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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.