"We are going to shake The Hague awake!"
So says Holland's The Charity, Freedom and Diversity Party (NVD). What, exactly do they wish to awaken the Hague to? Take a look:
The party said it wanted to cut the legal age for sexual relations to 12 and eventually scrap the limit altogether.
"A ban just makes children curious," Ad van den Berg, one of the party's founders, told the Algemeen Dagblad (AD) newspaper.
"We want to make pedophilia the subject of discussion," he said, adding the subject had been a taboo since the 1996 Marc Dutroux child abuse scandal in neighboring Belgium.
"We want to get into parliament so we have a voice. Other politicians only talk about us in a negative sense, as if we were criminals," Van den Berg told Reuters.
I mean, gee -- how dare people view those who wish to have sex with children negatively, right? Still, isn't this party just attempting to be ... progressive? Wouldn't the following qualify as such?
The party wants private possession of child pornography to be allowed although it supports the ban on the trade of such materials. It also supports allowing pornography to be broadcast on daytime television, with only violent pornography limited to the late evening.
Toddlers should be given sex education and youths aged 16 and up should be allowed to appear in pornographic films and prostitute themselves. Sex with animals should be allowed although abuse of animals should remain illegal, the NVD said.
The party also said everybody should be allowed to go naked in public and promotes legalizing all soft and hard drugs and free train travel for all.
Can't get much more "progressive" or "liberal" than that, folks. (The only thing I technically have no beef with is the "sex with animals" part, no pun intended. If someone wants to hump a sheep in the privacy of their own, um ... barn, who the hell cares. But as the NVD said, just don't abuse the animals for heaven's sake! Rape somehow doesn't qualify, of course.)
La Shawn Barber is fired up about this.
(h/t: Hatemonger's Quarterly.)
... that makes a lot of sense. Howard Berlin, originally of Wilmington now living in Jerusalem, writes:
When it comes to Israel, there always seems to be a double standard. Many nations found it morally justified to boycott South Africa about 20 years ago, and businesses involved with it, to force changes in its apartheid laws. But when the United States, Israel and the European Union try to use similar economic leverage to force Hamas to change its policies about wanting to destroy Israel, Palestinians cry foul and blame Israel as the root cause of all their problems.
... What Hamas and especially Fatah don't want the world to remember is their economic troubles go much further back than the January elections and the economic boycott. The trouble, almost all of it self-induced, goes back to the biggest goniff of them all: Yasser Arafat. As chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and president of the Palestinian Authority, he ran the PA unchallenged from its inception in 1994.
Berlin goes on to note that Arafat's net worth ranged from $200 million to $6 billion. He ends with
And there is a reported allowance of $22 million annually from the Palestinian Authority for the rest of Mrs. Arafat's life, approved by Mahmoud Abbas and then-Prime Minister Ahmed Queria in 2004.
With all this Palestinian money squandered and stolen by one of their own, Palestinian Health Minister Bassem Naim recently had the chutzpah to appeal for $4.3 million for health care in the Palestinian territories to prevent a "humanitarian and health disaster." The United States, European Union, Israel and United Nations should demand guarantees that before one dollar is handed over, Palestinians will apply the same energy and resources they have been using to manipulate world opinion to recover the money Arafat stole from them.
The West should directly provide all humanitarian aid. The PA must terminate payment for Suha Arafat's lavish lifestyle, and stop paying reparations to families of homicide bombers.
When the Palestinian Authority government has shown it can be fiscally responsible, then the world will respond in kind.
Don't make too much sense, Mr. Berlin. You'll really upset the perpetual Israel-blamers!
Case in point: The Tuscaloosa News's Bill Maxwell. He chimes in on the recent "rediscovered cojones" of the Dixie Chicks who, as I'm sure you've heard, don't exactly like George W. Bush. Maxwell says:
The group came back to life with a vengeance last Tuesday, when their new CD, “Taking the Long Way," was released. The CD shows that these feisty Texans refuse to be further silenced by right-wing country music fans.
The country music crowd refused to forgive (the Chicks' initial diss of Bush), diehard fans were disappointed and the Dixie Chicks watched as their music was virtually silenced on the country airwaves.
Resentful of being punished for exercising their right to free speech as American citizens, the Dixie Chicks joined the “Vote for Change" tour in 2004. Sponsored by liberal MoveOn.org., the tour supported John Kerry against Bush.
Energized by the tour and outraged by the attacks and banishment, the Dixie Chicks began planning their next album – one that would take back their lives and careers from demagogues. Even more, Maines told Time magazine a few weeks before “Long Way" was released that she also was taking back her apology to Bush.
Maxwell, who is a journalism professor, obviously doesn't know what censorship is, like too many other Americans. Here's the facts: NO ONE prevented the Dixie Chicks from saying what they did about the president. They were not fined or imprisoned. The fact that they are "changing their minds" about their apology is proof of the lack of censorship.
What Maxwell and numerous others believe is that the First Amendment guarantees is freedom from criticism. It does not. They also fail to recognize that freedom of expression applies to the fans (or former fans) of the Chicks. This means they have every right to stop buying the Chicks' CDs and radio stations have every right to not play their music.
Just as the Dixie Chicks have every right to say what they wish, they also have the right to be as stupid as they want to be by saying things that will obviously alienate a lot of their fans. It never ceases to amaze me how those in entertainment believe that they are somehow immune from the economics of the average consumer -- that that is their freedom of expression.
The relevant upshot is that radio stations and private individuals who choose not to buy Dixie Chicks music cannot by definition be engaging in censorship. They are just making free decisions, which they are entitled to do in a free country. It is no different from deciding to shop at Wal-Mart rather than Target (or vice-versa).
Let me put that another way. Yes, of course, you have the right to say what you think. But you do not have the rights (a) to have me listen, (b) to have me approve or support what you say, or (c) to have me continue to associate with you if I choose not to. Freedom goes both ways: if you have it, then so do I. You may speak, dress, believe, behave how you choose, but only insofar as you do not infringe on my and other unwilling others' freedom to do the same.
(h/t: Liberty and Power.)
UPDATE: Since the MuNu spam filter will not allow me to post these links in comments (someone out there still doesn't believe me) to satisfy the Scourge, here are some links that use the "c" word when discussing the DCs:
... "The director of the Center for Equal Opportunities and Opposition against racism (CEOOR), a governmental agency in Belgium, has told the press that the stigmatization or discrimination of majorities is not real discrimination.
These days the CEOOR is distributing 100,000 post cards with the message "Vuile Hetero" (in Dutch) or "Sale Hétéro" (in French), which in English translates to: "Dirty Heterosexual". In a press release, the center explains that this is a "provocative boomerang campaign" intended to demonstrate "the kind of insults homosexuals are frequently subjected to".
And provocative it proved to be. The campaign led Jan Van Gucht, a 54 year old man living near the Flemish city of Kortrijk, to go to the police and file a complaint against the CEOOR. He told newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws:
"I am a heterosexual man and I did not choose to. I was born this way, and I do not want to be insulted. This campaign will increase the lack of understanding between both groups. We are too far gone when a center against discrimination, which until now I respected, is starting these kind of 'jokes'."
But the CEOOR would have none of that! Director Jozef De Witte said
"I have a number of experts working for me who know what discrimination is. The stigmatization of a majority is not really part of that. Discrimination is something that by definition affects minorities."
Blogger Luc Van Braekel responds to this silliness: "If we take De Witte at his word, the South African apartheid regime did not really discriminate against the black majority."
The sad reality is that De Witte is a follower of Herbert Marcuse, who has poisoned the youth with his idea of partisan tolerance: the enemies have to be forced into tolerance, but we ourselves are allowed to be intolerant against them. This is because there are "correct" opinions that are to be preferred, and "incorrect" opinions that have to be fought against with all means. According to Marcuse, a non-partisan tolerance would leave the established values intact, which would lead to repressive tolerance. Therefore, Marcuse only accepted a partisan tolerance which would have to be "intolerant toward the protagonists of the repressive status quo", or would promote "intolerance against movements from the Right, and toleration of movements from the Left".
We've seen this right here, locally. Right-leaning DE bloggers have been dubbed "anti-immigrant" and "Islamophobes" by some on the left side of the state blogosphere -- for posting about illegal immigration and the dangers of radical Islam. They're considered "incorrect" views. However, let, for example, the "incorrect" suggestion of anti-Semitism squeak through by the right against the left, and you might as well think the apocalypse is upon us based on the ferocity of the left's response. It fits the Marcusian premise perfectly.
There's no worse "crime" than to dub a leftist something using their own bag of tricks.
Meanwhile, the CEOOR's "definition" of what discrimination "really is" has already been utilized by educational institutions here in the US. Take the Seattle Public Schools' definition of racism:
The systematic subordination of members of targeted racial groups who have relatively little social power in the United States (Blacks, Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asians), by the members of the agent racial group who have relatively more social power (Whites). The subordination is supported by the actions of individuals, cultural norms and values, and the institutional structures and practices of society.
Just don't ask how it isn't racism/discrimination if a white person is subjected to harassment, unfair conditions, etc. while working at a black-owned company, for example. Or where the majority of a company's employees is minority. Or where a school's majority population is ... minority. These don't matter, you see, even though in these examples clearly the minorities have the majority of social power and [would be] doing the subordinating.
Doesn't PC always inevitably come to bite itself in the a**?
Via the New York Times: Well-Intentioned Food Police May Create Havoc With Children's Diets. My favorite paragraph:
I fear there's something else at work — a fear borne out by a flier my fifth grader brought home saying that at the monthly pizza hot lunch, no child would be allowed to buy a second slice of pizza. The district says the new ruling is to avoid bad feelings caused by "inequities": if everyone can't have extra helpings, no one can.
But that isn't really part of the article's main thrust. Read the whole thing.
The Washington Post reports on how Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez is molding "future Chavezes" at the new Bolivarian University of Venezuela.
The government has already built a network of health and education programs. But Chavez has promised more, and to keep those promises from souring into disillusionment, officials acknowledge they will need a lot of industrious bodies, all tuned to roughly the same ideological wavelength.
Thousands of students expected to staff free public health clinics as physicians will get their diplomas at Bolivarian University. So will social workers slated for neighborhood literacy centers, and journalists whom the government believes are necessary alternatives to an opposition-controlled national media.
Of course! The "same ideological wavelength"! Do socialist/communists have it any other way?
The government's political opposition, a group increasingly relegated to the sidelines of Venezuelan public life, sees the university as a thinly disguised propaganda factory that takes advantage of the country's most vulnerable citizens.
"Unfortunately, the government is using education as a political tool," said Julio Borges, an opposition leader running for president against Chavez in December's elections. "The Bolivarian University is just another vehicle, a bridge, to politicize the population."
Of course it is, Mr. Borges. But what did you expect? As I noted here, up until Chavez became president, not much was done to satisfy the [poor] masses of your country. Now you're stuck with a budding Castro, Hugo Chavez, who has recently proposed that he be allowed to continue to run for president (despite constitutional prohibitions) until the year 2031.
(By the way, some leftists have "corrected" the story on that, such that it is, stating that Chavez "just" wants to allow the public to vote on dissolving that "little" constitutional provision allowing only two presidential terms -- which would, of course, allow him to be pres. until 2031 or whenever, actually. This is predicated, Chavez says, on the opposition refusing to participate in elections. My post here clearly points out that it wasn't clear at the time of the initial report if Chavez meant "a legally binding vote to eliminate limits on re-election or proposing a plebiscite." Either way, it's pure democracy in action, folks -- just allow the majority to vote on a change to the constitution, and so it is! Can you imagine for just one second, these same leftists' reaction if President Bush (if he commanded much better popularity from the American public, that is) proposed a national referendum on repealing the 22nd Amendment? DICTATOR! KING! MONARCH! Hell, they're calling him that already without him proposing something so nutty! Yet, when Hugo Chavez takes advantage of the "tyrannny of the majority," it's merely "the will of the people.")
As Edmund Burke said about such a government: "Being ruled by the occasional will of the people, which is democracy, is to replace the rule of wisdom with the rule of wishes, and inevitably obtain social decline."
Back to the article:
Alejandro Padron is like a lot of the students here: 19 years old, from a poor family, who grew up loving sports more than books and never really thought of his long-term prospects until faced with the drab inevitability of a service industry job. He said he took entrance exams for the Central University of Venezuela, and -- like most of his friends -- didn't make it. He watched as some of those friends paid fees to take the tests over and over, and began to resent the hopelessness of it. College in Venezuela, he decided, was a racket only the rich could beat.
"You begin to invest in something you'll never have," he said. "Then you realize that it's just another way to keep you enslaved."
You see, it's society's fault that Padron (which means "godfather" in Spanish, by the way ... thanks Hube!) that Padron "grew up loving sports" over education, and, hence, had to settle on a "drab" service job as a result. And, since he couldn't get into college (again, because of his choices), he's "enslaved." But Chavez is gonna change that little paradigm:
There was no question about getting accepted at Bolivarian University, because everyone gets in. It doesn't matter if applicants spent the past 11 years in prison for murder -- as did a 49-year-old law student who said he is eager for a second chance -- or if they're foreign tourists interested in social activism in Venezuela. Inclusion is the golden rule here. So Padron enrolled last year and decided to major in politics.
Hope they have a gazillion remedial courses. Take Padron, again:
But when classes started, he had second thoughts.
"My first day was frustrating, because I saw a lot of people who were already ideologically formed -- you know, Lenin and Marx," he said. "I was like, 'What is that? It must be a religion.' " But he soon made friends with a tight group of young students, all frank idealists who said they were fully committed to the Bolivarian Revolution, a model derived from the legacy of Simon Bolivar, the South American liberator. Whatever political commentary Padron can offer today, he said, he learned "with the help of my comrades."
That's just what Chavez wants -- someone in college who knows virtually nothing about his chosen field of study. Why else wouldn't he be "fully committed" to the Bolivarian Revolution -- when he knows nothing otherwise?
"The goal of Bolivarian University is to form 'the New Man,' " said Padron, dropping a term coined by another revolutionary, Guevara, to refer to someone who is selflessly dedicated to bettering society. "The New Man is not a technocrat, but rather is proficient in various fields -- professional and technological -- and is completely focused on his community. He is a humanist."
And, if Padron gets truly educated, he'll realize the New Man is a sad joke -- a Utopian ideal that can only be imposed through force. And, if Padron gets educated, he'll realize that there will be differing degrees in which his "comrades" believe in the New Man philosophy. Those who believe in it less will ... tend to do less work, while those who believe in it more will ... do more work. But in the ultimate egalitarian society, how is this inherent unfairness dealt with? Answer: It is not. All will get the same despite motivation and results.
The Caracas campus's library, in the basement of the main building, holds a generous collection of political texts, the vast majority from Latin American authors aligned with Chavez's socialist vision ... The American author with the most titles under his name in the political section is Michael Moore.
Good luck with that indoctrin, er, uh, "education," Padron.
The students said they respected U.S. founders and activists such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X but professed bafflement at what, in their view, was the apathetic regard for the poor at the root of free-market capitalism espoused by the United States.
"In the 21st century, it seems as if the people in the United States are asleep," said Cesar Trompiz, 19, a law student and a friend of Padron's. "It seems like they don't even know what's going on in their own country."
Apathetic? Padron's [re]education is well under way, it seems. I'll bet Padron nor any other Chavista -- not to mention any Castroite -- can adequately answer why so many wish to ENTER the country which is "apathetic" to the poor (gee, just take a gander at the current immigration debate!), while people are fleeing Venezuela (and Cuba, which coercively keeps people in). I have never heard a committed socialist/Marxist/communist answer that very simple question.
The poor in the United States, Padron, live extremely well by planetary standards. And just because the government isn't involved in all levels in assistance to them doesn't mean people are apathetic. But then, we are hearing this from one who's majoring in politics and didn't know who Marx and Lenin were.
That won't happen to them, the students said, noting that they value community service over individual comfort. They're not sure exactly what they will do after graduating, but their jobs probably will be somehow connected to the public sector.
Gee, you think?
Critics of the university, however, wonder how the flood of Bolivarian graduates can be absorbed into the Venezuelan economy.
"When they get to the job market, I think they are going to be even more frustrated than they were before they got to the university," said Evelyn Rousseo, a retired high school principal in Caracas. "I think the long-term effect on the students is that they are going to feel deceived, that it was all a big lie."
When you get one side of the story and are indoctrinated, that's usually the way it turns out.
Sosa and other students said they would be free to protest against Chavez's government if they chose to, but they haven't chosen to yet. There is no sign of an opposition presence anywhere at the university.
Don't count on that, Mr. Sosa. And no opposition presence at the university? That's a surprise?
University administrators say that absence does not represent an absence of democratic principles. Temir Porras Ponceleon, the vice minister of higher education and the vice rector of Bolivarian University, said those who make up the political opposition in Venezuela today are like those who defended a return to a monarchy after the French Revolution. The political system underwent a fundamental shift when Chavez took power in 1998, he suggested, and the opposition must adapt.
Keep that French Revolution analogy in mind, Mr. Ponceleon. You may be more right than you'll ever know.
(h/t: Phi Beta Cons and Hube)
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames™ is an explosive open-world action game set in a massive, highly reactive, war-torn world. A power-hungry tyrant messes with Venezuela's oil supply, sparking an invasion that turns the country into a warzone.
But for you, international crisis is all upside: You are a mercenary, and you profit from chaos. Mercenaries 2™ features a slew of potential clients, all willing to pay you to do their dirty work. Dirty deeds, done for exorbitant fees. These are world powers with deep pockets, deep grudges, and enough arms and ammo to start World War III. This is your kind of environment.
Chávez's allies in the Venezuelan National Assembly claim [the game makers] "are doing Washington's bidding by drumming up support among Americans for an eventual move to overthrow Chavez."
Congressman Ismael Garcia said, "I think the U.S. government knows how to prepare campaigns of psychological terror so they can make things happen later."
Newsflash to Hugo fans everywhere: It's a friggin' video game.
I used to a huge video game buff back in the industry's dawning age. I wonder if the Soviet Union thought that "Missile Command" was the US's way of preparing a first strike against them? Maybe "Berserk" was perceived by the Chi-Coms as a clandestine US attempt to infiltrate their country with nigh-indestructable robots?
(h/t: Publius Pundit.)
And they're gonna worry about a parking lot???
Seventy-five teachers are being laid off, the state has to come to the district's rescue, and the illustrious News Journal is focused on ... POTHOLES.
Un. Be. Liev. Able.
Poor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran. His defenders will probably claim he's being "misinterpreted" -- again. Reuters reports the wackjob is at it again, this time telling Germans not "to be held prisoner by a sense of guilt over the Holocaust," and "reiterated doubts that the Holocaust even happened."
"I believe the German people are prisoners of the Holocaust. More than 60 million were killed in World War Two ... The question is: Why is it that only Jews are at the center of attention?," he said in the interview published on Sunday.
"How long is this going to go on?" he added. "How long will the German people be held hostage to the Zionists?... Why should you feel obligated to the Zionists? You've paid reparations for 60 years and will have to pay for another 100 years."
The Jews were "at the center of attention" mainly because ... it was against them that there was a systematic effort of complete elimination as a people, maybe?
Then there was this nice offering:
"We say if the Holocaust happened, then the Europeans must accept the consequences and the price should not be paid by Palestine. If it did not happen, then the Jews must return to where they came from."
"We"? Who's "we"?
Asked by Der Spiegel, in its cover story entitled "The man the world is afraid of", whether he stood by his earlier view the Holocaust was a myth, Ahmadinejad said: "I only accept something as the truth if I am truly convinced of it.
"In Europe there are two opinions on it. One group of researchers who are by and large politically motivated say the Holocaust happened. There is another group of researchers who have the opposite view and are by and large in prison for that."
There you have it: The Holocaust -- belief in it is "politically motivated."
Maybe Ahmadinejad can name one of his children "Hitler":
This phenomenon of Palestinians being named after Hitler was explained in an article in the official PA daily praising the rewriting of history and the doing of "justice" to Hitler:
"Even Adolf Hitler, who after the fall of Nazi Germany turned into a political horror for most of the writers and artists, during the last decades has started to return himself to his part of the picture. There are some in Britain who defended Hitler and tried to do justice for him. There are elderly people, among them Arabs, who still carry the name Hitler since their fathers, who were charmed by him, linked them [their children] with his name."
Joseph Contreras over at MSNBC brings up some "uncomfortable" points about Mexico's treatment of illegal aliens:
There's ample precedent in Mexico for just about everything the United States is—or isn't—doing. Calling out the military? Mexicans may hate the new U.S. plan to deploy 6,000 National Guard troops on the border, but five years ago they cheered President Vicente Fox for sending thousands of Mexican soldiers to crack down on their southern frontier. Tougher laws? Hispanic-rights groups are enraged over U.S. efforts to criminalize undocumented aliens—yet since 1974, sneaking into Mexico has been punishable by up to two years in prison. Foot-dragging on amnesty? Fox has spent the past five years urging the United States to upgrade the status of millions of illegals from Mexico. Meanwhile, his own government has given legal status to only 15,000 foreigners without papers.
Our own Felix wrote about this stuff back almost two months ago. Of course, Contreras' article will somehow still be labeled as being the US's fault -- by the usual suspects. It just can't be Vicente Fox's fault, or what qualifies as the media in Mexico:
Late last year their National Human Rights Commission issued a report criticizing Mexico's widespread mistreatment of aliens; the report described sub-human facilities where captured illegals are kept until they can be deported. Several international news agencies ran stories on the publication. But most of Mexico's leading papers ignored it.
... I moved 'em to "Favorite Read" (emphasis mine):
Someone famous or other once said that madness was doing the exact same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Or something like that. If you ask us, this means that The New York Times, in offering its unsolicited advice to President Bush and Israel, presents a quintessential display of madness.
Don’t believe us? Well, one need only gander at their staff editorial “A Viable Palestinian State,” which appeared in the May 25 number of the paper. For starters, check out this annoying line:
…Mr. Bush should not punish the Palestinian people by endorsing any unilateral proposal—doing that would punish them for exercising their democratic right to vote.
Oh, for the love of all that is holy. How many times must we repeat this? When polities vote, they make choices. If other polities don’t like these choices, they may legitimately respond to the outcomes in a variety of ways. This is not related to threatening democracy per se.
For instance, if (say) Germany voted for another Hitler, and this Hitler started a war, we think the US would be duty bound to stop this guy. We suppose the Times might say, if it were to be consistent, “The USA should not punish the German people by endorsing any unilateral policy of war—doing that would punish them for exercising their democratic right to vote.”
Obviously, this is complete insanity. Thus, just because the Palestinians vote for fanatical terrorists, this does not mean that they should suffer no repercussions for doing so. Can’t someone inform the knuckle-dragging idiots at the Paper of Record of the dimwittedness of their argument?
Apparently not. For, as the “Viable Palestinian State” editorial continues, it becomes crystal clear that the Times rejects a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank because it does not allow the Palestinians to “have a say in creating a state that can function.”
And there’s the crazy part: After umpteen Palestinian rejections of peace offerings, after incessant Palestinian intransigence and violence, the morons at The New York Times want President Bush and Israel to try the exact same thing over again. That is to say, they believe that doing the exact same thing can lead to different results.
It’s idiocy of this magnitude that nearly makes us pine for the good old days of Jayson Blair. Hey: At least he knew he was a fraud.
Who's "them"? Why, the "crack young staff" at The Hatemonger's Quarterly, that's who!
... here comes George Galloway.
The Respect MP George Galloway has said it would be morally justified for a suicide bomber to murder Tony Blair.
In an interview with GQ magazine, the reporter asked him: "Would the assassination of, say, Tony Blair by a suicide bomber - if there were no other casualties - be justified as revenge for the war on Iraq?"
Mr Galloway replied: "Yes, it would be morally justified. I am not calling for it - but if it happened it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of 7/7. It would be entirely logical and explicable. And morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq - as Blair did."
Of course the Left will scream "But Pat Robertson actually called for [Venezuela President] Hugo Chavez's assassination! Galloway isn't doing that!" OK, OK, that's a semi-fair point, but does anyone really think this same Left would be placated if Robertson had phrased his statement like Galloway -- something like "Yes, it would be morally justified. I am not calling for it - but if it happened it would be of a wholly different moral order of socialism's historical record. It would be entirely logical and explicable"??
For your funny bone this Memorial Day weekend, it's the latest PC follies!
For starters, Matt Rosenberg notes the latest in the "World ends, minorities & women hardest hit, etc." line of reporting. This time, it's obesity:
Lower-income older U.S. teens are suffering obesity at higher rates than their counterparts from wealthier households, according to a new study led by a Johns Hopkins University researcher. Causal factors identified in the above-linked Baltimore Sun article include unsafe streets, lack of organized sports and other physical activity, plus few nearby grocery stores selling healthy food. Soft drinks, junk-food snacks and fast-food thus come to dominate the diet for many older low-income teens.
And so....presto vivace: the Associated Press asserts that the research "seems to underscore the unequal burden of obesity on the nation's poor."
To which Matt offers:
Whom are we supposed to believe is actually imposing this burden on the poor? Dare one mention the role of parents in setting an example with their own diet, in setting dietary rules for their children and packing healthy lunches for school, in shopping at produce markets, and in making an extra effort to arrange physical activities for their children? And speaking of inconvenient and unmentionable.....what about getting out of poverty to begin with? Whose job is that? Oh, never mind. Really, who wants to go there?
Matt, you cold, heartless, evil cad, you. Those questions are just MEAN!!
Mat also notes a "diversity summit" that discussed tobacco's deadly impact on the minority community. The conference highlighted "critical tobacco control issues for the African, African American, American Indian, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Chicano and Latino and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities in Minnesota." Wow, that's some list, eh? The usual suspects, as it were. One quote struck me as ironic:
"The tobacco industry has a long and sordid history of targeting diverse communities with their deadly products," said Rod Lew, Project Director for LAAMPP and Executive Director of Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership.
Wow, that's quite a title you have there, first of all, Mr. Lew! But just consider -- when an industry is perceived as not advertising to the "minority community," there's yelling and complaining then, too. If cigarettes were difficult to find in the "minority community," advocates would complain that "racism is to blame for the belief that minorities cannot make their own choices. Why can't the minority community decide if they want to smoke or not? Who is white America to decide for us?" The same would apply to grocery stores selling healthier foods in nearby markets. Then, it would be, "Why can't we be trusted to make our own dietary decisions like the white community?"
Next, the ever-alert John Rosenberg notes that Toledo, Ohio's "Office of Affirmative Action is proposing a new method of avoiding the controversy and divisiveness associated with 'affirmative action': change the name.
The concept of affirmative action has become controversial, and now a plan to call it something else also is attracting some controversy. The city’s Office of Affirmative Action is proposing that its name be changed to the Department of Workplace Equity.
The executive director says there’s a misunderstanding that affirmative action applies only to African-Americans. She says the office is concerned about fairness for all Toledo city employees.
A former president of the Toledo NAACP complains that the change appears to be aimed at watering down the agency’s mission. The city council has asked for a study of whether other cities or companies have stopped using the term “affirmative action.”
David Beito over at Liberty and Power is back with the latest on guilt-tripper Glenn Singleton:
Forty years ago, state-supported bullies in China publicly humiliated dissenters by having them wear signs around their necks expressing shame for their "incorrect thoughts." Although China remained Communist, the government eventually apologized to the victims.
Unfortunately, methods of this type, now rejected as barbaric in China, have become standard practice in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools of North Carolina:
In an exercise called "The Color Line," they [teachers] answer 26 questions on a 0 to 5 scale, such as:
"When I am told about our national heritage or 'civilization,' I am shown that people of my race made it what it is."
Or "I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of race."
Teachers who feel situations are "often true" put down fives. Threes are for "sometimes true" and zeroes are for "seldom true."
After tallying their scores, teachers write the number down, wear them around their necks and line up from highest to lowest.
Beito sums up this ... stuff ... perfectly with the following:
"... the same government schools and colleges that are wasting funds and time on this nonsense continue to dumb down standards and preside over the tyranny of low expectations for all students, black and white."
Oh to be a prof at Elizabethtown College. Last fall, profs received a "101 Ways to Experience Diversity" list in their mailboxes. The list supposedly originated from Minnesota State University, although a representative of that school cannot verify it. Included in the 101 items are "holding hands with someone of the same sex in public" and "telling someone you are a homosexual." Amazingly, Elizabethtown rejected the list.
Here are some more of the "interesting" items of that 101:
And, lastly, this one unintentionally sums this hilarity up perfectly (and it's an actual idea -- just scroll towards the end of the list):
(h/t: Phi Beta Cons.)
The ACLU, that "Guardian of the Bill of Rights," is "weighing new standards that would discourage its board members from publicly criticizing the organization's policies and internal administration."
"Where an individual director disagrees with a board position on matters of civil liberties policy, the director should refrain from publicly highlighting the fact of such disagreement," the committee that compiled the standards wrote in its proposals.
"Directors should remember that there is always a material prospect that public airing of the disagreement will affect the A.C.L.U. adversely in terms of public support and fund-raising," the proposals state.
Given the organization's longtime commitment to defending free speech, some former board members were shocked by the proposals.
By the way, if you ever encounter a defender of the ACLU, ask these "Guardians of the Bill of Rights" and individual liberties about that "inconvenient" item known as the Second Amendment. Nothing irritates them more. (Except crosses, perhaps!)
More on the in-house shut-up here.
The second largest ego in the Delaware blogosphere, Down With Absolutes' Jaime, writes that her mother once noted that her generation are "all pussies."
So, I'm bitching with Mom on the phone, going off about Iraq and gun control, and the erosion of my civil rights, and she says, "You know what your problem is Jaime?"
"You and your buddies?"
"You're all pussies."
"Look, I gotta go."
Newsflash: Your mom is pretty much on the nose, Jaime. After all, consider what you wrote:
My mom's a cool chick. Catholic, Cuban, strangely Liberal. She's a little on the strict side (the Catholic), but Mom was at Woodstock, marched on Washington, knew Panthers and Peaceniks, and lived down the street from Holly Maddox and that wackjob Ira Einhorn.
There was a war going on then, obviously -- the Vietnam War. It was protested widely -- and with good reason. Y'see, there was a thing called the draft then, and people were highly irritated about being drafted into the army to fight in a far-away land that had really very little to do with United States national security. In addition, that draft did not apply to those who were in college, making Vietnam a true class war: couldn't afford college, you're in the army, like it or not. THAT'S something to be pissed off at.
Second, you mention the Panthers, as in the Black Panthers. The Panthers came into being for another good reason: Black Americans had finally gotten fed up with being second-class citizens. Hence the true Civil Rights Movement came into being, led by icons Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, among others.
So you see, your mother and her generation protested things that directly affected their way of life ... things that were remarkably less nebulous than what we see today. They didn't have to make issues. They were there. Her generation deserves a lot of thanks (not exclusively so, however, but that's another post) in that the draft no longer exists and Black Americans are indeed equal citizens before the law.
Why didn't all those [early] protests about the Iraq War bring about changes like we witnessed about 'Nam in the 60s-70s? The answer is, again: Jaime and her generation 1) aren't threatened by the draft to have to go fight in it, and 2) people recognize (less so now, certainly) that Iraq not only violated its agreements under the UN and the armistice of the 1991 Gulf War, but also that it is connected with the larger "War on Terror." (I happen to be against the war for the reasons stated here.) History is still out on the final judgment re: Iraq, but it surely wasn't the Gucci-leftist protestors that changed the public's mind about the conflict.
Unlike Black Americans' great struggles in the 50s and 60s, Jaime's generation would have you believe that the next "great" civil rights battle is immigration. We've recently witnessed "massive" protests in favor of giving illegal immigrants the right to stay and work here, among other nuggets. And racial preferences are now "civil rights," recently demonstrated in the imbroglio surrounding the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.
"Protest enough," Jaime? Against what? These? Good luck getting large numbers of people to come out and "change the world" on giving illegal immigrants citizenship rights, and enshrining racial preferences (to "preferred" minorities) as "civil rights." And people aren't lining the streets to protest Iraq as an "illegal war" or "it's a war for oil" premise -- it's because of the way the current administration has botched the job that people are more and more fed up with it. There's a big difference. Gun control? The problem there is that rational thinkers realize that people should have a right to defend themselves, hence little protests. Oh yeah, and there's this thing called the Second Amendment. And then, there's the typical "erosion of civil rights." There's even fewer to protest that inanity, mainly because your generation enjoys more civil rights than any other before it!
Your generation is soft, James dear. You and the Hilfiger-liberal crowd constantly attempt to think up the next big "revolutionary gear" that'll motivate people, all the while sipping your lattes while surfing the 'Net at the nearest café, in between cell calls to plan your weekend. If you have to "think up" the next "movement," that's a problem right there.
Your generation has it the best of any that preceded it in America, James, and it has indeed made you pu**ies. No longer do you walk to school; you get dropped off, even though you live less than a mile away. No longer do you merely play outside; you join an organized sports league. You expect A's for average or poor school work, and if you don't get satisfaction, mommy or daddy will "take care of it." If that doesn't suffice, there's always the lawsuit route. Don't take all this too harshly, though.
Mike driving down to Seaford to take some photos and [hopefully] piss off a bunch of complete loonies in no way even compares to your mother's generation, Jaime (no offense to Mike, especially). It's an insult to it, actually. Again, your mom's generation went after the establishment that directly affected them -- indeed, threatened their lives in many cases. What does your generation go after -- lower gas prices? The "racists" that want to secure the border? C'mon.
Now I know it's inevitable that Jaime and others will scream, "WELL, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE MR. CONSERVATIVE HATER??" The answer is: certainly not protest anything as ridiculous as what I noted above. And, I could bore you with references of what I do and have done regarding things on which I wanted action taken. But to what purpose? The point is that Jaime believes she and her generation aren't pu**ies and my claim is that they are -- especially compared to her mother's generation. My generation (approx. in between Jaime's and her mom's) are pu**ies compared to her mom's generation. It could be considered a natural progression.
... when my educated, aware friends and I start thinking that laughing it up at Stephen Colbert at the Corresponadant’s Debacle is protest enough, maybe we’re complicit in this madness more than we realize. Are we relying on John Stewart to change the world? Is MTV ever really going to get a kid to vote? Are we blogging and bitching thinking it’s really going to change anything at all?
Or, perhaps you're going about it all wrong. Maybe your whole premise is erroneous. Perhaps there isn't any -- or much -- "madness" that warrants your and your "educated, aware" friends' attention. Perhaps you make it "madness" to give yourselves some sort of justification.
Here's a hint, James: Don't worry about people's perceptions about what you do or what you are, or what you don't do or what you aren't. If even a fraction of the stuff you claim you do is accurate, you already do more than a whole hell of a lot of regular folk. No need to brag or be concerned with who knows it. Just do it. And realize that many others are also doing it -- they're just not making a big deal out of it, nor pondering why more aren't doing it too.
For the record, I have little to say about former President Clinton telling a graduating class that global warming is a bigger threat than terrorism to the future.
After all, the man is frantically searching for a legacy after he squandered 8 long years in office. If Clinton thinks his presidential legacy can possibly be the environment, after he blew off regulating mercury emissions until the last 38 days of his 2 terms, (and I say "regulating" to be kind, his Administration's proposal was to have the Bush Administration regulate it, but that's another story), and ignoring arsenic levels in drinking water until the final 2 days he was in office, I say "Good luck, Bill!"
What caught my eye was this little one sentence background blurb by Pat Jackson of Reuters:
During Clinton's administration, the global Kyoto Protocol to curb the release of greenhouse gases was created but the Bush administration has rejected it on grounds it will hurt the US economy.
The Bush Administration didn't "reject" Kyoto because it will hurt the US economy, the Senate rejected it all the way back in 1997. An Administration can't enter into a treaty without the consent of the US Senate. It's part of that "checks and balances" thingie that comes up now and then. In 1997, the Byrd /Hagel Resolution was introduced which expressed the sense of the Senate that basically the US couldn't touch Kyoto with a ten foot, recycled plastic pole until a number of major issues were rectified, like the horrific way the Kyoto Protocol will crush our economy into the ground.
Now I know that some of you may be thinking, "But in 1997, the Senate was run by Republicans, and they're evil so of course they want everyone to die from the global warming." However, the Byrd/Hagel Resolution kicked butt and was passed by a resounding 95-0, and I'm pretty sure that there were a few Democrats included in that 95, like John Kerry. (Sorry, John, but look on the bright side, at least I didn't bring up your wife having Ken Lay on the board of trustees of her environmental foundation for 2 years after the Enron scandal broke again.)
Via Joanne Jacobs: Randomly calling on students can mean students pay more attention and prepare more for class.
It took a college (Univ. of Florida) study to determine this? This may rank up there (but not all the way) with those goofy AP "study" headlines -- you know, the ones like "Study: Eating a fatty diet can lead to health problems." This always seemed like pure common sense. Teachers usually have students who always raise their hands to answer questions, and if the teachers limited themselves to just these students, the others in class know they can slack off. I recall only one college prof. of mine using this strategy (an economics professor, who was quite good -- which is a definite compliment considering I didn't like economics), and it made me prepare meticulously for each and every class -- especially since early in the semester I was embarrassed twice for not knowing the answer when randomly called on!
I've utilized the "random calling" on students in my classes since day one, year one. Ironically, I was once criticized by a "higher-up" during an observation for "ignoring" kids who "had their hands up" to answer a question. In the only written reply I've ever made in response to an observation, I noted exactly why I don't always call on kids with their hands up. It's essentially what the U. of F. study quotes:
The interview data from the teachers and students shows this technique helped students do those things that we know help them to be successful in school – paying attention, being prepared for class, staying focused and doing homework.
The reply to my reply was quite favorable!
Friday afternoon, me and three buddies played in a golf outing to support a local sports club. It's the fourth year in a row I've played, the second with my buddies. It was a fairly decent day -- the rain in the morning worried me somewhat, especially since the first outing in which the four of us played was like playing in Bangladesh during peak monsoon season. But, alas, all that really pained us was the occasional [high] gust of wind.
What it is about golf? For me, it's hitting those dead-on shots -- the drive right down the middle, the 120 yard pitching wedge shot to within 10 feet, the chip from just off the green to within a few inches -- that brings me back time after time.
To be sure, those dead-on shots aren't exactly frequent! But they happen enough to offset the miserable shots. You know -- the topped drive that goes like ten feet right into the bern, the skulled 100 yard sand wedge that sails over the green into the woods, the putt downhill that rolls off the green and ends up farther from the hole than when you started.
The tournament was a "scramble" format. This means you get to play the best shot of your foursome (but you must select at least two drives from each player). You would expect some pretty low scoring given this, and indeed, the winning squad posted a 12-under par 58. Our team was a mere 3-under par 67. But, our average handicap is about a 20 (I'm about a 17), so we were pretty satisfied. What I wasn't satisfied with was not winning any friggin' door prizes afterwards!!
Oh well. I did "beat the pro" on one of the par 3s. Here, if your shot was closer to the pin than the pro, the club would double your bet money in the form of a pro shop gift certificate. I was like, "Hell, no! Me? Closer than the pro? Chee-yeah!" Ah, but you see, there was a catch -- and not in the pro's favor. One of our group got to pull a card from a deck of cards. Based on the card pulled, the pro would have to hit that number club. A king would be a driver, a queen a 3-wood, etc. Wouldnt'cha know it but the female contingent of our team picks the card ... and it's a king!! For those not very familiar with the game, the driver is the most powerful club in the bag -- the one Tiger Woods uses to hit a ball over 350 yards. But this hole was only playing 135 yards! So, the pro teed up and ... knocked the ball only slightly off the green! A remarkable shot, considering the club, but hey -- he's the friggin' pro! Anyway, I had bet $10 (before the card selection and pro's shot, by the way). I selected an 8 iron and let 'er rip. Amazingly, the ball landed within 15 feet of the hole. My $10 became a $20 gift certificate, which then became a new golf glove which I sorely needed.
Between that, the fun of banter among good friends, the warm feeling of those occasional great shots, good food, and ... the beer cart, it was a fine day.
For those into golf, be sure to check out Fritz Schranck's [Delaware-based] website, Sneaking Suspicions. He writes about golf every now and then on his blog, but links to golf articles he writes for other media outlets. Like here, for example!
Ronald Bailey on wacked-out Al Gore's movie effort.
"Detectives across the country are refusing to issue 'wanted' posters for [foreign ex-criminals in flight from police] because they do not want to breach human rights laws. Forces said that the offenders had a right to privacy and might sue for defamation if their names and photographs were released." (Link.)
Even notoriously multiculti PC Euros are getting fed up with such nonsense. The Telegraph (UK) reports that Tony Blair's government is under increasing pressure to reform or even ditch the Human Rights Act, especially since it
was blamed last week for a murder by a serial sex attacker and for a court ruling that nine asylum seekers who hijacked an aeroplane cannot be sent home to Afghanistan.
(I like that term -- "aeroplane"!)
Like a true politician, Conservative Party leader David Cameron has said he'll "order a review of the law if he is elected and will consider rewriting the legislation or even abolishing it."
And no wonder -- the Metropolitan Police has said:
"Anyone who is wanted on any offence has the right to privacy." Greater Manchester Police said: "We could not be sure about putting out information now without possibly defaming somebody." The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) says in its guidance to forces: "Article 8 of the Human Rights Act gives everyone the right to respect for their private and family life... and publication of photographs could be a breach of that."
Like a true-blue "I Know Better-Than-You-Liberal," Charles Clarke, who was recently ditched as Home Secretary over the freed foreign prisoners matter, said he "didn't lose any sleep over it."
"My sleeping was completely normal, fortunately I'm not worried by sleepless nights. Sleepless nights occur when there are things which are genuinely exercising your worry."
Of course Clarke probably doesn't have to worry much considering his political and monetary status. And liberals are supposed to worry about the "little guy."
Alabama has shut down an abortion clinic. And no, it's not because Eric Rudolph escaped. It's because apparently the clinic doled out some RU 486 to a woman in her third trimester:
The suspension order said a patient went to Summit on Feb. 20 and received an ultrasound administered by a non-physician, in violation of state rules for such facilities. She was told by a Summit staff member she was six weeks pregnant. "She was almost certainly in the third trimester and near term," Williamson said.
The same day, the clinic gave her a dose of Mifeprex, or RU-486, an abortion-inducing drug, also without a physician administering it as required. "What's clear here is that it wasn't used appropriately," Williamson said.
The patient had a "critical and dangerously high" blood pressure reading of 182/129 at the clinic, the suspension order said. "That in and of itself would have demanded immediate medical attention," Williamson said.
Instead, the staff went ahead with the medical abortion....
On Feb. 26, the patient went to the emergency room at a Birmingham hospital "with the head of a baby protruding" and delivered a "stillborn, macerated, six pound, four ounce baby," according to the suspension order.
According to the article, the woman had to follow up her initial dose of RU 486 (stupid name by the way) with 4 vaginally inserted doses of Misoprostol. (I'd like to know if the pregnant woman was wondering why the fetus kept kicking the suppositories out). And interestingly enough, I can't seem to find a credible source that says whether or not the woman went to the clinic to get an abortion, or if she was just swinging by for a visit. But since she was popping RU 486 and shooting up 4 vaginal doses of Misoprostol, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I think she may have been interested in possibly aborting her fetus. But I'm not prepared to go out on a limb and say whether or not I think she knew she was in the last trimester because frankly, I know several women who are actually THAT stupid.
The embryo is starting to look like a tadpole. It's about 0.08 inches to 0.16 inches -- the size of a BB pellet -- from the top of the head to buttocks.
And this is how big a 6 month old fetus is (I used 6 months, which is the end of the 2nd trimester, instead of 7 months, which is the beginning of the third trimester (which is allegedly how far along the woman was), to give the clinic the benefit of the doubt, and because I'm feeling pretty damn generous today):
By the end of the sixth month, your baby is about 12 inches long and weighs about 2 pounds.
Which I will call "roughly the size of a small Chihuahua," so you forum readers can get a good mental picture.
OK, so even if you're the most educationally challenged staffer at the abortion clinic, how do you confuse something the size of a "BB pellet" with something the size of an annoying, yappy, Mexican dog that used to be on Taco Bell commercials? I bet I can shoot a Chihuahua in the butt with a BB pellet (just joking, PETA) and the dog would barely limp. The people at the clinic were either total, drooling, idiots or they knew exactly what they were doing. Either way, Tom Cruise deserves an ultrasound machine way more than that sketchy abortion clinic in Alabama. Even Xenu would agree with me on that point.
... idiot teachers, that is.
Via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Sexual-orientation questions cause stir at Port high school.
Parents are angry and school leaders are promising action in response to a "Heterosexual Questionnaire," approved by two teachers, that asked students questions such as: "If you have never slept with someone of your same gender, then how do you know you wouldn't prefer it?"
Hundreds of Port Washington High School students were told to submit written answers and discuss the survey.
The questionnaire was distributed by a student organization, which then led a full class-period discussion. Two teachers approved distribution of the survey. The principal did not.
Where the hell are these teachers' brains? And the teachers don't even teach health/phys. ed. as you might expect -- they teach social studies and communications!
The good news: The school principal and school board president are pissed, and promise nothing like this will happen again. No word yet on disciplinary action against the teachers, although a reprimand would be sufficient, in my opinion. One dopey-minded incident shouldn't lead to a firing. The article does say the teachers "are very remorseful."
OK, the list of things that sets me off about Enron and Ken Lay just grew longer today.
The list starts with Enron getting $1.1 billion dollars in tax payer funded loans from the executive branch under Bill Clinton, then there's Enron being implicated by Human Rights Watch in the beatings of villagers in Dabhol, India in 1997, and Ken Lay donating obscene amounts of money to the Bush campaign in 2000 then being named to GW's transitional team, and then there's Ken Lay sitting on the Board of Trustees for the Heinz Center, an environmental group founded by Teresa Heinz, for a decade that ended a few months before John Kerry announced his intentions to run for President and 2 years AFTER the Enron scandal broke, and you can't forget fraud on the scale of fabricating an elaborate trading floor in their headquarters in Houston to fool stock analysts, or crushing any hope of stock market stability in the months following September 11th by restating their earnings back to 1997 and declaring bankruptcy. My eye is twitching just thinking back on all of that stuff.
Today, I added this to the list: The Lay/Skilling defense team was brazen enough to steal part of Aragorn's speech from the final battle scene of "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," for their closing arguments. Here is the offending line from defense team member Mike Ramsey:
"There may be a court in America that bends to political pressure but it's not this court! There may come a day when an American jury yields to a media mob, but it's not this day!", Ramsey stated loudly and emphatically.
Compare that to what Aragorn said to his men before the final battle for Middle Earth when his men were outnumbered by the thousands and awaiting certain death:
A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day!
A rousing speech like that has to come from a battle-hardened, swarthy, man with the wind blowing through his hair and not a manicured, corporate lawyer geek like Mike Ramsey. Ramsey would be lucky to pull off a few lines from a minor Hobbit character or maybe an orc, but Aragorn, the King of Men? No way. Guilty on all counts.
Oliver Stone has made a movie about September 11, 2001?
The question is, will Stone resurrect Jim Garrison to get to the real truth behind the whole conspiracy?
... get this: the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon doesn't have enough people to man polling stations for the upcoming Mexican elections. They've all vamoosed for Los Estados Unidos.
"Mexicans Say Guard Won't Slow Migrants" is this Yahoo news headline.
President Bush's decision to send the National Guard to the Mexican border drew an angry response from migrants who said troops would not deter them, while Mexico's government said Monday it would respect the U.S. action as "a sovereign decision."
"I have no work in my country so if the soldiers turn me back, I will try again," said Raul Garduno, a 28-year old Salvadoran.
Along the border in Nuevo Laredo, across from Laredo, Texas, Honduran Antonio Auriel said he would make it into the United States whatever was in his path.
"Soldiers in the border? That won't stop me. I'll swim the river and jump the wall. I'm going to arrive in the United States," Auriel said.
Typical talk from Mexicans who are determined to come here and work. But this line struck me as odd:
In a migrant shelter in Ciudad Juarez, a group of 10 Central Mexicans and Central Americans watched a soap opera while Bush's speech was broadcast live on the other channel.
"People here have more important things to do then watch Bush," said Carlos Amado Luarca, a Dominican monk who works in the shelter. "This plan to send soldiers is one more sign of the decadence of the American empire."
Indeed! Funny how that "decadence" doesn't seem to affect folks like Antonio Auriel, Raul Garduno, and the millions of other Latin Americans who continue to stream across the US border illegally, and even protest in American cities about their "rights."
Hey -- on second thought, maybe that Carlos Luarca has a point!
I was fascinated by a recent MSNBC article about Atlanta Braves First Baseman Adam LaRouche. The title is "Blunder by Brave puts spotlight on ADD."
On Sunday, after scooping up a routine grounder that should have been the third out of the inning, LaRoche took his time getting to first and was stunningly beaten to the bag by Washington's Nick Johnson, who was hustling all the way.
The error allowed the Nationals to score four unearned runs on their way to an 8-1 victory, and led to LaRoche being benched for Monday night's game against Florida.
Not surprisingly, LaRouche was booed and hissed by the Atlanta faithful. These uncomprehending fools! Don't they know LaRouche has ADD -- Attention Deficit Disorder?? That's right -- a major league baseball player has what has to be the most commonly prescribed "disability" in the United States. Yes, you heard correct -- not being able to adequately pay attention is a "disability" according to the federal government. In [public] schools, ADD is "accommodated" usually by what is known as a "504" -- the nickname for section 504 of the 1973 Americans With Disabilities Act. Here's who's "protected" by section 504:
Any person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities include walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks.
In schools, it is the "learning" portion (obviously) that is used by people (usually parents) to obtain "accommodations" for their children within regular classrooms. These can range from very simple things such as the teacher making sure the kid has his assignments written down in a planner, to allowing use of a tape recorder in class, to mandating the teacher provide a typed study guide a certain amount of days before an exam. As you might imagine, 504 (and the ADA in general) has been abused by those who attempt to seek an "advantage," or, at least, an "excuse." For example, check out Michael Scott Moore's Salon article titled "Buying Time: Disability becomes fashionable among the prep-school set when it equals extra time on the SAT." The gist of it is, how "savvy parents find a psychologist willing to make a diagnosis based on small or nonexistent quirks in their child's testing habits."
I know quite a few teachers and have heard numerous "spooky" 504 anecdotes. Basically, they're things ranging from "Does this kid really have a 'disability?'" to an insane amount of "accommodation" required for a single child -- this, for a teacher that has a total load of over, say, 150 children per day. And, it seems that every year, the ADA and 504 accommodates more and more "disabilities." How far can it go? It is a shame that some (many?) use the ADA and 504 for an advantage, especially when there are many legitimate instances of the usual disorder (ADD).
Of course, I want to make it clear that people with legitimate disabilities should be entitled to whatever the law allows. I in no way mean to belittle the true intention of the ADA, 504, nor even Attention Deficit Disorder in general. Just the abuse and ever-expansion of its definitions.
In our overly litigious society, is it beyond the realm of reason to imagine that even venues such as Major League Baseball will one day have to "accommodate" people like Adam LaRouche? Imagine. Hmm. Let's do some imagining on how the ADA and 504 might one day be woven into the sporting world ...
(Thanks to Hube for the writing assist!)
I've taken the initiative and added a MuNu blog -- The Hatemonger's Quarterly -- to our "Favorite Reads" section. These guys (if that's indeed who they are) crack me the hell up. Their commentary reads a lot like Maxim magazine. I was laughing my a** off at this post, in particular.
Check 'em out.
I saw these guys when they opened up for my fave band, Los Amigos Invisibles, in Baltimore back in February 2005. They're Tortured Soul, and they are acid jazz funkalicious!!
Their website is here. Once inside, click on the "Music" link to hear some excerpts of their stuff. I just got their "Introducing Tortured Soul" CD and it's friggin' awesome. (Calling Mike M. -- this is right up your alley, dude!)
"State's new evacuation plan looks like old one" is the headline. Just keep in mind, though -- it's George Bush's fault.
[Louisiana Governor Kathleen] Blanco unveiled the state's disaster guide for southeast Louisiana, whose sole revision is a strict caution to the tens of thousands of people living in travel trailers or mobile homes that they are vulnerable to all levels of storm-force winds.
This is just great for the Big Easy's residents, especially considering the 2006 hurricane forecast. But really -- why should Gov. Blanco go out of her way to unveil some extravagant, improved plan? Look how easy it was to pin the bulk of the blame for Katrina on President Bush! If something goes awry again, let history repeat itself -- in more ways than one!
Meryl Yourish dissects the contention that anti-Israel sentiment is all about ... the "occupation":
Like in 1960, when the UN Security Council released this resolution, in protest of violating Argentina's sovereignty. Why did Israel violate Argentina's sovereignty? Because the Mossad found Adolf Eichmann hiding there, and kidnapped him, brought him to Israel, and tried and executed the Nazi war criminal.
In 1961, there was another UN Security Council resolution against Israel, this one on "the question of Palestine." But — but — I thought it was all about the occupation!
In 1962, the UN felt it necessary to come down on Syria's side in this resolution on the Lake Tiberias incident. Here you can see a report to President Kennedy discussing the many times Israel has been chastised for "retaliatory raids" in response to her Arab neighbors firing on her citizens. But Tony says the world admired little victim Israel, the Middle East David. According to him, before 1967, Israel was the world's darling!
In November of 1966, days after three Israeli soldiers were killed by a mine laid by terrorists from Jordan, the IDF entered the Jordanian village of Samu, destroying several buildings. Three civilians and at least fifteen soldiers died, as well as an Israeli commander.
Fatah was raiding regularly from Jordan for years. The raid was in retaliation for attacks on Israelis. The UN was silent about the years of terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens, but found its voice over the Samu incident. Against Israel, of course. Always against Israel. If there is a resolution against the PLO or Fatah in existence, I'll eat my sneakers.
When you review the UN Security Council resolutions in 1967, you don't see a single resolution condemning, say, Egypt's closing the Straights of Tiran to Israeli shipping (a clear violation of international law), let alone notice of the UN Secretary General's removal of UN forces from the Sinai at Egypt's request — clearly an indication that something nasty was about to occur. Instead, there are no resolutions concerning the Middle East at all — until the Arab nations started losing the war.
Interesting! But many claim it is Israel that has rejected peace since 1967 because it is out for a "land grab." The West Bank and Gaza Strip meet this goal perfectly. Unfortunately for these folk, the Khartoum Resolutions are a fly in the ointment:
Following the 6-day war of 1967, the Israel unity government declared on June 19, 1967 that it was ready to return the Golan Heights to Syria, Sinai to Egypt and most of the West Bank to Jordan, in return for peace treaties with its Arab neighbors, normalization of relations and guarantee of navigation through the Straits of Tiran. The refugee problem would be solved by resettlement outside the borders of the State of Israel.
The Arab Heads of State have agreed to unite their political efforts at the international and diplomatic level to eliminate the effects of the aggression and to ensure the withdrawal of the aggressive Israeli forces from the Arab lands which have been occupied since the aggression of June 5. This will be done within the framework of the main principles by which the Arab States abide, namely, no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it, and insistence on the rights of the Palestinian people in their own country.
This is the continual problem: Israel's neighbors' so-called "peace" offers continue to be transparent. Only Egypt has made a legitimate peace. I wonder what would happen if Israel's other neighbors followed in Anwar Sadat's footsteps. I especially liked commenter Alex Bensky's words over at Meryl's:
Well, it's false that the non-communist left liked Israel before 1967 unless you define "non-communist left" in a way that includes mildly liberal Demcorats, say, and no one else.
It's worth looking for Ephraim Kishon's article, "How Israel Forfeited World Sympathy," written not long after the Six Days War. His thesis is that Israel forfeited world sympathy by…well, surviving. I have no doubt if they hadn't left-wingers all over the world would hold Israel Memorial Days, lamenting that wonderful, kibbutznik country that so tragically went down before the onslaught.
My guess is that if the Israelis had to choose they'd opt for what happened rather than maintaining the sympathy of the world.
Victor David Hanson has a brilliant article up about how the modern press and "punditocracy" would have reacted during World War II:
May 1, 1945—After the debacles of February and March at Iwo Jima, and now the ongoing quagmire on Okinawa, we are asked to accept recent losses that are reaching 20,000 dead brave American soldiers and yet another 50,000 wounded in these near criminally incompetent campaigns euphemistically dubbed “island hopping.”
Meanwhile, we are no closer to victory over Japan. Instead, we are hearing of secret plans of invasion of the Japanese mainland slated for 1946 or even 1947 that may well make Okinawa seem like a cake walk and cost us a million casualties and perhaps involve a half-century of occupation. The extent of the current Kamikaze threat, once written off as the work of a “bunch of dead-enders,” was totally unforeseen, even though such suicidal zealots are in the process of inflicting the worst casualties on the U.S. Navy in its entire history.
Worse still, our sources in the intelligence community speak of a billion-dollar boondoggle now underway in the American southwest. This improbable “super-weapon” (with the patently absurd name “Manhattan Project”—in the midst of a desert no less!) promises in one fell swoop to erase our mistakes and give us instant deliverance from our blunders—no concern, of course, for the thousands of innocents who would be vaporized if such a monstrous fantasy bomb were ever actually to work.
As we see thousands of Americans dying and our enemies still in power after four years of war, it is also legitimate to question the stewardship of Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Marshall. The Sherman tank tragedy, the daylight bombing fiasco, the absence of even minimally suitable anti-tank weapons and torpedoes—all these lapses came on his watch, and the man at the top must take full responsibility for mistakes that have now cost thousands of American lives. Indeed, it is not just that America has worse tanks and guns than our German enemies, but they are inferior even to the rockets and armor of our Soviet allies. The recent publication of “The Sherman Tank Scandal” follows other revelations published in “Asleep at the Philippines,” “The Flight of Gen. MacArthur,” “Gen. Patton and the Atrocities on Sicily,” “Do Americans Execute POWs?” “Torture on Guadalcanal,” “Incinerating Women and Children?” and “Civilian Massacres in Germany”—publications in their totality that suggest a military out of control as often as it is incompetent.
Yet even this government’s propaganda efforts ring hallow, as we noticed with the recently released film footage purportedly showing Adolph Hitler incompetently handling a Colt .45 revolver. In fact, such a weapon, little known in Germany, is hard to load and shoot, especially the early model that the Fuhrer was shown trying to fire. To be fair, his apparent unease is not necessarily proof that Mr. Hitler was unfamiliar with firearms, much less fraudulent in his demonstration of military experience.
Remember as well that these clandestine transgressions of this administration follow a long record of constitutional disrespect—whether trying to pack the Supreme Court with compliant justices, unilaterally turning over our destroyers to the United Kingdom, or, well before Pearl Harbor, ordering, by fiat, attacks on the high seas against German submarines. Such abuses of presidential authority, characterized by intrigue with British agents and unauthorized spying on foreign nationals, go a long way in explaining the German decision to declare war against us on December 8, 1941, presenting the United States with the present catastrophe of a two-front conflict.
You know the cliché -- read the whole thing. And this time, I mean it!
A commenter from France claims Iran's president has been "misinterpreted" in his statements about Israel (you know, "wiping it off the map," "annihilating" it, Holocaust doubts ...). Wonder what Ahmadinejad means this time in his [Israel] is a "tyrannical regime that will one day be destroyed" statement? The current Israeli government, maybe? That's surely a stretch. The current "regime" is one of the most moderate you're likely to see in that nation.
Let's just be real here. Ahmadinejad, like way too many in the Middle East, wants Israel GONE.
Last evening me, Mrs. Hube, Ryan of JTTR, Paul Smith Jr., Miss A.O., Mr. and Mrs. Mark Levin Fan and Mrs. Anna Venger all got together to see "United 93." Some of my colleagues at work had seen it, and the one comparision -- that the whole movie is like the first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" -- made me think "Whoa."
I didn't find the film quite that intense, but once the terrorist acts became evident, that's when the film's grit really kicked in.
There are no big names in the movie; indeed, many of the actual folk involved in air control and the military play themselves. That's fairly obvious from the beginning as one should notice that the acting quality isn't exactly of the typical Hollywood variety. But don't let this deter you -- in many ways this adds to the realism.
For me, the most aggravating part was the total and utter confusion of the air traffic controllers, the FAA, the military and the upper echelons of government. The military couldn't get fighter jets scrambled, and when they finally did, the jets headed in the wrong direction and ... had no weapons! There was actual discussion of the fighters ramming an suspected airliner and the pilot ejecting! In addition, the flight that first hit the World Trade Center was, for the longest time, believed to be heading towards Washington. The military, in particular, had no idea it had slammed into the north tower. Eventually, the head honcho of US air traffic, realizing the mass befuddlement, orders all flights across the country to land.
Unlike the made-for-TV "Flight 93," this version focuses only on those inside the hijacked aircraft (aside from scenes at various air traffic controls). The TV film showed the relatives of the plane's passengers as they fielded the many phone calls made, and to me that was a distraction.
The terrorists were not portrayed as gung-ho, intensely focused automatons. They were shown to be edgy, skittish, and indeed, having almost second thoughts about the mission, especially when the flight is delayed in leaving Newark (NJ) airport. In this regard -- I don't know, and maybe this is my post-9/11 perception thinking -- it was ... unnerving how no one took notice of the obviously agitated and angry-looking middle eastern men scattered about the [sparsely] populated first class cabin. But, we'll never know how they actually behaved.
The apparent lead terrorist (who ends up flying the plane) is shown to be the most indecisive. Eventually, seemingly fed up with the lack of decision and action, the terrorist who wields the fake bomb makes his move to the lavatory to strap on said ersatz device. Soon after, the other three make their move on the pilots, and take control of the jet.
We're led to believe the plane's target was the White House (the terrorist pilot places a picture of it on the "dashboard"), but we'll certainly never know if this is accurate. It does appear certain, though, that Washington DC -- somewhere -- was the final destination.
If you plan on seeing the movie, just prepare yourself to run the gamut of emotions -- fear, frustration, anger, solace. And at the end, ask yourself if you could have done what those onboard the flight did.
I want to add that it was a genuine pleasure meeting for the first time Miss Anonymous Opinion, Mrs. Anna Venger, and Mrs. Mark Levin Fan, in addition to seeing Paul, Ryan and Mark Levin Fan once again. Special thanks go to Mrs. (and Mr.) Venger for hosting a get-together at their place afterwards. Much appreciated!
Michael Cohn was miffed last Mother's Day when he was denied a red tote bag at an Angels game. "Cohn's class-action claim in Orange County Superior Court alleges that thousands of males and fans under 18 were 'treated unequally' at a 'Family Sunday' promotion last May and are entitled to $4,000 each in damages."
Angel officials said Cohn's was the only complaint about the giveaway.
This year's Family Sunday promotion, to be held this weekend, will not specifically cater to women 18 and older. The first 25,000 fans — male or female — 18 or older will be given a red "Mother's Day Ladies Tote Bag."
[Cohn attorney Alfred] Rava said the giveaway still violated some fans' civil rights because those under 18 will be denied a bag based on their age.
The next great civil rights battle: baseball stadium giveaways.
Cohn, who's a psychologist, apparently wasn't satisfied by the four tote bags the Angels sent him after he sent his complaint.
My advice to Cohn: lay down in your own couch, fella.
Two winners this week! The first garners a "WTF?" honor as well, courtesy of Janine Hochberg of Landenberg, PA:
I'm a first-year student at Widener School of Law, and read last week's story on our new Fowl Division. I just wanted to point out that the mother goose is attended by not just one male partner, but two. The male geese work in tandem to maintain a defensive perimeter around the nest.
I realize that such alternative avian lifestyles may be controversial in these times. But this threesome is clearly committed to providing a stable family for its eggs.
Don't know 'bout you, but I'm going to sleep a WHOLE lot better tonight now that I have that info. And how is being a first-year law student relevant to the topic? Sheesh!
Next, Jerry Northington of Wilmington believes there's no difference between Muslim extremists and Christian extremists:
A reader wrote to criticize the recent article by Col. Lawrence Wilkerson. While criticism of Islamic fundamentalists is fine, the similar view of Christian fundamentalism is completely ignored. How much difference can there be between two religious views that both aim to eliminate the other? Is one right and the other wrong?
A better course is to look for peaceful resolution. Understanding a different culture leads to common ground for cooperation. Invading and destroying a country like Iraq to eradicate a religious view, as we have done under the leadership of President Bush, is unsupportable.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I really haven't heard of Christian extremists terrorizing and threatening anyone and anybody who doesn't share their worldview. I haven't heard of Christian extremists threatening cartoonists, for example, with death by beheading, nor where Christian extremists have flown airliners into buildings and/or set off bombs in subways and rail stations.
Extremism is indeed a detestable concept no matter the philosophy. But don't try to make a point with laughable morally relativist comparisons. (Oh, and just so it's clear, I am indeed talking about EXTREMISTS, in particular Muslim EXTREMISTS. Just so it's clear for those who are lightning quick with the "Islamophobia" epithet.)
Lastly, claiming that the president invaded Iraq to "eradicate a religious view" is so preposterous as to induce mindless head-banging against the nearest brick construct. (Well, to be fair, in the Scourge's case, this would result in a negative injury.) What, are the legitimate reasons for ripping Bush no longer "fun"? Now it's "religiocide"?
From the Corner:
This thing about our govt. colluding with Narcistan — sorry, I mean Mexico — to keep the flow of illegal immigrants coming, is the last straw. Either our govt. is criminally incompetent, or else it is maliciously hostile to ordinary American citizens. Or both.
I kept my mouth pretty well shut when the splendid whack-'em'upside-the-head assault on Iraq turned into a ludicrous and apologetic "nation-building" exercise. I bellyached in a restrained fashion at the Harriet Miers farce. I kept my grumbling over Medicaid, the budget bloat, and border security at a decently low volume. This one, though, I can't take.
I can't think of a single thing to say in favor of the national Republican party, its senators, representatives, governors , and administration. I can't think of a single reason why, right now, I should vote for any of them.
I could never vote for the liberal mob; but if a conservative third party comes up between now and 2008, they'll have my full attention — likely my money and my vote, too. We are on the last page of Animal Farm here; I can no longer tell the men from the pigs. (Link.)
Hard to argue with. Congressional Republicans deserve to get their collective asses kicked this November. The alternative -- Pelosi, Reid and co. -- is nausea-inducing and virtually guaranteed to do no better, but they're not currently in power and their opponents are giving them everything they need to reclaim it!
Meanwhile, La Shawn Barber ponders a Bush impeachment over the top paragraph from above:
I believe George Bush's failure to enforce immigration law and stop the foreign invasion, which he has the power and authority to do, warrants impeachment. Because of Bush, illegal invaders are emboldened, demanding that which they have no legal right to obtain.
'Ya gotta love sports folk. Check out these:
#1. John Smoltz (Braves): Scolds himself with an iron -- by ironing his shirt while he's still wearing it!
#3. Wade Boggs (Red Sox): Strains his back by putting on ... cowboy boots!
#4. Sammy Sosa (Cubs): Misses game due to back spasms brought on by ... sneezing!
#5. Adam Eaton (Padres): Stabs himself with a knife while trying to open a DVD! (I actually sympathize with this one -- ever try to get that friggin' plastic off??)
#6. Bret Barberie (Marlins): Missed a game due to inadvertantly rubbing chili juice in his eyes.
and #8, my personal favorite -- Kevin Mitchell (numerous teams): Missed four days of spring training in 1990 for needing a root canal due to ... eating a microwaved donut!
Last month I had a post about the perception of "Ugly Americans" -- those of us who travel overseas and act all pompous and such. Now, the Business for Diplomatic Action Inc. (BDA) has issued a "'World Citizen's Guide" to corporate travelers." Regular travelers would do well to heed some of its advice, too! Included:
Unfortunately, many Americans abroad are uncomfortably loud in conversations among themselves as well as with locals. Recall my anecdote about the older couple at the ice cream shop.
I noticed this a lot during my semester abroad in 1986. Then, wearing shorts around town was virtually taboo. Despite how hot it may have been, long pants were expected. Only at the beach or at some sporting event were shorts socially acceptable. Thus, I wore jeans always, even when the temperature got over 80-85 degrees. It sucked, but I, for one, wanted to fit in. It was hard to do generally (because of my height, light hair and green eyes) but if I dressed as near to a "local" as possible, I fit in much more easily. Most of our exchange group followed suit.
Interestingly now, however, wearing shorts around San José, Costa Rica is now quite normal. My last few visits there ('05 and '02) many men wear shorts when they're not working. For women, though, skirts are still the norm.
Which ain't a surprise, is it? Will Bunch writes:
A lot of people are running away from Fox News these days. The LA Times is reporting that ratings for cable's Bush-friendly Fox News Channel were down 17 percent last month while MSNBC -- which airs the one journalist with a consistently cynical view of the current White House, Keith Olbermann -- saw gains.
Well, OK, it is news that Fox has lost some viewers. Again, the figure is 17%. What Bunch (and the LA Times) aren't telling you is that [apparent cable flagship network] CNN's viewership sunk by more than double what Fox's did -- 38%. MSNBC's ratings increased by 16%.
But even with the decrease, FNC still pummels its competition: All of Fox's shows from 5pm-on beat those of CNN and MSNBC in the "Total Viewers" category, with that nasty Bill O'Reilly skewering Keith Olbermann on the latest day available, May 5th, by six times the viewership. (Thursday was by approx. seven times.) O'Reilly addressed the matter himself last night in his "Most Ridiculous Item" segment, noting that, not only does his show clobber Olbermann's by 500%, but that the 4:00am rerun of his show ALSO beats Olbermann's first run 8pm effort!
For more, Patterico is on the case.
It's kind of silly to expect FNC's already huge lead to keep growing. It was bound to level and then fall off eventually. (It's like the NCLB law -- you can't expect to see gains every single year in every single sub-group!)
Bunch not only forgets to mention CNN's woes, he offers a quote by the constantly-ratings-crushed Olbermann about FNC: "They'll always have their hard-core audience that wants to hear, 'Everything's great! [Bush is] doing a great job.' But less-partisan viewers are drifting away." Ignoring the obvious snide oversimplification, Olbermann may indeed be right, especially as Bush's poll numbers continue to drop. But so far, it doesn't seem like Keith is picking up many of those "less-partisan" folk.
Maybe that's because he's quite the partisan himself.
Students at the New School in Manhattan are showing the world what "inclusion" means by attempting to revoke the school's invitation for Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to speak at their commencement ceremony.
Harper Keenan, a sophomore, has helped organize the dissent. In all of our classes were taught the value of inclusion of all people, he said, and were taught to question our leaders.
Um, Harper? I'm pretty sure "inclusion" would include listening to what John McCain has to say, and questioning him while at the podium after the speech would be highly unusual since most commencement speeches don't have a question and answer period. This could be, Harper, one of those times your parents (or maybe your grandparents) told you about when life sucks and you don't get what you want.
Now, to The New School's credit, former Senator Bob Kerrey, the school's President, is defending the choice of McCain to speak because he doesn't see McCain as "hostile to the gay community" as claimed by a freshman at the school, Anthony Szczurek.
Kerrey added that John McCain isnt anti-homosexual. He has not supported federal legislation restricting gay marriage, he said. We have very good policies that make our campus very welcoming.... I dont think his presence subtracts from that.
I like the way that Kerrey says that the school has "very good policies that make our campus very welcoming," and he doesn't think that McCain speaking there will screw that up. Good grief. No, Mr. Kerrey, McCain's presence does not "subtract" from your "very welcoming" campus, but the school's faculty and the students do.
And is McCain actually "hostile to the gay community?" That's another interesting issue to explore. McCain is against a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and he believes in a state's right to make their own decision on the issue. That's the same position held by John Kerry and Bill Clinton. I wonder if Anthony Szczurek, freshman at the New School, would be against one of those fine politicians speaking at the ceremony? Bill Clinton even went as far as to sign "The Defense of Marriage Act" which defines marriage as between one man and one woman and made it so Delaware doesn't have to legally recognize a marriage forged in Massachusetts. Now that doesn't smack of gay friendliness, does it?
Frankly, for a school that charges $800.00 a credit and allegedly teaches "inclusion" in "all" classes, I was expecting a little more tolerance.
Israel warns: "Iran can also be wiped off the map."
Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Monday in an interview to Reuters that "the president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map," Army Radio reported.
According to Peres, "Teheran is making a mockery of the international community's efforts to solve the crisis surrounding Iran's nuclear program."
"Iran presents a danger to the entire world, not just to us," Peres added.
You got that right, Shimon.
Unbelievably, this is a headline over at MSNBC: Bush says he's learning fast about World Cup.
In the article, we're treated to the "revelation" that soccer is not a marquee sport in the US, and that the president never even saw a soccer ball as a kid.
Soccer is a huge youth sport here, and its popularity is indeed growing. But the biggest sporting event on the planet -- the World Cup -- remains not that big a deal in the US. This year's Cup takes place in Germany next month, and the US will be among the teams playing -- as it has been for the last four consecutive Cups! My wife's home country of Costa Rica, also a qualifier from the same region as the US, has the misfortune of playing in the opening game against the host country on June 9th.
I am against the death penalty, but it's just very difficult to generate sympathy for some people:
Convicted ax murderer Robert W. Jackson III, who is set to die by lethal injection May 19, filed an emergency appeal today in U.S. District Court.
He is charging that the death penalty, as administered by Delaware, is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment and "would violate the standard of care used to insure the comfort of a dog being put down" by a veterinarian.
Dude, you're an AX MURDERER!
David Kopel on MSM coverage of illegal alien May Day rallies:
That's the topic of my latest Rocky Mountain News column, which examines how the Denver papers glossed over the significance of May 1 for the rally date, ignored the role of A.N.S.W.E.R., pretended that the reconquista does not exist, claimed that illegal aliens are merely demanding their "rights," defamed critics of illegal immigration by calling them "anti-immigrant," and too often used the ridiculous phrase "undocumented worker."
Regarding the final item, I wrote:
If the newspapers are going to continue using "undocumented worker," then the papers should, to be consistent, start writing that illegal users of morphine are really "undocumented patients," that bank embezzlers are "undocumented withdrawers," school truants are "undocumented vacationers," people who drive after their licenses have been revoked are "undocumented drivers," and 15-year-olds who use fake IDs to buy vodka are "undocumented drinkers."
Certainly sounds a lot like Rick Moore's quip about the Texas Rangers game on Friday night! And why does Kopel's line "... defamed critics of illegal immigration by calling them 'anti-immigrant'" sound so damn ... familiar? Hmm ...
From the "What A Surprise" dept.: Chavez Proposes Referendum to Stay President Until 2031.
President Hugo Chavez said that if opposition parties boycott December's presidential election he would call a referendum asking voters to decide whether he should govern Venezuela for the next 25 years.
"I am going to call a referendum," Chavez said. "I am going to ask you, all the people, if you agree with Chavez being president until 2031."
The Venezuelan Constitution allows a president to be re-elected only once in immediate succession. Chavez is eligible for re-election to another six-year term in December, but if he wins he wouldn't be able to run again in 2012.
It wasn't clear if Chavez, 51, was talking about holding a legally binding vote to eliminate limits on re-election or proposing a plebiscite. Before Chavez took the stage, thousands of his supporters chanted: "Oh, no! Chavez won't go!"
And once (if) this happens, how long do you think it'll take Chavez to hold a subsequent referendum to make him President ... for life? My guess: Not very long at all.
See also here.
"I was recently asked about the difference between the Democratic and Republican parties. When it comes right down to it, the essential difference is that the Democrats fundamentally believe it is important to make sure that American Jews feel comfortable being American Jews."
Wow. And here I thought some of the bigger differences between the parties were things like taxes, abortion, immigration ...!
James Young's letter titled "A higher minimum wage would boost employment" is the winner this week -- not necessarily because of his conclusions, but because of the "definitiveness" of them (emphasis mine):
State Rep. Wayne Smith's comments on the minimum wage bill (Senate Bill 62) are a perfect example of why the Legislature is held in such low regard. Numerous studies show it is not true that job loss results from minimum wage increases. In fact, a recent study in New York showed retail employment increased after a wage increase.
Smith is certainly entitled to oppose minimum wage increases but at least get the facts straight. On too many issues, key legislators ignore reality. Delaware deserves better.
Does Smith have his facts wrong on the minimum wage? Enter the web surfer's favorite pal, Google. I've certainly read about studies that show minimum wage increases can lead to unemployment, so I doubted right off the bat that Young's premise -- that Smith has his facts wrong -- was legit. And violá: 50 Years of Research on the Minimum Wage demonstrates, among other numerous sources, that Smith does indeed have his facts straight. Dispute them if you wish with other studies, Mr. Young (to be fair, I found one here which may be the New York study Young was referencing), but the definitiveness of your statement is ... erroneous.
Interestingly, I discovered that the advocacy group ACORN once filed "a suit ... to exempt itself from California’s minimum wage laws." The group (which among other things advocates for a higher minimum wage!) said in its brief:
“As acknowledged both by the trial court and California, the more that ACORN must pay each individual outreach worker–either because of minimum wage or overtime requirements–the fewer outreach workers it will be able to hire.”
Maybe ACORN ought to contact Mr. Young.
Rick Moore adds to the "controversy" surrounding the Texas Rangers' uniforms in last night's game -- which read "Los Rangers" apparently in honor of Cinco de Mayo:
"Just for last night's game, stolen bases were known as 'undocumented bases,' and no one was allowed to be thrown out."
Forbes magazine estimates the net worth of longtime Cuban strongman Fidel Castro at -- ready? -- $900 million.
Cuban President Fidel Castro was furious when Forbes magazine estimated his fortune at $550 million last year. This year, the magazine upped its estimate of the communist leader's wealth to a cool $900 million. Castro, who says his net worth is nil, is likely the beneficiary of up to $900 million, based on his control of state-owned companies, the U.S. financial magazine said in its annual tally of "Kings, Queens & Dictators" fortunes Thursday.
We estimate his fortune based on his economic power over a web of state-owned companies including El Palacio de Convenciones, a convention center near Havana; Cimex, retail conglomerate; and Medicuba, which sells vaccines and other pharmaceuticals produced in Cuba. Former Cuban officials living in U.S. assert that he has long skimmed profits.
Not too shabby, especially when his vict, er, um, subjects are on food rations.
And, it seems to the south, a few guys named Chávez and Morales (for starters) are looking to emulate him with the promise of the "socialist dream":
The indigenous population has been repressed ever since the Spanish arrived. What doesn’t make sense is the reasoning. It isn’t neo-liberal economics that has enriched the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. It’s corrupt governance. Political institutions are so weak in Latin America that regardless of whether Chavez or the oligarchs are in power, those who have it are going to steal from the people. People thought Chavez would neutralize the oligarchs and use the country’s oil to better their condition with social programs like education and healthcare. Well, he did the latter, but instead of serving the people, he’s stealing the money and creating a cult of personality. Why do they think Evo Morales will be any different? At least with the oligarchs they had something resembling liberalism. Now not only are they poor, but they’re not very free either.
Compare this to countries like Chile. It has very strong democratic institutions, a flexible presidential system that is based on two main party alliances, and transparency and a free press that ensures that corruption in the government doesn’t go unnoticed. Under the terrible, terrible neo-liberal economics first instituted by Pinochet and wholeheartedly continued under the center-left coalition, Chile has become incredibly wealthy. Sure, the wealthy have gotten wealthier. But that’s because they’re creating new businesses in their country. Meanwhile, for the first time, the country has a surging middle class, with suburban cookie-cutter homes sprawling out from Santiago. Then again, while Chile does have minor indigenous human rights issues, its community of Mapuche Indians is very small compared to a place like Bolivia, where over half the population is indigenous.
The conclusion is fairly obvious, if Latin America (and the US) want to thwart socialist dictators like Chávez and Morales: The best way to neutralize [them] is to begin enacting policies that indigenous groups were pressing for in the first place: better education, healthcare, roads, and equal opportunity.
Brian Doherty has it. I'm not a DC fan, but I did read the 20 year-old "Crisis." Basically, at the end, I had a big "WTF??"
Possibly a better analogy to the Bush era is Marvel's current "Civil War" epic.
(Via Soccer Dad.)
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is considering arguments about whether the citizens can work on a referendum to amend the state constitution -- to essentially "get around" the court's previous ruling allowing gay "marriage":
The Supreme Judicial Court, which cleared the way for gay marriages with its landmark ruling in 2003, heard arguments Thursday on a referendum proposed for the 2008 statewide ballot.
Supporters of same-sex marriages are trying to block the proposal that would ban future marriages for gay couples. They say the state constitution bars any citizen-initiated amendment that seeks to reverse a judicial ruling.
"The people shouldn't be able to directly attack a court decision," said Gary Buseck, legal director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, which filed the lawsuit.
Yeah! After all, people who invoke "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" are just BIGOTS!! Once a court rules, THAT'S IT, FOLKS!
Whatever your view on gay "marriage" (I personally could care less about the topic), this scenario should give you pause. I mean, a court deciding whether the people can seek to change their own state constitution?? That is the very ESSENCE of separation of powers! The United States Constitution provides for amendments; indeed, it is the manner in which to "overrule" an unpopular US Supreme Court decision.
Mr. Buseck, a lawyer, ought to read his statement over and over, and then ask himself if he truly believes in the law.
Cavuto on Fox currently has a Mexican guy and an American talk show host discussing whether the term "gringo" is racist. As I noted here, it can be -- it depends on how it's used. Over the decades its derogatory meaning has lost some of its ... "power," but the older [Latin] generation still mostly considers it offensive to Americans/Canadians. My mother-in-law is a perfect example. She cringes whenever my wife affectionately refers to me as "her gringo" (and no -- not because she's upset her daughter actually married me, OK??) ;-)
Of course, on Cavuto's show, the actual middle ground was ignored: the Mexican dude insisted that "gringo" is not offensive, and the talk show guy insisted it is. I tend to think its usage for that Mexican boycott of all things American earlier this week was mostly derogatory; however, if you know an Hispanic person and are on friendly terms with him/her, if they use "gringo" don't get automatically offended. Many terms in Spanish have an "endearing" quality to them that may be considered offensive in their English translations. It's difficult to explain, but if you've studied Spanish (and possibly any language) you'll know what I'm talking about.
And hell, I even ironed on "#1 Gringo Fan" on the back of one of my Los Amigos Invisibles' t-shirts! When I showed it to the group's guitar and bass players at their last NYC concert, they were tickled pink!
Tim Robbins will be producing and directing the remake of the 1984 movie "1984," which was a remake of the 1956 movie "1984" which was based on the 1954 made for TV movie "1984," which was based on the George Orwell book of the same title.
This past week he was in Athens promoting a play he's producing and directing coincidentally called "1984." Here's what Tim has to say about it:
"Unfortunately, the book and the play is more relevant now than it ever has been," he said. "(It) talks about continuous warfare as a means to control the Western economy, and as a way to control rebel elements within society through the use of fear, constant fear." (Link.)
Using "fear" is a bad thing, right? Like maybe using the fear of "continuous warfare?" Or how about the fear of the draft? Or the fear of losing the right to have an abortion. Or the fear of getting dragged behind a pickup truck? Or the fear of being wiretapped indiscriminately by the government? The fear that your government lied to go to war? The fear that we're sending soldiers to die for oil? Or to die for nothing? Or to die for the President's "daddy"? How about using the irrational fear that the US military will be unable to react to an international crisis because of a war that was waged over a "lie" and the end result will be a rogue nation with a nuclear bomb? I'm just making this stuff up as I go, of course none of those things would ever happen, but I'd have to say that those would be excellent examples of using "fear" to "control" society.
"In my country we seem to be sanctioning renditioning of innocent people without trial ... put them in jail without telling anyone ... and torture them out of suspicion of what we think they might do," Robbins said.
Well, rendition has existed as a policy since the late 1980's, and was used by the last administration for drug dealers and assorted terror suspects. Not that what one guy did excuses the next guy, but it does put the situation into perspective. And as I look at article after article about military personnel being put on trial and going to prison for "torture" I'm failing to see how our government "sanctions" it.
"Clinton lied about a blowjob, and got impeached by the media and Congress," Robbins said. "(Bush) got us into (the Iraq) war based on lies that he knew were lies....
Yes, Clinton was impeached, but I can't seem to find the word "blowjob" in the articles of impeachment. I can't find "affair," "oral sex," "cigar," or "masturbating in the oval office sink" in there, either. I do, however, notice something about "perjury" and a bunch of other stuff that clearly isn't related to oral copulation. Winston Smith would be proud of Tim Robbins, he should play him in his movie remake since he's already figured out how to do Winston's job pretty well.
I should point out before I enter this part of my wandering rant that I'm no fan of the Iraq War. I do dispute, however, that Bush "lied" about Iraq having WMD and about the overall threat they posed. The ugly and unmentioned truth is that pretty much everything Bush said about Iraq's WMD and weapons programs and even...dare I say it...YELLOWCAKE, were believed to be true at the time according to the consensus opinion of the 12 US intelligence agencies that sit down and put together the National Intelligence Estimate. Congress could have known that in October of 2002 when the NIE was made available to all members to read before they went to vote on whether or not to use the military against Iraq. Bummer hardly any of them got off their butts to read it. But I guess that's how they can get away with claiming they were "mislead." We also should have learned that Bush didn't lie when the Senate Intelligence Committee put out their bipartisan report on Iraqi WMD claims, and when the Butler Report came out in the UK. But no one seemed to listen.
Even the Downing Street Memos, the left's "proof " that Bush lied, prove that Bush wasn't "lying" when he said that Iraq had WMD.
For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.
But hey, that could mean anything.
The new Superman Returns trailer is up on Apple Trailers; it came out yesterday, and you can view it here. My short review: it's trying too hard to be cute and Kevin Spacey's Lex Luthor is a train wreck in the making. I'm still planning on seeing it, but for the first time I'm wondering whether Bryan Singer's idea of being true to the old Donner Superman movies was a good one.
I'm doing intro chores this time for the Colossus gang. We're happy to now have among us as a contributor Happymomie! (Now Mike M. can't claim to have the only female member of a DE group -- or semi-group -- blog!)
Her bio has been added to our "About Us" page so read all about her.
Who would have thought? Voters exercising their right to be heard:
Herndon (VA) voters yesterday unseated the mayor and Town Council members who supported a bitterly debated day-labor center for immigrant workers in a contest that emerged as a mini-referendum on the turbulent national issue of illegal immigration.
Residents replaced the incumbents with a group of challengers who immediately called for significant changes at the center. Some want to bar public funds from being spent on the facility or restrict it to workers residing in the country legally. Others want it moved to an industrial site away from the residential neighborhood where it is located.
They WHAAAAT?? Residents actually have the unmitigated gall to want to restrict the center to workers who are in the country LEGALLY?? Don't they know that they're not "illegal immigrants" but "free trade refugees"? "Undocumented workers"?
Get it straight you conservatives and others who still think and use the term "illegal immigrant/alien." You need to change your way of thinking -- and do it NOW -- or you are a "racist," "xenophobe" and "ethnocentrist." You must realize that to even consider opposition to what modern leftists believe (on this and other matters) means that you are not a good person. You're evil. You're not worth debating or talking to, at least not in a calm, reasonable discussion, for divergence from the "correct" point of view is utter sacrilege. Or "emotional blackmail." Any acquaintances and friendships must he halted and/or dissolved if any deviation from the "correct" belief is perceived.
It seems the local blogosphere is getting a crash course in said "education."
Via John Rosenberg:
Alabama Gov. George Wallace, Inauguration Speech, Jan. 14, 1963:
"... I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say . . . segregation today . . . segregation tomorrow . . .segregation forever!" [Ellipses in original]
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick , opposing the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative at an NAACP Dinner, April 30, 2006:
"Bring it on. We will affirm to the world that affirmative action will be here today, it will be here tomorrow and there will be affirmative action in the state forever."
If you ever wondered if the race industry would wither away eventually, forget it. It's a huge money-making venture, after all. It's also vote-getting demogoguery!
Wallace was quickly opposed by federal civil rights legislation; Kilpatrick is opposed by the MCRI referendum -- and the United States Supreme Court their Grutter decision where they said "25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary."
James Taranto wonders if Kilpatrick, after mimicking George Wallace, could modify Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous statement: "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged by the color of their skin, but not by the content of their character."
The implied argument—that Rep. John Murtha is an Al-Qaida fellow traveler—is so stupid, readers might wonder why I bother to point it out. I'm interested in the post because it illustrates well the impulsive (thus "reactionary") nature of the USA's radical right-wing.
Notice how the argument—implied through juxtaposing the separate quotations—begins with a conventional and relatively uncontroversial hatred for the terrorist group Al-Qaida and links itself to a subject of hatred that is unconventional and highly controversial: Rep. John Murtha. The purpose of the linkage is to suggest that the right-wings' hatred for Murtha is justified*. In short, the general argument is: "We reactionaries are correct to hate dissenters on this matter." [Emphasis mine.]
I know Hube has terminated the response line to Dana due to the latter's petty silliness, but still, I have to say that it's amazing how much conjecture Dana managed to "imply" here. Of course, in order to read so much into a post as short as the one I penned, Dana necessarily had to bring a lot of himself to the issue in order fill the space of missing facts. Put another way, a short post can be like a Rorschach test; it can reveal a lot about the observer/commentor.
In this case, it doesn't reveal anything we don't already know. It's getting to be a joke on the Delaware blogosphere that Dana sees hate and conspiracy wherever he wants to. Others have called him on it elsewhere, so I see no need to go into it in any significant depth here. But what has emerged is the portrait of a man whose worldview is so fixated on the hatred he imagines conservatives have for (fill in Dana's pet topic of the moment), that he can manufacture "proof" of his conclusions from anything. This is a person that masks emotion as analysis.
Which nicely segues into a recent Opinionjournal.com article on the blog as a therapy. The author observed that, "[...] it looks to me as if the world of blogs may be filling up with people who for the previous 200 millennia of human existence kept their weird thoughts more or less to themselves. Now, they don't have to. They've got the Web. Now they can share." People just scream into the abyss. It makes them feel better. They get it off their chest.
Shockingly, this is remarkably similar to the rage-filled, liberal bloggers described in a recent WaPo article. Still, while typing one's left-wing political rage 'til your finger tips bleed might be cathartic, it doesn't exactly sound convincing unless your readers are similarly deranged. And of course, you don't want to sound crazy. But what if you dressed it up a little? Toss in some big words and a little pseudo-intellectual posturing, and suddenly you can still have therapy on the internet without anyone knowing. At least, that's what you hope. It must be very frustrating for such people when that veneer of sober, detached commentator rubs off.
Which is why anymore it's hard to get too bothered by what appears on left-wing blogs, whether it's the more shrill ones, or the ones like Dana's Delaware Watch that make a failing attempt at sounding well-reasoned. Remember: it's their therapy.
UPDATE (May 3 at 11:00 a.m.): Dana has up a response to the above post (see update at bottom). In it, he interprets the fact that I didn’t bother responding to the substance of his original smear as an admission. Hmmmm, by that logic, since Dana didn’t refute my statement that Delaware Watch is his therapy, I guess he’s conceding the point. Thanks for confirming the obvious, Dana.
The bottom line is that nothing Dana has to say really warrants a response on the merits. Powerline once commented about (I think) Paul Krugman that because his bad faith is a given, his opinion is irrelevant. The same is true of Dana. In Dana’s world, with enough generic moral outrage and conjecture, there is no molehill that can’t be made into a mountain. He dresses up his emotion and tries to pass it off as analysis. He sees hate and conspiracy where there isn’t any. If he doesn’t like what you say, he attributes the basest motivations to your opinion, but if he interprets (wrongly) that you are playing the same game with him, he throws a fit, tosses around threats.
To me, this doesn't seem like the behavior of someone that deserves to be taken seriously. Other bloggers can if they want, but I prefer just to call a spade a spade and keep pointing out the obvious fact that Delaware Watch is Dana’s long, cathartic scream.
Via Phi Beta Cons:
An astonishing number of young Americans (aged 18-24) are geographically illiterate, according to a new study. Among its findings:
• One-third of respondents couldn't pinpoint Louisiana on a map and 48 percent were unable to locate Mississippi.
• Six in 10 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.
• While the outsourcing of jobs to India has been a major U.S. business story, 47 percent could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.
• While Israeli-Palestinian strife has been in the news for the entire lives of the respondents, 75 percent were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.
In other words, many college-age Americans oppose a war taking place in a country that they cannot even locate on a map. Yikes!
Our own illustrious News Journal conveniently blurs the distinction between "illegal" and "legal" immigrants (or, usually in their vernacular, "undocumented" and "documented" immigrants) in their coverage of the "Day Without Immigrants," though remarkably they utilized a much smaller figure for the national illegal population, citing 7.5 million as opposed to the more commonly used 12 million. (On NBC's "Today" show, a reporter used the phrase "those whom critics call 'illegals,'" as if one is a mere "critic" when pointing out that someone has entered the country, um, illegally.) WNJ writers Mike Chalmers and Eric Ruth note how many local businesses were affected by the "protest;" however, did either of them query the local business owners as to what, exactly -- if their employees were LEGAL immigrants -- they or their employees have to fear about federal immigration legislation? Not that I saw.
Let's take a look at the American public's views on immigration, especially illegal immigration. Despite what many in the media may have said about yesterday's protest, a sizeable majority feel the protest hurts [illegal] immigrants' cause, 57% to 17% (who say it helps) and 20% (who say it has no effect). (NBC/Wall St. Journal poll.)
The different polls and their related questions are extensive and can be read here. It's definitely worth noting that, despite the strong feelings Americans have about illegal immigration, their natural generosity and good will remain evident. Majorities believe, when given the choice in poll questions, that illegals should have a path available to them to obtain eventual citizenship, be able to obtain work permits (or work in a guest worker program), that citizens should not be penalized for giving aid (medical or otherwise) to illegals, and that the US government should concentrate more on border enforcement than worrying about the illegals already here in the country. Perhaps Alfred Coe's letter in today's News Journal summarizes it best:
The statement "America is a country made by immigrants" is true but for the native Indians. We came, built homes and lives here, learned to speak the predominant language -- English -- worked and paid taxes.
We still welcome those who embrace this system, but do not appreciate those who do not. We perceive illegal immigrants as people who expect us to speak their language and provide health and schooling while making no financial contribution to the system from which they benefit.
They are perceived to drive illegally and have no car insurance. When they attempt to change this perception, they will be welcomed. Until then for them to expect us to welcome them is ludicrous.
Some of those perceptions are more correct than others, of course, but the point is plain. Still, to some of the paranoid set, any concern about illegal immigration displays "anti-immigrant" sentiment. *YAWN* The positive sentiments noted above won't assuage those "on high" who "know" better. There are those that think illegal immigrants somehow aren't illegal at all -- they are "free trade refugees" or some other nouveau appellation because somehow, someway, the United States forced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on Mexico, and hence the US is now "obligated" to see to those refugees they "created." (Mexico's government was powerless to stop it, you see; the Republican Revolution in Congress in 1994 at that time invented a mind-control device that influenced President Bill Clinton to fight for the agreement, as well as the Mexican government officials to go along. Or, from a "reactionary right-wing" perspective, Clinton knew that NAFTA would lead to increased numbers of illegals entering the US and figured that'd help ensure a solid Democratic voting bloc for years to come!)
In other words, the law (NAFTA) is unjust, and unjust laws should not followed. This was used to good effect during the Civil Rights era (rightly so, in this case), and now the usual suspects want to turn illegal immigration into the next big "civil rights" movement. 'Ol Ted Kennedy has recently said as much, for example. But again, what about Mexico's responsibility? If NAFTA is so unjust, why did they agree to it? Why aren't pissed off Mexicans lobbying their own government to get the hell out of it? Ah, but you see, why ask such hard questions when you make a "civil rights" issue out of it here in the US? "Unjust" laws should be ignored!
Of course, don't make that argument to lefties about abortion or something similar ... they'll burst their craniums in apoplexy; however, maybe you can ease them into it by beginning with the following: change the term "aborted fetus" to "victim of the reproductive rights genocide."
If anybody cares, yesterday our senior senator had what I can only assume was an important statement on Iraq because it appeared in the New York Times (free sign-in required). Naturally, Joe can't resist working in a few DNC talking points like, "[it] is increasingly clear that President Bush does not have a strategy for victory in Iraq." Jibes like this sound remarkably hollow from someone whose party's luminaries have stated that both Iraq and our military are broken, and that we should give up and leave. That said, give him credit for putting up a plan that consists of more than (1) Cut, and (2) Run.
In the column, he argues for dividing Iraq up into ethnic federations -- Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni -- with the central government controlling control border defense, foreign affairs and oil revenues. By the looks of this WaPo article, it would appear that splitting up Iraq is becoming vogue.
I disagree with Biden on this mainly because I just can't see the central government in his model being strong enough to off-set Iran or Syria. Biden in fact seems to understand this, and suggests having an international or UN umbrella to guarantee Iraq's security from its neighbors. Given the ineffectiveness of the UN and our problems with even willing allies, this seems naively optimistic; in the end, the only thing that can guarantee Iraqi security for the foreseeable future is the U.S. By necessity, this would mean a continued, substantial American troop presence, and not the withdrawal that Joe foresees.
Also, I don't agree with his premise for the ethnic federations which boils down to, "these people can't really live in a single society." That may yet be the case. But since a new unity government has just been seated, and given news that some of Iraq's Sunni rebels are laying down their arms, giving up on a unified Iraq is premature.
Still, it's the lone Democrat pronouncement I've heard on the subject recently that at least contemplates American success in Iraq. To that extent, it's a welcome addition to the debate.