Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Problems of Black America

I was prepared to dislike this piece by Orlando Patterson on Jena, O.J., and the Jailing of Black America. But that was before I'd read the story. Let that be a lesson!

Patterson recounts the various sins of racist America and its effects on its black population. But the, about halfway through, Patterson's piece takes an unexpected turn:

Part of the answer is a law enforcement system that unfairly focuses on drug offenses and other crimes more likely to be committed by blacks, combined with draconian mandatory sentencing and an absurdly counterproductive retreat from rehabilitation as an integral method of dealing with offenders. An unrealistic fear of crime that is fed in part by politicians and the press, a tendency to emphasize punitive measures and old-fashioned racism are all at play here.

But there is another equally important cause: the simple fact that young black men commit a disproportionate number of crimes, especially violent crimes, which cannot be attributed to judicial bias, racism or economic hardships. The rate at which blacks commit homicides is seven times that of whites.

Patterson uses several incidents as examples of the breakdown in relationships between black men and women and says that it is this breakdown in relationships and families that has led to the sorry state of black America.
Black relationships and families fail at high rates because women increasingly refuse to put up with this abuse. The resulting absence of fathers — some 70 percent of black babies are born to single mothers — is undoubtedly a major cause of youth delinquency.

The circumstances that far too many African-Americans face — the lack of paternal support and discipline; the requirement that single mothers work regardless of the effect on their children’s care; the hypocritical refusal of conservative politicians to put their money where their mouths are on family values; the recourse by male youths to gangs as parental substitutes; the ghetto-fabulous culture of the streets; the lack of skills among black men for the jobs and pay they want; the hypersegregation of blacks into impoverished inner-city neighborhoods — all interact perversely with the prison system that simply makes hardened criminals of nonviolent drug offenders and spits out angry men who are unemployable, unreformable and unmarriageable, closing the vicious circle.

Patterson doesn't mention that welfare and various other programs for the poor are a large part of the reason black women aren't married to the fathers of their children. This isn't, btw an endorsement of marrying one's abuser, but a fact that single-parent households almost always make far less than two-parent households. And two parents are better able to care for their children than one parent.

There's a lot of talk about how to "fix" the problems of black America. The crime rate is too high and opportunities too low. But most organizations that deal with poverty will tell you that the most important criteria for getting out of poverty is the desire to do so.

"9/11 Has Made Us Stupid,"

So says Thomas Friedman in this NYT column. Friedman's exhibit A? We don't have enough tourists coming in.

IMO, this is a pretty stupid exhibit, and for me is exhibit A in the liberal stuck on stupid trial. Like so many liberals, Friedman has naively raced past what happened to us on 9/11 and is displaying a 9/10 mentality towards it. Why do I say he has a 9/10 attitude? Because on 9/10/01, everybody was more concerned with the slumping stock market than about security and terrorism. George W. Bush didn't campaign as either a security president or a terrorism president. He campaigned on domestic issues like education. And it sounds to me like that's where Friedman is stuck, too.

Back in 1991, in the heady days of the "peace dividend" which allowed Dick Cheney to take his revenge against Democrat nemesis Jim Wright by taking 91% of the defense cuts out of a single county (Tarrant--my home), I couldn't understand my parents near hysteria about cutting the military. I don't think "hysteria" is much of an exaggeration. Their reaction to the idea of beating our sickles into plowshares was very emotional. In an unguarded moment, my father finally mentioned Pearl Harbor and America's vulnerability in the days following it. "I never want your generation to know that feeling," my angry mother had spat out.

Of course, I'd never had to think about that sort of vulnerability. While I had grown up in a Cold War world (remember "duck and cover" drills?), that global threat had never seemed all that imminent to me. No, I never wanted us to dismantle our missiles. I wasn't so stupid that I actually thought if we went first the Soviets would follow. But I did think that building and buying bigger and better airplanes, boats, missiles, guns and other military gear was a waste of money better spent on education, the environment, and helping the poor (because giving more aid would fix poverty, even though it hadn't worked in 25 years at that point).

As I stood in my babysitter's living room that morning of Sept. 11, I realized that we had had our Pearl Harbor. And for the first time in my life, I understood why my parents had been so insistent that we spend more, not less, on our military. Because being prepared for any attack, no matter how remote, was more important than buying an extra politically correct book for third graders, or another film teaching ninth graders about oral sex.

It's Friedman's blind 9/10 view that is the problem. Sure, I wouldn't mind if we had more tourists coming to America. That would be great for the tourism industry. But I don't want to relax security standards just so that can happen. It's bizarre that Friedman doesn't notice that, as he celebrates the increase in tourism in Europe, he forgets the terrorist attacks and threats of attacks the Europeans have. And it isn't just Britain suffering these threats and attacks; they are all over Europe in the places Friedman is celebrating for having increased tourism. I guess the terrorists like to visit places, too.

I took a lot of heat from the moonbatosphere for saying it's time we get over Katrina. I said that not because I lack sympathy for people hurt by the hurricane, but because pouring millions of dollars to rebuild where another hurricane can hit is a waste of resources and shows we learned nothing from the situation. But being wary after 9/11 isn't counterproductive or wasting resources; it's recognizing that the world we live in is dangerous and there really are people determined to kill Americans wherever they find us. It's not 9/11 that has made us stupid. It's the naive 9/10 thinkers that make us stupid.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Free Speech Means You Get to be Insulted

I think perhaps Americans need a refresher course in what free speech means. I say this after spending a couple of days in Lefty Land trying to point out actual instances of government interference with expression. For our friends on the left, any repercussions--however mild--to their speech is intolerable. But it's ok to threaten to take away one's broadcast license if you don't like certain programming.

Now comes the tolerance police to a Chicago suburb, where a Halloween parade and Santa's gift shop have to go because it offends Muslims. Oh, and we have to ban Jell-O.

The holiday traditions are facing elimination in some Oak Lawn schools this year after complaints that the activities are offensive, particularly to Muslim students...

Parents expect that the announcement is going to add to the tension that has been building since officials agreed earlier this month to change the lunch menu to exclude items containing pork to accommodate Muslim students. News that Jell-O was struck from the menu caused such a stir that officials have agreed to bring it back. Gelatin is often made with tissue or bones of pigs or other animals.

That controversy now appears to have been been dwarfed by the holiday debate, which became so acrimonious Wednesday that police were called to Columbus Manor School to intervene in a shouting match among parents...

Elizabeth Zahdan, a mother of three District 122 students, says she took her concerns to the school board this month, not because she wanted to do away with the traditions, but rather to make them more inclusive. "I only wanted them modified to represent everyone," she said.

Nixing them isn't the response she was looking for. "Now the kids are not being educated about other people," she said.

There's just not time in the six-hour school day to celebrate every holiday, said (Superintendent Tom) Smyth, who sent the message to principals that they need to "tone down" the activities that he sees as eating too much into instructional time. "We have to think about our purpose," Smyth said. "Are we about teaching reading, writing and math or for parties or fund-raising during the day?"

Robertson is hoping to strike compromises that will keep traditions alive and be culturally acceptable to all students -- nearly half of whom are of Arab descent at Columbus Manor, she says. Fewer than a third of students districtwide are of Arab descent, according to Smyth.

It's amazing that minority students have survived the last 100 years in public schools which used to serve only fish on Fridays and called the spring break "Easter break." If you don't want your kids to eat Jell-O for religious reasons then pack your child's lunch. Don't sing Christmas carols or visit Santa's gift shop if Christmas offends you. Don't participate in the Halloween parade if you think you're celebrating Satan.

I've watched groups learn to adapt to the American landscape for over 40 years now, and, unsurprisingly, Jewish students have had to tolerate Christmas trees, bacon, and Christmas programs. And when parents didn't want their children to do those things, they started private schools and did what they wanted.

This is the point when the liberals pour in (or, in more cowardly typical fashion, at their own sites) to tell me how intolerant I am. But the fact is, at some point, some practice is going to offend somebody. In my church, for example, the session had to vote on which version of the Doxology we can use: the one saying "God" or the one saying "He/His." Why? Because someone was offended because the congregation says,
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Someone will always be offended. That's one of those corollaries to Murphy's Law. In a pluralistic society, you won't have an offense-free existence. What happens if some group is offended by chicken? Do the schools have to stop serving chicken?

I thought about these things while reading Muzzling in the Name of Islam, a column by Paul Marshall in the WaPo. Marshall discusses the recent flap over Swedish cartoon which depicted the head of Mohammed on the body of a dog. Al Qaeda in Iraq has put a $100,000 bounty on the artist's head (with a $50,000 bonus if his throat is slit). But the barbarous reaction didn't end there.
The Iranian foreign ministry protested to Sweden, while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asserted that "Zionists," "an organized minority who have infiltrated the world," were behind the affair. Pakistan complained and said that "the right to freedom of expression" is inconsistent with "defamation of religions and prophets." The Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs called for rules specifying new limits of press freedom.

These calls were renewed in September when a U.N. report said that Articles 18, 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights should be reinterpreted by "adopting complementary standards on the interrelations between freedom of expression, freedom of religion and non-discrimination." Speaking for the OIC, Pakistani diplomat Marghoob Saleem Butt then criticized "unrestricted and disrespectful enjoyment of freedom of expression."

The issues here go beyond the right of cartoonists to offend people. They go to the heart of repression in much of the Muslim world. Islamists and authoritarian governments now routinely use accusations of blasphemy to repress writers, journalists, political dissidents and, perhaps politically most important, religious reformers.

Granted, killing people over cartoons is a far cry from banning Jell-O, but as Marshall points out, if free people do not resist these attempts at control, we abet them. Free speech means you get to be insulted. is also trying to stifle free speech.

Juan Williams and the "Happy Negro"

Juan Williams has a biting rebuttal for those critics calling him a "happy Negro" for defending Bill O'Reilly.

In case you missed it, Media Matters trumped up yet another controversy by accusing Bill O'Reilly of being racist for saying there was no difference in the behavior of patrons at a restaurant in Harlem than in other New York eateries.

This is, imo, a far more despicable smear than the recent Rush Limbaugh "phony soldiers" flap. At least in the case of Limbaugh, a plausible case can be made that he was talking about anti-war soldiers. But as Williams explains, no reasonable person would think O'Reilly was criticizing black people. During a discussion about the image rappers give black people, O'Reilly explained that real black people, the everyday person you meet on the street, is far different from the violent, potty-mouthed images projected in music, on television, and in movies.

So, O'Reilly says to me that the reality to black life is very different from the lowlife behavior glorified by the rappers. He told me he was at a restaurant in Harlem recently and there was no one shouting profanity, no one threatening people. Then he mentioned going to an Anita Baker concert with an audience that was half black, and in sharp contrast to the corrosive images on TV, well dressed and well behaved.

I joked with O'Reilly that for him, a guy from Long Island, a visit to Harlem was like a "foreign trip." That's when he brought up his grandma. He said she was prejudiced against black people because she knew no flesh-and-blood black folks but only the one-dimensional TV coverage of black criminals shooting each other and the rappers and comedians glorifying "gangsta" life and thug cool. He criticized his grandmother as irrational for being afraid of people she really did not know.

Williams defended O'Reilly's grandma as not being irrational, but being very rational. If the only images one has of a particular group is as criminals, then a person will logically come to the conclusion that those people are more violent than others. As Williams says,
The most pernicious damage being done by the twisted presentation of black life in pop culture is the self-destructive message being beamed into young, vulnerable black brains. Young black people, searching for affirmation of their racial identity, are minute by minute being sold on the cheap idea that they are authentically black only if they imitate the violent, threatening attitude of the rappers and use the gutter language coming from the minstrels on TV.

The lesson from the rappers and comedians is that any young brother or sister who is proud to be black has to treat education with indifference, dismiss love and marriage as the business of white people and dress like the rappers who dress like prisoners — no comb in the jail so they wear doo-rags all day, and no belts so their pants hang down around their butts.

In other words, the discussion was about how suc depictions and images damage the black community because it presents a terrible stereotype of black life for young people looking for their own identities.

That's a far cry from O'Reilly being a racist for noticing well-behaved black people in restaurants and at concerts. But it is just another example of the relentless lying and spinning Media Matters has gained a reputation for.

The fact is that Bill O'Reilly is right. Rappers in doo rags with their pants hanging off their asses don't resemble the black people I grew up with, nor the numerous black people I've worked with and been friends with through the years. The idea that acting like a thug should be emulated by any young people is more destructive for the children who fall prey to that way of thinking than to any white people who buy the stereotype. After all, it's the children who throw away their chance at education because they don't want to be seen as acting white who are hurt by a lack of education. It's the person who walks into a job interview with a doo rag on who leaves without the job.

If "acting white" means acting civilized (and I don't think it does), then I want all children to act white. Not because being white is superior, but because I want all children to have the best opportunities and options. Media Matters doesn't care about any of this, obviously. Their purpose is to smear every conservative (and O'Reilly is more libertarian than conservative) on the air in an attempt to discredit their views. It's a pity Media Matters isn't as concerned about the lies and spin of the left.

For defending O'Reilly, Williams has been branded a "happy Negro." We've seen this sort of thing before, right? Every black person who doesn't tow the victimhood line gets smeared as an Uncle Tom and just another lackey of the far right. It's amusing and sad when you realize that the left is as filled with racist stereotypes of what "good Negros" should think as the conservatives they vilify.

Powerline has video of Williams discussing the exchange.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Rush Limbaugh and Phony Soldiers

Rush Limbaugh shows an anatomy of a smear over his "phony soldier" comment.

The Weekly Standard has this post on the situation.

My advice to anyone reading Media Matters is to remember that they are a P.R. outlet for liberals. They will lie or misquote conservatives, then disseminate their propaganda through blogs and any media sources who will listen.

As Limbaugh points out he was never contacted by Media Matters, any journalists or any of the politicians denouncing him to ask if he was calling anti-war soldiers "phony soldiers." It's far more telling when these henchmen won't call than when they do.

You Can't Buy Men's Short-Sleeved Dress Shirts in September

Even if it's supposed to be 92.

Rights and Responsibilities of Free Speech

Captain Ed has a post on what free speech means and what it doesn't. He quotes this Jonah Goldberg column, where in Goldberg explains what free speech isn't.

(W)hether you favored or opposed the teeny dictator’s lecture: Free speech had nothing to do with it.

You have to stay on your toes, like Ahmadinejad at a urinal, to grasp this point since it’s so often confused in our public discourse: Free-speech rights aren’t violated when private institutions deny speech in their name. My free-speech rights have not been denied by the fact that for years the Democratic National Committee has refused to invite me to speak at its confabs. Nor would it be censorship if this newspaper dropped my column. Freedom of speech also includes the right not to say something.

In other words, had Columbia denied Ahmadinejad a platform, it would have been exercising freedom of speech just as much as it was when it invited him to give his prison-house philosopher spiel.

I've been reading arguments on a leftwing site excoriating conservatives as "fearing" Ahmedinejab's speech. I tried to explain that there are other reasons besides fear that one might want to discourage that thug's speaking tour, but it's clear that for some on the left, any consequence--including withholding funding from the school--is "stifling free speech." Sorry to break it to the moonbats but (1) the story is probably merely grandstanding by a single legislator and (2) one is not entitled to endless streams of taxpayer money and such funds can be reduced for any reason, including dissatisfaction with the administration of said university.

Same moonbats were apoplectic at the idea that inviting Ahmedinejab to speak was tantamount to endorsement of his ideas. But as Captain Ed points out, allowing a speaker at your university is similar to publishing and, in this case, it means Columbia University was happy to have its name and reputation associated with a man who denies having homosexuals in his country and advocates nuclear destruction of a fellow country. It's really hard to get away from the fact that if you invite someone to speak at your institution, there's a level of endorsement implicit in that. Particularly since Columbia has been rather selective about who gets to speak (a murderous wacko) and who may not (military recruiters).

Indeed, it was at Columbia University that these tolerant liberals actually stormed the stage and denied the founder of the Minutemen the right to speak. But I suppose to the moonbats, that is perfectly permissible. No government action there. It's all right for the school to essentially endorse such behavior.

I tried pointing out to selfsame moonbats that they favor censorship and government intervention when it is speech with which they disagree. When ABC was planning to air The Path to 9/11, liberals, from wackos in the street to the Clintons themselves, were hysterical about such a film being aired and even enlisted government officials in an attempt to prevent the film being shown. If that's not textbook censorship, I'm just not sure what else counts.

Finally, I also pointed out that the same liberals excoriating any state action against Columbia love it when liberal legislators try to shut down abortion clinic protests using every law in the book (and a few which aren't). It's amazing to me that the same people who were unglued about a docudrama that didn't tow the Clinton line don't see using racketeering laws against abortion clinic protesters as abuse of power. But they don't. Instead, they argue that clinic protesters interfere with the rights of women to obtain abortions or try to shut down clinics or threaten violence. But nobody is endorsing violence, and the same groups that supposedly want to ban violent clinic protesters want to banish peaceful ones as well. Their tactics are not aimed at those disturbing the peace; their tactics are aimed at those who have the audacity to speak out in ways liberals dislike.

No, we know liberals are not above using the government to control speech. That's why liberals love the Fairness Doctrine. If they can impose that rule on talk radio, they are sure most conservative radio shows will dry up and be gone.

So I don't buy for a moment that it is government interference that bothers liberals so much about the Columbia University situation. What bothers them is that someone might use government interference on speech they don't mind.

Sam Schulman points out why Lee Bollinger is a coward hiding behind the U.S. military--the one he won't allow to recruit on his campus--to slap at Ahmedinejab.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Impeach Bush? Are You Kidding Me?!

The nutroots are at it again: they are screaming for impeachment procedures against President Bush because of a not so good translation of a conversation between the President and Spanish President José María Aznar.

The transcript, it seems to me, provides a whole rack of smoking guns that could be a basis for impeaching George W. Bush. The transcript shows that Bush consciously intended to go to war without a United Nations Security Council resolution. The United Nations Charter, to which the United States is a treaty signatory (so that it has the force of American law), forbids any nation to launch an aggressive war on another country. The only two legal mechanisms for war are either that it came in response to a direct attack or that the attacker gained a UNSC authorization. The transcript shows Bush actively plotting to sidestep the UNSC if he could not, gangster-like, threaten its members into compliance.

Well, not really. Sister Toldjah has a very nice post shooting down (so to speak) Cole's arguments this time around for impeachment. She quotes Barcepundit's Jose Guardia who explains why the impeachment cry is both so sad and so lame.

For one thing, there's ample evidence in the transcript that President Bush was certain Saddam Hussein either had WMDs or was actively seeking them. This flies in the face of the BDS people who have claimed for years that BUSH LIED.

But more importantly--and not quoted by Cole--is a part of the exchange where President Bush says he doesn't want to go to war.
At one point Bush explicitly says: “I don’t want war. I know what wars are like. I know the death and destruction they bring. I am the one who has to comfort the mothers and wifes of the dead. Of course, for us [a diplomatic solution] would be the best one. Also, it would save 50 billion dollars.”

I don't expect the Impeachment Now! crowd to give up, even though they won't get what they are after. But even a botched transcript like this, fully intended to slime the President, does little but support his positions on Iraq and the decision to go to war.

Why Democrats Can't Get Troops Out of Iraq

Captain Ed has a nice post about the shift in strategies regarding the war in Iraq.

Back at the beginning of the 110th Congress, the far left was salivating at the idea of an immediate pullout in Iraq. There was the "slow bleed" plan. There was a call for timetables. But the nutroots have grumbled for months about the ineffectiveness of the Democrats to end this war now!

It does little good to point out to the nuttier aspects of the Left that Democrats won Congress for a handful of reasons, and opposition to the war was but part of that (other reasons included Republican dissatisfaction with out-of-control spending, immigration "reform," and President Bush's inability to veto anything, not to mention the Mark Foley fallout). For some reason, the far left insists that every person who voted against the Republicans wanted immediate withdrawal. But as Rush Limbaugh said at the beginning of the surge, Americans don't want to lose. They want to win. That's why poll results are always so mixed. Yes, Americans want out of Iraq but no, they don't want to lose to do it.

As Captain Ed points out, the success of the surge is now having an effect on the Democratic candidates' war policies. Now the Democrats won't commit to troop withdrawal by 2013.

The leading Democratic White House hopefuls conceded Wednesday night they cannot guarantee to pull all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of the next presidential term in 2013.

"I think it's hard to project four years from now," said Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in the opening moments of a campaign debate in the nation's first primary state.

"It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting," added Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

"I cannot make that commitment," said former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

Hillary Clinton has taken a lot of heat from the left for her votes authorizing the Iraq war and her statements that she cannot guarantee immediate troop pullouts upon election. But as much as it pains me to admit it, she's been right on both counts. Promising immediate troop withdrawals has been just so much pandering to the left. Now, with General Petraeus reporting actual success in Iraq, Americans are more hopeful that we can win and more reluctant to leave.

It's difficult for Democrats to support an ever-shrinking portion of American opinion in the face of actual successes in Iraq. President Bush said originally that this would be a hard, long war. People (including the Democrats) were foolish to ignore those statements. And while Americans may want their loved ones home, they want to win this war more.

More Moonbat Dumbness on Abortion

Eric has suggested on another thread that Amanda Marcotte and I have a blog of our own. It might be entertaining in some respects, but would get boring and pedantic really quick, since we agree on practically nothing other than we both live in Texas (and as a real native, I might question the Texan-ness of anyone living in Austin).

I swore I wouldn't write another post about Pandagon for a while, but this post on repealing the global gag rule is chockful of the sort of insane rhetoric regarding pro-lifers that Miss Amanda is known for. Here's some samples for your amusement:

"Withholding or opposing abortion is the immoral stance, taken out of a hostility to women’s health and women’s rights. Anti-choicers shouldn’t have the moral high ground, because they are wicked, petty assholes who want to increase the amount of suffering in the world to satisfy their misogyny. To be a truly moral person, you can’t exclude half the human race from your consideration."

"The global gag rule isn’t just about abortion. That’s basically, in any realistic sense, a lie. It’s about withholding medical care and contraception. Even without it, the U.S. simply doesn’t fund abortions (though I think they should). It’s a backdoor way to deprive women worldwide of contraception and basic health care, since the people who provide those things pretty much by definition are good-hearted non-misogynists, and thus mostly believe as the logical and good-hearted generally do that abortion is a moral good.* The global gag rule is about giving the U.S. power to root through clinics worldwide looking for evidence of appalling levels of human feeling towards women and depriving them of funding if they find that someone’s committed the thought crime of believing that women should have full rights and options."

"The reason that anti-choicers feel it’s mandatory for their President to push the global gag rule is because they don’t want women to prevent pregnancy or STDs"

"Depriving babies of medical care is another sign that pro-lifers don’t actually love babies. They just hate women."

"The global gag rule is about increasing the rate of AIDS, of fistulas, of maternal morality, all to satisfy the grim anti-sex movement in America."

Like Bush Derangement Syndrome, there seems to be an Abortion Derangement Syndrome (or perhaps Anti-Life Derangement Syndrome). Symptoms include an inability to see any possible reason a person is pro-life beyond the idea they hate women (Amanda puts an asterisk at the end of this screed stating, "If you feel like you are a moral person despite being anti-choice, I agree that it’s possible you are. All moral people have moral lapses and blind spots. Getting towards a more generous stance towards women who need to control their fertility could be a project for you, a bit of moral character improvement"). I would argue that if Amanda is a moral person (and I have serious doubts about that, given her writing and positions on many subjects), that her attitude towards pro-lifers is one of her blind spots. Just sayin'.

OK, that's it for the Pandagon posts for the month. I promise not to write anymore about their nuttiness for the rest of September!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Left Likes Free Speech Only When It Bashes America

It's hard to believe that Amanda Marcotte is really this clueless. Supposedly, she doesn't understand why conservatives object to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being given a platform on U.S. soil from which to spew his particular brand of anti-Semitism and hatred. The only reason she can come up with is that "rightwingers are just like him" (I'm not making this up) and that they fear, somehow, their followers will suddenly want to stone women and wipe Israel off the map.

The other explanation, according to Amanda, is that conservatives want to "distract" from President Bush's "failures." Well, there's little chance of distracting the left from it's pacifier. After all, if you look at Pandagon or KOS or nearly any leftwing site, you will find daily barrages from people telling us how President Bush is worse than Ahmadinejad.

No, Amanda really isn't this stupid, although she plays stupid on TV. I don't even think she's as dumb as her commenters who say,

Ahmedinejad is a Bush clone with blacker hair and a goatee. Both are rogue leaders that have a long proven record of misogyny and homophobia. Both also have jailed people who spoke out against their governments.

Well, here's a clue for the clueless: the reason conservatives denounce allowing Ahmadinejad to speak in the U.S. is that it gives him legitimacy and free publicity. There's an idea called "public shunning," which should be practiced by intelligent people when discussing thugs like Ahmadinejad, but the Left, so blinded by their own partisan politics sees nothing different between being jailed as a suspected terrorist and being jailed for being a woman.

And, honestly, Amanda is just giving her sycophants the red meat they so greedily gobble up. Amanda finally admits that she's all for free speech for lunatics trying to make nuclear weapons, but she doesn't like free speech for pro-life supporters. Why? Because if pro-lifers are given a platform on which to debate, they might actually persuade people that abortion is wrong.

It's painful reading stuff like Amanda's posts, realizing that the left doesn't get what free speech is about. For the left, free speech is just another tool to bash one's political opponents and make brownie points with the nuts that support you. It's not about debate and reason because the other side might have a better argument than you. That's why every argument about abortion or gay marriage becomes just another mudslinging event (yes, Jes, I'm talking about you) for the Left, who can't debate with logic, history, or law but must resort to ad hominem attacks (yes, Jeromy Brown, I'm talking to you). When you don't really support free speech, as so much of the left proves over and over, it seems just a wee bit disingenuous to try to paint conservatives as the intolerant ones.

India Outsourcing Outsourcing?

Via Brothers Judd blog, we discover that India is now outsourcing jobs.

Thousands of Indians report to Infosys Technologies’ campus here to learn the finer points of programming. Lately, though, packs of foreigners have been roaming the manicured lawns, too.

Many of them are recent American college graduates, and some have even turned down job offers from coveted employers like Google. Instead, they accepted a novel assignment from Infosys, the Indian technology giant: fly here for six months of training, then return home to work in the company’s American back offices.

India is outsourcing outsourcing.

I take India outsourcing personally, since bringing in cheap, and frequently unqualified or incompetent has squeezed American computer programmers, including the one I love best. I've also watched as outsourcing jobs to India has flattened pay here in the U.S. Ten years ago, a $10 an hour job was pretty good and required some skills. Now employers expect more skills, better education, and more work from employees still only making $10 an hour. And it's discouraging if you are making $10 an hour for a skilled job when flipping hamburgers is only $2 an hour less.

But now it seems India has turned the tables and is outsourcing its own jobs around the globe, including the United States.
Wipro, another Indian technology services company, has outsourcing offices in Canada, China, Portugal, Romania and Saudi Arabia, among other locations.

And last month, Wipro said it was opening a software development center in Atlanta that would hire 500 programmers in three years.

In a poetic reflection of outsourcing’s new face, Wipro’s chairman, Azim Premji, told Wall Street analysts this year that he was considering hubs in Idaho and Virginia, in addition to Georgia, to take advantage of American “states which are less developed.” (India’s per capita income is less than $1,000 a year.)

For its part, Infosys is building a whole archipelago of back offices — in Mexico, the Czech Republic, Thailand and China, as well as low-cost regions of the United States.

Nice to know you cost employers so little that the Indians are shipping jobs to you. What's wrong with that picture?
In one project, an American bank wanted a computer system to handle a loan program for Hispanic customers. The system had to work in Spanish. It also had to take into account variables particular to Hispanic clients: many, for instance, remit money to families abroad, which can affect their bank balances. The bank thought a Mexican team would have the right language skills and grasp of cultural nuances.

But instead of going to a Mexican vendor, or to an American vendor with Mexican operations, the bank retained three dozen engineers at Infosys, which had recently opened shop in Monterrey, Mexico.

Such is the new outsourcing: A company in the United States pays an Indian vendor 7,000 miles away to supply it with Mexican engineers working 150 miles south of the United States border.

So remember: outsourcing isn't necessarily to people on the other side of the globe who don't sound like they're speaking English. It could be in Atlanta or Idaho. Could Texas be next?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Latest Spin on Race

Bob Herbert has a nasty little column filled with every possible race-baiting stereotype of the GOP. Let's see if we can list 'em all.

--Republicans are racist for blocking legislation giving Washington D.C. a representative in Congress.

--Republicans are racist because the major GOP candidates didn't participate in a debate hosted by Tavis Smiley.

--Republicans are racist because of the "Southern Strategy."

--Republicans are racist because they support Clarence Thomas as a Supreme Court justice.

--Republicans are racist because they " improperly threw black voters off the rolls in Florida in the contested presidential election of 2000, and sent Florida state troopers into the homes of black voters to intimidate them in 2004."

Let's take each of these race-baiting lies apart.

First, as Q and O Blog points out, the Constitution clearly states that representation is apportioned to "the states," not just some geographic region. If the people supporting representation of D.C. are serious, there's a procedure in place to change the Constitution to support them. It's called the Amendment process. But, like Jeromy Brown and the homophobia-baiters, it's just so much easier to scream that you aren't getting what you want the way you want instead of actually going through the proper channels and procedures. No, in this case, it's easier to call Republicans racists for actually thinking the Constitution means something.

Then there's the argument about Republicans not participating in the Tavis Smiley debate. As McQ points out, I'm sure Bob Herbert didn't mind when Democrats dodged a debate on FOX sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus. No, that wasn't a "slap in the face of black voters," right?

Next, Herbert pulls out the canard about the Republican Southern Strategy. This argument has been debunked by better debaters than me, but, in a nutshell, it's bogus. The fact is, the Dixiecrats--the ones who ran on a segregation platform--were Democrats, not Republicans. Not to mention the fact that Democrats won the South throughout the 60s when the Southern Strategy was supposedly being implemented. In other words, the Southern Strategy built on racism and supposed flight of racists to the GOP did nothing to help Republicans in the South. Who helped Republicans in the South? Ronald Reagan.

Q and O Blog continues with the excellent counterargument, pointing out Herbert's convenient editing of Lee Atwater's statement about the Southern Strategy. Here it is in context, something liberals hate:
Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry Dent and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [the new Southern Strategy of Ronald Reagan] doesn’t have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he’s campaigned on since 1964… and that’s fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster…

Questioner: But the fact is, isn’t it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps…?

Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, 'N*****, n*****, n*****.' By 1968 you can't say 'n*****' - that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me - because obviously sitting around saying, 'We want to cut this,' is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than 'n*****, n*****.'

Really, this is exactly what liberals do say. They say everything is "code language" for racism. So, if you believe in equality, that's code language for racism. If you think tax cuts help people, that's racism. If you think poverty is best overcome by getting government out of the way of people trying to help themselves, that's racism. I've actually heard liberals claim nearly every Republican idea is racist. It's impossible for them to take off the blinders and see how an idea, a theory, a philosophy wouldn't be racist.

That leads us to Clarence Thomas. According to Herbert,
In 1991, the first President Bush poked a finger in the eye of black America by selecting the egregious Clarence Thomas for the seat on the Supreme Court that had been held by the revered Thurgood Marshall. The fact that there is a rigid quota on the court, permitting one black and one black only to serve at a time, is itself racist.

Egregious? Is that what it's called when a black man doesn't tow the race line? And notice the statement that there's a quota permitting only one black to serve on the Court at one time. But Bill Clinton didn't nominate any black people to the Supreme Court and he put two justices on the Court. Why isn't Herbert excoriating Democrats for "poking a finger in the eye of black America" by nominating Stephen Breyer? The fact is, Republican presidents have nominated the exact same number of black Justices to the Court as Democrats have: one. But as usual, Clarence Thomas just isn't black enough for liberals.

Finally, there's the nonsense Herbert throws into the end of his column about Republicans "improperly throwing" black voters off the rolls in Florida in 2000, or trying to intimidate voters in 2004 by sending troopers to their houses. But Q and O goes on to explain how this truthiness has been thoroughly debunked. Like the 9/11 truth movement, however, those "stolen election" believers will never give in. They forget the attempts to throw out military votes in Florida, or the fact that the Florida Supreme Court tried valiantly to hand the election to Al Gore. No, they still believe in magic votes that didn't happen, even in the numerous recounts newspapers held after the election.

In short, Herbert's column is fit to line the bird cage, but not much else. Unless, of course, you are teaching a lesson in spin at the local junior college. Then it's a first class exhibit.

Monday, September 24, 2007

You Can't Have That Horse Steak Here

I just read this Ann Althouse post on the legal decision which closed Cavel International, the last remaining horse slaughterhouse in the country.

Legal god Richard Posner (ok, that was tongue in cheek) says,

Horse meat was until recently an accepted part of the American diet--the Harvard Faculty Club served horse-meat steaks until the 1970s. No longer is horse meat eaten by Americans..., though it is eaten by people in a number of other countries, including countries in Europe; in some countries it is a delicacy. Meat from American horses is especially prized because our ample grazing land enables them to eat natural grasses, which enhances the flavor of their meat...

[Cavel argues:] The horses will be killed anyway when they are too old to be useful and what difference does it make whether they are eaten by people or by cats and dogs? But the horse meat used in pet food is produced by rendering plants from carcasses rather than by the slaughter of horses, and the difference bears on the effect of the Illinois statute. Cavel pays for horses; rendering plants do not. If your horse dies, or if you have it euthanized, you must pay to have it hauled to the rendering plant, and you must also pay to have it euthanized if it didn't just die on you. So when your horse is no longer useful to you, you have a choice between selling it for slaughter and either keeping it until it dies or having it killed. The option of selling the animal for slaughter is thus financially more advantageous to the owner, and this makes it likely that many horses (remember that Cavel slaughters between 40,000 and 60,000 a year) die sooner than they otherwise would because they can be killed for their meat. States have a legitimate interest in prolonging the lives of animals that their population happens to like....

Of course Illinois could do much more for horses than it does--could establish old-age pastures for them, so that they would never be killed (except by a stray cougar), or provide them with free veterinary care. But it is permitted to balance its interest in horses' welfare against the other interests of its (human) population; and it is also permitted to take one step at a time on a road toward the humane treatment of our fellow animals....

But even if no horses live longer as a result of the new law, a state is permitted, within reason, to express disgust at what people do with the dead, whether dead human beings or dead animals. There would be an uproar if restaurants in Chicago started serving cat and dog steaks, even though millions of stray cats and dogs are euthanized in animal shelters. A follower of John Stuart Mill would disapprove of a law that restricted the activities of other people (in this case not only Cavel's owners and employees but also its foreign consumers) on the basis merely of distaste, but American governments are not constrained by Mill's doctrine.

I had no idea people were eating horse in this country in the 1970s. This story made me think of two things. First, if Americans were eating horse as recently as the 70s, what changed our minds? It's not like eating dogs or cats; to my knowledge, Americans have never condoned eating these animals (although if you got sufficiently hungry in the hills of West Virginia during the Depression, you might have cooked Fluffy). What sea change took place to make Americans turn up their nose at horse?

The second question I have is more legally philosophical. I find Posner's decision to be dangerously close to equating human beings with animals (I know our friends on the left already think this). While government does regulate how to dispose of the remains of both humans and animals, it seems to me that most people understand that humans are a bit different than burying your pet goldfish. Decisions like this one, which equate horses and humans, is just the most recent step down the slippery slope to treating animals exactly as humans.

On a less serious note, I loved the ending to this straight news story covering the event.
Before the DeKalb facility, the last two U.S. plants for horse slaughtering in operation were closed in January after a Texas law banning the practice was upheld.

"The lone cowboy riding his horse on a Texas trail is a cinematic icon," wrote Judge Fortunato Benavides of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "Not once in memory did the cowboy eat his horse."

That's a keeper. :)

Crossword Puzzle Solved with "Will You Marry Me?"

A friend of mine sent me this link, which must be one of the most unusual marriage proposals ever.

It was the crossword puzzle fan's version of getting his marriage proposal plastered on a stadium Jumbotron.

Aric Egmont and Jennie Bass were working on a puzzle titled "Popping the question" in the latest issue of The Boston Globe Sunday magazine. Bass spotted her sister's name and her best friend's name, but initially thought it was just a coincidence.

Then they got to 111 across: "Generic proposal" (Jen + Aric generic). The answer: "Will you marry me?"

"We get to the `Will you marry me?' clue, and I said, `Will you marry me, Jenny?' I got up, got the ring, and got down on one knee and she screamed, and hugged me. It took her a minute to say yes," Egmont told the Globe.

Egmont, 29, of Cambridge, contacted the magazine this summer to ask if the people who create the crossword puzzles would write a special puzzle for him.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon, a married puzzle-writing team who have been writing Globe magazine crossword puzzles for years, agreed. Their puzzle included several variations on proposals; for example, "Macrame artist's proposal" was "Let's tie the knot."

The tricky part was writing an entire puzzle that would be clear to the happy couple, but not obscure to all the other readers who do the puzzles.

I've seen ads where you can have special word finds created using up to 30 words of your own, but this is the first time I heard of a marriage proposal via crossword puzzle. And I had no idea anyone still created crosswords. I thought they were all computer-generated.

Jena Six: When the Facts Don't Fit the Narrative

I first heard about the Jena Six a couple of months ago on a blog discussing Mychal Bell's indictment on attempted murder charges for the incident where six black students beat a white student into unconsciousness. I didn't comment on the incident at the time, waiting for the legal system to work its magic over the situation and give us some perspective.

But last week, black activists got free ad time on the liberal Diane Rehm Show in advance of a planned march in Jena, La. last weekend. Most call-in commenters were supportive of the activists' position that the charges were excessive and, gosh, stomping on a kid when he's on the ground is just a playground brawl. I only heard one caller question Rehm's giving free airtime to the activists without anyone to counter them. Remember this the next time Echidne complains that TV talk shows have three conservatives and one watered-down liberal to defend the left.

Patterico notes the distortions in the press about the case, and the reluctance of the media to report on Bell's violent history, which could explain the original harsh charges. And I agree with this Patterico post that had six white students stomped on a black student, the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons of the world would be demanding a full investigation--and rightly so.

This story, like so many about tensions in a small town, can be spun in any direction by any spin master. If you go far enough back in history, you can find someone you dislike as starting the whole thing. The most practical thing to do would be to look at this singular incident and decide if it was appropriate to stomp on a student (apparently for no reason) until said student was unconscious. My guess would be that reasonable people would say "no," but sometimes it's hard to find reasonable these days.

The MoveOn Ad, Ad Rates, and the No-Nothings at Iowa Liberal

By now, everybody knows about the ad attacking General Petraeus and the fact that MoveOn got a discounted rate. I even wrote about the controversy here.

But the nuts at Iowa Liberal think that noting the discount and the fishiness of it makes you a liar. Says Mike:

Here’s a terrific example of Sharon’s supposed disdain for lies and obfuscation; she readily picks up on the cut-and-paste story that the NYT gave preferential advertising rates to (and therefore proving their status as the bullhorn of Communism) yet chooses to ignore the well documented fact that they contracted the ad ahead of time on cheaper stand-by terms. The going rate for a full page ad on stand-by? $65K…the exact same price that was paid. Better still, it’s the same rate that Giuliani paid for his full page denunciation of the MoveOn piece!

When those fat gums start flapping you’d best disregard the dreck that comes out. She is as dishonest as she is ignorant.

Hmm. Maybe Mike should keep his trap shut until he reads that the New York Times says it was a discount. That sort of flies in the face of Mike's stupidity, doesn't it?

But then, as Stop the ACLU noted, the NY Times put all its leftwing nuts in a bit of a bind by admitting the deep (and I do mean deep) discount for an ad that, by all accounts, didn't even meet the Times' own standards for advertising. Supposedly, the Grey Lady doesn't accept ads that personally attack a person. But I guess it's different if the person you attack serves a president you dislike.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

How Not To Handle Illegal Immigration

Just stop asking for proof of citizenship!

The state (New York) will no longer require proof of citizenship for driver's licenses.

"We're changing our policy with respect to getting more people out of shadows and into the system so people don't hide they're here," Spitzer said.

He said the current restrictions on non-citizens have filled the roads with unlicensed drivers five times more likely to get into accidents.

So, now the unsafe drivers can get licenses and that makes New York

I always enjoy the "there are too many of them" argument when you talk about documentation of legal status. The only reason there are "too many of them" is because we don't enforce the laws we have. Of course, there's a mixture of reasons why we don't enforce them: business likes cheap labor, family members here want other family members here, the world thinks we're mean when we limit immigration like other countries. Oh, and don't forget this goody: you must be racist if you think immigration laws should be enforced.

But I must admit I'm left scratching my head when I read stories like this. I can't see how not asking for documentation makes these drivers any safer. And now the state of New York is admitting it doesn't care who is legal and who isn't. So, this is smart how?

New York seems more interested in making illegal immigrants comfortable here rather than obeying the law, which explains how chemotherapy is an emergency.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Last Lecture to Make You Cry...And Think

This Wall Street Journal article on the last lecture given by a professor dying of pancreatic cancer made me weep and pause to think.

Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, was about to give a lecture Tuesday afternoon, but before he said a word, he received a standing ovation from 400 students and colleagues.

He motioned to them to sit down. "Make me earn it," he said.

What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? For Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, the question isn't rhetorical -- he's dying of cancer. Jeff Zaslow narrates a video on Prof. Pausch's final lecture.
They had come to see him give what was billed as his "last lecture." This is a common title for talks on college campuses today. Schools such as Stanford and the University of Alabama have mounted "Last Lecture Series," in which top professors are asked to think deeply about what matters to them and to give hypothetical final talks. For the audience, the question to be mulled is this: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?

It can be an intriguing hour, watching healthy professors consider their demise and ruminate over subjects dear to them. At the University of Northern Iowa, instructor Penny O'Connor recently titled her lecture "Get Over Yourself." At Cornell, Ellis Hanson, who teaches a course titled "Desire," spoke about sex and technology.

At Carnegie Mellon, however, Dr. Pausch's speech was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. His lecture, using images on a giant screen, turned out to be a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life.

You have to read the rest of the story to see what Dr. Pausch considered to be the lessons of his life, but it made me stop and ponder: What am I doing with my life? Is what I'm doing worth the time I put into it? In what ways do I benefit other people and in what ways am I harming other people? What will people who knew me say when I'm gone?

Maudlin, to be sure, but I think such thoughts are necessary periodically. Call it a philosophical gut check.

About 14 years ago, when I was going through my divorce, I wrote down a list of things I wanted to do. I've achieved quite a few of the goals I set out for myself. Surprisingly, I found that I did many of them without actually trying to do them; fulfilling those desires was simply part of the fabric of my life (for example, I wanted more children than just the one I had. I had two more). There are others on the list I haven't done yet (I haven't learned to play the piano and I haven't been back to England). And there are still others which were desirable (furthering my education) which I did fulfill, but with deliberate effort.

But when it comes down to it, your life is more than just your job. It's more than just the pieces of paper you accumulate or the house you live in. It's even more than the people you associate with or are related to. To use a phrase from a different context, your life is more than the sum of its parts.

When my mother died at the tender age of 58, it made me realize how precious our time is, and that what we do with it is more of a measure of who we are than any other choice we make. So, if I spend 80 hours a week playing computer games or at the office, that's time I'm not spending playing with my kids, helping my husband, visiting my father, chatting with a friend, doing community work, or worshipping God. Reading Dr. Pausch's list, I realized that even in the busy life I've chosen, there's always time to do something better than what I've chosen to do.

Do I really want to waste 10 hours a week watching television? Does the house have to be spotless before I can have fun with my family? Am I really too busy or too tired to take a walk and enjoy God's creation?

I'm not saying that work isn't good or worthwhile. Certainly, a doctor who cures a patient, a minister who gives an uplifting or thoughtful sermon, a store owner who remains open to help the last few customers are doing good and worthwhile things. And let's face it: even if I'd rather watch The 10th Kingdom for the umpteenth time with my family than do laundry, the laundry must get done (oh, that I could use the excuse of quality time to get away from housework!). I just think that it is smart for us to stop occasionally and listen to the still, small voice in each of us that asks: Is this your best?

Suing God

I've often said, when talking to pro-choice types, that if they have a complaint about the fact that women get pregnant and men don't, they should take it up with God. That's not exactly saying they should sue God, but close. And, evidently, somebody decided God must be stopped!

God has apparently responded to a lawsuit filed by a Nebraska lawmaker, and one of the filings seems to have dropped in from the heavens.

"This one miraculously appeared on the counter. It just all of a sudden was here, poof!" said John Friend, clerk of the Douglas County District Court in Omaha.

The response was one of at least two to a lawsuit filed against God last week by state Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, the state's longest-serving lawmaker.

Chambers said in his five-page lawsuit that God has made terroristic threats against him and his constituents, inspired fear and caused "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants."

The self-proclaimed agnostic is seeking a permanent injunction against God.

Signed by "God," the response filed Wednesday argues the defendant is immune from some earthly laws and that the court lacks jurisdiction over God.

Blaming the Almighty for human oppression and suffering misses an important point, it says.

"I created man and woman with free will and next to the promise of immortal life, free will is my greatest gift to you," according to the response.

Free will--that God allows all of us to make good and bad choices--is one of the essential tenets of both Judaism and Christianity (I'm not certain about Islam). It's also one of those tenets that atheists and agnostics tend to misunderstand, either incidentally or intentionally.

The lawsuit may be considered tongue-in-cheek or quite serious but, as the plaintiff states, it makes the point that anybody can sue anybody. Do we really need to be reminded of that?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More Toothless Lefty Attacks On Fox

When is an expletive deleted and when is it not? Well, it g****** isn't just because it's on Fox, which is the insinuation of this idiotic post.

As was pointed out in a comment:

People, there is a difference between Fox Entertainment which airs on network television, versus Fox News which airs on cable television. The FCC can and does fine networks for their definition of what is unacceptable profanity. However, they have no authority over cable networks. That’s because of the legal difference between the “public” airwaves vs. paid tv (cable). It’s also why NBC, CBS and ABC also bleeped her words. It’s also why even Air America Radio bleeped her words.

Don’t we have enough real battles to fight with this impending dictatorship without erecting our own strawmen to try to knock down?

Nah, the left doesn't have enough to keep them busy. That's why they write dumb posts, instead of trying to learn something about the law.

"I Don't Support the Troops..oops, there, I said it"

At least this nut at Daily KOS is honest about it.

Until we have another draft, this is a volunteer armed services. I am not even beginning to count the numerous mercenaries that are involved in the occupation. You signed up, you get to go to the desert and risk being shot at by brown skinned people who don't believe the lies you've been told. A war of aggression is immoral, period. If you believe in God, you can damned well be sure you are going to hell for your participation in it. The only troop I support is the man or woman who refuses to be deployed so that they can make the middle east accessible to profiteers who don't give a flying F about morality or democracy. Or a soldier's life.

I'm always amazed when people who profess not to believe in God want to tell the rest of us what God will do. It basically comes down to this: I (said atheist) don't believe in God, but if I did, He would have to agree with me about what constituted sin and what did not. Therefore, because I hate this war--and, really, any war that doesn't benefit me personally--God must hate it, too.

Jules Crittenden compares this KOS post with this opinion piece from Richard Yeomans at Connecticut State University. Yeomans seems to have a problem distinguishing between Osama bin Laden and George Bush. It doesn't surprise me, considering I've seen first hand the way lefties can't bring themselves to admit that someone is a bigger problem than our current president.

Thank God for the internet, where people can be brave enough to anonymously not support our troops.

Dry Cleaner Closes Shop After $54 Million Suit

Anyone who doesn't think we need tort reform needs to read this.

The owners of a dry cleaner who were sued for $54 million over a missing pair of pants have closed and sold the shop involved in the U.S. dispute, their attorney said Wednesday.

The South Korean immigrants are citing a loss of revenue and the emotional strain of defending the lawsuit. They will focus their energy on another dry-cleaning shop they still own, said their attorney, Chris Manning...

The Chungs incurred more than $100,000 in legal expenses, which were eventually paid with help from fundraisers and donations.

Even after the trial ended favorably, Manning said, the Chungs lost customers and revenue. They have now closed two of their three businesses since the lawsuit began, he said.

Even when you win, you lose.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Improving Health Care

Stubborn Facts has an interesting post analyzing Hillary Clinton's health care reform proposals as well as others, and gives this insight:

I have said many times that the real problem with health care right now is that previous government "solutions" have distorted the market forces and led to an inefficient, byzantine system. For example, government subsidy (via tax deduction) of employer-provided insurance but not individually-purchased insurance has marginalized the market for individuals to buy their own insurance and forced millions of Americans to stay in jobs they don't like simply because they need the health care benefits.

It's a good thought. There are far too many people who stay with an employer just because of the benefits, and there are many other people who try desperately to work for employers who have such benefits, regardless of one's interest in the company. But I found this section curiously naive:
Finally, and I can't find where I've said this previously, though I certainly have, I want to hear more from the politicians about what they think the real causes of the increased health care costs are. I believe that there are several components to the increased costs, each of which may need a different solution.

For example, large sums of money are spent on health care for individuals in the last years of their lives. Perhaps new health insurance products could be created which would work similarly to life insurance, where after the older folks have paid in a certain amount of premiums, their policy is "paid up" and they will then be provided coverage of, say, up to $1 million in health care costs. If the individual started paying premiums on that policy when they were 20 or 25, the premiums needn't be that large.

Another large chunk of health care spending is for individuals with certain chronic diseases, like diabetes. Imagine parents being able to purchase, at a low cost, insurance which would provide coverage if their children were diagnosed with diabetes or cystic fibrosis or some other chronic condition. Since the proportion of such illnesses is relatively low, the cost of such insurance should also be low, so long as enough people purchase it. The company selling the policy would also have an interest in encouraging the mother to have regular prenatal check-ups and take other appropriate steps to reduce the risk that the baby would be born with such conditions.

This really shows how unfamiliar the author must be with insurance and how it works. Insurance is designed specifically to eliminate people who might need the coverage. Even people who can get coverage will find they pay higher premiums (as I found out for myself). The idea that a company would offer insurance for those predisposed to diabetes is almost comical. How does a company make money having to pay out for treatment of an illness? The fact is, it doesn't. Insurance companies make their money by denying coverage to anyone likely to need medical care and pushing insurance on those least likely to use it (specifically healthy 20-somethings).

Pat offers some quick and easy improvements to American health care woes at this post.

I agree with these fixes, but the interesting part of Hillary's plan for my family is the fact that pre-existing conditions cannot disqualify one for insurance. This is a huge problem, bigger than I hear people discuss. There's an attitude out there (and I used to be this way, too) that everyone who wants insurance can get it. But the truth is, if one loses one's high-paying, good insurance-providing job, it's likely that the next employer's insurance program is going to exclude you because your health problem is now a pre-existing condition.

It's one thing to argue that one's personal behavior can prevent various health problems like obesity and lung cancer. But what about genetic predispositions to conditions like high cholesterol, diabetes, or--as in our case--thyroid cancer?

I'm waiting for someone to explain why eliminating thousands, perhaps millions, of Americans from the system is the best answer for controlling health care costs.

10 Foods You Should Be Eating But Aren't

Via Brothers Judd blog comes this Men's Health article on 10 foods you don't eat but should. The foods are:




--Swiss chard



--Pomegranate juice

--Goji berries

--Prunes (disguised as "dried plums")

--Pumpkin seeds

I'd never heard of purslane or Goji berries, but I know I can find most of the rest of these around town. Any luck getting kids to eat them, though?

Dan Rather Sues CBS

It was bound to happen. Dan Rather is suing CBS.

Mr. Rather, 75, asserts that the network violated his contract by giving him insufficient airtime on “60 Minutes” after forcing him to step down as anchor of the “CBS Evening News” in March 2005. He also contends that the network committed fraud by commissioning a “biased” and incomplete investigation of the flawed Guard broadcast and, in the process, “seriously damaged his reputation.” As plaintiffs, the suit names CBS and its chief executive, Leslie Moonves; Viacom and its executive chairman, Sumner Redstone; and Andrew Heyward, the former president of CBS News.

In the suit, filed this afternoon in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Mr. Rather charges that CBS and its executives made him “a scapegoat” in an attempt “to pacify the White House,” though the formal complaint presents virtually no direct evidence to that effect. To buttress this claim, Mr. Rather quotes the executive who oversaw his regular segment on CBS Radio, telling Mr. Rather in November 2004 that he was losing that slot, effective immediately, because of “pressure from ‘the right wing.’ ”

It's odd that Rather took so long to file his suit if his cause is so just. Did it take him two years to get mad enough? Maybe he's blaming CBS for becoming the face of liberal media bias.

According to Dan, it's not his fault that he presented fake documents to support a specious story about President Bush's air national guard service a month before the 2004 election.
By his own rendering, Mr. Rather was little more than a narrator of the disputed broadcast, which was shown on Sept. 8, 2004, on the midweek edition of “60 Minutes” and which purported to offer new evidence of preferential treatment given to Mr. Bush when he was a lieutenant in the Air National Guard...

Mr. Rather says in the filing that he allowed himself to be reduced to little more than a patsy in the furor that followed, after CBS — and later the outside panel it commissioned — concluded that the report was based on documents that could not be authenticated. Under pressure, Mr. Rather says, he delivered a public apology on his newscast on Sept. 20, 2004 — written not by him but by a CBS corporate publicist — “despite his own personal feelings that no public apology from him was warranted.”

I doubt seriously that Dan would have considered his role to be so small and inconsequential had the scheme worked and John Kerry won the November elections. Dan's not known for his humility, after all. And his "fake but accurate" defense has become television history. Why not believe that he didn't wish to apologize? It just goes with his reputation as a pompous ass.
He now leads a weekly news program on HDNet — an obscure cable channel in which he is seen by only a small fraction of the millions of viewers who once turned to him in his heyday to receive the news of the day.

The bottom line: Dan messed up and now wants to blame CBS for his downfall. He claims that the network denied him staff and exposure for his stories after the fake document debacle, as though it is uncommon for an employer to want to be rid of incompetent personnel. This isn't surprising. It's always someone else's fault with the left.

Newsbusters has video of Dan decrying lawsuit-happy Americans.

Maryland High Court Upholds Homosexual Marriage Ban

Somebody needs to tell Jeromy Brown that yet another state has upheld a ban on homosexual marriage.

Brown, in true liberal fashion, lost the argument in this thread then ran home with his tail between his legs and declared victory. Amusing as this incident was, it would be funnier watching him and his ilk turn this court decision into some sort of victory for homosexual unions.

The Court of Appeals held that the ban does not, as the American Civil Liberties Union had argued, violate the state constitution. The ruling cannot be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the plaintiffs said when the case was argued in December...

In an opinion signed by four judges, Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr., citing a Supreme Court holding on judicial restraint, wrote that, absent evidence of discrimination, "judicial intervention is generally unwarranted no matter how unwisely we may think a political branch has acted." (Emphasis mine)

"In declaring that the State's legitimate interests in fostering procreation and encouraging the traditional family structures in which children are born are related reasonably to the means employed by [the law banning same-sex marriage], our opinion should by no means be read to imply that the General Assembly may not grant and recognize for homosexual persons civil unions or the reasons," wrote Harrell, who is retired from the court but participated in the decision because he was a member when the case was argued.

Hmm. That argument sounds familiar. Oh, yeah. I made it in the debate with Brown. Of course, he didn't like that argument. He, like most liberals, think that if you don't like what the Constitution says, just make shit up and hope you can convince enough naive but dumb people to accept it.

More from the story:
Assistant Attorney General Robert A. Zarnoch, the general assembly counsel, urged the court to let stand the statute that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Arguing that the judiciary should defer to the legislature, Zarnoch noted that no federal or state appellate court in the country has held that, as the plaintiffs argue, there is a fundamental right to same-sex marriage...

Zarnoch said, "An invalidation of Maryland's law would have the unfortunate consequence of placing these issues outside the arena of public debate, outside the legislative and democratic process." (Emphasis mine)

One of the things Brown refused to acknowledge is the importance of society embracing a change, not having it rammed down the collective throat of the electorate. Homosexual activists like to compare their goals with the civil rights movement, but don't acknowledge that there were already laws on the books to support civil rights...they just hadn't been enforced. Similarly, when women sought the right to vote and various other rights, their agenda was brought first through the legislature which wrote laws supporting their aims. It was only once those laws were not enforced that judicial remedies were applied.

As I've stated previously, if you want gay marriage, go through the legislative process. If states want to recognize gay marriage, they have the means to do so.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

I Saw Misbehaving Kids at Denny's Yesterday

Too bad their parents weren't local celebrities so I could make a stink about it on the internet.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Will Somebody Please Tell These People They Aren't Paid for Their Political Views?

I realize this isn't a new complaint, but the news that has-been Barry Manilow (I didn't know he was still alive) backed out of a scheduled appearance on The View because he finds Elisabeth Hasselbeck's political opinions to be "dangerous" leaves me wanting to tell him to shut the hell up.

Maybe The View just can't draw an audience without the drama. I'm sure (although I haven't checked) the ratings dropped after raving lunatic Rosie O'Donnell left the show.

But I must confess that I for one wish all the performers would just shut up and perform. I'm waiting for the brave journalist willing to ask Sally Field, Barry Manilow, Elton John, Sean Penn, and any other performer why anybody should care about their political opinions? What makes them experts? The fact that they make a gazillion dollars because they can cry on cue or hit high C?

I can't even watch a movie with Alex "Let's stone Henry Hyde" Baldwin in it anymore (unless it's Team America...and it's not even him playing him). Is it asking too much for these celebrities to keep their political opinions to themselves?

Chemerinsky Rehired as Dean of UC-Irvine

Via Patterico's Pontifications, we discover that liberal law professor Erwin Chemerinsky has been rehired as the Dean of the UC-Irvine Law School.

In a statement, Drake and Chemerinsky said: "Many issues were addressed in depth, including several areas of miscommunication and misunderstanding. All issues were resolved to our mutual satisfaction."

Drake's decision to dump Chemerinsky last week set off a national debate about academic freedom and sparked a revolt by faculty at UCI against Drake.

Chemerinsky contended last week that Drake succumbed to political pressure from conservatives and sacked him because of his outspoken liberal positions. The flap threatened to derail the 2009 opening of the law school and prompted some calls for Drake's resignation.

Drake and Chemerinsky said in their statement, "Our new law school will be founded on the bedrock principle of academic freedom. The chancellor reiterated his lifelong, unqualified commitment to academic freedom, which extends to every faculty member, including deans and other senior administrators."

On Friday, details emerged about the criticism of Chemerinsky that the university received in the days before Drake rescinded the job offer, including from California Chief Justice Ronald M. George, who criticized Chemerinsky's grasp of death penalty appeals. Also, a group of prominent Orange County Republicans and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich wanted to derail the appointment.

Drake has insisted that Chemerinsky didn't lose the dean's position because of his politics, saying that it was only because he expressed himself in a polarizing way.

I'm sad that the story doesn't reference the number of conservatives who blasted UC-Irvine for rescinding its offer. I'm just glad Drake finally decided to do the right thing.

Match Game Panelist Brett Somers Dies

I loved watching The Match Game when I was a kid. There was a lot of humor in it that was way too adult for me to understand, and later I watched the show in reruns laughing very hard at all the jokes that went over my head when I was 10.

Sadly, none of the later reincarnations matched the original show, but that's probably because of the chemistry between Gene Rayburn, Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Richard Dawson. It's fascinating watching the four of them work jokes off each other. The easy banter was fun and entertaining, more so than questions like, "Dumb Dora was so dumb, she thought a pastie was something you blanked."

Now comes news that Brett Somers has died. Her many fans (including me!) will miss her.

Maybe I Can Find a Left-Handed Desk Now

It's a lonely life being left-handed.

As a child, you couldn't find left-handed scissors or baseball mitts. When your mother tried to teach you to knit or crochet, it was difficult for her to figure out how to turn the instructions around.

As a teenager, you were forced to use right-handed desks and have your arm hang off the side.

By the time you reach adulthood, left-handers (I can't call us "lefties," after all!) have had to learn to adapt to the right-handed world. For me, this included using right-handed scissors, playing sports right-handed, still sitting in right-handed desks (called "cubicles"), and doing 10-key functions with my right hand. I figured out either how to turn things around so I could do it left-handed, or resigned myself to being slower or weaker and using my right hand. And this doesn't even include the things I really can't do because they are designed for right-handed folk.

I'm not as left-handed as my brother, who really can't do anything right-handed. I learned early to turn things around so that if I couldn't reach something one way, I'd switch paws and use the other. And there are a few amusing things I learned to do, like shooting pool with both hands so that if I couldn't make a shot with one had, I'd just turn it around and use my other hand (I've been accused of cheating because I could do that).

But worst of all is the amazing uncouth of right-handed people to left-handers. I've been stared at as though I were a zoo exhibit because I'm left-handed. I've been told to "just adjust" at work when I was stuck at a right-handed desk (OSHA has changed that). And I've been truly disturbed at the parents who seemed to be ashamed that one or more of their children were left-handed.

Well, those parents better get used to us. According to this article, the number of left-handers in the world is rising.

The number of left-handed people has risen dramatically over the past century, a professor has said.

The proportion of left-handers is now 11 per cent, compared to the three per cent it was among people born more than 100 years ago.

Chris McManus, the author of the award-winning book Right Hand, Left Hand, said the rise in the number of left-handed people may be because fewer left-handed youngsters were being forced to use their right hand.

My parents tried to make my brother right-handed, but he was so confused by it that, by the time I came along, they left me along. I still occasionally run across people trying to make their left-handed children right-handed. I don't understand it, since there are plenty of left-handed things these days, and many other things (like those children's scissors!) are now usable by either hand.

How Do You Solve the Growing Commute?

I was watching one of the TV morning shows this morning (a rare event for me) and there was a piece on the growing problem with long commutes. The report showed singles and couples getting up earlier and earlier to spend more and more time in their cars getting to work.

There weren't really any suggestions made for how to solve this problem, and I'm not entirely sure what a solution would look like. I've worked in Dallas and made the hour long commute off and on for several years. I know a man who has a commute close to two hours. These commutes aren't unusual, if the traffic on freeways here is any indication. It appears that everyone lives in Fort Worth and commutes to Dallas for work.

This made me wonder a couple of things. First, why aren't there any jobs in Fort Worth? This is the western side of the fourth largest metropolitan area in the U.S. Surely, there have to be jobs here? And if not, why not?

The second thing I wondered was, when is the commute too much and how do we fix it? Ten years ago, I wouldn't have considered commuting an hour to work; now I've resigned myself to the idea of an hour or more. And don't bother suggesting public transport. Public transport is nearly non-existent in Texas and the costs of putting it in would be enormous. And even using public transport, the man I mentioned earlier has a 1 1/2 hour commute. In other words, he drives and leaves his car in one of those giant car parks, then sits on a train for an hour, then takes a bus for another 1/2 hour. Isn't public transport supposed to be quicker?

When I've visited England, public transportation was wonderful. In London, there were buses, trains, and subways that could take you nearly anywhere. Trains shot out from London to most of the countryside, and places not directly on a train line were accessible by bus.

The problem as I see it is that because our culture is car-dependent, it will be extremely difficult to change it now. There are, of course, parts of the country with much better public transportation than Dallas and Fort Worth, but as I avoid freeways and congested areas like the plague, I have to wonder what it will take to change the culture here in Texas.

"If mothers ruled the world, there would be no G-D wars,"

Says Sally Field at the Emmy Awards. Nutroots are horrified that Fox didn't allow Field's pottymouth on national television, but I doubt it would qualify under the new "fleeting expletive" standard, a standard no mother would allow to go unpunished in real life.

So, if mothers ruled the world, what else would happen?

1. All countries would have to be in bed at 10 p.m.

2. No telephone would be used after 10 p.m. weekdays and midnight on weekends.

3. Older countries would be expected to set good examples for newer ones.

4. Punishment for bullies would be swift and severe, running right up against Field's assumption that there would be no wars.

5. All lawns would be mown weekly and the trash bins set out without comment.

6. Countries which engage in gossip, don't do their homework, backtalk Mom (Europe) or Dad (America) would be punished both by having to apologize to siblings, give siblings a big hug, and forfeit their allowance (revenues) for a specified period of time. You listening, Middle East?

7. Curse words would be punished with some good ol' Ivory soap and a timer.

I dunno where Field gets the idea there would be no wars if mothers were in charge. She must not have been to a kids' soccer game lately where coaches and referees don't tolerate the nastiness of moms from the bleachers.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

More Free Milk and the Cow Evidence

Via the Brothers Judd, we find more evidence supporting Mother's question: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? (BTW, that was just for the Pandagonistas who might still be hanging around).

However, studies done in the late 1990s in Scandinavia, where almost 60per cent of births are ex-nuptial, discovered a much stronger connection between the attitude of the man in a cohabiting relationship, as to whether a formal marriage eventuated, than the attitude of the woman.

Cohabiting men were found to be far more hesitant than women to formalise the relationship. Furthermore, this pattern holds true even in relationships that have already produced children.

Among the childless, men seem to fear that marriage will push them into more of a provider role. They harbour strong doubts about the ultimate value of a relationship -- whether it will be lifelong -- and are less likely than women to yield to normative pressure from parents. What exactly was the word the Pope used: selfish?

Yes, it is selfish. It's also self-destructive. When you treat marriage as just another option, what reason should someone choose marriage?

Let's face it. Modern Western society has devalued marriage as an institution by either neutralizing its privileges (by expanding marriage, for instance, to include groups it wasn't intended for) or degrading it through greater acceptance and encouragement of late marriage and sexual activity outside marriage.

As uncomfortable as it is for those on the left to hear, there's no reason for a man to marry if he can get all the benefits of marriage--including sex, a home, children, companionship, housework, etc.--without actually marrying someone. A man who doesn't marry the woman he sleeps with leaves the door open to leaving and/or having other women. And while many women may kid themselves that they are "just like married people," they know inside they aren't. That's why homosexuals want the state to legalize their unions; without that state endorsement, a relationship isn't marriage.

I know what Amanda says: she doesn't want marriage. And she often discusses the ways marriage is unfair to women--that they do most housework and childcare, for instance. She constantly berates women for wanting the big white wedding and blames society for pushing a view of marriage that benefits men and disadvantages women. But the truth is, the sexual revolution has been a boon for men who wanted to sleep with all the women they wanted and a boondoggle for women who thought being "free" was going to lead them to greater pleasure without giving up many of the benefits of marriage, including stability and children. Maybe some women like being unwed and childless past 40, but I doubt there are that many of them.