Monday, April 30, 2007

Fire Melts Steel

I guess Rosie was wrong.

An elevated section of highway that carries motorists from the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to a number of freeways was destroyed early Sunday after heat from an overturned gasoline truck caused part of one overpass to crumple onto another.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

On Vacation

I apologize if my non-blogging of late has disappointed anyone. I'm on vacation in Arizona, where I'm competing in a bike race and getting my butt seriously kicked I might add.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Cho Seung Hui and NBC, Cellmates in Hell

I will predict today that some time in the next six months, there will be at
least one more mass murder and the killer will have sent his media guide and
accompanying video to NBC, or other major television news outlet. I also predict
that NBC will not acknowledge that it bears the slightest responsibility when it
happens. Already psychopathic creeps are composing and recording the
“manifestoes” that will guarantee an immortality that they know they could never
gain otherwise. This morning, I set a reminder in my calendar for October 28th,
2007, just so that I remember to check my prediction.
I find it ironic that the same network that paved the way for Don Imus’s exile
by canceling the simulcast of the radio show chose to turn its airwaves over to
a mass murderer. And I cannot believe that the network did not at least consider
the consequences of its decision. Surely during the deliberations, somebody at
NBC considered the likelihood of copycats. After all, NBC Sports knows better
than to turn its cameras on the occasional drunk who runs out onto the field
during the course of a game that it is broadcasting. To do so only encourages
the next idiot to seek his moment in the limelight. If the jock division is
savvy enough to grasp this, then it’s a cinch that the news division understands
it as well. But NBC took the decision to broadcast Cho Seung Hui’s video even
though they had to know that their decision is likely to cost lives.
I sincerely hope that that some sharp-knived lawyers are preparing to represent
the survivors of next mass-murderer’s victims. I think that the courts will
likely decide that crying “fire” in a crowded theater is not the only exception
to First Amendment free speech protection.
Of course, the news media is notoriously indifferent to the damage that results
from their irresponsibility. Newsweek published an inaccurate report that
American soldiers at the Guantanamo Bay prisoner of war facility had thrown a
copy of the Koran down a toilet. The report was eventually retracted, but only
after deadly riots took at least 16 lives.
Newsweek shrugged.
The next time that someone in the mainstream media claim that George Bush has
done irreparable harm to the image of the United States in the world, he or she
should be reminded of the damage that shabby reporting has done.
The New York Times exposed a perfectly legal secret program that allowed the
United States to track and disrupt financial transactions among terrorist
groups. Doing this enabled terrorists to circumvent the program. The Times did
this even though its home city suffered the most from the September 11th
attacks. It did this even though the program was specifically called for in an
editorial a couple of years earlier. Someday, people will die because the New
York Times chose to assist terrorists who would otherwise have been caught or at
least had their resources denied will have had their task simplified by the
The Times brushed us off.
But, in their own perverse ways, Hui and NBC did us a favor. By justifying his
actions in his own words, he preempted the political ventriloquists who would
have used his actions to advance their own causes. Were it not for the NBC
broadcast, a parade of politicians would even now be identifying some government
deficiency that his or her legislation will correct. Instead, we are free to
decide for ourselves who might have filled his head with despair over America’s
social injustice or fanned his hatred for the rich.
It is not hard to divine NBC’s motivations of late. In the Imus affair it was
fear of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Principled people would not have needed
the threat of economic boycotts to remind them to uphold standards of taste and
decorum. And in the case of Hui’s tapes, it was the holy grail of Nielson
Ratings that drove NBC to do the wrong thing. The news value of the tapes could
have been served by having forensic psychologists watch, read and interpret the
psychopath’s words. But, forensic psychologists do not attract the highly sought
after sadistic voyeur demographic that is so prized by television news’
advertising division.
Cho Seung Hui will surely greet them in a specially prepared corner of Hell.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bowling for Blacksburg

Too Good Not To Post

Monday, April 23, 2007

Two Americas

There is the America where most of us live in which people have to pay all of their taxes. Then there's the other America, where the super wealthy stash assets off-shore to avoid federal income taxes. John Edwards lives in that latter America.

Edwards became a consultant for Fortress Investment Group, a New York-based firm known mainly for its hedge funds, just as the funds were gaining prominence in the financial world -- and in the public consciousness, where awe over their outsize returns has mixed with misgivings about a rarefied industry that is, on the whole, run by and for extremely wealthy people and operates largely in secrecy.

A midsize but growing player in the hedge fund industry with more than $30 billion in assets, Fortress was the first hedge fund manager to go public, thereby subjecting itself to far more scrutiny. But it was an unusual choice of employment for Edwards, who for years has decried offshore tax shelters as part of his broader campaign to reduce inequality. While Fortress was incorporated in Delaware, its hedge funds were incorporated in the Cayman Islands, enabling its partners and foreign investors to defer or avoid paying U.S. taxes.

Fortress announced Edwards's hiring as an adviser in a brief statement in October 2005. Neither Edwards -- who ended his consulting deal when he launched his presidential campaign in December -- nor the firm will say how much he earned or what he did.

But his ties to Fortress were suggested by the first round of campaign finance reports released last week. They showed that Edwards raised $167,460 in donations from Fortress employees for his 2008 presidential campaign, his largest source of support from a single company.

Nearly 100 Fortress employees or their family members donated to Edwards around the time of a fundraiser his campaign held at the firm in mid-March. Senior executives, individual fund managers, lawyers and a secretary gave the maximum $2,300 donation. Three administrative or executive assistants gave smaller amounts.

Edwards's connection to Fortress is only one sign of the emergence in national politics of the booming $1.4 trillion hedge fund industry. One of the fastest-growing and most controversial segments of the worldwide investment market, it has campaigned to fend off additional federal regulation and has become increasingly generous in campaign donations.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Faith or a Gang?

As in the United States, Islam is turning to prisons to find new disciples.

The NSW (New South Wale) Government has launched a prison crackdown on a group of the state's most dangerous criminals who have converted to Islam.

The targets are held in the highest security jail in Australia, the Super Max facility inside the walls of Goulburn jail, where one in three of the inmates is a Muslim fundamentalist or a convert.

Two prison converts, one a convicted murderer and the other a rapist, have married Muslim women in marriage ceremonies conducted over the telephone on party lines.

Attorney-General John Hatzistergos is introducing sweeping changes to the prison regulations so the Super Max Muslims are monitored 24/7 because of safety and security fears.

"We have to be able to control every movement and every utterance because of the threat they pose," Mr Hatzistergos told The Sun-Herald. "We don't want to see any risk to people either inside or outside the system. We simply can't take our eye off them."

Called the "Super Max Jihadists", they are easily identifiable, with shaven heads, long beards, carrying prayer beads and conducting prayers at least three times a day in their cells.

Their ringleader and powerbroker is Bassam Hamzy, jailed for 21 years for the cold-blooded shooting murder of an 18-year-old man outside the Mr Goodbar nightclub in Oxford Street in 1998.

Prison officers have confiscated pictures of Osama bin Laden from the walls of Hamzy's cell. Prisoners have been captured on surveillance tapes kneeling in front of Hamzy and kissing his hands.

The 37 Super Max inmates, including backpacker serial killer Ivan Milat, have committed 48 murders and are serving combined sentences of 550 years.

Now 12 of them claim adherence to Islam and form a close-knit culture in the purpose-built jail within a jail. Under Mr Hatzistergos's new measures, Hamzy and his apostles will be deemed "extreme high security" and be subject to controls that can be ordered at any time by NSW Corrective Services commissioner Ron Woodham.

The crackdown will stop money being sent by sympathisers on the outside to influence inmates to convert to Islam.

In future, Mr Woodham will have to approve in advance any sums of money sent to inmates' accounts in the "extreme high security" category.

"We don't have a difficulty with people taking up a religion per se in jail," Mr Hatzistergos said.

"A lot of people do and that can be beneficial.

"Where we do draw the line is where religion is really a camouflage for other activities.

"If any person thinks that by taking up religion, that somehow it is going to lead to them being treated differently on a day-to-day basis, they will be sadly mistaken."

He was supported by Mr Woodham, who said: "We're concerned about real heavy criminals who have had no interest in religion at all during their lives but, on coming to jail, then convert to Islam.

"A number of Aboriginal prisoners, unfortunately, doing impossible sentences, have converted to Islam. They denounce their Aboriginality for Islam."

Outlining the new powers to case-manage the Hamzy followers, Mr Hatzistergos said: "They can be moved around the jail system for any purpose at any time.

"The commissioner can put in place any additional security arrangements he wishes, including a restriction on contact visits, monitoring those visits, monitoring phone calls, recording phone calls and checking all mail."

Mr Hatzistergos, who is also Justice Minister, said the Department of Corrective Services would face justifiable criticism if it didn't act in response to the safety and security of the prison system being compromised. "We make no apologies for it," he said. "We are dealing here with, religion or no religion, some of the worst of the worst offenders who have no respect for authority.

"The thought that somehow religion has acted as a catharsis for them and made them see the light is, quite frankly, ludicrous."


Bad News For Democrats

In accordance with the Constitution and the law, only legal U.S. citizens will be allowed to vote in Arizona. This will deprive the Dems of one of their more loyal voting blocs.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Friday that Arizona can continue requiring people to prove citizenship when they register to vote.

The decision came as part of an ongoing challenge to the voting requirements approved on the November 2004 ballot as part of Proposition 200. The proposition, known as Protect Arizona Now, also includes the requirement that voters show identification at the polls.

Plaintiffs, including Indian tribes and Latino groups, were appealing a U.S. District Court decision not to put the citizenship requirement part of the law on hold until the lawsuit is settled. advertisement

The Appeals Court said there was insufficient evidence that the law severely burdens the right to vote or amounts to a "poll tax." Secretary of State Jan Brewer called the decision a victory for states' rights and for voters. "The people have spoken, and this is what they want in the state of Arizona," she said.

Rep. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, a plaintiff, said the decision challenges plaintiffs to show more proof of the harm of the law as the case progresses in U.S. District Court.

"I'm confident once we are able to provide the full record of how it will impact voters in Arizona, particularly minority voters, that we will win on the merits," he said.

Voters approved Proposition 200 in Nov. 2, 2004, by a 57-53 margin. Backed by conservative Phoenix activist Randy Pullen, it also carried a requirement that government employees report attempts by suspected undocumented immigrants to get public benefits.

The provisions created an almost immediate storm of controversy and legal action including the suit over the voting identification requirements.

The state did not start enforcing the requirement to show identification at the polls until the March 2006 elections and following a media campaign to educate people about what was required.


Eco-Chic Phonies

Al Gore and John Edwards' pals in Manhattan are going eco-chic for Earth Day. Like the pair mentioned before, they have a very good idea how you should live. I have often said that I'll take global warming seriously when liberals start taking it seriously. People like these are why I don't expect to be challenged any time soon.

Concerned with carbon emissions, she is about to replace the Barnetts’ two family cars with hybrids. “I turn the water off when I’m brushing my teeth,” she said. “I’m always learning, I’m always trying to improve.”

Still, she has no plans to reduce the family’s significant carbon footprint by, say, selling the Manhattan second home. “I’m not a perfect person,” she said. “I’m not the greenest woman in America.” And there was scant indication that other guests, most of whom, presumably, knew their way up the steps of a private jet, were contemplating major lifestyle cutbacks. Glancing about the room, Ms. Barnett said, “We aren’t all going to move to one-bedroom apartments.”


She plans to practice conservation, to a point. Energy-saving light bulbs are fine — for the utility closet, perhaps. In other rooms, “they don’t give a very pretty light,” she said.

Taking in such reservations, Ms. Barnett remained sanguine. “This is the grass-roots way to help save the world,” she said.

One pointy-toed step at a time.

They do know how you should make sacrifices.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

I Bet Bill Wishes He'd Thought of This

Hillary proves that she's the smarter of the two Clintons.

You just know that Bill is just kicking himself for not thinking of this himself. How much better would he life have been if he'd had the foresight to send Hillary to the far ends of the earth?


My Kinda Little Old Lady

I'm pretty sure my mom could have done this.

Miss America 1944 has a talent that likely has never appeared on a beauty pageant stage: She fired a handgun to shoot out a vehicle's tires and stop an intruder.

Venus Ramey, 82, confronted a man on her farm in south-central Kentucky last week after she saw her dog run into a storage building where thieves had previously made off with old farm equipment.

Ramey said the man told her he would leave. "I said, 'Oh, no you won't,' and I shot their tires so they couldn't leave," Ramey said.

She had to balance on her walker as she pulled out a snub-nosed .38-caliber handgun.

By the way. My mom packs one of these.

Harry Reid, Still Alive And In Charge

The CIA has verified that the voice on a recent videotape is indeed Harry Reid.

Attempting to clarify yesterday’s statement that the war in Iraq is “lost“, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today that he “supports the troops who lost the war.”

In an audiotape recorded from an undisclosed location and released through Al-Jazeera TV, Sen. Reid said, “The troops who lost the war should hold their heads high, because not everyone can be a winner, and they gave it a good try.”

CIA analysis of the tape indicates the voice is “almost certainly” Sen. Reid’s and that references to recent events show that the Democrat leader may still be at large, in good health and “substantially in charge” of his network of Democrat senators.

On the tape, Sen. Reid also said, “It’s not the fault of our troops that they represent an evil regime, or that they wear the uniform of the nation viewed by many as ‘the Great Satan.’”

Meanwhile, our enemies have embraced Harry Reid.

Middle Eastern Media Take Up Reid's "War Is Lost": Iranian Press TV reports, in response to Reid's statement:

Leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, has said the US has lost the Iraq war, and Bush's troop surge has failed.... Reid's comments came a day after 200 fatalities were reported in bombings in Iraq, despite a much touted US Security Plan which the White House said sought to root out insurgency."

A Republican party e-mail also reported the following as translations of items from Al-Jazeera Online, and Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, "The Leading Arabic International Daily"; please let me know if the translations are inaccurate:

"Yesterday the leader of the Democratic majority in Congress, Harry Reid, announced that he conveyed to Bush that the United States lost the war in Iraq and that the additional America forces that were sent there will not succeed in the achievement of any positive progress."

"Leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, has said the US has lost the Iraq war, and Bush's troop surge has failed.... Reid's comments came a day after 200 fatalities were reported in bombings in Iraq, despite a much touted US Security Plan which the White House said sought to root out insurgency."

As I have said before, it may well be quite proper -- and certainly constitutionally protected -- for people to criticize the war; and sometimes the benefits of such criticism, even of the "war is lost" variety and even when said by leading U.S. politicians, outweigh the costs. Yet it seems to me hard to doubt that this statement will have grave cost.

If Napoleon was right that "In war the moral [meaning 'morale'] is to the material as three to one," then it seems to me that Reid's statements may prove highly objectively costly, chiefly by strengthening the enemy's morale as well as by weaking our own soldiers'. Likewise if Churchill was right that even statements that "weaken confidence in the Government" and "make the Army distrust the backing it is getting from the civil power" may prove to be "to the distress of all our friends and to the delight of all our foes" (Speech in the House of Commons (July 2, 1942)). How much more distress and delight must be caused by statements that represent that the Congressional majority actually believes the war to be lost.

Maybe, as I said, the benefit of the statements exceeds their harm. And maybe the harm will be modest, because everyone -- among our enemies as well as among our military -- has already assumed that the Democratic leadership thinks this. Yet my suspicion is that the harm will be quite substantial indeed.


Hillary's a Ho'!

I don't know what "nappy-headed" means, but I know a ho' when I see one. So does Colbert King.

Put me in the camp of those who implore Sen. Hillary Clinton to give it back -- "it" being the reported $800,000 that's sitting in her presidential campaign coffers thanks to a fundraiser hosted in her honor March 31 in the Pinecrest, Fla., home of a huge Clinton fan who refers to himself as Timbaland.

In response to my questions, Clinton campaign spokesman Blake Zeff said in an e-mail this week that it cost $1,000 just to get into Timbaland's fundraiser, that about 200 guests were on hand and that the senator was accompanied by former president Bill Clinton.

You would not be reading about Clinton or about Timbaland -- who entered this vale (sic?) of tears 36 years ago in Norfolk under the name Timothy Mosley -- were it not for the fact that he is a well-heeled hip-hop producer and noted performer of the kind of misogynistic and denigrating lyrics that informed Don Imus's derogatory comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team.

Mrs. Clinton, you may recall, took umbrage at Imus's remarks, branding them "small-minded bigotry and coarse sexism." His words, she said in an e-mail to supporters, "showed a disregard for basic decency and were disrespectful and degrading to African Americans and women everywhere."

Meanwhile, the Rutgers basketball team knows an opportunistic fraud when they smell one.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton finally dropped by Rutgers to meet with the school's women's basketball coach -- but the players themselves skipped the half-hour meeting, citing their studies and Imus fatigue.

"Many of the players were in study hall from eight to noon and some had finals," explained a Rutgers source who said the players were "tired" of all the attention. "These young women need to do their classes, and wrap their spring semester."

So, she traipsed off to New York to kiss Al Sharpton's ring and perhaps other regions at his National Action Network Convention.

Hmmmm. I wonder why the Washington Post swept Rutgers' snub of Hillary under the rug?

The New York Times chose to keep its readers ignorant too.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Hillary's Thuggery Alienating Potential Supporters

We certainly get a glimpse of what kind of leader Hillary Clinton promises to be should she become president. Democratic fundraisers are rebelling against her strong arm tactics and are joining her opponents' campaigns.

The strategists said the exodus is growing as Mrs. Clinton's campaign applies pressure to uncommitted party donors to join her fundraising team or pledge to sit out the party's nominating process.
"The Clinton camp has been very tough on contributors. I've heard that 'if you don't contribute to us, don't contribute to another campaign.' I've heard that," said Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, who just joined the campaign of former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and managed Howard Dean's ill-fated 2004 presidential bid.

Meanwhile, she spends far more money on pollsters than any other candidate trying to divine what the public wants her to say, so that she can morph into whatever the voters want to here.

Neither is a form of leadership.


Cultural Racism in Seattle Enabled By Democrats

I have finally identified the problem with the public school system. Seattle teachers are racists. According to the Seattle Education Association, between 40 and 45% of low-income children will not the pass the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, or WASL, exam before their 2008 graduation date. Most of these children, the union says, are “children of color.” If they don’t pass, and if the legislature does not relax the requirement, these high schoolers will not graduate with the rest of their classmates in 2008. And that, the union argues, is unacceptable.
The union has labeled the governor’s plan to postpone enforcement of the mathematics portion of the WASL while leaving the reading and writing portions in place as “racist.”
“This pure (sic) and simply is the definition of Institutional Racism and Institutional Privilege. SEA (Seattle Education Association) and SPS (Seattle Public School System) are working to eliminate the horror of Institutional Racism and Privilege wherever we find it,” the teacher’s union fulminated in a letter sent to the legislature a couple of weeks ago.
And no, I don’t know why supposedly educated people would capitalize the words “Institutional Racism and Privilege.”
The teachers have an ally in state senator Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, who claims to have secured the votes required to postpone enforcement of the entire WASL exam.
"If I'm going to delay something, why wouldn't I delay it all? Why would I just delay math and not listen to the voices for those children who struggle with reading and writing and have not had the opportunity or the resources to meet the standards?" She said.
These children “have not had the opportunity or the resources to meet the standards?” Did she really say that?
If after 12 years in the Seattle public school system these kids have been denied “the opportunity or the resources to meet the standards,” then whom should we blame other than the people who are charged with providing the opportunity and the resources and are failing in that responsibility? And if these kids are disproportionately children of color, then shouldn’t we hold them accountable for their racism as well?
If Don Imus can lose his job for simply hurting the feelings of a future physician and a class valedictorian, then why should teachers who fail to instruct children of color as well as their white classmates get off any easier?
It seems to me that the best way to spare children the horrors of institutionalized racism would be to get rid of the teachers whose results expose them as its most flagrant practitioners. After all, if these children are the victims of institutionalized racism, then with what part of the institution do the children come into their most direct contact? Should we blame the walls? Did the janitor do something wrong? Do not the fluorescent lights burn just as brightly for everyone? They all get the same books. So if it is the children of color who under-perform, then perhaps we might want to examine the teachers and learn if different results are a consequence of lowered expectations.
The Seattle Public School system’s lowered expectations for children of color was reflected in its own definitions of “cultural racism,” which included “having a future time orientation,” known to the rest of the planet as planning ahead, and “defining only one form of English as standard.”
Now this may sound like the standard issued clichéd gibberish of the cultural left. But it is in fact racism. Seattle teachers have given up on teaching their pupils standard English and so denigrate those who uphold the standard as racists. But is it not the teachers who are racist for not believing in their pupils’ capacity to learn English?
The same goes for planning ahead. Seattle teachers should be drumming into their pupils’ heads the consequences of failing to prepare adequately for the WASL. But that would be hard. It’s much easier to dismiss the challenge than to meet it. And so, rather than raise their students up to the standards of the WASL, the Seattle’s educrats instead define the standard as racist.
And they’ll probably get away with it. Like our enemies overseas, teachers know that when eyeball to eyeball time comes, the Democrats will blink. Not only do the teachers unions have a lot of money, but they’re also holding children of loyal constituencies hostage.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

French Insularity

Public opinion polls show Socialist Segolene Royal running neck and neck with Nicolas Sarkozy in the first round of the French presidential election. A fascinating bit of information in the Christopher Hitchens column reveals that Ms. Royal is quite innocent of the world outside the borders of France. For example, she has just learned (or, at least I hope she now knows) the the Taliban is no longer ruling Afghanistan.

Also interesting is how Jean-Marie Le Pen is attracting voters from the Communist party to join his right wing National Front, and how all candidates are borrowing heavily from his platform.

The frisky French youths undoubtedly have a lot to do with that. Here, here and here, for example.

Massachussetts Showing Kerry the Door?

John Kerry has been dropping hints that he might run for president in 2008 after all. But opinion polls in his home state suggest that he might not be able to win reelection to the US Senate next year.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

John Edwards Situational Morality

John Edwards is all for the late term unborn, when there's money in it for him and not so interested when it's the Democratic nomination that's at stake.

Here's what he says today about partial birth abortion.

"I could not disagree more strongly with today's Supreme Court decision. The ban upheld by the Court is an ill-considered and sweeping prohibition that does not even take account for serious threats to the health of individual women. This hard right turn is a stark reminder of why Democrats cannot afford to lose the 2008 election. Too much is at stake - starting with, as the Court made all too clear today, a woman's right to choose."

Of course, when he was fully willing to humanize a fetus back in 1985 (registration required) when he was motivated by his own self enrichment.

Key passage:
In 1985, a 31-year-old North Carolina lawyer named John Edwards stood before a jury and channeled the words of an unborn baby girl.

Referring to an hour-by-hour record of a fetal heartbeat monitor, Mr. Edwards told the jury: ''She said at 3, 'I'm fine.' She said at 4, 'I'm having a little trouble, but I'm doing O.K.' Five, she said, 'I'm having problems.' At 5:30, she said, 'I need out.' ''

But the obstetrician, he argued in an artful blend of science and passion, failed to heed the call. By waiting 90 more minutes to perform a breech delivery, rather than immediately performing a Caesarean section, Mr. Edwards said, the doctor permanently damaged the girl's brain.

''She speaks to you through me,'' the lawyer went on in his closing argument. ''And I have to tell you right now -- I didn't plan to talk about this -- right now I feel her. I feel her presence. She's inside me, and she's talking to you.''


Northwest Progressive Conference

Anybody want to make an office pool about the average number of body piercing per person at this event?
This is going to look like bar scene in Star Wars.

Maybe the WSU College Republicans should show up at this thing and make a big display of walking out. Or, they could behave like adults and let these kooks have their fun in their own little cocoon.


Gratuitious Offensive Virginia Tech Reference of the Day

Those of us who have been around for a while new that it would only require minutes before some Democrat started exploiting the Virginia Tech tragedy for political advantage. But Barack Obama has gone off the rails, comparing the slaughter to Don Imus and outsourcing.

“There’s also another kind of violence that we’re going to have to think about. It’s not necessarily the physical violence, but the violence that we perpetrate on each other in other ways,” he said, and goes on to catalogue other forms of “violence.”

There’s the “verbal violence” of Imus.

There’s “the violence of men and women who have worked all their lives and suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them because their job is moved to another country.”

The Imus reference is interesting because it took Obama 5 days to decide that the was against Don Imus.

Some Say "Brian Ross is a Jerk"

And they'd be right.

"The fact is, until he stepped on the campus with his weapons, everything about Cho's purchase of those two guns was entirely legal under current U.S. And Virginia laws. Some say, Diane, that's the scandal."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Two Americas

There's the America where the people get $400 hair cuts and there's the American where I live. I pay $12.

Carbon indulges aren't the only extravagance available to the super-rich.

Update: John Edwards also paid $225 for whatever services are provided by
"the Pink Sapphire in Manchester, N.H., which is described on its Web site as "a unique boutique for the mind, body and face" that caters mostly to women."

And, he paid $250 to a "trendy salon and spa" in Dubuque, Iowa.


Ignore that Man Behind the Curtain!

Well, ignore that snow piling up outside your window. Believe the Goracle instead!

While snow piles up outside our windows, we may be hard-pressed to believe climate change is occurring, global temperatures are rising and the planet is on a crash course of serious change if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced.

That message was delivered on Friday in Albany by Arthur DeGaetano, a Cornell University professor and the head of the Northeast Regional Climate Center.

Canadian Military Conquers the Arctic

It sounds like a quagmire to me.

"One night was so bad our escort planes couldn't land, and we were out of fuel and kerosene," said Maj. Chris Bergeron, 48, who led the expedition. "But they flew over the storm until there was an opening for our resupply."
Conditions at times were so poor that it took hours simply to pitch a tent, Maj. Bergeron added. "The last day, it was like someone was trying to stop us from achieving our goal."
Canada has always fiercely guarded its sovereignty over its Arctic archipelago the triangle of more than 36,500 islands that reaches from its Arctic coast almost to the North Pole. Some of the islands are no larger than a man could stand on, while others, like Baffin Island, are nearly the size of France.
But as higher global temperatures peel back the ice casing from the land and ice-choked waterways give way to lapping waves, what was once seen as a wasteland now offers a potential mineral bonanza including gold, diamonds, oil, emeralds and a long-sought northern sea route from the Atlantic to the Pacific.


"A Gutless Lynch Mob"

Thomas Sowell points out the cowardliness of the Duke lacrosse team lynch mob, who are all now saying that they did not pre-convict the innocent young men.

Meanwhile, 88 members of the Duke faculty took out an ad in the campus newspaper denouncing racism. Among other things, the ad said, "what is apparent everyday now is the anger and fear of many students who know themselves to be objects of racism and sexism."

As for the demonstrations and threats loudly voiced by some local blacks, in the wake of the accusations against the Duke lacrosse students, the ad said:

"We're turning up the volume in a moment when the most vulnerable among us are being asked to quiet down while we wait. To the students speaking individually and to the protesters making collective noise, thank you for not waiting and for making yourself heard."

Nope. Nobody was pre-judging these young men as pampered racists and sexists. Not the faculty, not the president and certainly not the New York Times.

The Great Hand Washing Begins

Newsweek has published the "inside story" of the Duke lacrosse non-rape case.

And, it barely, just barely admits that the MSM might have had a role in fueling this lynching.

The press needed there to have been a rape to keep the story going. It was much too dull to consider that the lacrosse players deserved the presumption of innocence.


Nifong got a boost from The New York Times in August. On the front page of the Friday paper, a long article featured a confidential report—a Durham policeman's summary of his interview with the accuser. Though he didn't take notes during the interview, he said she'd described someone with Finnerty's distinctive tall, thin looks as her assailant. The newspaper treated the report unskeptically, even though notes taken during the interview by the other officer present indicate that none of her descriptions fit the player.

But, no apologies. The press demands apologies from others, but never feels any obligation to do so itself.

Update: This story in the Raleigh News and Observer reveals what an incompetent, lying sack of crap Nifong is. No wonder the New York Times considered him a hero.

After a month, Bannon had decoded the documents: DNA Security's Meehan had found DNA from at least four unidentified men on Mangum and in her underwear.

Nifong had never disclosed these results, even though the new discovery law required him to hand over "a report of the results of any examinations or tests conducted by the expert."

Nifong had done nothing to identify or investigate these men.

Bannon filed his findings with the court and Nifong two days before the hearing scheduled for Dec. 15. Before the hearing, Nifong, defense lawyers and Judge Smith met privately in a small conference room next to the grand jury room.

Nifong said he didn't know about the withheld results. "I just, in terms of the discovery issues, frankly, you know, I got the [motion] and I was like, 'whoa.' So I immediately faxed a copy to Dr. Meehan and said, 'Read this, and I'll call you in the morning and get your opinions about this.' And we discussed it, and I said, 'This is a major issue for the defense. They're entitled to hear about it, and I think it needs to be addressed right away.' "

When the hearing began in open court, Nifong made a similar statement: "The first I heard of this particular situation was when I was served with these reports -- this motion -- on Wednesday of this week. ... It's crucial that everybody have access to all of the evidence in this case."
Nifong faced a difficult decision. He could have told the judge that there had been a mistake and that he would fix it by having Meehan provide an updated report with all the test results.

Instead, he called Meehan to take the stand. Nifong had not notified defense lawyers Meehan would be present. The lawyers had not prepared to cross-examine a scientific expert on DNA.

It turned out that Meehan was not prepared. Nifong had not provided him with the lab documents that Bannon had focused on.

Bannon walked him through the documents, and Meehan repeatedly admitted that he and Nifong had agreed not to report that he found DNA from unidentified men in the rape kit. Meehan admitted violating his laboratory standards by not reporting the results of all tests.

When Meehan said he and Nifong intentionally agreed not to report the results of all tests and examinations, some supporters of the players burst into applause.

Meehan testified sitting straight in front of Nifong, about 12 feet away. The prosecutor looked ashen, resting his face in his hands or staring down at the table.

His expert had just become a witness for the defense.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Those French Youths Are At It Again

Those French Youths are making it difficult for the French press to manipulate the news anymore. They're proving that they really are scum.

Just as they do in the United States, the French media massage and manipulate the news to benefit the left.

It Would Make More Sense if Portland Did This

Olympia is considering a sister city arrangement with a terrorist haven on the Gaza Strip.

The idea originated with Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old Olympia activist who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003 while she stood in front of a Palestinian home to try to protect it from demolition. Israeli authorities and activists who were with Corrie dispute who’s to blame for her death.

Proponents of the sister-city relationship say it would result in cultural exchanges and friendships.

“There’s a reason to meet those people,” said Andrew Ford Lyons, board president of the Olympia-Rafah Sister City organization. “There’s a reason to know how those people are.”

Opponents — including some Jewish residents — say choosing Rafah as a sister city amounts to taking the Palestinian side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and supporting a region that has harbored terrorists.

“To form a relationship with Rafah would certainly leave the appearance that we’re enlisting the city in the Palestinian cause,” said Alan Corwan, past president of Congregation B’Nai Torah in Olympia. “There’s enough city business out there that the council needs to focus on. I don’t know why they need to do this.”

It's really a Portland kinda thing.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bring Back the Daisies and the Doobies

The anti-war dope smoking hippies of the sixties are back and now they're in charge. And, they're planning to create a cabinet level department called the Department of Peace.

[I]magine a governmental agency responsible for advising on non-confrontational foreign policy options, establishing and enforcing new gun control measures, designing school curriculum, establishing and enforcing new legislation governing "hate crimes" and violence against animals, and my favorite, establishing a "Peace Academy," a four-year institution of higher learning modeled on our service academies. (Wait, doesn't the Ivy League already have like six of those?)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Enemy That Must Not Be Named

Morocco and the United Nations are reluctant to identify the wellspring of terrorism.

Regarding the [2003] Casablanca attacks:
The number 2 of the Moroccan DST [equivalent of the FBI] at the time, Noureddine Benbrahim, revealed to agents working for French intelligence that:
“To blame Al Sirat Al Moustakim (the group presented as responsible for the bombings) was a decision made with the French and the Americans to limit the impact on the domestic situation”.

“Because to say that these attacks were Bin Laden’s responsibility:
Would create total panic in the country”
“And the fury of Saudi Arabia”, could have very well added Benbrahim…

According to a French Defense ministry 2003 memo:
Benbrahim also told the French spies that at least 2 nationals of the Gulf - a Saudi and an Emirati - were among the terrorists but that the Moroccan Interior ministry kept silent “to protect Morocco’s friends”.

Here lies a major dilemma for Morocco:
How to fight efficiently terrorism when one needs the influx of capital from the Gulf and does not want to anger Saudi Arabia whose perverse ideological propaganda in the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s is no secret for anybody?

You Know Who Had a Real Hard On For Reasonable Doubt?

The Mainstream Media is unlikely to examine its performance very closely after the Duke lacrosse team rape case falls apart. That leaves it up to comedians, who are probably more trustworthy anyway.

I've got to ask: Who's worse, Nancy Grace or Don Imus?


0 for 6

Michael Goldfarb reviews the Democratic Party's top six priorities that they campaigned on in 2006. Their results have been, uh, minor league.

Interestingly, the one thing that Democrats refused to speak about during the campaign, Iraq War policy, is what they now claim they were elected to "solve."

They did manage to rename a courthouse after Rush Hudson Limbaugh - our Rush's grandfather.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Inciting Riots Versus Hurt Feelings

I can’t help but wonder how much better our world would be if we held Democratic Party power brokers to the same high standards that we set for radio shock jocks. This past week, the modern incarnation of the civil rights movement added another head to the wall of its trophy room without tangibly improving one person’s life.
I come here neither to praise nor bury Don Imus. Don Imus is a professional oaf who, after decades of oafishness, finally attracted the attention of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who certainly needed to distract attention from their roles in the Duke lacrosse team’s non-rape case.
My lifetime exposure to Don Imus could be counted in minutes. I once tuned in to satisfy my curiosity and found what sounded like a pack of 7 year-olds giggling as they experimented with words that their parents had forbidden them to use. In this respect, there is no difference between Don Imus’s humor and that of Chris Rock’s or Dave Chappelle’s. Some years later, I tuned in again to an MSNBC simulcast. I found the act no more entertaining when it could be seen as well as heard. Nevertheless, enough New Yorkers enjoyed his juvenile humor to make Don Imus a very wealthy man for whom I will shed no tears.
But I know of no occasion when Dom Imus hurt anything more than people’s feelings. Al Sharpton, on the other hand, has inflamed events that ended in death and the destruction of lives. And yet, he suffers no approbrium for his words.
In 1991, a 7 year-old black child, Gavin Cato, was struck and killed by a car driven by a Jew in the Crown Heights neighborhood of New York. Sharpton used the child’s funeral to denounce the “diamond merchants” and ridiculed as politics the conclusion that the boy’s death was accidental. Riots ensued and a rabbinical student, Yankel Rosenbaum, was stabbed to death as the crowd chanted, “kill the Jews.”
Even though Rosenbaum managed to point out Limerick Nelson before dying, and even though the murder weapon with Rosenbaum’s blood was found in Nelson’s pocket, Nelson was acquitted, making the event a perfect New York City equivalent of a southern lynching.
Three years later, Sharpton incited violent protests against Freddy’s Fashion Mart, a Jewish-owned business that replaced a black-owned business that had been evicted by the building’s black landlord for non-payment of rent. That a black landlord did the evicting didn’t matter. That a Jew replaced the former tenant fueled Sharpton’s ire. Eventually one of the protesters entered Freddy’s, and shot 4 people before firebombing the place. Eight people died in all.
And yet, Al Sharpton survives unscathed. In fact, he ran for president as a Democrat in 2004 and was treated with extraordinary deference by the other candidates. And next year, as occurs in each election cycle, every Democrat who wishes to campaign in New York City will be required to genuflect publicly before Al Shapton’s throne and kiss his ring, at the very least.
The Imus affair permitted Jesse Jackson to file another notch in his gun. But he has his own history. In 1984, he referred to New York City as “Hymietown.” That slur did not even cost Jackson his prime time speech at that summer’s Democratic National Convention. In addition, Jackson has corrupted the civil rights movement into a self-enriching organized crime-like protection racket. For a sum of money, and in return for placing his friends on their boards of directors, businesses may purchase an interval of peace from his boycotts. Ho's can get expensive, ya' know. That’s quite a departure from what we supposedly celebrate on Martin Luther King Day. And yet, Jesse Jackson is still treated with deference when he demands that Don Imus be fired for sophomoric intemperance.
Yes, it is a strange world we live in. CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric’s autobiographical essay turns out to be plagiarized. That tells us the value of sincerity and credibility in the CBS News division. The mainstream media universally condemns the Duke lacrosse team as spoiled white brats who consider raping black women a privilege of their class. And when they learn that they were wrong, they decide that it’s Don Imus who is the blot on their profession. Did Imus’s words destroy any lives?
And Rosie O’Donnell still has a job with ABC News.
The fat pig's whole rant may be witnessed here. Clearly, neither ABC News nor Barbara Walters is interested in their reputations for serious journalism.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Speaking of Slow Learners

It's seems that California is a state of slow learners. A few years back, California faced an energy shortage that resulted in rolling blackouts and astronomical utility bills because it had banished new generating capacity construction within its borders.

Yesterday, Californians started it all over again.

The morning after the State Lands Commission rejected a proposed liquefied natural gas facility off the Southern California coast, supporters regrouped on Tuesday while opponents hoped the vote was a sign that LNG is doomed in the state.

With three other offshore LNG terminals at various stages in the approval pipeline, Monday's vote could be seen as a test case. A fifth project, planned for Long Beach, is in court.

"Hopefully this is the beginning of the turning of the tide," said Jim Metropulos, a lobbyist for the Sierra Club, which is among the environmental groups opposed to LNG, which is supercooled until it turns from a gas into liquid and shipped across the ocean in tankers. They argue that LNG, a fossil fuel, would lead to more dependence on foreign energy, possibly pollute the air and water, and pose a risk of explosions.


Nancy Pelosi, Slow Learner

Nancy Pelosi isn't just dumber than a bag of hammers, she's apparently so consumed by her own ego that she can't learn anything. She's considering another illegal diplomatic trip to visit an enemy - this time, Iran.

The Democratic speaker from San Francisco and Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, were asked at a press conference in San Francisco Tuesday whether on the heels of their recent trip to the Middle East they would be interested in extending their diplomacy in the troubled region with a visit to Iran.

"Speaking just for myself, I would be ready to get on a plane tomorrow morning, because however objectionable, unfair and inaccurate many of (Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's) statements are, it is important that we have a dialogue with him,'' Lantos said. "Speaking for myself, I'm ready to go -- and knowing the speaker, I think that she might be.''

Pelosi did not dispute that statement, and noted that Lantos -- a Hungarian-born survivor of the Holocaust -- brought "great experience, knowledge and judgment" to the recent bipartisan congressional delegation trip to Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia in addition to Syria.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Send in Nancy!

The Bush Administration should send Nancy Pelosi to Iran to smooth things over with Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr. He's causing problems again.

Personally though, I'd rather make my case with one of these and would consider the the negotiations at a successful conclusion when I wiped my butt with Muqtada's turban.

Global Warming - What's the Big Deal?

A prominent meteorologist who knows a great deal more about climatology than even Algore, questions the whole notion that global warming is a bad thing that we need to worry about.

A warmer climate could prove to be more beneficial than the one we have now. Much of the alarm over climate change is based on ignorance of what is normal for weather and climate. There is no evidence, for instance, that extreme weather events are increasing in any systematic way, according to scientists at the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which released the second part of this year's report earlier this month). Indeed, meteorological theory holds that, outside the tropics, weather in a warming world should be less variable, which might be a good thing.

In many other respects, the ill effects of warming are overblown. Sea levels, for example, have been increasing since the end of the last ice age. When you look at recent centuries in perspective, ignoring short-term fluctuations, the rate of sea-level rise has been relatively uniform (less than a couple of millimeters a year). There's even some evidence that the rate was higher in the first half of the twentieth century than in the second half. Overall, the risk of sea-level rise from global warming is less at almost any given location than that from other causes, such as tectonic motions of the earth's surface.

For this, Algore wishes to ship our economy to China.


Carbon Credits and Exporting Jobs

Guess what? We have a chance to learn from the mistakes of others - although so far, the Democrats seem entirely resistant to learning anything from Europe's experience. Europe has discovered what it means to be green. It means that you lose jobs to countries not bound by global warming treaties.

Europe has already hit a few bumps with its program. There's the Dutch silicon carbide maker that calls itself the greenest such plant in the world, but now can't afford to run full-time; the French cement workers who fear they're going to lose jobs to Morocco, which doesn't have to meet the European guidelines; and the German homeowners who pay 25 percent more for electricity than they did before -- even as their utility companies earn record profits.


Europe's program has driven electricity prices so high that the facility routinely shuts down for part of the day to save money on power. Although demand for its products is strong, the plant has laid off 40 of its 130 employees and trimmed production. Two customers have turned to cheaper imports from China, which is not covered by Europe's costly regulations.

"It's crazy," said Kusters, the plant director, as he stood among steaming black mounds of petroleum coke and sand in northern Holland. "We not only have the most energy-efficient plant in the world but also the most environmentally friendly."

So there you go. If you impose these silly restrictions upon your economy, China and other countries that don't give a rat's fanny about the environment will start making the same products for a lot less and start selling to your former customers. And you can bet that when China or Morocco starts manufacturing a product, they'll do it with far less concern for the environment and the net result will be a dirtier world.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

If This is Worst You've Got

Somehow, I don't think that Mitt Romney's exaggeration of his hunting exploits rises quite to the level of Hillary Clinton hiding Rose Law Firm billing records from federal invstigators, but it's certainly getting more attention.

The media was certainly uncurious when John Kerry declared himself a mighty huntsman in 2004, contrary to all evidence.

This is not a big deal, but it should warn Romney of how much more intense will be the focus of the media microsope on Republicans than Democrats.


How Does Al Sharpton Maintain His Credibility?

The media is now trumpeting Al Sharpton's demand that Don Imus be fired.

Now, if somebody else said that, it perhaps should be paid attention to. But Al Sharpton?

Four years ago, Jeff Jacoby assembled an Al Sharpton "greatest hits" list.

1987: Sharpton spreads the incendiary Tawana Brawley hoax, insisting heatedly that a 15-year-old black girl was abducted, raped, and smeared with feces by a group of white men. He singles out Steve Pagones, a young prosecutor. Pagones is wholly innocent -- the crime never occurred -- but Sharpton taunts him: "If we're lying, sue us, so we can . . . prove you did it." Pagones does sue, and eventually wins a $345,000 verdict for defamation. To this day, Sharpton refuses to recant his unspeakable slander or to apologize for his role in the odious affair.

1991: A Hasidic Jewish driver in Brooklyn's Crown Heights section accidentally kills Gavin Cato, a 7-year-old black child, and antisemitic riots erupt. Sharpton races to pour gasoline on the fire. At Gavin's funeral he rails against the "diamond merchants" -- code for Jews -- with "the blood of innocent babies" on their hands. He mobilizes hundreds of demonstrators to march through the Jewish neighborhood, chanting, "No justice, no peace." A rabbinical student, Yankel Rosenbaum, is surrounded by a mob shouting "Kill the Jews!" and stabbed to death.

1995: When the United House of Prayer, a large black landlord in Harlem, raises the rent on Freddy's Fashion Mart, Freddy's white Jewish owner is forced to raise the rent on his subtenant, a black-owned music store. A landlord-tenant dispute ensues; Sharpton uses it to incite racial hatred. "We will not stand by," he warns malignantly, "and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business." Sharpton's National Action Network sets up picket lines; customers going into Freddy's are spat on and cursed as "traitors" and "Uncle Toms." Some protesters shout, "Burn down the Jew store!" and simulate striking a match. "We're going to see that this cracker suffers," says Sharpton's colleague Morris Powell. On Dec. 8, one of the protesters bursts into Freddy's, shoots four employees point-blank, then sets the store on fire. Seven employees die in the inferno.

If Sharpton were a white skinhead, he would be a political leper, spurned everywhere but the fringe. But far from being spurned, he is shown much deference. Democrats embrace him. Politicians court him. And journalists report on his comings and goings while politely sidestepping his career as a hatemongering racial hustler.


Nancy Pelosi, Diplomat

I certainly could not have said it better myself. This cartoon won't show up in many newspapers.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Proof is In, Clinton Lied, People Died

A newly declassified intelligence report dismisses the idea that Saddam Hussein maintained an alliance with Al Qaeda. Clearly, the president lied, but not the president you might think.

The Clinton administration heavily emphasized the Iraq link to justify its 1998 strikes against al Qaeda. Just four days before the embassy bombings, Saddam Hussein had once again stepped up his defiance of U.N. weapons inspectors, causing what Senator Richard Lugar called another Iraqi "crisis." Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, one of those in the small circle of Clinton advisers involved in planning the strikes, briefed foreign reporters on August 25, 1998. He was asked about the connection directly and answered carefully.

Q: Ambassador Pickering, do you know of any connection between the so-called pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum and the Iraqi government in regard to production of precursors of VX?

PICKERING: Yeah, I would like to consult my notes just to be sure that what I have to say is stated clearly and correctly. We see evidence that we think is quite clear on contacts between Sudan and Iraq. In fact, al Shifa officials, early in the company's history, we believe were in touch with Iraqi individuals associated with Iraq's VX program.

Ambassador Bill Richardson, at the time U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, echoed those sentiments in an appearance on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," on August 30, 1998. He called the targeting "one of the finest hours of our intelligence people."

"We know for a fact, physical evidence, soil samples of VX precursor--chemical precursor at the site," said Richardson. "Secondly, Wolf, direct evidence of ties between Osama bin Laden and the Military Industrial Corporation--the al Shifa factory was part of that. This is an operation--a collection of buildings that does a lot of this dirty munitions stuff. And, thirdly, there is no evidence that this precursor has a commercial application. So, you combine that with Sudan support for terrorism, their connections with Iraq on VX, and you combine that, also, with the chemical precursor issue, and Sudan's leadership support for Osama bin Laden, and you've got a pretty clear cut case."


Emasculating the WASL, The Fix Is In

Clearly, the time has come to shoot the messenger, or at least bury him. The Washington Assessment of Student Learning continues to reveal that a great many of Washington’s pupils are not learning the bare minimum that the state has established for earning a high school diploma. There are only two explanations for this failure – slow students or poor teachers.
No politician in this state is stupid enough to blame the failure on intellectually deficient students. And the deep-pocketed teachers’ unions are too powerful and too influential for the party in power to risk offending. So, the solution to the dilemma is to blame the test.
The scores from the 2005-2006 school year showed that only 56% of Washington’s students passed the mathematics portion of the 10th grade WASL. Only 38% knew enough about science to pass that section.
Three years ago, the state eliminated the “listening section” of the exam because scores were embarrassingly low. The legislature plans to cut and run from science next.
Fixing the education system is not an option. Not when the Seattle school system condemns, “having a future time orientation,” (planning ahead) as a manifestation of “cultural racism.” This would include such offenses as studying for an exam or budgeting time for a term paper.
So the focus now turns not to improving student or teacher performance, but to “fixing the WASL.” Although I suspect that what the legislators mean by fixing has more in common with the way that the Mafia fixes sporting events than it does with the way that an electrician fixes a faulty circuit. Although, considering who is in charge over in Olympia, it may be more like the way that a veterinarian fixes a dog.
In any event, the one fix that seems most certain is postponing the enforcement elements of the WASL for at least 5 years. So, students, their parents and most importantly, their teachers, will be granted a stay of execution while the legislature dithers on what to do next. One thing that is clear, the fix will not have anything to do with bringing student performance up to the standards of the WASL.
Now, it is well known that any jackass can simply sit back and criticize. Offering genuine solutions takes some imagination. And so, as a civic duty, I would like to offer a few suggestions, consistent with the mood of the state’s power brokers, that our current legislature might want to consider, since holding teachers accountable for the quality of their work is not even a starting point.
Washington may want to test students on what students want to learn or what Washington’s schools actually want to teach them.
We could have a WASL section that measures just how high an opinion each student has of himself. Public schools have for a couple of decades now encouraged students to hold themselves in the highest regard, on the unproven assumption that high self-esteem translates into improved academic performance. The current WASL shows otherwise, so we need to change the WASL so that it will estimate the disproportion between achievement and self-esteem and award students scores based upon that ratio. Washington’s students should score off the charts.
Students could also be asked to recite the lyrics of the most popular hip hop rap tunes. Students who haven’t the slightest idea what reading assignment their teacher just gave them could probably repeat in rhythm ever word of the 5 most popular rap songs on the radio on any given day.
It’s also possible that the legislature will conclude that the medium used to administer the test is flawed. If students could take their tests via text messaging, that might modernize it enough to hold their concentration. The state would send the questions and the students would reply using cell phones. Or perhaps the test could be reformatted to resemble a video game. To graduate, students would have to reach the game’s highest level and defeat the final boss at multiplication tables.
No doubt about it. The WASL is going to be fixed. It’s just a matter of how the legislature is going to sell it to a public that still thinks that the quality of education needs improvement. Maybe they could do it the old-fashioned way and could start with those magic words: “Now, this won’t hurt a bit, Fido.”


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Nancy Pelosi, Certified Boob

Nancy Pelosi's reputation as a fool has been ratified by the Washington Post this morning.

HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered an excellent demonstration yesterday of why members of Congress should not attempt to supplant the secretary of state when traveling abroad. After a meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Ms. Pelosi announced that she had delivered a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that "Israel was ready to engage in peace talks" with Syria. What's more, she added, Mr. Assad was ready to "resume the peace process" as well. Having announced this seeming diplomatic breakthrough, Ms. Pelosi suggested that her Kissingerian shuttle diplomacy was just getting started. "We expressed our interest in using our good offices in promoting peace between Israel and Syria," she said.

Only one problem: The Israeli prime minister entrusted Ms. Pelosi with no such message. "What was communicated to the U.S. House Speaker does not contain any change in the policies of Israel," said a statement quickly issued by the prime minister's office. In fact, Mr. Olmert told Ms. Pelosi that "a number of Senate and House members who recently visited Damascus received the impression that despite the declarations of Bashar Assad, there is no change in the position of his country regarding a possible peace process with Israel." In other words, Ms. Pelosi not only misrepresented Israel's position but was virtually alone in failing to discern that Mr. Assad's words were mere propaganda.

Ms. Pelosi was criticized by President Bush for visiting Damascus at a time when the administration -- rightly or wrongly -- has frozen high-level contacts with Syria. Mr. Bush said that thanks to the speaker's freelancing Mr. Assad was getting mixed messages from the United States. Ms. Pelosi responded by pointing out that Republican congressmen had visited Syria without drawing presidential censure. That's true enough -- but those other congressmen didn't try to introduce a new U.S. diplomatic initiative in the Middle East. "We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace," Ms. Pelosi grandly declared.

Never mind that that statement is ludicrous: As any diplomat with knowledge of the region could have told Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Assad is a corrupt thug whose overriding priority at the moment is not peace with Israel but heading off U.N. charges that he orchestrated the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. The really striking development here is the attempt by a Democratic congressional leader to substitute her own foreign policy for that of a sitting Republican president. Two weeks ago Ms. Pelosi rammed legislation through the House of Representatives that would strip Mr. Bush of his authority as commander in chief to manage troop movements in Iraq. Now she is attempting to introduce a new Middle East policy that directly conflicts with that of the president. We have found much to criticize in Mr. Bush's military strategy and regional diplomacy. But Ms. Pelosi's attempt to establish a shadow presidency is not only counterproductive, it is foolish.

Quite naturally, Jimmy Carter approves.


An Inconvenient Truth

Maybe we need to send compact fluorescent bulbs to the Martians.

Earth's dusty neighbor Mars is grappling with its own form of climate change as fluctuating solar radiation is kicking up dust and winds that may be melting the planet's southern polar ice cap, scientists said Wednesday.

Researchers have been watching the changing face of Mars for years, studying slight differences in the brightness and darkness of its surface.

These changes in brightness have been generally attributed to the presence of dust, but until now their effect on wind circulation and climate has not been clear.

NASA scientist Lori Fenton and colleagues, reporting this week in the journal Nature, now believe variations in radiation from the surface of Mars are fueling strong winds that stir up giant dust storms, trapping heat and raising the planet's temperature.

By studying changes in light reflected from the surface of Mars -- a measure known as an object's albedo -- they predict the red planet has warmed by around 1 degree Fahrenheit from the 1970s to the 1990s, which may in part have caused the recent retreat of the southern polar ice cap.

On Earth, carbon dioxide traps infrared radiation which can affect global climate. This a phenomenon is known as the greenhouse effect. Fossil fuel emissions add to the problem.

On Mars, it's the red-tinged dust.

Fenton's team compared thermal maps gathered from NASA's Viking mission in the 1970s with maps gathered more than two decades later by the Global Surveyor.

They saw that large swaths of the surface have darkened or brightened over the past three decades.

These albedo changes strengthened winds, picking up and circulating dust, creating a vicious cycle that is warming the planet.

"Our results suggests that documented albedo changes affect recent climate change and large-scale weather patterns on Mars," Fenton's team wrote.

They believe changes in albedo should be an important part of future studies on atmosphere and climate change.

Of course, it could be the fault of the SUV's we've sent there.


Peace in Our Time

The Democrats have ended the global war on terror.

Maybe we could try this with global warming, homelessness and AIDS.

The House Armed Services Committee is banishing the global war on terror from the 2008 defense budget.

This is not because the war has been won, lost or even called off, but because the committee’s Democratic leadership doesn’t like the phrase.

A memo for the committee staff, circulated March 27, says the 2008 bill and its accompanying explanatory report that will set defense policy should be specific about military operations and “avoid using colloquialisms.”

The “global war on terror,” a phrase first used by President Bush shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., should not be used, according to the memo. Also banned is the phrase the “long war,” which military officials began using last year as a way of acknowledging that military operations against terrorist states and organizations would not be wrapped up in a few years.

Committee staff members are told in the memo to use specific references to specific operations instead of the Bush administration’s catch phrases. The memo, written by Staff Director Erin Conaton, provides examples of acceptable phrases, such as “the war in Iraq,” the “war in Afghanistan, “operations in the Horn of Africa” or “ongoing military operations throughout the world.”


Now This is Cynical

By using his wife's cancer as a fund raising tool, John Edwards is making Hillary Clinton look good.

When you visit the John Edwards for President Web site, you're invited to send a sympathy note to the Edwardses. And tens of thousands of well wishers have done so since that heart-wrenching news conference two weeks ago at which Elizabeth Edwards courageously discussed her incurable cancer.

What those well wishers get in return -- e-mail messages soliciting contributions to Edwards's campaign.

Of course, Democrats will even turn funerals into political events.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

San Franciscans are Nuts

The San Francisco Chronicle asked a man on the street question: "Is Pelosi undermining President Bush with her trip to Syria?"

The answers are illuminating - not for their insights or wisdom, but because they tell us about the constituency that provides Nancy Pelosi with one of Congress's safest seats.

The Surge Is Working

According to ABC News, the surge's effect is, "large and positive."

The Homeschooled Christian Terrorism Threat

In Michigan and New Jersey public schools, they have terrorism drills much as other schools have fire drills. And the terrorists are Christians.

"The exercise will simulate an attack by a fictitious radical group called Wackos Against Schools and Education who believe everyone should be homeschooled. Under the scenario, a bomb is placed on the bus and is detonated while the bus is traveling on Durham, causing the bus to land on its side and fill with smoke."

Flabbergasting but true. In the wake of 9/11 and the jihadists' carnage against schoolchildren in Beslan, Russia, the school chose to prepare their students for an attack by Christian homeschooling "wackos," not Muslim suicide bombers.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Just Carrying on an Old, Family Tradition

Conducting a separate foreign policy in coordination with America's enemies is nothing new to the Democratic Party. So nobody should be all that surprised that Nancy Pelosi has traveled to Syria to undermine President Bush.

Back in the 1980's, it was Ted Kennedy leading the Democrats' effort to undermine US foreign policy when Ronald Reagan was president. And, this wasn't the sweet and cuddly Soviet Union of Gorbachev. It was aggressive and arrogant and thuggish regime of Yuri Andropov that the Democrats were aligning themselves with.

Assume the Position of Obedience

Nancy Pelosi in Syria.

Suddenly, The Democrats Like Wal-Mart

Give it to Wal-Mart, they succeed by understanding markets. And now they understand the market of Democratic Party machine politics.

Wal-Mart has taken its lumps lately, especially from the Democratic Party over its treatment of employees. So the company has been courting the new majority on Capitol Hill by doing a lot of the standard stuff: hiring Democratic executives and donating more to the campaigns of Democratic candidates. Its political action committee has given 49 percent of its funds to Democrats this year, up from 32 percent in last year's election.

But last week Wal-Mart's outreach got personal as well -- it's now doing favors for the families of powerful Democratic senators.

Last Tuesday evening, the world's largest retailer sponsored a fancy reception in the Capitol's LBJ Room off the Senate floor to celebrate a yet-to-be-completed documentary about female members of the chamber called "14 Women." The film's three producers include Mary Lambert, the older sister of Sen. Blanche Lincol n (D-Ark.), and Nicole Boxer, the daughter of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Paul Kane of reports that the "Wal-Mart" on the name tags was larger than the names of the guests.

The event was a big hit. Wal-Mart said that 12 of the now-16 women in the Senate (11 D's and five R's) showed up -- including Sens. Lincoln and Boxer, of course. One of the senators who did not attend was Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). Clinton is a former Wal-Mart director (something some of her campaign aides would like the public to forget) whose younger brother, Tony Rodham, was once married to Nicole Boxer (something Clinton probably would like to forget).

But Wal-Mart did more to assist the project than pass out canapes and drinks. Last year the company became the movie's corporate sponsor when it handed the producers $150,000 to help complete the film. "Mary Lambert contacted Wal-Mart and wanted to know if we might be interested in helping to underwrite the documentary," said company spokesman Robert Traynham. "We thought it would be a great opportunity to help highlight the contributions that women have made in U.S. history and particularly in the U.S. Senate."

Traynham added that the reception and grant were not forms of backdoor lobbying and had nothing to do with trying to improve Wal-Mart's standing with senators, especially Democratic senators.

Ah, well. If the pork eating surrender monkey Democrats will sell out our troops for spinach subsidies while they are in direct conflict with the enemy, we shouldn't be surprised that that Lee Scott can buy them too.

Always low prices. Always.


Parasitic Mind Control

The fact that so many liberals are incurable leads me to wonder if they're under the influence of mind controlling aliens. There is a precedent.

A parasitic microbe commonly found in cats might have helped shape entire human cultures by manipulating the personalities of infected individuals, according to a new study.

Infection by a Toxoplasma gondii could make some individuals more prone to some forms of neuroticism and could lead to differences among cultures if enough people are infected, says Kevin Lafferty, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In a survey of different countries, Lafferty found that people living in those with higher rates of T. gondii infection scored higher on average for neuroticism, defined as an emotional or mental disorder characterized by high levels of anxiety, insecurity or depression.

Sort of makes you wonder, doesn't it?


Bore Them Into Submission

Great Britain is adopting a new strategy for dealing with Muslim extremists - civics lessons.

Muslim "opinion formers", including imams, are to be given lessons in civic leadership under a new plan to tackle Islamic extremism in Britain.

Ruth Kelly, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, will this week announce details of a £6 million "hearts and minds" drive to deal with growing radicalism among young British Muslims which can fuel terrorist plots.

Also part of the plan are school-twinning projects, in which pupils from mainly Muslim schools will undertake joint projects, such as music and drama, with children from predominantly white establishments.

The schools could go on trips together, while groups of pupils could spend days in each other's classrooms.

Miss Kelly will also announce a major increase in the number of "forums against extremism" - regional groups which meet regularly and which were set up in the wake of the July 7 London bombings to enable Muslims to discuss ways of tackling extremism.

Somehow, I'm not optimistic that sweet talk is the answer. Not when I see this.

A secret intelligence document warns that al-Qaeda agents in the UK are training young Muslim men and women to fight British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The dossier, seen by this newspaper, also says that al-Qaeda sympathisers are sending terrorist groups in Pakistan hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash to fund jihad against Western democracies.

Young British Muslims are still being "radicalised" by extremists despite a crackdown on al-Qaeda supporters in mosques and community centres, the document states.

And finally, this whole silent Muslim majority is a bit of wishful thinking too.

It is vital to grasp that traditional and even mainstream Islamic teaching accepts and promotes violence. Shariah, for example, allows apostates to be killed, permits beating women to discipline them, seeks to subjugate non-Muslims to Islam as dhimmis and justifies declaring war to do so. It exhorts good Muslims to exterminate the Jews before the "end of days." The near deafening silence of the Muslim majority against these barbaric practices is evidence enough that there is something fundamentally wrong.

The grave predicament we face in the Islamic world is the virtual lack of approved, theologically rigorous interpretations of Islam that clearly challenge the abusive aspects of Shariah. Unlike Salafism, more liberal branches of Islam, such as Sufism, typically do not provide the essential theological base to nullify the cruel proclamations of their Salafist counterparts. And so, for more than 20 years I have been developing and working to establish a theologically-rigorous Islam that teaches peace.

Monday, April 02, 2007

A Human Heart Valve from Adult Stem Cells

More and more, fetal stem cells are fading as a relevent political issue as the science leaves them behind.

To crack the problem, Prof Yacoub assembled a team of physicists, biologists, engineers, pharmacologists, cellular scientists and clinicians. Their task - to characterise how every bit of the heart works - has so far taken 10 years. The progress of his team and that of colleagues around the world will be published in August in a special edition of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

Prof Yacoub said his team's latest work had brought the goal of growing a whole, beating human heart closer. "It is an ambitious project but not impossible. If you want me to guess I'd say 10 years. But experience has shown that the progress that is happening nowadays makes it possible to achieve milestones in a shorter time. I wouldn't be surprised if it was some day sooner than we think."


English is the Key to Upward Mobility, Even in Mexico

A retiree living in Mexico is trying to remake Mexican society by teaching English.

[W]hile Latin nations such as Costa Rica and Chile have seized on English fluency as a key to their global competitiveness, Mexico has done little to prepare its youngsters. The state requires just three hours a week of English instruction for three years during Mexico's equivalent of junior high school, often by teachers who don't speak the language well.

"Pencil. Window. Door. It was useless," said Jose de Jesus Alcantar Delgado, a Puerto Vallarta workman recalling his rudimentary lessons. Lack of fluency has kept him from higher-paying employment in the city's air-conditioned resorts.

Experts blame scarce resources, an inflexible teachers union and widespread resentment of U.S. hegemony. Puerto Vallarta mom Kenia Salazar Torres isn't buying it. English is standard in elite academies where the children of Mexico's wealthy matriculate. Salazar wants the same chance for her three boys.

Her oldest son, Jose Rodolfo, 9, has a partial scholarship to Colegio Mexico-Americano. Salazar earns the rest by rising daily before dawn to prepare refried beans to peddle to local markets. Her husband, Arturo, is a ticket seller at the bus station. He's trying to land a better job to earn tuition money for their twin 5-year-old sons.

Jose Rodolfo helps out by collecting cans to earn recycling money. Fidgeting in a chair in the family's tidy home on a recent afternoon, he was too shy to practice his English with an American visitor. But the serious, handsome child knows what's at stake. "That's how you get a good job," he said softly in Spanish.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Legacy of Treachery

The Brussels Journal has a fine article today chronicling how French treachery and selfishness has contributed to the current difficulties we're having with Iraq today.

And, of course, it was the French who in the late 1970's agreed to provide Saddam Hussein with a nuclear reactor that he could have used to create weapons grade plutonium.

Today's usually leftwing Guardian laments how the European Union has let Britain down today.

And to think that the Democrats believe that we should entrust our foreign policy to these EUnuchs.

Internet Users Have Longer Attention Spans

This doesn't surprise me.

People who use the Internet to read the news have a greater attention span than print readers, according to a U.S. study that refutes the idea that Web surfers jump around and don't read much.

The EyeTrack07 survey by the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based journalism school, found online readers read 77 percent of what they chose to read while broadsheet newspaper readers read an average of 62 percent, and tabloid readers about 57 percent.

Sara Quinn, director of the Poynter EyeTrack07 project, said this was the first large public study internationally to compare the differences between how people read the news online and in newspapers.

She said they were surprised to find that such a large percentage of story text was read online as this exploded the myth that Web readers had a shorter attention span.

"Nearly two-thirds of online readers, once they chose a particular item to read, read all of text," Quinn told Reuters on Thursday at the American Society of Newspaper Editors' annual conference where the study was released.

"That speaks to the power of long-form journalism."

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Democratic Patriotism

Hat tip, Powerline.