The latest C-Poll is closed. You can read all about it here!

December 31, 2004

Global warming / tsunami link shot down

Let's review, class. The Six Degrees of Global Warming game, as applied to the tsunami disaster, goes like this:
  • Global warming leads to "a creeping rise in sea levels"
  • Higher sea levels make tsunamis worse
...and thus the destruction was presented as de facto evidence of global warming.

It's all nice and clear cut... if only it weren't for the nagging little detail that sea levels in the Indian Ocean basin have been declining over the last half century. Ooopsie.

December 30, 2004

Measuring American compassion, cont'd.

I've done quite a few updates to my original post on this topic, so if it's been a while since you read it, check it out again.

Further proof the Founders believed religion had no place in public life

In the ongoing culture wars, Ben Franklin has been claimed by both Christians and secularists as one of their own (i.e. as sympathetic to their viewpoint). Here's what he had to say about government acknowledgment of religion (at that time, "Religion" meant Christianity; to claim anything else would be nonsense):
That wise Men have in all Ages thought Government necessary for the Good of Mankind; and, that wise Governments have always thought Religion necessary for the well ordering and well-being of Society, and accordingly have been ever careful to encourage and protect the Ministers of it, paying them the highest publick Honours, that their Doctrines might thereby meet with the greater Respect among the common People.
"Necessary for the well ordering and well-being of society". We're now in the midst of terrible experiment to see what effect the purging of religion from the public square has on the well ordering and well-being of society. May God have mercy on us.

(Quote credit: The Federalist's "Founders Quote Daily")

UPDATE: Given the response to my post at Free Republic on the subject, I left a lot of room for misunderstanding. Read here to watch as I attempt to recover from one gut punch after another. :-)

Measuring American compassion

I had predicted that the Left would be quick to blitz the media with dark insinuations that global warming (and by extension American climate policy, i.e. refusal to ratify Kyoto) had made the Indian Ocean tsunami worse. While there has been a smattering of this (such as here), it looks like their current game plan is to slam the U.S. as "stingy" because the government is offering disaster aid measured only in the tens of millions of dollars. Shouldn't the world's richest country be giving much more? (After all, as that eminent philosopher K. Marx said, "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.")

These accusations almost always come without acknowledging the fact that Americans' private, voluntary contributions to disaster relief agencies have been, in the words of The Washington Post's Joel Achenbach, "phenomenal".

I know this has been said many times by many people, but I'll say it again: The Left measures American compassion by how much taxpayer money the government spends, not by how much the American people donate of their own free will. Americans are the most giving people on Earth, and it has really shown in this tragedy.

To those who are criticizing America as "stingy", I'll be as diplomatic as I can: HAH!

UPDATE: For what it's worth, my family made a cash donation to the Salvation Army's South Asia Disaster Fund.

UPDATE: Much of the assistance the US government is providing comes in forms other than cash. For example, as a December 30 Reuters dispatch notes:
U.S., Japanese and Australian naval ships are steaming toward the disaster area with onboard hospitals and water desalination plants.
Betcha nobody is counting the cost of providing assistance like this when calculating US disaster aid.

UPDATE: The American Red Cross' International Response Fund alone has already received $18 million. Part of this is has been collected through ARC's special donation page at Amazon, where you can see up-to-the-minute figures on how much has been donated via that page; at the time I'm writing this update, the total is over $5 million ($2 million in the last 12 hours alone). [Redacted] those stingy Americans.

UPDATE: Good point from Boortz (Dec. 30 permalink not yet available):
America will once again show its generosity and goodness to the world as this disaster unfolds. Ironically it is the very strength that allows us to help at times like these that will insure the continuation of the animosity against our country. It might be a good time to remember that poll that was taken just prior to the presidential election. A surveyed showed that 58% of the various nationalities polled wanted to see the United States and its role in world affairs weakened. A weakened United States could not respond to this disaster in as meaningful a way. These people will put aside their desires for American weakness until this tragedy is passed. Then it will be back to business as usual.

December 28, 2004

If only Fred Flintstone had the benefits of the Kyoto Protocol

Ohio State University has released the results of a study which concludes that sudden, catastrophic climate change occurred -- apparently without the assistance of SUVs or Republicans -- about 5,200 years ago. After a straightforward presentation of the research, though, the press release lurches into the present as the lead researcher manages to use this event to invoke the precautionary principle on us:

“The climate system is remarkably sensitive to natural variability,” [Glaciologist Lonnie Thompson] said. “It’s likely that it is equally sensitive to effects brought on by human activity, changes like increased greenhouse gases, altered land-use policies and fossil-fuel dependence.

“Any prudent person would agree that we don’t yet understand the complexities with the climate system and, since we don’t, we should be extremely cautious in how much we ‘tweak’ the system,” he said.

Given that the hard evidence of anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change is scant (if it exists at all), any prudent person would agree that mankind's ability to "'tweak' the system" is vastly overrated.

But Thompson wasn't done with his logical leaps yet. The one quoted above was significant enough, but then in the very next paragraph he gives us this whopper of a non sequitur:
“The evidence is clear that a major climate change is underway.”

The Six Degrees of Global Warming

The trivia game called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is based on the assumption that any person who has acted in a movie can be connected to actor Kevin Bacon in a finite number of links:
The concept is simple, but finding the fewest number of links can be difficult. The way you link an actor with Bacon is like so:
  • Pick a film actor, any film actor.
  • Link the actor you've chosen to Bacon via the movies they've shared with other actors until you end up with Kevin Bacon himself.

Here is an example, using Elvis Presley:

  1. Elvis Presley was in Change of Habit (1969) with Edward Asner
  2. Edward Asner was in JFK (1991) with Kevin Bacon

Therefore Elvis Presley has a Bacon number of 2.

The environmentalist Left seems to be playing a variation of this game regarding global warming. Whenever a Bad Thing happens in the world, it's just a matter of time before somebody trots over to the news cameras to announce either that: (a) global warming caused it, or (b) global warming made it worse. All they have to do is come up with a finite series of links between the theoretical effects of global warming and the Bad Thing, and their work is done. (Aside: This is also highly reminiscent of the way Jesse Jackson appears to work himself into every controversy that gets a lot of press coverage)

Our latest example of the Six Degrees game regards the horror that struck southeast Asia this past weekend. The earthquake-generated tsunami that caused such devastation to islands and coastal areas has become another reason to excoriate President Bush for his failure to push ratification of the Kyoto Protocol (the article linked above doesn't actually include this criticism, but you watch -- it's coming). Here are the links, as presented in this Reuters article:
  • Global warming leads to "a creeping rise in sea levels"
  • Higher sea levels made the tsunami worse
Therefore, this natural disaster has a Global Warming (GW) Number of 2. Although players of the Kevin Bacon game can try for either the highest or the lowest Bacon Number, the object of the Global Warming game is always to get the lowest GW Number.

Last summer's deadly hurricane season was also given a GW Number of 2 by MoveOn.org. Actually, they achieved the 2 in two different ways:
  • Global warming "makes sea levels rise"
  • Higher sea levels make the hurricanes worse
  • Global warming leads to warmer surface temperatures on the ocean
  • "Warmer water makes more violent hurricanes"
See how easy it is? With a little thought, anybody can link any natural event to global warming!

Additional games are scheduled throughout the year for more commonplace events like: when the winter is warmer than usual somewhere; when the winter is cooler than usual somewhere; when it snows more than usual somewhere; when it snows less than usual somewhere; when there is a flood somewhere; when there is a drought somewhere; etc. Check your newspaper or favorite news channel for details.

December 24, 2004

One solitary life

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village. He worked in a carpenter shop unil He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office.

He never owned a home. He never set foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He had no credentials but Himself.

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves.

His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying -- and that was His coat. When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as that One Solitary Life.

-- James A. Francis

To all of my readers: May you experience the joy of knowing this One! Merry Christmas!

More Wash. state ballots discovered in storeroom of Wichita (KS) 7-Eleven

Just kidding.

But, given the level of absurdity to which Washington's election for governor has risen, including the new discovery of 98 uncounted ballots in Alaska, will any new development like this surprise anyone?

December 23, 2004

The Energizer presidency: W and judicial nominations

Most of us have seen monster movies where, time and again, the heroes think they've dispatched the beast to the great beyond, only to have the thing pounce on them again five minutes later.

Congressional Democrats probably feel a lot like the monster-movie victims when it comes to dealing with President Bush. They found out pretty quickly that he couldn't be manipulated as easily as other national GOP leaders could. This has, over the past four years, forced the Dems to employ increasingly drastic and desperate measures to hold W's agenda at bay.

Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the area of judicial nominations. In Bush's first term many of his judicial nominees were met with "filibusters"* and threatened "filibusters" (which tactic had never before been employed against judicial nominees who had enough votes for confirmation).

(* I put "filibusters" in quotes because they weren't actual filibusters. Nobody had time for real filibusters, so instead, each time the Republicans threatened to bring up a nominee, some Dem would pipe up, "Hey, pretend we're filibustering right now." And the Republicans would respond, "Okee dokee. Next item of business." The United States Senate, just around the corner from.... The Twilight Zone.)

These pretend filibusters were enough to kill a lot of nominations.

To the Dems, any smart Republican president would get the message and start nominating judges who hated everything the Republicans stood for.

Not this president.

Even though the Dems have threatened to continue to use their (possibly illegal, definitely unethical) pretend filibuster, today the president announced that he would be resubmitting the names of 20 judges whose nominations were killed via this tactic in his first term.

There's no doubt that the president truly wants these judges confirmed, but there's also some speculation that he is submitting these particular names as irresistable bait to get the Dems to try their game again. Why? It appears that the Senate GOP leaders might be ready to grow a backbone and try to put an end to this obstructionism.

Robert Novak describes how the "nuclear option" might play out in the opening days (or weeks) of the new session:
A scenario for an unspecified day in 2005: One of President Bush's judicial nominations is brought to the Senate floor. Majority Leader Bill Frist makes a point of order that only a simple majority is needed for confirmation. The point is upheld by the presiding officer, Vice President Dick Cheney. Democratic Leader Harry Reid challenges the ruling. Frist moves to table Reid's motion, ending debate. The motion is tabled, and the Senate proceeds to confirm the judicial nominee -- all in about 10 minutes.
Simple as that; no more pretend filibusters on judicial nominees. Novak goes on to note that the prececent for this type of maneuver belongs to the Democrats -- Sen. Robert Byrd effected Senate rules changes in this way four times as majority leader.

Grab some popcorn; this may get good.

P.S. Check out Scott Ott's recommendations on who Bush should nominate, and why.

No Christmas gift says "I love you just the way you are" like...

...a gift certificate for aesthetic plastic surgery?

December 22, 2004

Harry Reid: Pro-life?

The press is almost universally portraying incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) as "pro-life". What they mean, apparently, is that Reid usually fails to get the coveted 100% approval rating from NARAL -- because he certainly doesn't fit the media's stereotype of the typical pro-lifer.

Nor would the typical pro-life person recognize him as one of their own.

Fred Barnes suggests in The Weekly Standard a three-part test that might be used to determine an individual's commitment to the pro-life cause:
First, does the person speak out publicly against abortion or for related pro-life causes? Second, does the person participate vigorously in efforts to protect the unborn or, if a legislator, at least vote to do so? Third, do pro-life forces see the person as an ally or do pro-abortion lobbyists look kindly on the person? To be a pro-lifer a person wouldn't necessarily have to pass all three parts, but two out of three would seem to be the minimum required to be considered an authentic pro-lifer.
Barnes goes on to examine how Reid measures up to these criteria.

Helpful hint: When the media labels someone as pro-life without using quotes around the term, they are usually referring to someone like Reid who is "personally against abortion", but who rarely if ever takes any steps that would actually lead to a reduction in the number of abortions that occur.

So, what do you think: Is Barnes' test a good one? Or, are pro-life activists giving Reid a bum rap?

Dems pull upset in Washington state?

As the third recount in Washington state's governor race draws to a close, state Democrats are claiming an 8-vote victory for their candidate (although the official results won't be released until Wednesday afternoon). If this claim holds, the Dems will actually succeed in the tactic they attempted in Florida in 2000: Repeated recounts, introducing suddenly-discovered ballots from friendly counties as necessary, until the desired result is obtained.

December 20, 2004

Comrade Santa, Part Deux

Apparently keying off the fact that I have a post called "Comrade Santa", a reader asked me to post the following link:
For immediate distribution & broadcast:
"Comrade Santa is coming to town"
This brings you to a page containing the lyrics to the above-mentioned song, roughly set to the tune of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. It's essentially a rant against the Department of Homeland Security, equating it to the excesses of Stalin and Mao.

Hard to tell whether the author/composer is coming from a liberal or a libertarian perspective, because when it comes to criticism of the Bush administration, both constituencies tend to use similar rhetoric.

B.E., care to enlighten us further?

Steyn on "the deChristification of Christmas"

Mark Steyn, in the Daily Telegraph:
The seasonally litigious rest their fanatical devotion to the deChristification of Christmas on the separation of church and state. America's founders were opposed to the "establishment" of religion, whose meaning is clear enough to any Englishman: the new republic did not want President Washington serving simultaneously as Supreme Governor of the Church of America, or the Bishop of Virginia sitting in the US Senate. Two centuries on, these possibilities are so remote that the "separation" of church and state has dwindled down to threats of legal action over red-and-green party napkins.

Another charge against Rumsfeld

The current campaign against Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld has reached new heights of absurdity, and Scott Ott is ready to take it to the next level:
Forensic DNA testing has revealed that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did not personally lick postage stamps on letters to families of troops killed in Iraq.
The outrage!

State sales taxes are now deductible on Form 1040?

I just happened to stumble across a story about something that should have gotten a lot of media coverage, but to my knowledge, has received almost none.

Did you know that, starting with your 2004 federal tax return, you can choose between deducting state income taxes and deducting state sales taxes? The IRS even has a handy table to let you come up with an officially approved deduction estimate if you have no desire to tally up your receipts for the year. This is welcome news for residents of states which have no state income tax (like my home state, Texas).

Why the apparent news blackout?

UPDATE: I posed this question at Free Republic. Most of the responses so far indicate that the story didn't get much coverage in the general-interest media. In other words, unless you work in the financial services industry, or if you hang out in one of their media haunts (such as BankRate.com -- where the above story was found -- or CNBC), you probably didn't hear about it.

Sharon Osbourne's regret

Sharon Osbourne and her family seem to revel in all that is debased, but she can't escape the reality of what abortion did to her:

"Everybody has something in the closet, and I reckon the best policy is always to be honest, then it can't come back to haunt you," she says. And she holds her hands up to her own "big mistakes". The biggest brings her to tears. "I had an abortion at 17 and it was the worst thing I ever did. It was the first time I'd had sex, and that was rotten. I'd always thought it was going to be all violins, and it was just awful.

"I was two months gone when I realised. I went to my mum and she said, without pausing for breath: 'You have to get rid of it.'

"She told me where the clinic was, then virtually pushed me off. She was so angry. She said I'd got myself in this mess, now she had to get me out.

"But she didn't come. I went alone. I was terrified. It was full of other young girls, and we were all terrified and looking at each other and nobody was saying a bloody word. I howled my way through it, and it was horrible.

"I would never recommend it to anyone because it comes back to haunt you. When I tried to have children, I lost three - I think it was because something had happened to my cervix during the abortion. After three miscarriages, they had to put a stitch in it.

"In life, whatever it is, you pay somewhere down the line. You have to be accountable."

Kudos to Sharon for what the Daily Mail calls her brutal honesty.

There are many tragic angles to this story, not least of which was the attitude of Sharon's mother.

Christmas: "A blessing for all Americans"

Jeff Jacoby:
I enjoy Christmas decorations -- and Christmas music, and the upbeat Christmastime mood -- and I say that as a practicing Jew for whom Dec. 25 has no theological significance at all. I have never celebrated Christmas, but I like seeing my Christian neighbors celebrate it. I like living in a society that makes a big deal out of religious holidays. Far from feeling threatened when the sights and sounds of Christmas surround me each December, I find them reassuring. They reaffirm the importance of the Judeo-Christian culture that has made America so exceptional -- and such a safe and tolerant haven for a religious minority like mine.
I remember a couple of decades ago when one of the earliest rumblings of political correctness was advocacy for the disabled. It seemed to me at the time (and it still does) that disabled people weren't as sensitive about their disabilities as were their advocates.

We see a lot of the same kind of thing in the modern war against Christmas. There are many complex underlying issues, but in many cases the stated reason for cleansing the public square of anything Christmas is to protect the tender eyes and ears of various religious/ideological/philosophical minorities. Excluding in the name of inclusiveness. Well, people like Jacoby, supposed beneficiaries of said efforts, resent the attitude of arrogant condescension behind them.

The "secular fundamentalists" (as Rabbi Daniel Lapin describes these people) are on a roll right now, but I really don't think anybody would want to live in the kind of America that would result if Christianity was completely and forcibly divorced from the culture.

Proud of the way you decorated your house for Christmas, are you?

You may not want to watch this, then (4MB WMV movie - make sure speakers are on). Not sure where Rich Martin (a.k.a. "Registered" of RegisteredMedia.com) got it; I'll update this entry when he answers my query.

UPDATE: Rich says the house is somewhere in the Southwestern US; a friend of his videotaped it.

December 17, 2004

Curses! Our diabolical plan has been discovered!

Here's how it begins. It gets better and better as it goes on, so don't stop with the excerpt. In particular, be sure you don't miss the GOP's 13-stage plan to take over the galaxy (we're currently entering stage nine, in case you haven't been paying attention). Typos/grammar errors in original.
The Republican's Sinister Secret Plan

The Republican Party, and the few families who they really represent, have been secretly colluding and conspiring to do what is best for themselves, and not what is best for America. They are using our government leaders to help them get what they want, and what they want is more money and more control over our government. They will not stop unless they are forced to stop and they cannot be stopped unless the American people recognize them for what they really are, liars, con artist, and money whores.

These few mega wealthy families spare no expense in making sure they have control over the Republican Party. They keep it free of any individuals who are rational free-thinkers, or leaders who are willing to descent from the party line. They infiltrate their operatives into the Democratic Party, and they keep the other honest Democrats at bay by intimidating, discrediting, and/or destroying any real potential opposition. The payoff for their corrupt shills in Congress is big bucks, fat cat jobs, and other fringe benefits.
I'm not really sure how this fellow got a hold of our super-secret plans. We maintain strict control over our inventory of secret decoder rings.

Sigh. It's getting impossible to run a good conspiracy these days.

Retirement planning: Choose your own scenario

From Ben Stein, who in real life is an accomplished economist:
Try this on for size. You’re seventy five years old. You live in the comfy home you’ve always lived in. You play golf in good weather. In bad weather, you travel to where it’s warm and sunny. When your grandchildren call, you take them out on the lake in your new boat. Your wife takes classes in the local college and paints. This is your life in retirement and it’s everything you always hoped and dreamed it would be.

Or, try this scenario: you are seventy-five years old. You live in a tiny apartment with the smell of boiled cabbage and noisy neighbors all around. You live in a scary neighborhood and you dare not go out after dark. Eating at restaurants is just a dream. Your apartment is too small to have your kids or grand kids visit. If you get sick and you have to spend time in nursing care, you don’t know how you’ll afford it. Your life is pure fear.

The fact is that if you are a baby boomer, one of the 77 million racing towards retirement, you have -- to a large extent--your choice of which of these retirement outcomes is yours.
In case you don't quite get what he's saying, he spells it out clearly later in the essay:
The point is, making sure you have a swell retirement is up to you. Not to Uncle Sam, usually not to your employer, not to your kids.
Short essay, well worth the read.

Comrade Santa

From Kommunism for Kids, an amusing parody website:
Santa Claus and his elves must be very productive to make all those toys, right? Their secret is Communism. The red suit gives it away. Forget what your parents might have told you, and forget all those television specials you saw about Santa Claus. They don't know the whole story. You can even forget about that kid who told you that Santa isn't real--that's just a myth the capitalists started out to cover up the fact that communism can be so successful.

Greens admit Kyoto treaty fatally flawed

CNSNews.com has a reporter at the U.N. Climate Summit in Buenos Aires. Yesterday, the reporter managed to fluster the moderator of a panel that was discussing the alleged impact of global warming on the habitat and lifestyle of the Inuit people (who insist that such impact constitutes a human rights violation, and that -- of course -- the U.S. is to blame). When pressed by the reporter to provide a scientific foundation for the accusation, the moderator replied that this was "not a scientific event". Another panelist added later that the Inuit complaint was "not about the science, but it's about what is happening to human beings."

As would be expected, the Summit was essentially a platform on which various nations and non-governmental organizations could heap scorn on the U.S. for its failure to ratify the Kyoto climate treaty. Their rage, of course, was motivated by the conviction that Kyoto's prescriptions must be followed if global warming is to be contained. Wasn't it?

Actually, no.

In today's dispatch from Buenos Aires, CNSNews reports that green groups expect Kyoto to have little, if any, impact on the environment. They believe, in the words of Friends of the Earth spokesman Peter Roderick, that "Kyoto is really, really hopeless in terms of delivering what the planet needs." What the planet needs, in their view, amounts to a near rollback of the Industrial Revolution ("huge, huge cuts").

So.... is Kyoto meaningless? Not at all, say the greens. Kyoto is useful as a largely symbolic first step; this is why it is crucial to proponents that the U.S. sign on -- the second step, whatever it may be, won't be possible without American participation.

Many have run the numbers on the devastating impact Kyoto would have on the global economy, and in particular on the American economy. Given the abundant evidence that the environmental movement is largely indistinguishable from the world socialist movement (as is evidenced by the Earth Charter), Kyoto's anticapitalist character is most likely a feature, not a flaw.

Earth Charter: The bible of the environmentalist/socialist religion

Do you ever get the feeling that the environmentalist movement is fundamentally religious in nature? This article from Canada Free Press will go far to validate this suspicion:

Day after day in New York City, a small and strange procession can be seen moving along the pavement. While taxicabs whiz by and passersby move out of the way on Big Apple sidewalks, a handful of acolytes transport a large, hand painted box crafted from the wood of a sycamore tree. Make that "a sustainably harvested in Germany" sycamore tree. Dressed not in long flowing robes, but in average business apparel, the acolytes are garden-variety United Nations employees. There’s no need to hire Brink’s for protection and nothing but propaganda and hype worth robbing. The precious cargo of the box walked by the acolytes are the so-called Earth Charter, printed on actual papyrus and 300 small, handmade "tenemos" books.

The box is pretentiously called the Ark of Hope, a not very good knockoff of the biblical Ark of the Covenant, which contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments given to Moses.

The Earth Charter -- a blueprint for global socialism and radical environmentalism -- is the brainchild of Mikhail Gorbachev and Maurice Strong. Most people remember Gorbachev as the last leader of the communist empire known as the Soviet Union, but the EC website identifies him simply as "president of Green Cross International". Strong, Canadian zillionaire, is basically the George Soros of the radical environmentalist/socialist Left -- he has dedicated his wealth to the realization of the principles embodied in the Charter.

Okay, so maybe those folks carrying the ark in New York are a bit nutty..... what about Gorbachev and Strong? Is the Earth Charter a religious text to them as well? Let's go back to the CFP article:
"My hope is that this charter will be a kind of Ten Commandments, a Sermon on the Mount," Gorbachev stated in a 1997 interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Strong, who presided over the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, where the Earth Charter was born boasts: "The real goal of the Earth Charter is that it will, in fact become like the Ten Commandments." (Emphasis added).

This version of the Ten Commandments is making strong inroads into the public schools with the hearty endorsement of the education establishment, as this Google search suggests. Okay with you, parents?

Progressives conserve, conservatives progress

Both Jonah Goldberg and Rich Lowry observe that the labels "liberal" (or "progressive") and "conservative" are becoming increasingly inadequate as descriptions of the philosophies and policies of those who bear those labels.

The main reason is that over the past generation or so, liberals have accomplished many of their goals. Despite the mess they have made of our country and our culture, they are now digging in, resisting any and all attempts to repair the damage that has been done. In truth, the progressives are now the conservatives, and the conservatives are the reformers.

December 16, 2004

Ultra-liberals mischaracterize war against Christmas

Lead paragraph in an Associated Press article about the backlash against the ongoing cultural cleansing of the Christmas season:
Some ultra-conservative Christian groups around the country are trying to put more Christ into Christmas this season.
I've noticed a curious tendency in the mainstream media to label this as a battle against the secularization of Christmas. Actually, that battle has been ongoing for decades. What's new this year is a concerted effort by the secularist Left to purge Christmas altogether (Christian and secular) from our culture.

I suppose the garden-variety Christian groups are totally okey-dokey with what's going on.

Further on in the article comes proof that conservatives are scoring with this campaign:
The push from the religious right troubles Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Wal-Mart takes advantage of Target's boneheaded decision

Wal-Mart demonstrates once again that it is not going to bow to the gods of political correctness any time soon:

Folks dropping money in Salvation Army kettles at Wal-Mart stores can make their money go twice as far. The world's largest retailer announced Thursday it would match up to $1 million in donations.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has more than 3,600 domestic stores operating as Wal-Marts, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam's Club warehouse stores.

The company said the clock started Thursday on the match and runs through Christmas Eve.

Wal-Mart competitor Target Corp. has joined a number of other major retailers in banning the Salvation Army bell ringers, saying it was not fair to select certain charities and not others for the coveted space.

Rove screws up again, timing is way off on jobs figures

(Washington) In yet another blow to the image of evil omnipotence the Left has conferred upon Bush administration uberschemer Karl Rove, it was revealed today that the advisor failed to deliver improving job figures in time for the presidential election. The Labor Department revealed today that new jobless claims were down 43,000 last week -- but this news came more than a month too late to have any effect on the election.

"This is strike two for Rove," groused a senior administration official. "He was also supposed to get W's big-oil cronies to drop gasoline prices before the election, but they didn't start falling until later.

"The fact that the president won anyway is irrelevant. If Rove keeps this up, the Left may have to find themselves another bogeyman."

An abortion ban....in China

China's Xinhua news agency reports on a remarkable new law:

Starting January 1, Guiyang, capital of southwestern Guizhou Province, will impose China's first ban on abortion of a fetus more than 14 weeks old.

The move aims to control the city's consistently lopsided male-female ratio of newborns, according to a top Guiyang official.

Medical facilities or doctors violating the ban will face a fine up to 30,000 yuan (US$3,600) or have their medical operation license suspended, according to a regulation the city announced recently.

Pharmaceutical firms will also be banned from selling abortion medications to hospitals or doctors that are not allowed to conduct abortion.

Granted, Guiyang is imposing this ban for demographic rather than moral reasons, but regardless of the city officials' motivations, we can rejoice that lives will be saved.

Betting on "Jesusland"

Mark Steyn has a long, meandering, good-read essay in The Spectator (free registration required; article also here) on the reasons why the very existence of "Jesusland" gives one hope for the survival of Western culture and civilization, despite the best efforts of the "Eutopians" to destroy said Western culture and civilization.

December 15, 2004

Bill Cosby as head of NAACP?

Clarence Page suggests this in his December 2 column. It is highly unlikely that the modern NAACP would ever embrace Cosby's common-sense prescriptions for what ails America's black community, but it is nevertheless good to see someone of Page's stature raising the point.

To whom it may concern (Re: comments)

An e-mail poured in this morning in which a reader opined that I make it too difficult for people to leave comments.

When I started this blog, I was well aware of the fact that lax commenting policies made it easy for other blogs to get spammed with advertising and other off-topic posts. To prevent that, I flipped the switch that requires commenters to have a Blogger account (no requirement to have a blog; just an account).

This policy has kept the spammers away..... but it has also been a hindrance to those who might like to make on-topic comments.

For a while I have been thinking about un-flipping the must-be-registered-to-comment switch, and this morning's e-mail has given me a reason to give it a try.

Standard commenting etiquette (Keep It Clean,j Keep It Civil, Keep It On Topic, Bla Bla Bla) still applies, natch.

Ya'll be good, ya hear?

Just in case you're not convinced yet that Hillary's running in 2008...

...this week she began staking out a position on illegal immigration that's to the right of GWB's (and the GOP's in general).

Tony Blankley:
I never thought I would write the following words, but: God bless Hillary Clinton. Though her motives are cynical, their effects may well be vital both to our national security and to our sovereign responsibility to control our borders.

Republican presidents and congressional leaders have for years effortlessly and painlessly given short shrift to conservative Republican congressmen calling to secure our borders and end massive illegal immigration. But they ignore Hillary at their mortal peril.

Immigration and border legislation in 2005 is likely to be the last chance the Republicans have to put their stamp on those issues. Their failure to do so would: 1) give Hillary three years to champion such Buchananite reform; 2) visibly split the Republican Party on the issue; 3) thereby undercut the Republican unity President Bush will need to pass his Social Security and Tax reforms, and 4) set up Hillary to patch together an unlikely, but formidable, electoral coalition of disenchanted border-security Republicans and main street Democrats for the 2008 campaign.
Are you listening, GOP?

Eschew the blue

The blue/red meme -- which got its start with USA Today's county-by-county 2000 election results map -- has really taken off since this year's election. It has become a shorthand for describing people whose values track mostly with the Democrats (blue) or with the Republicans (red). In a way, this is widening even further the cultural gulf between the "two Americas".

A new website, Choose the Blue, is encouraging "blues" to spend their money only on businesses, products and services offered by companies who give more money to the Democrats than to the GOP.

To help the earnest liberal in his or her quest, Choose the Blue provides a well-organized list of corporations and federal data on the giving habits of their political action committees and employees.

Happily, this list also serves as a useful guide to help "reds" make their spending decisions.

In my opinion, care should be taken regarding companies that split their contributions evenly (or even 60-40). In many of these cases, I suspect the companies' contributions are more pragmatic than ideological. In other words, they're paying "protection" money.

That said, there is plenty of useful information to be gained from the data.

Arby's and Sonic - 100% Dem
Most restaurant chains - Significantly GOP
Most grocery store chains - Significantly GOP
News Corp (parent of Fox News) - 61% Dem
Fox News itself - 67% GOP (although the actual amounts are quite small)
Fox Kids - 98% Dem
HarperCollins (Limbaugh's publisher) - 100% Dem

...and much, much more...

December 14, 2004

Minnesota elector accidentally votes for Pat Buchanan

Just kidding. Actually, the allegedly mistaken ballot (none of the electors admits casting the vote) was cast for "John Ewards", who may or may not be the same as John Edwards, who reportedly also ran for president this year.

Sigh....time to get the lawyers fired up again.

Crichton's on a roll

In a Parade magazine article that is undoubtedly part of the marketing blitz for his new novel, Michael Crichton takes a look back at some of the "false fears and counterfeit crises" of recent decades -- global cooling, global warming, population explosion, population decline, natural resource depletion, technology threats, everything's-a-carcinogen, etc. -- and longs for a day when a skeptical citizenry is not so easily taken in by the Bogeyman of the Month.

December 13, 2004

Another quandary for environmenalists?

Like the California windmill farms that are slicing and dicing endangered birds, the global warming debate seems to have raised another quandary for the environmental movement.

For many years environmentalists have been decrying the destruction of coral reefs.

For many years environmentalists have been decrying the coming destruction of the rest of the planet due to global warming.

Now comes an Australian study suggesting that global warming, far from being a reef-killer, may lead to explosive growth of the reefs.

December 12, 2004

Memo to Bush's big-oil cronies

Hey, you were supposed to manipulate oil prices downward before the election, not after! How will anybody believe the Left's conspiracy theories if you can't come through for him at the right time?

December 10, 2004

Which media player do you use on your Windows machine?

Just wondering.

Granted, it IS a legitimate issue....

....but camera phone voyeurism is not a federal issue, okay?

UPDATE: Shame on me for not noticing..... this law applies only to federal property. Now, the constitutionality of the countless property holdings of the federal government is another story altogether. Maybe some other time.

Bill Moyers joins the exodus

From Scott Ott:
Bill Moyers Retires, Fails to Leave Void

(2004-12-09) -- Bill Moyers, whose journalistic reports on PBS have been missed by most Americans for 30 years, retires this month but fails to leave the customary void, according to a journalism expert.

"Normally when a veteran newsman leaves, there is that sense of loss," said an unnamed professor at the Columbia School of Journalism, "but all of our metrics indicate that Americans are unlikely to note the absence of Bill Moyers, let alone struggle to reach emotional closure."

Media accounts (like the AP article linked by Ott) never fail to throw in the fact that Moyers is an ordained Baptist minister, as if this should blunt any criticism of his ideas. The truth is, Moyers is no more than a "pet" Baptist to the media, much as John McCain is their "pet" Republican.

Enjoy your retirement, Rev. Moyers.

MoveOn still won't

MoveOn.org, accurately concluding that President Bush would have won by an even larger margin had not the organization gone all-out to energize the radical left wing of the Democratic Party, appears poised to launch a hostile takeover of the party apparatus:
Liberal powerhouse MoveOn has a message for the "professional election losers" who run the Democratic Party: "We bought it, we own it, we're going to take it back."

A scathing e-mail from the head of MoveOn's political action committee to the group's supporters on Thursday targets outgoing Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe as a tool of corporate donors who alienated both traditional and progressive Democrats.

"For years, the party has been led by elite Washington insiders who are closer to corporate lobbyists than they are to the Democratic base," said the e-mail from MoveOn PAC's Eli Pariser. "But we can't afford four more years of leadership by a consulting class of professional election losers."
If MoveOn makes good on its threat and attempts to radicalize the Dems even further, the GOP can look forward to even more gains in the next cycle.

December 9, 2004

Crichton again skewers the environmentalist Left

Two years ago novelist Michael Crichton gave an excellent lecture at Caltech entitled, "Aliens Cause Global Warming", in which he bemoaned the herd mentality and the lack of hard science underlying the climate debate (as well as most other environmental scares).

Now Crichton is bringing his message to a broader audience with his newest novel, State of Fear, which arrived in bookstores this week. To nobody's surprise, the Left is crying foul.

I'll reserve further judgment until I have a chance to acquire and read the book, but it warms my heart (not in a global-warming kind of way, mind you) to see someone of Crichton's stature who is willing to endure the cries of Heresy! from the orthodox in the Church of Environmentalism.

Of all the cabinet officers for GWB to retain...

...why Norm Mineta?

Michelle Malkin has a series of quotes to remind us why Mineta is the wrong man for the job in the post-9/11 era.

Rumsfeld set up by reporter (Is anyone surprised?)

The news media are all atwitter regarding the tough questions raised by soldiers at a town hall-style Q&A session held by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld in Iraq earlier this week.

It turns out that a reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press planted the question about the lack of armor. Drudge has a the text of an e-mail from the reporter bragging to his colleagues about this. Not only did he plant the question, he made sure that his guy got called on.

Sigh. Another day, another attempt to embarrass the administration. The questions about the armor are completely legitimate, of course -- but if the press is concerned about the issue, the proper venue for such questions is Rumsfeld's Pentagon briefings.

I have no doubt that the soldier, Army Spc. Thomas Wilson, was genuinely concerned about the armor problem, but I do doubt he was happy to become a media pawn.

Fox Blocker: The triumph of symbolism over substance

In another example of how the Left values symbolism over substance, somebody has come up with a gadget called the Fox Blocker, which allows concerned liberals to protect their tender ears (and those of their kids) by blocking the Fox News channel (although it could be configured to block any particular channel).

The web site informs fellow travelers that Fox News' top ten advertisers will be informed of each purchase. This way, the advertisers will learn that someone who has avoided Fox News in the past...will continue to avoid Fox News.

Exactly how will this impress the advertisers?

Fox News' viewership continues to rise, so this silly campaign is utterly meaningless to the advertisers.

Meanwhile, the leftists all sleep soundly, content in the knowledge that they have Done Something for the cause. Heh.

December 7, 2004

Another reason to promote Antonin Scalia to Chief Justice

The Washington Post reports that Reid is catching flak from the Left regarding his seeming tolerance of the idea of Antonin Scalia being elevated to Chief Justice of the Supremes. As someone on Free Republic noted, though, Reid has already announced his reason for eventually opposing Scalia -- the alleged "ethics problems" (see the transcript excerpt here). This section of the Democrat playbook is dogeared and worn. As with the all-out assault on Clarence Thomas at his initial confirmation, it's not the truth, but the seriousness of the charges, that matters most.

Another reason to promote Clarence Thomas to Chief Justice

On Sunday's Meet the Press, Tim Russert had this exchange with incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid regarding the most likely candidates to replace ailing Chief Justice Rehnquist:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to judicial nominations. Again, Harry Reid on National Public Radio, November 19: "If they"--the Bush White House--"for example, gave us Clarence Thomas as chief justice, I personally feel that would be wrong. If they give us Antonin Scalia, that's a little different question. I may not agree with some of his opinions, but I agree with the brilliance of his mind."

Could you support Antonin Scalia to be chief justice of the Supreme Court?

SEN. REID: If he can overcome the ethics problems that have arisen since he was selected as a justice of the Supreme Court. And those ethics problems--you've talked about them; every people talk--every reporter's talked about them in town--where he took trips that were probably not in keeping with the code of judicial ethics. So we have to get over this. I cannot dispute the fact, as I have said, that this is one smart guy. And I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reason for arriving at those results are very hard to dispute. So...

MR. RUSSERT: Why couldn't you accept Clarence Thomas?

SEN. REID: I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written. I don't--I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice.

While the "ethics problems" charge against Scalia are debatable, at least it's a (somewhat) specific accusation. Reid doesn't bother to go into any specifics regarding how Thomas is an "embarrassment" to the court. He doesn't give any examples of poorly written opinions. He doesn't given any particular reason why he doesn't think Thomas has done a good job. A sharp-minded, unbiased interviewer would have called Reid on this, but it didn't happen.

This exchange actually is quite encouraging to me. It tells me that the Dems consider Clarence Thomas to be the single most credible threat to their agenda. They hate him, but they have nothing they can sink their teeth into to minimize the threat (partly because there's no merit to Reid's charges, but also because a concerted attack on Thomas runs the risk of a backlash from black activists).

Bring it on, Dems.

December 6, 2004

Counteroffensive in the War Against Christmas

Justin Darr, like many of us dismayed by the slow-but-steady replacement of Christmas with something called The Holidays, determined to do his Christmas shopping only at those businesses that actually acknowledged Christmas in their advertising and/or promotional displays.

He almost returned home empty-handed.

December 2, 2004

Daschle: One last chance to loot the Treasury, for old times' sake

The Rapid City (SD) Journal reports that the U.S. Senate has given defeated Sen. Tom Daschle quite a going-away gift, courtesy of you and me:

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved two months' worth of severance pay for the employees of Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., in the wake of his Nov. 2 defeat by Republican John Thune.

As one of their last acts before they adjourned in the early morning hours of Nov. 21, senators voted to change the rules governing the chamber to provide the severance pay and benefits package, which is expected to cost taxpayers at least $656,480.

Such severance packages have not been extended to staff members of defeated senators in the past.

Daschle has about 80 employees at his South Dakota field offices, his Senate office on Capitol Hill and his Senate minority leader office in the Capitol itself.

The $656,480 estimate comes from multiplying the estimated number of employees eligible for severance by two months' worth of the average annual salary — $49,236 — of a Senate employee. The cost of benefits has not been figured in.
(Credit: Free Republic)

Denver bans subversive church group from 'holiday' parade

Denver has decided to join in on the cultural cleansing of the month of December. The mayor decreed that public buildings may no longer have signs or banners with the words Merry Christmas; they must now say Happy Holidays.

What about the "parade of lights"? Perhaps that has something to do with Christmas? The timing, you know, is a bit suspicious. Not at all, says the city. According to the article linked above: "Organizers say the parade is about the holidays, not Christmas." Whatever that means.

Since the parade is not related to Christmas, the Faith Bible Chapel will not be allowed to march in the parade, because the church was planning to .... sing Christmas carols. This apparently is too much for the sensitive ears of non-Christians.

Just wondering: when the left refers to "holidays", what exactly do they mean? Which holidays (i.e. holy days) are they thinking of? And, as one poster on Free Republic pointed out, if the "holiday" parade has nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas, why not hold the parade in July?

It really is time to call the multi-culti-politically-correct gang on this nonsense.

December 1, 2004

Why is the Bush administration defending the FACE Act?

The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act turns a local crime (interfering in any way with the operation of an abortion clinic) into a federal case. The justification for the law hinges on the modern fashionable-but-absurd notion that any thing that can be tied to something else in another state (and in which money plays any role, large or small) brings that thing under the jurisdiction of the federal government, courtesy of the Constitution's "commerce clause", should the government choose to exercise such jurisdiction.

In a case before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the argument is being made that a man's act of violence against a Houston abortion clinic (ramming his van into the building) may dissuade abortionists in some other state from practicing their craft, and thus this is a matter of interstate commerce, and thus the malefactor can be prosecuted in federal courts under FACE. The Bush administration has gone so far as to dispatch an Assistant U.S. Attorney General to bolster this argument.

I'm not jumping on this simply because it involves abortion -- FACE is bad law because it relies on a twisting of the Constitution that leaves nothing of significance outside of Congress' grasp.

I realize that the Bush administration has a less than ideal record on defending the Constitution, but I wish it would draw the line somewhere. This case would be a meaningful place to do so.

The life of the child is irrelevant

In all of the years I have participated in the abortion debate, one of my main strategies has been to focus on what seemed to me to be the indisputable fact that abortion involves the premeditated taking of a human life.

Early on, those on the other side of the debate made an effort to obfuscate this fact; this was evident in their constant references to the unborn baby as a blob of tissue or as a "product of conception", as well as their use of the term "fetus" instead of "baby" or "child".

Several years ago I began to notice an indifference to my arguments, as if the life and humanity of the child were irrelevant -- in other words, the only real issue was the sovereign choice of the woman. As horrifying as it seemed, they had conceded my arguments without acknowledging their merits.

The passage of time has shown my observation to be accurate. I almost long for the days when abortion proponents felt the need to deny the humanity of the unborn child -- compared to the shrug we now get when they are confronted with the fact.

Ed Vitagliano writes in a November 22 essay that there is a growing desire among some elements of the pro-abortion movement to preemptively and openly acknowledge the reality that abortion is murder -- and then say "so what?".

A British documentary called My Fetus -- already broadcast in Great Britain and Australia -- attempts to do just that. The documentary very graphically and very candidly shows actual abortion procedures without trying to gloss over what is actually happening.

Scenes like this have been a very effective weapon in the hands of the pro-life movement. The difference in this case is that the documentary was produced by Julia Black, who is very much a pro-abortion activist and is also the daughter of the man who runs Britain's largest abortion provider.

She made the documentary to advance her cause.

She believes that her cause will benefit if it can deny the pro-life movement one of its most powerful arguments.

It's a daring strategy. In the modern age of moral relativism, who can say that it won't succeed?

November 30, 2004

Corporate Hollywood continues its war against its customers

From the New Haven Register, Nov. 27:

Since the advent of the VCR, and with the arrival of DVD players, those who want to get to the movie have been free to skip past the coming attractions.

The entertainment industry, however, is exerting pressure in Congress with the hope of making it impossible to skip past previews and advertisements at the opening of DVDs.

Legislative language that would have done just that — make it illegal for DVDs to allow fast-forwarding — was struck at the last minute from a copyright bill that passed the Senate late Nov. 20.

The Executive branch is not run by committee

The latest horror from the Bush administration is that the president is stocking his cabinet with people who actually agree with him. This action has elicited precisely the howls of outrage from the Dems and the media that did not occur when President Clinton did the same thing. Cabinet officer "independence" is a virtue only when the executive is a Republican. But you knew that already.

Bret Stephens has written a very useful essay for the Wall Street Journal in which he examines the history of the relationship between presidents and their cabinet officers. Current criticism of President Bush seems to imply that the relationship is supposed to follow the "cabinet government" model, in which this branch of the government is actually run by an executive council; the president always casts the deciding vote, but never without advisory input from the council.

The sensible reader, however, will come away from Stephens' essay with the obvious conclusion:
[A] cabinet is not something a president governs with; and contrary to Andrew Jackson, it is not something a president governs around. Ideally, a cabinet is what a president governs through.
While the president is free to delegate important decisionmaking tasks to his officers, they certainly serve at his pleasure and -- as Stephens points out -- are welcome to look for other employment if they are not willing to be "tools" for the implementation of the president's policies.

November 29, 2004

The Left is blowing a gasket over "values"

Michael Kinsley, in an op-ed rant entitled "To Hell With Values" (registration required):
It's been less than a month since the gods decreed that, due to the election results, American political life henceforth must be all about something called "values." And I gave it my best. Honest. But I'm sick of talking about values, sick of pretending I have them or care more about them than I really do. Sick of bending and twisting the political causes I do care about to make them qualify as "values."
After enjoying the political dominance of his own values for the past few decades, Kinsley can't stand to see opposing values get any traction. He insists that a politician's "values" should not matter as long as he or she is "competent" -- but you just know that Kinsley will judge a pol's competence by his or her fealty to the values that are important to him. And that makes him no different from the people for which he expresses such derision in his essay.

Granted, Kinsley does make the good point that pols typically connive to repackage their pet issues in terms of values, but he seems to jump from this fact to the conclusion that no issue can or should be debated in the context of values. Not true.

November 24, 2004

Herding cats at State

Joel Mowbray has a good essay on the challenges Condoleezza Rice faces reining in the out-of-control foreign service bureaucracy at State, and about whether or not she is up to the task (good intentions notwithstanding).

In naming Condoleezza Rice as his pick for Secretary of State, President Bush is sending his most loyal adviser to his most disloyal agency: the State Department. But no matter what changes she makes—and many are needed—the bureaucracy at State is entrenched almost to the point of being impenetrable, meaning real reform could well prove illusory.

Ms. Rice will soon take the reins of a massive 47,000-employee operation that is literally sprawled out across the world. It is an insular institution that operates remarkably similarly from one administration to the next, typically viewing presidents, as one Foreign Service Officer puts it, as the “summer help.”
State's "insular" arrogance didn't spring up overnight, and it is not likely that reform can take root quickly, but I'd sure like to see Rice have a go at it. It would be worth the price of admission to hear the squeals of rage coming from the lifers there.

Secret provision of spending bill enrages lawmakers

Another wishful-thinking classic from Scott Ott:
Hidden Clause Would Force Lawmakers to Read Legislation

(2004-11-24) -- A secret provision in the proposed 3,600-page omnibus spending bill for 2005 would require members of Congress to actually read the text of legislation before voting.

Buried on page 1,776 of the bill, the hidden clause sparked outrage from both sides of the aisle after it was discovered by an employee of the Congressional printing service.

"This sneak-and-peek provision is a violation of our fundamental rights as legislators," said one unnamed Republican Senator. "If you require lawmakers to actually read the text of bills, then they would lose plausible deniability and become accountable for their votes. This would shake the foundations of our constitutional republic."

November 23, 2004

The Cult of Molech releases this year's holiday cards

As the Christmas season gears up, Planned Parenthood has once again profaned the birth of Christ by offering this year's edition of "Choice on Earth" holiday cards.

These folks truly are heirs of the cult of Molech, infamous for their practice of child sacrifice.

Kudos to the NAACP for defending Condi Rice

The NAACP is infamous for remaining silent when black conservatives come under attack. It is therefore refreshing to see that the organization has issued a statement defending Secretary of State designate Condoleezza Rice against the "racial slurs and ethnic stereotypes" that have been leveled against her by some on the left:

[NAACP President & CEO Kweisi] Mfume said, “Her counsel is respected and valued in her field and in the upper echelons of her political party.” Moreover, “Rice, a PhD and former Stanford University Provost, is an example of how far hard work, education and determination can take one to new heights,” said Mfume.

He went on to say that “attacks on Rice by the radio host and political cartoonists who use stereotypes and racial caricatures are just as bad as those who hide under sheets and burn crosses. This is something the NAACP has fought against for more than 95 years and something we will continue to oppose.”

November 18, 2004

Another defeat for Tom Daschle

In the wake of 9/11/01, Tom Daschle led the Democrat charge to make airport security screeners federal employees, famously declaring that you can't "professionalize unless you federalize". After only three years, the Transportation Security Administration is now allowing airports to "apply to leave the federal security screener system", according to this Washington Post article.

This experiment revealed much of what is generally wrong with central planning -- for example, the inability of the TSA to respond in a timely manner to changes in staffing needs at specific airports.

At least two Washington-area airports (BWI and Dulles) are tired of the customer service nightmare that the TSA-run security process has brought, and they are beginning to understand that you can't really professionalize unless you privatize.

This really hasn't been a good month for soon-to-be-former Sen. Daschle, has it?

November 17, 2004

Why the L.A. cross controversy matters

Dennis Prager, a Jew, explains why he's front-and-center in the protest against the L.A. County supervisors' decision to remove a small cross from the county seal:

First, I fear those who rewrite history.

As I noted in a previous column on this subject, when I was a graduate student at Columbia University's Russian Institute, I learned that a major characteristic of totalitarian regimes is their rewriting of history. As a famous Soviet dissident joke put it: "In the Soviet Union, the future is known; it's the past which is always changing." Given the relationship between changing the past and totalitarianism, those who love liberty ought to be frightened by the ACLU and the Board of Supervisors.

Second, I fear intolerance. And the move to expunge the singular Christian contribution to an American county and city is intolerant to the point of bigotry. No religious Christians, despite their deep opposition to paganism, ever objected to the pagan goddess that is many times larger than the cross. I have found over and over that most Christians who preach faith are more tolerant than most leftists who preach tolerance.

Third, and most important, I fear the removal of the Judeo-Christian foundation of our society. This is the real battle of our time, indeed the civil war of our time. The Left wants America to become secular like Western Europe, not remain the Judeo-Christian country it has always been. But unlike the Left, I do not admire France and Belgium and Sweden. And that is what the battle over the seal of America's most populous county is ultimately about. It is not about separation of church and state. It is about separation of a county from its history. And it is about separation of America from its moral foundations.

November 16, 2004

How to avoid the poverty trap

Steven Malanga has written an excellent essay in City Journal that thoroughly dismantles the left's view of poverty in America. He focuses his attention on forty years of literature that claims that the vast majority of those in poverty now are doomed to remain there, and that poverty leads to all kinds of personal failure and social dysfunction.

The supposed economic immobility of the underclass is easily refuted by Malanga.

Regarding the alleged effects of poverty, research indicates that the Left is wrong on all counts. Referring to a book by Joanna Lipper on the abundance of poverty, drug abuse and teen pregnancy in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Malanga writes:
[...] Lipper has reversed cause and effect. She sees social dysfunction in Pittsfield and blames it on poverty. But it typically is personal failure and social dysfunction that create poverty. To stay out of poverty in America, it's necessary to do three simple things, social scientists have found: finish high school, don't have kids until you marry, and wait until you are at least 20 to marry. Do those three things, and the odds against your becoming impoverished are less than one in ten. Nearly 80 percent of everyone who fails to do those three things winds up poor.
Read the whole essay.

(Credit: Boortz)

Cosby starting to have effect?

Newsday's Sheryl McCarthy has written a very encouraging essay on comedian Bill Cosby's quest to force America's black community to accept responsibility for the current state of its youth. In the face of often withering criticism (which focuses on him instead of on the issues he raises), Cosby is refusing to back down.

November 15, 2004

Ben Franklin, another cold-hearted right-wing extremist

Repeal that [welfare] law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. ... Six days shalt thou labor, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them.

-- Benjamin Franklin
Ben Franklin, incurable optimist. His observation is correct, but what he doesn't mention is the fact that if all of the assets of "the rich" were somehow confiscated and divided among "the poor", the lot of the poor would not be substantially improved.

(Courtesy of The Federalist's "Founders Quote Daily")

November 8, 2004

Paramount blames conservatives for movie's poor showing

(Yes, I'm supposed to be gone, but I couldn't let this one get by)

Hollywood is drawing some interesting lessons from the presidential election. The New York Times relates that Paramount may have had an epiphany of sorts:

Paramount's "Alfie," a remake of a romantic comedy about a roguish womanizer starring Jude Law, opened to a dismal $6.5 million in more than 2,000 theaters, far below expectations. The tepid response was the latest blow to Sherry Lansing, the chairwoman of Paramount who last week announced her plans to leave the job when her contract expires in 2005, and whose movies have performed poorly this summer and fall.

Wayne Llewellyn, the president of distribution at Paramount, said that the conservative ethos reflected in last week's election results might have hurt the film.

"It could be the mood of the country right now," he said. "It seems to be the result of the election. Maybe they didn't want to see a guy that slept around."

Don't hold your breath waiting for Paramount to stop making movies about guys who sleep around.

November 7, 2004

Yet ANOTHER hiatus

I need to put the blog on hold yet again for a few days. I should be back online by Saturday the 13th.

Clarence Thomas for Chief Justice?

Drudge, Nov. 7:
President Bush has launched an internal review of the pros and cons of nominating Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as the chief justice if ailing William Rehnquist retires, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

A top White House source familiar with Bush's thinking explains the review of Thomas as chief justice is one of several options currently under serious consideration. But Thomas is Bush's personal favorite to take the position, the source claims.
Thomas would be an outstanding choice. President Bush has shown how resolute he can be in the face of withering criticism. If he is truly inclined to make this nomination, I hope he will stand his ground.

November 5, 2004

No rest for weary conservatives... Arlen Specter is still at large

Arlen Specter is one of the top possibilities for chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and this week he has made clear his pre-emptive opposition to any pro-life judges President Bush might nominate. Conservative organizations are already mobilizing their forces to prevent Specter from being appointed Judiciary chairman. A new blog, NotSpecter.com, appears to be a good place to go for information on this issue.

Netherlands awakening to War on Terror

...sort of. Following the murder of a filmmaker who made a movie critical of radical Islam, prominent Dutch politicians have been forced into hiding because of death threats by Muslims promising the same for them.

One of the politicians, Hyaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali woman and ex-Muslim, is one of the country's most outspoken critics of government policies that do not encourage immigrant populations -- including one million north-African Muslims -- to assimilate. Her solution to the recent actual and promised terrorism, however, does not seem to be proportional to the threat. Referring to a law that currently allows immigrants to maintain dual citizenship:
She said that the law would be changed "so that when a person is suspected of planning or involvement in extremism or serious crimes, we will take away their Dutch passport."
Yeah, that'll teach them.

Russia ratifies Kyoto treaty; treaty now takes effect

From UPI:

The completion of Russia's ratification process, which began last month when Moscow's legislature passed an enabling bill, brings the protocol into effect more than seven years after the pact was adopted in December 1997 at a U.N. climate change conference in Kyoto, Japan.

This was an easy call by Russia. They will be able to trade pollution "credits" to higher-polluting countries in exchange for cold, hard cash.

US refusal to ratify the protocol is yet another reason for Bush-haters around the world to hate Bush (a search on the key word "kyoto" in Google News reveals many current examples).

The article gives an explanation for the timing (related to getting assurances of EU support for Russian acceptance into the World Trade Organization), but I think it's significant that this happened just three days after the U.S. election. For all of the disagreements between the two countries, President Putin appears to genuinely like President Bush. I can't help but think he was persuaded (or decided on his own) to wait until now to avoid the ratification becoming an issue against Bush before Nov. 2.

November 3, 2004

Bad news for Democrat political refugees

If Tuesday's election results have you packing your duffel bag and getting ready to flee north, you may have to suffer through the Bush dictatorship up to another year before your paperwork gets processed, according to a Reuters article that appears to take the possiblity of an exodus seriously.

November 2, 2004

Non sequitur alert

Tonight's non sequitur award goes to Reuters:
In the midst of a key national election on Tuesday, Texas, the leading death penalty state, took time out to execute a man for a 1990 murder.

Why it matters: Reason #172384

Many have mentioned in this election season that whoever is president in the next four years will be able to name one or more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. This is now a virtual certainty, with the news that Chief Justice Rehnquist has thyroid cancer, which is typically fatal. Although he has not yet resigned his position, he won't be returning to the bench any time soon.

I have no intention whatsoever of minimizing Rehnquist's illness, but the point must be made that once he is off the court, a President Kerry would waste no time adjusting the ideological balance more to his liking. (Conservatives and constitutionalists planning to vote third-party, please take note).

A grateful nation turns out to endorse their Dear Leader

Scott Ott gives us a vision of what we'd see in the paper today if all of the Looney Left's dark accusations were really true:
Exit Polls Show 100 Percent Turnout, All for Bush

(2004-11-02) -- Early exit polling, even before precincts had opened on the east coast, shows that today's voter turnout will be 100 percent of those registered, and all voters enthusiastically support the Bush regime.

"His popular support rivals Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il and his close friend King Fahd," said an unnamed spokesman for the United Nation's election monitoring team. "Some people are literally marking their ballots with their own blood to show their devotion to this dear leader."

Read the whole thing, have a good laugh, and then GET OUT AND VOTE!

(But only if you're voting for the Dear Leader, of course)

November 1, 2004

Kerry gets the best press coverage in a generation

No surprise that the press is rooting for Sen. Kerry, but the degree to which they're pulling out the stops is unprecedented in recent decades, as the Washington Times reports:
Sen. John Kerry has gotten the white-glove treatment from the press, garnering more praise from journalists than any other presidential candidate in the last quarter-century, according to a new analysis of almost 500 news stories released today by the Center for Media and Public Affairs.

"It's not just that John Kerry has gotten better press than President Bush before this election, he's gotten better press than anyone else since 1980. That's significant," said Bob Lichter, director of the D.C.-based nonpartisan research group.
(Credit: Best of the Web)

October 31, 2004

Time to get all white Americans into 12-step programs

From The Battalion, Texas A&M's student newspaper:
Joe Feagin, professor of sociology at Texas A&M, who grew up in a predominantly white Houston neighborhood during the civil rights movement, said in a seminar Thursday that racism in the United States has changed from being an extroverted problem to an introverted one.
"There are two types of white Americans: racists and recovering racists," Feagin said.
If you're white, don't bother denying that you're racist (and don't use the old racist dodge that other ethnicities can be prejudiced as well) -- Prof. Feagin will just smile benignly at you and say you're only proving his point.

Nutty Uncle Walt

From the Drudge Report:
Former CBSNEWS anchorman Walter Cronkite believes Bush adviser Karl Rove is possibly behind the new Bin Laden tape.

Cronkite made the startling comments late Friday during an interview on CNN.

Somewhat smiling, Cronkite said he is "inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing."
This may simply be Cronkite's way of asserting that the tape benefits Bush politically (in that it raises fears of additional attacks) -- despite the fact that the intent of the tape is to intimidate Americans into voting for someone else. If so, he chose an astonishingly irresponsible way to make the point.

I still don't discount the possibility that "the most trusted man in America" has gone completely around the bend and actually believes that what he said is literally true.

Then again, he may just be a sock puppet for Michael Moore.

October 29, 2004

Time to get all white Americans into 12-step programs

From The Battalion, Texas A&M's student newspaper:
Joe Feagin, professor of sociology at Texas A&M, who grew up in a predominantly white Houston neighborhood during the civil rights movement, said in a seminar Thursday that racism in the United States has changed from being an extroverted problem to an introverted one.

"There are two types of white Americans: racists and recovering racists," Feagin said.
If you're white, don't bother denying that you're racist (and don't use the old racist dodge that other ethnicities can be prejudiced as well) -- Prof. Feagin will just smile benignly at you and say you're only proving his point.

October 9, 2004

Blogger flees country

I, my wife and my son will be overseas for the next three weeks visiting my wife's family and doing some sightseeing in the Middle Kingdom. I expect to be back online during election week.

It's not that I don't trust you, my faithful readers, but prudence dictates that I disable the comments feature while I'm gone. :-)

If you simply must lob a rhetorical ballistic missile my way, you can still do so at the comments e-mail address (see the "Comments welcome!" link in the right column).

Ya'll behave, y'hear?

October 8, 2004

When the government makes your health care decisions

Darren and Debbie Wyatt sat in a wooden pew at the Royal Courts of Justice, gripping each other's hands, barely able to look at the judge as he ruled that, despite their most fervent wishes, their 11-month-old daughter should be allowed to die.

Making the ruling, Mr Justice Hedley said: "As a society we fight shy of pondering on death, yet inherent in each of us is a deep desire, both for oneself and for those we love, for a 'good' death. It would be absurd to try to describe that concept more fully beyond saying that everyone in this case knows what it means ­ not under anaesthetic, not in the course of painful and futile treatment, but peacefully in the arms of those who love her most."

While the specifics of this baby's case are difficult and are worthy of vigorous debate, I am alarmed at one of the stories behind the story. In a nationalized healthcare system, the government bean-counters who control the healthcare funding will tend to frown upon "wasteful" expenditures -- making it easy to take the short logical step of coming up with reasons to withhold treatment (such as the "quality of life" argument made by the judge later in the article).  Thus we have the situation where doctors -- with the full backing of the courts -- can elect to take the life of your child against your wishes.  Because you are not paying for the treatment, you have little say in the decision to give or withhold treatment.

This is the kind of world the Clintons tried to bring us ten years ago, and this is no doubt what Hillary would like to bring us as president if -- God forbid -- the American people should elect her in the future.


October 7, 2004

The "end of Christendom" in Canada?

Dramatic opening paragraph of a Globe and Mail (Canada) article, October 4:
 For the churches representing the majority of Canadian Christians, legalization of same-sex marriage will be a sign of the end of Christendom, the 1,700-year-old notion that has defined government in the Western world as devoted to the enforcement of Christian values, says one of Canada's leading theologians.
 There is fear that if, as widely expected, the [Canadian Supreme] court rules in favour of same-sex marriage and Parliament passes enabling legislation, churches will face persecution and discrimination in Canadian society for holding fast to the belief that God ordained marriage only for heterosexual couples.

From Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants to Mormons, Muslims and Seventh Day Adventists among others, religious groups are also apprehensive that they may be stripped of their charitable status and other state benefits, penalized by public institutions, branded as hate-mongers and forced into accepting the legitimacy of same-sex unions.

It is the same fear that political scientists and theologians identify as driving the powerful conservative religious right in the United States -- a conviction that liberal, secular society is bent on erasing religion from public life.

Are their fears exaggerated?  What about similar fears that American evangelical Christianity may face the same in the future, perhaps in our lifetime?

Asymmetric pre-election political violence and vandalism

Who would have thought that we'd ever see America come to this?

Stan Kurtz has collected a mountain of anecdotal evidence that it's becoming downright dangerous in some parts of the USA to openly declare one's support for Bush. Not too many incidents of attacks on people so far, but it is getting difficult to keep track of the number of reports of political signs being burned, defaced with swastikas, or simply stolen. Add to that cars being keyed for the offense of having a Bush/Cheney bumper sticker. Also alarming are the growing number of invasions of (or shots fired at) local GOP party offices across the country -- sometimes after the workers have gone home, sometimes when the workers are still present.

Robert Musil, who alerted Kurtz to this trend, had this to say on his blog:
[T]here may be a genuine political climate of fear in some parts of the United States - including my corner of Los Angeles:

Many Republicans are afraid to put Bush-Cheney bumper stickers on their cars or signs on their lawns because they are afraid of physical retaliation from angry liberals.

It is not just that one sees few Bush-Cheney bumper stickers and lawn signs - even in areas in which one knows his support is high. I do not have such a bumper sticker or lawn sign. In fact, most Bush supporters I have asked, even those who are fairly passionate on the topic, just don't think the risk of a key-scratch or broken home or car window, or much worse, is worth whatever benefit one receives from a partisan bumper sticker or lawn sign. There are just too many personal stories of cars and homes defaced and damaged.

The sentiment is not symmetrical: One sees plenty of Kerry-Edwards bumber stickers and lawn signs - even in highly Republican neighborhoods. Indeed,one sees plenty of such stickers and signs that express left-wing sentiments much more intense and partisan than mere support of the Democratic presidential ticket. Not infrequently these stickers and signs mention some form of violence or even death with respect to Republican officials.
It seems like the activists of the left are becoming goon squads, turning our political process into something that other countries might argue truly merits international observers.

MORE: Best of the Web recounts these incidents:

  • Near Milwaukee, "more than 50 demonstrators supporting Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry stormed a Republican campaign office in West Allis at mid-day [Tuesday], trespassing, creating a disturbance through the use of a bullhorn in the office and then refusing to leave when asked," according to a Wisconsin GOP press release. State party chairman Rick Graber also pointed "to an incident in Madison last week in which Bush-Cheney yard signs were stolen from the yards of three homes. The vandals then used chemicals to burn swastikas into the lawns of the homes."

  • In Huntington, W.Va., "someone fired a shot at the Republican Headquarters office" on Sept. 2, as local party members were watching President Bush's nomination speech, reports WSAZ-TV. "The bullet left a hole in the front window," but no one was hurt.

  • In Knoxville, Tenn., "an unknown suspect fired multiple shots into the Bearden office of the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign Tuesday morning." No one was in the office. "One shot shattered the glass in the front door and the other cracked the glass in another of the front doors."

  • In Orlando, Fla., "a group of protestors stormed and then ransacked a Bush-Cheney headquarters building" on Tuesday. WKMG reports that most of the intruders "were from the AFL-CIO and were taking part in one of 20 other coordinated protests around the country."

  • In Tampa, Fla., "labor activists stormed President Bush's campaign headquarters" Tuesday. No one was injured or arrested.