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

December 14, 2005

1993 WTC case highlights the most egregious shortcoming of our jury system

Remember the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, in which Islamist terrorists tried to topple one of the towers into the other in the hopes of killing tens of thousands of people? The bombing, while it did not accomplish its objective, was still quite destructive.

When bad things happen, the legal system immediately swings into action in a quest to find out who is reponsible—not for the purpose of bringing the perpetrators to justice, but for the purpose of opening the floodgates for liability payouts. Because of this, it wouldn't do at all to pin the blame for the bombing on the terrorists themselves. They don't have any money.

So, what to do? Ralph Reiland gives the answer:
Now, after a dozen years of legal maneuvering, a jury in the state Supreme Court of New York has taken the terrorists off the hook for the majority of the blame in their 1993 attack. On October 26, unanimously, the jury said the guys who carried out the bombing were only 32 percent responsible for the damages.

The majority wrongdoer, 68 percent at fault for the death and destruction, said the jury, was the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the then-owner of the World Trade Center. This means that the party with the deepest pockets—also known as the taxpayers of New York and New Jersey—will be picking up the tab for most of the losses.

On the day of the 1993 blast, Mario Cuomo, New York's governor at the time, told journalists: “We all have that feeling of being violated. No foreign people or force has ever done this to us. Until now, we were invulnerable.”

Today, playing Monday-morning quarterback more than a decade after the attack, the New York jury has said the Port Authority “should have known” an attack was coming, even if, as Cuomo said, nothing like that had ever happened before. Further, the Port Authority “should have known” to shut down the garage to the public, and to its upstairs tenants, even if, as Cuomo said, no one had felt vulnerable before to a foreign force in the center of Manhattan.
This highlights one of the greatest shortcomings of our country's jury system: It's no secret that jurors are selected not for their intelligence or their reasoning ability, but for the ease in which they can be manipulated by the prosecutor or the defender. In the hands of a competent attorney, a typical jury is Silly Putty.

UK bank takes time to resolve a customer service problem

I'll give this bank a few bonus points for their creative solution:
NATWEST is removing clocks from its branches in a bid to deter customers from complaining about how long they have to queue, according to staff at the bank.

Getting rid of wall clocks is part of a £150m nationwide refurbishment scheme by NatWest, which has more than 10m customers.

Last week, two of the High Street banking giant's employees said that during redevelopment of their branch the clock disappeared and would not be replaced.

'It's been taken down so people won't complain,' said one, who did not wish to be identified. 'It happened over a month ago. If people have been standing in a queue waiting to see a cashier for a long time, they can get very cross.

'When the clock was there, it was difficult for us to disagree with them about how long they'd been waiting. Now it's more difficult for them to complain. I can't believe it, but it seems to be the policy now. Our manager told us.'
Clever, but not clever enough. If NatWest wants to implement this idea more completely, they need to collect wristwatches, cell phones, PDAs, etc. at the door.

December 8, 2005

Michael Schiavo ready to rampage through D.C.

Well, now we know that the death of Terri Schiavo has been good for Judge Greer's career, but what about grieving husband Michael?  He's been staying busy, and now he appears to have launched the next phase of his new career as the Culture of Death's version of Cindy Sheehan.  Now he's forming a political action committee dedicated to the defeat of all of those monsters in Congress who tried to keep him from having his wife put down.

Schiavo judge honored by local ACLU as "Friend of Civil Liberties"

Proving yet again that the legal culture in Pinellas County, Florida is twisted beyond belief, now we find out that the local chapter of the ACLU has named Judge George Greer as this year's recipient of its "Gardner W. Beckett, Jr., Friend of Civil Liberties Award":
The Pinellas County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union confers this honor upon individuals who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to basic civil liberties, principles, and values inherent in the Bill of Rights. In the footsteps of Gardner Beckett, these recipients exemplify an unflinching commitment to the defense of our constitution and it's guarantees of equal protection, due process, and simple justice.
Of course, "equal protection, due process and simple justice" in Terri Schiavo's case involved Greer doing everything in his power to have her put to death, even if it meant doing so using a technique banned as torture by civilized nations everywhere.
(Credit: Life News)

December 6, 2005

OT: Read This First!

One of my favorites from Dave Barry (maybe because I can identify with it so well):

December 5, 2005

How shall we honor a woman whose misguided philosophy led to the death of millions (so far)?

Let's name a bridge after her!
Rachel Carson, a driving force behind the modern environmental movement, grew up in a modest homestead in Springdale Borough near the Allegheny River. For the budding marine biologist, the river's waters were an early inspiration.

Now, more than four decades after Ms. Carson's death, her presence may return to those waters.

Allegheny County Council tomorrow will consider renaming the Ninth Street Bridge in her honor.

...Ms. Carson's 1962 book, "Silent Spring," criticized the harmful effects of pesticides, sparking a prolonged battle with the chemical industry. In 1970, six years after Ms. Carson's death, the federal government founded the Environmental Protection Agency. Two years later, the government banned the use of the pesticide DDT in the United States.
...and in the thirty-plus years since, millions worldwide have died needlessly from malaria because of this junk-science atrocity. Thanks, Rachel!

UPDATE: JunkScience.com lists "100 things you should know about DDT". (Actually, the list has grown beyond 100)

November 29, 2005

The Capitol Christmas Tree returns

It's a small victory in the war against political correctness, but we takes 'em where we gets 'em:
House Speaker Dennis Hastert has told federal officials that the lighted, decorated tree on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, known in recent years as the "Holiday Tree," should be renamed the "Capitol Christmas Tree."

The name change on Tuesday comes one day after the Engelmann spruce was delivered from New Mexico to Capitol Hill for decorations and displays until Jan. 2.

Hastert will light the tree, referred to as the "People's Tree" by the New Mexico-based committee that delivered it, during a ceremony on Dec. 8.

The re-named tree was called a Christmas Tree until the late 1990s, when it was changed to the name "Holiday Tree." The source of the name change in the 1990s is unclear, but this year's Web site could not be changed and still refers to it as a holiday tree.

Calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree has become a politically charged prospect in jurisdictions across the country, from Boston to Sacramento and in dozens of communities in between. The city of Boston changed the name of its Holiday Tree back to Christmas Tree after being threatened with several lawsuits.

While the political correctness has trapped some communities into taking the Christianity out of Christmas in order to accommodate the minority of Americans who don't celebrate the holiday, the White House continues to call its tree a Christmas Tree.

November 23, 2005

What is Thanksgiving?

From Tom Briscoe:

(Click image to view full size)

Bird Flu, yet another elaborate hoax of the Bush administration

Really! There's no outbreak! Since Iraq has just about been bled dry of its oil by Halliburton already, the president has moved on to other schemes. It turns out that the so-called Avian Flu (a.k.a. Bird Flu, a.k.a. H5N1) is just a hoax designed to enrich W's good buddy, Donald Rumsfeld! I'm not in the mood to check for myself, but I'm sure the fevered masses of the left (not fevered from the Bird Flu, mind you) are all over this story.

November 21, 2005

Sigh... Another day, another hot coffee lawsuit

A Staten Island, NY woman wants $10 million from Dunkin Donuts because of burns she received from spilled coffee in her car:
[Plaintiff Sharon] Shea insists the coffee was too hot and the workers didn't fasten the lids tightly enough.

"The [drive-thru] girl had positioned them where they were in the same line [on the tray], they weren't cattycorner," said Shea, 60.
Some observations come to mind here:
  • The coffee was too hot—Coffee is made with boiling water. Okay? Everyone understand that now?
  • The workers didn't fasten the lids tightly enough—What? You're driving away with cups of boiling-hot liquid on the seat next to you, and you didn't think to make sure the lids were secure?
  • They weren't cattycorner—You noticed this, and you knew that wasn't a stable configuration, and yet you did nothing to correct this before driving away?
Here's an idea:

Some brave restaurant chain ought to post a sign saying something to the effect of the following:
Frivolous lawsuits -- both actual and threatened -- account for x% of the cost you pay for food at this establishment.
Gotta do SOMETHING to eliminate popular sympathy for these plaintiffs. It's not a David-and-Goliath thing; nine times out of ten, it's greed (not to mention an utter failure to admit personal responsibility for one's actions).

(Credit: Right Mind)

UPDATE: From Sacred Cow Burgers:

November 16, 2005

That thing about Microsoft Windows being an elaborate computer virus was supposed to be a joke

Microsoft isn't quite ready to go into the virus business, but it does look like they're considering having your new PC come preinstalled with spyware:
Even as Microsoft readies a host of new ad-supported online services to battle rivals, the software maker has been mulling a plan to offer free, ad-supported versions of some of its desktop products, CNET News.com has learned.

Although no specific plans have been made, executives within Microsoft are examining whether it makes sense to release ad-supported versions of products such as Works, Money, or even the Windows operating system itself, according to internal documents seen by CNET News.com.

November 15, 2005

"Constructivist math" is making idiots of our kids

Reason to homeschool #271835.

The New York Times reports that parents are finally starting to notice that the latest educational fad, "constructivist" math, is producing kids who are barely able to survive without a calculator. Some excerpts:
LAST spring, when he was only a sophomore, Jim Munch received a plaque honoring him as top scorer on the high school math team here. He went on to earn the highest mark possible, a 5, on an Advanced Placement exam in calculus. His ambition is to become a theoretical mathematician.

So Jim might have seemed the veritable symbol for the new math curriculum installed over the last seven years in this ambitious, educated suburb of Rochester. Since seventh grade, he had been taking the "constructivist" or "inquiry" program, so named because it emphasizes pupils' constructing their own knowledge through a process of reasoning.

Jim, however, placed the credit elsewhere. His parents, an engineer and an educator, covertly tutored him in traditional math. Several teachers, in the privacy of their own classrooms, contravened the official curriculum to teach the problem-solving formulas that constructivist math denigrates as mindless memorization.

"My whole experience in math the last few years has been a struggle against the program," Jim said recently. "Whatever I've achieved, I've achieved in spite of it. Kids do not do better learning math themselves. There's a reason we go to school, which is that there's someone smarter than us with something to teach us."

[...] The dispute is fundamental. To its advocates, constructivist math applies the subject to the real world, builds critical thinking and rescues classes from numbing repetition.

But to those parents in Penfield and elsewhere - who have children in junior high unable to do long division or multiply two-column numbers, who pay for private tutors or sessions at traditionalist learning centers like Kumon, who wonder why there are so many calculators and so few textbooks - the words of a recent graduate to the Board of Education ring tragically true.

"My biggest fear about going to college," Samantha Meek said at a meeting last spring, "is attending introductory math courses. How am I going to be able to explain to my professors that I do not understand what they are talking about, that I do not have the same math background as the rest of the students, and that I cannot do mental math and can barely do it with pencil and paper?"
The whole article is worth the read. You know the "progressives" have gone too far when the NYT gives favorable coverage to their critics.

Not that they will be deterred by veiled criticism from their media allies. Even if your school hasn't yet embraced the constructivist math fad, bear in mind that the educational elites appear to have thoroughly bought into it, so don't let your guard down.

(Credit: EIA via Right Mind)

November 14, 2005

Way OT: Coffee mystery solved

Feel free to skip this post if you're looking for something relevant to the purpose of this blog. Extended random thought follows. You have been warned.

In the last few weeks, I've noticed that the stores in our area have been having trouble keeping Folgers instant coffee on the shelves. As much as I love ground coffee, I'm also exceedingly lazy, so I'm the ideal demographic for instant coffee. It's a problem, though, when the stores have absolutely nothing of my favorite brand. So... do I go with Taster's Choice (no, because in addition to being lazy, I'm also stingy) or with the mysterious Store Brand (maybe, but only because I have to have something).

I finally became intrigued enough about the empty shelves that I decided to test the power of the Internet as an investigation tool. I went to Google News, typed the word "Folgers" in the search box, and... what do you know? Something is up:
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Procter and Gamble Co. says its Folgers coffee plant in New Orleans is back in full operation.

The plant was shut down by Hurricane Katrina and has slowly resume operations in the weeks since then. Coffee supplies to some stores have been disrupted, and the company had run a national television commercial campaign about the hurricane's impact.

P & G says the New Orleans plant is the largest coffee production plant in the United States.

Folgers says it has notified retailers that supply will return to normal by early December. More than 400 of the company's 554 employees in New Orleans are back at work.

Folgers says it remains strongly committed to New Orleans, where it has had a presence for more than 50 years.
Well, okay, mystery solved. Now I know I have a personal stake in the recovery of New Orleans.

Sign of the times

We live in a time when more and more parents decline to control their kids' behavior in public. One Chicago-area restaurant, concerned that misbehaving kids were negatively affecting the experience of the other customers, decided to post what it thought was a friendly reminder to the kids (and their parents) to please be considerate:

So, did the parents appreciate the reminder? Of course not! The problem isn't that the kids are out of control, the problem is that the restaurant owner hates kids!

Here's an excerpt from a TV station's coverage of this horrible scandal. The wording suggests that the reporter/writer is taking the side of the outraged moms:
But some parents who spoke with NBC5's Natalie Martinez took immediate offense to the sign. The angry mothers said there are plenty of places in the Andersonville neighborhood where they can take their kids, even if they're acting out.

"I've e-mailed friends and said, 'Just so you know, this man has a sign up. I know there are lots of other options, and I'd encourage you not to go there,'" parent Kate Bremmer said.

When she spoke with Martinez, Bremmer and her kids were picking out goodies at a Swedish bakery, where all kids are welcome [a little editorializing from the reporter?].

"Our custom has been to offer a cookie to every child that comes into the store for as long as I can remember," said Kathy Stanton-Cromwell, the co-owner of the bakery, which is just a few doors down from A Taste of Heaven.

Stanton-Cromwell said the cookie serves as "a good calmer" for kids who are acting up.

Bremmer said A Taste of Heaven "is not a five-star restaurant," so she thinks it should cater to kids, not the other way around.
That's right. The obvious solution is to take the kids down the street where they can "act out" without consequence.

November 10, 2005

Fox flips; Morris misfires

Fox News Channel, which can't seem to get over its fascination with tabloid journalism, is about to take another step toward the precipice.

Chairman Roger Ailes, apparently on the strength of a speech by respected climate scientist Al Gore and the encouragement of respected climate scientists Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Laurie David, is allowing the channel to broadcast an outrageously one-sided documentary on global warming.

Mr. Ailes, I'm not sure what you're thinking here. Not only is this not going to win you any real friends on the left, you'll be doing a shameful disservice to the public.

Meanwhile, respected climate scientist Dick Morris, who believes that climate change made Hurricane Katrina worse, is advising President Bush and the GOP to seize the initiative in championing the theory of human-induced global warming, even though there is virtually no evidence supporting the theory (just like genuine scientists say there is no evidence that Katrina was influenced by climate change).

Sounds like a winner, Mr. Morris.

Alito treads through minefield in meetings with senators

Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito has been meeting with those who will serve as his Inquisitors in January. Many in the Senate, of course, count themselves among those who think that abortion is the central organizing principle of American society, and they are understandably alarmed at the threat that Alito appears to pose. So, it's pretty much a given that every meeting that Alito has on the Hill will eventually ask the question "How will you vote on Roe v. Wade?" in some roundabout way.

Some Dems have emerged from these meetings claiming Alito has indicated that Roe is safe, as far as he's concerned. But has he really? Read the following excerpt from an AP dispatch:
Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito has signaled he would be highly reluctant to overturn long-standing precedents such as the 1973 Roe vs. Wade abortion rights ruling, a move that has helped to silence some of his critics and may resolve a key problem early in the Senate confirmation process, several senators said Tuesday.

In private meetings with senators who support abortion rights, Alito has said the Supreme Court should be quite wary of reversing decisions that have been repeatedly upheld, according to the senators who said it was clear that the context was abortion.

"He basically said ... that Roe was precedent on which people -- a lot of people -- relied, and been precedent now for decades and therefore deserved great respect," Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., told reporters after meeting with Alito on Tuesday.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she had a similar conversation about an hour later with Alito, who has made clear that he personally opposes abortion.

"I asked him whether it made a difference to him if he disagreed with the initial decision but it had been reaffirmed several times since then," Collins told reporters.

"I was obviously referring to Roe in that question. He assured me that he has tremendous respect for precedent and that his approach is to not overturn cases due to a disagreement with how they were originally decided."
In the first paragraph, we see that "Alito has signaled he would be highly reluctant to overturn long-standing precedents". In the second paragraph, "Alito has said the Supreme Court should be quite wary of reversing decisions that have been repeatedly upheld".

There's a significant difference between these two characterizations. It's proper to be "wary" of reversing long-standing precedents—in general, there's a good reason such precedents have lasted so long, and because of this a prudent justice won't casually overturn them. But that doesn't mean that he will be reluctant to overturn them if there is a good reason to do so.

This appears to be Alito's general philosophy regarding precedents, and it aligns quite nicely with that of Thomas and Scalia. The pro-abortion senators can't ask directly about the Roe precedent, so all they can do is attempt to divine his views from these general statements. I contend that they don't truly know any more about how he would rule on a Roe challenge than they did before he met with them.

November 9, 2005

How the MSM is spinning Tuesday's election results

Any guess which way the Reuters correspondent who wrote this article leans?
Democrats on Wednesday celebrated hard-fought wins in governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey that underlined the political troubles of President George W. Bush and Republicans heading into next year's congressional elections.

Democrats retained governor's offices in conservative Virginia and Democratic-leaning New Jersey on Tuesday after sometimes nasty campaigns. They also dealt California's Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger an across-the-board defeat on four ballot initiatives he had championed.

The loss in Virginia was a personal setback for Bush, who put his declining political capital on the line with an election-eve visit on behalf of Republican former attorney general Jerry Kilgore -- only to see him soundly defeated by Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine.

With Bush's popularity at the lowest level of his presidency, the results helped giddy Democrats claim momentum one year before elections to decide control of both chambers of the U.S. Congress and 36 governorships.

"Yesterday the election was a shot across the bow to George Bush," said New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, head of the Democratic Senate campaign committee, who called the results "a clear repudiation of Bush" and the Republican agenda.
Let's see, here... Governorships retained by incumbent party... Californians vote the way they normally do... Texans vote the way they normally do... elections across the country show no significant upsets... Yup. Looks like Bush and the Republicans are toast.

N.B. Virginia is "conservative" only outside the liberal DC metropolitan area. Notice also that after Reuters referred to Virginia as conservative, they went on to call New Jersey "Democratic-leaning". Looks like they've banned the "L" word.

Administrivia: Site updates

I've added a new category to my link list called "Readworthy Reference Sites". I've also added a link to my running list of the coolest web searches resulting in a visit to this blog. Look for the "Coolest C-Pol web searches" link near the top.

That is all. Sorry to wake you up for this.

San Francisco sets out the welcome mat for armed criminals

The San Francisco Chronicle reports some good news for the bad guys after yesterday's city election:
Proposition H, which requires city residents who already own guns to turn them in to police by April 1, was winning 58 percent to 42 percent with 98 percent of precincts counted.

The measure also makes it illegal to buy, sell, distribute and manufacture firearms and ammunition in the city.

Only two other cities in the country -- Washington, D.C., and Chicago -- have similar bans.

"San Francisco voters are smart and believe in sensible gun control," said Supervisor Chris Daly, who was among the four board members who placed the measure on the ballot. "If Prop. H gets some handguns out of San Francisco and mitigates some of the violence, then it's a win."

Prop. H opponents said a ban on handguns will not reduce crime, because criminals aren't likely to turn in their guns.
To be fair, SF citizens didn't really enact a gun ban, as John Lott notes at National Review Online:
Ultimately, though, the vote didn't mean much of anything. As San Francisco's Mayor, Gavin Newsom, a strong supporter of gun control, said, the ban "clearly will be thrown out [in court]... It's really just a public opinion poll at the end of the day." State law prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting such a ban, and an even weaker law requiring handgun registration that was enacted by the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors in 1982 was thrown out by the California state supreme court.
In other words, another sterling (and taxpayer-dollar-consuming) example of the left's symbolism over substance.

November 8, 2005

Why the Paris "unrest" was inevitable

Three years ago City Journal's Theodore Dalrymple wrote an outstanding piece called "The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris". He paints a detailed, dark picture of the unassimilated, well-armed masses* that reside in the government housing projects that ring Paris and many other French cities. Read it if you really want to understand what's going on over there right now.

*Oh, you did know that those rioting "youths" are pretty much all Muslims, didn't you? Not that you'd ever learn that from the MSM. There are so many parallels between what is happening in Paris and the Palestinian "intifada" that Steven Plaut has suggested that the French government pursue a "land for peace" resolution to the current crisis.

November 7, 2005

Time to close the "hot tea" loophole in the UK

Burglars in Great Britain are understandably distraught over the news that somebody has found a loophole in the laws that basically criminalize home defense:
A Baptist minister sent a raider packing by pouring a hot cup of tea over him as he ransacked the vestry.

Rev Roy Merrin, 66, had spotted a figure through the window of his office and shouted "Who's there?" Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Lee Mullholland, 27, rushed past Mr Merrin at Grange Road Baptist Church, Jarrow, South Tynside. Tony Davis, prosecuting, said: "The reverend threw a cup of tea at the intruder in order to hinder his progress."
Following this incident the British Parliament immediately set about enacting legislation that outlaws the private possession of tea, even in its precursor bagged or leaf forms.

The ultimate in politically-correct games

If it wasn't too bourgeois of me to do so, I might recommend this as a Christmas gift for your leftist friends.

(Click image to view full size)

Democrat hypocrisy re: Saddam's WMD/terror connection

(Click image to view full size)

November 6, 2005

Is it okay to call a black candidate "Simple Sambo"? Yes, but...

...only if the candidate is a Republican:
It looks like something out of the rural South a generation ago or one of those Ku Klux Klan leaflets that shows up around here from time to time. It's a crude image of a black man running for office who is shown in minstrel makeup and it bears the label, "Simple Sambo."

Believe it or not, the subject is the current lieutenant governor of Maryland who is planning to run for the U.S. Senate next year. And it was posted by a black man from New York on what the Associated Press describes as a "left-leaning news commentary" Web site.
The picture has since been changed, but Steve Gilliard refuses to back down from his characterization of Michael Steele.

November 5, 2005

Michael Schiavo's inspiration

While composing my previous post on Michael Schiavo, something occurred to me:

Michael Schiavo apparently fancies himself to be the Cindy Sheehan of the euthanasia movement.

Sheehan parlayed the death of her son into a political sledgehammer to be used in any way possible against Republicans in general and President Bush in particular. Schiavo appears to be following the same gamebook.

Democrats have to step a little more gingerly with Schiavo than they do with Sheehan, but they're not too picky as long as they think they can damage their opponents by using him.

I'm still not comfortable with the previous sentence. It still boggles my mind that the Democrats think that Schiavo's endorsement will translate into votes from people who had not yet decided on a candidate. I guess I'm hopeless.

Michael Schiavo takes an ego trip

Michael Schiavo, infamous for overcoming all obstacles in his quest to have his wife Terri killed by dehydration, apparently thinks that he has gained sufficient political capital from the experience to endorse one of the candidates in the Virginia governor race. The Democrat, of course. But I can't imagine Tim Kaine reveling in the endorsement.

Oh, wait. Kaine is reveling in the endorsement:
Who can forget the Terry Schiavo case that embroiled the nation back in the spring of this year? And who can forget — or forgive — the outrageous intervention by the Republican Congress, the Bush White House, and of course Florida Governor Bush in the most personal of family matters? Finally, who can forget how upset and angry this made the American people, 82% of whom felt that Congress and President should stay out of it.

Well, Terry Schiavo’s husband, Michael Schiavo, has NOT forgotten. And now he is speaking out, with the specific objective of preventing the Bush clone, Jerry Kilgore, from being elected governor of Virginia and acting the SAME WAY as the Bush brothers did towards him. Just a few minutes ago, Schiavo — a lifelong Republican and a Roman Catholic, by the way — released a powerful statement on the Virginia governor’s race, endorsing Tim Kaine and blasting Jerry Kilgore.
I love the part about Schiavo being a lifelong Republican and a Roman Catholic. Tell me, Michael, if you can, which core principles of the GOP and which core doctrines of the RCC you embrace. Some people are "Republican" or "Roman Catholic" (or whatever variety of Christian you can think of) because that's how they were brought up, not because they actually believe that stuff.

(Credit: North Country Gazette)

UPDATE: Howdy to whoever visited from Kaine2005.com ten minutes after I posted this!

November 2, 2005

Scam Spam du jour

I guess the Nigerian 419 scamsters have established the fact that there are no end of suckers in this world. The following e-mail that I received this morning shows one of they ways they (the scamsters, I mean) are branching out. Comments follow.
From: quartz46@tv2mail.dk


REF: 7487/4360/4629
BATCH: 830923183-DX68

We are pleased to inform you of the result of the Lottery Winners International programs held on the 19th of September, 2005. Your e-mail
address attached to ticket number 986047296748-8562 with serial Number 4681-546 drew lucky numbers 5-24-78-62-11-08 which consequently won in the
1st category, you have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay out of £500,000.00.00Pounds (Five Hundred Thousand Pounds).CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Due to mix up in some numbers and names, we ask that you keep your winning information confidential until you file for your claim. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming and unwarranted
abuse of this program by some participants.
All participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from over 25,000 companies and 50,000,000 individual e-mail addresses and names from all over the World. This promotional program takes place every year.
This lottery program was organized by our group of philanthropist promoted and sponsored by Mr. Bill Gates of Microsoft Inc, eminent personalities like the sultan of Brunei, Multi Choice and other corporate
Organisations.This lottery program was organized to improving the use of computer softwares and for the benefit of every Microsoft user.
To file for your claim, please contact our fiducial Agent:
QUARTZ TRUST AGENCY.Foreign transfer manager.
Mr.Peter Banks.
FAX +44 700 593 8064
They are your agent, and responsible for the processing and transfer of your winnings fund to you.Remember, all winnings must be filed not
later than 8th of November,2005 or when authentic proof is given for the delay of filing. Please note in order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications, remember to quote your reference number and batch numbers in all correspondence.
Furthermore, should there be any change of address do inform our agent as soon as possible.Congratulations once more from our members of staff and thank you for being a Winner in our promotional program.

Note: Anybody under the age of 18 years is automatically disqualified.

Sincerely yours,
Mrs. Victoria Green,
Lottery Coordinator.

Confidentiality Notice:
The information contained in this e-mail and any attachments may be legally privileged and confidential. If you are not an intended recipient,you are hereby notified that any dissemination,distribution or copying
of this e-mail is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify the sender and permanently delete the e-mail and any attachments immediately. You should not retain, copy or use this e-mail or any attachment for any purpose, nor disclose all or any part of the contents to any other person.

Opret en gratis TV2 mail på
In making several observations about this e-mail, I offer some free advice to the scamsters about how to improve their "product":
  • Given that you're supposed to represent a bunch of rich people and organizations, we can be forgiven for assuming you could afford to have someone on staff who is familiar with basic rules of punctuation, grammar, and paragraph formatting.
  • If you're supposed to be in country X (England), don't send the message from an e-mail service in country Y (Denmark) and give a reply address for an e-mail service in country Z (Italy). At least the Nigerian-style scamsters could be forgiven for this—after all, they're on the run from corrupt authorities in their home country as they're trying to transfer SIX MILLION U.S.DOLLARS to some lucky e-mail recipient. But the rich folks you represent surely could have scraped up a bit of cash to buy a domain name. Hey, they even could have gone to GoDaddy and gotten both a domain name and e-mail for mere pocket change.
  • I'm sorry, but the following is an immutable law: Any e-mail that invokes the name of Bill Gates as a means of establishing its legitimacy is automatically a hoax.
  • Organizations dealing in the transfer of hundreds of thousands of pounds/dollars in funds will never, ever, ever send an official e-mail whose Subject line contains more than one exclamation point following a single word. You did it again in the message body, upping the ante by one exclamation point. Good grief—you might as well have followed it with "LOL".
  • I've just violated your Confidentiality Notice. Neener, neener!

11/9 UPDATE: Scamorama lists this and dozens of other lottery scams floating around the 'net.

October 31, 2005

About that caricature the left is painting of Alito

Ditto what Orin Kerr said at The Volokh Conspiracy:
A number of popular liberal blogs are portraying Alito as a right-wing nut, and are predicting that his confirmation hearings will be the Mother of All Confirmation Hearings. Here is the Daily Kos in a post entitled "The Showdown Finally Arrives":
[T]he Right refused to accept Bush's winks and nods on Miers. They didn't just want a conservative jurist. They wanted a showcase of conservatism they could shove down the throats of the likes of us liberals and the rest of America. They wanted one of those obnoxious touchdown dances.

Now we have a true-blood conservative on tap, and this now sets up the showdown of ideas that I think we've all craved. Thanks to Miers, ideology is now absolutely open to debate, and it's now time for America to see what conservatism really looks like. . . .

. . . As the usual vetting process gets underway and people research his background, his writings, his speeches, and the testimony of colleagues, we'll get an even more complete picture of the man. But it's already obvious that the nuts got exactly what they wanted - a nut. Scalito is everything they hoped for and more.
This initial reaction is to be expected, as I noted earlier today. But Alito is very far from this caricature, and it won't take people long to realize that. Reading over Alito's opinions, the striking thing about them is how modest they are. Alito is not trying to score points, make grand ideological claims, or show the world how smart he is. His opinions are simple and straightforward: they state the facts, apply the law, and call it a day. Don't get me wrong - Alito is a solid conservative. But if he were the kind of ideological crusader Kos imagines, Alito's 15-year career as an appellate judge would have left a mile-long paper trail of controversial decisions. The fact that you're not hearing about that long paper trail of controversial decisions should speak volumes.

W hits paydirt with Alito nomination, Part 2

Conservatives and constitutionalists are lining up to praise W's choice of Samuel Alito.

Heritage Foundation press release:
"President Bush has made an outstanding choice in nominating Judge Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court. Judge Alito is a distinguished scholar, a gifted lawyer with broad and impressive experience, and is known in the bar as one of the greatest appellate judges in America today."

[...] "Judge Alito also has the personal characteristics and dedication to the rule of law that will make him a renowned justice of the Supreme Court. He is a humble man with the highest integrity, an even temperament, and a sound judicial philosophy. In his actions as a lawyer and a judge, he has shown careful and consistent fidelity to the Constitution and laws as written, without injecting bias or personal preferences.

"We thank the president for his fidelity to the Constitution and laws in naming such a distinguished jurist. It is now up to the Senate to act promptly to consider and vote on this nomination to fill the vacancy on the high court that was announced on July 1."
Public Advocate of the U.S. press release:
"This is a great day for Democracy in America. Samuel Alito is a highly qualified nominee. He is a proven originalist who respects the constitution and will help restore judicial restraint to the Court.

Although we opposed the Roberts and Miers nominations, we will fight vigorously for Judge Alito.

We thank President Bush for this principled nomination.

We welcome President Bush with open arms back to the conservative movement."
National Pro-Life Action Center press release:
"We applaud the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito to the Supreme Court of the United States. Had the current nomination cycle begun with his nomination on July 19 of this year, we believe that the country would be well on its way to truly returning the Court to its constitutional foundation.

"Judge Alito's professional qualifications for this position are clear, but his lone dissent in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision leads us to believe that he also has a firm grasp of an American view of law and justice that is necessary to fulfill his duties.

"We look forward to Judge Alito’s confirmation hearing so that we might obtain a more complete understanding of his judicial temperament. We encourage him to reject the modern practice of concealing his judicial philosophy behind the 'Ginsberg Cloak of Silence.' To that end, NPLAC intends to submit the same 'Five Questions' in this nomination that it did during Judge Roberts' nomination. In the case of Harriet Miers, pro-lifers put principle over party and it is important that we maintain this practice from this point forward.
American Values (Gary Bauer) press release:
"For fifteen years Judge Alito has served on the federal bench, providing an extensive and distinguished record that demonstrates a consistent philosophy of judicial restraint, faithfulness to the Constitution, and respect for the values of the American people. He is a mainstream conservative who will uphold the best traditions of our nation's highest court."
Bauer also noted that Alito was an "exceptional selection", at which point the ears of the Senate's "Gang of 14" perked up.

Fidelis press release:
"Judge Alito is a first class nominee and his judicial philosophy appears to be one that reflects faithfulness to the Constitution and the rule of law. Judge Alito's background and temperament make him particularly suited to serve as a Justice on the Supreme Court.

"The depth and breadth of Judge Alito's intellect and service to his country is exemplary. We are confident he will extend his record of judicial restraint and impartial leadership on the Supreme Court.

[...] "Judge Alito is likely to spark a robust debate about the Constitution and the proper role of a judge and the courts. We welcome this debate and believe it to be a healthy exercise for the country."
Concerned Women for America press release:
Concerned Women for America (CWA) expressed its wholehearted support for President Bush’s nomination of Judge Samuel Alito Jr., 55, to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Alito is eminently qualified and has a consistent record as a conservative constitutionalist during the past 15 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

“Judge Alito has always been one of our top choices for the Supreme Court,” said Jan LaRue, CWA’s chief counsel. “He has all of the qualifications needed: intellect, knowledge and experience in constitutional law, integrity, competence, humility and judicial temperament.”
Focus on the Family Action press release:
"We are extremely pleased by President Bush's selection of Judge Samuel Alito, who has earned the respect of colleagues in both parties for his legal acumen and courtroom demeanor. As a federal judge for the last 15 years, Judge Alito has demonstrated that he understands the role of the judiciary is to interpret existing law in light of the Constitution, not make new law in service to a personal political agenda.

"Perhaps the most encouraging early indication that Judge Alito will make a great justice is that liberal senators such as Harry Reid and Charles Schumer and leftist pressure groups such as People for the American Way and Planned Parenthood have been lining up all day to scream that the sky is falling. Any nominee who so worries the radical left is worthy of serious consideration."

W hits paydirt with Alito nomination, Part 1

The left has gone to DefCon 1 on the news of Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court. Here's a sampling of what's burning up the fax machines at major media organizations.

MoveOn.org press release:
Alito Fails Basic Test: Sides with Powerful Special Interests against Ordinary Americans; President Opts to Divide Nation in Time of Crisis for Administration; History of Decisions against Workers, Women, Minorities, People with Disabilities
NARAL Pro-Choice America press release:
"Instead of unifying the country, President Bush has chosen the path of confrontation," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro- Choice America. "Sandra Day O'Connor has been the Court's swing Justice, casting the deciding votes over the years to protect women's reproductive freedom. Alito's confirmation could shift the Court in a direction that threatens to eviscerate the core protections for women’s freedom guaranteed by Roe v. Wade, or overturn the landmark decision altogether."
Alliance for Justice press release:
Alliance for Justice opposes the nomination of Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Samuel Alito to the United States Supreme Court. "Influential segments of the radical right torpedoed the nomination of Harriet Miers because she didn't have a proven record of being a 'movement' conservative, dedicated to carrying out their political agenda on the bench. The right is now giddy about the nomination of Samuel Alito - undoubtedly because he has such a record. If confirmed to the pivotal O'Connor seat, Judge Alito would fundamentally change the balance of the Supreme Court, tipping it in a direction that could jeopardize our most cherished rights and freedoms," stated Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice.

"The president and the right claim to value judicial restraint. Yet Judge Alito has not demonstrated such restraint," noted Aron.


"With Judge Alito, President Bush has sought to appease the radical right and fuel a revolution on the Supreme Court," said Aron. The National Law Journal reported that lawyers believe that Judge Alito is "much more of an ideologue than most of his colleagues." A prominent legal observer, who strongly supported John Roberts' nomination, has similarly called Judge Alito a "conservative activist" and asserts that his "lack of deference to Congress is unsettling."

"While it's clear Judge Alito possesses a keen intellect, it is equally clear the president selected him for his backward- looking judicial philosophy. The Supreme Court is not a place for 'movement' judges of any kind. Supreme Court Justices do not rule for a narrow segment of the population, but for all of us. It is truly disheartening that President Bush thinks otherwise. Instead of going to the Senate for advice and consent, President Bush chose to go to the right wing, injecting divisiveness and controversy into a situation that calls for unity. We call on Democrats and Republicans alike to reject this nomination," concluded Aron.
Aron continues to propagate the left's obfuscation of what "judicial restraint" actually means—namely, fealty to the plain wording of the Constitution. If fealty requires striking down acts of Congress, that's not judicial activism.

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence press release:
How could it have gone in any other direction, from a White House that just gave blanket immunity to the gun industry, which refuses to bar terrorists from buying guns, that broke a campaign promise and put Uzis and AK-47s back on America's city streets, and insisted that records of gun purchases be destroyed before the sun sets on them twice?

It had to be a Supreme Court pick that favors legal machine guns.
Maybe, just maybe, Alito just thinks that Congress has no constitutional business regulating firearms. Doesn't necessarily mean that he favors legal machine guns.

Some clippings from the right in the next post.

Ouch! But, the ugly truth.

Mallard Fillmore, October 29:

(Click image to view full size)

Well, whattayaknow... Alito it is

For once, the speculation turns out to be on the money. Of course, AP can't resist editorializing in its supposedly straight-news report on the nomination (not that Ron Fournier has ever been credibly accused of straight-news reporting):
President Bush, stung by the rejection of his first choice, nominated longtime judge Samuel Alito Monday in a bid to reshape the Supreme Court and mollify his conservative allies. Democrats said that Alito may be "too radical for the American people."

"Judge Alito has served with distinction on that court for 15 years, and now has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years," Bush said, drawing an unspoken contrast to his first choice, Harriet Miers.

Unlike her nomination, which was derailed Thursday by Bush's conservative allies, Alito faces opposition from Democrats.

"The Senate needs to find out if the man replacing Miers is too radical for the American people," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.

Alito's nomination is one step in Bush's political recovery plan as he tries to regain his footing after a cascade of troubles rocked his presidency. His approval rating in the polls has tumbled to the lowest point of his presidency and Americans are unhappy about high energy prices, the costly war in Iraq and economic doubts. Bush also has been hit by a criminal investigation that reached into the office of Vice President Dick Cheney and led to the indictment of I. Lewis Libby, the vice president's chief of staff, on perjury and other charges in the CIA leak investigation.
Et cetera, et cetera, yada, yada, yada.

This time, the president will have the benefit of the full backing of the conservatives in his party. This time, we won't have to wait for the confirmation hearing to find out who the heck the nominee is. From what I've read so far, Alito looks like a judge worth fighting for.

October 29, 2005

Coolest web searches resulting in a visit to this blog

I'll add more to this list as I come across them.

October 28, 2005

Why "movement conservatives" fought so hard against Miers

James Pinkerton in Newsday:
[T]he renaissance of conservative legal scholarship has been one of the great success stories for the right in the past few decades. Yet, it wasn't always so. In the middle of the last century, "progressive" legal thinking was so dominant that it was hard for many even to acknowledge a different view of the law. No wonder judges felt free to issue a string of left-leaning decisions, covering everything from criminal rights to tort law to abortion.

The result was a huge backlash on the right, as conservatives, too, took to their law books, rediscovering the almost-lost world of "strict constructionism" - the idea that judges should be the umpires of American public life, not players themselves.

Today, conservative gatherings are oftentimes like law school classrooms, as movement types gather to mull once-arcane legal doctrines - and to grill politicians and prospective judges, to keep them all toeing the conservative line.

So while Bush's gut instincts seem to be conservative enough, it's painfully obvious that his head isn't engaged on these topics. That's why Bush pushed Miers - and why the movement pushed back.

The movement knows that W. will be out of office in barely more than three years, while Miers might have been on the court for decades. And the conservative movement, like all ideological movements, sees itself as eternal. So the movement, if it is to be worth anything, has no choice but to fight for what it believes - even against a Republican White House.

Rumor mill: Alito to be the nominee?

The following dispatch from RedState is just a rumor, but it's a heartwarming one. Alito's record shows that his judicial philosophy is quite similar to Scalia's, to the point that the judge has earned the nickname "Scalito". Seems like this would be a very good pick if it actually happens.
Multiple sources are telling RedState that Samuel A. Alito, Jr. of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals will be named by the President at the next associate justice of the United States Supreme Court as early as Monday.

"The situation is still in flux," says one source, "but not very much." Says another, "The White House Counsel's Office is not doing too good at keeping this a secret."

Still another source says, "Luttig and Alito were the fall backs to Miers. They have both been vetted. Alito seems more palatable. There is no need to drag this out, he's been vetted a million times."

And yet another source tells me that he is convinced Alito is the nominee barring some last minute unforeseen issue. All signs are pointing to Judge Alito right now. Things could change, but as the weekend draws closer it seems more and more likely that Judge Alito will be the nominee and conservatives will have a fight on their hands in the Senate -- a very winnable fight.
You can read U.S. News' bio of Alito here.

UPDATE: Less than an hour after this was posted here, C-Pol was visited by someone in the uscourts.gov domain who was doing a blog search on the word "alito". Within minutes of that hit, I also got a similar blog search hit from the Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering Hale & Dorr law firm in D.C. Things that make you say Hmmmm.....

UPDATE #2: RedState is now back-pedaling on the Alito rumor. They say that the chatter is now leaning more in Michael Luttig's direction. Another name that is "in play": Karen Williams. RedState claims to have informed sources, but we'll have to see how many times these informed sources change their story.

UPDATE #3: More about Alito from law.com.

Why did the CEO of Wal-Mart call for a minimum-wage hike?

Wal-Mart is already paying its hourly employees well above minimum wage, so none of the minimum wage increase proposals will have the least negative effect on it. As Lew Rockwell points out, the company actually stands to benefit from a wage hike:
So who would [a minimum-wage hike] affect if not Wal-Mart? All of its main competitors. And the truth is that there are millions of businesses that compete with it every day. Many local stores have attempted to copy Wal-Mart's price-competitive model, but face lower costs and can actually thrive.

There are many ways to compete with Wal-Mart. Not all shoppers like sprawling stores. Others like better service with more experts on the floor. Others just hate crowds. But a main way to compete is to hire lower-priced labor. This could mean that your employees are from a "lower" rung on the social ladder, but they too need opportunities. The savings can be reflected in other amenities that Wal-Mart does not offer. There can be non-standardized products otherwise not available. The location might be better. Even prices for goods can be lower.

Even similar stores such as K-Mart can pay lower wages, and that can make the margin of difference. K-Mart pays over a much wider range, as low as $6.75 an hour. A major competitor is mainstream grocery stores, where workers do indeed start at minimum wage. Target too pays starting employees less than Wal-Mart, if the Target Union can be believed.

Now, if Wal-Mart can successfully lobby the government to abolish lower-wage firms, it has taken a huge step toward running out its competition. The effect of requiring other firms to pay wages just as high as theirs is the same as if the company lobbied to force other companies to purchase only in high quantities, to open large stores only, or to stay open 24 hours. By making others do what Wal-Mart does, the company manages to put the squeeze on anyone who would dare vie for its customer base.
Indeed, there appears to be a long, honored tradition of large companies using government regulation to shut out smaller competitors:
Historians such as Robert Higgs, Butler Shaffer, Dominick Armentano, and Gabriel Kolko have chronicled how the rise of business regulation, including intervention in market wages, was pushed by large companies for one main reason: to impose higher costs on smaller competitors.

This is how child labor legislation, mandated pensions, labor union impositions, health and safety regulations, and the entire panoply of business regimentation came about. It was pushed by big businesses that had already absorbed the costs of these practices into their profit margins so as to burden smaller businesses that did not have these practices. Regulation is thus a violent method of competition.
If this is in fact Wal-Mart's motive, shame on them—but even greater shame on the federal government for giving large companies such a sledgehammer to use against their competitors.

October 27, 2005

A toast to Hamilton, Madison and Jay

The first of what was to be 85 essays on the merits of the proposed U.S. Constitution was published in the New York Independent Journal on this day in 1787. The collection of essays came to be known as the Federalist Papers.

From the Library of Congress:
Proponents of the new Constitution believed centralized government was essential for successful commercial and geographic expansion. Only a strong national government, they argued, could effectively negotiate with foreign countries, ensure free trade between states, and create a stable currency.

The Federalist essays addressed widespread concern that a national government, distanced from the people, would soon grow despotic. The essays eloquently and comprehensively argue that distributing power across the various branches of government provides checks and balances to the concentrated sovereignty of the federal government.
Possibly owing to the fact that the principles in the Federalist Papers are heartily embraced by a large percentage of one political party and are heartily abhorred by the other political party, the LOC felt compelled to include this disclaimer (emphasis added):
Ultimately, the federalist vision of a national government prevailed. However, the Federalist represents one of many perspectives in a nationwide debate over the Constitution.
...such as the "living Constitution" perspective that allows the document to take on meanings diametrically opposed to its plain wording.

October 26, 2005

Lotteries: A way for states to recoup welfare costs?

OpinionJournal's Holman Jenkins uses the so-called scandal of Harriet Miers' tenure on the Texas Lottery Commission as an opportunity to rip into the very idea of state-sponsored gambling. It doesn't matter how lotteries are presented to the voters; this is the reality:
Lottery tickets are what economists call an "inferior good"--demand grows as you go down the income scale. They are also highly taxed: At least 40% goes to the state, unless you think a lottery ticket itself is a tax on stupidity, in which case the tax is 100%.

Lotteries don't solve fiscal problems: The Texas proceeds go into a "Foundation School Fund," but that hasn't stopped legal and political wars over education funding from being the nemesis of the past three Texas governors. Studies increasingly conclude that lotteries don't add to state revenues in the long run. They just shift the burden of taxation from higher-income households to lower-income lottery players.

The ultimate refinement of this insight might have been a 1997 paper by economist Sam Papenfuss, which showed a strong correlation between lottery adoption and welfare spending. He concluded that lotteries operate as a mechanism by which taxpayers are able to reclaim some of the money they're forced to spend on welfare programs.

Lotteries advanced on the same wave of voter frustration that led various states in recent decades to adopt balanced budget amendments, property tax caps and requirements for legislative supermajorities to enact tax hikes. Lotteries are but a symptom of a growing standoff between the beneficiaries of federal transfer programs and the taxpayers called to support them.

October 21, 2005

A national debt milestone

...Or is that a millstone?

The U.S. national debt hit $8 trillion this week.

Just wait until the Medicare prescription drug entitlement kicks in. Thanks, GOP!

October 20, 2005

Before the feds usurp first-response authority on natural disasters....

Texas Governor Rick Perry and other southwest governors suggest that Washington try its hand at a task that the Constitution actually assigned to it: securing the border.

October 19, 2005

They're watching...

Friend and fellow blogger Ray noted that the maker of Degree anti-perspirant/deodorant (Unilever) is now including inspirational slogans (e.g. "LIVE LIFE") on their products. Not long after posting that observation, Ray got an e-mail from one of the folks behind Degree's new marketing campaign, thanking him for the product mention (it wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement of the slogan idea, but any product mention that doesn't trash the product is counted as a positive mention, I suppose) and offering him a year's supply of Degree as a thank-you gift.

Since I'm a long-time loyal user of Degree, you might think that I'm using this post to troll for free stuff. Well, I am.

October 18, 2005

Congress behaves in suspiciously conservative manner (for once)

From master satirist Scott Ott. Sure, it's light years from the dream of true constitutionally-limited government, but it's nice to see that the House leadership managed to yank itself back from the fiscal precipice called Katrina Recovery (thanks in no small part to the bold efforts of congressmen like Mike Pence of Indiana):
(2005-10-17) -- Congressional Republicans today announced a plan to make real spending cuts in the fiscal 2006 budget, as part of a new approach that one House Republican called a 'conservative' agenda.

"The GOP transition from 'the party of compassionate deficits', to one that advocates lean federal budgets and local solutions to local problems could take years," according to an unnamed legislative aide, "but it's a radical experiment that's worth a shot."

Some Republicans immediately bristled at the new term 'conservative' because it suggests a stubborn reluctance to create generous new entitlement programs, like the Medicare prescription drug benefit, with taxpayer dollars.

"How in the world are we going to buy votes if we can't use the voters' money to do so?" said one seven-term Congressional veteran. "You start throwing that word 'conservative' around, and people will expect us to reduce spending, focus on national defense and get the government off the backs of small businesses. Ordinary Republicans will wonder what happened to the party of Lincoln...you know, Lincoln Chafee."

Exploit your baby for a just cause!

babyPolitico is offering a line of children's clothing bearing a variety of liberal political messages (and available in 100% USDA Certified Organic Cotton!). Not that I object to the left engaging in a bit of capitalist self-expression.

Given the Democratic Party's embrace of abortion as a fundamental human right, I did find it curious that one T-shirt has the little tyke proclaiming, "Don't blame my Mom, she voted DEMOCRAT." Hey, kid, just be happy that you're around to wear the T-shirt.

(Credit: AdRants, via The Urban Grind)

What good are men, anyway?

Albert Mohler reports that an increasing number of radical feminists are arguing that, apart from their usefulness as anonymous sperm donors, adult males are mostly surplus.

They're not just saying that kids raised without a dad turn out okay; they're saying that kids raised by mom—divorced, never married, or in a lesbian relationship— are better off than they would be if dad was present. They casually dismiss the vast body of research indicating the importance of the father, especially in the development of boys.

I wonder when these women are going to break the news to their sons that, once they're grown up, they'll be expected to stay the heck away from the women.

October 11, 2005

What role does the Declaration of Independence play in the structure and proper functioning of the U.S. government?

The Federalist Patriot has a new online petition seeking no less than the restoration of constitutional government in the U.S., a goal with which I heartily agree:
Petition to Restore Constitutional Integrity

To President George Bush, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, House Majority Leader Roy Blunt and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist:

Whereas you have, in some notable cases, neglected your oaths to support and defend the Constitution of the United States; and

Whereas we believe individual liberty and personal responsibility, together with limited government, free enterprise and a strong national defense are the formula that keeps America great; and

Whereas we believe that the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence should and must be returned to their rightful place as the delimiters of Republican government and civil society; and

Whereas we believe that individual liberty rapidly decays into anarchy and corruption without a meaningful commitment to personal responsibility based on our nation's godly heritage, and that traditional beliefs and values must continue to serve as our nation's touchstone and compass; and

Whereas we believe that government that is strong but limited best secures liberty, a notion -- Lex Rex and not Rex Lex -- that guided our Founders in composing the Declaration of Independence and its subsequent guidance, our Constitution; and

Whereas we believe that government that exceeds or dismisses those bounds becomes tyrannical, regardless of the party in power;

We, therefore, declare our commitment to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence over that of any individual or party.

Furthermore, amid the abuse, neglect and ignorance of the Constitution that permeates American government today, even among those who would call themselves conservative, we call on congressional leaders and President Bush, in their respective branches, to hence forward respect our nation's law by restricting the role of government to that provided in our Constitution, and to ensure appointments to the federal courts will do likewise.

We, the people of these United States, rightfully petition our President, House of Representatives and Senate to restore Constitutional law, and entreat the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches to confine their actions accordingly.
I'm troubled, however, by the fact that the petition seems to give the Declaration a role as legally binding as the Constitution has in defining the structure of the federal government and the scope of its power. I would say instead that the Declaration provides the philosophical foundation for the Constitution. A proper understanding of the Declaration is an essential prerequisite to a proper understanding of the Constitution, but there is nothing in the Declaration that has the force of law.

A minor quibble, but I'm happy to get that off my chest. :-)

Harriet Miers and the autumn of conservative discontent

When is the last time that the right has been so vigorously divided on an issue? Some say: Just wait until the confirmation hearings, and all of your doubts will be addressed. Others say: Why should we have to wait until then to learn something substantial about her? President Bush says: Trust me.

The fact of the matter is that President Bush—a genuinely good man who is precisely the right one to lead our country in the war on terror—has never governed as one who reveres originalism in constitutional interpretation. Mainly for that reason, I will take his Trust me with a big grain of salt.

Updates below cartoons

(Click images to view full size)

UPDATE: By the way, Laura, you're not helping things by suggesting that Miers' conservative critics might be motivated by sexism. You could bet the farm that none of this opposition would have occurred if Janice Rogers Brown had been nominated. In fact, you would have seen these same critics fighting alongside W in the trenches.

October 8, 2005

It depends on what the meaning of "wrong" is, Mr. Clooney

Brit Hume reports (emphasis added):
Movie star George Clooney is warning other Hollywood liberals to keep their mouths shut when it comes to politics, saying they're likely to hurt the candidates they're trying to help. Clooney says he declined to campaign for John Kerry last year because critics would use his involvement to paint Kerry as beholden to liberal Hollywood. But while he thinks it's dangerous for actors to go public with their politics, Clooney still defends his left-leaning views, saying, “It's pretty hard to find a time when liberals were on the wrong side of an issue."
Kinda funny how always being on the right side of the issues is like poison to your favored candidates, Mr. Clooney...

Harriet? Sigh.

Countless electrons have been expended expressing the negative reaction of the conservative and constitutionalist right to the nomination of Harriet Miers for associate justice on the Supreme Court. I have nothing unique to add, except to cast my vote...

In general, I agree with James Taranto, who said he was "underwhelmed, not appalled" at the pick. W could have done much, much better.

September 30, 2005

Is it even LEGAL to rebuild New Orleans?

Given the ridiculous liberties that the federal government has taken with the definition of wetlands (so that a landowner can be prosecuted for filling in a low spot that occasionally fills with water after a heavy rain), is it even LEGAL for any redevelopment to take place in the low areas of New Orleans? Are officials running afoul of the law by the mere act of pumping the floodwaters out?

Enquiring minds want to know.

September 27, 2005

Barbra Streisand has spent her life pretending...

...so why can't she have a go at pretending to be a climate scientist? Surely, opines Funny Girl in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Katrina and Rita prove we're in a "global warming emergency". Not only are we in for unprecedented monster hurricanes, but we also have droughts and dust bowls to look forward to. Curse that George Bush and his evil sidekick, Karl Rasputin!

Drudge is thoroughly underwhelmed at her efforts, and gives her a good smackdown in the form of a Hurricane History lesson:
[A] Category 5 hurricane struck the Bahamas with 160 mph winds -- when the singer was five years old, in 1947!

And when Streisand was 8 years old, a Cat 5 hurricane -- named "Dog" -- packing 185 mph churned-away in the Atlantic.

When she was 9, a Cat 5 storm named "Easy" ripped the seas with 160 mph sustained winds.

Streisand was 13 years old when "Janet" hit Mexico with 150 mph winds.

Streisand was celebrating her sweet sixteen as "Cleo" formed with 140 mph.

At 18, Streisand read news about "Donna" AND "Ethel" -- both storms carried 140 mph winds and formed 9 days apart in 1960!

One year later, when Streisand was 19, it happened again: Two Category 5 storms scared the world: "Carla" and "Hattie!"

"Carla" maxed out at 175 mph winds the year Streisand made her television debut on "The Jack Paar Show."

And who could forget Hurricane "Camille" -- which smashed into the United States with 190 mph, just as "Funny Girl" garners eight Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture and one for Barbra as Best Actress.

(Credit: Right Mind)

Anthropogenic global warming, we hardly knew ye

Joe Mariani tosses in his two cents against the notion that human activity is negatively affecting Earth's climate:
There's a reason we talk about cycles and seasons. When levels of CO2 rise -- which plants certainly don't see as "pollution" -- it triggers natural modulating influences. Higher temperatures melt ice, which causes heavier cloud cover due to moisture, which reflects more of the sun's light back into space, which lowers the temperature. And so on.

When CO2 levels fall too low, natural processes cause it to be released from the soil -- as seems to be happening now. Researchers from the UK's Cranfield University found that some 13 tons of carbon are being released from the soil every year, as Reuters recently reported. "Since the carbon appears to be released from soil regardless of how the soil is used, the researchers conclude that the main cause must be climate change itself. Though they could not say where all the missing carbon had gone, much of it may be entering the atmosphere as the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane, which many scientists say is causing global warming." Scientists from Germany's Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry wrote, "These losses thus completely offset the past technological achievements in reducing CO2 emissions, putting the UK's success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in a different light." In other words, many Kyoto signatory nations have crippled their industry, spent vast amounts of money and caused rampant unemployment for absolutely nothing.

Science -- not junk science based on hysteria and ideology, but real science based on data and reason -- suggests that global warming is driven more by the sun than anything humans have done. A recent study by Swiss and German scientists indicates that the sun is burning hotter than it has at anytime in the past thousand years. "The Sun is in a changed state," stated Dr. Sami Solanki, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research. "It is brighter than it was a few hundred years ago and this brightening started relatively recently -- in the last 100 to 150 years." Does that time frame sound vaguely familiar? It's about the same time the Little Ice Age began to end -- the same time that Liberals claim humans began to cause global warming. Isn't it clear that the sun is the real cause? Shouldn't we at least examine this before ruining our economy for nothing?
Mariani also notes the fact that Mars is experiencing global warming as well.

September 26, 2005

Maxwell Smart, RIP

Don Adams, nee Donald James Yarmy, died on Sunday.
He was 82, or 79 or 78, depending on various reports.

The official family obit (reposted here) says he was 82.

The Brady Bunch waxes hysterical over Fla. self-defense law

Florida residents no longer have a court-imposed duty to retreat when attacked, and this has the victim-disarmament crowd in full panic:
Warning that Florida streets have the potential to morph into the O.K. Corral, gun-control advocates will launch an international campaign to alert travelers about a new state law that allows people to use deadly force in self-defense.
Many will remember that Brady & co. also predicted blood in the streets when Florida passed concealed carry legislation a few years ago. It didn't happen then, and it is unlikely to happen now.

September 24, 2005

Desperately seeking metaphor

I'm watching CNN's live coverage of Rita's landfall. I know it's late, and CNN's folks must be tired, but these guys are cracking me up.

Their weather guy (WG) in Atlanta was trying to explain to Aaron Brown why Rita is expected to stall in NE Texas. The reality is that a new high pressure ridge is forming, and it is likely to keep the remnants of the hurricane from moving away. WG had been describing the ridge as banana-shaped, but then self-consciously realized that likening the ridge to a banana was kind of goofy, so he just switched to calling it kidney bean-shaped. That'll do.

September 21, 2005

Curse those Martian SUVs!

BBC, September 21:
New images of Mars suggest the Red Planet's surface is more active than previously thought, the US space agency (Nasa) reports.

Photographs from Nasa's orbiting spacecraft Mars Global Surveyor show recently formed craters and gullies.

The agency's scientists also say that deposits of frozen carbon dioxide near the planet's south pole have shrunk for three summers in a row.

They say this is evidence to suggest climate change is in progress.
[Insert boilerplate condemnation of Bush administration here]

Dispatch from Harry Reid's Bizarro World

...as noted in WaPo's September 21 editorial:
IN ANNOUNCING his opposition yesterday to the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to be chief justice of the United States, Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) made a remarkable statement: "The president is not entitled to very much deference in staffing the third branch of government, the judiciary." Leave aside the merits of the Roberts nomination, which we support; if Mr. Reid regards Judge Roberts as unworthy, he is duty-bound to vote against him. But these are dangerous words that Democrats will come to regret.
This notion, if applied by the Republicans during the Clinton administration, would have resulted in few if any of his nominees actually being seated.

The Post correctly notes that regardless of party affiliation, "the president's choice has a heavy presumption of confirmation." It's up to opponents to demonstrate why a nominee is unfit for the position—or simply to vote against the nominee. But please, spare us any pretense of high principle, Senator.

September 20, 2005

Dispatch from gun-free Great Britain

The Times (London), September 20:
A UNITED Nations report has labelled Scotland the most violent country in the developed world, with people three times more likely to be assaulted than in America.

England and Wales recorded the second highest number of violent assaults while Northern Ireland recorded the fewest.

The study, based on telephone interviews with victims of crime in 21 countries, found that more than 2,000 Scots were attacked every week, almost ten times the official police figures. They include non-sexual crimes of violence and serious assaults.

Violent crime has doubled in Scotland over the past 20 years and levels, per head of population, are now comparable with cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg and Tbilisi.

The attacks have been fuelled by a “booze and blades” culture in the west of Scotland which has claimed more than 160 lives over the past five years. Since January there have been 13 murders, 145 attempted murders and 1,100 serious assaults involving knives in the west of Scotland. The problem is made worse by sectarian violence, with hospitals reporting higher admissions following Old Firm matches.
As someone at FR remarked, "Good thing that they have strong gun control laws, or folks might get hurt."

Of course, one of the proposed solutions is knife control.

September 19, 2005

Mississippi attorney general moves to kill homeowners insurance industry in that state

Associated Press, September 15 (emphasis added):
Mississippi on Thursday sued insurers to force them to pay billions of dollars in flood damage from Hurricane Katrina, saying standard insurance polices have led homeowners to believe they are covered for all hurricane damage, whether from high winds or storm surges.


[Attorney General Jim Hunt] asked a Chancery Court to void provisions in the policies that attempt to exclude from coverage losses or damages directly or indirectly caused by water, whether wind-driven or not. He said he would seek a restraining order next week pending a full hearing.

Only about 30 percent of the houses in disaster-struck portions of Mississippi and Alabama had flood insurance, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates.

Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance, one of the companies named in the lawsuit, said in a statement that it was unfortunate the litigation had begun so early in the recovery process.

"The fact is flood insurance protection has been offered by the federal government for nearly four decades precisely because flood damage is not covered by private insurers like Allstate," company spokesman Michael Trevino said.

Chicago-based Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, an industry group, said the lawsuit threatened to undermine the viability of every insurance policy in the state and the integrity of every legal contract in the nation.

Chief Executive Ernie Csiszar said the action was also unfair to consumers who have paid the federal government for flood insurance.

"This would establish a dangerous precedent and expose insurance companies to potentially billions of dollars in claims costs for a risk in which not one dollar of premium was collected," he said. "This lawsuit is about politics, not fairness or justice."
In other words, the AG, in a move sure to gain him political favor in the eyes of Mississippi voters, is seeking to compensate homeowners who (a) didn't bother to read their insurance policy, or (b) thought they could beat the odds by skipping on the flood insurance.

If the AG succeeds, what reputable insurance company would be willing to continue to do business in Mississippi at a price its customers could afford? Not that the state would allow these companies to increase premiums to a level commensurate with the risk they're being told they must undertake.

In case you didn't get the memo....

Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day. Check your local paper for area observances.

September 18, 2005

The WaPo likes John Roberts.... mostly.... sort of

Looks like the Washington Post's David Broder has been won over completely by Chief Justice nominee John Roberts:
The question of whether Judge John Roberts is qualified to be chief justice of the United States has been rendered moot by his performance in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. He is so obviously -- ridiculously -- well-equipped to lead government's third branch that it is hard to imagine how any Democrats can justify a vote against his confirmation.
E.J. Dionne, however, is underwhelmed by Roberts' refusal to answer questions about issues likely to come before the court (which, as many others have pointed out, was perfectly okay when the nominee was Ruth Bader Ginsburg), and urges as many No votes as the Dems can get away with.

The Post's editorial board agrees with Broder (albeit less enthusiastically), and warns Democrats about the consequences of opposing him:
Judge Roberts represents the best nominee liberals can reasonably expect from a conservative president who promised to appoint judges who shared his philosophy. Before his nomination, we suggested several criteria that Mr. Bush should adopt to garner broad bipartisan support: professional qualifications of the highest caliber, a modest conception of the judicial function, a strong belief in the stability of precedent, adherence to judicial philosophy, even where the results are not politically comfortable, and an appreciation that fidelity to the text of the Constitution need not mean cramped interpretations of language that was written for a changing society. Judge Roberts possesses the personal qualities we hoped for and testified impressively as to his belief in the judicial values. While he almost certainly won't surprise America with generally liberal rulings, he appears almost as unlikely to willfully use the law to advance his conservative politics.

For this reason, broad opposition by Democrats to Judge Roberts would send the message that there is no conservative capable of winning their support. While every senator must vote his or her conscience on the nomination, the danger of such a message is considerable. In the short term, Mr. Bush could conclude there is nothing to be gained from considering the concerns of the opposition party in choosing his next nominee. In the longer term, Republicans might feel scant cause to back the next high-quality Democratic nominee, as they largely did with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.
Oh, well, two out of three ain't bad, especially from the Post.

September 16, 2005

Just when you think Cindy Sheehan can't get more ridiculous

Cindy keeps pushing the envelope of self-parody (emphasis added):
I don't care if a human being is black, brown, white, yellow or pink. I don't care if a human being is Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, or pagan. I don't care what flag a person salutes: if a human being is hungry, then it is up to another human being to feed him/her. George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power. The only way America will become more secure is if we have a new administration that cares about Americans even if they don't fall into the top two percent of the wealthiest.
The more Cindy tries to stay in the spotlight, the more discredit she brings to herself and to her Angry Left puppetmasters.

Which is a good thing....so keep the hits coming, Cindy!

(Credit: Various, including LGF, Protein Wisdom and FR)