Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Political Correctness, Religious Pluralism, and the "Holidays"

It's come to the attention of some this year that the political correctness bandwagon that surrounds this part of year has hit a bit of an impasse. Bill O'reilly whines about it practically every night, John Gibson (also of FoxNews) wrote an entire book about it, and Dennis Hastert has flatly rejected it. Now, I don't have too much of a problem being inclusive and representative of minority populations and diverse perspectives, but I do have a problem with "the holidays" when "Christmas" becomes a dirty word.

Christmas is evil - didn't you know? Student Affairs types like me are supposed to believe that because Christians are the "majority" that we and our religion are "in privilege" and that any acknowledgement of our "privilege" (a.k.a. Christmas, Jesus, etc.) represents the oppression and domination of other cultures. Others consider the secularization of everything and the offense of no one to be paramount. It's not enough that we now wish everyone "Happy Holidays" anymore - a colleague of mine just told me tonight that he is no longer supposed to use the word "holiday" - because it implies Christmas.

No, in our secular non-religious borderline pagan society we are supposed to deny religion at all costs. Here's an example - at Iowa State University the favored tradition of the "Festival of Lights" has been replaced with "Winter Festival." There's not too much wrong with this because this particular celebration was never particularly "Christmas-ee" (besides when my fraternity brothers and I sang only Christian Christmas carols all over campus the night of). However, on closer observation the "Winter Festival" comprises of everything that disgusts me about this attempt at not offending anyone.

"Winter, the end of the semester, and the community" are what one of the organizers of "Winter Festival" claim it celebrates. Winter? We are celebrating Winter?

Thanks to a faithful reader I received an electronic copy of the pamphlet explaining this year's "Festival." On the front cover are written the lyrics of "Jingle Bells" and "Frosty the Snowman."

Wow.

To top it off, you can take a look for yourself at the "Century Tree". Although the history of this tree remains shrouded in mystery, it was once the "Christmas Tree" on campus, then became the "Holiday Tree" - to much scrutiny and overall student disgust - and now has evidently been renamed the "Century Tree" (with purple or blue lights, no longer multi-colored - is that religious?) in recognition of Iowa State's... I actually have no idea why.

(P.S. - A Christmas tree is just that - a Christmas tree. If you don't like Christmas or Christians don't put one up. It exists in no other faith tradition - and we don't ever refer to the "Holiday Menorah" or anything of the type)

I again have no problem with "Happy Holidays" or the like. However, this growing nationwide elimination of Christmas will and is beginning to see a backlash. So if you want to stand around a purple "Century Tree" singing "Frosty the Snowman" to celebrate "Winter" in a way that won't offend anyone be my guest.

As for me and my house we will celebrate the birth of Jesus.

UPDATE: In addition, while attempting to not offend anyone you will never see or hear tradition Christmas terms used in advertising. However, I encourage you to listen to background music in commercials. While they won't say "Christmas" so that you aren't offended, they don't hesitate to play elevator-versions of traditional Christmas songs in order to get you to buy a vacuum cleaner or some coffee. It's ridiculous!

Fool me Twice?

All I can say is wow:

A Stanfordville man hit in the head by a Metro-North train Friday night was also hit in the head by a New York City subway car in 2002.

Parker T. Hall Houghtaling, 23, was recovering from his injuries at St. Francis Hospital Monday, where he was listed in stable condition. Houghtaling was waiting on the platform of the Poughkeepsie train station Friday when he stuck his head out and was hit by the 6:26 p.m. commuter train, according to authorities and eyewitnesses.

It wasn't the first time. In 2002, he was waiting at the 51st Street subway station in Manhattan when he stuck his head out and was hit by a subway car.

...

Reached by phone Monday, Houghtaling confirmed the 2002 incident. He said he didn't remember much of what had happened Friday.

No kidding? I got this story from the News of the Weird blog (yes, he has a blog) and I couldn't resist. Although I linked the original story, no one says it quite like Chuck (the News of the Weird guy):

Parker T. Houghtaling was hospitalized in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., after a train hit him on a platform when he stuck his head out to look for it. Three yrs ago, he did the same thing, with the same result, on a NYC subway platform.

Hehe...

Ask and You Shall Recieve

The whining and the crying and the shouting all comes to a head...

Bush has no plan for Iraq? Then what's this?

I will now predict that this will be called childish, stupid, pointless, a lost cause, etc.

However, I did prefer Bush's old plan for Iraq...

1) Get Saddam
2)Kill Terrorists
3)Help and train the Iraqis to kill terrorists

...but that's ok.


UPDATE: I spoke too soon. This plan is the infantalization of America. A war plan for 6-year olds. I already deleted this blog from our site...

UPDATE again: Here comes the attack dog of the NY Times Editorial Board. Doing a 180 from their previous argument (that there is no plan) they now claim that this new plan is "nothing new" and is just a rehashing of the current failed policy. I think someone could do an entire blog only on the hypocrisy of the Times. That is, if you have $50 to spare to read it.

The lies of the left

Going along with the theme of poor lefty blogs, Atrios today has an intensely dishonest edit of one of Bush's speeches at a dinner supporting Arizona Senator John Kyl. Atrios links to a blog that edits Bush's speech to include only his references to NASCAR and the far east:

You know, I just recently came off a trip to the Far East...And it struck me that I was in a region of the world where there -- where wars had started.

That does sound pretty stupid. However, this wasn't a televised address to the nation or even a radio fireside chat, this was a casual and humorous talk at a dinner. If you can avoid the left's edits, here is what Bush really said:

You know, I just recently came off a trip to the Far East. By the way, representing the United States of America around the world is one of the great experiences of the presidency. And it struck me that I was in a region of the world where there -- where wars had started. You know, my dad and Senator McCain's relatives, I'm sure many of your relatives, fought the Japanese. They were our sworn enemy. And yet there I was in Kyoto, Japan, sitting with my friend, Prime Minister Koizumi, talking about the peace, talking about what we can do in the Far East to work together to keep the peace, and what we can do in the Middle East to help rid that region of resentment and hatred, to help change the breeding grounds for the recruitment of suiciders into a hopeful place. Isn't that amazing? Think about that. Who would have thought 50 years ago, or 60 years ago, a President of the United States could have stood here in Phoenix, Arizona, and said he sat down at the table with the Prime Minister of Japan talking about the peace. Nobody would have thought that way then.

What Bush was talking about was the potential of freedom and Democracy in a world that so desperately wants it - the Bush Doctrine. The fact that freedom and Democracy (yes, imposed from the top down) can so radically change a country as Japan from our enemy to our friend should give us great hope for the future of Iraq.

The left, however, wants you to think the Bush is just an idiot. Nice edit, Atrios. I have removed that blog from the sidebar - it is too worthless to remain. If anyone has any ideas for one to replace it I'm open to it.

The insanity of the left

For awhile now I've posted three righty blogs and three lefty blogs each to the left sidebar. These are the blogs I often check to see the happenings and commentary of each side of the political debate. It becomes more and more clear to me that all the the lefty blogs are so far into the insanity range that I can hardly find them relevant anymore. The Daily Kos today has an article praising the British press and other agencies that have taken the Washington Posts "secret prisons" story and run with it.

Now every plane with terrorists on it is going to "torture camps" and can be referred to as "torture flights." The only way to describe this assessment is insane.

Is this the way the left now works? I know the Democratic Underground is nutty, but has Kos lost all credibility, too? Does anyone know of any more sane lefty commentary sites that I can post instead?


More on the CIA leaks about "secret prisons" and anything else that can hurt the Bush Administration here.

Poor Cindy

Cindy Sheehan is effectively whining today about recent AP photos showing a whole lot of no one at her Thanksgiving weekend Crawford, Texas anti-war demonstration. She says the picture circulated of her book signing there does not represent the facts of how many people came to see her.


So about those dishonest AP photos... She didn't complain this summer when photos of her protests were blatantley distorted to make it appear that there were hundreds of devout followers around her at every moment. So we saw this:

When what was really happening was this:


You keep fighting, Cindy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Global Warming" in Europe

Here we go again. "Global warming" is destroying the Earth, our way of life, etc.

Europe's four hottest years on record were 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004, the agency said Tuesday.

Ten percent of Alpine glaciers disappeared during the summer of 2003 alone," the report said.

"At current rates, three-quarters of Switzerland's glaciers will have melted by 2050. Europe has not seen climate changes on this scale for 5,000 years."


The more I read these stories the more ridiculous they seem. OK, so the last few years were the hottest on record. What about the years before there were records? Did global climate change happen then? If so, what was the cause then? This paragraph from the article sums it all up:

In the 20th century, the average global temperature rose 0.7 C (1.25 F)...

True. In 100 years the average global temperature increased by less than one degree.

...as a result of burning coal, gas and coal -- the carbon fuels that are mainly to blame for the rise.

Yet scientists make this jump. Why? What about the last ice age (~10,000 years ago)? What made the Earth cool down and warm up then?

The article continues to describe the silly Kyoto treaty, which itself admits that it does not do enough to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions to make any difference. What a silly treaty.

Here is an article that I linked to earlier this month about groupthink within "global warming" scientific groups.

Panelist and Colorado State University professor of atmospheric science William M. Gray, a hurricane authority, announced that he thinks that the biggest contributor to global warming is the fact that "we're coming out of a little ice age," and that the warming trend will end in six to eight years.

Said Gray, sagely: "Consensus science isn't science."

No lie. In fact, it's a bizarre argument. Why do global-warming believers keep pushing this everyone-agrees line when consensus uber alles is so, well, unacademic? The ideal should not be scientists who think in lockstep, but those in the proud mold of the skeptic, who takes a hard look at the data and proves conventional wisdom wrong.


The article describes in detail how an atmospheric scientists studied 928 research abstracts and every single one of them pointed to "global warming" as man-made. Interesting, isn't it? Not one dissenting voice?

Anyway, enough for now. For more on my rants about global warming, see here.

It's about time!

Here it is - the big legal battle that was one of the reasons for starting this blog. As I described here and here and here, the voters of Ohio passed a resolution to the state constitution that prevents state institutions from giving unmarried couples benefits that married couples traditionally receive.

Today after months of waiting, Ohio Representative Tom Brinkman finally sued Miami University over their continuing policy to grant Domestic Partner benefits in glaring opposition to Ohio's constitution.

On Nov. 22, Ohio state Rep. Tom Brinkman, R-Cincinnati, filed a lawsuit against Miami University, alleging that its current policy of granting benefits to employees in domestic relationships violates the state Constitution and favors employees involved in domestic "marriage-mimicking" relationships above married heterosexual employees.

Besides the fact that granting benefits to unmarried couples is against the Ohio constitution I always took issue with Miami's domestic partner policy. You see, Miami defines domestic partners as only same-sex relationships. In other words Miami does not give benefits to any unmarried heterosexual couples (whether it be common-law marriage or any other) with the flawed belief that these people could just "get married" if they wanted to.

It's interesting that Miami, Ohio State, and others have gotten away with violating Ohio's constitution for months, but in the end it was their refusal to create an inclusive definition of "domestic partner" that ultimately brought down the lawsuit. We'll see how this pans out...

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Why do I love them so?

...when they disappoint me so?

Last year - lost chance to play in the Big XII championship.
This year - lost chance to play in the Big XII championship.

Last year - lost to Missouri in overtime.
This year - lost to Kansas in overtime.

Last year - Bret Culbertson missed the game-winning field goal.
This year - Bret Culbertson missed the game-winning field goal.

Three of four season losses in overtime.

*sob*

Update: Sorry about the "Big IX" mistake and thanks to those faithful readers that pointed it out...

Bush wants war with E.T., Canadians cheer

At the University of Toronto, a former Canadian government official gave a speech that claimed, among other things, that the US is planning on waging war with aliens and it's George Bush's fault when we enter into this intergalactic war:

"The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

Right. Of course, how did the students at this university respond?

Hellyer’s speech ended with a standing ovation.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Outrage of the teacher kind...

A 25 year-old teacher had sex multiple times with a 14 year-old student. For this gruesome act she got no jail time.

The deal provides that [Debra] Lafave will not serve any jail time in connection with multiple sex acts with a 14-year-old student unless she violates the terms of the plea agreement, which includes three years of house arrest and seven years' probation.

How does she feel about this lengthy sentence?

After Tuesday's hearing, [Lafave's lawyer] Fitzgibbons said the plea was "a fair resolution of this case." Asked how she felt afterward, Lafave said "tired."

One would wonder how a sex offender would get away with serving no jail time. Why - because she's too pretty, of course!

"To place an attractive young woman in that kind of hell hole is like putting a piece of raw meat in with the lions," Lafave's attorney, John Fitzgibbons, said in July of the possibility of jail time. "I'm not sure she would survive."

...

Fitzgibbons said in July that plea negotiations had broken off because prosecutors insisted on prison time, which he said would be too dangerous for someone as attractive as Lafave.

It's a good thing Ms. I-Had-sex-with-a-14-year-old is too attractive to go to jail and the defense bought it. I just have two facts to toss out here:

1)How in the crap does her attractiveness have anything to do with her sentence? She wouldn't survive in jail? She should of thought of that before she seduced her student on the way back from a field trip to Sea World (which she did - it was in the article).

2)If this teacher was a man she would have been tossed into jail for a long, long time.

Why do they hate me?

Without going into too much detail, I had another incident in class today when my professor went on a 15-minute rant about how Republicans are only interested in big business and money and social justice is only something liberals support and Dick Cheney is the antichrist and etc, etc, etc...

One of my more thoughtful classmates even spoke up and said, "What if there was a conservative in this class? How would they feel?" I have obviously not made my political beliefs very well known.

Before I could speak up another classmate of mine did. She rebuked our "progressive" professor for his foolish opinions, and argued that she and her husband (a minister) are conservative and both work for social justice every day.

Dr. LiberalIndoctrinator denied his previous statements, and claimed that he would never define "social justice" as ascribing to either political party.

I then couldn't take it any longer. I pulled a Yoda from Episode I:

Now Dr. Repubsareevil seemed to realize the weight of what he was implying, and hesitated. "I don't presume-"

"But you do!" I interjected sharply. "Revealed your opinion is."

I pointed my finger at him and told him that he was making that exact argument. I told him that he did believe that a particular political ideology was necessary for success in my master's program and that he has been saying it all semester.

So my question remains: why does he hate me? Why can separate his political convictions from class? Why do I have to sit through week after week of "conservatives are evil" and "Jesus was a liberal social activist?"

Oh, well. Like I said before, if I didn't want to be harassed for being a Christian or a conservative I would never have gone into Higher Education and Student Affairs...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Political publicity stunts, whining, and a pay raise

This title sounds like something that might be out of the ordinary or bad, but it is exactly what our crazy congress has been up to. Regardless of whether you're a Democrat or a Republican you must be pretty fed up with your elected representatives - I know I am.

First the Democrats pulled a political stunt and called for a closed session to discuss pre-war intelligence. This was a stunt to the highest degree in that they threatened to "repeat it every day" until they received "answers." Well, we know that the pre-war intelligence was wrong but not coerced and we have about three commissions that have already made that clear. Further, the closed session were not repeated because there was nothing more to discuss.

Next the Republicans joined suit, and after John Murtha made a plea that the war in Iraq was accomplishing nothing and that we should recall our troops as quickly as possible (a plea he has been making for months, by the way) the Republicans pulled a pointless political stunt of their own and introduced a meaningless bill into the House that would call for immediate troop withdrawals in Iraq. This resolution had no power and it wasn't even what Murtha was talking about.

Now you have Democrats whining that Murtha was being picked on, and all the while you have the same Democrats calling the President of the United States a liar! Across the isle you have Republicans whining that the President is being picked on and those same Republicans are calling Murtha a coward!

For the final insult of just where our elected officials' heads are, we have unanimous bipartisan support for their annual cost-of-living pay raise. At a time when spending is out of control (fiscal conservatism is dead) and publicity stunts are the norm I would expect the Democrats and Republicans to join together and announce that if the budget is to be cut their salaries should be the first to be lowered. Of course, this is not the case.

I think I should send everyone a letter:

Dear United States Congress:

Stop wasting your time complaining and pulling political stunts. Stop whining and calling each other names. Vote down your own pay raise and make a legitimate bipartisan attempt to balance the budget.

Thanks,
radar

Sunday, November 20, 2005

What kind of question is that?

Speaking of China Reuters via Yahoo! has a funny/annoying article on a mini press conference Bush had today. The funny part is that Bush tried to leave the press conference only to find the door he walked up to was locked - leading to one of the funniest pictures I've seen of Bush yet:

Bah! The Democrats have thwarted me again with this locked door in China!

However, the reason he wanted to leave is still unknown. For some reason a reporter (an expert on these things, I'm sure) asked Bush if he was "off his game" and whether something was bothering him. Bush's answer - "jetlag" was not good enough for the reporter and when he asked a follow up question Bush refused to answer and had his run-un with the locked doors.

I guess I don't understand the point of asking Bush if he was "off his game?" Does this reporter have a degree in psychology or something? Is jetlag not a good enough reason to look tired, even when I'm not sure if Bush really looked tired anyway? I just thought this whole incident sounded strange. Bush probably just had to use the lil' presidents' room...

Friday, November 18, 2005

China, Inc.

With President Bush currently on a diplomatic trip to Asia, here are a few facts on China you may find interesting...

- Chinese wages, sometimes under $.25/hr, are so cheap that Mexico has been losing manufacturing jobs for several years to the Chinese.
- There are now more English speakers in China than in the U.S.
- In order to support the numbers of Chinese migrating to the cities, a city the size of Houston must be built each month.
- China, with its population still relatively uneducated, graduates 5 times more engineers than the U.S. each year.
- There are already more internet users in China than the U.S.
- U.S. companies are currently losing more than $300 billion/yr due to the lack of Chinese copyright laws.

If you're looking for a fascinating study in trade policy, look no farther than China-U.S. In the next couple of years there will be some key decisions coming. Will the WTO/U.S. force China to allow its currency to be freely traded? China has the potential to dwarf the U.S. as an economic power. What repercussions will that have in geopolitics?

Grand Old Spenders

For those who haven't seen it, George Will has an excellent editorial about the current state of the Republican party. The party has been taken over by social conservatives with little will to take on big government. Today's Republican party is a far cry from the ideology they claim to aspire to.

Federal spending -- including a 100 percent increase in education spending since 2001 -- has grown twice as fast under President Bush as under President Bill Clinton, 65 percent of it unrelated to national security.

Today's GOP is a coalition between traditional "Country Club" Republicans and Social Conservatives. In his pandering to Social Conservatives, which got him elected, Bush seems to have forgotten traditional Republicans. No wonder his approval ratings are in the dumps. Who doesn't love a big spending, protectionist social conservative?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Holy Crap

According to Drudge, Tom Harkin and Alan Specter tried to get two buildings at the Centers for Disease Control named after them in a conference report that they oversaw! The issue was voted down. All I can say is - wow...

Just Shut Up and Take It

Never before have I seen a politician stoop so low as to repeat the talking points of a newspaper. But that's exactly what's happened. Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post wrote a column on Monday calling Bush and Cheney's last few speeches about the war in Iraq Bush's "Third Campaign." He then continued this rant today (this argument deconstructed by Powerline) highlighting a variety of other "news" outlets that picked up the same "campaign" catchphrase.

Enter Harry Reid, who jovially leaps on the bandwagon:

"Instead of giving our troops a plan for success or answering the serious questions of the American people, they've decided to start up the [Karl] Rove/Cheney attack machine in an effort to restore their diminishing credibility and raise their sinking poll numbers," Reid said. "We need a commander in chief, not a campaigner in chief. We need leadership from the White House, not more white-washing of the very serious issues confronting us in Iraq."

Reid considers it "whitewashing" when Bush decides to confront the lies of the left. Right. (and I like it how FoxNews feels it necessary to add [Karl] in front of "Rove." As if we don't all know the mastermind behind the Bush administration...)

Anyway, I wonder if Harry Reid realizes how dumb he sounds. How is it "campaigning" when after months of attacks Bush and Cheney decide to set the record straight? I expect no less - especially considering the heat Bush takes in the media. Talk about damned of you do, damned of you don't. I guess the Democrats think that Bush should not call to attention the lies of congressional Democrats and the Clinton administration. Too bad for them...

Even Nuttier than the Times

Well, not always. The San Francisco Chronicle has an excellent article about how the idea that "global warming" is caused by humans is unscientific groupthink. It's a fantastic article and I encourage you all to read it.

However, the Chronicle also published this whopper by Gregory Dicum, a man who hopes the human race will die off.

"We can't be breeding right now," says Les Knight. "It's obvious that the intentional creation of another [human being] by anyone anywhere can't be justified today."

...

"As long as there's one breeding couple," he says cheerfully, "we're in danger of being right back here again. Wherever humans live, not much else lives. It isn't that we're evil and want to kill everything -- it's just how we live."


I understand this position. Humans eat animals and use resources. Therefore we are all bad. I've seen this since my 9th grade science tests, when I refused to answer questions that were worded, "What is the greatest danger to the Earth?" and the right answer was "humans."

However, this is just lunacy at its best. These people, whose motto is "May we live long and die out," don't have the faintest clue about how the world works.

"We certainly do as much as we can to limit our consumption," says Mike Brune [environmental activist]. "We made sure we live near mass transit. We have one of the new Priuses. We buy organic food almost exclusively. We feel that it's very important to connect our personal values to all aspects of how we live: where we work, what we eat, what we buy."

Why do I point this out? Simple - organic food does jack to help the environment. My father, who is a farmer in central Iowa, could easily grow organic produce. However, he doesn't because it is worse for the environment. Yes, that's right. While he drives over his field four times a year (once to spray chemical, once to plant, once to spray again, and once to harvest) (and yes, the chemical is one compound that is active by contact only and is inert once it interacts with water - you can drink it if you want to) if he used no chemicals he would have to drive over his field up to a dozen times to do tillage each year. Besides eroding the soil into oblivion (erosion which he has completely stopped due to a "no till" practice" he would burn well over twice as much fuel as he does now. How does that fit into environmentalists' ideas about conservation?

Anyway, the real laugh here is that there is a group operating in the US that believes this:

Human activities -- from development to travel, from farming to just turning on the lights at night -- are damaging the biosphere. More people means more damage. So if fewer people means less destruction, wouldn't no people at all be the best solution for the planet?

And I say - go right ahead and not reproduce. It'll clear up this craziness right quick.

Why do I read it?

I know I'm going to be annoyed, so why do I do it? The New York Times editorial today has another awful piece of "journalism" today and I'm surprised that people still read this crap (of course, I do - so what does that say?)

No matter how the White House chooses to spin it, the United States Senate cast a vote of no confidence this week on the war in Iraq. And about time.

The actual content of the resolution, passed on a vote of 79 to 19, was meaningless.


Hardly. What is exceeding meaningless is the beginning of this column. What the Times ignores is that the Senate handily defeated a measure to put a timetable on troop withdrawals in Iraq (an excellent idea by Senate Democrats, by the way. What better way to help out the terrorists than to tell them when we're leaving?) Also, the Times ignores that Senate Republicans have forgotten they are the majority party in office and decided to pass a bill that was a publicity stunt in response to the equally worthless Democrat measure.

The ultimate Iraqi nightmare, which continually seems to be drawing closer, is a violent fracturing of the country in which the Kurdish north and Arab Shiite southeast break away, leaving the west, dominated by Arab Sunnis, an impoverished no man's land and a breeding ground for international terrorism.

Craziness! While the Times finds no harm or shame in repeating the "Iraq will descend into civil war" talking point they should at least be shamed into providing some sort of evidence for their claim - any at all would do. Of course, you won't find any because there isn't any. All the Times can do is repeat the lie and hope it comes true (which if course is their ultimate hope).

Never fear, however, as the Times finally gets to the point of their article right at the end.

If the president fails [in creating a road map for the Iraqi government to take over the war], the American public has a timetable of its own. Elections for the House and the Senate are less than a year away.

Indeed. Let me ask you this - if the President swore his allegiance to Ted Kennedy, instituted socialized health care, and nominated every judge from the 9th circuit of appeals to the Supreme Court would the Times still have this last line in their editorial? Of course - the Times hates George Bush and everything about the Republican party. They won't rest until the country is run by Democrats again.

That is their one and only point in everything that they write. They even hope for Iraqi civil war if it will get the conservatives out of congress. I wish they would stop the charade.

Elitism and Opinion

No wonder all that we hear on TV and radio is about how many soldiers die each day and how Iraq is a "quagmire" with no hope of success or end in sight. I'm writing this slightly tongue-in-cheek, because I already knew why. However, the Economist throws it down:

The Pew Research Centre periodically asks a sample of opinion leaders, and another sample of the general public, a barrage of questions about "America's place in the world." Their answers are getting gloomier.

This is especially true of the elite. Asked whether America will succeed in establishing a stable democracy in Iraq, only 33% of journalists, 27% of academics and 13% of scientists and engineers thought it would. The general public were more optimistic - 56% thought their country would eventually prevail. Among the elite, only military officers were cheerier, with 64% predicting victory.


...

As for George Bush's calls for democracy in the wider Middle East, most Americans thought this was a good idea, but few thought it would succeed. A large majority of the elite thought it a good idea that would probably fail, with the exception of military and religious leaders, who were more optimistic.

...

Two-thirds of Americans thought their country was less respected than in the past. The most popular explanation was the war in Iraq. A whopping 88% of the elite cited Iraq as one of the main factors driving anti-Americanism, as did 71% of the general public.


Are the elite smarter than the rest of us? The Pew report admitted that most of the "elites" they interviewed were Democrats. We already know that the majority of journalists and professors are liberal, but is that why they think that we will fail in Iraq?

Although the Economist argues that Bush can "ignore" the elite and their opinion, I disagree. The elite are the ones teaching children in schools and reporting the news on television. How can they be ignored?

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Just a thought...

Google - taking over the world

I think we all knew this was happening. Google is working towards everything from blogs to shopping to maps to searches to advertising. Will it be any surprise when we are all one day driving Google cars and wearing Google underwear watching Google television?

With the opposition to Google's latest plans to digitize all print media I've been wondering - what diabolical plan will Google unveil next?

Now Google has launched Google Base, on which you can index anything you want - from recipies and photos to job ads and automobile listings.

I must confess that I, too have joined in this Google-ness and have listed the 'ol blog on Google Base.

Have I sold out? Maybe. Should I have bought Google stock years ago? Yes.

Update: I think the Google Base post helped out our listability on Google.

On second thought I just remembered that Blogger is owned by Google, too. Eek!

Religious Persecution

As Christmas approaches I am reminded more and more often of the all-out assault on Christianity that happens across the country every December. In many cases I understand the reasons for changes that are made (such as Wal-Mart forbidding their employees from wishing anyone a "Merry Christmas") and in many other cases I don't (The Iowa State University "Festival of Trees and Lights" Renamed the "Festival of Lights" with a "holiday" tree).

The all-out war on religion has no logic or any bounds. Take this story for example. FoxNews is reporting on a guy in New Mexico suing a city for the city's logo being an image three crosses.

A federal lawsuit seeks to have the logo, which depicts three adjoining crosses, changed to something that does not include any reference to Christianity.

Filed by Paul Weinbaum and Martin Boyd, the lawsuit claims the logo amounts to religious persecution of non-Christians.

"The last time we saw crosses on a police uniform is the examples from Nazi Germany...


You see, crosses in a city logo that happen to appear on police uniforms = nazism. Right.

One thing about this story that I just can't get past is the fact that this man claims seeing crosses in a city logo amounts to "religious persecution," yet the name of the city is Las Cruces, which is obviously Spanish for "the crosses." Why doesn't he advocate to change the name of the city, too? I wish the guy would take his own advice...

"I almost get upset spending time on this because we have other things we can be taking care of."

I feel the same way.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What are you searching for?

Since we have been indexed by most search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN) we have a number of hits each day by people searching for... lots of weird things. Some things I can understand:

Bill Clinton Lies Rosa Parks funeral
president clinton speech at rosa parks funeral


Some things I can't:

moving radar for defiance ohio

Did they mean "defense?"

ny times scandal article on GE CAP

There must be something with this one that I don't get...

just gonna "buy ketchup" lyrics

...especially with this one. Oh, well. Here at On the Radar we support anonymous and bizarre searches as long as they bring you here. We should really advertise...

Senate Republicans Pushing Plan for Redefining "Majority"

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 - In a sign of increasing unease among Congressional Republicans over the war in Iraq, the Senate is to consider on Wednesday a Republican proposal that calls for amending the US Constitution to redefine the idea of a "majority."

Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who is the author of the initial plan, said Monday that he had negotiated a compromise that would change the way the current Democracy in America works.

"The American people are much too concerned with a Republican "majority" in both houses of Congress," the Senator said. "So we decided to put our money where our mouth is. It's obvious to all of us Repubs that ending the filibuster, drilling in ANWR, and allowing the President to be commander-in-chief are all beyond our control, so we've decided to make it official."

Under the proposed plan "majority" status would be transferred from the party with the most seats in the congress to the party that complains the loudest.

Senator Bill Frist, the current majority leader, and Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia both supported the plan. "It's obvious who's in control now," Frist said. "Why try to hide it?"

In a similar move, Senator Warner moved to amend the current amendment by adding the post of "Majority Minority Leader" in response to the diversity within the Republican party.

"It will be an honor for someone to represent the Republicans who usually disagree with most of the members of the Republican party," Warner said. "It's fantastic."

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, said he saw the proposal as a potential "turning point" in Congressional deliberation.

"No longer will the "majority" rule the United States congress. It's time for the vocal minority to take its rightful role in determining US policy. If the current definition of "majority" won't do what is needed, we will gladly step in."

The first task of the new Majority Minority Leader will be to demand the White House "to explain to Congress and the American people its strategy for the successful completion of the mission in Iraq."

Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said this first action would improve accountability with the White House.

"No longer will we have to be lawmakers. The new "majority" will finally be able to demand what we want when we want from the President," Durbin said. "The next action by this newly organized Congress will be to impose this new system on the rest of the nation. Only those people that are loud, participate in exit polling, are obnoxious in their opinions, or just too naive to realize there is another way of looking at things will be allowed to vote."

The Senator assured that "this new measure will not only allow the "majority" to rule now but forever into the future."

Durbin continued: "The American people should be glad to hear that opposition is a legitimate legislative strategy and that George Bush is satan."


This pathetic attempt at satire borrowed heavily from here and here.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Torture? Not in America We Don't!

So there I was, plotting to make a big splash with my first post - researching, reading, thinking..... and then The Economist and The Times go and steal my thunder. Darn the luck.

http://economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=5139141
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/14/opinion/14blochemarks.html?hp

Oh well, I'm going to charge ahead anyway.

Riddle me this - why on earth does the Bush Administration continue to campaign for the legalization of torture? America should be a beacon of democracy and freedom for the rest of the world. Most of the time we are. However, when it comes to the issue of torture, we fail miserably.

I'm not referring to Abu Gharib or any of the other prisoner abuse that has come to light. Regrettable, shameful, wrong - the abuse was all of those things. But this time, I'm referring to the Bush Administration's insistence that the President will veto any bill that presumes to ban any cruel, degrading or inhumane punishment. To make matters worse, the Vice President continues to campaign for an exemption of the CIA from the torture ban.

Why do they continue to bulldoze ahead despite the the moral mineshaft over which they are suspending themselves? Bush and Co. are Christians, except of course when it comes to people who want to kill Americans and other innocents. In their eyes, these "illegal comabatants" don't even deserve to be treated as humans. They're evil people. Torture, no human rights, and for a couple years, not even allowed to see a lawyer.

On the brighter side, the Senate just passed an amendment to the Defense budget bill banning "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment." The bill's sponsor was Senator John McCain, a Vietnam Vet and POW for 4.5 years. He was tortured. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and others have never been in combat, never been captured, and never been tortured. However, they continue to insist that to maintain national security, America must still have the right to torture prisoners. In contrast, McCain and other POWs state that the information gathered under torture is practically worthless. People who have been tortured will say almost anything to get the pain to stop.

Yet that is not the primary argument for why America should disallow torture. We should disallow it because America is BETTER than that. We should not stoop to the level of terrorists and 3rd World dictators to protect America. By doing so, any moral authority we gain through our good faith efforts to reconstruct Iraq and Afghanistan is lost. Do you think moderate Muslims believe our President's claims that "We do not torture," even as the Administration publicy refuses to give up the right to torture? I don't think so.

Wow...

Another startling news story from Scrappleface...

1950 Document Hints at Alito Pro-Life Bias

...a must read.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Welcome, Captain!

As you can see, the Captain has joined our lively blog! A big welcome goes out to him and his Captaincy. I can't wait for his perspective...

Bush Derangement Syndrome on the Rampage

For those of you who haven't seen the Rocky Horror Show (I mean the play, not the movie) beware. It is quite a B play, but depending on your desire for participation and enjoyment of yelled obscenities you just might like it. If you don't know audience members are encouraged to yell humorous and/or obscene things at the actors during specific parts of the show. In other words, before an actor says in a scene "I think we can do better" someone might yell, "What do you think of your performance?!"

In this particular college production of Rocky Horror there were at least five instances when actors in the audience (known as audience phantoms) yelled anti-Bush blurbs at particular points in the show. As in the case above, the actor yelled, "What do you think of George W.?!"

While there's nothing really wrong with this, and my only compliant about it will be on this blog, I wonder why people are so obsessed with their hatred of George Bush? Has this ever happened before in US history? Living on a college campus I am constantly inundated with what is known as Bush Derangement Syndrome, or BDS. This is a well-documented phenomenon of blaming George W. Bush for everything in the world that is bad. From hurricanes to tsunamis to a B play, all things negative can be blamed on Bush. It's ridiculous.

All in all, I have been and will be contesting examples of BDS in my graduate program. After all, if I didn't want to constantly hear how bad conservatives, Christians, and George W. Bush are I would never have gone to college.

Go State!

Even a tornado couldn't stop the Cyclones from bringing the hurt on the Buffaloes. Beautiful! With a lucky turn of events ISU could go against Texas for the Big 12 championship.

It's also good to see that the students in Ames can still climb the uprights (although not knock them down) and grab the little flag off the top...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Ayatollah Brownback?

And now for something completely different...

I'm quite humored by Sam Brownback's (R-Kansas) efforts to bring the amendment against gay marriage to a vote. Brownback is obviously playing to religious conservatives in preparation for a run for the White House. 19 States have already passed bans on gay marriage, but Brownback wants to supercede those laws with a federal law. Does he realize that this is the completely out of bed with his argument on abortion, where he argues Roe vs. Wade should be overturned to give the states the option of banning abortion? Does he understand the theoretical Republican ideal of returning federal powers to the states? I'm not so sure why Brownback cares so much. Gay marriage has been banned in Kansas, and you can rest assured gays were already avoiding the state at all costs.

Please, registered Republicans, do me a favor and don't give the Ayatollah any shot at the White House.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Welcome Clint!

I've invited a friend (he's like a brother, really) to join the 'ol blog. You'll enjoy Clint's viewpoint as they will be unique from Slowpitch and myself.

French Concerns Diminishing?

Nope.

Although it looks like the AP would like you to think so:

Violence in France fell sharply overnight, the police chief said Thursday, one day after the government toughened its stance by imposing emergency measures and ordering deportations of foreigners involved in riots that have raged for two weeks.

In the past two nights, there was a notable decline in the number of car burnings _ a barometer of the intensity of the country's worst civil unrest in nearly four decades.


See? Things are getting better.

Arsonists attacked again overnight, the 14th straight day of violence. However, car burnings fell again overnight to 482 from 617 the previous night, Hamon said. The peak in car arsons was overnight between Sunday and Monday, when 1,408 vehicles were torched. The number has steadily dropped every night since then.

...

Vandals set 11 cars ablaze and rammed a burning car into a primary school in the southern city of Toulouse, damaging its entrance, police said. Another school was set on fire in the eastern city of Belfort.


See? Only around 500 cars were burned last night, down from around 1,400. It's much better. Oh, and only two schools were seriously damaged by rioters. Again - no big deal.

I hope we can still rely on the AP to report this fairly. 500 cars burned in one night is still one hell of an uprising.

More News that Sounds Like a Joke

...and in my opinion, is...

So it seems that Tuesday brought a 58% supported handgun ban to the city of San Francisco. Fantastically named "Proposition H" (and, by the way, the voters must have felt that "Proposition H" felt good - on the whole) is generally written, and would ban handguns for everyone except police officers. Museums, guns in plays, and traveling exhibits are evidently all banned as well. Also, no penalties for compliance were included - the city council is supposed to create those soon.

Of course the NRA is suing ASAP to repeal the law under the premise that it is contradictory to the state's ability to regulate gun ownership. This is a fairly reasonable assumption.

All in all I think gun bans are silly. I have always thought that banning guns is fundamentally foolish because there are very few criminals that use legally purchased and owned guns! Criminals don't go out and buy a gun at Wal-Mart before they knock over a bank - they get one through other shady means. The only thing a gun ban does is take guns from law-abiding citizens that purchase them for sport and protection.

San Francisco's ban is also fundamentally stupid in that now all the handgun owners are going out to buy shotguns (oops...). And another thing - handguns are only banned from San Francisco citizens. That way when I go to visit the bay area, I can pack all the heat I want - I don't live there!

So, anyway - I guess the gun ban irks me. It just means that if a criminal meets a guy walking in a dark alley he knows the worst that could happen to him if he were to commit a crime is pepper spray. It leaves the criminals armed and the citizens vulnerable.

Spammed!

This is fun. Due to the numerous emails we get (or, maybe not) I was surprised to see this bit of mail in the radarblog inbox. I've never before gotten one of these "I have millions of dollars in Africa and if I can get your account number so I can move the money I'll give you a bunch of it" emails.

My Name is Mike Kazato" The purpose of my introduction is that" Before the death of my father, he had taken me to Johannesburg to deposit the sum of US24 million (Twenty Four Million United States dollars),in one of the private security company, as he fore saw the looming danger in Zimbabwe this money was deposited in Two boxes as gem stones to avoid much demurrage from security company.

Gem stones. How could I resist the sweet temptation?

If you accept to assist me and my family, all I want you to do for me, is to make an arrangements with the security company to clear the consignment(funds) from their affiliate office...

...

If you do not prefer a partnership I am willing to give you 25% of the money while 5% will be set aside to incure any expencies used during this transaction and the remaining 70% will be for my investment in your country.

25%? A measly 25%? What, do I work for peanuts?

Obviously "Mike" knows the final kicker to get the stupid Americans to send him our account numbers:

And God Bless,

Mike Kazato

Good luck, pal. Although this blog rakes in millions we can't give out our account numbers for such a poor margin. You should have known better.

A Surprise from the Economist.

For those of you who may have missed it, a Texas Baptist preacher was electrocuted a few weeks ago while performing a baptism in his church. The Pastor grabbed a corded microphone while still in the baptismal pool and was killed. The reason I heard about it was because a colleague in my graduate program is from Texas and knew the man personally.

From time to time (on advice from one of our faithful readers) I read the Economist because of their nearly always unbiased and fair reporting. For example, their article today analyzing Jordan and King Abdullah and their role in the war on terror is an excellent piece of journalism. However, for some reason also today they decided to mock this Texas Pastor's death.

The article is called Texas's Dangerous Churches, and the Economist claims that:

Baptism, the Christian act of dipping people (usually tiny ones) in water to erase the effects of original sin, is known to be dangerous. Babies are sometimes almost drowned.

First, the majority of Christian baptisms do not include the "dipping" of children, but rather the sprinkling of water on their heads. Also, have you ever heard of a baby drowning? I searched the web and could not find one instance.

The Economist goes on to point to the Branch Dividian compound incident as an example:

Worshippers in the state are prone to horrifying incidents-most famously the explosion at the Davidians' besieged compound in 1993.

Did the compound blow up? I thought it burned down. Were they really "worshipers?" I thought they were in a freakin' cult!

Of all the articles included in this superb paper I have no idea why they found the need to mock this man, Christianity, and Texas. Talk about a skewed article... This is clearly not what I expect from the Economist.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Must Read

Here's a link to the original article, but I'm not chancing that you don't have a WSJ subscription. You need to read this great article and wonder why Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi are trying to put us in the position that France is in. Higher minimum wages and labor laws that restrict new jobs are horrible in the long run. Can liberals read? Airlines have to go into *bankruptcy* to remove the restrictions for companies to negotiate with labor unions.

Equality is equal opportunity to get a job and perform, equal opportunity to get the skills that put you ahead; equality *does not* mean everyone makes the same wage, everyone is tied by the same chains. The sooner Americans realize this, the sooner liberals are prevented from being positions where they invariably cause damage.


Article:

Behind the riots in France lies a surefire recipe for discontent: a rigid job market and widespread discrimination against young Muslim men.

The country's unwieldy labor-market policies, which protect job-holders but have created stubbornly high unemployment of around 10% for France's overall labor force, particularly hurt youths -- especially those of African descent.

When few jobs are being created, it makes those with weaker credentials more prone to being shut out entirely, says Raymond Torres, head of employment policy at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Discrimination adds to the barriers. "These problems would be less severe if the labor market were more dynamic," he says.

Rioting across France is entering its 14th day. Although the number of car burnings and arrests across the country on Monday night was down slightly from Sunday, some areas of France saw worsening unrest. More than 200 towns saw rioting, 12 schools were destroyed and citizen militias continued to form. Scattered reports of arson also were mounting in neighboring Belgium.


France has called up 1,500 police reservists, bringing to 9,500 the number of police deployed to quell the riots, and invoked a 1955 state-of-emergency law enabling local law-enforcement chiefs to impose curfews on riot-hit areas. Curfew violators, if caught, can face as long as two months in jail.

The riots have centered in the banlieues, the poor, immigrant suburbs of French cities where many struggle to find work. Leaders in France and elsewhere in Continental Europe have often argued that their "social model," based on tempering capitalism with worker protections, avoids the damaging social divisions of free-market capitalism as practiced in the U.S. or Britain.

But the past two weeks' riots in France have brought new attention to the fact that the Continental model can also create a persistent underclass. That is because labor rules aimed at protecting workers against low wages and layoffs also tend to deter companies from hiring -- especially workers with lower education or from minority backgrounds.

"The republic is at a moment of truth," said Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin in a special National Assembly session to address the unrest. "What is being questioned is the effectiveness of our integration model."

High minimum wages, high dropout rates from school, and costly labor rules have given France one of Europe's worst rates of youth unemployment, running at 21% for people aged under 25, according to the OECD. Among immigrant youths, the rate is even higher -- twice as high as among whites, according to one estimate.

A stagnant national labor market that needs few new workers leaves minority applicants prone to discrimination. A recent study by a scholar at the Sorbonne, Jean-François Amadieu, found that a job applicant with a French-sounding name was more than five times more likely to be invited to a job interview than an applicant with the same qualifications but with a North African-sounding name. Some antidiscrimination advocates are calling for employers to use only blind résumés that don't show a name, picture or home address.

"The culture of the banlieues is relatively inconsistent with corporate culture," said Jean-François Bernardin, the president of a French employers' association, in comments reported by Agence France-Presse yesterday.

As in most of Western Europe, jobs in France usually involve long-term work contracts that are difficult for companies to terminate. As a result, employers tend not to take risks with hires from immigrant families for fear of being stuck with them if they don't work out. Laying off a person on a long-term contract can involve costly court settlements.

"It's very difficult for young people" of North African descent to escape unemployment because hiring-and-firing legislation in France is "so much more rigid than in the U.K. or the U.S.," says Gino Raymond, professor of modern French studies at Bristol University in Britain.

About 13% of French youths, including many from minorities, didn't complete high school, further hurting their job prospects. Although the proportion is even higher in Italy and Spain, in France it is compounded by a relatively high minimum wage of more than €1,000 ($1,178) a month. "It's OK to have a minimum wage at 60% of the average wage, but then people must have the skills to match that," says Mr. Torres.

France prides itself on its hourly productivity, among the world's highest. But Philippe Manière, director of the think tank Institut Montaigne, says the high productivity rate is achieved only by shutting out of the job market the immigrants who might cause it to fall. "In France, you employ the most productive people and you leave the rest in the street," he says.

Rigid labor markets aren't the only cause of ethnic minorities' exclusion from a national economy, and certainly aren't a precondition for racial violence. Race riots have periodically shaken U.S. cities, and Britain suffered a wave of rioting involving youths of Pakistani descent in 2001. A report for the British government concluded that a deep sense of alienation from the white majority had fed the unrest.

In Italy and Spain, a relatively high degree of flexibility for companies hiring and shedding lower-wage workers -- combined with major industries that need low-skilled workers -- has helped many immigrants and their descendants to find work.

News that Sounds Like a Joke

This title is stolen shamelessly from News of the Weird, but here it is:

Two Drunken Moose Invade Home for Elderly

If I had a dollar for every time that happened...

NY Times Contradicts Itself, Spreads Propaganda

Here's a winner. It seems that in yesterday's elections the Dover School board in Pennsylvania had eight of its members loose their reelection bids and where replaced by those who campaigned against their introduction of Intelligent Design into the classroom. The Times had a strange take on the case:

All eight members up for re-election to the Pennsylvania school board that had been sued for introducing the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in biology class were swept out of office yesterday by a slate of challengers who campaigned against the intelligent design policy.

...

The school board voted in October 2004 to require ninth grade biology students to hear a brief statement at the start of the semester saying that there were "gaps" in the theory of evolution, that intelligent design was an alternative and that students could learn more about it by reading a textbook "Of Pandas and People," available in the high school library.


So which is it? Did the school board mandate the teaching of ID, or just a 15 second introduction to it?

We know that the latter is true, but the Times would have you believe otherwise.

Also, I suppose that this goes to show that when a school district is told by a circuit court that they can teach whatever they want in any way that they want and that the parent's have no say, all you need to do is vote out the school board. Of course, if the Dover case comes back in January and the school board's paragraph on ID is rejected by the courts it doesn't really matter too much who is on the school board, does it?

Irony of the Day

Greenpeace fined for reef damage

Environmental group Greenpeace has been fined almost $7,000 (£4,000) for damaging a coral reef at a World Heritage site in the Philippines.

Their flagship Rainbow Warrior II ran aground at Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, in the Sulu Sea, 650km (400 miles) south-east of Manila.

Park officials said almost 100 sq m (1,076 sq ft) of reef had been damaged.


They were inspecting the reef for damage done by "global warming." They found none, but caused plenty of their own.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The 9th Circuit of Irony

For those of you who missed it, the 9th circuit recently ruled that a Palmdale (north of LA) School District was in the right when they had 1st, 3rd, and 5th graders fill out a survey that included specific sexually-oriented questions. The parents received notification about the survey, but only that it would include references to traumatic activities. Here are a couple of the questions the children (7-year olds) were asked to rate:

8. Touching my private parts too much
17. Thinking about having sex
22. Thinking about touching other people's private parts
23. Thinking about sex when I don't want to
26. Washing myself because I feel dirty on the inside
34. Not trusting people because they might want sex
40. Getting scared or upset when I think about sex
44. Having sex feelings in my body
47. Can't stop thinking about sex
54. Getting upset when people talk about sex

The parents sued the school district saying that they would have not given consent had they known the explicit sexual nature of the questions. The 9th circuit gave this stunning ruling:

We agree, and hold that there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children, either independent of their right to direct the upbringing and education of their children or encompassed by it. We also hold that parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students.

In other words, the 9th circuit ruled that public schools can teach your children what they want, how they want, and when they want, and you have "no due process or privacy right" to intervene as a parent.

Now wouldn't it be interesting if the 9th Circuit could rule in Pennsylvania, too? If it could, maybe it would have refused to hear the case of a school district being sued for forcing teachers to give a 15 second introduction to Intelligent Design and reference a book, and then go on to teach the class about evolution.

If parents have "no due process or privacy right" to tell the school what and how they can teach, then how call 11 parents force the Dover district to change its curriculum?

If the 9th Circuit had ruled in the Dover case, do you think their ruling would have been the same?

Don't forget that this is the same circuit court that ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional.

Egocentrisim and Democracy

So there I was in class today. We were discussing world history and culture and "typical American college students" came up. As I widely believe, Americans in general are a bit lacking when it comes to an understanding of... well... the world, world politics, world governments and culture, etc. As brought forward by my colleague from LA, American culture and language is so pervasive that in order for us to pay attention to anyone they have to meet us (or come down to) our level. I agreed with this statement, and it relates back to an editorial I wrote the other day.

In the local college student newspaper there was an editorial recently that described that the US effort in Iraq was essentially pointless. The author wrote that the Iraqis are not ready for such a "mature" form of government as Democracy, as they are "uneducated and lack an industrial base." I of course wrote a rebuttal to this argument for the next edition of the paper, which was printed and explained that only an egocentric American college student would claim that a form of government was too "mature" for our "lowly" Iraqi friends.

I brought up this situation in the course of the discussion, and was quickly attacked. I was asked whether I thought that imposing an American form of government on another nation was egocentric as well.

Is it?

Well, it all goes back to this idea of Democracy. What is it? What does it mean? In the case of Iraq, all it means is that we are working towards allowing the Iraqis to form their own style of representative government. In this description, the categorization of the new Iraqi government as a "Democracy" and their governmental document being a "constitution" is egocentric. Their government will be a representative republic whose characteristics will be laid out by a formal document, yes, but our descriptions of "Democracy" and "constitution" are simply Americans forcing governmental characteristics of other nations into terminology we can relate to.

In this way, we are not "forcing" anything on the Iraqis. We are not "imposing" our egocentric will on them. We are merely giving them the right to have a free and representative government.

Also, this government will succeed. There is no reason to think that the Iraqis will not continue with their action of government-building with the developments of a ratified constitution, as well as previously violent factions laying down their arms and joining the political process (once they realized it would be the only way for them to participate in the future of Iraq.)

Furthermore, this particular person's point was to claim that a form of government cannot be imposed upon another nation. Although this is not what we're doing in Iraq, it would do anyone who has this mindset good if they were to look up some history of World War II (see Germany, Italy, and Japan). You know those American college students...

Monday, November 07, 2005

More French Concerns

300 towns.
1 fatality.
11 days.
1,400 burned vehicles.
36 injured police.
395 arrests.

No end in sight.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

French Concerns

With all of the flack that the US gets everytime we're hit with, well, the greatest natural and terrorist-enduced disasters of all time I sometimes wonder what we're being compared to. I have a feeling that some of the socialist countries in Europe are completely incapable of handling any kind of disasters whatsoever. Over a thousand people were killed by one of the worst hurricanes ever to strike a nation (Katrina). Nearly 3,000 were killed in the US by the worst terrorits attack in world history.

However, does anyone remember the Paris heat wave in 2003? The temperatures reached the low hundreds, and in a country that does not have many air-conditioned homes over 3,000 people died - from a heat wave!

If you've had your head in the sand for the past week or so, you might've missed the ninth straight day of rioting by Mulsim youths in the Paris suburbs. The government has called for calm, yet the riots keep spreading and increasing in damage and destruction. It seems to me that the French government has no strategy or any clue how to address this rapidly decaying social disaster. Does that seem ironic to anyone? I suppose that the French thought that free housing, welfare, and healthcare would keep imigrants from north Africa happy - guess not.

In Case You Were Wondering

Clinton: Hillary Would be Better President

"In some ways she would be (better) because of what we did together," he said from New York. "First, she has the Senate experience I didn't have. Second, she would have had the eight years in the White House."

"I think she wouldn't make as many mistakes because, you know, we're older and more mature, and she is far more experienced now in all the relevant ways than I was when I took office," he added. "So I think in a way she has the best of both worlds."

Which begs the question: How hard would it be to be a better president than Clinton?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Way to go, Mike

Contact from a faithful reader!

I think that you should write something about Michael Brown since he did such a great job as FEMA chief. After all, he is a "fashion god." We can all learn something from his stellar example. Even though it is from CNN, you can't make this stuff up.

Indeed. When 'ol Mike went before the House committee investigating the federal response, I thought that he defended himself really well. I thought - hey, they got this guy wrong. I was, uh, fantastically wrong.

Two days after Katrina hit, Marty Bahamonde, one of the only FEMA employees in New Orleans, wrote to Brown that "the situation is past critical" and listed problems including many people near death and food and water running out at the Superdome.

Brown's entire response was: "Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?"

...

The e-mails Melancon posted, a sampling of more than 1,000 provided to the House committee now assessing responses to Katrina by all levels of government, also show Brown making flippant remarks about his responsibilities.

"Can I quit now? Can I come home?" Brown wrote to Cindy Taylor, FEMA's deputy director of public affairs, the morning of the hurricane.

A few days later, Brown wrote to an acquaintance, "I'm trapped now, please rescue me."

Good joke.

A few days later, Worthy advised Brown: "Please roll up the sleeves of your shirt, all shirts. Even the president rolled his sleeves to just below the elbow. In this [crisis] and on TV you just need to look more hard-working."

On August 29, the day of the storm, Brown exchanged e-mails about his attire with Taylor, Melancon said. She told him, "You look fabulous," and Brown replied, "I got it at Nordstroms. ... Are you proud of me?"

An hour later, Brown added: "If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire, you'll really vomit. I am a fashion god," according to the congressman.

Cute. Well, it just goes to show that you need to be aware of the emails you send while on the job. Or maybe it goes to show that you shouldn't appoint unqualified idiots. Either way...

New Digs?

What do you all think of the new scheme? I got tired of the green...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The AP Gets it Just Wrong Enough

The AP has a strangely misleading article on the DeLay case today. Evidently Ronnie Earle's world is also the world as the AP sees it. (As a side note, FoxNews had another AP article posted under the same title, which was completely confusing in the facts it presented. It confused two of the judges in the case. I can't seem to find the article anywhere now - even in Google's cache - it has been replaced by the one posted now.)

State district Judge Bob Perkins, a Democrat, was removed from DeLay's case Tuesday after DeLay's legal team cast doubt on Perkins' ability to judge the case fairly because of more than $5,000 in contributions he's made to Democrats.

Earle said in his motion filed Thursday that Schraub has made more than $5,000 in contributions to Republican candidates, including to Gov. Rick Perry, a DeLay ally, which calls into question Schraub's impartiality in the case.

Here's the crux of Earle's argument, and the AP either knowingly omits the facts or is ignorant of them (which is hard to believe). Bob Perkins was not removed from the case because he made contributions to Democrats. Bob Perkins was removed because he donated money to organizations such as Moveon.org, after he had already been assigned Delay's case! Moveon.org went on to print pictures of Delay's mugshot on t-shirts as a fundraiser. Can a judge preside over a case when he donated money to the organization that is using the defendant's "guilt" as a fundraiser? Of course not. However, the AP - again, either on purpose or because of ignorance - would like you to believe that he was removed for being a Democrat, as the Judge now should be removed for being a Republican. This, of course, is a foolish argument for anyone passed the 4th grade, as every judge that can preside over the case in Texas will be affiliated with one party or another (as Texas judges are elected). But it doesn't end there. Earle wanted Judge Schraub out (which he did voluntarily - Bob Perkins passed the decision on to a superior - who was a Democrat - who had him removed) partly because he gave money to the Governor of Texas, a Republican.

"Governor Perry was a major figure in the redistricting effort that the (DeLay) successfully argued," Earle said in his motion. "Because Judge Schraub has donated to Governor Perry, he has disclosed through this free speech that he agrees in principle with Perry's agenda regarding Tom DeLay's redistricting map."

The AP makes a glaring mistake here, by finally pointing out Earle's real motivations. As we all know, even if Delay did know about money that moved through his Political Action Committee to the GOP and that money returned to the Texas GOP, it was not against the law in 2002. Further, this redistricting of Texas and Governor Perry's support of it should have nothing to do with the case. However according to Earle it does, because the successful redistricting of Texas and the GOP seats it yielded is why he is prosecuting Delay in the first place! Earle is mad at Delay, and the longer he can make this case stretch out the more damaging it will be. How nice of him.

A Lesson on Objectivity in the Press, via the Daily Kos

I'm glad that a Kos contributor wrote this article today on conservatism versus liberalism in the media. His arguments are as follows:

In general, liberals value journalism, or facts, and conservatives value punditry, or opinions. Far-right conservatives are indeed obsessed with the press, because they see the reporting of facts as being inherently "liberal".

...

So-called mainstream journalism attempts, at least, to cleanly separate factual reporting from opinion... But it is, or was, a core tenet of journalism: report the facts, and expose the truth, and leave opinion out of it.

Awesome! This is my point exactly! For most of the world, objectivity is an illusion; the idea that you can completely separate yourself from what you know is impossible. Your bias, whether known or not, influences what you read, how you interpret it, and what you make of what you know. What you should attempt to accomplish in your lifetime is to more fully see and understand your own subjectivity so that you realize its affect on your daily life. Reporters and scientists would have you believe that they have removed all bias from their work; however, due to our understanding above we know this to be impossible; a delusion. Scientist, professors, reporters, and people like me are all influenced by their environment and what they believe. If someone denies this subjectivity, it will be even more pervasive in their work.

The Daily Kos would like people to believe that conservatives don't like journalism in the mainstream media because we believe "news" to be inherently liberal. This is so funny because it ignores that most people in the media are liberally biased. It's not hard to see in the daily editions of the New York Times and the Des Moines Register, and even the AP that whoever is writing the articles isn't exactly seeing the world how I do.

News is, from a number of sources, inherently liberal. From others it is inherently conservative; this isn't exactly a secret here. However, when news sources claim to be "objective" we know this is bogus. If you want a counter to FoxNews, watch CNN. If you want a counter to the Washington Post, read the Washington Times.

Conservatives aren't annoyed by media bias - as I have stated above bias is inherent in all that we do and think. However, people like me get annoyed when news sources claim objectivity when they are far, far, from it. As far as I'm concerned, Fox should change it's name to CNN, and CNN to LNN (if you get my drift). Let's quit this charade of objectivity and call news what it is.

UPDATE: By the way, I know that some people don't think that the AP is biased. Does anyone remember how the AP wrote that Bush supporters booed during a rally during the election when Clinton was announced as ok after his heart surgery? One of the biggest AP bias-proving events in recent memory.

The Racism of Race Continued...

The blogosphere is going nuts over Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele and his run for the US Senate. The Washington Times has an article about the Left's attack machine running full force against this black conservative politician. As was the case with attacks on Condi Rice and Clarence Thomas, it seems that liberals cannot handle the fact that all black people do not share their political views, to the point of using racism against them.

Black Democratic leaders in Maryland say that racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in his bid for the U.S. Senate are fair because he is a conservative Republican.

Such attacks against the first black man to win a statewide election in Maryland include pelting him with Oreo cookies during a campaign appearance, calling him an "Uncle Tom" and depicting him as a black-faced minstrel on a liberal Web log.

As I've said before some people live in this shady land of insane stereotypes. The one stereotype that the Democrats in Maryland seem to be foolishly dominated by is that a black person does not share their political views. Also, this story is not only about Mr. Steele and the stereotypes about race that are invoked to oppose him, but rather that black leaders in Maryland are so quick to impose racism as an attack on a fellow black person.

This also fits into the idea of tolerating intolerance. I know someone who was at an LGBT conference and was told by someone on a panel that "if you voted for George Bush I won't even talk to you; it won't be worth my time." Why do we tolerate this intolerance? Because we would be accused of being intolerant ourselves. In this case, why do we tolerate the blatant racism of the Maryland Democratic Party? Because we would be accused of being racist ourselves. After all, for a black person to be a conservative it is like, "a cookie that is black on the outside and white inside because his conservative political philosophy is.. ...anti-black."

Absolutely ridiculous.

Attacks Already Shrill and Innacurate... Again

Slowpitch's early evaluation of the attack campaign against John Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court was an excellent entrance into the world of the lefty attack machine.

This week began the liberal assault on Samuel Alito. All guns have come to bear and begun blazing. Here is an excellent roundup of one attack campaign in progress.

The Progress Report lists several sensational claims of what Judge Alito will do once on the Supreme Court. These are both sensationalized and/or completely false. One of the faithful contributors to the Daily Kos jumps on the bandwagon, picks up the "Judge Alito supported the strip-search of a 10-year old girl" story, and throws in the "I'm an angry father and I can't believe this horrible person" angle.

However, in stark contrast to the falsehoods and obscenity of the lefty blogs, the righty blogs handle the situation fairly and accurately. Right Wing News jumps all over the Kos piece and clearly points out the falsehoods, as does this Powerline article.

I feel bad for people that read only one side of the story, and here is a clear example of why. An important and controversial case that Judge Alito had a controversial stance on is reported in two very contrasting ways. The left tosses out some "facts" and adds righteous anger and fatherly disgust. However, the right investigates the situation in full for you to understand yourself. In other words - the left attacks, and the right explains.

Be wary when you hear anything about the "horrible" Judge Sam Alito.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bill Clinton on Civil Rights

For those of you who missed it, civil rights leader and pioneer Rosa Parks died just last week. She, of course, is known for famously refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus to a white man, therefore blasting racism and segregation into the national spotlight via Martin Luther King's Montgomery bus boycott. What you might not have known is that Bill Clinton was one of the first people to fight racism in America. During Clinton's speech at Rosa Parks' funeral today in Detroit he described how he, as a nine year-old southern white boy, took to heart what Rosa had done (from FoxNews video):

When Rosa showed us that Black folks didn't have to sit in the back anymore, two of my friends and I who strongly approved of what she had done, decided we didn't have to sit in the front anymore. *applause*

There you have it - Bill Clinton; nine year-old racial freedom fighter. Who knew? Is this revisionist history, or just a humorous little childhood story that Bill forgot to mention until now. Maybe it depends on what the definition of the word is is...

Senate Dems Force Not-so-Rare Publicity Stunt

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate returned to its daily work late Tuesday after Democrats pulled a stunt and forced a private session of the chamber so Democrats could pout for the lack of indictment of Karl Rove, evil master of the universe, under the guise of investigating pre-war intelligence.

As a result of the session, in which Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and the panel's Ranking Democrat Jay Rockefeller sparred for 40 minutes about whether Republicans had failed in their constitutional charge of investigating the motivation behind Presidential actions sanctioned by a majority of the Senate, lawmakers set Nov. 14 as a deadline for six members of the Senate - three from each party - to assess the progress of a committee that already determined the intelligence failure leading up to the Iraqi war.

"Today the American people are going to see a great bit of political bantering. Today we have successfully taken the attention away from a fantastic Supreme Court nominee, a well-qualified Federal Reserve Chairman's appointment, a revolutionary new tax code report, unprecedented constitutional elections in a former tyrannical dictatorship, and an investigation that proves the only person responsible for leaking a CIA agent's identity is her Bush-hating husband," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

Democrats say the demand for a closed session was prompted by "unprecedented moral and decisive leadership" given by President Bush and his administration prior to entry into the war in Iraq and a failure of Republicans to indulge Democrat's fantasy that "Bush is a liar."

"If the administration had the ability to see the future, understand the intelligence-gathering failures of the CIA, realize the fundamental destruction of the nation's intelligence agencies due to the Clinton administration, and had not listened to people like Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Tom Daschle, Dick Gephardt, and Ted Kennedy, among others, they wouldn't even have brought it to the Congress for a vote," Reid said of the Senate's 2002 consent to launch a war against Iraq.

Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said the publicity stunt was invoked after Democrats were repeatedly promised by Roberts, R-Kan., that George Bush would be unilaterally blamed for the deaths of US troops in Iraq due Senate approval of the Iraqi war.

"Any time the Intelligence Committee pursued a line of inquiry that brought us closer to blaming the White House in all of this, in the use of intelligence prior to the war, our efforts have been thwarted time and time again," Rockefeller said. "Now we're just pissed off about it."

"Once again, it shows the Democrats use scare tactics. They have no conviction. They have no principles. They have no ideas," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said. "The Democrats have truly jumped into a cesspool of conspiratorial delusions funded by elitist billionaires attempting to hijack the US government via Democratic lawmakers."

House Minority Dope Dick Durbin said, "The purpose of this closed session in the Senate chamber is to finally manufacture some bad news about the majority party in power - to finally yield to the spiraling failure to do absolutely anything besides voting 'nay.'"

In calling for the closed session, Reid added that the decision was also prompted by the recent indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, making false statements, and not actually telling anyone about Valerie Plame in the investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity.

"The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really about: How the administration was foolish enough to employ someone in the mold of Bill Clinton - who lies to grand juries under oath," Reid said on the Senate floor. "As a result of its improper conduct, a cloud now hangs over this administration."

Democrats argue that Plame's identity was revealed as punishment for her husband Joseph Wilson's self-destructive nature and for his lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee after he got the chance of a lifetime to attack the Bush administration via a recommendation for a job from his wife. However, Plame's identity as a CIA agent, which was about as secret as Pierre Pierce's status as a sex offender, was revealed a number of times over by her husband.

As long as the stunt continues to draw American's attention away from real issues, Durbin said Democrats would stall Senate action indefinitely.

"It is within the power of the majority to close down the closed session. They can do it by majority vote to return to the legislative calendar," Durbin said. "It's also within the power of the American people to remove publicity-seeking congressmen - that are so far removed from reality that they will pull a stunt as to distract anyone who will listen - from their congressional seats during the next election. We're serving notice on both Republicans and the American people at this moment: Be prepared for Democratic obstructionism every day for as long as the Republicans are in power and making wise decisions. The Senate Democrats have no responsibility to do otherwise, unless their actions and positions are finally questioned."


The preceding was my satirical take on a news story. See here for my other attempt.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Bernanke a Great Pick for the Fed

The Washington Post had some humorous confusion about Ben Bernanke in a column earlier this week:

"
Tug-of-war begins on Bernanke's political voice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A quiet tug-of-war has begun over the role presumptive future Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke will play in Washington budget debates, with both conservatives and liberals hoping he'll be one of their own. Conservatives express confidence that Bernanke, if confirmed by the Senate to succeed Alan Greenspan next year, will do nothing to upset the Bush administration's apple cart when its comes to its tax-cutting agenda.
"

Hmmm...rest assured libs, Bernanke will not be one of you. First, he has an understanding of economics. He supports trade with other nations. He does not support price controls. He knows that targeted tax cuts can bring in
*more* revenue. To the best of our knowledge, he's never killed any young, female staffers or been a Klan recruiter. Your best hope is that he turns out to be an Islamofascist sympathizer, but even that's highly improbable. Simply, Bernanke is also respected and even potty-trained. Rest assured, liberals, he won't be "one of you".