Check out the top right picture on this Wilmington News Journal op-ed today. It might not be the same by the time you may read this post, so just in case click on the larger-than-thumbnail screen capture below for a full-sized view, which provides the "clue":
Jea Street is an egotistical blowhard 98% of the time; however, his concerns are right on the money in this case:
New Castle County Councilman Jea P. Street wants the county to withhold millions of dollars promised to Wilmington until the city cleans up crime.
Making the threat during two public meetings last week, Street said shootings, homicides and drug deals have gotten so bad in the city that someone needs to declare a state of emergency.
"I'm so mad about this I can't see," he said. "The criminals are running the city of Wilmington. The police can't even protect the mayor, and they sure as hell ain't protecting me."
I'm not sure withholding dollars is the best strategy, but certainly something has to be done. Fellow Councilman Penrose Hollins agrees, but then makes a comparison that's sure to make Wilmingtonians feel a LOT better -- not:
"In fairness to the city, this is not unique to Wilmington," Hollins said. "It's a frustration for elected officials throughout this country in urban areas. [Washington, D.C., councilman] Marion Barry was actually robbed in his own apartment. It's a pretty tough situation."
Yep, using D.C. to make your point makes us all feel "better." The city with the second-highest murder rate in the nation (only behind New Orleans, but that was in 2002 so it's likely DC now has the top spot, post-Katrina) and robbery and assault rates both in the top ten nationally.
While some [Hispanics] who advocate amnesty for all illegal immigrants currently residing in the US refer to those who disagree as "racists," it's comical to then see how their Latin American brethren are showing support from the home countries:
Question: Is the Great American Boycott just in the United States?
Answer: "It's grown to be international," said Carlos Alvarez, an organizer with the Answer Coalition in California. He explained that Latin Americans have promised to join the boycott from their homelands. In Mexico, the movement is called "Nothing Gringo."
Oho! "Gringo," eh? "Gringo" has historically been a derogatory term for Americans. It's certainly less so now (I never take offense at the term, but mainly that's because it's never been uttered at me in hostility. At least that I can recall!), but it's hard to believe it has an "endearing" quality when applied to a boycott of anything associated with the United States.
Another racial double standard?
UPDATE (30 April at 7:50am): Wait, I do recall an instance of being on the receiving end of the "gringo" epithet. Can't believe I forgot it. It was when I was a college junior studying in Costa Rica, and several of my buddies and I were walking down a street in central San José, the capital. An old woman street vendor saw us and yelled "Fueran los gringos del Salvador!" ("Gringos/Americans get out of El Salvador!") The best Spanish speaker among us calmly turned to her and said, "No estamos EN El Salvador, Señora." ("We aren't IN El Salvador, ma'am," meaning, of course, specifically us!)
GWB proclaims that May 1 is "Law Day":
America's legal system is central to protecting the constitutional principles on which our Nation was founded. As we observe Law Day, we celebrate our heritage of freedom, justice, and equality under the law.
Not everyone got the memo:
Pro-immigration activists say a national boycott and marches planned for May 1 will flood America's streets with millions of Latinos to demand amnesty for illegal immigrants and shake the ground under Congress as it debates reform.
(h/t The Corner)
Just up on CNN:
Iran will allow snap inspections of its nuclear facilities if the U.N. Security Council does not get involved in the country's nuclear program, a senior Iranian official said on Saturday.
Iran wants to deal solely with the U.N. nuclear inspection group -- the International Atomic Energy Agency -- according to Muhammad Saeedi, deputy head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency.
"If the agency is again responsible for Iran's dossier and the Security Council is no longer involved, we are ready to finalize and solve the remaining issues with the agency during a three-week period," Saeedi said, referring to the IAEA.
Note that at no point do they say anything about actually suspending their uranium enrichment.
In retrospect, Saddam seems like he was always in the Kaiser Wilhelm II Special Olympics of international adventures. Whether it was the Iran-Iraq War, the invasion of Kuwait, or the 2003 American ultimatum, he never could guess accurately how his opponents would respond, and that's why he always wound-up losing. By contrast, the Iranians since 1979 have proven they know how to take the measure of their enemies. For all the terrorism they have funded, inspired or directed, they have never paid a severe penalty. They have always known how far they could push things.
Which is why I don't think the Iranian deal on the IAEA is legit. They know the Security Council is toothless thanks to the inevitable Chinese and Russian vetoes, so fear of sanctions or military action isn't what is inspiring this sudden half-hearted attempt at cooperation. More likely, they know that if the UNSC is finally revealed to hold no promise of containing Iran's nuclear ambitions, it'll fall on the U.S. to do something about it. The Iranians therefore have an interest in making sure that the Security Council retains its mask of potential effectiveness as long as possible, or at least until they have a bomb.
Bottom line: this a delaying tactic.
Gypsy Taub, a mother of three from Oakland, does not believe that 9/11 happened. At least not the way the government said it did.
A Russian émigré, Taub is one of a growing number of people in the USA who are using the Internet, college campuses and pamphleteering to get the word out.
"Oh yeah, absolutely. On the day it happened, I thought it was the government that did it," she said.
Taub is promoting one of the latest presentations of revisionist theories on the 2001 attacks by al-Qaeda terrorists, a film that says, among other things, that the Pentagon was hit by a cruise missile fired by the military as an excuse to go to war.
Called "Loose Change," it is being downloaded from the Internet and shown in small screenings here and overseas. It is not alone in the genre, and it is not unusual in American history either to offer simplistic explanations or demonize opponents. Presidents from Andrew Jackson to Lyndon Johnson were accused by their contemporaries of massive government conspiracies.
You mean Howard Dean wasn't being conspiratorial when he brought up that Bush may have been tipped to the 9/11? Cop-puncher Cynthia McKinney wasn't loopy when she asked "What did this administration know, and when did it know it about the events of Sept. 11? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered? What do they have to hide?"
Anymore, it looks like Mexico's chief exports to the U.S. are (1) illegals and (2) drugs. But here's a reason for potential undocumented workers to stay home:
Owning marijuana, cocaine and even heroin will no longer be a crime in Mexico if the drugs are carried in small amounts for personal use, under legislation passed by the Congress.
CBS news helpfully breaks down for the home audience how much they can pack before heading south of the border:
The bill says criminal charges will no longer be brought for possession of up to 25 milligrams of heroin, 5 grams of marijuana (about one-fifth of an ounce, or about four joints), or 0.5 grams of cocaine — the equivalent of about 4 “lines,” or half the standard street-sale quantity (though half-size packages are becoming more common).
The bill's goal is to get control of large traffickers and the lawlessness these drug cartels are fomenting. By giving up on policing users, Mexico is trying to focus on the major dealers. Given that it's a poor country, this refocusing of its limited resources doesn't seem unreasonable, at least in theory. I'm not on the legalization bandwagon, so I don't mind letting Mexico be the petrie dish of decriminization. And if it leads to more trafficking into America, then it's all the more reason to build a wall.
Still, whatever happens, I'm not sure if it'll be instructive for our own war on drugs. Since "police often release people detained for minor drug possession, in exchange for bribes," a big reason for this bill is to combat low-level Mexican government corruption. Because this kind of all-encompassing police corruption isn't an issue in America, the argument for legalization here tends to center more on issues of health and personal choice.
No word yet on whether public use will be allowed, but I'd be surprised if this wasn't an automatic draw for some Americans. It'll be interesting to see if Spring Break trips to Mexico increase come next year, and what stories get reported in campus newspaper when the kids come back.
One of the Kos Kidz puts the question to Sen. Ted Kennedy and comes up with this idealistic roadmap for a defanged Iran:
Diplomacy, first and foremost, many of us say. And not this half-hearted diplomacy currently employed by the current administration, but real diplomacy, where you step up to the negotiation table with an eye towards peace, not war. The Senator echoed this approach, reiterating in clear terms his rejection of pre-emptive war.
If they can't get their recent history straight, I'm doubtful they can come up with an effective policy. Yes, we've had such an eye towards war that we've been allowing Europe and the IAEA to have all the talks they want for the last three years. In fact, our eyes have been so firmly set on war that just today GWB beat his chest and announced that "diplomatic options are just beginning" on Iran.
Diplomacy is good. With estimates of Iran being 10 years off from being able to make a bomb, we have time for diplomacy, we must have time. But, recall that part of the Democrats' Real Security Agenda was a "tough and smart" approach to national security. Diplomacy is smart, but with Iran, who continues to defy UN resolutions, where does the "tough" part come in?
Senator Kennedy said that he supports sanctions if Iran continues to defy the international community. He thinks it is unlikely the Security Council will vote to impose sanctions (because of Russia and China); accordingly, he is open to bilateral sanctions. Sanctions, the Senator explained, worked in South Africa and Lybia [sic].
That, "we have time for diplomacy, we must have time," comment sounds more like wishful thinking than sober analysis. So does that 10-year timeframe. Mossad says Iran is two years away from a weapon, the administration says five, other U.S. intel says 10. But we've been wrong about Indian, Pakistani and Iraqi WMD, so going with the most rosy-hued report while having no plan for that two-year scenario seems irresponsible.
Same goes for pinning our hopes for halting Iran's nuclear program on bilateral sanctions. Let's not forget that sanctions never compelled Libya to give up its weapons program. Moreover, I doubt sanctions have any chance of working so long as they can sell to an economic block as large as China and Russia. Aside from this, there's a question of how many other countries would sign-on for bilateral sanctions. Unlike Libya and South Africa which have virtually no oil exports, Iran exports 2.5 million barrels a day. The bottom line is that the mullahs have a product that people want, and that economic reality will outweigh other nations' altruism for the simple fact that it's going to be us and not them on the receiving end of a Hezbollah suitcase nuke.
I note that bilateral sanctions are the "tough" component of Kennedy's approach to Iran. It probably won't be tough enough since Iran has already stated sanctions won't dissuade them from their nuclear ambitions. (On this, I believe them.) Kennedy disavows a preemptive strike, even though Iran's made it clear that diplomacy is dead and, oh by the way, is amping up their ballistic missile strike capacity.
So where are the Democrats on Iran? Nowhere helpful, except maybe for Iran.
Caveat... I'm heaping scorn on the Dems, but the administration isn't doing much better. Bush's "diplomatic options are just beginning" line reads in Tehran as "Bush promises another few years of interference-free nuclear research/weapons construction/proliferation." As Jed Babbin has been saying a lot recently, "Diplomacy that is not backed by a credible threat of force cannot succeed." The very fact we're shying away from it probably makes a shooting war more likely, and Bush, or someone in the administration, really ought to know better.
On balance though, I still have more hope for the administration eventually delivering that credible threat than I do the party of Kos and Ted Kennedy. But I'm beginning to doubt whether it's going to come in time.
"Al-Qaida Leader Says U.S. 'Broken' in Iraq" -- headline, Associated Press, April 28, 2006.
"Democrat [Rep. John Murtha] asserts that Army is 'broken'" -- headline, Associated Press, December 2, 2005.
UPDATE (May 1 at 11:35 p.m.): Best of the Web today had a similar take on al Qaida's "broken" comment:
Great Minds Think Alike
"Murtha Assesses U.S. Army as 'Broken' "--headline, Washington Times, Dec. 2, 2005
"Al-Zawahri Says U.S. 'Broken' in Iraq"--headline, Associated Press, April 29, 2006
Meanwhile, my original post has upset the effete, appletini-swishing side of the local blogosphere. I'm sure you all can imagine how much this pains me.
... when it attacked Iraq unilaterally and without their consent, right? Hmm ... I can think of many reasons why we shouldn't have gone into Iraq, but doing so against the wishes of the UN really doesn't rank very high on that list. Case in point:
Iran's president said on Friday his country would pay no attention to international calls to halt its nuclear work, hours before the U.N. atomic watchdog reports on whether Tehran has met U.N. Security Council demands," Reuters reports from Tehran:
"Those who want to prevent Iranians from obtaining their right, should know that we do not give a damn about such resolutions," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a rally in northwest Iran, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Mohamed El Baradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is expected to tell the council and the agency's board on Friday that Iran has not stopped enriching uranium or fully answered IAEA queries as the U.N. body asked a month ago.
Then there's this April 10 United Nations press release:
The recent record of the Disarmament Commission was far from satisfactory, but now, more than ever, it should use the opportunity of an agreed agenda to strengthen the disarmament machinery to effectively deal with new emerging threats and challenges, the new Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Nobuaki Tanaka, said today upon the opening of the Commission's substantive session. . . .
In other business, the following delegations were elected as Vice-chairpersons, by acclamation: Chile, Uruguay and Iran.
But what's the big deal? We all know Iran is just developing nuke power for the electricity!
Via Sweden's English language The Local:
Sweden's largest Muslim organisation has demanded that Sweden introduce separate laws for Muslims, according to Swedish television.
The Swedish Muslim Association, which represents around 70,000 Muslims in Sweden, has sent a letter to all Sweden's main political parties suggesting a number of reforms, SVT's Rapport programme reported.
The proposals include allowing imams into state (public) schools to give Muslim children separate lessons in Islam and their parents' native languages. The letter also said that boys and girls should have separate swimming lessons and that divorces between Muslims should be approved by an imam.
Now, the reaction by the Swedes may not be what you think:
The letter provoked an instant, and damning, response from integration and equality minister Jens Orback.
"We will not have separate laws in Sweden. In Sweden, we are all equal before the law. In Sweden, we have fought for a long time to achieve gender-neutral laws, and to propose that certain groups should not be treated like others is completely unacceptable."
Orback said he had spoken to representatives of the Swedish Muslim Council, and they did not support the association's position.
"We have freedom of speech, we have the right to opinions and we have the right to make proposals - but if a law is going to be changed, it must be the same for everyone."
Wow, an "integration and equality" minister? That might be a good idea for here in the US, especially the first part of that title, what with the current immigration flap and all.
But I digress. Here's what many wonder: Why do Muslims that want separate Muslim law for their own community still make their residence in Sweden -- or any other country (usually a Western one)?? Why do they not take up residence in a country that already has Islamic law, like Iran or Saudi Arabia? The answer is patently obvious, of course: Because those countries are brutal, authoritarian regimes. Why live there when you can take advantage of the West's many freedoms and possibly sue [into the fabric of a Western democracy] the right to utilize Muslim law for oneself, right?
I can yet already hear the complaints from the hypocrites: Here I am, being "anti-Muslim" again. Or "anti-immigrant." How dare I make a statement on how patently absurd the notion of separate laws for a particular group is in a Western democracy. It's just "hate" after all, right?
But no. Those are just the usual ridiculously silly remonstrations.
SCI FI Channel announced the development of "Caprica," a spinoff prequel of its hit "Battlestar Galactica," in presentations to advertisers in New York on April 26. Caprica would come from Galactica executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, writer Remi Aubuchon (24) and NBC Universal Television Studio.
Caprica would take place more than half a century before the events that play out in Battlestar Galactica. The people of the Twelve Colonies are at peace and living in a society not unlike our own, but where high technology has changed the lives of virtually everyone for the better.
But a startling breakthrough in robotics is about to occur, one that will bring to life the age-old dream of marrying artificial intelligence with a mechanical body to create the first living robot: a Cylon. Following the lives of two families, the Graystones and the Adamas (the family of William Adama, who will one day become the commander of the Battlestar Galactica), Caprica will weave together corporate intrigue, techno-action and sexual politics into television's first science fiction family saga, the channel announced.
Sounds awesome to me, of course. One can never get enough of intelligent science fiction. I wonder if the early Cylon designs will be akin to those of the original 1979 series (since they were seen in the updated "Galactica" pilot movie), and it will be intriguing to view how the robots rebel against their human masters.
"Mission: Impossible III" director J.J. Abrams is hitting back at unauthorized reports he is directing the next Star Trek movie. The "Alias" creator is furious the news was released prematurely and is also upset that key details regarding the storyline were incorrectly reported. He explains to Empire online, "The whole thing was reported entirely without our cooperation. People learned that I was producing a Star Trek film, that I had an option to direct it, they hear rumors of what the thing was going to be and ran with a story that is not entirely accurate." Last week, Hollywood trade paper Variety, reported Abrams was on board and that the film would center on the early days of Captain James T. Kirk and Spock and that Philip Seymour Hoffman was in talks to play the ship's doctor. Abrams won't reveal the true storyline, but hints that it won't feature characters Captain James T. Kirk or Mr. Spock at all, but doesn't rule out bringing some of the original characters back for the new film, adding, "Those characters are so spectacular. I just think that...you know, they could live again."
Nobody stays dead in entertainment. Just ask readers of Marvel Comics!
The latest NEA (National Education Association) newsletter has the debate: Should teachers be required to take diversity training? Of course, you may guess what I think on the matter, but consider who the NEA got to offer the "pro" argument: a college junior. Someone who hasn't taught a single day in her life. Here's part of her argument:
All educators will, no matter where they work, teach students from different backgrounds than their own, whether they are from a different social class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or level of physical ability. Diversity training can help educators relate more effectively to students who are different from themselves.
But -- don't education colleges already mandate such "training" in their classes? Yes, they do. Many colleges even have a "multicultural requirement" for non-education majors alike (like the University of Delaware). Why then do teachers who've already been hired have to attend such "training" in addition?
A young African-American student, Jack was unaware of the connotations of race, but he immediately noticed the difference between his own skin color and mine. I didn't ignore his comments, but rather chose to use the occasion as an opportunity to help him understand that there are many different types of people in the world.
This is why having a college student offer this side of the argument is silly -- because that's what any person who claims the title "teacher" would do in that same situation! What would mandatory diversity "training" have offered in addition in this particular instance? Ms. Cartier, our college student gives us a clue:
I feel this was important for me to do because, as an African-American male, Jack will soon grow up to realize that race has many real consequences in life. Ignoring that fact would have been a disservice to both of us.
This is what diversity training does now -- it virtually ridicules the notion of color-blindness in favor of color-consciousness because, if we don't recognize color (race), we'll somehow fail to realize that discrimination still exists in the world today.
You may ask yourself how believing in color-blindness [can] lead[s] to such a failure; the legitimate response is that it actually does not, at least if a person has above an 80 IQ (which, hopefully all teachers possess). Diversity training doesn't legitimize color-blindness. It wants to change that view -- to make one believe in the oxymoronic "to be color-blind, one must recognize color" mantra, or the even more pernicious, "color-blindness = racism."
Suzanne Emery, a retired teacher, offers the "con" argument. While I do not agree with all her reasons why diversity training should not be mandatory, she still makes much sense. She offers:
Additionally, at least half of the people now teaching have entered the profession in the past five years, all earning credentials which have specified, in most states, a least one course or strand in meeting the needs of a culturally diverse student population. The experienced faculty have, for the most part, been "in-serviced" almost annually in various sensitivities of their community. As futile as it is to teach ethics to politicians who already know right from wrong, it is folly to believe a few mandated diversity meetings can fundamentally change classroom behavior. Teachers already recognize that their students are very diverse but must eventually achieve similar success.
Yep. How much is enough? And she's correct that such mandated training sessions are designed to alter classroom behavior (and, I'd add, raise test scores). But it's mostly a futile effort, for as Emery says, all "must eventually achieve similar success" (my emphasis). I've already written (and Felix, too) quite a bit on the numerous contradictions in the diversity/multiculturalism movement (see here, for one) -- for example, multicultis say on the one hand that "teachers must have high expectations for all children," and then on the other hand say that "different groups (races/ethnicities) of kids learn 'differently'," so expecting all groups to be able to achieve the same objective is unreasonable (hence, those "high expectations" go out the window). Or, that "high" in "high expectations" means something "different" for those "different" groups of kids.
You follow? If not, don't worry, you're not alone. The reasoning is indeed befuddling and contradictory.
And recently, regarding diversity, a new study by a Duke economics professor has concluded "that the degree of collegiate diversity has no effect on an individual's productivity or life satisfaction. ... Diversity capital may not exist. That is to say, two individuals' ability to profitably interact in the marketplace is not impeded by any racial or ethnic differences between them."
George Leef says
I think that's a bullseye and it destroys one of the favored justifications for "diversity," namely that American students need a big dose of multiculturalism if they're going to be able to compete in an increasingly globalized marketplace. When people see the opportunity for gains through trade, they set aside differences.
Hello everybody! And goodbye everybody! Man, I can't remember the last time I posted, but there's a reason for that (schooling). And it's the reason I am now "officially" saying goodbye from blogging for a while. As a parting gift, take a look at this intriguing article about faster-than-light travel (which should fit in neatly to the recent Star Trek posts I've read recently!):
AN EXTRAORDINARY "hyperspace" engine that could make interstellar space travel a reality by flying into other dimensions is being investigated by the United States government.
The hypothetical device, which has been outlined in principle but is based on a controversial theory about the fabric of the universe, could potentially allow a spacecraft to travel to Mars in three hours and journey to a star 11 light years away in just 80 days, according to a report in today's New Scientist magazine.
The theoretical engine works by creating an intense magnetic field that, according to ideas first developed by the late scientist Burkhard Heim in the 1950s, would produce a gravitational field and result in thrust for a spacecraft.
Also, if a large enough magnetic field was created, the craft would slip into a different dimension, where the speed of light is faster, allowing incredible speeds to be reached. Switching off the magnetic field would result in the engine reappearing in our current dimension.
And there's this article in addition:
This will require a huge rotating ring placed above a superconducting coil to create an intense magnetic field. With a large enough current in the coil, and a large enough magnetic field, Dröscher claims the electromagnetic force can reduce the gravitational pull on the ring to the point where it floats free. Dröscher and Häuser say that to completely counter Earth's pull on a 150-tonne spacecraft a magnetic field of around 25 tesla would be needed. While that's 500,000 times the strength of Earth's magnetic field, pulsed magnets briefly reach field strengths up to 80 tesla. And Dröscher and Häuser go further. With a faster-spinning ring and an even stronger magnetic field, gravitophotons would interact with conventional gravity to produce a repulsive anti-gravity force, they suggest.
Incredible! I never thought that I may actually see a workable FTL engine (or at least its prototype) in my lifetime. Now ... !!
Take care, all!
I dig Ian McKellen, especially as Magneto, but this is going a bit far for a comicbook flick:
British actor SIR IAN MCKELLEN complained on the set of upcoming sequel X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, because he wanted his character MAGNETO to have some gay sex scenes. THE LORD OF THE RINGS star, who has been openly gay since 1988, insists a homoerotic sub-plot would have enhanced the movie. McKellen tells Empire magazine, "He hasn't been given a love line, which I think is a pity. It would be wonderful if the camera hovered over Magneto's bed, to discover him making love to Professor X."
Well, in the comics, Ian, neither Maggie nor Prof. X have been shown to be gay. In fact, their heterosexuality is fairly well established. And, since the movies have been pretty darn true to the comics, this idea would be just plain ludicrous -- especially a scene between Mags and the Prof.
(In Marvel's X-titles and elsewhere, Magneto has two children, the also-famous mutants Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Prof. X has fallen in love in several times, all with women -- or females of other races like Lilandra of the Shi'ar -- notably Jean Grey herself way early on in X-Men lore, as well as Moira Taggert, past-frequent X-Men guest-star. Oh, and the Israeli Gabrielle Haller springs to mind, too!)
Eric Alterman thinks he's found something really noteworthy: Does media bias affect voting? The authors address this question by looking at the entry of Fox News in cable markets and its impact on voting.
Between October 1996 and November 2000, the conservative Fox News Channel was introduced in the cable programming of 20 percent of US towns. Fox News availability in 2000 appears to be largely idiosyncratic. Using a data set of voting data for 9,256 towns, the authors investigate if Republicans gained vote share in towns where Fox News entered the cable market by the year 2000. They find a significant effect of the introduction of Fox News on the vote share in Presidential elections between 1996 and 2000. Republicans gain 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points in the towns which broadcast Fox News. They also find a significant effect of Fox News on Senate vote share and on voter turnout. The estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 8 percent of its viewers to vote Republican.
The entire report is here (.PDF file).
"Convinced 3 to 8 percent of its viewers ... ??" Ah. The one right-leaning news outlet on the tube "convinced" some viewers to vote Republican. So, we could assume (before, during and after Fox's introduction, but especially before) ... that all the rest of the left-leaning TV news outlets have been "convincing" voters for decades to vote ... Democratic? Remember: You are a mindless drone and you let the news "convince" you who to vote for. Well, three to eight percent at least, eh?
You just have to laugh at this. One TV news outlet has regularly been presenting conservative sides of various arguments and this is a "sinister" thing (as it's inevitably perceived by folks like Alterman, surely). My God. People have now been exposed to pro-life viewpoints when there's a discussion of abortion. The NRA may have a spokesperson on to counter a gun-control advocate. And goodness gracious, there may actually be people in favor of the Iraq War on sharing their views.
How dare Fox News Channel? How dare they "take" 3-8 percent of the vote from the righteous Democrats?? IT'S NOT FAIR!!
Haven't done one of these in a while:
You're a classic - powerful, athletic, and competitive. You're all about winning the race and getting the job done. While you have a practical everyday side, you get wild when anyone pushes your pedal. You hate to lose, but you hardly ever do.
Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.
(h/t: Jeff the Baptist.)
I kind of figured it'd make the cut; I'd be sorely disappointed if it didn't! From the editors of ShermansTravel.com via MSNBC:
Costa Rica’s renowned back-to-nature ethos has helped make the country virtually synonymous with the concept of ecotourism. Adroitly leveraging the extraordinary natural and cultural wealth it packs into its small swath of Central American territory, it’s more than held true to the moniker Christopher Columbus gave it – Costa Rica meaning "Rich Coast." Said riches include four active (but not dangerous) volcanoes; an abundance of fecund rainforests (with some so high up they’re actually wreathed in clouds); thermal hot springs; more than 750 miles of fetching and often-uncrowded beaches; the Amazon-like Tortuguero preserve complete with jungle lodges; and abundant wildlife from monkeys to sea tortoises. Plenty of adventure outfitters will take you whitewater rafting, hiking, scuba diving, rock-climbing, and lots more – with choices like these, you'll need to harness your natural energies, too.
If you ever get a chance to visit CR, do it. You won't be let down!
UPDATE (24 April at 4:10pm): Ego-maniac Jaime has her own post in response to this one over at Down With Absolutes! Just be sure to read my comments in response, which serve to mellow out her radical "goodness."
The Ninth Circuit -- again.
Divided three-judge Ninth Circuit panel holds that "the Eighth Amendment prohibits the City from punishing involuntary sitting, lying, or sleeping on public sidewalks that is an unavoidable consequence of being human and homeless without shelter in the City of Los Angeles."
Quick refresher: The Eighth Amendment is the "cruel and unusual punishment" amendment.
Elsewhere in Cali (which the 9th Circuit covers), a bit of common sense: The state high court tossed out a sexual harassment suit brought a [female] writer for the show "Friends." From back in Feb.:
The California Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a lawsuit brought by a writing assistant fired from the program, Amaani Lyle, who contends that the profanity-riddled and sex-laden diatribes of "Friends" writers constituted sexual harassment.
The company that produced the show, Warner Brothers, claims that programs about sex and relationships require frank and freewheeling discussion of the subject matter. The company has also warned that allowing Ms. Lyle to proceed with her case could put a strait-jacket on writers and dilute the quality of what Americans see on movies and TV.
But just a few days ago, in what is the Lyle v. Warner Brothers Television Productions case,
"Based on the totality of the undisputed circumstances, particularly the fact the Friends production was a creative workplace focused on generating scripts for an adult-oriented comedy show featuring sexual themes, we find no reasonable trier of fact could conclude such language constituted harassment directed at plaintiff because of her sex within the meaning of the [California Fair Employment and Housing Act]."
More than three years after the last "Star Trek" movie crashed at the box office, the venerable sci-fi franchise is being revived by the director of the upcoming "Mission: Impossible" sequel, Daily Variety reported in its Friday edition.
The as-yet-untitled "Star Trek" feature, the 11th since 1979, is aiming for a fall 2008 release through Paramount Pictures, the Viacom Inc. unit looking to restore its box-office luster under new management, the trade paper said.
The project will be directed by J.J. Abrams, whose Tom Cruise vehicle "Mission: Impossible III" will be released by Paramount on May 5. Abrams, famed for producing the TV shows "Alias" and "Lost," will also help write and produce.
Daily Variety said the action would center on the early days of "Star Trek" characters James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock, including their first meeting at Starfleet Academy and first outer-space mission.
The paper described "Star Trek" as Hollywood's most durable performer after James Bond, spawning 10 features that have grossed more than $1 billion and 726 TV episodes from six series.
The 10th film, "Star Trek: Nemesis," bombed at the box office on its December 2002 release, earning just $43 million in North America. Last year, Viacom-owned broadcast network UPN pulled the plug on the low-rated series "Star Trek: Enterprise" following a four-season run.
Jonah Goldberg says that in "reality" (Trek reality, that is), it's unlikely Kirk and Spock attended the Academy together due to the different life spans of humans and Vulcans (Vulcans can live for over 200 years). However, an online Trek Timeline shows that Kirk and Spock were born only three years apart, so that surely makes it conceivable.
But the real question, as Goldberg asks, is will the film work?
Prequels of this sort don't have a good track record. Young Indiana Jones died quickly. Enterprise was very short-lived. I liked Young Sherlock Holmes, but that puts me in a dubious minority. The Ben Affleck Jack Ryan stunk on ice. And, of course, the Star Wars prequels had serious, serious problems though I'm not sure you can blame a prequel curse for that. I'm not saying it's doomed. The last Batman movie was pretty good. But, there's big potential for lameness. Of course, most Star Trek movies are pretty lame.
I agree that prequels are tough to make succeed. However, most Trek movies are pretty lame? The usual conventional wisdom is that the odd numbered Trek films are the bad ones. That's fairly accurate. Let's see:
There! Hope you dug my little synopses. Feel free to differ and add whatever tidbits you deem necessary!
I had seen this article in a few spots on the 'Net this morning, but for no special I am linking to the Reason posting:
The reputation of the "Ugly American" abroad is not ... just some cruel stereotype, but - according to the American government itself - worryingly accurate. Now, the State Department in Washington has joined forces with American industry to plan an image make-over by issuing guides for Americans travelling overseas on how to behave.
I've traveled quite a bit in my time and have indeed encountered "Ugly Americans." Perhaps the most glaring example was in Costa Rica in 1989 while my then-fianceé Grettel and I were waiting for her visa to be approved. Gret was at work, and I was waiting in line at the nearby popular ice cream joint "Pops." In front of me was an older American couple, obviously on some type of tour. When the woman got to the order window, she virtually yelled her request: "CAN I HAVE A CHOCOLATE CONE??" The poor girl behind the counter smiled and uttered "Lo siento ... no entiendo" -- "I'm sorry ... I don't understand." The idiot woman turns back to her husband and remarkably says (huffily) "She doesn't even speak my language!"
That's where I had to jump in: "Uh, did it occur to you that that's because you're in THEIR country, ma'am?"
The woman and her hubby gave me some nasty glances but then proceeded to muddle through with getting their order completed. Thankfully, the counter girl managed to find a fellow employee who knew enough English to understand the moron couple's desires.
But, overall, to be honest, I've found European tourists to be ruder than Americans. Costa Rica is a haven for Europeans (Americans were not that common a site -- at least not as much as they are now -- in CR in the 80s due to the Nicaraguan Contra war in the north and Manuel Noriega running Panama in the south) and besides Euro males' penchant for wearing Speedos (ARGH!) I've found them to be decidedly gruffer than Americans at various resorts and downtown San José (CR's capital).
Canadians seem to be quite polite, on the other hand. Despite one I met (he dated a friend of my then-fianceé) who was a complete a-hole -- he'd openly belittle Costa Ricans as poor and stupid -- the others I encountered were great people. Gret and I once were in a beachfront room next to two dudes (no, they weren't gay, not that there's anything wrong with that!) from Quebec, and they were extremely friendly. They invited us for drinks and food constantly and always wanted to chat. We've met other [Anglo] Canadians who were [also] genuinely great people. One of Gret's childhood friends married a guy from British Columbia, and he's awesome.
It's been a while since I was in Europe, but here's what I remember: The Dutch are some of the nicest folks on the planet! I do not recall encountering a Holland native, either here or in The Netherlands, whom I didn't like. Contrariwise, I found Germans to be rather cold, and Belgians somewhere in between the Germans and Dutch. (One thing I'll always remember about older Belgians -- they absolutely love Big Band music. When the band I played with back in the day began our Glenn Miller medley, the Belgian senior citizen set at the North Sea resort we were at went absolutely bonkers with glee!)
That Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is at it again, revamping the First Amendment according to their personal notions of "justice." This time, in a 2-1 decision, they granted "minority protection status" to certain forms of speech:
Tyler Harper wore an anti-homosexuality T-shirt to school, apparently responding to a pro-gay-rights event put on at the school by the Gay-Straight Alliance at the school. On the front, the T-shirt said, "Be Ashamed, Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned," and on the back, it said "Homosexuality is Shameful." The principal insisted that Harper take off the T-shirt. Harper sued, claiming this violated his First Amendment rights.
Harper's speech is constitutionally unprotected, the Ninth Circuit just ruled today, in an opinion written by Judge Reinhardt and joined by Judge Thomas; Judge Kozinski dissented. According to the majority, "derogatory and injurious remarks directed at students' minority status such as race, religion, and sexual orientation" -- which essentially means expressions of viewpoints that are hostile to certain races, religions, and sexual orientations -- are simply unprotected by the First Amendment in K-12 schools. Such speech, Judge Reinhardt said, violates "the rights of other students" by constituting a "verbal assault that may destroy the self-esteem of our most vulnerable teenagers and interfere with their educational development."
This isn't limited to, say, threats, or even personalized insults aimed at individual student. Nor is there even a "severe or pervasive" requirement such as that requirement to make speech into "hostile environment harassment" (a theory that poses its own constitutional problems, but at least doesn't restrict individual statements).
Rather, any T-shirt that condemns homosexuality is apparently unprotected. So are "display[s of the] Confederate Flag," and T-shirts that say "All Muslims Are Evil Doers."
Amazingly, the majority wrote "[The Court] reaffirm[s] the importance of preserving student speech about controversial issues generally." To which Eugene Volokh replies: "But, according to the constitution, this First Amendment principle somehow omits speech about controversial issues having to do with race, religion, or sexual orientation."
As I was reading Volokh's post, I immediately thought of the limited speech rights already established for [public] schools by the US Supreme Court. In other words, words or actions that could be deemed "disruptive to the educational environment." Volokh is right on it:
The Supreme Court has indeed recognized that speech in K-12 public schools must be somewhat more restrictable than speech on the street. Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969) made clear that student speech might be restricted when it's likely to substantially disrupt the educational process. And sometimes speech that's hostile based on race, religion, or sexual orientation -- as well as speech that offends people for a wide variety of other reasons -- might indeed lead to substantial disruption.
But this is at least a facially viewpoint-neutral standard that potentially applies to speech on all perspectives, and doesn't categorically cast out certain student viewpoints from First Amendment protection. While the standard isn't without its problems, it is at least basically consistent with the First Amendment principle of "equality of status in the field of ideas."
"[T]here is an equality of status in the field of ideas," the Supreme Court has said. "Under the First Amendment there is no such thing as a false idea." "The government must abstain from regulating speech when the specific motivating ideology or the opinion or perspective of the speaker is the rationale for the restriction."
And yet according to Judge Reinhardt, the First Amendment itself discriminates against viewpoints that express hostility to minority races, religions, and sexual orientations.
As usual, Eugene's argument is quite persuasive. Certainly moreso, in my opinion, than that of Judge Reinhardt. In my opinion, if I was the principal of the school in question, I could see myself asking the student to remove the T-shirt, or at least to cover it up, especially if reaction to it among students became disruptive. Of course, the consideration of the school hosting a pro-gay event previously makes this decision more difficult.
But what if a student wears a shirt with a Confederate flag on it? Does he have to take that off based on the "Reinhardt standard" ... but a student with, say, a picture of Louis Farrakhan does not (since the latter may offend members of the majority group)? What if the kid with the Farrakhan shirt is a member of the majority group in that school (but not society as a whole)? How does it work then? (These two paragraphs in part show why I never want to be a school administrator, by the way!)
Yes, I know -- the pro-gay event [probably] didn't involve any negative statements/clothing/banners towards folks of other groups, unlike Tyler's T-shirt. But that's the "easy" argument, and the one -- unfortunately -- that Judge Reinhardt and Thomas took. The First Amendment is most important for the speech that offends ... that is negative ... that is provocative.
I think it's a safe bet this case goes to the SCOTUS ... and gets overturned. Not because the principal asked Tyler to remove the shirt -- but because of Reinhardt and Thomas' poor reasoning.
UPDATE: Greg at Rhymes With Right has more, noting that movies are now "great legal precedents":
The two-judge majority criticized [dissenting judge] Kozinski, suggesting that the majority could rely upon the motion pictures Brokeback Mountain or The Matthew Shepard Story “as evidence of the harmful effects of anti-gay harassment....”
To which Greg replies:
Ultimately it comes down to this -- does speech that does no more than raise a moral objection to homosexuality constitute harassment which can (and, implicitly, should) be banned? After all, this shirt did not say "Homosexuals Are Perverts" or "God Hates Fags" -- and certainly no threat of violence. It said "Homosexuality Is Shameful" -- a moral judgement on the lifestyle. Would the school have been equally opposed to a shirt which claimed that "Racism Is Shameful" or "War Is Shameful" or "Voting Republican Is Shameful"? I think the question answers itself.
UPDATE 2 (22 April at 11:18am): Dale Carpenter adds more insight to the debate. I agree with most of what he has to offer. In particular:
Whether to allow the viewpoint that homosexuality is wrong to be expressed in this particular way (“shameful”) and by this particular method (worn all day on a t-shirt, so that the message is never turned “off”) is a judgment best left to school administrators and teachers. They are in a better position than federal judges to determine, in the context of their own schools, whether such expressions distract from the school’s educational mission, either because they lead to general disruption or because they cause gay kids in particular to hide under a rock rather than learn anything.
"Saying that dignity was more important than aid in dollars, Palestinian Premier Ismail Haniyeh insisted yesterday that his Hamas-led government would not renounce violence despite mounting Western pressure over its failure to condemn a Tel Aviv bombing." (Link.)
“Your visit is proof that this country is more important than money, that dignity is more important than dollars. Today you prove that dignity is the most important thing,” he said, addressing his visitors (mostly police and security officers).
But here's where the "dignity" bit gets ... well, "thin":
Israel laid the blame [on the recent bombing] fully on Hamas, even though the attack was claimed by its smaller rival Islamic Jihad, and revoked the residency cards of three Hamas MPs living in occupied East Jerusalem among other measures.
The Hamas MPs plan to appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court against Israel’s decision to revoke their residency rights, the Palestinian justice minister said yesterday.
Wha ...?? But I thought Hamas didn't recognize Israel! How can they account for this blatant contradiction -- Israel doesn't exist, but the Israeli Supreme Court ... does??
The good news is that despite this glaring breach of "dignity," recognition of the entire state of Israel may not be that far behind the recognition of the as yet non-recognized state's supreme court.
... of employers who hired (or may have hired) illegal immigrants. The disparity between him and Bush is, well, startling.
Another thing Clinton did right, domestically.
I didn't know what to do, really, after reading this by Nina Burleigh. I guess I knew I was in for a "treat" when I saw the headliner: "I cringed as my young son recited the Pledge of Allegiance. But who was I to question his innocent trust in a nation I long ago lost faith in?"
"Cringed." 'Ya ready? Here we go:
Our family first arrived in Narrowsburg in 2000, as city people hunting for a cheap house. For barely $50,000 we were able to buy the "weekend house" we thought would complete our metropolitan existence.
After all, how many average folk get to buy a "weekend house," eh?
But soon after we closed on the home, we moved to Paris, spurred by the serendipitous arrival of a book contract.
Place in the city, a weekend house and moving to Paris on top of all that!
When our European idyll ended after two years, and with tenants still subletting our city apartment, we moved into the Narrowsburg house. After growing accustomed to the French social system -- with its cheap medicine, generous welfare, short workweek and plentiful child care -- life back in depressed upstate New York felt especially harsh.
Can it get any more silly -- and she's not even halfway through her article!! How in the friggin' world does someone like Burleigh "grow accustomed" to cheap medicine and generous welfare -- as if that would REALLY be a concern for her? A writer's workweek is already short (they can essentially set their own hours and work from wherever), and child care? You really think that was ever a problem for Burleigh?
In the fall of 2004, we enrolled our son in kindergarten at the Narrowsburg School. The school's reputation among our friends, other "second-home owners," was not good. "Do they even have a curriculum?" sniffed one New York City professor who kept a weekend home nearby. Clearly, Narrowsburg School was not a traditional first step on the path to Harvard.
Well, la de dah! You can picture Nina writing this sipping a cup of tea with her pinkie in the air ...
Our son would be one of just 12 little white children in a sunny kindergarten class taught by an enthusiastic woman with eighteen years' experience teaching five-year-olds.
Notice the word "white." Like all good limousine libs, at some point you have to acknowledge your racial guilt.
Still, for the first few months, we felt uneasy. Eighty of Narrowsburg's 319 adults are military veterans and at least 10 recent school graduates are serving in Iraq or on other bases overseas right now.
My GOD! 25% of the adults are ... military verterans?? Run for the hills! They make me ... uneasy!!
The school's defining philosophy was traditional and conservative, starting with a sit-down-in-your-seat brand of discipline, leavened with a rafter-shaking reverence for country and flag.
Hyperbole alert: "rafter-shaking." And God forbid -- sit-down-in-your-seat discipline? We can't have respectful children being raised in our public schools, can we?
But it wasn't until our boy came home with an invitation in his backpack to attend a "released time" Bible class that my husband and I panicked. We called the ACLU and learned this was an entirely legal way for evangelicals to proselytize to children during school hours.
Here's probably the most legitimate "concern" in the whole article. Of course, however, Burleigh overdoes it with words like "panicked." (What, did she suddenly become short of breath with chest pains? Massive migraine?) Most parents who had a concern would merely call the school if they had any questions/concerns and that'd be the end of it.
What was against the law was sending the flier home in a kid's backpack, implying school support. After our inquiry, the ACLU formally called the principal to complain. She apologized and promised never to allow it again. While we were never identified as the people who dropped the dime to the ACLU, there was clearly no one else in the school community who would have done so -- and the principal never looked at us quite as warmly again.
And how was the perception that "there was clearly no one else in the school community who would have done so" manifested, Nina? Such a perception just doesn't suddenly come about, you know. Notice that Burleigh says she (or her husband) didn't contact the school themselves about the offending flyer. They immediately went to the ACLU. And they do not expect even a slight bit of resentment by taking such a drastic first step over ... a flyer??
Shortly afterward, another parent casually told me that she wanted to bring her daughter's religious cartoon videos in to share with the class, but couldn't because "some people" might object. When we later learned that the cheery kindergarten teacher belonged to one of the most conservative evangelical churches in the community ...
Good Lord! Now we're approaching fascist territory! Religious cartoons for ... child's share time? A kindergarten teacher who's ... an evangelical Christian? Where's the goose-steppers?
Instead, to counteract any God-and-country indoctrination he received in school, we began our own informal in-home instruction about Bush, Iraq and Washington over the evening news.
"School" thy name is "irony." Indoctrination in a public school by ... conservatives! Instruction about ... patriotism! ARRRGGHH! As for the "informal in-home instruction," stand by.
Politically, Narrowsburg is red dot in a blue state.
And Burleigh will have none of THAT, rassin' frassin' dangnabbit ...!!
Hand over heart, my son belted out the Pledge with gusto every morning and memorized and sang "The Star-Spangled Banner." I never stopped resisting the urge to sit down in silent protest during the Pledge.
Hey, that would be your right. And your son's. Amazing, for a country with such defects, eh?
Listening to their little voices, I felt guilty for being a non-believer ..."
Non-believer of ... what? The American Dream? Not to sound cliché with a similar-sounding "Love it or Leave it" quip, but what makes you remain here? Especially when there's "idyllic" France right across the pond -- home of cheap medicine, generous welfare, short work weeks, etc.?? Or do you believe in that Dream -- when it suits you? Like the ability to make a lot of money writing columns and books, and to make enough money to have a domicile in one of the most expensive places in the US and a "weekend" home and love to Europe for an idyllic two-year "break"? (/Vomiting.)
That November, at the school's annual Veterans Day program, the children performed the trucker anthem "God Bless the USA" ... about a dozen local veterans -- ancient men who had served in World War II, and men on the cusp of old age who had served in Korea and Vietnam -- settled into folding chairs arranged beneath the flag. When the students were finished singing, the principal asked the veterans to stand and identify themselves. Watching from the audience, I wondered if anyone would speak of the disaster unfolding in Iraq ... no one did. The men rose and stated name, rank and theater. Finally, a burly, gray-bearded Vietnam veteran rose and said what no one else dared. After identifying himself, he choked out, "Kids, I just hope to God none of you ever have to experience what we went through." Then he sat down, leaving a small pocket of shocked silence. No one applauded his effort at honesty. On the contrary, the hot gym air thickened with a tension that implicitly ostracized the man, and by extension -- because we agreed with him -- me and my husband.
What a conceit! Why does this apply only to the Vietnam veteran? Granted, it's the war we lost (but won the battles ... no thanks to the politicos), but what about the Korean "tie"? That aside, again -- what makes such a comment unique to the 'Nam vet? Does Burleigh think a veteran of Normandy couldn't offer the very same advice? Or a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge? Or Iwo Jima? Pusan?
In simple language, I told my son that our president had started a war with a country called Iraq. I said that we were bombing cities and destroying buildings. And I explained that families just like ours now had no money or food because their parents didn't have offices to go to anymore or bosses to pay them. "America did this?" my son asked, incredulous. "Yes, America," I answered.
Recall what I said by "indoctrination" above. Simply, did Burleigh offer ANY context at all in her "simple language" explanation? ANY??
Now it has been almost a year since my son scampered down the steps of Narrowsburg Central Rural School for the last time. We've since returned to the city, driven back to urban life more by adult boredom than our children's lack of educational opportunities.
Translation: We've had enough of the rednecks and miss our Gucci neo-Marxist buddies immensely.
Our son is enrolled in a well-rated K-5 public school on Manhattan's Upper West Side; not surprisingly, the Pledge of Allegiance is no longer part of his morning routine. Come to think of it, and I could be wrong, I've never seen a flag on the premises.
Which, I'm sure, kept Burleigh's blood pressure nice and low, and she could put away the Valium bottle.
My husband and I realized, though, that Narrowsburg did more than mold our boy into a patriot. He can, it turns out -- despite the warnings of other city parents -- read at a level twice that of his new peers.
Oh HO! What was that about that "sit-down-in-your-seat brand of discipline" again?
Since we returned to the city, he has learned how to ride a bike, long for an Xbox, practiced a few new swear words and, somehow, learned the meaning of "sexy." He has pretty much stopped favoring red, white and blue.
Isn't that "terrific"? Swear words, "sexy," not favoring red, white and blue ...
That shouldn't be surprising in the least considering the whole of this article. After all, Burleigh is the woman who once said she "would be happy to give [Bill Clinton] a blowjob just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs."
Today's "Our View" editorial says "Palestinian refusal to repudiate murder speaks volumes."
It sure does. The punch line:
... a Hamas spokesman defended the bombing by saying Palestinians had the right to defend themselves.
By blowing up people in a restaurant? This is a defense of the indefensible.
A Democratic former senator feels differently, however. South Dakota's James George Abourezk dubs Hamas "freedom fighters" and discusses the "evils of Zionism":
To stop the occupation, one must put an end to the incentives provided to Israel that keep them occupying. Those incentives are the financial and political support provided to that occupation by the United States Congress and president, and the radical Zionists throughout the country. When American taxpayers' money stops flowing to Israel, Israel will stop the occupation and pull back inside the 1967 borders, which will put an end to the conflict there. I am realistic enough to know that, because the Congress is pretty much reliant on money from radical Zionists, stopping the flow of American taxpayers' money to Israel will not come soon. But the sooner it does end, the sooner the violence will stop.
Terrorism does not exist in a vacuum. It does not come from thin air. It is a result of people who believe that their lives cannot be improved by occupation and that there is nothing left for them to do except to commit acts of terrorism.
... the U.S. government designates resistance fighters – such as Hizbollah and Hamas – in the Middle East as terrorists if Israel asks us to do so. That makes it easier to propagandize against the resistance when they are labeled as such. In the Arab world such groups are seen as freedom fighters, resisting an illegal occupation.
How 'bout all that "resistance" to the "illegal occupation" of [UN] Palestinian-designated lands (West Bank and Gaza, particularly) when Jordan and Egypt nabbed 'em in 1948? No, you see, it was the Jews that had to be expunged from the area -- and it is THIS desire that has been at work for over 50 years. Until the Palestinians and other Arab states rectify this desire -- and take real steps to prove it -- then essentially nothing is going to change.
As Alan Dershowitz said recently (my emphasis):
There was a two-state solution proposed by the United Nations in 1948, and if the Palestinians had accepted what the Israelis accepted, a small non-contiguous state with "Bantustans" ... and instead had not invaded, and if the Egyptians had not occupied the Gaza, something that nobody complained about-it was literally a prison for 20 years-and if the Jordanians hadn't occupied the West Bank-literally a prison for 20 years, and had the situation gone forward as it was supposed to go forward in '48, we would not be here. We would have a two-state solution. But, what happened is, it's clear that the Palestinian and Arab leadership was more interested in destroying the nascent, Jewish state of Israel than in establishing a Palestinian state. That is simply the truth, and there is no way to deny that. And no amount of rhetoric can undercut that reality.
Robert Molaison of Newark is this week's winner with his letter "State could make more money by taxing fast food."
Gov. Minner wants to again raise the tax on cigarettes. Delaware still has bad air pollution from industry here.
Let's work on fixing a bigger problem in Delaware. Obesity contributes to more health problems and death than smoking. If Minner was truly concerned with health, and not just trying to raise money by gouging a group of people, maybe she should levy a tax on fast food. There are more fat people in Delaware than smokers. She could raise more money.
Minner isn't truly concerned with the state's health? Hmm ... the entire state bans smoking in restaurants and bars (whereas Philadelphia cannot get such a measure passed for their city). Yeah, that's "gouging" people alright.
Instead of taxing fast food, maybe Minner could mandate an hour or two of exercise for people ages 7-50 once per day. Or, perhaps fast food restaurants could be allowed to be open for only certain hours of the day. Or ban "super-size" options at all McDonalds. Yeesh. Taxing the burger joints ain't gonna excise the obesity problem. Not unless video games, cable TV and the Internet are banned too. Get it?
It constantly amazes me how short a supply folks possess in common sense. Smoking is bad for you, period. Fast food, in too large quantities, is bad for you. Don't do the former; moderate the latter. Use your friggin' noggin, people.
UPDATE: Leo Terrell is on the Cavuto show (FNC) complaining about how fast food chains advertise more on black TV, and have more restaurants in black neighborhoods. He complained that there isn't a McDonalds in Beverly Hills, but they're all over South Central. Well, duh. What's the median income of Beverly Hills occupants/shoppers?
Of course, if McD's, Burger King and others didn't advertise on black TV and set up operations in black neighborhoods, well, then it's this scenario.
UPDATE 2 (20, April at 11:32am): Paul Smith writes that I should have waited one more day to write my "Dopey Letter" post. He's right, dangit!
Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi said that the United States and Europe will have to "either accept that they will become Muslim, or they must proclaim war on Muslims." (Link.)
I think it's a safe bet that "war" is more likely, but it ain't necessarily going to go as Gadhafi thinks.
Meanwhile, with Iran's recent nuclear posturing, maybe it won't be Moammar sneakily planting a nuke in New York City. It'll probably be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Annan: Rising violence is 'very worrying' is a sub-headline over at MSNBC in this article. Gee, you think so, Kofi?
Israeli UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman said,
While Israel regrets any loss of life, it will not sit idly by and allow “human bombs” or rockets to penetrate the country and kill Israelis — and he asked whether every country wouldn’t do the same to eliminate a similar danger.
“The danger I must add, not just to Israel but also to the whole free world, and to civilization as we know it, as this axis of evil and terror sows the seeds of the first world war of the 21st century.”
Yep. When a near-nuclear power (Iran) says things like
But wait -- I thought Iran was developing nuclear power only for ... electricity!!
Prof. Sally Jacobsen was booted by Northern Kentucky University the other day for encouraging her students (and taking part in herself) to tear down a display of crosses symbolizing abortion deaths. Part of the university's statement:
While the University supports the right to free speech and vigorous debate on public issues, we cannot condone infringement of the rights of others to express themselves in an orderly manner. By leading her students in the destruction of an approved student organization display, Professor Sally Jacobsen's actions were inconsistent with Northern Kentucky University's commitment to free and open debate and the opportunity for all sides to be heard without threat of censorship or reprisal.
... to Thomas Beach for his "Community View" article in today's News Journal.
A must read.
Volokh has a couple posts about governments and law with respect to some of the more noteworthy science fiction series and creators. Of course, "Star Trek" gets more than its share of attention. Guest blogger Ilya Somin notes:
The ["Star Trek"] Federation is a very loose federal system with each planet enjoying a high degree of autonomy. This is portrayed favorably, while centralized empires such as the Romulans, the Dominion, and the Borg are viewed negatively.
I think the Borg can be discarded from serious consideration here as they're not a conglomeration of individuals as the other two are. They're a "collective mind." (Sure, Geordi and the Enterprise-D tried one time to introduce the concept of individuality to the Borg, with disastrous results.) And it's true that the Federation is a free association of planets that have willingly joined the alliance. However, one thing has to be centralized before joining the Federation: the planet itself. There must be a world governing body for a planet.
Various Trek shows have hinted at aspects of the Federation's political structure. In "The Drumhead," one of my favorite "Next Generation" episodes, Capt. Picard mentions the "7th Guarantee" of the Federation Constitution, which is analogous to the US Constitution's 5th Amendment. The "new" United Nations had ruled in 2039 that "Earth citizens may not be held responsible for crimes committed by ancestors;" however, Next Generation writers seemed to have forgotten about this in their latter episode writing PC zeal. In the series' last season episode "Journey's End," the head of a Native American [planetary] colony chides Picard for one of his ancestor's crimes (against a group of Natives) from over 700 years ago! Of course, this "new" UN edict may not have been incorporated into the Federation's own Articles, but this is unlikely.
It had always seemed weird to me that, aside from just a few "nice" planetary cultures (humans, Vulcans, Bolians) all the others were militaristic imperialists. However, it is logical to assume (if I may borrow a certain Vulcan's coined phrase) that all the "nice" planets are part of the Federation! The Federation's incorporation was actually witnessed in the last episode of "Enterprise," the latest (now canceled) Trek series.
The reason one of the Federation's "enemy" races -- the Cardassians -- fell under militaristic rule was due to the ineptitude of the civilian government in providing for the people -- revealed, among other places, in "Chain of Command". As mentioned here, it is in this episode where even Trek makes a distinction between "unlawful combatants" (terrorists) and prisoners of war. Capt. Picard is tricked by [Cardassian-planted] intelligence into joining a spy mission to eradicate a deadly Cardassian weapon. Upon being captured, Picard is subsequently tortured. The replacement captain of the Enterprise (played with perfect you-love-to-hate-him arrogance by Ronnie Cox) and other officers strongly protest any harsh treatment of Picard, but the Cardassian representative informs them that if the Federation does not take responsibility for Picard's actions, "he'll be treated as a terrorist," not as a POW (where he has assorted treaty protections similar to those of our Geneva Convention).
In a semi-related matter, I was checking out the "lost" Trek episodes -- those of the animated series from 1973. From reading the descriptions, the episodes look pretty cool and not necessarily created for a "kid" audience. Most of those involved with Trek do not count the TAS (The Animated Series) as part of "official" Trek history, with the exception of one episode, "Yesteryear."
One episode that intrigues the hell out of me is "The Slaver Weapon," which is directly based on one of my favorite sci-fi author's short stories, "The Soft Weapon." The author is Larry Niven, and his bad guys in the story are the dreaded Kzin, a brutal felinoid race. Niven merely replaces the human and other alien "good guys" in his story with the crew of the Enterprise, because the background story is almost exactly the same: billions of years ago, the "Slaver" race (real name "Thrint") had supreme mental abilities and basically ruled the entire Milky Way galaxy. One of their "slave" races, the Tnuctipun, was highly advanced technologically, and they clandestinely planned to overcome the Slavers after a period of many years. The resultant climax of their war led to the extermination of all life in the galaxy; however, the Slavers and Tnuctipun alike saved many artifacts in stasis boxes in which time essentially stands still.
In Niven's "The Soft Weapon," a duo of humans and a friendly alien discover such a [Tnuctipun] stasis box, and inside is the amazing weapon. They're eventually set upon by a Kzin ship, who've also detected the box. The implications of discovering this weapon become apparent when one of its settings is shown to be a "total conversion of matter-to-energy" device, which causes, needless to say, monolithic destruction. The Kzin manage to best the humans, grab the device, and set about to learn its secrets. However, the weapon proves to be a sentient computer as well, and assumes (rightly, actually) that hostile forces have captured it (mainly due to the Kzinti constantly demanding to know what it can do). It thus activates its self-destruct mechanism, annihilating itself and the Kzinti with it.
I checked out the one [five + minute long] video clip of "The Slaver Weapon," and the dialogue is almost directly taken from the short story, with Spock doing most of the "explanations."
One thing that was lame, in my opinion, is the ridiculous-looking Kzinti. Their bodies hardly look like that of ferocious carnivores; indeed, their limbs are ridiculously skinny and weak. Anyone who has checked out the excellent Niven-Universe "Man-Kzin Wars" series has seen what the catlike race should look like.
Another nice touch was how Sulu made the Kzinti part of Trek history -- Earth had fought four wars with the Kzin in the early era of human warp drive, and it was this invention that eventually allowed humans to defeat the big cats. (In the Niven Universe, Earth indeed fought four wars with the Kzin, but the first three were sub-light wars, meaning they took place over decades of time. The fourth and final war resulted in complete human victory as man began utilizing a faster-than-light space drive.) However, as noted previously, despite Sulu's comments in the episode, the Kzin are not part of "official" Trek history.
My eleven year old daughter likes to write. While I was doing some household chores this afternoon, the daughter was on the Word program utilizing her imagination. Here was my favorite that she showed me:
I sit at the window and try to picture
A perfect sunny day.
But the rain’s still there
It’s still there.
Down the gutter.
As if you little droplets never end,
Like I want you to.
Yep, the rain’s still here,
Wetting everything outside.
Drip, drip, drop,
My once called dream has finally arrived,
Dark clouds start to open up,
Sun starts to shine through,
What a perfect sunny day it is now.
... wrote a student up for using this language, I'd probably be laughed at.
Sad? Maybe. You decide.
Channeling Kanye West, the United Farm Workers Union's Dolores Huerta told a high school audience that "Republicans hate Latinos." Of course, there was a "good reason" for Huerta's inane utterance: [she] said her "Republicans hate Latinos" comment was based on the number of anti-immigration bills sponsored by Republicans. "Large numbers of the Republican Party are anti-immigrant or anti-Latino," she said. "I can justify that."
Next, suggesting books written by conservatives, and dealing with conservative ideas can get one ... brought up on discrimination and harrassment charges:
Officials at the Ohio State University are investigating an OSU Mansfield librarian for “sexual harassment” after he recommended four conservative books for a freshman reading program.
Scott Savage, who serves as a reference librarian for the university, suggested four best-selling conservative books for freshman reading in his role as a member of OSU Mansfield’s First Year Reading Experience Committee. The four books he suggested were The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian, The Professors by David Horowitz, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis by Bat Ye’or, and It Takes a Family by Senator Rick Santorum. Savage made the recommendations after other committee members had suggested a series of books with a left-wing perspective, by authors such as Jimmy Carter and Maria Shriver.
Savage was put under “investigation” by OSU’s Office of Human Resources after three professors filed a complaint of discrimination and harassment against him, saying that the book suggestions made them feel “unsafe.” The complaint came after the OSU Mansfield faculty voted without dissent to file charges against Savage. The faculty later voted to allow the individual professors to file charges.
I think this comment by frequent Colossus commenter G Rex addresses this perfectly: "The target has no way to respond or defend himself. Apparently there’s a zero tolerance policy for anything counter-revolutionary, in other words that calls faulty logic and knee-jerkiness into question."
I mean, "made them feel 'unsafe'"???? It's amazing that can even be suggested without laughing out loud!
Next, a Northern Kentucky University professor is under investigation for encouraging some of her students to trash an anti-abortion display of white crosses:
NKU police are investigating the incident, in which 400 crosses were removed from the ground near University Center and thrown in trash cans. The crosses, meant to represent a cemetery for aborted fetuses, had been temporarily erected last weekend by a student Right to Life group with permission from NKU officials.
Sally Jacobsen, a longtime professor in NKU's literature and language department, said the display was dismantled by about nine students in one of her graduate-level classes.
"I did, outside of class during the break, invite students to express their freedom-of-speech rights to destroy the display if they wished to," Jacobsen said.
Asked whether she participated in pulling up the crosses, the professor said, "I have no comment."
Leftist free speech = destruction of "offensive" property. Wow.
Lastly, in Pennsylvania, Erin O'Connor reports on how the university treated two different demonstrations about immigration:
As Philadelphia geared up for a rally organized by the Day Without an Immigrant Coalition, at least one Penn (University of Pennsylvania) professor pressed his students into the movement's service. "One of the marchers, Penn Asian-American Studies professor Ajay Nair, said he recommended that students in two of his classes attend the rally," the Daily Pennsylvanian reported. Nair told the DP that he's been doing his best to recruit his students to his cause: "We've also invited community folks to come and talk about immigration," Nair said. "I've been getting my classes mobilized." As one might expect, the spectacle of a professor working to "get his classes mobilized" was presented by the DP as completely acceptable practice --despite the fact that Nair's behavior is quite ethically questionable, not to mention pedagogically irresponsible.
But then read on about Penn State's response to the College Republicans' demonstration!
... had this operation gone into effect:
Nazi Germany planned to expand the extermination of Jews beyond the borders of Europe and into British-controlled Palestine during World War Two, two German historians say. In 1942, the Nazis created a special "Einsatzgruppe", a mobile SS death squad, which was to carry out the mass slaughter of Jews in Palestine similar to the way they operated in eastern Europe, the historians argue in a new study.
In the study, published last month, they say "Einsatzgruppe Egypt" was standing by in Athens and was ready to disembark for Palestine in the summer of 1942, attached to the "Afrika Korps" led by the famed desert commander General Erwin Rommel.
The Middle East death squad, similar to those operating throughout eastern Europe during the war, was to be led by SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Walther Rauff, the historians say.
(h/t: Soccer Dad.)
Give us a break, huh?
Via PolitaKid comes news of a Dover Post article on Delaware blogs. But, be aware that this article must have been written some time ago. Some of the more prominent DE blogs aren't even reviewed, and Al Mascitti's long-defunct "First Statements" is listed among the reviewed blogs!
Colossus gets a political leaning of "conservative," "ultra-conservative" even. What makes this humorous is that the Scourge's site gets a "Liberal, pretty sure" quip under this same heading. Another blogger whose politics are probably the most extreme in the DE blogosphere [also] merely gets a "Liberal" rating. I'm hesitant to chalk this up to reporter political bias; I'm more likely to attribute it to not spending a whole heck of a lot of time reading the various blogs. At any rate, here's what writer Diccon Hyatt said about Colossus:
Description: Political and cultural commentary, mostly about national politics but with a little Delaware thrown in.
Author bio: There are five anonymous authors: “Rhodey,” “Felix,” “Philip,” “Hube” and “Gooch.”
Quote: “Man, if it isn’t here in (and about) our own country, it’s our neighbors’. This time, the target of lost-his-marbles Al Gore is the newly-elected conservative government of Canada. Or, as Gore calls it, the “ultra-conservative government.”
Political leaning: Conservative. “ultra-conservative” [sic] even.
Comments: There are several regular commentators, though they recently banned the liberal guy who used to hector them. (Jason of Delaware Liberal).
Been around since: July 2005
Updated: Several times per week
Another fault with a "snapshot" article -- the Scourge was banned here for what -- a week? Two at most? (Admittedly, the Scourge has been much better in his comments lately.)
Ah well. I e-mailed Hyatt about the article inquiring as to the "ultra" label and the time difference between his ... research and the publication. I'll keep you posted.
UPDATE: Heard back from Hyatt. He says his "ultra-conservative" description was just a riff on the Al Gore quote used in the selected "blog quote" above. I had wondered about that; now it's clear. Thanks for responding so quickly, Diccon!
Roger Clegg at The Corner offers:
If schools are not racially balanced enough, then that's racist and we have to mandate racial balance. But if there is too much integration, then we have to step in and mandate separation so that each racial minority group can control its own destiny. (Another example is the war on drugs: Enforce antidrug laws, and it's a racist war on young black men; don't enforce them, and that's a racist abandonment of the inner cities. Zero tolerance policies in schools are racist, but if there is a lack of order in our inner-city schools, that proves that the system is racist, too. The list is endless.)
Indeed it is endless. Like President Bush, for example: he has appointed more African-Americans to the highest posts of government than any predecessor, then these appointees are called "Uncle Toms" and "house negroes"; he reaches out to groups like the NAACP despite being slimed as racist and the usual crap, then when he doesn't appear before the civil rights group he's also condemned; he fights for and wins passage of No Child Left Behind which has focused more than ever before on the progress of the poorest children, many if not most being minorities, yet those "champions" for minorities like the NEA scream about "too much testing," and moonbat academics label NCLB as some devious scheme of racial exclusion.
UPDATE: La Shawn Barber has a post up that further demonstrates this phenomenon.
... on Dana Garrett. No, I do not believe he is actually anti-Semitic. This view is reinforced due to my meeting him in person several times in the past. I continue to believe, however, as I mentioned here, that he is quite misguided and unwilling to face up to certain uncomfortable truths regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Dana is also upset that I haven't corrected the record on this post whereby I call him on his providing proof of the 1976 UN Security Resolution that supposedly guarantees Israel a "peace" offer. He has since provided a source. (He could've commented on the post in question himself; I am curious as to why he has not.) Nevertheless, Dana is upset that I have implied anti-Semitism on his part due to him not recognizing certain facts about this resolution. Again, you can read some of the debate here. And although I do not personally believe Dana to be anti-Semitic, again, I continue to question much of what he believes regarding this resolution and the security of Israel. For example, Dana's continued insistence that the PLO and surrounding Arab states agreed to recognize Israel's borders in the 1976 UN resolution without an explicit provision negating the return of the Palestinian refugees (indeed, the resolution mandates the return of Palestinian refugees) means the implications are obvious: the resolution negates itself. Of course the PLO agreed to it. What does it matter if they recognize the borders of what will swiftly cease to become a Jewish state?
I would hope that Dana would likewise make a statement that he believes I, in particular, am not a racist, xenophobe or Islamophobe, as he has implied and denoted here and on his blog. If Dana feels so strongly about being thought of as an anti-Semite -- so much so that he has threatened to reveal my full name and place of employment, and continues to use the legal term "libel" -- it ill-behooves me to see how it is appropriate to utilize similar tactics himself.
I'll leave it to you readers to decide who's out of line. As for me, I hereby disassociate myself from Dana and Delaware Watch utterly and completely. The others here concur.
I do wish Dana continued success in his blogging efforts.
The issue of "cruel and unusual punishment" will be addressed in a talk by Ken Haas, professor of sociology and criminal justice at UD, at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, April 13, in 114 Purnell Hall.
In his talk, "The Eighth Amendment and the 'Living Constitution,'" Haas will focus on the amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and the U.S. Supreme Court's recent rulings that the Eighth Amendment must be interpreted in line with "evolving standards of decency." Haas will argue that this approach has undermined democratic values and resulted in inconsistencies in criminal sentencing.
The lecture is sponsored by the Delaware Association of Scholars and is free and open to the public.
Due to this poster witnessed at today's Dallas immigration rally?
Probably not. If the GOP uses it, the "R" word will be used to a maximum. Guaranteed.
Via The Corner comes an e-mail that was sent to the Tucker Carlson Show:
Good luck is right. The Mexican authorities wouldn't put up with that kind of behavior for a second. As they shouldn't. As we shouldn't. And yet we do. In this one way, it would be nice if we were a little more like Mexico.
The London bombings were not acts of terrorism but "a demonstration", according to a senior academic.
Prof. Ron Geaves has sparked controversy by claiming that the attacks on Tube trains and a bus that killed 52 innocent people in July were part of a long history of protests by British Muslims.
He also said that to refer to the attacks as terrorism risked "demonising" those involved.
His comments were made as he prepared to give a lecture at the University of Chester to dignitaries and members of the Muslim community in the North West.
As part of his research, Prof Geaves has looked at the history of demonstrations by British Muslims. His work charts the changing nature of Muslim communities from the demonstrations against the author Salman Rushdie to the anti-war protests after the invasion of Iraq.
"I have included, rather controversially, the events in London as primarily an extreme form of demonstration and assess what these events actually mean in terms of their significance in the Muslim community," Prof Geaves said last week.
"Terrorism is a political word which always seems to be used to demonise people."
Prof Geaves, whose lecture was entitled "Twenty years of fieldwork: reflections on 'reflexivity' in the study of British Muslims", said: "The title refers to the personal transformation that has taken place over the last two decades in which I have moved from a position of academic neutrality to one of active engagement with the Muslim community."
Noooo, really? 'Ya think?
For the sexual orientation of important (and not-so-important) historical figures to be noted in your kid's history textbooks? California (surprise!) is attempting to lead the way:
The state Senate will consider a bill that would require California schools to teach students about the contributions gay people have made to society -- an effort that supporters say is an attempt to battle discrimination and opponents say is designed to use the classroom to get children to embrace homosexuality.
The bill, which was passed by a Senate committee Tuesday, would require schools to buy textbooks "accurately'' portraying "the sexual diversity of our society.'' More controversially, it could require that students hear history lessons on "the contributions of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to the economic, political, and social development of California and the United States of America.''
Though it's a California bill, it could have far-reaching implications, not only by setting a precedent but also because California is the nation's largest textbook buyer and as such often sets the standards for publishers who sell nationwide.
Joanne Jacobs says: "I hadn't known that the author of 'America the Beautiful,' Katharine Lee Bates, was gay. There's a classic twofer mention: female and gay. And irrelevant."
Our own Hube participated in a textbook review committee, DeTAC (Delaware Textbook Assessment Committee) that discussed, in part, an over-emphasis on trivial historical facts as opposed to vital ones -- all in the name of "group contributions." Looks like we may be embarking on yet another instance of this.
(h/t to Gooch for the link!)
"Delegates to the British Conservative Party 'Spring Forum' were given an 8-page leaflet as they left where David Cameron urged the activists to 'be the change.' The leaflet included a handy 10-point list to show conservatives how they can change the world and the environment":
1. Take the bus when you can. (No thanks on that one. But I bike and walk to destinations whenever the urge bites me.)
2. Get to know your neighbours better. (This is a new idea??)
3. Pick up one piece of litter from the street everyday. (Already Done! And hell -- I could fill a medium-sized trash can with what I pick up in the halls of my school everyday!)
4. Re-use your plastic bags when you go to the shops. (Always!)
5. Switch to energy efficiency light bulbs at home. (Already done!)
6. Reduce your thermostat by 2 degrees. (Well, when we're not home and at night, absolutely. But I hate being cold. Also, we just put out a pretty penny for new -- and much more energy efficient -- windows and doors.)
7. Support your local shopkeepers. (I support shopkeepers who are polite, courteous, friendly, and offer a good product at a decent price. Bottom line.)
8. Don't overfill your kettle. (Huh?)
9. Fill out a donor card. (My driver's license has "Organ Donor" listed. I'm also a member of the Blood Bank. Speaking of which ...)
10. Give blood. (No problem. I also donate phareses. I think that's spelled right!)
(Via The Corner.)
In a related matter, Mohammad Abu Tir, the number two Hamas terrorist in the newly formed Palestinian Authority government, is reported to have said the following:
"Even the churches where the Americans pray are led by Jews who were converted to Christianity, but they were converted to keep controlling the Americans. I made a study and I know very well that all this radicalism in some parts of the Christianity, (including) the Anglicans who are being led by Bush, is because of the control of Zionists."
BUT -- Hamas "may" be ready to accept a two-state solution with their Israeli neighbors. Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar said “Let us speak about what is the meaning of the two-state solution. We will ask them (Israel) what is their concept concerning the two-state solution.”
BUT -- only a day earlier, [Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail] Haniyeh had told The Associated Press that Hamas would not recognize Israel.
Say it with me: Talk. Is. Cheap.
Virginia Beach has reached an agreement with the US Justice Dept. regarding allegations that its police dept. discriminated against black and Hispanic recruits. Here's what happened:
The Justice Department had complained that the math portion of the exam had an adverse effect on minority applicants and unfairly excluded them from being hired.
Tha math portion?? In one of the better movies of the last decade, "Boyz 'n the Hood," Laurence Fishburn's character, "Furious" Styles, tells his son and his friends about the "cultural bias" of the SAT -- but that only its math portion is universal.
The city will offer to let 124 black and Hispanic former applicants resume the hiring process. Those recruits failed the math test between 2002 and 2005 but would have passed under the new standards.
In the 27-page settlement, the Justice Department states that the city did not intentionally discriminate against blacks and Hispanics.
"The Department of Justice has alleged that the testing component disproportionately disqualified minority applicants," Deputy City Attorney Mark Stiles said. "They don't allege that we engaged in that conduct with the intent of discrimination, but rather that the disparate impact was found to have occurred by our simply using the test."
Ah, that old "disparate impact" scenario that somehow translates into "discrimination." Of course, the solution then is to lower standards so that this does not occur -- instead of assisting those "impacted" to do better on the exam!
The whole premise is politically correct nonsense. If the minority scores were better, there wouldn't even be a concern about what is actually the legitimate point in this entire situation:
The Justice Department questioned whether math is relevant to the daily duties of a police officer. The city agreed to eliminate the 70 percent cutoff score for the math part of the test.
And this is a good question. How much math does a police officer need to know? Basic math? Probably. Algebra? Unlikely. I'd be curious to see exactly what sorts of problems were on the exam.
However, the Justice Dept. didn't have any qualms about the reading and grammar portions of the test. Weren't these "culturally biased"? And how important is a cop's grammar? If he's talking to regular citizens, who cares if he uses double negatives -- or knows the difference between "your" and "you're"?
The city has created a $160,000 fund to "compensate" the former applicants who failed the old version of the math test. In the new version, "an applicant must score at least 70 percent on the reading and grammar parts of the test and score an average of at least 60 percent on all three parts of the exam."
Man, no wonder Ron Unz wanted to end bilingual education so badly:
Rudy Rios was stripped of his duties as junior varsity baseball coach at Chavez High School last week after using a district copying machine to make a flier encouraging Latino students to attend a rally protesting restrictions on illegal immigration.
Rios, who still retains his duties as an English-as-a-second-language teacher, was copying and distributing a flier that read: "We gots 2 stay together and protest against the new law that wants 2 be passed against all immigrants. We gots 2 show the U.S. that they aint (expletive) with out us (sic)." (Link.)
1 (expletive) wunders how he gott hyred to teech Inglish.
Immigration is yet another issue which we seem unable to discuss rationally -- in part because words have been twisted beyond recognition in political rhetoric.
We can't even call illegal immigrants "illegal immigrants." The politically correct evasion is "undocumented workers."
Do American citizens go around carrying documents with them when they work or apply for work? Most Americans are undocumented workers but they are not illegal immigrants. There is a difference.
Perhaps the, er, "best" term floated about lately is "free trade refugee." I've wondered about that. NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, didn't take effect until 1994, and even granting that, virtual tariff-free trade didn't occur until 2003. Since this agreement is the basis for free trade, what, pray tell, should all the illegal immigrants be dubbed pre-NAFTA? You know, like those almost four million illegal immigrants to whom President Reagan granted amnesty by signing the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, for instance?
Maybe the PC overlords can fill us in. When they figure out a nifty new moniker, that is!
... or vice versa.
WPHT "Big Talker" morning guy Michael Smerconish, while substituting for Joe Scarborough on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country," gave the Wilmington News Journal it's "Joe Schmoe" award for the night back on March 23:
SMERCONISH: Well, it’s time for tonight’s “Joe’s Schmoe.”
A newspaper headline out of Delaware grabbed my attention. Here’s what it said: “Dover Police Seek Bearded Man in Rape.” Now, I read the article expecting to find a description of the bearded one who’s on the lam. Is his white? Is he black, Asian, Hispanic, an Indian chief?
But there was no mention of his race in the article, only a brief note that he drove a blue car. Well, apparently it’s the policy of the “News Journal” not to mention a suspect’s race in a crime story.
Hey, listen, “News Journal,” if you’re going to have a real newspaper and write about real events, readers expect to read what really happened. That’s why most people read a newspaper. So, because of that, “News Journal,” you’re tonight’s “Joe’s Schmoe.”
My last "Dopey WNJ Letter of the Week" entry contained a [secondary] sensical letter from Chip Irons that brought up this very point. Maybe Chip got the idea from Smerconish, since the latter voiced it first. Whatever the case, the point remains a good one, and the Schmoe award is well deserved.
It's worth noting the chutzpah it takes for an illegal immigrant to join a protest which claims illegals have a right to stay, live and work in the U.S. Maybe these illegals, especially Mexicans, ought to consider how their own country treats illegal immigrants, particularly from Central America:
Mexico’s own immigration policies are the exact opposite of what it relentlessly advocates in the United States. Its entry permits favor scientists, technicians, teachers of underrepresented disciplines, and others likely to contribute to “national progress.” Immigrants may only enter through established ports and at designated times. Anyone not presenting the proper documentation and health certificates won’t get in; the transportation company that brought him must pay his return costs. Foreigners who do not “strictly comply” with the entry conditions will face deportation. Steve Royster, who worked in the American consulate in Mexico from 1999 to 2001, presided over several deportations of Americans who had overstayed their visas. “They were given a choice: accept deportation or go to jail,” he says.
Providing full college tuition or all-expenses-paid secondary and primary education for illegal American students in Mexico? Unthinkable. Until recently, U.S.-born children of Mexican parents weren’t even allowed to enroll in Mexican public schools, reserved for Mexican citizens only. The parents would have to bribe officials for Mexican birth certificates for their kids. (The 1998 change in the Mexican constitution to allow dual nationality now makes enrollment by U.S.-born Mexicans possible.) “We’re not friendly with immigrants; that’s a big difference with the speech we have here with American schools,” admits a Mexican diplomat.
Mexico’s border police have reportedly engaged in rapes, robberies, and beatings of illegal aliens from Central and South America on their way to the U.S. Yet compared with the extensive immigrant-advocacy network in the U.S., few pressure groups exist in Mexico to protest such treatment. If Americans run afoul of Mexico’s border police, watch out. In 1996, the Mexican police beat and shot in the back a teenage American girl who had led them on a high-speed chase in Tijuana.No one in the U.S. or Mexico raised a fuss, at least publicly.
Contrast that incident with another that occurred in the U.S. a few months earlier. A vanload of Mexican illegals in California had fled from the border patrol and the Riverside County deputies, throwing metal bars and beer cans at their pursuers and sideswiping cars to divert attention. When the van stopped, the deputies caught two of the fleeing occupants and beat them. Mexico’s foreign ministry turned the beating into an international human rights incident, attributing it to “discriminatory attitudes that lead to institutional violence.” Mexican diplomats formally protested to state and federal officials, and helped the two beaten Mexicans file multimillion-dollar lawsuits against the deputies and Riverside County.
The Center for Security Policy has even more interesting information. It notes, "Mexico deals harshly not only with illegal immigrants. It treats even legal immigrants, naturalized citizens and foreign investors in ways that would, by the standards of those who carp about U.S. immigration policy, have to be called 'racist' and 'xenophobic.'"
In addition, the Mexican Constitution provides for the following:
Mark "The Great One" Levin examines the results of a Rasmussen poll that includes the following:
Two-thirds (68%) of Americans believe it is possible to reduce illegal immigration while just 20% disagree. The belief that the issue could be addressed adds to the intensity of the debate.
A similar number (66%) believe it doesn't make sense to debate new immigration laws until we can first control our borders and enforce existing laws. Just 21% disagree with that approach.
Well, of course it makes sense to enforce existing laws before you make new ones. It'd solve much, if not most, of the problem.
Lastly, beware "May Day" -- ANSWER and co. are planning The "Great American Boycott of 2006" hoping to persuade lawmakers ... well, you can guess. ANSWER organized the recent Los Angeles protest to -- get this -- win "full rights for undocumented workers." Maybe they ought to consider taking these protests down south of the border. Wonder how successful they'd be there.
Chris Hitchens has the scoop on ANSWER.
UPDATE: Greg at Rhymes With Right had a very similar post up early this morning. Honest -- I didn't even see Greg's piece! Nevertheless, go check it out for another take.
Paul Verhoeven, director of the "Basic Instinct 2," as well as the vastly more successful precursor "Basic Instinct," "attributes the genre's (erotic thriller) demise to the current American political climate."
"Anything that is erotic has been banned in the United States," said the Dutch native. "Look at the people at the top (of the government). We are living under a government that is constantly hammering out Christian values. And Christianity and sex have never been good friends."
Nicholas Meyer, who was an uncredited writer on 1987's seminal sex-fueled cautionary tale "Fatal Attraction," agrees, noting that the genre's downfall coincides with the ascent of the conservative political movement.
"We're in a big puritanical mode," he said. "Now, it's like the McCarthy era, except it's not 'Are you a communist?' but 'Have you ever put sex in a movie?"'
Yeah Nick. When have you been hauled before a senate committee and grilled about your movies? When has the FBI come knocking at your door? Nothing like ridiculous hyperbole to excuse bad filmmaking.
The truth is more sensible: either your movies suck ("Basic Instinct 2" has been panned almost universally) or the genre's appeal is waning. Science fiction hasn't always been appealing, for example; "Star Wars" reawakened it in 1977. Even Mark Damon, once dubbed the king of eroticism for producing such steamy classics as 1986's "9 1/2 Weeks" and 1990's "Wild Orchid," said he stopped producing sex-steeped dramas because "I didn't find any scripts that were worth producing. The genre had exhausted itself."
As for Verhoeven, he ought to concentrate on setting his native Europe straight on freedom of expression. That, and he holds a not-so-special place in infamy as he's the dufus responsible for trashing the vision of probably the best sci-fi writer ever, Robert Heinlein, in his ridiculous movie adaptation of "Starship Troopers." God, I cannot believe those who rated the film an average of 6.7 out of ten at the IMDB. The movie was pitiful, transforming Heinlein's political philosophy masterpiece into a special effects-laden cartoon, complete with -- surprise! -- a quasi-fascist military state. The travesty continues in "Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation" which went directly to video.
It should have gone directly to the landfill.
... by Watching America co-founder Robin Koerner.
George Will (by way of The Corner) notes how "back then" it was global cooling the alarmists were screaming:
Yep. That's why many remain open-minded about the "need for immediate action" when it comes to global warming.
Isn't that a European language? How many Mexicans/other Latin Americans have Spanish blood?
UPDATE: Arab and Turkish students demand Germans return to their native continent. Oh, wait -- never mind.
Geez, not for another two weeks! The good news is, once the break is over, summer vacation is right around the corner. One of the benefits of being a teacher is that one never loses that kid-like anticipation of summer arriving! I love it!
Heading to my cousin's son's barmitzvah (hope that's spelled right) this morning. Then, me and a few of my close teaching colleagues are getting together for a "fellas" night of food, beer and ... bowling!! Yep, that's what married, early 40-somethings do on their weekends, occasionally. In the meantime, chew on these tidbits:
Have a nice Saturday!