the priesthood would no longer be denied to persons of African descent.

Romney’s eyes appeared to fill with tears as he discussed the emotional subject during a high-stakes appearance that he handled with no major blunders.

“I was anxious to see a change in my church,” said the Republican presidential candidate, appearing for the full hour just two weeks ahead of the crucial Iowa caucuses.

“I can remember when I heard about the change being made. I was driving home from — I think it was law school, but I was driving home — going through the Fresh Pond rotary in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I heard it on the radio and I pulled over and literally wept.

“Even to this day, it’s emotional,” Romney went on.

“And so it’s very deep and fundamental in my life and my most core beliefs that all people are children of God. My faith has always told me that. My faith has also always told me that in the eyes of God, every individual was merited the fullest degree of happiness in the hereafter and I had no question that African Americans and blacks generally would have every right and every benefit in the hereafter that anyone else had and that God is no respecter of persons.”

Moderator Tim Russert asked if “it was wrong for your faith to exclude them for as long as it did.”

“I told you exactly where I stand,” Romney said. “My view is that there’s no discrimination in the eyes of God. And I could not have been more pleased than to see the change that occurred.”

Enough with the Inquisition, folks -- Romney is a faithful Mormon, but he is not responsible for all the positions taken by that faith in its history. And for that matter, he was not in a position to do anything about that policy -- which the LDS Church held to be a matter of divine revelation and teaches was changed by divine revelation.

But if we are going to engage in theological grillings of candidates, let's start right now. When will we see Mike Huckabee grilled about the much more malignant racism that prevailed int eh Southern Baptist Convention for most of his adult life? When will Obama be called to account for the black-supremacist views of his pastor that are being propagated right now?

It is time for this crap to stop. We are electing a president, not a pastor.





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

More On Lieberman's McCain Endorsement

All joking aside, I really don't know how important an endorsement by Joe Lieberman will be for John McCain.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.), who was on the national Democratic ticket in 2000, will cross the aisle to endorse Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tomorrow, Republican sources said.

The two will appear together on Fox News on Monday, then at an 8 a.m. town hall meeting in Hillsborough, N.H. They will talk with reporters after the meeting. McCain is also scheduled to appear on NBC's "Today" program.

The move, which will help cultivate McCain's moderate status, is an effort to draw attention to the McCain campaign, which needs a splash. Otherwise, it does not make sense for McCain because it will only remind core Republicans why they distrust him.

I have to agree with that assessment. When push comes to shove, Lieberman is the last of the Scoop Jackson Democrats. His endorsement would make great sense in the fall, if McCain were the nominee. But how does the endorsement of a liberal Democrat really help John McCain in the GOP primary, unless it manages to pull in new voters to the GOP process -- something unlikely to happen in large enough numbers to get make the negatives among the GOP base go away.

And I say this as someone who admires Joe Lieberman and would love to see more like him in the Democrat party.

What this endorsement does do, however, is make McCain a viable GOP VP choice -- but then again, he already was. Or, as an extreme long-shot option, it creates the possibility of a McCain-Lieberman independent run that would draw from the political center. After all, if Americans are really so disillusioned with the direction being taken by both parties this year, such a bi-partisan ticket could draw centrist voters.





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December 16, 2007

A Great Question

Don Surber raises an interesting point about the treasure trove of endorsements received by John McCain today.

McCain picks up endorsements from the Des Moines Register, Boston Globe and Joe Lieberman. When will he get one from a Republican?

Indeed.





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Romney's Big Endorsement

If you support conservative judicial appointees, there can be only one choice for President in 2008. That choice is Mitt Romney -- who just got the gold-seal of endorsements from the expert on conservative judicial philosophy, Robert Bork.

Joining Romney for President, Judge Bork said, "Throughout my career, I have had the honor of serving under several Presidents and am proud to make today's endorsement. No other candidate will do more to advance the conservative judicial movement than Governor Mitt Romney. He knows firsthand how the judicial branch can profoundly affect the future course of a state and a nation. I greatly admired his leadership in Massachusetts in the way that he responded to the activist court's ruling legalizing same-sex 'marriage.' His leadership on the issue has served as a model to the nation on how to respect all of our citizens while respecting the rule of law at the same time."

Judge Bork continued, "Our next President may be called upon to make more than one Supreme Court nomination, and Governor Romney is committed to nominating judges who take their oath of office seriously and respect the rule of law in our nation. I also support Governor Romney because of his character, his integrity and his stands on the major issues facing the United States.

Can we really trust pro-choice Rudy to appoint conservative judges. Given McCain's involvement in the Gang of 14, can we really trust him to fight to get such judges confirmed? And can we trust Mike Huckabee at all? And for all the work that Fred Thompson has done on behalf of conservative judges, Judge Bork still endorsed Mitt Romney for President. I think that clearly says it all in terms of where those of us who support a conservative, constitutionally literate and limited judiciary need to cast our votes.





|| Greg, 09:28 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Huckabee's Push Poll

Push polling is a sleazy tactic. Why am I not surprised that Mike Huckabee supporters are doing it?

"It was a series of questions that you would associate with a push poll," Campbell said, referring to the negative campaigning technique of pretending to be a pollster gathering information from voters when really the intention is to spread negative information about a rival.

The automated machine, which identified itself as being with Common Sense Issues, threw Campbell questions about whether he'd be less likely to support McCain if he knew the Arizona senator opposed a federal amendment to ban same sex marriage, or that he'd hurt the anti-abortion-rights cause by leading the charge for campaign finance reform.

Campbell said the call ended before he could even find a pen to start taking notes on what was being said, once he realized he was in the midst of some shady campaign tactics.

Earlier this month Common Sense Issues -- which is affiliated with supporters of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee -- set up an organization called Trust Huckabee, which began making calls in Iowa praising Huckabee and disparaging Huckabee's opponents.

Huckabee, of course, denies any involvement in the calls (because if he or his campaign were involved, it would be a violation of federal election law against coordinating activity between campaigns and "independent" groups). But this pro-Huckabee group seems particularly intent upon smearing anybody who is not Mike Huckabee, the second-worst candidate in the GOP race (I can finally join with all the Ron PauLunatics in saying "Ron Paul is #1!"), having previously targeted other candidates.

For his party, Huckabee denounced those calls by the group earlier this month, but since the calls continue, so he clearly lacks sufficient moral authority with his supporters to be an effective leader. After all, if his supporters won't heed his words, what is there to make us think that anyone else will? He'd be even less effective on the world stage as president than Jimmy Carter -- another weak leader whose only discernible qualification seemed to be his Christian faith.





|| Greg, 09:10 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Dem Seeks To Tread Soldiers Like Children

This legislation clearly grows out of the liberal ideology that our men and women in uniform are stupid losers.

A bill in Congress seeks to eliminate military slot machines overseas that take in $130 million a year, mostly from soldiers.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tennessee, named the bill after Army Warrant Officer Aaron Walsh, a decorated Apache helicopter pilot who became addicted to gambling on military slot machines.

Walsh eventually was discharged from the Army. He committed suicide after several failed attempts to break his addiction.

The Defense Department uses slot machine revenues to pay a small portion of its morale, welfare and recreation programs.

Davis said the money raised off the gambling of soldiers is not worth the risks.

"If American men and women are willing to serve our country overseas we should not be dependent on them to pay for recreational activities they deserve," Davis said in a written statement. "The risks are simply too high and too many to ask that of our soldiers."

In other words, the relatively infrequent problem of individuals with gambling problems are sufficient reason to ban slot machines on military bases.

If that is the case, why not ban slot machines and other forms of legal gambling nationwide on the same premise? You know, because the risks of legal gambling are simply too high and too many to permit the public to fund education and social services (and the coffers of the gambling industry) in that manner. Or at the very least, why not pass legislation prohibiting members of the United States military from gambling off-post as well, both overseas and in the United States? Certainly the same logic applies as it does to slots on foreign military bases.

And while we are at it, we can take US military bases dry based upon the possibility of alcoholism. We can make them porn-free zones because someone might chafe their penis while masturbating, too.

Here's an idea, Congressman Davis -- why don't we treat our soldiers like adults and allow them to make adult decisions. The problem in the case of Aaron Walsh was not the availability of gambling, it was a failure of the military to respond effectively to his out-of-control gambling. Focus your legislation there, not on depriving servicemen and women of recreational activities.





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Did Huckabee Use His Office To Obstruct Block Charges Against His Son?

And don't most serial killers, sex offenders, and other sociopathic personalities first display a streak of animal cruelty?

As Mike Huckabee gains in the polls, the former Arkansas governor is finding that his record in office is getting more scrutiny. One issue likely to get attention is his handling of a sensitive family matter: allegations that one of his sons was involved in the hanging of a stray dog at a Boy Scout camp in 1998. The incident led to the dismissal of David Huckabee, then 17, from his job as a counselor at Camp Pioneer in Hatfield, Ark. It also prompted the local prosecuting attorney— bombarded with complaints generated by a national animal-rights group—to write a letter to the Arkansas state police seeking help investigating whether David and another teenager had violated state animal-cruelty laws. The state police never granted the request, and no charges were ever filed. But John Bailey, then the director of Arkansas's state police, tells NEWSWEEK that Governor Huckabee's chief of staff and personal lawyer both leaned on him to write a letter officially denying the local prosecutor's request. Bailey, a career officer who had been appointed chief by Huckabee's Democratic predecessor, said he viewed the lawyer's intervention as improper and terminated the conversation. Seven months later, he was called into Huckabee's office and fired. "I've lost confidence in your ability to do your job," Bailey says Huckabee told him. One reason Huckabee cited was "I couldn't get you to help me with my son when I had that problem," according to Bailey. "Without question, [Huckabee] was making a conscious attempt to keep the state police from investigating his son," says I. C. Smith, the former FBI chief in Little Rock, who worked closely with Bailey and called him a "courageous" and "very solid" professional.

Pretty sick stuff on the part of Huckabee's son -- and Daddy's actions are almost Clintonesque in nature. It must be something about Arkansas governors from Hope, believing that the law is for other people, and that those who cross you should be fired from their jobs and otherwise destroyed.

Huckabee dismisses the accusation as coming from a "bitter ex-employee". Then again, happy current and former employees are usually not the ones who blow the whistle on corruption, are they?

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December 15, 2007

Putin Resurrects KGB Tactics

You know -- sending dissidents to mental hospitals.

A Russian opposition activist has been sent to a psychiatric hospital by authorities a day before a planned demonstration.

Artem Basyrov's detention is the latest in a series of incidents suggesting a punitive Soviet-era practice is being revived under president Vladimir Putin.

Mr Basyrov, 20, was ordered to be held at a hospital in the central region of Mari El on November 23, a day before planned demonstrations, said Alexander Averin of the opposition National Bolshevik Party.

The party is part of the Other Russia coalition which organised the so-called Dissenters' Marches across the country this year.

Mr Basyrov ran for the local legislature as an Other Russia candidate.

Now the authorities claim to have a perfectly legitimate reason for detaining Basyrov. It does, however, sound rather fishy.

Police who originally detained him claimed he had assaulted a girl.

A local psychiatric board agreed, deciding the activist suffered from a mental illness and he was committed to the psychiatric hospital three weeks ago.

He was only transferred from an isolation ward and allowed to have visitors on Thursday, said Mikhail Klyuzhev, a National Bolshevik member from the city of Yoshkar-Ola.

If, as indicated, he had assaulted someone, why was he hospitalized instead of jailed and charged? That doesn't make sense.

Until you consider this little pattern that has developed in Russia under Putin.

His case is the latest example of journalists or opposition activists being involuntarily committed to psychiatric hospitals in Russia.

During the Soviet era, dissidents were frequently committed for protesting against Soviet policies.

Last week, Reporters Without Borders said Andrei Novikov, a reporter for a news service connected with Chechen separatist government, was released after nine months in a psychiatric hospital.

Earlier this year Larisa Arap, an Other Russia activist and journalist, spent six weeks in a psychiatric clinic.

Supporters said this was punishment for her critical reporting.

The Global Initiative on Psychiatry, a Dutch watchdog, says psychiatry continues to be used for punitive, political purposes in Russia.

In this country, we can't even get the lunatics put in a mental hospital against their will in most cases. Even the nuttiest political activists (like Cindy Sheehan, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and many Ron Paul supporters) are free to spew their insanity and crackpot platforms -- and then claim persecution when they are forced to follow the same laws as the rest of the country. Let that serve as a pointed reminder of the fact that America has not become the police state these folks claim.





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Isn't This Called A Kickback?

Sounds like a bad vaudeville routine.

Partner 1: Al Sharpton is so corrupt...

Partner 2: How corrupt is he?

With a hidden FBI camera rolling inside a New York hotel suite in 2003, an unsuspecting Rev. Al Sharpton, Democratic candidate for president, spoke candidly.

Sharpton offered to help Philadelphia fund-raiser Ronald A. White win a multimillion-dollar business deal, if White helped him raise $50,000 for politics.

White offered $25,000. "If you bring my guys up on this hedge fund, and I have the right conversation," White said, "I'll give you what you need."

"Cool," Sharpton said.

The Inquirer obtained an account of the May 9, 2003, conversation, which was recorded as part of the Philadelphia City Hall corruption case. The tape helped spark a separate inquiry into Sharpton's 2004 campaign and his civil-rights organization, the National Action Network. The FBI-IRS probe resurfaced publicly Wednesday, when Sharpton aides received subpoenas.

And you have to love Sharpton's response, which amounts to "It ain't illegal 'cuz I'm not a public official."

Well, maybe -- but it certainly reeks of corruption, the very kind a that liberals have complained about for years when it comes to cozy relationships between campaign donors and Republicans (but wait -- isn't it usually Democrats who get caught doing this?).





|| Greg, 10:09 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Pakistan State Of Emergency Lifted

After a matter of weeks, Pakistan's leader has lifted a state of emergency.

President Pervez Musharraf lifted Pakistan's six-week-old state of emergency and restored the constitution Saturday, easing a crackdown that has enraged opponents and worried Western supporters.

Information Minister Nisar Memon said Musharraf had signed the order lifting the emergency. He called it a "historic day" and said next month's parliamentary elections would cement the country's return to democracy.

"The caretaker government is under oath to hold free, fair, transparent and impartial elections to put the country back on track," Memon said.

Musharraf has insisted that changes he made to the Constitution be left in place, and that his dismissals of judges cannot be challenged or overturned. That is problematic.

However, the elections coming on January 8 have the potential to put Pakistan back on the path to democracy, something that has been in short supply in the country for the last couple of decades (and certainly since Musharraf's 1999 coup). If this election process is transparant and fair, it may be that the former general has done his country a great service, despite having trampled upon democratic principles for years. And if a Bhutto/Sharif coalition emerges in the near future, it may be that Musharraf will find him facing strong opposition in the parliament -- a sign of a healthy democracy if there ever was one.





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Election Machine Follies

Let's begin with this caveat: No system for casting and counting votes is fool-proof or fraud-proof. For that reason, I take the comments by Ohio's secretary of state with a grain of salt. That said, she raises an important point.

All five voting systems used in Ohio, a state whose electoral votes narrowly swung two elections toward President Bush, have critical flaws that could undermine the integrity of the 2008 general election, a report commissioned by the state’s top elections official has found.

“It was worse than I anticipated,” the official, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, said of the report. “I had hoped that perhaps one system would test superior to the others.”

At polling stations, teams working on the study were able to pick locks to access memory cards and use hand-held devices to plug false vote counts into machines. At boards of election, they were able to introduce malignant software into servers.

Ms. Brunner proposed replacing all of the state’s voting machines, including the touch-screen ones used in more than 50 of Ohio’s 88 counties. She wants all counties to use optical scan machines that read and electronically record paper ballots that are filled in manually by voters.

When the eSlate system was adopted here in Harris County, I strongly urged against it. I wanted to see an optical scanner system adopted because of the paper trail it would provide. That said, I figure that if I can trust an ATM with my money, I can also trust a system like the one we have and like those they have in Ohio.

"But," some will object, "doesn't this show that the machines can be tampered with?"

Yeah, it does.

But if the conditions are what I suspect they were, the test itself was essentially meaningless. The testers would have been given unlimited access to and time with the equipment, access to schematics and source code, and would not have faced any of the other security methods imposed by elections officials. These are not conditions that anyone tampering with election results is likely to face.

And let's not forget that there are ways to game an optical scanner system. You can still program the software to miscount votes. You can still add fake voters to the rolls or vote folks who were not at the polls. Ballots can still be tampered with after they are cast. In other words, optical scanners have many of the same flaws as both the paperless systems and the punch card system used in much of the country prior to the 2000 fiasco in Florida. No system is perfect.

Indeed, the only real safeguard of an election is the integrity of those who are involved in the process of running the election, from state officials to county and city elections officials to those of us who actually operate the polling places on Election Day. And so while I explicitly endorse a change to optical scanners, I am under no illusion that erroneous vote counts or outright election fraud can ever be completely eliminated until we can figure out a way to eliminate human fallibility and mankind's sinful nature from the equation.





|| Greg, 09:29 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Fraud In Mitchell Report

So much for the integrity of the Mitchell Report.

One active major league player was able to keep his name out of the former Senator George J. Mitchell’s report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, even though Mitchell had evidence that he bought them, Mitchell said in an interview Friday.

The unidentified player offered persuasive evidence that he had disposed of the drugs without using them, Mitchell said one day after releasing a roughly 400-page report critical of baseball’s drug testing program. The report named about 90 players who were linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

"Persuasive evidence"? Like what? And did he buy such drugs from others? Did he report those who he bought this set of drugs from? If you are going to name names, then you need to name them all. I'm curious what other little frauds and deceptions George Mitchell included in his report.





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Troops, Bush Win; Dems Surrender -- War Funding Passed

Because even though the Democrats have a vested interest in a terrorist victory in Iraq, they don't want to explicitly give further aid and comfort to the enemy right now.

The Democratic-led Congress authorized more Iraq war spending on Friday, sending President Bush a defense bill requiring no change in strategy after failing again to impose a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawals.

The defense policy bill, approved 90-3 by the Senate, also expanded the size of the U.S. Army and set conditions on the Bush administration’s plan to build a missile defense system in Europe.

The measure already had passed the House and now goes to Bush, who is expected to sign it into law. It authorizes Pentagon programs expected to cost $506.9 billion during fiscal 2008, which began in October.

Now the next big issue is whether or not the Congress will actually appropriate the money they just authorized. What an absurd system! This means that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Jon Murtha and the rest of the Surrender At Any Cost Caucus can once again act on behalf of al-Qaeda to ensure the defeat of American forces in Iraq.





|| Greg, 08:48 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

December 14, 2007

We Don’t Need No Steenkin’ “Free Press”

Claiming there is too much unfettered speech by “citizen journalists”, one journalism professor and former MSM reporter insists that the time has come to impose some fetters.

Having just anyone produce widely distributed stories without control can have the reverse effect from what advocates intend. It's just a matter of time before something like a faked Rodney King beating video appears on the air somewhere.

Journalism organizations should head that off. Citizen reports can be a valuable addition to news and information flow with some protections:

• Major news organizations must create standards to substantiate citizen-contributed information and video, and ensure its accuracy and authenticity.

• They should clarify and reinforce their own standards and work through trade organizations to enforce national standards so they have real meaning.

• Journalism schools such as mine at the University of Georgia should create mini-courses to certify citizen journalists in proper ethics and procedures, much as volunteer teachers, paramedics and sheriff's auxiliaries are trained and certified.

And who, may I ask, are YOU to determine how and whether I am permitted to fully and freely exercise freedom of speech and press under the First Amendment of the Constitution. Indeed, what possible penalty would or could you enforce against those of us who metaphorically flip you and your “journalism organizations” the bird when we continue to publish our material online or operate an unregistered Xerox machine? Or do you ultimately wish to establish a system whereby “registered journalists” and “journalism professors” grant nihil obstat and imprimatur to newsletters and blog posts before publication and distribution are permitted? After all, your so-called “professional standards” are nothing less than a call for restrictions – possibly enforced by the jackboot of government authority – upon a liberty that is not only ours by nature, but also which is enshrined in our Constitution. Your column is nothing less than a call for a grant of monopoly status to traditional media and to us the theory of a “living constitution” to make that document’s guarantees of freedom a dead letter.

H/T Captain’s Quarters, Hot Air, Daily Pundit, Stop the ACLU, The Glittering Eye

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I Don’t See The Problem

I’m a public school teacher – and used to be a private school teacher.

I attended public schools – and also attended private schools.

I attended public universities – and one private one.

My cousin home schools her kids – and many of my top students have at least some home schooling background.

What I’m suggesting is that I see the benefits and drawbacks of different sorts of education, and the appropriateness of different types of education for different kids.

But I wonder if the “pro-education” folks in South Carolina would consider me fit to serve on – much less head – the state board of education.

Wednesday’s choice of a home-schooling educator to be the State Board of Education’s chairwoman in 2009 signals a new dynamic in the state’s crusade to fix its troubled public schools.

Kristin Maguire, of Clemson, would be the nation’s only home-schooling educator to lead a state school board if she took office this year, according to the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Maguire lobbied intensively for legislation that created a statewide charter school system and has voiced support for Sanford allies who want the Legislature to OK financial incentives for parents who send their children to private schools or educate them at home.

Maguire says political or philosophical differences she might have with others won’t distract her from being an advocate for improving education “for all children.”

Of course, Maguire just infuriates those who support monopolistic public education.

Others see Maguire’s election as a step backward — or at the least, a distraction.

Molly Spearman, a former educator and lawmaker who heads the S.C. Association of School Administrators, said, “It’s time for public school supporters to take the election of legislators and appointments to state boards more seriously. We need people who are going to make sure we have people committed to moving public education forward.”

Spearman, of course, has it exactly wrong. What we need on the state and national level are people who are going to move EDUCATION, not PUBLIC EDUCATION, forward. And part of that involves recognizing and acting on the reality I pointed to above, namely that a traditional public school classroom is not necessarily the best option for every student. That is why I support charter schools. That is why I support private schools (both religious and non-religious). That is why I support home schooling. They each meet the educational needs and desires of a subset of students and their families better than the traditional public school classroom that I teach in. And there is no sound reason – educational, constitutional, or moral – for not providing state funding and assistance to each and every one of those sorts of educational formats. After all, we need to ensure that every child receives the opportunity for a quality education that helps develop the student to the fullest. That is a simple matter of equity, of justice, and of decency.

Not that Spearman was alone in her assessment.

Leaders from the public education establishment were displeased by her election.

Sheila Gallagher, president of the S.C. Education Association, a teachers’ group, called the vote “a missed opportunity.” Gallagher said the DuBard family is well known in the Pee Dee area as public education advocates.

“His children attend public schools, and he knows what is happening there,” Gallagher said.

Business leaders had a mixed reaction.

Jim Reynolds, a Columbia businessman active in business group activities focusing on education, said, “I don’t think it’s going to hit the radar.”
Reynolds said South Carolinians are focused on finding solutions to public education problems and not the debate about funneling state aid to support private schools.

“Those are the things that capture the attention of South Carolina and the nation rather than the selection of the position of chair of the State Board of Education,” Reynolds said.

Lee Bussell of Columbia, the 2007 state Chamber of Commerce businessman of the year, said Maguire’s election is shocking.

“It’s like having a CEO of an airline who has no experience flying,” he said. “I don’t think (home-schoolers) ought to be put in a leadership position in something as important as public education. It is the foundation for everything we need to do to improve our state. The one place we don’t need partisan politics is in our school.”

Some Democrats were quick to criticize Maguire’s selection.

“Having Kristin Maguire chair the State Board of Education is akin to Dick Cheney teaching a gun safety course,” said state Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler.

“What does a woman who home-schools her four children know about South Carolina public schools?”

Let’s notice the condescension in all of those comments. They assume that government-operated schools are the only option. They assume that those who home school are ignorant and know nothing of education generally and public schools in particular. And worst of all, they make a mockery of the notion that citizens who exercise their right to directly oversee the education of their own children should have a voice in the direction of public education, despite the fact that they are taxpayers whose tack money is being spent on public schools they are not using. Such a position is a rejection of the

And I love the juxtaposition of the statements of the Chamber of Commerce representative and the Democrat hack – one declaring that we don’t need politics in our schools, and one explicitly politicizing the selection of Maguire with partisan insults. But then again, the supporters of the status quo in education lack any real answers to the tough questions that get asked about improving education, and they lack any new solutions to the problems that have arisen doing things their way. So instead of engaging their opponents, they actively seek to “kill the messenger” when change agents like Maguire achieve a position that allows them to actually influence education policy. And that is not merely bad policy, it is also a rejection of the basic civic value of public participation in government.

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Odd Poll Numbers

I can’t help but be struck by a disparity in the numbers in this poll.

After a year of stepped-up enforcement against illegal immigration and polarized debate on the issue, about half of the Hispanics in the United States now fear that they or a relative or close friend could be deported, a report released Thursday by the Pew Hispanic Center found.

About two-thirds of Hispanics said their lives had been made more difficult by the political fight over immigration and the failure of Congress to address the situation of illegal immigrants, the Pew survey found. Roughly half the Hispanics in the poll said the heightened attention to immigration had had a directly negative impact on them, in some cases making it harder for them to find jobs or housing.

Some 41 percent of Hispanics said they or someone close to them had had a personal experience of discrimination in the past five years, an increase of 10 percent since 2002 of Hispanics’ reporting such experiences, the survey found.

Now I have a very sincere concern about these numbers. Take the first one. Roughly half of Hispanics “fear that they or a relative or close friend could be deported.” What does that number tell us? Well, the Hispanic population of this country is roughly 47 million people. Estimates of the illegal immigrant population range from 12-20 million (Pew skews those numbers lower). The latter are, of course, subject to deportation. And since that population is 25-40% of the total Hispanic population, I’m rather shocked that the percentage of those who “fear that they or a relative or close friend could be deported” isn’t significantly higher than 50%. Indeed, if the US government were really doing its job on border enforcement and immigration control the number ought to be closer to 75% when you throw in the “or a relative or close friend” aspect of the question. I suspect that is why the numbers saying that “their lives had been made more difficult” and “a direct negative impact on them” were as high as they were.

Let’s consider a different number – the 41% of Hispanics who said they or someone close to them had had a personal experience of discrimination.” I’m curious how that number really breaks down in terms of the nature of that “personal experience of discrimination.” To what degree are we talking about employment or housing discrimination, discrimination in public accommodations or some other form of illegal discrimination? To what degree are we talking about so-called “hate crimes”? And last, but not least, how much of that “discrimination” took the form of perceived social slights or failures in cross-cultural communication? For that matter, how much of the “discrimination” was the result of someone facing the consequences of being in this country illegally and either not being able to get a job, losing a job, or being deported because of immigration status? Again, the number raises more questions than it answers.

And I make that last point because of one final number reported upon here.

Despite their concerns about the current atmosphere, about 71 percent of Hispanics surveyed described the overall quality of their lives as good or excellent. More than three-quarters said they were confident that their children would grow up to have better-paying jobs than theirs.

Oh, really? For all the gripes and concerns, it sounds like Hispanics in this country still feel that life is pretty good here, and the future is pretty rosy. That certainly stands in sharp contrast to the horrendous picture painted by the first 17 paragraphs of this 19 paragraph article. Somehow, though, that is not particularly newsworthy, and got buried at the end of the story.

Oh, and since I took a look at the actual Pew Hispanic Center release on the poll, there is another detail that did not get reported at all.

In addition to this wide variance in views between Hispanics and non-Hispanics, the survey finds less pronounced--but still significant--gaps within the Hispanic community on a range of matters, from perceptions about discrimination to attitudes about illegal immigration to support for tougher enforcement measures. For example, on questions about enforcement policies, native-born Hispanics take positions that are closer to those of the rest of the U.S. population than do foreign-born Hispanics. Also, the native born are less likely than the foreign born to report a negative personal impact from the heightened attention to immigration issues.

Likewise, Hispanics who are not citizens feel much more vulnerable in the current environment than do Hispanics who are citizens. They are about twice as likely as Hispanic citizens to worry about deportation and to feel a specific negative personal impact from the heightened attention to illegal immigration. (Non-citizens account for 44% of the total adult Hispanic population. Of these non-citizen Latino adults, an estimated 55% are undocumented immigrants and the other 45% are legal aliens).

In other words, there is not a giant “Hispanic” monolith. Attitudes vary depending on place of birth, citizenship, immigration status and (one would presume) ancestry. And while there are commonalities, you discover that those with the biggest problems are, as one would guess, those who are in this country illegally, unable to speak the language. Imagine that!

Personally, I welcome any legal immigrant -- especially those who wish to come to this country and become a part of it. Such individuals our lives and our culture. But those who can't follow our laws are another matter -- and my concern for their sense of being picked upon is minimal.

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A Position That Might Surprise You

You folks know that I support the death penalty – indeed, my major criticisms are that it is not imposed fast enough or frequently enough. But upon reading of New Jersey’s decision to do away with the death penalty, my response is one of support.

New Jersey lawmakers have voted to abolish the death penalty in the state, sending the governor a bill he has already said he will sign. The measure will make New Jersey the first state in more than 40 years to outlaw capital punishment.

New Jersey lawmakers have voted to abolish the death penalty in the state, sending the governor a bill he has already said he will sign. The measure will make New Jersey the first state in more than 40 years to outlaw capital punishment.

Let me be clear, however, that I don’t agree with the decision – and especially not like this paid lobbyist for stone-cold killers.

"This vote marks a new chapter in our nation's 30-year experiment with capital punishment," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes executions.

"New Jersey lawmakers are demonstrating sound judgment in abandoning capital punishment after learning of its costs, the pain it causes victims' families, and the risks the death penalty poses to innocent lives."

Actually, my experience is that VICTIMS’ families are generally pretty supportive of the death penalty. On the other hand, KILLERS’ families are generally opposed to just retribution against their kin. But Dieter seems to believe that the KILLERS are the real VICTIMS in death penalty cases, so it is understandable that he would make such a mistake.

Why, then, do I take such a laid-back position regarding the decision of New Jersey to end the death penalty? Because I believe in states rights under the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. If the people of New Jersey want to end the death penalty, that is their right – and precisely the way our federal system is supposed to work. That decision in no way impacts me or my state – until and unless SCOTUS does its “evolving standards” dance and attempts to impose New Jersey’s will on the rest of the country. In that case, however, the appropriate course of action would be impeachment of every member of the majority.

No, it will be quite interesting to watch what happens in coming months and years in New Jersey. What will happen to its murder rate? Will it rise or fall? I have my suspicions.

Michelle Malkin
offers a different perspective.





|| Greg, 05:44 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Like This Is A Bad Thing

I don't know about you, but complaints like these from Arizona really don't move me at all.

Advocates for immigrants contend that, at a minimum, hundreds of people unauthorized to work have left the state or been fired. Some school districts have at least partly attributed enrollment drops to the law. Though the housing slump and seasonal economic factors make it difficult to pin down how much is attributable to the new law, illegal workers say employers are checking papers and are less inclined to hire them.

“They started asking everybody for papers one day, and those like me that didn’t have them were fired,” said Luis Baltazar, a Mexican immigrant who worked for a paving company until a few weeks ago and was soliciting work at a day labor hiring hall here.

Another immigrant, Jose Segovia, said work had plummeted in the past few weeks, more so than in the four previous Decembers he spent in Phoenix. “Some of my friends went back to Mexico,” Mr. Segovia said, “and I am thinking of going, too, if it doesn’t get better here.”

That is, of course, exactly what is supposed to happen. You know, when the rule of law is reasserted in the sphere, the outlaws are faced with a less hospitable climate. For such folks to complain that they lost their illegally-obtained and held jobs because employers were required to begin following the law is rather appalling. What next -- demands from burglars that laws permitting alarms and security systems be repealed because they interfere with the ability of an honest felon to make by stealing?





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

For Those Who Say There Are No Terrorists In Iraq

The Brits beg to differ -- and note they are extending their reach.

Investigators examining the bungled terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow six months ago believe the plotters had a link to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which would make the attacks the first that the group has been involved in outside of the Middle East, according to senior officials from three countries who have been briefed on the inquiry.

The evidence pointing to the involvement of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia includes phone numbers of members of the Iraqi group found on the plotters’ cellphones recovered in Britain, a senior American intelligence official said.

Now i realize that the Left in this country considers these terrorists to be the equivalent of our founding fathers. It might, however, come as a shock to such idiots that George Washington never targeted enemy civilians. And while folks like John Paul Jones did harry British shipping within sight of the British Isles, such efforts were conducted within the rules of warfare commonly accepted during that era -- and would generally be deemed acceptable under today's more legalistic system.

Maybe we need a couple of bombings in this country to wake the Left up to the fact that we are at war for the survival of civilization, not for the partisan advantage of the Democrats.





|| Greg, 05:20 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Steroid Charges Hit Astros Hard

Roger Clemens. Andy Petite.

Seeing those two names in the report crushed a lot of spirits here in their home town -- especially after the exciting seasons we had with the two men playing here. But of greater concern to many of us is the presence of Miguel Tejada, who the Houston Astros acquired just Wednesday.

A 21-month investigation into use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball concluded Thursday a culture of secrecy and permissiveness gave rise to a "steroids era" in the game that included some of its biggest names, most prominent among them superstar pitcher Roger Clemens.

The report criticized team officials across the league who did little to police their own clubhouses and high-ranking officials in management and the players' union which, the report said, had little motivation to interfere with the surging popularity and economic growth experienced by the game over the last decade. It spread blame for the rise of the use of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone in baseball among the players, team officials, the union and Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig.

"Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades -- commissioners, club officials, the players association, and players -- shares to some extent in the responsibility for the steroids era," the report said. "There was a collective failure to recognize the problem as it emerged and to deal with it early on. As a result, an environment developed in which illegal use became widespread."

Among the most prominent current and former players fingered in the report were Barry Bonds, Miguel Tejada, Gary Sheffield, Andy Pettitte, Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire.

"Players who used [performance-enhancing] substances were wrong," the report said. "They violated federal law and baseball policy, and they distorted the fairness of competition by trying to gain an unfair advantage."

The problem, of course, is that none of these players really has the ability to fight the charges made in the Mitchell report. There won't be any day in court, nor will there be any sort of due process for those accused. That troubles me -- especially given the intimate involvement of federal prosecutors in the investigation that culminated in this report. Indeed, it appears that only Barry Bonds will ever get a chance to present a legal defense to charges related to steroid use.

Regardless, though, I still hope that the game can be redeemed by this report, and the response to it.





|| Greg, 05:12 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

December 13, 2007

Why The Disparity?

On October 2, 2007, the House passed a resolution by a vote of 376-0. In it, the House of Representatives

"recognize[d] the Islamic faith as one of the great religions of the world" and "acknowledge[d] the onset of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, and convey[ed] its respect to Muslims," as well as commending those who reject hatred.

On October 29, 2007, the House passed a resolution by a vote of 358-0. In this resolution, the House of Representatives

"in order to demonstrate support for Indian Americans and the Indian Diaspora throughout the world, recognize[d] Diwali as an important festival."

And on December 11, 2007 the House passed a resolution by a vote of 372-9. In it, the House of Representatives

recognize[d] "the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world" and acknowledge[d] "the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith."

Are you as scandalized as I am by those nine votes against Christmas by members of the United States House of Representatives -- each of whom had voted in favor of at least one of those two previous resolutions? Why do these nine individuals disrespect Christmas and Christianity? Why do they refuse to give equal treatment to the faith of the overwhelming majority of Americans even as they profess their respect for the religion of America's Islamist enemies at a time when terrorists are killing innocents around the world in the name of that religion?

The nine Members voting NO were Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) (FL), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). Let's take action to make it clear that the Christian majority of this country demands at least the same amount of respect that they are willing to give the non-Christian minority. And let's hang this one around the collective neck of the Democrat Party.

And while some are outraged that there were individuals who simply voted "Present", I'm not. There are principled reasons for doing so, and many more (I believe of both parties) voted present on the prior two resolutions. But to vote against a resolution honoring Christianity that was nearly identical to one honoring Islam or Hinduism is a sign of hatred and bigotry, not of sign of a principled support of the non-constitutional principle of separation of church and state.

H/T Stop The ACLU, Michelle Malkin, Hot Air, Jo's Cafe, Rosemary's Thoughts, Right Truth, Church and State, Ace of Spades HQ, Slapstick Politics, The Steel Deal





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And They Call The Thing Rodeo

I've never made a secret for my love of rodeo -- indeed, the one positive thing about the approaching end of the football season is that it brings me that much closer to RodeoHouston this spring. And right now its time for the National Finals Rodeo, the event that caps off the year for the sport that grew out of the everyday skills of the American cowboy.

The New York Times covers it today.

Just as they did in the 1882, when Buffalo Bill Cody organized the first major rodeo, in North Platte, Neb., cowboys rope calves, ride rough stock and wrestle steers. Life for a cowboy, however, does not get much better than the 10 days they spend here each December chasing the biggest pot of the year at the National Finals Rodeo.

It means that after 80 or so rodeos, they are one of the top 15 competitors in their discipline. It means that after more than 270 days on the road driving four cowboys to a truck and sleeping two to a room — or often a tent — they finally receive their own accommodations.

And at the lower levels of the sport, that is exactly the case every weekend. But at the NFR -- not to mention here in Houston -- you see the best of the best competing for incredible amounts of cash. That is where the living is sweet -- though the risk is high. Certainly the physical toll that the sport takes is every bit as high as football -- except that there is no such thing as a penalty flag on a bucking horse, nor does a bull stop its spinning and bucking after 8 seconds. And yet these men keep on enduring the pain for one more shot at the gold buckle and a check.

Indeed, I've got only one complaint about the article. Why pick this picture to be the first thing you see about the story?

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I can tell you that there would have been plenty of American flags and probably 49 other state flags presented in an identical fashion. Why play up the one with the Confederate Battle Flag so prominently displayed? Is it a sign that someone with the NYT wanted to surreptitiously present an editorial opinion about rodeo and its enthusiasts? Or was this really the best that they had?





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Baseball Bloodletting

This is going to turn out to be an ugly day for Major League Baseball -- and yet it may also begin the redemption of the game.

The headquarters for George J. Mitchell’s investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball has been the DLA Piper law offices in Midtown Manhattan, right next to Rockefeller Center and only blocks from the Park Avenue offices of Major League Baseball. On Tuesday, as Mitchell’s 20-month investigation drew to a conclusion, it was Major League Baseball that was on the move, as officials from the sport went to the DLA Piper offices to get a look at the report.

What it contains will be officially revealed Thursday, when Mitchell holds a 2 p.m. news conference in Manhattan. Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig will hold a separate news conference across town at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the report's findings. But two people who are familiar with Mitchell’s investigation, and his findings, said that the report would contain the names of more than 50 active and former major league players who are linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

More than 50.

Wow.

Not that anyone will be surprised by that number -- or by some of the names that surface. We've watched some of these folks have freakish growth spurts (paging Barry Bonds) over the years, and so we have a good idea who they are. Others have admitted using these drugs.

The question, ultimately, is one of rectifying past abuses and setting the course for a clean future. Here's hoping that we will see some penalties for those involved in this scandal -- and a continued commitment to the new penalties that have been imposed in recent years. Maybe I'll start going to games again.





|| Greg, 04:53 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

December 12, 2007

Turkish Muslim Seeks EU Ban On Crosses

Better yet – instead of an EU ban on crosses, how about an EU ban on Muslims?

A Turkish lawyer is taking legal action against Inter Milan, the Italian football team, for wearing a strip with “Crusader-style” red crosses that he alleges is ”offensive to Muslim sensibilities”.

Baris Kaska, a lawyer in Izmir who specialises in European law, said that he had lodged a complaint in a local court against Inter Milan, which last month played the Istanbul team Fenerbahce in a Champions League match at the San Siro stadium in Milan. The Inter players wore a new strip - a white shirt with a giant red cross on it - marking the club's centenary.

Mr Kaska said he was not only seeking damages but was also appealing to Uefa to annul the match, which Inter won 3-0. “That cross only brings one thing to mind - the symbol of the Templar Knights,” he said. “It made me think immediately of the bloody days of the past. While I was watching the game I felt profound grief in my soul.” Mr Kaska told the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia that the cross symbolised “Western racist superiority over Islam”.

A couple of thoughts.

1) So your pathetic little Muslim sensibilities have been offended. Deal with it. In the free world, you have to put up with having your sensibilities offended. That is why, for example, I have to tolerate seeing dhimmified media outlets refer to Muhammad as the Prophet and putting “pbuh” after his name. That strikes me as an attempt to put your faith above mine, given that the American media never refers to Jesus as the Savior., despite the insistence of Christians that he truly is.

2) You are so concerned about the “bloody days of the past”? Why don’t you go out and do something about the bloody days of the present, when your co-religionists are waging a terrorist jihad against the civilized world. Heck, why don’t you do something about the oppression of Christians in your own country? Could it be that you want superiority for your false religion and false prophet over Christianity and Christians?

3) Sorry, but it is not racist to believe Christianity to be superior to Islam. It is the result of any amount of consideration of the fruits of those two faiths, and the state of the societies in which those two faiths dominate to see which one is superior.

4) Seeking to overturn the results of the game on the basis of the shirt? Sounds like the Muslim approach to the Middle East Peace Process – make a demand to be given what you cannot win on the ground. Bugger off.

Soccercrusade.jpg
Let's play soccer!

H/T Stop the ACLU, Jawa Report, Snapped Shot, Right Wing Rebel, Atlas Shrugs

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McCain For Veep?

Michael Medved makes a good case for it.

He conforms perfectly to all four rules – he’s a well-known, nationally respected figure, hardly a fresh face; he’s a septuagenarian candidate who won’t be plotting his own future races; he’s a Washington insider (and easily the most influential single Senator of the last twenty years) who certainly qualifies as a hard-wired insider; he’s run for president twice, maintaining his dignity and integrity on both occasions; and his selection hardly qualifies as a “stunt” choice meant to grab votes in some sub-group (Episcopalian war-heroes hardly count as a contested voting block).

Some may object to the idea of McCain as a running mate because his record (particularly on campaign finance reform and immigration) won’t match the position of the nominee. Aside from the fact that he’s changed emphasis on the issues (he scarcely speaks about campaign financing and now insists on “border security first” regarding immigration reform) history shows that issues disagreements never hurt a ticket. No one looks closely at a Veep candidate’s position papers because it’s obvious that he won’t be shaping policy. Kennedy and Johnson, Reagan and Bush, Gore and Lieberman all disagreed on crucial issues, but media and voters ultimately ignored those disputes – especially after the Vice Presidential candidate inevitably (and appropriately) signified that he would follow the President’s lead.

Given the non-existent foreign policy and defense experience of the three front-runners (Romney, Huckabee, Giuliani) a McCain choice would be particularly necessary – sorry, Rudy, serving as New York City Mayor and responding to local destruction doesn’t truly amount to leadership on foreign affairs (however admirable it might be). Moreover, McCain’s home state, Arizona (where he remains hugely popular), will be a major battleground in ’08 – Democrats know that no Republican can win without it. McCain’s continuing popularity and credibility in the Hispanic community might also reduce the hemorrhaging of GOP Latino support due to strident anti-immigrant posturing by all major candidates. Moreover, on the abortion issue that inspires and engages so many Republicans, McCain’s unwavering pro-life record would help to solidify the candidacy of either Romney or Rudy if they selected him for the ticket.

I’ve said in the past that I have serious problems with McCain because of both his immigration record and, especially, his record on freedom of speech. I’ve even said I would not vote for him. But this would be the single exception – McCain as the vice presidential candidate. Not necessarily my first choice, but certainly a reasonable one.





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

For Those Who Complain About Gitmo

Would you have complained about the treatment of the Nazis at Nuremberg?

Nearly 100 foreign enemy combatants to be tried at Guantanamo Bay will have more rights than Nazi war criminals who faced the Nuremberg tribunal, a Senate panel was told yesterday.

Detainees in the war on terror will have the presumption of innocence and an automatic appeal, the latter not even afforded to U.S. citizens, said Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann, legal adviser to the Convening Authority for the Office of Military Commissions.

"No such presumption existed," said Gen. Hartmann in reference to Nuremberg while speaking to the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on terrorism, technology and homeland security. "There were no rules of evidence, and virtually any evidence was freely admitted.

"That was painfully apparent to those who were found guilty and received the death penalty — they were hung within hours and days of the completion of the sentence announcement," he said.

Why give IslamoNazis any greater rights than the perpetrators of the Holocaust and other war criminals during the Second World War? And if you are willing to give them greater rights, why are you more sympathetic to our enemies during this war than you were to the last set of Jew-hating extremists to wage war against America and the civilized world? Is it simply that you sympathize with their goals – or that you hate America?

And then there is this little tidbit that needs to be burned into the brain of every judge in America.

Steven A. Engel, Justice Department deputy assistant attorney general, said that extending the peacetime notion of habeas corpus to military prisoners would be "unprecedented."

"In the nearly 800 years of the writ's existence, no English or American court has ever granted habeas relief to alien enemy soldiers captured and detained during wartime," Mr. Engel said.

In other words, the current policies of the Bush Administration are fully in accord with the Anglo-American legal tradition out of which habeas corpus grows. Those who seek to change that policy need to make a compelling affirmative case in favor of their position – and they cannot.

Oh, and as a reminder, those Japanese officials and officers tried following WWII were not even treated so well as the Nazis – in part because of their nation’s unprovoked sneak attack upon America. Have you forgotten 9/11?

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|| Greg, 04:17 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

NRO Endorses Mitt

The leading voice of the conservative movement for the last half-century says it loud and clear -- Mitt Romney is the bet standard-bearer for the GOP in 2008.

123107small[1].jpg

Many conservatives are finding it difficult to pick a presidential candidate. Each of the men running for the Republican nomination has strengths, and none has everything — all the traits, all the positions — we are looking for. Equally conservative analysts can reach, and have reached, different judgments in this matter. There are fine conservatives supporting each of these Republicans.

Our guiding principle has always been to select the most conservative viable candidate. In our judgment, that candidate is Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. Unlike some other candidates in the race, Romney is a full-spectrum conservative: a supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life and the preservation of marriage, and a foreign policy based on the national interest. While he has not talked much about the importance of resisting ethnic balkanization — none of the major candidates has — he supports enforcing the immigration laws and opposes amnesty. Those are important steps in the right direction.

* * *

More than the other primary candidates, Romney has President Bush’s virtues and avoids his flaws. His moral positions, and his instincts on taxes and foreign policy, are the same. But he is less inclined to federal activism, less tolerant of overspending, better able to defend conservative positions in debate, and more likely to demand performance from his subordinates. A winning combination, by our lights. In this most fluid and unpredictable Republican field, we vote for Mitt Romney.

Indeed, this is why I have supported Romney for months -- he is a real conservative who will pull us back to the right direction politically. And as a businessman, he also is keenly aware of the negative impact of government upon the economy. And most importantly, he avoids the drawbacks of each of the other four major candidates in terms of dividing the base or having too much personal baggage to be a effective candidate for our nation's chief executive. Three of those four are men I deeply admire and believe ought to have a place in a Romney Administration. Indeed, two of those three (McCain and Thompson) would make excellent picks for Vice President, while the third is the obvious choice for either Attorney General or Homeland Security secretary.





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Huckabee Chooses Religious Bigotry

There is no place for Mike Huckabee in my GOP -- not after this move to play to and promote religious bigotry in order to undermine an opponent.

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, asks in an upcoming article, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"

The article, to be published in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, says Huckabee asked the question after saying he believes Mormonism is a religion but doesn't know much about it. His rival Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is a member of the Mormon church, which is known officially as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The authoritative Encyclopedia of Mormonism, published in 1992, does not refer to Jesus and Satan as brothers. It speaks of Jesus as the son of God and of Satan as a fallen angel, which is a Biblical account.

A spokeswoman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Huckabee's question is usually raised by those who wish to smear the Mormon faith rather than clarify doctrine.

Frankly, I'm disgusted by this move. By raising the question, Huckabee is proposing to do the exact opposite of what Mitt Romney argued for last week. Rather than promoting religious tolerance, Huckabee wants to impose a narrow religious test for any candidate for office -- and has shown that he cannot be president for all Americans. Indeed, I would expect a defeat on the order of that suffered by the GOP in 1964 when Barry Goldwater was thoroughly drubbed by Lyndon Johnson -- except without planting the seeds of future victory as Goldwater did.

And let's be quite clear -- the New York Times doesn't do favors for Republican candidates. It doesn't give them free rein to write a piece for publication unless there is something in it for the advancement of the New York Times' agenda. What Huckabee has done here is shown himself to be a narrow-minded little bigot, just like the Left wants to portray all religious Americans to be.

Let me say it -- Mike Huckabee will be the death of the GOP built by Ronald Reagan. And I will not vote for him for President, based upon this misguided action alone. Indeed, the prospect of "President Huckabee" will lead me to give serious consideration to voting for "President McKinney". After all, could she really be any more divisive?





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Does This Bode Well For The GOP?

Losing these seats would have been bad -- but holding on to them both in as strong a fashion as the party has could be a sign that Republican support is not so weak as one might have thought.

Republicans retained control of two Congressional seats Tuesday in special elections in Ohio and Virginia, thwarting Democratic efforts to expand their control in the House. The elections were held to complete the terms of members of the House who had died.

In Virginia, Robert J. Wittman, a first-term Republican state legislator, easily defeated the Democratic candidate, Philip Forgit, a teacher. Mr. Wittman will complete the term of Jo Ann Davis, who had represented a southeastern Virginia district for seven years. Ms. Davis died of breast cancer in October.

In Ohio, Robert E. Latta, a Republican state representative, defeated Robin Weirauch, a Democrat who was making her third run. Mr. Latta will replace Paul E. Gillmor, who died in a fall in September. Mr. Gillmor was first elected in a northwest Ohio district in 1988.

Two chances to snatch safe seats from the GOP. Two failures.





|| Greg, 05:13 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Putin Plans For Permanent Grip On Power

Now here's a plan -- name your successor and have your successor give you day-to-day control of the government.

The longtime aide tapped by Vladimir V. Putin to be his successor as president of Russia declared Tuesday that he wanted Mr. Putin to be his prime minister, offering the clearest indication yet of how Mr. Putin plans to maintain firm control over the Kremlin after his term ends next spring.

The announcement, in a speech to the nation by the aide, Dmitri A. Medvedev, raised the prospect of a stark realignment in the structure of the Russian government, which is led by a strong president who appoints a prime minister to serve largely as an administrator.

As prime minister, Mr. Putin could very well overshadow Mr. Medvedev, turning him into the kind of figurehead president found in parliamentary systems like Germany’s or Italy’s.

Mr. Putin did not publicly respond to Mr. Medvedev’s offer. But it is widely assumed here that Mr. Medvedev was taking this step at the behest of his patron.

Now this could be interesting. The power that Putin has acquired for himself is not likely to evaporate. His prestige and influence will move with him into the new office. But the end result will be that Putin will have doen an end run around provisions in teh Constitution designed to limit any one man's hold on power -- and that does not bode well for the already weak democracy in Russia.





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Pardee For UH

As a kid, I cheered Jack Pardee as a player for the Washington Redskins when he was a part of the "Over the Hill Gang". Later, when he was coaching the Chicago Bears, I got to meet him (and his team's budding young superstar, a running back named Walter Payton) when the team was using a drill hall at Great Lakes boot camp during a cold snap. And I've always had a soft spot for any team he is coaching. For that reason alone, I'm excited about this possible comeback.

For University of Houston athletic director Dave Maggard, the search goes on for a football coach to replace Art Briles. But a person with knowledge of the situation said that it has been narrowed to two candidates — former NFL and Cougars coach Jack Pardee and Notre Dame offensive coordinator Michael Haywood.

Pardee said Tuesday he had not been offered the job, and Haywood could not be reached for comment. Maggard would not comment on the situation, saying only that "there is still a lot of work to do."

Now either of these guys would be a good choice as head coach, but I personally like the choice of Pardee. And i like this coaching staff.

Pardee's projected staff would reportedly include current assistants Jason Phillips (wide receivers), Bubba McDowell (cornerbacks), Tony Fitzpatrick (defensive line) and Thurmond, with newcomers like former SMU assistant Ronnie Vinklarek (offensive line), Tomball High's Tommy Kaiser (S-backs and special teams), Arlington Bowie coach Kenny Perry (safeties) and former Cougars quarterback David Klingler (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach).

Pardee said the staff would have a good blend of experience and youthful enthusiasm.

Not only that, but it is also a good blend of what has been a very successful coaching staff under the team's former coach and new coaches who will introduce new perspectives and talents. the presence of both continuity and change would be good for teh Cougars -- and might just propel them back tot he heights that they reached under Jack Pardee two decades ago.





|| Greg, 05:01 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

December 11, 2007

Harris County Dems Seek To Recruit Gene Green's GOP Opponent As Democrat Candidate

What can I say about this one?

Republican Eric Story is seeking to unseat Democrat Gene Green in Texas Congressional District 29 after a strong showing in a long-shot race in 2006.

And I think he may have a reasonable chance this time.

After all, even the Democrats think he is a decent, honorable guy who is worthy of being elected to and holding a position of public trust.

How do we know this? Easy -- Harris County Democrats sent Eric Story a letter, seeking to recruit him to be Precinct Chair and Election Judge in his home precinct.

Yeah, that's right -- the Democrats want him in office in their own party!

So either they are acknowledging that that Eric Story is precisely the sort of man that Texans need in office.

Or they are in such disarray that they don't know their butts from a hole in the ground.

Either way, why vote Democrat?

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|| Greg, 05:53 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Mitt Takes High Road With Anti-Huckabee Ad

Mitt Romney is taking on Mike Huckabee with a new television ad in Iowa.

His shot at the Republican presidential nomination in jeopardy, Mitt Romney will begin running a TV ad against Iowa front-runner Mike Huckabee on illegal immigration starting Tuesday while weighing how much negative campaigning he can add to the methodical plan he's followed all year.

The ad says the former governors have a lot in common — but not on illegal immigration, an important issue in Iowa, which will lead off nomination voting with its caucuses on Jan. 3.

"Mitt Romney stood up, and vetoed in-state tuition for illegal aliens, opposed driver's licenses for illegals," the ad says. "Mike Huckabee? Supported in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants. Huckabee even supported taxpayer-funded college scholarships for illegal aliens."

"On immigration, the choice matters," the ad ends.

With Huckabee surging in Iowa — and showing strength nationally as well — Romney offers positive as well as negative words on his rival.

"Two former governors. Two good family men. Both pro-life. Both support a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage," the ad says — then it focuses on what it says are stark differences on illegal immigration.

Romney's campaign characterized the "contrast ad" — the first in which he names a rival — as a reaction to Huckabee's own new TV commercial in which he touts his immigration proposal.

Some will call this a negative ad. But if contrasting your position on an issue with those of your opponent constitutes negativity, I say bring on even more. After all, what are we supposed to be talking about if not the issues? On what basis should we decide our candidate if not upon their records and proposed policies?

Let's face it -- this ad is not destructive, is not insulting, and is in the best tradition of American political debate and dialogue. Romney should be applauded for taking the high here, rather than criticized for "going negative".





|| Greg, 05:29 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Horse Race For Both Parties

If these numbers are correct, we could see Democrats slugging it out for the nomination as surely as the GOP will be.

With just slightly more than three weeks until the first nominating contest, three new MSNBC/McClatchy/Mason-Dixon polls show that the Democratic contest isn’t just a dead heat in Iowa -- it’s also tied in New Hampshire and South Carolina. In Iowa, Clinton has the lead over Obama, 27%-25% (although that’s within the poll’s 5% margin of error), while Edwards comes in third at 21%. In New Hampshire, it’s Clinton 30%, Obama 27%, and Edwards 10%. And in South Carolina, it’s Clinton 28%, Obama 25%, and Edwards 18%. To borrow a sports analogy, the impressive underdog (Obama) has tied it up in the fourth quarter after trailing the once-seemingly invincible favorite (Clinton) for most of the contest. It’s now anybody’s game.

The question is, how badly will a failure to run away with it in these states hurt Hillary Clinton?

And with the splintered vote on the GOP side of the race, some are arguing that we may see an old-fashioned brokered convention That might not be a bad thing. After all, the excitement would buy news coverage and the attention of the nation.





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Libby Drops Appeal For Reasons Of Legal Strategy

I hate to see an innocent man railroaded by a rogue prosecutor.

I have confidence in such cases that justice will prevail.

But in this instance, I understand why Scooter Libby is going to end his quest for justice with the stain on his honor still legally in place.

Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is no longer appealing his conviction in the CIA leak case, a tacit recognition that continuing his legal fight might only make things worse.

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of perjury and obstruction but President Bush commuted his 30-month prison sentence in July. As a convicted felon, Libby will lose his law license and, in some states, cannot vote.

He might have had a chance to avoid those consequences had he won on appeal, but at a new trial his commutation would be meaningless and Libby would again face potential prison time.

"We remain firmly convinced of Mr. Libby's innocence," attorney Theodore Wells said Monday. "However, the realities were, that after five years of government service by Mr. Libby and several years of defending against this case, the burden on Mr. Libby and his young family of continuing to pursue his complete vindication are too great to ask them to bear."

And therein lies the problem. Prior to the commutation (which I opposed), Libby had good reason to fight. After all, he was facing jail time in addition to the fine and the legal disabilities imposed upon him as a convicted felon.

Unfortunately, a successful appeal would result only in a new trial -- and the commutation would become meaningless. Following a new trial, Libby could again face the prospect of years behind bars. For that reason, Libby is probably correct in dropping his appeal in favor of a sure thing rather than taking the risk inherent in another roll of the dice at trial. Here's hoping that at some point justice is done in this case and Scooter Libby is pardoned.





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

Is Iran NIE Wrong?

Our allies sure think so.

British spy chiefs have grave doubts that Iran has mothballed its nuclear weapons programme, as a US intelligence report claimed last week, and believe the CIA has been hoodwinked by Teheran.

The timing of the CIA report has also provoked fury in the British Government, where officials believe it has undermined efforts to impose tough new sanctions on Iran and made an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities more likely.

The security services in London want concrete evidence to allay concerns that the Islamic state has fed disinformation to the CIA.

The report used new evidence - including human sources, wireless intercepts and evidence from an Iranian defector - to conclude that Teheran suspended the bomb-making side of its nuclear programme in 2003. But British intelligence is concerned that US spy chiefs were so determined to avoid giving President Bush a reason to go to war - as their reports on Saddam Hussein's weapons programmes did in Iraq - that they got it wrong this time.

A senior British official delivered a withering assessment of US intelligence-gathering abilities in the Middle East and revealed that British spies shared the concerns of Israeli defence chiefs that Iran was still pursuing nuclear weapons.

There are questions of a fake defector and a compromised wiretap that would allow disinformation to be fed to American intelligence services. So are we certain that we want to trust a guy who continually makes apocalyptic threats against his enemies to suddenly start playing nice?





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Vick Sentenced To 23 Months In Kennel – Here's Hoping The Big Dogs Get Him

Or maybe he will just need to cower in isolation for the whole time.

Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison Monday for running a "cruel and inhumane" dogfighting ring and lying about it.

The suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback could have been sentenced up to five years by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson. Vick, who turned himself in Nov. 19 in anticipation of his sentence, was wearing a black-and-white striped prison suit.

After Vick apologized to the court and his family, Hudson told him: "You need to apologize to the millions of young people who looked up to you."

"Yes, sir," Vick answered.

The 27-year-old player acknowledged using "poor judgment" and added, "I'm willing to deal with the consequences and accept responsibility for my actions."

Although there is no parole in the federal system, rules governing time off for good behavior could reduce Vick's prison stay by about three months, resulting in a summer 2009 release.

Probably hoping to be back for the 2009 season. Let's hope the NFL has other plans. I'm certain that NFL fans – especially those of us who buy the tickets and actually go to the games – don't care to see him back on the field.





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December 10, 2007

After All, You Can't Win If You Don't Play

And it seems that Pakistan's opposition leaders understand that reality quite well, based upon their decision to participate in next month's elections.

The two main opposition parties led by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif said they would participate in Jan. 8 parliamentary elections, despite deep misgivings about whether the vote could be free and fair.

The move came as an opposition call to boycott the elections foundered Sunday.

Mr. Sharif, the former prime minister who returned from exile two weeks ago but has been barred from running himself, would marshal his party to participate in elections, said Ahsan Iqbal, a party spokesman.

Mr. Sharif had called for a boycott of the election to protest the continued rule of Pakistan’s president, Pervez Musharraf, who imposed a state of emergency on Nov. 3, suspending the Constitution and dismissing the Supreme Court. But when Ms. Bhutto, also a former prime minister, made it clear that her party would run, Mr. Sharif could not afford to stay out of the race, Mr. Iqbal said.

The parties that will participate say that they are doing so “under protest,” and that they will mount a campaign against unfair election conditions and the government’s efforts to return a Parliament and government favorable to Mr. Musharraf.

The participation of the main opposition parties would grant some credibility to Mr. Musharraf. Opposition groups that support a boycott argue that fair elections would be impossible with the country still under emergency rule, a muzzled news media and a pro-Musharraf caretaker government, election commission and newly appointed Supreme Court in place.

Ms. Bhutto said her Pakistan Peoples Party would participate in the elections in order to force them to be open and to prevent the pro-Musharraf coalition from winning a majority.

“We believe it is important to take part under protest because by boycotting we play into the hands of Musharraf,” she said in a telephone interview on Sunday from her home in the United Arab Emirates, where she spent the weekend.

Mr. Musharraf has said he will lift emergency rule on Sunday and has pledged to hold “fair and free elections according to the Constitution.”

The current situation in Pakistan is not the best for free elections, but it may be the best opportunity to highlight any unfairness. Furthermore, failure to participate concedes victory to Musharraf and his supporters. The better option is to create a strong opposition bloc -- fi not an opposition majority -- in parliament to try to control the damage.

And let there be no illusion -- none of the leaders -- Bhutto, Sharif, and Musharraf -- are saints. But neither are these leaders with corrupt histories without popular support, so it seems that they are what Pakistan has to work with. May these flawed individuals fashion a vibrant democracy.





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

Not Encouraging

We will likely be seeking disability for my wife in the near future. This story isn't encouraging.

Steadily lengthening delays in the resolution of Social Security disability claims have left hundreds of thousands of people in a kind of purgatory, now waiting as long as three years for a decision.

Two-thirds of those who appeal an initial rejection eventually win their cases.

We are fortunate. my job is secure, my health insurance is marginally acceptable, and we're not overextended like some folks who spent the last decade piling up debt.

But three years? To confirm what should be patently obvious from teh medical records.

That is discouraging.





|| Greg, 05:13 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Reporter Misses The Point

I skipped the Univision debate. No, not because of the station -- because I'd rather hear Christmas music at the church cantata. But I have looked at transcripts and coverage of the debate, and find the following characterization of of the positions taken by the GOP candidates a bit troubling.

Most of the seven candidates took a softer tone on Sunday, even as many spoke of working to eradicate illegal immigration. Some spoke of trying to send some of the 12 million people who are estimated to be in the United States illegally back to their native countries.

They sandwiched their remarks between gauzy paeans to legal immigration and the values of immigrants.

It seems that someone doesn't get the point. The GOP is, almost universally, in favor of legal immigration. What most of us have a problem with is the fact that our laws are going unenforced, and the lawbreakers are going unpunished (and, in fact, rewarded with access to government social services). We welcome law-abiding immigrants -- but not those whose very act of crossing the border was a violation of the law. The same can be said of the GOP candidates.





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

December 09, 2007

Watcher's Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Of Islamist Foxes and British Chickens by Wolf Howling, and Teddy Muhammad by Pierre Tristam's Middle East Issues Blog.  Here are the full results of the vote:

VotesCouncil link
2  1/3Of Islamist Foxes and British Chickens
Wolf Howling
2FBI Rebuts CAIR Scare Tactics
Cheat Seeking Missiles
1  2/3Two Different Worlds
Bookworm Room
1  2/3Greatest Generation
Done With Mirrors
1  1/3The Politics of Immigration
The Glittering Eye
1If the Huck Wins, the Right Loses
Right Wing Nut House
1Bush Signals Iran: US Military Option Off The Table
Joshuapundit
2/3Bored Now; Turn the Page
Big Lizards
1/3The Teddy Bear That Blasphemed
The Education Wonks

VotesNon-council link
2  1/3Teddy Muhammad
Pierre Tristam's Middle East Issues Blog
2The 2nd Annual Worst Quotes From The Daily Kos (2007 Edition)
Right Wing News
1  2/3UNRWA and Palestinian Suffering
The Volokh Conspiracy
1  2/3Synthetic Biology -- The Next Proliferation
Winds of Change.NET
1  1/3Do or Die
Military Times
2/3Insurance Haters, Let's Get the Job Done!
Classical Values
2/3Spe Salvi
Gazizza
2/3An Edgy Calm in Fallujah
Michael J. Totten
1/3The New Republic Tries to Come Clean on Beauchamp Scandal
Pajamas Media
1/3Democrats: The Party of Truman Is No More
The QandO Blog
1/3Arlington Schools Hire Race-Baiting Diversity Consultant
OpenMarket.org





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Huckabee Jumps The Shark

Hopefully this comment will burst the bubble of the folks who support Mike Huckabee.

GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said Sunday he won’t run from his statement 15 years ago that AIDS patients should have been isolated.

Huckabee acknowledged the prevailing scientific view then, and since, that the virus that causes AIDS is not spread through casual contact, but said that was not certain. He cited revelations in 1991 that a dentist had infected a patient in an extraordinary case that highlighted the risk of infection through contact with blood or bodily fluids.

“I still believe this today,” he said in a broadcast interview, that “we were acting more out of political correctness” in responding to the AIDS crisis. “I don’t run from it, I don’t recant it,” he said of his position in 1992. Yet he said he would state his view differently in retrospect.

Huckabee, as a Senate candidate that year, told The Associated Press that “we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague” if the federal government was going to deal with the spread of the disease effectively. “It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents,” he said then.

And here's my problem with that statement -- it flies in the face of what we know today. One could still -- barely -- take the silly position taken by Huckabee at the time. Now we know, unambiguously so, that his position is wrong. We don't need to intern AIDS patients in some sort of concentration camp. And while isolation might be advisable for some few individuals in this country who willfully spread their disease, we are pretty clear on the concept that such individuals are few and far between.

I'd almost been willing to see Mike Huckabee on the GOP ticket, despite my misgivings about another tax-raising governor from Hope, Arkansas being permitted in the same zip code as the White House. Not now -- not at all.

H/T The Liberty Papers

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Equal Justice Coming?

I've got no use for teachers who sexually abuse students. If this guy did this thing, I hope he rots. But the details here leave me asking one question.

On Nov. 30th, Antrim brought the teen to his home in Rogers, Minn. where she spent the weekend. She called her father and told him she was staying at a friend’s house. According to the charges, Antrim had sex with his player on the night of Dec. 1 to Dec. 2.

In a statement, Antrim told police he gave her the cell phone and iPod as gifts. He admitted sending suggestive text messages and said he had been having “issues” lately. He admitted having sex with the teen the previous weekend.

Nathan Paul Antrim is in police custody and faces up 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine if convicted.

So, does anyone want to guess the odds of this guy getting a sentence like all these buxom young (and not-so-young) have gotten? I'm willing to bet that he does the full 15 years. After all, there does remain a double standard in the application of the law that no one wants to address.





|| Greg, 08:27 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Mo Dowd Spews Religious Intolerance

But since it is directed at Mormons and (less directly) Evangelicals, that is OK in the eyes of her editors who blissfully ran her column trashing Mitt Romney today. After all, how else can you describe a column which quotes an anti-Mormon polemicist at length as an authority on Romney's religion?

And having then included a direct attack on Romney's religion as the heart of her piece, she concludes with this.

The problem with Mitt is not his religion; it is his overeager policy shape-shifting. He did not give a brave speech, but a pandering one. Disguised as a courageous, Kennedyesque statement of principle, the talk was really just an attempt to compete with the evolution-disdaining, religion-baiting Huckabee and get Baptists to concede that Mormons are Christians.

“J.F.K.’s speech was to reassure Americans that he wasn’t a religious fanatic,” Mr. Krakauer agreed. “Mitt’s was to tell evangelical Christians, ‘I’m a religious fanatic just like you.’”

The backdrop, he said, is “the wickedly fierce competition between Mormons and Southern evangelicals to convert people.”

The world is globalizing, nuclear weapons are proliferating, the Middle East is seething, but Republicans are still arguing the Scopes trial.

Mitt was right when he said that “Americans do not respect believers of convenience.” Now if he would only admit he’s describing himself.

The problem, of course, is that there is nothing in the speech which speaks of religious fanaticism. Indeed, it speaks of common values held by Americans of many faiths,

Perhaps the most important question to ask a person of faith who seeks a political office, is this: does he share these American values: the equality of human kind, the obligation to serve one another, and a steadfast commitment to liberty?

"They are not unique to any one denomination. They belong to the great moral inheritance we hold in common. They are the firm ground on which
Americans of different faiths meet and stand as a nation, united.

Yeah, damn those religious fanatics. How dare Romney appeal to people who believe in equality, service to their neighbor, and human liberty. Such beliefs are positively unAmerican in the eyes of the likes of her. Never mind that such elements of fanaticism have been at the heart of abolitionism and civil rights.

Of course, the secularist Dowd is quite right -- Mitt is no JFK. Indeed, he took precisely the opposite tack from that former president. Kennedy distanced himself from his Church, making it plain that he really did not take Catholicism seriously. Romney, in a move that Dowd characterizes as fanaticism, refused to temporize or apostasize, and declared his firm adherence to the tenets of his faith, though he refused to allow them to be a matter of political import. And that, in Dowd's eyes, makes Mitt Romney dangerous.

After all, she is one of those who supports a religious test for office, one which disqualifies those who actually believe in anything except for the Gospel of Liberalism.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds and Gateway Pundit provide a little tidbit about Mo Dowd's faulty memory -- She would have been 21 or 22 at the time of the events described in the "childhood memory" portion of her column. Makes you wonder about a tendency for fabrication in her columns -- sort of like Bill Clinton's burning black churches in Arkansas. Paging Jayson Blair!





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December 08, 2007

And What Would You Expect A Baptist Preacher To Say?

Wouldn't an answer consistent with Scripture and his denomination be a bit less than surprising?

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, surging in Iowa polls in the Republican presidential race, wrote on a questionnaire while running for U.S. Senate in 1992 that homosexuality is "aberrant" and "sinful."

"I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk," Huckabee wrote in the questionnaire for The Associated Press, which reported the answer on Saturday.

I guess I'm surprised that anybody is surprised. Believing homosexual activity to be sinful is pretty mainstream thinking among Christians -- at least among those who still grant some level of authority to the Bible -- and so why woulndn't he hold such a view. As for "aberrant" and "unnatural", when one considers that the primary purpose of sexual conduct is reproduction, one can certainly make a case for both of those terms as fitting homosexuality. They may be a bit strong to have put on that questionnaire, but that doesn't make the beliefs particularly shocking to me. it is really pretty mainstream Baptist teaching, and to expect Huckabee to hold anything different is indicative of lazy thinking.

Then there is this.

In another answer that could damage his standing in the presidential race, Huckabee wrote on the questionnaire that AIDS research was receiving an unfair amount of federal money. Instead, he said celebrities should pay for the research themselves.

"In light of the extraordinary funds already being given for AIDS research, it does not seem that additional federal spending can be justified," Huckabee wrote, according to the AP.

"An alternative would be to request that multimillionaire celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna and others who are pushing for more AIDS funding be encouraged to give out of their own personal treasuries increased amounts for AIDS research."

Frankly, I find this answer to be even less troubling than the first. I've always been struck by the hypocrisy of super-rich celebrities insisting that the government tax the common man more to pay for their pet causes while giving little more than pocket change for these same causes. And such celebrities and their pressure does warp our spending priorities -- given the number of men afflicted with prostate cancer and the number of women who suffer from breast cancer, is the research funding roughly equivalent on a per-patient basis? No, because one of those diseases has celebrity spokespeople pushing for greater spending on research, while the other does not. The same argument could be made regarding AIDS, and I believe that is the one Huckabee is making in that statement.

More troubling is this one.

"If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague.... It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents."

That one does sound much more harsh -- though he is making a point that many folks did in 1992, when this was written. We've historically quarantined folks with such deadly communicable illnesses -- typhoid, tuberculosis, and other deadly diseases. The difference, of course, is that AIDS is less communicable and transmission can be avoided through simple precautions. A dear friend has been HIV-positive for over two decades and continues to be in great health -- and not one of us straight men and women who are his friends have contracted the virus because he and we are all conscious of what to do to avoid transmission.

This survey may be a difficult one for Huckabee to overcome, though I can't help but wonder if his views have shifted at all over time. It would be really interesting to hear his answers to the second two questions again, as i expect some evolution may have happened after a decade as governor.





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Demo-Wimps Respond To Cheney

Senior members of the House lack "big sticks" for following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's failed leadership.

Pelosi proves she can't play with the big dogs by her response.

And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proves that he has no balls with his response.

“To tell you the truth, I’ve been really busy the last 24 hours,” Pelosi said. “How can I say this with the dignity of the office that I hold, and especially the dignity of the office that the vice president holds? It’s so beneath the dignity of his office — and mine — that I don’t even want to address it.”

Of course, the repeated slams she and her colleagues have made at the President and Vice President are somehow fully within the dignity of their offices, under this theory. Right!

And Harry Reid's response is just pathetic.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) did not comment on the remark but said in a Politico interview that “someone I was with said that” the comment sounded sexist.

I guess those testicles must be in a blind trust -- he certainly isn't using them if he refuses to take a position himself or acknowledge he agrees with the comment he just quoted. What a loser!





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No Gay Divorce in RI

Because, of course, there is legally no such thing as gay marriage in Rhode Island. Duh!

A lesbian couple that married in Massachusetts cannot get divorced in their home state of Rhode Island, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The court, in a 3-2 decision, said the state's family court lacks the authority to grant the divorce of a same-sex couple because Rhode Island lawmakers have not defined marriage as anything other than a union between a man and a woman.

"The role of the judicial branch is not to make policy, but simply to determine the legislative intent," the court wrote.

Set aside what the particular issue is in this case. That quote is one that should be inscribed inside the eyelids of every judge in America. Courts are not supposed to make policy, but rather to apply the policies adopted by the political branches of government.





|| Greg, 10:37 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

'What Is Wrong With The Clinton Campaign?'

Andrew Sullivan highlights an Iowa newspaper commentary that deals with a provocative question.

National reporters have been calling and the most common question is 'What is wrong with the Clinton campaign?'

The answer, which Sullivan quotes at length, is pretty obvious. The problem is Hillary Clinton. She doesn't believe in anything. She doesn't stand for anything.

Let me correct that -- she does believe in and stand for one thing. The election of Hillary Clinton, who she believes deserves to be president by some notion of divine right of first ladies. After all, if she were Hillary Rodham Smith, would she even be a blip on the political radar screen?





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Dems To Cut And Run

Once again, the probability of an American in victory results in Democrats deciding to cut and run.

This time, though, their decision to choose a policy of retreat and surrender is a good thing.

it means our troops will have what they need to win the war.

House Democratic leaders could complete work as soon as Monday on a half-trillion-dollar spending package that will include billions of dollars for the war effort in Iraq without the timelines for the withdrawal of combat forces that President Bush has refused to accept, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said yesterday.

In a complicated deal over the war funds, Democrats will include about $11 billion more in domestic spending than Bush has requested, emergency drought relief for the Southeast and legislation to address the subprime mortgage crisis, Hoyer told a meeting of the Washington Post editorial board.

If the bargain were to become law, it would be the third time since Democrats took control of Congress that they would have failed to force Bush to change course in Iraq and continued to fund a war that they have repeatedly vowed to end. But it would also be the clearest instance yet of the president bowing to a Democratic demand for more money for domestic priorities, an increase that he had promised to reject.

Of course, I can't help but notice that the Democrats insist upon more pork as a condition of allowing American national security to be served. Who is exercising fiscal restraint in Washington? Not the Democrats -- and their constituencies who prefer defeat to victory.





|| Greg, 10:18 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Another Sign: Islam Is A Human Rights Violation

After all, what do you call this?

The daughter of a British imam is living under police protection after receiving death threats from her father for converting to Christianity.

The 31-year-old, whose father is the leader of a mosque in Lancashire, has moved house an astonishing 45 times after relatives pledged to hunt her down and kill her.

The British-born university graduate, who uses the pseudonym Hannah for her own safety, said she renounced the Muslim faith to escape being forced into an arranged marriage when she was 16.

She has been in hiding for more than a decade but called in police only a few months ago after receiving a text message from her brother.

In it, he said he would not be held responsible for his actions if she failed to return to Islam.

When you read the stories of mobs at the door, attempting to break into her homes to murder her for exercising the HUMAN RIGHT to choose her own religion, it is enough to make you shudder. No civilized person can believe that such actions fall within the bounds of acceptable behavior, and no decent person can claim that such conduct by the Religion of Barbarism ought to be accepted in a civilized nation.

And let's clarify exactly where this assault on human dignity comes from.

"I know the Koran says anyone who goes away from Islam should be killed as an apostate, so in some ways my family are following the Koran. They are following Islam to the word."

That's right, it comes from the malignant teachings of Muhammad and the Quran. It would appear that this victim of Islam is prepared to acknowledge certain points that the supporters of PC tolerance are not -- that to be a good and faithful Muslim means to murder those who seek to exercise their human rights, and to respect human rights requires one to be a bad Muslim who rejects some of the teachings of the Quran.

And please be aware -- over one-third of British Muslims support actions just like this one, according to a recent poll. I'd love to have similar polling data for the Muslim population in the United States. I suspect it would be enlightening for the secularists who argue that conservative Christians and neo-conservative Jews are the greatest threats to American freedom.

The answer to such abominable teachings and actions should be obvious to all who love religious freedom.

To those who would argue that such violations of human rights in the name of Islam are justified, we must apply a metaphorical beat-down in the form of outspoken opposition and arguments based upon the natural rights principles our nation's founding documents.

To those who would seek to give safe harbor to such evil practices in the name of Islam through litigation and legislation, we must apply a legal beat-down in the courts and the legislatures of the United States in defense of human rights.

To those who would act out the violence called for in the Quran, we must apply a physical beat-down in defense of the life and liberty of every American -- indeed, of every person in every nation -- to freely pick and peacefully practice the religion of their choosing, free from the violent coercion of religious or legal authorities and from the murderous reprisals of the followers of their former faith.

And note that the above strategy is not a call for members of any particular faith to take action against those who seek to follow the Quran in a literal fashion. It is a call for all people of good will, all believers in religious freedom and human dignity, to act against those who would substitute violence and coercion in religious matters for the liberty of conscience which is fundamental to freedom. Such people of good will are found in every faith community (including Islam), and among those who have no faith at all.

And let me add that this is an American strategy, fully consonant with the notions of religious liberty enshrined in our founding documents and our nation's long heritage. And if there are Muslims who find that they cannot live within such constraints, perhaps it is a sign that there is no place for their interpretation of Islam in this country -- or the civilized world.

H/T New Editor, Cafeteria Is Closed, Wolf Howling, Malkin, Below the Beltway, Sister Toldjah

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|| Greg, 09:41 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (7) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

December 07, 2007

Mexico Demands US Kow-Tow

Mexican President Pendejo Felipe Calderon Cabron has demanded that US presidential candidates limit themselves to Mexican government-approved statements on immigration and that the United States Congress comply with conditions set by Mexico for receiving foreign aid from the United States.

President Felipe Calderon accused U.S. presidential candidates yesterday of anti-Mexican posturing and warned the U.S. Congress not to impose conditions on an anti-drug aid package.

“The only theme in the (U.S.) electoral campaign is to compete to see who can be the most swaggering, macho and anti-Mexican,” Calderon told a local radio station, Enfoque. He did not name any candidate or party.

“I find the greatest sensitivity in the U.S. government, some in Congress,” Calderon said, but added that there was “a total lack of understanding and aggravation, hostility toward Mexico” among Americans in general.

Calderon also appeared to reject any conditions on a proposed $1.4 billion U.S. anti-drug aid package that had been negotiated with American officials, saying, “I cannot accept any submission or subordination.”

The proposal by the Bush administration, called the Merida Initiative, is to give Mexico aid, training and equipment to fight drug trafficking, which U.S. officials see as a national-security problem.

It awaits approval in Congress, and some U.S. legislators have suggested that the program may need safeguards to prevent corruption or human-rights abuses by Mexican authorities.

“I need that technology,” Calderon said. “Give it to me. And give it to me without conditions.”

Of all the incredible gall! His pathetic nation cannot support its people or appropriately deal with its own law enforcement needs without American money, and yet he wants to dictate to the United States the conditions under which it is appropriated and disbursed by the American government? Who the f*ck does this guy think he is?

Forget Iran – the time has come to roll the tanks south and throw out la basura -- the coyotes, the drug lords, and the corrupt government. Maybe in 20-30 years, Mexico will, for the first time in its history, be ready for self-government – or for gradual admission of new states to the union, given the number of Mexicans who want to be in the United States. After all, would it not be infinitely more logical and humane to move the US border south rather than require these people to face the dangers of migrating north illegally?

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Terrorstinians Declare Negotiations To Be Treason

Looks like the big legacy-builder in Annapolis will be a failure just as surely as every prior peace conference has been. Why? Because the Terrorstinian Anarchy has declared its official negotiating policy to be intransigence.

The PA legislature has passed the first reading of a law forbidding any concessions in, or even negotiations regarding, Jerusalem. Ahmed Bahar, a leading Hamas member and the Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian Authority parliament, announced Thursday that the body had passed a first reading of a "Jerusalem bill." The legislation, proposed by Hamas parliament member Ahmed Abu Hilbiya, absolutely bans giving up any part of Jerusalem.

The bill states that Jerusalem, according to its "borders recognized during the period of the Islamic Khalifate," is "Palestinian, Arab, Islamic land." It further avers that all of Jerusalem, "including its archaeological sites and the sites that are holy to Islam and Christianity, are waqf (dedicated in sanctity) for Palestinian, Arab and Islamic generations." This would appear to include not only the Temple Mount, but also the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter, and the City of David.

The new PA bill also states that it is forbidden to discuss, cede, or negotiate over any part of Jerusalem, or hold a referendum on this matter - and that if such negotiations or votes are held, they are null and void in advance. Anyone who violates the above provisions on behalf of the PA will be considered guilty of treason, the bill states, and will be liable to the relevant punishments.

When will the Israeli government and the leaders of the civilized world learn that negotiation with the Terrorstinians and their fellow Islamists is a fruitless endeavor. When will they recognize that there can be no compromise with those whose position is the destruction of the Jews. They don’t want a settlement – they want it all.

The time has come for Israel to write a similar provision into its laws. After all – the Israeli claim is based upon a longer history – and the Terrorstinians are merely the seed of those who have repeatedly defiled the Jewish and Christian holy places by their presence.


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|| Greg, 07:20 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

How It Ought To Be

I’ve got no problem with this – indeed, it shows that residents of this neighborhood have a sense of decency and morality that is offended by this woman’s evil actions.

DARDENNE PRAIRIE, Mo. — Waterford Crystal Drive is one of those suburban streets that seem so new as to have no history at all. But the suicide of a teenage girl — and allegations she had been tormented by a neighbor over the Internet — have brought a reaction that is old, almost tribal, in its nature.

Residents of the middle-class subdivision have turned against the neighbor, Lori Drew, and her family, demanding the Drews move out. In interviews, they have warned that someone might be tempted to "take matters into their own hands."
"It's like they used to do in the 1700s and 1800s. If you wronged a community, you were basically shunned," said Trever Buckles, 40, who lives next door to the Drews.

Drew became an outcast after she participated in a hoax in which a fictional teenager who went by the name of Josh Evans exchanged online messages with 13-year-old Megan Meier. Megan received cruel messages from "Josh" that apparently drove her to hang herself in her closet in 2006.

Frankly, why would any decent person want this trashy woman living in their neighborhood. Shunning is a reasonable response to what happened. After all, no one is under any obligation to associate with Lori Drew or her family. Indeed, I’d argue that they should not.

Of course. There are those who have taken this matter too far. They have crossed the line into the criminal by their death threats and acts of vandalism. But their wrongs pale in comparison to an adult woman hounding a child to her death. Indeed, this “Ashley” woman who conspired with Lori Drew to go after this little girl needs to be named and shamed as well.





|| Greg, 07:14 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

REPOST: Pearl Harbor, 65 Years Later -- A Family Connection

While we are talking about Pearl Harbor on this sixty-sixth anniversary of the Japanese attack on the Pacific Fleet, I'd like to repost this piece from last year, one that has special significance to me.

* * * * * * *

Today is the sixty-fifth anniversary of the sneak attack on Pearl harbor by the Japanese. Today's New York Times carries a special section dealing with the recovery from the attack -- with pictures and articles censored and locked away during the war, with a special focus on the civilian shipyard workers brought to Pearl to aid in the recovery.

In the months after Dec. 7, a sleepy shipyard went into hyperdrive, pulling off unprecedented feats of engineering that The Times’s Robert Trumbull described in a series that is excerpted on today’s Op-Ed page. The Japanese had crippled the fleet but left the Navy base’s immense oil storage tanks untouched, making it possible to ramp up the shipyard for 24-hour duty. The Navy and the civilians made it up as they went along: The U.S.S. Oklahoma, flipped with its belly exposed, was righted by a fantastical arrangement of cables and winches out of “Gulliver’s Travels.”

In May 27, 1942, the carrier Yorktown, severely damaged in the Battle of the Coral Sea, pulled into port and was immediately swarmed upon by more than 1,400 workers. She sailed out again on the 30th, fit to fight in the Battle of Midway.

The local labor force was supplemented by a flood of thousands of workers, mostly bachelor men, shipped in from the states. Their lives centered around the shipyard and Civilian Housing Area III, population 12,000 at its peak and suddenly Hawaii’s third-largest city after Honolulu and Hilo. It had its own train station, bus fleet, police department, baseball fields, boxing arenas, theater, post office, stadium and football tournament, the Poi Bowl. And it had a newspaper, The Pearl Harbor Banner, filled with small-town news items (“Five Hundred Pairs of Shoes Salvaged Here,” “Fresh Vegetables Now Assured”), photos, sports scores and updates from the front.

One of those civilians was Fred Bagley, My maternal grandfather, who was recruited in Providence, Rhode Island, to help bring the Pacific Fleet back to fighting strength. This special section therefore has a special meaning to me, thirty-seven years after a heart attack took him away from me. I never got to hear the stories that I know he had to share, so I will count this as a chance to learn a little more about him and what he did during the war.

I encourage readers to take the time to read about the work of thousands of men whose efforts were so important to the war, but whose work is often overlooked as we rightly honor those who fought and died.





|| Greg, 05:40 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Pearl Harbor -- The Aftermath

How did Pearl Harbor impact the lives of those in Hawaii. I've often wondered, but have never looked at the question in depth. I appreciate this article today for doing exactly that.

Children carried gas masks to the playground. Military officers commanded civilian courts under martial law. Residents feared that enemy troops would parachute into the mountains and then swarm the beaches.

This year's 66th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor offers reminders of how the assault upended the lives of Hawaii's civilians, in addition to the severe damage inflicted on the military.

"It was scary," said Joan Martin Rodby, who had to carry a gas mask everywhere as a 10-year-old -- even as she sat for her fifth-grade class portrait in 1942. "It was more or less living in constant fear they were always going to come back."

Annual remembrances of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack often evoke images of burning ships in Pearl Harbor and exploding planes at Hickam Field. This year's observance will be no different. But the plight of civilians who survived the attack has attracted more attention because of deepening interest in the home front during World War II.

"Maybe the unsung heroes that we should remember and look at are the civilians that endured the attack on Pearl Harbor and the years after it," said Daniel Martinez, chief historian at the USS Arizona Memorial.

At this great distance from the events of December 7, 1941, we face the reality that those who lived the events of that day are dying. It is important that we hold on to these memories, so that future generations know the full impact of the attack that dragged an unwilling nation into war. Thank you to the Washington Post, and reporter Audrey McAvoy, for enabling us to hold on to that history.





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

Law Of Unintended Consequences, Unintended Consequences Of Law

See Sheila.

See Sheila spin.

Spin, Sheila, spin.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee told a House committee Thursday that her proposal to slash prison time for older, nonviolent federal inmates was not intended to benefit child pornographers or white-collar criminals.

"This is not a bill to give comfort to the Jack Abramoffs of the world," the Houston Democrat said Thursday at a hearing before a House Judiciary subcommittee. Abramoff, a former Washington lobbyist, pleaded guilty in January of 2006 to charges of conspiring to bribe members of Congress.

Jackson Lee criticized the Houston Chronicle for its "interpretation" of her bill in an article on Thursday.

The Chronicle reported that the measure, as originally written, could result in the early release of white-collar felons such as Abramoff, Houston oilman Oscar Wyatt and former Enron executives Jeffrey Skilling and Andrew Fastow.

"This is not an effort to focus on certain heinous crimes," Jackson Lee said. "It is an effort to address the question of recidivism, bring crime down and make our communities safer."

Notice, of course, that she doesn't deny that the reduction of the sentences in question will happen under her legislation. She simply doesn't "intend" for these perpetrators of "heinous" crimes to benefit.

She neglects to consider, however, that every crime is "heinous" to the victims of that crime.

Spin Sheila!

Spin Sheila!

Spin Sheila!





|| Greg, 05:24 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Arrogance Of Government

A bit over a month ago, I described the problem faced by the congregation of the Third Church of Christ, Scientist in Washington, DC this way.

The church is an ugly, non-functional building only three decades old. The religious group that worships there wants to demolish it and replace it with a structure that actually serves the needs of the congregation. The city wants to stop them, declaring the non-functional eyesore to be "historic" -- because it is a non-functional eyesore.

Now it should be clear to anyone that any such action by the city would be not merely unreasonable, but also impose a substantial burden upon the ability of these believers to use their property for worship. It should be obvious that so drastic an action by the city would constitute a "taking" of the property by any definition of the word. But that doesn't matter to the city's Historic Preservation Review Board. They awarded the building "historic" status despite the vocal objections of the congregation.

But the arrogance of the board is particularly shocking.

Tersh Boasberg, the board's chairman, said during the hearing that the board would not address First Amendment issues in its consideration of the church's architecture. Instead, he said, the board would base its ruling on the significance of the design.

Translation: We won't let little things like the Constitution get in the way of a decision that we have already made. We are just going to go through the motions of engaging in a little bit of brutalism ourselves, and the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights will be no obstacle.

Of course, I have no problem with designating a structure historical. but when sucha designation carries with it restrictions on use of the property that does not impact other property owners on an equal basis, you have a taking in a very real sense -- and that should be compensated. And when, like in this case, the designation renders the property unusable by the owners, the proper solution is for the government to buy the property from the owner AT THE PRICE SET BY THE OWNER.

After all, if the building is so significant, so priceless, there is no legitimate argument that the people as a whole, whose interest is supposedly benefited by preserving this building as-is, should jointly bear the burden of maintaining the building in that state. And if the preservation of the building is not a fit expenditure of the public treasury, imposing exactly that burden on a single individual or entity is unjustifiable.





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

December 06, 2007

Reflections On The Romney Speech

Upon the completion of Governor Mitt Romney's speech in College Station, my dear wife sent me an email that set the tone for our discussion tonight.

His speech is/was extremely boring, like listening to you lecture :)

Indeed, I suspect that the reason I liked the speech so much is that it so clearly reflected my thoughts and so wonderfully incorporated history, political science, and theology into one wonderful mosaic. It is what i would have liked to say were i given the opportunity. I join with Hugh Hewitt in saying that I view it as "magnificent".

Of course, I'm going to begin by agreeing with one point made in Christopher Hutchins' generally wrong-headed column -- the choice of a venue with the Presidential Seal on the podium and a background of flags was quite clever.

But more generally, I think the choice of the Sam Adams anecdote was a good one -- my view on religion and political candidates is that I want a man (or woman) why has good character and some form of piety that keeps him grounded in something larger than himself. I don't have to agree with the theological particulars of that religious faith, and indeed do not particularly find it necessary to inquire too deeply into such things. But I do look for the works that have grown from that faith -- and I see them in the life and career of Mitt Romney, which is why I endorsed him early and have not transferred that allegiance.

I could turn this post into a collection of excerpts, in effect fisking the speech, but I won't. I will, however, point to one weakness of the speech and one problem that it could never solve.

In terms of the weakness, I believe it was the profession of faith in Jesus Christ. And while he acknowledged the difference in theological stances taken by the LDS Church and the bulk of Christianity, I think that can almost be seen as a bit disingenuous due to the wide gulf between Mormon teachings and mainstream Christological positions of th Catholics, Orthodox, and protestant traditions. As was noted by David Frum at National Review today, if it is legitimate for Romney to answer that Jesus Question, what other Jesus Questions would it be legitimate to put to him?

Now I think this speech may have raised the comfort level of one group of folks who objected to Romney's candidacy on religious grounds. That would be those who held to the belief that a member of a hierarchical religion might find themselves the religious leaders. That was the JFK question in 1960, and is the Romney question today.

But there are others, objecting on a different basis, who were not and could not have been comforted by today's speech. For such folks, the issue is one of the degree to which they find the religious beliefs reasonable, even if they reject them. Examining the whole spectrum of religious belief, the question becomes one of how reasonable you find the beliefs of the candidate. The question regarding Mitt Romney then becomes "Is Mormonism more like Catholicism, or more like Scientology, in terms of how reasonable I find their beliefs?" For those people, there really is no changing their mind short of convincing them that Mormonism is reasonable -- and for the very reasons that Governor Romney pointed out, doing so would be inappropriate in the context of a presidential campaign.

No candidate can be all things to all people. However, I believe that Romney was very much what he needed to be today.

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|| Greg, 08:13 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Boston Globe: Those Who Report Crimes Are “Vigilantes”

Now to be fair, they are simply agreeing with Hillary Clinton, who made the same statement about those who call the authorities about known lawbreakers. And besides, they are only referencing those who call the authorities over those who break laws that the Boston Globe dislikes (except when they can use them to play “gotcha” with a GOP politician).

During a radio debate Tuesday in Iowa, Democratic candidates were even asked whether individual Americans should turn in people they know to be in the country illegally.

Thankfully, the answers were mostly no. Hillary Clinton said turning "every American into a suspicious vigilante" would do grave harm to the fabric of the nation. And in last week's debate, even Romney seemed to agree, asking Giuliani heatedly if he was suggesting that Romney should demand to see immigration papers whenever a person speaks with a "funny accent."
Give these candidates credit for rejecting what would be a civic nightmare. Encouraging individuals to act like border-control vigilantes would create a chaotic flow of true and false charges that could overwhelm immigration officials. The country would end up detaining and deporting thousands of service workers, upending the economy, and creating humanitarian crises for workers' children.

Of course, similar arguments could be made about other crimes. Imagine the disruption of educational and child care services if every child molester were reported, arrested and imprisoned? There would be a crisis! A similar argument could be made about crooked cops and accountants. Even if the person making the report was 100% certain about the facts, the impact upon America would be astounding. Better to let law enforcement find the perpetrators without the amateur vigilantes dropping a dime on lawbreakers – that way it won’t overtax the system. Besides, imagine the humanitarian crisis that would be created for the children of all these lawbreakers if their crimes were properly punished.

Oh, and about that “funny accent” comment. I do believe that recent reporting by the Boston Globe implies that Romney is supposed to do precisely that – demand the immigration papers of any individual who doesn’t speak English perfectly. After all, that is what they did – having spent more time at Romney’s home than Romney has over the last few weeks. And it appears that the Globe has not bothered to reveal the answers to my questions from the other day:

1) Are all three employees actually here illegally?
2) Did they present fraudulent documents or engage in identity theft to get these jobs?
3) Did the employer know that these workers were illegal?

Until we get those answers, we really don’t know if Romney did anything wrong – and we don’t know if Ricardo Saenz was a victim of the illegal workers providing fraudulent documents, or if he knowingly and willfully continued to hire illegal workers after being caught before.

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|| Greg, 04:21 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Religious Double Standard

I won't be shopping at Target this year -- or for the foreseeable future.

After all, their official policy is religious accommodations for Muslims, but not for Christians.

Debbie Schlussel is on this one for us.

The retail giant employs Muslims and Christians (and those of many other religions). But the former is far more equal than the latter at the home of Isaac Mizrahi cheap chic and Archer Farms foods.

Earlier this year, when Muslim cashiers decided to refuse to ring up pork and pepperoni pizza at the checkout lane, Target allowed this to go on. The retailer insisted that it respect and accommodate the extreme religious beliefs of its Muslim employees despite the cost and hassle to the customer and the retailer. The practice held up lines and required double teams of cashiers to keep up with the Muslims do-and-don't lists of scanning and ringing up items.

But that was then. This is now. And now, Brian Bundy of Swartz Creek, Michigan, is gone from his job at Target. He was fired because, unlike its Muslim employees, Target would not accommodate his Christian religious beliefs. That's even though--unlike the Muslim cashiers--Bundy informed Target of his beliefs before he was hired by Target Corporation.

Bundy is a pharmacist. It is against his religious beliefs to fill prescriptions for the "morning after" pill a/k/a "Plan B," which is used to terminate pregnancy in the 72 hours after unprotected sex. When he was hired by Target, the retailer told him that he could refer those who wanted the drug to another pharmacy.

But since then, Target changed its tune. Instead of accommodating Bundy's religious beliefs like it did with Muslims who won't ring up pig products, Target fired him. Target's rationale: It's bad for business. Customers won't put up with it, and Target will lose money.

Seems to me that there is a clear double standard here. A relatively minor inconvenience for a few customers results in religious discrimination by the retailer, while a much broader disruption involving more employees and more customers is company policy out of sensitivity. Now granted, Brian Bundy and his fellow Christian pharmacists are not nearly as likely to make a vocal fuss -- or threaten/engage in acts of violence -- as the Muslim clerks and their co-religionists are, but that is not sufficient reason under state or federal law for the discriminatory treatment.





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Bravo, Creflo

I don't have much use for televangelists. On the other hand, I have even less use for political grandstanding. I therefore applaud Creflo Dollar's response to Charles Grassley.

One of six Christian ministries under investigation by a Senate committee is rebuffing inquiries into its spending, challenging the panel's watchdog role over religious groups, The Associated Press has learned.

A lawyer for preacher Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International in suburban Atlanta has asked Sen. Charles Grassley to either refer the matter to the IRS or get a subpoena, according to a letter from Dollar's attorney obtained Wednesday by the AP.

Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, sent pointed questionnaires in early November to a half-dozen ministries, asking about salaries, perks, travel and oversight. The Iowa Republican set Thursday as the deadline for a response.

All six organizations preach a form of the "prosperity gospel," the belief that God wants his faithful followers to reap material rewards.

Besides Dollar, several other televangelists have signaled concerns about invasions of privacy and violations of religious freedom. Only Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Mo., has provided the detailed financial and board oversight information sought by Grassley.

Dollar's refusal could lead to a court fight, giving a judge the authority to decide whether the committee is entitled to all the information it requested.

Grassley emphasized the other five still have time. The senator also reiterated that his probe "has nothing to do with church doctrine" and is strictly concerned with making sure the tax-exempt groups are following the law.

I happen to agree with the stance being taken here. If you truly believe something is wrong here, refer the matter to the IRS. If you are looking to change the law, issue subpoena's that will provide confidentiality to those forced to turn over records. But untill you do ojne of those two things, Senator, we are just looking at an attempt to garner a little publicity at the expense of disfavored religious groups.

By the way, Senator, might it not be better to subpoena the resoucres of mosques to see if they are somehow supporting terrorism, rather than concerning yourself about he lavish (and, dare I say it, scandalously unChristian) lifestyles of these televangelists and their heretical "prosperity gospel"? Granted, these ministries are a safer target due to the infinitesimal probability of a terrorist bombing or attempted beheading by their followers, but I think my suggestion would be much more important for the security of the United States.





|| Greg, 05:25 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Gee, I Could Have Told Them This

The teen pregnancy rate is up? I've noticed that in my classroom for the last several years.

In a troubling reversal, the nation's teen birth rate rose for the first time in 15 years, surprising government health officials and reviving the bitter debate about abstinence-only sex education.

The birth rate had been dropping since its peak in 1991, although the decline had slowed in recent years. On Wednesday, government statisticians said it rose 3 percent from 2005 to 2006.

The reason for the increase is not clear, and federal health officials said it might be a one-year statistical blip, not the beginning of a new upward trend.

However, some experts said they have been expecting a jump. They blamed it on increased federal funding for abstinence-only health education that doesn't teach teens how to use condoms and other contraception.

Some key sexually transmitted disease rates have been rising, including syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. The rising teen pregnancy rate is part of the same phenomenon, said Dr. Carol Hogue, an Emory University professor of maternal and child health.

"It's not rocket science," she said.

It is no statistical blip. Take it from the guy with a half-dozen pregnant girls in his classes this fall, including two who are so far along that I daily expect to have to deliver the baby in my classroom. I know which of my girls have "pink passes" from the nurse that get them all sorts of special privileges (come late, leave early, virtually unrestricted right to leave during class, etc) due to their condition. I noticed the change about three years ago, so the timing with regard to this report seems about right.

Why the change? Easy -- there's no stigma to having a baby at 15, and even certain benefits in the peer group. Besides, when we get the glorification of the "Baby Mama" culture out there, combined with the generally degrading attitude towards women as sex objects actively promoted by the rap culture of popular music, more sex is going to happen -- and more babies are sure to follow.

And by the way, these folks talking about abstinence education don't know how it is taught in practice. yes, abstinence is promoted, but birth control is discussed in these same classes. heck, as conservative as the state of Texas is, all you have to do is look at the state standards for health education to realize that students are hearing about their contraception options.





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So, Where's My Mortgage Relief

Given this plan to freeze mortgage interest rates on borrowers in the sub-prime market with adjustable rate mortgages, I have to ask what the government will do for me about my mortgage.

President Bush will announce this afternoon an agreement with major mortgage firms to freeze interest rates for five years for financially troubled homeowners -- a plan advocates say will help forestall a major foreclosure crisis but some conservatives say amounts to a bailout of people who made bad financial decisions.

The plan would apply to homeowners who got adjustable-rate subprime mortgages between Jan. 1, 2005, and July 31 of this year and are facing a sharp jump in their rates before July 31, 2010. It would also offer to put them on a fast track to refinance their mortgages through lenders or through state and local housing authorities, according to several people briefed on the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been officially announced.

yeah, but what about the rest of us. You know, the folks referred to in this paragraph.

On Capitol Hill yesterday, some Republican lawmakers and their aides expressed concern that the plan would anger homeowners and others who stayed out of the subprime mortgage mess.

I bought my house in 2001, choosing a higher interest rate for a fixed-rate lone rather than one of the gimmick loans with adjustable rates or interest-only payments. In other words, i was a responsible consumer, a responsible borrower. Why should my mortgage rate stay fixed where it has been for the last six years when a bunch of folks who got absurdly low rates for bigger loans than they could afford reap the benefit of a government bail-out by being allowed to keep that same absurdly low rate.

And make no mistake, this is a government bail-out, because the cost to the lenders in lost profits will be a tax write-off for those lenders. in other words, my taxes will go to subsidize the "generosity" of irresponsible and predatory lenders in showing mercy to the irresponsible borrowers who will see their interest rates frozen at their absurdly low teaser rates.

But I'll tell you what -- I'll support this plan under a couple of conditions.

First, make the loss to the lenders non-deductible on their taxes.

Second, count the savings to the irresponsible borrowers as income to be taxed by the government.

And if you are not willing to do either of those, roll back the mortgage interest rates of all of us responsible folks by a couple of points. After all, don't responsible borrowers deserve a little mortgage relief, too?

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December 05, 2007

Seeking Justice In Jena

While the race hucksters have been able to muddy the waters in Jena, Louisiana with their calls for justice, the one person who has received no justice in the case is 18-year-old Justin Baker, the victim of a brutal, unprovoked hate crime by six thugs who were just out to get a white boy because of his race.

The family of a white student allegedly beaten by six black classmates in rural Louisiana has filed a civil lawsuit against the teens' parents, the adult teens, an additional student and the local school board.

One teen, Mychal Bell, pleaded guilty to battery in juvenile court on Monday in the attack. Five other teens face criminal charges in the case and are awaiting court appearances.

Justin Barker, 18, and his parents, David and Kelli, allege in the suit that seven Jena High School students attacked Justin on Dec. 4, 2006, as he left the school gym.
The suit names the attackers as the "Jena Six" students — Bell, Bryant Purvis, Robert Bailey Jr., Carwin Jones, Theo Shaw and a juvenile — as well as a second juvenile.

Law enforcement officials have not named the second juvenile as one of the attackers.

"Petitioners show that Justin was singled out by Mychal, Bryant, Robert, Carwin, Theodore (and the two juveniles), and that the malicious and willful attack of Justin was of such extreme nature so as to require emergency medical care and treatment for the harm inflicted by the attack, and resulting in extensive and permanently disabling injuries," the lawsuit states.

Barker was hit by Bell, knocked unconscious and then repeatedly kicked and stomped by a group of students, according to testimony