"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."
How culturally clueless is Biden, anyway? Calling a black person "articulate" has been parodied ad nauseum by comedians like Dave Chappelle for years now. But Biden has to go a step further, and infer that "mainstream" African-Americans before Obama were not intelligent and ... clean?? And what does Biden think of "non-mainstream" blacks (whatever a "non-mainstream" black person is)?
I can hear Biden's "explanation" for this whopper now: "I have a lot of black friends* and they know I don't have a racist bone in my body ...!"
Meanwhile, we at Colossus have gotten an advanced copy of the beginning of Biden's announcement speech, written by Biden himself -- a complete original job:
My fellow Americans, I have a dream, that one day the only thing we'll have to fear is fear itself. I'd like Americans to ask not what their country can do for them, but what they can do for their country ...
Neil Kinnock wasn't available for comment on the speech.
(* Another favorite white person phrase that rivals the word "articulate" for most unintentionally insulting vocabulary used towards blacks.)
First, ABC's "Good Morning America's" "weatherman" reported the astonishing claim that "the picture they're (500 'top' scientists) painting isn't pretty. We're talking about change that's not 100 years away, but within the next 10 years. This is not the future -- it's happening today."
Wow! A mere decade and the sky will fall. Need I remind everyone the sky did not fall 30 years ago when we were now supposed to be under ice. A friggin' decade. The merest picosecond in the Earth's age. Just how conceited are these "top scientists," anyway??
The global increase in surface temperature (known as global warming) was found to impact on mortality through ill health, particularly among the elderly and in summer. This study sets out to explore the impact of global warming on suicide mortality, using data from Italy.
First of all, ill health?? Who the hell gets the flu, colds and many other ailments in the summer? Then, I completely concur with Xrlq's reaction: "I always thought that cold weather led to increases in depression and suicide, with moderate increases in the temperature having largely the opposite effect."
Come on. Anyone compare their mental state in the dead of winter compared to the middle of summer. Which is better? Hitting the beach, playing golf, shooting hoops ... as opposed to be cooped up inside ... watching TV, surfing the 'Net, sleeping ... I'm more depressed during the former.
Oh yeah, then there's John Kerry who said today "Every point of the planet between the poles is heating up."
As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.
Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.
I finally got around to doing the food shopping today. I always wait until the end to hit the deli ... usually to get some turkey and swiss cheese for my [work] lunch sandwiches. A pretty old gentleman didn't know you needed to take a number to get waited on, and when my number was called, he said he that was next. Obviously, he had never seen me. The deli woman indicated that I had the next number and came over to me. I looked at the old guy and said, "Go ahead, sir. I'm not in a hurry." He quibbled with me, apologizing profusely, but I insisted he go ahead and place his order. He thanked me and after he got his order, he took off. However, when I finished paying for all my food at the check-out line about 15 minutes later and was heading out of the store, there stood the old guy, seemingly waiting for somebody. He spotted me, then pointed at me and said "I'm not going to forget you. Good, polite men are hard to come by these days. You have a good day, young man!"
I smiled at him, replied, "Thank you, sir. You do the same," and exited the store with my day having just been made.
I've decided to expand upon the "Dopey Letters" mantra here at Colossus and include our other local "big" paper, the Philly Inquirer. Our debut entry is courtesy of Fletcher Todd (of Philadelphia) who writes:
I'M NOT A COMMUNIST - and never have been - but as a black Navy vet, I say, "Long live Castro!"
When he dies, black Cubans will lose their Martin Luther King Jr.
I was in Havana, Cuba, in 1950 with the U.S. Navy. I thought I was in Mississippi or Georgia. I was called the "n-word" by white Cuban girls in Spanish. White Cubans had the best jobs and lived in the best homes.
There were places that blacks could not go or live. Castro changed all that - no more segregation.
His only mistake was being friends with Russia. He was a freedom fighter, not a politician.
Wow. Just wow. Castro ... the equivalent of Martin Luther King??? For some reason, I just cannot see MLK -- if he had ever come to power, that is -- declaring all political opposition illegal, jailing political opponents, constructing a secret police force and, in a nutshell, establishing a totalitarian regime. One wonders if Mr. Todd would have liked it if [legal] segregation had ended via similar means here in the US?
Not a communist, you say ... ?
SCSU Scholars reports on how Internet creator and fledgling documentarian Al Gore failed to show up at a scheduled interview about global warming. Maybe it's 'cause the interviewer, Bjorn Lomborg, is the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist. At first, Gore attempted "to change the terms of the interview 24 hours before the meeting," then he just backed out completely.
How come, Al? Maybe because there is ample evidence to counter your contentions?
Today, there is no doubt the planet is warming yet in the 1970's we were told we were entering another ice age. What is it? "Climate" is weather over a long period of time - not just the last N years - take your pick, whatever fits your agenda.
Warning: Major geekage alert!!
My buddy Brent (or "B" as we like to call him) recently purchased the Marvel Encyclopedia and lent it to me, as he frequently lends me comics I don't have (and I, vice versa, to him). I both dug the thing and was sorely disappointed at the same. The layout is fantastic -- the chosen pictures extraordinary with old-panel word balloons remastered -- with an excellent combination of old school artwork and new. The typeface is also well done.
However, when one gets into the nitty gritty, one'll be finding himself going "Huh??" quite often. And this is mostly the fault of lousy proofreading. To be sure, a comics novice would most likely in no way be able to pick up on a lot of these blunders. But being that I was heavily into Marvel Comics in the 70s and early 80s gave me a good vantage point from which to judge. In addition, be sure to read the many reviews of the Encyclopedia over at Amazon. Many others feel the same as I do.
Let's start with my favorite hero, Iron Man. For the most part, the writer (Andrew Darling, one of several contributors) did a good job. Obviously the writers cannot cover every tidbit of a character's career or the volume would be over 1,000 pages, possibly more. Some things do have to be omitted. But most of Shellhead's key moments made it into print. The main proofreading blunder in the Iron Man section (a two-page spread, by the way; I'd expect no less!) was in the "Old Flames" segment at upper right. Long-time Tony Stark girlfriend Bethany Cabe is listed, but there's just one problem -- it's not Bethany pictured. It's [volume 3] Tony Stark girlfriend Rumiko Fujikawa! Doh! Rumiko didn't make the list but should have -- easily so over very briefly-noted-in-IM-lore squeeze Sunset Bain. In addition, you can see the influence that current Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada has; in the "Essential Storylines" segment, Iron Man vol. 3 #27-30 are listed. Guess why? Quesada wrote 'em. No true-blue Iron Fan would list those issues if they had to name three "essential" Iron Man stories. Unbelievably omitted is the one storyline virtually all Iron Fans would list as a must-have: The Armor Wars (Iron Man #225-232). And one of the "essential" stories contains a glaring error: Iron Man #153-156 are listed as "alcohol stuggle issues." URRNT! Not even close! Those are pretty much one-shot stand alone issues at a time when the title was in creative team transition (David Michelinie and Bob Layton, Iron Man's best-ever creative team, were exiting).
WHO TO INCLUDE?
There was also the head-scratching topic of who was included in the book, and who wasn't. Recent (and lame) Iron Man adversary Tiberius Stone made the book, but, for example, occasional Shellhead foe Midas -- who was an enemy of several Marvel heroes -- did not! Huh? This was also a common complaint among the myriad Amazon reviewers. Another that stuck out for me was the ridiculous inclusion of a character named Bloodhawk who appeared in a mere two issues of the Avengers back in the late 70s. C'mon -- aren't there much more worthy characters out there??
RETCONNED OR NOT?
A little-known Marvel character called the Rocket Racer stood out for me. First, it states his first appearance was Amazing Spider-Man #172. I used to own that issue as a boy, and read Spidey's then-battles with the skateboarding crook. Here's what got me about Racer's entry: It states he "was a scientific prodigy" who "developed a superpowered skateboard which was cybernetically controlled..." Now, there's a thing in comics called "retconning" where sometimes a hero's (or villain's) origin is "redone" to make him/her more "up-to-date" for a modern audience. It's also sometimes done to correct mistakes a writer made in the past, or simply to allow for what a current writer wants to do with a hero/villain. Now, I don't know if Marvel retconned Rocket Racer or not. If they did NOT, then his origin is completely erroneous. If anyone reads those Spider-Man issues from the late 70s, you'll see that the Racer was just a common thug (but not necessarily an evil person) who made a deal with a guy called the [Terrible] Tinkerer. The deal was that the Tinkerer (a mechanical genius) would develop the Racer's skateboard and glove rockets for 50% of whatever the Racer managed to steal in his crime sprees. Chances are RR was retconned, but then why include the original first appearance without noting that his origin had changed in the summary text? It would leave interested comic collectors who may go out and search for the relevant comics scratching their heads!
SPEAKING OF FIRST APPEARANCES...
Another thing that was inconsistent was the noting of characters' first appearances in the Marvel Universe. Notwithstanding the Rocket Racer above, I noticed that the writers tended to always include a character's first ever appearance in their bio, despite the fact that they may have changed names and/or appearances [possibly] many times. For instance, Mach-4's first appearance is noted as Strange Tales #123 from 1964. However, Mach-4 is a very recent character. Rightly noted in his bio is that he started out as a character called the Beetle, who indeed surfaced around 1964. OK. All fine and dandy. However, when you read the entry on the Speed Demon, his first appearance is listed as Amazing Spider-Man #222 (1981). Later in his entry you read that he started his career as the Squadron Sinister's "Whizzer." I have that very issue! And it was Avengers #70 from 1971! So, why do the encyclopedia's authors utilize first-ever appearances pretty much 95% of the time despite what a character eventually became ... but in Speed Demon's case (among a few others) his first appearance is listed as his first appearance as Speed Demon -- when in fact he started out a decade earlier as The Whizzer?
SPEAKING OF THE WHIZZER...
One of my favorite Marvel super groups is the DC Justice League analogue Squadron Supreme. This group exists in the Marvel Universe on a parallel Earth called "Earth-S." The leader of the group, Hyperion, has his first appearance listed as Avengers #85. Not noted is that the character Hyperion's first appearance was actually 15 issues earlier in Avengers #70, just like the Whizzer/Speed Demon above. (The Squadron Sinister was retroactively patterned -- see "retconning" above -- after the Squadron Supreme by an evil higher-order cosmic being ... Marvel writers apparently decided that a good group of these heroes wouldn't be such a bad idea!) In mainstream Marvel continuity, the Squadron Supreme at one time attempted to use their powers to take over their world in what was essentially a benevolent dictatorship. When they realized this wasn't a good idea, they dismantled their programs and became "ordinary" heroes. Eventually the team was whisked away from their world (to ours) by their arch-enemy; when they made it back years later, an oligarchic compendium had assumed world control, and in a 1998 special edition issue the situation was left as the Squadron continuing to fight this compendium for the world's freedom. So it says in Hyperion's bio. However, when you read the Squadron's own bio in the Encyclopedia, it says at entry's end that "the Squadron has now successfully liberated their own world from the grip of various monolithic corporations ..."!! So which is it, Marvel?? One entry says they're still fighting (the correct entry) and another says they've won already! It's doubtful I'd have missed a follow-up issue detailing their victory over the oligarchy as I'm always on the look-out for Squadron Supreme storylines, natch.
1941: A GOOD YEAR
In the most egregious example of lousy proofreading, the year "1941" appears an inordinate amount of times as a character's first appearance. This was the year in which the famous Captain America made his first-ever appearance, but other characters ...? On page 229 of the book, both the villain Proctor and hero Prodigy's first appearances are listed as 1941! Prodigy is even listed as having his debut in Captain America Comics #1!! Proctor's first issue is correct (Avengers #344) but that issue appeared in the 1990s, not 1941 as listed!! There were several other characters erroneously listed as having their first appearance as 1941, but I didn't write their names down and I can't recall all of them at the moment. Nevertheless, the year 1941 wasn't the only boo-boo; the dates of many characters' debuts were botched. One I recall immediately was Kitty Pryde's from X-Men fame. Her debut issue number is correct, but the year listed is 1994. The correct year is 1980!
Fairly new comics fans will take delight at this book. Older fans will still dig it, but as noted will wonder how a work of this magnitude managed to get published with all the errors -- especially when Marvel bigwigs Tom Brevoort and Tom DeFalco were contributing writers!!
... is because of the sheer number of lunatics in evidence. Cripes, I was flipping channels a couple hours ago and came upon C-SPAN's coverage of the D.C. anti-war shindig. In the few minutes I had the thing on (before I almost lost my lunch) I saw/heard:
1) A huge banner behind the main stage that had "9-II was an inside job." That's right. They couldn't even get "9-11" written correctly. Instead, they were complaining that either "'Nine-double I' was an inside job" or "'Nine-two' was an inside job." Dolts.
2) A young black woman got on stage and proclaimed that Kanye West was right -- George Bush doesn't care about black people. Nor any people, for that matter. Amazing, that, isn't it? A guy gets elected president twice and he doesn't care about anybody?? Boy, he sure pulled the wool over our eyes, eh? (I know, I know, he was selected, not elected, in 2000, right libs? Here, I'll utilize a Jason retort: Whatever.)
3) Feminist Eleanor Smeal ranted about something, but what got my chuckle was the sign behind her that said "Feminists are a Majority." Yeah, right.
4) You know it's scary when perennial presidential "peace" candidate Dennis Kucinich is the one making the most sense at your rally.
UPDATE: Newsbusters has more, including "actor" Tim Robbins calling for Bush's impeachment and predicting Bush will "end his presidency in a bunker, as did Adolf Hitler." I was wondering when the inevitable Bush = Hitler reference would pop up!
And just what the hell is up with this protestor sign??
Some personnel changes here at Colossus:
First, blog creator Rhodey is officially off to pursue further education goals and won't be posting for the forseeable future. (You may have noticed he hasn't posted in quite a while anyway.) We all graciously want to thank him for starting up this blog, and I personally am indebted to him for the invitation to join Colossus over a year ago. (Of course, "Rhodey" will remain in this blog's title!)
Gooch, whose bio had stated "will be posting soon," will remain just in R & D -- researching post topics due to his hectic schedule.
Happymomie, whose schedule has likewise gotten quite hectic, will remain a contributor, albeit as an occasional part-timer.
I am, however, trying to convince one of my favorite bloggers (whose blog has been defunct for months) from my old "Cube" days to get back into the field and join us here at Colossus. He is one of the best (and sarcastically funny) writers I have ever seen, and his addition here would be awesome. Stay tuned, peeps.
Man, what's next??
Global warming could exacerbate the world's rich-poor divide and help to radicalize populations and fan terrorism in the countries worst affected, security and climate experts said on Wednesday.
"We have to reckon with the human propensity for violence," Sir Crispin Tickell, Britain's former ambassador to the United Nations, told a London conference on "Climate Change: the Global Security Impact."
"Violence within and between communities and between nation states, we must accept, could possibly increase, because the precedents are all around."
John Mitchell, chief scientist at Britain's Met Office, noted al Qaeda had already listed environmental damage among its litany of grievances against the United States.
"You have destroyed nature with your industrial waste and gases more than any other nation in history. Despite this, you refuse to sign the Kyoto agreement so that you can secure the profit of your greedy companies and industries," al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden wrote in a 2002 "letter to the American people." (Source.)
Yeah, you know -- that "enviro-conscious" bin Laden. When he's in control Greens will have their Utopia ... if they're actually alive to enjoy it, that is. Heck, maybe they'll just merely be jailed. Perhaps maimed a little. Y'know, a chopped off hand here and there for, say, protesting Islamic law.
Still no word on what these enlightened minds (and bin Laden) thought about how global cooling thirty years ago affected terrorism.
Portraying an angry parent as an enemy of sound science, reporter Blaine Harden shared with Washington Post readers the story of Federal Way, Wash., science teacher Kay Walls and her struggle to show “An Inconvenient Truth” to her students.
Walls planned to show her class a screening of Al Gore’s Oscar-nominated film, but an e-mail from a student’s father caused the school board to have Walls balance her presentation with skeptics of climate change.
The science teacher is “struggling to find authoritative articles to counter the information in the Gore documentary,” Harden lamented as he closed his article.
“The only thing I have found so far is an article in Newsweek called ‘The Cooling World,’” the Post staff writer quoted Walls in his January 25 story. Harden incorrectly wrote that the Newsweek piece was published 37 years ago, but it actually appeared in the April 28, 1975, edition of the magazine.
First of all, the parent is correct in his e-mail. I don't know if he sent it directly to the school board first (which would have been out of line; hopefully he attempted to to discuss it with the teacher first) but he surely has a legitimate point. Second, this teacher sure ain't looking very hard to find "authoritative articles" that challenge Gore's documentary (as proven by the link above). But even so, doesn't that Newsweek article (among others from the time) cause people to wonder (well, obviously not Walls) how a mere 30 years ago (a picosecond in the Earth's history) scientists were warning of an impending Ice Age?
I got second place again!
And now... the winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are On the Possibility of an Embargo of Iranian Oil by American Future, and “Because the Language They Use Is Killing” by INDC Journal. All members, please be sure to link to both winning entries (and to the full results of the vote) in a post. Thanks to everyone for all the great entries this week... I'm eager to see next week's entries! Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:
|2 2/3||On the Possibility of an Embargo of Iranian Oil|
|2||Teacher Merit Pay|
The Colossus of Rhodey
|1 2/3||Iraqi Refugees|
Done With Mirrors
|1 1/3||‘Moderate’ Abbas: “Aim the Guns Against Israel!”|
|1 1/3||A Mandatory Disaggregation|
|1||Too Much Munich?|
|1||D'Souza and the Illiberality of Criticism|
Right Wing Nut House
|4||“Because the Language They Use Is Killing”|
|2 1/3||The Blitzing of Haret Hreik|
Michael J. Totten
|1 1/3||Make the Child Pay|
Baytown Bert's Blog -- The Way I See It
|1||To the Shores of Tripoli|
The Belmont Club
|2/3||Maliki's Other Mistake|
|2/3||IQ and the Educators|
Mean Mr. Mustard
From the United for Peace website:
10am: Women Say Pull Out! Women's Convergence for DC Mobilization Join Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Congresswomen Maxine Waters and Lynn Woolsey, Rhea Perlman, Eve Ensler, Mimi Kennedy, Q'orianka Kilcher, the Co-founders of CODEPINK and many other amazing women. Other co-sponsors include: National Organization for Women, V-Day, WAND, Feminist Majority, Feminist Peace Network and WATER. Don't forget your PINK!
Where: Navy Memorial, 7th and Pennsylvania NW
When: Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 10am
We will rally at 10am then meet up with the UFPJ rally and march!
Oh wait, I get it -- out of Iraq, you mean!!
A fairly mild conclusion to the "Battlestar Galactica" cliffhanger from a month or so ago. Admiral Adama has the Galactica's nukes ready to fire, but the Cylons recall all of their Raiders ... save one. The Xena (Lucy Lawless) Cylon refuses to recall that one, stating that Adama will never waste the whole planet solely on one Raider. She's right. Adama orders a stand-down. (Who was on that Raider again ...?)
Next, there's frackin' Helo. This guy is royally pissing me off. First, he thwarts the fleet's efforts to virtually wipe out the Cylons; now, he places the entire fleet in jeopardy by killing Athena so that she can be "resurrected" onboard the adjacent Cylon base ship ... and thus will be able to see her (their) baby. In other words, Athena -- who has intimate knowledge of the fleet's (Galactica's) defenses -- is now in the hands of the Cylons. Thanks to Helo. Because his wife wanted to see their baby. At the potential cost of the remainder of humanity. Oh.
How is this guy still in uniform?? If the writers were smart, they'd have a crew member "wack" Helo clandestinely very shortly.
Later, it appears the Cylons will successfully infiltrate the temple which houses the Eye of Jupiter, especially since the explosives set up by the humans won't work! DOH! Did Tyrol purposely sabotage them (the religious guy that he is) or what? The Xena Cylon stands upon the Eye and has a vision. (OK, was it me or just what the HELL was up with that scene? How did the Eye give a Cylon such a vision?) The vision showed the Xena Cylon the identities of the remaining five humanoid Cylons that exist. Of course, none are shown to US, but Xena Cylon seems quite surprised by the ID of one of them. (Hint or Misdirection: In the scenes for next week's episode, it shows Baltar apparently being "resurrected" in a Cylon "birthing bath." Is he one of the five remaining humanoid Cylons?)
The Cylons don't have much time to ponder the Xena Cylon's vision as she "dies." The system's sun is going supernova! When the Xena Cylon is "resurrected," the Dean Stockwell Cylon informs her that her model is being terminated for the time being as she was "getting too big for her britches"!! The other good news is that Baltar is now in the hands of the humans once again!! HOOO-BOY!
All in all a so-so conclusion.
Bill Knox of Wilmington regurgitates the usual "Bush lied" to get us into Iraq swill ("The Iraq war was based on lies using the 9/11 tragedy as an excuse," he says; see again here) while recommending the president ask -- get this -- the United Nations for their assistance with the whole Iraq mess:
George Bush should go before the United Nations and ask for help in cleaning up his mess. Going to the United Nations or withdrawing from Iraq is not cut and run.
Earth to Bill: The United Nations was already there. They vamoosed at the slightest indication of difficulty. I think we should not have invaded Iraq in the first place and that it was silly for the UN to even attempt to go in when they did. But we did and they did (and then promptly left), so what exactly makes you think they'll do it again, Bill??
And then there's more lack of historical knowledge:
Bush betrayed more than 200 years of American ideals, noticeably in the USA Patriot Act and warrantless wire tapping.
Ah, yes. As if Abraham Lincoln did not "betray American ideals" by unilaterally suspending habeas corpus on ALL Americans. As if he did not advocate total war on the South, which just happened to include civilians. And then there's FDR who tossed Japanese-American citizens into the klink because they were ... Japanese. Some "crime" that, eh? And Bush has done what, exactly? Followed established presidential precedent with the wiretapping issue? And how exactly was the Patriot Act passed? I seem to recall the legislative branch having something to do with its passage. Nevertheless, the wiretapping and Patriot Act are a pittance against civil rights compared to what other presidents have done in time of war.
In an article titled "Climate scientists feeling the heat:
As public debate deals in absolutes, some experts fear predictions 'have created a monster'," the Houston Chronicle's Eric Berger notes that some climate scientists are wondering if all the dire warnings about global warming have gone too far.
Climate scientists might be expected to bask in the spotlight after their decades of toil. The general public now cares about greenhouse gases, and with a new Democratic-led Congress, federal action on climate change may be at hand.
Problem is, global warming may not have caused Hurricane Katrina, and last summer's heat waves were equaled and, in many cases, surpassed by heat in the 1930s.
In their efforts to capture the public's attention, then, have climate scientists oversold global warming? It's probably not a majority view, but a few climate scientists are beginning to question whether some dire predictions push the science too far.
"Some of us are wondering if we have created a monster," says Kevin Vranes, a climate scientist at the University of Colorado.
Vranes, who is not considered a global warming skeptic by his peers, came to this conclusion after attending an American Geophysical Union meeting last month. Vranes says he detected "tension" among scientists, notably because projections of the future climate carry uncertainties — a point that hasn't been fully communicated to the public.
The science of climate change often is expressed publicly in unambiguous terms.
For example, Vranes "goes crazy" when he hears other climatologists utter things like what Ralph Cicerone said last summer:
"I think we understand the mechanisms of CO2 and climate better than we do of what causes lung cancer. ... In fact, it is fair to say that global warming may be the most carefully and fully studied scientific topic in human history."
The point is that, although there is a wide consensus that the earth is warming and that humans are contributing to that warming, can academics question/be skeptical of the doom sayers -- those who claim the earth will be irrevocably (for the worse) altered if humans do not cease virtually all release of greenhouse gasses? And, can people debate the degree to which humans are actually contributing to the warming?
Since fossil fuels are the biggest current contributor to global warming (via humans), keep in mind that said fuels are finite and the current supply is not supposed to last the century. Certainly, countries (especially industrialized ones) will be making the transition to alternative fuels long before this supply begins to dwindle. As a result, it is logical to assume that greenhouse gas levels will begin to level off and then decrease when this happens.
And I still haven't yet seen a decent reply to the question "What about all the screaming and yelling about global cooling a mere 30 years ago?" We were warned then of an impending Ice Age, for heaven's sake. Hey -- y'think the non-chalant attitude about greenhouse gas emissions may be partly the result of that global cooling scare 30 years ago? I mean, after all, what better way to prevent a global cooling catastrophe than to flood the atmosphere with greenhouse gasses?
The A.P. regarding Venezuela's Hugo Chávez: "The president's opponents accuse him of using his political strength to expand his powers."
Those "opponents" are right on target. Chávez has used his political power to garner "rule by decree" status for 18 months. Count on that to expand when the deadline nears.
In addition, Uncle Hugo used an old racial slur against Americans. Referring to various US officials, Chávez said "Go to hell, gringos!" and called Secretary of State Condi Rice "missy." Why the epithets? Because these officials voiced concerns over Chávez's vastly expanded powers.
Based on what Stephen Bainbridge says:
I'm 48 years old. I spent 11 years in college and graduate school, with the latter 7 years spent at elite institutions. I've spent 18 years teaching at law schools ranked in the top 25, which I think safely qualify as elite institutions. Having thus spent 60% of my life hanging out with elite professors, I feel confident in saying that: If all I know about a view was that professors held it more, and elite professors even more so, I would be inclined to be skeptical of that view.
To be sure, when it comes to their area of expertise, elite professors deserve a degree of deference. When it comes to matters outside their area of expertise, such as whether God exists (the question Galt and Hanson are discussing), elite faculty deserve no more deference than any other smart people. Indeed, they may deserve less deference than a representative cross section of the general public.
Being a 16 year grizzled veteran teacher, I've often read about the pros and cons of merit pay for teachers -- that is, bonuses and/or salary increases for superior teacher performance. On the surface, it sounds like a pretty easy concept. When you delve into the details, however, it gets more complicated. Don't get me wrong -- I am in no way opposed to a merit pay scheme that makes sense and is logically functional. But that's the rub. Many merit pay ideas (that I've seen) fail those criteria and/or fail to address other concerns.
Just to give you an example of what I mean by "making sense" and "logically functional," the state of Delaware wanted (wants?) to evaluate state teachers partially (20%) on the test scores of the students. On the surface, this sounds somewhat reasonable. However, since the state test (DSTP) measures ONLY mathematics and English, how exactly can an art teacher's evaluation be tied to students' test scores? Or a science teacher's? Many of you know that I am a Spanish teacher. How come 20% of my evaluation is based on my students' math and English test scores? Talk about "incentive" -- this turns the incentive on its head! Why waste my time teaching Spanish -- I should be tutoring my students in math and English!
That column, "How One School Found a Way to Spell Success," described how teachers at the Meadowcliff School, formerly full of student underachievers, were promised bonuses linked to improvements in the standardized test performance of each student. (The column is available on OpinionJournal here.) The size of the bonus increased relative to the student's year-over-year test gains. A 4% improvement earned a $100 bonus, rising to $400 if the student gained 15% (some did). Everyone in the school was in the bonus plan, including the cafeteria ladies, who started eating with the kids rather than in their own lounge. It worked. Scores improved. Twelve teachers got bonuses from $1,800 to $8,600. The checks were handed out in a public ceremony. Oprah would love Meadowcliff.
Again, sounds great on the surface. No doubt. But I have questions. What subjects did the standardized tests measure? How exactly did art teachers -- or Spanish teachers -- affect these [standardized test] subjects? And how in the world do cafeteria workers affect them?? The above plan states teachers' pay was tied to student performance; so, cafeteria workers can get bonuses too ... for eating lunch with students? Wow. Apparently there were individual bonuses and group (school) bonuses. And there's a nit I have with this comment (from the linked article in the above blockquote): "This straight-line pay-for-performance formula awarded teachers objectively in a way that squares with popular notions of fairness and skirts fears of subjective judgment. In most merit-based lines of work, say baseball, it's called getting paid for 'putting numbers on the board.'" Doing away with as much subjectivity in teacher evaluations (for bonuses) is a good thing; however, the analogy to baseball is far from perfect. Baseball players have only to rely on themselves for their performance. They control all the "factors of production," so to speak. On the other hand, teachers [also] have to rely their students, obviously. That is a pretty significant factor of production with aspects outside of teacher control, is it not?
When you tie teacher pay (or bonuses) to student test performance, you need a basis from which to start -- a "benchmark," if you will. A student takes a test at the beginning of the [school] year and then continously throughout the year. You can thus verify improvement. But the way many schools are currently configured means that students have many different teachers over the years (and subjects), especially in the upper grades. This is probably a "minor" structural issue, however; subject/grade configurations could be modified to permit a more concrete measurement.
But what about my subject (again, Spanish)? Students come to my class with no knowledge (or virtually no knowledge) of the subject matter. How would a "benchmark" test work in this regard? (I am asking this not out of skepticism, but out of real ignorance.) Or, would the standardized final exam at the end of the year be a sufficient measure of my teaching abilities? If so, what percentage of my students would need to pass it in order for me to get my bonus? Does that percentage get raised each year? Or, does a certain "bell curve" grade distribution need to be realized for my bonus?
I Googled "merit pay teachers" the other day and the first page of articles dealing with the subject were overwhelmingly negative. The very first article is by education researcher Richard Rothstein and is titled "Merit Pay Won't Work." I must admit I am very skeptical of Rothstein, especially after reading [one of] his devoid-of-reality "solution" to inner-city education problems. Rothstein argues that "... despite the oft-repeated notion that 'merit pay' contributes to corporate success, it is hard to find private sector examples for such proposals." He goes on to point out various studies to support his point, but in my opinion they are weak. And as a point of personal anecdotal evidence to the contrary, my job before teaching was in credit card collections. Each employee who reached his/her monthly percentage goal received a bonus.
Rothstein then quotes Brooklyn-Queens Archdiocese Superintendent Guy Puglisi who says
"We have many schools where test scores are low. But if the teachers are working hard, the scores are not that much of an indication of anything. The teachers might be working doubly hard, but the scores are low because of the social conditions they face.
"I don't think merit pay is that great an idea ... what motivates teachers is the opportunity to do challenging work, and then being told how much they are appreciated."
If the teachers are working hard. There's certainly no doubt that what motivates many teachers is effecting positive change in the learning of youth. Personally, I did not go into teaching for the money! I don't know of anyone who did. But the fact remains that there are many teachers who are lemons -- and the question remains: Is it fair that these lemons get paid the same (or more, based on years of experience and/or education level) as an exceptional teacher?
One point where I believe Rothstein pretty much hits the mark is this: The evaluations needed to support a merit pay system in education are inconceivable with schools' currently weak administrative structures. Administrators' main focus these days is dealing with student discipline, and many are now hired solely for this purpose. Thus, I'd argue these folks do not have the aptitude to evaluate teacher performance, especially in key subject areas. But, again, utilizing standardized test scores on which to base (whole, or in part) teacher evaluations could certainly alleviate some of the "load" from administrative "judgment."
Myron Lieberman, like Rothstein, dismisses the notion that merit pay is much more widespread in industry (as opposed to education):
Conservatives often exaggerate the extent to which merit pay is the practice in our labor force. In dozens of industries, merit pay seldom applies to employees below the supervisory level. In fact, merit pay does not affect airline pilots and several other occupations in the public and private sectors. Superior performance often leads to promotions to positions in which merit pay is operative, but this is true in education as well.
I don't know how accurate that last sentence is; in my experience excellent teachers wouldn't touch administration with a 50-foot pole. Lieberman goes on to ask one of my main queries from above (my emphasis):
Even if teachers, teacher unions, and school management agreed that merit pay was a good idea in principle, the problems of implementing the idea would be difficult to resolve. To cite just one problem, how can we compare merit among teachers of different subjects and grade levels? With the best will in the world, different interests will lead to differences of opinion on this issue.
And that's just it. As I stated from the beginning, I have little hassle with merit pay. I just want a system that makes sense -- and wasn't put together to satisfy someone's notion of political expediency, like the proposed Delaware teacher evaluation plan. In addition, Lieberman notes how school administrators would be wary of utilizing a merit pay plan due to [its possible] subjectivity -- "This is not something administrators look forward to, especially since it's always possible to criticize the criteria or the applications of the criteria for merit pay," he writes. It's a good point, for as Greg over at Rhymes With Right notes, just as teachers know which fellow teachers are doing their jobs, they also know what adminstrators are doing their jobs, too. You could be a phenomenal teacher who's "led" by an inferior principal, have disagreements over proper education policy (the teacher clearly being right in this case) and as a result your evaluation is poor -- "payback," if you will. Does this sound familiar to any teachers out there?
The debate will continue to rage. I recommend all teachers, especially, check out the many differences of opinion regarding merit pay at the Google link above. To restate, I personally have no objection to merit pay, as long as a fair system is established to implement it. The Meadowcliff School's example may to be such a system; I'd like to see more specifics to make a concrete evaluation. Delaware's system (not merit pay, mind you, but 20% of a teacher's evaluation that can affect pay) as current constructed is not such a system.
... that there's a possibility that the Super Bowl will feature two African-American coaches? Not even one has made it to the big game before. If both can't make it, I sure hope the Bears' Lovie Smith gets the nod. Lovie'll always hold a special place in my sports heart for turning around the St. Louis Rams' defense in 2001 (total defensive rank: 3rd).
That Rams team -- get this -- had the #1 offense and #3 defense, went 14-2 in the regular season absolutely destroying teams in the process, and then lost Super Bowl 36. Had they won, that Rams team would easily have been listed as one of the greatest NFL teams of all time.
Maybe that's a reason then-head coach Mike Martz is now offensive coordinator in ... Detroit.
I'm about half-way through Richard B. Frank's excellent book "Downfall" about the last months of the Japanese Empire during World War II. Published in 1999, it details both Japanese and American strategic planning during the war's endgame.
Before picking up "Downfall," my reading about WWII had focused almost exclusively on the European theater, and to the extent that these books have mentioned the home front at all, by and large they have not extensively discussed civilian war morale. Frank's book, by contrast, shows how integral the home front's morale was to planning for the invasion of Japan, and by extension how public support was starting to fragment.
Once Germany surrendered, the worst fears of military planners were realized. A poll showed 72 percent of Americans expected a partial demobilization -- the rest wanted even more. Under a growing deluge of mail, Congress insisted that the Army "reduce its size immediately by 1 million men." Fred Vinson, the director of the Office of War Mobilization and the Reconversion, spoke of overwhelming public outcry for an increase in availability of consumer goods and warned the Joint Chiefs of Staff that he had never seen "the people in their present frame of mind." He was fearful of "unrest in the country." [Ch. 8]
Similarly interesting is Japanese strategy in preparing for the invasion.
The Japanese comprehended astutely that they need not repulse Olympic [the American codename for the invasion of Japan's home islands] to attain their overarching political objective: to find the American threshold in casualties that would induce American policy makers to parley for terms to the taste of Japanese militarists. Moreover, they correctly perceived that this threshold comprised not just the raw number of losses in Olympic but also the implications those casualties carried. The Japanese did not have to reach the ultimate American threshold; they needed only to convince U.S. policy makers and the public that the bloodletting on Kyushu [where the invasion would begin] foretold an unbearable ultimate cost. [Ch. 12]
I think there is a tendency to lament when comparing "the Greatest Generation's" prosecution of WWII and our own response to the struggles in Iraq, the former seeming so strong, the latter so weak. The passages above, however, provide some context. Far from making the WWII generation appear soft, they emphasize that regardless the size or necessity of the conflict, war weariness will always grip a democracy. Moreover, enemies have always known this, and seek ways of breaking national will through attrition when they cannot win militarily.
The timelessness of these difficulties is actually comforting. If they were only recently on the scene, they would indeed be a sign of a new weakness creeping into the American character. The fact that they have always been there yet the nation has largely succeeded in the past means they can be overcome yet again.
CAIR is angry that "24" often depicts Islamic terror on television. Would that they were so concerned with Islamic terror that occurs in real life.
The show has gone to considerable efforts to cast about for terrorists and threats that are not Islamic terrorists - the very folks who murdered thousands of Americans in real life on 9/11. They've even twisted the acts of one character, President Logan, from a snivelling and weak character into the epitome of evil and full of plans within plans behind the terrorist attacks on the US that Jack Bauer himself was trying to prevent.
In the real world, there are new news reports on a daily basis indicating that terrorists are calling for jihad and the destruction of the West and the US in the name of Allah. These aren't militant Quakers we're talking about, but Islamic terrorists. So, the show glosses over the reality and casts about for bad guys who aren't of a Muslim background.
But apparently, this is not enough.
CAIR says that "the program's repeated association of acts of terrorism with Islam will only serve to increase anti-Muslim prejudice in our society." The implication being that to preclude the possibility of anti-Muslim prejudice, we need to cease portraying Islamic terror in fiction, or at least portray it less. One wonders if CAIR would like to similarly restrict news stories of bombings in Islam's names for fear of inciting bigotry they believe beats in the American heart.
CAIR is devoted to denying that there is an ideological disease within Islam which needs addressing. Their attack on "24" is a battle within this larger war. If we are precluded from making fiction that focuses on Muslim terrorists, yet still want to portray terrorism, other groups have to be invented to fill the vacuum. That relativism, however, takes the pressure to reform off Islam, in whose name terrorism has gained global reach and a spectacular body count, because it implies a world where all groups have a terrorism problem of equal severity. If that's the case, then really there's no need for Muslims to correct the behavior of the mujahideen in their midst. Why should they be singled out when all groups potentially have the same terrorism seed within them?
That's the hype about "Battlestar Galactica." Not sure if I completely buy it, but Rebecca Cusey does.
Case in point (and I know this is an easy target): Delaware Liberal excoriates Ryan of Jokers to the Right thusly --
Jokers to the Right’s Ryan S. still thinks climate change is a liberal myth. With future leaders like Captain Chickenhawk McSillystring I’m sure that one day the notion that the Republicans ever enjoyed a majority in Congress will be regarded as a myth by many.
My emphasis. Here's Ryan's post for your perusal. Here's what important to note: His post is careful to note MAN-MADE global warming. And here's the difference between someone who thinks (Ryan) and someone with a Neanderhal brow (Jason of DE Liberal): Ryan is careful to note the skepticism surrounding MAN-MADE global warming and the attempts by some to quell that skepticism. Ryan writes:
Isn't science all about discovering truth through experimentation and the free exchange of ideas?
Where in the scientific method does it say "Do not allow others to dispute results?" Why this stifling of scientific inquiry?
Amen! Being skepitcal of MAN-MADE global warming is NOT akin to Holocaust denial, or believing the moon landing never occured. But some want it that way. As Ryan notes, the Weather Channel's Heidi Cullen is one of them. Jason of DE Liberal is another.
Meanwhile, Andrew Stuttaford offers the following on global warming (my emphasis):
Cambridge astrophysicist Nigel Weiss:
"Typically, sunspots flare up and settle down in cycles of about 11 years. In the last 50 years, we haven't been living in typical times: "If you look back into the sun's past, you find that we live in a period of abnormally high solar activity," Dr. Weiss states. These hyperactive periods do not last long, "perhaps 50 to 100 years, then you get a crash," says Dr. Weiss. "It's a boom-bust system, and I would expect a crash soon." In addition to the 11-year cycle, sunspots almost entirely "crash," or die out, every 200 years or so as solar activity diminishes. When the crash occurs, the Earth can cool dramatically. Dr. Weiss knows because these phenomenon, known as "Grand minima," have recurred over the past 10,000 years, if not longer.
In addition, Stuttaford quotes blogger Al Fin who writes (again, my emphasis):
The rush to reduce CO2 levels is not only massively expensive, but totally unnecessary, according to these learned solar experts. Certainly everyone with any knowledge should understand that global cooling is far more threatening to human life than the mild global warming currently being experienced. Politicians such as Al Gore have vested monetary interests in exaggerating the climate effects of CO2. Likewise, climatologists such as Michael Mann have achieved fame, prestige, and easy grant money through the use of shoddy research methods. The route to grant money in climate science currently lies through the gate of CAGW—catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. Those are the magic words. Reality is much larger than that. It is foolish to fixate upon one seemingly obvious explanation for cyclic climate behaviour of epochal duration. Many junkies of "global warning" enjoy the thrill of the apocalypse. Others have more mundane motivations, such as going along with the perceived flow.
Just remember people -- a mere 30 years ago these same "experts" were screaming and hollering about global cooling. And speaking of global cooling disaster, I highly recommend the book Fallen Angels by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It takes a somewhat tongue-in-cheek view of the disaster brought on primarily by the policies of radical environmentalists who've come to power to the US.
UPDATE: Add commenter "dan" to those who believe there should be no dissent about human-caused global warming. Check his comments:
This isn't abortion, affirmative action, hate crimes, or many other issues. I ain't no moderate. There aren't two sides.
If you dissent from the "conventional wisdom" that humans are primarily responsible for causing global warming, you are -- according to dan -- a member of the "anti-Earth" crowd. And all this time dan has been posing as some sort of reasonable commenter around Colossus. I had my doubts, of course, but this confirms those doubts.
Still now word from that "bastion of wisdom" dan on how all these climate experts were screaming and yelling about the next Ice Age as recently as the late 70s.
Increased gun violence in Philly (and other cities).
Seriously. Philly Mayor John Street said so.
Has anyone else yet heard of section 220 of S.1 now working its way through Congress? Here is the text of the bill.
What should worry bloggers are the following provisions:
1) (B) PAID ATTEMPT TO INFLUENCE THE THE GENERAL PUBLIC OR SEGMENTS THEREOF - The term "paid attempt to influence the general public or segments thereof" does not include an attempt to influence directed at less than 500 members of the general public.
My emphasis. Read that again. You don't have to be paid -- but if you attempt to influence the public and you reach more than 500 people, then you'd be in violation. And how exactly is that "500" determined? Is this a daily total for bloggers? Monthly? Annually? As of this writing, Colossus has over 55,000 page views (since we signed up for Sitemeter). We certainly advocate on behalf of candidates when the time arises. Would we be in violation? More on violations in a sec.
2) (18) PAID EFFORTS TO STIMULATE GRASSROOTS LOBBYING- (A) IN GENERAL- The term "paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying" means any paid attempt in support of lobbying contacts on behalf of a client to influence the general public or segments thereof to contact one or more covered legislative or executive branch officials (or Congress as a whole)
Bloggers who meet the "over 500" criteria would have to report to ... Congress!! (Or, some official thereof.)
3) "On January 9, the Senate passed Amendment 7 to S. 1, to create criminal penalties, including up to one year in jail, if someone 'knowingly and willingly fails to file or report.'
Don't report to Congress (or some official thereof)? You could spend up to one year in jail!!
Mark Fitzgibbons of GrassrootsFreedom.com says
"Thousands of nonprofit leaders, bloggers, and other citizens have hammered the Senate with calls in opposition to Section 220, which seeks to silence the grassroots. The criminal provisions will scare citizens into silence.
"The legislation regulates small, legitimate nonprofits, bloggers, and individuals, but creates loopholes for corporations, unions, and large membership organizations that would be able to spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars, yet not report."
Hey! Guess who introduced S.1? None other than new Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
However, Utah Senator Robert Bennett (R) (with the support of the ACLU) has introduced the "Bennett Amendment" to S.1 which would strike section 220 from the bill. Be sure to head over to GrassrootsFreedom.com now and show your support for Bennett's amendment.
UPDATE: First State Politics' Dave Burris notes in the comments that the Bennett Amendment passed the other night. Victory!
And now... the winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are MLK Day -- A Singular Holiday by Rhymes With Right, and A Framework for Thinking About Iraq Strategy by Small Wars Journal. All members, please be sure to link to both winning entries (and to the full results of the vote) in a post. I actually had to cast a tie-breaking vote in the non-council category this week... I enjoyed Confederate Yankee's post about the ubiquitous Jamil Hussein, but Dave Kilcullen's look at the “wicked” problem of Iraq ultimately won me over. Thanks to everyone for all the great entries this week... I'm eager to see next week's entries! Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:
|2||MLK Day -- A Singular Holiday|
Rhymes With Right
|1 2/3||The Beauty of "Fairness"|
|1 1/3||Bush Speaks... and Belittles Us All|
|1 1/3||Why It Could Work|
|1 1/3||Chosen Icons|
Done With Mirrors
|1 1/3||A New Standard for Political Hideousness|
|1 1/3||Running Out the Clock|
The Glittering Eye
|1||James Traub Has a Semite Problem|
|1/3||Is Oprah Right?|
The Colossus of Rhodey
|1/3||Federally-Mandated Cheerleading: EduCracy Run Amok?|
The Education Wonks
|3 1/3||A Framework for Thinking About Iraq Strategy|
Small Wars Journal
|2 1/3||AP: Discrediting Jamil's Sources|
|2||IRS Agents, May Every One of Them Burn in Hell|
Dispatches from TJICistan
|2||No Word For Liberty|
|1 2/3||War? -- What War?|
Works and Days
|2/3||"I Said Oh Oh Domino"|
|1/3||Foreign Policy Last Week|
|1/3||Gordon Browned Off|
|1/3||Crime in the UK Versus Crime in the US|
Venezuela's National Assembly has given its initial approval to a measure that would grant President Hugo Chavez the power to rule by decree for 18 months.
Legislators voted unanimously for the bill Thursday in Caracas. A second session of the legislature, which is controlled by allies of Mr. Chavez, is expected to give the bill final approval next week.
Recall that another local Delaware blogger thinks that Hugo Chávez is "more democratic" than George W. Bush.
(Thanks to steamboat willy for the tip.)
As the Media Blog so rightly states, Keith: "IT'S A FREAKING TV SHOW!!!"
Newsweek's Devin Gordon feels similarly.
Really, let's face it -- is what the show has offered thus far really so far from [potential] reality?
There has been much said about the John Atkins affair lately, and with good reason. However, Jud Bennett offered a post to the WGMD blog which raised some interesting points, among them being that the whole thing could be carried too far. I think Jud was a bit over the top with some of his hyperbole, but it's obvious that Atkins got a sure break that night he was caught driving drunk and I think he deserves to pay some price.
And what was that about being carried too far?
Ah, well there is Delaware Liberal's Jason Scott who writes yesterday:
I talked to [WDEL's Gerry] Fulcher off the air and he has some hair-raising stories about Atkins misrepresenting his marital status to pick up chicks. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about that.
Ah yes. "Hair-raising" stories that have nothing to do with the issue at hand -- Atkins' obvious drunk driving and "royal" treatment. In other words, pure gossip about Atkins trying to be a "ladies man" and ... possibly hiding that wedding ring in the process. This is where Jud Bennett is spot-on. In the fervor of trying to keep the Atkins story alive and "hot" (which is a good thing, don't get me wrong) Scott and Fulcher have gone too far -- transforming the yarn into tabloid gossip.
This is pathetic for two reasons: One, for Fulcher especially, it makes him appear sillier than he usually does, given that he has the power of radio behind him. Second, it can prove to gather sympathy for Atkins by emphasizing scurrilous factoids.
Stick with the facts. They are more than sufficient enough in this matter.
Star Trek: Enterprise's, that is. Man, I love this tune. It's one of the best TV theme songs period, in my book. The reruns of the show on SciFi Channel rekindled the goosebumps I get when I hear it.
Titled "MADD at Drunk Drivers, but Not Influential Ones," Reason's Radley Balko goes after MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) for its stand on the John Atkins "case":
A few months ago, Delaware state Rep. John C. Atkins was pulled over in Ocean City Maryland under suspicion of drunken driving. Immediately after getting pulled over, he flahsed his Delaware Legislature ID, after which the officer assured him that he wouldn't be arrested. Problem is, Atkins took a roadside breath test which came back at .14, well over the legal limit.
Atkins wasn't arrested. His car wasn't impounded. He wasn't even fined. Instead, he was allowed to call a friend, who came to pick him up and take him home. Atkins was arrested hours later after a domestic dispute with his wife. He pled guilty to one count of "offensive touching."
All of that is bad enough. Stranger still is the fact that, months later, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has put out a press release expressing their full support for the Ocean City Police Department in declining to arrest Rep. Atkins. MADD says it entered the debate to express its full support for the arresting officer, who apparently has pleased the group by making hundreds of drunk driving arrests over the years (no word on how many of them were politicians).
Even worse, it appears that details of Atkins' traffic stop were kept secret until after last November's election. This article, dated October 29th, explains how Atkins went on a local radio talk show to explain the 911 call and arrest for the domestic dispute. Atkins apparently assured the listeners that "no alcohol" was involved in the altercation with his wife.
I wonder how many other people who blow .14 in a roadside breath test, go home and "offensively touch" their wives, then publicly lie about it get such staunch public support from MADD?
I also wonder if it has anything to do with Atkins' seat on the Delaware legislature's public safety committee, or his past votes on MADD-favored DWI issues.
As for Atkins, after public pressure, he has finally asked the legislature's ethics committee to look into his actions on the night of the 29th.
My emphasis. All good questions, Radley. Hopefully we'll get some answers from the House Ethics Committee. Meanwhile, Jud Bennett, who frequently writes a guest post over at First State Politics, has written a guest post today at the WGMD blog blasting the coverage of the Atkins situation.
From the main page of MSNBC.com right now (my underline):
How does a team "rip" another in [NFL] overtime? Maybe that was meant to be "nip"?
I obviously do not delve into the minutiae of local political matters as vigorously as the guys at Down With Absolutes, First State Politics and DE Watch do. (I suggest you read the posts by these blogs to get specifics about the matter if you're unfamiliar.) However, I certainly read many of these blogs and follow what's going on. I'd like to offer my view of a "hot" topic as of late -- specifically that of State Rep. John Atkins.
First, the whole thing stinks. It stinks to high heaven. Anyone else who was in Rep. Atkins' situation that fateful night would most certainly have been arrested for drunken driving. (After all, Atkins blew a 1.4 blood alcohol level and the level for "drunken driving" is 0.8, not to mention his driving was erratic.) I think it's quite safe to say that if that were you or I, we'd now have our license suspended (perhaps revoked) and we'd have a record. Ah, but you see, Atkins flashed his legislative ID at the cops!
Which brings me to #2: What can be done to Atkins via legislative House ethics rules? After some searching last evening online for the relevant rules in question, it seems Atkins could certainly be punished for at least breaking one rule:
Rule 16: Rules of Legislative Conduct, section IV, subsection 5: A member shall not engage in conduct constituting official misconduct in violation of Section 1211, Title 11 of the Delaware Code.
What does Section 1211, Title 11 of the Delaware Code say? The following:
A public servant is guilty of official misconduct when, intending to obtain a personal benefit or to cause harm to another person:
(1) The public servant commits an act constituting an unauthorized exercise of official functions, knowing that the act is unauthorized.
Does flashing your legislative ID at police officers who've pulled you over constitute "intending to obtain a personal benefit" and an "unauthorized exercise of official functions"? In my book, it does.
There's also the following, which is much more subjective from the House's point of view:
Subsection 11 of the same section states A member shall not engage in conduct which the House determines (i) brings the House into disrepute or (ii) reflects adversely on the member's fitness to hold legislative office.
Now what can (will) happen if -- if -- the House makes such a determination? Just about anything the House desires in terms of punishment. But, don't think it's gonna be easy, those who think Atkins should be booted from office:
If the House finds by a majority vote that a member has violated a Rule of Legislative Conduct, it may impose such disciplinary action as it deems appropriate; provided that no member may be suspended or expelled without the vote of two-thirds of the members of the House concurring therein.
So, unless Atkins resigns, it's gonna take that 'ol 2/3 majority to sack him. That's unlikely, especially since the House is GOP controlled. What's more likely is an official reprimand.
Not only that, but remember -- the Dems were all over that minimum wage increase:
Democrats will repeal taxpayer subsidies that promote shipping jobs overseas and we will raise the minimum wage. Democrats will ensure that economic growth benefits all Americans, not just the privileged few.
Just don't count American Samoa in that increase, however:
After passing their minimum wage legislation earlier this week the Washington Times noted that that Speaker Pelosi exempted hometown companies from minimum wage increases by passing legislation that excluded American Samoa. Her husband is reported to be a major stockholder in Del Monte, one of the hometown companies in question.
Yep. Paul Pelosi owns $17 million in Del Monte stock, whose subsidiary Starkist Tuna is the largest employer in American Samoa. Indeed, 75% of American Samoa's workforce is employed in the tuna industry.
What's that again about economic growth benefits helping everyone and not just the privileged few -- like you and your husband -- Nancy?
(Also check out a funny moment in the House when Republican Patrick McHenry asked Barney Frank, who was in the Speaker's position, about exempting American Samoa from a stem-cell bill!)
UPDATE: Ryan at Jokers to the Right was ahead of the curve on this story as he made Pelosi his "Hack of the Week" for last week.
UPDATE: Looks like the whole flap may now be moot: Pelosi calls for Samoa to be included in minimum wage bill.
"I have asked the Education and Labor Committee, as they go forward with the legislation, to make sure that all of the territories have to comply with U.S. law on the minimum wage," Pelosi announced yesterday.
Pelosi aides said the committee would be asked to work toward having all territories use the same wage standard.
Fair enough. But will Repubs be proven correct on the negative effects of the min. wage, especially in Samoa?
During the Eagles-Saints game last evening (sorry, Philly fans), I was intrigued by the small segment featuring the winners of the "Punt, Pass & Kick" competition. Why was I intrigued? Well, because there was a boy and a girl winner for each age group. Girl?? Like ... why? I mean, check it: Girls do not play football at virtually any level. There may be a few [private] girls football leagues around, but middle and high school teams -- not to mention college and the pros -- have NO female members, with rare exceptions. (And in those cases, you're sure to see some ESPN "heartwarming" story on these anomalies.)
So, why have PP&K competition for girls when statistically NONE of them will ever suit up competitively? Here's the answer: PC!
So says the New York chapter of the ACLU:
In a statement, the group said it was frustrated that the [Defense] department refused to stop collecting information about students’ race and ethnicity. It said the military was engaged in efforts “to target racial and ethnic minorities, especially from African-American and Latino communities, for aggressive recruitment campaigns.”
Come again? The ACLU getting its panties in a bunch -- because of recruitment of minorities?? Ah, but you see, it's the military. That isn't a "good" career path. Colleges and universities, on the other hand, must be a "preferred" path, since they also routinely collect race/ethnicity info for similar [recruitment] efforts.
No word on whether the civil rights group will consider a lawsuit against them anytime soon.
The Alphabet Meme. (Since I was tagged by Duffy ...)
[A is for age]: 41
[B is for beer of choice]: Corona
[C is for career]: Educator
[D is for favorite Drink]: Iced tea
[E is for Essential item you use everyday]: Computer
[F is for Favorite song at the moment]: "Yo Soy Así" by guess who ...?
[G is for favorite Game]: Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble
[H is for Home town]: Wilmington, DE
[I is for Instruments you play]: Saxophone, moderate amount of bass guitar
[J is for favorite Juice]: Orange
[K is for Kids]: One daughter
[L is for last kiss]: Fairly recently, yes
[M is for marriage]: Umm ...
[N is for full Name]: Sorry, I'm keeping my "semi-anonymity"
[O is for Overnight hospital stays]: When I was six -- had my tonsils out
[P is for phobias]: Heights, enclosed places
[Q is for quote]: "America has the most obedient parents on Earth." -- Duke of Windsor
[R is for biggest Regret]: Not sticking with playing music
[S is for sports]: NFL, hands down
[T is for Time you wake up]: I have my alarm set for precisely 5:48am (excluding weekends)
[U is for color underwear]: White
[V is for Vegetable you love]: Broccoli, lima beans, carrots, lettuce
[W is for Worst Habit]: Slouching when standing, walking
[X is for X-rays you've had]: Chest, abdomen
[Y is for Yummy food you make]: Egg dishes
[Z is for zodiac sign]: Pisces
I usually use the Netscape 8.1 browser when surfing the 'net at home. The last couple of days I noticed that my computer was locking up -- whenever I clicked on a WordPress blog. I switched to Internet Explorer (which, amazingly, has no problems with the WordPress blogs) and noticed that these blogs have a neat new feature: Pop-up images of the sites you run your cursor over.
Is anyone else experiencing hassles? With Firefox, maybe? I really prefer Netscape, but WordPress blogs are out of the picture with it. Ugh.
Seems a lot of others are doing it, so I may as well get in on the act. No score guesses; I tend to think those are silly as too frequently they are way off.
Today: Ravens defeat Colts; Eagles defeat Saints.
Tomorrow: Bears defeat Seahawks; Chargers defeat Patriots.
Hey! I came in second!!
And now... the winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Why Is There Still a CIA? by Done With Mirrors, and A Strategy for the Long War by Blackfive. All members, please be sure to link to both winning entries (and to the full results of the vote) in a post. I actually had to cast a tie-breaking vote in the council category this week... I enjoyed Hube's fisking of a book by Chris Hedges, but Callimachus' critique of the CIA ultimately won me over. American Future was the only member unable to vote this week, and the only member affected by the 2/3 vote penalty. Thanks to everyone for all the great entries this week... I'm eager to see next week's entries! Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:
|3||Why Is There Still a CIA?|
Done With Mirrors
The Colossus of Rhodey
|1 2/3||Weekend Monkey: Let's Play ‘You're the Qadi!’|
|1 1/3||Once Wrong Doesn't Mean Always Wrong|
|1||Skies Darkening Over China|
The Glittering Eye
|2/3||Uday and the Maiden|
|2/3||Peace Through Strength: Thoughts On American Military Preparedness|
|1/3||Howard Fineman: Sooper Political Genius?|
The Sundries Shack
|1/3||It Was My Understanding There Would Be No Math|
|1/3||Ellison and the Oath: A Matter of Faith|
Right Wing Nut House
|2 2/3||A Strategy for the Long War|
|1 1/3||Jimmy Carter and the Business of Quoting Dictators|
|1 1/3||Is Israel Really Planning to Attack Iran's Nukes? A Re-Examination|
|1||Israel's Military Options, Revisited|
In From the Cold
|1||Blood, Guts, and Wasted Children|
The Half-Baked Sourdough
|1||Why We Fight the Thieves of History|
Diary of an Anti-Chomskyite
|1||A Sliver of Hope in a Silver Lining|
The Possum Bistro
|2/3||Reade Seligmann: ‘Mom, she picked me.’|
La Shawn Barber's Corner
|1/3||Recycling = Bullshit... Part?|
|1/3||Is a Democratic Iraq Still Attainable?|
The Belmont Club
|1/3||The Islamification of Europe’s Cathedrals|
Since it seems fairly certain to me now that we're going to end up evacuating Baghdad's green zone from the embassy roof in helicopters, what I'm worried about is the much more significant "surge" we're going to have to deal with — Iraqi refugees, virtually all of them our Sunni enemies, being resettled by the hundreds of thousands in the United States. [. . .] Which is why in the future we need to factor in considerations of the immigration fallout before we launch foreign policy initiatives. For instance, the immigration created by our absurd intervention in Somalia has resulted in Somali cabbies at the Minneapolis Airport trying to impose Islamic strictures on travelers there [. . .] — no one could have predicted that specific outcome, but something like it was bound to happen, and is a cost of involvement in the Islamic world. In the words of CAIR: "Now that the Muslims are here, they need to be accommodated." [Emphasis added.]
If the surge fails and General Petraeus does not turn out to be Bush's U.S. Grant, the only difference between the parties come the 2008 election is how, not whether, to pull the plug on Iraq. In such circumstances, the immigration question Krikorian notes above may be the election's key issue, and one which could divide the parties internally. It will, however, play out on a political landscape where American sympathy will likely be tapped, and the spectacle of killings and families being torn asunder that will unfold on CNN will be greeted with hard American hearts.
Democrats may want to run like hell from Iraq, but if there's anything to their oft-professed, evolved sense of human concern, I would be surprised if many of them could watch as Iraqis were butchered by the bushel, even if they were Sunni. Besides, they had fantasized so much about Vietnam since the 2003 invasion, what better way to cap off another American defeat than with a massive evacuation of refugees. The evacuation would probably play out so poorly a decade later the nation would endure an Arab version of "Miss Saigon" on Broadway.
On the other hand, I doubt saving people that squandered their liberation because their god and culture preferred tribal savagery is going to play very well in the heartland. Would the present Democrat party, so recently returned to power, want to gamble its position to bring them here? A clash between the nutroots and the Democrat establishment could make for an ugly primary, with hurt feelings spilling over into the general election.
For Republicans, their divisions on this may be less pronounced. A lot of conservatives will remember that the war was sold in large part on the basis that Arabs were capable of democracy. If Iraq fails, thus proving the opposite, they will see no reason to bring Iraqis here to make a mess of our democracy. Moreover, they will reason, why bring more of America's enemies here? The war was lost largely thanks to the native ones we already had.
This view will be challenged by a minority of conservatives that believe in an old-school sense of national honor. We went there to help, we can't just abandon them, they will say. Moreover, who would ever side with us again knowing we may abandon them? The national mood being such that we will be basically raising the drawbridge and forsaking any more military adventures until a nuke goes off in Manhattan, this minority view will be ignored, and the GOP nominee will run on a hard no-refugee policy.
The "Spider-Man 3" trailer has been bothering me for a while. While the production looks as visually slick, the trailer shows that instead of a nameless thief that Peter Parker could have stopped killing Peter’s Uncle Ben, it was really the man who would eventually become Sandman that did it.
Presumably, they want the money-shot battles between Spider-Man and Sandman to be more personal, and to have a hook to make Spidey darker in this installment. Certainly, ret-conning Sandman as the murderer is one way to do it. But really, it's a needless change since any fight between Spider-Man and a bad guy becomes personal when Peter Parker sees people being threatened or getting hurt. It doesn’t need to be Uncle Ben, Aunt May, or Mary Jane. He cares about everybody because he knows that “with great power comes great responsibility”™. He knows this because of his Uncle’s death, and as a result, he’s keenly aware that anytime he drops the ball someone could die.
Here's the thing: if Uncle Ben was killed by Sandman, someone Peter Parker did not know about and had no way of stopping the night of the murder, then Spider-Man’s whole character falls apart. The lesson isn’t that with great power comes great responsibility, but that it really does not matter how much power you have or what you do because bad stuff just happens sometimes.
This is not to say that traumatic events are necessary for someone to be a hero (think of Superman, who does the right thing because he can). But central to the Spider-Man mythos is his guilt. It's what motivates him, because it’s pretty clear Peter would have used his powers for personal gain but for the murder. Take that away, and why shouldn’t he go back to his original plan of using his spider powers to earn a buck? Momentum is not a compelling reason to continue being a hero.
Maybe this part of the movie will just be a head game -- perhaps staged by former-BFF-turned-eventual-arch-enemy Harry Osborne -- where Spider-Man is made to think Sandman did it, thus cutting Peter loose of his moral compass. I hope it’s something like that because otherwise, while this flick is sure to look cool, I don’t know if the character it portrays could truly be called Spider-Man.
Don't think Jimmy Carter is off the deep end with his new book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid? Maybe you ought to talk to the fourteen advisers who just resigned from the Carter Center in protest over the book:
Fourteen members of an advisory board to Jimmy Carter's human rights organization resigned on Thursday to protest his new book, which criticizes Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories.
The resignations from The Carter Center board are the latest backlash against the former president's book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," which has drawn fire from Jewish groups, been attacked by fellow Democrats and led to the resignation last month of Kenneth Stein, a center fellow and a longtime Carter adviser.
"You have clearly abandoned your historic role of broker in favor of becoming an advocate for one side," the departing members of the Center's Board of Councilors told Carter in their letter of resignation.
Steve Berman, an Atlanta real estate developer among those who resigned, said members have "watched with great dismay" as Carter defended the book, especially as he implied that Americans might be afraid to discuss the conflict in fear of a powerful Jewish lobby.
Berman said the religious affiliation of the resigning members, which include some prominent Jewish leaders in the Atlanta area, didn't influence their decision.
On a related note, while on my way to the doctor today to find out if I had "walking pneumonia" (I don't, thankfully), I listened to WDEL's Al Mascitti allow a caller to make the ludicrous statements that George Bush is "doing Israel's bidding," that [Jewish] neocon policy "is just Israeli policy," and instead of sending more American boys over there, "why not send some Jewish boys?" Disappointingly, Mascitti did not challenge this caller on these statements. What -- were there no other callers waiting to get on and you needed to kill some air time, Al?
Definitely one of the low[er] points of Al's show that I've ever heard.
Is he? You be the judge:
It seems some have taken offense to my calling minute men armed redneck racists? I apologize for that. I should have said "armed redneck CRACKER racists" which is the consensus term that last time I checked in with Barney Frank.
Rational and thinking people would recognize the above for what it is: A hateful and bigoted statement. But it probably isn't so for DE Liberal's readership. After all, remember -- liberals are permitted to utilize such bigoted language because, after all, their intentions are good -- and conservatives are evil. In this case, this mindset says "It can't be bigoted when the Minutemen are mostly a bunch of white guys who are 'adversely affecting' Mexicans (i.e. 'people of color')."
In yet another example of the only reason Hollywood types get any sort of forum to voice their incomprehensible opinions on matters political (and scientific) -- because they're "famous" -- Alec "Stone Henry Hyde" Baldwin offers the following bit of intellectualism:
I was in NY these past few days for a quiet holiday period. I flew out of town on Saturday, January 6th. 72 degrees in New York. On January 6th. People walking along Central Park in t-shirts.
There is no winter in the East right now. No snowfall in NY in December for the first time since 1877.
All around us are signs of global climate change. And this administration's response is to send in more troops. If you don't think there is a link between the weather and Iraq, you are wrong.
Now you might think there is some sort of context to this, but there isn't. Baldwin doesn't even attempt to back up his statement that the Iraq War and global warming are interconnected. I think he might mean that the administration's policies are mixed up (concentration on the war rather than global climate change), but if so he's about as clear as mud in his explanation.
Alec goes on to praise Teddy Kennedy and to compare Dick Cheney to Augusto Pinochet. He also says that the Democrats should go after Joe Lieberman. "Party loyalty" is important, he says. Of course, that in no way can apply to Republicans! All standard liberal fare, but he does include a complaint against Lyndon Johnson Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Hoo-rah.
In related news, a note to Sean Hannity: Bad idea. Apparently Hannity's new FNC show ("Hannity's America" seen on Sunday nights) features a segment called "Enemy of the State." The inaugural show's "winner" was actor Sean Penn who won because
besides calling little old [Hannity] a whore at a recent speech, Penn has called for the impeachment of just about everybody in the Bush administration, and called them bastards.
"Enemy of the State" for voicing an opinion?? Sure, Penn's a nut, but Hannity is playing right into his hands by so naming him with that title. He's allowing liberals to point to this and say "See? Anyone who disagrees with the administration is labeled an 'enemy of the state'!" Now, I'm sure Hannity thinks it's just a "cute" title for this segment of the program, but he should realize that it wrongly infers that disagreement -- even that which is quite vociferous and unsavory -- warrants some sort of governmental penalty.
Joe Sudol of Newark offers the same tired complaints about Iraq:
There is a reason President Bush beat Osama bin Laden in a poll as the biggest villain.
George W. Bush is responsible for the needless deaths of more than 3,000 Americans and 600,000 Iraqis because he lied about Iraq's weapons program in order to get the approval of Congress for the war. We know he lied because he said Iraq was attempting to get uranium from Africa, after that allegation had been investigated by former ambassador Joseph Wilson and was found to be false.
Joe Joe Joe Joe JOE! If George Bush lied, so too did all of these individuals. Given that, Bush hardly had to lie about Saddam to get congressional approval to launch a military campaign against Iraq. Congress either knew this (WMD) to be the case already (and were proven wrong) or they were lying right along with Bush!
As for the "investigation" by Joe Wilson, you mean the one where he was "drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people"? That "thorough" investigation? What President Bush said about Iraq and uranium from Africa was the following: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." That statement was entirely accurate; British intelligence stands by that assessment. Indeed, Wilson himself supplied info that the CIA "took as confirmation that Iraq may indeed have been seeking uranium from Niger."
But this really all is water under the bridge. Tinfoil hatters like Sudol can continue to berate the president for "lying" when actually the smarter course of action is to criticize what a mess he has made of the post-war occupation. But wait -- we're not done! See where Sudol says there's a reason Bush outpolled bin Laden as a bigger villain? Here's Sudol's reasoning:
... there is no evidence that Osama bin Laden was involved in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The so-called smoking gun confession video is a fake. The person alleged to be bin Laden in this video does not look like him.
Joe Sudol, let me introduce you to "Professor" Craig Furlong and co.!
La Shawn Barber opines on the Oprah Winfrey "controversy" surrounding her recent opening of a school in South Africa, and her comments about American education:
"Say what you will about the American educational system—it does work," she says. "If you are a child in the United States, you can get an education." And she doesn't think that American students—who, unlike Africans, go to school free of charge—appreciate what they have. "I became so frustrated with visiting inner-city schools that I just stopped going. The sense that you need to learn just isn't there," she says. "If you ask the kids what they want or need, they will say an iPod or some sneakers. In South Africa, they don't ask for money or toys. They ask for uniforms so they can go to school."
I've encountered this ... "sentiment" both here and abroad. During my travels in Costa Rica, I noticed that all public school students wear uniforms and kids will walk miles to get to school (especially in rural areas). Costa Ricans literally go out of their way to get to school!
Here, I've similarly noticed this attitude ... but mostly from immigrant students or parents. I'll never forget the [Indian, from India] mother of one of my students (way back in my first year of teaching) who was exasperated at the devil-may-care attitude of too many American students. "Indian students would LOVE to have what American students have in their schools. You have everything you need to get a great education ... and more"she said. Yet, there exists an atmosphere of "being spoiled" here. Is this the price America must pay ... for success? Have we become soft and spoiled as a people? La Shawn thinks so:
We Americans, black and white, are so spoiled. We take for granted things like free government education, proper sanitation, an economic system under which we can make a decent living if we actually work, private ownership rights, access to safe, plentiful, and relatively cheap food — the ingratitude is sickening.
Is this accurate? I mean, is it a "Why bother with an education when even the most uneducated among us can have things and live in conditions which people who live in REAL [Third World] poverty would give their eye teeth for?"
In a related matter, ABC's Director of Foreign News, Chuck Lustig, praises Oprah for her generous donation to South Africa, asking "is there something wrong with our educational priorities in this country that a college coach can make so much money at a time when many of our country's school districts are wrangling with huge deficits?" Ironic that Chuck missed Oprah's actual pertinent statements about this country's school districts, eh?
I could ramble on and on about this topic, but I'm interested in hearing what YOU have to say. I'll ask the post's title again: Is Oprah (and La Shawn) right?
Frankly, it is bewildering that a college would want someone like Hedges to deliver a commencement address. Shouldn't commencement be a time of uplift and motivation? Nothing like a radical like Hedges to spew his cultural hatred upon those entering the real world. Oh, wait -- we're talking about a college. At least some of the crowd took exception to such a lecture at their graduation and booed. And this prompted Rockford College President Paul Pribbenow to grab the microphone and state
My friends, one of the wonders of a liberal arts college is its ability and its deeply held commitment to academic freedom and the decision to listen to each other's opinions. (Crowd Cheers) If you wish to protest the speaker's remarks, I ask that you do it in silence, as some of you are doing in the back. That is perfectly appropriate but he has the right to offer his opinion here and we would like him to continue his remarks.
This would be nice -- if it were really a belief of college administrators. In fact, too often it is the belief of college administrators when the speaker is of like political philosophy ... like Hedges. Do you think a speaker for the Minutemen would be [verbally] defended by a college administrator in the middle of a protest? Hell, Ivy League Columbia didn't even do that! The protestors were permitted to stop the Minutemen's speech and force them off the stage. One was even attacked. Conservative speakers are the targets of this quite often on campuses. Major disruptions of talks/speeches. Pies and other food items thrown at them.
It'd actually be a refreshing change if conservative speakers were "merely" met by boos and hisses. At least then, they'd probably be able to finish what they have to say. But remember why "mere" boos and hisses are insufficient protest for leftists against conservative speakers: What conservatives say isn't just wrong, it's evil and wicked. And as such, it must be halted at all costs.
NBC News's Andrea Mitchell: Chris Matthews is not "a liberal thinker." She added: "I don't feel that there is bias in what we do at NBC News. And I don't think there's bias in CBS or ABC."
But Fox News? "There are commentators who are biased, and I don't think that the newscasts are necessarily biased."
But of course!
The Christian Right, like these early fascist movements, does not openly call for dictatorship, nor does it use physical violence to suppress opposition. In short, the movement is not yet revolutionary. But the ideological architecture of a Christian fascism is being cemented in place. The movement has roused its followers to a fever pitch of despair and fury. All it will take, Hedges writes, is one more national crisis on the order of September 11 for the Christian Right to make a concerted drive to destroy American democracy. The movement awaits a crisis. At that moment they will reveal themselves for what they truly are — the American heirs to fascism.
If this is isn't the biggest bunch of bullsh** I've read in a long time (excluding the usual drivel here) I don't know what it is. Even the NY Times itself didn't give the book a favorable review which, in this case, especially is a good indicator the book is crap. Not because the Times is so adept at reviewing books; but, because the Times, never at a loss for causes liberal, doesn't want to go too far and throw in with the loonies ... and realizes this book is just way out there.
Laughingly, the Hedges promo also offers this: His book reminds us of the dangers liberal, democratic societies face when they tolerate the intolerant. What delicious irony! What better "warning" for the American people of the American Left, that which essentially owns popular culture, including the education establishment. It is at American universities, especially, where this tyranny is most evident. Campuses take "the danger of tolerating the 'intolerant'" to the extreme: They enact speech codes (can't tolerate "intolerant" speech), bypass normal due process procedures (can't tolerate "intolerant" judicial operations), and utilize "guilty until proven innocent" when it comes to people of certain class/race (can't tolerate "intolerant" typical legal procedures created by white males).
Why do they do this? At least the Right has the "excuse" of national security in [some of] their desires for, say, a streamlined due process in times of a terrorist war. But the Left? They truly believe in their philosophy. To believe otherwise is akin to heresy and dissenters must not only be punished, but made into "unpersons." For excellent examples of what I'm talking about, just peruse FIRE's website. In addition, see what La Shawn Barber has to say about the Duke "rape" case and how 88 -- 88!! -- Duke professors said "Screw due process!" to the accused rapists by taking out a full-page ad in the Duke Chronicle where
The professors definitively asserted that something "happened" to the accuser, while saying "thank you" to campus protesters like these, who had called the players "rapists" and distributed a "wanted" poster with lacrosse players' photos. The statement's author, Wahneema Lubiano, gleefully labeled the players the "perfect offenders," and, as ESPN reported, fully understood that "some would see the ad as a stake through the collective heart of the lacrosse team." (Source.)
Contrast that to the only THREE Duke professors that have actually criticized prosecutor Mike Nifong's gross misconduct in the case. As author KC Johnson says,
The behavior we've seen from Duke's faculty — the frantic rush to judgment coupled with a refusal to reconsider — was all too predictable. The Group of 88's statement was fully consistent with basic ideas about race, class, and gender prevalent on most elite campuses today. Reconsidering their actions of last spring would have forced the Group of 88, and sympathetic colleagues, to reconsider some of the intellectual assumptions upon which the statement was based.
The modern university's views on race, class and gender do not gibe with, among other things, the Bill of Rights. Or, at least not the way the Bill of Rights has been interpreted over history. Since the Bill of Rights is an invention of privileged white males, there needs to be a "modern interpretation" of these rights in an era of great demographic change. As discussed here at Colossus previously, ideas such as "Critical Race Theory" hold that the First Amendment should be adjusted to allow minorities an "equal footing" on which to debate. In other words, since the majority (whites) hold institutional power, merely "matching words with words" does not suffice for a minority when attempting to deal with a member of the majority. The majority still "holds the power." Thus, legal safeguards need to be put in place to quell the majority from using "hurtful" speech.
Look at which speakers get shouted down and are prevented from voicing their opinion at universities. They are not leftist speakers. They are speakers who, like the head of the Minutemen, articulate a point of view which is anathema to leftists: proper [national] border enforcement. Leftists abhor this viewpoint because 1) the people affected are "people of color," 2) the white oppressors "stole" the land originally from said people of color, and 3) since they (leftists) disdain concepts like private property in the first place, national borders are moot.
Universities often get away with this sort of nonsense because leftists form a monopoly on thought there. Liberal/Democrat professors outnumber their conservative/Republican brethren by a huge margin. Quite hypocritical for institutions that harp "diversity" more than any other catchword, but the most important type of diversity you'd expect at a place of learning is pooh-poohed. And again, conservatives/Republicans aren't just wrong -- they are to be completely disregarded for their beliefs.
And why is it that the media, like the academy, are so fearful of true diversity? The number of liberals/Democrats in the media mirror those of universities. How dangerous is it that the Fourth Estate -- unregulated at that, unlike the three political branches -- is controlled by one political philosophy? This is just one more element that makes Hedges' hypothesis akin to that of global warming hysteria or any other sort of "crisis mongering." With these two elements of American culture firmly in the camp of liberals/Democrats, it is beyond difficult to imagine Christian radical rightists scheming to transform -- and succeeding -- American democracy into the next 1930s Germany or Italy.
UPDATE: Darren has a post up that adds an exclamation point to my own, here. He notes a statement by the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby: "This helps explain why the left is so often infatuated with the idea of its own benevolence -- and why liberals are so quick to accuse their opponents of being not just wrong, but wicked."
Previously I noted that an upcoming comicbook version of "Battlestar Galactica" would provide a much needed backstory to the history of the Man-Cylon War(s). Newsarama has a first look at Battlestar Galactica: Zarek #1 and we're getting our first clues. Yes, the Cylons were created for manual labor. Yes, the eventually rebelled. The sneak peek doesn't offer much new regarding the Cylons (yet) but we're told that the human colony of Sagittaron was pretty much a "backwater" colony whose population were slaves. Slavery -- among the same interstellar species??
This to me seems highly improbable. The cooperation and moral growth necessary for a species to unite a single world, let alone twelve, is monumental. For them to still make use of human slavery is preposterous. And keep in mind that we're supposed to be related to these humans -- Earth is the so-called missing "13th Colony." Yet, here we are, not even close to having a single unified world government, and slavery is all but abolished! Indeed, the most modern countries did away with the practice more than 200 years ago.
This makes it so I don't even want to be "related" to the Twelve Colony humans!
So says a local [DE] blogger.
Ah yes, the Democrats promised a "more civil tone" in Washington now that they're back in power.
Maybe this is an example. Mass. Rep. Barney Frank said that President Bush perpetrated “ethnic cleansing by hurricane” in Louisana after Katrina, in order to make Louisiana more Republican.
Y'see why nothing is significantly going to change in Washington? Y'hear that, you boobs over at DE Liberal?
Meanwhile, Greg over at Areopagitica has a quite interesting post up comparing the response (by the government and media) to Hurricane Katrina, and the response to the recent massive blizzards that hit the Northern Plains.
Sorry, but I just have to wince every time I see a spot for the new Hilary Swank film "Freedom Writers." If this isn't just a sappy remake of Michelle Pheiffer's "Dangerous Minds" for all intents and purposes, I'll eat my hat. Certainly, teachers that are dramatized by Swank, Phieffer and others are nothing short of miracle workers. And, their stories can be uplifting. But one thing that annoys me is the seeming Hollywood mantra of a "Great White Hope" that is "needed" for these tough, inner-city classrooms. Remember how Pheiffer was virtually terrified in her first few days in the classroom. But hey -- she is determined to "reach these kids" by, among other things, "understanding" where the kids come from. Swank is obviously keen on doing likewise. Matthew Perry in "The Ron Clark Story" is another. Meryl Streep in "Music of the Heart" is yet another.
If you know me by my past writings, I'm certainly not one to endorse the multiculti philosophy that kids will learn "better" if they are taught by teachers who "look like them." And surely, middle-class whitebreadish teachers like Pheiffer, Swank et. al. will have to make necessary adjustments to whatever teaching methods they learned in order to be successful with high-need urban students. But this isn't my point. The point is that Hollywood seems to believe that these stories are "inspirational" in part because these middle-class whitebreadish teachers "gave their all" to help these destitute pupils -- they sacrificed and were devoted beyond measure -- when they could've taken a cushy suburban teaching job that would have been much easier. They're "Great White Hopes" as I said before.
But what about the stories of teachers who DO "look like their students" who have been there since day one doing their utmost to get through to these kids? How many of you have seen (or even heard of) the excellent film starring Samuel L. Jackson titled "187"? Jackson plays a teacher who was nearly killed, yet he moves to California and gives teaching a go again (at yet another "tough" HS). It's gritty, dark and realistic, and being that the number "187" stands for murder under the California penal code, you know it's gonna be a macabre flick.
More commonly known is "Lean On Me" starring Morgan Freeman as no-nonsense principal Joe Clark (Freeman) who turns an inner-city school around primarily by means of "old school"-style discipline and punishment. This obviously pisses off the typically "touchy-feelie" educrats and the bureaucrats who then conspire against Clark.
"Stand and Deliver" stars Edward James Olmos as Bolivian math teacher Jaime Escalante. He teaches at a primarily Latino populated school and uses this to his advantage in motivating his students to excel at the subject -- going all the way to calculus. One of the things he notes is how the native civilizations of the Americas (particularly the Maya) were geniuses at mathematics -- "You have math in your blood!" he tells his class. In such a setting, it is difficult to imagine a Michelle Pheiffer or Hilary Swank making such a rapport.
Lastly, one of my favorite all-time movies about teachers is called just that -- "Teachers." Nick Nolte and Judd Hirsch star in the over 20-year old film that really holds up well today. I agree with what a commenter had to say at the IMDB:
While the story takes some liberties with realism this is actually a very good film. As a 25 year teacher I can honestly say that what may have appeared outrageous in 1984 is pretty close to reality today.
Frustrated teachers, out of the loop administrators, a total lack of discipline, students bringing a smörgåsbord of baggage to class and a stubborn school board that puts the money above the needs of the students.
What I like about "Teachers" is that it portrays professionals that truly place the needs of the students first even if their methods are unconventional. Give me one teacher like Nick Nolte's character instead of 10 Dittos. Forget the mantra "looks good, is good" and admit mistakes. The community responds best to the truth.
Students in any school situation respond to the sincerity of their teachers. Put the young people first and don't be afraid to walk around in their shoes once in a while.
No, the film doesn't deal with (mainly) one particular ethnic group, but a fairly well-mixed group such as the district in which I teach. Nolte's character is initially shown to be a slacker (he has to be called by the school secretary to even get out of bed and come to work), but he later demonstrates that he's probably the best teacher in the school. He has a terrific connection with his students, and in one of my favorite scenes he forgoes a day's lesson plan because the heater in his room is broken. "So," he tells the class, "Today we're going to enter the world of heater repair" and the students all gather around to watch him fix the heater. Talk about your "teachable moment"! He goes above and beyond to reach a kid (played by Karate Kid Ralph Macchio) who everyone else has given up on, and willingly takes an administrative hit for it (by allowing him to use school equipment to take embarrassing photos around school that get out to the local media).
Nolte also faces a situation I actually encountered in real life very early in my teaching career. While attending a conference with Macchio's character's mom, the mom is completely disinterested in what's happening to her son. Nolte asks, "Mrs. Pilikian, don't you care about your son's education?" To which she responds, "Isn't that YOUR job, Mr. Jurel?" (In my real life situation, I heard a parent chastise an administrator for even bothering to contact her about her son's constant misbehavior. "YOU'RE the educator," she said. "YOU'RE the professional. This is YOUR problem." Isn't that nice?)
The best symbolism is Richard Mulligan's character -- a mental patient -- who unintentionally serves as a substitute teacher. Before he's discovered, he ends up being one of the most beloved teachers in the whole building -- his off-the-wall antics have endeared his kids to him (just check out he and his class re-enacting Washington's crossing of the Delaware!) ... the obvious message being that you really have to be [a little bit] crazy to teach, and being so actually helps you relate to the kids better.
"Christina public forum draws one parent" is a headline in today's News Journal. One parent. OK, the Christina School District has had a lot of problems of late, but inviting public input is just what they should do -- and have done -- and look at the result. Now, imagine if they held a closed-door session on the matter. Angry parents would be calling local talk radio to rip the district. In this, WDEL's Gerry Fulcher (whom I've criticized often in the past) was dead-on in some of his commentary yesterday when he lectured his listeners that THEY have the power to change things they do not like -- all THEY have to do is show up, make THEIR voices heard, and get active. In this case Ger was referring to the state legislature; they same principle certainly applies to public school districts.
And now... the winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Religion and Politics: Intolerance Is Growing by Right Wing Nut House, and The Blogosphere at War by The Belmont Club. All members, please be sure to link to both winning entries (and to the full results of the vote) in a post. Thanks to everyone for all the great entries this week... I'm eager to see next week's entries! Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:
|2 2/3||Religion and Politics: Intolerance Is Growing|
Right Wing Nut House
|2||The Mysterious Mr. Ritter|
|2||You Keep Using That Word...|
|1 2/3||Hidden Truth About Arafat Revealed|
Rhymes With Right
|1 1/3||Nuremburg 2006?|
|2/3||The House Always Wins|
The Glittering Eye
Done With Mirrors
|4 2/3||The Blogosphere at War|
The Belmont Club
|2 1/3||The State of the Jihad|
The Fourth Rail
|1 1/3||Some of the Things I Believe, But Cannot Prove: Regarding Risk|
|1||CP Snow's Two Cultures Today|
Assistant Village Idiot
|1||My First Encounter With the Beast|
Breath of the Beast
|2/3||More Objective Evidence of Israeli Malfeasance|
|2/3||At Risk of Repetition|
Iraq the Model
But perhaps the LA Times' Michael McGough best explains why "hate crimes" are a joke, albeit unintentionally:
[Hate-crime laws] “could end up punishing blacks who commit violence against whites — which is a far cry from the historical experience that inspired hate-crime statutes.”
What else does one need to show that "hate crimes" are really just a political tool for some sort of "racial retribution"? This also probably explains why the Times (and other local media) ignored an otherwise prominent -- and obvious -- hate crime story ... because the victims were white and the attackers were black (see link above). I mean, hate crimes statutes -- being applied to blacks?? You can't do that!
This is the mindset of the mainstream media -- McGough exemplifies it perfectly: Hate crimes laws were put in place to protect minorities, so they shouldn't be used against them.
Interestingly, remember when Jesse Jackson and other race hustlers bitterly complained that criminal sentences for powder cocaine and crack cocaine were different -- with the not-so-subtle implication that it was because more whites use the former while more blacks use the latter? Even though the two are actually essentially different drugs despite their origin, Jackson demanded "equality."
But perpetrators of hate crimes -- of the "incorrect hue" -- may not be even be charged with "hate" at all; after all, those laws "weren't meant for them."
In the spirit of my post here, Glenn Reynolds noted an interesting read by Daniel H. Wilson -- How to Survive a Robot Uprising. Ironically, the night of reading Glenn's recommendation, the movie "Blade Runner" was on the tube. Based on scifi master Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, "Blade Runner" stars Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, dubbed a Blade Runner because he hunts down and "retires" (kills) fugitive androids that have made their back to earth (illegally) and infiltrated human society. Deckard is supposed to be retired (the actual meaning) himself, but is brought out of it due to the unusual circumstances surrounding four escaped androids dubbed "replicants." It seems these 'droids have been attempting to get into the corporation that created them. Why? That's part of what Deckard has to deduce.
Rutger Hauer, who ended up making a slew of grade-B action flicks in the 80s and 90s, is superb as the "boss" replicant Roy. He masters android-like mannerisms and speech in the subtle way that very humanoid androids might indeed possess. It ends up that all the replicants desired was information on how to extend their lives -- as it is, they're created with a "fail-safe" that terminates their existence after a mere four years. Roy has Deckard at his mercy near the film's end, but opts to let him live ... out of love of ... life?
In the film, the replicants are used as slave labor. This is the [obvious] basis for their rebellion. Such has been the theme throughout the robot science fiction genre (as I've noted many times before), from "Battlestar Galactica," to "Star Trek" to "The Matrix" to godfather Asimov, among many others. I haven't read ... Electric Sheep but plan on doing so quite soon.
MSNBC programming is now just getting totally childish. Not only do their pundit shows take kiddie potshots at their [dominant] competition, now Chris Matthews' "Hardball" included Fox News' Bill O'Reilly in its "Dangerous Despots of 2006" segment alongside Kim Jong-Il, Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. When a fellow pundit asked about Vladimir Putin, Matthews "joked," "We bumped him for O'Reilly. What do you think?"
Message to Chris: Take a gander at the guy who follows you in primetime.
The Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Strategic Studies has concluded that Israel can do the job alone. What job? The bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities. Speaking of pre-emption, what would George Bush do if a fledgling nuclear power screamed and carried on that "the American entity must be excised from the world map" (among other things) and said that they would do precisely that? It is highly likely that the US would launch an all-out assault against that country's nuclear facilities.
Why should Israel do any different?
Indeed. And the US might soon have its very own real Iranian threat with which to concern itself.
Alice Gantt of Hockessin is this week's second winner courtesy of the following diatribe:
Would reporters have asked President Franklin Roosevelt to apologize for the number of Americans dead and wounded in World War II?
Would they have asked President Harry Truman to apologize for bombing Hiroshima, which forced Japan to surrender?
Maybe reporters will think of the freedom they have and stop blaming the president.
What Gantt doesn't realize is that the United States didn't start World War II -- they were drawn into via Japanese sneak attack (and then the Germans declared war on the US the next day). And, of course, ending the war saving possibly up to one million American lives via use of the A-bomb ... why would he apologize? (He might have apologized, which some historians and nutty leftists would have him do, because of the bomb's utter destruction and number of civilian deaths; however, in total war you do essentially what you have to do to end the thing ... and win.)
Iraq, on the other hand, was not the "imminent threat" we were led to believe it was. Sure, Saddam could have instigated some shenanigans, but I for one do not believe it is worth the price of 3000 American soldiers' lives, let alone one. While any reporter that asks the president "if he should apologize" is just engaging in grandstanding, the president surely made a grave miscalculation in post-invasion Iraq -- and ordering an invasion that, on the whole, was NOT necessary.
Some analogies to World War II to the general war on terror may be apt; this one (to Iraq) clearly is not.
J. Michael Straczynski, in the latest "Civil War" related issue of Amazing Spider-Man, continues Marvel's not-so-subtle denunciation of the Bush administration via a Peter Parker diatribe on the New York airwaves. He says:
"I've seen the very concept of justice destroyed. I've seen heroes and bad guys alike — dangerous guys, no mistake, but still born in this country for the most part, denied due process, and imprisoned, potentially for the rest of their lives. … But there's a point where the ends don't justify the means, if the means require us to give up not just our identities, but who and what we are as a country."
I opined on Straczynski's work with Marvel previously over at the Four Color Media Monitor. But J. Michael is certainly not the only one who's being less than subtle in the whole "Civil War" mess. ("CW" writer Mark Millar being one -- see here and here.) Aside from it being nothing but a mega-crossover gimmick (amazingly, Maxim magazine and to no one's surprise Wizard, dubbed "CW" "Best of 2006" and the "Event of the Year" respectively), Marvel insinuates that it is neutral in its presentation of both sides. URRRNT! Try again. The anti-registration [of superheroes] side, led by Capt. America, is clearly the one for whom the writers want fan sympathy. The pro-registration side, led by Tony Stark (Iron Man) are imbued with some logical facets to their philosophy (notably, that super-powered humans are inherently different from normal people and hence should be subject to certain controls/restrictions that are not applicable to homo sapiens ... well duh!) but what the creators have done over the course of "CW" has eradicated much of the sympathy fans may have had for this side. (Four Color Media Monitor's Avi Green has been all over "Civil War" with numerous critical posts.) For instance, the pro-registration forces are utilizing the Negative Zone as a "special" jail for those heroes refusing to comply with the registration law. The NG, as longtime Marvel readers know, is essentially a parallel dimension full of ... well, nothingness. The analogy to Gitmo hits like a ton of bricks. Subtlety (real creative writing, actually) isn't in the cards at Marvel here. Given that Marvel doesn't even have deadlines anymore, this is doubly pathetic on the part of the creators.
The most ridiculous example, however, is the recent usage by the government of deadly heinous villains from the Marvel Universe to assist in apprehending anti-registration heroes. Included in this bunch are Bullseye (from Daredevil lore), Venom (Spider-Man), Taskmaster (Avengers), Lady Deathstrike (X-Men) and Jack-o-Lantern (Spider-Man). These villains nearly killed Spider-Man after he attempted to join the anti-registration forces. Iron Man and Reed Richards -- condone this sort of action?? The analogy? The "enemy of my enemy is my friend" scenario, apparently. Y'know, how the United States has made use of shady characters in the past (like the Taliban) to fight against a bigger enemy (like the Soviet Union). Of course, in the latter instance, the utilization of the unsavory characters was for use against other unsavory characters. In "Civil War," we have convicted multiple murderers apprehending not only (up till now) law abiding citizens, but people who have helped save not only the country but the entire friggin' planet.
Parker's airwave rant fails to address the most salient point: That the United States requires registration of not only weapons, but things such as cars. Mandating registration of a "person" that has the capability to perhaps annihilate an entire city does not endanger the "identity" of the United States. Sure, the pro-registration (government) side has gone overboard (as I'm sure the creators wanted it) with the Negative Zone and use of the super-villains as agents. It certainly would not have been unsympathetic to keep the dissenting heroes in a terrestrial prison (like the Vault) and grant them due process rights. But keep in mind that a person in possession of, say, numerous unregistered bazookas can face some serious jail time. If he refuses to abide by the terms of his parole and goes out and purchases more such weapons, his next sentence can be even longer. Why cannot this apply to superhumans? Illegal possession of such weapons has been against the law for decades; illegal possession of a super-power is only a recent crime.
"Civil War" could have -- should have -- been handled better. But to do that would have meant granting that the Bush administration may have had some good points in battling the war on terror. Admitting that, for leftists, is the pinnacle of anathema.
... for the Old Media: Philadelphia Inquirer begins layoffs.
Some predictions/resolutions ... some tongue-in-cheek, some not:
Prediction: The US will still be in Iraq at the end of 2007 (Gee, that's a tough one!)
Resolution: To still think the whole undertaking was a dumb idea.
Prediction: Gerry Fulcher's show will tank in the WDEL ratings, but they'll still let him on the air.
Resolution: To keep laughing at Ger's asshattery.
Prediction: The News Journal will continue to lose readership as it fails to adjust to the New Media and doesn't cease insulting its readers' intelligence.
Resolution: To laugh at this predicament, too!
Prediction: The St. Louis Rams will improve on this season's 8-8 record and make the NFL playoffs.
Resolution: I will root for them en puta, natch!
Prediction: House Democrats won't be able to control themselves and will begin impeachment hearings against Pres. Bush.
Resolution: Giggle as these Dems blow their chances for the 2008 presidency.
Prediction: My cholesterol rate will diminish.
Resolution: Because I will eat a better diet.
Prediction: The Fantastic Four 2 and Spider-Man 3 movies will both rock.
Resolution: To see each of these, possibly twice.
Prediction: Nancy Pelosi's claim that the incoming House will be the "most ethical ever" will turn out to be a sad joke.
Resolution: To keep pointing out this easy-to-note factoid.
What "special knowledge or insight about a particular issue" does Christine O'Donnell have that qualifies her to write for the Delaware Voice column concerning the Miss America Pageant?
The more I thought about it, the more sense it makes; both she and Miss America are pretty on the outside but full of addle-headed fluff on the inside. As a former candidate for U.S. Senate, Ms. O'Donnell shows her political inexperience by jumping on a wedge issue that does not resonate with the citizens of Delaware.
This in itself isn't all that dopey; it's what Denny says at the end that is just all too typical:
I suggest Ms. O'Donnell seek employment out of state, perhaps with Fox News.
Oh, gee. The usual insinuation that Fox News' viewers are doltish and superficial. How quaint. The tired old tactic that has been constantly used against Republican candidates for decades now (Reagan, Bush[es], Quayle, et. al.) and it just proves the utter disdain and contempt people like Madeleine have for a majority of American voters ... and viewers.