Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Military Minors Get A Beer In Wisconsin?

A Wisconsin lawmaker has proposed a bill that would allow the sale to and consuption of alcohol for 19 and 20 year olds who reside in Wisconsin and belong to our armed forces.

State Rep. Mark Pettis, a Republican who served in the Navy, is pushing a bill that would drop the drinking age to 19 for Wisconsin soldiers — but only if the federal government agrees it will not yank an estimated $50 million a year in highway aid.
A federal law ties federal highway dollars to compliance by the states with the required drinking age of 21.

"We're treating these young men and women as adults when they're at war. But we treat them like teenagers when they're here in the states," he said.

There are three problems here for me.

One, there is no reason to limit the law's application to Wisconsin resident soldiers. I suppose a 21st Amendment question could come into play here, but generally discrimination against non-residents except in things arguably related to tax dollars paid in (e.g., in state college tuition) is not permitted.

Second, I agree entirely with the rationale. We let 18 years olds vote and enter into binding contracts that could ruin their financial life. There is no justification for excluding adults from alcohol. So why is the law limited to soldiers? While they might deserve special treatment, they shouldn't get it here. Everyone should be treated the same.

Third, the problem with the bill, as stated in the quote, is that it might cause Wisconsin to lose Federal highway money. This is the result of the Supreme Courts' questionable (to me) decision holding that Congress could use the spending power in the Constitution to black mail states into passing laws that Congress could not pass directly. South Dakota v. Dole needs to be overturned and Congress' abuse of the spending power curtailed.

Non-Jury Trial, Verdict Rendered In Florida

A Michigan man has been identified as the defendant in a non-jury trial, conviction and execution in Ocean Park, Florida. Judith Kuntz, 64, served as prosecutor, judge and executioner.

The Brevard County Sheriff's Office said Jason Lewis Preston was burglarizing the home of Judith Kuntz, 64, when the widow pulled out a .38 caliber handgun and shot him to death.

Investigators believe Preston broke the glass to a back window at Kuntz's Ocean Park home. Kuntz told investigators she heard the noise and saw the man's shadow in the doorway to her bedroom, according to Local 6 News partner Florida Today.
Kuntz then fired from about 10 feet away, striking Preston in the chest. He staggered into the yard, collapsed and died.

No appeal is expected.

News You Can Use -- And IRS Abuse, Too

Scrivener.net reports that the IRS is facing potentially $6 Billion (must say it like Dr. Evil) in refunds for tax collections on long distance service. Scrivener.net says:

IRS pushed yet closer to paying $6 billion in telephone tax refunds.

In the last year five federal courts have ruled that the IRS is collecting telephone tax on long distance phone service illegally -- and another has ruled tax on inbound toll-free "800"-type service to be illegal too. The gist of the matter is that the relevant Tax Code sections, dating back decades, explicitly define calls subject to tax as being those for which a toll charge is determined by "the distance and elapsed transmission time of each individual communication". But in today's world most long-distance calls are billed otherwise: flat rate, negotiated rate, by time (but not distance), friends-and-family, whatever.

In the last year businesses that incur phone charges by such alternate methods have finally started suing the IRS over the issue -- and the courts have ruled one after another that the tax doesn't apply to them and that they are entitled to tax refunds.

[T]he Eleventh Circuit has struck down [the IRS's] lone victory following the taxpayer's appeal, ordering a $361,000 refund. So now the IRS is 0 for 7, with the Court of Appeals on the other side. . . .

One thing that's quite interesting about all this is that with refunds potentially available to near everybody, estimated at a total of $6 billion or more, including five-digit, six-digit and seven-digit refunds for many businesses, there's been nary a word about this story in the mainstream press. So a lot of people are missing the chance to file for refunds that might be right there for the taking, after a little wait.

There's a three-year statute of limitations on filing for tax refunds -- so as one delays filing for them potential refund amounts expire. Think of all the pointless stuff that fills the papers and news channels every day. Whatever happened to "news you can really use"? Well, if you want to get ready to claim your tax refund you can read more about it here!Here's the full text (.pdf) of the new Appeals Court decision, which summarizes the holdings of all the cases to date nicely. For more details about the history and likely future politics of all this, "protective refund" strategy, plus a link to fuller professional legal analysis, check here, the original main post here on this. Send the links to your own tax accountant or lawyer. Tell 'em to get you what you're owed!

If you have a business, you could be due a not so insignificant refund.

E-mail you check for this advice to the address on my side bar.

Media giddiness Over "Torture" Part Of The Plan

While the media foams at the mouth to ask the next hard hitting question of an administration official over allegations of book abuse or torture, there is good reason why conservatives and neo-libertarians are concerned.

The media, every claiming that skepticism is their sacred duty, only show skepticism for our side. They love to run with released terrorists' stories of how a worship book we gave them in their language was mishandled, as though this were news. They love to run Amnesty International stories comparing a military prison camp for non-uniformed prisoners a gulag. But do they ever question the credibility of the accusers? Apparently not. But they should.

An al Qaeda handbook preaches to operatives to level charges of torture once captured, a training regime that administration officials say explains some of the charges of abuse at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

* * * *

U.S. officials think the Koran story -- told by a detainee who did not see the purported event -- might be part of an al Qaeda campaign to spread disinformation. "There have been allegations made by detainees," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters. "We know that members of al Qaeda are trained to mislead and to provide false reports. We know that's one of their tactics that they use. And so I think you have to keep that in mind."

In a raid on an al Qaeda cell in Manchester, British authorities seized al Qaeda's most extensive manual for how to wage war. A directive lists one mission as "spreading rumors and writing statements that instigate people against the enemy."

If captured, the manual states, "At the beginning of the trial ... the brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by state security before the judge. Complain of mistreatment while in prison." The handbook instructs commanders to make sure operatives, or "brothers," understand what to say if captured.

"Prior to executing an operation, the commander should instruct his soldiers on what to say if they are captured," the document says. "He should explain that more than once in order to ensure that they have assimilated it. They should, in turn, explain it back to the commander."

An example might have occurred in a Northern Virginia courtroom in February. Ahmed Omar Abul Ali, accused of planning to assassinate President Bush, made an appearance in U.S. District Court and promptly told the judge that he had been tortured in Saudi Arabia, including a claim that his back had been whipped. He is accused of meeting there with a senior al Qaeda leader.

Days later, a U.S. attorney filed a court document saying physicians had examined Ali and "found no evidence of any physical mistreatment on the defendant's back or any other part of his body."

Larry Di Rita, spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, said two Guantanamo commanders told him that al Qaeda detainees are experts in circulating false charges among the more than 500 fighters captured in Afghanistan. "There are elements within the detainee population that were very effective at getting other detainees agitated about the Koran by making allegations," Mr. Di Rita said. "They particularly focused on the practice of their faith and the Koran being kept from them. So people should not be surprised when detainees come out and make these kinds of allegations. It causes the reactions we've seen."

Hmmmm. Part of the strategy. In writing. Looks like a scandal. The next headline, no doubt: "Administration accused of torturing because the al Qaeda manual destroyed detainees credibility."

Mike's Credo

This past January, Army Sergeant Michael Carlson died in Iraq. Back in high school, he wrote a "credo paper" for a high school project. The link is from the Star Tribune, though I understand that the Wall Street Journal has also published it.

I want my life to account for something more than just a game. In life, there are no "winners" -- everyone eventually loses his life. I only have so much time; I can't waste it with a game. I want to be good at life. I want to be known as the best of the best at my job. I want people to need me, to count on me. I am never late; I am either on time or early. I want to help people. I want to fight for something, be part of something that is greater than myself. I want to be a soldier or something of that caliber, maybe a cop or a secret service agent.

I want to live forever. But the only way that one could possibly achieve it in this day and age is to live on in those you have affected. I want to carve out a niche for myself in the history books. I want to be remembered for the things I accomplished. I sometimes dream of being a soldier in a war. In this war I am helping to liberate people from oppression. In the end, maybe there is a big parade and a monument built to immortalize us in stone. Other times I envision being a man you see out of the corner of your eye, dressed in black fatigues, entering a building full of terrorists. After everything is completed, I slip out the back only to repeat this the next time I am called. I might not be remembered in that scenario, but I will have helped people.

Everyone should read it. Read it all.

Via Neal Boortz.

When Did It Become OK?

A student is listed in a yearbook as "Most Likely To Assassinate President Bush." A college student writes a column "10 Reasons Not To Kill Bush." In fairness to her, she wrote a serious piece as a respectful opponent of the President, but her inference is clear - this is being discussed.

When did it become OK to discuss killing our Presdient?

Stupidest Movie Name Ever

I saw an advertisement on TV last night for a new movie called The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. All I could tell from the trailer was that it is a chick flick. That aside, this is without a doubt the stupidest movie name I can ever remember hearing.

I don't care if it is based on a book. I don't care if it is a sweet, touching story of teen angst. I don't care if it is a kick butt action flick. I don't care if the movie is a bout a pair of pants lost in the luggage compartment of a jet plane. The title is stupid.

I don't really have enough traffic to do requests, but if you can find a more stupid movie title, please let me know.


Euro-Trash Tuesday - 5/31

In NGC's inaugural Euro-trash Tuesday, we join A Guide To Midwestern Culture to share the European experience with America, the West Virginia of Europe (which may say more about Europe than West Virginia - I don't know).

This was a tough week. There are two excellent possibilities.

First, the biggest news out of Europe is the devastating referendum loss Chirac and the EU suffered in France. France voted "NO" by nearly 55% to the EU Constitution. The concern now is that other countries' voters will follow suit. Apparently, they needed France to lead the way.

This outcome is apparently devastating to Chirac, someone who opposed the War in Iraq for purely financial reasons. Now, I don't know much about politics in France, primarily because it just isn't that important except to the large number of unemployed people caused by their self imposed socialistic policies, but I applaud any trouble Chirac has politically. He deserves it.

That said, I don't think that this outcome reflects increasing intelligence in France. This, from the story linked above:

Constitution critics successfully portrayed the charter as enshrining pro-market policies that would cost French jobs and put business interests ahead of social concerns.
So, the French are voting against a Constitution that has pro-market policies. Which they need, as reflected by the results of their country's socialistic policies: a poor economy and 10-year highs in unemployment. Uh, OK. Chirac and the French deserve each other.

More indicitive of the Euro-trash name, however, is the newest chart topping pop song in England. The winner is -- a cell phone ring.

The ring tone is based on a song that was recorded in Sweden nearly a decade ago by 17-year-old Daniel Malmedahl, using the high pitched revving of a two-stroke motorcycle, The International Herald Tribune reported Saturday.

The taste of the British is proven yet again.

The newest pop sensation in England.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Spying On Your Kids

People complaint that with technology, big brother is watching. As to government, that is a concern. But, the great thing about technology is that it is getting much cheaper to spy on your kids, and that is all right by me.

By the time KJita is in high school, I anticipate being able to purchase GPS systems for little money. KJita will have one in her shoes, purses, cell phone (or whatever they are called then), wallet and the buttons on her clothes. I will have an audio bug in her purse and video capability in her car, which will also have black box recording her driving habits.

Of course, sometimes, old school technology is best.

Anyway, the parenting revolution has begun. In Georgia, parents are now able to watch their children's food purchasing at school.

UPDATE: Check out this product. Panties that give you location, heart rate and temperature. If they come off, the heart rate and temperature readings obviously stop. But you still know where they are!

Magnitude of 10

A view of the universe, moving in until you get the view of quarks within protons of a leaf's carbon molecule, by powers of 10.

Confused? You should not have been sleeping in science class.

Check it out.

H/t: TigerHawk.

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day.

I want to thank all of our veterans and currently serving soldiers for all that you have done and all that you do. You make this great country possible.

An Army soldier inserts an american flag into the
ground near a grave at Arlington National Cemetery
in Washington, May 23, 2002. Each year the flags
are put on all the graves at Arlington National
Cemetery in honor of the Memorial Day holiday.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

What Party Is The Criminal Politician?

Ten years ago, I used to argue that the media was not biased in favor of the Left or Democrats. Because I have a brain and powers of observation, I have of course given up that belief.

I have opined before (I will link it if I can find it) that the media follows one rule when it comes to reporting legal problems with politicians. If the politician is a Republican, the party affiliation will be in the first paragraph, if not the headline. If the politician is a Democrat, however, the party affiliation will be stuck in the middle of the story, if at all.

This article, released today on Yahoo's news site, is a great example.

It discusses the resignation of State Senator John Ford of Tennessee. This guy is a real scum bag. I have written about him before (go to the last story). Here is the beginning of the current news story:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - State Sen. John Ford, a member of one of Tennessee's most powerful political families, has resigned after being placed under house arrest facing charges from a two-year FBI sting, the lieutenant governor said Saturday.

Ford announced his resignation in a letter Lt. Gov. John Wilder read to the Senate.
"I plan to spend the rest of my time with my family clearing my name," he wrote.

A member of the Senate for more than 30 years, Ford was arrested Thursday following the sting operation nicknamed "Tennessee Waltz." He is charged along with four other current and former state lawmakers with taking payoffs, and he is also accused of threatening to kill a witness.

Prosecutors played a videotape Friday of Ford watching an undercover agent count out $10,000 and an audiotape of him allegedly threatening a potential witness. His lawyer suggested the purported threat was meant as a joke.

Did you see any reference to the fact that he was a Democrat? No, me either. Do you think the article would have read "Powerful Republican Indicted" if it had been a Republican?

I have now read the article twice. I can't find his party affiliation at all in the article. To add to the comedy, read this -- the last few paragraphs of the article:

Ford's brother is Harold Ford, who served 11 terms in Congress. His nephew is
Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. [Ed.: nice connections.]

During his tenure in the state Senate, John Ford has lost paternity lawsuits, given a political job to a girlfriend, used campaign money for his daughter's wedding and been successfully sued for sexual harassment. [Ed.: Swell guy.]

Republican Senate leader Ron Ramsey said the Ethics Committee he chairs was getting ready to file a six-count charge against Ford for violating Senate rules stemming from a separate investigation into allegations he was paid by a consulting company with financial ties to the state's Medicaid program.

"I believe we would have had the votes to remove Senator Ford from office," Ramsey said.

Sen. Tim Burchett, a Republican, said he was a little surprised by the resignation, "but I think he realized a cat only has nine lives and he's on about life 10."

Ford, Sens. Kathryn Bowers and Ward Crutchfield, and state Rep. Chris Newton [Ed.: Where is the party identification?] were all sponsors of a bill proposed by E-Cycle that would have given the state the option of getting rid of old computer equipment by selling it to a "qualified electronic recycling company."

According to the indictments, the lawmakers and two other men took $92,000 to usher bills for E-Cycle through the Legislature. Ford is accused of taking $55,000.
Bowers, one of the other lawmakers arrested with Ford this week, said she is not guilty and does not plan to resign. "Everybody that knows me knows I'm a fighter," she said.

The only two people identified by party -- both identified as Republicans -- are not the people accused of the crimes. But no mention is made of Sen. Ford's party affiliation, nor the party affiliation of the others accused.

A responsible journalist would look up these people to see which party they belong to. I am not one of those people. However, since this story was written by the Lame Stream Media, and no party affiliation is identified, I don't have to look it up. They must all be Democrats!

But I'm supposed to believe that this isn't evidence of bias?


Brad of Unrepentant Individual has advised me that of the four accused, three were Democrats and one was a Republican. Mentioning the party affiliation of one of the four would have been too obvious, so the AP left all affiliations of the accused out, and told us instead the parties of people commenting on Sen. Ford's resignation. My thesis holds.

The Season Cliffhanger

A CSI agent is buried alive and being eaten by ants. A young boy is grabbed off of a hand made raft as plane crash victims attempt to sail to rescue. Sounds like cliffhanger season to me.

But here in the blogosphere, the primary cliffhanger is whether Villainous Company will return on Sunday, May 29.

Cassandra, the Blog Princess and tech wench that runs the Villainous Company super site recently took a sabbatical to examine the effects of global warming in the rainforrest, or a nearby beach, or the backyard. No one knows, really. All we know is that we go to Villainous Company turned off the lights on Friday, May 20, with a "will return on May 29" sign on the door. Although I have checked, I have not seen a light on.

It does not appear that Cassandra was abducted, however. There have been sightings of her on a bus in Austin, Texas, in coffee shop in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a posting at No Government Cheese.

The great thing about proverbs is they don't have to be consistent.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Whatever -- we await the return of Cassandra. She is known to wake up at 4:00 a.m. and start posting. So set your clock and log on. I will start banging on the door by 5:00 a.m. in the morning if I don't see something by then.

End Of The School Year

Well, the kids have been counting the minutes, and now the school year is over in most parts of the country. Here is a little end of year school stories for you.

And They Bring The Counselors For The Children

A teacher in Louisiana wrote an essay for his class. In it, he detailed what little monsters they were.

In the essay, the teacher detailed the loud, disobedient behavior of his students on a particular day and how some ridiculed him while others accused him of cheating for a competing class during a spelling bee. The teacher said he was tired because pain from a root canal had kept him awake most of the previous night.

Melissa Parker, whose 9-year-old son is in the unidentified teacher's class at Norbert Rillieux Elementary School, said the essay was distributed to the class last week and was supposed to be returned to the teacher that day.

However, some students brought the essay home.

"I was outraged and I was upset," Parker said. "I'm thinking, you shouldn't be a teacher if you hate kids.

Now, I do not doubt that this teacher may have issues. Or not. Maybe the kids are demon spawn from helk. Why did the teacher's acts make thew news? Because the little brats didn't turn in their assignment like they were supposed to!

Of course, the Mrs. Parker misses the point as well. The teacher doesn't hate kids. He hates YOUR KID because he is a little misbehaving monster.

Let's hope this teacher gets some good rest this summer.

Another Home School Victory

The government schools got their butt handed to them again in the national geography bee.

A home-schooled teenager from Cottonwood, Minn., on Wednesday was declared winner of the 17th annual National Geographic Bee, answering a question about an
obscure river in Panama.


The final question was: "Lake Gatún, an artificial lake that constitutes part of the Panama Canal system, was created by damming which river?" The correct answer is the Chagres River.

Cornelius, who won a $25,000 college scholarship and lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society, defeated nine other finalists during the contest, which was moderated by “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek.

Did you know the answer to that question? A lifetime in the National Geographic Society? What does that go for in the secondary market?

Valedictorian Made A Big Mistake -- He Told The Truth

The stupidity of government school administrations knows no bounds.
Eagleville High School Valedictorian Abe Stoklasa said all he wanted to do was give a memorable speech, but what he thought was funny, school leaders considered offensive. In his speech, Stoklasa planned to say, "You have given us the minimum required attention and education to master any station at any McDonald's anywhere. For that we thank you. Of course, I'm only kidding. Eagleville is a fine institute of higher learning, with superb faculty and staff." He said all of the jokes were simply segues to build up the school with compliments.
Is this a standard speech technique? Of course it is. What is more is that his joke, for most of the students at that school, is probably true. Which is why the school took it so hard I am sure.

But those in attendance at Eagleville's graduation ceremony never heard that second part of Stoklasa's speech because the school's principal asked that the microphone be turned off when he varied from the speech he said he was going to deliver.
Eagleville High School principal Rhonda Holton said there were two sentences the school wanted Stoklasa to change.

"Because it implied that the students did not receive a quality education," Holton said.

Though doth protest too much? Of course the school knows that they can't withhold his diploma for hurting their feelings. School leaders were scheduled to meet with Stoklasa Wednesday morning and give him his diploma at that time.

All right. School is out. Go to the beach. Here are 10 from which to choose.

Friday, May 27, 2005

See -- Socialized Suicide Prevention Doesn't Work

A Canadian province is ending its 24/7 suicide hotline. It will now only operate during business hours.

Prince Edward Island, a small province on Canada's East Coast, says it is too expensive to operate the hotline around the clock. Starting June 1, it will be open only between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The plan drew protest from mental health groups across the country Wednesday.
"How many times, when you get upset or worried or concerned about things, is it in the middle of the day? It's usually at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning when you wake
up," said Joan Wright, executive director of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention based in Edmonton, Alberta.

"One of the things I was hearing is the government felt there weren't enough suicide-related calls," Wright said.

What kinds of calls does a suicide hot line get other than suicide-related?

Well, you should of already known that socialized medicine resulted in waiting for vital treatment. Now, you know.

The Left View Of The Judicial Debate -- Off Base

As the judicial filibuster deal works its way out until the Democrats breach it, I thought I would say a word or two about the whole judicial philosophy thing. It is required if you are a blogger.

I generally lean conservative in judicial philosophy, though I am not as conservative as some. To generalize, the left will read the Constitution and find all kinds of rights in the "due process" and "equal protection" clauses, and sometimes the 9th Amendment. Lino Graglia has a nice article on the subject in this week's WSJ.

The conservative may find nothing substantive in the 9th Amendment.

I think both of those positions are wrong. Nonetheless, the left's portrayal of the views of Bush's filibustered judicial nominees, conservative judicial minds all, in being treated as though they were just like liberal activist judges, only conservative. The threats posed by the two are entirely different.

To explain where the left is coming from, I refer you to this article on a protest of Scalia's presence at NYU. One bright scholars had this to say about Scalia:

"Scalia has got such a backwards world view and he wields so much power," said
Dave Hancock, a Gallatin sophomore who joined the protest mid-march. "To be
honored at a so-called progressive school is sickening."

What is telling about this quote is that Mr. Hancock thinks Scalia wields power. In truth, Scalia does have power to wield. He seldom does, however, because of his judicial philosophy. The risk from the conservative judge, if the left is correct, is that he or she will not be vigilant enough in protecting our rights.

The risk from the leftist activist judge, however, is that he will usurp the role of the legislative branch in an ever growing hubris to find new rights and obligations of government.

The Left is accusing Bush's most conservative nominees of being Judges that "will take us back into the dark ages" and "impose a theocracy on the country." These accusations are not true and, it is clear, could not be true. A conservative judge is arguably more likely to let stand laws passed by legislatures. If these laws "take us back to the dark ages" or "impose a theocracy" then this was done by the legislature. If the conservative judge let the laws stand, well, maybe the judge was wrong. But the judge did not impose the system on the people. The people's representative government did.

If a liberal judge sees a public policy position that the judge doesn't like, the liberal activist judge does not feel constrained to change it. Applying the words "due process" or "equal protection" and whola -- a law is struck, or a right is created in a vacuum of laws. The legislature hasn't recognized that right or how its affects ripple into other laws? No problem, in a vacuum the activist judge makes the laws for us.

The real life examples are easy enough. Abortion is now such a right that every single health and parental regulation that affects it is a case to be decided by a Judge.

The Courts have taken over all death penalty rules. If a state wants to impose the death penalty, which is certainly constitutional with "due process," it must basically let the Court imposed its will in the due process requirements.

Some Judges have even tried to force governments to raise taxes to support programs that the Court deemed Constitutionally required. This is activism, and it comes from the left.

The real irony is that the judicial activists on the Left often let legislatures go too far on issues actually in the Constitution. The campaign finance reform law was allowed to stand, 5-4, because of the more "liberal" wing of the Court. The First Amendment, directly assaulted by this law, was only being protected by the conservative wing of the Court.

The owner of private property facing burdensome regulations that arguably result in a taking has never found a sympathetic ear from the liberal justices of the SCOTUS. Government that takes property must do so only for a public purpose, and the owner must be justly compensated. This is actually stated in the 5th and 14th Amendments. This provision has never been read expansively, i.e., in a way in which government power was limited, except by conservative justices.

The leftist judges are now more than ready to make gay marriage, an oxymoron by definition and a "right" never recognized in the United States by a legislature not forced to by court order, a new right. It is suddenly found in state Constitutions' "equal protection" provisions, and Federal Courts will no doubt try it next.

Do not misunderstand me. It is not good for a conservative justice to not uphold the constitution and strike an unconstitutional law. The power of the Federal and, to a lesser extent, the state governments, were intended to be limited by the specific enumeration of powers in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But when abuse comes from the legislative brach, we have remedies even if the Courts fail us. We do not, today, have remedies from the Courts (though the power of the Executive and Legislative branches to ignore a Court decision exists -- with the political will to do so).

The risks to our government are much greater with the leftist judge. No matter how conservative a judge reads the "establishment clause," the judge will not "require" a school to have school prayer or lead Bible classes. No matter how conservative a judge is, he or she will not force a state to ban abortion. The conservative judge is simply going to leave these issues up to the legislature. That may result in a good or a bad law -- even an arguably unconstitutional law. But the people still have a remedy to change the law. The public policy preferences of the Bible thumping theocratic judge only become law if the legislature passes the law. The judge is otherwise impotent to make it happen, and his only sin would be to not strike the law down.

The leftist judge, however, takes over the legislative process. The issue is removed from public debate, the legislature is powerless to act in what should be a broad range of public policy preferences, and legitimacy to the activist's new discovery of law is lacking.

The Left is not at risk from the Conservative judges except in one way. Because the left cannot get its agenda passed in the legislature, the conservative judge takes away the only way that agenda is made law -- by imposition on the people by people wearing black robes.

One Judge, if wrong, leaves us being ruled by our democratically elected legislature. The other Judge, if wrong, end up as pseudo-dictator. Now, which is more consistent with our Constitution and history?

What They Say -- What They Mean

White House reporter Judy Keen, with the help of Ari Fleischer, has put out a little chart regarding President Bushisms during his press conferences. The chart compares what W says, when he says it and why he says it. For example:

President Bush

What he says: "I appreciate that question."
When he says it: Several times during each press conference, usually after a complex or tricky question.
Why he says it/What he means: It means he needs a second to collect his thoughts.

Well, some other public figures have had their sayings collected and explained.

Al Gore

What he says: "HE PLAYED ON OUR FEARS."
When he says it: The Presidential campaign season.
What he means: "I'm so depressed. How did I lose to Bush?"

What he says: "The next ice age is coming."
What he says it: The 1970s.
What he means: I don't know what the Helk I'm talking about. In 25 years, I'm going to be talking about global warming.

What he says: "I invented the internet."
When he says it: During Presidential campaing season.
What he means: "I was almost in Congress when a government task force that created a network that was later expanded into something that kind of became the world wide web was funded by Congress. I would have voted for it."

Lame Stream Media Reporter

What they say: "Mr. President . . . ."
When they say it: Whenever the President is walking to a helicopter.
What they mean: "I hate America. I am a leftie commie supporting bed wetting military hating hack. Whatever you say, I will twist it in the headline to make you sound evil or stupid."

Howard Dean:

What he says: "We're gonna win Vermont. ThenOregonn. Then Oklahoma. AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!"
When he says it: After getting his butt kicked in a primary.
What he means: "I'm one crazy bastard. And I didn't take my medicine this morning."

Michael Moore:

What he says: "I would like to interview you for a my documentary."
When he says it: When he has a camera crew.
What he means: "I want to ask you argumentative questions then carefully splice the film to misrepresent what you actually said. Boy, I sure am hungry. Do you want the rest of that sandwich?"

What he says: "I am a documentary film maker."
When he says it: Lots.
What he means: "I use false information and misleading spliced film clips to make anti-American, anti-capitalistic propaganda. Boy, I am sure hungry. Do you want the rest of that sandwich?"

What he says: "Hi."
When he says it: Several times per day.
What he means: "Bush is a Nazi fascist. Boy, I am sure hungry. Do you want the rest of that sandwich?"

What he says: "Bush is a Nazi fascist."
When he says it: Several times per day.
What he means: "Boy, I am sure hungry. Do you want the rest of that sandwich?"

What he says: "Boy, I am sure hungry. Do you want the rest of that sandwich?"
When he says it: Every 15 minutes.
What he means: "Bush is a Nazi fascist. Boy, I am sure hungry. Do you want the rest of that sandwich?"

This charts would be helpful in lots of areas, don't you think.

If you have one, please share.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Gay Thursday -- 5/26


This week, on Gay Thursday, we look at the life and times of Liberace! Liberace was an amazing musical talent who brought joy, happiness, and lots of color to the world. What better personality for this feature?

Born in West Allis, Wisconsin in 1919, Wladziu (Polish for Walter) Valentino Liberace was one of the four children of Salvatore and Frances Liberace.

Wladziu receive a scholarship to the Wisconsin College of Music. His debut was at age 14 as soloist with the Chicago Symphony.

In 1940, his night club dates took him to the Persian Room in New York's Plaza Hotel as an intermission pianist. Seven years later, he returned with his own oversized grand piano and his first trademark, a glittering candelabra. Acting on Paderewski's early advice, Liberace dropped his first two names, opting to use the elegant "Liberace" exclusively.

His life is a series of happy, colorful accomplishments.

1950: He made his first film as honky tonk pianist in the movie "South Sea Sinner."

1951: He had local Los Angeles television show, and served as a summer replacement for Dinah Shore.

1952: Liberace's television series debuted which earned two Emmys.

Liberace had become television's first matinee idol.

1953: Liberace played Carnegie Hall and made a record-breaking appearance before 16,000 at Madison Square Garden. He packed an over-capacity crowd of 20,000 into the Hollywood Bowl and did it again at Chicago's Soldiers Field with an audience of 110,000.

1955: Liberace opened in the Las Vegas Riviera Hotel as the highest paid entertainer in the city's history. He made another movie, "Sincerely Yours."

1960: Liberace started a daytime television series on ABC.

1972: Liberace authored a best-selling autobiography, "Liberace."

1976: Liberace's third book, "The Things I love."

1976 - 1979: Liberace was acclaimed "Pop Keyboard Artist of the Year" by Contemporary Keyboard Magazine.

1978: Liberace returns to TV with his first American TV special for CBS, followed by a second in February 1979.

1977: Liberace founded the non-profit Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts.

1979: Liberace opened The Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Museum serves as the key funding arm for the Foundation.

1980: Las Vegas named Liberace both Star of the Year and Entertainment Personality of the Year.

1981: Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters presented Liberace with its coveted "Golden Mike" award.

1982: Liberace was voted to the Keyboard Magazine Hall of Fame; Liberace made a special showcase appearance at the Academy Awards, performing all five nominated film themes.

1984: Liberace's premier engagement at New York's famed Radio City Music Hall broke all sales and attendance records of the 51-year history of the Art Deco palace.

1986: Liberace's final performances were at Radio City Music Hall October 16 through November 2, 1986.

February 4, 1987, Liberace passes away.

Liberace transported audiences to a dazzling world of color, joyful music, glittering costumes, and humor.

Liberace's legend lives on in The Liberace Museum that houses his collections of rare and antique pianos, classic cars, famous sequined, bejeweled costume wardrobe, glittering stage jewelry, rare antiques and as well as his private papers and memorabilia. The Museum is the key funding arm for The Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts. Since 1976, The Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts has awarded more than 4.5 million dollars in scholarship grants to over 100 universities, schools and organizations.

At the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, you can get married by the piano master himself (well, a look alike).

If you miss the flash and flair of Liberace, catch the musical tribute show next time in Vegas.

If you want to find Liberace on VH-1, go here. A complete movie and TV listing is here.

Liberace's Will is here. See if he left you anything.

Finally, NGC just wants to wish Liberace a gay old time. We are sure that he is entertaining all customers where ever he is now.

* Gay: 1 a : happily excited : MERRY b : keenly alive and exuberant : having or inducing high spirits 2 a : BRIGHT, LIVELY b : brilliant in color

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Dumbass Of The Week -- Or When A Gay Old Time Goes Terribly Wrong

Apparently, the Scots don't have plastic light sabers at Target.

This week's Dumbasses of the Week go to two Star Wars Fans in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. This sounds grisley. But c'mon. What were these people thinking?

TWO young Star Wars fans were critically ill in hospital last night after a homemade "lightsaber" blew up and showered them in burning petrol. The 17-year-old girl and a man aged 20 were believed to have filled a fluorescent light tube with petrol before setting it alight.

However, their stunt went tragically wrong [Ed.: And this was a surprise?] when the device exploded in their faces, setting their clothes alight and leaving them with horrific burns. The horrific accident was revealed when firefighters were called out after reports of a blaze in woodland in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.

When the crew arrived at the wood, the fire was out and they discovered the pair lying in agony on the ground. The man is believed to have suffered more than 40 per cent burns to his body.

Leaving The Left

I don't know if I ever heard of writer Keith Thompson before today. He has recently published an article in the San Francisco Gate titled "Leaving the Left." I link his personal web page though, as I assume the Gate website will archive it in a few days.

My neo-libertarian views are clearly better identified with the "right" in today's political climate, but like Thompson, I used to think I was a liberal (except I liked capitalism in most things). Of course, in the 1800s, liberals were today's libertarians.

Anyway, like Thompson, I started out identifying mostly with the "left." But today, as the Left has proven, it hates George W. Bush more than it loves its own principles. The Left refuses to see that a sincere conservative will today carry the torch that used to rule the good parts of liberal thought in years gone by.

Thompson starts at the tipping point, then works backwards.
Nightfall: January 30, 2005. Eight million Iraqi voters have finished risking their lives to endorse freedom and defy fascism. Three things happen in rapid succession. The right cheers. The left demurs. I walk away from a long-term intimate relationship. I'm separating not from a person but a cause: the political philosophy that for more than three decades has shaped my character and consciousness, my sense of self and community, even my sense of cosmos. I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.
I never could understand why the Left could not celebrate the free elections finally enjoyed by Iraqis. The Left spent its time arguing (1) there were other dictators as bad as Saddam and (2) there were other threats, like Iran and North Korea. To which I thought, we can't take them all on at once -- and just because you can't do everything doesn't mean you must do nothing.

But after a while, you begin to see that the criticism is not about the goal, the results or the methods. It is about battling the enemy, even if the enemy is right.

Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World people because it hates George W. Bush more than it loves freedom. * * * *

The Iraqi election is my tipping point. The time has come to walk in a different direction -- just as I did many years earlier.

I grew up in a northwest Ohio town where conservative was a polite term for reactionary. When Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of Mississippi "sweltering in the heat of oppression," he could have been describing my community . . . [W]hen King proclaimed, "I have a dream," I instinctively cast my lot with those I later found out were liberals (then synonymous with "the left" and "progressive thought").

The people on the other side were dedicated to reserving my hometown's backward-looking status quo. This was all that my ten-year-old psyche needed to know. The knowledge carried me for a long time. Mythologies are helpful that way.

Speaking of mythologies, now lost is a little fact that the Democrats of the South were the oppressors. The Civil Rights Act was more strongly supported by Republicans in the Congress. Today, the mythology of one's political opponents is usually more cited than the facts.

Thompson's credentials as a Lefty are unquestionable.

I began my activist career championing the 1968 presidential candidacies of Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, because both promised to end America's misadventure in Vietnam. I marched for peace and farm worker justice, lobbied for women's right to choose and environmental protections, signed up with George McGovern in '72 and got elected as the youngest delegate ever to a Democratic Convention. Eventually I joined the staff of U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio. In short, I became a card-carrying liberal, though I never actually got a card. (Bookkeeping has never been the left's strong suit.)

A problem I have with the modern politician is that no one rules on principals or philosophies of government. How do you predict a position of a politician? You can't really. First, you have to compare polls, then see how your opponent has approached the issue, then consider what compromises are available on other issues before staking your bargaining position. Thompson apparently sees similar problems.

All my commitments centered on belief in equal opportunity, due process, respect for the dignity of the individual and solidarity with people in trouble. To my mind, Americans who had joined the resistance to Franco's fascist dystopia captured the progressive spirit at its finest.

The biggest problem with the Left, however, is the refusal to see in black and white and call "evil" by its name. Thompson describes how he came to realize this problem.

A turning point came at a dinner party on the day Ronald Reagan famously described the Soviet Union as the preeminent source of evil in the modern world. The general tenor of the evening was that Reagan's use of the word "evil" had moved the world closer to annihilation. There was a palpable sense that we might not make it to dessert.

When I casually offered that the surviving relatives of the more than 20 million people murdered on orders of Joseph Stalin might not find "evil" too strong a word, the room took on a collective bemused smile of the sort you might expect if someone had casually mentioned taking up child molestation for sport.

My progressive companions had a point. It was rude to bring a word like "gulag" to the dinner table.

What a great line.

How surprised are conservative leaning people that Reagan is partly responsible for reaching the heart of the ideologically pure liberal?

Since 1980, the Left has continued on its decline away from anything moral or intellectually honest.

I look back on that experience as the beginning of my departure from a left already well on its way to losing its bearings. Two decades later, I watched with astonishment as leading left intellectuals launched a telethon-like body count of civilian deaths caused by American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Their premise was straightforward, almost giddily so: When the number of civilian
Afghani deaths surpassed the carnage of September 11, the war would be unjust, irrespective of other considerations. Stated simply: The force wielded by democracies in self-defense was declared morally equivalent to the nihilistic aggression perpetuated by Muslim fanatics.

Susan Sontag cleared her throat for the "courage" of the Al Qaeda pilots. Norman Mailer pronounced the dead of September 11 comparable to "automobile statistics." The events of that day were likely premeditated by the White House, Gore Vidal insinuated. Noam Chomsky insisted that Al Qaeda at its most atrocious generated no terror greater than American foreign policy on a mediocre day. All of this came back to me as I watched the left's anemic, smirking response to Iraq's election on January.

Didn't many of these same people stand up in the sixties for self-rule for oppressed people and against fascism in any guise? Yes, and to their lasting credit.

The primary problem with the Left is that it has allowed its mighty goals to morph into a bastardized version of its former self. The stated goals of Martin Luther King, Jr. are now accepted by most of society. But those on the Left have moved the bar.

No longer is self sufficiency and being judged by the content of one's character the goal. In fact, people who propose those ideals, which the Left fought for and won, are now the enemy. Why? Who knows. Probably because a professional soldier requires a battle. Thompson is less charitable.

But many had since made clear that they had also changed their minds about the virtues of Dr. King's call for equal of opportunity. These days the postmodern left demands that government and private institutions guarantee equality of outcomes. Any racial or gender "disparities" are to be considered evidence of culpable bias, regardless of factors such as personal motivation, training, and skill.

This goal is neither liberal nor progressive; but it is what the left has chosen. In a very real sense it may be the last card held by a movement increasingly ensnared in resentful questing for group-specific rights and the subordination of citizenship to group identity. There's a word for this: pathetic.

So Thompson wishes to stay true to his ideals, and he has moved away from today's cultural left. I do not know anything about Thompson, and I have not read his other work, though I will over the next few weeks. But he argues convincingly that "liberalism" in its recent historic sense has parted ways with today's "liberals," or to keep terms that have meaning, today's Left. Thompson continues by attacking the substance of today's modern Leftist leaders:

I smile when friends tell me I've "moved right." I laugh out loud at what now passes for progressive on the main lines of the cultural left. In the name of "diversity," the University of Arizona has forbidden discrimination based on "individual style."
The University of Connecticut has banned "inappropriately directed laughter." Brown University, sensing unacceptable gray areas, warns that harassment "may be intentional or unintentional and still constitute harassment." (Yes, we're talking "subconscious harassment" here. We're watching your thoughts.)

Wait, it gets better. When actor Bill Cosby called on black parents to explain to their kids why they are not likely to get into medical school speaking English like "Why you ain't" and "Where you is," Jesse Jackson countered that the time was not yet right to "level the playing field." Why not? Because "drunk people can't do that "illiterate people can't do that."

When self-styled pragmatic feminist Camille Paglia mocked young coeds who believe "I should be able to get drunk at a fraternity party and go upstairs to a guy's
room without anything happening," Susan Estrich spoke up for gender-focused feminists who "would argue that so long as women are powerless relative to men, viewing 'yes' as a sign of true consent is misguided."

And so people move. When people move left, the press calls it progress. When people move to the right, as Zell Miller "appeared" to do when he was appointed to the Senate, he is called a senile old man. But sometimes moving really means just standing still while everyone else moves around you.

I'll admit my politics have shifted in recent years, as have America's political landscape and cultural horizon. Who would have guessed that the U.S. senator with today's best voting record on human rights would be not Ted Kennedy or Barbara Boxer but Kansas Republican Sam Brownback? He is also by most measures one of the most conservative senators. Brownback speaks openly about how his horror at the genocide in the Sudan is shaped by his Christian faith, as Dr. King did when he insisted on justice for "all of God's children."

My larger point is rather simple. Just as a body needs different medicines at different times for different reasons, this also holds for the body politic. In the sixties, America correctly focused on bringing down walls that prevented equal access and due process. It was time to walk the Founders "talk" and we did. With barriers to opportunity no longer written into law, today the body politic is crying for different remedies.

America must now focus on creating healthy, self-actualizing individuals committed to taking responsibility for their lives, developing their talents, honing their skills and intellects, fostering emotional and moral intelligence, all in all contributing to the advancement of the human condition.

But, as I noted above, self-actualizing and responsibility are crazy, knuckle dragging Bible thumping talk. How can a liberal fall for this?

At the heart of authentic liberalism lies the recognition, in the words of John Gardner, "that the ever renewing society will be a free society [whose] capacity for renewal depends on the individuals who make it up." A continuously renewing society, Gardner believed, is one that seeks to "foster innovative, versatile, and self-renewing men and women and give them room to breathe."

One aspect of my politics hasn't changed a bit. I became a liberal in the first place to break from the repressive group orthodoxies of my reactionary hometown. This past January, my liberalism was in full throttle when I bid the cultural left goodbye to escape a new version of that oppressiveness.

I departed with new clarity about the brilliance of liberal democracy and the value system it entails; the quest for freedom as an intrinsically human affair; and the dangers of demands for conformity and adherence to any point of view through silence, fear, or coercion.

True, it took a while to see what was right before my eyes. A certain misplaced loyalty kept me from grasping that a view of individuals as morally capable of and responsible for making the principle decisions that shape their lives is decisively at odds with the contemporary left's entrance-level view of people as passive and helpless victims of powerful external forces, hence political wards who require the continuous shepherding of caretaker elites.

Leftists who no longer speak of the duties of citizens, but only of the rights of clients, cannot be expected to grasp the importance (not least to our survival) of fostering in the Middle East the crucial developmental advances that gave rise to our own capacity for pluralism, self-reflection, and equality.

A left averse to making common cause with competent, self-determining individuals - people who guide their lives on the basis of received values, everyday moral understandings, traditional wisdom, and plain common sense - is a faction that deserves the marginalization it has pursued with such tenacity for so many years.

I think all individuals "evolve" over time, even if we stay true to our core belief system. If for no other reason, our community evolves around us. If it improves and we do not, we reflect that. But if the community regresses and we do not, we need to see that as well and move on.
All of which is why I have come to believe, and gladly join with others who have discovered for themselves, that the single most important thing a genuinely liberal person can do now is walk away from the house the left has built. The renewal of any tradition that deserves the name "progressive" becomes more likely with each step in a better direction.
I enjoyed reading about Mr. Thompson's journey. I share many of his core ideals. I hope we can get the mainstream Left, and even a few on the Right, to share in the core principles.

Sponsored by PETA* and Mao's Little Red Book

This edition of Tuesday's Feelings, brought to you by PETA* and Mao's Little Red Book. Remember, it is not the facts that matter. What matters is how you feel about them.

Disney Serves Fins To Asians

At Disney Hong Kong, Disney refused to stop serving Shark Fin.

Disney officials have rejected appeals from environmentalists who urged Hong Kong Disneyland not to serve shark fin soup when the park opens in September.

Greenpeace and the Worldwide Fund for Nature asked Hong Kong Disneyland to take shark fin soup off the menu after the theme park announced last week the delicacy would be served at wedding banquets and other special events. Environmentalists say millions of sharks are killed each year for their fins, driving many species close to extinction. The fins are hacked off and the fish are dumped back into the sea to die.

But Disney says that while it takes the environment very seriously, the company is equally sensitive to local cultures and the dish is a key part of Chinese banquets. One Hong Kong environmentalist calls Disney's position "mind-boggling."
"Equally sensitive to local cultures." Disney also said it would continue to serve first born daughter stew to families that really wanted their only child to be a male.

Where Did You Dig Up This Recipe?

In another part of China, a man is sentenced to two and half years for digging up a freshly buried female corpse and eating parts of the body. He didn't get away with an insanity plea either.

When asked what crime the man committed, the Chinese official explained: "It isn't illegal to eat dead people. But this is communist country. He should have brought enough for everyone."

Sir, I Need to Swab Your Dog's Ass

In Austria, where the government has been taken over by your local condominium association, murder is not longer the crime of concern. No, the DNA labs will no longer sit around waiting for a rape kit to arrive. Instead, they will test dog poop DNA to catch the owners that don't clean up.

A council member in Vienna proposes a DNA registry for dogs, so their droppings can be tested. People who fail to clean up their dogs' droppings would be fined and charged for the DNA analysis.

Vienna's sidewalks are littered with dog droppings and campaigns to get dog owners to clean up have made little headway. Dog owners already can be fined if they don't pick up after their dogs, but tickets are rarely issued because the pet has to be caught in the act.

It is believed that Ashcroft is 'behind' this.

CSI agents prepare to swab the suspect.


I reported a few weeks ago that Elephants on a rampage stormed Seoul, South Korea, including invading a restaurant. Well, that restaurant re-opened.
SEOUL (Reuters) - A Seoul eatery that was trampled by elephants is back in business with a new name and a new menu that aims to capitalize on its bout with pachyderm pandemonium.

The restaurant that serves barbecue and other traditional Korean foods was closed for a month for repairs after three elephants rampaged through its plate-glass front. It has just reopened with a new name: "Restaurant Where Elephants Have Been".
Names rejected by the owner included "Eat Here And Be Trampled To Death," "Tusks," and "Good Enough For Abused, Starved Pachyderms, Good Enough For You."

So, how does all this make you feel?

*People Eating Tasty Animals.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Mondays Suck

Someone recommended that a blogger post every day. Well, I don't have time for that. So here is my contribution to the world today.

Mondays Suck.

In related news, Brittany Spears threw up. She claims it was because of a medical condition called pregnancy. Whatever.

In serious news, Newsweek, the magazine of "did you hear, someone may have disrespected a mass produced book of false scripture," showed on its Japanese cover a U. S. flag in the trashcan. A blogger with the site called Riding Sun (a N. Y. born motorcycle enthusiast living in Tokyo - kind of a specialized market I guess) covers this story nicely. To sum up:

It's one thing for Newsweek to actively promote the notion that America is a "dead", "rotting" country overseas. But it's quite another thing indeed to hide those efforts from its American readers. If Newsweek really thinks America is dead, and our flag belongs in the trash, why won't it tell us?

If I were to offer Newsweek a suggestion, it would be this: Any story or cover you're ashamed to un in America probably shouldn't be used in other countries, either.

As they say, read it all, with a discussion of the fact that neither the story nor the photo was played the same way in the U.S. edition.

Howard Dean looked bad on Meet the Press Sunday. Here is a transcript.

Who likes Mondays? I don't know. Preachers I guess.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Yesterday's AJC

In yesterday's AJC (a paper product sold as news in Atlanta), Richard Cohen (syndicated from the Washington Post) opined that the Newsweek scandal was not the result of bias.

By Tuesday, the critical blogs had been joined by The Wall Street Journal. It opined that the error stemmed from the press' --- and Newsweek's --- basic "mistrust of the military that goes back to Vietnam." Here the Journal has a point, but it makes it sound as if that mistrust is unearned.

Yet the lies of Vietnam, beginning with the murky cause for the war, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, were legion and well-documented. Had reporters not taken a lesson from all this --- had we not learned something from the revelations of the Pentagon Papers and the later confessions of Robert McNamara --- then we would truly be unqualified to practice our profession. Skepticism is to journalists what faith is to the clergy.

The emphasized last sentence is of course Cohen's theorem. It is utterly, blatantly, a lie. Cohen continues his article by trying to point out an occasional inconsistency in right wing blogs demand for accountability and perfection from Republican leaders and columnists (even going so far as to take a tongue in cheek comment from Ann Coulter and present it as "serious"). Of course, he commits the same sin, and pots and kettles clanged together into the night.

Newsweek, and the majority of the lamestream media, are only skeptical when the facts do not support their agenda - make the war look lost and the Republikkkan President look bad. Might the military or a Presidential administration lie? Of course. Might those with adgenda's opposed to the military or a President lie as well? Of course. But accepting their stories is apparently what it means to be a skeptic. Skepticism only flows in one direction?

Where was this skepticism in the Memogate stories? Where was this skepticism in Newsweek's story? Is an anonymous, second hand source solid news only when it makes the U.S. government and military look bad? Of course, damnit! That is exactly when Newsweek has no need for skepticism. Get the story out and worry about skepticism on the corrections page next week.

In a related story, the AJC headline reads: LB Johnson kicked off team, will transfer. Did he become a Republican?

On This Day ...

On this day in 1806, dead political philosopher John Stuart Mill was born. His insight into various political, philisophical and economic issues has influenced many, and his work has stood the test of time. I identify with a significant amount of utilitarian thought (with emphasis on rule utilitarianism) to my views of policy. A few of his relevant quotes today:

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.

The most cogent reason for restricting the interference of government is the great evil of adding unnecessarily to its power.

The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.

The disease which inflicts bureaucracy and what they usually die from is routine.

The worth of the state, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it.

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.
His most famous works include On Liberty, A System of Logic, Principles of Political Economy, Utilitarianism, The Subjection of Women and Autobigraphy. He got some things wrong along the way. He also got many things right, including the above.

Props to Woman Riding Four Wheeler, Fully Clothed, if that is her real name.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Who Gets Your Vote?

I have heard it said that is not much difference between Republicans and Democrats. Who? Well, I have said it. On issues like spending, there really isn't anymore. The Republicans in Congress and spending like drunken college students with Mommy's credit card. Don't get me wrong -- the Democrats would be worse, and they would tax me for it. It is disappointing nonetheless. But, there is a difference between the parties. I have looked into it. Based on voting trend surveys I have read and the issues supported by the predominate or loudest voices of each party, I wish to identity the difference once and for all. At least for now.

The Democratic Party is the party of ...

Career Welfare Recipients
The Trust Fund Wealthy
High school drop outs and Ph. D.'s in English, Theater and other high paying subjects
Atheists and haters of the religious
Non-religious Jews
Islamic Fundamentalists
Race Warlords
Convicted Felons
The Homeless (people who won't take care of themselves)
Mob run union goons
People who profit from the killing of unborn babies
Rock musicians
Druggies (see, Rock musicians)
The emotional and idealism driven
People who organize protests with stupid slogans
Commies and socialists

The Republican Party is the party of ...

Christian and Jewish fundamentalists
Large corporate executives who make millions but employ many thousands
Wealthy who got there working
Unapologetic SUV drivers
"If you don't like American, then go to Russia dernit!" people
If your face abortion foes
Cold hearted bastards who don't realize what their best interests are
Knuckle dragging neanderthals who want TV to be family friendly
Nanny like do gooders who want to stop drug use
Science and technology phobes
Some college and college graduates, and grad students in accounting and economic fields
Cuban hispanics and other Castro haters
Chicken hawks
Military brass and other war time oppressors
People who think you should prove your identity to vote (all about oppression)

So, ask yourself something. Which labels are more accurate? I think the Democratic labels are more accurate. Finally, who would you rather watch your back?

Aside: If only the Libertarian Party was on the right side of the War on Terror.

Self Esteem? I Don't Think So.

A little league pitcher in New York threw a perfect game. For you non-baseball people, that means that no batter reached first base safely. More than that, the pitcher struck out all 18 batters faced in the six inning game.

In little league, this does happen from time to time. Why is this news, KJ, you ask? And what is up with the headline?

The pitcher was an 11 year old GIRL!

If your son was on the other team, do you let him wear pants to school tomorrow?

Gay Thursday - 5/19


This week on Gay Thursday, a notable collection of transgendered and similarly identity challenged people showed up near movie theaters in their most outrageous Pride Parade costumes.

Fights between people with brightly colored swords happened often, though police largely ignored these gay duels. The street parties lasted well into the night, then at midnight the streets slowly began to clear.

For more Thursday Gaiety, please visit A Guide to Midwestern Culture.

* Gay: 1 a : happily excited : MERRY b : keenly alive and exuberant : having or inducing high spirits 2 a : BRIGHT, LIVELY b : brilliant in color

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Paradigm Post -- What Is Not Debatable

I am trying to work up some paradigm issues. One is I would like to define what is, and what is not, debatable. We are told constantly by the left that the problem with most conservative types, which I would roughly be, is they look at the world in black and white when in fact everything is shades of gray. This statement is utter hooey.

Moreover, the statement ignores the fact that we could distinguish the shades. I am reminded of an old bigoted joke I heard growing up from older members of my family. The white and black bus patrons were arguing about where they should, and should not, be allowed to sit on the bus. Finally, the bus driver got fed up, stood up and said, "Everybody shut up! From now on, there are no more black and white people on my bus! From now on, everybody is green! ... OK?! Good. Now, light green up front, dark green in the back!"

The politically incorrectness of the joke aside, the point is that if the bus driver can distinguish shades of green, we can distinguish shades of gray in political discourse.

That said, I firmly believe that most things are black and white -- right and wrong. The politics of what to do about them may be debatable at times -- there are lots of public policy issues about how to achieve something. What should not be debated most often is what we are trying to achieve.

I want to start a list of those things that are not debatable-- that are black and white and no further discussion is really needed. I welcome (actually, I want and beg for) your input. I have no real idea where this is going to go, but I will try to get us started and add as I think of stuff.

1. NAMBLA and its members do not have a right to exist or be recognized as a legitimate organization.
2. The attacks of 9/11 were acts of war.
3. The war in Afghanistan as a response to 9/11 was justified and just.
4. O.J. is guilty of double murder.
5. The U.S. Constitution does not have anything to say about the concept of recognizing "gay marriage."
6. There is no constitutional right or public policy reason to allow the Intact Dilation and Extraction (D&X) abortion procedure, commonly known as "partial birth abortion," or an abortion of a clearly viable fetus, absent a threat to the life of the mother. [I leave all other abortion issues open for debate.]
7. Jesus Christ was an historical figure.
8. The holocaust happened.
9. If you are in this country illegally under Federal law, you should not be allowed by any sub-government of the United States to (a) acquire a drivers license, or any other govt. issued license, (b) acquire a state subsidy for college education, and (c) be released by a police agency without first being reported to INS.
10. Barry Bonds is a jerk.


11. Evil exists in the world. The only way to defeat it is to confront it.
12. Centralized, controlled economies are neither free nor equitable.
13. No tax is ever temporary.
14. Phrance, Iran, and North Korea suk.
15. People are inherently self interested, which results in them seeking either money, power or prestige.
16. Discrimination on the basis of race, in all things, is wrong. [No other category should be included in this absolutism, though I welcome any efforts to explain why this statement may have exceptions.]
17. Envy does not justify political action.
18. Unequal results should result in unequal rewards.

Keep them coming.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Where Is Isikoff

Micheal Isikoff lied, at least 17 people have died. He has been nowhere to be seen. He apparently "offered his resignation" over the weekend. It was declined. Newsweek's President spent the morning touring the talking head shows. Isikoff was no where to be seen. He can grovel to his boss, but he cannot face the American people, whose important war on terror he has helped undermind?


Can you find Isikoff here? Who knows. For some reason he is hiding behind his editors.

Newsweek says that it had no lapse in journalistic standards.


Neal Boortz offers this deconstruction as Newsweek's possible journalistic standards:

Might I submit to you that the Newsweek journalistic "standards" bear close resemblance to the following:

1. The Bush Administration didn't rely on faulty intelligence in its move to depose Saddam Hussein; instead, Bush "lied."
2. Any story from an anonymous source critical of a Republican president, no
matter how thinly based or weakly corroborated, must be initially believed as
true and may be reported as such if deadlines are close.

3. Any story from an anonymous source critical of a Democratic president must be initially believed as untrue and should only be published out of a fear that some other news organization is going to publish it before you do.

4. Torture of Muslims is a widespread and accepted part of the U.S. military culture.

5. Virtually all of the detainees being held in Guantanamo are innocent and should be immediately released, perhaps with reparations payments for their incarceration.

6. Every action involving the U.S. military under other than a Democratic commander in chief will, within no less than 21 days, become a "quagmire."

7. There is no legitimate reason for the application of U.S. military force overseas under a Republican president until after the nuclear tipped missiles are actually launched.

8. There is no reason not to apply U.S. military force overseas under a Democratic president.

9. Anti-war activists are prone to tell the truth. Military officials are prone to lie.

10. Reporters never lie, unless they work for The Washington Times or the
Fox News Channel.

11. America is great because of its government, so long as that government is controlled by Democrats.

12. If the United States government is controlled by Republicans, America is not great.

13. Freedom has nothing to do with America's greatness, no matter who is in control of our government.

Yeah. I could go on with the list, but you get the idea. Newsweek had a story that could embarrass the Bush Administration and denigrate our military. Under Newsweek's loose standards the story ran. It fit the template ... that template being that any story critical of the Bush administration, our war effort in Afghanistan or Iraq, or our military must be given every benefit of the doubt.

This story is also well covered by spd rdr at Heigh-Ho and Cassandra (who had a birthday recently - Happy Birthday!) at Villinous Company.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Why Privatize? Who Do You Trust? - Updated

Social Security privatization proponents should have observed a nice weapon in this legislative battle this week, but they probably did not. United Airlines obtained a bankruptcy judge's approval to default on its four large pension plans which created the largest pension default in U. S. history.

Of course, you and I will pay. The Federal government has a pension insurance program, also running at a deficit ($23.3 billion). The Feds will pick up the tab.

What should not be overlooked here, however, is the clear question that should be asked in the Social Security debate. That is, what is the best way to protect an investment for retirement? There are three primary retirement plans.

1. The pension system. Under this system, a third party, presumably the employer, sets up their own contribution plan into a system that will provide benefits at retirement age for eligible employees. If the company uses the money improperly, or invests unwisely, if at all, or if the company goes broke, the employee gets nothing unless the government steps in to support the benefits. There is no guarantee that the company will honor the investment, nor that the government will fund the pension if the company defaults.

2. There is Social Security. This is just like the pension, except that the government does not even pretend to invest in the system, payouts are even more discretionary and no significant benefits flow to your heirs. At least with a pension, if the company is solvent, there is a contractual expectancy. Under Social Security, the government may, at its discretion, raise your eligibility age; cut your benefits; raise taxes on your benefits; or cancel the program altogether. There is hardly anything to your heirs if you die. Under the law, you have no right to expect any benefits - there is no obligation on the govenment to fulfill its "promise." The system is not properly funded or invested, so the future politician, facing an aging population and ever expanding government, will face political pressure to cut benefits in the future.

3. Finally, there is private investment. Most companies have abandoned pensions for defined contribution plans. The investment decisions are left to the employees. The left would have you believe that this is good for companies to offer, but dangerous for Social Security. The left also likes to treat the common person as an idiot, unable to care for him or herself.

The leftist politicians, however, opt out of Social security whenever possible and invest in private 401K or similar programs. Congress doesn't rely on Social Secuirty. Plus, the only plan on the table, sadly, only allows a small portion of your Social Secuirty taxes to be invested into a private account. The account is optional, so stupid or lazy people will not have to contribute to private accounts and face the boogy man of market risk. Moreover, one would only get to choose from regulated, limited and diversified investments.
[A]nd finally, beginning in 1949, twelve years from now, you and your employer will each pay 3 cents on each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year. That is the most you will ever pay.
--The 1936 Pamphlet on Social Security
One could diversify with mutual funds. One could diversify among mutual funds. One could invest in T-bills, or put the money in a bank account, or other so called low risk investments. You could control part of your money that would be there if you retire, or die. Or, you could choose to stick with the 1% rate of return of Social Security, showing just how economically and mathematically uneducated you are. You can thank your government school for that education later.

While some facts on this issue are debatable, most really are not. Social Secuirty is no better than United's pension fund. The best, safest, most secure way to control your retirement is to put as much of it in the private, diversified investments of your choice that you own. The leftist politicians will not admit that, though that is what they do privately. Plus, privatized plans have done very well when tried in place of Social Secuity or similar programs. See here and here.

Most importantly, it does not really matter if Social Security is in crisis, or when it will be in crisis. Ownership of one's own retirement, and trusting the people of this supposedly free country to look after themselves, is just the right thing to do.

This whole Social Security privatization debate is a fraud.

But hey, what do these people know?


Don Surber, writing for the Charleston Daily Mail, make a cogent argument and brings to light the Federal pensions and the new West Virginia decision to go market in their retirement accounts. He also calls on President Bush to come to West Virginia and dare West Virginia Senators KKK-Byrd and Rocky to call the Democratic state government reckless for its plan.

Which brings me to Democrats' phony opposition to the president's Social Security reforms. Democrats know better. The five richest senators are John Kerry, Herb Kohl, Jay Rockefeller, Jon Corzine and Dianne Feinstein. Democrats all. They have trust funds, not lockboxes.

Another Democratic senator, Barbara Boxer, is a former stockbroker. I am tired of the do-as-we-deem, not-as-we-indulge attitude of limousine liberals. But it is not just their personal accounts that they refuse to put in lockboxes. Federal employees already have the very choices President Bush wants to give all American workers.

The federal thrift plan boasts of returns that average 10 percent a year. By the end of 2003, the plan had $128 billion invested by 3.2 million people. State pension plans across the nation invest in Wall Street. With their $5.5 billion pension bond proposal, Democrats in West Virginia are promising voters that Wall Street will average better than 7.5 percent returns annually for the next 30 years. Most of that money will be used to shore up the teacher pension plan.

If Wall Street is good enough for their teachers, then it should be good enough for my kids, who will face 30 percent cuts in their Social Security when they retire. President Bush ought to visit West Virginia and endorse this pension bond plan -- and double-dog-dare Sens. Bob Byrd and Rockefeller to denounce the $5.5 billion pension bond as a "risky scheme."

Let John Kerry propose liquidating the federal thrift plan to protect federal workers from the next bear market. Let Sens. Boxer and Feinstein go home to California and demand that Calpers, the nation's largest public employee pension plan, sell off all
its stocks and bonds and put its $172 billion in a lockbox.

Otherwise, let my childrent get the same break [I did].

Gay Thursday

A new feature here at No Government Cheese is Gay* Thursday.

Why gay? Because I wish to promote happiness.

Why Thursday? I don't know. It just seems like a queer, happy kind of day. Mondays suck. Wednesday belongs to white trash. Friday belongs to vespers. Nobody blogs on the weekends. That leaves Tuesday, which as everyone who has ever listened to any radio station knows, Tuesday is Twofer Tuesday, meaning that two songs from the same crappy, overplayed artist are played back to back all day. So that leaves Thursday to be merry and gay.

This inaugural Gay Thursday takes us to a happier time, when cats were Gods, as were lots of other things. A boy named Tut was king.

Thanks to neato technology, archaeologists have recreated King Tut's facial features.

Hawass's CT scan gathered 1,700 images, from which three-dimensional plastic models of the skull were created. These were used by the three teams [Egyptian, French and American] to reconstruct Tut's face and head.


It turns out that King Tut was a cross dressing, Las Vegas show girl. The CSI team is investigating his death.

* Gay: 1 a : happily excited : MERRY b : keenly alive and exuberant : having or inducing high spirits 2 a : BRIGHT, LIVELY b : brilliant in color