Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The trouble with socialism is socialism. The trouble with capitalism is capitalists.

Liberals, who mostly despise capitalism, call highly paid corporate CEOs and their corporations "greedy" because of the huge amounts of money the CEOs and other high management types collect. This abuse is one of the primary reasons they hate capitalism, in fact.

Conservatives, who correctly believe capitalism is the best economic system ever created, are embarrassed by the excesses of corporate America, but are unable to do much about it.

Liberals believe that socialism is the solution to the excesses of capitalism. It isn't. Socialism is the answer to no serious question. But capitalism certainly gets a black eye each time some CEO inflates his salary to match his inflated ego.

William F. Buckley, Jr. addresses this topic in a recent column, Capitalism's Boil, which is worth a few minutes of your time.

Air America investigated by Secret Service

This is over the line.

The red-hot rhetoric over Social Security on liberal talkradio network AIR AMERICA has caught the attention of the Secret Service, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

Government officials are reviewing a skit which aired on the network Monday evening -- a skit featuring an apparent gunshot warning to the president!

The announcer: "A spoiled child is telling us our Social Security isn't safe anymore, so he is going to fix it for us. Well, here's your answer, you ungrateful whelp: [audio sound of 4 gunshots being fired.] Just try it, you little bastard. [audio of gun being cocked]."

The audio production at the center of the controversy aired during opening minutes of The Randi Rhodes Show.

"What is with all the killing?" Rhodes said, laughing, after the clip aired.

"Even joking about shooting the president is a crime, let alone doing it on national radio... we are taking this very seriously," a government source explained.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

America rejects Air America

After a disappointing year, the liberal radio network Air America appears headed for the trash heap. The talk network has only managed to attract 50 or so markets, which is a pretty poor showing.

Even in the nation’s top market, New York City, the flagship station, WLIB, is only 24th in the Arbitron ratings, and that is worse than the previous all-Caribbean format on that station that the liberal talk format replaced. Other liberal areas of the country, like San Francisco and Los Angeles, have worse ratings than New York.

Brian C. Anderson, senior editor of City Journal and author of the new book "South Park Conservatives” opines in the Los Angeles Times, that talk radio shows that succeed have certain characteristics that make them listenable. First, they utilize humor and other “snazzy” elements. Second, borrowing from political consultant Dick Morris, he says that a large segment of liberals are black and Hispanic, and those demographic groups have their own specialized entertainment radio outlets, which they prefer to talk radio of any description. And third, and most important, is the fact that so much of the mainstream media is liberal that liberals don’t need liberal talk to satisfy their hunger for Leftist ideas. Indeed, it was the liberal media that created the need for conservative talk shows.

My own opinion is that the consistently tired and negative liberal messages just don’t attract listeners, beyond the manic few.

But what’s good about this is that unlike many on the Left who would like to silence conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Shawn Hannity, the Right has pretty much left the libs alone to try their luck, and it has failed all by itself.

It’s a pretty safe bet, though, that this message will not be the one taken away from this failed exercise by liberals. They’ll likely try to blame it on Karl Rove. Or Tom DeLay. Or the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Whatever their explanation, it won’t be that people just don’t want or need liberal talk radio. That kind of plain truth, the Left is just deaf to.

The Republicans Have a Litmus Test?

by The Windjammer

I have been reading for at least the past two months about a supposed litmus test for judicial appointments which is said to be solely the possession of the Republicans in the Senate. I have also been reading about the reasons for the objections to such appointments by the Democrats in the Senate. I am somewhat confused, as I am sure are most other observers who pay close attention to such things.

I can’t seem to recall a single instance of a nominee’s being either rejected by the Senate or the nomination put on hold in recent years in which the question of whether he/she supported or opposed random abortion was not the deciding factor for Democrats et alia in determining the opposition to the nomination. That sounds to me a bit like forcing a predetermined judgment on the judge before the case is tried. Never mind what the law says or the circumstances in the individual case. If we were to impose the same type of restriction on judges regarding dips, stick-up artists, wife-beaters, drug executives (dealers), and used-car salesmen who tricked us into buying a lemon, the uproar would cause a din in Denmark.

If that isn’t a "litmus test" imposed by the opposition, I wish someone would explain to my satisfaction just what it is. I hope you noticed that I spelled it "opposition," without a D or R.

We are now being threatened with filibusters to thwart the appointment of judges who don’t pass the test the liberals so desperately want. If they don’t get all they want, including rule by the minority, they threaten to shut down the Senate. I’m not at all sure that anyone would notice. "We" includes you and me, because the people are the ones who must pay for the mistakes of Congress, either in cold hard cash or in the cost to our freedoms. My fellow countryman, Will Rogers, said the same thing many years ago, but he was funnier than I. Congress hasn’t changed much.

If the "conservative" or "religious" judges of the past were so dead set against some of the things the liberals seem to believe to be so essential to the life style they desire, how in the world did we get such a decision as Roe vs. Wade and so long ago?

There is a segment within the judiciary in these United (?) States which continues to violate all principles of the republican form of government which we are supposed to have and which was prescribed in the Constitution. There have been numerous incidents in which the written and enacted law was circumvented and a new entirely different application instituted by the presiding judge.

Guess what tag even the liberal media hang on to such judges.

It ain’t "Conservative" with a capital C.

If there are those among you who believe that use of the filibuster in denying judges the right to a Senatorial vote up or down is a tradition of long standing, you need to do a little research to learn just when it really started. Filibustering has been around for what seems to be forever to this old Geezer, but its use in denying otherwise qualified judges a soft seat on a hard bench is relatively new.

Don’t take my word for it. Look it up for yourownself.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

When you can't think of anything meaningful to do, obstruct

One of my blogger friends, Dan at Republican Dan, is the son of
David Gelernter, Yale professor and senior fellow at the Shalem Center, Jerusalem. Gelernter has a column in the Los Angeles Times that hits the mark on Democrat obstructionism, which the party has adopted as its only strategy for the foreseeable future.

"To Dems, It's 1974 Forever."

Friday, April 22, 2005

Whence terrorism?

Paleo-conservatives believe that Islam and liberty are mutually exclusive. Trying to liberate a Muslim nation, to them, is the height of absurdity. The ancient and backward Muslims are not capable of appreciating the fruits of democracy, in their view. The perspective that American intervention in the Middle East has spawned the terrorism we now witness derives from this point of view.

However, the idea that U.S. intervention is the real reason for terrorism melts away when the discussion focuses on the beliefs of themost radical thugs of the Muslim world about the U.S.

For example, it was an Egyptian, Mohammed Atta, who led the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. What intervention by the U.S. in his home country prompted his hatred for the U.S.? Was it that that the U.S, sent billions of dollars to re-supply Egypt’s military? Do good Egyptians attack their benefactor?

In Saudi Arabia, in addition to paying huge sums for Saudi oil over the years, the U.S. responded to a Saudi request for troops to help protect them from attack by Saddam Hussein. A Saudi, al Qaeda leader Ossama bin Laden, masterminded the 9-11 attacks. Did he object to the U.S. helping his country? Should we expect that to anger patriotic Saudis?

No, something else was and is behind Muslim terrorism. And, it’s much less interesting to the “Hate America First” crowd than their preferred reason: That the U. S. is to blame for terrorism, both at home and around the world.

And who can better answer the question of why they did it than those who unleashed the horrors of terrorism on the U.S.? From the horses’ mouths comes the evidence.

"Democracy, as a form of government is already bankrupt in the West. Why should it be imported to the Middle East?" - Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian who guided the thinking of many of today's radical Islamists, who as a student in the U.S. in the 1940s had the opportunity to be appalled at our free society up close.

Osama Bin Laden himself says he hates the United States because it refuses to submit to the law of Allah. You Americans, he has said, “chose to implement your own inferior rules and regulations, thus following your own vain whims and desire.”

Second fiddle to bin Laden is Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, who also has condemned democratic institutions as "un-Islamic." "We have declared a bitter war against the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it," Zarqawi said in an audiotape released just before Iraq's Jan. 30 parliamentary vote. "Candidates in elections are seeking to become demigods, while those who vote for them are infidels,” he said of the first efforts at democracy in the 7th century minds of Islamic fascists.

These ideologues are intensely focused on protecting their own selfish interests. They realize that when their narrow, selfish, repressive, supremacist, totalitarian values are juxtaposed with freedom and democracy, nearly all Muslims prefer freedom and democracy. As Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said, the fundamental values embraced in the U. S. are “seductive.”

He recognizes, as do Islamic fascists like bin Laden and Zarqawi, that ideas such as self-rule and tolerance are more inspiring and appealing than the poisonous brew of Islamism, fascism and terrorism that bin Laden, Zarqawi and the other small men with small ideas try to impose.

Fear, not U.S. intervention in the Middle East, is the primary force for terrorism, the fear that the narrow, repressive philosophy of Islamic fascism will die quickly in a democratic Iraq, and these oppressors will be out of business. That view is supported by military historian Victor Davis Hanson, who said that September 11 “was the wage of decades of American appeasement and neglect (emphasis mine) – a pathological Middle East left alone to blame others for its own self-induced mess.” So, in the view of Victor Hanson, it is not the intervention of the U.S. in the Middle East that has spawned terrorism, it is the reluctance of the U.S. to aggressively support democratic movements in the Middle East that has allowed the radical Islamists to grow in strength sufficiently to successfully attack the U.S. on its own territory.

It takes force to defeat a violent and determined enemy, and it takes good ideas to beat bad ideas. The U.S. must use both in this fight.

Finger Food

by The Windjammer

I am about to break a longstanding tradition with myself and start commenting on something about which I know nothing except that which I have heard and seen on that most informative of all media, the tube which many of us have nicknamed "Boob."

I just saw that the woman who claimed to have found a piece of finger in her bowl of Wendy’s chili has been arrested.

What I say from this point forward is all based on hearsay evidence from the aforementioned reliable source, and if you have had half as much experience with hearsay as I have, you will know that most of it should be "hear" and none of it "say."

She is said to have now been charged with grand larceny and attempted larceny.

The only way in this uphill and downtrodden state where I live that you can be charged with such serious offenses is for someone to believe that you did something wrong--BIG TIME. Grand means that it wasn’t penny ante or even dollar wise or pound foolish.

It has been reported that the too-short finger originally belonged to a woman in another state who still has the stub to prove it. It allegedly disappeared from a pickle (not as in dill) jar in a Las Vegas emergency room. As Sherlock might have said to Watson, it is elementary that the mysterious disappearance must have been engineered with malice aforethought.

Wendy’s apparently did a lot of finger pointing on their own and determined that the pointy digit didn’t come from anyone in their food chain, to coin a pun. Missing fingers leave telltale evidence and none of the employees et alii who could have contributed to the potential loss of millions in tort suits had the necessary stub to prove that any had lost one of their digits.

If you think that Wendy’s wasn’t in danger of losing a chunk of their wherewithal, try to recall the incident of a few years back when a woman put her coffee where it had no business being and won a judgment against MacDonald’s because she scalded her cuisse. I have been burdened ever since with having to drink lukewarm coffee, even when I make it my self. Try to imagine what could have happened if the subject had been able to cough and gag a couple of times in front of reliable witnesses and then spit out about half of a pickled finger.

This nation has been burdened for a few decades now with folks who think they can get rich quick at someone else’s expense and that as a result of their windfall, no one suffers. I had an old editor who repeated a saying I heard years ago, "There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch," or TANSTAFL, as he wrote it. The saying has been attributed to Milton Friedman, also spelled Anon. I am not sure who coined it, if either Jim or Milt. Regardless of the originator, it is an established truth. I learned that long ago when I worked for a dollar a day (10 hours on end) and all the free hard cider I could drink because there wasn’t any water nearby. Believe you me, you always pay in both the long run and the short run for drinking too much hard cider on an empty stomach. There were times when I just couldn’t find a tree big enough.

So it is with groundless or contrived tort suits. Somebody has to foot the bill.

That someone is going to be you. You can bet your crooked forefinger that it won’t be anyone such as GM, Wendy’s, Pfizer or Ford. They don’t have a thin dime unless they can first snitch it from you.

I’m pleased that they caught the perpetrator in the act. She must have left her fingerprints.

Salute to Pan American Airways

Last flight from Saigon relived after thirty years

The memories are still vivid: a steaming bus ride through the humid morning, the acrid odor of jet fuel, the clouds of smoke from distant gunfire, getting closer. Then about 450 people boarded the last commercial flight out of Saigon, headed for the United States.

That was April 24, 1975, six days before the North Vietnamese tanks rolled into Saigon. A Pan American World Airways Boeing 747 -- crammed with Pan Am and U.S. Embassy staff, frightened refugees, crying orphans and volunteer crew members -- lifted off the potholed tarmac at Tan Son Nhut International Airport on the outskirts of the chaotic city, and took flight while distant rockets took aim.

"It was a heroic rescue mission," recalls David Lamb, who was a Los Angeles Times correspondent who joined the flight when it landed at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. "That was truly a dangerous moment."

The Federal Aviation Administration had ordered all U.S. commercial flights barred from flying in or out of Vietnam, but Pan Am received permission for one final flight. Twenty days earlier, another jetliner, a C-5A Galaxy assigned to Operation Baby Lift, exploded and crashed after an explosion tore off a rear door. More than half of the 300 children and adults aboard died.

But this weekend, the crew of "Clipper Unity," Pan Am's familiar Flight 842 and their Vietnamese baby refugees -- most of whom are now in their 30s -- will reunite at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington for a tearful anniversary of the celebrated evacuation, dubbed "Wings of Freedom."

"It represents the drama of the final hours of Saigon. It's the link to the past," says Mr. Lamb, who will participate in the four-day symposium that will call up reminiscences from the Operation Baby Lift survivors.

Stephanie Mansfield - THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The really friendly skies of Pan Am

Once upon a time, before the airplane replaced the streetcar as the way to haul cattle from here to there, the American airliner was the ultimate in extravagant luxury and romance above the clouds.

Travelers dressed like grown-ups for the adventure they expected to get for the price of their ticket. Men took baths on the day of the trip, shaved, and put on clean shirts, long pants and leather shoes. Women felt no compulsion to look (or smell) like men, and dressed accordingly. The scenery aboard was often exquisite.

Nobody looked as bold, as bright or as buff as the crew. The pilots had the look of command authority, and the stewardesses (who would have considered it an insult to be called an "attendant," which is what hospitals call bedpan technicians and restroom superintendents), were the best looking of all. None drew the admiring glances like those aimed at the young women of Pan American World Airways.

Pan Am's planes, gleaming as white as wedding cakes and their tails emblazoned with the baby-blue globe that was the most recognizable icon on the flight line, moved through the traffic on the tarmac as if Pan Am owned the airport. Which was only right, since Pan Am had built the airports in many of the world's most exotic ports of call in the days when a jet was only a vagrant gust of wind, and air travel was for the hale, the hardy, and the well-heeled. The best advice I ever got, arriving in Southeast Asia as a grassy-green correspondent, was from the late Keyes Beech of the Chicago Daily News, who went to Asia to cover World War II and stayed: "Get to know the Pan Am station chiefs. They'll always know more about what's going on than the American ambassador will."

This weekend the ghosts of Pan Am (the airline went to airline heaven in 1991) will hover over a hotel in suburban Virginia, where Pan Am veterans of the last days of the Vietnam War will gather for an emotional reunion with some of the orphans of the storm they rescued at the risk of their own lives as North Vietnamese tanks closed on Tan Son Nhut International Airport on the outskirts of Saigon.

They will be joined by a few other Pan Am veterans of the Vietnam War, the crews from the airline's celebrated R&R flights from Hong Kong, fondly remembered by hundreds of thousands of GIs. The fondest recollections of the GIs are, as mine are, of the stewardesses. I kept a room in a hotel across Nathan Road from the apartment block where a good number of the 50 or so stewardesses assigned to Hong Kong lived. I was even engaged to one of them for that season when everybody in the world was young. (That was my championship season.)

Pan Am took the GIs from Saigon to long weekends in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Taipei, Manila, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Even the Muslim fleshpots of K.L., such as they were, looked good to kids who had been in the Vietnamese backcountry for months, with still months to go before returning to what they called "the real world." The first things they wanted were (a) a girlfriend, even if temporary, and (b) running water. They sometimes flushed toilets over and over just to hear the water run, and stood in the shower by the hour.

Those rest-and-recuperation flights were Pan Am's gift to the war effort. Soon into the war, the late Juan Tripp, one of the last of the men who built America's airlines, pulled a fleet of old DC-6s out of storage in the Arizona desert, refurbished them and put them at the service of the military for a dollar a year. Pan Am was determined to give the kids a bit of home, if only for the duration of a flight, and he installed pizza ovens and milkshake machines in the galleys. The stews stuffed the GIs with all the steak, shrimp, pizza and milkshakes they could devour; no airline's first-class passengers were ever treated with such loving kindness. But it's "the girls of Pan Am" the guys remember most.

"I can still see those young faces, the wistful sadness and the gratitude for the smile of a girl from home," recalls Peggy Moore Parr, now retired in St. George, Utah. "The kids were so lonely, and most of them fell in love as soon as we got them to Hong Kong or Manila or wherever. They mooned over photographs of their new 'fiancees' on the trip back to Saigon. The 'fiancees' seemed to have collected lots of beaus. We came to recognize the faces in the photographs. I consoled a lot of heartsick kids with a smile, a tender word, a touch, a well-done rib-eye and a double chocolate malt."

Wesley Pruden is the editor in chief of The Times.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Tom DeLay: Smoke and mirrors, or ethics problems?

The truth about the Tom DeLay flap is that there is apparently no “there” there. The Republican House Majority Leader is under attack for alleged ethics violations, and his enemies use the allegations as a basis for demanding his resignation as Republican leader.

The media report such things as this from NBC: "Storm clouds are gathering on Capitol Hill, and at the center of the storm is the House Majority Leader, Texas Congressman Tom DeLay." The problem with that is that the dark clouds NBC reported are primarily other reports of the allegations. Dark clouds like these produce no rain, and are meaningless.

CBS showed a tiny crowd of perhaps 150 people standing outside the NRA convention in Houston as DeLay spoke. Question: Why did this puny demonstration deserve national news coverage? CBS also thought it needed to comment that some people in the protesters claimed to be conservative Republicans. “Claimed” to be Republicans?

The House ethics committee admonished DeLay three times. Notice that he wasn’t sanctioned or ruled to have acted unethically or inappropriately. He was merely admonished.

What that means is that DeLay did what many other politicians have done and will do, and they weren’t and won’t be sanctioned for it, either. He did not cross the ethical boundary; he did nothing wrong. The worst anyone can honestly take from the Ethics Committee’s action is that he navigated close to the edge. But standing just this side of wrongdoing is not wrongdoing.

In such situations it is said, “death comes from a thousand cuts.” What this basically means for DeLay is that in the absence of real evidence of real wrongdoing, if the Democrats and the media dream up enough accusations, the accusations alone might be enough for Republican leaders to withdraw their support for him.

DeLay’s problem is that he has been an effective leader for his party. Nothing succeeds like success when it comes to making enemies of your enemies.

If he has been unethical, let’s dispense with the insinuation and innuendo, and bring on some actual evidence. Short of that, the DeLay haters ought to sit down and shut up. And his fellow Republicans ought to stiffen their spines, and remove the yellow tint that is developing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The farce that is airport security

Airport security sequel

By Walter E. Williams
Published April 16, 2005

Hundreds of readers responded to last week's column about airport security. These were letters from Americans who fit no terrorist profile -- airline pilots, mothers traveling with children, disabled people, elderly and other law-abiding Americans -- and yet were frisked, groped and hassled.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) behaves as if all passengers and all baggage pose an equal security threat, and that's stupid, because not nearly all passengers and baggage pose a security threat. They've seized articles such as tweezers, toy soldiers, hat pins, sewing scissors and other items they deem threatening to flight security.

I have solved my problem with the TSA. They have their procedures, and I have mine. Mine include minimizing my exposure to stupidity. Therefore, where I formerly took a commercial flight three or four times a month, over the last three years I've reduced it to once, maybe twice, a year.

Some of the letters reported more stupidity on behalf of the TSA than I imagined. I'll highlight some of them:
One person wrote that he, his wife and son were stopped, questioned and searched at
length by TSA and FBI officials. It turned out there was a terror alert for a person named Harry Smith (not the true name). The couple's 5-year-old son's name was also Harry Smith. How much of a brain do you think it requires for the FBI and TSA to immediately realize their 5-year-old son was the wrong Harry Smith?

Another writer wrote about his 88-year-old, hunched-over, arthritis-ridden father, barely able to walk, being searched, questioned and scanned and, as a result, brought to tears. Airline pilots going through security are searched and asked to empty their pockets, even though they wear photo identification tags and the TSA accepts that they are indeed pilots. Here's my question: If a pilot wanted to fly a plane into a building, would he need a weapon to do so?

There's little threat of another September 11, 2001-style, hijacking. First, sky marshals are randomly assigned to flights. But more important if there were a hijacking, passengers, knowing they were being flown to their death, would subdue the hijackers. Providing greater incentive is the likelihood an F-14 fighter jet would fly up to shoot down the plane.

There is a greater threat of a bomb placed onboard. The TSA's seizure of harmless personal items from passengers is a waste of resources. Fortunately, the TSA now permits some things once banned, i.e., knitting needles, corkscrews, cigar cutters.

Let's analyze the TSA economically. It costs TSA little to harass passengers. Screeners have an eight-hour-a-day job. So if you must wait in long lines, be harassed and miss your flight, what's it to them, considering passengers' docile response?

Many Americans accept the TSA policy, saying it makes them feel safer. I would ask them how much safer they would feel seeing an 88-year-old arthritic man, barely able to walk, given the treatment. Asking if every passenger is a security threat is similar to a munitions manufacturer asking if every hand grenade is good. A munitions manufacturer wouldn't pull the pin on every hand grenade to see if it was a dud. He would devise a test to avoid the huge costs of assuming each hand grenade had an equal probability of being a dud.

Similarly, the TSA should devise a test to determine which passenger is likelier to pose a security threat. A good start might be the characteristics of previous terrorist passengers.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University and a nationally syndicated columnist.

The air is cleaner than you think

Excerpts from the Pacific Research Institute Report:

What has changed in the decade since the Pacific Research Institute (PRI) launched the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators? Quite a lot, as it turns out.

In the 1990s, most Americans believed environmental quality was declining. Today, 71 percent of us are “happy” with the quality of the environment where we live, according to a Harris poll. And another recent Harris poll, commissioned by PRI, reports that the majority of those surve yed are optimistic about environmental progress in the next decade.

PRI’s survey also re vealed that 74 percent of respondents think cars are less polluting now than they were 25 years ago. In this case, opinion is certainly an accurate reflection of reality. Emission reductions helped the entire nation achieve clean air standards for four of the six “criteria” pollutants in 2004.

Cities with the dirtiest air we re the ones showing the greatest improvements. Four of the top five most-improved are in southern California. And while ozone still exceeds the standards, it was at its lowest level ever last year.

The good news is that air pollution is predicted to continue declining. The EPA’s own emissions models project that emissions from the auto fleet will decline by more than 80 percent over the next 25 years.

Perhaps such dramatic improvements have made us all look at things a bit differently. While we still care about the environment, maybe we are “just not that into” the environmentalists and their scare stories anymore. Global warming now scores lowest among the public’s environmental hot buttons. And there is widespread understanding, and acceptance, of the view that economic growth and freedom are essential prerequisites for environmental health.

Social Security Calculator

An earlier post dealt with a faulty calculator that appeared on the Web sites of Democrat Senators and some liberal organizations.

That miscalculator was set to understate the return on Personal Retirement Accounts, perhaps in an attempt to defeat President Bush's plan through a campaign of misinformation.

This one, on the Heritage Foundation's Web site works properly.

A married male 20 - 24 years-old, and spouse, both of whom make $25,000 tp $29,999, would accumulate more than $500,000 with a PRA. With a combination of the PRA and Social Security's reduced payment, they would collect almost $5,000 a month, and at retirement have a nest egg of $143,000 to boot.

Or, they could forego the nest egg and collect nearly $5,900 a month, either of which is a better return than Social Security alone will provide, assuming it is still a viable program in thirty or forty years. Social Security alone would pay this couple about $4,200 a month.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

EDITED: Sex offenders pose huge danger

NOTE: I use the term “convicted sex offender” for any individual who has been convicted of, plead to, or in some other way has been legally determined to be a sex offender through the legal system. There is another category of sex crimes perpetrators who are termed "sexual predators." A sexual predator is a person who has been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, committing a violent sexually oriented offense and who is likely in the future to commit additional sexually oriented offenses. I do not make a distinction between the two classifications in this piece.

Since the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Lunsford I've been really irritated over the number of convicted sex offenders running loose, and the foolishly ineffective system for keeping up with them after they are released. What is more serious is that some of the miscreants are ever released. Who can reasonably argue that John Evander Couey, who is likely the murderer of Jessica Lunsford, should have been released into the public, even if he had cooperated in the registration and tracking program set up for convicted sex offenders.

Just now on Fox News was a report that a body has been found near the home of 13-year-old Sarah Michelle Lunde, also in Florida. The body is possibly that of Sarah, and it is quite possible that she, too, was killed by a convicted sex offender.

Having heard in a television news report that there are some 30,000 convicted sex offenders in Florida alone, that several of them lived within a few miles of Jessica Lunsford, and wondering how many live around my home, I began looking into our area. There are 267 convicted sex offenders living in the 7-county area around my home. How many of them are sexual predators, I don’t know.

I live in a mostly rural area of southwest Virginia on the border with West Virginia. Our towns and cities are small. The largest is around 12,000. Most are in the less than 7,000 range.

The breakdown of sex offenders by county is below. Virginia's sex offender site doesn't tell you the race and gender of the criminal without going into each individual's file, but West Virginia's, which has more than 1,700 registered sex offenders, does provide that in the chart. Only violent sex offenders are listed in the Virginia registry. Mostly, these people are white males, but black males are second and white females are third. No black females in the four W. Va. counties.

Bland County - 31
Giles County - 13
Tazewell County - 48
McDowell County - 25: 2 white females; 2 black males
Mercer County - 61: 4 white females; 5 black males
Monroe County - 11, all white males
Raleigh County - 78, one wanted: 1 white female, 9 black males

This is, to put it mildly, damned scary.

According to data from the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, there are 381,967 entries for sex offenders in the NCIC Sex Offender Registration File — though not all states require sex offenders to be registered in the same way and some offenders are entered into the database for more than one state.

There aren’t accurate numbers about the rate of recidivism among child molesters, since many of their repeat offenses go unreported. Not only are they almost certain to continue sexually abusing children, but some eventually kill their young victims — more often than not for the purpose of keeping them quiet. Usually it’s to cover up the crime so the victim can't identify him.

As a nation, we’ve simply got to do better in protecting people from known criminals of all descriptions. This is a matter for each state to handle, but it is a national problem.

If you want to check up on your neighborhood or town, go here for the FBI’s listing of State Sex Offender Registry Web Sites.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Finger-pointing by Annan

Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the scandal-ridden and feckless United Nations, who oversaw operations of the world body while Saddam Hussein plundered the Oil for Food program for his own benefit, and shared big bucks with a few select accomplices (possible including Annan’s son) now blames Great Britain and the Clinton Administration for the plundering of the program during the 90s.

Annan Thursday accused the United States and Great Britain of allowing Saddam Hussein to illegally export oil to Jordan and Turkey to make money outside the U.N. oil-for-food program. Only the U.S. and Britain had forces that could have stopped it at that time, Annan said, but they "decided to close their eyes to Turkey and Jordan because they are allies."

Buck-passing is alive and well at the hole in the State of New York otherwise known as the United Nations Secretariat. Annan’s pitiful attempt to blame others for his incompetent management of the U.N. and its programs is further evidence that he is not up to the task, and needs to go away.

Lesson learned

A Boston Red Sox fan hit New York Yankee outfielder Gary Sheffield in the face as Sheffield chased down a ball against the right field fence Thursday night. The entire episode was captured by television cameras, and clearly shows the fan swinging at Sheffield. Sheffield, understandably angered by the action, briefly retaliated, but did not go into the stands after the fan. He continued to play ball and threw the ball back to the infield. The idiot fan was ejected from the game, but not arrested.

Sure, the rivalry between the two teams is a hot one. But if I remember correctly, the Red Sox beat the Yankees for the League Championship, and then won the World Series. So what’s the beef?

So, Boston fans now have been taught that if you’re willing to risk being thrown out of the ballpark, it’s okay to hit players of the opposing team.

The fan ought to have been arrested and charged with assault, and anything else that fits. He then should be banned not only from Fenway Park, but every MLB and NAPBL baseball park in the country.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Marriage Massachusetts style

Two gay male Massachusetts sex offenders serving time for their violent perversities want to get married. To each other! I say let the two perverts marry.

There are potential problems, however. After all, both are dominant types, “macho men” who prey on weak, defenseless victims. What an exciting relationship this might be.

The truth is that these are not real men. Real men do not have to force women to have sex, and wouldn’t anyway. They don’t pick on teenage girls. These are weak, impotent miscreants that deserve to never breathe freely again. They neither deserve, nor have a right to marry each other.

On the bright side, if we allow them to “marry,” maybe one of them will kill the other. There’s a fair chance of that, given their predilection for rough sex, enjoying inflicting pain and instilling fear. Or, if we are really lucky, they’ll kill each other and the world will be relieved of the burden of keeping these two sleaze bags in a way-too-comfortable existence for 20-to-50 years until they die of unnatural causes.

Does that sound a little harsh, a little intolerant, a little EMOTIONAL? Frankly, I don’t give a damn! I’ve had it with these soul-less bastards going around raping and killing innocent little girls. I am disgusted with a legal system that in the name of “understanding” and “compassion” releases these sub-human predators on the public, expecting a feckless requirement that they “register” to protect the public from them. I think a large proportion of the American people shares that disgust.

Today, another Florida teen has been missing for 17 days. Thirty thousand sex offenders live in the state of Florida, and two-dozen live close to this 13-year-old. The good news is that only 800 of the 30,000 are sexual predators, those who have committed violent sexual crimes. Maybe she has met the same fate as nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford at the hands of a convicted sex offender or sexual predator, another macho man, who served a pitiful few years and was then released from custody so he could again prey on young, innocent and powerless females. Three lowlife scumbags living in a trailer a hundred yards from Jessica’s home, protected John Evander Couey, and gave him the opportunity to do unspeakable things to this innocent young girl, and to shortly thereafter murder her. There is the possibility that Jessica was a captive in that trailer when police came calling, looking for the worthless Couey. As of now, those three have not been charged with a crime, despite their obvious role in this heartrending case. I have always had great disdain for the derogatory term “trailer trash.” These three have helped me understand what that really means.

The only good thing about the two boobs in Massachusetts is that they are in jail where they can only harm other miscreants, and perhaps get their just desserts at the hands of Bubba, the Stud Prince of Cellblock A. Creatures like them should have the absolute minimum possible to sustain their miserable lives ﷓ water, food and shelter. That is more than they deserve.

First charges come in Oil for Food scandal

Well, finally someone has been named as a criminal in the United Nations Oil for Food scam. The U.N.’s official investigation has yet to accuse anyone of committing a crime, and if past practice holds true, won’t.

But the U.S. Attorney’s office in Houston has charged three men, one an American businessman, one a permanent U.S. resident, and the third an man living in England.

Smart money says that no U.N. officials will be besmirched, let alone criminally charged, in this scandal. But at least the United States can say it conducted an investigation that actually found three people deserving of being charged.

The story from Fox News.

Grandchild #6

After some scheduling confusion, the newest grandchild, Aidan Kerry McConnon, was born at 11:30 this morning.

My daughter Brandi (actually, her proper name is Angela Christine) was scheduled for a C-Section at 9:30, but the hospital “overbooked,” and they were told she would go in around 1 p.m. With 8 people Waiting Room (I was not able to be there), no one bothered to tell them, or me, that she actually went in at around 11 a.m. Oh, well.

Anyway, both Aidan and Brandi are doing well. He’s only 19 inches long and only 7 lbs – a lot more like his mom than his dad, Kerry – but has “long musician fingers,” according to my daughter Marcia, who gave me the news. That’s significant because I have been a musician for nearly 50 years.

I’m a proud grandpa once again, and happy that everyone is doing well.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Lt. Pantano update

We’ve reported a few times on the situation regarding Lt. Ilario Pantano, the Marine who has been charged with murder in the killing of two Iraqis suspected of being terrorists. Here are the previous posts on this site:

Marine charged with murder
Update: Marine Charged With Murder
Pantano Update #2

Here is a new update on Lt. Pantano:

From Defend the Defenders:

Second Lt. Ilario Pantano, the platoon commander charged with pre-meditated murder in the killing of two suspected terrorists in Iraq, is getting the support of a North Carolina congressman.

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., has sponsored a House resolution supporting Pantano, joined local veterans and others in fund-raising events, written a letter to President Bush asking for his intervention and promises to argue the case if necessary on the congressional floor.

A preliminary hearing for Pantano is set for April 25 at Camp Lejeune. Prosecutors are expected to present evidence supporting their contention the shootings were executions. Pantano faces the death penalty.

Pantano insists he acted in self-defense, certain when he fired that the men were intent on doing him harm.

Go to the Defend the Defenders site to help support Lt. Pantano and all the other brave Americans who are being second-guessed while doing their duty.

Mis-calculator misleads Americans on Social Security plan

The Democrats, have resorted to a “rigged” Social Security calculator to low-ball the results of individual Social Security accounts under President Bush’s plan, and have spent $1 million to advertise this dishonesty. First appearing on Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s Senate Web site, and later on the sites of other senators and private organizations also determined to mislead and frighten Americans, the mis-calculator is termed the “Social Insecurity” calculator. What appears to be “Socially Insecure” are the Left-wing demagogues both inside and outside the Democratic Party. Once champions of reforming (read “saving”) Social Security, now that Republicans are actually trying to fix it, they can’t change horses fast enough.

The mis-calculator assumes that stocks will produce average returns of a mere three percent above inflation. Historically, stocks produce closer to seven percent. There are other problems with the mis-calculator. It is, in fact, based on a number of false assumptions and deceptive comparisons. The ads being run in support of the faulty figure-outer are hardly more reliable. has the details.

Tax Freedom Day nearly here

According to the Tax Foundation’s annual calculation, Tax Freedom Day falls on April 17 in 2005. That means that every bit of labor exerted by every working individual in the country for the first 107 days of the year goes not to that person to buy the things he or she needs or wants, but to pay for government. That means that 29.3 percent of the year is devoted to earning enough money to pay your taxes, nearly one out of three days this year.

As horrible a situation as that is, it is better now than it used to be. As recently as the year 2000, it took until May 3, 123 days, to pay the cost of government.

Americans will work 70 days this year just to afford their federal taxes. Another 37 days will be required to pay state and local taxes.

By comparison, housing and household operation requires just 65 days, health and medical care 52 days, food 31 days, transportation 31 days, recreation 22 days, clothing and accessories 13 days, saving 2 days and all other 42 days.

This information ought to cause every red-blooded American to question why so many politicians tell us we don’t need tax cuts, and why government is so large and expensive. Spending nearly one-third of your working life just to support government is excessive.

The Tax Foundation complies this data using the latest government data on income and taxes.

The full story can be found at the Tax Foundation site.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Lyin’ Politicians? Weellll, Maybe

by The Windjammer

There was a flurry of excitement over Bill Clinton’s recent statement in which he allegedly said that he had met two great popes, Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.

Did he lie?

I have never considered Bill Clinton to be the most truthful of persons, even before he became president. I certainly stated a number of times after he became president that I doubted his veracity on several occasions and wrote some rather scathing articles about him.

There is a huge difference between a deliberate lie and a slip of the tongue. I believe the former president simply made one of the latter this time.
He lived during the times of at least five popes so far. Those were Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II. It is likely that he may live during the reign of at least one more. All of those definitely achieved some degree of greatness, some naturally more than others in the eyes of the beholders.

I have lived during the times of seven, although very briefly during the time of Benedict XV. That was my fault for not having been born a few years earlier. I lived very briefly under the reign of John Paul I. That was his fault for lasting less than a year. I also lived during the reign of Pius XI, which the other Bill missed by a few years.

I refuse to criticize even Mr. Clinton for what was, in my humble opinion, a mere lapse.

I also believe that the Third George did not lie when he mentioned weapons of mass destruction. The whole world knew that Ol’ Maddas had used such weapons against his own people and more than only a select few believed that he still had such weapons. That belief was not limited to the United States. There are those among us who are still positive that he had them in spite of all the coverups stating the contrary.
Did President Bush lie? Of course he did not.

That brings me to George Mitchell. Old George M. appeared a number of times on TV, most of them reruns, to announce that 95% of the Third George’s judicial nominees had been approved. I would like to know where he found those figures and what brand of calculator he used to compute the results so I won’t run out and buy one of those. You need to understand that he was trying desperately to convince the citizenry that the Democrat left wasn’t doing what it is guilty of doing.

If one takes a serious peek at the figures for federal judges much above the rank of flunky, he will find that the actual percentage is closer to 53%. That figure is open to some serious argument, but it is a few points short of the 95% claimed.

Did George Mitchell lie?

I’ll leave the answer to that question up to you.

It is a lead-pipe cinch that he will have convinced approximately 53% of an unsuspecting public which tends to believe what politicians say as long as they spell their names with a capital D or as long as it casts doubt on the guy who is now sitting in the White House scratching his graying head trying to determine how to get the next 95% of his nominees simply voted up or down.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The media steps in it again

While the American legal system busied itself killing Terri Schiavo and denying her family the opportunity to present new information to the courts in an effort to keep her alive, other Americans were busy debating whether or not it was right for the courts to order Terri to be starved to death.

One faction, those who believe killing people who are disabled and are unable to defend themselves, thought it was just fine for the courts to starve her. Another faction, those who believe than withholding food and water from an otherwise healthy person on the sole say-so of her legal guardian who had a conflict of interest large enough to drive his SUV through, thought the courts ought not to be able to order death under those circumstances.

The mainstream American media dutifully followed the story, and sometimes helped design the story.

Now that Terri is gone, one might expect the media to address the huge philosophical chasm separating those two aforementioned factions, and help us follow the debate. Or it might have spent a little time trying to find out just why Michael Schiavo insisted on ending his wife’s life over the protestations of her family after he had abandoned her for another woman who bore him two children, then insisted on cremating her body against the dictates of her religious beliefs and burying the remains in his family’s site rather than giving her to her family to bury. Or it might have questioned whether the description of Terri’s last days as she dehydrated and starved to death, which Michael Schiavo’s whacked out lawyer said were beautiful and peaceful, was actually true or not.

Instead, the MSM thinks it is more important to report on what it assumes is the impropriety of Republican lawmakers in considering whether or not our laws provide sufficient protection for people in Terri Schiavo’s condition, and others who are unable to protect themselves. The MSM sees some malevolent intent in a memo containing “talking points” about the issue that was unwittingly given to a Democrat senator by a Republican senator. Mike Allen of The Washington Post created a largely false story and spread it across the nation with the help of the nation’s wire services (Where is Dan Rather working these days, anyway?) asserting that “Republican leaders” had handed out the memo to “Republican senators” and had termed the issue “a great political issue.”

“What’s wrong with that,” you ask? Well, a couple of things. First, the memo came from the office of a freshman senator. Freshmen senators are not leaders of either party.

Second, had The Post taken the time to actually research the story it would have learned before embarrassing itself that in addition to the senator whose staff member wrote the memo, none of the other 54 Republicans in the Senate had ever seen the memo, either.

And third, it might have had the good sense to realize that in calling this swirling moral controversy “a great political issue,” the word “great” meant “of great significance” not “a great opportunity.”

But of course if The Post had done even rudimentary research and made even a half-hearted attempt to report accurately, it would not have had a story worth printing.

Since last fall we’ve seen major media players step in it up to their eyeballs. First there was CBS/Rathergate, then The New York Times, and now The Washington Post.

A wise and famous movie character once commented: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Could he have been talking about the mainstream American media?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Action on the border

Millions of illegal immigrants stream across the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico unimpeded every year. U.S. authorities capture approximately one in four. The Mexican government is doing nothing to stop its people from coming to the U.S., and in fact encourages illegal immigrants to enter the U.S.

President Bush apparently doesn’t care about this, and in fact may approve of Mexicans coming into the U.S. to work. If he thinks there is a security risk of terrorists coming into the U.S. through Mexico, you can’t tell it by the way he has addressed this problem.

Americans are fed up with this situation. About 80 percent reportedly want something done. A group of citizens calling themselves the Minutemen has dispatched its members along a 20-mile segment of the border in Texas to watch for illegal entrants coming across the border and notify the Border Patrol so that it can arrest the illegal entrants.

President Bush has criticized this effort of American citizens to guard the borders that their government has refused to adequately guard. He called them “vigilantes.” That may have been more a poor choice of language rather than an honest characterization by Mr. Bush of these Americans’ actions. If he truly meant to accuse the Minutemen of vigilantism, that is an outrage.

The ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union, which proclaims its allegiance and dedication to protecting the freedoms guaranteed to Americans by our Constitution, is on the border making sure the American citizens in the Minutemen don’t infringe on the rights of the Mexican criminals illegally entering the U.S.

Question: Could this situation be any more absurd?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The result of writer's block

It's been a bad week for posting. I've spent a lot of time commenting on other people's sites, but haven't been able to produce anything for myself.

So, here's something, which is perhaps better than nothing.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

2005 Campus Outrage Awards

Duke spends over $50,000 on a tactical training session for activists dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel, while a graduate student at LeMoyne College is expelled for writing that light spanking has a legitimate role in classroom discipline. A UNLV professor is engulfed in a whirlwind of controversy after making a remark about the financial planning habits of homosexuals, while a student at Occidental College is convicted of sexually harassing the whole school over the radio. Ward Churchill is defended by the academic community for declaring that victims of the World Trade Center bombing deserved their fate, while at Harvard, Larry Summers is demonized for daring to suggest that there may be innate differences between men and women. Outrageous politicization and double standards continue to abound in higher education, and the Collegiate Network has once again chronicled the worst of those abuses in its 8th Annual Campus Outrage Awards.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Yeah. What he said.

The story ends, the story begins

By Wesley Pruden
Published April 1, 2005

Rarely has convenience been held so dear or life so cheap. Rarely has the nation been held in such thrall over tragedy. But we haven't seen anything yet.

Before it ends, Terri Schiavo will seem the footnote to this saga of judges enthroned, Congress challenged, death embraced.

Michael Schiavo, who worked relentlessly over the years to persuade compliant courts to condemn his wife to death by starvation, peeled away a thin veneer of malevolence yesterday to reveal a poverty of spirit and soul within, announcing that he would bury the ashes of his estranged wife in a secret crypt to prevent her broken parents attending whatever services he may arrange to celebrate putting her away at last.

When Terri's death became imminent on her 13th day without food or water, with her eyes pleading and her parched lips cracked as if she had been marooned on a Sahara dune, Terri's in-laws began clearing her hospice room of those who loved her first, last and longest. With his brother as bouncer, Michael evicted Terri's distraught brother and sister.

Michael's mouthpiece, describing the end of the ordeal with the éclat and élan of a drumhead lawyer sniffing at a commission that promises to go on forever, said his client held his dying wife in his arms to the end. This could be the final scene, fanciful or not, in the made-for-television movie no doubt already in the works to make euthanasia a civil right to clamor for. Buzzards have rarely circled a prospective meal with the determination of Michael's circle of opportunists attending the dying Terri Schiavo.

"This isn't over by a long shot," the bouncer brother told reporters as Terri's body was taken to the morgue. "We're going to get our name right."

But despite Michael's good press -- one of the news agencies scorns objectivity to refer to him as "the dedicated husband who fought for a wife's right to die" -- there's growing evidence that the public has finally paid the attention needed to get the "dedicated" husband's number. The president of the United States sent the nation's official condolences to Terri's mother and father, pointedly sending nothing to the dedicated husband. President Bush urged those who tried to save Terri to "continue to work to build a culture of life where all Americans are welcomed and valued and protected, especially those who live at the mercy of others."

The Vatican, which had earlier made a point of saying that Pope John Paul II is clinging to life with a feeding tube supplying food and water, was unequivocal in its condemnation of how Terri was abused as she lay dying. "The circumstances of the death of Ms. Terri Schiavo have rightly disturbed consciences," a spokesman for the pope said. "An existence was interrupted. A death was arbitrarily hastened because nourishing a person can never be considered employing exceptional means."

Perhaps her death will, as some suggest, set off a debate on what health care actually means. What it will do first is to send a lot of people to their lawyers to get a so-called "living will," setting out how and when doctors should stick them with tubes. Such wills are not easily enforced because the dead can't sue. The lawyers and their accomplices on the bench are probably working now to close this loophole. But something on paper is better than hearsay, which is all Michael Schiavo went to a friendly judge with, a conversation he didn't remember until Terri had been ill for seven years and the courts awarded him and Terri $1.2 million for malpractice. Every day that Terri lived after that, as a dedicated husband could easily figure out, would eventually nibble the settlement to nothing.

Congress has a score to settle with the judicial branch of the government, and though it's not yet clear how we can assume that congressional ego will out. It always does. George W. Bush will be inspired to fight harder for his nominations to the federal bench. Sitting judges will feel bracing red-state rage.

Michael is finally free to make an honest woman of his common-law wife and give their infant children their father's name. (No. 2 wife will be wise to pray she never gets sick.) For the Schindlers there's only the wan hope that the passage of time will make life bearable.

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.