Maybe Bush will be impeached for this: White House Says Web Site Counts Visitors.
The White House said Friday its Web tracking technology is consistent with federal rules because it only counts the number of visitors anonymously and doesn't record personal information.
The discovery (about web "cookies") and subsequent inquiries by The Associated Press prompted the White House to investigate. David Almacy, the White House's Internet director, said tests conducted since Thursday show that data from the cookie and the bug are not mixed — and thus [the] 2003 guidelines weren't violated.
"The White House Web site is and always has been consistent with the OMB guidance," Almacy said, adding that the limited tracking is common among Web sites.
The AP is probably recommending the White House go back to using typewriters. Oh wait -- that may not work since Dan Rather and Mary Mapes insist that certain type settings can be used to create certain documents, despite the difficulty in finding such. Oh well.
Maybe the geniuses at the AP could recommend Internet surfers use a good spyware detection/erasure program, a good anti-virus program, and to delete cookies from their web browser often.
(h/t: Jonah Goldberg.)
We've made a few changes to our fairly sizeable blogroll. First, in the "Hube's Fellow DE Bloggers" section we've added Delaware Watch, To Seek a Newer World and Delathought. Hube desires to have as complete a blogroll as possible of intelligent, well-written Delaware blogs, and the new additions certainly fit the bill.
Second, with the departure of our friend Greg of "What Attitude Problem?" from the blogoverse, we've placed David Gerstman's excellent Soccer Dad under our "Favorite Reads" section. We actually would have moved it there anyway since we stop by there more frequently than ever, but Greg's (unfortunate) departure made it essentially a "space-saving" maneuver.
National Review has a bunch of pundits offering their takes on the 2005 "best and worst" of the year. Some I like, some are just plain silly. Here's a few I'd like to comment on:
1. Laura Ingraham thinks the worst moment of 2005 was Illinois Senator Dick Durbin "comparing the treatment of detainees at Gitmo to that of the "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others." C'mon -- if we listed everyone who utilized the "Nazi" analogy in 2005 (or ever), the list would be a mile long. Durbin, while deserving of castigation, hardly merits "worst" moment.
2. Michelle Malkin's list is great -- I had forgotten about many of those. For instance, who remembers "the 'Bush engineered 9/11' crackpot-fest convened by Rep. Cynthia McKinney" back in July? N.Y. Rep. Maurice Hinchey's "fevered February 2005 allegations that Karl Rove was behind the CBS Rathergate fiasco"?
3. Stephen Spruiell offers several media-manufactured stories. He begins his list with the "revelation" that Bush authorized the NSA to listen in on suspected terrorist's phone calls. In May, he notes the [in]famous Newsweek story about Korans being flushed down a toilet, and the riots that ensued afterwards. The story ended up not being accurate. (And, I recall, an American general also said that the Newsweek article wasn't responsible for the riots -- thanks for that reminder, Hube!)
The administration didn't advance its arguments with equal emphasis. Neither, though, did its case rely solely on Iraq's alleged illicit weapons. The other most prominent assertion in administration speeches and presentations was as accurate as the weapons argument was flawed: that Saddam Hussein had rejected 12 years of United Nations demands that he account for his stores of deadly weapons--and also stop exterminating innocents. Evaluating all nine arguments lets each of us decide which ones we now find persuasive or empty, and whether President Bush tried to mislead us.
After reassessing the administration's nine arguments for war, we do not see the conspiracy to mislead that many critics allege. Example: The accusation that Bush lied about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs overlooks years of global intelligence warnings that, by February 2003, had convinced even French President Jacques Chirac of "the probable possession of weapons of mass destruction by an uncontrollable country, Iraq."
The Tribune looks at the administration's nine (yes, nine -- remember) arguments for war, what we know today, and the overall verdict. For example, many (most?) people think WMDs were the only reason the US went into Iraq. Nope. But, it was the "main" one, and the Tribune castigates Bush et. al. for making it so:
In putting so much emphasis on illicit weaponry, the White House advanced its most provocative, least verifiable case for war when others would have sufficed.
Now, read about the other eight.
It is 1:10pm and Dana Garrett of Delaware Watch is on the air with host Gerry Fulcher, along with others on the left side of the spectrum such as Liz Allen(!), Mike Melloy (oops, he's a conservative!), Richard Korn.
1:14: Dana is intro'ing himself. Great radio voice. Fulcher interrupts with some irrelevancies and then asks everyone if they get paid for their activism. They all answer "no."
1:17: Someone keeps harummphing due to a congested throat!
1:19: Fulcher says that virtually all "activists" happen to be liberals who make no $$ for their efforts and indeed spend some of their own $$ for their cause(s).
1:25: Fulcher says Delawarean politicos ignore people whether they act properly or act like madmen. He uses Harris McDowell(?) as an example of who claimed this fact. He segues to Liz Allen who says she's been an activist for 45 years. Married to a Vietnam vet. Believes in the 2nd Amendment wholeheartedly(!). Says she cannot be pigeonholed into any "label."
1:28: Fulcher states that sometimes people "have to scream" to get their point across. Korn invokes "passion" for a cause. Agrees with Fulcher on "screaming." Korn says it's not "the party but the KIND of people we put into office" (in Delaware).
1:34: Caller says "Gilpin" situation solved from yesterday. He said just a phone call can work for "activism."
1:36: Caller Cindy asks guests about all the time they put in for their causes and other stuff. Liz claims that all her activism has taken toll on her health. Mike discusses his other interests besides activism. Richard does same. Discusses Venezuela oil deal. Dana plugs his blog! (Good man!) Says family time very important (good man, again!). Fulcher claims never had a vacation in 68 years....that he "doesn't know how to relax."
1:39: Korn notes that they all came out of 60s activism (except maybe Mike). Discusses all he was involved in. Liz says she's never "needed a lot of sleep." Says politics is "her relaxation." Claims she has a "great sense of humor"(!). Claims many radio pundits are "destroying democracy." Says WDEL's Rick Jensen "angers her."
1:45: A Rev. Thornton calls in to thank Liz for "being a great citizen." Criticizes Melloy for criticizing city officials about Wilmington's crime. Says "we all" have to get involved. Mike responds: "Easy to look at other cities" (as the rev. brought up). Gives stats about Wilmington's crime. States that the city's violence problem way worse than rest of New Castle County. Says must hold elected officials in Wilm. accountable. Fulcher tries to claim crime figures same. Melloy claims per capita basis makes his case. Liz says "cannot turn city into police state." Melloy says many people want more cops in the city.
1:55: Jack calls in. Says Liz has uttered many boners over the many months. (That Kerry "won" Florida and Ohio, captured bin Laden, Bush had a nervous break-down, etc.). Liz rebuts. Claims Jack gets his news from "censored" news (like Fox). Dana chimes in that he's amazed people "keep score" of how many errors people make.
1:59: Bill calls and states that he "appreciates" Liz "correcting" Jensen when he's on the air. Queries about child abuse. Liz states that DE essentially "sanctions" child abuse and that she'll have her daughter (who knows a lot about the subject) assist Bill in his child abuse queries.
2:08: Frank calls in and brings up a bill about upcoming redistricting, term limits, open government and more. Fulcher asks about chances of getting these passed. Fulcher asks about Dana blog sources. Says he gets info from many sources. Says it's "completely outrageous" that DE politicians meet behind closed doors and then say "it's none of your business." Liz says there will soon be a website devoted to "best practices" and all politicians "will have to address" various topics "important to the people." Melloy brings up Christina Gateway Corp. and Wilmington Renaissance Corp.
2:14: Caller Joan asks why can't many groups come together for various causes. Liz brings up recent environmentalist schism. Fulcher claims governor will pass environmental bill if Green Alan Muller is off the panel (or whatever). Melloy chimes in that "sunshine" is best for any policy hearings and decisions. Public input and invitation are a must, he says. Get away from the "Delaware Way." Dana chimes in on Alan Muller flap. Says it's outrageous, and in no way democratic. Says Minner should "see a therapist" if she is that touchy about Muller's personality. Wow!
2:25: John Flaherty calls in. He's a paid lobbyist. Fulcher says he's "the people's lobbyist," paid for by a foundation (I believe he said). Supports John Carney on the environmental issue, and recommends, if you disagree, not just criticizing but doing something about it. Liz claims "Republicanism and enviromentalism" is an oxymoron. Flaherty claims Liz is "profiling." (Good analogy!)
2:29: Karen calls in with child abuse activism group information. Says school reaction (among others') to claims of abuse frequently unheeded. (Hard break ... Karen will be held over.)
2:33: Karen continues about child abuse. Says legislators not taking situation seriously. Wants more funding. Dana asks if school officials went to Karen instead of the press b/c they feared reprisals. Brings up how silly it is that state employees who're hired to do a job fear reprisals! (Good point.) Liz brings up state employee named Vince Marconi(?) whom she claims only sees people as numbers and only cares about $$.
2:39: Susan calls in. Says people need to support the groups involved in the environmental situation discussed earlier. Says great way to "get involved" is send in a donation. Fulcher agrees that financial matters sometimes overlooked by "activists."
2:45: After break, Susan continues about child abuse and activism in general.
2:46: Floyd describes DE politics as essentially "worst in the world." Praises Alan Muller and John Flaherty. Rips DE healthcare system. Says DE political culture is "worst in the world" (again). Wow. Dana chimes in on healthcare, calling it a "moral scandal" for the country. Compares it to Cuba (Cuba being better, obviously). Melloy counters by bringing up that Americans don't give much thrift to taking care of themselves. Liz says "capitalism" is to blame for bad healthcare. Blames Republicans. Dana says "it's great that we all learned today that all we have to do is eat well and exercise and we'll never get sick." (This is probably the best exchange of the show.)
2:55: Darlene from ACORN calls in. Says all activists should all work together. Kum-ba-yah stuff. Not very specific.
2:56: Steve calls in. Asks what "activist" means. Activist to him means working w/people and not always criticizing and haranguing others. Brings this up to Liz, specifically, that she calls people "idiots" etc. She needs to listen to their POV and be open not necessarily have to agree with them. Two more quick callers say what Steve has said.
I was rereading Michael Beran's article about the Founding Fathers and was thinking about the term "context." The Founders, for all their forward thinking and genius, were products of their time -- meaning, yes, many of them owned slaves, among other vices. But, of course, in the context of the times, well-to-do white men owning slaves was not much a vice.
Back in grad school, I took a course titled "Ethnic Studies and Multicultural Education" just for the "fun" of it. The readings were essentially what I expected, but at least the prof. wasn't openly hostile to different points of view. We were assigned a Howard Zinn reading one week titled "Christopher Columbus and the Myth of Human Progress." (The article was culled from something called the "Open Magazine Pamphlets Series" which also featured -- advertised on the front page -- articles by Noam Chomsky on "Media Control" and "The New World Order"; the late Edward Said on "Peace in the Middle East"; George Carter on "ACT UP and AIDS"; and Tom Athanasiou on "The US & Global Warming." Quite a "balance," huh?)
In the article, of course, Zinn blasts Columbus and the West in general. What I found most interesting was Zinn's inclusion of Bartolome de las Casas, the Dominican priest, as the "hero" for speaking out against Spanish atrocities inflicted on the Natives (Indians). Of course, including that de las Casas advocated the importation of black slaves from Africa would have put a monkey wrench into Zinn's proselytizing. Even a high school history text, A History of World Societies, notes that de las Casas recommended black slavery because "the Church did not strictly forbid it, and he thought blacks could better survive South American conditions." My prof. indicated she had no idea about this when I brought it up in a "thought paper." She commented that this was "interesting."
In his article, Zinn remarks:
You probably heard -- as I have, quite often -- that it is wrong for us to treat the Columbus story the way we do. What they say is: "You are taking Columbus out of context, looking at him with the eyes of the 20th century. You must not superimpose the values of our times on events that took place 500 years ago. That is ahistorical."
I find this argument strange. Does it mean that cruelty, exploitation, greed, enslavement, violence against helpless people, are values peculiar to the 15th and 16th centuries? And that we in the 20th century, are beyond that? Are there not certain human values which are common to the age of Columbus and to our own? Proof of that is that both in his time and in ours there were enslavers and exploiters; in both his time and ours there were those who protested against that, on behalf of human rights.
To quote from Zinn in that very same article: What arrogance! (Zinn directed these words at George Bush the 41st after Bush remarked in 1988 that the 20th century was the "American Century.") What arrogance to think that Zinn would have been right out there protesting the treatment of the downtrodden 500 years ago (without, at least, extreme consequences!) What arrogance to believe Zinn would not have been a product of his environment! What arrogance to claim Bartolome de las Casas as a paragon of human rights in Columbus' time because he protested the treatment of Indians -- but then advocated enslavement of Africans to replace the Indians! (The latter of which Zinn makes no mention; however, when searching the Internet for a possible online version of this Zinn article [without success, by the way], I discovered a reference where Zinn claims that las Casas later came out against African slavery, too.)
Why not go even further, Professor Zinn? Why not go back 1000 years ago? Cruelty, exploitation, etc. were even more present then. Why not judge a man of the year 1004 by 2004 standards?
It is preposterous to do that, of course. The "anointed," such as Zinn (to use a Thomas Sowell term) are no better than those who want an opposite view of history, like what school kids got in the 40s and 50s. And to utilize what Zinn believes means one has to assume that humanity and civilization cannot grow. Why has slavery been virtually abolished? Why has exploitation been reduced massively? Why do average people enjoy more and more rights every single day?
As Thomas G. West notes in his excellent book Vindicating the Founders, Thomas Jefferson "thought that the chief value of studying the past is
... rendering the people the safe, as they are the ultimate, guardians of their own liberty...History by apprising them of the past will enable them to judge of the future; ...[I]t will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.
Jefferson was describing the kind of history that Thucydides and Winston Churchill wrote: "loyal to the truth but not afraid to distinguish between justice and injustice, honor and villainy, greatness and degradation."
Zinn, in his zeal to "undo" the incomplete histories of past centuries goes to the other extreme -- and only sees the injustice, villainy and degradation.
That's right -- not only was the food outstanding, but the company as well. Mike of Down With Absolutes!, Tom Noyes of Tommywonk, Dana Garrett of Delaware Watch and I all met up at the excellent Washington Street Ale House in downtown Wilmington (DE) last evening.
Tom, as you may have read, recently subbed for Rick Jensen on his WDEL 1150AM radio show. He's a quite personable fellow, funny and articulate. I had met Mike and Dana previously, and they were just as they were last time (that's a good thing, BTW!). Mike's humor is a perfect fit for me, and Dana can take virtually any topic of conversation into depths I wouldn't have imagined.
Let's do it again soon, gents!
Some time ago, at my quarterly "Fellas Weekend" (where me and my three best buddies get together for a getaway weekend) I noticed a CD one pal brought with him: "Worker's Playtime" by Billy Bragg. What caught my attention was the little blurb at the bottom of the CD case: "Capitalism is Killing Music." (You can view the CD here, but the blurb is a little fuzzy.) And, here's an example of Bragg's politics as noted in the song "The Price of Oil":
Saddam killed his own people
just like general Pinochet
and once upon a time both these evil men
were supported by the U.S.A.
and whisper it, even Bin Laden
once drank from America’s cup
just like that election down in Florida
this shit doesn’t all add up
it’s all about the price of oil
‘cause it’s all about the price of oil
don’t give me no shit
about blood, sweat, tears and toil
it’s all about the price of oil
I'll address Bragg's [mis]interpretations of the song here in a sec. But first, an examination of the "Capitalism is Killing Music" inanity. How exactly does capitalism "kill" music? Or, to rephrase this, how would Bragg's beloved socialism make music flourish? The answer is, it wouldn't. The very system that Bragg detests makes music flourish! Capitalism allows the market for various types of music -- Bragg's included -- to exist. Private enterprise allows bands to form, recording studios to record, and record companies to produce music -- of all types. What would Bragg's system allow? Centralized production of music? How would that work, exactly? Centralized production of music ultimately means music allowed by the state. If Bragg's music was deemed "inappropriate" by the state, isn't his music "killed?" Contrariwise, isn't there a niche for his (or anyone's) music in the capitalist free market?
"I think firstly, we're in a post-ideological period. They may come back again, different ideologies, but we're definitely in a post-Marxist period and the language of Marxism doesn't offer us a language in which for us to talk to people anymore," says Bragg.
It always cracks me up that people who gain success via the capitalist free market doing what they love to do, then gain some kind of "superior knowledge" that enables them to "see" the "benefits" of Marxism and socialism. But this is why: Their newfound notoriety and popularity gives them a sense of superiority over you and me. They somehow know better than us. Guys like Bragg who legitimately recognize various inequities in life somehow then ridiculously advocate a system which will only make such inequities worse. Real life history apparently doesn't mean a thing to these newfound geniuses.
As seen in the song lyrics above, General Augusto Pinochet is the darling of the Gucci left crowd. Yes, Pinochet illegally took power with the assistance of the United States after Salvador Allende, a socialist, won election in Chile in the early 1970s. Americans should never have supported this move by the US, especially since Allende won in a free election -- which the US professes to encourage worldwide. Amazingly, however, the Left -- which always purports to be the vanguard on issues of human rights and "social justice" -- says hardly a word about the communist/socialist dictators which came to power via armed insurrection and hold such power via armed force. Y'know, people like Lenin. Stalin. Castro. Mao. Pot. Mugabe. Comparing Pinochet to these killers is like comparing a firecracker to an A-bomb.
In addition, I am continually flummoxed at how these suddenly knowledgeable folk seem to forget that the world was quite a different place when the U.S. supported Saddam and bin Laden. It was called the "Cold War." Geopolitics change, after all.
Without casting the blame on consumerism and the threat of global capitalism, Billy Bragg argues that the demise of ideology lies in the inability to clearly communicate with everyday folk.
Why doesn't Marxism offer us a language anymore, Bragg? Because it was bankrupt in the first place. The so-called "inability to communicate clearly with folk" is a cop-out. It's probably that folks think your message is bullshit.
"If you say to someone, ‘What kind of society do you want to live in?' and you say to them ‘I want to live in a compassionate society,' people understand that; everyday people understand that," says Bragg. "If you say ‘I want to live in a socialist society,' what does that mean? You have to have another five paragraphs or footnotes. And if you need that, then your language is fucked. If you can't speak in the language of compassion, or what we refer to at the gig as socialism of the heart, then you need to be out looking at new ways of articulating it."
"Socialism of the heart"? Capitalism relies on exactly this -- the generosity of average people for their fellow man. If Bragg wants to demand of everyone generosity, then he has achieved true socialism -- forced "generosity" in the guise of confiscatory taxes to "care" for everyone, and cradle-to-grave state care in every aspect of life. This isn't compassion. This is state-imposed mediocrity. It is Big Brother watching you and "caring" for you. Want to get ahead in life? Sorry -- that's "unfair" to your fellow man. Work harder than your colleague? Sorry -- extra rewards for hard work and motivation are "unfair" to others who do not do such/possess such.
(Selected quotes are from here.)
In October 2003, I attended a talk at my alma mater, the University of Delaware, by Harvey Silverglate, lawyer and co-author of The Shadow University, a must-have book about the chilling effects of speech codes on campuses across America. The topic was about free speech in post-9/11 America. I tend to agree with most of what Harvey had to say, especially since most his anecdotes dealt with occurrences at American colleges. However, I attended the event with a graduate professor of mine, Raymond Wolters, and he suggested, among other readings, chapter 8 of Robert Bork's Slouching Towards Gomorrah titled "The Case for Censorship."
Among other things, in this chapter Bork notes that "It is possible to argue for censorship on the grounds that in a republican form of government where people rule, it is crucial that the character of the citizenry not be debased." He goes on to quote Christopher Lasch who said,
Liberals have always taken the position that democracy can dispense with civic virtue. According to this way of thinking, it is liberal institutions, not the character of citizens, that make democracy work.
Lasch notes India and Latin America as examples that "formally democratic institutions are not enough for a workable social order, a proof that is as disheartening as the conditions in parts of large American cities approach those of the Third World."
Bork concludes this chapter by stating the following:
We have learned that the founders of liberalism were wrong. Unconstrained human nature will seek degeneracy often enough to create a disorderly, hedonistic, and dangerous society. Modern liberalism and popular culture are creating that society.
The judge goes on to make many more points, many using legal examples, and I heartily suggest you track down Gomorrah for a truly interesting read. That being said, after re-reading this chapter (and other portions of the book) I immediately thought of one of my favorite science-fiction novels -- Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers. Please do not let the absolutely pitiful movie from a few years ago fool you, nor the title of the book: ST was an extremely intelligent novel, copiously laced with historical and cultural commentary, as any true sci-fi aficionado will tell you. The key chapter in the book is -- how ironic! -- chapter 8, much of which is eerily prescient of what is happening today in American (and others') society (Heinlein wrote the book in 1959). One of the protagonist's (Juan Rico) teachers, Colonel DuBois, lectures his classes on the sense of "collective duty" needed to maintain an orderly society. DuBois' classroom audience is horrified at how, in the 20th century, people were afraid to venture out at night, into parks, and the like. Heinlein, through his DuBois, excoriates the "touchy-feelie" method of dealing with criminals by doing a lot of talking to them. "They (20th century psychologists, et. al.) assumed that Man has a moral instinct," DuBois states. He goes on (emphasis mine):
[Man] has a cultivated conscience, a most carefully trained one. Man has no moral instinct. he is not born with moral sense. You were not born with it, I was not -- and a puppy has none. We acquire moral sense, when we do, through training, experience, and heard sweat of the mind. [These] unfortunate juvenile criminals were born with none, even as you and I, and they had no chance to acquire any; their experiences did not permit it. What is 'moral sense'? It is an elaboration of the human instinct to survive. The instinct to survive is human nature itself, and every aspect of our personalities derives from it. Anything that conflicts with the survival instinct acts sooner or later to eliminate the individual and thereby fails to show up in future generations.
But the instinct to survive can be cultivated into motivations more subtle and much more complex than the blind, brute urge of the individual to stay alive. [What one] miscalled 'moral instinct' was the instilling in you by your elders of the truth that survival can have stronger imperatives than that of your own personal survival. Survival of your family, for example. Of your children....of your nation. And so on up.
[These] juvenile criminals hit a low level. Born with only the instinct for survival, the highest morality they achieved was a shaky loyalty to a peer group, a street gang. But the do-gooders attempted to 'appeal to their better natures,' to 'reach them,' to 'spark their moral sense.' They had no 'better natures'; experience taught them that what they were doing was the way to survive. The puppy never got his spanking; therefore what he did with pleasure and success must be 'moral.'
The basis of all morality is duty, a concept with the same relation to group that self-interest has to individual. Nobody preached duty to these kids in a way they could understand -- that is, with a spanking. But the society they were in told them endlessly about their 'rights.' "
It is quite interesting to compare that last paragraph above to what Judge Bork says in his own chapter 8 (emphasis mine):
Once something is announced, usually flatly and stridently, to be a right, discussion becomes difficult to impossible. Rights inhere in the person, are claimed to be absolute, and cannot be diminished or taken away by reason; in fact, reason suggests the non-existence of an asserted right is viewed as a moral evil by the claimant. If there is to be anything that can be called a community, rather than an agglomeration of hedonists, the case for previously unrecognized individual freedoms must be thought through and argued, and 'rights' cannot win every time.
One of the great examples of the futility of socialism was best described by a former radical leftist, David Horowitz, in his autobiography Radical Son. David and friend Peter Collier used to run a magazine titled Ramparts in their hippie days. The inefficient socialist organization of the mag was noted by Horowitz in Radical Son, pages 185-186 (emphases mine):
...we announced that everybody's salary would be equal at $500 a month. We had instituted socialism in one magazine. We hoped, in part, that this would lift the taint from Ramparts in the Left and establish our revolutionary credentials. At the same time, we were mindful of the flaws in the equality we had created. Most of those who received the $500 wage had no family, while others -- Collier and myself in particular -- had several children. We told ourselves that eventually we would make an allowance for "need," but we were never able to figure a way to do it. Meanwhile, Collier and I took pride in bearing our special burden, failing to acknowledge to ourselves that this was an important inequality, too.
Why were we ready to carry an extra weight, unless we felt there was something superior in our position? And there was. It was Collier and I who effectively made the decisions that were crucial to the magazine's operations. The seed of the new inequality had been sown in the revolution itself. Collier and I had engineered the change of power, and carried it through ... everyone recognized that Ramparts' success or failure depended on its editorial product, and its editors had to be the governing body of the magazine, which ipso facto made them more equal than the rest.
And within the editorial board we were more equal than others. This was because Collier and I were the only editors besides Kolodney who could write articles and generate story ideas that made the magazine work. The net effect of the formal equality we created, therefore, was not to share the power but to increase the workload on the two of us, and -- when challenged -- to force us to expose the underlying reality that established our position. You could not dictate the policies of the magazine unless you were prepared to run it. That was the inescapable fact that underpinned our rule.
Of course without a formal hierarchy, every issue that came up had to be debated. The need to justify decisions was not only time-consuming for us, but at times cruel to others. This was impressed on me when we attempted to reduce the mailroom budget and were confronted by a political revolt. The mailroom was staffed by members of Newsreel, a radical collective that had made promotional films for the Black Panthers and the Vietcong. They had no respect for our political bona fides, which they still regarded as suspect. The revolution's pecking order had again shifted to the left (as it was always bound to), and we remained unable to overcome the view that Ramparts was part of the power structure that needed to be overthrown.
Originally, we had hired just one Newsreeler to do the mailroom work, but he had taken on more and more part-time help, featherbedding for his revolutionary comrades. When a point was reached where the mailroom budget exceeded that of the editorial department, we decided things had gone far enough and that we had to cut their hours. But no appeals from us to the common good made any impression. They saw Ramparts as their gravy train rather than their cause, and refused any cuts at all. To them, we were the ruling class and they our rebellious peons.
Because every decision had to be justified collectively, we assembled the entire staff, and in an all-day session hammered at the recalcitrants' deficiencies and derelections, summoning other staff members to testify against them. The session went on for eight hours, escalating as the embattled mailroom crew resisted. Because of their obstinacy, it became necessary to expand the charges and sharpen their personal edge. What had begun as a move to institute economies that would save all our jobs turned into a prosecution. Accusations of laziness, dishonesty, and exploitation of fellow workers were hurled at the hapless defendants. In the end, they were made to feel so bad about what they had done that firing them was almost a mercy. It was a collectively supported, brutal exercise, necessary for us to prevail. Privately, this experience made me recognize the utility and compassion inherent in the principle of hierarchy we had overthrown.
Sasha Volokh posts an opinion on Marxism/socialism by Owen Courrèges:
Sure, there are people who assume the label of 'communist' who claim to be anarchistic, and these people are different from the Stalins and Castros of the world. However, it is a mistake to take such people seriously on matters of political organization, since their view of a perfect society happens to be an impossible utopia, based upon premises far outside of actual experience.
The truth is that communism cannot exist without force because it depends so heavily upon squelching individual human ambition and making it subservient to the community. The moment an individual in a communist society attempts to take property for himself, or trade with others for his own profit, there must be a collective force available to stop his activities. That necessity leads to a strong government, which eliminates any potential for an anarchistic communism. Even softer forms of communism must eventually evolve into their totalitarian brethren. Accordingly, I'd prefer to see the whole lot discredited, regardless of what luminaries might be contained within their numbers.
Then there's another example of a pitfall of socialism: socialized medicine. Myriad examples and anecdotes abound about this system, a hallmark of the Democratic Party. Are Americans truly in favor of government-controlled healthcare? They certainly weren't in 1993 when Hillary Clinton and her healthcare "task force" were roundly rejected by the public. But clearly some improvement is needed for those not insured, and to control healthcare costs. Personally I believe that getting government and insurance companies out of the business will drop costs significantly. As the Libertarian Party's Harry Browne says, “By getting government out of the healthcare industry, healthcare costs will plummet, innovation will increase, and more people will have access to the healthcare they need.” In addition, Browne notes the following about Medicare, and how its contribution to skyrocketing healthcare costs:
Medicare provides a good example [of how government doesn’t work]. It was created in 1965 to make it easier for the elderly to get health care. But by reducing the patient’s out-of-pocket costs, it increased the demand for doctors and hospitals. And it reduced the supply of those services by requiring doctors and other medical personnel to use their time and attention handling paperwork and complying with regulations. So the price of medical care rose sharply as the demand soared and the supply diminished.
As a result, the elderly now pay from their own pockets over twice as much for health care (after adjusting for inflation) than they did before Medicare began. And most older people now find it harder to get adequate medical service. Naturally, the government points to the higher costs and shortages as proof that the elderly would be lost without Medicare--and that government should be even more deeply involved.
Unfortunately, despite the sense Browne makes, his ideas are highly unlikely to be implemented. People have an ever-increasing desire to have someone do something FOR them. Take a gander at what former Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich had in store for your healthcare. Why not just do what Browne advocates and save the country much more cash? Under Kucinich's plan, where is the incentive for doctors and nurses? Drug companies? Doc Russia hits the nail on the head with this observation:
Since medicare puts a cap on prices, it inevitably follows that there will be a shortfall in supply. With the added confounding of health insurance interfering with healthcare, we as a nation, are headed toward a real crisis. As physicians are reimbursed less and less, they will go into areas which will pay them in a manner more commensurate with the training they have put themselves through. That, or they will merely take their money that they invested, and prefer to live a more modest retirement that begins earlier. Either way, there will be fewer physicians for a patient population that will require more services. This will lead to shortfalls for all but the wealthiest of individuals. Patients on medicare will have to endure longer waits, and less attention which will both contribute to a decline in their level of care. The problem snowballs when possible physicians will see the long training period (about 11 years post graduate minimum) accompanied by modest income, the long hours of work, and the interference of insurance companies and medicare, which will persuade them to take their talents into areas which have a higher investment and return ratio than going into medicine. This will further shrink the physician pool, unless one is willing to lower the standards for being a physician. Both of these possibilities will be detrimental to the delivery of quality healthcare. As it is, medicare and insurance companies consume a huge amount of resources in the delivery of healthcare.
A single-payer system invites disaster among physicians. If there are caps now on Medicare, what will happen in a single-payer system if not exactly that? Read much more about single-payer systems (mostly Canadian) here. (Will open Microsoft Word document.)
I'd say this kind of crap ("Hundreds of women are killed in Pakistan every year, many by male relatives, after they are accused of staining their families' honor by having affairs or marrying for love without family consent.") is equivalent to that of the Klingons or Larry Niven's Kzin race; however, the difference is that the fictitious races are great warriors.
A Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays and/or Whatever Else wish to all Colossus readers, whether you love us, hate us, or are just plain indifferent. Thanks for reading, and for making us believe our opinions actually have some merit, no matter how little!
Special holiday "nods" go out to: Mike M. of Down With Absolutes, the coolest genuine moderate in the DE blogosphere; our most faithful reader and tipster, Fred; Greg formerly of What Attitude Problem?; Greg of Rhymes With Right; and, La Shawn Barber.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has introduced articles of impeachment -- retroactively -- for Republican Abraham Lincoln, and (reluctantly) for Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt:
"We don't buy into the 'Constitution is not a suicide pact' argument," Pelosi said. "Since we didn't buy that argument when we impeached George W. Bush four months ago, we feel it our duty to set the historical record straight."
House Majority Leader Jerrold Nadler added "It's about time we had a congress with courage. It was important that we impeached George Bush, who held the Constitution in contempt, and now we must do the same to other presidents, despite philosophical or partisan differences... and despite temporal differences."
The Congressional Black Caucus, completely united on the impeachment of George W. Bush, was quite divided, however, on the retroactive impeachment of Abe Lincoln. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee said
We, as African-Americans, have to recognize that without the actions of President Lincoln, there was a great chance that slavery would have continued for decades throughout the United States. We feel that when it comes to matters of race, it should not matter if political opponents are/were silenced. It's for the greater good. We feel the Constitution recognizes this.
Fellow CBC member Major Owens added
Not only was Lincoln right in silencing and jailing his political opponents that opposed his wartime policies, we feel he desired that the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution guaranteed affirmative action through the 21st century, and that not only the southern states but the entire United States of America should continue to pay African-Americans reparations for as long as African-descended peoples have been in the Americas -- and beyond.
When it came to Franklin Roosevelt's impeachment, the Democrats as a whole were not as unified.
"Lincoln's impeachment was rather effortless. He was a Republican," said Wisconsin Rep. Dave Obey. "Roosevelt was a Democrat, and he did a lot of great things. The New Deal expanded the size and scope of the federal government to unheard of levels, and as Democrats we have to applaud that. Personally, I think this greatness overshadows the minor error of interning Japanese-Americans into camps."
Still, most felt that they had to act. Washington State Rep. Jim McDermott said that Americans "have to realize that even total war doesn't give the executive the right to do as he wishes without congressional oversight." Florida's Robert Wexler added
As awful as it sounds, if the Axis Powers had defeated us, at least we would go down following the Constitution to its rightful letter. I can accept that.
The Republicans, in the congressional minority for the first time in eleven years, opposed the retroactive impeachments just as they opposed the impeachment of George W. Bush. During the Bush impeachment, many pointed out that the presidents immediately before him had authorized warrantless surveillance, in particular Bill Clinton.
"I don't want to hear that," said Vermont's Bernie Sanders. "Clinton was already impeached. You had your chance. You wanted him out? You should have done it based on his spying. Not that we would have joined you, however. His motives weren't as devious as George Bush's."
UPDATE: John Rosenberg dissects a ridiculous Lincoln-Bush contrast/comparison.
OK, enough satire.
Are we (here at Colossus) for warrantless NSA surveillance, etc.? That's what some have asked based on my (Hube's) posts the last couple days. The answer is: Not necessarily. All I did was point out (quite easily, in fact) how ridiculous the screaming, yammering and hollering by the Left has been about the New York Times' "revelation" that the National Security Agency has sometimes conducted warrantless surveillance of communications.
A quite legitimate argument can be made that the president's actions were illegal. However, if one is to pursue that angle, one has to inquire as to precedent. Why did Bill Clinton do it? Why did (of all people) Jimmy Carter do it? George Bush has the ... "excuse" of 9/11. What did Bill Clinton have? The 1993 WTC attack? Fair enough. The Oklahoma City bombing? OK. What did Carter have? The Iran hostage crisis? Fine. If Bush's actions are to be dissected in this case, I want examinations into all the reasons behind previous president's actions.
What befuddles me up is the sudden fondness of Leftists who quote the Founders, notably Ben Franklin's "Those who give up essential liberty for a little safety deserve neither." The very same Leftists who have denigrated states' rights and limited government for over a century. Where were you when the left bloc on the Supreme Court blew away eminent domain, for example? Where were the so-called "guardians of the poor and less fortunate" now that their homes can be razed and/or taken away so some hotshot developer can make big bucks -- and the local tax base can improve?
And so on.
Forty elementary school students at The International School at Dundee yesterday performed "The Rainbow Christmas," a play that promotes tolerance and diversity.
Y'know, I personally do not put much stock into the so-called "war" (a pretty strong term) on Christmas; however, I can certainly see where those who are a bit cheesed at the ever-creeping political correctness into the Christmas season are coming from. Just like the article above, for instance.
Debbie Kendrick's second-grade class and Gene Schmidt's fourth-grade class performed the play in front of a schoolwide audience. The message of the play coincides with the school's values of fostering a society of acceptance among people of different beliefs and cultures, Schmidt said.
"We need to be open-minded and tolerant of everybody, no matter what their beliefs are and where they're from," Schmidt said.
OK, but how does infusing this "need" into a Christmas song actually demonstrate "tolerance" and "diversity"? Either you believe in Christmas or you don't. Singing about Christmas doesn't infringe on anyone else's belief system, and if [some] people are offended by a Christmas song it is THEY who need to be more tolerant, not everyone else. (The play did emphasize racial tolerance and all that jazz... as if THAT is in any short supply in America's public schools ... but regardless, infusing that into a Christmas celebration is just PC. Imagine if the same message were incorporated into a Hanukkah or Kwanzaa tune!)
Folks like Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson may be overstating their case, but how silly is it for stores and/or companies to prohibit people from saying "Merry Christmas"? Gibson's book alone points out how
... in Illinois, state government workers were forbidden from saying the words "Merry Christmas" while at work;
In Rhode Island, local officials banned Christians from participating in a public project to decorate the lawn of City Hall;
A New Jersey school banned even instrumental versions of traditional Christmas carols;
Arizona school officials ruled it unconstitutional for a student to make any reference to the religious history of Christmas in a class project.
I'm not one who would argue that we ought to Grinch our way out of this discomfort by aggressively de-Christmafying. And to the extent that the war-on-Christmas crowd is simply reacting to knee-jerk political correctness, I'm with them. It's idiotic to call the Capitol conifer a Holiday Tree -- as it has been for the past several years, until it was re-, um, christened this year. If, as Gibson reports, the Plano, Tex., schools really have an edict banning red-and-green decorations (was it either color or just the combination?) -- well, you don't have to be Christian to find this more than a little silly.
But there is an ugly, bullying aspect to this dispute, in which the pro-Christmas forces are not only asking, reasonably, that their religion be treated with equal status and respect but in which they are attacking legitimate efforts at inclusivity. It's this sense of aggrieved victimhood that confuses me: What, exactly, is so threatening about calling the school holiday a winter break rather than Christmas vacation?
We do the reading and linking so you don't have to!
National Review's editorial board on the NSA spy flap:
We are once again living in September 10 America. The signs are all around us: Congress's acting to neuter interrogations of terrorist detainees; the Senate's filibustering the reauthorization of the most important piece of counterterrorism legislation since 9/11, the Patriot Act; and now the controversy over National Security Agency intercepts of conversations between persons in the United States and suspected al Qaeda operatives overseas.
Mark "The Great One" Levin has still more on the whole spy deal. Excerpt:
Where is the historical precedent for a commander-in-chief, especially during war, being required to ask permission from a court to spy on the enemy, including intercepting communications? Did Abraham Lincoln (Civil War), Woodrow Wilson (World War I), FDR/Harry Truman (World War II), Ike (Korean War), and/or JFK/LBJ/Richard Nixon (Vietnam War) use probable cause as the basis for intercepting enemy communications?Here's a nice technical overview of the whole NSA deal.
Here's a Clinton Justice official who says the Bush has authorization to order surveillance.
Military spy satellites spying on suspects of the Oklahoma City bombing? Where was the Left's outrage? Two things most likely inhibited it: Clinton in the White House and politically correct bad guys.
Yeah, a real "ha ha satire" of the Bush spy flap.
Slate weighs in on the whole shebang. Hey! No mention of ECHELON and the Clinton years! Surprise!!!
"The convocations are to celebrate different cultures and traditions. You don't have to be Latino or Hispanic to participate in convocation, as long as you identify with what we're doing."
Brownie points to the first person who IDs the utterer of this post's title.
Speaking of the "Scourge of the DE Blogosphere," his "blog" uncannily resembles the classic blog, the Iraq War Was Wrong Blog. Not only is the site design similar, but the style of "argumentation" and absolutely brutal destruction of the English language are eerily similar.
But still, how can you NOT like a blog whose byline is "A wrong war like during the Iraq war was cannot just be sitted idly by by"? Always good for cheap laughs.
OK, so much for humility.
It's certainly no surprise that the Wilmington News Journal editorial writers have opined against the president over the NSA spying flap. I wonder if the WNJ came out against the ECHELON project when "60 Minutes" did its exposé on it? Ha.
Two additional tidbits on the whole shebang today: First is a New York Sun article which says
Reasonable people may differ over the correct place to draw the line between civil liberties and national security in wartime, but this strikes us as a pretty clear-cut case. The Fourth Amendment states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
At issue is whether the listening in on overseas phone conversations is, in a time of war, "unreasonable." A person is now subject to a warrantless search when boarding an airplane, entering the New York subway system, or even entering the building that houses the office of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Why should an international phone call be inviolate?
Beyond the Fourth Amendment, the law that is said to restrict the Bush administration's activities is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. But, contrary to what you may read in some other newspapers, that law does not require that all such surveillance be authorized by a court. The law provides at least two special exceptions to the requirement of a court order. As FISA has been integrated into Title 50 of the U.S. Code, Chapter 36, Subchapter I, Section 1802, one such provision is helpfully headed, "Electronic surveillance authorization without court order."
This "without court order" was so clear that even President Carter, a Democrat not known for his vigilance in the war on terror, issued an executive order on May 23, 1979, stating, "Pursuant to Section 102(a)(1) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1802(a)), the Attorney General is authorized to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order." He said, "without a court order."
Nevertheless, this won't stop Congressional Democrats -- even those who were briefed about the program (like Harry Reid) -- from blasting Bush and co. 'Cause that's what they do, after all. And not much else. Have a plan for Iraq? We'll get back to you. Have a plan to fight terrorists? We'll get back to you. Have a plan for criticizing President Bush? Here's a mountain of papers full of ideas.
As I mentioned yesterday, "great" presidents past have gone farther -- much farther -- than George W. Bush in utilizing questionable constitutional tactics during time of war. Abraham Lincoln unilaterally suspended habeas corpus -- in large part to silence critics of his policies (most notably the "Copperheads"). Lincoln's most outspoken critic, Clement L. Vallandigham, was seized in the middle of the night, and "within 24 hours after his arrest, he is brought before eight army officers who put him on trial for making disloyal speeches against the government."
In the last century, President Franklin Roosevelt, on February 19, 1942 signed Executive Order 9066 which provided for the internment of Japanese-Americans -- without due process. A year later, internees over age 17 were required to fill out "loyalty" questionnaires.
Were either of the above presidents impeached for these "gross transgressions" of the Constitution? Of course not. So now we have President Bush authorizing surveillance of communications where one party may be a US resident/citizen in time of de facto war, and already the calls for the "I" word are surfacing.
Chalk this up to the "It's Only A Problem If A Democrat Does It" file: Cliff May picks up on former Clinton deputy attorney general (and later 9/11 Commission member) Jamie Gorelick's blatant flip-flop --
"The issue here is this: If you're John McCain and you just got Congress to agree to limits on interrogation techniques, why would you think that limits anything if the executive branch can ignore can ignore it by asserting its inherent authority?" - Jamie Gorelick, former deputy attorney general under President Clinton, in today's Washington Post, p. A10.
"The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General.
"It is important to understand, that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the president in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities." - Jamie Gorelick testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 14, 1994, as quoted by Byron today elsewhere on NRO.
Elsewhere, Jonathan Alter picks up on the Abraham Lincoln theme:
We're seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
Although, again, Bush is not even close in comparison. (But, certainly, it can be argued 9/11 was no Civil War.)
Huffington Post's Geoffrey Stone gets apoplectic on "King George."
And, the CATO Institute noted some interesting info way back in 1997:
The Clinton administration has repeatedly attempted to play down the significance of the warrant clause. In fact, President Clinton has asserted the power to conduct warrantless searches, warrantless drug testing of public school students, and warrantless wiretapping. It is unclear why the president made warrantless roving wiretaps a priority matter since judges routinely approve wiretap applications by federal prosecutors. According to a 1995 report by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, it had been years since a federal district court turned down a prosecutor's request for a wiretap order.  President Clinton is apparently seeking to free his administration from any potential judicial interference with its wiretapping plans. There is a problem, of course, with the power that the president desires: it is precisely the sort of unchecked power that the Fourth Amendment's warrant clause was designed to curb. As the Supreme Court noted in Katz v. United States (1967), the judicial procedure of antecedent justification before a neutral magistrate is a "constitutional precondition," not only to the search of a home, but also to eavesdropping on private conversations within the home. 
President Clinton also lobbied for and signed the Orwellian Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which is forcing every telephone company in America to retrofit its phone lines and networks so that they will be more accessible to police wiretaps.
Or lack thereof, actually. Nutty Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has banned Western music from Iran's radio stations. I like the noted songs/artists:
Songs such as George Michael's "Careless Whisper," Eric Clapton's "Rush" and the Eagles' "Hotel California" have regularly accompanied Iranian broadcasts, as do tunes by saxophonist Kenny G.
Maybe Michael can change the name of some of his (and Wham's) hits to "Careless Suicide Bomber," "Wake Me Up Before You Blow-Blow," "(Islamic) Faith," "Everything Allah Wants," and "Father Figure (Who'll Beat The Shit Out Of You If You Don't Wear A Veil)."
I'd like to bid a fond farewell to Greg of What Attitude Problem? Greg is exiting the blogosphere due to several factors, the major one of which is the death of a close friend.
We wish you well, Greg. We'll miss you much.
The blogosphere, overall and local, is still buzzing about the "revelation" about how President Bush gave the NSA (National Security Agency) the go-ahead to listen in on phone calls and monitor e-mails without getting a warrant (among other things).
Over at Down With Absolutes, the debate rages, with Delaware Watch's Dana Garrett offering that the 4th Amendment "is the only fact that matters." Well sure, it matters, but the question is whether it's "absolute" (to use Mike M.'s site's terminology). As a commentor over at Cold Fury notes,
Much to the chagrin of the ACLU, long standing Constitutional jurisprudence holds that the government is not always and everywhere required to obtain a warrant prior to conducting a search, seizure, or surveillance. Several exceptions exist. See, e.g., Wikipedia's 4th Amendment entry. When looking at the basis for these exceptions—primarily, the individual’s expectation of privacy as weighed against the public’s interest in safety—the monitoring of international phone calls and emails reasonably believed to be linked to terrorist activity is certainly a constitutionally permissible exception to the warrant requirement.
Under the ECHELON program, the NSA and certain foreign intelligence agencies throw an extremely wide net over virtually all electronic communications world-wide. There are no warrants. No probable cause requirements. No FISA court. And information is intercepted that is communicated solely between U.S. citizens within the U.S., which may not be the purpose of the program but, nonetheless, is a consequence of the program. ECHELON has been around for some time. The media and members of Congress didn't accuse Bill Clinton, under whose administration the program apparently moved into full swing, of "domestic spying" or violating the Constitution. Is ECHELON constitutional? Congress hasn't defunded it. So, it seems to me this entire current debate, unleashed by the New York Times last week, about expanding the NSA's eavesdropping authority (exactly what is expanded and how, we still aren't certain) is, well, disconnected from reality.
Elsewhere, the Scourge of the DE blogosphere refuses to answer a simple question: if "great American presidential icons" violated the Constitution much more severely (Lincoln himself declaring habeas corpus suspended unilaterally, and FDR rounding up Japanese-Americans into internment camps), how is merely monitoring communications (with some sort of foreign connection) in a [new type of] war some "egregious" violation of said Constitution? For the Scourge, the answer is simple: because George Bush is doing it, that's why. He also conveniently uses the excellent vision of hindsight to declare Lincoln's and FDR's actions as "necessary."
Maybe when a nuke goes off in Battery Park he'll change his mind. Scratch that -- he'll be too busy screaming "impeachment" for failing to thwart the terrorists who set off the bomb.
No, not really. Yet. But something like that is inevitable, you just know it. So far, it's just this:
On the streets of Gaza City, some masked Palestinians from the Popular Resistance Committees militant group fired into the air and handed out pastries to passing motorists in apparent celebration of the Israeli leader's ill health. Some made "V" for victory signs with their hands.
It wouldn't surprise me if Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, claims that "Sharon's stroke is about as severe as the Holocaust -- in other words, it didn't happen."
Lots of stuff going on today. Perhaps the worst is that the TV in my computer room no longer works -- ARRRRGH!! How can I grab quick headlines and happenings (not to mention ESPN Sportscenter's "Not Top 10")? But Gret (the wife) says there's a sale on flatscreens for $80 somewhere, so she may be out to nab one later today.
Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.
However, what all the inevitable reactionary screamers are ignoring (at present) are these tidbits:
-- the administration had briefed Congressional leaders about the program and notified the judge in charge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret Washington court that deals with national security issues.
-- Mark Levin ("The Great One") notes that
"It's also clear from the Times piece that [Senator Jay] Rockefeller knew about the government's eavesdropping, as did the FISA court. By the time this story is fully fleshed out, we'll learn that many others knew about it, too. To the best of my knowledge, Rockefeller didn't take any steps to stop the eavesdropping."
-- Cold Fury (whose analysis is excellent) notes:
"Generally, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requires a warrant for the monitoring of U.S. persons on U.S. soil, but does not necessarily require a warrant for monitoring agents of foreign powers in similar circumstances. Keep in mind, this is intelligence monitoring, not wiretapping the phones of your local mafia hoodlums.
According to 50 U.S.C. 1801, the definitions section of FISA, an agent of a foreign power is:
b(1) any person other than a United States person, who—. . .
acts for or on behalf of a foreign power which engages in clandestine intelligence activities in the United States
(b)(2) any person who. . .knowingly engages in sabotage or international terrorism, or activities that are in preparation therefor, for or on behalf of a foreign power. . . [or who] knowingly aids or abets any person in the conduct of activities described [herein]. (Emphasis mine.)
-- Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy says
"While the statutory privacy laws have an exception for this type of monitoring, see 18 U.S.C. 2511(f), and the constitutional limits on e-mail surveillance are uncertain even in traditional criminal cases, the constitutionality of warrantless interception of telephone calls in situations like this is really murky stuff."
Mike at Down With Absolutes believes the president is most definitely wrong (not a surprise) regarding the NY Times story, but also thinks any comparison between this issue and Valerie Plame doesn't cut it. He says
"I’m fine with a rogue agent leaking classified info about secret operations that could questionably be interfering with American civil liberties. I love a good whistleblower. However, that’s not what Scooter Libby and Rove did to Plame, so the equivalence argument is hardly acceptable."
"Questionably"? Wow. Mike also brings up a Ben Franklin quote about those choosing between security and liberty...I always love it when liberals resort to quoting the FFs. It happens so rarely, because these are the same folks who believe in a "living" Constitution ... that things have "changed" much since the Founding. And, y'know, that "dreadful" infringement of "civil liberties" by [possibly] having communications monitored by a government agency looking for possible terrorist connections. Meanwhile, liberals in big cities laugh at federal law on immigration by offering "safe havens" to undocumented residents (or whatever the term du jour is), and eminent domain -- another Founding principle -- was dismantled by the liberal bloc on the Supreme Court.
As for Plame, come ON, Mike. A leak that could potentially affect national security vs. a leak designed to challenge the assertions of an official who made a report that was vigorously anti-administration (and erroneous in many respects)? No comparison.
One thing I suppose I can agree with Dana Garrett on is that talk radio mouth Mike Gallagher is a complete idiot. He was just on Fox News with [leftist] commentator/author David Corn, and he just called Corn "anti-American."
Just like epithets of "racist," etc., this is utterly ridiculous and only serves to avoid debate.
... this is California, after all. Out-of-State Students Sue Over Tuition is a LA Times headline which details how out-of-state CA college students are suing the system because they have to pay more -- a lot more -- in tuition than -- ready? -- illegal immigrants.
The suit, filed in Yolo County Superior Court, challenges practices based on 2001 state legislation that allows certain undocumented immigrants to pay the same charges for college as other California students. California is one of at least nine states that permit some undocumented immigrants to pay in-state fees, an issue that has drawn fire from advocates of tougher policies against illegal immigration. (Gee, 'ya think??)
Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said [Providing in-state fees for undocumented immigrants] "is something that rewards illegal immigration [and] encourages more people to violate the immigration law."
You might think that sounds like plain, old common sense, but unfortunately common sense is in short supply in politics today. (The same [counter] mindset believes illegal immigrants should be able to acquire driver's licenses, among other things.)
Those in favor of the status quo offer the following as their "argument":
John Trasvina, senior vice president for law and policy with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said the states providing similar tuition breaks to undocumented immigrants are "a real tremendous cross-section of the country. They range from California and Texas to Kansas and Utah…. It's rare to have a consensus of opinion among those states. They are very red and very blue states, but each state sees a benefit."
Oh, I see. Since others do it, it ain't illegal! ("He's doing it too! He's doing it too! How come you're going after me but not him!?")
Trasvina called the suit "a mean-spirited effort to deny undocumented students an education."
Now you just KNEW that "argument" was coming, didn't 'ya? Stay tuned for the "racist," "xenophobe" and "elitist" charges to follow soon.
You gotta check out the nutty Texas representative's recent comments in the House during an immigration debate:
In this legislation, are going to offer the old Berlin Wall, again separating the north from the south, separating us from our Canadian neighbors....
... the Berlin Wall. It kept people out, and it kept people in, and that is what we are saying about the largest gated community in the western hemisphere....
... Might I remind my friends that the Berlin Wall allowed people to jump out and to jump in.
This week's entry comes from an "old pal" -- Philip Bannowsky, who won the "award" I think twice back on my old "Hube's Cube" blog. Phil writes back on Dec. 11 that
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is honored each Dec. 10, Human Rights Day. I came to know this magnificent document in Beirut, Lebanon, where from 1992 to 1994 I taught high school English and U.S. legislative processes. The Lebanese national curriculum prescribed the study of Human Rights.He goes on to list several of the Declaration's articles. They all sound very nice, of course, and hard to argue with. Of course, Phil blasts the current administration for "abandoning" the US's commitment to human rights by backing the Patriot Act, and for not granting captured terror suspects full Geneva Convention protections. Curiously, Phil states "It was a challenge to convince my Arab students that America had not abandoned our commitment to human rights ..."
Phil: how was it a challenge to convince your Arab students about these items -- when you yourself claim you taught said students back in 1992-1994 -- almost a decade BEFORE the Patriot Act was enacted and the War on Terror began??
At any rate, I do not believe the Patriot Act is "abrogating" human rights. It is a fairly sound measure designed to deal with a new kind of war. And, the P.A. is very mild in comparison with past measures the United States has instituted in times of wars past. Did you explain that to your Arab students (ten years ago), Phil? And why did the Geneva Convention(s) specifically delineate differences between prisoners of war ... and unlawful combatants? Did you explain that to your Arab students (ten years ago)?
Rush Limbaugh criticizes Philly Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb as "'overrated' because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed" -- and the NAACP was all over him like a flies on fecal matter.
Now, head of the Philly NAACP J. Whyatt Mondesire has written that McNabb "'played the race card' in explaining why he no longer runs the ball," and that he "failed as a team leader and choked in the Super Bowl." He also claimed
McNabb's tendency to run the ball early in his career "not only confused defenses, it also thrilled Eagles fans," but that abandoning that element "by claiming that 'everybody expects black quarterbacks to scramble' not only amounts to a breach of faith but also belittles the real struggles of black athletes who've had to overcome real racial stereotypcasting in addition to downright segregation."
Riiiiight. Who was it that said recently that the civil rights era is officially over? Oh yeah, it was here.
Mondesire publishes his own paper, the Philadelphia Sunday Sun, and he says his comments reflect his own view, not that of the Philly NAACP. Which is fine, of course, except that it wasn't fine for Limbaugh when it came to the NAACP -- and Mondesire's words are arguably much more harsh.
Will we see the NAACP come out and blast Mondesire? Call on him to relinquish his post as local chapter president? Don't hold your breath, people.
McNabb, in reply, ripped Mondesire:
"Obviously, if it's someone else who is not African American, it's racism. But when someone of the same race talks about you because you're selling out because you're not running the ball, it goes back to, 'What are we really talking about here?'
"If you talk about my play, that's one thing. When you talk about my race, now we've got problems. If you're trying to make a name off my name, again, I hope your closet is clean because something is going to come out about you ... I always thought the NAACP supported African Americans and didn't talk bad about them. Now you learn a little bit more."
Well, the NAACP should "talk bad" about African-Americans when they deserve it. But c'mon -- Donovan McNabb??? Puh-lease.
The Barrett Report, that is.
David Barrett was assigned the duty of looking into whether former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros committed tax fraud in trying to cover up payments to a former mistress.
Yet, as published reports have indicated, he soon discovered that he was onto something much bigger. He found unsettling evidence that Justice Department officials were actively interfering with the probe and even conducting surveillance of Barrett and his office. Worse, there were indications that Team Clinton was using key players at the IRS and Justice to harass, frighten and threaten people who somehow got in the former president's way.
By all accounts, the 400-page Barrett report is a bombshell, capable possibly of wiping out Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential prospects. At the very least, it would bring to public attention a scandal that would make the Valerie Plame affair vanish into comical insignificance.
Democrats know this. Using provisions in the independent-counsel statute that permit people named in a report to review the allegations against them and file rebuttals, attorneys close to the Clintons have spent the better part of five years reviewing every jot and tittle of the charges arrayed against their clients and friends.
This careful and continuous monitoring of the report explains why Sens. Byron Dorgan, Dick Durbin and John Kerry took the highly unusual step earlier this year of trying to slip into an Iraq-war spending bill an amendment to suppress every word of the Barrett report. (Every other independent counsel finding has been printed in its entirety, with the exception of small sections containing classified material.)
The article's author, Tony Snow, says "no wonder people call [Republicans] the 'Stupid Party'" for not demanding this report be made public.
The mere headline says it: Looking for their share of the work -- Wilmington awards only 3.3% of contracts to businesses owned by women, minorities.
City government is falling well short of its goals for awarding contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses, targets established a decade ago after forced minority participation in government contracts was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In response to the court's decision, Wilmington officials created the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program, spearheaded by Mayor James M. Baker -- at the time Wilmington's first black City Council president.
The program requires vendors who do business with the city to seek minority subcontractors -- but there are exemptions if a company proves it can handle the project on its own or that it made a good-faith effort to hire minority- or women-owned subcontractors. (Emphasis mine.)
Hmm, I'm no lawyer, but if forced minority government contracts are unconstitutional, how can the Wilmington city government require vendors to seek minority subcontractors? Or, is the key word "seek? I suppose a vendor can show he "sought" minority subcontractors (since "seeking" isn't the same as having to hire someone), but what would the repercussions be if the city claimed that the vendor didn't "seek" good enough?
But that's beside the point of the headline. The News Journal is already easy enough a target for its nonsense. Just read the whole article.
... so much so they want to name a friggin' stadium after -- wait for it -- just-executed multiple killer Tookie Williams!! Well, a [liberal] Christian group does, at least. Shay over at Booker Rising rips the morally confused Eurotrash:
The Green Party in Graz, Austria (Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's hometown) is filing a petition to remove his name from the city's sports stadium. A liberal Christian group wanted it renamed the "Stanley Tookie Williams Stadium." Of course, the French Socialist Party weighed in (with an inaccurate account of how long Tookie had been on death row). "Schwarzenegger has a lot of muscles, but apparently not much heart," said the French Socialist Party's spokesman. In Italy, the country's chapter of Amnesty International called the execution "a cold-blooded murder." Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni said the city would keep Williams in its memory the next time it bathes the Coloseum in golden light when a death sentence is commuted somewhere in the world or a country abolishes capital punishment.
Of course, Europe's white liberals conveniently forget the four Asian and white people whom Williams murdered in cold blood (here are the post-mortem photos...warning: they are graphic). The thousands of black folks who were killed by the gang that Tookie Williams co-founded back in the day. Let's not forget the hundreds of thousands of black folks held hostage in their communities, in Los Angeles alone. Where is your heart for these multicultural victims? Are you gonna keep them in your memory? Have you no shame?
You white liberals wanna move there from your virtually lily-white countries? I thought not.
The Austrian Greens also wanted Ahnuld stripped of his Austrian citizenship, but that was denied by the chancellor.
Elsewhere on the Tookie front -- and you just know this had to happen -- camera hound and racial huckster Jesse Jackson had the utter temerity to compare Tookie Williams to ... Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X!! As one commenter noted:
It's official. The civil rights era is over. Jackson and the rest of the civil rights establishment (NAACP in particular) have devolved into parodies of themselves trying to glom onto any issue that attracts public attention in search of finding a constituency.
Be sure to check out this post by Greg over at Rhymes with Right.
Katrina myths die hard. Indeed.
48% of the 562 victims of Hurricane Katrina were black. 41% were white. Since more than 67% of New Orleans' residents are black -- and less than 28% are white -- this means, according to statistics, that whites were disproportionately affected by the killer storm.
Still, the whole deal was a "race issue." As in "anti-black."
I got this idea from two sources: First is the recent E! channel's "Top 101 SNL Moments" that's been rerunned to death the last few days, and second, La Shawn Barber brought up a classic Eddie Murphy bit from his stint on the show back in the 80s.
My five faves (in no particular order, save the first one):
1. "James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub," starring Eddie Murphy. If you're not screaming by the end, the hilarious still of Brown and "special guest" Dr. Joyce Brothers will do it;
2. "Blue Oyster Cult: Behind the Music," featuring Will Ferrell on the cowbell (see to the right of Colossus' main page) and Christopher Walken as music guru Bruce Dickinson. Walken's classic "I got a fever ..." line and Jimmy Fallon's laughing out loud during virtually the entire skit will kill you;
3. "Jesse Jackson and Sammy Davis Jr. opener" featuring Billy Crystal as Sammy. Jackson was hosting, and he was one of the best non-actor hosts of all time. His line to Davis (Crystal) "You're a Christian, you're a Jew, you're black, you're white ... you got that 'eye' thing..." is killer;
4. "Sinatra and Wonder," with Joe Piscopo as Frank Sinatra and Eddie Murphy as Stevie Wonder. They sing a hilarious rendition of "Ebony and Ivory" that'll leave you gasping for air. Murphy sings "I am black, and you are white," then Piscopo chimes in with "You are blind as a bat while I have sight...";
5. "Restaurant Enterprise," where William Shatner hosts and the USS Enterprise has been turned into a restaurant. McCoy (Phil Hartman) and Spock (Kevin Nealon) are waiters, but the skit is made by Dana Carvey who comes out as Kirk arch-enemy Khan. His Ricardo Montalban accent will drive you to hysterics!
I know I'm probably forgetting some that could potentially make this list, but that aside, what are your favorites?
Israel readies forces for strike on nuclear Iran is the headline.
ISRAEL’S armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.
The order came after Israeli intelligence warned the government that Iran was operating enrichment facilities, believed to be small and concealed in civilian locations.
There are those who believe that a nuclear Iran is no big deal, that they have as much right as anyone else to develop not only nuclear power, but weapons too. Of course, then again, they have a president who has said Israel is a "disgraceful blot" that should be "wiped off the map," and "anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury."
Yeah, I know, c'mon Rhodey -- he didn't really mean it! Did he?
Hey, maybe the UN will help Israel on this, eh? Then again, a recent UN conference -- commemorating "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People" -- featured the Palestinian flag on one side, and the UN flag on the other. What's that? On the side of what? Oh -- just this -- a map of "Palestine," UN member state Israel nowhere to be seen on it.
UPDATE (12/13 at 4:44pm): Well this sure won't help: Iran leader reiterates Holocaust doubts.
Randall Chiu writes an op-ed today in the Colorado Daily.com about a recent "panel" at Colorado University that discussed the premise of "white privilege." He notes:
Take, as an example, one of the most significant “privileges” the panel claimed was afforded white people: the “privilege” of not being asked for the “white opinion.” Minorities, the argument goes, are often forced to give “the minority opinion.” Thus, individuals are often made to feel as though they are pressured into speaking for all minorities.
White people, on the other hand, are never asked for “the white opinion.” They are never asked to speak for all white people. This is, to the members of the panel, a privilege.
This is why the racialist Left "succeeds" in their quest of labeling just about anything they wish "racist" and/or "white privilege." Their logic is so contorted and convoluted that it ends up hilariously contradicting itself time and time again. Let's take a look-see here ...
Just consider the above for a moment: The "fact" that minorities are asked for their "viewpoint" -- that they're supposed to "represent" their group as a whole -- is the direct result of these very same academic leftists' policies and viewpoints! We are TOLD by the Left (or, it should be assumed) that blacks, for example (or, "authentic" blacks) all share the same political philosophy, and those who deviate from this philosophy are "race traitors," "Uncle Toms" or the less severe "not authentically black." Given this then, what is then WRONG with querying blacks for the "minority opinion"? How is this "pressure" -- and an example of white privilege -- if these very same people state that "authentic" blacks all have the same viewpoint?
In addition, much of the whole diversity philosophy in education is to bring in "diverse viewpoints"! Minorities are SUPPOSED to "represent" just what the above panel is lamenting!!
Unbelievable. Yet another reason why you should take what the diversiphiles and racialist Left say with less than a grain of salt.
UPDATE: To further exemplify this very notion, John Rosenberg notes how the EEOC "has posted a letter suggesting that employers who advertise job openings online may be violating federal anti-discrimination laws":
Another possible source of violations of the antibias laws might be an employer's use of an Internet-based hiring process to collect information about job seekers that would facilitate discrimination against them. For example, the letter says, some employers might require would-be employees to complete an online "Voluntary EEOC Questionnaire" that solicits personal information on race, gender, and national origin.
To which John retorts: "Let me see if I've got this right. The EEOC is worried that employers collecting race, ethnic, or gender data on prospective employees might violate civil rights laws. But Ward Connerly, who advocated a ban on the state collecting such data, was called a racist for his effort.
Hmm. That must be because only private employers discriminate. The state is always beneficent.
It is indeed laughable. Sad, yet laughable.
Northeast Philly George Washington High School principal Alan Liebowitz said "It's vindication for the school," referring to a clerical error that landed his school on Pennsylvania's "persistently dangerous" school list. In addition, Harris Lewin, regional superintendent said "I'm hoping the Department of Education sees the light and helps us restore Washington High's good name."
Vindication? "Good name"? Let's see:
They thought that the federal law and the state's criteria in applying it were unfair and that their school, which had just barely made the cutoff with 20 serious incidents and arrests, in no way should be considered dangerous. (Emphasis mine.)
Gee, I feel soooo much better! That clerical error made the school what -- "merely dangerous" instead of "persistently dangerous"? And it's not like Washington doesn't have history:
In September 2003, Washington High was among 27 Philadelphia schools on a list of 52 "persistently dangerous" schools in six states released in compliance with a federal law mandating accountability to parents.
... so why do people want to enter law enforcement?
Earlier I blogged about the inevitable coming hysteria (some tongue-in-cheek) associated with the shooting of a man air marshals (on a Miami-bound flight) claimed had said he had a bomb. It wasn't that difficult to predict, really -- about as tough as forseeing the entire hour's plot of "Beverly Hills 90210" after viewing only the first five minutes.
From today's Fox News.com:
Family members of a man who was shot dead by air marshals in Miami after allegedly announcing he had a bomb demanded an explanation of the killing from U.S. authorities Friday.
These are the family members still living in Costa Rica, where I have many ties, by the way. Nevertheless, it seems to me the explanation has been given: the air marshals have stated that Rigoberto Alpizar said he had a bomb, refused to follow the air marshals' commands, and began reaching into his backpack after said refusal.
"I can't understand why U.S. authorities killed my son in this way. He was not a terrorist," Carlos Alpizar, the 72-year old father of Rigoberto. "Rigoberto loved everything about his second country," he said "And look, they killed him like a dog."
Answer one: It's irrelevant that he wasn't a terrorist. When you act the way Rigoberto did and refuse to comply with air marshals' requests, you're taking your life in your hands.
Answer two: No, they didn't kill him like "a dog." They killed a human being, unfortunately, who did not comply with federal air marshals' requests after acting threateningly and erratically.
Alpizar's brother, named Carlos Alpizar like his father, said the shooting was unjustifiable. "They say he was carrying a bomb, but Rigoberto and his wife had passed the security zone, they were checked thoroughly and still they killed him," he said.
"Unjustifiable"? Because he passed security? As if that is a foolproof detection system? Hardly.
[Rigoberto's wife Anne] Buechner told witnesses and police that Rigoberto suffered from bipolar mental disorder and was off his medication when he became agitated and began running through the aisles of a commercial airliner that was about to depart from Miami to Orlando on Wednesday.
Oh! He was bipolar and off his medication?? And whose fault is that? Rigoberto's? The wife's -- for not making sure Rigo had taken it, especially on a flight?
However on Thursday, another brother Rolando Alpizar told Costa Rican Channel 7 television that family members were not aware that his brother had any mental problems and he described Rigoberto as "a very honest, very hardworking, responsible person."
Better talk to the wife, then, Rolando. And being a "very honest, very hardworking, responsible person," again, is completely irrelevant to what transpired.
President Abel Pacheco, who is a psychiatrist, told radio station Nuestra Voz on Thursday that he would seek an investigation into the matter. He remarked that people in the United States "are living in a state of collective hysteria and if the police say, 'Get down,' you get down."
Hey Abel -- let's see what would happen if downtown San José was hit by two (actually, make that three) jetliners, commandeered by terrorists who wanted to annihilate Costa Rica. And, consider the fact that those terrorists got onto the planes in Costa Rica. (Side note: Israelis and Israeli airport security must REALLY be in a state of collective hysteria, eh?) And I'm sure there are many Costa Ricans that believe the US has rightly jacked-up airport security after the 9/11 attacks, so "Nuestra Voz" ("Our Voice") is a misnomer.
Coming soon to theatres: Steven Spielberg's "Munich," which details the Israeli Mossad hit team that offed the terrorists ("Black September", a PLO assassination team) responsible for the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, Germany.
For [perhaps] a preview, go and rent the very good (made for TV production) "Sword of Gideon" from 1986. It stars Steven Bauer, better known as Manny, Al Pacino's best bud from "Scarface." I caught this film many years ago and was intrigued. It did a nice job covering the gamut of emotions of the Mossad agents, from severe vengeance to prodigious doubts about their actions. (I wonder if a movie will be ever be made where we see Palestinian terrorists expressing doubts about killing innocent men, women and children, eh?)
UPDATE (12/12 at 8:39pm): Tel-Chai Nation has much more, including a controversy surrounding the film's scriptwriter.
A case of "reverse" political correctness: Spanish at school translates to suspension.
"It was, like, totally not in the classroom," the high school junior said, recalling the infraction. "We were in the, like, hall or whatever, on restroom break. This kid I know, he's like, 'Me prestas un dolar?' ['Will you lend me a dollar?'] Well, he asked in Spanish; it just seemed natural to answer that way. So I'm like, 'No problema.' "
But that conversation turned out to be a big problem for the staff at the Endeavor Alternative School, a small public high school in an ethnically mixed blue-collar neighborhood. A teacher who overheard the two boys sent Zach [Rubio] to the office, where Principal Jennifer Watts ordered him to call his father and leave the school.
If I was employed at that school, I'd have been suspended long ago. I'm always speaking Spanish to the [few] native speakers at my school, in and out of the classroom. Unfortunately, I sometimes encounter [fluent] Spanish speakers who are embarrassed to use their native tongue. I explain to them that being fully bilingual is a huge advantage, especially in this day and age. Hence, I agree 100% with Janet Murguia, national president of La Raza and quoted in the article, when she says "A fully bilingual young man like Zach Rubio should be considered an asset to the community."
The superintendent of the school district in question immediately rescinded Zach's suspension after his dad called to complain. As he damned well should. And Zach clearly knows the score:
"I know it would be, like, disruptive if I answered in Spanish in the classroom. I totally don't do that. But outside of class now, the teachers are like, 'Whatever.' "
Now, if Zach would only UNlearn the Southern Cal. Valley Girl dialect he picked up ...!
Conservative columnist Ann Coulter was booed and jeered at the University of Connecticut the other day, and hence cut her speech short. The telling line:
"We encourage diverse opinion at UConn, but this is blatant hate speech," said Eric Knudsen, a 19-year-old sophomore journalism and social welfare major who heads campus group Students Against Hate.
Translation: "We encourage diverse opinion at UConn, as long as the diversity agrees with what WE believe."
Recently-returned-to-blogging Al Mascitti, in today's Wilmington News Journal, details what happened to Rich Faucher's Christmas lawn decorations: They were totally destroyed.
Little wonder if this had happened to a display of any other religion, "hate crime" statutes would come into play ...
... if you notice more-than-usual posting by me lately, it's 'cause I have one helluva nasty-ass sinus infection. I have virtually no voice, and my nose feels like it weighs about five lbs. Hence, I've been home the last few days -- the first days I've missed this year.
I'm supposed to hit my first Philadelphia Flyers game of the season this Saturday, so I hope I'm feeling at least halfway like a human by then....!
Of course, if you didn't notice, that's certainly no surprise. We're under no illusions here that we're just a paltry speck in the blogoverse. ;-)
Breaking news: a 44 year old American was shot and killed by air marshals at Miami Airport earlier today:
A passenger who claimed to have a bomb in a carry-on bag was shot and killed by a federal air marshal Wednesday on a jetway connected to an American Airlines plane that had just arrived at Miami International Airport from Colombia, officials said.
Homeland Security spokesman Brian Doyle said after the plane had parked at the gate, a passenger indicated there was a bomb in the passenger's carryon bag. The passenger was confronted by air marshals but ran off the plane.
A team of air marshals pursued and ordered the passenger to get on the ground. The passenger did not comply and was shot when apparently reaching into a bag, Doyle said. He said this is the first time an air marshal has shot at a passenger or suspect.
I'm willing to bet one or more of the following will happen shortly:
And so on.
UPDATE (12/8 at 7:49am): Sadly, it appears the man in question was a manic-depressive who apparently forgot his medication. And, striking home for me, he was a naturalized US citizen from ... Costa Rica.
UPDATE 2 (7:52am): See? SEE? I was tongue-in-cheek, obviously, in my original commentary, but crap like this makes the truth stranger than fiction, I tell 'ya. So, I certainly won't be surprised in the least if my [fairly serious] first prediction holds water.
UPDATE 3 (8:05am): I TOLD you! Here's what's on America Online's "Welcome" screen right now:
UPDATE 4 (3:47pm): ABC News has a poll up asking the public if they believe the air marshals' action was justified.
MSNBC has this headline: Marshals defend Miami airport shooting; Officials say man claimed to have bomb; friends say he was a ‘nice guy.’
The NY Times includes the following bits: "An analysis this year by the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit group in Virginia, found that mentally ill people were four times more likely than members of the general public to be killed by the police." They also quote a widow who knew the man -- she called the shooting "a huge mistake."
(Cross-posted at La Shawn Barber's Corner.)
Jeff over at Think Sink has the funniest post about the "War on Christmas" I've seen yet! Starring: MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and famous atheist Michael Newdow.
Sorry that we overlooked this. About a week ago, Jokers to the Right "tagged" us. Following his instructions from here, we get this as our last sentence ('cause Felix doesn't have five sentences in his post):
In other words, forcing someone to be an unwilling participant in some social engineer's experiment instead of letting them decide what's best for their own kids.
We're not going to "tag" anyone ourselves; but if you're so inclined, it's kind of cool to follow the instructions as sort of a "travel back in [blog] time."
It's virtually a tie this time out. First, we have William Persinger of Wilmington whose letter is titled "Union busters and trade agreements ruined industry" and says
How ironic that some Americans are blaming current economic conditions in this country on labor unions. Unions have done more to raise the standard of living than any other labor movement.
Let's put the blame where it should be placed. Start with union buster Ronald Reagan. By lifting import quotas and taxes on imports of steel and autos, he sounded the death knell for these once strong American industries. Steel towns have become ghost towns. Cities built around the auto industry are in a state of decay.
Blame politicians for passing every free-trade agreement that comes down the pike. The only things free are jobs shipped out of this country!
Blame the millions of Americans who are pumping billions of dollars into Japan's economy.
As a retired auto worker, I say thanks to all of the above. Many of my colleagues will not have the opportunity to retire as planned.
Bill, what a shame. You started off making some sense (about unions once raising standards of living) but then quickly fell off a cliff. In your own field of endeavor, automaking, when Ronald Reagan came into office US automakers were putting out some of the worst pieces of crap ever to be set on four wheels. The average American consumer thanks Reagan for lifting those auto quotas so they could drive reliable (mostly Japanese) cars to work and vacation. I saw friends and family alike suffer from the lemons you put out (anyone remember the Plymouth Horizon? The GM Vega? Ford Torino? Just wanted to cover all the Big Three, to be fair). And what did the government have to do to save Chrysler's ass, Bill? Boy, how 'bout them K-Cars, huh?
To be sure, US carmakers did get their act together; they had to because they were getting their asses kicked by the Japanese. That's the nature of competition, Bill. By the tone of your letter, you'd rather have had the Japanese kept out of the US market so your fellow Americans would have no choice but to purchase your lemons. Yeah, that's mighty nice of 'ya, pal. I personally stayed away from US cars until about ten years ago, when I took a chance on a Dodge Stratus. Conveniently, a mere four months after the three-year warranty expired, the head gasket was shot. Head gaskets should normally live the normal life of the car it's in. Hence, when I took the car to the dealer he informed me he would "cut me a break." It turned out that it was more like corners that were cut. A few weeks after a supposed "new" gasket was installed, the problem resurfaced. This time, I was informed I'd have to pay the full $800+.
Seeya. I traded the damn thing in -- for a Nissan Altima.
Our next winner is C. Norman Boehm Jr. also of Wilmington. His letter is titled "Palestinians didn't have say in original Israeli partition" and he says:
I feel a responsibility to react to a Nov. 22 letter headlined "Historically, Palestinian territories never existed."
The West Bank of the Jordan River was assigned to Jordan to administer, and the Gaza Strip in Egypt. The Jewish portion was contiguous. However, the Arab portion was in three separate areas. The Jerusalem area was assigned a separate permanent trusteeship, making it the fifth area.
On May 15, 1948, the Israeli war of independence began when Arab armies invaded Palestine. Israel won a victory and secured its independence. The war was horrific. Jordan annexed the West Bank and Egypt the Gaza Strip. By the war's end, Israel had increased its controlled area from 44 percent to 77 percent.
Um, why exactly did the Arab armies invade, C? Why did Jordan annex the West Bank and Egypt Gaza -- instead of granting them to the Palestinians as originally planned?
The writer's statement that Palestinians refused this U.N. solution is misleading.
No, it's actually right on the money. According to the UN's own website on the issue, they state:
The Jewish Agency accepted the resolution despite its dissatisfaction over such matters as Jewish emigration from Europe and the territorial limits set on the proposed Jewish State. The Plan was not accepted by the Palestinian Arabs and Arab States, on the grounds that it violated the provisions of the United Nations Charter, which granted people the right to decide their own destiny.
Unfortunately for the Palestinians and surrounding Arab states, that "destiny" was attempting to obliterate the new Jewish state and then setting up some kind of state on their own terms.
Palestinians never had the opportunity to express their majority opinion on this issue. Although Palestinians were not involved in the 1948 war (they had no infrastructure or nationhood), they suffered the start of Israeli ethnic cleansing of Arabs from their historic homeland.
On 14 May 1948, the United Kingdom relinquished its Mandate over Palestine and disengaged its forces. On the same day, the Jewish Agency proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel on the territory allotted to it by the Partition Plan. Fierce hostilities immediately intensified between the Arab and Jewish communities. The next day, regular troops of the Arab States entered the territory to assist Palestinian Arabs.
The writer's statement that "Israel gained more land only by defending itself in a war of annihilation launched against it by the surrounding Arab states" is incorrect. Israel won the Six Day War of June 1967 and gained control of the Occupied Territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip). At the war's end, Israel had increased its controlled territory from the original U.N.-awarded 44 percent to 100 percent.
How did the letter writer C is addressing contradict himself? Just because Israel gained a lot of territory in the '67 Six Day War doesn't mean it wasn't defending itself against annihilation -- 'cause that's exactly what it was doing! And, as it has continued to do so since it was founded. When the one adjacent Arab nation that finally made peace with Israel (Egypt) -- surprise! -- it got its Sinai Peninsula back.
C must be getting his "facts" from someone we've seen around Colossus from time to time.
Folks, it just doesn't get much loonier than this (troll Jason's comments excepted, of course):
The debate over climate change evolved into a battle of the sexes Monday at the 11th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal. The spokesman for a feminist-based environmental group accused men of being the biggest contributors to human-caused "global warming" and lamented that women are bearing the brunt of the negative climate consequences created by men.
"Women and men are differently affected by climate change and they contribute differently to climate change," said Ulrike Rohr, director of the German-based group called "Genanet-Focal point gender, Environment, Sustainability."
Rohr, who is demanding "climate gender justice," left no doubt as to which gender she believes was the chief culprit in emitting greenhouse gasses.
Of course, this is just the usual academic theorist with-nothing-better-to-do-than-think-of-dopey-scenarios swill, but the UN is actually taking this seriously:
... the United Nations has already begun to take the issue of "global warming" -- and the roles men and women play in it -- seriously, according to the "Gender and Climate Change" website.
It is important for the U.N. "to integrate gender sensitivity into all mechanisms, policies and measures, and tools and guidelines within the climate debate," according to the website.
"In general, the Climate Change policy process tends to be driven by a masculine view of the problem and its solutions," the website explained.
The website calls for "a gender-sensitive criteria" for the Kyoto Protocol and for "global and national studies on the gender-differentiated impacts of global climate change, including a focus on gender differences in capabilities to cope with climate change adaptation, and mitigation are urgently required."
My God. This sounds like moron feminist college professors that ask students to do things like consider "feminine ways" of analyzing cell structure in biology class, or to consider the "hidden misogyny" in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (as noted in The Burden of Bad Ideas).
Somebody PLEASE find something for these people to DO -- PLEASE!!
Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean: the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong."
Regardless of your stance on the war, I bet the troops over there just love hearing this from the head of one of the two major parties.
Howard Dean. The Republican Party's best pal without even trying.
UPDATE (12/6 at 3:59pm): Dean (seen above) endorses the loons at Code Pink. (h/t Michelle Malkin.)
Capt. Ed has even more on Dean's lunacy.
"Suicide Threat Postpones Hearing" is a headline at ABCNews.com:
A hearing that could have meant a return behind bars for Lionel Tate, once the youngest person in modern U.S. history sentenced to life in prison, was postponed Monday because he sent a letter to a judge threatening to kill himself.
Tate, convicted at age 13 of killing a 6-year-old girl, was examined during the weekend by a psychologist whose findings will be presented at a competency hearing on Dec. 19. Broward County Circuit Judge Joel T. Lazarus, who said he received the letter Friday, decided to wait for that finding before deciding whether to revoke Tate's probation.
Tate, now 18, faces a possible return to prison for life if Lazarus finds he violated his probation. He was arrested in May on charges that he robbed a pizza delivery man at gunpoint.
Does anyone out there, um, really care if Tate follows through with his threat?
To many juvenile justice experts, Tate is a symbol of the difficulty that the justice system has dealing with children who commit serious crimes.
Florida and dozens of other states have laws permitting them to try children accused of serious crimes as adults, punishing them rather than seeking to rehabilitate them.
Careful of them "experts," y'all. And if someone murders somebody else, I don't want them "rehabilitated." They've forfeited their right to any sort of freedom. They should be punished. If serving time is seen as too "harsh" for criminals under 18 years of age, try asking their victims if it was "harsh" what was done to them. Oh, that's right -- you can't. They're dead.
A letter sent to Jay Nordlinger:
My mother is a kindergarten teacher. Her class is drawn from a comparatively lower-income neighborhood. After Thanksgiving, she put out the Christmas books (i.e., Night Before Christmas, plus various other "Happy Holidays"-type stuff for diversity's sake). Yesterday, child comes up to her. "Teacher, there's a bad word in the new books." Puzzled, Mom goes to check them out. The bad word he points to? It's Santa Claus, saying "Ho, ho, ho."
So, there you go — jolly ol' Saint Nick's famous phrase, courtesy of gangsta rap, is now an epithet.
How much should civilization weep for a five-year-old who reads the word "ho" and thinks "whore" instead of "Santa"???
At least a little, I'd say.
UPDATE (3:10pm): It's come to our attention that the scourge of the Delaware blogosphere has posted on his "blog" that we are perpetuating an urban legend here. Of course, this schnook offers no proof of such; this isn't surprising since the cretin rarely, if ever, does. (He also lies a lot, too; in this case he says we "persistently" post such urban legends like the [supposed] above. Whaaa...?) Nevertheless, even though any such proof (should it be made available) should be directed to Mr. Nordlinger from whom we got the anecdote, we'll still be happy to note the error here prominently on this post.
UPDATE 2 (5:01pm): It's come to our attention further that the schnook has NO proof that the letter to Nordlinger is an urban legend. But, it "has all the marks of one." C'mahn -- can't we just take his word for it??
Heather MacDonald is one of my favorite writers. Her book The Burden of Bad Ideas is a must read, especially for big government liberals (although it'll just tick them off). An article of hers from earlier this year would have fit well in Burden -- she rips Newsweek's Steven Levy for complaining about the dearth of minority bloggers:
Rebecca MacKinnon, writing about the conference as it happened, got a response on the "comments" space of her blog from someone concerned that if the voices of bloggers overwhelm those of traditional media, "we will throw out some of the best ... journalism of the 21st century." The comment was from Keith Jenkins, an African-American blogger who is also an editor at The Washington Post Magazine [a sister publication of NEWSWEEK]. "It has taken 'mainstream media' a very long time to get to [the] point of inclusion," Jenkins wrote. "My fear is that the overwhelmingly white and male American blogosphere ... will return us to a day where the dialogue about issues was a predominantly white-only one."
MacDonald says in retort: "For Levy to have mentioned the web at this moment is about as smart as inviting Stephen Hawking to an astrologers' convention: The web demolishes the assumptions behind any possible quota crusade."
Indeed! What real barriers are there on the web for minorities? The answer is "none" other than one's own lack of technical knowledge about computers and/or a tad of HTML. As Heather says,
For allegedly discriminated-against minority and female writers, the web is just [that] heaven. They can get their product directly out to readers with no bigoted editors to turn them away. As Steven Levy himself conceded in a column last December, there are virtually no start-up costs to launching a weblog: "All you need," he explained, "is some cheap software tools and something to say."
"Cheap" indeed. So cheap as to be free. Take Blogger, for instance. It's totally gratis. The interface (much like the Movable Type we use here at Colossus) is akin to that of a standard word processor (like Microsoft Word). Kids -- minorities included -- get taught word processing in grade school these days.
But, diversity gurus don't care about rational and logical explanations, though. They just care about "aggregate" numbers. It's the 'ol proportionate representation argument, which, when it comes down to it, isn't really an "argument" at all. And, of course, guys like Levy would never willingly give up their own position to a minority to make any proportion "right" now, would he? At any rate, here's Levy's initial "solution" to the blogger diversity "problem": "... as an initial matter, [that] the power-bloggers voluntarily link to some as yet unspecified number of non-male, non-white writers." But why should they, especially if the minority sites' views are not shared by the "power-bloggers"? Besides the fact that two (off the top of my head) of the "power-bloggers" (top 20) in the conservative blog realm are minority women (Michelle Malkin and La Shawn Barber), consider this: according to these same "diversity gurus," minorities aren't supposed to hold conservative views anyway -- they aren't "authentic" minorities. We've been told that time and time again. Just look at minority leftist vitriol directed at conservative minorities such as Clarence Thomas, Condi Rice and most recently Maryland senate candidate Michael Steele.
So, Malkin and Barber wouldn't "count" as legitimate "voluntary" links by conservative bloggers. (Malkin, being Asian, especially wouldn't count as Asians never seem to count as "legitimate" minorities to the diversity bean counters -- they do too well in academics and business, hence don't fit the model of a group who's "oppressed.") Thus, Levy's proposal would entail power-bloggers linking to "legitimate" minority blogs, i.e. minority blogs which represent "authentic" minority (in other words, left/liberal) voices. So, when MacDonald states that
The history of 'voluntary' affirmative action efforts need not be rehearsed here; suffice it to say, once 'voluntary' race- and gender-conscious policies are proposed, mandates are not far behind.
But even Levy's "voluntary" regime calls out for regulation. How will the diversity-minded linker know the "identity" of a potential linkee? To be workable, a diversity-linkage program needs some sort of gatekeeper — precisely what the web has heretofore lacked. One can imagine something like a federal Digital Diversity Agency that would assign a diversity tattoo to each blog: a lavender pig, for example, signifying a white male blogger with an alternative sexual orientation. A mismatch between the diversity tattoo on a site and its content could trigger a federal audit to track down identity fraud. Let's say an allegedly black female site (tattooed with a black halo) canvassed technologies for sending humans to Mars. Regulators might find such content highly suspicious, since everyone knows that black females are supposed to write about black females
she's right on the money.
And don't count on the First Amendment to protect you, bloggers. Keep in mind that many diversity bean counters ascribe to the doctrine of "critical race theory," which deems free speech as just a "white male device" to keep on "oppressing" minorities.
More: see how silly it all can get.
Ever wonder why teachers complain about working conditions? Why they complain about poor parenting? Case in point: Joanne Jacobs details where a mom had the teacher charged with assault -- because a teacher dared lay a hand on her "angel" when the kiddie tried to leave class without permission. Mom has a record of this kind of stuff -- she did the same thing to her son's elementary art teacher. Nice.
In a different vein, Darren notes how a lesbian high schooler is suing her school -- because they informed her parents that she was making out with her girlfriend in the school hallways. The school may face legal hassles for suspending the girl for her "activity" -- they don't seem to have suspended heterosexual couples who were swapping spit -- but let's face it, the girl, Charlene Nguon, has no case for her supposed violation of privacy. Making out in public school hallways sort of precludes any privacy "right" one may want invoke, don't'cha think?
Back to Joanne Jacobs, she also reveals how our lovely lawyers are filing a class action suit against soda makers -- for selling sugared sodas in school vending machines.
The suit's legal basis will be tied to the concept of ''attractive nuisance: If somebody has something on his land like a swimming pool that he knows is attractive to kids and dangerous, then he has some obligation to keep the kids away from it," (lawyer Richard) Daynard said. ''You want to keep kids away from dangerous objects, and a soda machine is demonstrated to be a dangerous object for kids."
I could see that if these machines had a history of toppling down on kids, but soda? Now a "dangerous product"? I love this line, too: "[Lawyer Richard] Daynard said the challenge is finding the right set of parents to sign on as plaintiffs for the class-action case."
Yeah -- parents like the mom in the first anecdote on this post.
Elsewhere, US News and World Report's John Leo now has his own blog (to which we've linked, by the way) and he opines on the matter of a Catholic school that fired a pregnant teacher. That's not all -- she's not married. He notes:
An unmarried pregnant teacher, dealing with impressionable 4- or 5-year-olds, is inevitably a role model, here presenting a message clearly contrary to the one the church wants to send. Besides, when she was hired, she accepted the requirements of the teachers' personnel handbook, which says: "A teacher is required to convey the teachings of the Catholic faith by his or her words or actions, demonstrating an acceptance of Gospel values and the Christian tradition."
It may sound harsh, but legally the Church appears on solid ground. Not surprisingly, the ACLU is on the case -- for the teacher. The supposed "guardians of the 1st Amendment" don't want to allow a private entity (the Church) its right to free association! But who ever said the ACLU made sense?
Next, one of our favorite education writers, the inimitable Professor Plum (who rarely, if ever, minces words when it comes to "perfessers" of education) shows how tried and true direct instruction teaching methods are proven to be best when it comes to boosting student achievement.
The Independent Conservative has a post up that discusses, among other things, why it's hard to get good teachers to remain in poor socio-economic schools. The obvious: the constant stress of dealing with perpetual discipline problems and awful parents becomes overwhelming.
And lastly (h/t to John Ray):
UPDATE (9:32am): Todd Zywicki has more on the soda maker class action suit. Be sure to check out the vast comment section.
First, be sure to check out my latest post over at La Shawn Barber's Corner, natch!
Hmm, y'think if you worked for an auto maker, the last they'd do is discourage you from driving to work!
Sensitivity override -- again -- dept.:
The Subway restaurant chain has apologized to any Kansans who were offended by a sign that took a playful jab at the Sunflower State. In early October, Topeka residents Joe and Karen Davis stopped at a Subway in Reedsport, Ore., where they saw a sign promoting a salmon sandwich. It read: "Another reason you're lucky not to live in Kansas."
When the Davises returned home, they e-mailed Subway and asked for an explanation and apology.
Speaking of "sensitivity," good 'ol Mike M. at Down With Absolutes has something to say to those who feel Christmas is "under attack."
A 2-year-old boy was removed from his family and his mother could face charges after the child handed his daycare teacher two packets of crack cocaine, and a search of his jacket pocket turned up nine more, police said.
The boy's mother was taken in for questioning when she came to pick him up at the end of the day Friday. Police said she could be charged with endangering the welfare of children.
Could be? COULD BE??
"It's just outrageous," said Gary Miller, a volunteer at Berkeley's Revolution Books, as he leafleted the authors' event on campus. "A lot of people look with a great deal of affection at the Mao years because China's been turned into one giant sweatshop."
As opposed to ... one giant gulag?
Here's another good one:
Tom Gold, associate dean of international and area studies at UC Berkeley, said he visited China on a guided tour in 1975 and was impressed. "You can't just say it was one evil person," he said in a phone interview. "What Mao did was tap into some sort of psychology. You cannot get away from saying that Mao tapped into something."
Yeah. Hitler "tapped into something," too y'know.
Raymond Lotta, a Chicago-based Maoist political economist and author said "I think it's part of a continuing attempt to discredit communism and Maoism and any alternative to the current world order."
"Continuing attempt"? Dude, the attempt was already made -- and succeeded. Wake up and smell the mudans.
"Research says that punishing kids doesn't teach them the right way to act." So says George Sugai, who teaches school discipline at UConn's Neag School of Education.
Don't know 'bout you all, but my folks punishing me sure taught me how to act properly!
The "Get My Name In Lights For A Cause" Left has yet another (or should I say "continuing"?) shindig: "We All Have AIDS Now." (Link will open video.)
I don't know about you, but I don't have AIDS. Nobody I know has the disease, for that matter. Worldwide, less than 1% have it. So, what's the deal? Oh, I get it -- it's a gimmick that really means "We're all in this together." But here's the rub: AIDS is a disease that's behavior driven. In the vast majority of cases, you must practice some risky behavior to become infected -- the usual culprits being unsafe sex and intravenous drug use.
Now, I certainly don't believe in a death sentence for someone who just happened to get "caught up in the moment" and had unprotected sex ... and then got HIV. But the causes of HIV transmission are well known. If one plays Russian Roulette, for whom am I supposed to feel more sorry -- the dude who "tested the chamber" or the person who found out he has leukemia (through no fault of his own)?
I still recall when "Magic" Johnson discovered he had HIV, and he was later present at a White House function where he told President Bush the Father that Bush "needed to do more" to fight AIDS. Yeah -- Magic Johnson, who admitted to having sex with countless women (obviously at least some unprotected) ... but President Bush had to "do more." More what? Tell you many MORE times that you should wear a condom on your johnson, Mr. Johnson?
World Aids Day. I wonder if the Hollywood bigwigs will all appear at World Leukemia Day. Or World Prostate Cancer Day. Etc. Y'know, those diseases for which people do nothing to contract?