Saturday, November 30, 2002

Oh Damn, the Economy's Recovering After All

Al Gore and Tom Daschle have been doing their very best to convince Americans that the economy is tanking. Al Gore described Bush's economic policies as "catastrophic." Then, we find out that the economy grew at a much greater than expected rate last quarter and now, Wal Mart sets a one day record for sales.
Not too bad.

Bush Had The UN's Number All Along

Gee, what a surprise. The United Nations' surprise weapons inspections are not surprises after all. And, the informers to Saddam Hussein's government are the United Nations inspectors themselves. After first insisting that the UN was conducting "surprise" inspections, UN spokesman Hiro Ueki admitted that Iraqis were indeed being given advance notice of these surprise inspections from the United Nations itself. Obviously, the United Nations has no intention of catching Saddam red handed.
Why waste time? Let's take him out now.

Friday, November 29, 2002

The Relgion of Peace Strikes Again

People standing in line at a polling booth were the victims this time.

Using our Humanity as a Weapon Against Us

This have a familiar ring. In Japan, back in World War II, after a civilian area was firebombed, the only things left standing were machine tools that had been dispersed to people's homes. These machine tools manufactured munitions and weapons for Imperial Japan's war machine. The Japanese assumed that dispersing them to civilian homes, and therefore using their citizenry as human shields would protect their weapon manufacturing capacity for Allied destruction.
Saddam Hussein does just the same thing by placing anti-aircraft batteries on apartment roofs and parking tanks in civilian neighborhoods.
Now we learn that Saddam has disprersed and hidden his weapons of mass murder in civilian homes to keep UN weapons inspectors from finding them, and presumably to protect them from Allied bombs.

Nutritional Intolerance

Intolerance is not solely the province of Islam. We have plenty of intolerance in the west that has nothing to do with an identifiable religion. One if the greatest practitioners of this intolerance is ironically misnamed Center for Science in the Public Interest. These people make it their business to control what you eat. They have successfully driven many perfectly safe, wholesome foods off the market because they do not approve. Their newest target is a vegetarian concoction called "Quorn."
Quorn is some sort of mushroom preparation that has been popular in Europe for a long time. Billions of portions have been consumed without any real complaint.
But now, The CSPI is trying to prevent Quorn from being sold in the United States. Out of those billions of meals, they've found a few anonymous people who have complained of hangovers, sweats, and smelly stools after eating Quorn. The problem with this, and all so-called science that comes from CSPI is that these symptoms happen to everyone, whether they have eaten Quorn or not. I know I have. Anyway, read Michael Fumento's excellent column on the issue.

Andrew Sullivan nails it on Muslims vs. the Miss World Beauty Pagent

Okay, I find the Miss World pagent offensive too. There is no chance that I would ever see any of the women whom I find beautiful in such a pagent. First of all, they have too much dignity to parade in front of judges in swim suits. For that matter, they have too much dignity to subject their artistic talents or their intelligence to judgement.
But, I've become a big fan of this year's Miss World pagent. It was scheduled to be held in Nigeria. Nigeria has large populations of both Christians and Muslims. Nigerian Christians call Islam, "the hard religion" for it intolerance. And lately, Muslims have been rampaging through Nigerian slaughtering Christians.
Much of his has gone unnoticed by the world. Nigeria doesn't hold the western world's interest as Israel does. But lately, the world has been forced to look at Nigeria because the Miss World beauty pagent was to be held there until Muslims went on another orgy of slaughter.
Supposedly, the latest Chrystalnacht was provoked by a column in a newspaper. Muslims had been complaining about the pagent as offensive to Islam. A newspaper columnist suggested that the prophet Mohammed not only would have approved of the pagent, but would have chosen one of the contestants for his harem.
This infuriated Muslims who destroyed the newspaper's building. Their bloodlust unsatisfied, they attacked people who were standing outside the hall where the pagent was to be held. The predictable carnage quickly passed 100 with many of the victims being "necklaced." To be necklaced is to have an automobile tire placed around one's neck. The tire is filled with gasoline and set afire. The victim has his head roasted.
Anyway, enough from me. Read Andrew Sullivan's unsurpassable prose on the events.

Bin Laden Really is Dead

For months now, I have believed that Bin Laden was vaporized in Tora Bora. And, I believed that the Bin Laden tape was a fake. Swiss scientists agree with me.

Peggy Noonan tells Daschle to Grow Up

Peggy Noonan agrees that Daschle needs to learn how to take criticism like a grown up.

Gore and Daschle's Black Helicopters

Add the First Amendment to the list of constitutional rights that the Democratic Party no longer supports. The two heaviest of heavyweights for the political left have recently come out full force against those who dare to dissent from their worldview.
Most recently, it was the bloated loser from the 2000 presidential race who bristled under criticism.
"The media is kind of weird these days on politics,” spoke the swollen one, “and there are some major institutional voices that are, truthfully speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party.”
My goodness, Al, and just which party is it that the New York Times, The Washington Post, the three major broadcast networks, and this newspaper belong to, part and parcel?
Soon-to-be former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle also has problems with dissent. The man who helped engineer his party’s disaster at the polls whines that the "very shrill edge" that criticism aimed at him represents an actual threat to his life.
"What happens when Rush Limbaugh attacks those of us in public life is that people aren't satisfied just to listen," he theorized. "They want to act because they get emotionally invested. And so, you know, the threats to those of us in public life go up dramatically, on our families and on us, in a way that's very disconcerting."
And, just what sort of edge did Democratic Party rhetoric have when Al Gore claimed that Republican environmental policies would kill more Americans? And how sharp was the edge when ex-president Clinton’s press secretary declared that, as a matter of public policy, Republicans wanted the elderly to sicken and die in the gutter? Was it responsible for the former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt to go on the Sunday morning television talk shows and claim that Newt Gingrich and the rest of Republican Congressional leadership huddled behind closed doors with the CEO’s of industrial giants and plotted new ways to pollute the air and water?
All of these things were said and are easily verified. Were these statements meant to elevate and dignify the debate? Or, were they intended to provoke and incite?
Al Gore also points his barbs at Rush Limbaugh, claiming that he is part of a cabal financed by the evil super-rich. "Fox News Network, The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh-there's a bunch of them, and some of them are financed by wealthy ultra-conservative billionaires who make political deals with Republican administrations and the rest of the media .... Most of the media [has] been slow to recognize the pervasive impact of this fifth column in their ranks-that is, day after day, injecting the daily Republican talking points into the definition of what's objective as stated by the news media as a whole."
Al has the whole plot all figured out. "Something will start at the Republican National Committee, inside the building, and it will explode the next day on the right-wing talk-show network and on Fox News and in the newspapers that play this game, The Washington Times and the others. And then they'll create a little echo chamber, and pretty soon they'll start baiting the mainstream media for allegedly ignoring the story they've pushed into the zeitgeist. And then pretty soon the mainstream media goes out and disingenuously takes a so-called objective sampling, and lo and behold, these R.N.C. talking points are woven into the fabric of the zeitgeist."
About the only thing that distinguishes Al Gore’s rant from those once heard from the skinheads who formerly haunted Richard Butler’s Aryan Nations compound is that he did not claim that the conspirators were Jews. Does Al believe that the marching orders that this new right wing media follow arrive on black helicopters?
Al Gore’s interview was printed by the New York Observer, one of the most reliable organs of the ideological Left. As much as they might have wished to, they could not make Al Gore sound like anything but a raving, paranoid lunatic. The Observer must have joined the vast right wing conspiracy too.
The Democratic Party’s conflict with a free press is not recent. About 10 years ago, former Speaker of the House Tom Foley tried to impose federal controls on talk radio for conveying the wrong message.
If Al Gore and Tom Daschle’s tirades mean anything, it’s that stifling criticism remains on the Democratic Party’s wish list.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Washington Teachers' Day of Inaction

If the Washington state legislature handles this properly, then the Washington teachers’ union will, for a change, have done the taxpayers a big favor. In what is ironically misnamed a “day of action,” the equally ironically misnamed Washington Education Association is calling for a one day strike on January 14, 2003 to protest looming budget cuts to school programs. Only George Orwell and a teachers’ union would dare describe taking the day off from work as “a day of action.”
What should be done in reaction is that the legislature should cut school budgets by the half percent or so that this one-day of closed schools would have cost the taxpayers, had the schools remained in session. That would not entirely close the $2 billion dollar budget shortfall that looms over the Washington State government. But every little bit should help.
And what little education that the pupils will miss during this one day of action could easily be made up by canceling a couple of pep rallies and sensitivity or consciousness-raising assemblies. Schools manage to squander an awful lot of time that could be better spent focusing on reading, writing and arithmetic. That too little time is spent on these mundane disciplines is clearly revealed from the astronomically high rate of unsatisfactory Washington Assessment of Student Learning scores that Washington’s pupils post each year.
Teachers, naturally, say that they only have the best interests of their pupils at heart and their day of action is meant to protect their education. It sounds better than saying, “I demamd more money.” The union asks that local school administrators cancel school that day, even though doing so would violate laws in some cases and contractual obligations in others. But who cares? These are teachers! And the teachers’ union has a proud history of flouting the law.
If teachers really wanted to prove their sincere commitment to their pupils, they would sacrifice one of their holidays or their so-called in service days and use that for their day of action. It’s instructive that they wish to have their pupils and their parents absorb the sacrifice for an additional day, off so that teachers can engage in what might be more properly called “a day of inaction.” In just 6 more days teachers already get the day off for Martin Luther King Day. The Washington State School Directors Association suggested that teachers use that day to raise hell and demand more money. But, remarkable in a remarkable exhibition of chutzpah, the union declared that it would not use that day because it would be disrespectful to the memory of Dr. King. If only the teachers’ union were as respectful of the people who pay their salaries.
Most galling is the transfer of blame that this day of inaction implies. The day of inaction suggests that the responsibility for the state’s budget crisis is somebody’s fault. And probably it is the fault of a lot of people, including the taxpayers who consider themselves overtaxed. But, if the teachers want a full accounting of who is really to blame for the state being in such a budgetary mess, they should begin by taking a good, long look at themselves.
The teachers and their union will never admit it, but a significant contributor to the state’s funding difficulties originates from their own greed and laziness. Two years ago, the teachers’ union pushed through initiatives 728 and 732. These initiatives simultaneously raised teachers’ pay, guaranteed them future pay raises, and reduced their workload. Wouldn’t you like to get a deal like that? From a budget writer’s perspective, these initiatives ensured that, each budget cycle, teachers would be served an ever larger portion of the pie, and that everyone else would receive an ever smaller slice.
The Legislature cannot be blamed if they try to find some money in school budgets to keep other state programs afloat. And the teachers are supremely arrogant if they think that their exalted stature should confer special exemptions from the budget knife.
Teachers are among those in our society who are treated with such solicitude that they believe themselves exempt from conventions that apply to mere mortals. If only they would treat their profession with the respect they demand of us.

Religion of Peace Update

After a newspaper suggested that, not only would the prophet Mohammed approve of the Miss Universe contest, but he would probably choose one of the contestants to add to his harem, muslims destroyed the newspaper's building. Today, they attacked attendees, stabbing onlookers to death and burning them alive.

Friday, November 15, 2002

Those Wacky Northwesterners

The Northwest is a curious place. Both Oregon and Washington are notorious for electing fringe leftists to political office. Senator Patty Murray, Representative Jim McDermott along with former governor Mike Lowry all lean so far toward the left that they might have difficulty being elected from Massachusetts. Yet all managed to prosper in the Evergreen State. As for Baja Washington, outgoing Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber was an admirer of the radical and often violent environmental organization Earth First!
But although Northwesterners elect politicians who promise big-government liberalism, when given a chance to weigh the supposed benefits of liberalism with the costs associated with liberalism, the voters of both states vote big government down.
Once upon a time, a conservative was defined as a liberal who had just been mugged. These days, a conservative might be defined as a liberal in sticker shock.
For big government liberalism to flourish its costs have to be concealed. A few years ago, Washington’s voters repealed a universally hated motor vehicle excise tax. Much of the money raised by this tax was sent back to local governments. When the excise tax was replaced with a flat $30 per year registration fee, local governments were deprived of a revenue stream that floated their treasuries.
Previously, city and county governments were in the comfortable position of spending money that they did not have to bear the heat for collecting. This allowed local governments to cast themselves in a Santa Claus-like light as it permitted them to deliver services without having to directly ask the consumers of those services for the money. But since those state revenues dried up, city councils won’t even consider raising local taxes to make up for the lost income.
In the election just passed, Northwesterners declined several opportunities to inflict big government upon themselves. In Oregon, voters were asked to raise their own taxes to pay for a Hillary Clintonesque universal health care program. Unfortunately for its proponents, the costs were clearly outlined. It would have approximately doubled Oregon’s income tax – already the highest in the nation. Each voter would have had to cough up $5000 in new taxes every year to underwrite the “free” health care.
Oregonians voted it down 79%-21%.
Americans like the idea of “free” health care, until they learn just how much free health care actually costs.
The Earth Liberation Front types also took time out from their firebombing long enough to place one of their favorite causes before the Oregonian electorate. Measure 27 would have required labeling of all genetically modified foods, or GMO’s. This initially had appeal, but ultimately lost 71%-29% when Oregonians learned that labeling would add approximately $550 to each family’s annual grocery bill.
But, like all good liberals, Oregonians were perfectly happy to inflict big government on somebody else. Measure 25 raised the minimum wage won 51%-49%. There is nothing so appealing as forcing others to be generous.
In Washington, big government, in the form of Referendum 51 lost 62%-38%. Referendum 51 would have raised gasoline taxes by 9 cents for the purpose of repairing and upgrading Washington’s highways. This was actually a good idea, but Washingtonians have grown so distrustful of the liberal politicians they elect that they won’t trust them with more money.
What the politicians should have known is that Washingtonians can be easily humbugged. A couple of years ago, voters raised teachers’ pay and mandated a reduction in class size. There was no price tag, so Washingtonians could easily delude themselves into believing that it was free.
It’s too bad that Washington’s governor was in the pocket of the teachers’ union. Governor Jeb Bush in Florida turned the momentum of his own faltering reelection around by asking his opponent Bill McBride how he would pay the 12 billion dollar bill that a similar initiative in Florida would have sent the taxpayers.
Washington continues to elect legislators, governors, and congressmen who promise that government can do everything. But, at the same time, that same populace, by even greater majorities, limits the ability of those politicians to raise the money that would underwrite their schemes.
Such electoral schizophrenia proves that left-leaning voters are mostly interested in being generous with other people’s money, but are somewhat miserly with their own paychecks.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Couldn't they have simply gone to Berkeley?

In order to give soldiers some practice at what they are expected to experience, the Army hired actors to behave as Iraqi civilians are expected to once the war with Iraq starts. Forty actors were hired to either hurl vitriol at the soldiers as they entered a fake Iraqi village. Why bother? Simply trying to set up a recruiting station in the Bay Area would have provoked the same response and nobody would have had to fake anything.

Another Display of Unity in Iraq

Once again, Iraqis have come together in a display of unity seen nowhere else in the modern world. The Iraqi parliament voted unanimously to reject UN demands for new weapons inspections. But, they deferred the final decision to the maximum leader.

Monday, November 11, 2002

Skepticism ends at the Republican Party

It was quite enough when the mainstream media refused to examine Bill Clinton's multitudinous lies (remember the black churches that burned in Arkansas when he was a child, or his childhood friend who sold a gun used in a mass murder?), but the press's reporting on Iraq crosses the line from absurd to - what?
First the press actually reported that more than 11 million Iraqis unanimously voted for Saddam Hussein as a show of defiance against the United States. Now, they are reporting the deliberations of the "Iraqi Parliament."
Does anyone really believe that anyone in this sham parliament will produce anything but a unanimous affirmation of whatever Saddam Hussein wants them to say?
My favorite part of this story is where the parliament pauses after each mention of the dictator's name to applaud. Does anyone in Iraq have dignity?

Begging comes to the internet

The good news is that she didn't squeegee my windows at a stoplight, or step in my path demanding that I buy a "homeless newspaper." No, this woman set up a website specifically to beg for money. And she got it.
And, in all fairness, she didn't hook a web cam in her bathroom and sell subscriptions to pimple faced college freshmen.

Just when you thought it was safe to go to park

How about this? Attack of the killer squirrel!

The Left is not Opposed to Rules, so Long as They Author the Rules

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Does it matter that he’s lived a lie for at least the last five years? Another Eagle Scout has had his name stricken from the ranks for violating Boy Scout standards. And in the process he has become the latest hero of the cultural Left. Nothing seems to pave a quicker path to fame than embarrassing the Boy Scouts.
Nineteen-year old Darrell Lambert has been shown his walking papers by the Chief Seattle Council for proclaiming his atheism. During his term as a Scout, Lambert managed to earn dozens of merit badges, which should secure him a high standing, if earning patches were all that scouting was about. But, scouting is not just about earning merit badges, knowing how to distinguish a square knot from a thief’s know, or reading a topographical map. The Boy Scouts are primarily about building character.
Open the Boy Scout Handbook to page 9 and you will find the code by which all scouts are expected to live. At the top of that page is The Scout Oath or Promise. It reads: “On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.” If everyone were to live by that standard, the world would be a much better place than it is now. But, please note that, before anything else, a scout is expected to profess his faith in and obedience to God.
Combined with the Scout Law and the Scout motto, the oath forms a set of guidelines for living a praiseworthy life. As the great naturalist, Edward O. Wilson challenged: “Let’s see you do better in fifty-four words or less.”
Every Boy Scout recites this oath at least once each week at his scout meeting. If Darrell Lambert mouthed those words without intending to uphold them, then he also violated the Scout Law, which begins with the words: “A scout is trustworthy.” Further, the Scout Law requires scouts to be, “loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.” What fault is to be found in that?
Without a sincere commitment to these principles, merit badges are nothing more than sew-on ornamentation. Mr. Lambert, by choosing to focus upon earning merit badges rather than upholding his oath, cynically treated scouting as nothing more than a resume enhancement. One can learn to cook in the woods and pitch a tent without joining scouts. The promise of Scouting is that all these activities are woven into a system of instruction that yields young men of higher character. Each of the elements of the code form the foundation upon which that character is built.
And so, it is helpful to view the code by which Boy Scouts live, not as a mechanism for exclusion for those who don’t measure up, but as set of goals for boys to strive for. Lambert complains that not all the rules of the scouts are equally applied. For example, he points out that fat kids are not kicked out for failing to keep themselves “physically fit.” But in truth, the rigors of scouting are self-enforcing. Boys either get themselves into shape or they drop out themselves.
The fact is that most of the very same people who now make heroes of atheists and homosexuals, who are excluded from the Boy Scouts, would demand the expulsion of scouts who violated another code that appears on page 9.
These days, Boy Scouts are also required to adhere to the “Outdoor Code.” The Outdoor Code reads: “As an American, I will do my best to: Be clean in my outdoor manners, be careful with fire, be considerate in the outdoors and, be conservation-minded.”
Could anyone doubt that an Eagle Scout who was careless with a campfire, that ultimately burned down a forest, or who failed to conform to the Sierra Club’s conservation standards, would have the Left calling for his head? But, in that case, it would be because he had violated their code and not the one to which he regularly swore an oath.
So, it’s not that the Left doesn’t believe in rules, it’s just that they desire to be the sole author of the rules.