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January 31, 2008

Go Navy!

One of these suckers could ruin your whole day!

DAHLGREN, VA. — The Navy set a new world record for the most powerful electromagnetic railgun when it fired a test shot here Thursday morning.

The gun fired an aluminum projectile at 10.68 megajoules. A joule is the work needed to produce one watt of energy for one second. A megajoule is 1 million joules.

Guests including Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and Rear Adm. William Landay, head of the Office of Naval Research, witnessed the shot via a live video feed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren. The gun was launched from a control center after approximately four minutes of charging the electromagnetic rails. After the charge, the gun fired and witnesses saw a quick burst of flame as the projectile, traveling at 2,500 meters per second, or Mach 7, hit its target.

Damn -- that puts the lie to the old saying that "You can run but you can't hide". I do believe that running wouldn't even be an option, with the target truly being dead before it knew what hit it.

You can watch the video here -- just don't blink.

And I love the quote at the beginning.

"I never, ever, want to see a sailor or Marine in a fair fight." Adm. Gary Roughead Chief of Naval Operations

Bravo, Admiral -- and let's extend that wish to the Army and Air Force as well.

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|| Greg, 07:36 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Somebody Give Me A Baseball Bat

Mike Huckabee has no more chance of winning the GOP nomination in 2008 than I do. He needs to get out of the way so that the GOP base can decide who we want as president between the two front runners.

I am therefore ready to do what’s best for the GOP and the USA.

A defiant Mike Huckabee said Thursday that there is “no way” he would drop out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, and he blasted the media for characterizing the race as a contest between Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“If people think that I’m quitting, they need to get the message loud and clear. Somebody’s going to have to beat me,” said the former Arkansas governor. “There’s no way I’ll walk away.”

Do I have any volunteers to carry the stretcher after I’m done with HuckaBubba?

[NOTE TO SECRET SERVICE: This is a satire.]





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A Conclusion I Agree With

I’ve made no secret I am not a fan of John McCain on many issues. I’ve said often that I think there are questions he should be pushed to answer, and positions he needs to defend. And I’ve certainly been clear over the last year that there are/were other candidates in the GOP race I would prefer to John McCain.

That said, I have to agree with the sentiments of Victor David Hanson, as expressed in the conclusion to his article about the difficulties raised by the Clintons creating an opportunity for GOP victory – and the possibility that my fellow conservatives will throw that victory away because of McCain’s tendency to stray off the ranch on some issues near and dear to conservatives.

The Democratic cat-fighters are doing their best to give away a once-sure general election, but the Republicans seem to be doing even more to ensure that they forfeit the unexpected gift they’ve been given.

If Hillary Clinton does end up winning her party’s nomination, November’s vote may hinge on whether moderates and liberals are nauseated enough by the Clintons’ brawling and character assassination to cross over and vote for a decorated Republican war hero — that is, if his own flag-waving party doesn’t destroy him first.

Does this mean that I am in the tank for McCain? Hardly – I am still firmly behind Mitt Romney, and wish that I could have ever had a realistic hope of seeing Fred Thompson or Duncan Hunter get the nomination. But McCain may very well be my party’s candidate in a few months – and both party loyalty and love of country lead me to conclude that I may have to break my resolution to never vote for John McCain. After all, I may be faced with a choice between a moderately conservative candidate who takes some positions I find disturbing and unacceptable and atruly liberal one who is even less acceptable – how can I just stand by or act affirmatively in a manner that makes the less acceptable one our next president?





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Just Look How Well She Did It In The 1990s

NOT!

ABC News' Eloise Harper Reports: Senator Hillary Clinton, in an interview with ABC News' Cynthia McFadden for ABC News' Nightline, was asked about President Clinton’s controversial comments about race and Senator Obama in the past weeks. Clinton apologized for her husband.

“I think whatever he said which was certainly never intended to cause any kind of offense to anyone,” Clinton said, “if it did give offenses then I take responsibility and I’m sorry about that.”

"Can you control him?" asked McFadden.

“Oh of course,” Clinton replied.

She was so obviously in control in the 1990s, when she and Bill lied their way through Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Juanita Broderick, Katheleen Willey and Monica Lewinsky, not to mention Travelgate. The man has no self-control, and he clearly doesn’t submit himself to the control of his wife (who should have gelded him). I guess this is just one more Hillary Clinton lie!





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Prayers For A Hero

I’ve been following this story, but have been remiss in not posting about it.

A Houston firefighter who suffered serious injuries while fighting a Jan. 21 house fire took a turn for the worse this week, his wife said through a union Internet site.

"The doctors were thinking he was looking great over the weekend but he has taken a turn for the worse," said Irene Everette, wife of Brandon Everette, who is at Memorial Hermann Hospital. "We were told by the doctors to remain optimistic but there is no guarantee."

The message from Irene Everette was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 341 Web site.

Everette and two other men were fighting a mid-day blaze at a home on Gnarled Chestnut Court near Vermont Green Trail when a portion of the ceiling collapsed on them and dislodged Everette's protective air mask.

Everette, a 5-year department veteran, has been listed in critical condition since his lungs were damaged.

This week, his wife asked people to pray for improvement.

And the Everettes are definitely in my prayers, and I hope all of you will join in on that, according to your beliefs and traditions.

The full post from Irene Everette is here.

And if you are able to help the family in a more tangible way, donations can be made to the Brandon Everette benefit account No. 232359 at shared branch credit unions, including Chocolate Bayou Community FCU; Transtar FCU; Chevron FCU; American Airlines FCU; Amoco FCU; Texas CU Service Centers; JSC FCU; Coastal Community FCU; Greater Texas FCU; First Community CU and others. For information, contact the association at 713-223-9166.





|| Greg, 03:56 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Petering Out? Maybe Not

If this report is right, Romney is all-in through Super Tuesday – and presumably the convention.

Mitt Romney plans to buy TV ads in California and other Super Tuesday states, contradicting earlier reports that he was avoiding a costly campaign on Feb. 5, when 21 states hold Republican primaries and caucuses. As Romney seeks to topple John McCain’s momentum coming out of his win in the Florida primary and a host of big-name endorsements, top aides said Romney’s ad buys will be high-dollar.

The campaign will determine shortly which states it will target beyond California.
Romney’s advisers had given him several options, ranging from spending $1 million for ads to $7 million. It was not immediately clear how much money Romney was willing to spend — or whether the multimillionaire would dip into his own bank account again. He already has poured at least $40 million into his presidential campaign.

Romney will likely be the first GOP candidate on air in the Super Tuesday states, the broadest battleground of the primary season.

And that is, of course, the big question. Where does he advertise and how much does he spend. Should he focus on proportional states, winner-take-all states, and which ones does he view as competitive. Is it a small state strategy or a large state one? Lots of variables here – and we’ll know the results when nearly half the country votes in less than a week.





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OK -- I'm Questioning Their Patriotism Now

If this weren't Berkeley, I'd be shocked.

Heck, I'm even shocked about this crap coming from a bastion of liberal lunacy like Berkeley.

Members of the Berkeley City Council showed their opposition to a Marine Corps recruiting office in Downtown Berkeley last night.

Council members supported the two resolutions-one supporting anti-war protests and the other criticizing military recruitment practices-citing opposition to the war in Iraq, deceptive recruitment practices and the right to protest.

"By taking a stand against recruitment we are protecting the health and safety of our youth," said PhoeBe sorgen, a member of the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission. "I see the protest as taking a proud and courageous stand."

Code Pink, a national anti-war grassroots organization, will be granted a parking spot for their regular Wednesday afternoon protests and will not need to apply for a sound permit for the next six months, under one resolution.

The other resolution more directly criticizes the presence of the center in Berkeley. The city manager was directed to send a letter to the U.S. Marine Corps saying they are "uninvited and unwelcome intruders" in the city.

In addition, the city attorney has been directed to investigate whether the city's anti-discrimination laws can be enforced at the center, based on the military's consideration of sexual orientation in hiring.

While the Marines are "uninvited and unwelcome intruders", al-Qaeda and the Taiban are no doubt welcome as contributors to the city's diversity. And oddly enough, illegal aliens (who are "uninvited and unwelcome intruders under American law) don't get that sort of treatment in Berkeley. Frankly, Berkeley is an uninvited and unwelcome intruder in the United States.

So let's see -- rejection and condemnation off the troops. Opposition to their mission of protecting the country. Interference with recruitment. Granting preferential treatment to the fifth column that puts Americas enemies before Americas fighting men and women.

Yep -- damn straight I'm questioning the patriotism of the entire frickin' population of Berkeley.

And I love the fact that these morons are attempting to put a city ordinance on a higher plane than the constitutional responsibilities of the US government.

It is time for a Solomon Amendment to strip federal funds from places like Berkeley due to their official attempts to interfere with military recruiting. it is sedition, plain and simple.

And I repeat my comment from the other day -- has the time come for the United States to secede from Berkeley, and build a border fence around it to keep such undesirables out of the country?

H/T Malkin

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Is The GOP Race Petering Out?

If it is, many of us didn't see it coming.

In a major boost for John McCain, Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney signaled Wednesday he's not ready to finance a costly campaign in the states holding primaries and caucuses next week.

* * *
Several officials said that on the heels of a defeat in Tuesday's Florida primary, Romney's campaign was not attempting to purchase television advertising time in any of the 21 states on the calendar for Feb. 5.

Instead, the former Massachusetts governor's current plans call for campaigning in California and other primary states, said the officials, who had knowledge of the internal discussions. There would be organizational efforts primarily for caucus states.

I'd expected Romney to run hard to a possible brokered convention. But if this is the strategy, it appears he is preparing to concede the race after Super Tuesday -- a rather surprising development. Does the polling data show that the primary voters are going to break that sharply for McCain that the extra effort many of us (especially those of us supporting Mitt from the beginning) had expected would be superfluous? Will Tsunami Tuesday be the last hurrrah for the GOP nomination process?





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A Change Is Coming -- But Do Voters Like The Choices

That would be the big question -- and one that the Democrats need to deal with to win.

And they might have a hard time of it in states they need to win, like Arkansas and Tennessee.

Not that the GOP candidates have much positive to recommend them in the eyes of the swing voters.

Beyond Super Tuesday, there may be trouble for the Democrats. Swing voters perceive both front-runners as too liberal, though Mrs. Clinton has support in Arkansas because her husband remains popular. But here in Maury County, which has voted Democratic and Republican in the last three decades, none expressed enthusiasm for Mrs. Clinton.

Similar unease was voiced in Yell County, Ark., another place that has swung back and forth, where some were quick to say that Mr. Obama’s race was not prohibitive for them personally but could well be for others.

Only John Edwards, a fellow Southerner but now considered an also-ran, met with broad approval from independents who were interviewed in the Tennessee county; in Arkansas, Mrs. Clinton’s most ardent supporters in the undulating “Free State of Yell” — so called because of a history of electoral eccentricity — conceded that they knew plenty who were just as sharply opposed to her candidacy.

Former Bush voters disillusioned with the president said flatly they would not vote for Mr. Obama, while others expressed disappointment with the available choices. Meanwhile, Republicans, even those critical of Mr. Bush, said that the too-liberal Democratic choices left them more solidly than ever with their party, though none voiced great enthusiasm for the field.

Frankly, I hear stuff like that a lot this year from folks in Texas. There isn't great enthusiasm for any of the GOP candidates, but there is discomfort with and opposition to the remaining Democrats. That party has moved to the Left of the voters (something I hear from Republicans and Democrats), but the GOP candidates are all flawed and rather uninspiring.

Frankly, I think that this year we could see "None of the Above" win if that option were on the ballot -- because voters would like a different choice.





|| Greg, 04:59 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Empire Stockbroker

It seems like more and more careers are requiring that folks pass an exam for licensure. For example, in order to work in the securities an individual has to pass a number of tests. It takes a great deal of study and effort to pass these exams in order to advance in the securities field.


That's where Empire Stockbroker comes in. They offer Series 7 training, including classroom coursework, home study materials (such as their Series 7 Books), and an online testing program designed to help individuals pass their test the first time. They offer similar programs for other licensing tests in the field.I know I wouldn't want to have to take one of these tests more than once, especially with my job or a promotion on the line.





|| Greg, 04:54 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Obama, Clinton In Sound Bite Wars

Each playing on the other's words to score points.

First, there was this pair of zingers from Barack Obama, tagging both Clintons.

"I know it is tempting — after another presidency by a man named George Bush — to simply turn back the clock, and to build a bridge back to the 20th century," the Illinois senator said in Denver.

"... It's not enough to say you'll be ready from Day One — you have to be right from Day One," he added in unmistakable criticisms of Clinton, who often claims she's better prepared to govern, and her husband, who pledged during his own presidency to build a bridge to the 21st century.

Not that liberals are particularly known for providing much in the way of progress, despite trying to hide behind the title of "progressive" instead of liberal.

But Hillary Clinton also got her jab in.

"That certainly sounds audacious, but not hopeful," said Clinton, in a play on the title of Obama's book, "The Audacity of Hope." "It's not hopeful and it's not what we should be talking about in this campaign," said Clinton, suggesting Obama was abandoning the core of his campaign.

Not nearly as good, in my opinion -- how many people are really aware of the title of the book?

But most amusing was this comment made by the New York Senator.

n the AP interview, Clinton vowed to take the high road and warned that voters in the mega-primaries next week expect that.

"I'm going to continue to talk to people about what we need to do in our country to try to lift people up, to keep focused on the future to be very specific about what I want to do as president because I want to be held accountable," said Clinton.

Taking the high road? Being accountable? A Clinton? Since when?





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January 30, 2008

Why Poll On This?

That is the question I was left with after reading this little post from RickG at Lone Star Times.

A Houston Chronicle blog asks readers to vote on the question: Is Angelina Jolie pregnant?

Perhaps I have been in a coma for a decade or so and don’t realize the scientific advancements that have made online polls powerful enough to make a celebrity with child! I can only pity Brad and Angelina as they wring their hands waiting on the decision from the Chronicle.

Will tomorrow’s Chron ask whether it should be a boy or girl?

I understand that celebrity news might perk up the circulation of the local rag (which we just allowed to lapse), but this question is utterly ridiculous – hence the necessity of ridiculing it.





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Danish National Library Declares Muhammad Cartoons Historical Artifacts

As well they should – these drawings are important cultural monuments to freedom of expression.

Denmark's national library is to risk re-opening an international political storm by housing the cartoon images of the prophet Muhammad that provoked violent convulsions throughout the Islamic world two years ago.

The royal library in Copenhagen - founded in the 17th century by King Frederik III and home to many historic treasures - has declared the drawings to be of historic value and is trying to acquire them for "preservation purposes".

The library, widely acknowledged as the most significant in Scandinavia, has agreed to take possession of the caricatures on behalf of the museum of Danish cartoon art, a spokesman told the Art Newspaper.

Congratulations to Denmark for taking a stand for freedom once again. They are standing before the surging barbarian horde, intent upon remaining free men and women rather than submitting to yoke of those who would enslave them.

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Zero Tolerance Run Amok

Expulsion? For this? You must be kidding!

But not if you are dealing with zero tolerance.

Two teenagers have been kicked out of school for kissing on a school bus, and now their families are challenging the decision.

Dominique Goyner and his girlfriend were expelled by the Richland County District Two school board in October for the rest of the academic year.

School officials told Jody Free her son was being removed from school for "sexual misconduct."

But Free saw the tape and says it showed the pair kissing for maybe two minutes. Had it been anything different, she said she would have supported the school's decision.

Her son said he knew he was breaking a rule but was shocked by school's response. He says he hopes the expulsion won't stop him from attending a military academy after graduation.

Was the lip-lock inappropriate. Yeah, probably. But an expulsion? That is insane! But I guess consensual kissing is the equivalent of forcible rape in the eyes of this South Carolina school board, and so the offenders need to be removed from school for the safety of their classmates.

Looks to me like the Richland Taliban Party has won control of that school board.

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|| Greg, 06:28 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Two Leave Presidential Race

Reality has sunk in.

John Edwards, the progressive Democratic candidate who made a populist, antipoverty message the centerpiece of his campaign, announced his exit from the presidential primary race on Wednesday, saying he was stepping aside “so that history can blaze its path.”

Mr. Edwards announced his decision at the same place where he began his candidacy in January 2006 — the Ninth Ward neighborhood in New Orleans — using a row of homes that had been badly damaged from Hurricane Katrina as his backdrop. He did not endorse either of his two chief rivals, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, but he said he had spoken to them by phone and asked them both to continue drawing attention to the primary themes of his campaign.

The no endorsement strategy is interesting – it will likely boost Obama, while allowing Edwards to negotiate with Clinton for a possible position in the cabinet. Rumor has it that Obama has previously offered him the Attorney General slot in a future administration.

On the other hand, as we knew last night, Rudy is out of the race as well.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the combative New York City mayor who rose to national prominence during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, formally ended his presidential campaign on Wednesday and declared that he would throw his support to the candidacy of Senator John McCain.

“John McCain is the most qualified candidate to be the next commander in chief of the United States,” Mr. Giuliani said. “He is an American hero.”

Mr. Giuliani made his announcement at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., just hours before the candidates took the stage there for a debate. His decision, on a day that also saw the Democratic contender John Edwards bow out of the race, followed a devastating defeat for Mr. Giuliani in Tuesday’s Republican primary in Florida. After a series of early primary losses, Mr. Giuliani had made a great effort to win over Florida voters, but finished in a distant third to Mr. McCain in the polling.

Standing next to Mr. McCain at a podium in the library, Mr. Giuliani said that “it is appropriate to make this announcement hear at the Reagan library because President Reagan’s leadership remains and inspiration both for John McCain and myself.”

I have to wonder what prompted the endorsement -- is Giuliani the presumptive VP candidate or Attorney General (or Secretary of Homeland Security, for that matter)? His place in the Republican coalition makes it imperative that McCain find someplace for him in that administration. Then again, I can't imagine any GOP administration following this election that did not include Giuliani -- something I cannot say for John Edwards on the Democrat side.





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McCain Wins Florida

I refrained from making a prediction about Florida because I was uncertain how it would break. Polls were in flux, and it appeared that late-deciders were going hither and yon as the campaign swung into its final days -- in part due to misleading and/or false attacks on Mitt Romney by the McCain campaign.

And most importantly, I expected the final margin to be no more than two points.

Which is why I am shocked by the results of yesterday's voting -- McCain by 5 points.

Senator John McCain defeated Mitt Romney on Tuesday to win the delegate-rich Florida primary, solidifying his transformation to the Republican front-runner and dealing a devastating blow to the presidential hopes of Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Republican officials said after Mr. Giuliani’s distant third-place finish that he was likely to endorse Mr. McCain, possibly as early as Wednesday in California. They said the two candidates’ staffs were discussing the logistics of an endorsement.

The results were a decisive turning point in the Republican race, effectively winnowing the field to Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney, two candidates with very different backgrounds who have little affection for one another but share a similar challenge in winning over elements of the party suspicious of their ideological credentials.

This was a pretty decisive victory, and I have to agree that it does narrow the field to only two significant candidates. As noted above, reports indicate that Rudy Giuliani will be withdrawing today, while Huckabee's fourth-place finish likely shows him to have been a flash-in-the-pan, despite his plan to soldier on through Tsunami Tuesday next week.

What does this mean for the GOP race? A couple of things, as I see it.

First, John McCain is the obvious front-runner, and Mitt Romney needs to do spectacularly well in a week to regain his momentum and avoid becoming this year's Ted Kennedy to McCain's Jimmy Carter, carrying a hopeless fight to the convention floor.

Second, the endorsements that McCain has been lining up seem to be creating a pool of potential VPs and Cabinet choices. Either Thompson or Giuliani would be a good choice for VP (perhaps Thompson to appeal tot he conservatives), while the other would be a fantastic Attorney General -- assuming he didn't tap Ted Olson for that spot.. Duncan Hunter would make a fine Secretary of Defense.

However, all is not lost for Romney. He is running a credible campaign this year, and is not out of it yet. A strong showing on Tsunami Tuesday could revers the momentum shift of Florida -- and propel him to the Presidency. And he has been a strong enough candidate this year to be a force in 2012 if he does not win the nomination in 2008, which might well be a better place for Romney if he has presidential ambitions that extend beyond this November. Maybe he is this year's Reagan to McCain's Gerald Ford.





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This Should Have Been Front Page News

But it does not fit the approved narrative, so the media has not played it up.

After all, to do so would show that the only lie in "Bush lied us into war" is coming from the mouth of those defaming the President. The folks at Washington Hotlist make the case.

[U]nfortunately, many liberals have either ignored the story or have simply refused to put a legitimate portion of thought into what it alleges.
Saddam Hussein let the world think he had weapons of mass destruction to intimidate Iran and prevent the country from attacking Iraq, according to an FBI agent who interviewed the dictator after his 2003 capture.

But wait, I thought George W. Bush made up those pesky rumors about weapons of mass destruction?  After all, he needed to even the score for his daddy, whilst securing rich oil reserves.  Right?

Typically, I’d have my doubts about the political slant coming from CBS, but now that Dan Rather is gone, I’ll take my chances.  According to a CBS report, Saddam Hussein told the FBI that he did not anticipate a U.S.-led invasion over the alleged presence of weapons of mass destruction.

<According to FBI agent George Piro, “For him, it was critical that he was seen as still the strong, defiant Saddam.  He thought that (faking having the weapons) would prevent the Iranians from reinvading Iraq.”

But, the most telling portion of the article:

“He told me that he initially miscalculated…President Bush’s intentions.  He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998…a four-day aerial attack.  He survived that one and he was willing to accept that type of attack,” Piro said.

So, not only did Hussein spread and then maintain his own lies about weapons possession, but also he was willing to place his people in danger pending a small-scale aerial attack.  All for the sake of power and pride.

And what of that four-day attack in 1998?  In political terms, the ineffectiveness of the preemptive strike Hussein recalled – and its very real and literal power to embolden Hussein (after all, it was the sole reason he believed the U.S. would wimp out) proves that many Democrats (cough, cough – Clinton) have no backbone when it comes to dealing with international criminals and their governments.  Had Clinton actually done his job properly, we wouldn’t even be talking about this right now.  Instead, he chose to start a job he didn’t intend to finish.

But wait, there’s more:

“Hussein had the ability to restart the weapons program and professed to wanting to do that, Piro said. 

“He wanted to pursue all of WMD…to reconstitute his entire WMD program.”

If you are sensible, you will take the following away from the aforementioned details: Saddam Hussein successfully tricked the American people (and portions of the international community) into believing that he had reignited his weapons program.  He did so for political purposes, although he did actually hope to one day possess weapons he would have no doubt used against his enemies (America, included).  Then, when the U.S. bought into his insanity and just so happened to have a president with enough sense to stop taking Hussein’s threats for granted, America reacted.

Unfortunately for the left, this debunks many mistaken notions.  Bush did not lie or manipulate information.  He simply worked with the same evidence that John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and other leading Democrats consulted.  They, too, voted for the war (not Bill, of course) based on the same intelligence information.  And not for anything, but if they are going to allege being manipulated by a man whose intelligence they regularly degrade and belittle, then they are even more absurd than I previously thought – and consequently even more foolish then they claim Bush is.

Now lets look at that.

Saddam wanted the world to believe he had (or was working to acquire) WMDs. Saddam was willing to risk a Clinton-style bombing attack on his nation because he had become convinced that the United States lacked the will to do more, based upon the repeated weak-kneed response of Bill Clinton to his provocations during the 1990s. What's more, it was his goal and his intent to restart the WMD programs, and he was just waiting for the opportunity.

Now remember -- those are the assertions of Saddam to his interrogator -- words which exculpate George W. Bush, a man for whom Saddam had no love. They do a great deal to explain why EVERY MAJOR INTELLIGENCE AGENCY IN THE WORLD believed Saddam was seeking WMDs.

So you can make the claim that "Bush lied" -- but only if you want to willfully ignore the facts.

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January 29, 2008

Dear God! Not Again!

After the horrific Baby Grace case, Galveston now has another body of a dead baby simply abandoned by those who took the child’s life.

The body of a baby boy was discovered this morning in the grass near the side of a Galveston road, police said.

The body, described as a child between 4-months and 6-months-old, was discovered about 10 a.m. near Seawall Boulevard and Ferry Road, Lt. Jorge Trevino said.

"A couple was driving on Cherry Hill and saw what they thought was a doll," Trevino said. But something looked odd and they stopped and discovered the body next to a child's car seat, he said.

Trevino said it appeared that the child may have been thrown from the car while sitting in the car seat.

I cannot fathom how one could kill one’s own child – much less dump the body like a bag of litter along the side of the road. There are so many of us who would love to hold that child and call him (or her) our own. I pray that the authorities quickly locate the responsible parties, and that they are soon sentence to death for this heinous crime.





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RIP Margaret Truman Daniel

What a life!

Margaret Truman, the only child of former President Harry S. Truman who became a concert singer, actress, radio and TV personality and mystery writer, died Tuesday. She was 83.

Truman, known as Margaret Truman Daniel in private life, died at a Chicago assisted living facility following a brief illness, according to a statement from the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence. She had been at the facility for the past several weeks and was on a respirator, the library said.

Living 83 years has to be called a good long life – and this lady made the most of it. She crossed every facet of the entertainment industry during her lifetime, becoming a noted author of a series of entertaining mystery novels at an age when most folks are starting to slow down and contemplate retirement.

But my favorite story is this one – one which reminds us that every president is human, and that it is human nature for a parent to defend a child.

She made her professional singing debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1947 and gave her first Carnegie Hall concert two years later. Critics generally praised her poise but were less impressed with her vocal talent.

When Washington Post critic Paul Hume wrote after a 1950 concert that she ''is extremely attractive on the stage ... (but) cannot sing very well. She is flat a good deal of the time,'' her father fired off a note on White House stationery scolding Hume for a ''lousy review.''

''I have never met you, but if I do you'll need a new nose and plenty of beefsteak and perhaps a supporter below,'' the president wrote.

The note made Page One news -- but was not the sort of publicity an aspiring artist seeks. Years later she was able to laugh about it: ''I thought it was funny. Sold tickets.''

Yes, she was truly “Daddy’s little girl”.

To her surviving family, I offer my condolences on this great loss of a true lady.





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Janek Out?

Looks like it, according to Fort Bend Now.

State Sen. Kyle Janek (R-Houston) has called a press conference tomorrow (Jan. 29) in Austin at which time, sources say, he will announce that the he is resigning his seat in the Texas Senate.

Janek’s sprawling District 17 takes in much of eastern Fort Bend County, including most of Sugar Land and Missouri City, as well as parts of Harris, Brazoria, Wharton, Galveston, Chambers and Jefferson counties.

When contacted Monday afternoon, Janek would not comment other than to say that the press conference would involve his future plans. Two state capitol sources, however, confirmed to FortBendNow.com that Janek has told some fellow senators of his plans and that he will give up his seat in the upper chamber effective March 10.

“He’s notified some of his (senate) colleagues and the state GOP leadership of his intention to resign,” one source who asked not to be named said. “He’s going to make it official tomorrow at the press conference.

The same source said that speculation is rampant about what Janek will do in the future.

This is a reasonably conservative district. It should stay Republican -- but the question comes down to when there will be an election to fill the vacancy. And since the district is more conservative than Janek, we should see a conservative win the seat.

And, of course, what Janek's plans are now that he is leaving office. This one is quite curious.

UPDATE: The Houston Chronicle has more.

Sen. Kyle Janek, R-Houston, who moved his family to Austin several months ago, will announce on Tuesday that he is resigning from the state Senate on March 10.

His resignation will require Gov. Rick Perry to call a special election to fill the remainder of the term, which runs through January 2011.

The governor's office declined to comment, but the next uniform election date would be May 10, and a number of candidates could file for the seat in the heavily Republican district, which includes parts of Harris County and five neighboring counties.

Former Harris County Republican Chairman Gary Polland, who unsuccessfully challenged Janek in 2006, and state Rep. Charlie Howard, R-Sugar Land, said Monday they are considering the Senate race.

Howard said his first goal is winning the March 4 primary for his own House seat over two GOP challengers. Win or lose, he would be free to run for the Senate in a special election two months later.

But still no word on why, or his future plans.

And interestingly enough, not one Democrat mentioned as a possible challenger for the seat.





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Getting Ugly In Florida

The heated rhetoric is flying in Florida, ahead of today's primary.

Senator John McCain and Mitt Romney traded blistering attacks in Florida on Monday morning, a day before the state’s Republican primary.

Mr. Romney questioned Mr. McCain’s commitment to conservatism, citing a series of bipartisan bills Mr. McCain sponsored with Senate Democrats, while Mr. McCain accused the former Massachusetts governor of flip-flopping on major issues.

Mr. McCain, speaking at a shipyard in Jacksonville, swatted aside Mr. Romney’s charge that he is a “liberal Democrat” by saying: “He is consistent. He has consistently taken both sides of every major issue. He has consistently flip-flopped on every major issue.”

He cited Mr. Romney’s support as governor for a regional greenhouse gas emissions control program, for a lenient policy toward illegal immigrants and for campaign finance revisions, all positions he has reversed as a presidential candidate. “People, just look at his record as governor,” Mr. McCain said. “He has been entirely consistent. He has consistently taken two sides of every major issue, sometimes more than two. So congratulations.”

Now this sort of stuff has got to be dialed back and toned down if we are to have any sort of chance at unifying the party. Charges and counter-charges can't be papered over today like they were in decades past -- anyone with a modem can find them all on the internet, and I'm sure that the Democrats are archiving a great many stories full of juicy quotes. We need to let the Democrats continue their self-destructive race between Hillary and Obama while unifying around a consensus candidate -- and possibly a ticket with both of these men on it.





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Perhaps A Change Is Coming

For years, Houston has had its own race-baiting, poverty-pimping counterpart to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, in the form of Quanell X. Indeed, much of his rhetoric has been uglier than that which has come out of those two national figures.

But I want to offer some praise here. We may be seeing some growth on his part as a human being.

The date was Oct. 15, 1995, the place Washington, D.C. On the eve of the Million Man March, a rally organized by the Nation of Islam, the organization's youth minister was ready with rhetoric and venom.

Angered by Jewish protests over a conference dedicated to "the black Holocaust," 24-year-old Quanell X told the gathering that offended Jews "can go straight to hell," then expounded on his sentiments to a Chicago Tribune reporter.

"The real deal is this: Black youth do not want a relationship with the Jewish community or the mainstream white community or the foot-shuffling, head-bowing, knee-bobbing black community," Quanell said. "I say to Jewish America: Get ready ... knuckle up, put your boots on because we're ready and the war is going down."

A dozen years later, Houston's best-known black activist says he has changed. He is not only older but wiser, no longer beholden to revolutionary politics or an angry young man's immature view of the world.

Now Quanell has something else to tell Jews: He's sorry. He was wrong, he says. And though it may anger some in his community — perhaps to the point of threats to his safety — he wants to make amends.

Toward that end, he toured the Holocaust Museum Houston on Monday afternoon in the company of its executive director and chair-elect. He appeared moved by what he saw and learned, much of it for the first time. Quanell later expressed sorrow that he would have chosen remarks offensive and threatening to people who endured the horrors of Nazi concentration camps.

"I apologize to every Jewish (Holocaust) survivor that may have heard anything I have ever said," Quanell said at the end of his tour, which culminated with his placing a stone at an outside memorial, a Jewish custom at a gravesite. "How could I say anything in a vile, malicious or repugnant manner to anyone who has been in one of these camps? I should have never threatened like that.

"I seek the forgiveness of every survivor who has heard the words I've said," he continued. "I did not say them in the proper manner to make the point I was trying to get across. I can see and understand how they might be utterly paranoid (of) a person such as myself."

I'm willing to presume the sincerity on the part of Quanell X. I'm willing to respect the words here and the possibility that thy are from the heart. And while I do not understand how a man can reach his mid-thirties in this country without an awareness of the fundamental facts of the Holocaust, I'm prepared to believe that he has learned something of value and has begun a process of change.

But I wonder -- when will we hear an apology for his armed body guards shoving a WWII vet to the ground for daring to question Quanell (or is it Mr. X? I'll follow the Chronicle's stylisic lead here) about his rhetoric and positions? When will he make amends (from his nice suburban home) for his public revocation of the "ghetto pass" of a Houston politician who dared to vote against the demands of Quanell X and his radical constituency? When will we get an apology for this call to violence against whites?

"If you feel that you just got to mug somebody because of your hurt and your pain, go to River Oaks and mug you some good white folks. If you’re angry that our brother is put to death, don’t burn down your own community, give these white folks hell from the womb to the tomb."

It is my hope that Quanell X has turned over a new leaf and is out to promote harmony. But you have to understand my feelings, and those of many in this community, that we will have to "trust but verify" on this one.





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A New Generation Of Leadership?

Somebody explain where Jabba the Drunk (D-Chappaquiddick) gets off anointing a new generation of leadership?

Senator Edward M. Kennedy implored Americans on Monday to “reject the counsels of doubt and calculation,” as he extended his endorsement and placed the aura of his family’s name around the presidential candidacy of Senator Barack Obama.

“It is time again for a new generation of leadership,” Mr. Kennedy said, speaking over a crowd of cheering supporters here at American University. “It is time now for Barack Obama.”

Let me do some math. I turn 45 in a few weeks. During my lifetime, there has never been so much as one second that Teddy Kennedy has not been a serving member of the United States Senate. Indeed, he assumed office a full sixteen weeks before my birth. He is part of a family that has turned dynasticism and nepotistic privilege into an art form.

I'll take his "new generation of leadership" comments seriously when he demands that all members of the Kennedy Klan, starting with himself, resign from public office and retire from public life.





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January 28, 2008

Some Thoughts On Pizza

Proving that there is a blog on virtually any topic that you could imagine, I came across “Slice” today – a blog devoted to pizza.

And what a post I was directed to by Andrew Sullivan -- a rather thorough listing of various varieties of pizza, classified in so complete a manner as to virtually have them classified with phylum, genus, and species.

Last week on Serious Eats, community member HeartofGlass asked: "How many different kinds of regional varations of pizza exist?"

I figured I'd compile a list of all the styles I've eaten or heard or read about. Sorry it took so long, HeartofGlass. It's a long list, and it appears after the jump.

I’ve got to tell you – the listing itself is mouthwatering, with enough variety to fill a couple of weeks of dining pleasure (assuming you could do all the travel necessary to eat them all).

My personal favorite? The Stuffed Pizza.

Stuffed Pizza

Another Chicago specialty that is often confused with deep dish because of its similarity. It's assembled and cooked in a similar manner to deep dish, but it has a top layer of crust and is usually taller and more densely packed with toppings.

You’ll sometimes encounter this with a layer of toppings on top of that top layer of crust, for a great gastronomical experience. And the Deep Dish Pizza right above it in the listing is a near second in my book, and is done admirably down here in the Houston area at J. Christopher’s on Atascocita Road in Humble and Northpark Road in Kingwood, as well as at their sister restaurant, O’Brennan’s on Marina Bay Drive in League City (near Kemah).

And then there is this pizza heresy, a cursed concoction that I pray never to be confronted with again – Saint Louis-Style Pizza.

Saint Louis–Style

Might be mistaken for a Chicago thin crust at first, just on looks—and maybe for the fact that Saint Louis and Chicago are only a few hundred miles apart. But this style's very thin, crackerlike crust is unleavened. And it's topped with a special three-cheese blend (provolone, Swiss, white cheddar) called Provel that's used in place of mozzarella (and sometimes, but not often, in addition to mozzarella). Like Chicago thin crust, it's usually done party cut. Imo's Pizza is thought to be the originator.

Let me add that it is every bit as awful as it sounds, and is one of the few things that I do not miss about my years living in the St. Louis area.

Anyway, folks – dig in to your favorite!





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John McCain Provides Best Case Against McCain-Feingold

By virtue of his own words and actions.

Andrew McCarthy points out that John McCain is permitted to go on television and make all the false attacks he wants against Mitt Romney free from legal penalty, but that it would be a crime for American citizens to buy a television ad to refute McCain.

I'm starting to think Sen. McCain should not be allowed to mention the other candidates' names within 30 days before a primary. I mean, he levels an allegation about Romney that's just flat not true, and if some organization wanted to run an ad calling him on it, they would be in violation of his "reform" of campaign finance regulations. What a racket!

Yeah, it is a scam – protecting politicians from the consequences of their own words and actions during the time period when citizens deserve the maximum possible information about them.





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When Race Counts More Than Character Or Qualifications

You get situations like this one in San Antonio.

A former San Antonio police officer set to be sentenced this week for allowing his live-in girlfriend to deal methamphetamine was hired by the department in 1994 despite being rejected two years earlier for reasons including a drunken driving conviction, a newspaper reports.

Background investigators also concluded that Joseph Anthony Evans tried to hide a criminal trespass arrest, a hit-and-run conviction and an internal investigation of sexual misconduct at a corrections officer job. He'd also been rejected by Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

San Antonio police had also originally denied Evans a badge because polygraphs showed deceptive or inconclusive answers to questions ranging from illegal drug use to stealing from employers.

"Joseph Evans is not San Antonio Police Department officer material," investigator Ignacio Cantu wrote in a 1992 memo recommending rejection.

Good grief! Upon what basis would any police department ever hire this guy?

Oh -- maybe this one.

Two officials involved in the hiring of Evans, who is black, say other applicants recommended for rejection during the administration of Chief William O. Gibson also were let onto the police force when the department was under pressure to meet affirmative action goals.

Sandoval, who retired in 1997, said he overrode other rejections from applicant screeners amid political pressure from City Hall to hire more black and female officers.

* * *

[Former police academy commander Larry] Birney said he remembers none of the episode. But he did recall that Evans wasn't the only rejected minority applicant whom Sandoval hired over his objections.

"I wouldn't say it was common but it wasn't uncommon, either. I can tell you horror stories," said Birney, who declined to talk further on the record.

See what happens when one puts the color of someone's skin over the content of their character. You loose the latter to get the former -- and in the process do harm to the very institution you were trying to improve.





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LDS Leader Gordon B. Hinckley Dies

In the midst of an election campaign where the Mormon faith has been front and center on the political scene, that religion is likely to be brought to the forefront again in a different, sadder context. President Gordon B. Hinckley, the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has died at age 97.

Gordon B. Hinckley, 97, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and an energetic grandson of pioneers who led his denomination during a period of great expansion in membership and facilities, died last night at his home in Salt Lake City, a church spokeswoman said.

In 1995, after many years in leadership posts in what is often called the Mormon church, Hinckley became president. He was the 15th person to hold that post.

The president of the church is held in special regard by the members, who see him as a prophet of God "in the same way they revered the prophets of scripture," according to material posted on the church's Web site.

Hinckley underwent cancer surgery in 2006, but church spokeswoman Kim Farah said last night that "the cause [of his death] was incident to his age."

Despite his age, Farah said, Hinckley had remained active and was coming in to the office as recently as last week.

The church said it did not expect a successor to be formally chosen until after Hinckley's funeral "within the next few days."

One need not be a Mormon to respect the work that this man did on behalf of his church. During his tenure the number of temples around the world more than doubled -- indeed, it is said that Hinckley personally dedicated some 95 of the church's 124 active temples during his lifetime (some prior to assuming the leadership of the LDS Church, due to the age and health of his predecessors).

And yet what I find interesting about this man is the great love for this man held by the young people of his church, a love that I am told was widely reciprocated. When I visited the home of some dear friends who recently married, my wife and I noted that they had a small picture of Hinckley on their wall, along with a large plaque that included a list of several traits for upright living. I didn't make a connection between the two until my wife asked about the latter, and our friend told us that the plaque was a list of traits that Hinckley had advised young people to cultivate in their lives. It was profound in its spiritual simplicity, rather in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.

1. Be grateful. Express appreciation to everyone who does us a favor or assists us in any way.
2. Be smart. The Lord wants us to train our minds and hands to become an influence for good.
3. Be clean. We live in a world filled with filth and sleaze. We cannot afford to let it touch us. We should not be disrespectful of the body which the Lord has given us.
4. Be true. Let us be loyal to the Church under all circumstances. The authorities of this Church will lead us in paths of happiness.
5. Be humble. The meek and the humble are those who are teachable.
6. Be prayerful. Look to the Lord for understanding and guidance, and walk according to His precepts and commandments.

As I've said in the past, I am not a Mormon and find myself in stark disagreement with much of its distinctive theology. But for all that, I am saddened by the passing of Gordon R. Hinckley, who by all accounts was a good and decent man, and I offer my condolences to his family and the members of the faith he led with great dignity and love.





|| Greg, 05:28 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

MobilityWorks.com

I don’t want you to have to ever use the services of this company.

Unfortunately, some of you may need to. Indeed, the day may not be far off when my wife and I find it necessary to do so as she loses her mobility..

I’m talking about the services of Mobility Works, a company known nationwide for their fine work in providing handicapped-accessible wheelchair vans for those who need them.

With locations in seven states, Mobility Works can help get you into the van that you or your loved one needs to make travel a practical possibility again. So if you have the need for such a vehicle, I urge you to visit their website at MobilityWorks.com for more information.





|| Greg, 05:27 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Problem Of Open Primaries

Clearly illustrated in this article.

More than half the states holding presidential contests next month on Super Tuesday allow unaffiliated voters to participate, giving millions of independents a chance to shape what is usually an insider affair among Democratic and Republican loyalists.

Two of those states -- California and New Jersey -- together have nearly 6 million unaffiliated voters who will be allowed to cast ballots. Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts and Alabama are among other prized catches with millions of independents eligible for the Feb. 5 contests.

The open voting is widely considered to benefit Democratic Sen. Barack Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain, who have fared well among independents in recent polls and primaries. It also is reflected in Obama's words, from his outreach to Republican voters to his recent credit to Ronald Reagan in the context of elections that represent shifts in political direction.

"Obama's trying to do two things at once. On the one hand, energize the liberal base, but also attract independents who are looking for a bipartisan problem-solver," said Jack Pitney, a former deputy research director for the Republican National Committee and a government professor at Claremont McKenna College in California. "That's a very difficult balance, and (Hillary) Clinton is trying to highlight the contradiction there."

Pitney and others said turnout will probably be high among independents because of the wide-open contests in each party. But it's tricky to predict the impact, they said.

I don't believe in open primaries. Call me old-fashioned, or just wedded to logical thinking, but it has always seemed to me that the nominee of the Republican Party should be picked by Republicans and that the Democrat nominee should be picked by Democrats. You know, just like the Libertarian nominee is selected by Libertarians, the Green nominee is selected by Greens, and the Communist nominee is selected by Communists (though today not the ones in Moscow). Independents, who are not committed to a party or its principles, don't belong involved in selecting a party's nominees. Members of one party should not be able to cross over with the intent of sabotaging the nominating process of an opposing party.

Why are closed primaries to be preferred? because party labels used to mean something much more significant that they do today. All too often, American voters complain that there is not a dime's worth of difference between the candidates put forward -- and that is largely because of the involvement of undiffused independents in the process. Rather than campaigns based upon wedge issue, a system of closed primaries would offer mores stark, substantive differences (and therefore choices) on policy matters. And that, in turn, would help end the current system in which matters of style matter more to voters than matters of substance.

Besides -- it is we partisans who are the backbone of any campaign. We should be making the decision for our parties, not those without a commitment to it.





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But Will The Secret Service Let Them Go For A Drive Near Water?

That was my first thought after reading this headline.

Ted Kennedy embraces Obama

And despite their attempts to deny it, it appears the Clintons fought hard for this endorsement.

Rejecting a personal entreaty from President Bill Clinton, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) plans to endorse Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for president in a joint appearance on Monday, Democratic sources said.

The embrace provides a dramatic rocket for Obama to ride into the frantic, nationwide campaigning ahead of the spate of Super Tuesday primaries on Feb. 5, the biggest day for nominating contests in U.S. history. Caroline Kennedy, the senator's niece and the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, will also appear at the rally, the sources said.

Democrats said the endorsement will help Obama with traditional Democratic groups where Clinton has been strong — union households, Hispanics and downscale workers.

And to think of all that Bubba and Jabba the Drunk have in common failed to sway him to support Hillary!

This may not make the Clinton campaign crumble, but it may make matters more interesting for a while.





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January 27, 2008

This Day In History -- January 27, 1998

Two Clinton lies for the price of one.

First, Hillary Clinton.

Matt Lauer: "You have said, I understand, to some close friends, that this is the last great battle, and that one side or the other is going down here."

Hillary Clinton: "Well, I don't know if I've been that dramatic. That would sound like a good line from a movie. But I do believe that this is a battle. I mean, look at the very people who are involved in this — they have popped up in other settings. This is — the great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president."

Of course we now know that the only conspiracy out there was one by the Clintons to lie their way out of Bill Clinton's infidelity and perjury, and to recast anyone who was concerned about the integrity of the presidency and the judicial process as involved in a conspiracy to bring down her husband (who had a government employee going down on him on government time).

And then that evening we got this lie from her husband during the State of the Union Address.

Together, we must confront the new hazards of chemical and biological weapons and the outlaw states, terrorists, and organized criminals seeking to acquire them. Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade and much of his nation's wealth not on providing for the Iraqi people but on developing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. The United Nations weapons inspectors have done a truly remarkable job finding and destroying more of Iraq's arsenal than was destroyed during the entire Gulf war. Now Saddam Hussein wants to stop them from completing their mission.

I know I speak for everyone in this chamber, Republicans and Democrats, when I say to Saddam Hussein, "You cannot defy the will of the world," and when I say to him, "You have used weapons of mass destruction before. We are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again."

President Bill Clinton
January 27, 1998

Wait -- you mean that wasn't a lie? But I thought it was a lie -- after all, Democrats (including both Clintons) have accused George W. Bush of "lying the nation into war" for using the same intelligence (and more) to reach the same conclusion as Bill Clinton had reached five years before. That means that we are stuck with the conclusion that Bill Clinton was lying to us in 1998 -- or that the Clintons and other Democrats are lying to us now for partisan advantage, damage to our national security and trust in the institutions of government be damned. You decide -- and realize that either way you have to conclude that Bill Clinton is a liar.

But we already knew that.

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McCain Lies About Romney On The War (BUMPED AND UPDATED)

Just one more similarity between John McCain and the Clintons -- a willingness to ignore the facts and lie outright when it is politically expedient to do so.

mccain.jpg

John McCain accused Mitt Romney of wanting to set a timetable to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, drawing immediate protest from his Republican presidential rival who said: "That's simply wrong and it's dishonest, and he should apologize."

* * *

First, he slapped at Romney without naming him during a question-and-answer session with Floridians, saying: "Now, one of my opponents wanted to set a date for withdrawal that would have meant disaster."

Minutes later to reporters, the Arizona senator was more direct: "If we surrender and wave a white flag, like Senator Clinton wants to do, and withdraw, as Governor Romney wanted to do, then there will be chaos, genocide, and the cost of American blood and treasure would be dramatically higher."

Asked about the comment in Land O' Lakes, Fla., Romney bristled.

"That's dishonest, to say that I have a specific date. That's simply wrong," he said. "That is not the case. I've never said that."

The former Massachusetts governor added: "I know he's trying desperately to change the topic from the economy and trying to get back to Iraq, but to say something that's not accurate is simply wrong — and he knows better."

Later in Sun City, Fla., McCain stuck to his assessment and said: "The apology is owed to the young men and women serving this nation in uniform."

Utterly despicable, Senator, as not even your own campaign can produce a single statement by Gov. Romney calling for a timetable for withdrawal. Such claims on your part are disgraceful, and a sign that you are so desperate to destroy your only significant opposition for the GOP nomination that you are willing to stoop to Clintonian tactics to win. Even your lackeys in the media recognize that you are being disingenuous.

What Mitt Romney has said, clearly, consistently, and in concert with every patriotic American (which apparently excludes both you and the majority of Democrats). Indeed, the closest that one gets to urging a set date for withdrawal is a comment by Romney that the US and Iraq need to set milestones and timetables -- but that these are not for public consumption. And as a former military officer like McCain knows full well, planning for any military operation includes such milestones and timetables -- but that such plans are subject to revision based upon the facts on the ground as one engages the enemy, not set in stone via public declarations by politicians in search of votes. As such, Mitt Romney was advocating appropriate military and diplomatic strategy, not calling for retreat and surrender.

Even McCain supporters/defenders are calling on him to apologize for his lie.

And Ed Morrissey points out who has implicitly called for withdrawal if benchmarks and timetables aren't met -- John McCain.

[He] said Thursday that he hadn't yet decided on precise benchmarks. "They'd have to be specific, and they (Iraqi government officials) would have to meet them," he said.

Asked what penalty would be imposed if Iraq failed to meet his benchmarks, he said: "I think everybody knows the consequences. Haven't met the benchmarks? Obviously, then, we're not able to complete the mission. Then you have to examine your options."

And when he made that statement a year ago, Democrats trumpeted it as a sign that Republicans were coming around to their position on troop withdrawals. So who owes an apology to the troops, Senator -- as well as to his opponent?

UPDATE: Romney supporter Hugh Hewitt notes that even the McCain-endorsing New York Times is calling this charge "misleading".

The charge appears to be misleading. The McCain campaign pointed to remarks Mr. Romney made last year in which he said he believed that President Bush and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq should have “a series of timetables and milestones” that they discussed among themselves but did not announce publicly.

But Mr. Romney has not called for setting a date for withdrawal. Mr. Romney has said he supports the president’s current strategy, although he has said he anticipates more and more American troops moving into a support role in Iraq in the next year — similar to what Gen. David H. Petraeus outlined in his testimony before Congress last year.

It's rough when even your friends are calling you on your lies.

Everyone except for McCain and his surrogates are saying this charge is false. Interestingly enough, John McCain says he was there when Mitt Romney made a call for a timetable for withdrawal. So we are either looking at a question of honesty or one of mental fitness. Neither option is particularly pretty. (Daffyd at Big Lizards notes a third option -- that McCain wishes to maintain the current troop level,160,000 servicemen and women, permanently.)

UPDATE II: Looks like HuckaBubba has gotten into the act, too -- but without even a recourse to a quote to back him up.

Mike Huckabee sided with John McCain Sunday, saying GOP presidential rival Mitt Romney did back a set calendar for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is battling Huckabee and McCain for the Republican presidential nomination, called McCain dishonest for saying he once supported a troop withdrawal timetable.

Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, said on "Fox News Sunday" that while he disagrees with McCain, the senator from Arizona, on issues from time to time, he has never seen him utter something "just blatantly untrue."

"The reason that I'm aware of Mitt Romney's statement about the secret timetable is because that was originally proposed by a senator from my state, Sen. Mark Pryor," Huckabee said. "And there are published reports that I've witnessed and seen, more than one, in which Mitt Romney did, in fact, talk about support for not a public timetable, but a secret timetable that would be held by administration officials, members of Congress."

Re. Huckabee, would you care to square this statement with Exodus 20:16 and Deteronomy 5:20? Or do you perhaps need to reacquaint yourself with these two verses? Clearly we need to apply Deuteronomy 19:19 to both you and Senator McCain -- in the interest of squaring matters with God's law, of course.

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McCain Reiterates Support For Amnesty

On Meet the Press -- today.

In other words, he'd still go for amnesty given the opportunity.

So much for his conversion to the "secure the borders first" cause.

UPDATE: Or maybe not.

I guess I'm confused. If he recognizes the bill he sponsored was wrong, why would he sign it -- especially if the American people. as he repeatedly states, want the border secured first? I don't see how you can reconcile the two positions.





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Please Return These Items

Perhaps it is a vain plea, that a thief would return items he has stolen. However, certain items have a value greater than money.

A car burglar made away with a Greek Orthodox bishop's religious items — including a jeweled crown of gold and silver.

Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, bishop for the Northwest region of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, was dining with others at a restaurant in Arlington on Friday when the break-in occurred. He was visiting Dallas-Fort Worth area parishes.

The bishop, who ministers in many states, including Texas, said the car was parked in a brightly lit spot.

"We came out at 10 o'clock, and the window was smashed," the bishop said.

Someone took his symbolic crown from the back seat, along with his New Testament, veil and cell phone.

Isaiah, who served in the Marines, said a black fabric bag was also stolen. The bag has special meaning, having been given to him years earlier by the widow of another Marine.

He estimated that replacing the crown would cost between $6,000 and $10,000. The bishop offered a four-digit monetary reward if the crown is returned without damage.

"That was the first gift I received as a bishop 22 years ago," he said. "I feel lost without it."

At a vespers service on Saturday night, he was the only priest with no head covering.

"I just hope and pray that those who took it will have a change of heart," he said.

Whoever you are, you did not steal money. You stole something sacred, something loaded with memories for the owner and significance to his followers. Have the decency to return the stolen items to Metropolitan Isaiah. Take the reward if you must -- but the even better choice would be to accept the grace that comes of repentance.





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Berkeley Seeks Ban On Military Recruiting

But of course, the left-wing citizens of Berkeley aren't disloyal to America. They just hate the troops.

In response to a Marine Corps recruiting office established in Berkeley last year, local activists are trying to make it more difficult for future recruiting centers to open in the city.

If passed by a majority of Berkeley voters, a proposed initiative would require military recruiting offices and private military companies in Berkeley to first acquire a special use permit.

To obtain this permit, a business must hold public hearings and a public comment period.

If the initiative passes, recruitment offices could not be opened within 600 feet of residential districts, public parks, public health clinics, public libraries, schools or churches.

Currently, a recruiting office is held to the same standards as most other businesses, which do not require a public hearing or have limits on where offices can be established.

The author of the initiative, Berkeley-based lawyer Sharon Adams, modeled the initiative after current zoning law that restricts the location of adult-oriented businesses.

"In the same way that many communities limit the location of pornographic stores, that's the same way we feel about the military recruiting stations," said PhoeBe sorgen, an initiative proponent and a member of the city's Peace and Justice Commission. "Teenagers that really want to find them will be able to seek them out and find them, but we don't want them in our face."

I'm curious -- does the city actually have the legal ability to impose such a restriction upon the location of federal government offices? And if it does actually put such a measure in place, what will be the response of the federal government? Will they withhold federal funds from Berkeley? Perhaps require that all federal offices open in the same zones as the recruiters -- in effect closing all government offices, including post offices, in the city?

But in the end I have to wonder -- has the time come for the United States to secede from Berkeley, and build a border fence around it to keep such undesirables out of the country?

H/T Michelle Malkin





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Testing The Bulls

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that this is going to become the new standard in pro rodeo.

It takes Big Bucks an average of 3.64 seconds to throw a cowboy off his back.

And he keeps getting better. Last season, the 7-year-old, 1,350-pound bull shaved his time to 3.48 seconds; this month, he trotted out of Madison Square Garden as the top-ranked bull in the 2008 Versus Invitational, the opening event in bull riding's major leagues.

But these days, with steroid scandals clouding many top sports, doubts waft in the bullring, too, and Big Bucks finds himself facing a question about what makes him a winner:

Is it the Mexican fighting bull in him, the Brahman influence, his Texas upbringing — or something else?

Big Bucks hasn't ducked the question — instead submitting to a needle-wielding veterinarian and making history in the process as the first bucking bull to be tested for anabolic steroids under the Professional Bull Riders' plan to keep the sport clean.

Dogged by internal rumblings that bull owners seek an advantage in the arena by injecting the creatures with steroids, the association recently decided it was time for the truth.

Steroids, I guess they are everywhere, in every sport. I had never thought about injecting one of these behemoths with the stuff, but I suppose it would have an impact. I hope we don't find that this has been going on -- especially given the likelihood that a bull with roid rage could kill someone.





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Government Run Health Care Kills

A medical treatment that could have cured Colette Mills' cancer exists. The problem is that the UK's National Health Service wouldn't pay for the drug due to its cost -- and when Mills offered to pay for the medication, she was told that she would be required to pay cash for all treatment, not just the portion NHS was unwilling to fund. After all, they wouldn't want to set a precedent of creating a two-tier health care system.

So now Colette Mills' breast cancer has advanced to the point that a cure is not an option.

A WOMAN suffering from breast cancer has run out of time to benefit from a potentially life-extending drug which the National Health Service (NHS) denied her, even though she was prepared to pay for it.

Colette Mills has been told by doctors that in the four months since she asked for the drug the disease has taken such a hold in her body that the cancer will no longer respond to the treatment.

* * *

Asked about her future prospects, Mills said: “They are not hopeful of halting it. They will give you no promises. I didn’t ask and he [the doctor] didn’t say. It is not something I want to know just yet.”

In other words, Colette Mills is going to die because the principle of guaranteeing only a minimum of medical treatment for all is more important than actually saving the lives of the critically ill.

And now there are those who want to bring that system to America.

Which means that, if they succeed, effective treatments will be denied to people because they are too expensive, even if they wish to pay for that treatment themselves. Or if the patients are old. Or fat. Or smokers. Or otherwise deemed unworthy by the government.

Would someone tell me why anyone would support such a fundamental change in our system, when the cost will be measured in human lives?





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January 26, 2008

This Day In History -- January 26, 1998

"Now, I have to go back to work on my State of the Union speech. And I worked on it until pretty late last night. But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you."

President Bill Clinton
January 26, 1998

An astute observation from Andrew Sullivan regarding Bill and Hillary Clinton.

This couple really do corrupt everything they touch.

And some things have not changed in 10 years.

clintonfinger2008.jpg

Bill and Hillary Clinton have been giving America the finger for the last 16 years. Let's return the favor.

middle_finger_flame.jpg


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Obama Beats Clinton 2-To-1

Which means, of course, that Obama stands to pick up a big chunk of delegates, closing the gap between him and Hillary Clinton in the totals gong into Tsunami Tuesday in 10 days.

The size and scope of the win seems quite overwhelming.

Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) scored an overwhelming victory over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) in South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary with strong support from black voters, according to network projections. The win sets up a full-scale clash between the two candidates on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Obama, the first black candidate regarded as a legitimate contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, appeared to win African American voters by a four to one margin -- numbers that nearly replicated his performance among blacks in Iowa and Nevada. But unlike in those states, where blacks make up a small percentage of the overall electorate, more than 50 percent of Democratic voters in today's South Carolina primary are black, according to preliminary exit polls.

Clinton finished second and former senator John Edwards of North Carolina placed third, according to NBC and CNN. Among white voters, the candidates ran far closer, with Clinton and Edwards running neck and neck while Obama lagged slightly behind. But among black voters, Clinton's showing was modest and Edwards's showing was negligible.

Interestingly enough, Hillary Clinton appears not to have won a single county in the state, though John Edwards at this point has two in his column. That could change as results come in, but it does signal that the support for the junior Senator from Illinois is not concentrated in any one spot in the state, but is spread widely. And it is also interesting to note that Obama leads in virtually every demographic group by race, gender, and age.

And interestingly enough, we get solid evidence of the fact that Hillary's campaign is being treated as a surrogate for another term for Bill Clinton -- from the former President's own mouth.

8:15 p.m. | Bill Time Bill Clinton is speaking in Independence, Mo.

Again, interesting tag-team strategy from the Clintons — Mr. Clinton goes on television so Mrs. Clinton doesn’t have to.

Mr. Clinton says that Mr. Obama “won fair and square,” but added: “Now we go to Feb. 5th and millions of Americans will finally get in the act.” That drew a big applause. Now Mr. Clinton seems to be addressing the TV pundits who are all questioning his value on the campaign trail. “I think I know something about what it takes to put together a successful presidency” and he refers to his “post-politics” career. Yes, that’s all about him, but he says he was just setting up his point: Even if he hadn’t been married to Mrs. Clinton, he would still support her!

I find it interesting that the Clinton campaign has issued a statement in Hillary Clinton's name, but that the candidate herself has yet to have the class to step up to the microphones and cameras and concede defeat. It is pretty tacky to send Bill out first -- in another state -- to do that on her behalf. Doesn't look very presidential to me. [UPDATE: She did speak -- roughly 90 minutes later, after waiting for John Edwards to concede first.]

Ed Morrissey notes this little swipe at Billary by Obama.

"The choice in this election is not about regions or religions or genders," Obama said at a boisterous victory rally. "It's not about rich versus poor, young versus old and it's not about black versus white. It's about the past versus the future."

* * *

"We are up against conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as president comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor, and judgment, and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose — a higher purpose," Obama said.

>

I don't agree with the platform Barack Obama is running on. That said, I'd have to argue that he is a much more inspiring, positive political voice than Hillary Clinton could ever be, even on her best day. Heck, I'd even say that he out performs her husband -- and I didn't need exit polling data to reach that conclusion.

UPDATE: Gateway Pundit points out how thoroughly Obama drubbed the Clintons in South Carolina.

** Obama won a majority of blacks (80%) and one quarter of white vote. ** Obama won one half of white voters under the age of 30. ** Obama won 66% of the youth vote compared to 25% for Clinton. ** Obama also won 58% of democrats! ** And, Obama also won a majority (51%) of higher income voters to Clinton's 26%! ** Hillary Clinton did well with less educated and elderly democrats.

If I played games like the Democrats do, I could make the argument that only the only segment of voters that the Clintons appeal to are the old and the stupid -- but I won't go there.

More At Michelle Malkin





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Kinky For Governor Again?

Could be, according to the folks at Fort Bend Now.

You may not want to throw that “Kinky for Governor” poster away just yet; former independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman is weighing another run for governor, this time as a Democrat.

In an exclusive interview with Fort Bend Now, Friedman said that is seriously considering throwing his trademark black Stetson into the ring again for the 2010 governor’s race.

“The signs are very positive,” Friedman said. “We’ve got to get the wooden horse inside the city somehow.”

As for running as a Democrat, Friedman said that he has been a Democrat all his life, and if he would have run as a Democrat the last time, the odds are good he would be in the governor’s mansion right now.

“I would have done better than Chris Bell and could have run stronger against grandma (Carole Keeton Strayhorn),” Friedman said.

In the 2006 election, Friedman polled 546,689, or 12.43 percent of the popular vote, for a fourth-place finish behind Gov. Rick Perry, Bell and Strayhorn. He said that he believes he can benefit from what he called the “Dolph Briscoe” effect.

Yeah, Kinky would have been a heck of a lot better candidate in 2006 than Chris Bell was. For that matter, he would have been a heck of a lot better candidate than Rick Perry, who immediately reneged on campaign commitments and tried to usurp the role of the legislature so he could play doctor with the little girls of Texas.

Heck, we could do worse than Kinky -- and may have.





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Letting The Second Amendment Apply On Campus

I realize that some folks prefer to see the Second Amendment as antiquated and irrelevant, but I disagree strongly. And every time I see stories about a school shooting, i wonder if things might have been different if trained faculty members had been permitted to exercise their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. And in situations like what we saw last year at Virginia Tech, I think of how quickly the murdering scumbag could have been dispatched if even one of his victims had not been disarmed by government edict.

That's why I find legislation like this to be a good sign.

Two Mesa lawmakers are drawing up legislation to give teachers — and some students — a chance to carry firearms on campus. The proposals by Sen. Karen Johnson and Rep. Russell Pearce would allow anyone who has obtained a state permit to carry a concealed firearm to bring it onto public-school campuses, something now a crime under state law. It also would overrule similar policies at community colleges and state universities.

Yeah -- teachers and college students would be treated like adults. And lest you think this statute would let just anyone come onto campus packing heat, the law is very specific about who can do so.

In limiting the measures to those with concealed-weapons permits, they would require that those given the right to bring guns onto campuses undergo background checks, be fingerprinted, go through state-mandated training in laws governing when they are allowed to use deadly force and prove they can handle their firearms.

In other words, trained individuals from a subset of the population repeatedly demonstrated to be unlikely to misuse that weapon would no longer be arbitrarily banned from exercising the concealed-carry privilege.

This proposal resonates with me because I teach. School shootings make me wonder what I could do to protect my students in the event there were a gunman on campus -- and the answer right now is nothing except cower with them in a corner with the lights out and the door locked. There ought to be something more, and I hope that such a law is considered and passed here in Texas.





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Watcher's Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Liberal Fascism by Done With Mirrors, and Bylines of Brutality by Iowahawk.  Here are the full results of the vote:

VotesCouncil link
2  2/3Liberal Fascism
Done With Mirrors
1Grim Choices Confront GOP
Right Wing Nut House
1'I Have A Dream' -- The Democrat's Version
Joshuapundit
1Hillanomix 101
Wolf Howling
1The Radicalization of American Politics
The Glittering Eye
1Di Caprio Lies and Hustles Bucks
Cheat Seeking Missiles
1Our Out of Control Borders: Who's Accountable?
The Education Wonks
1What Is "Freedom"?
The Colossus of Rhodey
1/3Rose Colored Rudy
Soccer Dad
1/3The Problem With Obama's Race
Bookworm Room

VotesNon-council link
4Bylines of Brutality
Iowahawk
1  2/3It's All Israel's Fault
Gates of Vienna
1  2/3About the Anarcholibertarians
The QandO Blog
1  1/3Doctors and Death and Doctors Death
The IgNoble Experiment
1The Navy's Failing China Policy
Pajamas Media
1/3Let's End the Cold War and Get Rid of Marxist BS Once and for All
Dr. Sanity
1/3Pondering the Google Slap
Dodgeblogium
1/3A Relatively Scientific Experiment
Power Line
1/3Media Lens Tries History, Yet Again
Oliver Kamm

On balance, I thought the competition this week was pretty good. And while I was disappointed by the failure of my piece on the Rosenthal/Medina situation to receive even a single vote, I understand that a local story of that nature sometimes doesn't necessarily get the sort of response from my fellow members of the Council that a national or international story does. But on balance, I cannot argue with the outcome of the vote because of the obvious strength of the winners. Good job, guys!





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January 25, 2008

Repeal The Twenty-Second Amendment

Amendment 22 - Presidential Term Limits

Article 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President, when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

Article 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

PopeFormosus.jpg

In 1947, the United States Congress engaged in an act that rivaled the deposition of Pope Formosus in its wrongness. Figuratively digging up the corpse of FDR, it passed what would become the Twenty-Second Amendment to the Constitution, in order to guarantee that no President could ever ignore the precedent by George Washington. It was, in my eyes, an unwise move, and one contrary to the spirit of our founding document. Indeed, the limitation has been repeatedly criticized by later presidents, historians and political scientists as undemocratic and creating the problem of a lame duck presidency from the first day of the second term.

Which leads us to 2008.

At this time, one of the major candidates for president is the wife of a former president. Hillary Clinton has unleashed her husband, former president Bill Clinton, as a surrogate for her on the campaign trail due to his effectiveness as a campaigner and continued popularity nearly eight years after he left office. Indeed, we are once again hearing the “two for one” rhetoric of the 1992 campaign, with this being seen as one of Hillary Clinton’s qualifications for office.

But this begs the real question – do Americans wish to see Hillary Clinton elected President, or are they really pining after Bill Clinton? And if so, why should the American people be forced to settle for Hillary – an abrasive figure who lacks he husbands charisma and actual experience in office?

Personally, I believe “We, the People” should not be required to settle for a substitute when the real thing is available. If the American people believe that Bill Clinton is the most qualified individual to lead our country in these times, the American people should have the right to have him take the reigns for a third term – and a fourth or fifth if that is the popular will.

Of course, I find the notion of allowing either Clinton in the White House to be nauseating. I would actively campaign against him were he running, as I fully intend to do with his wife. But if my fellow citizens would prefer him in office to any other American, I will gladly bend to their will – and would feel safer with him running the country than I would with his wife. So let’s act, after the election, if not now, to eliminate the Republican’s revenge on the deceased Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Twenty-Second Amendment should be repealed.

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Not Understanding The Problem

In the dispute between St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke and St. Louis University basketball coach Rick Majerus, is is clear that someone doesn't understand the First Amendment -- and that person is Majerus, not Burke.

After all, it is the place of a Catholic Archbishop to speak out forcefully and assert Church teachings when a prominent representative of a Catholic institution takes positions contrary to the teachings of the Church.

But Majerus doesn't get that point. Instead, he has said this.

"These beliefs are ingrained in me," Majerus told the paper. "And my First Amendment right to free speech supersedes anything that the archbishop would order me to do. My dad fought on Okinawa in World War II. My uncle died in World War II. I had classmates die in Vietnam. And it was to preserve our way of life, so people like me could have an opinion."

And Archbishop Burke has never argued that you don't have a legal right to your belief. He's never argued that you don't have a right to your opinion. But he does note, rightly, that you don't have a right to use your platform as a public face of a Catholic university to contradict Catholic teaching. You have a right to free speech -- but not to a be basketball coach at a Catholic institution.

After all, the Archbishop is the ultimate teaching and doctrinal authority for the Catholic Church in St. Louis. If you are going to publicly support abortion, expect to receive a technical foul -- and perhaps an ejection from the game -- as a result.





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Kucinich Out

Not that it really makes a difference.

Democrat Dennis Kucinich is abandoning his second, long-shot bid for the White House as he faces a tough fight to hold onto his other job — U.S. congressman.

In an interview with Cleveland's Plain Dealer, the six-term House member said he was quitting the race and would make a formal announcement on Friday.

"I will be announcing that I'm transitioning out of the presidential campaign," Kucinich said. "I'm making that announcement tomorrow about a new direction."

Kucinich has received little support in his presidential bid; he got 1 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary and was shut out in the Iowa caucuses. He did have a devoted following.

So the UFO-spotting crazy guy with a hot, much younger wife is gone -- and with it the only chance of seeing Tom Cruise on a national ticket. Maybe Kucinich can get a gig pushing Scientology along with Cruise after he loses his House seat. After all, they are both equally in touch with reality.

Andrew Sullivan notes this observation from Wendy McEwan at Shakespeare's Sister.

Probably the only people who do care at this point are Chris Matthews and the rest of the morons in the Boys' Club, who will no longer be able to leer over his wife like the disrespectful, perv-brained douchehounds they are.

Personally, I've never leered over her -- just wondered what an attractive woman like her is doing with a little troll like Dennis.





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Mitt And Obama Lead

Fortunately, the voters of Florida seem disinclined to take the advice of the New York Times.

Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama are leading in their respective parties' upcoming primaries, according to two new state surveys.

But a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that their rivals — John McCain and Hillary Clinton — are ahead nationally, with Clinton leading Obama by 15 points and with McCain moving from fourth to first in one month.

Still, it appears that what this race is going to come down to is a battle for delegates. Romney will increase his lead in the delegate count if he picks up the large bloc of votes in that state -- further stretching his lead in a race where Mitt already has nearly twice the delegates of his closest rival, John McCain. And as Romney is seen as succeeding, his national support will likely increase. After all, McCain got a big boost after his win in South Carolina (with the media ignoring Romney's impressive win in Nevada).

And what about Obama? Will he be able to overcome Hillary's sizable lead?





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NY Times Endorses A Bad Choice And An Echo

It's interesting that the New York Times chose today to endorse the two candidates who conservatives most dislike as their endorsees for the Democrat and Republican nominations.

First the Democrat
-- not so much because of Hillary Clinton's qualifications but rather because they don't think Obama is "ready"

The potential upside of a great Obama presidency is enticing, but this country faces huge problems, and will no doubt be facing more that we can’t foresee. The next president needs to start immediately on challenges that will require concrete solutions, resolve, and the ability to make government work. Mrs. Clinton is more qualified, right now, to be president.

But then they go on to talk about how Hillary Clinton, part of a power couple that breeds and thrives on negativity, needs to change to project a more positive tone -- the very thing that Obama has done all along. I guess they expect the leopardess to change her spots. Not that such a thing will happen, given that the Clintons are the two most divisive political figures of my lifetime, and the architects of the divisive politics that have dominated the last decade and a half. In the mean time, Barack Obama, the real uniter, is expected to step to the back of the bus.

And then there is the nominee for the GOP -- the conservative party is encouraged to nominate the least conservative candidate, and the one most likely to take positions amenable to the Democrats. But I especially love this opening.

We have strong disagreements with all the Republicans running for president. The leading candidates have no plan for getting American troops out of Iraq. They are too wedded to discredited economic theories and unwilling even now to break with the legacy of President Bush. We disagree with them strongly on what makes a good Supreme Court justice.

In other words, we are against everything it means to be a Republican, but we still feel that Republicans should give a damn what we think. It is followed by this.

Still, there is a choice to be made, and it is an easy one. Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe. With a record of working across the aisle to develop sound bipartisan legislation, he would offer a choice to a broader range of Americans than the rest of the Republican field.

We have shuddered at Mr. McCain’s occasional, tactical pander to the right because he has demonstrated that he has the character to stand on principle. He was an early advocate for battling global warming and risked his presidential bid to uphold fundamental American values in the immigration debate. A genuine war hero among Republicans who proclaim their zeal to be commander in chief, Mr. McCain argues passionately that a country’s treatment of prisoners in the worst of times says a great deal about its character.

In other words, the Republicans should nominate John McCain because of all the positions he holds that are out of step with the GOP and in step with the eventual Democrat platform. Conservatives should embrace the candidate that the New York Times sees as most likely to implement the policies that are anathema to conservatism.

In other words, the New York Times would see us choose between a bad choice and an echo.

More At Captain's Quarters, Michelle Malkin, Cao's Blog, Soccer Dad, Pat Dollard

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January 24, 2008

The Difference

I don’t know enough about Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ politics to know if I would support his policies or not, but I have to agree with this assessment of Islam.

As Dutch police prepared for a weekend of riots and Mr Wilders was told by the authorities that he would have to leave country, he launched a new attack on "intolerant" Islam while announcing that his 10-minute film attacking the Muslim faith would be postponed for two weeks.

"If I had announced that I was going to make a film about the fascist character of the Bible would there have been a crisis meeting of Holland's security forces?" he wrote to the Volkskrant newspaper.

"Would I have received as many death threats as I have done since announcing I was making a film about the Koran? Of course not."

And yet this is the faith that is repeated referred to as a “religion of peace”. Do critics of Judaism have to go into hiding? Do governments attempt to silence such criticism and make concessions to Christian groups to stop expected violence when Christians are offended? Or course not – and because of the necessary differences between the responses of adherents of the two great Abrahamic faiths and the Mohammedan counterfeit we can ascertain that one fails to live up to the standard set by its alleged theological siblings.

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|| Greg, 05:16 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Trouble With Huckabee

This is what it really comes down to for me in deciding whether or not I can support the man.

For the 10 years he was governor of Arkansas, Mr. Huckabee was at war with much of his party.

Now that Mr. Huckabee is seeking the presidential nomination, many Arkansas Republicans warn that he could wage a bruising battle with the national party, too.

"One can hardly argue that the Republican Party has thrived," said former Rep. Jim Hendren, who was House minority leader and ran for state party chairman in a bitter 2001 race won by a Huckabee surrogate. "We thrived as we were an opposition party and standing on principles as the Republican Party. But unfortunately, when we got some power, particularly at the state level, we began to fight among ourselves."

The former Southern Baptist pastor-turned-politician took control of the governor's mansion in 1996 with expectations that he would lead the kind of Republican ascension in other states of the Deep South. But he left office last year by turning over the governorship to a Democrat and with Republicans bitterly divided over his legacy for his party.

"He destroyed it," said Randy Minton, a former state representative whom Mr. Huckabee worked to help get elected but who later clashed repeatedly with the governor. "We had one U.S. senator, we had two congressmen, at the tops we had 37 out of 135 legislators in the House and Senate. Now I think there's 32 in the legislature, we have no U.S. senators and we have one congressman."

We are a divided, weakened party in 2008. We need to rediscover our principles and focus around them to redevelop the strength to lead effectively. It appears that Mike Huckabee lacks the skill set to do that – and may actually be adept at destroying that unity and sapping the strength we have. In other words, he may or may not be a great guy, but he is certainly the wrong guy for the GOP.





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

If He’s Astonished, Is He Fit?

Is John McCain mentally competent to be President? This makes me wonder.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says he's "absolutely astonished" that Sen. Hillary Clinton wants to surrender to the enemy in Iraq.

In an indication of how the campaign may evolve once the Democrat and Republican presidential candidates go head to head, McCain told Fox & Friends Thursday morning, "After all the sacrifice we've made in this surge, which everybody knows is succeeding, she wants to surrender and bring the troops home and set a date for withdrawal."

McCain said he hopes national security will be a big point of discussion at tonight's Republican debate in Boca Raton, Fla.

"If we do what she wants to do...al Qaeda will tell the world that they've defeated the United States of America. I have never, never in American history heard of a leading candidate for president of the United States that wants to surrender to the enemy."

McCain said snatching defeat "from the jaws of victory" would undermine the sacrifice of brave young Americans.

After the last few years of Democrats trying to undercut American efforts to stabilize Iraq, I can’t understand why anything any Democrat says about undermining the troops or unilaterally retreating in the face of victory would cause so much as a blink. That McCain is “astonished” does lead me to ask if he has been paying attention to these people – or if he has the mental acuity to adequately serve as commander in chief.


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|| Greg, 05:00 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Another Jailed Saudi Activist

Another activist, jailed for a year without charges.

Now it isn't clear exactly what this man has done -- but it does seem to violate Saudi Arabia's own laws.

A prominent Saudi political activist and academic remains in solitary confinement "without charge and without access to counsel" a year after he was arrested, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Saud Mokhtar al-Hashemi, 45, was among 10 men arrested last February and accused of illegally collecting funds and sending fighters to Iraq. His lawyer and supporters say the detentions were a government attempt to silence demands for democratic reform in Saudi Arabia.

"This prolonged detention without charge and without access to counsel is illegal and in violation of the country's rules," the lawyer, Bassim Alim, said in an interview. "It is as if there is emergency law. If there is proof against them, it should be presented."

In Saudi Arabia, detainees have a right to counsel and public trials and can be held up to six months without charge. An Interior Ministry spokesman, Gen. Mansour al-Turki, said the men remained behind bars because the case is "still under investigation."

Now if Hashemi is guilty of those things of which he is suspected, I have a problem with his actions. Indeed, I believe those actions are probably illegal and worthy of punishment -- if he is, in fact guilty of them. But a full year of detention without any access to counsel or charges is pretty excessive -- and certainly is more shocking to the conscience than the weight-gain and medical treatment camps for actual terrorists at Gitmo. Where are the outcries of human rights activists in this country to this much more offensive situation? No doubt they are being "sulturally sensitive" in their refusal to protest real human rights violations.

By the way, this case is connected with that of Foaud al-Farhan, who I wrote about earlier. His offense seems to be calling for the Saudi government to follow its own laws in this case, though he also has been held incommunicado with no attorney or charges.

You can contact the Saudis about this case.

Ambassador Adel A. Al-Jubeir
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20037

You may also call the Embassy at (202) 342-3800.

There is also a contact form on the Embassy's website.





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

Lying With Statistics?

Oh, come on! Ron Paul more popular than Rudy Giuliani? Based upon the Nevada caucus results? You must be joking!

Ron Paul, the Texas congressman frequently dismissed as a long shot candidate with no real chance at winning the Republican presidential nomination, has won nearly twice as many total votes to date as Rudy Giuliani, a candidate still widely viewed as a strong contender.

With his second place finish in Saturday’s Nevada caucus, where Paul defeated Giuliani in every county in the state, the Texas congressman has now received 106,414 votes to 60,220 for Giuliani. Both candidates have collected zero actual delegates.

Now mind you, Giuliani hasn't really mounted a campaign in ANY of the early states, including the couple where "pressing the flesh" is key to the outcome. And as important as I think Nevada was, the reality is that you would also have to conclude that John McCain (who won in South Carolina the same day) is also equally in trouble if you were to use Nevada as the yardstick for measuring viability.

But consider this -- Ron Paul has campaigned vigorously in all of the states so far, in contrast to Giuliani's "wait until Florida" strategy. And Ron Paul still has won no delegates, even in states where he claims to have some strength.

Now I've been very clear that I think Ron Paul needs to be defeated for the presidency AND congress this year because of certain bizarre positions and outrageous statements over the years. But at the same time, I believe that there are some philosophical points worth taking away from his campaign. However, Ron Paul is definitely NOT it -- and I suspect that the relative performances in Florida and on Super Tuesday will demonstrate that he is not candidate with broader and deeper support than Rudy Giuliani.





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

Canseco's Payola?

Except, of course, this one works in reverse. He won't sing if you pay him off.

José Canseco, the former major league slugger and admitted steroid user who exposed other players in his 2005 best-selling book “Juiced,” offered to keep a Detroit Tigers outfielder “clear” in his next book if the player invested money in a film project Canseco was promoting, according to a person in baseball with knowledge of the situation.

Four people in baseball confirmed that referrals were made from Major League Baseball to the F.B.I. regarding Canseco’s actions relating to the six-time All-Star outfielder Magglio Ordóńez, who was not mentioned in Canseco’s earlier book or in any other report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. All four insisted on anonymity because they said they didn’t have authority to speak about the events.

The F.B.I. did not open a formal investigation because Ordóńez said he did not want to pursue the complaint.

Canseco denied that he — or any associate of his — ever asked Ordóńez for money to keep his name out of a book titled “Vindicated.”

“Absolutely not,” Canseco said in a telephone interview Wednesday. He also said he had not been told about being the subject of F.B.I. referrals.

This strikes me as the sort of thing that should be pursued by the FBI regardless of Ordóńez desire to pursue the matter. Given some of the disputes that have gone on recently over steroid abuse allegations, there ought to be some clarity as to the accusers and their motives. It seems that there are some credibility problems at work here. And with no fewer than four different sources bringing the information to the attention of the government, I think that we have a prima facie case that something happened.





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

January 23, 2008

Win A Date With Drew?

Good Lord! Here is a name -- and a stunt -- that takes me back to my teenage years in the Chicago area. Steve Dahl, the granddaddy of shock jocks, has arranged a contest for some lucky(?) woman to win a date with Drew Peterson.

His fourth wife has only been missing three months, but Drew Peterson appears ready to plunge back into the dating pool.

“Win a Date with Drew Peterson” is scheduled to air at 8 a.m. Thursday on Steve Dahl’s morning show on WJMK-FM (104.3). Peterson agreed to the stunt when he appeared with his attorney on the show this morning.

Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant, told Dahl his only caveat with the date was “no three-way stuff.” Dahl said he would likely send a chaperone on the day “just to be on the safe side,” before adding, “I’m kidding.”

Peterson’s fourth wife Stacy vanished on Oct. 28 from the couple’s Bolingbrook home. Drew Peterson said the mother of two young children left with another man. Police have called her disappearance a possible homicide investigation and labeled Drew Peterson a potential suspect.

Drew Peterson’s third wife, Kathleen Savio, was found dead in a bathtub at her home after the couple separated. Police are reinvestigating her death in the wake of Stacy Peterson’s disappearance.

It's sick.

It's tasteless.

It's classic Steve Dahl!

After all, this is the guy whose obituary will begin "Dahl, a longtime mainstay of Chicago broadcasting, is best remembered for causing the Chicago White Sox to forfeit a game due to a riot cause by his 'Disco Demolition Night'." Setting up a date with someone who probably has killed two wives is right up his alley. I'm just surprised that Peterson's attorney went for it -- after all, it won't look good to the jury in either murder trial.





|| Greg, 06:23 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Hillary's Bill Problem

Political spouses have traditionally filled the role of supporting player in a candidacy. They are not usually the focus, and when they are (Jackie Kennedy) it is not as a policy figure. But as usual, Bill Clinton is breaking all the rules.

Maureen Dowd makes a good point here, one made by many others recently.

If Bill Clinton has to trash his legacy to protect his legacy, so be it. If he has to put a dagger through the heart of hope to give Hillary hope, so be it.

If he has to preside in this state as the former first black president stopping the would-be first black president, so be it.

The Clintons — or “the 2-headed monster,” as the The New York Post dubbed the tag team that clawed out wins in New Hampshire and Nevada — always go where they need to go, no matter the collateral damage. Even if the damage is to themselves and their party.

Bill’s transition from elder statesman, leader of his party and bipartisan ambassador to ward heeler and hatchet man has been seamless — and seamy.

Now given that Clinton's legacy can best be summed up with the phrases "blue dress", "semen stain", "impeachment" and "perjury", I don't know how much lower seamier and damaged his legacy can get -- but he certainly is trying. And in doing so, I believe he harms his wife's candidacy for office.

Indeed, that phrase I used above is precisely the source of the harm. -- "his wife".

Hillary Clinton wants to be President of the United States. She is running for the office. She needs to be out front, and HER spouse needs to be in the background, even if he is the immediate past president. If elected, this will be her administration, not his, and she will have to be making the tough calls and being the public face. Unfortunately, Bill has taken center stage much of the time, serving as hatchet man. And it is an unbecoming role. More importantly, it makes Hillary look weak, as if she has to hide behind her husband when the going gets tough. that may not actually be the case, but it is the perception.

I think Peggy Noonan made an interesting related point over the weekend on Meet the Press.

MS. NOONAN: Can I say, on the campaign trail, one of the things I find jarring the past few weeks is that Hillary Clinton is the first major party woman running for president of the United States. She is a woman. She's running for president. She's running for head of the United States, chief executive officer. And she has to send her husband out to yell at the neighbors? It's like she's, she's saying, "You go out there, you fight for me. My husband's going to tell you off!" There's something strange, jarring, unbecoming and even unfeminist about it.

MS. GOODWIN: I doubt that she's sending him out. I think he's going out on his own.

MS. NOONAN: You think he's just on his own. Oh, my goodness, it's her campaign. If she didn't want him out there wagging his finger, turning red and arguing with reporters and bringing a level of temper and heat to the proceedings, if she did not want that, I'm sure she would stop it. And if she cannot, we should all just stop and take a breath.

If Hillary is hiding behind Bill, she is showing a level of weakness that is unbecoming in a president. But if, as some are saying (and Maureen Dowd is implying) Bill is in control here, then Hillary is equally unfit for the Oval Office, having shown an inability to control her own campaign and set her own message. Until and unless she can make her finger-wagging, purple-raging spouse fade into the background, she is showing why she is really not the best choice for the White House.

For Hillary Clinton to succeed, she must eclipse Bill Clinton, because his status as former president has the ability to do great damage to her administration on a policy level if she is not front and center and the clear voice of that administration. She needs to demonstrate that as a candidate if she is to prove herself worthy of victory in the primaries and the general election.





|| Greg, 05:11 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Celebrity-Driven Culture Alert

You know, I think it is sad that a talented young man like Heath Ledger is dead. And while I was not a particular fan of his work (I have a hard time naming a single film of his that I have seen, other than The Patriot), I recognize the loss to the entertainment world in terms of the potential that was snuffed out yesterday.

At 3:31 p.m., according to the police, a masseuse arrived at the fourth-floor apartment of the building, at 421 Broome Street, between Crosby and Lafayette Streets in SoHo, for an appointment with Mr. Ledger. The masseuse was let in to the home by a housekeeper, who then knocked on the door of the bedroom Mr. Ledger was in. When no one answered, the housekeeper and the masseuse opened the bedroom and found Mr. Ledger naked and unconscious on a bed, with sleeping pills — both prescription medication and nonprescription — on a night table. They attempted to revive him, but he did not respond. They immediately called the authorities. As the news reports spread quickly, throngs of people gathered in the neighborhood.

The police said they did not suspect a crime. Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the office of the city’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, said that employees of the office were at the apartment and that an autopsy would be conducted on Wednesday. Around 6:30 p.m., city workers rolled Mr. Ledger’s body, in a black body bag on a stretcher, out of the building.

Again, heartbreaking -- one more entertainer dead of an overdose at a young age. We've seen this story too many times in the past to even be surprised.

But let's consider the amount and the prominence of the media coverage of Ledger's death. With all that is going on in the world -- war, economic problems, the presidential race -- did this death really merit the sort of coverage that it got from the media? I mean no disrespect to the deceased, but is his death important enough to knock those stories from the front page and the lead position on the news broadcasts? Have we in this country become so celebrity obsessed that this story matters more than those other stories?





|| Greg, 04:51 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why Do I Expect It To Be A Long Day Today?

I suppose this could have something to do with it.

More than a dozen people at North Shore High School have tested positive for exposure to tuberculosis after a student was diagnosed with the infectious disease last month, Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services officials said Tuesday.

Nineteen out of 150 students and faculty tested had a positive skin test result, indicating they were exposed to TB, said HCPHES spokeswoman Sandy Kachur. Those tested were considered to have had prolonged contact with a teen diagnosed with the disease in December, Kachur said.

As a result, I expect a bit of a freak-out from some of my students today. After all, while we are on the 9-10 campus rather than the 11-12 campus where this is taking place, many of my students have siblings on the other campus. Many more have friends there. And while the odds are quite small that any of our students have the illness, the fact that one out of every eight folks tested have had a positive skin test will likely alarm many of the kids and their parents.





|| Greg, 04:31 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 22, 2008

More Persecution Of Christians In Malaysia

Because Islam has appropriate the prophets of Christianity and Judaism as its own, sharia restrictions have been placed upon pictures of them by Malaysian authorities -- even in Christian materials intended for a Christian audience.

Malaysian authorities confiscated Christian children's books, claiming the illustrations of prophets such as Moses and Abraham violate Islamic Shariah law.

The independent news agency Malaysakini reported the Internal Security Ministry confiscated the literature from bookstores in two cities and one small town in mid-December.

The Malaysian Embassy declined to comment on the news service's Jan. 11 report.

The Rev. Hermen Shastri, general secretary of the Malaysian Council of Churches, confirmed the report and accused the government of persecuting Christians.

"The officials have offended the sensitivities of Christians because their publications and depictions of their Biblical personalities have now become targets of unscrupulous Muslim officials bent on curtailing religious freedom in the country," Mr. Shastri said.

"Immediate steps should be taken to amend administrative rules and regulations, especially in the Internal Security Ministry, that give a free hand to enforcement officials to act on their whim and fancies," he said.

Religious oppression of Christians and other religious minorities continues in Malaysia, and has been increasing in recent years. When will the world community get around to denouncing such violations of human rights by the Malaysian government? When will the rights of Christians receive even 10% of the concern that the rights of Muslims receive from international bodies?





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

Academic, Political Fraud In West Virginia?

Involving a degree granted the governor's daughter, despite a dearth of evidence of her actually earning it.

It started with a phone call from a newspaper reporter in October seeking to verify the academic credentials of Gov. Joe Manchin III’s daughter Heather Bresch. But in less than three months, the inquiry has mushroomed into a controversy that risks casting a shadow of cronyism over this state’s flagship university.

Officials at the college, West Virginia University, have been accused of rewriting records last fall to document that Ms. Bresch had earned an executive master of business administration degree in 1998. An investigation by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette concluded that she had completed only 22 of the required 48 credit hours.

The university has begun an investigation of its own into the matter.

Ms. Bresch, 38, works for Mylan Inc., the world’s third-largest generic drug company, which employs 2,000 people in Morgantown. The company’s chairman, Milan Puskar, is a major campaign contributor to Governor Manchin, a Democrat, and is the university’s largest donor, having given it $20 million in 2003. Ms. Bresch has insisted that she earned her degree, and university officials have blamed a failure to transfer records for nearly half of her course work to the appropriate office for the situation, as documents were moved to electronic format from paper. But so far, the university and Ms. Bresch have not produced copies of her transcripts, receipts or other proof of her having paid for course work, or documents from the courses where grades seemed to have been entered years after “incompletes” were given.

If, as claimed, there are paper records that were not transferred to the electronic system, it should be easy enough to prove. Just produce the records. Surely there are records to justify the changing of grades YEARS after the fact.

Or are there?

Or is there just Daddy's political pull and the aid of one of the state's largest employers, which gives millions to the University?





|| Greg, 05:25 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Welcome To The 19th Century

And that is a step forward for Saudi women.

Women in Saudi Arabia can now stay in a hotel or a furnished apartment without a male guardian, according to a government decision that comes as the country faces increasing criticism for its severe restrictions on women.

The daily Al-Watan, which is deemed close to the Saudi government, reported Monday that the ministry issued a circular to hotels asking them to accept lone women — as long as their information is sent to a local police station.

Yeah, and I wonder what will happen with that information once it gets to the police? Will they be contacting parents, brothers, and husbands -- which will potentially enable continued physical abuse or honor killings of women trying to escape abusive situations?

But they still can't drive or be alone with an unrelated man -- which leads to the question of how these women will get to a hotel in the first place. But then again, there are reports that the driving ban may be lifted by the end of the year.





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

Will Clinton & Obama Destroy Each Other?

The level of ill will among the leading Democrats is pretty high, as shown in the most recent debate.

In the most intense and personal exchange of the presidential campaign, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama assailed each other’s integrity and voting records during a televised debate on Monday in South Carolina, the site of a critical primary in five days.

If the debate was full of memorable moments — Mrs. Clinton accusing Mr. Obama of associating with a “slum landlord,” Mr. Obama saying he felt as if he were running against both Hillary and Bill Clinton, the two candidates talking over each other — the totality of the attacks also laid bare the ill will and competitive ferocity that has been simmering between them for weeks.

“You know, Senator Obama, it is very difficult having a straight-up debate with you, because you never take responsibility for any vote, and that has been a pattern,” Mrs. Clinton said, drawing a chorus of jeers from a crowd at the Palace Theater in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Mr. Obama shot back that Mrs. Clinton was conducting a brand of negative politics that, he suggested throughout the night, she and her husband had perfected: “comb my 4,000 votes in Illinois, choose one, try to present it in the worst possible light.” He added that he had sought to maintain “a certain credibility” in the race.

Interestingly, Barack Obama is saying the same thing that Republicans have been saying for the last 16 years about the Clinton machine. Now that Hillary is facing the possibility of being denied her anointing as queen the Democratic nominee, she is willing to use every arrow in the Clinton quiver to destroy a fellow Democrat.

Contrast that with the relatively amicable relations between the GOP candidates. The debates have been much less personal. Could this signal that the GOP will emerge from the process much more united than the Democrats, with the same sort of divisions we saw after the Carter/Kennedy struggle in 1980 again afflicting the Democrats? And will the Democrats, as in 1988, supply the Republicans with all the ammo they need to take down the eventual Democrat nominee?





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

Boo Hoo At Yahoo?

If the reports of layoffs are true, there probably will be quite a few.

Yahoo is planning to lay off hundreds of employees in an effort to increase its profitability, prop up its deflated stock price and narrow the focus of its sprawling Internet portal to a smaller number of crucial areas, people close to the company said Monday.

The final number of layoffs from Yahoo’s work force of about 14,000 is yet to be determined and is likely to be announced around the end of the month, perhaps during Yahoo’s conference call on Jan. 29 with analysts after it reports fourth-quarter results, these people said.

Company executives are still trying to determine exactly which areas will be cut. One person close to the discussions said a final plan, or perhaps a few alternative plans, would be submitted to the board at a coming meeting. The plan’s final shape may be influenced by the company’s fourth-quarter performance, this person said.

Yahoo declined to comment specifically on any plan for layoffs. In an e-mail statement, a company spokeswoman, Diana Wong, said: “Yahoo plans to invest in some areas, reduce emphasis in others, and eliminate some areas of the business that don’t support the company’s priorities. Yahoo continues to attract and hire talent against the company’s key initiatives to create long-term stockholder value.”

Some blogs have reported a 10-20% reduction in force, but analysts are viewing that as unlikely. However the report of "hundreds" being laid off could still be a reduction of 5% -- a significant amount indeed. WIll other tech companies follow suit?





|| Greg, 04:48 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 21, 2008

"Not By The Color Of Their Skin But By The Content Of Their Character"

And perhaps one day the dream will become a reality.

Until then, we will be stuck with affirmative action programs and racial set-asides that judge by the color or one's skin, not the color of one's character.

When, oh when, will this nation live by the prophetic words of the man this day was set aside to honor?





|| Greg, 11:59 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

An Interesting Omission

Quick -- tell me what this Houston Chronicle editorial leaves out.

On the federal holiday that honors Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights leader's legacy has become the subject of a presidential campaign controversy.

It shouldn't be.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, seeking to make the point that action speaks louder than words, dreams and visions, noted that passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act required the signature of President Lyndon Johnson as well as the leadership of King. Her analogy was not well-taken. King famously had a dream of a colorblind society, yet he also acted, organized, preached, mobilized and suffered the persecution of authorities in the segregated South.

As Joseph Califano Jr., an aide in President Johnson's White House, wrote in an article in Sunday's Outlook section, passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawing discrimination in employment, education and public accommodation required a political partnership — King's stirring leadership and Johnson's mastery of Congress. King knew that the realization of his dreams needed presidential initiative. He asked Johnson for it, and Johnson complied, taking the risk that the South would move for generations into the Republican column.

The end to segregation followed the actions of thousands of lawyers, judges, freedom riders and civil rights workers, and more than a few martyrs.

One could argue, perhaps perversely, that the brutality of police officers in the South, captured by television cameras, hastened the end of segregation by searing the grotesque injustice and oppression on Americans' psyches.

When King was assassinated in 1968, Johnson called on Congress to pass the Fair Housing Act as a tribute King's life and work.

King's role is open to interpretation, but arguing whether he or Johnson was more instrumental in the battle for civil rights is a faulty dilemma. Both played their parts. Today's mock controversy over Clinton's remarks is silly, yet it serves to remind Americans that King's legacy survives and matters.

Did you catch it? You didn't? Really?

Nowhere does this editorial mention the contribution of the party that provided overwhelming support for the 1664 Civil Rights Act AND the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Nowhere is mentioned the party that sought a stronger civil rights bill in 1957, and had in fact been at the forefront of civil rights legislation for nearly a century -- including being repeatedly frustrated in its attempt to pass anti-lynching legislation.

And which party was that? The Republican Party, of course.

The Democrats opposed every civil rights law in American history before 1964. And as it was, the Republican party voted by an 80% majority in favor of the legislation, while Democrats could barely muster a 2/3 vote despite all the arm-twisting of a president of their own party seeking reelection.





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LA Times Meltdown Continues

More trouble in the dead-tree media.

The top editor of The Los Angeles Times has been forced out for resisting newsroom budget cuts, executives at the paper said Sunday, marking the fourth time in less than three years that the highest-ranking editor or the publisher has left for that reason.

The removal of the editor, James E. O’Shea, by the publisher, David D. Hiller, mirrors the odd spectacle of a little more than a year ago, when the previous publisher, Jeffrey M. Johnson, was fired for refusing to eliminate newsroom jobs as directed by the paper’s owner, the Tribune Company. In each case, a longtime Tribune executive was expected to rein in costs at the paper, but instead sided with the newsroom and lost his job for it.

The departure of Mr. O’Shea appears to contradict statements by Samuel Zell, the Chicago real estate magnate who took over the company last month and is now its chairman and chief executive. Mr. Zell has repeatedly criticized the previous regime of the financially troubled company for trying to improve the bottom line by cutting costs, and he has said that he thinks the path to profit lies in finding new revenue, not paring costs.

Calls to Mr. O’Shea, Mr. Hiller and a spokeswoman for Mr. Zell were not returned. A Tribune spokesman referred inquiries to Nancy Sullivan, a spokeswoman for The Los Angeles Times, who said, “I don’t have any comment for you.”

Fewer readers equals fewer dollars equals fewer staffers. O'Shea couldn't accept that, and so he had to go.

Frankly, papers like the LA Times need to accept that, as part of major media conglomerates, they need to pool their reporting across the sister publications. In that sense, they will operate like local affiliates of the major television networks do, packaging national news with their local reporting -- and sharing their local reporting with other network affiliates.





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Petraeus To Head NATO?

An interesting development -- and a well-deserved posting.

The Pentagon is considering Gen. David H. Petraeus for the top NATO command later this year, a move that would give the general, the top American commander in Iraq, a high-level post during the next administration but that has raised concerns about the practice of rotating war commanders.

A senior Pentagon official said that it was weighing “a next assignment for Petraeus” and that the NATO post was a possibility. “He deserves one and that has also always been a highly prestigious position,” the official said. “So he is a candidate for that job, but there have been no final decisions and nothing on the timing.”

The question of General Petraeus’s future comes as the Pentagon is looking at changing several top-level assignments this year. President Bush has been an enthusiastic supporter of General Petraeus, whom he has credited with overseeing a troop increase and counterinsurgency plan credited with reducing the sectarian violence in Iraq, and some officials say the president would want to keep General Petraeus in Iraq as long as possible.

In one approach under discussion, General Petraeus would be nominated and confirmed for the NATO post before the end of September, when Congress is expected to break for the presidential election. He might stay in Iraq for some time after that before moving to the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, but would take his post before a new president takes office.

And if a Republican wins in November, we are likely to see General Petraeus head the Joint Chiefs of Staff before his career ends. Expect significantly less respect from a Democrat President, given the insults directed towards the general last fall and the accusations of treason from Democrat surrogates.





|| Greg, 12:21 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Volcanoes, Not Man, Rsponsible For Antarctic Ice Melts?

Interesting, isn't it, that we keep finding ways that nature is responsible for phenomena associated with global warming?

Another factor might be contributing to the thinning of some of the Antarctica's glaciers: volcanoes.

In an article published Sunday on the Web site of the journal Nature Geoscience, Hugh Corr and David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey report the identification of a layer of volcanic ash and glass shards frozen within an ice sheet in western Antarctica.

"This is the first time we have seen a volcano beneath the ice sheet punch a hole through the ice sheet" in Antarctica, Vaughan said.

Volcanic heat could still be melting ice to water and contributing to thinning and speeding up of the Pine Island glacier, which passes nearby, but Vaughan said he doubted that it could be affecting other glaciers in western Antarctica, which have also thinned in recent years. Most glaciologists, including Vaughan, say that warmer ocean water is the primary cause of thinning.

Unless, of course, there are volcanoes on the other side of the continent causing melting there -- and don't forget that the water released by the volcanoes will help raise the temperature more generally.

But regardless, we find AGAIN that there is a natural phenomenon resulting in one of the "proofs" of global warming. And yet somehow the faith of the acolytes of than new religion remains unchanged.





|| Greg, 12:13 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Logo Design Software

I recently found got a great Logo Design software package. LogoCreator 5.0 from Laughingbird Software available at http://www.thelogocreator.com, and enjoyed using it for various purposes.

What do I like about the software? To be honest, almost everything I can think of. First, it comes configured in a variety of ways to meet customer needs, so there is no need to spend money on components you don’t want or need. If you are only interested in creating a business-like corporate logo, you could purchase the Corporate Edition and be quite very happy with its 80 pre-designed templates. You can also get the Travel-and-Leisure edition, the Entertainment edition, the Sports Pak, the Spiritual Edition or Real Estate edition, depending upon your needs and interests. There is even a mascot creator package, which is interesting to work with. Their best value is found in the Mega Pack, which includes everything. That’s what I’ve been working with, and I’ve been quite pleased.

If you run a business, this software presents an incredible value. Getting a professionally designed logo can really cost you a lot of money – but for a fraction of the cost, you can design your own and have a logo (or mascot) and save on the costs associated with outsourcing such a project..

Oh, and one other thing – customer support is great. I’ve needed to ask some questions, and have gotten quick, clear responses. That isn’t always the case today, giving one more reason to do business with Laughingbird Software.





|| Greg, 02:39 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Watchers Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Ed. Schools: They're Awful (for the most part) by The Colossus of Rhodey, and Kangaroo Court by Ezra Levant.  Here are the full results of the vote):

VotesCouncil link
4  2/3Ed. Schools: They're Awful (for the most part)
The Colossus of Rhodey
1  1/3The Race Card, Liberal Guilt and Our Next President
Wolf Howling
1500,000 Iraqis Did Not Die
Cheat Seeking Missiles
1Paul of Mises; or How the New Republic Bewitches the Right
Big Lizards
2/3Idenity Politics Then and Now
Bookworm Room
2/3Tribes With Gods
Done With Mirrors
2/3You Be the General
The Glittering Eye
2/3Bush In Ramallah -- The Road To "Peace In Our Time"
Joshuapundit
1/3Disenfrancisement Example Is Actually Vote Fraud Queen -- And a Tax Cheat To Boot!
Rhymes With Right

VotesNon-council link
5  1/3Kangaroo Court
Ezra Levant
1Ashamed to be Canadian!
Covenant Zone
1Barack Obama -- I'm Sure We've Seen Him Somewhere Before
Guardian Unlimited
1The Media Does It Again
Winds of Change
2/3Ms. Magazine Refuses to Publish Ad About Israel's Most Powerful Women
Yourish.com
2/3CNN Reporter as Terrorist Enabler
Seraphic Secret
1/3A Defining Moment For Republicans
Captain's Quarters
1/3Ron Paul's Blithe Reaction to 'Newslettergate'
Pajamas Media
1/3Hillary... I Am the Reason the Surge Has Worked!
Radio Vice Online
1/3Hillary Without Tears
Salon.com

I especially want to congratulate my fellow teacher and long-time friend Hube for his excellent commentary on education programs. As i noted in a comment, he is dead on in his observations.





|| Greg, 01:24 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 20, 2008

A Particularly Bad Problem

I'll have to talk to my rocket scientist buddies at church today (I live only a couple miles from Johnson Space Center) to see if they have more information on this situation with the Ares I rocket.

Dare I suggest that it is a problem that needs fixing sooner rather than later?

NASA is wrestling with a potentially dangerous problem in a spacecraft that has not even been built yet.

Engineers are concerned that the new rocket, meant to replace the space shuttle and send astronauts to the moon, could shake violently during the first few minutes of flight, possibly destroying the entire vehicle.

"They know it's a real problem," said Paul Fischbeck, a Carnegie Mellon University engineering professor who has consulted on risk issues with NASA in the past. "This thing is going to shake apart the whole structure, and they've got to solve it."

If not corrected, the shaking would arise from the powerful first stage of the Ares I rocket, which will lift the Orion crew capsule into orbit.

NASA officials hope to have a plan for fixing the design as early as March, and they do not expect it to delay the goal of returning astronauts to the moon by 2020.

Yeah, shaking the entire spacecraft into little pieces -- especially with human beings inside, does seem like a bit of a problem to me.

But then again, I'm no rocket scientist. :)

Seriously, though, I hope to see this problem resolved by March like they are talking about -- otherwise it damn well ought to slow down the push to reach the moon again by 2020. After all, while space travel will never be risk free, it ought not be a suicide mission.





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

We Report, You Decide

As I said before, the story about Dean Hrbacek and the photoshopped picture in his flier is a big old nothing-burger -- or ought to be.

Especially when you look at this graphic from the folks at CD22 Watcher.

hrbacekcomparison.jpg

If anything, Dean appears to have been getting himself in better shape, as he doesn't seem to be all that much thinner in the picture at issue than he does in the candid shot -- certainly not enough for people to get their bowels in an uproar over.

Let's talk issues in CD22, not this sort of trivia. And let's see some legitimate coverage of the race from the Houston Chronicle, not this sort of silliness.





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January 19, 2008

If Ever We Needed A Special Prosecutor (BUMPED)

The indictment of Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina raises a lot of questions, including several not related to his guilt or innocence or that of his wife.

The Harris County District Attorney's office this morning dismissed the indictments returned Thursday against Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina and his wife in connection with the fire that destroyed their home in Spring last summer.

A grand jury handed up the indictments despite objections from Rosenthal's office. Today, the district attorney's office said it would continue to investigate the fire in relationship to the Medinas but not in a prosecutorial mode.

* * *

Rosenthal insisted there is not sufficient evidence to charge the Medinas with involvement in what arson investigators determined was a deliberately set fire. The blaze caused almost $1 million worth of damage to three homes in the Olde Oaks neighborhood in Spring.

Medina, the first Supreme Court justice indicted since Donald Yarbrough was charged with perjury and forgery in 1977, was indicted on a charge of fabricating evidence, specifically a letter he gave investigators about the incident. His wife, Francisca, is accused of setting the fire that destroyed their 5,000-square-foot home and damaged two nearby houses.

Bail was set at $20,000 for Francisca Medina and $5,000 for her husband. Both offenses are felonies. The arson charge carries a punishment of probation to 20 years in prison. Evidence tampering or fabrication would be punishable by probation to 10 years.

Now the charges here are serious. I don't know how strong the evidence is. But the OTHER current situation involving DA Chuck Rosenthal and his stated unwillingness to see this case through to prosecution leads me to believe that there is a need for some sort of special prosecutor to handle the case.

This is especially true in light of the (possibly illegal) statements of the grand jury foreman and assistant foreman.

According to the jurors, it was just one more blow to justice when Rosenthal indicated Thursday that he would seek to dismiss the indictments.

''This is ludicrous," said foreman Bob Ryan, a real estate broker, who at 63, said he has served as foreman of at least four grand juries. "Mr. Rosenthal never put his head in the door and heard one word of testimony."

* * *

The jury, whose term was slated to end in November, continued working for three months to hear more evidence. But about a month ago, Ryan said the prosecutor handling the case, Vic Wisner, told him that neither he nor Rosenthal thought there were grounds for indictment.

Wisner didn't return my call to his home late Thursday, and Rosenthal wasn't returning the Houston Chronicle's calls Thursday.

A couple of weeks ago, when Ryan and Dorrell were trying to set up a date for the grand jury to meet again, the two jurors said Wisner tried to talk them out of it.

"He seemed very upset," Dorrell told me. "He said, 'Why are you guys meeting? This isn't a viable case.' "

Then Thursday, when Ryan told Wisner what indictments he wanted prepared, Ryan said the prosecutor refused: "He said, 'I will not do it.' And I said, 'Well, get your boss in here.' And he said, 'He knows all about it.' And he slammed the door and left. He came back later and said, 'All right, I'll prepare the indictments.' "

If the indictments are dismissed, Ryan said, grand jurors may try to re-indict. It's unfortunate when a panel must go to such lengths to carry out justice.

Now these stories, if true are troubling. But before I accept the argument that the move to stop or dismiss these indictments is based upon politics, I have to ask how much of the decision to present the case to the jury was based upon politics in the first place. I also have to wonder to what degree the DA's office was required to present the case to the grand jury under statute, given that certain types of potential offenses are required to go before a grand jury. Of equal concern, though, is the possibility that we have a runaway grand jury overstepping its bounds, based upon the threat to reindict the Medinas.

Consider this – a suspicious house fire takes place at the home of a top judge who is a member of the dominant political party in the state and county. A decision not to take the case to the grand jury, no matter how weak the evidence, would clearly be seen as political. A DA (or ADA) might legitimately present the evidence in hand with a recommendation that the case be no-billed due to the lack of evidence. And remember, the accused is not permitted to present or rebut any evidence – only the prosecutor's office has a voice in that room, so the prosecutor's case is the only one seen by the grand jury. Prosecutorial discretion can, and does, at times lead to a request for dismissal of an indictment in the interest of justice. After all, the DA should not be prosecuting a person that he believes to be innocent merely because there is an indictment in hand – whether that person is a powerful politician or the poorest citizen in the county. And the standard of evidence to get an indictment (probable cause) is NOT the same as that required to get a conviction in a criminal court (proof beyond a reasonable doubt), meaning that it is quite possible that Rosenthal and his office are correct in stating that there may not be sufficient evidence to pursue the case to a conviction.

But in this case, we have a DA whose actions in office have been manifestly unacceptable, as shown by the scandal that has cost him his place on the ballot and subjected him to a state investigation. In light of that, Chuck Rosenthal's judgment that there is not enough evidence to successfully prosecute a case is suspect. We just cannot trust Rosenthal and his office on that one, because he has already called the integrity of the office into question by his prior actions. If anyone needed evidence of the necessity of Chuck Rosenthal's immediate resignation, this would be it. Some sort of independent prosecutor needs to examine the case, so that a fresh set of eyes examines the facts and conducts the trial.

Let's also not one other thing – we don't know what the evidence is against David Medina and his wife because the indictments contain very little specificity. If it is as is presented in the Chronicle, I have to wonder how strong a case there is. Financial difficulties and a fire in the garage do not necessarily add up to arson – and I know that most garages have plenty of accelerants to fuel a fire were one to break out. We will likely have to wait for the trial to find out – if there is one.

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Who Won Nevada?

I guess it depends upon what the meaning of "won" is.

Barack Obama may have won the most delegates in Saturday's Nevada Caucus, even though Hillary Clinton bested his statewide turnout by about six points.

A source with knowledge of the Nevada Democratic Party's projections told The Nation that under the arcane weighting system, Obama would win 13 national convention delegates and Clinton would win 12 delegates. The state party has not released an official count yet.

Barack Obama released an official statement celebrating a delegate victory. "We came from over twenty-five points behind to win more national convention delegates than Hillary Clinton because we performed well all across the state, including rural areas where Democrats have traditionally struggled," he said.

That means more people backed Clinton, but more delegates went to Obama. Sounds sort of like Florida in 2000, doesn't it? I'm waiting to start hearing claims of disenfranchisement and stolen elections from partisans on the Left -- despite the fact that these are their rules and they all agreed to play by them. After all, that's what they did in 2000.





|| Greg, 08:38 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Pope Calls For Religious Freedom For Christians In Muslim Countries

Oh, dear! Is Pope Benedict XVI angling for another fatwa?

POPE Benedict yesterday issued a strong call for religious freedom in Arab countries, saying everyone should have the right to practice their faith openly and to convert to other religions if they wanted.

The Pope, who was addressing Catholic bishops from Arab regions, also said he was concerned that parts of the Middle East risked becoming just "an archaeological site" if an exodus of Christians forced out by violence continued.

"I dearly hope that authentic religious freedom could become reality everywhere and that everyone's right to practice their religion freely, or to change it, should not be impeded," he told the bishops, speaking in French.

"This is a primordial right for every human being."

Indeed, he went even further.

"It is understandable that the circumstances sometimes push Christians to leave their country to find a more welcome land where they are allowed to live more freely," he said.

"But we must encourage and firmly support those who choose to remain faithful to their land, so that it does not become an archaeological site devoid of any church life," he continued.

And I agree with him that it is the duty of every Christian to support these oppressed brothers and sisters. But the problem is that there are too many Muslims, of the Islamist variety and others considered more mainstream, who want to guarantee that their lands are not even archaeological sites with a remnant of Christian history (or the history of other faiths) remaining. Consider the malignant work of the Taliban with the ancient stone Buddhas -- destroyed by repeated shelling with artillery pieces.

Religious freedom is a right with which we are endowed by our creator -- and one recognized under international law. When will the rights of Christians in the Muslim world be protected by the international community?





|| Greg, 08:26 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Kucinich Off Texas Ballot

Imagine that -- the man has to follow the rules set by the Democrat Party to be allowed on the Democrat Party's primary ballot. What a concept!

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed Texas to print presidential primary ballots without Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich's name.

The court refused to step into a dispute between Kucinich and the Texas Democratic Party over a loyalty oath all candidates must sign to make the ballot.

Kucinich and singer-supporter Willie Nelson objected to the party oath that a presidential candidate must "fully support" the party's eventual nominee. Kucinich crossed out the oath when he filed for a spot on the primary ballot.

A federal judge in Austin ruled against Kucinich last week. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled the state party has the right to require the oath. Kucinich and Nelson argued it violated Kucinich's First Amendment right to free speech.

Texas said its deadline is Saturday to print absentee ballots so that they can reach overseas voters in time for the March 4 primary.

What is at stake here is a party requirement that Democrats on the ballot really be Democrats. I don't find that to be outlandish, as it keeps off kooks and nuts like Lyndon LaRouche. That it also keeps off kooks and nuts like Dennis Kucinich is simply an added bonus.

I know -- maybe he can sic the Department of Homeland Security on the Texas Democrat Party!





|| Greg, 01:07 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Edwards The Kingmaker?

This situation is eerily reminiscent of the situation with the GOP in 1952.

John Edwards has said he’s in the Democratic primary to win it.

He’s also said he’s planning on staying in “through the convention.”

And while those two statements may sound more or less the same, they’re not.

Because while Edwards would like to be on the stage accepting his party’s nomination, there may be another role for him at the convention: Kingmaker.

The prospect of a vigorous, three-way contest across some 22 states on Feb. 5, suggested by polling and by the swerving momentum of the two early votes, is raising the distinct possibility that the primary process could return to its roots as a nuts-and-bolts battle for delegates to the August Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Now let's review that 1952 GOP race.

Going into the convention, there were three major candidates -- General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Senator Robert Taft, and Governor Earl Warren. Eisenhower and Taft were the two clear favorites, and entered the convention with the most delegates but without a majority. After some horse-trading that got Earl Warren promised the first open seat on the US Supreme Court (which turned out to be the Chief Justice spot), Warren released his delegates to Eisenhower -- and the broker of the deal, Senator Richard Nixon became the Vice Presidential nominee. Those three men turned out to be among the most important forces in American politics for the next quarter century, as two of them were the GOP nominees in five of the next six elections (winning four of them) and the third presided the reshaping of American jurisprudence in a manner that remains controversial but enshrined in our laws and culture.

So what bout 2008? Who gets the Edwards delegates if the Democrats enter their convention without a winner? What does he get in return? How does that reshape the political landscape for the rest of my lifetime if the nominee he taps wins the presidency in November? Those are the questions that have to be asked as we look at the dynamics at work. Does John Edwards want to be Vice President? Supreme Court Justice? Attorney General? Who will give him what he wants -- and who does he most want to see in the White House (other than himself)?

And what is even more fun is that the same thing could happen with the GOP, too!


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

January 18, 2008

Is Repeating Oneself Ethical?

An interesting cloning dilemma.

A scientist has achieved a world first... by cloning himself.

In a breakthrough certain to provoke an ethical furore, Samuel Wood created embryo copies of himself by placing his skin cells in a woman's egg.

The embryos were the first to be made from cells taken from adult humans.

Although they survived for only five days and were smaller than a pinhead, they are seen as a milestone in the quest for treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

But critics fear the technology could be exploited by mavericks to clone babies and accused the scientists of reducing the miracle of human life to a factory of spare parts.

Researchers from the Californian stem cell research company Stemagen employed the same technique used to make Dolly the sheep, the world's first cloned mammal, to create the embryos.

They took eggs donated by young women having IVF and replaced genetic material with DNA from the skin cells of two men.

Needless to say, this is a storm of controversy. It has been only a matter of time before we went from the cloning of embryonic cells to this cloning of adults – even though this particular experiment was terminated at 5 days.

What questions need to be dealt with?

1) Is it proper to clone human beings at all?
2) What rights do cloned individuals have?
3) At what point do cloned individuals acquire rights?

I don't propose to have all the answers to these questions – just the questions themselves. But it appears answers are needed sooner rather than later.





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

Clintonoid Disenfranchisement Strategy Fails

Casino workers get to participate in the Nevada Caucuses after all.

A union with ties to Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton failed in court Thursday to block the state party's plans to hold caucuses at special precincts inside casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge James Mahan was presumed to be a boost for rival Barack Obama in Saturdays Democratic presidential caucuses because he has been endorsed by the union representing many of the shift workers who will be able to use the precincts.

''State Democrats have a First Amendment right to association, to assemble and to set their own rules,'' Mahan said.

Nevada's Democratic Party approved creation of the precincts to make it easier for housekeepers, waitresses and bellhops to caucus during the day near work rather than have to do so in their neighborhoods.

The state teachers union, which has ties to Clinton, brought the lawsuit against the special precincts after local 226 of the Culinary Workers Union endorsed Obama for the Democratic nomination. The union is the largest in Nevada, with 60,000 members. The Clinton campaign said it was not involved in the suit.

The Clinton camp had no problem with the rules until the largest union of casino worker endorsed Barack Obama. Then they quickly went to work to try to shut out that union's members. So much for letting every vote count.

Fortunatley a judge put an end to that strategy.





|| Greg, 05:15 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

CBC Split Is Unusual

But personally, I think that the divisions in the Congressional Black Caucus over the endorsements of members in the race for the Democrat presidential nomination isn't a bad thing.

Even though Barack Obama may become the first African-American ever to represent a major party as the nominee for president, many black lawmakers on Capitol Hill are not supporting him. And that’s creating tensions within the Congressional Black Caucus.

More than a third of the black members of Congress are backing Hillary Rodham Clinton or John Edwards in the presidential primary, a stance that puts them at odds with many of their African-American constituents, who, recent polls show, are beginning to shift to Obama’s camp.

The Clinton supporters — among them, civil rights pioneer Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) — have said their endorsements didn’t hinge on race. Instead, they cited long-standing relationships with the Clintons, a respect for Hillary Clinton’s experience in national politics and, for some, geographical alliances with her in New York.

But now that Obama has won the Iowa caucuses and appears poised to do well in other early-primary states, some African-American lawmakers are pointing to the Clinton backers and calling them political opportunists who did not believe in the electability of a black candidate.

Why do I see this sort of split as positive? Not because of its potential to help Republicans. Instead, I think it is a positive thing that we are not seeing "black leaders" and (by extension) "the black community" thinking and speaking and acting in unison. African-Americans are rational thinkers with diverse points of views -- they can, should, and ought to differ among themselves on who they support for the presidency. There is no reason that they ought to vote in lock-step for Barack Obama, or for any other candidate for office. I'm hopeful that this may herald the end of skin-tone based politics and lead to a flowering of true political debate and diversity of political behavior among African-Americans -- because I believe that will result in policies better for African-Americans and all Americans rather than seeing the black vote be the monolithic property of one wing of one party.





|| Greg, 05:11 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Mexico Protects Killers

Just a reminder -- the Mexican government not only has an official policy to violate our nation's border and sovereignty, it also has a policy in place to protect those who commit murders in the United States.

A methamphetamine dealer who gunned down a deputy during a traffic stop in Southern California. A man in Arizona who killed his ex-girlfriend's parents and brother and snatched his children. A man who suffocated his baby daughter and left her body in a toolbag on an expressway overpass near Chicago.

Ordinarily, these would be death penalty cases. But these men fled to Mexico, thereby escaping the possibility of execution.

The reason: Mexico refuses to send anyone back to the United States unless the U.S. gives assurances it won't seek the death penalty a 30-year-old policy that rankles some American prosecutors and enrages victims' families.

I've been aware of this for years. A colleagues daughter was murdered some years ago in a drive-by shooting by a couple of "undocumented immigrants" out committing the homicides Americans won't commit. The two gang-banging scumbags flitted south to Mexico, where they have escaped justice for years. And not only did the Mexican government insist the death penalty come off the table, they also demanded an upper limit on the prison sentence in advance -- and let the one guy they caught walk free after the prosecutor and family balked.

Mexico, you see, doesn't care about dead Americans -- or any other consequence of its policy of encouraging Mexican nationals to break American immigration law.





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Chronicle Wastes Ink, Electrons, On Non-Story

Nothing like focusing on a non-issue in the area's hottest congressional campaign.

The brochure that U.S. House candidate and former Sugar Land mayor Dean Hrbacek mailed to voters this week says, "Dean's record speaks for itself."

But his physique does not. In a photo next to the words of praise, Hrbacek's body is spoken for by the torso of an appreciably slimmer man.

The picture, presented as a true image of the candidate, is actually a computerized composite of Hrbacek's face and someone else's figure, in suit and tie, from neck to knee caps. The give-away is a flawed fit of head and collar.

Hrbacek, a tax lawyer and accountant, did not return calls about the campaign literature Thursday. He is among 10 Republicans seeking the nomination to run against U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Stafford.

But campaign manager Scott Broschart admitted the image is a fake.

Hrbacek has been so busy meeting voters in the 22nd Congressional District that he had no time for a photo session that would have produced a full-length, genuine photo for the political mailing, Broschart said.

I've met Dean Hrbacek. He's a nice guy, and he'd likely be my candidate for Congress in CD22 if Shelley Sekula Gibbs were not in the contest. He has been working hard to get the nomination, meeting with individuals and groups in an effort to win the nomination. Indeed, this can be said about most of the candidates in the races for CD22.

So what does the Chronicle focus on? A photo in which the Hrbacek campaign used a body double. As a voter in CD22, I think we deserve better.

Come on, Houston Chronicle!

UPDATE: Click here for a later post on this subject.


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January 17, 2008

Stupid Cheesehead Tricks

Sometimes I wonder about Packers fans.

This guy was just careless.

A little housecleaning nearly cost the Rev. Walter Hermanns a seat at Sunday's National Football Conference championship game.

Hermanns, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, was getting some help from a friend last Friday when he asked him to take care of a stack of papers left in a bin for shredding.

When his friend got to four Green Bay Packers tickets bundled together with a rubber band, he took off the band, put one in the shredder and then stopped short.

"Something rang a bell and he said, 'Are you sure you want to shred these?'" Hermanns said.

Fortunately, Hermanns was treated well by the Packers organization, and his ticket was replaced when he provided the shredded pieces and other evidence of purchase.

On the other hand, this guy deserves no mercy whatsoever.

Upset that his 7-year-old son wouldn't wear a Green Bay Packers jersey during the team's playoff victory Saturday, a man restrained the boy for an hour with tape and taped the jersey onto him.

Mathew Kowald was cited for disorderly conduct in connection with the incident with his son at their home in Pardeeville, Lt. Wayne Smith of the Columbia County Sheriff's Department said. Pardeeville is about 30 miles north of Madison.

The 36-year-old Kowald was arrested Monday after his wife told authorities about the incident. Kowald was taken to the county jail and held until Wednesday, when he pleaded no contest, paid a fine of $186 and was released.

Kowald's wife filed a restraining order Wednesday, so Kowald will not be able to have contact with his family, Smith said. Smith said other domestic issues have surfaced, though he wouldn't elaborate.

I'm somewhat taken aback that all this guy got was a fine. What the hell was he thinking – or was he thinking at all?

Which is just my way of saying:

Go Eli! Go Giants! Beat the Packers!





|| Greg, 08:01 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Dennis Kucinich Uses Homeland Security To Harass Opponent

We already knew what a statist little bastard Dennis Kucinich really is. After all, he tried to use the courts to override the First Amendment right of a news organization to determine who it would permit on stage during a debate it was sponsoring.

Now we see that he is out to silence political opponents, too, for engaging in a classic form of left-wing political theater.

Congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinch asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to investigate one of his Democratic congressional opponents, Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman.

Kucinich, who frequently speaks out against government intrusion, initiated the investigation after Cimperman, a Cleveland councilman, delivered a "missing" poster to his Lakewood congressional office on Jan. 3, according to Cimperman.

Cimperman, who was mocking Kucinich for being on the road campaigning for president, spent less than 30 seconds in the office while a campaign worker filmed him dropping off the poster. A federal agent told Cimperman Tuesday during an in-person interview that the use of the video camera inside the government office was at issue. Cimperman said the agent spent about 10 minutes with him.

Yep -- that is what Dennis Kucinich considers to be a threat to Homeland Security.

Let's assume, just for a moment, that Cimperman was in technical violation of some law or regulation. It would be clear that measure in question would be designed to deal with a terrorist threat, not political by a public official or candidate. And I'm sure that there would have been no report to the Department of Homeland Security had one of the local news channels shown up. So there is clearly an intent to silence another candidate who was highlighting the failure of an incumbent to do his job and represent his district.

Fringe-Left Democrats told me if I voted for George W. Bush that Homeland Security goons would be investigating those who criticize government officials as potential terrorists. Indeed, one critic even said the following:

"History tells us that unchecked police powers with little or no oversight will be abused and the citizens will be harmed," he said. "I am for police function that protects citizens of this great nation, not a police function that is used to terrorize them."

Thank you, Dennis Kucinich, for making your own prophecy come true.

H/T Michelle Malkin

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|| Greg, 07:58 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Don't Put Evidence On YouTube!

Stupid is as stupid does -- and stupid really did this time!

Rudy Villanueva and Tony Logan, alleged members of a Miami-Dade County street gang called the Bird Road Boys, were seen in the video brandishing a shotgun, assault rifle and handguns. Villanueva was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement late Tuesday evening, and Logan was arrested early Wednesday morning.

Villanueva, who goes by the names King Bird Road and Bird Road Rudy, is the alleged leader of the gang and is seen on the video saying, "Metro Dade Gang Unit, here I am baby." Villanueva went on in the video to say "we's out here fighting a Cold War" and that "they come at us if they want to."

Logan appears in the video saying "come get it" while flashing gang signs and pulling the triggers of the two handguns he is holding.

The Fifth Amendment gives you the right to remain silent in order not to incriminate yourself. It strikes me that these fools should have acted accordingly. But fortunately, they were too stupid to do so -- and so the community will likely be a safer place.





|| Greg, 05:23 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (5) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

"Constitutional" Does Not Equal "Best" -- Or Even "Good"

I've tried making that point before. A law or practice can be bad without it running afoul of the Constitution. The solution to a problem may not be the courts -- it is the legislature, or a private individual, company, or organization.

That's why the US Supreme Court ruled as it did.

If it's possible for Supreme Court justices to uphold a law while holding their noses, that's what happened yesterday when the court delivered a unanimous victory for party bosses and "smoke-filled rooms" in New York.

The state's convoluted process for electing trial court judges may discourage outsiders, empower party bosses and even be bad policy, the court said, but it is constitutional.

"None of our cases establishes an individual's constitutional right to have a 'fair shot' at winning the party's nomination," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the court.

Challengers to the system have asserted that it is almost impossible for a candidate to be elected as a New York Supreme Court judge -- the name the state gives its trial courts -- without being a party nominee. Since 1921, the state has allowed the parties to employ a complicated system of petitions, delegates and conventions to choose their nominees for the general election, a process that gives great sway to party leaders.

Overall, it sounds like a bad system. It does not, however, constitute a violation of the Constitution. Even the New York Times reluctantly concedes as much, noting that some of the justices quoted Thurgood Marshall's observation that “The Constitution does not prohibit legislatures from enacting stupid laws.”

A stupid — and undemocratic — law is precisely what New York has. Now that the cudgel of a court order has been removed, we hope the Legislature will summon the wisdom and integrity to fix the system voluntarily.

The odds of that happening are long, since the powers that be in the Legislature are the same ones that profit from the current corrupt system. It is, however, a cause that everyone who cares about a qualified and independent judiciary needs to keep fighting.

The new York Legislature needs to fix the system. here's hoping the people put the pressure on the legislature to do so in a way that allows them more meaningful participation in selecting the state's judges.





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The Siljander Indictment

I was particularly struck by this story as it broke yesterday, because of the connection of a former congressman/diplomat to terrorism. But as i look at this story, I'm struck by one thing -- this case appears to be less about terrorism than it is about garden variety greed and avarice, and an ordinary white collar crime.

A former congressman and delegate to the United Nations was indicted Wednesday as part of a terrorist fundraising ring that allegedly sent more than $130,000 to an al-Qaida and Taliban supporter who has threatened U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan.

Mark Deli Siljander, a Michigan Republican when he was in the House, was charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstructing justice for allegedly lying about lobbying senators on behalf of an Islamic charity that authorities said was secretly sending funds to terrorists.

A 42-count indictment, unsealed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., accuses the Islamic American Relief Agency of paying Siljander $50,000 for the lobbying — money that turned out to be stolen from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

And the more I read about the case, the more confirmed in my opinion that Siljander was not conspiring to support terrorism so much as he was to line his own pockets. The indictment seems to confirm that

Siljander, 56, is founder and chairman of Global Strategies in Great Falls, a public relations and marketing firm, and is slated to publish a book in June focused on bridging the divide between Christians and Muslims.

The charity, which was based in Columbia, Mo., allegedly paid Siljander $50,000 in March 2004 to lobby the Senate Finance Committee in an attempt to be kept off a list of terrorist organizations. Senate records indicate that Siljander has not been registered as a lobbyist since 1998.

According to the indictment, the money was stolen from the U.S. Agency for International Development, and Siljander lied to federal agents about his role.

In other words, his role seems to have been one of lobbyist, not a knowing participant in an effort to fund terrorism. Indeed, if he had not engaged in a course of action designed to shift government funds from their intended purpose to his own bank account and later lying about it, he would in all likelihood be guilty of nothing criminal. But the actions of which he is accused are clearly part of a scheme to defraud and deceive, and that is criminal in and of itself, even without the ties to a terrorist related group. But I wonder to what degree Siljander was duped by a group that was already seeking to dupe the government -- after all, there is no honor among thieves.

Debbie Schlussel has a post of note about this case. Many years ago, Siljander was not just her congressman, but also her employer. Her words on the matter seem to confirm my take -- namely that this has has less to do with supporting terrorism than it does with a desire to grab some cash. She notes that Siljander has had financial problems since leaving Congress, and that he had a consistent pro-Israel record and was outspoken against Middle Eastern terrorist groups.

H/T Captain's Quarters





|| Greg, 04:59 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 16, 2008

Defending McCain

I've made it clear that there are many things on which I disagree with John McCain. That said, I respect him for his time as a Vietnam POW. Some folks are trying to undermine the heroism he showed while a prisoner.

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Tuesday assailed a two-page attack mailer sent to newspaper editors across South Carolina that claims McCain turned on his fellow POWs to get better treatment while he was a prisoner in Vietnam.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. I know because I was there," Orson Swindle, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and former prisoner of war, said in a statement about the mailing from a group called Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain.

"The deceitful smear tactics by such fringe elements as Vietnam Veterans Against McCain must not be allowed into the political process. We are a better people than that, and those responsible should be denounced," said Swindle said.

I was not in Vietnam – indeed, I was 10 years old when John McCain and his fellow heroes came home. I would be inclined not to give the story much credence because I know the media would have searched out negative information about him before now.

But to me, the best evidence on McCain's behalf is the lengthy list of former POWs who have given him their support. For me, I need to see only one name on that list, Capt. Richard Stratton, to know that McCain's time as a prisoner was marked with honorable conduct. After the war, my father served with Dick Stratton, and our families became friends. And I will say today, three decades later, that my knowledge of Stratton's integrity is sufficient to reassure me of McCain's on this point.

The time has come for all Americans to reject such attacks on John McCain.

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The Best Ticket?

Well, it could be quite interesting if we can make it happen with the right one on top.

Among the legion of GOP Oval Office hopefuls, the oddest of potential political odd couples may be former Bay State Gov. Mitt Romney and Arizona Sen. John McCain.

If the two put aside their differences, would they make an unstoppable duo?

"If you look at their resumes and strengths and weaknesses, they'd be a very balanced, strong ticket," said GOP analyst Todd Domke. "But you know that old joke about needing a food-taster."

The two candidates are a study in contrasts, starting with Romney's lustrous coif vs. McCain's comb-over.

Then there's McCain's hardscrabble image as a war hero and a POW Navy captain, vs. Romney's slick persona as a Harvard-educated, wealthy captain of industry.

And don't forget Romney's gee-whiz, H-E-double-hockey-sticks, G-rated banter compared with McCain's unfit-to-print penchant for four-letter phrasing.

Frankly, I would be willing to swallow hard and cast a vote for John McCain in such a situation, despite my misgivings about him for as a presidential candidate. Romney's executive experience and McCain's standing on defense issues would be a great combination. The choice would draw in many independents, while bridging the various constituencies of the old Reagan Coalition. And McCain is certainly a more palatable candidate than Mike Huckabee.





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

Most Bizarre American Idol Moments

My wife and I had to watch the first audition show for American Idol last night.

I think we saw a couple of the most strange American Idol moments ever last night.

Take, for example, this guy.

Creepy! And the more time we had to consider the performance during the commercial, the more disturbed we became. You have to hope that Paula Abdul sought a restraining order after that one. Sick sick sick sick sick!

Did I mention that this guy was really sick?





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Pelosi Accomplishes Something

No, not anything significant in a legislative sense -- but she has changed the menu in the restaurants, snack bars, and other eating establishments under her control as Speaker of the House.

The processed cheese has been replaced with brie. The Jell-O has made way for raspberry kiwi tarts and mini-lemon blueberry trifles. Meatloaf has moved over for mahi mahi and buns have been shunted aside in favor of baguettes.

A revolution is afoot at the deli counters, grills and salad bars of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Newly ascendant Democrats may have hit roadblocks on Iraq and fiscal issues, but they have revamped congressional menus, replacing fatty, pre-made foods with healthier, gourmet alternatives. The once dreary congressional cafeterias now abound with haute cuisine.

The menu transformation is part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “Greening the Capitol” plan to make the House campus more environmentally friendly and socially progressive.

But there can be a downside to delicious. Not everyone is happy with the enhanced offerings. Many congressional employees have complained that as the food quality has increased, so have the prices.

In other words, she has no legislative accomplishments to speak of, but Pelosi has still done something revolutionary. Her food choices are remarkable -- and remarkably out of touch with traditional American cuisine and the way Americans eat.

Indeed, there can be only one conclusion to this haute cuisine revolution.

The Speaker of the House has surrendered to France.





|| Greg, 05:07 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Romney Wins Big

In the last several days, the polls have been all over the place. Romney wins. Romney loses. Romney ties.

But now the only poll that counts has been taken -- ROMNEY WINS BIG!

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney resoundingly won the Michigan presidential primary Tuesday, seizing his first big victory in the Republican competition and blunting the momentum of his chief rival, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).

Romney's triumph in the state where he was born and where his father served as governor further scrambles a GOP field in which no candidate has been able to win more than one major contest. McCain captured first place in the New Hampshire primary Jan. 8 and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee topped the Iowa field five days earlier.

The race now shifts to South Carolina, where a tough three-way contest is expected in the first Southern state to vote this primary season. McCain and Huckabee flew to the Palmetto State before the voting in Michigan ended, and Romney will head there Wednesday for a bus tour through the state.

With 89 percent counted, Romney had won 39 percent of the vote to McCain's 30 percent. Huckabee trailed with 16 percent.

What this means, of course, is that the Republican race is wide-open for at least the next three weeks. South Carolina will be a truly interesting contest, with Romney a factor again now that he is seen as able to win somewhere. The momentum boost could derail either John McCain or Mike Huckabee -- especially since Romney did surprisingly well among Michigan's large bloc of evangelical voters, who he split evenly with Mike Huckabee.

Indeed, that performance by Huckabee should lead folks to ask a critical question -- does Mike Huckabee have significant support outside the evangelical community? Michigan's evangelical voters make up roughly 40% of the GOP base -- and Huckabee got roughly 31% of those evangelical votes according to exit polling data I saw last night. His total take of the votes was 16% -- which means that he received the support of only 6% of the non-evangelical vote. How can he win in November with numbers like that? Romney, on the other hand, did well with all GOP demographic groups, while McCain prevailed among independents.





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

January 15, 2008

Kucinich Loses, First Amendment Wins

As I pointed out yesterday, the notion that the courts could order a network to allow a presidential candidate to participate in a debate was absurd on its face. it appears that the Nevada Supreme Court agreed.

The Nevada Supreme Court said Tuesday MSNBC can exclude Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich from a candidate debate.

Lawyers for NBC Universal Inc., had asked the high court to overturn a lower court order that the cable TV news network include the Ohio congressman or pull the plug on broadcasting the debate Tuesday night with Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.

The state Supreme Court's unanimous order said that blocking the debate unless Kucinich got to participate would be "an unconstitutional prior restraint" on the news network's First Amendment rights. The justices also said the lower court exceeded its jurisdiction by ordering Kucinich's participation even though he first requested and was denied relief from the Federal Communications Commission.

So yes, Glen Greenwald's shilling for Dennis Kucinich to the contrary, yesterday's decision by a Nevada district court judge was a case of gross judicial over-reaching AND judicial activism at its worst. Any outcome other than that reached by the Nevada Supreme Court would have turned every booking decision by a television news show into grounds for a lawsuit if some other individual were bumped due to changing news priorities.

H/T Captain's Quarters





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CapeWind OK For Environment

So, will the project to create pollution-free electricity off of Cape Cod be permitted to move forward?

The nation's first proposed offshore wind-energy project cleared its most formidable hurdle yesterday as the US Minerals Management Service declared that the wind farm off Cape Cod would have little lasting impact on wildlife, navigation, and tourism.

The agency's nearly 2,000-page draft environmental impact statement makes clear that the federal government is inclined to approve construction of the 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound, 5 miles from the nearest coastline, unless major new concerns arise during a public comment period. Federal approval would probably come late this year or early next year, and remaining state permits are not expected to be a major obstacle, given that Governor Deval Patrick is in favor of the project.

The problem, of course, is not Cape Wind Instead, it is the CapeWindbag, Senator Teddy the Hutt (D-Chivas Regal). He is concerned that there might be a smudge on the horizon, miles off shore, to obscure a fingernail's breadth of his view. Such a sacrifice has been too much for him and the wealthy NIMBYs who have sought to prevent the project from moving forward.





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Race-Tinged Campaign Rhetoric Gets Hillary Booed

When you imply you are greater than Martin Luther King, it probably isn't a good idea to show up at events commemorating the man. It might get you a less than festive reception.

Dogged by continuing racial tensions around her presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton drew a smattering of boos on Monday when she spoke at a religiously tinged Martin Luther King Jr. rally put together by a union organizing predominantly black security workers.

The catcalls came when Clinton was introduced and her speech drew only tepid applause compared to the boisterous ovations drawn by many of the pastors and reverends — not to mention a hip-hop artist and slam poet — who took the podium before her.

This should have been a friendly crowd. That it wasn't should say something about the fraying of the Democrat coalition. Hillary Clinton cannot take black voters for granted -- and th insensitivity she and her surrogates have shown recently will not endear her to the black community if it continues.





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

Obama's Church Could Be An Issue

Mickey Kaus points out that there is still one candidate whose church ties have disturbing racial overtones.

Undernews Alert: It's hard to believe that Obama's Afrocentric church--with its troubling attack on "the pursuit of middeclassness"--isn't going to be an issue in the campaign, soon. There are already wild, inflammatory emails circulating, apparently. ... Update: Here is the offical Obama response page. Excerpt:

"There is information on the Black Values System in the new member packet provided at Trinity, and the new member classes put the Black Values System in the historical context of the civil rights movement."

Hmm. It must be understood in "the historical context." That'll reassure nervous white voters! The Obama camp would seem to be severely underestimating its vulnerability on the church issue if it thinks lecturing people on the civil rights movement will solve this problem for them in the long run.

The problem is not that Obama attends a liberal church in a liberal denomination(for the record, my wife is a former UCC pastor). The problem is not that the congregation has a strong ethnic identity, as do many older congregations in the UCC . The problem is how that identity gets expressed, and the racialist -- if not outright racist -- manner in which that identity is expressed. How deeply he subscribes to such a racial philosophy is a legitimate issue -- especially when official publications of the congregation praise Louis Farrakhan and reject the very uniting message that Barack Obama is campaigning on in his quest for the presidency.





|| Greg, 05:25 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Some Perspective On The New CAFE Standards

How much will it cost you when you buy that new car?

The only problem is, based on what we know now, it'll cost automakers some $85 billion to comply. When all costs are factored in, other estimates put the total cost at about $18 billion a year.

* * *

"We've done even more research," [GM Vice Chairman Bob] Lutz said, "and (the cost per car of new CAFE standards is) going to be in the range of $4,000 to $10,000, with an average of about $6,000."

And that will be on every car -- even though there are vehicles (like the one I drive) that already meet the standard. The automakers are just going to have to raise all prices to absorb the cost of meeting the new standards -- there are no two wys about it. After all, that is how any business sets its prices -- by taking into account all costs.

And what does it mean to the consumer?

Let's put that in perspective. The average cost of an automobile in 2006 was $27,958, according to the Comerica Automotive Affordability Index. So our new energy bill is, in effect, going to be a 21.4% tax hike on the current car prices. Oh, didn't they tell you that?

That's right -- my car that cost $15,000 will end up costing close to $20,000 just based upon this new regulatory cost -- effectively a hidden tax. And what will that mean as my car gets older?

In fact, the higher prices of cars will encourage consumers to keep their older, dirtier but cheaper vehicles for much longer. So the actual benefits will be less than forecast.

History bears this out. In 1970, just before the first CAFE standards were imposed, the average car on the road was about 5 1/2 years old. By 2000, the average car was 9 years old — thanks to the higher costs of buying and operating new cars, a direct result of higher fuel efficiency and safety standards.

Yep -- my car will be in service until it literally cannot move. That means that instead of driving it until 2011 or 2012, I'll be driving it until at least 2015 or 2016, because that extra chunk of cash will put a new car out of my reach (after all, we know how small teacher raises have been here in Texas).

And that doesn't even get into the auto safety issues.

Higher prices. More pollution. Unsafe cars. That is the legacy of this new legislation.





|| Greg, 04:49 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Watcher's Council Results -- And A Word Of Reflection

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Britain's Prosecution of The Blogger Lionheart for Criticism of Islam by Wolf Howling, and Andy Olmsted by Obsidian Wings.  Ahere are the full results of the vote:

VotesCouncil link
5Britain's Prosecution of The Blogger Lionheart for Criticism of Islam
Wolf Howling
2Getting a "Clue"
Soccer Dad
1  1/3The Cotton Candy Candidacy
Right Wing Nut House
1Honor Killings? What Honor Killings?
Cheat Seeking Missiles
1Major Andrew Olmsted, R.I.P
Joshuapundit
2/3Death and the Moonbat
Bookworm Room
1/3Major Papers Oppose Justice For Murderers
Rhymes With Right
1/3The Cop on the Beat
The Glittering Eye
1/3Dixville Notch This!
The Education Wonks

VotesNon-council link
6  2/3Andy Olmsted
Obsidian Wings
1  1/3Orchestrated Circuses and Clowns
Dr. Sanity
1Sen. Obama's Calls for Unity Are Not What They Seem
Townhall.com
1'Iron My Shirt': Media Fooled By Radio Stunters at Hillary Stop
Stop The ACLU
2/3Seeking Support
Rocky Mountain News
1/3An Amusing Greenie Attack on the Inhofe Report
A Western Heart
1/3Enlightened Selfish Interest
Oliver Kamm
1/3The Disturbing Barack Hussein Obama
Flopping Aces
1/3On Hope: Audacity and Pandora
ShrinkWrapped

I normally make this post over the weekend, but this week it has been rather hard. Our winning entry in the Non-Council category is a post by a former Council Member, Andy Olmstead. It is one of those posts that you just don;t want to have to read or write about, given that it contains the reflections of a friend/colleague/hero written in the event of his death. Andy was one of the first soldiers killed in Iraq in 2008, and so we all have been honored to read the words that none of us would ever have wished to see -- and I say with the utmost respect that I wish to have never been so honored and that I could jump over to Andy's personal site and read something new and interesting. Alas, that shall never be again, and all I can do is honor his final words by stating that I awarded my first place vote to his poignant words, and wished I could have also given him the second place vote as well. It would appear that every one of us gave at least one of our two votes to him. May you rest in peace, Major Olmstead, and may those who survive be worthy of the sacrifice you made for our country.





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January 14, 2008

Judge Interferes With Debate

Face it -- Dennis Kucinich is not a bona fide candidate for President. He has no significant support, has raised no significant money, and has no significant chance of winning his party's nomination. MSNBC was right to exclude him from its upcoming debate.

But a judge feels differently.

A Nevada judge said Monday that Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich must be included in Tuesday's candidates' debate in Nevada.

Senior Clark County District Court Judge Charles Thompson said if Kucinich is excluded, he'll issue an injunction stopping the televised debate.

The judge sided with a lawyer for the Ohio congressman, who says debate host MSNBC at first invited Kucinich to take part and then told him last week he couldn't.

A lawyer for the network said MSNBC decided to go with the top three candidates after the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries.

The judge called it a matter of fairness and said Nevada voters will benefit if they hear from more than just Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.

The cable network and the Democratic Party are calling the 9 p.m. EST debate a chance to hear issues from Nevada's minority communities. Tim Russert and Brian Williams are moderating.

Personally, I believe that the network should cite the First Amendment and tell the judge to take his court order, roll it up real tight, and shove it up his @$$. However, a better course of action might be to give Kucinich a podium, and a microphone -- and then not turn the thing on and not ever point the candidate at him. After all, the judge certainly cannot dictate what questions and how many are asked of various candidates without running even further afoul of the First Amendment.

Ed at Captain's Quarters points out some jurisdictional issues, too.

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RonPauLunatics At Their Finest

When you are a conspiracy theorist backing a candidate who has made a career pushing conspiracy theories, it is no wonder that you look for conspiracies in every occurrence.

And how you refuse to accept the simplest explanation for a human error.

Jennifer Call's eyes searched the office for nothing in particular. Her arms waved and her fear spilled out.

"This is where I grew up," Sutton's town clerk said yesterday. "This is my hometown, this is where my family is, and all of sudden, my name is being splashed across the internet as this horrible person. And the frightening part is, I don't know these people and they don't know me."

Call wants the nationwide army of boisterous Ron Paul supporters, believers in more conspiracy theories than Oliver Stone, to know that she's committed no crime.

Not treason, as the dozens of phone callers screamed. Not fraud, as the dozens of e-mails charged. Nothing.

Human error, by someone unknown, caused Call's office to claim Paul received zero votes from the town during Tuesday's first-in-the-nation primary.

Paul actually got a whopping 31 votes.

Out of 920 cast.

Launch an investigation. Alert the media.

The mistake was corrected early the next morning, but that hardly mattered. The Paul machine, upon reading the number in print, quickly went into counteroffensive mode.

Now by my count, the error went uncorrected for perhaps 12 to 14 hours. The mistake was corrected before the day was out. Why then – other than the significant level of mental illness among Ron Paul supporters – is there this effort to drive one small town clerk out of her home, and to imprison or execute her.

Oh, and by the way, it is clear that these Ron Paul supporters do not hold to their idol's views of the Constitution as limiting government. After all, there is no way that even an intentional miscount of 31 votes – which this was not – could constitute treason under the definition set forth in Article III of the Constitution.

H/T Malkin





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Will Christians Riot?

After all, a Muslim film producer in a Muslim country has made a blasphemous movie that disrespects Jesus.

A director who shares the ideas of Iran's hardline president has produced what he says is the first film giving an Islamic view of Jesus Christ, in a bid to show the "common ground" between Muslims and Christians.

Nader Talebzadeh sees his movie, "Jesus, the Spirit of God," as an Islamic answer to Western productions like Mel Gibson's 2004 blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ," which he praised as admirable but quite simply "wrong".

"Gibson's film is a very good film. I mean that it is a well-crafted movie but the story is wrong -- it was not like that," he said, referring to two key differences: Islam sees Jesus as a prophet, not the son of God, and does not believe he was crucified

In light of the civilized, peaceful behavior of Muslims in recent years whenever their theological ox is gored, there appears to me to be an appropriate path for we Christians to follow. It seems to me that there needs to be a death sentence issued against Nader Talebzadeh for his insult to Jesus and to those of us who follow him. There need to be demands for an apology from the Iranian government. Mobs need to burn down Iranian diplomatic and cultural buildings around the world, as well as attack and destroy some mosques. Heck, maybe Christians also need to beat and kill a few random Muslims, perhaps by beheading, in order to express the level of offense given by this movie. After all, that is how the Muslim world handles perceived slights against Islam and its false prophet -- Muslims certainly won't object were Christians to respond in kind, would they?

Of course, such evil actions would go against all forms of civilized behavior, and betray Christianity's place as the true religion of peace. There would be universal outrage and condemnation if Christians acted like Muslims in this situation -- or any like it. And that outrage would be merited.

By the way, be sure to read the entire article and see just how much of a blasphemous insult to Christianity the religion of Islam really is. Then ask yourself -- how can Islam demand that Christians respect Muslim religious sensibilities when Islam itself is so offensive to the basic teachings of Christianity?


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

NFL Playoffs

Frankly, I had dreams of seeing this year's Super Bowl be the Manning Bowl. I didn't, however, expect to see it happened. Indeed, I expected only one Manning to survive this weekend.

I was right.

And wrong at the same time.

Peyton is out.

To the surprise of many people who follow the N.F.L., the San Diego Chargers, not the Indianapolis Colts, will meet the New England Patriots next Sunday for the American Football Conference championship and the right to play in Super Bowl XLII.

* * *

The Chargers won their eighth consecutive game despite 3 touchdown passes and 402 passing yards by Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. But Manning also threw two interceptions on tipped balls, and receiver Marvin Harrison lost a fumble after a catch and run, leading to San Diego’s first touchdown. All three turnovers were in Chargers territory; two came inside the 20.

And yet the younger Manning, the NY Giants' Eli, kept his team alive with the help of a defense that simply dominated the Cowboys.

Tony Romo can go wherever he wants with Jessica Simpson now. Eli Manning and the New York Giants knocked him and the Dallas Cowboys into the offseason Sunday.

Having to wait out long, slow drives by Dallas, Manning made his few chances count, throwing two touchdown passes to Amani Toomer and getting a 1-yard touchdown run from Brandon Jacobs for a 21-17 victory that put New York into the NFC championship game for the first time since the 2000 season.

"I won't get tired of hearing that this week," Manning said. "No one's given us much credit and probably still won't. But that's OK. We like it that way."

Manning is heading to his first NFC championship game, at Green Bay next Sunday. Manning had a much better day than his brother, Peyton, whose Indianapolis Colts were stunned by the San Diego Chargers.

"I know he was watching and rooting for me," said Eli, who was 12-of-18 for 163 yards.

I know I'll be rooting for the Giants next week against the Packers -- in the hopes of setting up a rematch of the marquis game of the regular season's final weekend, when the Giants lost a hard-fought game to the Patriots. I'd love to see Eli Manning and the Giants pull that upset in the big game.





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Plug-In Hybrids

My question is whether or not we will be able to afford to charge these cars up if electricity prices increase.

The Toyota Motor Corporation, which leads the world’s automakers in sales of hybrid-electric vehicles, announced Sunday night that it would build its first plug-in hybrid by 2010.

The move puts Toyota in direct competition with General Motors, which has announced plans to sell its own plug-in hybrid vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt, sometime around 2010.

Katsuaki Watanabe, the president of Toyota, announced the company’s plans at the Detroit auto show as part of a series of environmental steps.

Mr. Watanabe said Toyota, best known for its Prius hybrid car, would develop a fleet of plug-in hybrids that run on lithium-ion batteries, instead of the nickel-metal hydride batteries that power the Prius and other Toyota models.

Plug-in hybrids differ from the current hybrid vehicles in that they can be recharged externally, from an ordinary power outlet. In a conventional hybrid the battery is recharged from power generated by its wheels.

I'm really curious how efficient these plug-in hybrids will be. How far will the go between charges, and how much energy will they use? The numbers in this article are not encouraging -- and the car still uses gasoline to operate. I guess i don;t see the advantage or the practicality.





|| Greg, 04:50 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Presidential Race "Fluid"

I think this was rather a foregone conclusion after the first two major contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. And given the way that the polls have fluctuated on both sides (especially the GOP side), I think that fluid is the best available word.

Republican voters have sharply altered their views of the party’s presidential candidates following the early contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, with Senator John McCain, once widely written off, now viewed more favorably than any of his major competitors, according to the latest nationwide New York Times/CBS News Poll.

The findings underscored the extraordinary volatility in the Republican race and suggested that the party was continuing to search for a nominee to rally around. Nearly three-quarters of Republican primary voters said it was still too early for them to make up their minds “for sure,” meaning that they could shift their allegiances yet again if one or more of Mr. McCain’s rivals breaks through in the two Republican primaries this week, in Michigan and South Carolina.

And I find this little tidbit to be amusing, given my post over the weekend.

But Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama are now viewed by Democrats as almost equally qualified on a variety of measures, including the ability to serve as commander in chief.

Yeah, they are both equally qualified there. all right.

But in the end, we are seeing a tightening of the Democrat race and a continued ebb and flow on the GOP side. In the end, which will produce the more qualified, electable candidate?





|| Greg, 04:43 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 13, 2008

Al-Qaeda Killed Bhutto: Scotland Yard

This report should not surprise anyone. I wonder how the leftoids who view al-Qaeda as "freedom fighters" are going to reconcile this murder with their support for democratic reform in Pakistan?

BRITISH officials have revealed that evidence amassed by Scotland Yard detectives points towards Al-Qaeda militants being responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Five experts in video evidence and forensic science have been in Pakistan for 10 days since President Pervez Musharraf took up an offer from Gordon Brown for British help in the investigation of the December 27 killing. Last week they were joined by three specialists in explosives.

Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, has handled this case very poorly. As a result, attempts by his government to blame al-Qaeda were met with skepticism. However, investigators from the UK and US have concluded that the evidence of the al-Qaeda link is genuine and probably conclusive of al-Qaeda involvement.

And while there are those who call for a UN investigation (including Bhutto's husband), it is important to remember that the investigation of the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri by Syrian surrogates is still ongoing after three years. Does Pakistan really have that sort of time?





|| Greg, 09:25 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Mitt Surging In Michigan

The short answer is that it appears that Mitt Romney is going to win in Michigan -- something I have always considered to be a foregone conclusion.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who badly needs to win Tuesday's Michgian primary, has an 8-point lead over Sen. John McCain of Arizona in a McClatchy/MSNBC poll of Michigan voters to be released Sunday.

Romney had a narrower lead in a Detroit Free Press poll and was tied in a Detroit News poll.

Now there are those, including the author of this article in Politico, who insist that Michigan is a "must win" state for Romney. I don't know that it is. After all, a series of strong second place finishes would show him to have broad popular support in various parts of the country, while his rivals have spotty support. Indeed, that plays out int he current delegate count, which at this early stage of the game has Mitt Romney leading all other Republican candidates.





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

January 12, 2008

Dem Candidates Less Qualified Than Dan Quayle

Bravo to Captain Ed Morrissey for pointing out this bit of information.

Just for giggles, look how much time [former VP Dan] Quayle had in Congress when he got picked as Bush 41's running mate, and look how much experience the three leading Democrats have had. He beat Hillary by five years, Edwards by six, and Obama by nine.

Let's spell it out for you.

Dan Quayle had 4 years in the House and 8 years in the Senate when he became VP. And while Quayle was often criticized for his National Guard service during the Vietnam War, he has more military service than any of the three leading Democrats in 2008 -- none of whom have served at all. If Dan Quayle was so unqualified to be Vice President (and to step into the Oval Office in the event of a presidential death, incapacity, resignation, or impeachment), how on earth can ANY of the remaining Democrats be seen as qualified to start in the top spot?

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|| Greg, 11:51 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

"Is John McCain Hostile To The First Amendment?" And Other Important Questions

As many folks know, I have seriously mixed emotions about John McCain.

I do wish someone would ask him about this quote from sometime back.

"He [Michael Graham] also mentioned my abridgement of First Amendment rights, i.e. talking about campaign finance reform....I know that money corrupts....I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government."

I mean, it is important to illustrate the fundamental hostility of a major presidential candidate to a part of the Constitution. After all, if elected, McCain would be swearing to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Does his record indicate an inability to do so? I certainly think his own words make that a legitimate issue.

Mark Levin also offers some other areas where McCain should be seriously questioned by the media and his opponents.

The McCain domestic record is a disaster. To say he fought spending, most particularly earmarks, is to nibble around the edges and miss the heart of the matter. For starters, consider:

* McCain-Feingold — the most brazen frontal assault on political speech since Buckley v. Valeo.

* McCain-Kennedy — the most far-reaching amnesty program in American history.

* McCain-Lieberman — the most onerous and intrusive attack on American industry — through reporting, regulating, and taxing authority of greenhouse gases — in American history.

* McCain-Kennedy-Edwards — the biggest boon to the trial bar since the tobacco settlement, under the rubric of a patients’ bill of rights.

* McCain-Reimportantion of Drugs — a significant blow to pharmaceutical research and development, not to mention consumer safety (hey Rudy, pay attention, see link).

And given some of his defense miscues and his key role in undermining Bush's judicial nominees as a part of the Gang of 14, and you can see there is a lot to ask about besides his compelling story of personal heroism and sacrifice.

Maybe John McCain is not the greatest threat ever faced by the American Republic -- but is he the best that the Republicans have to offer America?

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|| Greg, 11:12 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Another Iraq Benchmark Met

I'm curious how the Democrats will try to spin this one as a failure.

Iraq's parliament adopted legislation Saturday on the reinstatement of thousands of former Baath party supporters to government jobs, a key benchmark sought by the United States as a step toward national reconciliation.

The bill was approved by a unanimous show of hands on each of the law's 30 clauses. Titled the Accountability and Justice law, it seeks to relax restrictions on the rights of members of Saddam Hussein's now-dissolved Baath party to fill government posts.

It is also designed to reinstate thousands of Baathists in government jobs from which they had been dismissed because of their ties to the party.

Let's be clear -- de-Baathification had to happen, just as de-Nazification had to happen in Germany in 1945. The problem was that it went too far. Most low-level officials in Germany were reinstated in place quickly. That didn't happen in Iraq. Undoing the problem has been an important key to creating stability in Iraq. And now the question has been settled.

H/T Captain's Quarters





|| Greg, 10:02 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Clintonoids Seek To Disenfranchise Members Of Obama-Supporting Union

Let every vote count -- but only the votes of Hillary Clinton supporters. Don't let workers whose unions support Obama participate at all.

Nevada’s state teachers union and six Las Vegas area residents filed a lawsuit late Friday that could make it harder for many members of the state’s huge hotel workers union to vote in the hotly contested Jan. 19 Democratic caucus in Nevada.

The 13-page lawsuit in federal district court here comes two days after the 60,000-member Culinary Workers Union Local 226 in Nevada endorsed Senator Barack Obama, a blow to Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Obama addressed the Culinary Union at their hall earlier Friday.

The lawsuit argues that the Nevada Democratic Party’s decision, decided late last year, to create at-large precincts inside nine Las Vegas resorts on caucus day violates the state’s election laws and creates a system in which voters at the at-large precincts can elect more delegates than voters at other precincts. The lawsuit employs a complex mathematical formula to show that voters at the other 1,754 precincts would have less influence with their votes.

Once again we see the problem with the caucus as a nominating device. Lot's of folks are immediately disenfranchised under that method. And now surrogates for the Clinton campaign are working to ensure that even more qualified participants are disenfranchised. Maybe they are trying to make sure that Hillary's statement about caucuses is true.

It is time to do away with the caucus in American politics.





|| Greg, 09:15 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Money Trouble For Giuliani Campaign

Maybe.

About a dozen senior campaign staffers for Rudy Giuliani are forgoing their January paychecks, aides said Friday, a sign of possible money trouble for the Republican presidential candidate.

Or maybe not.

"We have enough money, but we could always use more money," contended Mike DuHaime, Giuliani's campaign manager and one of those who now is working for free. "We want to make sure we have enough to win."

At the end of December, he said the campaign had $11.5 million cash on hand, $7 million of which can be used for the primary. He disputed the notion of a cash-strapped campaign, and said Giuliani continues to bring in cash; several fundraisers are scheduled this week in Florida.

Now let's be honest here -- if the top dogs are foregoing salaries to "make sure we have enough to win", then it would appear that the Giuliani campaign believes it might not have enough cash to win. And given the need to dig itself out of a hole created by its own flawed campaign strategy, I think that we are seeing a self-induced implosion of Rudy's campaign.

I wonder -- which of the current candidates does he want to serve under as Attorney General?





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

OJailed

This man gets dumber and dumber.

OJ Simpson cussed his way back to a Las Vegas jail when he tried to contact a wit ness in his case with an expletive-fueled message, a judge ruled yesterday.

Clark County District Attor ney David Roger accused Simpson of violating the terms of his bail by leav ing a voice mail for bail bondsman Miguel Pereira - in which he asked the moneyman to pass on some choice words to co-defendant Clarence "CJ" Stewart.

Simpson, previously free on $125,000 bond, was barred from talking to any witnesses, victims or co-defendants.

"I just want, want CJ to know that the whole thing all the time he was tellin' me that s--t, ya know, I hope he was telling me the truth; don't be trying to change the motherf--- ing s--t now," Simpson said in a rambling voice mail left on Nov. 16, according to court documents.

You aren't allowed to contact witnesses. You aren't allowed to contact co-defendants. Why on earth would you leav one a message on an answering machine? Do you LIKE jail?





|| Greg, 08:01 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Global Warming Falls In Baghdad

Temperatures have gone up so much that it is snowing in places where no one can remember it having happened before.

The flakes melted quickly. But the smiles, wonder and excited story-swapping went on throughout the day: It snowed in Baghdad.

The morning flurry Friday was the first in memory in the heart of the Iraqi capital. Perhaps more significant, however, was the rare ripple of delight through a city snarled by army checkpoints, divided by concrete walls and ravaged by sectarian killings.

"For the first time in my life I saw a snow-rain like this falling in Baghdad," said Mohammed Abdul-Hussein, a 63-year-old retiree from the New Baghdad area.

"When I was young, I heard from my father that such rain had fallen in the early '40s on the outskirts of northern Baghdad," Abdul-Hussein said, referring to snow as a type of rain. "But snow falling in Baghdad in such a magnificent scene was beyond my imagination."

But I'm sure that someone will show up and explain to me how all the very cold weather is a sign that the earth is getting very hot. After all, the notion of man-made global warming is religion, not science. This is just one of its many miracles that defies natural explanation.

UPDATE: See, this didn't take all that long.

Climate change is still nudging up temperatures in the long term even though the warmest year was back in 1998 and 2008 has begun with unusual weather such as a cool Pacific and Baghdad's first snow in memory, experts said.

"Global warming has not stopped," said Amir Delju, senior scientific coordinator of the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) climate program.

Last year was among the six warmest years since records began in the 1850s and the British Met Office said last week that 2008 will be the coolest year since 2000, partly because of a La Nina event that cuts water temperatures in the Pacific.

"We are in a minor La Nina period which shows a little cooling in the Pacific Ocean," Delju told Reuters. "The decade from 1998 to 2007 is the warmest on record and the whole trend is still continuing."

Interestingly enough, the records start (in the 1850s) during a period called the Little Ice Age. Is it any wonder that the temperatures today would be higher -- and that the natural cyclical fluctuations in temperature would be evident?





|| Greg, 07:37 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Someone Really Screwed Up

The Texas Primary is March 4th. So is the TAKS test in Texas schools.

The result? Many usual polling places won't be due to the need to ensure test security in school buildings.

Some Texas schools are considering passing up on a front-row seat in a democracy lesson during the March 4 primary to keep their campuses visitor-free and church-mouse quiet during the opening day of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.

Leaders of some Houston-area school districts, including Katy, have informed Harris County officials that they're reluctant to fill their normal role as polling sites because of this year's scheduling conflict.

"Sites that are normally used as polling locations may not be available because of administrative policy that prohibits visitors on school campuses during testing," said Hector de Leon, spokesman for the County Clerk's Office. "However, at this point, the use of schools as polling locations has not been ruled out."

Questions remain about whether public schools can refuse to serve as voting locations, an issue state leaders are trying to iron out.

And one thing that apparently has not been a consideration in all this is the loss of some election judges and poll workers. I take election day off to be election judge and run the polls in my precinct, and I know a number of other teachers who do the same thing to serve as election judges or poll workers. We won't be doing that this year, because every school district I know has a strict policy forbidding the use of leave days on state testing days. So I'll be proctoring a test or monitoring restrooms or some other task instead of making sure that Republicans in my precinct have a smoothly running polling place.

Which leads us back to an obvious question -- don't folks with TEA take the time to look at the calendar before they set testing dates?

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|| Greg, 07:06 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 11, 2008

Stalkers

With Ron Paul signs!

2144588813_fd6d595084[1].jpg

My wife sent me a link to this one -- great fun for anyone who feels a need to laugh at politics for a few minutes.

Come on -- event he Ron Paul supporters should find this one cute.





|| Greg, 05:43 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Ron Paul: I'm Either Incompetent Or A Liar

There is no other possible explanation for this answer.

Paul told CNN's "The Situation Room" Thursday that he didn't write any of the offensive articles and has "no idea" who did.

"When you bring this question up, you're really saying, 'You're a racist' or 'Are you a racist?' And the answer is, 'No, I'm not a racist,'" he said.

Paul said he had never even read the articles with the racist comments.

In other words, he allowed his staff to run wild, writing whatever they wanted with no supervision. Not only that, he doesn't know who worked for him and has no records to make such a determination. He just let all sorts of crap go out with his name attached -- and even signed some fundraising letters with racist content without reading them. All of which indicates that Ron Paul is unfit to run a lemonade stand, much less the US government.

Either that, or he is a liar trying to to cover up for political allies, former employees and himself.

Neither of which constitutes good credentials for a presidential candidate.

H/T Captain's Quarters





|| Greg, 05:39 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

NY Teachers Seek To Stop Tax Limitation

Once again proving that public employes unions are bad for the public.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s plan to contain the rising property taxes that support New York’s schools could mean a confrontation with the state’s largest teachers’ union, whose president said on Thursday he was wary of a new commission leading the effort.

Richard C. Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers, said he was also wary of the panel’s chairman, Thomas R. Suozzi, named by the governor in his State of the State address on Wednesday.

* * *

. . . Mr. Iannuzzi said of a property tax cap, “I’m not going to let a blunt instrument butcher the progress we’ve made.”

In other words, it doesn't matter if the taxpayers are being bled out by sky-rocketing taxes -- the needs of public employees come ahead of the needs of the public.

And I say that as a teacher who knows that teacher salaries need to be increased -- but that the first priority should be making our school districts less wasteful, more efficient, and free of redundant administrators. Few businesses could operate the way most school districts do.





|| Greg, 05:19 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Climbing The Highest Mountain

Sir Edmund Hillary, who conquered Mt. Everest, has died.

Edmund Hillary, 88, a beekeeper-turned-mountaineer from New Zealand who with his Sherpa guide in 1953 became the first men known to conquer Mount Everest, the world's tallest peak, died early today at Auckland City Hospital. No cause of death was reported.

Hillary's 29,035-foot climb up the Himalayan mountain was achieved amid subzero temperatures, unpredictable winds and daunting crevasses, and with a grade of equipment now considered primitive. The ascent ended a decades-long quest undertaken by countless men to test human endurance. In the 1920s, English adventurer George Mallory memorably quipped that he wanted to climb Everest "because it's there" and perished trying.

On May 29, 1953, the successful ascent and return by Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in a team led by British army Col. John Hunt made them instant international celebrities.

"Well, we've knocked the bastard off," an exhausted Hillary famously said upon his return from the apex.

And despite having reached the pinnacle of his chosen avocation at a relatively young age, Hillary spent the next half century productively, promoting humanitarian and environmental causes. In addition, he continued his explorations and difficult treks , reaching the South Pole and crossing Antarctica. He also wrote extensively about the explorations, and became a best-selling author.





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January 10, 2008

Aiding Illegals Is A Crime

And here is an individual I'm glad to see charged.

The owner of a landscaping firm was arrested Wednesday and faces up to 10 years in federal prison, accused of harboring one of his workers, an illegal immigrant from Mexico charged with the capital murder of a Houston police officer.

Court documents show that Robert Lane Camp, 47, went to considerable lengths to help Juan Leonardo Quintero and keep him on the job at his Deer Park landscaping company before the September 2006 killing of officer Rodney Johnson.

In August 1998, Camp posted a $10,000 bond for Quintero after he was jailed on an indecency with a child charge and hired an attorney to defend him. After the worker was deported in May 1999, Camp sent him money in Mexico and later bought him a plane ticket from Phoenix to Houston after Quintero re-entered through Arizona illegally, according to an affidavit by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent. Camp then purchased a house in Houston and rented it to Quintero.

Clearly, this isn't just "he gave an illegal a job" situation. Camp went to extraordinary lengths to make sure that he could employ this particular border-jumping criminal. He helped get Quintero back in the country after he abused a child. He bought the man a house. Camp gave the American dream to this scumbag -- why wouldn't he stay in this country, and even murder a police officer to try to keep that life?

I'm just curious -- is there any way the state can charge Robert Lane Camp as an accessory to the murder of Officer Rodney Johnson based upon the following facts?

• August 1998: Robert Camp posts a $10,000 cash bond for Juan Leonardo Quintero, who was charged with indecency with a child.

• March 3, 1999: Quintero is convicted of a sexual offense with a minor.

• May 7, 1999: Quintero is deported from the U.S.

• Nov. 26, 1999: Quintero boards a Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix to Houston after hiring a smuggler to re-enter the U.S. through Arizona. Quintero's wife tells investigators her husband told her Camp purchased the ticket.

• Sept. 21, 2006: Quintero is accused of fatally shooting Houston police officer Rodney Johnson in the head during a traffic stop in which Quintero was driving a company truck owned by Camp. Quintero is later charged with capital murder.

After all, it is clear that the murder would not have happened except for Camp's active participation in and facilitation of Quintero's other illegal activity -- including his presence in this country.

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Romney Pulls Back In Florida, SC

I've not detected any desperation in the Romney campaign prior to this move. Is it a concession that he is unable to win in either of the two big southern states rich in delegates? Or is it simply a move to guarantee victory in the state in which he was raised and where his father served as governor four decades ago?

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has decided to pull his advertising from South Carolina, where he was hoping to take on Mike Huckabee and John McCain, and from Florida, where Rudy Giuliani has been spending time and money.

"We feel the best strategy is to focus our paid messaging in Michigan," Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said Wednesday as the campaign launched its "National Call Day" fundraising effort.

The decision comes on the heels of back-to-back second-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire for the former Massachusetts governor. Romney, a multimillionaire who had used some of his own cash, had invested heavily in both states, counting on the two to give him the momentum toward the nomination.

Romney should have won in either Iowa or New Hampshire. That he has not is troubling to many of us who have supported him. And yet, a string of second place finishes around the country combined with a few wins and a division of victories between his top two or three rivals (Huckabee, McCain, and, potentially, Giuliani) could leave the former Massachusetts governor with the largest pot of delegates at the GOP convention. At that point, he would be one of the most obvious choices for the nomination -- unless a brokered convention led to the selection of someone not currently running for the office.

Interesting analysis of the Michigan race from Debbie Schlussel, who questions whether Romney will win there for a reason I hadn't considered. Michelle Malkin discusses the fight for pro-lifers and Catholics in the state.





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

Most Qualified Dem To Withdraw

If the Democrats were looking for quality and experience in a candidate, this would be their guy.

I guess they are looking for something else.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is dropping out of the presidential race, following his fourth place finish in the New Hampshire primary, according to sources familiar with the decision.

Mr. Richardson won just over 4 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, a week after a similar showing in the Iowa caucuses. In a recent interview, a campaign spokesman said that they were hoping for a third place finish in Tuesday’s primary in order to continue on to Nevada and other Western states.

Here's a guy who actually has accomplished something in his career.

A candidate with real expertise in a number of areas.

And Democrats can't be bothered, preferring instead a candidate who married her way to the top and one who has no experience and has never had to face a serious opponent in his 1/2 term in his effort to be elected to the US Senate.

H/T Captain's Quarters, Moderate Voice, Michelle Malkin





|| Greg, 04:59 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 09, 2008

John Vincent Coulter -- 1926-2008

Love her, hate her, or feel ambiguity towards her (yes, there are two or three out there), I don't believe there is a decent human being in the country who could read this column and not feel compassion for Ann Coulter.

he longest baby ever born at the Albany, N.Y., hospital, at least as of May 5, 1926, who grew up to be my strapping father, passed away last Friday morning.

As Mother and I stood at Daddy's casket Monday morning, Mother repeated his joke to him, which he said on every wedding anniversary until a few years ago when Lewy bodies dementia prevented him from saying much at all: "54 years, married to the wrong woman." And we laughed.

What can I say except that I wish I had the opportunity to have met this man who Ann describes so lovingly and with such obvious admiration.

But the most touching part of the piece comes at the end -- where, appropriately, she talks about the end.

And last Friday morning at 2 he passed away, in his bedroom with Mother. The police and firemen told my brother that they kept trying to distract Mother to keep her away from the bedroom with Father's body, but she kept padding back into the bedroom to be close to him.

The couple had been married for over half a century. I wish I could the opportunity to meet her mother as well. She sounds like quite a lady. Her father obviously invested wisely when he bribed his FBI colleagues to allow him to ask her out first.

And so to Ann and her brothers, I offer condolences on the lost of their father. And to her mother, Nell, I offer my condolences on the loss of the companion of most of her lifetime -- and the assurance that they will meet again, for there can be no doubt that a love like theirs endures for all eternity.





|| Greg, 07:49 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Disenfrancisement Example Is Actually Vote Fraud Queen -- And A Tax Cheat To Boot!

Thank you for proving why efforts to reduce fraudulent voting is so important.

I saw this story yesterday, which mentions 32 Indiana voters who didn't have identification and somehow couldn't find a ride to the voter registrar's office to prove their identity.

But today we find this story about one of them.

On the eve of a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Indiana Voter ID law has become a story with a twist: One of the individuals used by opponents to the law as an example of how the law hurts older Hoosiers is registered to vote in two states.

Faye Buis-Ewing, 72, who has been telling the media she is a 50-year resident of Indiana, at one point in the past few years also claimed two states as her primary residence and received a homestead exemption on her property taxes in both states.

In other words, what we have here is a case of voter fraud. After all, she has FLORIDA identification, proving her to be a FLORIDA resident.

Gearing up for the high court's review, news media around the country have been trumpeting the ordeals that Ewing and others in Indiana allegedly suffered due to Indiana's voter ID law. One news story related how Ewing received a standing ovation from poll workers in Lafayette after she spent several hours on Election Day 2006 obtaining an Indiana photo ID.

When poll workers wouldn't accept her Florida license as a valid ID for voting, she was told she could cast a provisional vote, but she declined. Her birth certificate wasn’t acceptable because it didn't have her married – and therefore identifying – name on it, according to a brief filed with the Supreme Court by the Brennan Center.

It took four hours and visits to two cities to secure the necessary documents for Ewing to vote, the brief and news stories said.

That would, of course, help explain how she and her husband have been defrauding either Indiana or Florida of property tax money for a number of years, because she cannot legally have a homestead exemption in both states -- just as she cannot legally register or vote in both states. The only way in which she has been inconvenienced here is by being forced to do additional legwork to vote illegally in Indiana -- and the resultant exposure as a tax cheat.

So tell me -- will we see Faye Buis-Ewing prosecuted for her crimes?

By the way, I'd have to assume that Faye Buis-Ewing is a Democrat -- having been caught in her illegal activity, she immediately claimed that she wasn't a criminal, but that she was instead the victim. No wonder liberals want her to vote.

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|| Greg, 06:44 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Russia Leads Space Race?

So they claim, with regard to reaching Mars.

Russia is leading the race to complete a manned mission to Mars and could land a Russian on the Red Planet by 2025, a leading scientist was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

"We have something of a head start in this race as we have the most experience in piloted space flight," the director of the prestigious Space Research Institute, Lev Zelyony, told Interfax news agency on Tuesday.

The goal of becoming the first country to land a human on Mars is "technically and economically achievable" by 2025, he said.

However, if their portions of the International Space Station are any indication, I doubt this. Their components have been the source of most problems up there. I really doubt that the Russians will ever reach Mars -- unless they are planning on sending men to Mars in spacecraft held together with duct tape and baling wire.





|| Greg, 06:16 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Iran Commits Act Of War; WaPo Reporter Thinks Administration Overeacted

Let’s be clear here – the United States Navy could have (and should have) blown these Iranian boats out of the water. That they did not was excessive restraint exercised out of Administration policy to avoid a shooting war with Iran.

But that isn’t enough for at least reporter with the Washington Post.

In contrast to the military's professionalism and restraint, the Bush administration wasted no time falling back on its knee-jerk rules of engagement. President Bush called the incident "a provocative act" and "dangerous situation." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice continued to play up the Iranian threat. "The United States is going to defend its interests, it's going to defend the interests of its allies," she said defensively. "Iran is the single most important, greatest threat to the kind of Middle East we all want to see. It's a supporter of terrorism in Iraq, in Lebanon, in the Palestinian territories. It has nuclear ambitions."

Yeah, verbally condemning acts of war and pointing out the many misdeeds of Mahmoud the Mad and the Mullahcracy in Iran is irresponsible behavior to this idiot, who previously called our troops overpaid, pampered mercenaries and declared them to be enemies of American liberty. It strikes me that he has never met an American enemy he didn’t like, and that he would have found some reason to condemn the Bush Administration no matter what the outcome of the incident had been.

Show restraint and condemn the provocation -- WRONG.

Show restraint and suffer an attack -- WRONG.

Show restraint and remain silent -- WRONG.

Sink the enemy -- WRONG.

And since Arkin doesn't bless us with his wisdom on what would have been the right course of action, we know that he'll be able to condemn the Administration if they take a different course of action in the future. After all, being a journalist means never having to take a position that makes a real difference in terms of lives and national security.

Maybe he is angling for an endowed chair at Columbia University, so he can join these Islamist-lovers on their pro-jihadi junket.





|| Greg, 06:13 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

What New Hampshire Means

Hillary Clinton and and John McCain win the primary in New Hampshire. What does this mean for the race ahead.

Democrats:

It is a two person race between Hillary and Obama. John Edwards will remain in until he can cut the best deal for himself -- maybe another run for VP. This race should be done by February 6.

Republicans.

Another Romney defeat -- but still a respectable showing. He remains in for now, hoping for success in South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

McCain is alive -- but how strong is his candidacy? Do his negatives with many of us conservatives outweigh his positives?

Huckabee shows his weakness as a 50 state candidate. Not many evangelicals in New Hampshire, so his showing was somewhat weak. Can he succeed in South Carolina and derail Romney and McCain?

Rudy -- will Florida and Super Tuesday be too late for him, given his weakness in South Carolina?

Thompson -- time to say goodnight, Fred, though I wish it wasn't.

I think we are realistically down to only three significant candidates -- Romney, McCain, and Huckabee.





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

Ron Paul -- Refusing Real Responsibility

We've got years of frightening statements that appeared in Ron Paul's newsletters. Racism, Conspiracy theories. Just plain wackiness.

Most voters had never heard of Paul before he launched his quixotic bid for the Republican nomination. But the Texan has been active in politics for decades. And, long before he was the darling of antiwar activists on the left and right, Paul was in the newsletter business. In the age before blogs, newsletters occupied a prominent place in right-wing political discourse. With the pages of mainstream political magazines typically off-limits to their views (National Review editor William F. Buckley having famously denounced the John Birch Society), hardline conservatives resorted to putting out their own, less glossy publications. These were often paranoid and rambling--dominated by talk of international banking conspiracies, the Trilateral Commission's plans for world government, and warnings about coming Armageddon--but some of them had wide and devoted audiences. And a few of the most prominent bore the name of Ron Paul.

Paul's newsletters have carried different titles over the years--Ron Paul's Freedom Report, Ron Paul Political Report, The Ron Paul Survival Report--but they generally seem to have been published on a monthly basis since at least 1978. (Paul, an OB-GYN and former U.S. Air Force surgeon, was first elected to Congress in 1976.) During some periods, the newsletters were published by the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education, a nonprofit Paul founded in 1976; at other times, they were published by Ron Paul & Associates, a now-defunct entity in which Paul owned a minority stake, according to his campaign spokesman. The Freedom Report claimed to have over 100,000 readers in 1984. At one point, Ron Paul & Associates also put out a monthly publication called The Ron Paul Investment Letter.

The Freedom Report's online archives only go back to 1999, but I was curious to see older editions of Paul's newsletters, in part because of a controversy dating to 1996, when Charles "Lefty" Morris, a Democrat running against Paul for a House seat, released excerpts stating that "opinion polls consistently show only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions," that "if you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be," and that black representative Barbara Jordan is "the archetypical half-educated victimologist" whose "race and sex protect her from criticism." At the time, Paul's campaign said that Morris had quoted the newsletter out of context. Later, in 2001, Paul would claim that someone else had written the controversial passages. (Few of the newsletters contain actual bylines.) Caldwell, writing in the Times Magazine last year, said he found Paul's explanation believable, "since the style diverges widely from his own."

So let's say this -- there are questions about what Ron Paul wrote and what was written by others. Fine, I'll give him that . But that makes quotes like these even more troubling.

An October 1990 edition of the Political Report ridicules black activists, led by Al Sharpton, for demonstrating at the Statue of Liberty in favor of renaming New York City after Martin Luther King. The newsletter suggests that "Welfaria," "Zooville," "Rapetown," "Dirtburg," and "Lazyopolis" would be better alternatives--and says, "Next time, hold that demonstration at a food stamp bureau or a crack house."

The October 1992 issue of the Political Report paraphrases an "ex-cop" who offers this strategy for protecting against "urban youth": "If you have to use a gun on a youth, you should leave the scene immediately, disposing of the wiped off gun as soon as possible. Such a gun cannot, of course, be registered to you, but one bought privately (through the classifieds, for example)."

A 1986 newsletter names Jeane Kirkpatrick and George Will as "two of our enemies" and notes their membership in the Trilateral Commission.

In an undated solicitation letter for The Ron Paul Investment Letter and the Ron Paul Political Report, Paul writes: "I've been told not to talk, but these stooges don't scare me. Threats or no threats, I've laid bare the coming race war in our big cities. The federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS (my training as a physician helps me see through this one.) The Bohemian Grove--perverted, pagan playground of the powerful. Skull & Bones: the demonic fraternity that includes George Bush and leftist Senator John Kerry, Congress's Mr. New Money. The Israeli lobby, which plays Congress like a cheap harmonica."

In other words, we are looking at not a couple of months worth of material, but a couple of decades of strange stuff.

And here's Paul's explanation.

January 8, 2008 5:28 am EST

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA – In response to an article published by The New Republic, Ron Paul issued the following statement:

“The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.

“In fact, I have always agreed with Martin Luther King, Jr. that we should only be concerned with the content of a person's character, not the color of their skin. As I stated on the floor of the U.S. House on April 20, 1999: ‘I rise in great respect for the courage and high ideals of Rosa Parks who stood steadfastly for the rights of individuals against unjust laws and oppressive governmental policies.’

“This story is old news and has been rehashed for over a decade. It's once again being resurrected for obvious political reasons on the day of the New Hampshire primary.

“When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publically taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.”

In other word's, Ron Paul's definition of "taking moral responsibility" is to say that he didn't write it, he didn't supervise what was published under his name, and he shouldn't be held accountable for such statements. Ron Paul won't tell us what he wrote and what others wrote, won't identify the others, and won't tell us which of the views in question do represent what he believes/believed. "Moral responsibility" is therefore something entirely different from real responsibility. And at least one prominent supporter is willing to let him get away with it.

Sort of like condemning racists while refusing to divest himself of their cash.

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|| Greg, 05:35 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Say Goodbye, Chuck

I called for Chuck Rosenthal to get out of the DA's race over his inappropriate emails to his secretary and the relationship they appear to reveal. That said, I didn't necessarily see a need for him to resign -- he could simply serve out his term as a caretaker until his successor took over next January.

Yesterday's revelations make it imperative that he leave now.

New e-mails released Tuesday show District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal sent and received racist jokes and strategized with political consultants and colleagues about his re-election campaign on his county e-mail account.

Also within the correspondence obtained Tuesday by the Houston Chronicle were numerous sexually explicit images. It was unclear, however, if Rosenthal ever forwarded those files.

The latest batch of 730

e-mails was met with concern by Harris County GOP leaders, who had already successfully pressured him to abandon his re-election bid.

"It's time for Chuck Rosenthal to pack his bags and leave," said county GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill.

Rosenthal declined to comment late Tuesday.

Among e-mails that concerned Woodfill were video clips of nudity and sex acts and a racist joke forwarded by Rosenthal that compares former President Bill Clinton to a black man.

The e-mail says Clinton played the saxophone, smoked marijuana and gets a check from the government each month.

Also included within the e-mails is heavy traffic between Rosenthal and Sam Siegler, Rosenthal's physician and the husband of Kelly Siegler, who is running for district attorney.

Now I don't care about inappropriate jokes, etc, received by Rosenthal. If there is evidence of him sending such stuff, that is problematic, but given some of the crap I receive in my email on a daily basis, I don't feel it necessary to hold him responsible for being on someone's email list. Unless he sends them on, to others, that is really unimportant -- and even if he did, it is more of a sign of low class than anything else.

The problem, however, is the material related to his campaign sent on the county account. That is a violation of the law. It merits criminal prosecution. And as such, it is a basis for Rosenthal leaving immediately. It is why Jared Woodfil has called for his resignation, as well as many others.

But this also reveals why Republicans need to dump Ed Emmett as County Judge (besides the back-room deal that got him the job in the first place).

Emmett said Tuesday he wanted to withhold judgment about the e-mails until he saw them. He said allegations of racism or explicit images on the county e-mail system were more damaging than possible campaigning at the office.

Excuse me? Bad taste is more important than criminal activity by the DA? Are you out of your mind? And there is no demand for Rosenthal's resignation.

Fortunately, we have a candidate for the position of County Judge who gets the matter correct.

Emmett's opponent in the GOP primary said Rosenthal should resign.

"I am asking the people of Harris County to join me in requesting Chuck Rosenthal's resignation effective immediately," said Charles Bacarisse. "(He) has lost both the public trust and the moral authority required to serve effectively as district attorney of Harris County."

And I agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly. Rosenthal must resign now.

UPDATE: Ed Emmett now calls for an investigation of Rosenthal. Good God -- isn't it clear that the man needs to go NOW, and for you to issue a demand that he resign (even though the arrogant DA won't comply)? Makes me wonder how serious Emmett really is about ethics reform.

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

January 08, 2008

A Thought Worth Considering

There has been a theme running through the coverage of the Barack Obama campaign for some time now. It has disturbed me -- and Christopher Hitchens states clearly why I feel disconcerted by it.

Isn't there something pathetic and embarrassing about this emphasis on shade? And why is a man with a white mother considered to be "black," anyway? Is it for this that we fought so hard to get over Plessy v. Ferguson? Would we accept, if Obama's mother had also been Jewish, that he would therefore be the first Jewish president? The more that people claim Obama's mere identity to be a "breakthrough," the more they demonstrate that they have failed to emancipate themselves from the original categories of identity that acted as a fetter upon clear thought.

It does seem rather interesting that in an age where "multi-racial"has become more and more common a response from Americans of mixed heritage, there is an insistence that Barack Obama be stuffed into one neat little pigeonhole. And more disturbing is the fact that many people find his race to be relevant, and are willing to suspend judgment because of it. We ought to be asking "Is Barack Obama qualified and competent to be President? Is his platform good for America?" Of negligible relevance is the question "Is America ready for a black president?" What is important is not the possibility that Obama will be the first black President -- what matters is whether he is or isn't the best possible president.





|| Greg, 05:34 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Police State Tactics By "Child Welfare Workers"

Will this be the future of American health care once the government is put in charge of it all? And is this sufficiently outrageous for Americans to speak out against the police state mentality established by so-called "child welfare workers".

The Garfield County All Hazards Response Team broke down Tom Shiflett's door Friday night and, following a court order, took his son for medical treatment.

The doctor's recommendation: Take Tylenol and apply ice to the bruises. The boy was back home a few hours later.

The kid had a fall. His father treated him responsibly, just like parents of my generation would have done. But a single nosy neighbor called an ambulance without bothering to find out what the exact situation was, and touched out a wholesale invasion of the rights of the Shiflett family.

Speaking about the incident from his home in the Apple Tree Park on Monday, Shiflett was very upset. Perhaps most offensive, Shiflett said, was that law enforcement didn't announce there was a warrant before breaking into his home south of New Castle.

"I would have let them in," he said. "It was traumatic to my children, and it's unnecessary."

His spouse, Tina, and his six of 10 kids who are still at home were shocked at the manner of entry. Tina said law enforcement, wearing masks, broke down their door with a battering ram and pointed guns in her children's faces.

"They didn't need to bash into my home and slam my kids to the floor," Tina said, adding later, "I think they get a kick out of this."

She said law enforcement threatened criminal charges should the family even try to follow Jon or find out where he was taken. Jon was returned hours later, around 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

"In all there was not one shred of evidence found that we had done anything wrong or that Jon had not been properly cared for at home," Tina said.

Oh, and lest there be any doubt that the parents knew what they were doing in the first place, Tom Shiflett is a trained medic who could recognize any danger signs in his son. But that was not sufficient for the paramilitary force that stormed the Shiflett home and kidnapped young Jon under the guise of protecting his health, telling his parents that they were subject to imprisonment if they even attempted to be present while their son was forcibly treated without their consent.

This isn't a case of medical neglect. I've seen those -- indeed, I've actually had to report such cases to the authorities. This is a case of a kid with a bruise being taken by force and ordered to receive the exact care his parents were already providing. Jobs need to be lost over this incident -- and punitive damages awarded.

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

No Globes

And there is much rejoicing.

The Golden Globes, the ceremony known for getting Hollywood’s awards season off to a rollicking start, will be reduced to a news conference Sunday by the writers strike and will likely draw picket lines and lack star power.

Despite the revamped ceremony announced Monday by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Screen Actors Guild said it was encouraging its members to skip the show in support of the two-month walkout by the Writers Guild of America.

“The WGA informed us they will picket the event on Sunday,” the actors guild said in a statement.

Frankly, who cares. Over the years such shows have become increasingly less relevant. More to the point, do we really need hours upon hours of redundant awards shows with thanks being given to friends, faily members and obscure acquaintances from decades earlier in life.

Just send out a press release, and I'll be happy.





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

January 07, 2008

Are You Effing Nuts?

Darwin really ought to have kicked-in in this situation.

A New Zealand man risked life and limb by dangling upside-down in the sea to take close-up pictures of a circling Great White shark, reports said on Monday.

Builder Gary Porter asked friends to hold him by the ankles from their small boat as he dunked his upper body in the water to snap the four-metre predator less than two metres away.

"I just wanted to get some photos of this amazing creature," Porter told Radio New Zealand.

"I've got a few regrets about not hopping in with it and having a good swim with it."

No.

Nuh-uh.

No freakin’ way in hell!

No picture is worth this risk.

Not even one of Heidi Klum naked and smeared with chocolate sauce.

Nothing.





|| Greg, 05:02 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Major Papers Oppose Justice For Murderers

Well, today is the day for oral arguments on one of this year's big cases.

The Supreme Court, in a case being watched around the world, on Monday hears arguments about whether to ban the lethal three-drug cocktail used in most U.S. executions because it inflicts excruciating pain.

The hour-long session marks the first time in more than a century the court has examined a specific method of capital punishment. It comes at a time when the death penalty itself appears to be in retreat in one of the few democracies that still practices it.

Arguments will focus on whether the commonly used lethal injection method violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment, but the case has also prompted a wider debate about capital punishment.

* * *

The court's ruling, expected by the end of June, could decide if the current lethal drug combination is constitutional or whether states have to come up with alternatives that pose less risk of pain and suffering.

Now it is beyond question that the death penalty is constitutional, as I pointed out the other day in the context of a different case.

And since the Fifth Amendment clearly contemplates and authorizes the use of the death penalty in its provisions related to capital crimes, putting persons in jeopardy of life and requiring due process for the deprivation of life, any ban on executions for non-homicides would be on tenuous constitutional grounds.

The issue, then, is how much pain the criminal is permitted to feel as justice is rendered. And at least two of our major newspapers have made it quite clear that they want the court to impose a standard so high that it would amount to a de facto declaration of unconstitutionality for ANY method of execution.

The New York Times, of course, admits that the clear language of the Constitution authorizing executions does not interfere with its judgment on the issue of the death penalty's constitutionality.

We believe that the death penalty, no matter how it is administered, is unconstitutional and wrong. If a state does execute anyone, it must do so in a way that is humane and does not impose needless suffering. Kentucky’s method does not meet that standard.

The problem, of course, is that this ignores the fact that lethal injection is humane, and that the Constitution does not mandate that criminals not feel any anguish or experience any pain or suffering while justice is delivered. That is true whether or not we are talking about a stint in the county jail or the imposition of the ultimate sanction. the requirement is that the penalty not be "cruel AND unusual" -- and the Supreme Court has said that this means that the method of executions hould not shock the conscience. Frankly, I don't think that your average American (2/3 of whom support the death penalty) is shocked by the notion of a criminal feeling some pain or anguish during execution -- indeed, that they feel some small measure of what they inflicted upon their victims appears to be an appropriate part of the sentence..

But another major newspaper goes even farther in its position on this case. Here are the words of the editorial staff of the Washington Post.

But if capital punishment is to be carried out, it should be done as humanely as possible by a method that causes no pain. Evidence submitted in the Supreme Court case suggests that the current protocol for administering lethal injection cannot meet this standard.

That is, of course, a standard that cannot be met. The inserting of the IV needle itself would constitute cruel and unusual punishment under standard the Washington Post seeks -- never mind that it is performed tens of thousands of times daily in medical facilities around the country.

Now one can argue the efficacy and the desirability of the death penalty. That is, however, a policy question, and one properly left to the states and to Congress. But to cloak abolition of the death penalty in the guise of making it more humane is a constitutional parlour trick that the Supreme Court should reject.

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

Watcher's Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are The Freddys Seven by Soccer Dad, and Exploding Myths by Treppenwitz.  Here is a link to the full results of the vote:

VotesCouncil link
2  2/3The Freddys Seven
Soccer Dad
2America Derangement Syndrome -- Or, Yes, You Can Call Them Unpatriotic
Bookworm Room
1  2/3The Best Years of Their Lives: Hollywood and Franklin's War
Big Lizards
1  2/3Did Bush Get Jamie Lynn Pregnant?
Cheat Seeking Missiles
1Witness
Done With Mirrors
1Politics Anonymous
Right Wing Nut House
2/3Ron Paul Tripped Up On "Meet the Press" Despite Making Good Points
The Colossus of Rhodey
2/3Primary Scenarios
The Glittering Eye
1/3The State Department's Unilateral Foreign Policy
Wolf Howling
1/3Our Wish List For 2008
The Education Wonks

VotesNon-council link
3Exploding Myths
Treppenwitz
2Patterico's Los Angeles Dog Trainer Year in Review 2007
Patterico's Pontifications
1  2/3The Wodehouse Primary
The Debatable Land
1  1/3Ms. Hillary Does Pakistan
Power Line
2/3Obsession to the Point of Dementia
Power Line (2)
2/3Bennie Bhutto
Firedoglake
2/3Loser of the Year: Pelosi
Don Surber
2/32007: A Global Assessment of the Confrontation
American Thinker
2/3In the Name of the Father...
Newsweek
1/3Dallas Morning News Names "The Illegal Immigrant" as their 2007 Texan of the Year
Webloggin
1/3Thoughts on 2007
Dodgeblogium

This is just one of those weeks where my post didn't make an impact with the other members of the council. Maybe that is because i was dealing with an issue that was more local than national, and because I didn't give a lot of background. Well, maybe we'll do better next time.





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January 06, 2008

An Epiphany Gift

Today, of course, is the day that most churches in the Christian tradition marked the Epiphany.

In honor of that, I'd like to offer a favorite of mine -- maybe a little less solemn that it is often presented, but something that reminds us of the joy of the revelation of God in the person of a child, the event that has been part and parcel of the season which now comes to a close.

Guide is to thy perfect light, Lord.





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Not Offending "Certain People In Our Society"

I wonder who that would be. Perhaps the same folks who have threatened to murder the artist whose works were pulled from an art exhibit in the Netherlands?

THE Dutch were debating the limits of freedom of expression last week after an artist who photographed gay men wearing masks of the prophet Muhammad was forced into hiding and her work removed from a museum exhibit.

Speaking on the telephone from an unspecified location in the Netherlands last week, the artist, an Iranian exile who goes by the pseudonym of Sooreh Hera, said she had been threatened with “execution”. She accused the director of the municipal museum in The Hague of cowardice for caving in to Muslim extremists.

Her story is a reminder of the tensions that have put the Netherlands and other European countries on the front line, sending dozens of people threatened by extremists into hiding since 2004, when a Dutch film-maker was murdered on the street and his collaborator driven into exile.

This leaves Hera, 34, in no doubt that she is in real danger. “They said to me, ‘We’re going to burn you naked or put a bullet in your mouth’,” she said, referring to menacing e-mails.

“They say, ‘Now you are locked in your home and you cannot go out any more’.”

She said that by photographing gay Iranian exiles in masks of Muhammad, the founder of Islam, and Ali, his son-in-law, she had wanted to expose a “hypocritical” attitude towards homosexuality in countries such as Iran, where men can be hanged for homosexual conduct.

“They condemn homosexuality but in countries like Iran or Saudi Arabia it is common for married men to maintain relations with other men,” said Hera. “Works of art can be provocative. It is not an artist’s job just to paint flowers. Art should shine a light on social issues.”

The photographs were part of an extensive collection of images by Hera of mostly Dutch gay men. Another part of her exhibit was a video featuring hard rock music and images of Iranian clerics interspersed with pictures of naked men.

Wim van Krimpen, director of the museum, initially praised Hera’s collection of photographs as “exceptional”. Last month, however, he announced that the masked men could not be included in the forthcoming exhibition because “certain people in our society might perceive it as offensive”.

Simple question -- Would this museum director have pulled an exhibit of Serrano's "Piss Christ" because “certain people in our society might perceive it as offensive”?

If not, why does he privilege Islam -- other than the fact that a subset of its followers is likely to engage in murderous violence?

And if such is the case, dare we tolerate Islam, granting it the same rights and privileges as other religions , in our societies and communities?

I know that is a painful, quite illiberal question to ask. But if Islam really is different, is it not essential to a free society that we treat it differently?

For that matter, the same question is quite important to ask of our Canadian neighbors as well. After all, the "human right" of certain groups not to be offended is rapidly displacing the internationally recognized human right to freedom of speech.

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January 05, 2008

NHGOP Drops Sponsorship Of FoxNews Debate

And you know what -- they are correct to do so.

The New Hampshire Republican Party dropped their affiliation with a Republican debate sponsored by Fox News tomorrow night because they have limited the number of candidates that can participate.

“The first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary serves a national purpose by giving all candidates an equal opportunity on a level playing field," said Republican chair Fergus Cullen. "Only in New Hampshire do lesser known, lesser funded underdogs have a fighting chance to establish themselves as national figures."

The Fox debate is excluding Texas Congressman Ron Paul even though he polls higher in New Hampshire and has raised significantly more money, and is campaigning more in New Hampshire than Fred Thompson who is invited.

Quite honestly, I had not had a problem with the decision to drop Ron Paul until the results came in on Thursday. If a 10% showing in Iowa is not sufficient to get you a place on the platform, then FoxNews should also drop Rudy Giuliani from the debate because he has made no significant effort to campaign in New Hampshire and finished in sixth place, with a pathetic 3.4% showing in that state's caucuses. At this point, any organization sponsoring a debate that excludes Ron Paul while including Rudy is not operating in a principled fashion.

On the other hand, there is solid reason for excluding Duncan Hunter, so I disagree with the NHGOP's call for his inclusion.

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But I Thought Muslims Said We Worship The Same God

I guess not, given this ruling in Malaysia.

The Malaysian government has reiterated that non-Muslims cannot use the word "Allah," sparking concern Friday among Christians who use it to refer to God in their Malay-language Bible and other publications.

Abdullah Zin, the de facto minister for Islamic affairs, told reporters Thursday that the Cabinet is of the view that "Allah" refers to the Muslim God and can only be used by Muslims, who comprise about 60 percent of Malaysia's population.

"The use of the word 'Allah' by non-Muslims may arouse sensitivity and create confusion among Muslims in the country," Abdullah said.

Do you see that, folks? Allah refers ONLY to the Muslim God, not the God of the Christians and the Jews. That would mean that Muslims themselves are declaring that their Allah and our God are two different beings. And since this is coming not from a government generally seen as extreme, but is usually described as moderate and relatively secular, it cannot be argued that this is a voice of extremists who have hijacked the faith.

Of course, Malaysia has a history of allowing all sorts of atrocities to take place in the name of Islam.

More at Michelle Malkin

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More Dem Donor Raids

What is it with the Democrats and corrupt donors?

Authorities raided the offices of an influential Democratic donor on Friday, prompting accusations by the donor's attorneys that the raid was politically motivated.

The state attorney general's office said it was assisting the Nueces County district attorney in the criminal investigation of Mauricio Celis, 36, who has given money to major Democratic candidates including Hillary Clinton and is the subject of numerous ongoing lawsuits and charges.

And this is unrelated to the earlier charges that were handed down by a grand jury in Nueces County.

The raid was unrelated to Celis' November indictments by a Nueces County grand jury on four charges, including perjury and holding himself out as a lawyer.

And while Celis and his representatives may want to make this into a political vendetta, it isn't -- Carlos Valdez, the prosecutor in Nueces County who is spearheading the investigation and who sought the earlier charges, is a Democrat.

I'm curious -- is "Mauricio Celis" Spanish for "Norman Hsu"?





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A Searing Indictment Of PC

I think this pretty clearly says it all.

The philosophy of political correctness is now firmly entrenched over here, too, and at its core is a refusal to look the truth squarely in the face, unpalatable as it may be.

Political correctness is about denial, usually in the weasel circumlocutory jargon which distorts and evades and seldom stands up to honest analysis.

It comes in many guises, some of them so effective that the PC can be difficult to detect. The silly euphemisms, apparently harmless, but forever dripping to wear away common sense - the naivete of the phrase "a caring force for the future" on Remembrance poppy trays, which suggests that the army is some kind of peace corps, when in fact its true function is killing.

The continual attempt to soften and sanitise the harsh realities of life in the name of liberalism, in an effort to suppress truths unwelcome to the PC mind; the social engineering which plays down Christianity, demanding equal status for alien religions.

The selective distortions of history, so beloved by New Labour, denigrating Britain's past with such propaganda as hopelessly unbalanced accounts of the slave trade, laying all the blame on the white races, but carefully censoring the truth that not a slave could have come out of Africa without the active assistance of black slavers, and that the trade was only finally suppressed by the Royal Navy virtually single-handed.

In schools, the waging of war against examinations as "elitist" exercises which will undermine the confidence of those who fail - what an intelligent way to prepare children for real life in which competition and failure are inevitable, since both are what life, if not liberal lunacy, is about.

The author, George MacDonald Fraser, spoke of the ills that PC had inflicted upon the UK, but was equally scathing in his view of political correctness in America. And more to the point, such political correctness is more rampant here. If one watches British television shows, you are at least still allowed to laugh at the non-PC -- in this country it will likely get you sent to a reeducation camp sensitivity course, especially if you are a student on a college campus.

Fraser passed away on January 2, but his writings and movies live on.





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Blu-Ray=VHS; HD-DVD=Beta

I think this decision pretty well settles the format war for high-definition digital video.

Warner Bros. Entertainment said Friday it will release movie discs only in the Blu-ray format, becoming the latest studio to reject the rival HD DVD technology and further complicating the high-definition landscape for consumers.

Warner Bros., owned by Time Warner Inc., was the only remaining studio releasing high-definition DVDs in both formats.

It is the fifth studio to back Blu-ray, developed by Sony Corp. Only two support the HD DVD format, developed by Toshiba Corp.

Both formats deliver crisp, clear high-definition pictures and sound. But they are incompatible with each other, and neither plays on older DVD players, which means consumers seeking top-quality playback face a dilemma.

Warner said it decided to go with Blu-ray because consumers have shown a stronger preference for that format than HD DVD.

"The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger," Warner Bros. chairman and Chief Executive Barry Meyer said in a statement.

"We believe that exclusively distributing in Blu-ray will further the potential for mass market success and ultimately benefit retailers, producers and, most importantly, consumers," the statement said.

Market-share seems to have settled the matter, especially Since some major retailers have indicated that they are Blu-ray only distributors. And given that a Blu-ray disc holds 20GB more data than an HD-DVD I'm not surprised that people would prefer that format. For that matter, it probably spells the end of the "Bonus Feature" disc, since that material can likely be incorporated on the same disc as the original movie.





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January 04, 2008

Let's Ask The American People

As far as I am concerned, this is not a question for the courts to decide. It is one that is instead appropriate for the American people to decide.

The U.S. Supreme Court Friday added another dramatic death-penalty case to its docket, agreeing to decide whether a Louisiana man can be put to death for raping his young daughter.

The case joins an appeal set for argument Monday where the Supreme Court will decide whether lethal-injection procedures used in many criminal executions violate constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. The lethal injection appeal, in Baze v. Rees, spurred what has become a de facto nationwide halt on death penalty executions until the appeal is decided.

In contrast, the Louisiana rape case for now may affect the fate of just one man -- Patrick Kennedy. His attorneys say he is the only person set to be put to death for rape in the last 40 years.

Nevertheless, the appeal gives the Supreme Court the chance to revisit whether the death penalty can be used for crimes that don't involve someone's death. In recent years, five states have enacted laws allowing the death penalty for child rape and nine additional states and the federal government have seldom-used laws that allow death penalty convictions in certain instances that don't involve murder.

There is certainly nothing in the Constitution that requires the death penalty to be limited to cases of murder. Indeed, any attempt by the courts to so limit the imposition of capital punishment to those involving a fatality would be a gross act of judicial arrogance that would be the best of all possible cases for the impeachment for judges for official misconduct while in office. After all, the Eighth Amendment specifically only bars "cruel and unusual punishment". And since the Fifth Amendment clearly contemplates and authorizes the use of the death penalty in its provisions related to capital crimes, putting persons in jeopardy of life and requiring due process for the deprivation of life, any ban on executions for non-homicides would be on tenuous constitutional grounds.

Besides – can you think of a more fitting punishment for raping a child ?

MORE AT Volokh Conspiracy

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Some Thoughts On Iowa

Obama and Huckabee. I can't say I'm surprised by those results.

What is surprising, though, is the margins and the positioning of candidates below the winners.

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, a first-term Democratic senator trying to become the nation’s first African-American president, rolled to victory in the Iowa caucuses on Thursday night, lifted by a record turnout of voters who embraced his promise of change.

* * *

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas who was barely a blip on the national scene just two months ago, defeated Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, delivering a serious setback to Mr. Romney’s high-spending campaign and putting pressure on Mr. Romney to win in New Hampshire next Tuesday.

I expected an Obama win in Iowa for months, and for at least the last three weeks have seen the handwriting on the wall for Huckabee. The real question is, therefore what the results below show us.

Republicans:

Mitt's loss by 9 percentage points is rather disheartening to me. His strategy has been to win both Iowa and New Hampshire to start himself on the path to victory. Now New Hampshire is a "must win" for him -- and South Carolina becomes critical as well. But as has been pointed out, Reagan lost Iowa in 1980.

Fred Thompson's finish is important, because it does keep him alive -- maybe. I wonder, though, how much yesterday's wihdrawal rumor hurt him -- and benefited Huckabee.

McCain lives to fight another day -- especially if he gets that endorsement from Fred that was rumored and denied yesterday.

Ron Paul impressed me with a 10% finish. However, I don't think he can sustain that sort of finish in states with primaries, where registering one's preference is much easier than in a caucus.

Rudy Giuliani was even more anemic than I expected. Is his national support this weak, or is it a sign of how he was hurt by ignoring Iowa?

Democrats:

A virtual tie between John Edwards and Hillary Clinton. Does this signal that Hillary is not the odds-on favorite that the media has been painting her as for the last year or so? Could 2009 find her still in the US Senate, having watched the race as an also-ran? Maybe, but I don't think so. More likely, though, is this being a much tougher fight than expected.

Richardson. Sigh! I'm mystified why the Dems don't like this guy with his record of accomplishment. Does this showing mean he won't even make it on to the national ticket as VP?

The rest -- I've commented on the two withdrawals. My guess is that Kucinich will stay in until the bitter end -- what does he have to lose, having surrendered his dignity long ago?

New Hampshire is Tuesday -- should be interesting.

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Iowa Drops Two Democrats

And, unfortunately, they are two of the most qualified in the pack -- and the guy with the best resume on paper may not be far behind them.

As I went to bed last night, I saw a couple of stories about the demise of the Chris Dodd campaign.

Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut abandoned his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday after a poor showing in Iowa's precinct caucuses.

"Tonight I am withdrawing from the presidential race but let me assure you, we are not ending this race with our heads hanging but with our heads held high," Dodd told about 100 supporters here.

"I am not going anywhere," he added, to loud cheers. "I will be fighting for the United States."

When one reads his record of accomplishments, one ought to be mystified why this candidacy never took off -- if the process in place is designed to choose the best qualified candidate.

And then this morning I discovered the second casualty of Iowa, Joe Biden.

One does have to wonder how long Bill Richardson has left in this race -- which is too bad, because on paper he has the best experience for the job.





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This Won't Help Her Case

Proof that Britney Spears probably shouldn't be allowed ANY visitation with her kids.

A child custody standoff between Britney Spears and employees of ex-husband Kevin Federline lasted three hours and ended with an intoxicated Spears releasing the children before she was carted away in an ambulance. home Thursday night.

Foxnews.com have confirmed that the Los Angeles Police Department was called to Spears' home to investigate a "custody dispute" around 8 p.m. Pacific Time.

Federline's bodyguards intended to collect their two toddlers at 7p.m. but Britney reportedly refused to hand them back.

Officers were called to the home around 8 p.m., and the 26-year-old singer turned over the children around 10:50 p.m., Officer Jason Lee, a police spokesman, told City News Service.

At around midnight Britney was wheeled out in a gurney, following hearsays that "someone" inside the home was in a very hysterical, possibly intoxicated state. Police officer Jason Lee told the Associated Press that no injuries were reported yet Spears was believed to be under a the influence of an "unknown substance". The mother-of-two has since been placed on "medical hold" in an unknown location and is awaiting medical evaluation.

Let's see what we have here.

Interference with child custody arrangements.

A stand-off with police.

Emergency detox/mental health treatment.

Can anyone really argue that this woman is not a danger to those kids? Is there any basis for suggesting that they are safe in her custody? Heck, one has to ask whether Spears is not a danger to herself or others and in need of longer-term commitment for her obvious psychological problem

Closing question -- am I the only person shocked to conclude that Kevin Federline is really the better parent out of this pair?





|| Greg, 04:40 AM || Permalink || <