Monday, June 30, 2008

It's Always the Parents' Fault

Down in the comments on this post on Delaware Liberal was an argument that caught my attention.

The subject of the post was finding areas where pro-life and pro-abortion supporters can agree and work together. I don't really know how many areas regarding killing babies are up for discussion for pro-lifers, but the discussion got interesting when it came to who is at fault for those damn teenagers wanting to have sex. One of the points of the post was that if television did not depict unmarried sex as consequence free, fewer teenagers would be as interested. But the commenters determined that it isn't a matter of what's on TV; it's all about the parents.

Blame it on the teenager’s parents first and deal with that issue.

Parents need to more involved in their kids’ lives and this does not mean dropping off at early morning care and then picking them up at 6 pm. Parents need to know their kids’ friends, teachers and what their doing. In short, parents need to be parents and this will more than help stem teenage pregnancy.

I wouldn't argue with the sentiment that parents who are plugged into their children (figuratively speaking, of course) are more likely to steer the teenagers away from sex and unwanted pregnancy. It's easier to prevent a problem one is aware of than one one doesn't have a clue is on the horizon.

I usually see these "blame the parents" arguments from people who don't have kids. It's fine to argue that parents should be responsible for their children, but it is naive to say that the outside culture has no affect on the kidlings. As I pointed out in the comments, you can forbid various television shows, movies, and music from your own home, but you cannot control what Junior comes in contact with when he mingles with other kids at daycare, school, or the playground.

The problem those advocating "blame the parents" don't want to recognize is that the reason kids think teenage sex is fun, cool, acceptable, and mature is that our culture is teaching them these ideas. And the reason they don't want to discuss society's role in the coarsening of the culture is that to alter things requires restraint on the part of individuals.

I'm not advocating censorship; I don't think the government should be in the business of determining what I can and cannot read. It's what I should and should not read that is the issue. Most people in our secular society dislike the word morality, but, in fact, that's what we're talking about when we want to discourage teenage sex and pregnancy. It's pretty tough to get teenagers to forego sex in the first place, but when we pretend that it's sad but all right when they do, we fail as adults.

The reason teenagers shouldn't have sex isn't just about teenage pregnancy and STDs. It's because teenagers lack the reasoning ability to make good choices regarding these matters. Should parents spend more time impressing their values about sex, pregancy, and marriage on their children? Certainly, and they do. The problem is that our culture now tells kids that sex is cool, fun, and something adults do (which always makes kids want to do it). Until adults start acting differently, kids won't, either.

Moonbat Stupidity on Display

Michael Carmichael compares President Bush to Robert Mugabe. Future generations will look back on the incredible hysteria of the left during this time.

The Hillbilly Vote

This Newsweek article purports to be about voters in Appalachia, but it doesn't really spend much time discussing voting patterns in the area or why they are what they are. That's probably because West Virginia--where my father and his side hail from--is among the poorest states and also consistently vote Democrat.

Coming, as I do from solid West "By God" Virginia stock, I don't feel a bit ashamed to point out the stupidity of hillbillies who continuously vote for Democrats thinking that they give a rat's behind about what happens up in the hills and hollers.

(That's me, second from the right, ready to blow somebody's head off--Just kidding).

Even in the comments section of the Newsweek article, there's the same meme that stupid hillbillies keep voting for Republicans who only care about rich people, instead of voting for Democrats who care about poor people. Well, it is true that Robert "KKK" Byrd brings home the bacon to West Virginia. The last time I was there (which was about 12 years ago), I was astonished at how straight U.S. 119 had become (and four lanes, no less!) with the infusion of my Texas tax money (and tax money from every other part of the country) into that tiny state. But that doesn't mean much has changed for the folks living up in Rattlesnake Holler. They still live in shanties with cardboard wallpaper and the second bathroom is an outhouse (not so many as I remember, though). But graduation rates are up and folks are finding better jobs, but that's not really thanks to Democrats. Democrats show up to pretend they like fried squirrel only at election time. Or when they need white voters to cover up their racism.

"We only remove the child from the home when we believe or know to be true that staying in the home is not in the best interest of the child,"

Says a spokesman for the county to a Denver Post reporter.

Yes, yes. They only snatch children from their parents when it's in the child's best interest, even if they're wrong in doing so.

A newspaper columnist has revealed the startling case of an 8-year-old boy who was taken while he was playing outside his Colorado home by police and social workers who then informed his parents what they had done.

The report comes from Denver Post columnist Susan Greene who documented the case of Josh Raykin, who eventually was returned to his parents after being held in county custody for a week with no communication with his parents. At the resolution, Greene reported, a judge simply decided there no reason to believe the allegations of abuse.

The nightmare-inducing experience for the child began when authorities in Arapahoe County "snatched" him following an abuse allegation made by cousins whom the family had not seen for months, since they were placed into foster care because of abuse allegations in their own immediate family...

"Mother, father and son were forced to sit on their curb as neighbors watched and whispered, and deputies waited for a case worker to arrive. Josh, complaining he was hungry and cold, started hyperventilating," Greene wrote. "Once the social worker came two hours later, he wouldn't release the boy to his aunt nearby, nor tell the Raykins where he was taking Josh. Instead, he told Melanie to pack a bag for the boy she had never once left once with a sitter."

The columnist reported the child spent a week with a foster family who "took away the Pokemon toothbrush and stuffed toys that his mom had packed for him. They shut off his shower after five minutes. And most days, he says, they made him wash toilets with a washcloth."

In the meantime, the parents endured a sleepless week, made telephone calls and met with lawyers.

"Human Services refused to allow them even one phone call to tell their only child they loved him, were fighting for him and would come for him soon," Green wrote.

At some point, we as a society are going to have to rein in these police actions.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Old People vs. Young People

I've been trying to find a way to bring up this post in which the 42-year-old author claims to be "sick of old people" (read: anyone old enough to have had a job for 10 years and qualify for a mortgage). (Via Delaware Liberal)

Ralph Nader's latest "white guilt" comments pushed me over the edge. I'm officially sick of old people.

Now, I'm not exactly young (my driver's license says 42, but I don't believe it because I have absolutely no answers to life, the universe, and everything). I was born after the Boomers, but early enough that I don't necessarily really relate to the Gen Xers. I do, however, stand with Generation X on one thing: white guilt is a stupid and absurd concept in presidential politics.

I don't think I've ever heard anyone under 40 even use the phrase white guilt. Mostly, you hear it from Baby Boomers and older, mostly from people who are just too stuck in some old reality to fathom a legitimate reason people might support a black candidate for office.

I'm not going to say that the younger generation is post-racial or has moved beyond identity politics or anything grand and sweeping like that. There's still work to do, and I don't expect we'll reach any promised land beyond identity politics anytime soon. I do think, however, the younger generation is light years ahead of the Baby Boomers on this issue.

And I do hope, ever so fervently, that old farts will shut their mouths occasionally and listen to their children and grand-children on the issue of race.

I'm the same age as Michelle Obama, so I have a decent idea of the America the Obamas grew up in. There were (and are) still pockets of open racism and considerable racial tension, but mostly, we were the bridge generation that had white friends and black friends and didn't know until we were closer to adulthood that there were those who didn't appreciate that fact. Now, we're raising a generation of kids who are even farther removed from that racism, and that's a good thing.

But how mature is it to say you are "sick of old people"? This is the sort of stupidity that I expect of people unwilling to admit that, for some, the attraction to Barack Obama comes from a sense that we'll never put racism behind us until we elect a black man president. And that sentiment comes largely from white liberals. That sentiment is white guilt, regardless of the name you want to call it. You can dress it up and tell yourself that you just really agree with Barack Obama on the issues (and you'll agree with him next week when he completely flip-flops), but that's just kidding yourself.

But about this young-vs.-old thing. There's a reason that ancient civilizations considered older people wise and gave them a place of honor just for managing to live longer than most people. Experience should actually count for something, because we can hope that watching enough people do stupid things--even well-meant things--can help us avoid doing stupid things.

Take the story about the Obama supporters taking his middle name.
Emily Nordling has never met a Muslim, at least not to her knowledge. But this spring, Ms. Nordling, a 19-year-old student from Fort Thomas, Ky., gave herself a new middle name on, mimicking her boyfriend and shocking her father.

“Emily Hussein Nordling,” her entry now reads.

With her decision, she joined a growing band of supporters of Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who are expressing solidarity with him by informally adopting his middle name.

The result is a group of unlikely-sounding Husseins: Jewish and Catholic, Hispanic and Asian and Italian-American, from Jaime Hussein Alvarez of Washington, D.C., to Kelly Hussein Crowley of Norman, Okla., to Sarah Beth Hussein Frumkin of Chicago...

Mr. Obama is a Christian, not a Muslim. Hussein is a family name inherited from a Kenyan father he barely knew, who was born a Muslim and died an atheist. But the name has become a political liability. Some critics on cable television talk shows dwell on it, while others, on blogs or in e-mail messages, use it to falsely assert that Mr. Obama is a Muslim or, more fantastically, a terrorist.

“I am sick of Republicans pronouncing Barack Obama’s name like it was some sort of cuss word,” Mr. Strabone wrote in a manifesto titled “We Are All Hussein” that he posted on his own blog and on

Yes, this is how we show that a name means nothing. We pretend that if everybody says a name, it has no meaning. Sorry, kids. When I picked out names for my children, it was because those names had particular meaning to me, and I'm sure the same was true of Barack Hussein Obama. And regardless of how many times you tell yourself that it makes no difference, you know it does. That's why Obama hides from Muslims and hides his middle name. But hey, at least it's not like you're piercing something again or getting your 50th tattoo.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

That Corporate-Owned Media Show Who They Back...Again

Over at Common Sense Political Thought, I decided to have a little fun with Barack Obama's recent flurry of flip-flops by offering up the question, What will be Obama's Next Flip-Flop?

We’ve seen the man lie change his mind about gun control, NAFTA, campaign financing and FISA. What will be next? And how long does it take the Obama droolers before they realize they’ve been had?

Apparently, members of the MSM detect that flip-flopping on every issue in the campaign is bad for a candidate, so they need to do a little damage control. How else to characterize this load of manure--er, story from the Washington Post?
In Campaign, One Man's Pragmatism Is Another's Flip-Flopping

Last February, in the heat of the Democratic primary campaign, Sen. Barack Obama proclaimed himself "proud to stand" with Sens. Christopher J. Dodd, Russell Feingold and "a grass-roots movement of Americans" in opposition to President Bush's demand to offer telecommunications companies legal amnesty for assisting in federal warrantless wiretapping.

This week, Dodd (D-Conn.), Feingold (D-Wis.) and those same grass roots were still manning the barricades when the Senate revisited legislation governing surveillance of terrorism suspects. But the senator from Illinois was not, instead backing a new compromise that offers some additional limitations on spying but effectively grants the legal protections to phone companies he opposed just four months ago.

The switch is not without precedent. On a variety of issues, including gun control and campaign finance regulation, the presumptive Democratic nominee has shown himself willing to settle for incremental changes in the face of political reality rather than to hold out for the sweeping and uncompromising positions he initially stakes out.

Emphasis mine.

Can we get serious here? "Willing to settle for incremental changes"? When have we heard any Republican compromise described as "nuanced" or "pragmatic"? Indeed, the only time Republicans can get press like this is when they become Democrats.

There's nothing "nuanced" about Obama's approach to NAFTA, FISA, campaign finance, or gun control. Obama has made clear statements about each of these things then deliberately stated the opposite--also known as lying--when he thought those positions were less than palatable.

But don't expect the liberals who support Obama to care how much he flip-flops. They bought this guy ($25! He'll take my calls directly!) and now they get to tell us how much better his "nuance" is for the country.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Speaking of Flip-Flops

Sock puppeteer Glenn Greenwald actually has a good column in today's Salon in which he takes Keith Olbermann to task over FISA. Best line:

Those are the Orwellian lengths to which people like Olbermann and Alter are apparently willing to go in order to offer their blind devotion to Barack Obama.

Unprincipled. That's the word you're looking for, Glenn.

Somebody Needs to Tell Barack Obama What His New Position on Gun Control Is

Because the Supreme Court finally got one right this term.

Obama, naturally, is stating that he never said the D.C. ban was constitutional. Those darn staffers! And wasn't Obama a constitutional law professor?

Jim Gerahty reminds us that "All statements by Barack Obama come with an expiration date. All of them."

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air points out that this is only the latest issue for an Obama flip-flop. There was FISA, campaign financing, and NAFTA, as well. His series of reversals is absolutely breath-taking. As I pointed out in this thread, the only reason I might not be so upset if Obama were to become president is that it would be just so much fun watching Jeromy Brown spinning every flip-flop. And pretending it wasn't a flip-flop.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Another Right to Choose Moment

In this case, the right to choose that your money supports the abortion of black babies.

They Pick the Polls That Tell 'Em What They Want to Hear

The nutroots (is that hate speech, Warren?) have been quoting this poll crowing that Barack Obama has a double-digit lead over John McCain. Patterico points out the hypocrisy of the L.A. Times (considering a 12-point margin "sizable" when a 19-point advantage for those supporting traditional marriage was "narrow"), but I was more curious at the difference between the L.A. Times poll and the Gallup poll which shows Obama and McCain tied.

I guess the true believers will cling to that L.A. Times poll.

Giving Us Another Reason to Vote for John McCain

Liberal Supreme Court justices who think the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment for a guy who did this to his stepdaughter.

Unfortunately, liberals seem to be more concerned about the fate of Exxon-Mobil than about punishment for raping second graders. Or try to make light of the punishment for raping second graders. Some of those commenters even imply he can be rehabilitated. And it only took 5 comments at HuffPo to find someone more concerned about money than children. And some think it's good news that people who rape eight-year-olds are evidently immune from the death penalty.

Here's the level of development for your average eight-year-old.

WLS at Patterico's Pontifications explains how the Supreme Court is positioning itself as a super-legislative body.

The Double Standard and No Child Left Behind

I hear lots of complaints from other parents and from teachers about the rigors of No Child Left Behind.

Here in Texas, the kids have to take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills in various grades to measure how well students are performing. The pressure teachers put on students during that test-taking period is astonishing. Both parents and teachers complain about the pressure on the kids to perform on the test and about teaching to the test.

Well, guess what? The test is supposed to be a measurement of what we think students should be able to do in third grade, fourth grade, or eleventh grade. I've never understood the argument that measuring whether kids are actually learning the stuff we expect them to is a bad thing.

And, of course, NCLB was all George Bush's fault, remember? It's been called a failure and sneered at by liberals (even though Ted Kennedy was in on it) as terrible for kids. But now, a study says student reading and math scores are improving. Hmm. I guess it's another example of how "dumb" George Bush is, eh?

The More Commenters You Ban...

The weaker you look. But then again, when you think this is a good idea, you probably have to live in the echo chamber.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another Moonbat Meme Deflated

Survey shows U.S. religious are tolerant.

The findings seem to undercut the conventional wisdom that the more religiously committed people are, the more intolerant they are, scholars who reviewed the survey said...

The survey confirms findings from previous studies that the most religiously and politically conservative Americans are those who attend worship services most frequently, and that for them, the battles against abortion and gay rights remain touchstone issues...

As past surveys have shown, this report found that Americans who prayed more frequently and attended worship services more often tended to be more conservative and “somewhat more Republican” than other people.

Barack Obama, Serial Flip-Flopper

I stole that title from this U.S. News piece, largely because it fits so well.

Democrats argue that both candidates flip-flop, but that John McCain's are so much worse. That's true if you think policy changes that benefit Americans (such as supporting offshore drilling) are more important than flip-flops based on greed (like not taking public financing).

Using Their Own Arguments Against Them

Liberals pretend they hate elites. I say "pretend" because they really don't hate them; liberals are often quite wealthy and well educated. They make up most academics (aren't they always telling us they know more?). Yet, when it comes to politics, liberals fashion themselves as the champions of the little guy, even when their policies make life difficult for little guys.

That's what makes it so funny when I see liberals decry being labelled accurately. Take Echidne of the Snakes, for example. She doesn't like it when Karl Rove accurately describes Barack Obama as an elitist. Here's the pull quote from the Rove story:

ABC News' Christianne Klein reports that at a breakfast with Republican insiders at the Capitol Hill Club this morning, former White House senior aide Karl Rove referred to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, as "coolly arrogant."

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said, per Christianne Klein. "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

Well, we know Obama smokes and he has a certain disdain for gun owners, religious folks, and other staples of middle America. He also has many questionable associations and friends, as well as business associates. Not the sort regular guys cavort with, don't you know.

But, apparently, pointing out that Obama has an elitist quality about him--best schools, advanced degrees, plenty of money--is just wrong because, well, he's black, and, historically, black people haven't been elites. In other words, let him be elitist because black people can't be elitist since they've been barred from participation in elitist life for centuries. This is sort of the "minorities can't be racists" argument that most people recognize as bunk.

But Echidne, who dislikes Karl Rove for successfully running political campaigns, has more complaints.
That whole statement is intended to provoke teenage feelings of resentment among those who hear or read it, to spread an odd veil of emotional envy towards Barack Obama, to poison the air with the ideas that it is he who is the elitist and not McCain even though McCain has considerably better qualifications for that role.

It's an odd complaint from a liberal, to be sure. After all, class envy is the stock and trade of the Democratic Party. And it is a particularly strange argument given the drumbeat of criticism that President Bush only became president because he had the privileges associated with wealth and power.

I love watching Democrats have to face the very arguments they've made for years, don't you? Now, being a millionaire doesn't make Obama rich (although he has stated the rich start at $250,000), since the McCains have more money. Oddly, they didn't care about this issue when trophy husband John Kerry was their presidential candidate.

And in 2000 and 2004, we heard nonstop about how one needed military service to be POTUS. That was, of course, when the Democrat candidate had military service and the Republican candidate did not. But now that Obama is the Democrat pick, we get defenses of Obama's ladder-climbing and political ambitions. Suddenly, even though we are in the middle of a war, military service isn't necessary. In fact, we're told having a military background makes a candidate less qualified. Come again?

It's normal for political parties to make the best arguments for their candidates that they can. But when liberals complain that conservatives can effectively use their arguments, that's just whining and hypocrisy.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Don't Confuse 'Em With Facts

Michael Barone has a nice column on why the facts that favored Democrats in 2006 don't necessarily do so now.

During the Democratic primary season, all the party's candidates veered hardly a jot or tittle from the narrative that helped the Democrats sweep the November 2006 elections. Iraq is spiraling into civil war, we invaded unwisely and have botched things ever since, no good outcome is possible, and it is time to get out of there as fast as we can.

In January 2007, when George W. Bush ordered the surge strategy, which John McCain had advocated since the summer of 2003, Barack Obama informed us that the surge couldn't work. The only thing to do was to get out as soon as possible.

That stance proved to be a good move toward winning the presidential nomination -- but it was poor prophecy. It is beyond doubt now that the surge has been hugely successful, beyond even the hopes of its strongest advocates, like Frederick and Kimberly Kagan.

Obama can't admit that the surge has worked, violence is down, and the Maliki-led government has passed most of the benchmarks demanded by Democrats because to do so would anger its base. it is a core belief of moonbats that the war was wrong, we were lied to about why we went there, and that it has been a quagmire ever since. To these true believers, the only way out is to get out. Now. And nothing less will satisfy them.

But the war is only one of the issue where the facts have changed and do not favor Democrats.
And the fact of $4 gasoline has undermined the narrative that alternative forms of energy can painlessly supply our needs. Public opinion has switched sharply and now favors drilling offshore and, by inference, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Democrats are scrambling to argue that drilling wouldn't make any difference -- and that anyway the oil companies aren't drilling enough on federal land they currently lease.

Americans realize that we are not going to painlessly shift from oil to some other form of energy, nor is our lifestyle flexible enough for people to seamlessly move from cars to public transportation. This is a big country and in many parts of it--like where I live--there isn't any public transportation, and it doesn't make sense to drive 30 minutes downtown to the train station to spend an hour on a train to Dallas, then have to take a bus another 30 minutes to get somewhere close to where you want to go.

As Barone points out, Democrats won in 2006 because Republicans seemed so incompentent. The war wasn't going well, scandals blossomed, and the Republican Congress had morphed into every argument made against the Democrats (insular, lobbyist-lovin', spend crazy). But two years of Democrats running Congress hasn't helped their image. They've maged to get little or none of their agenda passed and they've fumbled on the very issues the far left elected them for (think surrender and FISA). Those groups aren't likely to vote for Republicans in November, but Republicans need to remind the voters what Democrats promised and why the facts are different now.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I May Need Stock in Orville Redenbacher for This Election

I'm laughing my ass off reading Jeromy Brown trying to explain away the hypocrisy of Barack Obama lying about taking public financing.

What's so funny--aside from Jeromy (and Mike Ganzeveld, as well) drooling about Obama's awesomeness--is finding myself agreeing with Thomas Tallis, who seems to be the only person at Iowa Liberal not so drunk that he sees Obama is just another politician in the Bill Clinton mode.

Because, seriously, you have to be drunk to make arguments like this:

So let’s run you through this again: You’re being a drama queen whining about Obama changing his method of public financing. It wasn’t a betrayal, a stab in the back, or a step backwards. You said you sent the guy a check, so just like me you own a piece of him. This connects to FISA, because given the non-shockah that he’ll make inappropriate decisions that vary from the principles of people like you and me who made his campaign possible, we have the power to push back and get him back on course.

Get him back on course? Because you sent the guy a $75 check? That really defies logic. Worse yet, when Obama doubles back on the rhetoric, the same useful idiots believe it time and again.

Jeromy has argued that Dana and I haven't "the slightest shred of principle." That's pretty hard to believe, coming from a guy who actually thinks that Obama piously saying he's gonna try real hard to change the FISA bill has some meaning.

The problem for poor pups like Jeromy is that they must not remember what eight years of parsing the meaning of "is" was like. Maybe he just spent too much time at the university dive to have noticed what electing a guy willing to say anything (and, believe me, Barack Obama is willing to say anything) just to be president is like. Well, I voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 and defended his triangulation strategy for four years before I finally got fed up with it and became Republican. Not because Republicans are perfect, but the principles (yes, Jeromy, principles) for which the GOP stands for are closer in line with individual rights and liberties, which I consider the bedrock of freedom. So, while McCain can flip-flop on drilling in ANWR or some other non-issue (I love the argument about McCain violating campaign financing laws from people defending Obama), I can be reasonably sure he isn't going to nominate judges that offend normal sensibilities about the Constitution or pull the troops out of Iraq.

But when you have entertainment like this to read, it's gonna be a fun election season.

More Objective Journalism

I suppose by now, the term "objective journalism" is not merely quaint but becoming an oxymoron. This article from American Journalism Review is a good example.

AJR is something of a trade publication written by and for journalists, so, I guess I should forgive the writers and editors for letting their masks of objectivity slip so badly. But the article titled Whatever Happened to Iraq? would be funny in its foul moodiness if it weren't such an accurate depiction of how MSM types genuinely think about the war. In short, they are distraught that Americans haven't forced an end to the Iraq War by now. And, more germaine to reporting, they are deeply saddened that news coverage of the war has dwindled.

Well, I'm disheartened that coverage of the war has waned, as well. But my concern is that, as the war for Americans has gotten better, reporters and editors have lost interest. This video of what coverage of D-Day would have looked like had the modern media covered it is sadly accurate:

The AJR article is filled with quotes from reporters and editors complaining that the corporate overlords have demanded they produce articles that readers want to read (i.e., more local news, less national and international news) and use less money (foreign correspondents can be expensive).

Ellen Hume, research director at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media and a former journalist, believes the decline in Iraq news could be linked to a larger issue — profits. "The problem doesn't seem to be valuing coverage of the war; it's more about the business model of journalism today and what that market requires," Hume says.

And when the writers weren't blaming those nasty corporate owners, they were blaming readers.
The public also got a scolding for its meager interest in a controversial conflict that is costing taxpayers about $12.5 billion a month, or nearly $5,000 a second, according to some calculations.

During the early stages of shock and awe, Americans were glued to the news as Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in Baghdad and sweat-soaked Marines bivouacked in his luxurious palaces. It was a huge story when President Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, and declared major combat operations were over.

By March 2008, a striking reversal had taken place. Only 28 percent of Americans knew that 4,000 military personnel had been killed in the conflict, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Eight months earlier, 54 percent could cite the correct casualty rate.

But at least some people were honest about why they aren't writing about the war.
The reader representative for the San Francisco Chronicle doesn't think placement of stories about Iraq makes much difference. He reasons that five years in, most readers have formed clear opinions about the war. They're not likely to change their minds one way or another if a story runs on page one or page three, says Dick Rogers. "The public has become accustomed to the steady drumbeat of violence out of Iraq. A report of 20 or 30 killed doesn't bring fresh insight for a lot of people."

And, believe me, the new breed of journalist is most interested in what used to be known as editorializing--injecting opinion into stories--versus reporting what happens.

Throughout the article are two competing emotions: frustration that more people don't care ("Americans might care if they could witness more of the human toll.") and desperation to ensure that readers understand we are losing in Iraq ("grueling war gone sour," "bleak sameness has settled into accounts," "bloody and seemingly endless conflict"). But overall, the tone suggests that journalists should be ashamed that they haven't been able to force America out of Iraq already by providing that relentless drumbeat of negativity which influenced so many so early.

MPAA Doesn't Think They Should Have to Prove Infringement to Collect Damages

I had to do a double take when I read the headline at Memeorandum for this article.

MPAA Says No Proof Needed in P2P Copyright Infringement Lawsuits

I dunno which law school the MPAA went to, but didn't they have to take Evidence? If accusers didn't need to prove their case, it sure would make all those lawsuits move a lot faster!
The Motion Picture Association of America said Friday intellectual-property holders should have the right to collect damages, perhaps as much as $150,000 per copyright violation, without having to prove infringement.

"Mandating such proof could thus have the pernicious effect of depriving copyright owners of a practical remedy against massive copyright infringement in many instances," MPAA attorney Marie L. van Uitert wrote Friday to the federal judge overseeing the Jammie Thomas trial.

Oh, I see. The MPAA doesn't think copyright holders should have to prove infringement. Hmm. How's that supposed to work?
A Duluth, Minnesota, jury in October dinged Thomas $222,000 for "making available" 24 songs on the Kazaa network in the nation's first and only RIAA case to go to trial. United States District Court Judge Michael Davis instructed the 12 panelists that they need only find Thomas had an open share folder, not that anyone from the public actually copied her files.

(It is technologically infeasible to determine whether the public is copying an open share folder, although the RIAA makes its own downloads from defendants' share folders, produces screen shots and, among other things, captures an IP address. An Arizona judge ruled last month in a different case that those downloads count against a defendant, a one-of-a-kind decision being appealed on grounds that the RIAA was authorized to download its own music.)

So, because it's difficult to prove infringement, the MPAA doesn't think they need to?

See? I Told You So! Again

Back in January, when there was a lot of debate about who would be the most formidable Democrat candidate, I said Barack Obama would be because anyone who challenged him would be declared racist. I didn't actually expect the candidate himself to play the race card. Usually, one lets the moonbatosphere and one's minions do the dirty work.

"They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"

As Carol Platt Liebau of Townhall blog noted, Republicans don't play the race card and, in fact, haven't done so in this campaign. That's not to say Democrats haven't tried to blame conservatives for rumors started by liberals.

The hypocrisy is stunning, as Liebau points out. The Obama campaign has been using code language for McCain's age for weeks now (but kooks will tell you that it's an important issue). Now Obama is arguing that "young and inexperienced" is off limits? That's an odd argument, coming from the party that thought Al Gore's experience as V.P. was more important than George W. Bush's experience as governor of the second largest state.

Let's just be blunt, here. Democrats like to play the race card whenever they think it will put white people on the defensive. In fact, I'm willing to say right now that if Obama loses in November, the meme from the Kool-Aid drinkers will be that everybody who voted for McCain is a racist. It's just that simple. That's why idiots argue that Obama's connections to racists and terrorists don't matter. They don't care where Obama came from or how thin his resume is. And Obama has shown the same willingness to play up his race when he thinks it helps him and castigate others regarding race when he thinks he's been hurt.

So much for that "different kind of campaign" Obama was going to run. It looks like the same ol' racist bullshit Democrats usually play.

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air points out that it was Democrats who have discussed Obama's race, not Republicans.
It was, after all, staffers on the Hillary Clinton campaign that sent the photo of Obama in African garb to the Drudge Report. It was Bill Clinton who suggested that Obama’s victory in South Carolina was no more significant than Jesse Jackson’s in 1988. It was Hillary who explicitly went after the white, working-class vote in the later primaries that bruised Obama so badly.
John McCain, meanwhile, was a lot more outspoken in criticizing his own supporters for relying on crypto-ethnic references. He immediately and publicly disowned, without any prompting, Bill Cunningham in Ohio after the radio host enphasized Obama’s middle name (Hussein) in his introductory remarks. McCain also fired one staffer for e-mailing a Jeremiah Wright video after explicitly saying that his campaign would have no comment on Wright or Trinity United. Meanwhile, Hillary could only offer a tepid “as far as I know” repudiation of the rumor that Obama is/was a Muslim.

Baldilocks explains that it isn't Obama's name or skin color that scares people. It's his politics.

Karl at Protein Wisdom says Obama "sounds like someone struggling to suppress his own prejudice." That's pretty accurate.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Get Used to This: Obama Lied

ABC News is saying that Barack Obama will "break his pledge" to use public funding for his campaign, but I'll just put it bluntly: he lied. He lied because, at the time he made the pledge, he figured he might need public funds. Now that he doesn't, he isn't going to pass up the advantage his funding gives him. Remember this whenever moonbats talk about flip-flops.

Karl at Protein Wisdom calls it positively Nixonian.

And we should get used to Obama blaming everyone but himself for lying.

David Brooks says Obama is beyond Clintonian.

Liberals admit lying is good!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Same Obfuscations

I just found Jesurgislac's blog via a link from Common Sense Political Thought, and it's good to know that some things just never change.

I've pretty much ignored Jes since it lied about my various positions, then left CSPT in a huff about a year ago. Periodically, Jes will recycle these claims when I comment at Pandagon or some other leftwing site, but, at some point, even the people there don't care.

What made me giggle after reading this post is how Jes's argument style--namely, to avoid providing any supporting evidence for its claims--hasn't changed a bit. A pro-life supporter asked Jes to provide citations supporting its claims that abstinence-only education results in higher rates of teen pregnancy, STDs, and abortions.

Kathy: I’ve heard this before. Do you have any studies that show this?

Jes: So, you can’t pretend ignorance: You know that advocating “abstinence education” does nothing to prevent teenage pregnancies and abortions, and yet you continue to support it over, hey, here’s a novel idea - preventing abortions.

Like I said: it’s clear pro-lifers do not care about preventing abortions. You are an example of a pro-lifer who doesn’t want to stop teenagers getting pregnant and needing abortions: you just want to promote the idea that they shouldn’t have sex.

As for “Do you have any studies that show this?” - Oh, come off it. You are the one advocating a position where all the evidence is against you - that it’s enough to just tell people not to have sex, and they won’t do it.

Kathy: No, I don’t “know that advocating abstinence education does nothing to prevent teenage pregnancies and abortions.” I’ve heard that claim.

Jes: So while you support “abstinence education”, you have never bothered to go look up any of the research that’s been done on the effects? You see supporting “abstinence education” as an end in itself, and you don’t care whether it prevents teenage pregnancies and abortions?

Kathy, you came on to this thread endeavouring to claim that it just wasn’t true that pro-lifers don’t care about preventing abortions. Yet you yourself have been proving the point in every comment you make: you don’t care if teenagers get pregnant and need to have abortions: you think the only thing that matters is telling them not to have sex. You don’t care enough about this as a strategy for preventing abortions to go look up the effects - yet “abstinence education” has had millions of taxpayer’s money poured into it, in Texas since Bush became governor, nationwide since Bush became President. If it worked, Texas would by now have the lowest teenage pregnancy rate in the US: instead (predictably) it has the highest.

Poor Kathy. She should have known that rather than providing links to studies proving that comprehensive sex education reduces pregnancies, Jes would simply launch into the "pro-lifers just hate teh sex!" mantra. Notice that Jes provides no studies to support its claims, nor gives any other explanation for why Texas might have a higher teen pregnancy rate than some other state (such as the large number of immigrants, legal and illegal). And, unfortunately for Jes, the highest rate of teen births is located in Washington, D.C., not Texas, but maybe that's President Bush's fault, too. The fact is, the number of teen pregnancies has dropped 15 to 53% in all reporting areas. This is during a time when abstinence-only programs have been in effect. It wouldn't be difficult for Jes to provide links to back up its claims, but doing so would take away precious time from ad hominem attacks.

It's good to know some things never change.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Religion and Gay Marriage

I've always said GetReligion is a great site for analysis of news stories from a religious perspective, but the hosts have truly outdone themselves with their posts on same sex marriage (this post on the nauseating cheerleading from the media regarding same sex marriage is particularly good).

I also liked this post regarding the religious ceremonies of these unions.

The Christian model of marriage is based on the relationship between Christ and the church. The husband is to sacrifice for his wife as Christ gave himself to the church. The wife is to respect the husband as the church obeys Christ. You can read all about it Ephesians 5. When my husband and I got married, this was the understanding of marriage that we were instructed in. This was included in our marriage rite. Such clear roles for husband and wife wouldn’t make sense for same-sex partners. Or, if the same rite is used, who represents Christ and who represents the church? Is the same model of Christ and church used for same-sex partners? How is this understood? I would love to learn more about liturgies for same-sex marriage — or just other marriage liturgies in general — rather than some throwaway line about how some people say the rites are “unequal.” I mean, really.

This is about the best Christian explanation of the marriage rite that I've seen anywhere. There are lots of legal or secular explanations for gay marriage, but I'm curious how religious couples get around the Christian teachings about marriage.

He Was For It Before He Was Against It

The Obama vs. Obama page of gives lots of ammunition. This can't be what liberals thought was an "agent of change."

Laugh of the Day

Yeah, he's the substantive candidate, all right.

For me it is because the Obama campaign embraces life in a way that no campaign has in my political lifetime. Obama promotes the joy, happiness, optimism and glee of life but does so without denying the the struggle, pain and hardship of a fully lived life.

People will look back and laugh at Obama supporters.

What Happened to Choice?

I've read several stories regarding the new pro-life drugstores that have sprung up in two or three places. It seems to me that such places are the perfect antidote to the harangue about pharmacists who don't want to dispense abortifacients at retail chains. Call it a free market solution to the right of conscience, if you will.

But pro-abortion (and they are pro-abortion because of their stance) supporters don't see it that way. Not only do they believe pharmacists should be required by law to dispense Plan B, birth control pills, and other medicines regardless of their personal beliefs, they want any options for pro-life pharmacists banned and these workers jailed. Don't believe me? Just read this feministing post and the comments and you'll get an idea what the real "pro-choice" supporters want.

"There's a difference between walking around, being offensive, and medical professionals intentionally denying their patients the standard of care. The first is constitutionally protected, the second is malpractice. Malpractice is not a "right" protected by an "open society." And if there's a conflict between your conscience and your job, the law solves the problem pretty well - you have a right to freedom of conscience, but you don't have a right to a pharmacists license."

"nothing would make me happier than a whole bunch of these opening up, then failing most spectacularly. think "pharmacist with $100,000 in student loans and seven children (because s/he doesn't use birth control) in a studio apartment because they refused to get over themselves" kind of failing."

"This shit needs to be illegal. If the doctor prescribes it, it is the pharmacist's obligation to provide it. Not choice. Obligation."

"Pharmacists need licenses. You deny a legal prescription, you lose your license. Period."

"This is just absolute bullshit and I'm all for people opening up their own private businesses but this is crap. You're a PHARMACIST, your JOB is to fill the prescription that the DOCTOR wrote. You are NOT the doctor and you haven't TALKED to the doctor so you don't know what the fuck is going on between the patient and the DOCTOR so it's none of your goddamn business what it's for. I don't care how much "research" YOU'VE done, either step aside or quit.

"This has absolutely nothing to do with "saving" babeez or women (love how he had to throw that in there) but keeping people, women especially, in line when it comes to sex."

Many of the commenters dismissed the notion that pharmacists dispense medications other than contraceptives and just fell into the whole "if you don't want to dispense contraceptives, don't be a pharmacist!" trap.
no one puts a gun to anyone's head and tells them they must be a pharmacist or perish: if you have ethical hangups about filling prescriptions for contraception, you should really work in a different field.

I'm sure these same commenters would agree with mandatory abortion technique training for medical students (see here for more info). Hey, so what if you're a podiatrist? The Hippocratic Oath requires you to care for the sick! Just don't read the part about not giving a woman an abortion! Must've been a misogynist!

I think pro-life pharmacies are a great idea. If you want contraceptives, you can go to CVS or a grocery store. If you don't support doling out contraceptives to 14-year-olds (with a prescription!) or consider Plan B to be killing a life, then these pharmacies provide an alternative. Unlike the shriekers complaining that, somehow, these pharmacies will take over America, it's far more likely that a pro-life pharmacy would be the sort of boutique business you'll find in large cities, not in rural areas.

Somebody Needs to Tell Jesse Taylor

This guy didn't get the memo about "Bush Lied!" in Iraq.

The Activist Court

Remeber when liberals were screaming about precedent and how the Roberts court was an abomination--nay, a massacre--of longstanding legal principles? Why, you'd think moonbats actually cared about the law, to listen to them blather on about stare decisis!

Naturally, I've been waiting for the screaming about stare decisis regarding the Boumediene case in which five liberal justices threw precedent under the bus, as it were, to arrive at the decision they wanted.

Well, I'm still waiting.


*hears crickets*

Oh, that's right. I keep forgetting that for liberals, stare decisis is important when it's a decision they like, like killing babies or helping criminals. But when a decision hurts the U.S., they can't even pronounce stare decisis.

This John Yoo piece sums up the hypocrisy:

Boumediene should finally put to rest the popular myth that right-wing conservatives dominate the Supreme Court. Academics used to complain about the Rehnquist Court's "activism" for striking down minor federal laws on issues such as whether states are immune from damage lawsuits, or if Congress could ban handguns in school. Justice Anthony Kennedy -- joined by the liberal bloc of Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer -- saves his claims of judicial supremacy for the truly momentous: striking down a wartime statute, agreed upon by the president and large majorities of Congress, while hostilities are ongoing, no less.

First out the window went precedent. Under the writ of habeas corpus, Americans (and aliens on our territory) can challenge the legality of their detentions before a federal judge. Until Boumediene, the Supreme Court had never allowed an alien who was captured fighting against the U.S. to use our courts to challenge his detention.

In World War II, no civilian court reviewed the thousands of German prisoners housed in the U.S. Federal judges never heard cases from the Confederate prisoners of war held during the Civil War. In a trilogy of cases decided at the end of World War II, the Supreme Court agreed that the writ did not benefit enemy aliens held outside the U.S. In the months after the 9/11 attacks, we in the Justice Department relied on the Supreme Court's word when we evaluated Guantanamo Bay as a place to hold al Qaeda terrorists.

Yeah, that Roberts Court is sooo darn conservative. Remind the moonbats of this when they cry and whine about the D.C. gun case.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A.P. Wants to Decide What Is Fair Use

Fair use is a copyright concept whereby some people can use small excerpts of others' work without paying for it. The theory is that such use encourages greater innovation, commentary, and free thought in a free society.

Copyright holders loathe fair use and have tried for two centuries to squash it. The Recording Industry Association of America has made a living suing moms and dads and children for downloading music.

Evidently, the Associated Press wants to get in on the bad press action by bullying bloggers who dare to quote A.P. stories.

Last week, The A.P. took an unusually strict position against quotation of its work, sending a letter to the Drudge Retort asking it to remove seven items that contained quotations from A.P. articles ranging from 39 to 79 words.

On Saturday, The A.P. retreated. Jim Kennedy, vice president and strategy director of The A.P., said in an interview that the news organization had decided that its letter to the Drudge Retort was “heavy-handed” and that The A.P. was going to rethink its policies toward bloggers.

39 words is too big a quote from a story? Dana at Common Sense Political Thought tries diligently to limit direct quotations of copyrighted material. Me? Eh, not so much. If they wanna sue me for reproducing enough of a given work so that readers understand the story, I'm willing to take the risk that with 49 hits per day, no one will care. But such heavy-handedness by the A.P. simply encourages bloggers to bar A.P. copy from their websites.
The A.P. doesn’t get to make it’s own rules around how its content is used, if those rules are stricter than the law allows. So even thought they say they are making these new guidelines in the spirit of cooperation, it’s clear that, like the RIAA and MPAA, they are trying to claw their way to a set of property rights that don’t exist today and that they are not legally entitled to. And like the RIAA and MPAA, this is done to protect a dying business model - paid content.

You can't blame the A.P. for wanting to protect its lawyers' jobs.

More Words You Can't Say in Court

I wrote previously about the ban on the word "rape" in criminal proceedings. But it seems that defense attorneys are arguing more often for the banning of loaded words in jury trials.

A steadily increasing number of courts across the United States are prohibiting witnesses and victims from uttering certain words in front of a jury, banning everything from the words "rape" to "victim" to "crime scene."

Prosecutors and victims' rights advocates nationwide claim the courts are going too far in trying to cleanse witness testimony, all to protect a defendant's right to a fair trial. Concerns and fears over language restrictions have been percolating ever since judges in Nebraska and Missouri last year banned the word "rape" during rape trials.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg, claim critics, who say courts telling witnesses what words they can and can't say is a much larger trend than they had realized. In addition to "rape," courts also have banned the terms "homicide," "drunk," "victim," "murderer," "killer" and "crime scene."

The argument is that using words like "rape," "victim," and "murder" prejudice the jury against the defendant. That's a fine argument as far as it goes, but it seems silly that one can't call a dead body the "victim of a murder" if evidence points to that, or if that is actually what the victim believes happened. Part of the argument made by prosecutors and witnesses is that such gag orders confine the way a witness is allowed to speak. That is, that gag orders are an infringement on the witness's right to tell his or her story the way he/she wants.

I've often thought that one of the real skills of the defense attorney is the ability to pull witness testimony apart, showing its flaws and biases as well as its strengths. Telling the family member of a murder victim that they can't describe the person as a victim seems to be going too far in favor of defendants. So far, the federal courts haven't ruled on this issue, but I wouldn't be surprised if it does so soon.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Sorry it has taken me a while to get around to it, but I hope all fathers have a happy day today, basking in the glow of appreciation for all they do.

It was a bittersweet day for the GPWOW. I made a pineapple upside down cake for my husband (his favorite). We went to visit my father-in-law. And this evening, we ate at Denny's to honor my father (who loved Denny's).

Fathers hold such enormous importance in their children's lives, not just when they are young but as they age, as well. As a young child, my father was my hero. As a teenager and young adult, he was often my worthy adversary. But from about my mid-30's, my father was my hero, my mentor, and my advisor, the sage whose opinions I sought as I realized that I didn't have all the answers. Even as Alzheimer's ravished his faculties, his often cheeky humor and wisdom still came through.

My father was responsible, dutiful, and faithful to his family throughout his life. He worked hard and made sure we were provided for, regardless of the burden it placed on him. He never complained and rarely missed work. OTOH, he had a quirky sense of humor and loved to play practical jokes. And while he didn't lavish praise on his children, we all knew he loved us and was proud of our lives and accomplishments. I discovered just this week how proud he and my mother had been of me when I found dozens of my newspaper articles that they had clipped out to save. It was humbling to realize just how proud they were of the smallest things.

I hope this day has been a good one for all fathers everywhere.

"Free speech cannot be an excuse for hate"

That's the argument Haroon Siddiqui makes in defending the labelling of dissent in Canada as hate speech.

Other commentators have invoked the free-speech argument, in its various formulations – free speech is so precious that even hate speech should not be censored. Or hate speech may be curbed but only through the Criminal Code. Or hate speech is best dealt with under human rights statutes, which should be tightened to allow only "vexatious" cases, not "frivolous" ones.

But freedom of speech is not absolute. "Except for the U.S., virtually every Western democracy has laws against hate," notes Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress. "Our anti-hate laws are probably the most underused."

Let's call this sort of argument what it is: suppression of speech. For people like Siddiqui, anyone who points out that jihadis are invariably Muslim and that Muslim extremism is problematic for civilization is xenophobic or Nazis. What Mark Steyn wrote is so offensive to the Siddiquis of the world that questioning policies which encourage declining Western populations and do nothing to prevent other cultures from overwhelming ours is hate speech.

Notice that Steyn's piece is not that all Muslims have a drive for jihad. He doesn't say that all or even most Muslims want to saw off the heads of Westerners. What he does say is that those cultures which encourage large families will end up overwhelming those cultures (mainly Europe, atm) which do not.

This is probably the part of the column which bothered Siddiqui the most:
On the Continent and elsewhere in the West, native populations are aging and fading and being supplanted remorselessly by a young Muslim demographic. Time for the obligatory "of courses": of course, not all Muslims are terrorists -- though enough are hot for jihad to provide an impressive support network of mosques from Vienna to Stockholm to Toronto to Seattle. Of course, not all Muslims support terrorists -- though enough of them share their basic objectives(the wish to live under Islamic law in Europe and North America)to function wittingly or otherwise as the "good cop" end of an Islamic good cop/bad cop routine. But, at the very minimum, this fast-moving demographic transformation provides a huge comfort zone for the jihad to move around in. And in a more profound way it rationalizes what would otherwise be the nuttiness of the terrorists' demands. An IRA man blows up a pub in defiance of democratic reality -- because he knows that at the ballot box the Ulster Loyalists win the elections and the Irish Republicans lose. When a European jihadist blows something up, that's not in defiance of democratic reality but merely a portent of democratic reality to come. He's jumping the gun, but in every respect things are moving his way.
You may vaguely remember seeing some flaming cars on the evening news toward the end of 2005. Something going on in France, apparently. Something to do with -- what's the word? -- "youths." When I pointed out the media's strange reluctance to use the M-word vis-à-vis the rioting "youths," I received a ton of emails arguing there's no Islamist component, they're not the madrasa crowd, they may be Muslim but they're secular and Westernized and into drugs and rap and meaningless sex with no emotional commitment, and rioting and looting and torching and trashing, just like any normal healthy Western teenagers. These guys have economic concerns, it's the lack of jobs, it's conditions peculiar to France, etc. As one correspondent wrote, "You right-wing shit-for-brains think everything's about jihad."
Actually, I don't think everything's about jihad. But I do think, as I said, that a good 90 per cent of everything's about demography. Take that media characterization of those French rioters: "youths." What's the salient point about youths? They're youthful. Very few octogenarians want to go torching Renaults every night. It's not easy lobbing a Molotov cocktail into a police station and then hobbling back with your walker across the street before the searing heat of the explosion melts your hip replacement. Civil disobedience is a young man's game.

If Siddiqui disagreed with Steyn's position, he had options for expressing himself. Trying to silence opposing viewpoints is the most anti-democratic of them, but most attractive to jackbooted thugs.

About that Shrinking Middle Class

You don't have to look very hard in the moonbatosphere to find some liberals spouting gibberish about the shrinking middle class and how terrible life has been for Americans under Republican rule. Well, yes, the middle class has shrunk over the last 20 years, but not for the reasons the moonbats give.

There are 12 percent more households earning in excess of $100,000 than 20 or so years ago. And those making less than $30,000 have not increased. So virtually the entire "decline" of the middle-class group has come from people moving up the income ladder, not down.

There's no doubt that the pressure of transportation costs and health care costs has put a squeeze on middle America of late, but that's probably as much due to the fact that prices have stayed relatively low for decades even as incomes have risen.
Those in the middle, and below, are also living better. As William Robert Fogel, the Nobel Prize-winning economic historian, put it, "In every measure that we have bearing on the standard of living . . . the gains of the lower classes have been far greater than those experienced by the population as a whole." Among the inequalities that have narrowed: The quality of goods at the more moderate price levels has improved faster than at higher price tags; rich and poor are less apart in life expectancy, height, and leisure. It's the attitude of Americans that explains the low combustibility (at the moment!) of income inequality. Most Americans tend to believe that people bear primary responsibility for supporting themselves and that market forces are immune to public policy. There's a reflection here of the optimism and confidence characteristic of American life. In one study by Roland Benabou, more than half of Americans think they will be above the median income in the future (even though that is mathematically impossible). Americans, quite simply, believe that plenty of opportunities exist to get ahead, and, indeed, 82 percent of those born into poverty are much better off than their parents and more than a third of them have made it into the middle class or higher.

Education is another great American success story. There has been a dramatic increase in the percentage of adults completing high school and college. Nearly 90 percent of all adults get high school diplomas today compared with 33 percent in 1947; college graduates have soared from 5.4 percent in 1947 to almost 30 percent today. More than two thirds of Americans concur with the statement that people are rewarded for intelligence and skill—the largest percentage across 27 countries taking part in an international survey of social attitudes. This reflects the widespread belief in the ability to get ahead and helps explain why Americans are more accepting of economic inequality than peoples in other countries and why Americans are less likely to believe their government should take responsibility for reducing income disparity.

I often use my family's anecdotal experience to illustrate the greater point of American exceptionalism. My father didn't even have a high school diploma, yet, through hard work and sacrifice, raised a family and put two of his three kids through college. All three of those families live relatively comfortably now, and two of those families live well above the income level on which we were raised.

Our family is not the exception. Most people I run into, particularly married people, are far better off than their parents could have anticipated. It's not just that we can buy cheap electronic doodads that were unavailable (or prohibitively priced) in the 1970s; it's that so many of the things we take for granted make our lives more pleasant and more interesting as well as just easier.

UPDATE: *smacks forehead* I guess it helps if I link to the article I quote from. Sorry about that.

Obama Wants a Gun, At Least, in the Metaphorical Sense, But Doesn't Want You to Have One in the Literal Sense

I was left scratching my head when I read the headline of this post at Memeorandum.

Obama on GOP: 'If They Bring a Knife to the Fight, We Bring a Gun'

Barack Obama is warning supporters that the general election fight between him and John McCain may get ugly, but the Illinois senator is vowing not to back down.

"If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun," Obama said at a fundraiser in Philadelphia Friday, according to pool reports.

So much for the politics of HopeNChange, right?

I just found it to be an odd turn of phrase considering Obama's stance on gun control. Admittedly, like so much of Obama's transformation from the hard left to the center, his positions seem to be--how can we say it politely?--determined by the audience. Indeed, Obama's been engaged in what Robert Novak calls a Second Amendment dance.
That is a dance that many Democrats do, as revealed in private conversation with party strategists. As urban liberals, they reject constitutional protection for gun owners. As campaign managers, they want to avoid the fate of the many Democratic candidates who have lost elections because of gun control advocacy.

Obama's "clinging to guns" comment has been given some credit for his poor performance in Pennsylvania, remember.

Now, it seems, Obama wants to preserve gun rights for hunters but not for protection. At least, that's what Obama's website says today. Tune in tomorrow to see how that changes. But as Pajamas Media points out, Obama's stated position is in direct contrast to his voting record.
In 1998 Obama stated a desire to “ban the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons.” Many people confuse semi-automatic firearms, which use the energy created when a gun is fired to eject the spent cartridge and load a fresh round, with automatic weapons, more commonly known as machine guns.

Semi-automatic firearms are the most common firearms sold in America today.

The post goes on to discuss all the different types of weapons Obama's votes would ban, which include guns used for hunting and target sports. Obama's ban of "semi-automatic" weapons would prevent citizens from owning firearms for their own protection or from carrying concealed weapons. It would prevent the sale of antique and collectible guns.

But I'm sure Obama's gun reference is just a metaphor. He knows that the far left hates guns of any sort and he wouldn't want to lose them. OTOH, he has to lie--er, modify his positions to win votes from independents and moderates who like guns.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey says it's just a line lifted from The Untouchables to try and make the man who can't debate look tough.
They put one of yours in the hospital, you put one of theirs in the morgue, Sean Connery said when he completed that thought in the stylized (read: fictional) account of Eliot Ness’ efforts against Al Capone. The difference between Connery’s character in The Untouchables and Barack Obama is that Connery was prepared to confront his opponents anywhere at any time. Obama not only doesn’t like a good brawl, he can’t even take an open-forum debate unless it takes place on the Home & Garden Channel at 2 am on a holiday weekend.

How true.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mom Was Right: Don't Air Your Dirty Laundry

Brothers Judd blog links to this article which confirms something quite common in my parents' generation, particularly among the British:

Most cultures have developed rituals and practices to help people express grief, sadness and distress.

Contemporary therapies and counselling have attempted to take this this approach to emotional catharsis further - some have considered the meaning of a trauma and how the individual has reacted to it.

Now a study by the University at Buffalo's Dr Mark Seery has produced data which appear to suggest that not talking about a traumatic event (in this case the World Trade Center and Pentagon terror attacks of 9/11) may be a more successful way of coping than the alternative - sharing the experience.

I'm a recent convert to the idea that therapy can help people in certain situations, but I know individuals who have been in counseling for years searching for some "hidden reason" for their troubles when, in all honesty, life just sucks sometimes. The post above goes on to poke holes at the theory that we should all just shut up about our tragedies and get on with life, but I think there's an important point to be made out of all of it: everyone has tragedies happen to them, but perhaps it's time for us to become a little less Jerry Springer and a lot more stiff-upper-lip.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert Dies

I was deeply saddened to hear that Tim Russert had died. It is stunning and he will be greatly missed.

I like the Daily KOS take.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse has a post about the churlish commenters at Matthew Yglesias's site. I suppose "class" is so provincial these days. Like Mama always said, "If you can't say something nice..."

An Environmental Policy I Can Agree With

Rare as it is, I can actually agree with Jesse Taylor at Pandagon when he says,

Let’s make a deal - we’ll ”grow up” and consider the need to drill every bit of oil we can when you grow up and consider the need to be less dependent on oil.

I've argued for sometime that whatever energy policies we come up with must include oil exploration and a bigger push away from oil. Regardless of whether you are a peak oil believer or not, it makes sense to move away from an energy source that causes so many headaches, both literally (in the sense of air pollution) and figuratively (in the sense of political posturing).

When Age and Experience Matter

There are already posts trying to dismiss rebuttals to the McCain is senile meme from the left.

So we have this actual, relevant problem with older human beings, in that they start to not be so good at what they do. They don’t run, jump, or think as ably as they did when they had more functioning cells. Make every concession you want…indeed, many a 72 year-old has more horsepower upstairs than 99% of the population younger than them. But if the brain starts to go on them, it is 99% out of their hands.

As somebody who just lived through the hell of watching a parent deteriorate, I feel qualified to comment on this point. Yes, watching older folks decline is rough and it's worse watching a loved one who can't remember who you are than helping them get to the bathroom. But that's not really what Jeromy Brown is discussing here.

What Jeromy is arguing is that John McCain at 72 just isn't mentally up to the challenges of the presidency. While he doesn't offer any proof of this, he does elude to various gaffes made by McCain as evidence that the old guy isn't up to the job. Such an argument would be more substantive if we didn't have the various examples of Barack Obama making numerous gaffes and misstatements himself. Sure, Obama can't blame his fumbles and bumbles on age. He's just "tired." But here's another thought: if Obama is so tired at 47 that he can't remember the importance of Jerusalem in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, just how would he handle the 3:00 a.m. call on the Batphone?

One of the other arguments made in comments at that post is that McCain's experience as a soldier and politician are not relevant in modern times. There's not really much in our history to support that view. Voters have always looked at military service, however limited, as an asset for anyone seeking to be Commander in Chief. The idea that it no longer applies seems self-serving and designed to dismiss Obama's lack of service. After all, Democrats thought Al Gore's picture-taking in Vietnam was a valuable asset for the CoC job in 2000 and completely dismissed George W. Bush's service in the National Guard because he didn't see combat. Why is combat experience less relevant now than eight years ago?

I don't really have a problem with John McCain's age being an issue in the campaign. Indeed, I think his age and experience are assets we should be seeking in a president.

When Monkey Comparisons Are Fair

To liberals, comparing President Bush to a monkey is fair.

Comparing Barack Obama to a monkey isn't.

When will Obama get his own toilet bowl brush?

Barack Obama: The Chameleon

David Brooks' New York Times column today points out a glaring problem with Barack Obama: his positions change with the wind. Brooks uses education as a good example of this tendency.

Back in October 2005, Obama gave a phenomenal education speech in which he seemed to ally with the reformers. Then, as the campaign heated up, he shifted over to pure union orthodoxy, ripping into accountability and testing in a speech in New Hampshire in a way that essentially gutted the reformist case. Then, on May 28 in Colorado, he delivered another major education speech in which he shifted back in a more ambiguous direction.

In that Colorado speech, he opened with a compelling indictment of America’s school systems. Then he argued that the single most important factor in shaping student achievement is the quality of the teachers. This seemed to direct him in the reformist camp’s direction, which has made them happy.

But when you look at the actual proposals Obama offers, he’s doesn’t really address the core issues. He’s for the vast panoply of pre-K and after-school programs that most of us are for. But the crucial issues are: What do you do with teachers and administrators who are failing? How rigorously do you enforce accountability? Obama doesn’t engage the thorny, substantive matters that separate the two camps.

He proposes dozens of programs to build on top of the current system, but it’s not clear that he would challenge it. He’s all carrot, no stick. He’s politically astute — giving everybody the impression he’s on their side — but substantively vague. Change just isn’t that easy.

I'm reminded of the old joke about the chameleon in a box of crayons. Obama says things that various groups want to hear, but his actual policies don't really back up the rhetoric. And the fact that his policies change with the polls is--dare I say it--Clintonesque. Part of the reason George W. Bush won in 2000 was because people were tired of government by polls. Do we really want a return to that?

What Gun Control and Abortion Have in Common

This story regarding the Washington, D.C. gun ban case got me to thinking about the parallels between those fighting to ban guns and those wanting to end abortion on demand.

The nation's leading gun control group filed a "friend of the court" brief back in January defending the gun ban in Washington, D.C. But with the Supreme Court poised to hand down a potentially landmark decision in the case, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence fully expects to lose.

"We've lost the battle on what the Second Amendment means," campaign president Paul Helmke told ABC News. "Seventy-five percent of the public thinks it's an individual right. Why are we arguing a theory anymore? We are concerned about what we can do practically."

While the Brady Campaign is waving the white flag in the long-running debate on whether the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to bear arms or merely a state's right to assemble a militia, it is hoping that losing the "legal battle" will eventually lead to gun control advocates winning the "political war..."

If the Supreme Court strikes down the D.C. gun ban, the Brady Campaign is hoping that it will reorient gun control groups around more limited measures that will be harder to cast as infringements of the Second Amendment.

"The NRA [National Rifle Association] won't have this fear factor," Helmke said.

Brady Campaign Attorney Dennis Henigan said there are multiple gun control measures that would not run afoul of a Supreme Court decision striking down the D.C. gun ban.

"Universal background checks don't affect the right of self-defense in the home. Banning a super dangerous class of weapons, like assault weapons, also would not adversely affect the right of self-defense in the home," said Henigan. "Curbing large volume sales doesn't affect self-defense in the home."

Supreme Court decisions force losing groups to recast their arguments on a smaller, more palatable scale. So, just as with pro-life supporters, who, since Casey, have attacked abortion on demand peripherally, those wanting to ban guns will have to do the same. Expect more of a fight for the hearts and minds of Americans.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Day of Mourning for the GPWoW

David Mitton, the creator of Thomas the Tank Engine, has died.

David Mitton, a creator of the gentle children’s television series “Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends,” which evolved into an international hit and a merchandising juggernaut, died on May 16 in London. He was 69.

His death was announced on May 28. The cause was a heart attack, said Michele Fabian-Jones, one of Mr. Mitton’s partners in Pineapple Squared Entertainment, a children’s television production company.

Mr. Mitton, a veteran of British children’s programming, directed or wrote more than 180 episodes of “Thomas the Tank Engine,” beginning with the first one in October 1984. The series, originally called “Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends” and later shortened to “Thomas and Friends,” became an instant success on British television and in 1989 made its debut in the United States as “Shining Time Station” on PBS, with Ringo Starr in the role of Mr. Conductor. (George Carlin took over the role after one season.)

Like their British counterparts, American viewers fell in love with the put-upon but determined Thomas, described in the show’s first episode as “a cheeky little engine.”

Why it took a month for the NYT to run something on this, I don't know, but what's worse is that the reporter gets the description of Thomas wrong. Thomas wasn't the engine who felt "put upon" (that was Percy). Thomas was the "really useful engine."

My son, even at 10, is a huge Thomas fan (although he thinks he's too old to like Thomas now) and we should own stock in Thomas for all the paraphernalia we have. We even rode Thomas when he made an appearance at Fair Park in Dallas.

Yet Another Reason We Need to Elect John McCain

Ridiculous court decisions which make our country less safe. Justice Scalia said it correctly:

The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today. I dissent.”

Unfortunately, it won't be just the people who like these sorts of decisions.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

They Haven't Got Any Arguments So They Have to Distort What John McCain Says

I guess since Democrats have a candidate who has naive and stupid positions, they have to distort the views of John McCain. First it was the "100 years in Iraq" misquote, which numbskulls like Jeromy Brown tried to distort.

You just have to be an idiot--or desperate--to think McCain's statement was that he wanted to be at war in Iraq for 100 years. We've been in Germany and Japan for 50 years and somehow, we aren't losing a bunch of soldiers there. But don't expect Obamaidiots to get it.

Right Wing News reports on the latest distortion of a McCain statement.

McCain just did not say that bringing the troops home is "not too important." What he said was that having an estimate of when the troops can come home is "not too important. What's important is the casualties in Iraq."

This isn't much different from Jeromy Brown's blathering about soldiers dying for 100 years in Iraq. RWN has the video of McCain's statement.

Expect more of these lies and distortions given Barack Obama's inability to put together a coherent sentence without it being pre-written.

UPDATE: Carol Platt Liebau at says Obama needs to be asked flat out if he thinks McCain is too old to be president.
If he says "yes," well, there goes the new tone -- along with a good portion of the elder vote (and, unlike the youth vote, it's one that tends to head reliably to the polls). If he says "no," then there's the response each time one of his surrogates tries to play around with words like "confused." If he weasels, well, it's just another opportunity to point out that with Barack, one may be getting a lot of words without getting a lot of substance.

The point is that in a graying society, it's not perhaps the smartest approach to act as though an obviously capable presidential candidate is in his dotage simply because he misspeaks from time to time. After all, old age wouldn't explain Barack's well-documented history of gaffes.

But -- as McCain's people might be well-advised to point out -- perhaps youth and inexperience would.

Obama courts the youngsters but they aren't the ones who vote. Don't hack off the old people.

Getting Coffee Not Grounds for Sexual Harassment Suit

One of the things I love about our legal system is reading articles like this one:

A woman who was fired from her job as a receptionist after she refused to get coffee for the men in the office has lost her Title VII sexual harassment suit now that a federal judge has declared that there's nothing sexist about requiring workers to serve coffee -- even if those workers are always women.

"The act of getting coffee is not, by itself, a gender-specific act," U.S. District Judge Berle M. Schiller wrote in Klopfenstein v. National Sales and Supply.

Schiller found that plaintiff Tamara Klopfenstein failed to allege even a prima facie case of sex discrimination because she cannot show that she was treated differently from any "similarly situated" male employees since there was only one receptionist in the office and the job had always been held by a woman.

Plaintiffs attorneys Timothy M. Kolman and Rufus A. Jennings of Timothy M. Kolman & Associates in Langhorne, Pa., said in an interview that they intend to appeal the ruling, and that Schiller erred by failing to recognize that some tasks are "inherently more offensive to women."

It's an interesting argument that certain tasks are inherently more offensive to women. Does the same hold true for men? If a female boss asks a male subordinate to open a jar or reach something on a high shelf, is that offensive? And what other tasks would be inherently offensive to women in an office?

I once had a boss who wanted me to deliver some flowers for him (how we got the flowers is a long and tedious story, but he hadn't wanted to accept them and, instead, wanted them to go somewhere else). I complained to his supervisor, who sided with me that it wasn't part of my job. OTOH, getting coffee can be considered a traditional part of a receptionist's job, even if it wasn't a stated job duty. You can bet it is now.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Saddam Hussein Harbored Terrorists? Say It Ain't So!

Last week, I discussed the New York Times article about the Senate Intelligence Committee's "report" on pre-war intelligence.

At the time, I only focused on the misreading of the report by Jesse Taylor at Pandagon, where he claimed the report proved he was "so fucking right." I sent through a few comments trying to point out to the pinheads at Pandagon that the report didn't exactly say what they were saying it did. Oh, sure, the story tried to minimize the partisanship of the report and that there were many people of all political persuasions who considered Saddam Hussein to be enough of a threat that getting rid of him was a good idea. Amusingly, however, MikeEss stepped in it when he said:

Let me guess: You still believe the crap about Hussein secretly supporting al Qaeda, right? Well I guess you and Richard “Big Dick” Cheney can’t be wrong...despite having no evidence in your favor...

After being accused of not having read the story by Jesse Taylor, it's rather amusing that MikeEss obviously didn't read the report:
Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other al Qaeda-related terrorist members were substantiated by the intelligence assessments.

Intelligence assessments noted Zarqawi's presence in Iraq and his ability to travel and operate within the country. The intelligence community generally believed that Iraqi intelligence must have known about, and therefore at least tolerated, Zarqawi's presence in the country...

Postwar information supports prewar assessments and statements that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was in Baghdad and that al Qaeda was present in northern Iraq.

Moonbats hate admitting that Saddam Hussein allowed al Qaida free and easy movement within Iraq. That's why they'll lie if it suits them. Or not read.

He's So Articulate...

When Barack Obama uses a Telepromptr, that is. On his own, he sounds like this:

which is why he isn't anxious to get in debates with John McCain.

Supreme Court to Smack Down Oregon Courts

The Supreme Court has twice ruled in the Phillip Morris U.S.A. vs. Williams case, each time ruling against the Oregon Supreme Court. You'd think the Oregon Supreme Court would get the hint to quit making unreasonable decisions, but I guess, they are slow learners on the West coast (there was a similar problem in 2000 in Florida, if you remember correctly).

Now, the Supreme Court has decided to rule a third time in the case.

The Supreme Court said Monday it will review a $79.5 million punitive damages judgment against Marlboro-maker Philip Morris for the third time.

The justices have twice struck down the award to the family of a longtime smoker of Marlboros, made by Altria Group Inc.'s Philip Morris USA.

Oregon courts have repeatedly upheld the judgment. The most recent ruling, in January, followed a high court decision last year that said jurors may punish a defendant only for harm done to someone who is suing, not other smokers who could make similar claims.

The justices will consider only whether the Oregon Supreme Court in essence ignored the U.S. high court's ruling, not whether the amount of the judgment is constitutionally permissible...

The award was for the family of Jesse Williams, a former Portland janitor who started smoking during a 1950s Army hitch and died in 1997, six months after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. A jury in Portland made the award in 1999...

The Oregon high court made its first decision in 2002, refusing to hear an appeal from Philip Morris.

Then the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the judgment of nearly $80 million, saying that punitive damages generally should be held to no more than nine times actual economic damages. It declined, however, to make that a firm rule.

In the Williams case, the family was awarded $800,000 in actual damages. the punitive damages are about 97 times greater. A state court previously cut the compensatory award to $521,000.

My mother died of lung cancer, so I know personally how painful the loss is. But that doesn't mean you should be suing the tobacco companies for what was, essentially, a voluntary decision to smoke for 50 years. Still, the courts are allowing such cases, but it is obvious that the SCOTUS is telling these runaway liberal courts to rein it in a bit.