Monday, April 30, 2007
The Bush administration: a bigger threat to national security than a foreign spy. That was Tom Brokaw's implicit assumption in his interview with former CIA Director George Tenet on this morning's "Today." Along the way, Brokaw accused former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of running a "rogue" intelligence operation.
[transcript of interview]
Brokaw never explained how an intelligence operation created by a Secretary of Defense who was appointed by the president, and which operation in turn reported to the president, could be considered "rogue." And while Tenet oh-so-delicately declined to necessarily agree with all of Brokaw's accusations, he pointedly did not take issue with Brokaw's stunning "rogue" allegation.
Note also Brokaw's claim that "the country was not getting the true story." The former Nightly News anchor seems to align himself with the "Bush lied, people died" crowd.
Meanwhile, what ever happened to the stiff upper lip?
Blame the big metro papers -- again. The Audit Bureau of Circulations released the spring numbers this morning, revealing more plunges in daily and Sunday circulation.
As in the past, the losses are steep while gains are minimal. This is the fifth consecutive reporting period that overall newspaper circulation experienced big drops, despite easing comparisons. For all papers reporting daily circulation, the number is estimated to have fallen 2.5%, while Sunday is forecasted to have tumbled 3%.
Even before they have kids, men and women often do different things that may affect earnings. A year out of college, notes AAUW, women in full-time jobs work an average of 42 hours a week, compared to 45 for men. Men are also far more likely to work more than 50 hours a week.
Buried in the report is a startling admission: "After accounting for all factors known to affect wages, about one-quarter of the gap remains unexplained and may be attributed to discrimination" (my emphasis). Another way to put it is that three-quarters of the gap clearly has innocent causes -- and that we actually don't know whether discrimination accounts for the rest.
I asked Harvard economist Claudia Goldin if there is sufficient evidence to conclude that women experience systematic pay discrimination. "No," she replied. There are certainly instances of discrimination, she says, but most of the gap is the result of different choices. Other hard-to-measure factors, Goldin thinks, largely account for the remaining gap -- "probably not all, but most of it."
The divergent career paths of men and women may reflect a basic unfairness in what's expected of them. It could be that a lot of mothers, if they had their way, would rather pursue careers but have to stay home with the kids because their husbands insist. Or it may be that for one reason or another, many mothers prefer to take on the lion's share of child-rearing. In any case, the pay disparity caused by these choices can't be blamed on piggish employers.
June O'Neill, an economist at Baruch College and former director of the Congressional Budget Office, has uncovered something that debunks the discrimination thesis. Take out the effects of marriage and child-rearing, and the difference between the genders suddenly vanishes. "For men and women who never marry and never have children, there is no earnings gap," she said in an interview.
That's a fact you won't hear from AAUW or the Democratic presidential candidates. The prevailing impulse on Equal Pay Day was to lament how far we are from the goal. The true revelation, though, is how close.
Mars is being hit by rapid climate change and it is happening so fast that the red planet could lose its southern ice cap, writes Jonathan Leake.
Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period.
I wonder why?
Saturday, April 28, 2007
New Idea for the Obese: Fat Offsets
Obesity is rampant. Over 20% of Americans 30 to 69 are obese. And, as usual, women and minorities are hardest hit. Can the same ingenuity that allows Al Gore and John Edwards reduce their carbon footprint be used to reduce the fat footprint of the obese/ In other words, can we buy fat offsets?
Well, why not? How many times have we seen pictures of emaciated children in other parts of the world? No matter how much we give, there never seems to be a shortage of starvation.
Let’s build on the lessons taught us by Liberals saving the planet. Let’s adopt a starving African or Asian and pay him or her to continue to starve!
I, for one want to get ahead of the curve before Al Gore beats me to the punch and corners the market on starvation. We can begin here.
Tell me how much you want to lose and I’ll match you up with the right offset. Limit, one starving Ethiopian per customer.
Picture of sample:
Is That a Gun in Your Pocket? or The disarming of America
Lest anyone think he's afraid of guns, he lets you in on his "experience."
And before anyone starts to hyperventilate and think I'm a crazed liberal zealot wanting to take his gun from his cold, dead hands, let me share my experience of guns.
As a child I played cowboys and Indians with cap guns. I had a Daisy Red Ryder B-B gun. My father had in his bedside table drawer an old pistol which I examined surreptitiously from time to time. When assigned to the American embassy in Beirut during the war in Lebanon, I sometimes carried a .357 Magnum, which I could fire accurately. I also learned to handle and fire a variety of weapons while I was there, including Uzis and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
He neglects to mention the time he blew away a small European country with a nuclear missile.
He starts with:
Now, how would one disarm the American population? First of all, federal or state laws would need to make it a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine and one year in prison per weapon to possess a firearm. The population would then be given three months to turn in their guns, without penalty.
After that he gets serious. You have to read it to believe it.
For a parody you can't get better than Iowahawk.
LAST week's tragedy at Virginia Tech in which a mentally disturbed person gunned down 32 of America's finest - intelligent young people with futures ahead of them - once again puts the phenomenon of an armed society into focus for Americans.
Let's do the math: (a) those two Virgina Tech guns killed an average of 16.5 people; (2) by conservative estimates, 240 million guns are wandering aimlessly around America's mean streets; therefore (iii) when these crazy guns finally snap, they will kill (16.5 x 240 million) = 4 billion people -- wiping out not only Virginia Tech, but the entire ACC and NCAA Division I-A itself. In this post-gun apocalypse there won't be enough survivors to bury the dead, let alone fill a decent bracket at the NCAA basketball tournament.
Obviously something must be done to stop this impending March Madness. But when people talk about doing something about guns in America, it often comes down to this: "How could America disarm even if it wanted to? There are so many guns out there."
To this smart-alecky question, a sane person would retort, "what difference does it make what America wants to do?" But, because I have little or no power to influence the "if" part of the issue, I will stick with the "how," and later I will move on to the "even." And before anyone starts to hyperventilate and think I'm some wacky crazed liberal zealot wanting to pry his precious gun from his cold, dead hands, I would first like to share my experience of guns, before outlining my commonsense plan for taking your guns.
As a child I played cowboys and Indians with cap guns. By the time I was 8 I had over 500 confirmed Injun kills notched in the stock of my Daisy Red Ryder, including Chuckie "Big Chief Running Bear" Petersen, despite his stubborn 54-year refusal to acknowledge, to this day, that I picked 'em off at the swing set, Tom Mix-style. My father had in his bedside table drawer an old pistol which I examined surreptitiously from time to time. In this same drawer, my father also kept his collection of Stag magazines, which I also enjoyed examining. It was in that magical bedside drawer I discovered my two lifelong loves: searching for guns, and masturbation.
Read both articles. The one is funny, the other is also funny in a scary way.
UPDATE: The lunatic means this stuff from Ace of Spades:
No Punking: Slublog has produced a welter of cites in the comments (just skim for the red text, morons) proving conclusively this guy is a dyed-in-the-organic-wool moonbat of the highest order. There is no Swiftian Modest Proposal thing going on here.
This lunatic means this stuff.
He would do everything possible to avoid an armed confrontation with a foreign enemy sworn to war against us.
But he's just itching to kill whole swaths of his more... problematic fellow American citizens.
He understands that people often mean what they say. He knows that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a person who can hold two contradictory ideas in his head simultaneously: he denies the Holocaust while regretting that Hitler did not finish the job. He knows that Hitler told the world about his plans to eradicate the Jews years before he had the power to put his solution into effect. The Islamofascists are being equally open about their desires.
For that reason, he and the Right are on the same page regarding the war, or at least the need for the war.
He supported Jimmy Carter before anyone outside of Georgia had ever heard of him. In this article he tells us their history. He then lists the way the Jimmy has been bought and paid for by Arab oil money. Some has come from a foundation begun by
“…a Shiekh and run by his son, hosted speakers who called Jews "the enemies of all nations," attributed the assassination of John Kennedy to Israel and the Mossad and the 9/11 attacks to the United States' own military, and stated that the Holocaust was a "fable."”
Click on the link for the whole article. He concludes:
No reasonable person can dispute therefore that Jimmy Carter has been and remains dependent on Arab oil money, particularly from Saudi Arabia. Does this mean that Carter has necessarily been influenced in his thinking about the Middle East by receipt of such enormous amounts of money? Ask Carter.
The entire premise of his criticism of Jewish influence on American foreign policy is that money talks. It is Carter, not me, who has made the point that if politicians receive money from Jewish sources, then they are not free to decide issues regarding the Middle East for themselves. It is Carter, not me, who has argued that distinguished reporters cannot honestly report on the Middle East because they are being paid by Jewish money. So, by Carter's own standards, it would be almost economically "suicidal" for Carter "to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine."
By Carter's own standards, therefore, his views on the Middle East must be discounted. It is certainly possible that he now believes them. Money, particularly large amounts of money, has a way of persuading people to a particular position. It would not surprise me if Carter, having received so much Arab money, is now honestly committed to their cause. But his failure to disclose the extent of his financial dependence on Arab money, and the absence of any self reflection on whether the receipt of this money has unduly influenced his views, is a form of deception bordering on corruption.
I have met cigarette lobbyists, who are supported by the cigarette industry, and who have come to believe honestly that cigarettes are merely a safe form of adult recreation, that cigarettes are not addicting and that the cigarette industry is really trying to persuade children not to smoke. These people are fooling themselves (or fooling us into believing that they are fooling themselves) just as Jimmy Carter is fooling himself (or persuading us to believe that he is fooling himself).
If money determines political and public views as Carter insists "Jewish money" does, Carter's views on the Middle East must be deemed to have been influenced by the vast sums of Arab money he has received. If he who pays the piper calls the tune, then Carter's off-key tunes have been called by his Saudi Arabian paymasters. It pains me to say this, but I now believe that there is no person in American public life today who has a lower ratio of real to apparent integrity than Jimmy Carter. The public perception of his integrity is extraordinarily high. His real integrity, it now turns out, is extraordinarily low. He is no better than so many former American politicians who, after leaving public life, sell themselves to the highest bidder and become lobbyists for despicable causes. That is now Jimmy Carter's sad legacy.
The U.S. announced on Friday that it captured the mastermind behind the 7/7/2005 bombings in London.
But you would not know it by reading the New York Times, the Washington Post or the Associated Press.
None of them mentioned the London bombings in reporting on the capture of the man who organized that attack, Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi (aka, Abu Abdallah).
Instead, reporters concentrated on where this major player in the war on terrorism was held after his capture.
The failure to disclose to readers that he masterminded the 7/7 bombings further erodes the credibility of the American press, as readers like me outsource the job of gathering facts to the Times of London.
Oh, and he was once a major in Saddam Hussein’s army. The American press failed to report that as well. The Times of London? Paragraph 2.
Here's how the Times of London wrote about it:
The al-Qaeda leader who is thought to have devised the plan for the July 7 suicide bombings in London and an array of terrorist plots against Britain has been captured by the Americans.
Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, a former major in Saddam Hussein’s army, was apprehended as he tried to enter Iraq from Iran and was transferred this week to the “high-value detainee programme” at Guantanamo Bay.
Abd al-Hadi was taken into CIA custody last year, it emerged from US intelligence sources yesterday, in a move which suggests that he was interrogated for months in a “ghost prison” before being transferred to the internment camp in Cuba.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Venus Ramey, Miss America 1944, was about to get robbed yet again last week at her south-central Kentucky farm, so she exercised 'gun control' by holding her snub-nosed .38-caliber weapon steady as she shot out the tires of the thief's would-be getaway car, using her walker to steady her aim with each shot. The 82-year-old pistol-packin'-mama then flagged down a passing motorist and calmly held the thief at gunpoint until the Sheriff arrived. (The Sheriff had just finished an urgent call at Donkin' Donuts.) Miss America's farm apparently was not a "gun-free zone." But according to New York Times editorials, people like Ramey would be much safer unarmed. Liberals would love to make all of America a "gun-free zone," just like they'd love to 'fix' American health care by making it one giant Walter Reed system.
The idiocy of "gun control" and 'gun-free' zoning at Virginia Tech helped get 32 of its students and teachers shot to death, so liberals insist the solution is even more gun control. And bigger 'gun-free' zoning. (New libbie slogan: People don't kill people, guns do.)
The 'crowning jewel' of deinstitutionalization was John Kennedy's Community Mental Health Act of 1963, then came the "privacy rules" of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which gave us Cho. The psychiatric hospital that treated Cho couldn't legally compare notes with Virginia Tech counselors nor dean without Cho's OK as an outpatient. It's notable that just before the HIPAA Privacy and Security Acts went into effect, the big worry was the cost of compliance. And with its complexity, nobody was ready to shoot from the HIPAA. At Virginia Tech, the cost of compliance consisted of 32 dead students and teachers. Because when guns are outlawed, the only one shooting from the hip is the outlaw. Liberals have blood on their hands.
A flock of small jets took flight from Washington Thursday, each carrying a Democratic presidential candidate to South Carolina for the first debate of the political season.
For Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden, it was wheels up shortly after they voted in favor of legislation requiring that U.S. troops begin returning home from Iraq in the fall.
No one jet pooled, no one took commercial flights to save money, fuel or emissions.
All but Biden, who flew on a private jet, chartered their flights -- a campaign expense of between $7,500 and $9,000.
Guess which one of these despoilers of the mental, moral and physical environment is going to get the "Green" vote. Just as the NAGS lined up in support of Bill Clinton "lie down and enjoy it." It's what they do.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Read the whole thing at Protein Wisdom.
Says Ray Robinson in The American Thinker:
I challenge The Washington Post to identify this source so that this
person can be questioned in the current proceedings.
By now, we’re used to people like Iranian President Ahmadinejad denying that the Holocaust ever happened, even while he and his regime promise not only the destruction of Israel but the elimination of Jews internationally.
It’s bad enough hearing from a distance about the bizarre anti-Semitic theories taught by heads of state as well as schools and religious leaders. Now, according to a study funded by the British government, we find out that some schools in Great Britain have stopped teaching history that is offensive to Muslim students. The topics that have been erased from the curriculum, the study found, include both the Nazi genocide and the Crusades.
Read the whole thing...
The current debate about global warming is "completely irrational," and people need to start taking a different approach, say two Ottawa scientists.
Carleton University science professor Tim Patterson said global warming will not bring about the downfall of life on the planet.
Patterson said much of the up-to-date research indicates that "changes in the brightness of the sun" are almost certainly the primary cause of the warming trend since the end of the "Little Ice Age" in the late 19th century. Human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas of concern in most plans to curb climate change, appear to have little effect on global climate, he said.
Labels: global warming
That’s why so-called “gun free zones” are much more likely to result in massacres like the one at Tech. the ability of someone like Cho to shoot and shoot and shoot defenseless victims is reprehensible. And what is particularly reprehensible is that the victims were defenseless on purpose due to a policy set in place by the Tech administration.
But what is infuriating about this article is this:
This kind of “reporting” makes you want to scream! Cho took the time to make a movie filled with hatred and chock-full of motive. What the hell are the police looking for? Do they think he was just kidding when he made his video and there are hidden reasons for his actions?
But they said investigators still don't know why Cho launched the bloody attack on his fellow students at Virginia Tech.
"We talk about possible motives and theories and whatnot, but we don't have any evidence to suggest anything," said State Police Superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty.
He said investigators had searched computer files, cell phone records and e-mails, and had compiled 500 piece of evidence from Norris Hall alone.
Yet so far, nothing indicated a motive or close link between the 23- year-old loner and his victims, Flaherty said.
In between, a package was mailed to NBC containing Cho's videotaped tirade and written manifesto about rich "brats" and their "hedonistic needs."
What is it about this case when police and reporters don’t want to take “yes, I hate you and want to kill you” as the answer?
Companies and individuals rushing to go green have been spending millions on “carbon credit” projects that yield few if any environmental benefits.
A Financial Times investigation has uncovered widespread failings in the new markets for greenhouse gases, suggesting some organisations are paying for emissions reductions that do not take place.
Others are meanwhile making big profits from carbon trading for very small expenditure and in some cases for clean-ups that they would have made anyway.
Trading in “carbon offsets” is arguably the worst opening for scams and fraud that has been invented in this century. There is not even a good definition of what a “carbon offset” is and those who sell them can virtually make up the value of the product that they sell. How, after all, do you check on the existence of a carbon offset? Some carbon offsets are simply promises to plant some trees at some time in the future. Meanwhile, you can fly your Learjet or Gulfstream and claim that your so-called “carbon footprint” is zero.
Not since the emperor’s new clothes has a scam of this magnitude been perpetrated.
The FT investigation found:
■ Widespread instances of people and organisations buying worthless credits that do not yield any reductions in carbon emissions.
■ Industrial companies profiting from doing very little – or from gaining carbon credits on the basis of efficiency gains from which they have already benefited substantially.
■ Brokers providing services of questionable or no value.
■ A shortage of verification, making it difficult for buyers to assess the true value of carbon credits.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
He pulled the rifle from the trunk of his Mercedes, removed the Bush & Cheney pictures from the office, and promised to be back if Bush vetoed the emergency war spending bill!" -Nevada Republican Party Executive Director Zachary Moyle.
"What I think Senator Reid has lost sight of...
Presidents don't lose wars.
Political parties don't lose wars.
Nations lose wars.
And, when nations lose wars, nations suffer."
Senator John McCain
with Sean Hannity
April 24, 2007
Listen to the interview. Click on the link.
Here is James Bopp, jr. with a history of this infamous bill:
In 2002, Congress adopted the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law. As part of this new law, Congress prohibited corporations and labor unions from running “electioneering communications” — i.e., advertisements naming a candidate, including incumbent officeholders seeking reelection, broadcast to the candidate’s constituents — within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. Touted as necessary to eliminate “sham” issue ads that were really intended to elect or defeat a candidate, it is now apparent that the story of McCain-Feingold is itself replete with shams. This so-called “electioneering communication” prohibition is simply the latest permutation of the ancient and persistent impulse of government officials to quash criticism of their actions.Read the rest...
Faux Grassroots and Dissimulations
Grassroots support for McCain-Feingold turns out to have been largely a sham. Sean Treglia, the former program officer for campaign-finance reform at the Pew Charitable Trusts, boasted that, over the course of the seven years, he had directed $30 million, with Pew “in the background,” to “drive public policy” by “creat[ing] an impression that a mass movement was afoot,” “a constituency that would punish Congress if they didn’t vote for reform.” The calls to “stop the wealthy” from influencing government policy were actually generated by $140 million in grants from wealthy foundations like Pew: $123 million came from just eight foundations, and $104 million went to just 17 “campaign finance reform” organizations. Something was afoot, but it was certainly no mass movement; the constituency for McCain-Feingold was a sham.
How else to make sense, for example, of the two women’s view that toilet paper should be rationed to one square per trip to the potty. In response, politicians, environmental experts and media opinionators left and right spent Monday poo-pooing such a goofy idea. Even far-left monster mouth Rosie O’Donnell got into the scatological act as David and Crow became worldwide laughingstocks.
Jokes about toilet paper rationing thus became the introduction to global warming for millions of people from Australia to Zimbabwe. And there’s the payoff for Big Oil — it’s hard to take global warming seriously when people are laughing in the water closet.
This is a personal account linking efforts to suppress scientific publication about climate science and policy by then-Senator (later vice president) Al Gore and his staff.
In those efforts, an individual working closely with Senator Gore and his staff made false and damaging statements about my behavior as a scientist.
I filed a libel suit against the individual. The suit was settled when he issued a retraction and apology to me that included a statement that members of Senator Gore’s staff had made “similar statements and insinuations” to those that he retracted.
CLICK ON THE LINK FOR THE WHOLE STORY.
Al Gore has a history of trying to silence his critics by any means, fair of foul.
Hat tip to Oeconomicus as Free Republic.
...this week, in an exchange with National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru, Fred Thompson tore down that fourth wall, separating him -- a potential leader of the Free World -- and us, folks who chat for a living.
...For example, on his opposition to a bill that would federally regulate lawyer's fees in tobacco cases: "Get this: Under the amendment the states would have been required to send the attorneys' bills to the House and Senate Judiciary for approval," riffs Thompson. "As I said on the floor on May 19, 1998, 'I did not come to the Senate to review billing records from lawyers in private lawsuits.'
"For the record, I oppose the federal regulation of any fees negotiated by two competent parties at the state and local level. This goes for lawyers, doctors, butchers, bakers, or the occasional candlestick maker ...
"This discussion," Fred Thompson goes on to say, "is not an idle exercise. Republicans have struggled in recent years, because they have strayed from basic principles. Federalism is one of those principles."
It's one of those small incidents that speak volumes. Can you imagine McCain or Giuliani personally debating a senior editor on National Review's Web site? By tearing down the fourth wall, Fred Thompson announced to conservatives, more eloquently than even his words could, that he really is one of us.
And he reads National Review!
Jonah Goldberg poses an interesting question:
...if 31 percent of Americans don’t know who the vice president is, fewer than half are aware that Nancy Pelosi is the speaker of the House, a mere 29 percent can identify “Scooter” Libby as the convicted former chief of staff of the vice president, and only 15 percent can name Harry Reid when asked who is the Senate majority leader … why do two-thirds of Americans believe that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales’ firing of eight U.S. attorneys was “politically motivated?”
Conceding the fact that there is literally nothing that goes on in Washington that is not “politically motivated,” in this case we must assume that people who answered the question in the affirmative believe a crime was committed. But even the Democrats in congress have not made that accusation.
So, we are supposed to believe that two-thirds of Americans have studied the details of the U.S. attorney firings and come to an informed conclusion that they were politically motivated — even when Senate Democrats agree that there is no actual evidence that Gonzales did anything improper. Are these the same people who couldn’t pick Pelosi out of a lineup? Or the 85 percent who couldn’t name the Senate majority leader? Are we to imagine that the 31 percent of the electorate who still — after seven years of headlines and demonization — can’t identify the vice president of the United States nonetheless have a studied opinion on the firing of New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias?[asks Goldberg]
The answer, dear friends, is that the people who may not be able to associate the name of Dick Cheney with the office of Vice President undoubtedly are victims of the MSM who have spared no expense to make sure that the worst possible inferences of the Democrats in Congress regarding this administration become the conventional wisdom.
As they did in the Duke non-rape case, as they did in the misreporting in the aftermath of Katrina and as they did by giving mass-murderer Cho his posthumous fame.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
For many at Duke, the last year offered a horrifying tutorial in the moral bankruptcy of the left's politically correct orthodoxy and the corruption of our culture at its hands..
Three of our peers faced a devastating year-long persecution because they were white and their accuser black. Imagine that Collin, Reade and David had been black students, accused of raping a white girl and that they faced a witchhunt led by a prosecutor re-elected thanks to the overwhelming support of the white community. Then imagine this witchhunt was supported by hordes of student protesters, prominent white activists and a large portion of an elite campus faculty, many of them affiliated with the European Studies Department. Imagine also that the University president suspends the almost all-black sports team of which these students are members and fires their black coach. Further imagine that the accuser in the case has continually changed her story from the first night, that there is no evidence against the players, that they've cooperated with the police and passed polygraphs and that extensive evidence exists to prove their innocence.
You think that scenario would have lasted for a year? Try a week
Financial Statistics of Note
2. SMALL-CAP RECORD - The small-cap Russell 2000 closed at 831 last Monday (4/16/07), setting an all-time record close. As of the end of that day, the Russell 2000 was up +12% on a trailing 1-year basis, +14% per year on a trailing 3-year basis, and +11% per year on a trailing 5-year basis. The Russell 2000 was introduced in 1988 (source: Russell).
3. STAYING POWER - Of the 10 largest capitalized stocks in the S&P 500 as of 12/31/96, 4 of the stocks were still ranked in the top 10 a decade later as of 12/31/06 (source: S&P).
4. MORE THAN INFLATION - The S&P 500 was up +11.8% for the year ending 3/31/07 while the Lehman Brothers Aggregate bond index was up +6.6%, both results greater than the +2.8% rate of inflation the country experienced over the 12-month period. The Lehman Brothers Aggregate bond index is calculated using 6,000 publicly traded government and corporate bonds with an average maturity of 10 years. The consumer price index is the measure of inflation that was used and is compiled by the US Bureau of Labor Studies (source: S&P, Lehman Brothers, and Department of Labor).
5. A GLOBAL MARKETPLACE - Just under 50% of the revenues from the 30 Dow stocks is generated from the foreign operations of the companies in the index (source: AP, Boston Globe).
6. CURRENCY TRIVIA - The global financial markets may be forecasting rising interest rates in Europe and flat to falling interest rates in the USA. This conclusion can be reached as a result of a rising euro and falling dollar. The euro finished at its highest closing value vs. the dollar last Thursday ($1.3603) since 12/30/04 (source: BTN Research).
7. MORE WORKERS - The unemployment rate in the USA was 4.4% as of 3/31/07, down 0.3% in the last 12 months, equal to 287,000 fewer idled workers today when compared to figures from a year ago (source: DOL).
8. SLOWING DOWN - The drop in the nation's jobless rate to 4.4% last month, its lowest level in 6 years, occurring while our economy is slowing, suggests that our nation's growth in productivity (i.e., output per hour of work) has waned. Over the 2 decades from 1976-1995, productivity grew by +1.5% per year, almost half of the +2.8% annual growth in productivity from 1996-2005. Last year (2006), productivity growth was only +1.6% (source: DOL).
9. WHO SELLS THE MOST? - The # 1 exporter in the world is Germany, ranked ahead of # 2, China and # 3, the United States (source: Financial Times).
10. SOME PROGRESS - China's $233 billion trade deficit with the USA last year (i.e., their exports to us exceeding our exports to them) has been a source of tension between the two economic superpowers. China however is expected to conduct a 4-city tour (Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C.) in May 2007 where purchases of $12 billion of American goods will be announced (source: Financial Times).
11. IT'S NOT AGE 65? - More than 4 out of every 5 Americans (82%) do not know the age at which they qualify for full retirement benefits from Social Security (source: Employee Benefit Research Institute).
12. THIRTYSOMETHING - 58% of Americans began saving for their future retirement before age 30 (source: Transamerica Retirement Services).
13. WHERE THE MONEY IS - The top 1% of US taxpayers (based upon adjusted gross income) pays 37% of all federal income tax. Twenty years ago (1987), this top income group paid 25% of all taxes (source: IRS).
14. HOME SWEET HOME - A single-family home went on the market for sale at $125 million early this month in Los Angeles. The 45,000 square-foot home is owned by a 46-year old woman (source: Wall Street Journal).
15. FUTURE OLYMPICS - The city of Chicago has been selected by the US Olympic committee as the American city that will submit a bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Chicago has 2 ½ years to put its bid together (the winning city will be selected in October 2009), expected to contain an operating budget of $5 billion. The 2008 Summer Games will be held in Beijing and the 2012 games are in London (source: Financial Times).
If native Canadians (if you'll forgive the expression) are already a 25 per cent minority in the country's population growth, they will be a small and ever smaller minority in the Canada of the future. Indeed, they're already at such a low demographic ebb that it calls into question any kind of trans-generational inheritance: "Canada" is in danger of becoming merely a zip code. The novelty junkies have a point: maybe it is time to rewrite that "home and native land" lyric.
Prior to the boom of the nineties and oughts, the all-time blockbuster immigration year was 1913, when 400,000 "new Canadians" arrived. Whether they looked at it like that is another matter: most of them were British subjects moving from one part of His Majesty's realms to another. In that sense, it was not "immigration" at all, or not as currently understood. The 2006 census numbers take as a given that the Canada of the 21st century will be a project built almost exclusively by foreigners.
Not only is the Canadian state insouciant about this ultimate outsourcing, it welcomes and celebrates it. For example, anti-monarchists such as John Manley and Brian Tobin routinely build their case on the line that in an ever more diverse Canada immigrants from Syria and Belarus can't be expected to relate to the Royal Family. This would be a very curious argument even in countries with robust immigration traditions--that a foreigner admitted by the state at its discretion should have the right to decide not which of his old country's customs he was going to retain but which of his new country's customs he was prepared to accept. It would ring very odd in most places--go on, get a job in Saudi Arabia, and try the same line on their royal family. So, when we buy the Manley-Tobin pitch, we're essentially accepting the principle of reverse assimilation, the obligation that Canadians assimilate with immigrants rather than the other way round.
And thereby lies great peril. Not for the Queen. She'll get by, whatever Canadians decide. But the Manley-Tobin line raises some very interesting questions. If our Liberal grandees are so convinced new Canadians won't accept the Crown, what other features of our inheritance will they also reject? How many Canadians will be saying "eh?" in 20 years' time? Or following hockey (assuming there are still any hockey teams up here)? How many will recognize "Sir John A. Macdonald"? What would such a nation be remembering on Remembrance Day?
Most eagerly anticipated Supreme Court cases these days are the political equivalent of the Hatfields and the McCoys, with one side giving no quarter to the other. A notable exception will be argued tomorrow: Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life. Even supporters of abortion rights are rooting for the Wisconsin group to win.
At issue is a provision in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002 which severely restricts "electioneering," or grass-roots advocacy, within 30 days of a primary and 60 days of a general election. The Supreme Court, unfortunately, upheld the basic constitutionality of this provision four years ago in a case that bears my name, but allowed for the possibility that specific applications of it could prove otherwise. Wisconsin Right to Life is testing that claim.
Specifically, the justices will consider a series of television ads the pro-life group ran in the summer and fall of 2004 during a Senate battle over a handful of President Bush's judicial nominees. The ads asked Wisconsin residents to contact the state's two Democratic senators and urge them to allow an up-or-down vote on the president's nominees.
Because one of the senators -- Russell Feingold -- was seeking re-election, the ads were pulled. But did the ads actually advocate for or against a candidate? A three-judge panel in the District of Columbia said no, thereby rejecting, on constitutional grounds, the application of BCRA to the ads in question. The Bush administration appealed and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
A ruling in favor of Wisconsin Right to Life could deal a blow to one of BCRA's central provisions, namely the "blackout" periods during which advocacy groups are forbidden from running issue ads. That would be good. But the larger question is why an advocacy group must defend itself for expressing its views on a question of urgent public interest? This is precisely the question I and many others have been raising for more than a decade.
Five years ago, as my colleagues got ready to pass BCRA, I warned them that three things would result: that rather than reduce the influence of money on politics, they'd drive it further underground; that advocacy groups would be blocked from speaking even on issues unrelated to elections; and that a deadline on issue ads would only lead to campaigns starting earlier, with a greater premium on early fund raising. All three predictions have come true, from the influence of 527s on the last presidential campaign, to the case before the Supreme Court, to primary campaigns 23 months ahead of the next presidential election.
Still, BCRA's potential impact on the presidential primary season isn't what primarily motivated those of us who fought against BCRA. The issue then, as now, is more fundamental. As I say in the amicus brief I submitted for tomorrow's case, "Restricting grass-roots lobbying would silence core political speech that is integral to the functioning of our form of government." The freedom to engage in this political speech is set out clearly in the First Amendment, and BCRA's strict limitation on issue advocacy of any kind during campaign season is a fundamental assault on its spirit and intent.
Those who agree with me have reason to hope that the Supreme Court will overturn this restrictive provision. One reason is that the court already acknowledged its potential harm in McConnell v. FEC; another is that the number of groups wrongly swept up by the blackout provision will only multiply as the primary season becomes longer. The prospect of so many appeals would itself be a sign of the law's instability.
The irony in all of this, of course, lies in another prospect: that groups as dissimilar as Wisconsin Right to Life and Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin might soon stand together to applaud the same ruling.
Mr. McConnell (R., Ky.) is the Senate minority leader.
Sheryl Crow thinks she's being environmentally friendly by only squeezing the Charmin one square at a time?
Sheryl Crow's sheet music [Mark Steyn]
So Sheryl Crow thinks she's being environmentally friendly by only squeezing the Charmin one square at a time? Ha! She's the John Edwards of celebrity bathrooms. You want environmentally-conscious stars? Step forward, Drew Barrymore:
Actress Drew Barrymore, who reportedly earns $15 million a film, told MTV viewers in one episode that after spending time in a primitive, electricity-free Chilean village, "I aspire to be like them more."
Barrymore, apparently enthralled by the lack of a modern sanitary facilities, gleefully bragged, "I took a poo in the woods hunched over like an animal. It was awesome."
The actress Sarah Miles, on the other hand, is one serious recycler. I'm surely not the only one who feels that with this campaign they've finally found a cause all Hollywood can get behind. Has Alec Baldwin got a position on toilets yet? How about an all-star cover version of "All We Are Saying Is Give One Piece A Chance"?
Making a suggestion as stupid as this implies that this over-paid cretin has someone to wipe her ass for her.
Michael Graham joins us with STOP ME BEFORE I WIPE AGAIN!
Dear Gaia, Mother Earth, Giver of All Life,
I'm sorry. I had no idea.
There I was, in the bathroom rolling out the Charmin like it was going out of style, and all the time I was killing you. And I didn't even know it.
To be honest, until I heard environmental expert Sheryl Crow speak out on the subject, it had never dawned on me to "count the squares." When I think "destroying the Earth," I think giant meteors, solar flares, or maybe a tear in the space-time continuum if Rosie O'Donnell and Michael Moore ever mated. But toilet paper?
Who knew that the future of the entire planet would come down to the question "one ply or two?"
I didn't think. I didn't care. Not like Sheryl does.
(By the way, Earth Mother, do you happen to know if Sheryl is one of those rock stars who throws her underwear into the crowd? Yikes.)
And here's from the Washington Times:Sheryl Crow on hygiene
Maybe we're being too hard on Miss Crow. She is fresh from a biodiesel bus tour of college campuses with environmental activist Laurie David. So brimming she could be right now with environmentalist fervor that the freedom-loving Miss Crow -- you know, the one who appreciates paper when it covers 7 million copies of "Tuesday Night Music Club" -- has recessed. In that case, she could be forgiven for failing to ponder how an "industrious enough people" could cut their T.P. use from 57 sheets a day to eight or 10 (federally funded nationwide bidet installation, perhaps). We could also forget the "dining sleeve," a shirt-fastened, washable napkin substitute, which surfaced this week in Miss Crow's diatribe. It is part of a phantom clothing line Miss Crow claims to have created, which trade magazines and industry watchers have inexplicably failed to write about, and which no clothesmaker will produce unless and until Americans decide that a grubby vogue applies, after all, to sleeve-wiping one's mouth after a meal.
But even then, Miss Crow could not be excused for conveniently failing to apply the same standard to herself and her industry -- which used paper, energy, plastics, chemicals and other enviro-left bugaboos to make her fabulously wealthy.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
In January of 2007, 21 year-old Channon Christian and her boyfriend, 23 year-old Christopher Newsom, were the victims of a horrific crime in Knoxville, Tennessee. During what appears to have started as a carjacking, the criminals decided to abduct the two and set in motion a disturbing series of events.
The suspects allegedly tortured and raped the young woman for several days before killing her. The young man's life ended sooner but his treatment was no less brutal.
The amount of savagery that took place in this case is of such magnitude that bloggers and their readers are asking, "Where's the national media?" What happened to these two young people is right up there with Jeff Dahmer's deeds on the list of wicked things that people have done to each other.
Now, carjackings are nothing new. Rapes and murders are also fairly frequent. But the brutality of this particular crime appears to have probed new heights of savage inhumanity:
"It apparently started with a carjacking," said Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Rich Knighten. "They did some really nasty things to this lady."
Subsequently Newsom’s badly burned and mutilated body was found in a rail yard. It turns out the five assailants did some “really nasty things” to Christopher Newsom before they killed him. Authorities know that he was raped, his penis cut off, and beaten before being set on fire and shot several times. It is believed they forced his girlfriend, Channon Christian, to watch.
Reports state that Channon Christian, was beaten and gang-raped in many ways for four days by all five assailants, including an eighteen year-old female named Vanessa Coleman. They also took turns urinating on her. Then they cut off her breasts and put a chlorine-based cleaning product in her mouth, ostensibly to eradicate any DNA evidence, then murdered her and left her body in a garbage can inside a house once occupied by two of the assailants.
Day by Day
Labels: Day by Day
I think we have a problem in our culture not with "realistic weapons" but with being realistic about reality. After all, we already "fear guns," at least in the hands of NRA members. Otherwise, why would we ban them from so many areas of life? Virginia Tech, remember, was a "gun-free zone," formally and proudly designated as such by the college administration. Yet the killer kept his guns and ammo on the campus. It was a "gun-free zone" except for those belonging to the guy who wanted to kill everybody. Had the Second Amendment not been in effect repealed by VT, someone might have been able to do as two students did five years ago at the Appalachian Law School: When a would-be mass murderer showed up, they rushed for their vehicles, grabbed their guns and pinned him down until the cops arrived.
But you can't do that at Virginia Tech. Instead, the administration has created a "Gun-Free School Zone." Or, to be more accurate, they've created a sign that says "Gun-Free School Zone." And, like a loopy medieval sultan, they thought that simply declaring it to be so would make it so. The "gun-free zone" turned out to be a fraud -- not just because there were at least two guns on the campus last Monday, but in the more important sense that the college was promoting to its students a profoundly deluded view of the world.
I live in northern New England, which has a very low crime rate, in part because it has a high rate of gun ownership. We do have the occasional murder, however. A few years back, a couple of alienated loser teens from a small Vermont town decided they were going to kill somebody, steal his ATM cards, and go to Australia. So they went to a remote house in the woods a couple of towns away, knocked on the door, and said their car had broken down. The guy thought their story smelled funny so he picked up his Glock and told 'em to get lost. So they concocted a better story, and pretended to be students doing an environmental survey. Unfortunately, the next old coot in the woods was sick of environmentalists and chased 'em away. Eventually they figured they could spend months knocking on doors in rural Vermont and New Hampshire and seeing nothing for their pains but cranky guys in plaid leveling both barrels through the screen door. So even these idiots worked it out: Where's the nearest place around here where you're most likely to encounter gullible defenseless types who have foresworn all means of resistance? Answer: Dartmouth College. So they drove over the Connecticut River, rang the doorbell, and brutally murdered a couple of well-meaning liberal professors. Two depraved misfits of crushing stupidity (to judge from their diaries) had nevertheless identified precisely the easiest murder victims in the twin-state area. To promote vulnerability as a moral virtue is not merely foolish. Like the new Yale props department policy, it signals to everyone that you're not in the real world.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
By Ruth Wedgwood, RUTH WEDGWOOD is professor of international law and diplomacy at Johns Hopkins University's School for Advanced International Studies.
April 17, 2007
ON TAKING office, World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz set two priorities for the world's premier development institution. He asked for a focus on Africa's persistent poverty, and he targeted corruption that diverts aid dollars from the poor.
African leaders endorsed this vision, but not all bank bureaucrats were thrilled by Wolfowitz or his policies. Still, any friend of the bank's work should be dismayed by the disruption caused by a manufactured scandal at a time when the bank needs to replenish its coffers. The imbroglio rattling the World Bank during its spring meeting of finance ministers is a rehash of its clumsy attempt to resolve the status of Shaha Ali Riza, a veteran bank professional and Wolfowitz's longtime romantic partner.
The authors of this acrid affair have nakedly forgotten the standards of fairness and due process owed Riza, who is a member of the bank staff association and entitled to its fiduciary protections. And the scandal-mongers have recklessly ignored a written record of bank documents that serves not to condemn but to exculpate Wolfowitz.
Moreover, the case reveals the bank's executive board and its ethics committee as organs of haphazard judgment. In 2005, the ethics committee surprisingly denied Wolfowitz's written request that he be allowed to recuse himself from all decisions touching on Riza's status because of their relationship. Then it disqualified her from remaining at the bank yet insisted that she be compensated for this disruption to her career. Next, it insisted that Wolfowitz re-enter the chain of command to execute its advice concerning Riza. And now, board members apparently have criticized Wolfowitz for doing exactly what the ethics panel directed.
To be sure, news stories about Riza have revealed that the pay of World Bank staff far exceed what comparable professionals would earn elsewhere. The public may rightly be dismayed to learn that Riza and other World Bank "lead" professionals can earn from $132,000 to $232,000 — in some cases more than U.S. Cabinet secretaries. And because the bank is an international institution, staffers who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents are not taxed by Washington. A foreign bank employee with a salary of $132,000 can support the same lifestyle as someone with a taxable gross income of more than $200,000. This should be changed.
But this does not excuse a mob mentality that abuses the reputation of a particular female professional, much less a bank president. The internal documents released last week — at Wolfowitz's request — show that this slow-moving institution had no protocol for figuring out how to accommodate the career of a professional woman when her spouse or partner came to work in the same chain of command. This is becoming a more serious problem in today's workplace.
Riza was a veteran of the bank, working as a senior communications officer in the Middle East/North African public outreach program before Wolfowitz was picked as bank president in 2005. With more than 15 years' experience in the field, able to speak Arabic, English and French, she was short-listed for a senior-level job. The bank's ethics committee in July 2005 gave "informal" advice that Riza had to give up her eligibility for promotion and leave the bank. It acknowledged that this step would disrupt Riza's career for a substantial period. For a 52-year-old bank employee facing mandatory retirement at age 62, losing a promotion and a long period of service is not trivial. The ethics committee thus reasonably concluded that Riza should receive some compensation for her forced transfer.
According to the documents on the bank's website, it was the ethics committee's own idea — not Wolfowitz's — to give Riza a promotion as she was being moved out for four years. She was transferred to the State Department to work on a grass-roots democracy project that has been praised by Secretary Condoleezza Rice. She was given the mid-range salary for her new level. This was a lot of money, but it was based on the bank's existing pay scales.
It was certainly not a corrupt favor to a girlfriend.
The most amazing thing is that all the facts were reviewed for a second time by the World Bank ethics committee last year, and again it found nothing wrong. The chairman of the ethics committee pronounced in a Feb. 28, 2006, letter that "the ethics committee decided that the allegations … do not appear to pose ethical issues." It is hard to square the record with the entertaining claim that the World Bank's president somehow concocted a do-nothing job for his girlfriend. It's a bum rap, and one that women professionals in dual-career families might worry about.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Lord God of Hosts
June 22, 1897
GOD of our fathers, known of old—
Lord of our far-flung battle-line—
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!
The tumult and the shouting dies—
The captains and the kings depart—
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart,
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!
Far-call'd our navies melt away—
On dune and headland sinks the fire—
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe—
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!
For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard—
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard—
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!
Let us pray...
When the stockpiles could not be discovered and displayed, all sorts of explanations were given, none of them compelling: he destroyed his weapons in compliance with the UN demands, or alternatively, his generals lied to him about his weapons program. Neither explanation survives the laugh test. If Saddam voluntarily disarmed he would have been the first dictator in history to have done so. To lie to Saddam was a self-imposed death sentence.
So what’s the truth? Here’s a possible answer:
It’s a fair bet that you have never heard of a guy called Dave Gaubatz. It’s also a fair bet that you think the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has found absolutely nothing, nada, zilch; and that therefore there never were any WMD programmes in Saddam’s Iraq to justify the war ostensibly waged to protect the world from Saddam’s use of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
Dave Gaubatz, however, says that you could not be more wrong. Saddam’s WMD did exist. He should know, because he found the sites where he is certain they were stored. And the reason you don’t know about this is that the American administration failed to act on his information, ‘lost’ his classified reports and is now doing everything it can to prevent disclosure of the terrible fact that, through its own incompetence, it allowed Saddam’s WMD to end up in the hands of the very terrorist states against whom it is so controversially at war.
Read the rest...
There seems to me a sort of broad national diminution of common sense in our country that we don't notice in the day-to-day but that become obvious after a story like this. Common sense says a person like Cho Sheng-hui, who was obviously dangerous and unstable, should have been separated from the college population. Common sense says someone should have stepped in like an adult, like a person in authority, and taken him away. It is only common sense that if a person like Cho leaves a self-aggrandizing, self-celebrating, self-pitying video diary of himself to be played by the mass media, the mass media should not play it and not publicize it, not make it famous. Common sense says that won't help.
And all those big cops, scores of them, hundreds, with the latest, heaviest, most sophisticated gear, all the weapons and helmets and safety vests and belts. It looked like the brute force of the state coming up against uncontrollable human will.
But it also looked muscle bound. And the schools themselves more and more look muscle bound, weighed down with laws and legal assumptions and strange prohibitions.
The school officials I saw, especially the head of the campus psychological services, seemed to me endearing losers. But endearing is too strong. I mean "not obviously and vividly offensive." The school officials who gave all the highly competent, almost smooth and practiced news conferences seemed to me like white, bearded people who were educated in softness. Cho was "troubled"; he clearly had "issues"; it would have been good if someone had "reached out"; it's too bad America doesn't have better "support services." They don't use direct, clear words, because if they're blunt, they're implicated.
The literally white-bearded academic who was head of the campus counseling center was on Paula Zahn Wednesday night suggesting the utter incompetence of officials to stop a man who had stalked two women, set a fire in his room, written morbid and violent plays and poems, been expelled from one class, and been declared by a judge to be "mentally ill" was due to the lack of a government "safety net." In a news conference, he decried inadequate "funding for mental health services in the United States." Way to take responsibility. Way to show the kids how to dodge.
The anxiety of our politicians that there may be an issue that goes unexploited was almost--almost--comic. They mean to seem sensitive, and yet wind up only stroking their supporters. I believe Rep. Jim Moran was first out of the gate with the charge that what Cho did was President Bush's fault. I believe Sen. Barack Obama was second, equating the literal killing of humans with verbal coarseness. Wednesday there was Sen. Barbara Boxer equating the violence of the shootings with the "global warming challenge" and "today's Supreme Court decision" upholding a ban on partial-birth abortion.
One watches all of this and wonders: Where are the grown-ups?
Read the whole thing...
Thursday, April 19, 2007
And now, turning to our peace-loving Muslims at an Arabic Islamic forum, I translate some of their ‘condolences’:Al-Jazeera reported 20 dead and 29 injured. Praise be to Allah.
Praise be to Allah for these calamities hitting America. By the will of Allah, more of this [will happen], following their defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
O Allah, keep America busy with itself, and enamor its people against it.
And on this site, the massacre is being referred to as “The Great Ghazwa of Virginia.” (Ghazwa means ‘raid’ in Arabic, referring to the battles Muhammad and his followers fought against the non-Muslims.)
His thirty-two dead victims and 15 wounded means that he used at least 47 bullets. Given that handguns are not particularly accurate, my guess is that he used many more bullets than that.
Taking all the emotion away, it's reasonable to assume that he killed himself when he ran out of ammunition.
That's disturbing. Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia is a rural oasis and the largest University in Virginia. No effete bunch of urban liberals they. Yet the students and faculty - with a few notable and heroic examples (Professor Liviu Librescu) - were passive and panic stricken; either waiting to be shot, hiding under desks, or jumping out of windows.
Don't get me wrong, given the choice of jumping out of a window or facing a maniac with a gun, I'll jump out of a window every day. But in the end, the killer was not stopped. He just ran out of ammo. 32 people died and 15 were wounded while the killer's only injury was self inflicted.
In a way, that bothers me.
Mark Steyn talks here about A Culture of Passivity
On Monday night, Geraldo was all over Fox News saying we have to accept that, in this horrible world we live in, our “children” need to be “protected.”
Point one: They’re not “children.” The students at Virginia Tech were grown women and — if you’ll forgive the expression — men. They would be regarded as adults by any other society in the history of our planet. Granted, we live in a selectively infantilized culture where twentysomethings are “children” if they’re serving in the Third Infantry Division in Ramadi but grown-ups making rational choices if they drop to the broadloom in President Clinton’s Oval Office. Nonetheless, it’s deeply damaging to portray fit fully formed adults as children who need to be protected. We should be raising them to understand that there will be moments in life when you need to protect yourself — and, in a “horrible” world, there may come moments when you have to choose between protecting yourself or others. It is a poor reflection on us that, in those first critical seconds where one has to make a decision, only an elderly Holocaust survivor, Professor Librescu, understood instinctively the obligation to act.
There is - for those who wish to draw comparisons - a difference between the heroes of Flight 93 and the students at VT. The men of 93 knew they had nothing to lose. The VT students did not know this. Their classrooms would not crash, killing them all, and they hoped that they would survive when the shooting stopped. They were not all automatically doomed by passivity as were the passengers on the 9/11 flights. Perhaps that explains it all; a rational, mathematical decision: he can't kill us all because he does not have enough bullets.
And if the wolf takes one of the sheep, the flock still survives. But where are the shepherds? Or did they die with the survivor of the Holocaust?
Labels: Virginia Tech
Wanted: A culture of self-defense
As news was breaking about the carnage at Virginia Tech, a reader e-mailed me a news story from last January. State legislators in Virginia had attempted to pass a bill that would have eased handgun restrictions on college campuses. Opposed by outspoken, anti-gun activists and Virginia Tech administrators, that bill failed.
Is it too early to ask: "What if?" What if that bill had passed? What if just one student in one of those classrooms had been in lawful possession of a concealed weapon for the purpose of self-defense?
Late last summer, a shooting near campus prompted students to clamor again for loosening campus rules against armed self-defense. Virginia Tech officials turned up their noses. In response to student Bradford Wiles's campus newspaper op-ed piece in support of concealed carry on campus, Virginia Tech associate vice president Larry Hincker scoffed:
"[I]t is absolutely mind-boggling to see the opinions of Bradford Wiles…The editors of this page must have printed this commentary if for no other reason than malicious compliance. Surely, they scratched their heads saying, 'I can't believe he really wants to say that.' Wiles tells us that he didn't feel safe with the hundreds of highly trained officers armed with high powered rifles encircling the building and protecting him. He even implies that he needed his sidearm to protect himself."
Hincker continued: "The writer would have us believe that a university campus, with tens of thousands of young people, is safer with everyone packing heat. Imagine the continual fear of students in that scenario. We've seen that fear here, and we don't want to see it again…Guns don't belong in classrooms. They never will. Virginia Tech has a very sound policy preventing same."
Who's scratching his head now, Mr. Hincker?
In the past week, Don Imus was fired, all charges against the Duke University lacrosse players were dropped, and almost everyone has offered a sermon about the racial and class issues involved in both cases. But we need look only to the Ancient Greeks for the best insight.
The Greeks believed that insolence naturally leads to bullying, or hubris. This arrogance induces a mad behavior called ate. Finally, that recklessness earns well-earned destruction unleashed by the god Nemesis.
In other words, what goes around comes around — big time.
No one gets a pass, according to the Greeks. Just ask the arrogant Oedipus, who ultimately stabbed his own eyes out.
For years, talk-show host Imus trashed people, sometimes with racist and anti-Semitic banter. And not only did he get away with playing the foul mouth, but he was often courted by the powerful for his supposedly influential audience and the notion that it was hip to rap with him.
All the attention only swelled Imus’s head. And his excess led him to a kind of madness. How else to characterize the mind of someone who labels the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos”?
Apparently, the unhinged Imus thought that adopting such racist, sexist slurs used by those in the “gangsta” culture — “hos” is a favorite term of some African-American rappers and comedians — was also cool for a white shock-jock.
Imus also foolishly assumed that the parade of liberal politicians and friends who clamored to get on his show might offer him politically correct cover.
Wrong again. Something called “race, class, and gender” studies in our universities has long preached otherwise: Only those not white, heterosexual, and male have an unspoken pass to use jocular slurs that their “oppressors” better not copy.
Lesbians on motorcycles carry placards blaring “Dykes on Bikes.” Homosexuals hype “queer studies.” Yet for outsiders to dub someone a “queer” or a “dyke” — or a “ho” — even as a bad joke is deemed automatically proof of their prejudice.
Imus, for all his pseudo-sophistication about the contemporary scene, apparently did not grasp this hypocrisy of American popular culture. So he thought he could piggyback on such vile language — and as a hip white celeb get away with it.
Then he met Nemesis, long lying in wait. And the more America learned about the past rantings of this talk-show bully, the more it wondered why such a banal fool ever had an audience in the first place, much less was courted by politicians and celebrities.
Read the rest.
If there was ever any doubt that the people who sponsor legislation don't understand what they are doing, this is it.
Watch the video.
From the attacks of 9/11 to Monday's school shooting, after every mass murder there is an overwhelming urge to "do something" to prevent a similar attack.
But since Adam ate the apple and let evil into the world, deranged individuals have existed.
Most of the time they can't be locked up until it's too late. It's not against the law to be crazy — in some jurisdictions it actually makes you more viable as a candidate for public office.
It's certainly not against the law to be an unsociable loner. If it were, Ralph Nader would be behind bars right now, where he belongs. Mass murder is often the first serious crime unbalanced individuals are caught committing — as appears to be in the case of the Virginia Tech shooter.
The best we can do is enact policies that will reduce the death toll when these acts of carnage occur, as they will in a free and open society of 300 million people, most of whom have cable TV.
Only one policy has ever been shown to deter mass murder: concealed-carry laws. In a comprehensive study of all public, multiple-shooting incidents in America between 1977 and 1999, the inestimable economists John Lott and Bill Landes found that concealed-carry laws were the only laws that had any beneficial effect.
And the effect was not insignificant. States that allowed citizens to carry concealed handguns reduced multiple-shooting attacks by 60 percent and reduced the death and injury from these attacks by nearly 80 percent.
Apparently, even crazy people prefer targets that can't shoot back. The reason schools are consistently popular targets for mass murderers is precisely because of all the idiotic "Gun-Free School Zone" laws.
From the people who brought you "zero tolerance," I present the Gun-Free Zone! Yippee! Problem solved! Bam! Bam! Everybody down! Hey, how did that deranged loner get a gun into this Gun-Free Zone?
Read the rest...
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
But the boys' attackers are unrepentant. Read Durham in Wonderland.
And read a series of thought-provoking essays by William Anderson at LewRockwell.com.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
So now he is suing.
On Monday, my attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (www.telladf.org) filed a federal civil rights suit on my behalf against the University of North Carolina - Wilmington. The two main aspects of the case are a First Amendment Claim and a claim for religious discrimination under Title VII. Below I offer a brief explanation of both aspects of the case.
First Amendment Retaliation. Simply put, the university has taken multiple actions against me after they became aware that I was no longer atheist and liberal but instead Christian and conservative. Since 2001, I have been -- among other things -- falsely accused of a felony, falsely accused of libel, been instructed to stay away from department meetings, had stricter standards applied to my own conduct than applied to my colleagues, and -- ultimately -- denied a promotion for which I was imminently qualified. In the wake of this lawsuit, I am predicting that UNCW will cite my 400-plus nationally published political columns as evidence that there are no restraints on my ability to express my rights per the First Amendment. However, the chronological organization of my civil complaint (www.telladf.org/UserDocs/AdamsComplaint.pdf) makes it clear that my career as a columnist was launched in 2002 largely as a response to false accusations of libel (and later breaking and entering and -- believe it or not -- tear gassing a colleague's office) levied against me in 2001.
I wish him well.
Monday, April 09, 2007
I know I should be passionately following the showdown between Congress and the president over legislation tying the funding of American troops in Iraq to a timetable for the troops' withdrawal from Iraq. Honestly, though, I find it hard to follow it at all. Showdowns are all about certainty, and for me, Iraq has always been a place of ambivalence.
Read the rest.
April 16, 2007 issue - Judging from the media in recent months, the debate over global warming is now over. There has been a net warming of the earth over the last century and a half, and our greenhouse gas emissions are contributing at some level. Both of these statements are almost certainly true. What of it? Recently many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe. What most commentators—and many scientists—seem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes. The earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year; periods of constant average temperatures are rare. Looking back on the earth's climate history, it's apparent that there's no such thing as an optimal temperature—a climate at which everything is just right. The current alarm rests on the false assumption not only that we live in a perfect world, temperaturewise, but also that our warming forecasts for the year 2040 are somehow more reliable than the weatherman's forecast for next week.
Read the whole thing.
Labels: global warming
So then, you see, this Easter is upon us, but I have begun to wonder how many more Easters there might be. Maybe there will be a thousand more Easters. Maybe there will be five more Easters. Maybe… this could be the last Easter.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
This Sunday Christians around the world will celebrate Easter as a memorial of Christ's resurrection. If Christians are correct about what happened on the first Easter morning, then the resurrection is the single most important event in human history. If true, then in this single event Christ's teachings were validated. He is the Son of God who came to earth as a sacrifice for our sins, and those who accept him by grace through faith will have eternal life. On the other hand, if the resurrection did not occur, then Christianity is a hoax and the claims of Christ were false.
According to some people today, however, whether or not the resurrection actually occurred is of little importance. Confronted with the bold truth claims of Jesus Christ—for example, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)—they try to obscure or avoid Christ's declaration by saying they simply revere him as a great moral teacher, nothing more. If archeologists unearthed Jesus' occupied tomb, it would not change their opinion of Christ at all.
Compare this mentality to that of the Apostle Paul: "...if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men..." (1 Cor. 15:17-19) Paul understood the centrality of the resurrection to the Christian faith. He avowed, "...if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." (1 Cor. 14:15) If all we have is this earthly existence, the Apostle affirms "let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." (1 Cor. 15:32) Paul understood clearly that ideas have consequences and that what we believe determines how we behave. If we believe that Christ is who he claimed to be and that he defeated death and the grave, we must live for him—in his presence, under his authority, and for his glory. But if all we have is this earthly existence, we might as well just live for ourselves because the grave is truly our final resting place.
In this age of relativism, tolerance, and inclusion, Christ's claims of absolutism and exclusivity make many uncomfortable. It is deemed to be in poor taste to assert that there is only one way to God. Therefore, acknowledging Jesus as a great moral teacher is a convenient way of partially embracing him, while at the same time keeping him at a distance. But Jesus doesn't allow us to have it both ways. Christ did not come to earth to merely usher in a new morality. C. S. Lewis explains, "...Christianity is not the promulgation of a moral discovery. It is addressed only to penitents, only to those who admit their disobedience to the known moral law." In other words, Christ did not come to teach morality to those who are ignorant of it. He did not come to offer a new moral law. He came to save those who had fallen short of the existing one. Ultimately, Christ came to save sinners. (1 Tim. 1:15)
Read the whole thing.
The Good News: HE Is Risen!
"The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away. Then she runneth and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
"And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni;which is to say, Master."
From the Gospel according to John
Read the whole thing.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
The bottom line:
The AP is resorting here to the media's constant trick of misrepresenting the position of those who oppose the global warming theorists. The issue is not whether the earth has recently warmed; it has, by around 7/10 of a degree in the last century. The questions are, 1) to what extent, if any, is that warming (or the cooling that also occurs periodically) caused by human activity, 2) how much warming (or cooling) is there likely to be in the future, 3) what will the net effects, good and bad, of such warming or cooling be, and 4) are the benefits, if any, of reducing CO2 emissions by a given amount worth the costs?
The Associated Press, like nearly all mainstream media outlets, runs interference for the global warming hysterics by misrepresenting the nature of the debate, misrepresenting the positions of those who oppose the hysteria, and subtly (or perhaps not so subtly) suggesting that all who question the anthropogenic global warming theorists can safely be dismissed as cranks.
:“Blasphemy itself could not survive religion,” G.K. Chesterton observed, “if anyone doubts that, let him try to blaspheme Odin.” Similarly, humiliation cannot survive the death of pride. So it was a hopeful sign that the British Telegraph editorialized that Britain had been “humiliated” by the Iranians. At least the sting of pride can be felt in that lonely journalistic redoubt.
Target Department Store Boots Marines in Uniform
"We weren't recruiting," according to Cpl. Carlos Rodriguez, 22, who said he returned in October from his second combat tour in Iraq. "I just popped in to say hi to a guy I went to high school with. He works there."
But an assistant manager who saw Rodriguez and the other Marine apparently thought otherwise and showed them the door, according to both servicemen.
Read the rest HERE.
The "Backlash" Bogeyman Resurrected
It turns out that you have to get pretty outrageous to get noticed as an Arab. In fact the "Flying Imams" had to go through quite a few parts of their script before the fellow passengers on the plane finally had had enough. Of course they are now the poster-children of the MSM types who always see their fellow countrymen as blatant bigots waiting to explode. Oh wait, those are the followers of the "Religion of Peace" in suicide vests.
That was 5 years ago and the feared “backlash” did not occur. But as a bogeyman for the MSM, it keeps rising from the dead.
The latest example is our own, much loathed, Virginian Pilot. The earlier article I cited was biased enough; this is the follow-up editorial written as if it were a new article.
Writer GILLIAN GAYNAIR uses the vehicular homicide of two teen-aged girls by a drunken illegal immigrant from Mexico and screams:
Hispanics wary of fallout from deadly crash in Virginia Beach.
The powers-that-be in the area are a little incensed that Bill O’Reilly took the occasion of these deaths to point out that there is an interesting policy in place in Virginia Beach. That policy prevents the police from trying to determine if you are an illegal alien if you are arrested for a crime. A crime such as drunken driving. A crime for which the man who killed the two girls has been arrested and convicted … three times … in the seven years he has been illegally in this country. He was so drunk at the time he killed the girls that he can’t remember the crash.
Gaynair finds the usual suspects; the ones who:
…fear that because of Alfredo Ramos, people will categorize all Hispanics as drunken drivers and unauthorized immigrants. Ramos, 22, is charged with aggravated involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of Alison Kunhardt, 17, and Tessa Tranchant, 16. He had a record of three alcohol-related convictions in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake and had entered the country from Mexico illegally.
Read the rest of the sob story HERE.
The Pilot has one columnist - Kerry Dougherty- who is often a voice of reason.
Police Chief Jake Jacocks, for instance, said he found it "ironic that had the intoxicated driver been born and raised in Virginia Beach, little notice would have been given this senseless tragedy by the media or the community at large."
Any time an alleged drunk is accused of killing two people, it's news.
Unfortunately, when the culprit is a homegrown hairball, we're stuck with him.
In this case, the suspect, 22-year-old Alfredo Ramos, admitted he is in the country illegally.
The public was astonished to learn that not only had Ramos had earlier brushes with the law, but during those encounters - including a DUI conviction in Chesapeake - the Mexican's immigration status was of no interest to authorities.
We all know the laws are a federal matter and that the feds don't do enough to enforce them. Still, the cities didn't even try to find out if Ramos was here legally.
That's why the common-sense crowd is outraged.
After O'Reilly's television show Wednesday night, the city was flooded with e-mails about the Ramos incident. So with the whole world watching, how did officialdom deal with a growing crisis?
It dropped into a defensive crouch, hinted that those who want immigration laws enforced are reactionaries, and stubbornly pretended that last week's ghastly accident was just another car wreck.
Friday, April 06, 2007
The Virginian Pilot Rushes to the Defense of Lawbreaking. The Drunk Illegal Killer Story.
Bill O’Reilly, who hosts the highest rated talk show on cable, has elevated these deaths and the issues they raise to a national level. State and local officials are busy attempting to shift the blame to someone - anyone - other than themselves.
The primary culprit is of course that 22 year-old Alfredo Ramos, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who was so drunk on the day he killed the girls that he can't remember hitting them. And his drunken driving was not an isolated incident. According to the Pilot, he has three drunken driving convictions during his 7 years in the US. This is a remarkable history since drunks are stopped and convicted for only a small fraction of the times they actually take to the road.
But this vehicular homicide has touched a nerve among the American people because there is a general unease with the fact that the country is overrun with illegal aliens. In general we are a law abiding people who believe in playing by the rules. And when the rules about immigration are flouted, and flouted blatantly and openly, people get upset. They get even more upset when community officials deliberately help the lawbreakers. And when those lawbreakers kill the most innocent among us, there will be hell to pay.
And rightly so.
The Virginian Pilot’s take? In what is supposed to be a news report, Deirdre Fernandes and Jon Frank present a defense of Virginia Beach officials who allowed – as a matter of policy – to allow Alfredo Ramos to remain in Virginia Beach until he finally kills two girls .
City leaders launched a counterattack against Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly on Thursday, calling him a "TV show gadfly" after he blamed the city in the deaths of two teenagers and accused local leaders of providing sanctuary to illegal immigrants.
A nice bit of name calling.
Major Meyera Oberndorf and the police chief, Jake Jacocks Jr. apparently have the support of one of the slain girls’ fathers.
Ray Tranchant, Tessa's father, urged people not to treat the tragedy like "a political football."
"There's been some politicizing and mudslinging against the city," Tranchant said in a quiet voice. He added that he trusts "justice will be done."
Tranchant has my sympathy as a parent. I would be heartbroken if my daughter was killed. Parents should not have to bury their children. As a father he has my support, but as someone who has injected himself into a political controversy he does not. And make no mistake about it; Bill O’Reilly did not create this controversy: city and state officials have.
City leaders tried to shift the debate about the recent deaths of Alison Kunhardt, 17, and Tessa Tranchant, 16, away from illegal immigration and onto drunk driving….
Police Chief Jake Jacocks Jr. said he found it "ironic that had the intoxicated driver been born and raised in Virginia Beach, little notice would have been given to this senseless tragedy by the media or the community at large.
"Unfortunately, most who have been outspoken about this recent and all-too-common tragedy have lost perspective and focus," he said.
Nice try on the part of Chief Jacocks to change the subject. “Ignore the man behind the curtain.”
We can’t deport people who were born and raised in Virginia Beach. We should be able to deport people who are here illegally and who have demonstrated – by repeated arrests – that they are a danger to the community. In fact, we should be able to deport people who are here illegally, period; full stop.
Why is Chief Jacocks so defensive? Well it appears that it is his policy that prevents his officers from asking about the status of illegal aliens:
Note that Jacocks tries to subtly direct some of the blame for the policy to his “leadership command.”
O'Reilly was castigating a Virginia Beach policy that forbids patrol officers from asking the immigration status of defendants charged with misdemeanors.
Jacocks said the policy is similar to those used by other large cities and is necessary so that illegal immigrants will report crimes and help in the prosecution of crimes without fear of retribution from law enforcement.
Jacocks, along with his leadership command, crafted the policy and put it into practice in September 2005. "As chief of police, it is my policy," he said.
And Poor old Meyera Oberndorf?
Oberndorf seemed almost bewildered by the criticism.
"Neither I nor any member of the council have adopted any legislation to make this a sanctuary city," she said.
She has rarely taken a stance on immigration locally, but as a participant in the U.S. conference of mayors, she has urged President Bush to reform the country's immigration policies and called the proposal to build the 300-mile fence along the Mexico border "un-American."
I’m sure she is bewildered. She believes that she is on the side of the angels. That her beliefs are the beliefs of all right-thinking people. That people who want illegal immigration to stop are knuckle dragging Neanderthals. That the illegals are “doing the jobs that Americans don’t want to do” That they are poor but honest, that they are blah, blah, blah.
As the old Viet Nam era song says, “you don’t need a weatherman” to figure out where Oberndorf stands on the issue of illegal immigration and what her position is regarding the deportation of illegal aliens.
But when called to account, she says that we never officially passed a law making Virginia Beach a “sanctuary city.” No, she, and the police chief made it a sanctuary city by way of a police rule.
And what about the State of Virginia in all this?
Meanwhile the State has just passed a bill that will build more roads that will allow the next Alfredo Ramos to kill again. It seems that stopping him is nobody’s responsibility.
Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, said his office received about 20 telephone calls about the issue.
Hall said three callers referred to immigration proposals by Attorney General Bob McDonnell or bills on the topic that had been considered by the General Assembly this year but that most seemed to be generated solely by the television show.
"We're telling callers that immigration is a federal responsibility," Hall said. "We're already undermanned in the State Police and reluctant to order them to do the federal government's job."