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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Democrats Play Politics With National Security

So much is being made of the National Security Agency’s listening in to overseas phone calls that you might be tempted to believe that something is wrong with that. There isn’t.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be vigilant about government actually overstepping its bounds with regard to the privacy of its citizens. But that is a completely different proposition than this.

President Bush ordered the NSA to listen in on phone calls to and from parties in other countries as a measure of thwarting potential terrorist activities. It is an age-old tool of U.S. Presidents, going back to Jimmy Carter, and has been used by every president—Republican and Democrat alike—ever since.

That should be the end of the story, but it isn’t, and the reason it isn’t the end of the story is that the President’s enemies are so desperate to find things to use against him that they put that before everything else. Literally nothing is more important than “getting George Bush,” not even combating international terrorism or preventing another September 11-style attack.

The President’s enemies are so painfully transparent in these “gottcha” activities that they ought to be embarrassed by them. It is so easy to determine that Mr. Bush’s ordering these calls to be monitored is legal that a child can do it. There are, therefore, only two possibilities for why Democrats haven’t reached this conclusion: 1) They are stupid, or 2) they think the rest of us are stupid. If you chose number 2, go to the head of the class.

According to the Chicago Tribune story on December 21, 2005, titled President had legal authority to OK taps:

President Bush's post- Sept. 11, 2001, authorization to the National Security Agency to carry out electronic surveillance into private phone calls and e-mails is consistent with court decisions and with the positions of the Justice Department under prior presidents.The president authorized the NSA program in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America. An identifiable group, Al Qaeda, was responsible and believed to be planning future attacks in the United States. Electronic surveillance of communications to or from those who might plausibly be members of or in contact with Al Qaeda was probably the only means of obtaining information about what its members were planning next. No one except the president and the few officials with access to the NSA program can know how valuable such surveillance has been in protecting the nation.

In the Supreme Court's 1972 Keith decision holding that the president does not have inherent authority to order wiretapping without warrants to combat domestic threats, the court said explicitly that it was not questioning the president's authority to take such action in response to threats from abroad.Four federal courts of appeal subsequently faced the issue squarely and held that the president has inherent authority to authorize wiretapping for foreign intelligence purposes without judicial warrant.

In the most recent judicial statement on the issue, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, composed of three federal appellate court judges, said in 2002 that "All the ... courts to have decided the issue held that the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence ... We take for granted that the president does have that authority."

It is my opinion that the Democrats are digging themselves deeper and deeper into a political hole they won’t be able to climb out of. I further believe that the American people are far smarter that the Democrats give them credit for being, and that the people will perceive this childish spectacle to be that while the United States government takes steps to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, the Democrats chose to hamper those efforts by playing cheap and tawdry political games.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Recent Chaos

Boy, it’s been a busy few days. Saturday, we drove 2+ hours to mother-in-law’s house for a get-together with my wife’s brothers and mom, and those attached to them. Hit the road at 9 a.m., arrived a little after 11, had lunch and enjoyed talking with folks, hit the road again at 2:30, and we were in the driveway just before 5. We went to the 5:30 Christmas Eve service at my wife’s church, which is the one I attend the several times I go each year. After that, it was a quiet eve with son #1, daughter #3 and wife #2 (although she’s #1, if you know what I mean!). We opened a present or two and then called it a day.

Christmas Day was nice: Quiet and uneventful. Visited some folks to deliver booty, then had a really good dinner at home.

Then came Monday. Took Corky—the pooch—to the kennel. My wife really likes it better if we can get a “sitter” for Corky. Honestly, so do I. But the normal sitter was away for the holidays, so we had to settle for the kennel. Corky had a forlorn look on her face when the attendant took her back to her spa. She’s never sure if we are going to come back. We hit the road at 10, headed for the D.C. area to visit daughters #1 and #2 and their families. Traffic on I-77 and I-81 was brutal. It’s a solid six hours. Spent the next two days catching up with everyone. It was nice, but too short. Not enough sleep, either.

This morning, back on the road around 11, which was a good bit later than I intended. Traffic was worse today. Got back to the area right at 5 p.m. and went straight to the kennel. Corky was VERY happy to see us. Got home, unloaded the car, ate dinner, then got the news that my son’s new monitor fritzed out. Off we went to the store to exchange it, but no luck.

Ever since summer my life has been really busy. I hope to get back into regular posting, now that the holidays are over and I have adapted to my new routine that took control of my life back in September.

Happy New Year to all.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Hypocrisy Abounds

The assertion that there is plenty of hypocrisy to go around in the world of politics won’t surprise anyone. In the recent past conservatives/Republicans have been covered widely in the media for various indiscretions, straying from the straight and narrow path that conservatives and Republicans so unwaveringly promote.

Examples of conservative straying include Rush Limbaugh having developed an addiction for pain killers, Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s excursion into nude photography, and Bill Bennett’s gambling.

All of these examples enjoyed intense coverage in the media at the time they became public knowledge, and only the brain-dead could have failed to be aware of them. The hypocrisy of these individuals was trumpeted far and wide, and in black-and-white terms: Schlessinger was a porn queen; Limbaugh was a common drug addict; Bennett a common back alley dice thrower.

The traditions of our culture, which are promoted by all three of these personalities, oppose illicit sex and pornography, people ruining their lives because they like being drugged out, and people gambling away the family grocery and utility money. For the record, posing nude is posing nude, taking drugs you don’t need is wrong, and gambling is gambling. But as liberals are so fond of telling us, the world is not black and white; there are shades of grey. Some wrongs are worse than others.

While the media did a thorough job of getting the stories out, it did a less admirable job of telling the whole story.

Schlessinger, for example, posed nude for her boyfriend back in the 70s, when she was reportedly 28 years old, long before she realized that such things were wrong. Anybody here ever done something in their youth you regretted 20 years later?

Limbaugh started taking pain medication for a legitimate medical condition, not because he wanted a buzz, and he got hooked. Is it right to use pain pills for something other than the purpose for which they are intended? Of course not. Is Limbaugh a drug-addict who will take whatever will give him a buzz, and who can’t hold a job because of his addiction? Of course not.

Bennett had an affinity for high-stakes poker games that he indulged mostly in private, and which did not put his family’s financial stability at risk. He had the money and he liked to play poker, and that was common knowledge in D.C. while Bennett was in government. Anybody here like to play the ponies, the greyhounds, the tables or cards?

But hypocrisy is hypocrisy, right? And when someone in the public eye commits hypocrisy the media ought to tell us about it. Right?

Well, why have the media not told us about the liberal icons whose very lives personify hypocrisy? Why do we hear and see only about hypocrisy from the Right? Is it because hypocrisy is only important when conservatives do it?

Why haven’t they told us, for example, that Michael Moore, the self-proclaimed “average Joe” who wears scruffy clothes and a scraggly beard, claims to own no stocks, and condemns companies like Halliburton as being run by a bunch of thugs, actually has always lived a life of ease, and has had a substantial portfolio of stocks for many years that has included Halliburton stock. Or that the man who accused Hollywood of being racist hires proportionately fewer black people for the production staff of his own movies than does Hollywood?

I wonder why we haven’t been told of the scandalous behavior of Barbra Streisand, who publicly champions the working man against greedy, rich employers, but treats her own employees so badly that they are constantly in fear of losing their jobs, and who lets other employees go months without being paid? Why don’t they ask Babs why, if she is so concerned for the working people of the United States, she produces her movies in Canada, using cheaper Canadian labor? Why don’t we all know that this supposed environmentalist who chastises the rest of us for wasting precious natural resources spends $22,000 a year watering her lawn? Or that instead of investing in solar energy or energy cell technologies that would advance the environmentalist cause, prefers to invest in “evil” oil companies?

Noam Chomsky calls himself a socialist and professes to speak for the poor, the oppressed and the “victims of capitalism.” He has referred to himself as an “American dissident,” and considers the United States a “police state.” The Pentagon, he has said, is “the most hideous institution on this earth” and “constitutes a menace to human life.” This is the persona the media has helped him promote. Such a man must eschew the trappings of capitalism for the simple life of those whose cause he professes to champion. So he could be expected to avoid the Pentagon like a plague, could he not? But no, Chomsky has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Pentagon over a period of many years for writing books on linguistics for the military. Through profits from these and other books, his public speeches against the U.S., and his income from teaching positions, he has earned a spot in the upper 2 percent of Americans in net wealth, which he has carefully protected from Uncle Sam through an irrevocable trust. His primary residence and vacation home in Massachusetts are valued at more than $2 million.

Are you surprised by these factual accounts of hypocrisy on the part of liberal icons? Do you wonder why these hypocrisies have not been trumpeted as loudly as those of Limbaugh, Schlessinger and Bennett? Doesn’t this glaring omission call into question the motives of the media? And isn’t the media itself grossly hypocritical?

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

U.S. Tortured Prisoners

I have very definite ideas about the use of torture against terrorists: I’m not opposed to it in principle, because people who customarily kill innocents deserve to experience as much pain and suffering as can be brought to bear.

However, having said that, we should not routinely use torture for two very good reasons, one legal and one practical.

The legal reason is that our laws prohibit torturing prisoners of war, and even though terrorists are not prisoners of war—according to the Geneva Conventions—we ought to avoid torture, even for the scum terrorists that we capture.

The practical reason is that torture mostly doesn’t work.

However, there are times when torture ought to be allowed, and to abolish its use totally is senseless and self-defeating. In the now-familiar “ticking bomb” scenario, when someone who has or may have explicit knowledge of an eminent terrorist action has been captured, I think that torturing that individual to gain information needed to intercede to save lives should be not just allowed, but encouraged, even to the extent of torturing that person to death. Taking the life of one scumbag terrorist to save hundreds or thousands of innocent people is a bargain I’d make at the drop of a hat.

I also don’t mind if our government does have secret prisons in friendly nations across the globe where captured terrorist suspects are taken.

However, while I condone the secret prisons, and while I condone the use of torture in the extreme circumstance of a “ticking bomb,” I do not condone the routine use of torture in secret prisons, and am appalled at evidence that the U.S. has done so.

As reported by NewsMax.com, “a human rights group is alleging the United States operated a secret prison near Afghanistan's capital as recently as last year.

“The group claims that music by Eminem and Dr. Dre were used as instruments of torture.”

Have these people no shame, no sense of fair play, no decency, and no humanity?

The report quoted an Ethiopian-born detainee as saying he was kept in a pitch-black prison and forced to listen to Eminem and Dr. Dre’s rap music for 20 days before the ghastly music was replaced by more pleasing " horrible ghost laughter and Halloween sounds."

I say, “Hang the offenders.”

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Closing the Book


Life is precious. It is all too often fleeting. None of us knows for sure what happens when our life ends. Will there be an after-life, and if there is, based upon the life we have led will we go to heaven, or will we go to hell?

Many of us do not appreciate the value of life. We live recklessly. Dangerously. Carelessly. We take chances with our health and our safety; we hurt other people. We think we are invincible, especially when we are young. We often do things that are wrong, perhaps because we don’t realize they are wrong, perhaps because we don’t think about what we are doing, or maybe we believe we can undo it later on. But sometimes the things we do can’t be fixed.

We gamble, and sometimes we lose.

So it was with Stanley “Tookie” Williams. He chose a life of violence and brutality. He chose to kill, and to take the lives of people there was no reason to kill. And for what: For mere pennies.

Maybe he didn’t think about the consequences of his actions, or maybe he thought he wouldn’t be caught. But he screwed up: He committed horrible crimes, and he did get caught.

After he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for his crimes, maybe he thought he could buy his way out. Maybe he thought a few books talking kids out of gang life would do the trick. If so, he was wrong.

He gambled, and lost.

Stanley Williams wasn’t insane, although what he did was crazy and brutal.

Stanley Williams wasn’t stupid, although what he did was mindless and cruel.

Stanley Williams was just mean and evil. During the 26 years he was on death row, he couldn’t prove his innocence; he couldn’t buy his way out of the mess he’d gotten himself into with a few children’s books that hardly any kids read.

He gambled, and lost.

Stanley Williams remained a vile, vicious creature until the day he died. He didn’t appreciate life, and that failure ultimately cost him his own life.

There was very little of value in Stanley Williams’ life. If there is any good to come from this despicable individual, it will be if some young punk knows about what he did and what it earned him, and decides to travel a different path.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A Little Levity

Well, it's been a busy time lately, and I haven't had time to write anything substantive, and won't for the next few days. I have to respond to my buddy Buffalo's challenge in a comment to a previous post, and that will take most of the little time that I would otherwise be able to devote to something on Observations, so in order to be able to post something that someone might appreciate, I will borrow an idea called A Little Levity from a Web site I manage, and post a couple of things that might give you a chuckle.

Herewith:

Letter to Dr. Ruth


Hell Freezes Over


The following is an actual question given on a chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so profound that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it, as well.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different Religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct...leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being, which explains why last night Teresa kept shouting, "Oh, my God."

Reportedly, this student received the only “A.”

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Collage




Messages


To those who think the Iraq war is “the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time”: It is you that are wrong. All of the rationalizations you can muster do not negate the real threat of terrorism, nor can you effectively denounce the dethroning of a brutal, murderous dictator. Left alone, Saddam Hussein would not have become a benevolent leader of his people, he would not have given up his hatred for America, but he would have continued to develop WMD (including nuclear weapons), he would have supported Islamic terrorist initiatives at a stepped-up pace, and he would have become a threat to America and the free world. Taking him out was a good idea, turning Iraq into a democratic country is a good idea, focusing Islamic fundamentalist terror activities in Iraq is a good idea, and finishing the job is essential.



To Howard Dean, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, John Murtha, Hillary Clinton, Barney Frank, Maxine Waters and the rest of the immoderate Democrats who spout inane and damaging rhetoric about the war: Please, don’t stop. Every time you open your mouth, Americans get a clearer idea of what the Democratic Party stands for, and they are increasingly displeased by what they see.



To those who think “Christmas” is an attempt to “Christianize” America, or that it makes sense to change the word “Christmas” to “holiday” in many/all applications, or to do away with Christmas celebrations in schools, etc.: Christmas is both a holy day and a holiday. It is celebrated in more than 30 countries around the world. The celebration of Christmas involves the observance of the birth of Christ for Christians, but also involves lots of things that are not in the least bit religious in nature, such as decorations that include, holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, trees with colored lights and other decorations, food, music, sending cards and giving presents. Celebrating Christmas as both a holy day and a holiday is a tradition in America going back well over 100 years. The idea of changing a tradition of such long standing, and which is so widely popular, for no better reason than that a tiny fraction of the populace complains about it is unworthy of consideration. You can find a tiny fraction of Americans who will support any conceivable idea, no matter how absurd or stupid.




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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Tookie Williams’ Just Desserts

Stanley “Tookie” Williams is two things:

First, he is the brutal murderer of four people.

His first victim was a convenience store clerk killed in cold blood in a robbery, shot twice in the back at close range with a sawed-off shotgun. Williams and his accomplices got about $120 from the cash register. Of that killing Williams said, “You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him.” Williams then made gurgling or growling noises and laughed about Owens’ death.

His next three victims were an elderly husband and wife from Taiwan who owned and operated a motel, and one of the couple’s children who had come from Taiwan to live with her parents. Williams entered the lobby of the motel, broke down the door to the office and systematically shot the three family members, all with a sawed-off shotgun at close range, and two of the three with two shots each. This episode in senseless brutality netted Williams $100.

He was convicted of all four murders and sentenced to die for his crimes.

Second, Williams is a successful author.

While in prison after his conviction, Williams wrote children's books advocating non-violence and alternatives to gangs. Incredibly, he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize each year since 2000. The Nobel committee has not seen fit to award him the Prize; anyone can nominate anyone else for it, so being nominated is a relatively unimportant event.

Williams has earned something for each of these accomplishments.

For his accomplishment as an author, Williams deserves a prize for authors, perhaps the Pulitzer.

He has earned the writing prize, and he should get it.

For the brutal, senseless, murder of four people in cold blood, for nothing more than because they were in a location where he wanted to steal a grand total of $220 dollars, he has earned being put to death as determined by the judicial system.

He has earned being put to death, and he should get that, too. Too bad he can’t be executed by two shots at close range from a sawed-off shotgun.

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"What Middle America Thinks" No More

My blog buddie Brad Barfield has moved his blog to a new address and has changed his moniker. Formerly posting as Mr. Middle America, Brad now is known as MirrorPlebe. Based upon some of his opinions, I had joked that Brad might have to change his moniker, since his opinions were sometimes sharply at odds with what “middle America” thinks. I had no idea that would be a prophecy.

The site name “Mr. Middle America” is being purchased from Brad by a mysterious person he describes as a “pundit recognizable from the (right side of the) main stream media,” but he hasn’t said any more.

We need to watch the MMA site to see what develops there, and I encourage you to visit MirrorPlebe and keep up with Brad’s musings.

U.S. Economy Is Strong

Despite gasoline prices that remain a good bit higher than a year ago, and the continuing efforts of Democrats to cast every aspect of life as miserable so long as George Bush is President, the U.S. economy remains strong.

The U.S. Unemployment Rate, which is the standard by which many people judge the condition of the economy, stands at 5.0 percent as of the end of November. This is a good rate, just under the average Unemployment Rate from 1990 – 2004 of 5.57 percent.

A common misconception is that full employment means that everyone who wants to work or is willing to work has a job, and the Unemployment Rate at full employment would be zero. Suffering under this erroneous concept, 5 percent unemployment seems not just high, but very high. However, historically the country has never enjoyed full employment. The lowest unemployment Rate since 1948 occurred in May and June of 1953, when it stood at 2.5 percent. At full employment, the Unemployment Rate is somewhere between 2% and 7%, depending upon various circumstances, and economists Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker put it at no higher than 4 percent. So, currently the Unemployment Rate is one percentage point higher than the Full Employment Unemployment Rate identified by Bernstein and Baker, but is lower than the 15-year average rate since 1990. It’s a tough sell to use that statistic to beat up on George Bush.

Other economic factors also point to a strong economy. Some 876,000 jobs have been created since June, average hourly earnings have risen 25 cents since June to $16.32, and Productivity rose in June by 2.1% for the 2nd Quarter and by 4.1% in September for the 3rd Quarter. Increased revenues attributed to Mr. Bush’s tax cuts reduced the budget deficit by $94 billion this past fiscal year.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Please Shut Up!

Rep. John P. Murtha is still at it. What is wrong with this man? Is he the idiot he appears to be? Or is he so consumed with petty political opportunism that he just doesn’t see the harm he is doing to the war effort and the military?

Rep. Murtha continued his criticism of the Bush administration's Iraq war policy, claiming that the U.S. Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth." "You cannot win this thing militarily," he said. "Most of [U.S. troops] will be out of there in a year if I have my way."

Mr. Murtha is the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, and has been one of his party's most severe war critics. However, like so many Democrats he has flip-flopped. After voting to authorize force to remove Saddam Hussein, now armed with 20-20 hindsight and consumed by a tawdry lust for political haymaking, he says that vote was a mistake and now calls for quick withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq.

Cooler and smarter heads will prevail, however. "The Army is not broken," the Pentagon’s Col. Joseph Curtin said. "Every day, our soldiers are making tremendous contributions in Iraq, in Afghanistan and more than 120 countries around the world. Retention rates are at an incredibly all-time high, particularly in the active [military] component."

Senate Armed Services Chairman John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, said: "I do take a quite different opinion with regard to his assessment of the Army. ... The morale is so high over there, and they are all puzzled by much of the criticism on this side of the ocean."

Disagreeing with the administration policy, or the war, is everyone’s right. But people in the public spotlight and in high office, like Mr. Murtha, have a responsibility much greater than their selfish drive to beat their breasts and behave like 1960s college students.

Thank goodness that Mr. Murtha’s opinion is irrelevant to the course the U.S. will follow, and thank God that we have a decisive leader in the White House instead of John P. Murtha or John Kerry.

For his ill-advised, dangerous and damaging behavior, Rep. Murtha wins the “Please Shut Up” award.

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

THE plan

Here's an email I received today:

Okay, here's the plan:

Back off and let men marry men, women marry women, and totally legalize abortion.

In three generations, there will be no Democrats!!!

Man! I love it when a plan comes together!

Perverting Religion for Political Purposes


An interesting commentary appeared recently in the Tampa Tribune regarding a Catholic school in Queens, N.Y. that fired an unmarried pre-kindergarten teacher who admitted that she is pregnant.

In its conclusion to the short piece the newspaper, which has a history of trouble with accuracy, said this:

“Religious freedom should allow the school to enforce its standards without government interference. But it's hard to imagine that Jesus would want this woman fired. After all, his own mother once found herself pregnant and unmarried.”

On the one hand, the paper graciously allows that the school, a private religious institution, was within its rights to establish and maintain standards that are commensurate with its religious beliefs, and that the school had the right to fire the teacher for her transgression. No problem. But on the other hand, the Tribune makes a clearly outlandish and inaccurate statement in order to rebuke the school for its choice, to wit: that Jesus’ mother, Mary, was unmarried and pregnant, implying that Mary, just like the teacher, had indulged in pre-marital sex and had become pregnant as a result.

Surely the professionals at the Tribune are at least vaguely familiar with the story of Jesus. The Bible is “the Bible” on Jesus, from conception to ascension. It is customary for journalists to back up their stories with sources, and they could easily have consulted a Bible before launching into what appears to be wholly unfamiliar territory for them.

Whether one believes in God, Jesus or the Bible is not the issue here. The issue is the Tribune’s obviously careless attitude towards facts. The Bible tells us that Mary was a virgin (for those of you at the Tribune, that means that she had never had sexual intercourse), and therefore is unambiguously not in the same boat as the pregnant, unmarried pre-kindergarten teacher.

So we have to ask the question, “ did the Tribune really make an error, or did it just twist things around to suit its purposes?” I suspect the latter, although I don’t doubt that there is also ignorance of the details of Jesus’ conception.

It is disheartening, but increasingly not surprising, that a liberal newspaper—like the liberal wife of a former President of the United States who declared that Jesus was a homeless child—would pervert a major component of any religion for political purposes. Yet that is what has happened. Again.

There seems to be no limit to the lengths the Left is willing to go to advance its agenda.


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Rewriting History

The Windjammer


I'll make one comment, then shut my flytrap.

The Liberals aren't angry about the first election (GWB) because they actually believe he stole it--they are furious because all their own attempts to steal it fell a few votes short.

They are still harping on the second election (GWB), when they tried to steal the election in Ohio, but their own golden boy said it wasn't true. But those who ignore history (or try to rewrite it to suit their personal opinions) are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. The problem today is magnified because they have duped so many people by their twisting of history.

They still claim that the Third George lied in his message about WMD. He didn't. Neither did the President lie when he said in the same speech that the threat was NOT imminent, but that we could not wait until it became imminent. Neither did Jay Rockefeller when he said the threat was imminent. Those who claim lying in either case ignore the facts.

Clinton had it right when he said on Sept 17, 1998 that Ol' Maddas had already used WMD. It was only a matter of time at that time before Saddam would start using the WMD on others in his neighborhood and beyond.

An analogy and a bit of too-late prognostication: If we had exercised our common sense and buried one Adolf Hitler and most of his cadre in a beer hall in Munich ca 1930, just think how many more Frenchmen there would be today. If the UN had allowed GHWB to go after Saddam in the first setto, think how many more Kurds, Shiia's, Sunni's and Americans there might be today.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Pot Calls the Kettle Black

In their haste to paint Republicans as corrupt, the Democrats have apparently forgotten that they have committed their own improprieties. I have taken the liberty to list just a few of them for your enlightenment and edification:

  • Senator Herman Talmadge of Georgia punished after his ex-wife produced cash "gifts" he had hidden in an overcoat (1979)
  • Abscam brought the indictment of several Democrats (1980)
  • Mario Biaggi, convicted (1988) in Wedtech scandal of bribery, extortion, racketeering, filing a false tax return, mail fraud, and false financial disclosure; resigned from U.S. House before he could be expelled
  • Speaker of the U.S. House Jim Wright from Texas, forced to resign after ethics committee investigation found dozens of violations of House rules, including alleged improper receipt of $145,000 in gifts by Wright's wife from a Fort Worth developer and large profits from "sale" of Wright's speeches (1989)
  • Anthony Lee Coelho of California resigns from U.S. House for unethical finance practices including "junk bond" deal (1989)
  • Alcee Hastings, federal district court judge impeached (1989) and convicted of soliciting a bribe; subsequently elected (1992) to U.S. House
  • Walter Fauntroy, Delegate to Congress from the District of Columbia, guilty plea regarding lying on financial disclosure form (1995)
  • Walter R. Tucker III of California resigned before bribery conviction (1996)
  • Secretary of Agriculture Michael Espy forced to resign from office despite ultimate acquittal on criminal corruption charges (1998)
  • Bruce Babbitt, Interior Secretary, independent probe (1998-2000) of alleged lying to Congress concerning influence of money in 1995 American Indian tribe casino decision finds no criminally prosecutable perjury by Babbitt
  • Dan Rostenkowski, post office scandal (1994)
  • Henry Cisneros resigns as Housing Secretary and, after lengthy probe that began in 1995, pleads guilty (1999) to lying to the FBI about money he paid former mistress Linda Medlar a.k.a. Linda Jones; later pardoned by President Clinton in 2001
  • Jim Traficant, financial corruption conviction and expulsion from House (2002)

Democrats also took part in the House Banking scandal, and the House Post Office scandal.

To quote the sage: “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Oil Company Profits Too High? Not When You Understand The Economics Of It

A lot of confusion, misunderstanding, misplaced anger, and wasted energy has resulted from the recent high gasoline prices, particularly following the hurricane damage to the Gulf Coast.

I recommend that everyone who thinks the oil companies are raping Americans read the following piece by economist Walter Williams.


Windfall profits
By Walter E. Williams


In the wake of high gasoline prices and high oil company profits, House Speaker Dennis Hastert demands that oil companies explain why they are making so much money and what they plan to do to bring down the cost of gasoline. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., has introduced a 50 percent windfall profit tax on every barrel of oil selling for more than $40. Let's talk about profits.

First, there's normal profit, which is defined as the minimum amount necessary to keep entrepreneurial resources in their current usage in the long run. Normal profits reflect the opportunity cost of using funds to finance an operation, and they must be equal to, or greater than, the returns available elsewhere in the economy. Normal profits are indeed a cost of business -- the payment to equity owners.


Windfall or supernormal profits are any profits in excess of normal profit and are above and beyond that necessary to keep entrepreneurial resources in their current usage. However, windfall profits are a vital component to a smoothly operating economy. Windfall profits serve as a signal that there are unmet human wants. Let's look at it with a simple example.

Suppose there's a disaster wiping out food resources in Harrisburg, Pa., and I live in Philadelphia. Prior to the disaster, bread prices in both cities were $2 a loaf. I buy a truckload of bread, cart it to Harrisburg and sell it for $20 a loaf, earning huge windfall profits. When the word gets out that there are profits to be made, what do you think happens? If you said other people will start carting bread to Harrisburg, bakers will start working overtime to produce more bread, people who formerly used their oven to bake cakes and pies will switch to baking bread, there'll be bread conservation in Philadelphia and elsewhere and eventually bread prices will start to fall in Harrisburg and windfall profits would vanish, go to the head of the class. While some might find people earning windfall profits objectionable, the result of their actions, getting more bread to Harrisburg, is precisely what's desired.

What if politicians said, "People are profiting from the misery of others, and we're going to impose a bread windfall profits tax"? Say they legislated a 100 percent tax, taking all of the $18 of windfall profits. Would you expect to see people making all those efforts to get bread to Harrisburg? Suppose there were huge startup costs for companies to expand their operation or onerous regulations for people to get into the bread business, would that be good news or bad news for people in Harrisburg?

What prevents a robust supply response to changes in scarcity conditions in the gasoline market? U.S. oil refining capacity is now less than it was in 1980, and since that time there's been a 25 percent increase in demand. Because of costly environmental regulations, it's been 30 years since a new refinery has been built. According to the American Petroleum Institute, over the last 10 years, it has cost the oil industry $47 billion to comply with costly and sometimes useless environmental controls. There are restrictions on exploiting the huge oil reserves in Alaska, the Gulf and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Speaker Hastert said, "These are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures. We expect oil companies to do their part to help ease the pain American families are feeling from high energy prices." Instead of mouthing platitudes and beating up on oil executives, Speaker Hastert should lead the effort to reduce restrictions on drilling and refinery construction. Sen. Dorgan should review our 1970s experience with an oil windfall profits tax that reduced American production and increased our dependence on foreign sources.



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Sunday, November 27, 2005

I Read It in the Funnies


Perhaps some explanation is needed.

I am not in favor of abortion on demand, am adamantly opposed to abortion as birth control, and am unalterably opposed to late-term abortions.

I do not want Judge Alito confirmed so he can overturn Roe v. Wade, although I believe it should be overturned.

I believe that because there is no guarantee in the Constitution for a right to privacy, and Roe v. Wade hinges upon there being a right to privacy, that Roe is bad law—law made improperly from the bench, not properly through the legislative process, I might add—and should be overturned on that basis.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The High Price of Gasoline


One of the big questions these days is, “Why are gasoline prices so high?” The easy answer is that Big Oil is raping the little guy, making huge profits at the expense of the poor and those on fixed incomes. Big Oil, the theory goes, raises prices during disasters, thereby making “obscenely” high profits while much of the rest of the nation suffers.

That is the easy answer, but it is the wrong answer.

The U.S. oil industry is getting blasted by Members of Congress at the same time that Congress is preventing oil companies from new drilling and building new refineries.

Big Oil catches grief over its millions of dollars in profits in the most recent quarter of 2005 while the Tax Foundation reports that the industry paid $2.2 TRILLION in taxes over the last 25 years. The taxes paid to the U.S. government are THREE TIMES as much as industry profits during those same 25 years.

Conoco Philips reported third-quarter profits of about $3.8 billion. That’s a lot of money, isn’t it? That comes out to a profit margin of 7.7 percent on sales. ExxonMobile makes even more. For every dollar of sales Exxon gets nearly nine cents in profits.

Wow!!

But wait. McDonalds made 13.8 percent and Coca-Cola made 21.2 percent in the last quarter, and Google made 24.2 percent. Merck, Bank of America, Microsoft and the Citigroup all made much, much more than that. And here’s the one that ought to make you think: Two of the nation's largest newspaper chains grumble when they don't make over 15 percent on sales.

In fact, the oil and natural gas industries are less profitable than banks, pharmaceuticals, software companies, the telecommunications industry and many more.

The main cause of high prices and our domestic energy shortage is that for decades liberals in Congress and the environmentalists push tax increases on fossil fuels and oppose nearly every effort to increase domestic supplies of oil and gas. Believe it; it is the truth.

Former Indiana Rep. Roger Zion (1967-75), honorary chairman of 60 Plus and early '70s chairman of the House Republican Task Force on Energy, recently made the following points:
  • Nevermind the huge strides made in clean coal technology, we get stifling opposition.
  • Nevermind the extraordinary safety record of nuclear power plants, we get regulation.
  • Nevermind conservation efforts while drilling for more capacity offshore in the East, West and Southeast Coasts, we get blocked access.
  • Nevermind conservation efforts and the advance of proven environmentally sound techniques to open more drilling in public lands, we get demagoguery.
  • Nevermind the massive contribution to energy independence that may be had by opening up the ANWR, we get denied access.
  • Congress claims it's doing everything it can to alleviate high energy costs and eliminate shortages. Don’t you believe it. Congressional cowardice and environmentalist whacko-ism have resulted in the following:
  • No new refineries have been built in 29 years
  • No new nuclear power plants have been built in the last 32 years (France has built 58 that now generate 80 percent of the country's electricity)
  • A host of new regulations and blocked permits have held back development of new coal mines that produce clean coal and could provide much of America's electricity needs.
You don’t have to love Big Oil to find that the real culprit in the high gasoline price issue is not Big Oil. All you have to do is to look at the facts.

Cutting and Running

The new hero of the anti-war Left is a former marine, thrice decorated in the Vietnam conflict. Appearing out of thin air to fill the void created by the predictable obsolescence of Cindy Sheehan, whose usefulness has run its course, Representative Jack Murtha from Pennsylvania rose to the occasion by calling for the troops to come home, using his former military experience as qualification to know better than the generals and their civilian bosses exactly how to go about completing the Iraq mission. His call was not only foolish, coming from former military man who ought to know better, but it also demoralizes our brave men and women fighting for their country in Iraq, and emboldens the terrorists. So long as the Democrats and other opponents of the war continue their gaudy public displays of disunity, the enemy gets a better idea of how long it must hang on before we’re gone.

Having been a U.S. fighting man, you could rightly expect Mr. Murtha to empathize with our brave troops, and refrain from that grandstanding display of poor judgment he showed in calling for the pullout. But politics is a sometimes-powerful narcotic, seducing many a good man and woman to the dark side for narrow and selfish partisan interests, and Jack Murtha could not resist the warm, tingly feeling this narcotic brings.

However, Jack Murtha’s surrender to the warm rush his moment in the sun brought does nothing to change reality, and what the Bush administration has been telling us all along is still the order of the day: The troops will come home as soon as the Iraqi forces are capable of doing the job themselves, and not a moment sooner. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a plan. You may not like the plan, but it is nonetheless THE plan. To do otherwise would be irresponsible, and stupid. Get used to it and pipe down!

Jumping to defend their new hero’s dumb plan, Democrats descended upon Ohio Rep. Jean Schmidt on the House floor for speaking up about Mr. Murtha’s pullout call. Her statement to the House merely said: “Yesterday I stood at Arlington National Cemetery attending the funeral of a young marine in my district. He believed [what we are doing] is the right thing and had the courage to lay his life on the line to do it. A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run; Marines never do. Danny and the rest of America and the world want the assurance from this body – that we will see this through.”

Well, from the Democrats’ reaction you might have thought Ms. Schmidt called Mr. Murtha a coward. Everyone except those who don’t understand English, particularly plain English like this, and those who are interested in the dishonest twisting of words for political purposes, knows she said nothing of the kind. She merely delivered a constituent’s message to its intended audience, Mr. Murtha and the rest of the House of Representatives. That message is simple: “Withdrawing troops in the manner Mr. Murtha has suggested amounts to cutting and running. Marines do not cut and run.”

English-impaired Rep. Harold Ford charged across the aisle screaming something about a personal attack, and Rep. Marty Meehan yelled that Republicans were “pathetic.” So much for decorum and civility. Ms. Schmidt must have hit a sensitive spot?

The same Democrats whose revised version of history now involves calling the President of the United States a liar, get their panties in a wad over a statement on the House floor that pulling the troops out of Iraq is the wrong thing to do. If the Democrats do not like the constituent’s message, tough. Do we not all pity their hurt feelings?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Reflections" Updated

Read "The Church Service" at Reflections.

Collage


Rights, Rights! I Demand My Rights!

Gertrude Himmelfarb, a brilliant observer of society and culture, had this to say about the state of American society: “The litigious temper of the times is a consequence of the decline of civility and the concomitant proliferation of ‘rights’—legal rights in place of the manners and morals that once arbitrated disagreements and disputes. In this sense the law has become not so much the aid and abettor of manners and morals as a substitute for them.”

The Left, and others who want to focus on “rights” as if they are sacrosanct and exist in a vacuum, will instantly jump upon this insightful piece of reality. Do they truly believe that the mere fact that a person has the right to do something absolves that person of the repercussions of exercising that right?

The answer is “yes.” That is precisely what they believe, because nothing is as important to these folks as their own desires. It’s okay, they say, to have a “society” as long as what’s good for the many does not interfere with what’s good for “me.”

Such a philosophy makes it impossible to maintain a society that, by definition, requires individuals to sacrifice a few of their abundant “rights” for the good of the many. Personal selfishness and the assertion of individual rights to the exclusion of what is good for the whole of society is a recipe for societal collapse, and we see substantial movement toward that frightening possibility every day.


Damn the Consequences, Full Speed Ahead!

The irresponsible caterwauling by the Democrats for bringing the troops home from Iraq as soon as it can be accomplished without regard for what happens after the American military leaves defies logical defense.

The truth is, though, that the Democrats do not want the troops withdrawn for the good of the troops, but for the good of Democratic Party hopes in the 2006 election. Nothing will sell with the American people, Democrat leaders reason, like the failure of a Republican administration in a war, and nothing will signal failure more clearly than withdrawing the troops prematurely.

On the other hand, nothing will make the Democrats’ plight more difficult than if the administration of a Republican President succeeds in establishing a democratic government in Iraq, and taking a big piece out of the terrorist initiative at the same time.

This is the dilemma of the Democrats, and that is the explanation for why they want to cut and run, despite the consequences for the nation.

A Thanksgiving Message


At this time of giving thanks for all that we have, it will serve us well to recognize that some of what we have done in recent years isn’t at all desirable.

We have exploited the poor and called it “the lottery.”

We have rewarded laziness and called it “welfare.”

We have killed our unborn and called it “choice.”

We have shot abortionists and called it “justifiable.”

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it “building self-esteem.”

We have abused power and called it “politics.”

We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it “ambition.”

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it “freedom of expression.”

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it “enlightenment.”

In days like these, as we watch our culture gradually slip away to be replaced by a standards-less, morally bankrupt muddle, we should, indeed, be thankful for what we have left, and be thankful that there is still time to restore our character, honor and integrity.

I wish a happy Thanksgiving to all.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Plame Name Blame Case Becomes Even Weaker

This is another of those times when someone else says what needs to be said, and says it well enough that the rest of us need not try. Wesley Pruden examines the supposed outing of Valerie Plame, and finds even less "there" there than we had been mislead to believe.


Mortuary Bob exposes another cover-up
November 18, 2005

It's not the crime, it's the cover-up.

Mortuary Bob Woodward made his career by establishing that as an article of capital faith. You could ask the ghost of Richard Nixon.

Mortuary Bob became a Washington legend for cultivating sources among both the quick and the dead, and he's guilty so far of no known crime. Well, except the crime of not taking seriously the game of who outed Valerie Plame, Washington's most famous airhead, as a covert operative of the CIA. That "crime" may yet get him "terminated" with extreme prejudice.

The husband of the airhead yesterday demanded the pursuit of Mortuary Bob by the famous special prosecutor from Chicago who has spent $20 million in vain pursuit of a crime, and could only manage to indict Scooter Libby for not remembering who told him about something that didn't happen. V Somebody even now is writing a play about the Plame game, and it's a musical comedy. It's easy to see why. We can only hope the music will be better than the words. Mortuary Bob wrote the best review of what's happened so far, when he told an interviewer for NPR that "when all the facts come out in this case it's going to be laughable because the consequences are not that great."

The consequences, great or not, are likely to fall hardest on the head of Patrick Fitzgerald. The big wind from Chicago has seen his case against Scooter fall apart over the last 48 hours. Scooter stands charged with perjury, a serious crime that rarely yields a conviction, because he said he learned of Valerie Plame's supposed status as a covert CIA agent from Tim Russert of NBC News, and not from a government official, which would have made it a violation of the law. Mr. Russert says that's not how he remembers it.

Even if Scooter was telling a lie, and not merely misremembering something from a long time ago, this is pretty thin soup on which to go to a grand jury. But if you're a special prosecutor who has just blown $20 million, even if merely taxpayer money, you're likely to be in a mild panic to come up with any old bone to throw into the pot.

But now comes Mortuary Bob with his story that he talked to Scooter before Tim did, and his notes reflect that he wanted to talk about "yellowcake" and "Joe Wilson's wife." This suggests that a lot of people in town knew about Val and Joe, who covert or not devote a lot of their time trying to get their overt pictures in the papers. If Scooter, who talks to a lot of reporters, all of whom look alike in the dark, got Tim and Mortuary Bob confused who could blame him? Probably not a jury, unless it's a jury packed with diehard Democrats eager to nail a Republican hide to the barn door. Where but the District of Columbia could you find a jury like that?

The operating manual for U.S. district attorneys sets out the dilemma for Mr. Fitzgerald. The manual requires that no prosecution can commence unless the D.A. believes he has the evidence to get a conviction. Losing is for losers, and that's why the government lawyer always holds the winning card (sometimes in his sleeve or sock).

If all this strikes the average American who actually has a life as a lot of stuff about not very much, he's excused. That's what Mortuary Bob thought, too, and that's what his newspaper and other organs of the bag-Bush-at-any-cost movement are unlikely to forgive. Mortuary Bob apologized to The Post for not coming forward with his admission until now. The editors put the apology on Page One, taking up space usually reserved for sad stories about helpless gay, black, female victims of our dirty, rotten, no-account society where the sun never shines, children never smile, lovers never woo and the river never runs smooth to the sea.

Mortuary Bob repented, The Post reported, "even as an investigation of who disclosed [Valerie Plame's] identity mushroomed into a national scandal." Of course it's a national scandal. Doesn't everybody from Pottstown to Yuma get up every morning eager to know what's going on at The Washington Post?

The irony is that this investigation into the fluff from an airhead's navel came about because first the New York Times and then The Post demanded it, nurtured it and gave the story mouth-to-mouth resuscitation every time it began to fade into the mist along the Potomac. And to think that only yesterday Scooter was on his way to prison, Karl Rove was about to be flung into hell, and George W. Bush was looking for impeachment lawyers. Now all we've got are a gang of media stars with hot notebooks. But any story with a journalist in it is a candidate for Page One. You could look it up.

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Visit "Reflections"


There's a new post on my sister site, Reflections, tonight.

Politics is such a farce these days that I just can't deal with it. So, I'm spending some of the little time I have for writing on things less political, and more personal.

I hope you'll take the time to visit Reflections.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Clarence Thomas Blasts Confirmation Process

As Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito prepares to go before the Senate in January, Justice Clarence Thomas has criticized the Senate confirmation process. If anyone knows how brutal and unfair the confirmation process can be, it is Clarence Thomas, who was assaulted by unsubstantiated accusations and dragged through the mud by a former co-worker, despite his obvious qualifications. This mugging took place for no better reason than the political Left feared the presence on the Court of a Justice who would rely on the U.S. Constitution to decide cases.

Justice Thomas told students and other audience members in a question-and-answer session at the University of Alabama School of Law that the process is so intense that federal court judges turn down the opportunity to serve on the Supreme Court. It’s a sad day in this country when qualified people shy away from public service because the process of getting approved is so poisonous and dirty that they don’t want to go through it.

According to a report in the University of Alabama's newspaper, The Crimson White, Justice Thomas also made these comments during the Q & A session:

The personal lives of Supreme Court nominees shouldn't be thoroughly bared during the confirmation process.

The Senate votes for people who make decisions for or against their interests, instead of deciding whether they are capable of interpreting the law.

The courts are being "held hostage" by the issue of abortion, which has been at the center of every confirmation hearing since Roe v. Wade.

When asked about religion and government, Thomas said the separation of church and state couldn't be found in the Constitution.

All of those statements are true. The most relevant one at the moment is number 2, for it foreshadows what may be coming next year when the Alito nomination comes up: that Senators sometimes put their solemn duty to fairly and objectively evaluate a nominee’s qualifications aside and substitute their personal feelings and political eiency when it comes to Supreme Court nominations. Such despicable behavior is a grave disservice to the nation, and a gross failure in the responsibility of their office.

The method of evaluating a nominee’s fitness for the Court based upon qualifications and experience was good enough for the Democrat’s when Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed, despite her liberal record. We’ll see soon whether the Democrats in the Senate today are fair minded, or just cheap political hacks who put nothing ahead of their selfish, narrow political agenda.

Senate Turns Down Troop-Withdrawal Mandate


Thank goodness the U.S. Senate had the good sense to defeat a Democrat-led effort to set a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. Had the measure passed, it would have been a dramatic demonstration of gross stupidity, colossal Constitutional impropriety, and callous arrogance.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas declared, "Americans do not cut and run, Americans do not abandon their commitments, and Americans do not abandon their friends." Sen. Cornyn said his party succeeded in its main goal of beating the Democrat troop-withdrawal proposal, appearing to defend the passage of a proposal by Republicans that calls for changes in the Bush administration's Iraq policy and requires the White House to draw up a schedule for transition to Iraqi sovereignty. The latter measure is only slightly less offensive and less improper than the Democrat measure.

It is not the Senate’s prerogative to decide how the war will be run, and even Senate Democrats ought to be smart enough to know that when they are so publicly anti-war it undermines the war effort, emboldens the terrorist enemy, and heightens the potential for harm to come to U.S. troops in Iraq and elsewhere.

The Democrats, however, are selfishly looking to the 2006 elections, and don’t care who they harm in the process of trying to appear relevant in a desperate attempt regain power in one house of the Congress. They should realize that irresponsible behavior such as this failed attempt, and the attempted rewriting of the history of how and why we went to war in Iraq, don’t sell with most Americans, who are far more discerning than the Democrats understand, and realize that such petty political hay-making is not supportive of our troops.



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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Does Idiocy Still Exist In The U.S.? You Bet!

From Michael the ArchAngel’s blog, evidence of enormous idiocy resulting from policies of the political Left:

It seems that Berkeley High School, a school that doesn't even allow certain textbooks to be taken home, has started a new school club (much like the chess club, the debate club) called the condom club. Yup, not only has the school started such a club, but by joining, each student get 12 condoms per week, FREE!!!!

What a strange world we live in. Young girls in California don’t have to tell their parents that they are pregnant and want to kill the fetus, and the kids in Berkeley High School in or near San Francisco can join a school club and get free condoms!!

What a freakin’ mess!

Here’s the story.

Couldn't Have Said It Better


Sometimes, when time forbids it, I post entire columns from the pros. I don’t like to do that as much as I like to post my own opinions, but time, as I said, sometimes forbids thoughtful, complete original posts.

So, having said all of that, I present the following comments from Wesley Pruden, an insightful observer of the passing scene. If you are at all interested in the truth, read this.


The mean trick on the critics

By Wesley PrudenPublished November 15, 2005

Now for the pause that refreshes. George W. Bush is off to China, where with a little luck he'll hear nary a discouraging word and the skies will be cloudy for only part of the day.

He let the Democrats have the other barrel of double-ought buckshot just as he left on the long flight to Asia, reprising the harsh rhetoric of last week targeting critics for sending mixed signals to both the troops and to an enemy that needs no encouraging.

"Reasonable people can disagree about the conduct of the war," he said, "but it is irresponsible for Democrats to now claim that we misled the world and the American people. Only one person manipulated evidence and misled the world -- and that person was Saddam Hussein."

The president can be rightly warmed by the reaction to his long-overdue blast at Democrats who diet on milk and crackers, and his friends can be cheered that maybe he really means it -- that his Friday speech in Pennsylvania, calling out critics rewriting the history of the liberation of Iraq, was not merely a one-off outburst of pique and frustration.

He returned to the theme again at a refueling stop in Alaska, with a nod to congressional Democrats who can rightly say they have opposed the war all along. "I disagree with them, but I respect their willingness to take a consistent stand. Yet some Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force are now rewriting the past."

The president's willingness to mix it up with his critics, after months of offering mostly boilerplate clich├ęs about duty, honor and country, altered overnight Washington perceptions of his grit and resolve. The Sunday talk shows reflected something new on the public airwaves.

Chris Wallace of Fox News confronted Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia with the meanest trick in the journalist's playbook, quoting, accurately, a politician's words back to him: "The president says that Democratic critics, like you, looked at prewar intelligence and came to the same conclusion he did. In fact, looking back at the speech you gave in October 2002 in which you authorized the use of force, you went farther than the president ever did. Let's watch."

Onto the screen flashed a slightly younger visage of Mr. Rockefeller, fished from the video archives, saying: "I do believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat, but I also believe that after September 11 that question is increasingly outdated."

How soon we forget when the rubble is cleared, but videotape has eliminated the places where timid politicians hide. And indeed, the senator's characterization of the Saddam threat as "imminent" was something the president never said.

Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan had a high old time on CNN the other morning, accusing the president of distortions, prevarications, falsifications, deceptions and other euphemisms for "lies." He even accused the president of persuading the nation that "Saddam Hussein had participated in the attack on us on 9/11," which is the senator's own distortion, prevarication, falsification and deception. A bit more than ingenious, too, because here's what the senator himself said about Saddam Hussein on the eve of retribution:

To the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 19, 2002: "We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region."

Or this, on Dec. 12, 2001: "The war against terrorism will not be finished as long as [Saddam Hussein] is in power."

In early October 2002, Hillary Clinton, every Democrat's vision of the Joan of Arc scheduled for arrival three years hence, was the queen of the mob mongering war on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Saddam Hussein, she said, "has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11 ... "

John Kerry's on-again, off-again enthusiasm for war in Iraq (which could in fairness be described as well as his on-again, off-again enthusiasm for doing nothing) is well-known, of course. He told interviewer Larry King a few days after September 11, when it was safe to be a courageous Democrat, that "this doesn't end with Afghanistan by any imagination ... I think we have made that clear. Terrorism is a global menace. It's a scourge. And it is absolutely vital that we continue, for instance, [after] Saddam Hussein."

But that was then. Not now, of course. Sticks and stones may, or may not, hurt. But whoever said words never hurt never met a Democratic senator trying to hide from his earlier self.

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Do Muslims Have A Soul?

Radical Muslims have been committing murder in the name of Islam for decades. Sometimes the violence is directed at “infidels,” which the radicals say is justified in the holy texts of the Koran/Quran.

Much of the violence is carried out by Muslim fanatics who commit suicide in order to kill. The Koran makes it very clear that suicide is forbidden. The puppet masters of radical Islam dance around that very serious point by calling suicide bombers “martyrs,” as if it doesn’t matter that they blew themselves up in the process of killing “infidels.” This ranks right at the top of the list of rationalizations.

Increasingly, however, the victims of these attacks are not “infidels”; they are not American soldiers or American civilians. The attacks in Iraq are far more likely to kill Muslims—the countrymen of the suicide bombers and their leaders—than to kill Americans. And, as in the attacks in Amman recently, the victims are from the outset other Muslims.

The attacks in Amman, which were intended to kill only Muslims, have aroused the ire of the Jordan’s ruler and the people of Jordan. But their outrage, justified as it is, is really not as hot as it ought to be, and it is limited pretty much to Jordan

So, the questions hang there like a family of 200-pound gorillas: Do Muslims have a soul? Do they believe it is wrong to murder innocent Muslims just because some punk like Zarqawi wants to? Will “good” Muslims—assuming that there are good Muslims—ever condemn Zarqawi and the other perverts who use Islam as an excuse for murder? Or, will they stand meekly by and watch?