Saturday, March 31, 2007

So Many People Don't Understand Equal Access

Why do so many public institutions think they can discriminate against religion? The courts have ruled time and time again that once a building, whether it be an auditorium, a school, or an amphitheater, is opened for secular uses, it must be available to religious persons, as well.

I guess New York state officials didn't study the overwhelming number of court cases supporting religious freedom before creating policies which discriminate against religious persons.

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit and asked for an emergency injunction Tuesday in federal court on behalf of a Watertown church denied the use of a public building for an Easter service. The Dulles State Office building--as with other state buildings--is open to nearly all groups in the community for any "educational, cultural, or civic" purpose, but state policy prohibits religious "activities" or "services"...

Courts have ruled in favor of two other New York churches represented by ADF attorneys with regard to equal access to public buildings, including a legal victory against the New York City Board of Education (www.telladf.org/news/story.aspx?cid=3824).

While denying Relevant Church’s request, state officials have allowed the Dulles State Office Building to be used for a wide variety of activities, including presentations of The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol, a performance by rock band Tough Luck, a Gamerz-LAN multi-player video game playing event, and meetings of Toastmasters.

The pastor of Relevant Church, Robert Miskowski, inquired about renting the Dulles State Office building for Easter, when attendance at the church tends to be higher than usual. The church’s meeting capacity at its own building is limited. A state official refused the request on the basis of Relevant Church’s desire to rent the building for religious use, citing the so-called "separation of church and state," and the state policy prohibiting religious expression.

State policy prohibits the use of public buildings for religious "activities," including religious services. However, the policy permits groups and individuals to use the buildings to meet and carry on "activities conducted to advance the educational, cultural, or civic climate of the community."

I'm always amazed at the number of institutions who think allowing religious organizations to meet in a place is an endorsement of religion, instead of simply giving equal access.

Gosh, Now They Need American Might

The Iranian hostage crisis redux shows what happens when America isn't flexing its muscle.

As this article points out, the options are few for the British.

The Government has few options if it wants to pressure Iran into releasing the captured Britons.

Military action is unfeasible without American support and so is a military blockade of the Gulf. Unless the United Nations shows more rigour, sanctions are unlikely to hurt Iran in the short term.

There is a feeling that the 15 could be in for a long stay in Iran and face the nightmare prospect for Britain of a show trial.

advertisementWashington has remained largely subdued on the crisis but some commentators have made clear that the situation would have been very different if it had been 15 American sailors.

Yes, indeed, things would have been different if the Iranians had kidnapped Americans. That's exactly why the Iranians didn't kidnap Americans. As Captain Ed points out, had the Iranians captured American soldiers, diplomacy would have been given hours, not days, to work, followed by bombing of strategic sites, particularly their nuclear facilities, until the soldiers were given back. But the British aren't going to unleash their military power (such as it is) on the Iranians. They haven't the ability to do so alone, and as the recent tepid condemnation from the U.N. shows, getting anything stronger from that all-important international body (when Russia and China are so interdependent with Iran) is virtually impossible.

According to the article's author, Thomas Harding, the British have several options, but none are palatable, and none of them will work unless the Americans climb onboard.

More from Captain Ed:
Even America has no particular rush to provide support for the UK. The Bush administration would probably love nothing better than to start taking out Iran's suspected nuclear facilities, but they have a big problem in Congress. The Democrats want to blame a century-old genocide on a country that didn't even exist at the time, but they're willing to flirt with a government that supports terrorism now while refusing to condemn Iran's actions. With such a schizophrenic sense of foreign policy, the Bush administration has its hands tied, at least for the moment.

This gives an object lesson on why the unilateral dismantling of the military by a global power makes no sense. The American nation learned from Pearl Harbor that it takes a strong military to keep troublemakers from causing headaches. Paper tigers get burned quickly -- and the UK has had its status as a power center exposed as exactly that. If they have no willingness to defend their own patrols, no one will consider them a threat at all -- and Britain can look forward to many more such tweakings in their future.

It's sad to say that one could see this one coming from a mile away, but one actually could. And regardless of what America does, we will be the problem, I'm sure.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Bringing Iran to Heel

Dick Morris has an interesting column endorsing the Dodd-Lantos bill "mandating economic sanctions on any foreign company that aids Iran’s energy industry." Domestic businesses already operate under such rules.

This Democratic bill, cosponsored by Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Rep. Tom Lantos (Calif.), is a bold piece of legislation that strikes at the core of Iranian vulnerability.

And, in a singular act of courage and dedication to principle, Republican presidential candidate Congressman Duncan Hunter (Calif.) has added his name to the legislation as a cosponsor. Hunter’s action is particularly admirable since the bill is designed to force the Bush administration to impose sanctions passed in the 1990s but disregarded by both presidents, Clinton and Bush, ever since.

The Dodd-Lantos bill would omit the national security waiver Clinton used twice to stop the sanctions from taking effect. The waiver was inserted at the insistence of then-National Security Advisor Sandy Berger (before he started stealing documents in his socks). For his part, President Bush has not even waived the law, he just hasn’t applied it at all.

The original sanctions legislation provided a variety of punishments that the president had to impose on foreign companies that invest in Iran’s oil and gas industries. These ranged from barring their participation in underwriting Treasury issues to prohibiting them from receiving export-import financing, as well as certain government contracts. The sanctions were so effective that they triggered howls of outrage from European governments that objected to what they called "extraterritorial" assertions of American power...

But as Dodd, Lantos, and Hunter all realize, once the president and the secretary of state are stripped of the ability to waive the sanctions, they become a potent tool to stop European companies like Royal Dutch Shell, BNP, Total and Repsol from helping Iran tap its massive oil and gas reserves. The Bush administration people can plead that Congress is forcing their hand and foreign governments would just have to live with the consequences. Like the old Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which forced presidents to deal harshly with the Soviet Union as long as it barred Jewish emigration, the Dodd-Lantos bill would be a very effective tool in bringing Iran to heel.

Morris points out that Iran is quite susceptible to such sanctions, given its utter dependence on its oil industry. Plus, passage of this bill would give Democrats at least a fig leave of credibility that they are serious about stopping Iranian nuclear activity.

Unfortunately, the Democrats are discovering how difficult governing can be. Even though both the House and Senate passed cut-and-run legislation, the legislation doesn't look the same, and to reconcile the two bills will lose significant support regardless of which way the bill ends up. Democrats have little to show for their first 100 days, and it is doubtful that taking such a brazen step to force Iran off the nuclear track will be embraced by the Dems. It would be a nice surprise, though.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

What Were They Saying about the Chocolate Jesus?

I discussed the chocolate cross phenomenon a couple of days ago, and cross-posted it at Common Sense Political Thought, where one commenter said:

I can see why molded chocolate Jesus wouldn’t be acceptable

Well, guess what? There is a chocolate Jesus but it won't be on display.
A planned Holy Week exhibition of a nude, anatomically correct chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ was canceled Friday amid a choir of complaining Catholics that included Cardinal Edward Egan.

The "My Sweet Lord" display was shut down by the hotel that houses the Lab Gallery in midtown Manhattan, said Matt Semler, the gallery's creative director. Semler said he submitted his resignation after officials at the Roger Smith Hotel shut down the show.

The six-foot sculpture was the victim of "a strong-arming from people who haven't seen the show, seen what we're doing," Semler said. "They jumped to conclusions completely contrary to our intentions."

There's no explanation of what, exactly, were "our intentions," but the story says it was "an unfortunate coincidence" that the offensive sculpture was to be on display during Holy Week.

"Unfortunate coincidence?" I don't believe that for a minute. Every time someone wants to display offensive artwork, it seems to be brought up either at Christmas or Easter. Gee, I wonder why that is? I'm sure it's just an "unfortunate coincidence."

Angry Women

Dr. Helen has an interesting post on women and anger. She quotes this British study which finds that women are angrier than men.

New research that examined the responses of 22,000 people over 50 years has found that women are more likely to feel angry and persistently frustrated than men.

They also are more likely to act on their frustration in an unhealthy manner, choosing passive aggression over non-violent confrontation, psychologists say.

And Hell really has no fury like a woman scorned, as thirtysomething women with no partner are far more likely to report angry feelings than those with partners.

The survey also found that both men and women tend to mellow in middle age, and that angry children do not necessarily become angry adults. A link also was established between economic status and anger, as low-income children are more prone to tantrums and distress.

Humorously, the study found that old men are mellower than old women, who get angry, "falling out with their friends, getting irritated by strangers in the street and feeling frustrated by the vagaries of modern technology."

The researchers say this could be linked to a feeling of powerlessness women have in a patriarchal society, but as Dr. Helen points out, why did women seem less angry in the past when society was far more patriarchal?

I have some guesses, but they are completely unscientific. Part of that anger could be that we have more time and energy to stress out over things that our foremothers wouldn't have had the time to get upset about. There could also be a sense that we should be angrier about slights and problems that used to be considered either normal or just trivial (for instance, an overcharge at the store). People seem have a sense of entitlement that wasn't present in previous generations, and they are much more likely to react (and overreact) in angry ways.

But I think the other reason women may seem angrier than men is that the expectations of feminism demand it. Read a few feminist blogs and you'll see what I mean. How could a joke about a feminist in a come-hither pose in front of a well-known philanderer become such a cause for outrage? In the old days, before so much feminist angst, if someone had made a comment like this, the subject would have blown it off. But in the age of feminist outrage, one must be completely offended at every possible slight.

The study also points out that women tend to behave in passive-aggressive ways.
Dr Dryden, who runs a clinical practice in London, said his work with patients suggests women respond to anger in a less constructive manner than men.

He said: "Instead of using it as an opportunity for assertion, they tend not to deal with it directly, often becoming passively aggressive, talking behind people's backs, or taking feelings out on other people.

I've always been the sort of person who wants to "get it all out" when I'm angry or there's a problem. It seems to me that being direct and getting the confrontation over works better than the sort of cloak-and-dagger, mind-manipulation stuff women tend to be known for. Unfortunately, when you confront passive-aggressive people with what they are doing, they get even angrier, denying that they are doing what they are clearly doing.

Dr. Helen uses the study as a springboard to muse about angry women and the web.
It would be interesting to do a study of all of the anonymous posters of insults on various blogs around the web and see if proportionally, there are as many (or more) women who pen the insults (I am not talking here about discussing issues--I mean ad hominem attacks). Because if that is the case, that more women are behind the anonymous insults, it indicates that deep down, women have learned little from feminism over the last years--they are still too afraid to come out in the open in an assertive and constructive manner. They are still, ultimately, too intimidated to take real responsibility for their actions. It's no wonder they are so angry.

She may be on to something, although I tend to think of the anonymous posters as men. There are reasons other than passive-aggressiveness or repression to explain why women may not be as willing to identify themselves on the web. There are a lot of creepy people out there and even one's name can make a person a target in real life.

Thank God Sampson Remembers Not to Remember

After reading this Dana Milbank story in the WaPo about Kyle Sampson's testimony yesterday, one thing has become clear: members of the Administration have remembered not to remember anything.

"I can't pretend to know or remember every fact that may be of relevance," he warned at the start -- and he wasn't kidding. He used the phrase "I don't remember" a memorable 122 times.

It may have been a tactical effort to limit his risk of perjury, but Sampson displayed the recall of a man who recently fell off a ladder.

"Since the 2004 election, did you speak with the president about replacing U.S. attorneys?" Leahy asked.

"I don't ever remember speaking to the president after the 2004 election," he said. (He later remembered that he had.) "Did you have further communications with the White House regarding the plan to regard and replace several U.S. attorneys?"

"I don't remember specifically."

"I wish you did remember," Leahy finally said. "I would hope that you would search your memory as we go along."

Sampson searched. He came up empty.

After Schumer elicited three consecutive I-don't-remembers, John Cornyn (R-Tex.) objected to the questioning style.

Leahy overruled him. "We're trying to find what in heaven's name he does remember," the chairman said.

Schumer persisted, eventually asking the witness a question about Rove's role. "I don't remember," Sampson said. "I don't remember anything like that. I don't think so. I don't remember. I don't remember."

Sampson is no fool. Remembering anything will set him up to be Scooter Libby'd. This witch hunt will deserve every "I don't remember" that it gets from its witnesses. Worse than the stupidity of the Iran-Contra scandal, I am hopeful that watching Patrick Leahy try to bully witnesses will turn Americans' stomachs enough to turn out this disgusting bunch in 2008.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Anti-Americanism is the wonder drug of German politics."

A recent poll in Germany shows that 48% of Germans think America is more dangerous than Iran. Writer Claus Christian Malzahn says that periodically, Germans need to be re-educated about the United States, and Germany's own hypocritical behavior in the world.

The 19th-century German author Karl May taught us about the American Wild West, and Karl Marx warned us about unbridled capitalism. Besides, we've all been there at least once -- on vacation, of course. Be it in California or Florida (that's where you get the best deals on rental cars, you know), we can see right through the Americans.

For us Germans, the Americans are either too fat or too obsessed with exercise, too prudish or too pornographic, too religious or too nihilistic. In terms of history and foreign policy, the Americans have either been too isolationist or too imperialistic. They simply go ahead and invade foreign countries (something we Germans, of course, would never do) and then abandon them, the way they did in Vietnam and will soon do in Iraq.

Worst of all, the Americans won the war in 1945. (Well, with German help, of course -- from Einstein and his ilk.) There are some Germans who will never forgive the Americans for VE Day, when they defeated Hitler. After all, Nazism was just an accident, whereas Americans are inherently evil. Just look at President Bush, the man who, as some of SPIEGEL ONLINE's readers steadfastly believe, "is worse than Hitler." Now that gives us a chance to kill two birds with one stone. If Bush is the new Hitler, then we Germans have finally unloaded the F├╝hrer on to someone else. In fact, we won't even have to posthumously revoke his German citizenship, as politicians in Lower Saxony recently proposed. No one can hold a candle to our talent for symbolism!

I've written before about how so many people hate America because we are Americans. And let's face it, it's much easier to do nothing if you can blame every problem in the world on the United States. If it is always the Americans' fault, then other nations have a free pass to do nothing but wring their hands at every nasty event in the world. It is only the U.S. that is expected to actually do something about the nasty events.

Got a genocide going in Europe? Expect the Americans to send troops. Homicidal dictator threatening his own subjects, his neighbors, and countries around the globe? The U.S. will send in its military. Need humanitarian relief? No problem, the Americans will send 20 times the aid of other countries. All this, and then the Europeans can bash the U.S. for some perceived wrong-doing.

I would suggest that we just withdraw from the international stage and say FU to Europe, but the last time we did it, we got Bosnia.

Ted *Hic* Kennedy's Faux Outrage at Attorney Firings

Adding to the opportunistic outrage of the Democrats over Attorneygate, Ted *Hic* Kennedy fumed that the firing of eight (OMG! 8!) attorneys was keyed to aid Republicans in the 2008 presidential election.

I guess Kennedy would know about falsifying elections, given the Democratic Party's history of stuffing the ballot boxes with votes from the cemetery district.

As Ann Coulter pointed out today in this column,

The Bush administration is embroiled in the most ridiculous non-scandal scandal in human history -- set off when the administration stupidly apologized for firing its own employees.

U.S. attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president. The president may fire them for any reason at all. That includes not implementing the president's policy about criminal prosecutions. It also includes being in the way of someone else whom the president wants to appoint for patronage reasons.

Of course, Democrats don't care that Jimmy Carter fired a U.S. attorney for investigating Democratic officials in Philadelphia, or that Bill Clinton fired 93 attorneys in 1993, and up to 30 other prosecutors during his presidency.

After all, it's only a scandal if it is a Republican president, right?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Now We Can't Even Celebrate Jamestown

The PC police have struck again. This time, they are attacking the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown.

Use of the word "celebration" is being banned at this year's special events ordered by Congress to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of settlers in Jamestown, 13 years before the Plymouth Pilgrims appeared on America's shores, because it was an "invasion" that resulted in a "holocaust," organizers say.

"You can't celebrate an invasion," Mary Wade, an influential Jamestown 2007 Commemoration planner and Indian activist, has stated. After all, Indian tribes "were pushed back off of their land, even killed. Whole tribes were annihilated. A lot of people carry that oral history with them, and that's why they use the word 'invasion,' because it truly was an invasion, and I'm sure some of the Indian people will probably want to tell that as a part of the story of 400 years."

The attack upon Western culture, including the founding of colonies in America is a disgusting trend.

Chocolate Crosses and Easter Bunnies

About a month ago, I was helping coordinate the Easter Egg Hunt at my church. We were picking out items from a catalog for the eggs, when I saw several references to chocolate crosses.

Evidently, chocolate crosses have been around for a while. I don't know how I missed this trend, but it doesn't set well with me. I don't mind chocolate Easter bunnies, chocolate eggs, chocolate M&Ms, but I draw the line at eating the crucifix.

Evidently, I'm not alone in my ambivalence.

However, not all Christians are happy about it. Chomping on a chocolate cross can be offensive to some, said Joseph McAleer, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic diocese in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

"The cross should be venerated, not eaten, nor tossed casually in an Easter basket beside the jelly beans and marshmallow Peeps," he said. "It's insulting."

Evidently, Russell Stover thought about marketing other forms but eventually rejected them.
Ward said Russell Stover considered making other traditional images out of chocolate but eventually opted not to.

"A molded Jesus, for example, would not be a good call and a cross with Jesus on it wouldn't be a good idea either," Ward said.

I wonder what their first clue was that this might be a bad idea?

I bring this up because of this poll at Bible Belt Blogger. If so many people are offended at chocolate crosses, who is buying them?

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

What Other Failed Initiatives Are They Going to Waste Time On?

The Democrats, who campaigned that they were going to tackle the really important stuff, are trying to revive the Equal Rights Amendment.

This dinosaur from the early 1970s stalled three states short of ratification in 1982. This was after Congress had illegally extended the deadline.

The ERA was the crown jewel of feminist politics, but it got derailed when Phyllis Schlafly almost single-handedly exposed some of the less palatable consequences of the amendment (such as including women in the military draft and unisex bathrooms).

I wrote about this subject last year, when the idea of resurrecting the ERA was first being discussed.

I'm still not necessarily opposed to it, mainly because I dislike intensely the neither-fish-nor-fowl status of women under constitutional law. On the other hand, there are some arguments against the ERA that make sense, such as the theory that it will justify state funding of abortion or same sex marriages. Whether these liabilities can be circumvented with other law remains to be seen, but I am looking forward to the debate.

I'll Be Taking the Kids to Burger King More

Burger King announced today that it will start buying eggs and pork from producers who don't use cages or crates.

The company said that it would also favor suppliers of chickens that use gas, or “controlled-atmospheric stunning,” rather than electric shocks to knock birds unconscious before slaughter. It is considered a more humane method, though only a handful of slaughterhouses use it.

The goal for the next few months, Burger King said is for 2 percent of its eggs to be “cage free,” and for 10 percent of its pork to come from farms that allow sows to move around inside pens, rather than being confined to crates. The company said those percentages would rise as more farmers shift to these methods and more competitively priced supplies become available.

The cage-free eggs and crate-free pork will cost more, although it is not clear how much because Burger King is still negotiating prices, Steven Grover, vice president for food safety, quality assurance and regulatory compliance, said. Prices of food at the chain’s restaurants will not be increased as a result.

I don't suspect that price increases will be significant, and I'm pretty sure Burger King's prices are competitive with other fast food chains. Typically, we don't go to any fast food joint because of the prices, anyway.

If this campaign works for Burger King, expect McDonald's and other chains to follow suit.

Saudi King Condemns U.S. in Iraq

Why is it America's "allies" in the Middle East never support our policies? According to this New York Times article,

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told Arab leaders on Wednesday that the American occupation of Iraq is “illegal,” and he warned that unless Arab governments settle their differences, foreign powers like the United States would continue to dictate the region’s politics.

The king’s speech, at the opening of the Arab League summit meeting here, underscored growing differences between Saudi Arabia and the Bush administration as the Saudis take on a greater regional leadership role, partly at American urging. The Saudis seem to be emphasizing that they will not be beholden to the policies of their longtime ally...

Mustapha Hamarneh, director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, said the Saudis are sending Washington a message. "They are telling the U.S. they need to listen to their allies rather than imposing decisions on them and always taking Israel’s side."

Always taking Israel's side? I guess giving the Palestinians $20 million is taking Israel's side. So is condemning Israel for an attack on Gaza. Or condemning Israel for its settlement plan. Or maybe condemning Israel for an attack on Hamas is a way of "always taking Israel's side."

I don't know about other people, but I have a real problem with America's so-called Arab allies, especially when at least 15 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi, and the Saudi government funds radical mosques in the U.S.

It's funny that the Saudis were gung ho for America to have a greater presence in the Middle East when they felt threatened by Saddam Hussein. Now, I guess, it's ok to smack America around again.

House Votes to Protect "John Does" on Flights from Litigation

Score one for the ordinary passenger who sees suspicious activity as displayed by the flying imams. The House passed legislation protecting "John Does" from such suits.

House Republicans tonight surprised Democrats with a procedural vote to protect public-transportation passengers from being sued if they report suspicious activity -- the first step by lawmakers to protect "John Doe" airline travelers already targeted in such a lawsuit.

After a heated debate and calls for order, the motion to recommit the Democrats' Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007 back to committee with instructions to add the protective language passed on a vote of 304-121.

Republicans said the lawsuit filed by six Muslim imams against US Airways and "John Does," passengers who reported suspicious behavior, could have a "chilling effect" on passengers who may fear being sued for acting vigilant.

Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, offered the motion saying all Americans -- airline passengers included -- must be protected from lawsuits if they report suspicious behavior that may foreshadow a terrorist attack.

The law is retroactive to activities that took place after Nov. 20, 2006, the date of the Minneapolis incident.

It's good to see Congress protecting citizens from these sorts of suits, which have no purpose but to use our own laws against us.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Weirdest Spam

I know everybody gets spam, but I swear I get the weirdest combination of e-mails. Today I had 76 e-mails which ranged from "I'm a teenage girl. Wanna see my pics," to "Hoodia (whatever that is) will help you drop 30 lbs. overnight" to "Christian singles" to "Purses."

I don't open anything that I don't recognize, although I have done that mistakenly in the past. The funniest one I saw today had a title "HJ247,..." And it made me wonder how on earth it ended up in my mailbox and who goes by a string like that. In any event, I look at who sent me something and then delete the thing. But I'm still trying to figure out what Hoodia is.

Welcome to Investigations Post-Libby

As Just One Minute (among others, including Rush Limbaugh) has pointed out, Senator Patrick Leahy is reaping what Patrick Fitzgerald sowed with the Libby prosecution.

Now, Congress is left with uncooperative witnesses who are unwilling to step into the perjury trap. From the Washington Post:

(Monica Goodling's) attorney, John Dowd, said the Senate inquiry amounts to a perjury trap for his client. "One need look no further than the recent circumstances and proceedings involving Lewis Libby," Dowd said.

I expect to see quite a few more people invoking their Fifth Amendment rights. When people are prosecuted for not remembering things right (or for not remembering things the way other witnesses did) and end up in jail, you aren't going to have people testifying voluntarily.

Eric at Is That Legal? explains that the Fifth Amendment protects the innocent as well as the guilty.
The Fifth Amendment privilege protects not just the guilty, but also the innocent, who fear that even their entirely truthful responses might provide the government with incriminating evidence from their own mouths. (Ohio v. Reiner, 532 U.S. 17 (2001) (dictum).) "The privilege serves to protect the innocent who otherwise might be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances." (Slochower v. Bd. of Higher Ed. of the City of New York, 350 U.S. 551, 557-58 (1956).)

A careful defense lawyer would be especially justified in advising his or her client to consider taking the Fifth in a highly charged political environment such as the Senate Judiciary Committee's investigation into the firings of U.S. Attorneys and the alleged minimization (dare we say "cover-up?") of the role of the Attorney General and the White House in those firings. It is important to remember that "a witness innocent of wrongdoing may well refuse to answer a question not because he fears conviction, but because he fears unfounded prosecution, a risk which every one runs at all times, theoretically at least." (Lewis Mayers, Shall We Amend the Fifth Amendment? 4 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959).)

The Akin Gump attorney probably did not need to broadcast his attack on the fairness of the atmosphere in the Judiciary Committee as he did; that does indeed smack of politics. But that doesn't mean that the advice he has given his client is bad. It is not. It is of course possible that the invocation of the Fifth is in bad faith, and that neither Ms. Goodling nor her attorney has any basis at all to fear her eventual prosecution, either for perjury, for making false statements, for obstruction of justice, or some other crime. But that strikes me as quite unlikely.

Whether Goodling has something to hide or not, in the highly charged political atmosphere of today, it's a smart thing not to give up anything.

Let's Hope It Works Out Better than Campaign Finance Did

Senate Republicans have decided not to try to block the $122 billion Iraq spending bill--the one laden with port projects similar to ones Democrats vowed not to put into bills--but, instead, they will rely on President Bush to veto the bill.

A lot of conservatives are skeptical of this approach, given the president's reluctance to veto legislation. But President Bush has nothing to lose by vetoing the bill and forcing Democrats to present one more suitable or defund the war, which would make them responsible for a loss in Iraq (something politically unpalatable for them).

I hope this works better than the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance law did.

More Cancer News

This has been a very rough month for cancer victims I know personally, as well as the more famous variety.

On the national scene, we had presidential hopeful John Edwards' wife Elizabeth announcing her breast cancer had returned. And while the Edwards campaign has tried to stay upbeat about it, she will still be required to go through a gruelly series of chemotherapy treatments. My prayers go out to their family.

Now, we have Tony Snow announcing that his colon cancer has returned. Snow had his colon removed about two years ago because of the cancer. Now it has returned and metastasized to his liver. My prayers go out to him and his family.

That's all the national cancer people. On a personal note, we know a toddler who just had a cancerous tumor removed from his head. His family is now dealing with the radiation and chemo that will be starting for him shortly. His two older brothers are friends with my children.

The "C" word always throws me for a loop, ever since my mother's lung cancer diagnosis 11 years ago. She died from it 42 days after diagnosis, and, I suppose, because we didn't have a chance to come to grips with her illness before she died, I tend to overreact to cancer news. When my husband had thyroid cancer four years ago, it was hard to wrap my mind around it so that I could comprehend what was happening without getting totally freaked out by another cancer victim.

Four years later, he is still cancer free. But every year when he goes for his blood test, there is some tension in the house for a few days until we get the results back telling us he is ok. It is, however, a reminder that not all cancer is deadly and many are treatable.

Please go home and hug your loved ones, whether they be a spouse, children, friend, lover, parent, sibling, or pet. This news just shows life is still too short not to enjoy it.

Because Once You Point Out the Hypocrisy, You're a Target

Ann Althouse flips out in this segment of bloggingheads.tv when Garance Franke-Ruta refers to the Jessica Valenti breast flap.

For anyone who missed that blogosphere dust-up, Althouse tried to be funny in pointing out that a feminist blogger wore a tight knit top to a meeting with Bill Clinton. The photo that accompanied the post is unflattering to Valenti, and Althouse's comments are childish, but certainly not worth the amount of grief that has come about because of them.

Althouse's point was that the lefty blogosphere is far nastier and far less courteous than the right, and she is right about that. There are a few righty sites that are tough to be in, but I've yet to find a lefty site where posting even a semi-conservative comment won't get you blasted with the sort of invectives your mama washed your mouth out for.

It's a pity, but the leftosphere is having a field day with this. Somebody needs to tell Ann that she should always expect to be attacked whenever she speaks to a lefty. It will make her life easier.

Monday, March 26, 2007

More Bad News for Daycare

Not surprisingly, the largest and longest-running study of children in childcare keeps making the case for SAHMs.

A much-anticipated report from the largest and longest-running study of American child care has found that keeping a preschooler in a day care center for a year or more increased the likelihood that the child would become disruptive in class — and that the effect persisted through the sixth grade...

But the finding held up regardless of the child’s sex or family income, and regardless of the quality of the day care center. With more than two million American preschoolers attending day care, the increased disruptiveness very likely contributes to the load on teachers who must manage large classrooms, the authors argue.

I couldn't help but remember those silly Pandagonistas who attacked me for pointing out that staying home is better for one's children and that I "didn't want someone else raising my children." They really blew a gasket when I told them that it really and truly was possible to afford for a parent to stay home and that to say most SAHMs (including well-off, well-educated moms) did not "freely choose" to stay home was ridiculous.

Yes, at Pandagon, you will find the career women who bare their fangs at the slightest hint that they've put raising their children on the back burner while they pursue their careers, even if what you said was what you decided and that you weren't saying anything about their choices.

I also thought about a little discussed section of Bernard Goldberg's book Bias. The section is one of several chapters on subjects the MSM doesn't cover or covers in a one-sided manner. Daycare is one of those subjects. Just read that excerpted portion of the NYT article I linked to above. See the ellipses? That's because I left out this graf, which gives cover to people who stick their kids in daycare.
The effect was slight, and well within the normal range for healthy children, the researchers found. And as expected, parents’ guidance and their genes had by far the strongest influence on how children behaved.

In Bias, Goldberg points out the controversial nature of daycare, particularly as it is done in the U.S. but how the MSM doesn't want to cover daycare like they cover, say, the military budget. He is correct, of course. The MSM is invested in the idea that children raised in daycare do as well or better than children raised by their parents. This might have something to do with the fact that in order to advance your career in journalism, you will probably work a boatload of hours every week and newspapers (among other media outlets) aren't family-friendly places.

Goldberg doesn't argue for or against daycare; he simply argues that MSM should do more to cover daycare issues evenhandedly. I agree with that. Daycare is a fact of modern life for a lot of people, some of whom could stay home if they chose, and others who cannot. IMO, putting lipstick on the pig that is daycare doesn't change the fact it is a pig. But until we accept the notion that daycare is not the best choice for raising kids, we can't go about fixing the problem. Nor can we find ways to help parents cope with the problems daycare tends to create. By denying that children left in daycare for 8-12 hours a day present problems that other children to not, we do those children (and their parents) a disservice.

The Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development has been going on for more than a decade and tracks children in a variety of childcare situations. Unfortunately for the daycare lobby, the study has been consistently bad for them. Without fail, every time a new report is released, it points to the problems daycare creates for children. While the NYT article tries to say such problems are "slight," I doubt seriously that a teacher with 22 students, 5 of whom are disruptive, would think the problem is "slight."

We need to come to grips with the problems daycare presents. Daycare is here to stay. That doesn't mean we have to pretend that there aren't consequences of that.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

World Better Without Religion (?!)

Sirkowski at Liberal Avenger posts one helluva logical fallacy about the effects of religion on society.

It’s been said before, but it bares repeating. For the good some people claim religion provides us, the cost to society down the lines is just not worth it. Studies prove that the more religious a country is, the lower its standard of living is. But we didn’t really need a study to see that. Just name me one highly religious country with a high standard of living. And if you think the USA is the exception, it’s not. When compared to western industrialized countries, the USA ranks poorly. And remember that it’s the blue states who carry on its shoulders the economical bottom of the barrel that are the red states (in before wingnut bitch).

The post leaves no link for the statement that the U.S. doesn't have a high standard of living, nor does he bother explaining what a "high standard of living" means, even when asked repeatedly in the comments.

He quotes from this story at the Jerusalem Post, but even that article doesn't really back up his claims.
(Freelance paleontologist, author and illustrator Gregory) Paul examined the data from 18 developed countries, and found just the opposite: "In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, (venereal disease), teen pregnancy, and abortion," while "none of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction."

I've debated this topic with lefties before, dissecting the argument that somehow, all these social ills are because of religion, rather than because of other factors. For example, homogeneous societies have lower rates of crime, etc., not because of religion (or a lack thereof), but because the society itself doesn't have to deal with lots of different and competing groups. In fact, most of the factors listed are attributable to a variety of other sources such as poverty, lack of social services, etc., and frequently religious people support intervention in these areas.

But most telling is this portion of the article that Sirkowski does not quote:
Now, to be fair, only one of the 18 countries examined (Japan) was not Christian or "post-Christian," so maybe this just shows that high levels of Christian belief correlate with a variety of social ills. There's really no way of testing that anyway, since apart from the countries of East Asia there really are no non-Christian countries where the level of religious belief has yet fallen below 60 or 70 percent.

There's not even any way of knowing if other religions will eventually experience the same decline in belief as the people who believed in them get richer, more urban and better educated. Even in what used to be Christendom, the United States didn't follow that path, after all. But the question is not whether religion will continue to flourish. It is whether that makes people behave better, and the data say no.

In other words, the study is a sham. With only one non-Christian country studied, it's difficult to believe that the author would have even bothered postulating these theories in the first place. How do you prove that non-Christian states are better off if you don't have any non-Christian states in your study?

The Jerusalem Post column goes on to state that secular governments (a la Europe) do a better job of taking care of people than do religious ones. But here again, the author gets the information wrong. The U.S. is a secular state, as well. Because people are religious has nothing to do with supporting government programs. People support (or don't support) governmental interference based on information and experience, not necessarily their religion. And the throwaway explanation of the Jerusalem Post author--that Christians don't support government programs because they think God will provide--is both trite and demeaning. Given that Americans give far more for causes than citizens of other countries (look at aid given for tsunami relief, for instance), one can draw the conclusion that religious countries are more giving and compassionate.

Saying that the world would be better off without religion is a silly argument, regardless of what information Sirkowski presents. It's not like religion will go away because someone puts together a rather bogus study to support the banishment of it. This just seems to be another atheist's attempt to bash religious people because he has a problem with them.

In the Bad Ol' Days, Subpeonas Drew Yawns from the Media

Tim Graham of Media Research Center points out that during the Clinton administration, the media questioned whether Congressional investigations were worth the bother or the taxpayer money.

Congress was preparing investigations into illegal political contributions from China at the time, but, unsurprisingly, the media focused on the "partisan nature" of the Congress doing the investigating.

ABC wondered whether subpoenas and hearings weren't democracy in action, but a waste of America's resources. On the April 10, 1997 World News Tonight, anchor Peter Jennings promoted a story: "When we come back, two investigations of fundraising abuse, two of them on Capitol Hill. Is it a waste of time and money?" Reporter John Cochran underlined the problem of GOP partisanship: "Dan Burton is a hard-charging partisan and has resisted investigating anyone but Democrats."

Dan Burton was singled out for abuse time and again by both Democrats and their sycophants in the media. The short post by Graham is worth the read, just to see how investigations are worthwhile when they are about Republicans but not Democrats.

“The idea is to end each day with fewer enemies than when it started.”

So says General Patraeus, and Arthur Herman explains in this Commentary piece how it is possible to win in Iraq and still lose.

Herman uses the French fight for Algeria in the 1950s as an example of how you can win the battles and lose the war because of leftists at home. In America, we have our own example: Vietnam.

Lefties in the anti-war movement and the media did such a number on the war that most high school kids think we lost the Tet Offensive and that the reason we "lost" Vietnam was because the Vietcong were superior militarily. They don't learn that the reason the war was lost was that Congress cut off funding for the democracies of South Vietnam and Cambodia. They are too young to remember, like me, the people trying to hang on to helicopters, hoping not to be slaughtered for supporting democracy. No, instead, they are too busy learning about excesses by Western governments and that all societies are equally valid.

Herman points out the strategy used by the French commander David Galula to squash the insurgency in Algeria and how it can (and is) be/being applied in Iraq.

1. Concentration of force--divide areas into safe, contested, and insurgency controlled, then concentrate forces on turning contested areas into safe ones, controlled into contested, then contested into safe areas.

2. Visible and continuous military presence--it creates trust in civilian institutions.

3. Inevitable victory--counterinsurgency troops must project a sense of inevitable victory in order to win the war for the "hearts and minds."

Even as Galula's strategy won the military war in Algeria, the anti-war movement in France doomed it. This is where the current anti-war movement in America is so deadly. In short, we can do everything right in Iraq and still lose the war through the constant drumbeat of anti-American, anti-war sloganeering and argumentation. There are many places to find this sort of discussion, from leftist websites to MSM to supposed "comedians" on television. The bottom line is that unless the anti-war left--who really don't care about casualties, given their track record--decides to support our efforts in Iraq, they really will turn it into Vietnam. Only this time, I don't think the Iraqis can become the boat people of the 21st Century.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

The Sheep-Human: More on Stem Cell Research

I almost called this post The Man-Sheep, but then I thought that would sound too political and people might get the wrong idea.

No, this is a post about how scientists have created sheep with partially human organs.

The sheep have 15 per cent human cells and 85 per cent animal cells - and their evolution brings the prospect of animal organs being transplanted into humans one step closer...

The process would involve extracting stem cells from the donor's bone marrow and injecting them into the peritoneum of a sheep's foetus. When the lamb is born, two months later, it would have a liver, heart, lungs and brain that are partly human and available for transplant.

Aside from the ethical issues, which don't seem to bother scientists at all anymore, there are arguments that this genetic tampering could introduce certain viruses--which are harmless in animals--to humans. Without knowing which viruses could be introduced or their impact on humans, it's a dicey proposition.

But am I the only person bothered at the idea of sheep walking around the fields with human organs, just waiting for transplant?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Muslim Activists in the Land of Minnesota Nice

I had not heard about this, but, evidently, some Muslim cashiers are refusing to scan pork or pork products at the local Target stores in Minneapolis.

In the latest example of religious beliefs creating tension in the workplace, some Muslims in the Twin Cities are adhering to a strict interpretation of the Qur'an that prohibits the handling of pork products.

Instead of swiping the items themselves, they are asking non-Muslim employees or shoppers to do it for them.

My first job was as a cashier in a drug store. I was Southern Baptist (very Southern Baptist), but I didn't refuse to sell customers Playboy magazines or cigarettes just because those things offended parts of my religious beliefs. In fact, I'm pretty sure I would have been fired had I refused to ring up certain items, requiring another person to ring up the item or the customer to do so (this was in the days before scanners). But, alas, those were also the days before religious sensitivity. Now, according to the article, offended Muslim clerks either get another clerk to scan the item or make the customer do it him/herself.

My thought is, if you don't want to sell the product, find a different job.

There are plenty of situations where people have had to make compromises between their religions and their jobs. That first job also required me to work Sundays (a real no-no at the time) once a month. Eventually, I quit because I didn't want to work in a place that interfered with my churchtime. Lots of other people make the same sorts of decisions all the time.

In modern society, however, more people are expecting the company (and the customer) to accommodate them. There's nothing wrong with reasonable accommodation, but when does reasonable become unreasonable?

I found the story about the Target employees through this column by Katherine Kersten in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Kersten connects the Target employees to the Minneapolis taxi drivers who won't transport people with alcohol to the "flying imams" who are suing U.S. Airways and the Metropolitan Airports Commission for discrimination.
The events here suggest a larger strategy: By piggy-backing on our civil rights laws, Islamist activists aim to equate airport security with racial bigotry and to move slowly toward a two-tier legal system. Intimidation is a crucial tool. The "flying imams" lawsuit ups the ante by indicating that passengers who alerted airport authorities will be included as defendants. Activists are also perfecting their skills at manipulating the media. After a "pray-in" at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., one credulous MSNBC anchor likened the flying imams to civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
The comparison is misplaced: Omar Shahin, leader of the detained imams, has helped raise money for at least two charities later shut down for supporting terrorism. From 2000 to 2003, he headed the Islamic Center of Tucson, which terrorism expert Rita Katz described in the Washington Post as holding "basically the first cell of al Qaeda in the United States." CAIR has long been controversial for alleged terrorist ties, while the Chicago Tribune has described MAS as the American arm of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, which "preaches that religion and politics cannot be separated and that governments eventually should be Islamic."

I'm all for reasonable accommodation of religion. But if we really are a secular country, as many liberals claim, then someone needs to explain that to the next cashier who refuses to scan the bacon at the checkout lane.

The Gonzalez Problem

Captain Ed has a nice post on the U.S. Attorneygate and the document dump of e-mails. The leftosphere is making quite a bit of this (with some reason), but as Captain Ed points out, there's still nothing illegal about what was done, and the enemies of the President can't gather forces around any particular criminal charge.

Captain Ed uses this William F. Buckley column as a jumping off point. Buckley points out two truths: (a) that the President does have the plenary power to fire the attorneys and (b) Congress has the authority to investigate actions by the executive branch. Buckley's point is that the former cannot (and should not) swallow the latter.

It is a good point to make. Congress has always wielded its authority to investigate the executive branch, sometimes in better faith than at other times. Yet regardless of the partisan squabbling that such investigations have incurred, the value of Congress in examining the actions of the executive branch is enormous, and can be one of the few checks on executive power.

Captain Ed then goes into the document dump of e-mails and what it all means.

All of this still doesn't make the case that any of the firings were illegal. So far, no one has offered any proof of evil intent. That's what makes Gonzales' handling of this issue so poor. Even if Gonzales didn't intend to deceive -- that is to say that he honestly didn't recall sitting in on that meeting -- wouldn't a competent CEO (as he described himself) do some research before making categorical statements? Every time a Justice official has offered a version of the firings, it has foundered on the shoals of Justice's own documentation, which one would assume these professionals would have checked before creating their explanations.

And who would accept the competence of the AG if Gonzales really had no idea how his own department drew up a list of federal prosecutors for termination? What Cabinet officer would have so little interest in how his underling fired presidential appointees?

That's why I wrote earlier that Gonzales and others who have presented misleading versions of the project are either incompetent or deceptive. We should not accept either in the office of the highest-ranking law enforcement officer of the United States, regardless of whether he is a Republican or Democrat. America existed before the Bush administration, and it will exist after it, and we had better insist on a level of competence and/or honesty that exceeds what we're getting at the moment -- or else we will live to regret it in later adminstrations.

I am one of those on the right that has insisted Gonzalez not resign because it would be just the latest scalp for the Democrats (Republicans always resign; Democrats just accuse their accusers of partisanship). Yet looking at the e-mails, one can conclude either that Gonzalez was utterly clueless about the actions within the DOJ or that he has repeatedly lied about his involvement in this situation. Either way, Gonzalez has become a real liability for the President and should go.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

"Be Open to Change"

Recently, I posted here about this post at Pandagon, in which Amanda said that SAHMs were not "free to choose," that life. The nut graf, as we say in the business was this:

Basically, the “opt-out revolution” is a patriarchal myth headily promoted in places like the NY Times, where readers are relegated with wishful stories about the supposed majority of female Ivy League graduates and other high paid professional types who want nothing more than to get married and give up their careers to be support systems and full time stay-at-home wives for their oh-so-much-more-important husbands. Basically, conservative upper middle class types are still pissed off about The Feminine Mystique and will spend a lot of money trying to demonstrate that women really, truly have no other aspirations than being full time moms, which means full time wives, since your time spent as an active wife ideally lasts a lot longer than when your children are small and need attention 24/7.

Ah, no well-educated woman would choose to stay home and read The Sailor Dog to her snot-nosed children when she had the "free choice" to work the extraordinary hours necessary to be a professional, right? That's certainly the view I was given repeatedly when I pointed out that there were, in fact, well-educated women who didn't want someone else raising their children.

Guess what? I'm not the only one. Deborah R. Schwarzer had one of those high-powered legal careers. She made partner in a large firm, then left to work in a smaller firm and finally left that firm to--gasp!--stay home and raise her children.
It was the having kids that changed things the most. At first, I kept working. I was living in a medium sized city where fabulous nannies were available cheap. Heck, they brought the baby to me to breastfeed during the day. But when we moved back to the Bay Area during the dotcom boom, I had to make a hard choice. I spoke to my small firm, I spoke to friends at my old big firm. Everyone was working harder than they ever had. Part time wasn’t a choice; it was either full out or nothing. So I picked nothing. That nasty little voice in my head asked whether I was throwing away that fancy UofC education, whether I was confirming stereotypes of women abandoning their careers. But the saner little voice pointed out that I had practiced law very hard for 17 years. Many people change career paths in that time frame. I had used my fancy education very well. And there were lots and lots of really good corporate attorneys out there, but only one person who could meet my kids’ needs.

I haven’t regretted that, either, although the loss of the paycheck hurts. Actually, it’s the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It was clear my oldest wasn’t suited to life in a regular school, so we decided to teach him and his brother at home. I’ve been doing that for 7 years, and it’s a kick. I’m of counsel with my small firm, doing bits and pieces here and there. I’m not doing anything cutting edge from a legal perspective. I’m not written up in law journals. I won’t impress the kind of folks at my upcoming 25th reunion who want to recite client lists or number of dollars involved in deals and cases. And I don’t care.

One of the things I dislike so much about liberalism generally and radical feminists in particular is the way life tends to be all about "the Cause," whether "the Cause" is feminism, environmentalism, racism, homosexual rights, or whatever. But when you get down to it, life is about how happy you are, not whether all of your actions advance a cause. It's wonderful to work for causes that matter to you, but, in the end, you have to make personal decisions that work for you, regardless of whether or not you advance the Cause.

This is why I laughed so hard at the Pandagonistas who were so worked up about me saying I liked being home with my children. It was obviously threatening for them to hear from someone who didn't feel she was forced to make a choice, but that she did, indeed, "choose freely."

Thinking Like a Lawyer

From the first days of law school, students are told they will be taught to "think like a lawyer." What that means is that students will learn how to look at an issue from every possible angle and argue for virtually possible side in a case. The exercise is designed to help break down a person's personal prejudices in a situation by forcing them to view things from different perspectives.

While this is a useful (and essential) skill for young lawyers, shouldn't they also be trained how to act like lawyers?

Wallflower at Ms JD makes a good argument for law schools giving their students practical, real world experience, as well as theory in two posts here and here.

Her solution is to mimic the medical school example where third-year students work through a series of clinical rotations to learn real world applications of classroom theory.

A more logical solution would be to require clinical education or internships as part of legal education, perhaps making the third year a series of rotations through various kinds of legal practice, much as medical interns rotate through departments in a hospital. Law schools could form partnerships with law firms, individual practitioners, and government and private agencies and, together, these groups could create clinics for almost any area of practice in which there was student interest. The two-semester third-year internship program could be divided into four quarters, and students would have the option of devoting their time two or four rotations.

Devoting the third year to a variety of clinical experiences would expand students’ knowledge of the law and its practical applications and effects. With a quarter- or semester-long rotation in a business law clinic, students would be able to apply what they know about contracts, secured transactions, and protection of intellectual property. A rotation interning in a public defender’s or prosecutor’s office would give students with an interest in criminal law experience with arguing at bail hearings and filing motions. Family law or private client internships would give students so inclined an understanding of the drafting of wills or the negotiation of visitation between divorced parents. Students would have not just a grasp on the theory of law or what it means to “think like a lawyer;” they would have a greater understanding of how to cope with real-world legal problems and develop practical solutions.

This seems to me to be an excellent idea for making a legal education more practical. Too many students (like me) graduate with the education but no actual experience handling the mundane areas of practicing law. Few students graduate knowing how to draft a will, file a temporary restraining order, or write a motion unless that person worked in a law office while in school. Requiring clinical rotations in the third year would force all students to get real world experience so that they were better prepared for life after law school.

All White People Can Be Called Racist

That's according to Pandagon's own racist, Amanda. Hey, she's white, right? Here's the context:

PZ Myers was posting on why it’s so ridiculous to attack the theory of evolution by calling Darwin a racist. These sort of nonsensical attacks tell you more about the people making them than about the ideas under assault, namely that social conservatives appear to think that “racism” isn’t so much a social problem as a cheap way to attack political enemies, sort of like asking Bill Clinton if he ever smoked pot...

Since all white people can safely be called “racist”, I have to wonder out loud what the mostly white people who get all enthusiastic about calling Darwin and Sanger racists are trying to get at here. Do they claim that being a racist immediately discredit anything you say or do? Considering that all white people are part of the privileged class in a racist system, that seems to me to mean that we can pretty much immediately discount anything a white person says or does, including what I just wrote. I’ll be the first to admit that I think that’s a tempting plan and part of me wants to support it, but it does have a sticking problem, which is that I don’t want to give up all cultural contributions made by white people. After all, white people have dominated the sciences and arts and humanities in the West for awhile now; they did come up with some useful things in the process, such as computers and penicillin. Unlike some of my more racist brethern, though, I don’t think this means white people are inherently better. I think that if everyone else got access to the education and opportunities white people have hoarded for themselves, they’ll start inventing the next rounds of computers and penicillin. In fact, I suspect that is exactly why white people haven’t shared; we didn’t want to be bested at anything. The downside is that so much squashed potential probably means that many more computers and penicillin that we don’t have.

This statement contains some fairly bizarre ideas. For one thing, we know that there is all kinds of racism and that white people are not the only human beings who can be racist. It's hard to look at the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, for example, without concluding that there was racism involved. And let's not forget the notorious racism of the Japanese, particularly against Koreans. In short, racism is prevalent in most societies at various times and places. Amanda might want to peruse this site to discover that racism has been present (and mostly is still present) on every continent on Earth.

But worse than the ridiculous notion that only white people are (or can be) racists (Amanda, after all, says she doesn't agree with this notion), is the asshattery revealed in Amanda's blathering about white people wanting to "hog" all those inventions and discoveries. This, btw, is the sort of stupidity that got Amanda fired--er, resigned from the John Edwards campaign. The idea that white people would want to suppress scientific discovery by people of other races just so we "wouldn't be bested at anything," reveals such a depth of self-loathing as to be unbelievable. So, the question must be raised, does Amanda really believe the crap she publishes or is it just an online persona? I'm sure this is just more of that really intelligent humor she supposedly trades in, the kind not meant to offend anyone.

Texas Legislator Proposes $500 Bonus to Stop Abortions

This has got to be one of the worst ideas I've seen on how to stop abortions.

A Texas legislator has proposed that pregnant women considering abortion be offered $500 not to end their pregnancies.

Republican State Sen. Dan Patrick, who also is a conservative radio talk show host, said on Friday the money might convince the women to go ahead and have babies, then give them up for adoption...

Critics say the proposal would violate Texas and federal laws against buying babies, which Patrick rejected as "the typical ridiculous criticism."

This proposal sends all the wrong signals about stopping abortion and just gives more ammunition to the pro-abortion fanatics.

First, $500 isn't enough money to give women the incentive to go through a pregnancy they don't want, then the pain of childbirth and the various problems that can occur. And if I'm wrong, do we really want to encourage women to get pregnant this way for money? We want fewer women creating babies they are unwilling or unable to care for, not more.

Secondly, this reinforces the opinions of the radical feminists who think that
all pro-life supporters are against abortion because they think we need more white babies for adoption. The stipulation that the money is available after the baby is put up for adoption reinforces this idiotic notion.

Third, is this really a government function? One of the arguments conservatives make about abortion is its inherent governmental intrusion. We don't want the federal government telling states what rules they can have governing abortion, and it seems to me that this is the worst sort of government intrusion, as well as a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Representative Patrick may think this gimmick will stop some abortions, but, in my opinion, it will only reinforce the stereotypes certain radicals have of pro-lifers.

Random Thoughts

1. Is there an environmentally friendly way to hold a car wash? Our church youth group held a car wash today to raise money for the teenagers to go to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium this summer at Purdue University. Watching all that water literally going down the drain, it made me wonder if there's a better way to do a car wash that doesn't waste so much water.

2. Why do people lie about being kidnapped? Do they really think they won't get caught? This case isn't the first I've seen like this. The girls said they were "afraid they were going to get in trouble" for being out late. How much worse trouble does one get into for filing a false police report?

3. Does anybody understand the offsides rule of soccer? I've watched my kiddoes play for close to a decade (the oldest now plays in high school, my son is on a youth league team) and I still don't think I understand that rule.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Why Democrats Are So Concerned About the Cost of College

I can't be the only person who's been wondering why Democrats are so worried about the cost of college. It's not like we didn't know college is expensive. The costs of college have been skyrocketing for the past 20 years (boring aside: when I started college, it was $4 per semester hour. The same school today charges over $5,000 for a semester load of classes. That means one semester costs more than my entire college education).

Why is the cost of college suddenly the hottest topic of Democratic presidential candidates? According to Mark Schmitt, it's because Mark Penn says so.

...(H)e has generally put more emphasis on winning over prosperous white women than on men. A year ago he published an op-ed in which he said, "In 1996 we identified soccer moms as the critical swing voters. Today they remain at the center of the swing vote, but they're a decade older and their kids are going off to college." This claim is inseparable from Penn's case for Clinton's electability: Well-off white women love her, well-off white women are the only voters who matter, therefore...

It is that sentence -- "soccer moms' ... kids are going off to college" -- that captures why almost every Democratic pol seems to have become convinced that our most important domestic priority is to make college tuition tax deductible. Given all the problems in the world, this is a staggeringly irresponsible policy, since it wouldn't help a single kid go to college who is not already attending college and would disproportionately benefit the well-off.

I agree with Schmitt. I couldn't figure out why Democrats were suddenly obsessed with the price of college like it had leapt 2000% in one year or something. It makes sense, though, that college costs are suddenly the most important issue facing America, since Mr. Soccer Mom has declared it so.

According to Penn, a "mom-fluential is a woman who spends a lot of time online discussing products and getting coupons from manufacturers. They then send e-mails to everybody in their address book about which products they like and what they don't like.

Honestly, does anybody like that woman? Frankly, I would find it very annoying if someone was proselytizing for some product or other, sending me e-mails all the time. I get enough spam as it is. I don't need people I know doing it.

Of course, Penn's site is about how marketers can use the mom-fluentials to help expand their consumer reach, not about politics. So, how does the mom-fluential, who is hyping products to her friends, affect voting patterns?

The information available doesn't say directly, but this blog gives a few of the criteria for mom-fluentials:
- Send emails to companies

- Send emails to politicians

- Send e-mail news and media

- Make friends online

- Make business contacts online

- Provide feedback to companies

- Forward news and links to others

My guess is the fact that these women frequently contact politicians leads to the conclusion that they heavily influence policy. And they might; that's why so many organizations beg people to contact their political representatives to either support or block certain bills.

But Schmitt's point is that this "narrow-casting" of issues does not serve the American electorate. Is the cost of college really the most pressing issue in American politics? If it is, we certainly haven't heard much about it over the years. Personally, I would rather here the presidential candidates spend more time talking about immigration, law enforcement, education, and energy dependency.

It's All About Getting Karl Rove

John Dean--liberals' favorite "Republican"--has this interesting piece on the U.S. Attorney flap. The bottom line:

This time, it is my belief that Bush -- unlike Reagan before him -- will not blink. He will not let Fielding strike a deal, as Fielding did for Reagan. Rather, Bush feels that he has his manhood on the line. He knows what his conservative constituency wants: a strong president who protects his prerogatives. He believes in the unitary executive theory of protecting those prerogatives, and of strengthening the presidency by defying Congress.

In short, all those who have wanted to see Karl Rove in jail may get their wish, for he will not cave in, either -- and may well be prosecuted for contempt, as Gorsuch was not. Bush's greatest problem here, however, is Harriett Miers. It is dubious he can exert any privilege over a former White House Counsel; I doubt she is ready to go to prison for him; and all who know her say if she is under oath, she will not lie. That could be a problem.

But Hugh Hewitt had a guest yesterday who isn't nearly as sure of Congress's power as Dean is.
I was joined by Duke University Law School Professor Erwin Chemerinsky and my colleague from Chapman University Law School John Eastman for a long conversation on the looming showdown between the president and Congress over executive privilege. All three of us agree that the issue is of first impression and that the courts may invoke the political question doctrine. Professor Eastman and I doubt that the courts will be eager to unbalance the power settings between the branches by backing up the Congress' subpoenas in such an obviously political case which is completely unconnected to a criminal investigation. Professor Chemerinsky argues that there are allegations of conduct that might conceivably rise to the level of obstruction of justice, but this is wholesale conjecture.

The biggest problem with this Congressional aggression is that there is no criminal investigation to bolster their "need" for Rove and Miers to testify under oath. It's one thing when there's a criminal case. It's another when it is fairly clear Congress is on a fishing expedition to cite Rove for perjury.

New Pew Report Finds Political Landscape More Favorable to Democrats

The Pew research organization has put out its new report, and Democrats should be pleased with the findings.

Increased public support for the social safety net, signs of growing public concern about income inequality, and a diminished appetite for assertive national security policies have improved the political landscape for the Democrats as the 2008 presidential campaign gets underway.

At the same time, many of the key trends that nurtured the Republican resurgence in the mid-1990s have moderated, according to Pew's longitudinal measures of the public's basic political, social and economic values. The proportion of Americans who support traditional social values has edged downward since 1994, while the proportion of Americans expressing strong personal religious commitment also has declined modestly.

After three or so generations of socialized old age, it's no wonder people have embraced it. And, more importantly for Democrats, more people are abdicating responsibility for their lives and demanding that government "do something" for them, even as such socialism is causing problems (or being rejected outright) in Europe.

Similarly, there's been at least 20 years of liberal education about shacking up, homosexuality, abortion and illegitimacy that it's no wonder so many younger people do not embrace traditional values. If you've watched television and movies, listened to music, and kept up with the celebrity culture over the last 30 years, it would be difficult not to have seen the "liberal footprint" everywhere.

There were other interesting results from the poll, as well.
--The public expresses highly favorable views of many leading corporations. Johnson & Johnson and Google have the most positive images of 23 corporations tested. At the bottom of the list: Halliburton, which is viewed favorably by fewer than half of those familiar enough with the company to give it a rating.

--Views of many corporations vary significantly among Democrats along class lines. Two-thirds of working-class Democrats have a favorable view of Wal-Mart compared with 45% of professional-class Democrats.

--Americans are worried more that businesses rather than government are snooping into their lives. About three-in-four (74%) say they are concerned that business corporations are collecting too much personal information while 58% express the same concern about the government.

--The public is losing confidence in itself. A dwindling majority (57%) say they have a good deal of confidence in the wisdom of the American people when it comes to making political decisions. Similarly, the proportion who agrees that Americans "can always find a way to solve our problems" has dropped 16 points in the past five years.

--Americans feel increasingly estranged from their government. Barely a third (34%) agree with the statement, "most elected officials care what people like me think," nearly matching the 20-year low of 33% recorded in 1994 and a 10-point drop since 2002.

--Young people continue to hold a more favorable view of government than do other Americans. At the same time, young adults express the least interest in voting and other forms of political participation.

--Interpersonal racial attitudes continue to moderate. More than eight-in-ten (83%) agree that "it's all right for blacks and whites to date," up six percentage points since 2003 and 13 points from a Pew survey conducted 10 years ago.

--Republicans are increasingly divided over the cultural impact of immigrants. Nearly seven-in-ten (68%) conservative Republicans say immigrants threaten American customs, compared with 43% of GOP moderates and liberals. Democrats have long been divided along ideological lines, but the GOP previously had not been.

Liberals Unite on Cut-and-Run Plan

Congratulations, Democrats.

I know it's tough to get the moonbats and the loons to agree on much, but that is your base. You have the blue dog Democrats that you strategically elected to gain control of Congress and you have the tinfoil hat crowd. Both constituencies are hard to bring together on much, as you've discovered.

But now, you've been able to forge a pact with the Devil so you can have your beloved timetables (albeit, nonbinding ones) trying to micromanage the war in Iraq.

Liberal opposition to a $124 billion war spending bill broke last night, when leaders of the antiwar Out of Iraq Caucus pledged to Democratic leaders that they will not block the measure, which sets timelines for bringing U.S. troops home.

The acquiescence of the liberals probably means that the House will pass a binding measure today that, for the first time, would establish tough readiness standards for the deployment of combat forces and an Aug. 31, 2008, deadline for their removal from Iraq.

A Senate committee also passed a spending bill yesterday setting a goal of bringing troops home within a year. The developments mark congressional Democrats' first real progress in putting legislative pressure on President Bush to withdraw U.S. forces.

Even more than the conservative Democrats leery of appearing to micromanage the war, House liberals have been the main obstacle to leadership efforts to put a timeline on the withdrawal of U.S. forces. They have complained that the proposal would not bring troops home fast enough. Their opposition has riven the antiwar movement, split the Democratic base and been the main stumbling block to the legislation, which had originally been scheduled for a vote yesterday.

Not that it will matter much if the President vetoes this. I would hope he learned this much from Bill Clinton.

But it's good to see that you have given our enemies renewed hope.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Was She Covert?

Robert Novak has an excellent column on the charade that was last Friday's testimony by Valerie Plame.

Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra could hardly believe what he heard on television Friday as he watched a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. Rep. Henry Waxman, the Democratic committee chairman, said his statement had been approved by the CIA director, Michael Hayden. That included the assertion that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA operative when her identity was revealed.

As House intelligence committee chairman when Republicans controlled Congress, Hoekstra had tried repeatedly to learn Plame's status from the CIA but got only double talk from Langley. Waxman, 67, the 17-term congressman from Beverly Hills, may be a bully and a partisan. But he is no fool who would misrepresent the director of central intelligence. Waxman was correctly quoting Hayden. But Hayden, in a conference with Hoekstra yesterday, still did not answer whether Plame was covert under the terms of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

I get trolls here periodically who want to talk about how Plame's identity was "classified," or that "because the CIA says Plame was covert, it doesn't matter what the law says." Both of these arguments are nonsense, of course. If the CIA had declared Plame to be a pink elephant, it wouldn't have mattered unless she had fit the legal definition (assuming there is one, which there probably is somewhere).

Novak points out that the hearing was a complete political sham, designed to smear the White House and bolster lyin' Joe Wilson's phony claims and explanations.

If the Democrats had truly been interested in getting to the truth, there were questions they should have asked (but didn't).
Waxman and Democratic colleagues did not ask these pertinent questions: Had not Plame been outed years ago by a Soviet agent? Was she not on an administrative, not operational, track at Langley? How could she be covert if, in public view, she drove to work each day at Langley? What about comments to me by then CIA spokesman Bill Harlow that Plame never would be given another foreign assignment? What about testimony to the FBI that her CIA employment was common knowledge in Washington?

Instead of posing such questions, Waxman said flatly that Plame was covert and cited Hayden as proof. Hayden's endorsement of Waxman's statement astounded Republicans whose queries about her had been rebuffed by the agency. That confirmed Republican suspicions that Hayden is too close to Democrats.

Why were these questions not asked? Probably because so few Republicans actually even attended the hearing.
I asked Rep. Christopher Shays, who during nine previous terms in Congress had proved a tenacious questioner at hearings. "We felt the committee is so biased," he replied, "we would do better to just stay away."

Better to just stay away? What is wrong with these people? You can bet that Democrats wouldn't do this if they were in the minority. Hell, we know they didn't do that.

One of the most frustrating things about the Republicans is their refusal to fight Democrats when Dems want to get in the mud. The entire U.S. attorney flap is nothing more than the most brazenly partisan attempt to force Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to testify under oath, hoping to find something with which the Dems can hang a perjury charge on. If Republicans don't even bother showing up to point out the lies perpetrated by the Democrats and their accomplices, then we need to find some new Republicans.

Why Is John Edwards Still in the Race?

I'm sure I'll get blasted from some people for saying this, but why is John Edwards still running for president after announcing that his wife has incurable cancer?

When I first heard the news of Elizabeth Edwards's cancer, I was dumbstruck, then horrified, then prfoundly sad. I cried, then prayed for her, her husband, and her family. I'm particularly upset because she has small children, about the same ages as my youngest children. I simply can't imagine anything worse for her and for her entire family than this tragic news.

So, why is her husband still running for president?

Maybe it's shock? Maybe it's denial? Maybe she told him she wanted him to continue, as a fulfillment of their dream together? I don't know. It just seems strange to me.

I know that the shock of a life-threatening illness can be hard to shake off. You can continue going through the routine of your life and tell yourself that nothing has changed. But surely, at some point, Elizabeth's illness will become so evident and prominent that her husband will really have to stop what he's doing to take care of her.

I'm not speaking from a scientific standpoint. I'm speaking for a personal one. When my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, my father had a difficult time handling it. The way he dealt with it was by continuing to do all the routine things of his life and pretend that our lives weren't about to head over a cliff into the unknown. At the time I was frustrated with him because I didn't understand why he wasn't by her side every second of the day. It wasn't until later that I realized that doing the normal things of his life and not discussing the inevitable was the only way he knew to deal with it.

So, maybe that's what's happening to John Edwards right now. Maybe he is wanting to give the doctors and medicine a chance to help his wife. Maybe his determination to continue this race is his dedication to her and to their ideals. I just hope when she really needs him, he will give her all his attention and to hell with politics.

UPDATE: Captain Ed points out that Elizabeth was quite invested in this campaign and that that could be her husband's motivation for continuing. It is a tough call to make, but my prayers and sympathies are with all of them.

Gore Refuses to Take Personal Energy Ethics Pledge

The man telling the rest of us to stop using so much energy is refusing to take a pledge to use no more energy than the average American.

Former Vice President Al Gore refused to take a "Personal Energy Ethics Pledge" today to consume no more energy than the average American household. The pledge was presented to Gore by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, during today’s global warming hearing.

Senator Inhofe showed Gore a film frame from “An Inconvenient Truth” where it asks viewers: "Are you ready to change the way you live?"

The pledge reads:
As a believer:
· that human-caused global warming is a moral, ethical, and spiritual issue affecting our survival;

· that home energy use is a key component of overall energy use;

· that reducing my fossil fuel-based home energy usage will lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions; and

· that leaders on moral issues should lead by example;

I pledge to consume no more energy for use in my residence than the average American household by March 21, 2008.

Unsurprisingly, Gore refused to sign the pledge.

Rush Limbaugh has made the point (as have others) that the whole "carbon offset" solution is a sham designed to make certain people feel better about their energy consumption without actually doing anything about it. And, frankly, he's right. Buying carbon offsets from someone who isn't using as much energy isn't reducing anybody's energy consumption. It's just designed to make the person who consumes more energy feel better about him/herself.

I understand it would be difficult for Gore to consume the same energy as the average American simply because he's not the average American. But it's hard to take his movie seriously when he consumes so much more energy than most people. It's no different from John Edwards Rhode Island-sized home (ok, that's a slight exaggeration). It would be unrealistic to expect them to live in a 2,500 square foot house, but isn't there some shame somewhere at asking others to sacrifice without being willing to do so?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Liberals Love Losers

No, I'm not talking about the string of loser candidates the Democrats have offered for the presidency (since 1972: George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and Al Gore).

I'm referring to the salient point made by Michael Medved in this column.

While conservatives obsess over distinctions of right and wrong, and insist that inevitable consequences must flow from good and bad behavior (see last week’s column), liberals focus on differences of another sort entirely.

The rhetoric of today’s left shows that they see society divided between the privileged and the powerless, the favored and the unfortunate, victors and victims.

Liberals feel an irresistible instinct to take sides with the less fortunate.

While the right wants to reward beneficial choices and discourage destructive directions, the left seeks to eliminate or reduce the impact of the disadvantages that result from bad decisions. In place of the conservative emphasis on accountability, the left proffers a gospel of indiscriminate compassion.

This leads directly, and inevitably, to the liberal passion to sanctify victimhood.

Liberals like to talk about "compassion," but, as Medved points out, they make no distinction between people who are downtrodden through no fault of their own and those whose problems are directly caused by their own actions.

For example, many liberals display enormous understanding for the terrorists who want all Americans (regardless of political affiliation) dead. They blame American foreign policy for behavior of 19 terrorists who flew airplanes into skyscrapers (that is, if they aren't blaming the Administration for 9/11). Both Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan compare the terrorists with the Minutemen of the Revolutionary War. Yet surely sympathizing with people who saw off the heads of civilians, commit suicide by blowing themselves up in public areas, and commit other atrocities aren't worthy of any sympathy, no matter what twisted view of American foreign policy one has.

The truth is, that in pursuit of compassion for the less fortunate, liberals have ended up embracing victims and causes that are unworthy of compassion. The distortions of treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is another example of this.

But, as Medved points out, this compassion does not include one group that is probably more deserving than any other.
The persistent preference for the powerless and purportedly oppressed applies only imperfectly to explaining leftist support for legalized abortion. The unborn, after all, plausibly qualify as the ultimate underdogs: innocent, fragile, utterly helpless. Nevertheless, they’ve never lived outside the womb and so failed to achieve the status of aggrieved victims – suffering from racism, sexism, homophobia, economic oppression. Moreover, the mother seeking the abortion represents a far more visible victim—which helps explain the desperate determination by pro-abortion forces to stop legislation in Georgia and elsewhere that would require abortion providers to offer ultra-sound images of the baby in utero before the woman makes the final decision to terminate her pregnancy. In other words, they don’t want anyone or anything to compete with the stressed, unhappily pregnant mother for pity and sympathy.

Compassion and charity are wonderful qualities, but not every person claiming victimhood or every group deserves that compassion. It would be better if liberals learned a little discernment.