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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?