March 31, 2007

"Question any excuses ..."

That Seattle School District is really nutty. Hube and I have written about that nuttiest here at Colossus in the past (see here, here, here and here); looks like we'll have to do it again because now it's looking for a new superintendent. And, of course, as before, one of -- if not THE -- main topics the candidates need to address is racism in the schools!

Midway through a January meeting about choosing a new superintendent, Seattle School Board member Darlene Flynn suggested candidates have a "clear understanding of institutionalized oppression" when it comes to improving grades of African-American students.

Yeah. Just imagine if [white] teachers and administrators said the following about black students:

  • Many African-American students are just too lazy, hence they don't do well in school;
  • African-American students are unable to sit still, work independently and keep quiet in the classroom;
  • Black students are just naturally louder than other students;
  • Black students just can't keep from fighting; they're prone to violence.

Harsh stuff, right? Well, some of that is almost exactly what those advising the Seattle schools have said -- they themselves African-American! But this isn't the sort of "institutionalized oppression" that Ms. Flynn is talking about -- the kind of "bigotry of low expectations" that way too many educationists flout about. No sir. It's white institutionalized racism. After all, how dare white teachers expect their black students to sit still! Don't these teachers know that their students' future bosses in the real world will allow them to roam around the office at will because they have "have louder, more direct speaking styles" and "more physical [working] styles"? Aren't they aware that black students aren't "talking back" -- they're just accustomed to "speak[ing] to adults more as equals than as authority figures"? Of course, we all know that these future job holders should expect their bosses or managers in the real world to be aware of just this, and not reprimand and/or FIRE them for speaking to said boss as "an equal," right? And hell, why should office managers prevent two African-American employees from "play fighting" around those office cubicles, eh? I mean, "these mock battles are [merely] more prevalent among African American boys"!

Remember: It is permissible for minorities to express [negative/potentially negative] stereotypes about themselves, but most especially about the majority (Caucasians). This is what the essence of "institutionalized racism" is all about -- that whites are inherently racist, mainly due to long-established cultural norms. (Just don't attempt to use any of this same logic in reverse because you'll just go nuts trying to make sense of it all.)

You'd think that Seattle, one of the most liberal areas of the country, would be much less susceptible to racism and bias. Curious, then, that they pay a six-figure salary to someone to help "combat" their district's "institutional" prejudice. (I could never figure out, similarly, why so many colleges do the same thing since these institutions are supposed to be the most "enlightened" and "safest" places for minorities to be.)

Since 1986, the district has launched at least three plans to close the achievement gap between African-American students and other groups. An effort in 2002 pledged to erase racial disparities in three years. But last year, 73 percent of white 10th-graders passed all three parts of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, compared with 23.8 percent of black students.

The district has sought to determine how discrimination affects student learning, and its mission statement, adopted in 2004, reads: "We must recognize the impacts of institutional racism on student success and question any excuses for not making necessary changes."

I got the title of this post from that last quote. I wonder what would happen if an educator (not an educationist) suggested that "we should question any [minority] students' and/or educationists' excuses for their lack of achievement." I do believe if that happened that there is a significant possibility the "R" word might be invoked.

Institutional racism, as defined by the district, is "an indirect and largely invisible process that operates automatically and results in less access to services and opportunities of a society based on race."

This is virtually akin to a religious belief: "Indirect" and "invisible." "It's not tangible, but trust us -- it's there, all right!" And again, where precisely are access, services and opportunities being denied to minority students in Seattle schools?

To combat bias, Superintendent Raj Manhas in 2004 created the Office of Equity and Race Relations and appointed its first director, Caprice Hollins, a licensed psychologist, charged with examining curriculum, textbooks and other policies.

She also runs workshops on cultural diversity for administrative staff and oversees teams of teachers, principals and parents who monitor race relations in schools.

I wonder if Ms. Hollins has ever traveled abroad at all. How intensively has she studied the cultures that make up the Seattle schools? (Keep in mind, too, that being OF a particular ethnic group does not make one "an expert" on that culture.) Being located in the Pacific Northwest, I'd surmise that there is a fairly significant Asian population in the district. Has Ms. Hollins spent a good amount of time in China? Japan? Korea?

In a recent interview, Hollins said she found no specific district program that was institutionally racist, but she pointed to summer break as an example of systemic problems. Initially devised to allow school-age children to help with farm labor, summer break serves no educational purpose, Hollins said, and the disruption puts struggling students further behind.

I'll restate from above: "But trust us -- it's there, all right!"

Summer break is the best she can come up with? Hey, I got it: Establish academic programs (just like summer school) in the summer for the struggling students! Problem solved! And here I did this for free! How much does Ms. Hollins get paid? Too much, if the following quote is any indication:

"Jewish folks hid their cultural identity. Irish changed their name. Some groups can assimilate and others can't. There's one thing that will never change -- and that's the way I look," said Hollins, an African American. "When people target you [a white person] for being racist because you're white, people associate you with their collective experience. It's about the power dynamic, understanding how your whiteness impacts people of color."

Once again, consider if a white person targeted a black person (or people) for epithets and/or criticism because of his/her "collective experience" with black people. Would this be socially acceptable? Of course not. But, somehow, it is in reverse. Don't try to figure it out!

Last year, Hollins' Equity and Race Relations Web site attracted national attention when she defined "individualism" and a "future time orientation" as "those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and whiteness and devalue, stereotype and label people of color ... "

After an outcry, she removed the statement, and has yet to finalize a new one. Her interim message reads: "Our intention is not to put up additional barriers or develop an 'us against them' mindset; nor is it to continue to hold onto unsuccessful concepts such as a melting pot or colorblind mentality."

So it was her! Hube addressed the part in bold here back last June.

While districts across the nation struggle with raising test scores of minority students, it's difficult to find language similar to what's in Seattle's official statements.

Maybe that's because other districts across the country aren't as preposterously PC and laden with liberal edubabbler guilt?

Thank goodness Seattle is 3000 miles away, that's all I can say.

UPDATE: See the addendum to this post here.

Posted by Felix at 02:24 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Why it's good to have Fox News, reason #4872

Because, as the Capitol is having hearings into why the president ditched political appointees (who'da thought?), a most obvious political crime continues to be ignored by the MSM. That is, the case of Sandy "Socks" Berger.

But before the usual moonbats get all postal, check it out:

  • [Rep. Tom] Davis (R, VA) also told FOX News that he is not convinced that Berger was not acting under direction from the Clinton Administration.
  • DOJ lawyers involved in the case failed to let the 9/11 Commission know the scope and seriousness of the security breach, despite direct orders from top Justice officials. (So, what's the deal with the Bush team? Why'd they allow this? Did THEY have ulterior motives?)
  • Contrary to the assurances the Justice Department made to Congress and to the 9/11 Commission, nobody but Berger can know whether he kept key documents and information about Clinton administration anti-terror efforts from the Commission. (HUH???)
  • That the Justice Department, in a break with precedent and procedure, relied on Berger’s statements despite a record that showed a history of lies. (What the hell ...??)

The report airs at 9pm EDT tonight.

Posted by Hube at 08:49 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Thank God

Embattled Delaware State Rep. John Atkins now says he will NOT run in the special election for his recently vacated seat (y'know, the one vacated due to his OWN resignation!).

Still, as nutty as this guy obviously is, keep an eye on this situation. Atkins could change his mind in the proverbial nanosecond.

Posted by Hube at 08:34 AM | Comments (504) | TrackBack

True story from the classroom

Not mine, but from the school Rhymes With Right teaches at. Check it:

It isn’t unusual to have pregnant girls in class at our school. One girl in my colleague’s class is getting very close to giving birth, and so has begun reading up on how to care for her baby. Today she said the following to this colleague.

“Mr. C., I keep reading that breast milk is better for babies than regular milk, but I can’t find out where to get it or how much it costs.”


Posted by Hube at 08:18 AM | Comments (1164) | TrackBack

March 30, 2007

Watcher's Council results

(Darn! Second again!!) ;-)

And now...  the winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Demographics and the Medicalization of Human Existence by Eternity Road, and Tabula Rasa by Michael Yon.  All members, please be sure to link to both winning entries (and to the full results of the vote) in a post.  Right Wing Nut House 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:

VotesCouncil link
2Demographics and the Medicalization of Human Existence
Eternity Road
1  2/3Student Press Rights
The Colossus of Rhodey
1  1/3Tinker Must Be Preserved
Rhymes With Right
1  1/33 Card Monte -- the Palestinian aid Scam Continues
1NanFran's Cool Investments
Cheat Seeking Missiles
1O Believers
Done With Mirrors
2/3Politicizing Science
Right Wing Nut House
2/3Dollars (and respect) for Dahlan
Soccer Dad
1/3More Hollywood Idiocy: "Wristcutters: A Love Story"
The Education Wonks
1/3Greece and Mesopotamia: Origins of Greek Thought
The Glittering Eye

VotesNon-council link
3  1/3Tabula Rasa
Michael Yon
1  2/3Iranian Machinations: Sun Tzu Would Be Pleased
Kobayashi Maru
1  1/3The Special Care and Feeding of Bullies
Freedom's Cost
1Geneva What's That Again?
The Sundries Shack
1Sherman -- Stoic Warriors
Chicago Boyz
Michael Yon (2)
2/3Apologies, Apologies... ???
1/3Eminent Domain in North Carolina
Ogre's Politics & Views
1/3Liar, Liar, Skirt On Fire?
1/3Still Spewing Moron Emissions: Sean Penn
Flopping Aces
1/3A Constitutionally Protected Right to Market Pornography to Children?
Stop the ACLU

Posted by Hube at 04:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 29, 2007

Gall, Chutzpah, you name it

Does this "man" have no shame? No sooner does this cretin resign from the Delaware State House of Representatives under threat of expulsion, John Atkins now is seeking to run for his very own vacated seat in the upcoming special election!! Via Celia Cohen's Delaware Grapevine:

Atkins, a Millsboro Republican who was in his third term, telephoned the Sussex County chair of the Independent Party of Delaware on Tuesday morning, hours before his resignation, to press for a nomination as a minor-party candidate in the special election to fill his seat.

The day after, Atkins went to the Sussex County Elections Department in Georgetown with questions also indicating that he was thinking about running. "He said, I'm laying my options. He said, 'I'll be back.' I don't know what 'I'll be back' means," said Kenneth L. McDowell, the county elections director.

"The man was desperate. He did approach the Independent Party of Delaware. He said, I need your nomination now," said Wolfgang von Baumgart, the Independent Party's Sussex County chair, who took Atkins' call on the morning before his resignation.

"I consulted with about eight people in our party. The overwhelming consensus was no. No way was that guy going to get on our ticket," said von Baumgart, who found it ironic that he had called for Atkins' resignation, and here he was, looking for a spot on the ballot.

Atkins was not giving up, though. "John asked me who was the chair of the Libertarian Party," von Baumgart said.

This guy has SERIOUS issues.

Posted by Hube at 07:14 PM | Comments (1502) | TrackBack


Interesting story from the NY Times where a group of black teachers in the West Windsor-Plainsboro (NJ) school district "complained to administrators ... that they were being treated in unfair and insensitive ways." Now, this itself isn't such a novel story. But I thought this was:

Among other problems, they said they were being asked to "over-represent" their race, administrators said. Other teachers would come to them for help in working with black students.

Black teachers have stressed that it wasn't racism they were dealing with but a lack of cultural sensitivity that became a problem as more black teachers were hired, school officials said.

"For example, if you're an African-American teacher, a (nonblack) teacher may come to you for advice about an African-American student's problem," said school human resource specialist Katherine Taylor. "But you can't always be a representative of your race. As teachers, we need to see students as students (rather than races)."

My emphasis. I certainly agree with that emphasized part. But, again, we see the plethora of inherent contradictions found in the "multi-culti diversity" movement. For example, article author Zack Needles writes "...the administrative and teaching staff are primarily white, which can sometimes make it more difficult for minority students to relate to members of the faculty and staff." Needles is hardly alone in this sentiment. It is virtually a conventional wisdom among the edu-babblers. So, if this is the case, how is it "insensitive" for white staff members to seek advice on dealing with African-American students? Don't get me wrong -- as I noted above, I agree with Ms. Taylor. But if the multi-culti diversity crowd insist upon theories that children "relate and learn better" if their teacher is of the same race/ethnicity (among others), then it is merely a logical outcome of this belief that white teachers will -- should -- seek advice from colleagues of different races/ethnicities. After all, imagine if they did not -- and they "saw students as students": They'd be labeled "insensitive" then!!

As I said, it's all full of inherent contradictions. Stay tuned for a detailed (and fairly large) post about the recent imbroglio over the Christina School District's decision to close two city schools, and the inherent contradictions involved in that with regards to past theories of desegregation and the Delaware Neighborhood Schools Law.

Posted by Hube at 05:43 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 28, 2007

But did Kerry apologize to those he maligned?

Via the AP:

President Bush on Wednesday withdrew the ambassadorial nomination of businessman Sam Fox after Democrats denounced Fox for giving money to a controversial conservative group that undermined Sen. John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.

Kerry, D-Mass., had criticized Fox because of a $50,000 contribution that Fox made in 2004 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Many Democrats blame the group for sinking Kerry's presidential hopes that year after it aired a series of controversial ads that impugned Kerry's military record in the Vietnam War.

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said Tuesday he opposes the nomination because Fox "refused to apologize for his behavior" during his confirmation hearing last month.

I wonder: Did John Kerry ever apologize to all those Vietnam Veterans he trashed in his that early 1970s congressional testimony? You remember, the US soldiers who supposedly

... personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan...

("Genghis" pronounced "Jenjis" a la some elitist inflection, by the way.)

So, Kerry's feelings are hurt by what the Swift Boat vets for Truth did. Boo-hoo. Payback sucks, John. The only reason the White House even pulled the nomination is because the Dems now control the Senate and a fight wouldn't be worth it.

Posted by Felix at 06:08 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 27, 2007

First Muslims, then Catholics ... now Jews!

Soccer Dad tips me off to what serves as an addendum to a post of mine from yesterday: Baltimore Hebrew University professor supports penalties for "negative depiction of religion."

As the crisis over the Danish cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad appears to be dying down, it is time to create a system to prevent such a costly crisis from erupting in the future.

As a result of the crisis, lives were lost, embassies were attacked in the Muslim world, the loyalty of Muslims living in Europe was put into question, and the image of Islam in the West as a violent religion was reinforced, thus increasing the possibility of the "clash of civilizations" desired by Islamic radicals such as Osama bin Laden....

In order to rectify the situation, and to prevent a future crisis of this type from erupting, what is needed is a "code of conduct" for the newspapers and other media in both the Western and Muslim worlds. All governments must agree that the negative depiction of religion is "out of bounds," and penalties should be imposed on those who violate the code of conduct.

To solve that problem, I propose the creation of an International Religious Court, composed of Christian, Muslim and Jewish clergymen with one clergyman representing each of the three religions. Anyone feeling that his or her religion was insulted could appeal to the International Religious Court for a ruling on the matter, and the court would then determine whether a penalty should be invoked. It would be the responsibility of the government on whose territory the action took place to impose the penalty....(Link.)

My emphasis. An International Religious Court? Of course, this court would run into a thing here in the U.S. of A. called the First Amendment, in whose freedom of speech clause "negative depictions of religions" are quite permissable. Notwithstanding, as well, the obvious national sovereignty issues! (Which, to be fair, the professor does somewhat acknowledge.)

Posted by Hube at 06:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

You know it'll happen

Brownie points to the first person who can document an instance of this (probably at the DU or Huffington Post):

Tony Snow "timed" the announcement of the reappearance of his cancer to take the spotlight -- and sympathy -- off of Elizabeth Edwards (and her husband).

The clock is ticking, and you just know some moonbat will see a conspiracy in this.

Posted by Felix at 06:13 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

State Rep. Atkins quits

Heard it on WDEL radio about a half hour ago. Story here.

UPDATE: WGMD's Maria Evans has a report via Legislative Hall from earlier today.

Posted by Hube at 03:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 26, 2007

AOL (and the AP and Chuck Hagel) at it again

"Some See Impeachment Option, Hagel Says" is the headline (via AP) over at AOL this morning. Well, DUH. Some of the more radical elements of the national legislature have been clamoring for Bush's impeachment for more than a year now. So, why it this "news" now? Because Chuck Hagel actually reiterated what some of these lawmakers want to do? Wow! Whoopee!

With his go-it-alone approach on Iraq , President Bush is flouting Congress and the public, so angering lawmakers that some consider impeachment an option over his war policy, a senator from Bush's own party (Hagel) said Sunday.

They want to impeach Bush -- over a policy difference?? Which a vast majority of them initially supported?? A policy which the legislature has the power to stop (y'know, a thing called "checks and balances") by cutting off funding for the policy. A policy that the legislature doesn't have the GUTS to stop. Says Hagel:

"Any president who says, I don't care, or I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else, or I don't care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed - if a president really believes that, then there are - what I was pointing out, there are ways to deal with that."

Bush may "not care" what Congress does (or could do), but that's irrelevant. You can't impeach him for "not caring." If Congress cut off funding for the war, Bush could not keep the war going because Congress actually exercised their constitutional powers. So, whether he "cared" about Congress' contrary (to his desires) actions, there'd be nothing he could do about it!

On Sunday, Hagel said he was bothered by Bush's apparent disregard of congressional sentiment on Iraq, such as his decision to send additional troops. He said lawmakers now stood ready to stand up to the president when necessary.

Ohhh! NOW they're ready to "stand up" to Bush! Ooooohhhh! Those "tough" congressmen and senators!

Still, being "bothered" by Bush's "apparent disregard" for congressional sentiment is hardly an impeachable offense, Chuck. Best of luck.

Posted by Hube at 08:11 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Catholic Archbishop wants laws against religious "hurt feelings"

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, head of the Vatican permanent observer mission of the Holy See to the U.N., has stated that

Anti-religious fanaticism threatens religion and believers with insult, discrimination, persecution and injury that stands in contradiction to the promise of freedom hailed by democratic societies.

"Insult"? That contradicts democracies' "promise of freedom"? On the contrary!

"Abuse of rights of believers, even outright violence against them, state restrictions, undue impositions and persecution, public insult to religious feelings, unfortunately persist and call for remedy," he said.

Democracies must beware of the drive to "set aside the respect of concrete religions" in the interest of granting the "rights of religious freedom and freedom of expression," he said.

"One cannot consider the ridicule of the sacred as a right of freedom," the archbishop said.

I'm sorry, your eminence, but Western democracies separate the state from religion. And, one of those state legal functions, especially here in the United States, is a pretty far-reaching definition of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech does not have as its antithesis the right not to be offended. If someone wants to ridicule something sacred about Christianity, Judaism or Islam, that is their First Amendment right to do so. Only if this ridicule includes a direct threat of, or incitement to, violence against people of any of those faiths would there be an infringement of the law.

Such statements by the Archbishop (and at least they are just statements -- no violence) unfortunately bring to mind some of the mindset that pissed off many Muslims when those Danish cartoons were published. A good many Muslims believed (and still believe) that newspapers do not have the right to publish such material. Now we have a Catholic Archbishop expressing the same sentiments.

That is what is known as "not a good thing" for freedom and democracy, Archbishop.

Posted by Hube at 03:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 25, 2007

Burris smack-down of Atkins

Dave Burris, Sussex County (DE) Republican Chairman and the man behind First State Politics, sends a letter to State House Speaker Terry Spence asking that embattled Rep. John Atkins be expelled from the House if he does not resign. Says Dave:

In the last 24 hours, I have been threatened, cajoled, instructed as to what I am and am not allowed to do, bargained with and promised things in order to change my mind. But I will not.

WTF?? Wow ...

Good job, Dave. Hopefully, you'll get results.

Posted by Hube at 05:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dopey WNJ Letter of the Week

The issue of an apology for slavery here in Delaware has been debated the last few weeks in the News Journal and in local blogs. I've already addressed one WNJ letter writer's point about an apology and reparations; now we have Wilmington's Waldron H. Giles opining on the matter tossing some dubious figures around:

An apology would be a simple price to pay for a national debt of some $21 trillion owed for 400 years of free labor and 12 to 16 million deaths.

With $580,000 owed to each descendant of slaves; every black child could get a quality private education; parents could begin to believe that democracy and capitalism meet their legal and fiscal responsibilities.

I'm not sure from where Mr. Giles gets his information, but just a cursory review of it makes it appear dubious. But, first, 12-16 million deaths is probably an under estimate. 20 million deaths due to the entire Atlantic slave trade is probably more accurate. However, approximately half that number is due to wars and the trafficking of slaves in Africa itself. (According to David Stannard's American Holocaust, noted here on Wikipedia's entry.) Further, North America (where the United States eventually came into existence) accounted for "only" 500,000 of the slaves imported from Africa. The overwhelming majority of slaves ended up in in the Caribbean and Brazil -- over 4 million slaves respectively.

As for the $21 trillion figure, after quite a bit of searching (Googling, actually), I could not discover any source to back up this claim. The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations (N'COBRA) has assessed the figure at "a mere" $8 trillion, substantially less than Giles' claim. This pro-reparations article cites an upper figure of $4.7 trillion. Dalton Conley, associate professor of sociology and director of the Center for Advanced Social Science Research at New York University, has more on the costs associated with slavery and reparations in this 2003 NY Times op-ed.

Perhaps, just perhaps, Mr. Giles is referring to the entirety of slavery in the Americas, but this is unlikely. Notice:

The huge burden of national guilt would be lifted off the shoulders of all of those many American citizens who reaped the benefits of the $21 trillion of capital that fueled the industrial revolution which subsequently employed the immigrants who flocked to American shores.

You see, "American shores" surely could imply the American continents; however, the use of "industrial revolution" and "American citizens" does away with that supposition. So, Mr. Giles, I'd ask from you garner the figures you cite in your letter. Picking artificial figures based on sketchy evidence does nothing to advance the case for reparations.

Colossus' Felix cites several reasons why reparations are a bad idea, while on the other side Delaware Watch's Dana Garrett opines that Delaware apologizing for slavery is really no big deal:

I am one of the people who believes Delaware (and the federal government as well) should apologize for slavery because it feels scandalous and scummy to me that we have never officially set the record straight that slavery was a great evil that should not have been legal. I can’t imagine how it must feel to some people who are actual descendants of slaves. Since this legislation will cause no harm, their feelings should be determinative. It’s that simple.
Posted by Hube at 02:06 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Why getting old sucks, part 8741

A month ago, I joined (with a teacher buddy of mine) an adult soccer league. I had to miss the first two weeks due to the skin cancer excision I had; however, the last two weeks (when I've played) I've come home in all sorts of pain! My bud had asked me if I was interested in joining the team 'cause I had played goalkeeper back in junior high and a bit of high school, and I always play in the staff-student soccer game we have every year at our school.

However, I'm now in my 43rd year of existence, and this is an adult league. We play in the "B" division -- guys who're generally older and hence a bit slower -- but there are some teams with quite a few spry young lads with prodigious talent. Last week, I felt like I fractured a rib diving for a shot in the far left corner. (Thankfully, the shot missed!) All week that damn rib hurt, but by today it was feeling OK. That didn't last long. We played a former "A" division team this morning, and in my opinion they should still be in that division. I was shelled virtually right from the start, but the second half was worse, as our [older] guys were winded and beat (including yours truly, for sure!). Final score: a 5-1 loss, and in the process I re-aggravated my rib. But worse was having my left wrist bent all the way back on a rocket-velocity shot late in the game. Save made, but now my wrist is swollen to at least twice its size! ARRRGH!

15, even 10 years ago I could do this with minimal pain and fatigue. Hence the title of my post. And I HATE IT, you hear me? I HATE IT!!

Posted by Hube at 12:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 24, 2007

History as we want it to be

Alicia Estrada, an assistant professor of Central American studies at California State University, Northridge, challenged filmmaker/actor Mel Gibson about the accuracy of his most recent film effort, "Apocalypto":

Gibson directed an expletive at the woman, who was removed from the crowd.

“In no way was my question aggressive in the way that he responded to it,” Estrada said. “These are questions that my peers, my colleagues, ask me every time I make a presentation. These are questions I pose to my students in the classroom.”

Gibson’s publicist, Alan Nierob, characterized the professor as “a heckler.”

“The woman ... was rude and disruptive inasmuch as the event organizers had to escort her out,” Nierob said.

Lauren Robeson, editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, the Daily Sundial, said Gibson denounced Estrada as a troublemaker.

OK, Gibson reacted like a jerk (given his recent history that isn't so tough to believe), but what exactly was Prof. Estrada's beef? I have yet to see this movie, but if what this article states is any indication, Estrada is the one that needs to be challenged (my emphasis):

Human sacrifice among the Mayans has been well-documented in recent years and is accepted as fact by most anthropologists, knocking down a previous theory that the culture did not take part in such bloody rituals.

However, there are some scholars and Indian activists who still believe the human sacrifice accounts are false or overblown, and an attempt by racist scientists to paint the culture as violent.

“This isn’t the Mayan culture,” Juan Tiney, leader of the National Indian and Farmer Committee, Guatemala’s biggest Mayan organization, told the AP: “Although it might be part of it, there was also culture, economics, astronomical wealth and language. ... It discredits a people to present them in this manner.”

My readings about "Apocalypto" have shown it to be a quite violent film, but ... so what? Because Gibson concentrated on one aspect of Mayan culture -- that happened to be quite violent and brutal -- doesn't make his account inaccurate. If Prof. Estrada believes as Mr. Tiney, she really needs to re-evaluate her research.

Again, so what if the Maya practiced human sacrifice and other brutal beliefs? They were indeed geniuses at mathematics and they developed their own written language. These alone are formidable achievements. The neighboring Aztecs were much more violent than the Maya, but they too possessed an advanced civilization, so much so that Hernando Cortés described it in detail in his famous letters to the Spanish king during his journeys there in the early 16th century. People like Tiney who want a "sanitized" version of history shouldn't be taken very seriously. Imagine that, if hundreds or thousands of years from now, someone wanted to make a film (or whatever serves as entertainment then) about World War II -- and a descendant of the old European Union screamed bloody murder because he felt that concentrating on that conflict "wasn't European culture" ... that "although the war might be part of it, there was also culture, economics, astronomical wealth and the heritage of democracy." Would that be a bit ridiculous?

One last note: I had read that at the end of "Apocalypto," the Maya are greeted by the arriving Spanish conquistadors. If this is true, this is a big historical error. The Maya civilization fell long before the Spanish came to the Americas. Perhaps it was Maya descendants that were so depicted meeting the Spaniards. Maybe someone who has seen the film can assist me here.

Posted by Hube at 05:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gore refuses to take energy pledge

Because, well, isn't it always easier to tell people what to do rather than showing them?

Posted by Felix at 04:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Top 15 Unintentionally Funny Comic Book Panels

All of these royally bagged me up. My personal favorite (though they're all hilarious):

Thanks to Soccer Dad for the tip!

Posted by Hube at 08:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Alison Kepner's report in yesterday's News Journal deals with the "fairness" issue in state testing -- is it fair that disabled students get all sorts of accommodations during the DSTP?

The accommodations are meant to level the playing field for students with disabilities, decreasing the chance the disability will keep them from demonstrating what they know, but some worry the number and extent of modifications sometimes means teachers and parents no longer get a true reflection of what a student knows.

"Accommodations are provided with the very best of intentions, attempting to provide good access for kids with disabilities, but the implementation is so flawed that it limits confidence in results obtained," said Elizabeth Siemanowski, associate psychology professor at Wesley College and retired Delaware school psychologist. "We live in a very high-stakes educational testing environment. The current accountability model ... puts undue pressure on kids and school administrators to obtain the best scores for kids."

I'd add, is it fair that kids labeled "special ed." can only be suspended from school no more than 10 total days for the school year? Is that "fair" to the other kids in class (and the school) ... the further disruptions they may cause once that ten day limit is reached?

Back to state testing, is it "fair" that a school can get a negative rating merely because ONE subsection of a school's [up to] 30+ total subsections (the divisions of students by race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc.) did not show a gain? That a school could show gains in all the 30+ other subsections, but because ONE subsection was stagnant or didn't show any gain, the entire school (via its No Child Left Behind rating) suffers?

What about these issues of "fairness"?

Posted by Hube at 08:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 23, 2007

Student Press Rights

In today's News Journal, its esteemed editors have "taken the stance" that a school's student "should enjoy same freedoms adult Americans share." But right from the get-go, they seem to show complete ignorance of how American law functions:

Washington state's Legislature recently passed a bill that would protect high school and college journalists from prior review and other censorship, and would make student editors solely responsible for their newspaper's contents. For public high schools, this bill could negate the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1988 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier decision, which granted principals impressive powers to censor publications if they can produce reasonable educational justifications.

How can an individual state's law (bill, at this point) "negate" a United States Supreme Court decision, pray tell? I can just imagine what the WNJ editors would be writing if an individual state passed a bill outlawing all abortions; would they be writing (favorably) that this bill "could negate" Roe v. Wade?

Students once enjoyed more protection. A 1969 Supreme Court ruling, Tinker v. Des Moines, decreed that student expression could not be censored unless it substantially disrupted school activities or invaded someone's privacy. Students do not, Tinker insisted, "shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate." Today, they often must do so.

The editors cite a few examples:

  • an Indiana principal condemned a column about homosexuality and established a policy requiring prior review;
  • a California paper was distributed after a rape story had been scissored out of it, on a principal's orders;
  • an Ohio principal censored a column critical of his school's football team.

Without knowing precisely what these instances had to deal with, let's take look-see one at a time:

  • In the Indiana example, what exactly was the article dealing with homosexuality about? Was it favorable or unfavorable to it? Would the WNJ be opining in favor of free speech if the article condemned homosexuality in the strongest terms imaginable (sans any four-letter words)? If it was a very negative column, doesn't the school have to take into account the well-being of gay students? (They're harassed enough as it is, even those merely suspected of being gay.) This is why it's necessary to know what was in the student article. If it was merely a column stating that gays should have the same rights as every American, this doesn't have the potential of disrupting the "educational environment" much like the previous hypothetical column would.
  • What was that rape story about?? Was it written in such a way as to potentially ID the victim? To possibly falsely implicate -- label -- a perpetrator? Without knowing (thanks again, WNJ editors!), this seems to tie directly to case precedent -- the aforementioned 1988 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier. In that, the Hazelwood HS principal had excised two articles from a student newspaper:
    One of the deleted articles covered the issue of student pregnancy and included interviews with three students who had become pregnant while attending school. (There was also an article about several students whose parents had been divorced, however their names were disclosed in the article.) To keep the students' identity secret the staff used pseudonyms instead of the students' names. The principal said he felt the anonymity of the students was not sufficiently protected and that the girls' discussion of their use or non-use of birth control was inappropriate for some of the younger students at the school.

    Would the WNJ editors be OK with the "outing" of one of their own daughters who happened to have become pregnant -- because of such an article? Would the WNJ editors have no problem with their young (and underage) daughters (say a 13-14 yr. old 9th grader) reading a graphic discussion about intercourse -- and NON-use of birth control? Perhaps they would. But school authorities have to deal with -- as appropriately as possible -- the educational environment for ALL students, and taking age (appropriate level of behavioral and social development, that is) into account is quite important. And, obviously, the SCOTUS agrees. ( Hazelwood was a 5-3 decision.)

  • The Ohio principal's case is surely the weakest. Mere criticism of a school's own sports team certainly seems the perfect domain for student newspapers. The only stipulation I could possibly see is name-calling, inappropriate innuendo, or inappropriate language.

The WNJ editors insist that 1969's Tinker v. Des Moines grants students more rights. Two things: One, Tinker could not "compel a public school to affirmatively sponsor speech that conflicts with its 'legitimate pedagogical goals.' " Two, the SCOTUS used Tinker as a basis for their decision in Hazelwood. 'Nuff said.

Mike Hiestand, a Student Press Law Center attorney, assesses the situation pessimistically, saying, "It's easy to persuade people in the general public that censorship of student expression is OK."

It's not OK. It sends students the troubling message that they do not enjoy full First Amendment opportunities to express opinions and report substantive news. They often grow passive, and censor themselves.

Tinker, which the editors cite favorably, does exactly that, however! Reasonable people recognize that students are not yet adults (excepting 18 yr. old HS seniors). To argue that their constitutional rights being "restricted" is in general a "bad" thing is just silly, especially since the Constitution already limits non-adult rights. Age is a limiting factor all over the document. Is a 16 yr. old genius' constitutional rights "violated" because he cannot vote? Is a 15 yr. old's Second Amendment rights violated because he is not permitted to purchase a handgun?

The WNJ editors close by repeating their devoid-of-civics-understanding canard:

The encouragement here is for someone -- perhaps a coalition of students, parents and teachers -- to adopt Student Press Law Center guidelines in fashioning an "anti-Hazelwood" bill to be considered by state legislators. Naturally, student journalists would still be expected to abide by professionally accepted standards for libel and defamation.

Delaware should follow Washington state's lead by shaping legislation that would reverse the restraints that are today so deeply embedded in scholastic journalism.

Again, how do state legislatures have such power? How can they overturn a US Supreme Court decision merely by passing a law? This is ridiculous. Just imagine if the Delaware State House passed a law allowing for prayer in public schools, say, in reaction to what happened in the Indian River School District last year. Would we read the WNJ editors be clamoring that this law would "reverse the restraints" of overzealous exclusion of religion from the public realm? Ha.

Let's be clear: I am quite a proponent of the First Amendment. But with any amendment -- individual right -- there are restraints. The 'ol not being able to yell "fire" in a crowded theatre. Chaplinsky's "fighting words" standard. The Second Amendment doesn't give a right to own a howitzer. Etc. And clearly, the highest court in the land recognizes that certain restrictions are appropriate for underage students in an educational setting.

Posted by Hube at 11:27 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Watcher's Council results

(Hey! I got second place again!)

And now...  the winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are The Contranomics of Global Jihad by Big Lizards, and Four Years In by American Digest.  All members, please be sure to link to both winning entries (and to the full results of the vote) in a post.  Only one member was unable to vote this week, but was unaffected 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:

VotesCouncil link
3The Contranomics of Global Jihad
Big Lizards
2  1/3Muslim Cashiers Refuse to Touch Pork
The Colossus of Rhodey
1  1/3The American Ideon: Its Decay and Restoration
Eternity Road
1Skills, Employment, and Energy Use
The Glittering Eye
2/3The Bad Seed: 13-Year-Old Andrew Riley
The Education Wonks
2/3Cappuccinos for Peace?
Soccer Dad
2/3Scandal Hysteria Grips the Capitol
Right Wing Nut House
1/3Move It, Yah Big Baboon! -- Or, Scenes from the Class Struggle in South Africa...

VotesNon-council link
2Four Years In
American Digest
1  2/3Muslim Violence -— Crime or Jihad?
Gates of Vienna
1  1/3A WWII Hero That History Almost Forgot
1  1/3The Iraq Insurgency Has Ended, Which Opens a Path to Peace
Defense and the National Interest
1The Quadrant Lecture
Melanie Phillips
1Quote of the Day, and Is CAIR Paying Lawyers to Intimidate Air Travelers?
Power Line
2/3A Call for Segregation
Alpha Patriot
2/3The Slanted Economist
1/3Good News Never Sells
Kobayashi Maru

Posted by Hube at 10:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 22, 2007

Dopey Philly Daily News Letter of the Week

Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, writes in to complain that Hazleton, PA's law against illegal immigrants (The Illegal Immigration Relief Act Ordinance) is "poorly crafted," and "affects ALL immigrants," not just illegal ones:

But the fact of the matter is that Hazleton's laws are so poorly crafted that they affect all immigrants, and legal immigrants and other law-abiding citizens are already feeling the fallout and being harassed.

Is the Ordinance "poorly crafted"? You be the judge: The actual law is here (.pdf file). The only possible beef that I can see with the law is that the section dealing with employers doesn't have a statement about knowingly hiring an illegal immigrant as the section regarding landlords does.

If these odious laws are allowed to go forward, business owners, landlords and neighbors are to report to the city anyone they suspect of being "illegal."

There's nothing in the written ordinance that mandates mere "suspicion."

That means skin tone and "foreign"-sounding accents will be the chief proxies for whether someone is suspicious and turned in. The law encourages discrimination and racial profiling and clearly makes all immigrants potential targets.

Baloney. How can "all" immigrants be potential targets when the law is directed at illegal immigrants? If a person applying for a job or apartment has proper documentation, there will be no hassle. If they don't, then there may be. (Hell, everyone needs proper documents to get a job or rent an apartment -- including citizens!) But the "skin tone" and "accent" canards are just that -- poor excuses for illegal behavior. The fact of the matter is that Hazleton's illegal immigration problem is overwhelmingly one of Latino origin. To ignore this fact is just politically correct bulls***. This would be like me complaining that, since the vast majority of serial killers are introverted white males, I'm a "potential target" when such a suspect is sought.

Even though the laws have been suspended while the ACLU pursues the current trial, the climate of fear and suspicion created by the laws has turned neighbor against neighbor and disrupted the lives of all immigrants in Hazleton.

So, in other words, even though illegal immigration is a huge nationwide problem, and that these immigrants knowingly break the law when they enter the county, Hazleton's ordinance is at fault, not the actions of the immigrants who've migrated to the small town. Illegally, I might add.

The target of Mr. Romero's rant, Stu Bykofsky, has a detailed reply in today's Daily News. (Thanks to Colossus' own Gooch for that pointer!)

Posted by Hube at 07:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Atkins remains in House -- for now

Today's News Journal reports that the DE House Ethics Committee has recommended that embattled Rep. John Atkins be censured for his behavior/actions during a traffic stop which revealed Atkins' to have been driving while legally intoxicated. This afternoon, the Ethics Committee also recommended that Atkins be fined $550, prohibits him from using his legislative license plate and ID card, requires him to receive an evaluation for alcohol abuse, and forces him to be give up his committee chairmanships.

Atkins' attorney Charlie Oberly noted that his client did not wish a full hearing before the full House, as is his right. (He could have tried his case before the full House of Representatives.)

Delaware Watch's Dana Garrett posted last week that he believed Atkins' treatment by the House Ethics Committee was "not fair." He wrote:

Imagine you are charged with a crime and tried before a court of law. The police have done their investigation and the prosecution has been allowed to present its case. Then imagine that the Judge takes a short recess and comes back into the courtroom and pronounces you guilty and cites as the bases for his verdict affidavits you've signed, claims made by the police investigators and the testimony of the witnesses the prosecution used against you, but you never got an opportunity to rebut the evidence marshaled against you. Everyone—conservative or liberal—would be appalled at the transparent injustice of such a court procedure regardless of how compelling the prime facie evidence against you appeared to be.

In his comments, responding to one of my queries, he writes further:

He would request to appear before the committee to do what? If he and his attorney are not given the reports of the investigators in order to rebut them, requesting to appear before the committee would be meaningless. It would be an exercise in trying to guess what the evidence the committee is considering might be. That's hardly fair.

In said comments I asked Dana whether his beef was with how the House Ethics Committee procedures were designed, or whether Atkins actually got unfair treatment under the existing rules. He has not responded yet. (And, to be clear, I am not accusing Dana of "skipping out." I know he's a quite busy man.) But it seems Dana – in his desire to make the analogy between Atkins' Ethics Committee treatment and a typical criminal proceeding – is overlooking a vital factor. He notes that Atkins (and his attorney) didn't have an opportunity to address the "statement of facts" drawn up by the Ethics Committee's investigation. However, this "statement of facts" is akin to an indictment – not a judgment as Dana posits. And where does the accused have the opportunity to address an indictment? Not in a closed session with investigators and attorneys -- but in court. Dana concedes that Atkins (and his attorney) were shown the charges against him (he was permitted to make an initial written response) and this certainly is similar to standard [trial] proceedings where both parties have to be informed of all charges, witnesses and testimonies. But the key ingredient here is that House rules clearly give Atkins the opportunity to try his case in such a court: The full House of Representatives.

But, as noted at the beginning of this post, Atkins and his attorney did not wish to do this.

If Dana believes the existing House rules governing ethics are "unfair," that's certainly his right. But in my opinion, Atkins was treated not only within the rules of the House, but fairly, as well. Dana criticizes the House Ethics Committee stating that they could use a course in "Justice 101." But, as I noted above, with the analogy Dana makes to an actual criminal court proceeding, there's actually nothing out of line – "unfair" – about how the Committee treated Atkins. Their knowledge of "Justice 101," at least in terms of proper procedures, seems quite adequate to me.

Still, if what the News Journal reports is accurate, Atkins still yet may have his day in "court":

The matter may not be settled, though, because it may not be enough to satisfy some legislators.

There was talk Wednesday that some Democrats and Republicans might push for Atkins to be expelled when the resolution reaches the House floor, most likely on Tuesday.

Indeed. One such Rep. is Atkins' fellow downstater Pete Schwartzkopf who told WGMD radio's Dan Gaffney earlier today that "he'd go past censure and vote for Atkin's expulsion." In addition, WGMD's Maria Evans notes that Atkins has informed her that "what he did was, 'nothing compared to what other House members have done.'" As Maria asks, is this "... why the Ethics Committee is recommending censuring him and not going for expulsion"?

Posted by Hube at 04:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 21, 2007

Avengers Classic coming this June

Ah -- at last something for us Silver Agers to sink our teeth into! Coming in June: Avengers Classic, a new title by Marvel Comics that will feature original stories set in "Earth's Mightiest's" early years. There will also be reprint stories of some of the original stories from that era, penned mostly by Stan "The Man" Lee himself. As a matter of fact, Lee will have an original yarn included in Classic #1 as a back-up story! Original story [regular] creators Dwayne McDuffie and Mike Oeming's

first story recounts an early official meeting where they decide who will be chairman of the team.

Stan tells us the secret origin of how The Avengers truly came together as only Stan can tell it.

This is a great idea, although personally I'd rather just read the original stories set in the old era. I, like I'm sure many other Silver Age fans, have already collected classic Avengers tales via the Essential series. The Essential Avengers is already up to issue #5, taking fans into the early-mid 70s to approximately issue #120.

Comics fans under 25 may not truly appreciate -- or know how to truly appreciate -- Stan Lee's stories. He really knew how to make the reader feel a part of the "Marvel community," for lack of a better term. From the old Marvel "Bullpen" (the creators) to the "Mighty Marvel Marching Society," to the letters pages to liberal use of footnotes noting past references, Lee made you a member of the "club." He never insulted your intelligence (he used more polysyllabic words than you could shake a stick at) and he was genuinely funny. From the opening credits to the interior dialogue, you'd be engrossed in the drama of the story and laughing yourself silly at the same time. I never was a big follower of Daredevil; however, as a kid I recall reading some reprints of early DD tales, and remember how Lee's banter via dialogue balloons -- not to mention the opening credits where the poor letterer was always busted on -- were absolutely hysterical! Just check out these few examples:

"Stand back, average typical crowd of passersby"?? "I even get airsick standin' on a thick rug"?? You just don't see this kind of clean comedic fun in the "funny books" anymore. Today's writers are too busy taking themselves too seriously -- they have to be "relevant."

(At least when a Republican's in the White House.)

Posted by Hube at 05:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Superhero kills the president

Here we go again! This summer will witness "Black Summer," a new comic series along the lines of The Authority where a superhero unilaterally judges the US president to be a "war criminal" ... and kills him. The author is Warren Ellis, who also co-created The Authority, so this really shouldn't surprise anyone. John Horus, the "most committed" of an original team dubbed the "Seven Guns" -- "a group of young politically-aware scientist-adventurers who modified their own bodies for street-fighting in order to take back their West Coast city from a corrupt police force, criminal local government and rapacious private security forces" -- asks himself

"If, in fact, your perspective is such that you believe your President to have prosecuted an illegal war and thereby caused the deaths of thousands of people – isn't that a crime? Do you let that pass?"

Well, obviously Horus doesn't think so. But Ellis says he's "writing it from both [political] angles at once and letting people make up their own minds." And I tend to believe him. Though his work on The Authority was certainly from a left-wing perspective, he didn't have the team taking over the United States government -- that was left other authors including fake Army Ranger Micah Wright. And, as Ellis notes, the other members of the Seven Guns were hardly in agreement with Horus' actions, and gets especially pissed when the government (which is unaware that Horus acted alone) comes after them as well in retaliation for the president's murder.

More here.

Posted by Hube at 04:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2007

Have you seen these images on the MSM?

Nope. You're only likely to catch them if you happen to have C-SPAN on live. The following are from San Francisco:

This dude is classic. He's got the grizzled fishin' cap, salt and pepper beard, the old musty greenish-brown sweater... probably a professor of some humanities course like sociology. I wonder who classic dude here thinks is a bigger threat to the planet -- "imperialist" USA or radical/fundamentalist Islam -- how'd he answer. Oops! He's already made that clear! Silly me!

Now check this one out! "US out of my ovaries"?? Is this a chick? Sure looks like a dude to me! And pardon me, but isn't there a thing called Roe v. Wade which makes abortion legal across the land? Sheesh. Someone wake Mr. Bohemian here the hell up!

Here we see an illiterate (who doesn't know the difference between the three "T" words "there," "they're" and "THEIR") who repeats the oldie but goodie "Bush is the REAL terrorist." The word on his shirt is quite apt, eh?

Now here's a real "patriot," eh? OK, we're told that to dissent is patriotic, and I surely agree to an extent, but not this extent. Why is it necessary to degrade the entire country and what it stands for just because you disagree with the current president and/or his policies? I think it's safe to assume this dolt is just totally clueless as to how lucky he is to actually be able to do what he's doing with no repercussions. Oh, wait -- don't we live in a fascist police state? Someone call the cops!

The following are from LA:

Yeah! That way nobody will have a job -- just like this guy!

Ah yes, the old "Zionist-Nazi conspiracy." Huh? Meanwhile, back up in San Fran, some College Republican students who stepped on makeshift Hamas and Hezbollah flags were brought up on charges (who have since had 'em dropped after FIRE's intervention) -- the 'ol "attempts to incite violence and create a hostile environment" and "actions of incivility." But I thought the US government was the fascist police state! Weird, then, that a college in America's most liberal city would attempt to stifle people's free expression, while on the very streets of that city (and LA) people can walk freely doing what you see in these very pictures.

What irony!

(h/t to Right Wing News for the images!)

Posted by Hube at 06:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Battlestar Galactica -- March 18 edition

"Battlestar Galactica," the so-called "best show on television" is rapidly losing its way, although I must admit that this past Sunday's episode gave us a glimpse into what is drastically wrong with our legal system: The obfuscation of truth and justice for that of legal theatrics and pandering. And for those who are still making the connection between "Battlestar" and either Iraq or the general War on Terror, the episode seemed to be a perfect example of why terrorists do not warrant trials/hearings in civilian courts with all the usual rights and procedures granted to American citizens (and even non-citizens).

Although I still it find incomprehensible that something akin to martial law is not in effect among the Colonial fleet (y'know, 'cause a little thing called NEAR EXTERMINATION occured back in the Twelve Colonies and again on New Caprica), I for one am glad to see how Admiral Adama and President Roslin have ... changed, essentially, their views on "rights" and "procedures" regarding (in this case) the traitor Gaius Baltar. Consider: Under emergency circumstances, before and especially after the escape from New Caprica, Baltar has been granted full -- FULL -- legal rights in what, again, is not only an emergency situation, but clearly a MILITARY one, too. Some on "Galactica" discussion boards across the 'net have posited that the fleet's population "needs a sense of normalcy" after its almost-annihilation, hence this is why Baltar is getting a typical [civilian] trial. But why the press is all over the place, and why the 43rd person in line of presidential succession is making decisions in the middle of a military -- and entire species -- emergency is baffling.

I still can't buy it. Adama should be in control of the fleet and making the final decisions. Perhaps if this was the case, situations like that of the fuel ship wouldn't have happened. (It still never should have if this show made common [military] sense.) Situations like Baltar's should be dealt with by military tribunal -- with an impartial group of justices who mete out the final decision. And, without the press in attendance hanging on every utterance.

But, alas, this isn't the case. Baltar's lawyer, along with "assistant" Lee Adama, lay on the histrionics as they attempt to take apart the key witnesses against Baltar, notably President Roslin herself. Lee, full of anger and need for revenge (he resigns his military commission) for being verbally taken down by his admiral father, goes after Roslin with wanton abandon, pointing out her drug use for her cancer -- which can cause occasional hallucinations. As if this is somehow suppose to "exonerate" Baltar for his actions on New Caprica, in particular! "Maybe the president was hallucinating at the time!"

In addition, Col. Tigh is questioned (before Roslin, actually) about his wife in such a way that makes him out to be a villain other than defendant Baltar. He ultimately admits that he himself killed his wife for her Cylon collaboration -- even though the collaboration was to save Tigh's own life -- and the entire situational aspect of the New Caprica governance is glossed aside, as if Baltar had nothing to do with Tigh's wife's actions. This is what sets off Admiral Adama, I believe, more than anything, against Lee.

"Galactica's" writers seemed to have ditched the Cylon "They Have a Plan" schtick, probably because they have difficulty maintaining character traits of the main characters themselves from week to week, not to mention what even happened in scripts past! At this point, I'm hoping either Adama will wake the f*** up and institute martial law, or that the Cylons will finally discover the fleet, attack en masse, and destroy humanity once and for all.

Posted by Hube at 06:31 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Dopey WNJ Letter of the Week

Thomas Bayard of Wilmington calls President Bush a liar because one of the reasons for starting the war in Iraq was that country's possession of WMDs (even though Bayard doesn't note that WMD was only one of the reasons for the war) -- and compares this "lie" to the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which began the Vietnam War:

Like another, older war, this one began with a lie. Before it was called "The Tonkin Gulf Incident." This time it was "Weapons of Mass Destruction." In 1964, the "Incident" allowed the president to get his resolution through Congress. There was almost no opposition. In 2003, another president got another resolution through Congress with even less opposition. In both cases, it soon became apparent that Congress and the American people had been lied to, bamboozled into supporting a president's desire to have a war.

The problem is, unlike Tonkin -- which was soon thereafter revealed to have been of quite dubious origin -- the belief that Saddam Hussein had possessed weapons of mass destruction significantly predates the current Bush administration:

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."

So said President Bill Clinton in 1998, three years before George W. Bush took office in his place. Former National Security Adviser and recent National Archive Thief Sandy Berger once stated regarding Hussein that "He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."

Were Clinton and Berger lying? Indeed, were all these famous (or infamous) Democrats lying too?

Face it, Tom, your analogy stinks. Bush didn't "lie" about Saddam having WMDs. What happened was that our intelligence (and that of many other countries) was flawed. This doesn't equate to Bush "lying." But if you still think he did lie, then you must also believe all those of the opposing party "lied" too.

Oppose the war all you wish. I do. But do it using something other than the tired old canard of "Bush lied about WMDs."

Posted by Hube at 04:32 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 19, 2007

Open spot on the Watcher's Council

Another opening has, er, opened up on the famous Watcher's Council! If you're a blogger and are interested in joining, check out the info here.

Posted by Hube at 05:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Muslim cashiers refuse to touch pork

H/t to The Corner for this: Do Muslim cashiers at Target have a right to refuse to check pork products? Based on what I've read and understand, not if retail chain doesn't wish it.

Some [Minnesota] Muslim cashiers had declined to scan products such as bacon because doing so would conflict with their religious beliefs. They would ask other cashiers to ring up such purchases, or some customers scanned the items themselves.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. (TGT) has offered the cashiers the option of wearing gloves, shifting to other positions or transferring to other stores.

"We are confident that this is a reasonable solution for our guests and team members," Target spokeswoman Paula Thornton-Greear said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press on Saturday.

Is this a fair compromise? Yes. Religion-workplace law essentially dictates that employers must make "reasonable accommodations" for their employees' religious beliefs. Federal law mandates this for employers with over 15 workers; however, individual state laws may add further stipulations.

If an employer claims that he cannot accommodate an employee (or employees), he would have to demonstrate that the potential accommodation would harm his business. And, the employer does not have to agree to an accommodation asked for by an employee. (Ansonia Board of Education v. Philbrook, 479 U.S. 60 [1986]). Target's accommodations are clearly reasonable; wearing gloves or taking a different position within a store certainly fall into the "reasonable" criteria. (I'm a bit confused, however, about how "transferring to another store" would solve the issue at hand.) If I were the manager of a Target where some of my cashiers were asking customers to check some items themselves and/or requesting other cashiers to handle certain items, I'd absolutely make use of the above accommodations. The two "pre-accommodation" options utilized by the Muslim cashiers are obviously bad for business. And Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Hardison, 432 U.S. 63 (1977), would back up my position as it noted "that an employer need not incur more than minimal costs in order to accommodate an employee’s religious practices." (My emphasis.) However, one recent development -- the "Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2005" -- seems to be in conflict with this, but is unlikely to hinder Target's accommodation plan. Under this amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the definition of "undue [employer] hardship" says

... an accommodation requiring significant difficulty or expense. For purposes of determining whether an accommodation requires significant difficulty or expense, factors to be considered in making the determination shall include--

(A) the identifiable cost of the accommodation, including the costs of loss of productivity and of retraining or hiring employees or transferring employees from 1 facility to another;

(B) the overall financial resources and size of the employer involved, relative to the number of its employees; and

(C) for an employer with multiple facilities, the geographic separateness or administrative or fiscal relationship of the facilities.

Supreme Court precedent is usually likely to prevail over recent law, though. Usually, that is.

Suhara Robla, who works at a SuperTarget, told the Star Tribune newspaper that more than a dozen Muslim cashiers were asked Thursday to do other jobs.

"They told all of us who don't touch pork to go to the sales floor," she told the newspaper. "They really didn't say why. They just said it was a new policy."

Well, if you're refusing to check pork products at the register, what do you think, Ms. Robla? And, of course it's a new policy -- it's a new policy designed to meet your religious needs. If you are unhappy with the "accommodation," it seems you have two options: Find another job, or you can file a lawsuit claiming Target's accommodations were "unreasonable." But you'll likely lose. As noted previously, an employer does not have to agree to an employee's wish for accommodation, just as long as the employment modification meets the "reasonable" standard.

Minnesota witnessed something similar back in September. Some Muslim taxi drivers were refusing to drive patrons who were carrying alcohol products. That case would be more difficult to "accomodate" as there's no other position to "move to" like at a retail store such as Target. That, and taxis would seem to fall under the realm of "public accommodation" (say, like a hotel) where people cannot be discriminated against -- in this case for carrying around a quite legal product. The airports commission there recommended "color-coding the lights on the taxi roofs" to note whether or not a taxi would accept those carrying alcohol. This seems reasonable to me; however, what if the majority of taxis available have the no-alcohol color on top -- thus leaving passenger(s) stranded for an inordinate amount of time? The Anti-Defamation League website notes that a [potential] employee "should" inform the employer "about the religious commitment at the time the job is accepted or immediately upon becoming observant if he or she becomes more observant while employed." I am curious if the Muslim cab drivers -- and the Target employees -- made their employers so aware.

In another interesting case, Albert Buonanno was axed from his job because he refused "to compromise his religiously-based belief that the homosexual lifestyle is wrong." His employer, AT&T, did not attempt to accommodate Buonanno's beliefs, however. And, it seems they "discovered" Albert's views when they mandated that he (and other employees, I assume) sign a statement that "he 'respected and valued' different 'sexual orientations' in the workplace." The article doesn't detail how Buonanno's views would have affected his work, let alone whether it would ever have been an issue at all.

A federal court ruled in Buonanno's favor.

Posted by Hube at 05:34 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 18, 2007

Comment hassles

MuNu's (our server, that is) comments have been dealing with a prolonged spam attack, so Colossus' comments, like those of all MuNu blogs, are still inactive. If you'd really like to comment -- you just can't wait -- drop us an e-mail at colossusofrhodey -at- and we'll post it for you when comments become active again.

Sorry for the hassle.

UPDATE: Ah! Comments seem to be functioning again as of 9:00pm.

Posted by Hube at 07:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

C'mon -- she said it with a smile

Jessica Bryan, a "professor" at North Idaho College, apparently told one of her classes that "'anyone who's ever voted Republican' should be executed."

But ... she said it "with a smile."

Oh, well, OK then! And what does Bryan teach? English composition! So, naturally discussions of politics where the GOP is disparaged is a natural occurence, right?

Bryan specifically is alleged to have said that George Bush won the 2000 election "because people can't read," and then the "execution/death penalty" comment:

"First we line up everyone who can't think and right behind them, anyone who's ever voted Republican."

Well, geez, if we did that then only Independents would remain!

Posted by Hube at 09:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hope I didn't sound ...

... like too much of a dufus on WGMD radio this morning. My heartfelt thanks go to host Maria Evans for having me on for a general chat about blogging and local/national politics. Even though I got disconnected a few times! ;-)

Posted by Hube at 08:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dopey WNJ Letter of the Week

This week's winner is Hockessin's L. Eudora Pettigrew, Ph.D. who believes that the News Journal -- the News Journal!! -- is racially biased against African-Americans:

The recent article, "Delaware Women Wield More Influence Than Ever" is noteworthy in that with the exception of Lisa Blunt Rochester, former head of Metro Wilmington Urban League and who is no longer in Delaware, no woman of color is presented as having any influence in the Legislature of the state of Delaware. I am puzzled as to why Margaret Rose Henry, senator of the 2nd Senatorial District of the state of Delaware and an African-American female, was not included in the presentation. Sen. Henry was elected in 1994 to the Delaware Senate and provides significant contributions to the people of the state of Delaware. Did race play a factor in the presentations in The News Journal article?

African-American women have not struggled for many decades for equality and justice merely to be further oppressed by the press and media presentations about white women.

It can be debated as to whether Senator Henry's contributions are "significant;" however, does anyone really believe that the Wilmington News Journal is racially biased against African-Americans? To me, this is akin to the claims that universities are "racially insensitive," "biased," "prejudiced," etc. because certain percentages of enrollment may not have been met, or because there are not "enough" professors "of color" teaching. The fact that the modern university is possibly THE friendliest place for a minority (the prodigious amount of "sensitivity" and "multicultural" seminars for undergraduates, many which mandate attendance, not to mention speech codes of dubious constitutionality) is conveniently overlooked when the "bean-counters" look to complain.

If Dr. Pettigrew stopped for a moment to consider the totality of the News Journal's coverage, the contention that it's racially biased should become obvious: It's not. I think it's safe to say that virtually every MSM (mainstream media) outlet fits this bill. If anything, these mediums go out of their way to be as ... "politically correct" as possible -- so as not to be perceived as framing African-Americans in any sort of negative light.

Posted by Hube at 08:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 17, 2007

Remember, all you craven political junkies ...

... yours truly will be on WGMD radio with host Maria Evans tomorrow morning at the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed hour of 6:30am.

Posted by Hube at 11:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dopey Philly Inquirer Letter of the Week

Steven Halpern of Philly repeats the old canard that the plague of violence in Philly schools is due to ... lack of funding.

According to statistics, most students expelled from school end up in prison. Today, anyone living in the United States has a better chance of going to prison than citizens of almost any other nation in the world.

So, students who want to learn, teachers and administrators should tolerate thugs who threaten and utilize violence nearly every day in the school setting because we don't want these thugs to ... end up in prison. Oh. Makes "sense."

Today, school funding per-student in Philadelphia is much less than what it is in some suburban communities. Who suffers from this gross funding inequality? Answer: the students.

Whom does Vallas want to punish for the horrid state of the school district? Answer: the students. The problem with the Philadelphia School District is not the students. The problem lies with the politicians who run a system funded at much less than the rate of suburban public schools.

Inner-city schools across the country have some of the highest per-pupil funding in the whole nation. Take a look at Washington DC schools, for example. Their per-pupil spending leads the United States, yet their schools are a disgrace. And, as if lower per-pupil funding is an excuse for violent student behavior. Blame the students indeed. Sheesh.

The problem also lies in the fact that these politicians feel it is fine for gross inequalities to exist, where some students have more than they could ever use, while others do not have enough food to eat.

Ah, now it all hangs out. The politicians aren't doing enough to redistribute the wealth adequately! Government, government, government. You're not "doing enough."

And, therein lies the problem, obviously. The mindset that clamors for ever-more governmental solutions to what are largely social, cultural and personal issues. The more we remove the onus from the personal to the collective (government), the more the existing problems in our schools (and elsewhere) will be exacerbated. In other words, it's the "it's not my fault" justification.

UPDATE: This letter from Melissa Castle-Caine in the Philly Daily News helps to make my point:

When we start taking parental responsibility for the incorrigibility of our children, only then can things change. It's not the schools or the teachers. It all comes down to who is ultimately responsible for the conduct of these out-of-control kids - the parents.

In addition, this other observation of hers is spot-on:

Why is it that we expect the schools to handle these issues instead of us, the parents? Why is it OK for a student to attack or harass a teacher (with minimal repercussions), yet as soon as a teacher tries to gain some type of order or respect, a parent is either on the phone or at the school demanding "justice" for his child?

My emphasis. Excellent point. Seen such instances quite often, Melissa. Unfortunately.

Posted by Hube at 09:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2007

It's from 'Frisco! Consider the source!

Posted by Hube at 07:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I thought this was pretty funny

"Zsa Zsa's hubby sues O’Reilly for Anna Nicole comment" is a headline in yesterday's News Journal (via the AP). I caught that segment of the show in question, and you could tell O'Reilly felt like a total idiot for even inviting this guy on the show. But what the article leaves out is that "Prince Frederic" refused to take the lie detector test that O'Reilly asked him to take at a mutually agreed upon time -- which is actually what led to "The Factor" host calling him "a fraud."

Since the show aired, von Anhalt said people give him dirty looks when he goes to the grocery store.

“They say, ’Look, here comes the fraud,”’ he said. “I get lots of e-mails from people bad-mouthing me. It’s very embarrassing.”

Yeah, dude. And you had absolutely not a thing to do with that, eh?

Posted by Hube at 07:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Watcher's Council results

And now...  the winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Serving While Republican by Eternity Road, and Tenured Deceit by Sigmund, Carl and Alfred.  All members, please be sure to link to both winning entries (and to the full results of the vote) in a post.  Right Wing Nut House 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:

VotesCouncil link
2  2/3Serving While Republican
Eternity Road
2What Are Europe's Options?
2I Disagree
Rhymes With Right
1  1/3The "Burqini" -- Shaken and Stirred
Big Lizards
1Persistent Libels
Soccer Dad
2/3Here Are the Moderate Muslims
The Sundries Shack
1/3Vile Reuters at it Again
Bookworm Room
1/3Star Wars, 300, History, and Whatnot
The Glittering Eye
1/3Back in the DDR
Done With Mirrors

VotesNon-council link
2  1/3Tenured Deceit
Sigmund, Carl and Alfred
1  2/3Tips For New Teachers
Right Wing Nation
1  2/3Obama: "Nobody Is Suffering More Than the Palestinian People"
Ace of Spades HQ
1  1/3How the Left Gets It All Wrong
Chicago Boyz
1  1/3Sestak CAIRs
In Context
2/3USO Vignette: Who Raises a Marine?
Fuzzilicious Thinking
2/3The Family Plan: Part 2 of "Mourning in America"
American Digest
2/3Melanie Phillips-Speech
1/3Sarkozy and Giuliani: Separated at Birth?
1/3Fitzgerald, Libby, and the roles of, and viewing windows for, Big Lizards (be they mere prosecutors, Special Counsel, or Independent Counsel Godzillas) in the legal-political jungle

Posted by Hube at 07:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2007

And the fun continues in Philly ...

Girl hits principal at N. Phila. school is a headline in the Philly Inquirer today. The offender is a special ed. student and as such can only be suspended for a maximum of fifteen days total for the entire school year. Any further measures have to be approved by the state.

How 'bout that? You can be one of the most disruptive and violent kids in the school, but if you're a special ed. student, fifteen days is all you can be put out of school. Too bad for all those other kids in the building, eh?

Also occuring in Philly schools the last couple days:

  • At Olney High, a 16-year-old female student slammed a teacher's hand in a door after the teacher asked the girl to leave class.
  • At Emlen Elementary in Germantown, a teacher trying to break up a fight was punched twice by a female student.
  • On Monday, a 14-year-old student pulled a teacher's arm after the teacher took a bookbag from the student, police said.

Perceptive Statement of the Day courtesy of Philly Schools CEO Paul Vallas:

"Clearly, kids are getting much more physical and they're becoming much more violent. We definitely live in a different time."
Posted by Hube at 05:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Wouldn't 'ya just know it??

Bill Clinton: General Pace owes apology to adulterers.

President Clinton, who served as Commander in Chief for two tours of duty, instituted the military policy called ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ which officially allows homosexuals to serve in the armed forces as long as they lie about their behavior and don’t get caught in the act.

“Gen. Pace’s antiquated ideas could have a chilling effect on military recruiting,” said Mr. Clinton. “In addition, there’s a real risk that the general has hurt the feelings many who love this country and are willing to fight for our freedom to have intimate relations without so-called moral boundaries.”

Mr. Clinton noted that if the nation had Gen. Pace’s attitude toward adultery just a few years ago, “we would have lost the valiant service of one of history’s greatest commanders in chief.”

“The military desperately needs brave men and women with the character, integrity and dignity that their colleagues can count on in times of war,” said Mr. Clinton, “But Gen. Pace essentially hung out a sign that says, ‘adulterers, homosexuals and liars need not apply.’”

He urged the general to “count the cost of his narrow views.”

H/t to Soccer Dad. See also yesterday's post.

Posted by Hube at 05:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 13, 2007

Shameless self-promotion

Wake up early this Sunday ...

... to hear me on WGMD with host Maria Evans from approx. 6:30-7:30am (how's that for a prime radio spot, eh?). At least if you live downstate. New Castle County folk are out of luck, I guess, since the station doesn't have streaming audio yet. 'Sup wit dat??

We'll discuss blogging, politics and anything else we feel like, natch.

Posted by Hube at 07:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Good thing they're now in charge. They have a plan. I think. Maybe.

Nancy Pelosi and David Obey explain the Democratic plan for Iraq:

(h/t: Red State.)

Posted by Hube at 06:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Apology Inc.

Hypersensitivity strikes again. This time, gay advocates are demanding an apology from General Peter Pace because he said he believed that homosexuality is "immoral."

While I personally do not agree with the general's statement, why should he have to apologize for something that he believes? The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said that the general's comments were "outrageous, insensitive and disrespectful to the 65,000 lesbian and gay troops now serving in our armed forces." OK, but will Pace -- since he likened homosexuality to adultery when he called it "immoral" -- face protests and demands for an apology from adulterers? After all, I'm fairly certain people commit adultery for what could be dubbed "moral" reasons -- spouse was unfaithful, spouse is abusive, spouse turns out to be a hermophrodite -- so isn't Pace insulting these people, too?

And from where does the SLDN get the number 65,000?

At any rate, despite Pace's beliefs, he has to follow the law ("Don't Ask, Don't Tell") and there's nothing to indicate that he is not. Let's stop with the hypersensitivity and copious demands for apologies.

Posted by Hube at 06:04 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Tales of [Misplaced] Priorities

The ACLU is determined to represent illegal aliens (get that? The very term "illegal" has a meaning) in Hazelton, PA because that town has passed a law that "imposes fines on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and denies business permits to companies that employ them." One may wonder exactly whose -- or what -- civil liberties are at stake by implementation of such a law. Let's see, is it the landlords'? But how does it violate their civil liberties if they knowingly rent to someone who is in the country illegally? Is it the business owners'? But how are their civil rights infringed upon if they knowingly hire people who are not legally permitted to be in the United States? Both cases certainly appear to along the lines of "aiding and abetting," do they not?

So ... whose civil rights are in jeopardy here?

Jose Lechuga struggled as a grocer, but he said his Hispanic customers became scarce when the city of Hazleton began to crack down on illegal immigrants.

''They didn't feel safe and they didn't want to have any problems,'' he testified Monday through an interpreter during the first federal trial to focus on a local law designed to curb illegal immigration.

Why wouldn't Lechuga's customers "feel safe" if they had no reason to fear anything? Like, meaning they were here legally?

But to the point: The ACLU -- whose claim is that they are "guardians of the Bill of Rights" -- consider the civil rights of those here illegally as those rights which are truly in jeopardy. But since they actually cannot come out and state such in plain language (because their case would collapse like a house of cards), their case is based on legalese -- they're arguing that only the federal government has jurisdiction over immigration matters. So, the ACLU is so concerned with everyone's civil rights -- up to and including those whose presence in the country is illegal to rent an apartment and work wherever they wish -- that they're essentially saying "screw" immigration laws. Open borders, everyone?

Elsewhere, in nearby Coatesville, PA, the town council there voted unanimously to begin their meetings with -- *gasp* -- a prayer!

Margaret Downey, leader of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, said she would ask the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State to review the resolution to determine if the policy met the constitutional requirement for separation of church and state.

You can bet your bottom dollar that all those groups will be investigating en masse this heinous transgression of the Constitution!

The ACLU -- defending the "rights" of those who knowingly broke the law to enter the country illegally, but prosecuting those who want may to say a [voluntary] prayer before a local town meeting.

What a country.

Posted by Felix at 04:34 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 12, 2007

If Rudy was a Dem, wouldn't this be called "Swiftboating"?


Firefighters: Giuliani's priorities were wrong after 9/11. (Link.)

Posted by Felix at 07:45 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Delaware advocates teacher merit pay

I've dealt with this issue previously. I don't have much more to add other than that if Delaware does implement a "performance-based" teacher pay plan, it had better make sense.

In addition, I have a suggestion: Since the DSTP (Delaware State Testing Program, which begins this week, by the way) only tests math, reading and writing (the social studies and science tests later this year do not count towards grade advancement/promotion), why not pay math and english teachers more right off the bat? It is they who have all the pressure of preparing students to take these tests, after all. It is they who have to deal with the repercussions of the results, positive or negative. As it is, it's already tough to attract good math teachers because they can make more in industry. With the pressure of the DSTP, it's even worse.

Which leads me to another idea: Why not set pay scales based on the relative market for the subject the teacher teaches? For example, again, math and science teachers are typically the most difficult to attract/find. Ditto for foreign language teachers (yay!). Set those pay scales higher. Social studies and phys. ed. usually have a glut of potential hires. Set those scales lower.

With these two brainstorms, math teachers would be making the most as the market for those teachers has the greatest scarcity, and they have the added "pressure" of the DSTP. English, foreign language and science teachers would rank somewhere thereafter, followed by social studies and phys. ed. Other subjects' markets would determine where they would fall on the scale.


Posted by Hube at 07:08 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 11, 2007

Jeff Bridges joins cast of "Iron Man"

Noted actor Jeff Bridges has signed on to Marvel's "Iron Man" flick due out next year. Bridges will play Tony Stark (Iron Man's secret ID) business rival Obadiah Stane:

Currently bald and sporting a silver goatee, Bridges said Stane (comicbook version at right) plays mentor to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and would not divulge whether he was also the villain. However, Iron Man fans know that Stane (who, like Stark, is a billionaire industrialist) becomes our hero's bitter rival -- drawing Stark back to the [alcoholic] bottle -- which causes him to lose everything, including his company.

In the climactic issue #200, Tony Stark totally recovered from his bout with alcoholism, donned a totally new suit of armor (the only armor -- aside from his original suit -- that was not red and gold ... it was a striking red and silver) and went to confront Stane. Stane had assembled his own armored outfit while Stark was drinking his brains out, and the two go at it in a royal donneybrook. When it's apparent that there's no way he can win, Stane removes his helmet, puts his gauntlet blaster (repulsor) to his head, and blows his own head off:

Posted by Hube at 11:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bet he wouldn't teach a day in Philly schools

'Ya gotta love education professors.

Check out this quote from a Philly Inquirer article about ways to stop the tide of violence in the city's schools:

At West Philadelphia High, where teachers were critical of the handling of assaults and threats, teachers' union representative Pat O'Hara said he was glad "there will be some consequences attached."

Others, however, said the move would further criminalize youths, many of them troubled and hurting.

"We're turning our schools in a lot of ways into pathways to jail," said Howard Stevenson, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education.

Adults, who have "emotional power" over youth, sometimes provoke a child who already is troubled, he said.

"There are things that lead up to those aggressions. Very rarely do you have a kid who has no concern for human life or dignity that would act out," he said.

Stevenson called for a "tribunal" of adults to evaluate assault cases before punishment is meted out.

Here's why Stevenson teaches at the cushy confines of Penn: He wouldn't last a day in a Philly public school preaching his theories about dealing with student discipline. The classroom would pedagogically disintergrate around him. I mean, come on -- check out the "emotional power" bit. This is classic educationist talk. Sure, a teacher shouldn't raise his voice and attempt to discipline a kid who is harrassing the living s*** out of a fellow student or making verbal threats of violence because ... it may "provoke" a kid who's already troubled! Of course, the fact that the individual teacher may not have any idea that the kid is emotionally troubled doesn't enter the equation. Or the fate of the rest of the class the teacher has to teach. It should be something like, "Oh, please Johnny ... you need to be aware that threatening to cut off your classmate's fingers with an Exacto blade is not an appropriate thing to say. Please apologize to him."

And who would this "tribunal" be composed of? It's a safe bet that an educationist like Stevenson would desire a "child advocate" in the group to "speak for the chronically disruptive pupil." You know, to inform everyone else assembled that Johnny has a "right" to an education in the "least restrictive environment" yada yada yada.

This reminds me of a classic educationist class I took my first year of grad school inappropriately titled "Discipline and Classroom Management." Our textbook was a farce, but the kicker was when we viewed a film distributed by some educationist outfit whereby they said discipline incidents should result in a "meeting of equals" between the [offending] student and teacher (with administrators and/or counselors also attending). You could audibly hear the guffawing groans of the teachers watching this tripe. "Meeting of equals"?? Well, hell -- if that's the case, I shouldn't even have to teach at times! I can just ask one of my "equal" students to take over! In a class assignment where we had to evaluate the various sorts of "discipline" we were "taught," one of our instructors called my views "visceral" because I said in so many words that most of what we were "taught" hadn't a chance in a real world classroom situation. (I got an "A," however, because I backed up my assertions with copious amounts of sources and footnotes, natch.)

Thankfully, in Philly, schools CEO Paul Vallas doesn't agree with Stevenson:

"We shouldn't make excuses for violent behavior," he said. "We're always trying to find a reason to justify antisocial behavior. We're growing up in a blameless society. No one takes responsibility for their actions."

Amen. However, the paper goes on to offer an example of how not every violent incident merits an automatic mandatory suspension and arrest:

Richard Mantell, principal of Frankford High School for 11 years, said each student's circumstances must be taken into account. On Thursday, two days after the district's new assault policy was announced, a ninth grader pushed an assistant principal - which, by policy, could have resulted in suspension and arrest.

According to Mantell, his assistant principal chose not to call police after she learned that the new student had been released from a psychiatric hospital five days earlier. The administrator called the girl's parents, who said she had been kidnapped and raped, Mantell said.

Such a [rare] situation surely is an exception, but as Mantell rightly points out, "She gets pushed into a large, comprehensive high school. Is anyone really surprised that these issues present themselves in our schools?"

Yep. The fact that a girl in that situation has to attend a traditional educational environment is just plain ridiculous and only serves to exacerbate existing problems ... and acts as a potential catalyst for further violence and disruptions.

Posted by Hube at 11:01 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 10, 2007

Best War Movies

As I was checking some of my AOL mail yesterday, their website had a countdown of Moviefone's "Top 25 War Movies" of all-time. Granted, I haven't seen a decent portion of those listed, but even based on the descriptions offered, I was a bit flummoxed at how some made the cut -- and how a few didn't make the list.

#22: "The Thin Red Line." This movie, released shortly after "Saving Private Ryan," bored the bejeebies out of me. It deals with the Pacific war during WW II, and as the narrative states, "For those who prefer moral complexity and visual poetry to macho bonding and gore, it was this film, not 'Saving Private Ryan,' that won the battle of WWII flicks in 1998." I like moral complexity and visual poetry as much as the next guy, but as I said, it was too friggin' much (especially the "poetry" part) for a war flick.

#20: "M*A*S*H*." I like the TV series better. Seriously.

#18: "Patton." Only #18?? This George C. Scott masterpiece from 1970 is a must-see for any WW II buff. Scott is a magificent sonuvabitch.

#17: "All Quiet on the Western Front." I first saw this is in my "History of American Foreign Policy" class at UD my sophomore year (with Prof. Gary May, who's still there, and still quite the leftist I hear!). For a flick made in 1930 it's a remarkable testament to the horrors of war. The ending is beyond classic.

#16: "Letters From Iwo Jima." Why haven't I friggin' seen this flick, yet, dammit??

#15: "Three Kings." Say whaaaaaaat???

#14: "The Longest Day." A must-have for any war movie list.

#13: "Glory." Possibly the best movie made about the Civil War. Denzel Washington got an Oscar for his role as a royally pissed off soldier who's fighting only because he can. Morgan Freeman, as always, is also incredible. The only downside is the horrendous miscasting of Matthew Broderick as Colonel Shaw.

#11: "The Deer Hunter." Freaked me out as a teenager, and still does to this day. DeNiro, John Savage and Chris Walken are insanely phenomenal in this Vietnam era flick.

#6: "Das Boot." I'm so glad this made the top ten. Be sure to catch it in the original German for the full effect. As the review states, this movie shows these Ratzi submariners as real people (many actually were, after all!) who just want to do their job, survive, and go then go home like anybody else. Drop your heart ending.

#5: "Full Metal Jacket." Better than "Platoon," this movie would have gotten the Oscar nod had it been released before its Oliver Stone competitor. It's a movie in two parts: First, we're in boot camp, and then "in the shit" in 'Nam. Matthew Modine is superb, but as the review says, it's Vincent D'Onofrio as Pvt. Pyle that'll freak you out. Lee Ermey's Gny. Sgt. Hartman is unforgettable, too! This could possibly be my #1 war movie choice.

#4: "Schindler's List." 'Nuff said. Except that I'll add that Ralph Fiennes' pathological Nazi is quite disturbing.

#3: "Saving Private Ryan." This film is worth it if not only for its approximately 20-minute opening D-Day montage. It is so grippingly real you'll find yourself having to relax your grip (from the theatre chair) and telling yourself to actually breathe.

#2: "Platoon." Oliver Stone's best movie in my opinion, stars Charlie Sheen as an idealistic patriot who volunteers for 'Nam ... and who quickly becomes disillusioned. Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger are awesome as dueling sargeants Elias and Barnes. Well deserved Oscar, but "Full Metal Jacket" is better. (See above.)

#1: "Apocalypse Now." I'm sorry, but although this is a good war flick, there's no way it should be in the number one spot. Martin Sheen plays a soldier whose task is to find a rogue Marlon Brando. Some classic moments (Robert Duvall as a nutso officer obsessed with surfing), but it gets too ... psychadelic in the latter half of the film which can cause folks to either go "Huh?" or just plain lose interest. At least it did for me.


-- "Enemy at the Gates." Jude Law plays expert Soviet marksman Vassili Zaitsev during WW II. Excellent portrayal of how the communist propaganda machine worked even in the middle of near-annihilation (the Battle of Stalingrad), not to mention how despicable the Soviets treated their own soldiers (gunning them down themselves during a necessary retreat from the Nazis). Ed Harris plays a German officer determined to zap Zaitsev. The cat-and-mouse game that follows is nerve-wracking. (Link.)

-- "Midway." Simplified and views sort of like a history textbook, but when it was released in 1976 it was dubbed as being filmed in "Sensurround"!! Anyone remember that? I did, 'cause I saw it in the theatre as a boy. Super all-star cast features Chuck Heston, Henry Fonda and Robert Mitchum, and once the action gets going it's hard to turn that channel (since it's now a TV movie staple). We (meaning, the US) really were luckier than the Japanese, as Fonda's Admiral Nimitz ponders. (Link.)

-- "Black Hawk Down." Perhaps not technically a "war" movie (the US action in Somalia a war? Or, a "mere intervention?") but it sure is one to your average joe. Virtually the entire film is like "Private Ryan's" first 20 minutes where the tension level is nigh unbearable. Also noteworthy for showcasing the United Nations "military" as the sham that it is. (Link.)

-- "The Killing Fields." Harrowing tale about the fall of Cambodia to Pol Pot and the US withdrawal from Southeast Asia based on NY Times reporter Sydney Schanberg's The Death and Life of Dith Pran. Newcomer Haing S. Ngor, an actual Cambodian refugee, is simply superb as Pran, as he makes his way through the morbid killing fields to his reunion with Schanberg -- and freedom. (Link.)

-- "Gallipoli." Post-"Mad Max" Mel Gibson stars as one of two Australian mates who heads off to fight for the British Empire in Turkey during WW I. Sensational acting and scenery, this is a classic anti-war war flick. (Link.)

-- "Master and Commander." Perhaps not technically a "war" movie but it sure has plenty of military action. Russell Crowe is terrific as Jack Aubrey as he and his crew aboard the HMS Surprise track down a [superior] French vessel. The most realistic naval movie I've seen, I believe. (Link.)

Posted by Hube at 09:55 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Violence still plagues Philly schools

From the Philly Inquirer:

Around 11 a.m., a trash fire was set in an unoccupied classroom, one in a series of small blazes set by students in protest of the removal of the principal this week. Students were evacuated onto 48th Street, and when one teacher tried to tell students to get off a car, a ninth-grade girl punched him in the jaw, police said.

Another girl and a boy also tried to hit the teacher, Hubert Morton, 53, a long-term substitute.

Morton was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where tests were being performed last night.

Sorry situations like these, and the ridiculous hurdles that need to jumped over to get rid of continually disruptive students, sadly lead to quotes like these:

"It's terrible - you've got people that are scared to come to school," [Sophomore Shantel] Powell said. "You're not getting an education, and education is so desperately needed in this community. We come to school to do nothing."

"They should send the troublemakers out, and let the rest of us learn."

"We can't learn," Aisha Matthews, a sophomore, said. "Even if we try to learn, someone sets something on fire. It's been hell - riots, everything."

What Philly schools need is a Joe Clark, of "Lean On Me" fame who uttered these classic lines in his biopic (my emphasis):

I want all of you to take a good look at these people on the risers behind me. These people have been here up to five years and done absolutely nothing. These people are drug dealers and drug users. They have taken up space. They have disrupted this school. They have harassed your teachers. And they have intimidated you. Well, times are about to change. You will not be bothered in Joe Clark's school. These people are incorrigible. And since none of them could graduate anyway ...

... you are all expurgated. You are dismissed! You are out of here, forever. I wish you well!

Here's a perfect cartoon from the Philly Daily News today which exemplifies the current Philly school situation.

Posted by Hube at 07:59 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Dopey WNJ Letter of the Week

Daniel Pritchett of Smyrna thinks the comparison made by a past letter writer of George Bush to Abe Lincoln was insane:

Abraham Lincoln, unlike President Bush, understood the difference between a just and an unjust war. After President James Polk invaded Mexico in 1846, falsely claiming that it was a response to a Mexican attack, Congressman Lincoln spoke out in protest and later voted for a House resolution that declared the war "unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the president."

Lincoln would be just as angered and opposed to the Iraq invasion, launched by another deception on the American people.

To attempt to compare Lincoln's leadership during the Civil War -- a war that was fought to save the United States and our Constitution, as well as to free people from slavery -- with George Bush's invasion of Iraq, which after four years has benefitted no one except the war contractor Halliburton, is the grossest form of political blasphemy.

You just knew a mention of Halliburton had to get in there! He also quotes radical leftist historian Eric Foner to make his "point."

*Sigh* Lincoln's transgressions against the Constitution -- again -- make anything Bush has done look like stealing a piece of Bazooka gum from a 7-11. What's funny is Pritchett's contention that Lincoln "fought to save the Constitution." Yeah -- he only had to completely disregard it in order to save it.


UPDATE (3/11 at 10:07am): Pritchett has another letter in the Journal today (2nd letter down); however, it seems like he had his best friend write about the Lincoln-Bush comparison (6th letter down)!

Posted by Hube at 07:36 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 09, 2007

Watcher's Council results

And now...  the winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Between Iraq and a Hard Place -- Why We Went, How It Got So Screwed Up and Where It's Going -- Part 2 by Joshuapundit, and Uncomfortable Questions: Was the Death Star Attack an Inside Job? by Websurdity.  Only one member was unable to vote this week, but was unaffected 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:

VotesCouncil link
2  1/3Between Iraq and a Hard Place -- Why We Went, How It Got So Screwed Up and Where It's Going -- Part 2
2Death of a Titan
Right Wing Nut House
1  2/3Green Thinking from the Red Planet
Soccer Dad
1  2/3You Ain't Never Had a Friend Like Me
Bookworm Room
1  1/3Who Were the Etruscans?
The Glittering Eye
2/3Essence of a Problem
The Colossus of Rhodey
1/3Student Sex Scandal Rocks Indiana School District
The Education Wonks

VotesNon-council link
2  2/3Uncomfortable Questions: Was the Death Star Attack an Inside Job?
1  2/3Iraq Trip Report
Small Wars Journal
1  2/310 Institutions That Ruin the World -- #1
Kerplunk -- Shaken Not Stirred
1  1/3Free Speech, Political Identity, and the Post-Coulter Debate (UPDATED and UPDATED AGAIN. And AGAIN!)
Protein Wisdom
1Swift Boating the Swift Boaters (Updated)
The QandO Blog
1What Happened To Our Political Discourse?
Rants and Raves
2/3Why Is There Sewage In Gaza Streets? Because PalArabs Build Rockets With Sewer Pipes.
Elder of Ziyon

Posted by Hube at 07:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gingrich admits to affair

When it rains it pours. The GOP, fresh off of the Scooter Libby
now has former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich admitting he had a secret extra-marital affair -- during the impeachment proceedings against former president Bill Clinton:

"The honest answer is yes," Gingrich, a potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate, said in an interview with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson to be aired Friday, according to a transcript provided to The Associated Press. "There are times that I have fallen short of my own standards. There's certainly times when I've fallen short of God's standards."

"Potential 2008 presidential candidate"?? Yeah, right. He didn't have a shot before this revelation; now, with it, he has less than a zero chance.

Gingrich argued in the interview, however, that he should not be viewed as a hypocrite for pursuing Clinton's infidelity.

"The president of the United States got in trouble for committing a felony in front of a sitting federal judge," the former Georgia congressman said of Clinton's 1998 House impeachment on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. "I drew a line in my mind that said, 'Even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept ... perjury in your highest officials."

Technically, Gingrich is correct. But technicalities ain't gonna cut it with the public. But more to the point: If Gingrich is so concerned with "the rule of law," then he should be consistent and hold that the recent conviction of Scooter Libby is likewise an upholding of the rule of law. I do not know if Gingrich doesn't believe thusly; however, if partisanship is any [usual] indication, it's a good bet to assume he believes Libby shouldn't have even been indicted.

Hmm. Like Bill Clinton, maybe??

Posted by Hube at 04:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 08, 2007

Best 200 albums?

Duffy dissects the National Association of Recording Merchandisers "Definitive 200" albums. All 200. I'm not kidding.

The fact that Duff actually considered all 200 deserves that you go and read this post. You'll be glad you did.

Posted by Hube at 08:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

State Rep. Atkins: Take a hike

Maria Evans over at Talk of Delmarva has the smack-down.

Well done, girl!

Posted by Hube at 08:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More on Capt. America's "death"

Yesterday's post about the upcoming "death" of Marvel Comics' Captain America didn't have information on his killer. It turns out to be none other than his arch-nemesis, the Red Skull. (Actually, a sniper hired by him.)

In the latest edition of the comics, he is shot dead in a New York City courthouse by his all-time adversary, the 66-year-old Red Skull. The assassination comes after the superheroes in the series are divided over the government's decision requiring them to reveal their true identities and register with authorities. This leads to the creation of two factions, one led by Captain America, who goes underground and launches a resistance movement, and the other by Iron Man. At the end, he surrenders to the pro-registration group, but was shot dead on the steps of courthouse as he went to face charges.

Well, in a way, that's a sigh a relief. I was thinking it might just be an average shlub who offs America's icon. I mean, what kind of sense would that make? Here's Cap -- who survived World War II, was frozen in suspended animation for almost 20 years, fought in parallel dimensions, far-away galaxies ... and he's killed by Joe Six-Pack?

But having the most obvious choice of the Skull as Cap's "murderer" (I'll keep using quotes when I write "kill" and "murder" since Cap will not really be killed) also serves to make it clear that Cap will be coming back. After all, the Red Skull has survived numerous "deaths" throughout Cap's very own book, even by having cloned himself a new body from Steve Rogers' (Cap's real identity) own body (see the climactic issue #350, for instance). Geez, why don't the Avengers of somebody just barge in on the Skull's hideout and nab a few of Cap's cells? Instant new Capt. America!

Joe Quesada, Marvel Entertainment's editor-in-chief, said he would not rule out a recreation of Captain America.

No, really, y' think???

Marvel Entertainment President and Publisher Dan Buckley said he "does not rule out the possibility that Captain America is not really dead or is somehow resurrected."

The plot thins.

Check out the interview with "the killer" of Cap, current Captain America writer Ed Brubaker.

My own fairly lengthy Cap post from a year ago, deals with Rogers' renunciation of the Capt. America identity, and his aborted run for the US presidency.

The Comic Blurb's Jonas Diego agrees with me about Cap's "death."

CynaraJane wonders if the Cap killing represents a symbolic death of America in general.

Lester Spence adds his thoughts as a non-fan of the "re-examination" of the Cap mythos portrayed in "The Truth."

UPDATE: The inimitable Avi Green at the Four Color Media Monitor has a terrific commentary about this whole ordeal.

Posted by Hube at 04:17 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Laugh of the Day

Title of a recent Delaware Liberal post by "Dr. Nick": John Still is a Republican. I think that sums it up.

ROTFLMAO!! He actually said "I think"!! Talk about your ever-lovin' self delusion!

Runner-up: The new owner of Air America (perpetual NYC politico Mark Green) says that the radio network went bankrupt because it was ... "too even-handed."

Yeah, sure. Air America makes Rush Limbaugh seem like the epitomy of bipartisanship!

Posted by Hube at 04:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 07, 2007

The Dems "get" their man

But did they really? This whole Scooter Libby conviction reminds me of the ludicrous impeachment of Bill Clinton -- lying (perjury) about something not actually pertinent to the original issue. Consider -- Libby was found guilty. But:

  • On his trip to Niger, Wilson found no evidence that contradicted the famous "16 words" in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address, contrary to his New York Times op-ed claim.

  • Plame, his wife, who worked for the CIA, did recommend him for the Niger junket, contrary to Wilson's denials.

  • Plame was not a covert agent under the definition of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, contrary to Wilson's insinuations, which many of his backers, including in the press, presented as fact.

  • No one from the White House "leaked" Plame's identity as a CIA functionary to Robert Novak, who received the information from Richard Armitage at the State Department. (Source.)

So, you had an investigation based on a phony complaint in the first place, where no crime was committed (Plame was not covert and Armitage admitted it was he who "leaked" Plame's name to Novak). But in the course of the phony investigation and indictment, Libby got caught telling a fib.

As Jay Nordlinger says today, "Well, the nation can breathe a sigh of relief now. Scooter Libby seems to be heading to jail. Richard Armitage is at large, but he was never perceived to be a threat anyway. Valerie Wilson has a book-and-movie deal.

Yes, isn't America a great, great country?"

Posted by Hube at 06:00 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Laugh of the Day

Jason Scott, formerly of Delaware Liberal, was a rank partisan. But at least he had a sense of humor and usually knew when he was getting really wacky in his comments and posts.

Not so those who have taken over for him. They've turned DE Liberal into the First State's version of the Democratic Underground. Meaning, they are moonbattingly beyond partisan in a way Jason never was, and as but one small bit of proof they actually have the cojones -- with a straight face -- to write something like this.

If Colossus is a "freshly minted right wing spin ideological stink hole," then what precisely does this make DE Liberal? We're taking original, polysyllabic (LiberalGeek and Dr. Nick: this means "more than one syllable") suggestions in the comments. Be original!

I'm actually starting to regret the hard time I used to give Jason. And I never thought I'd say "I miss him."

Posted by Hube at 04:32 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Captain America to be killed off

If I was younger and more naive, I'd be like "WHAAAAT?? THIS CANNOT HAPPEN!!" However, as I've read Marvel comics for over 30 years now, there's a simple fact one has to accept: No one, and I mean no one, ever stays dead in comicbooks.

Captain America has undertaken his last mission — at least for now.

The venerable superhero is killed in the issue of his namesake comic that hit stands Wednesday, the New York Daily News reported. On the new edition’s pages, a sniper shoots down the shield-wielding hero as he leaves a courthouse. (Link.)

Gimmick, gimmick, gimmick. Anyone recall Superman's "death" over at Marvel rival DC Comics over a decade ago? Yeah, that lasted real long. And "gimmick" is what Marvel is all about these days. Just check out their recent myriad "Civil War" titles.

At least one noted individual thinks Cap's "death" is ill-timed:

The character’s death came as a blow to [Captain America] co-creator Joe Simon.

“We really need him now,” said Simon, 93, who worked with artist Jack Kirby to devise Captain America as a foe for Adolf Hitler.

(h/t: Paul Smith Jr.)

UPDATE: Absolute proof that Marvel has lost its marbles (Cap/Civil War related).

Posted by Hube at 04:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Watcher's Council vacancy

Interested in joining the Watcher's Council? A spot has just opened up. Check it out.

Posted by Hube at 03:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Who cares? They have great healthcare and a high literacy rate!

From the Financial Times of London:

Mario Chanes de Armas, who has died in Miami at the age of 80, sailed from Mexico to Cuba in 1956 with Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara to launch the Cuban revolution. Two years after the revolution's success, after criticising Castro's lurch towards Moscow and communism, he was summarily jailed by his former comrade for 30 years.

Chanes de Armas served his full sentence, six years of it in solitary confinement in a windowless cell in which he could barely stand up, making him the longest-serving political prisoner in the western hemisphere at the time.

Chanes spent longer in jail than Nelson Mandela. Unlike Mandela, however, the stories of Chanes and his fellow Cuban political prisoners received little publicity outside the Cuban exile community in Miami. Although he had fought alongside Mr Castro at every stage of the revolution, Chanes's name, and image, were personally stricken from Cuba's history books by Mr Castro himself.

Longer than Mandela, but for virtually the same reasons? It's not a surprise, though. The US mainstream media, which leans clearly to the left, has always overemphasized the misdeeds of rightist dictators (like the South African apartheid regime, or Chile's Pinochet) over those of the Left (Castro, USSR, Venezuela's Chávez). Indeed, guys like Castro get cults of personality following them (Oliver Stone, anyone? Or certain liberal members of Congress?) because, well, look at what he's "done!" Free medical care! No illiteracy! OK, and South Africa and Chile were the economic powerhouses of their prospective continents. So?

Posted by Hube at 03:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 06, 2007

Dopey WNJ Letter of the Week, part deux

Gay Jones of Wilmington writes:

Virginia's General Assembly has issued a proclamation of "deep regret" for slavery in their state. For sure they aren't willing to compensate the descendants.

Are they willing to make sure black children get a good education? Are they willing to hire qualified blacks for jobs. Are they willing to allow blacks to move into white neighborhoods. Are they willing to cover black communities activities in their newspapers, instead of only printing pictures of black criminals. This would truly show their regrets for all the hangings, beatings, separating families and sexual abuse of black women and on and on and on.

Colossus' Felix already discussed this issue quite adequately here. But I'd add (re: ask Ms. Jones):

1. Define "willing to make sure black children get a good education." How are they not getting one now, precisely? Granted, there are some inner city areas around the country where school infrastructures are far from optimal, but even in those cases, whose primary responsibility is it "to make sure" [black] children get a good education -- the children's parents ... or [white] society's?

2. Where is the definitive proof that qualified blacks are being passed over for jobs they apply for? If this is an argument for blanket affirmative action, fine. But it is disingenuous to tie that into a reparations debate since many folks can be against AA but for strict and aggressive handling of INDIVIDUAL bias cases against employers. Blanket AA automatically assumes that all employers are prejudiced/biased against minorities (in this case, blacks) without any proof. If a claimant believes he/she has been discriminated against, let him/her bring an individual case against their [potential] employer with all the relevant facts.

3. Where precisely are blacks being prevented from moving into white neighborhoods? Sure, I've read about how some real estate agents will sometimes "direct" black clients to predominately black neighborhoods, but how does that mean that they have to select a house in that neighborhood?

4. If the News Journal is indicative of your typical daily newspaper (and there's little reason to not think otherwise), then the claim of not covering black community activities is pure hogwash. And regarding pics of black criminals (and/or the reporting thereof), it's now standard procedure in too many periodicals (including the News Journal) not to publish the race of wanted criminals in police reports. Why? Simply because it's politically incorrect to do so. That's why this last "complaint" is the dopiest of all.

Posted by Hube at 03:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 05, 2007

Chutzpah Alert

Dem. presidential hopeful John Edwards on the recent remarks by conservative pundit Ann Coulter:

"I think it is important that we not reward hateful, selfish, childish behavior with attention. I also believe it is important for all of us to speak out against language of this kind; it is the place where hatred gets its foothold, and we can’t stand silently by and allow this kind of language to be used."

What a superficial idiot. The guy who hired two anti-religion bigots is lecturing everyone about hateful language? Spare us.

Posted by Hube at 08:53 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Dopey Philly Inquirer Letter of the Week

Richmond Gardner of Horsham has a problem with the concept of checks and balances, among other things:

How incredibly disgusting that such an unconscionable act as holding people without accountability could be rendered legal ("Court rejects challenges by detainees," Feb. 21). That's the sort of chipping away at legal rights that sooner or later comes back to haunt American citizens.

Yeah! To hell with precedent about "illegal combatants" and even the very letter of the law (such as in the Geneva Conventions)! How dare the judicial branch agree with an executive branch opinion!

What we have is a rogue chief executive, trampling centuries of legal protections. Failure to protect "bad guys" in U.S. custody is not an isolated act that will happen only once; actions have consequences.

Yeah, that "rogue." Nobody can stop him, dammit! And those centuries of legal protections -- recall how George W. Bush interned Muslim-Americans in internment camps; how he unilaterally suspended habeas corpus even though the Constitution clearly states that power is reserved for Congress; imagine if he jailed political opponents at will and had US soldiers intimidate non-Republican voters ... wait -- that wasn't George W. Bush! Those were Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, respectively!

So much for those "centuries of legal protections," eh? Suddenly, George Bush's legal efforts against terrorists look kinda tame, huh?

And then the real kicker:

There was a mention of 9/11 among the reasons given for the court decision. Yes, Osama bin Laden is the primary culprit in this. But the president showed negligence, incompetence and dereliction of duty. Bin Laden could not have succeeded had the president done his own job.

Yes, indeed. George Bush -- in office all of eight months -- was "negligent" "incompetent" and "derelict" in his duty. The ... "uncomfortable" fact that Bush's predecessor in eight years didn't do anything about bin Laden is ... what? A "mere oversight"??

Posted by Hube at 05:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dopey WNJ Letter of the Week

Jack Alford of Wilmington wins this week with the following call for Americans to "be patriotic":

President George Bush says the economy is great. The workers for GM, Ford, and Chevrolet do not have any knowledge of the same, with all of the big layoffs and the obvious shutdown of Chrysler's plant in Newark.

I have had many automobiles, all of them American-made. I never had a lemon. Americans need to be more patriotic and buy American products for the good of this country.

"Buying American" makes one patriotic? It can also make one stupid, especially if they like spending a lot of needless money for repairs.

Sorry Jack, but as they say, "dissent is patriotic." If the car-makers want us to buy their product, they have to put out a good product. And while you personally may never have purchased a lemon, every American car my family has owned (including one -- and only one -- for my own nuclear family) turned out to be a piece of crap.

Posted by Hube at 05:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 04, 2007

Erik Larsen: Yet another comics guy who's out there

Erik Larsen is a fairly popular comics creator who once drew Spider-Man for Marvel. I don't like his art; it's way too "cartoony" for my tastes and it looks like artist Mark Bagley's (who also drew -- and draws -- Spider-Man) if Bagley had arthritis in his drawing arm. But that's beside the point. What caught my eye recently is Larsen's latest column at Comic Book Resources where the teaser said he discusses politics.

Gee, for some reason I had a sneaking suspicion (with apologies to Fritz Schranck) that he wasn't going to be very congenial towards conservatives. And that's putting it mildly.

You might think you're in for an even-handed treatment when you read the following:

I'm a fairly well versed political beast. I read a lot and follow the issues and agree and disagree with both sides of the political aisle. My leaning is pretty liberal (Ed. -- stay tuned!) but that doesn't mean that I'm towing either political line. I wasn't a big Bill Clinton fan and I'm certainly not a George W. Bush fan. I like the government fixing my roads, but not censoring what I can say in my comics and what I can see on TV.

Don't be fooled. First, Larsen's [brief] history of how American presidents have been treated in comics completely glosses over the fact that one of the country's most popular commanders-in-chief -- Ronald Reagan -- was habitually treated as a total, complete and irrevocable cretin by Marvel throughout his administration. (I briefly discuss this here.) Second, while Larsen may technically be correct in that George W. Bush personally has not been the "butt" of direct denigration, his policies have to the Nth degree.

And back to Larsen's claiming to be "pretty liberal": Do "pretty liberal" folks believe in the following (emphasis mine):

Here's a guy whose criminal activity dwarfs Richard Nixon's by a wide margin, who cheated his way into the Oval Office -- twice -- and who has been hailed by many in both political parties as the single world [sic] president ever ...

"Pretty liberal"?? In my humble opinion, radical leftists believe that Bush is a "criminal" that dwarfs Nixon, and that he "stole" not one, but two elections. However, to Larsen's credit, he clearly recognizes that creators who politicize their stories run a risk -- and he makes no excuses for any negative fan feedback:

Editorializing on the comic book page is risky business. There's always a huge risk of offending or alienating a good chunk of your audience. Like religion, it's a touchy subject. Say or do the wrong thing and readers will drop your book like a bad habit.

It's no wonder my sales figures are in freefall. But we'll get to that subject later…

Maybe that's 'cause Larsen's own creation, Savage Dragon, was featured on a cover of his mag punching President Bush in the face. But as noted, Larsen knows this wasn't ... a smart thing to do:

Now, I think old George is a guy who well-deserves a good poke in the snoot but in writing the story, it really hit home that what I was doing was, well, wrong and that it wasn't possible to do it right regardless of what I did.

I'm not entirely certain, but Larsen may have not allowed that particular issue issue into print. (He says, "Ultimately, I chickened out. I decided to play it safe rather than risk offending." But was that the story or the cover? I couldn't tell.) But this doesn't stop him from more conspiracy-mongering, however:

I tackled computer hacking and stolen elections a bit shortly thereafter, but unfortunately the GOP utilized the plot I had earmarked for my villain with their hijinx in Ohio and it pretty well took the wind out of my sails. One more reason to avoid politics altogether, I thought.

Darn! That nasty Republican Party actually used a Larsen plot idea before he could get it into print! Dammit!! Next, maybe Larsen could have his Savage Dragon uncover the conspiracy behind 9/11. Y'know, kidnap the president, tie him up, and beat the s*** out of him (sort of to also make a "point" about the administration's "favorable" view of torture) until he "reveals" how the administration, the CIA and the NSA were actually behind the attack on the World Trade Center that fateful September morning.

I mean, why not, Erik? There's probably more "evidence" to back up that theory than the GOP "stealing" the 2004 election, after all!

Posted by Hube at 11:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Al Gore to head to Mars next

"Mars Melt Hints at Solar, Not Human, Cause for Warming, Scientist Says" is a headline at National

"Man-made greenhouse warming has made a small contribution to the warming seen on Earth in recent years, but it cannot compete with the increase in solar irradiance," Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, said.

How dare he?? Doesn't Abdussamatov know that his opinions are only based in politics and not science?? Geez, we ought to try Abdussamatov for climate war crimes! The Russian probably believes the Holocaust never happened, either!


(h/t: Insty.)

Posted by Hube at 10:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 03, 2007

"Professor" Craig T. Furlong is probably onboard with this

Remember this "professor" who thought it prudent to comment here? Well, the nut is probably onboard with this, too:

1) Why were a handful of rebel fighters able to penetrate the defenses of a battle station that had the capability of destroying an entire planet and the defenses to ward off several fleets of battle ships?

2) Why did Grand Moff Tarkin refuse to deploy the station’s large fleet of TIE Fighters until it was too late? Was he acting on orders from somebody to not shoot down the rebel attack force? If so, who, and why?

3) Why was the rebel pilot who supposedly destroyed the Death Star reported to be on the Death Star days, maybe hours, prior to its destruction? Why was he allowed to escape, and why were several individuals dressed in Stormtrooper uniforms seen helping him?

4) Why has there not been an investigation into allegations that Darth Vader, the second-ranking member of the Imperial Government, is in fact the father of the pilot who allegedly destroyed the Death Star?

5) Why did Lord Vader decide to break all protocols and personally pilot a lightly armored TIE Fighter? Conveniently, this placed Lord Vader outside of the Death Star when it was destroyed, where he was also conveniently able to escape from a large-sized rebel fleet that had just routed the Imperial forces. Why would Lord Vader, one of the highest ranking members of the Imperial Government, suddenly decide to fly away from the Death Star in the middle of a battle? Did he know something that the rest of the Imperial Navy didn’t?

There's more, so if you're a scifi fan (especially "Star Wars," natch) be sure to check 'em out.

Posted by Hube at 03:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Does it really matter?

The Baltimore Sun reports:

Many people know that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's father was from Kenya and his mother from Kansas.

But an intriguing sliver of his family history has received almost no attention until now: it appears that forebears of his white mother owned slaves, according to genealogical research and Census records.

According to the research, one of Obama's great-great-great-great grandfathers, George Washington Overall, owned two slaves who were recorded in the 1850 Census in Nelson County, Ky. The same records show that one of Obama's great-great-great-great-great-grandmothers, Mary Duvall, also owned two slaves.

I wonder if any genealogists can trace the roots of other Black Americans -- to see if their African ancestors assisted in the [West] African slave trade. After all, many tend to forget that this did indeed occur. Would this make any [Black] politician less ... palatable to the electorate if this was proved to be the case?

The records could add a new dimension to questions by some who have asked whether Obama -- who was raised in East Asia and Hawaii and educated at Columbia and Harvard -- is attuned to the struggles of American blacks descended from West African slaves.

"The twist is very interesting," said Ronald Walters, a political scientist who is director of the African-American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland, College Park. "It deepens his connection with the experience of slavery, even if it deepens it on a different side of the equation."

Really? Because one of Obama's distant relatives may have owned slaves somehow makes him "less attuned" to the struggles of African-Americans? Obama -- himself of mixed parentage and obviously physically African-American-looking -- is now less familiar with the Black American struggle?

No wonder more and more people are sick of politics.

Posted by Felix at 11:22 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Los Amigos Invisibles. In Philly. On my birthday.

How lucky can I get? My fave band ever -- Venezuela's Los Amigos Invisibles -- are playing at the World Café tonight in downtown Philly. Tonight. The night of March 3rd. My birthday. The perfect gift.

("Me matan," by the way, means "They kill me.")

Posted by Hube at 08:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why does education hate religion?

A couple days ago we heard of a story where a Mormon student got disciplined for her comments, but not those who were harassing her; now there's the ridiculous situation at Savannah State University in Georgia:

... the university first punished the group (a Christian group called "Commissioned II Love") for "hazing" after the university discovered that group members voluntarily engaged in the ancient Christian practice of "foot washing." The practice sounds strange to some, but it is taken directly from one of Jesus' most famous acts and involves, well, literally washing (with soap and water) the feet of another member of the group as a symbolic act of humility, love, and service. The university construed this action as endangering the "physical health" of their students. After suspending the group for "hazing" and "harassment" (yes, in the eyes of the university, students sharing their faith constitutes "harassment"), the university imposed the ultimate punishment — expulsion — when the group members had the audacity to go to an off-campus, weekend event together (a Christian music concert). In other words, the very act of collectively hanging out off campus was enough to impose the ultimate penalty on the group.

Thankfully, the National Litigation Foundation and the Alliance Defense Fund have filed a lawsuit against the college for this insanity.

Posted by Hube at 07:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Essence of a problem

kavips' comments over at this First State Politics post really made me chuckle. In a sarcastic way, that is. He wrote:

There are three parts to education: the teachers, the administration, and the parents. Parents have the least influence.

My emphasis. I am aware of certain studies that claim teachers have more impact on children['s education] than parents, but I've yet met anyone who actually believed this. This is no way an attempt to "absolve" me or any other educator from their responsibilities in the classroom. It is, however, pointing out the reality of the situation. I will never forget a good friend of mine who relayed to me (years ago) what his [education] professor told him off the record in one of his masters classes: That he could accurately predict how a student would do in school just by knowing his SES (socio-economic status) and home situation.

Ask any teacher what their #1 concern is in school. A majority of them will indicate discipline. I highly advise you all to check out today's Philadelphia Inquirer. One report notes that the Philly School District is "losing control" due to chronically disruptive students. Another details the severe beatings of a couple of teachers in Philly schools -- one who recently suffered a broken neck, and another recuperating from a busted jaw.

Philly schools CEO Paul Vallas nails the gist of the problem, in my opinion, right here (again, my emphasis):

"Some schools are getting it right. Some schools aren't," said Vallas, the district's chief executive officer. "The bottom line is this: There are two things that you need, and it goes far beyond coordination. You need to be able to expedite the discipline process, and you need to be able to expel students permanently."

He maintained that state law, which allows expelled students to return to regular schools eventually, and other regulations tied the district's hands.

Indeed. If "expelled" students are permitted back into regular classrooms, it is not actually an "expulsion." It is a "suspension." Being able to actually make it an expulsion would certainly help classroom discipline by making permanent the absence of the chronically disruptive.

However, there are those who believe it is the "right" of any student to "get an education." First, that phrase "get an education" is a total fallacy. They are not getting an education. What chronically disruptive students do is prevent others from getting an education by their constant misbehavior. I am always fascinated by this [liberal] belief in individual rights when it comes to education. Usually more concerned with the group, this worry is of no apparent consequence when it comes to the collective known as "the classroom." Education is a right, sure. But it not an absolute right. No right is absolute.

Now back to kavips' assertion. Do parents have "the least influence" -- especially when it comes to student [mis]behavior? One thing that has always intrigued me is how many parents of the chronically disruptive are nowhere to be found when teachers/administrators attempt to contact them and inform/discuss what is happening with their child. However, the moment their child is suspended, arrested or threatened with expulsion, then these parents are at the school in a flash -- supporting the "rights" of their child to the Nth degree. They may also have an attorney with them or a "child advocate" to tell the school in no certain terms about the child's "rights." Of course, the concern for the other children in that chronically disruptive student's classes is non-existent.

Be sure to view the Philadelphia Teacher Survey here (.PDF file).

UPDATE: More in today's Philly Inquirer.

Posted by Hube at 07:25 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 02, 2007

Watcher's Council results

And now...  the winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Germany and Iraq, Part 4 by Done With Mirrors, and The Blame Game by From My Position... On the Way!.  All members, please be sure to link to both winning entries (and to the full results of the vote) in a post.  Right Wing Nut House 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:

VotesCouncil link
3Germany and Iraq, Part 4
Done With Mirrors
1  2/3Means v. Ends
Bookworm Room
1  1/3A Man of His Times. A Man for All Time.
Right Wing Nut House
1  1/3Differing Visions
Soccer Dad
2/3Acceptances and Severances Part 2: Affiliations, Associations, and Allegiances
Eternity Road
2/3Death Penalty Debate Highlights Liberal Hypocrisy On Religious Values
Rhymes With Right
2/3Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire... A Response To an ‘anti-Zionist’
2/3Is It Time To Start Thinking About Pakistan Yet?
The Glittering Eye
1/3Gore Fights Back. Feebly.
The Sundries Shack

VotesNon-council link
2  1/3The Blame Game
From My Position... On the Way!
2Honor Killings, Silence, and the Meaning of Speaking Out
Augean Stables
1  1/3AP Reports Romney Family's Polygamy, But Not Obama's
Sweetness & Light
1  1/3Part Hate
It's Almost Supernatural
1  1/3Laughing at the Jesus Tomb
The Anchoress
1The Feminislamists: Women of Woe
Gates of Vienna
19 other PERFECTLY GOOD REASONS that the assassination attempt on Dick Cheney was justified (a Huffington Post tribute post)
Protein Wisdom
2/3The Creepy Lunatic Fringe
The Hatemonger's Quarterly

Posted by Hube at 08:46 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 01, 2007

Put down ... of the "incorrect" type

Hassle a fellow student about being a Mormon by pestering her with "she has 10 moms"? No biggie. But if said Mormon student responds by saying "That's so gay," well, WAIT A SECOND! GET TO THE PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE NOW!

That's what happened to Rebekah Rice in (you guessed it!) California. Yep -- she got disciplined while those harassing her didn't get any punishment. Rice's parents are now suing, mostly on free speech grounds (with which I disagree -- schools have consistently been allowed to restrict certain speech that can impede the educational environment).

Rice says her utterance was merely to signify "That's so stupid/silly/dumb," and I believe her. I hear this type of thing in school quite often. I am not saying it is right; far from it. I've informed students when I've heard this in my class that it is inappropriate and that I don't want to hear it again. Unfortunately, Rice is correct in her contention that the synonymity of "gay" to "dumb" in such an expression is all too common, especially among teens.

But Rice's reprimand really is not the issue. The issue is that she got reprimanded while those mocking her religious beliefs were not! It is this and this alone which her parents should be pissed off about (but still not enough to sue, mind you).

Just yet another example of how the multicultis don't really mean it. Certain things are allowed to be dissed.

Posted by Hube at 06:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Al Gore: Profiting from his own "carbon offsets"?

There was much controversy and debate about the planet's #1 hyper of global warming -- Al Gore -- and how energy INefficient his home is. Now, Bill Hobbs notes that the "carbon offsets" Gore purchases to supposedly ... well, offset his carbon emissions are from a company which is headed by none other than ... Al Gore:

But how Gore buys his "carbon offsets," as revealed by The Tennessean raises serious questions. According to the newspaper's report, Gore buys his carbon offsets through Generation Investment Management:
Gore helped found Generation Investment Management, through which he and others pay for offsets. The firm invests the money in solar, wind and other projects that reduce energy consumption around the globe...

Gore is chairman of the firm and, presumably, draws an income or will make money as its investments prosper. In other words, he "buys" his "carbon offsets" from himself, through a transaction designed to boost his own investments and return a profit to himself. To be blunt, Gore doesn't buy "carbon offsets" through Generation Investment Management - he buys stocks.

My emphasis. Hobbs has much more, including whether "carbon offsets" really are effective. He notes a segment from a Wikipedia article which says

The intended goal of carbon offsets is to combat global warming. The appeal of becoming "carbon neutral" has contributed to the growth of voluntary offsets, which often are a more cost-effective alternative to reducing one's own fossil-fuel consumption. However, the actual amount of carbon reduction (if any) from an offset project is difficult to measure, largely unregulated, and vulnerable to misrepresentation.

As I've argued elsewhere, all these "offsets" do are allow the privileged to go about living as they normally do -- that is, extravagantly and emitting countless amounts of carbon via flying in private jets, or using a year's worth of power in one month in their home -- while us Joe Six-Packs are supposed to actually do what King Gore scares all of us about. Affording these "offsets" ain't for the little guy.

(h/t: Taranto.)

Posted by Hube at 05:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Dopey WNJ Letter of the Week

Robert Stachnik's letter today is Al Gore-inspired:

A recent letter argued that Gov. Minner played politics in directing David Legates to desist from using the title of state climatologist in connection with his attacks on the reality of global warming.

Documents leaked to national news media in 2003 make it clear that the Republican National Committee is aligned with efforts to discredit concerns about global warming.

Yes, global warming is a scientific issue, but it is also a public policy issue. Minner is right to clarify that.

Legates is among a handful of climate experts who dispute global warming. His long association with a conservative think tank substantially supported by ExxonMobil does little to enhance his credibility.

The question is whether Legates' assumption of his unpaid position as state climatologist amounted to a bait-and-switch deal. At the time of his appointment, state officials could be forgiven for believing he merely offered to log Delaware temperatures and rainfall for free, not realizing that might provide a platform to promote an agenda more rooted in politics than in science.

It's not even necessary to point how ridiculous this letter is. It's really too easy. As if global warming proponents cannot be (and are not) politically motivated. The science exists to support the basis for both beliefs, and the fact that David Legates may have received funding from a conservative think tank means means little, actually. If it is significant, then so too must be the millions in funding and grants that the global warming chicken littles get to support their "cause celebre."

Posted by Hube at 04:59 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack