Friday, September 30, 2005

The Democrats go dumpster diving

By Michelle Malkin

Sep 28, 2005

Have you heard about what New York Sen. Charles Schumer's meddling minions tried to do here in my home state of Maryland to embarrass a Republican opponent?

Don't bother with The New York Times if you want details. Since revelations of the scandal first broke a week ago on the national wires and in the rest of the New York media, the Times has failed to print a single word about the Dems' invasive -- and obviously illegal -- dumpster diving.

Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a rising star in the party, is considering a Senate bid for the Maryland seat being vacated by Democrat Paul Sarbanes next year. Apparently threatened by the prospect of a strong, popular, black Republican candidate, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee got down and dirty. Two of Schumer's staffers on the committee, including a former top researcher for David Brock's left-wing "think tank," obtained Steele's confidential credit report by using his Social Security number, which they had reportedly culled from court records.

Under federal law, it is illegal to knowingly and willfully obtain a credit report under false pretenses. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act imposes a maximum two-year prison sentence for the crime.

Democrat spinners would have you believe that the two staffers involved in the apparent fraud, Katie Barge and Lauren Weiner, were young and inexperienced workers. They're soft-pedaling the incident as an "isolated" occurrence on par with a high school prank. But Barge has been around the block, including stints as a researcher for Sen. John Edwards' failed presidential bid and as research director for Brock's Media Matters for America.

The two henchladies reportedly owned up to the act in July, were suspended with pay until Aug. 31, as the New York Post's Deborah Orin reported, and resigned earlier this month. Their dealings are being investigated by the fraud and public corruption section of the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, D.C., with help from the FBI -- which, according to Steele's staff, told the lieutenant governor that he was an obvious "victim of a crime."

Law enforcement officials are taking this criminal intrusion into private records deadly seriously. But left-wing partisans are nowhere to be found. Steele's staff tells me that longtime crusader against identity theft Sen. Schumer, who denies having any knowledge of the scheme, has still issued no apology for the abuse of Steele's personal data. And there has been no outcry from the ACLU, the champions of clean campaigns, or any major national newspaper editorial board.

(Protecting privacy only seems to matter to liberals when it comes to 14-year-old girls seeking abortions behind their parents' backs, illegal aliens seeking sanctuary from the police, and registered sex offenders objecting to community registration requirements.)

Needless to say, if it had been Republicans involved in this outrageous breach of privacy and the target had been a liberal minority politician, it would be front-page news. When asked by readers why the Times had not covered the story, ombudsman Byron Calame's office sent this obnoxious reply:

Dear Reader,

Thanks for writing and raising this issue. This office has no control over what is printed in the paper. It seems your message would be better directed to

The Times, it should be noted, is the same paper that happily received and printed a front-page story about an illegally obtained tape recording of a conference call with Republican leaders in 1996 that was leaked by Democrat Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington. McDermott's leak was condemned by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan last year as "willful and knowing misconduct [that] rises to the level of malice in this case." McDermott is busy raising money from lobbyists for his defense fund -- a violation of House rules that the Times' ethics mavens have blithely ignored.

Jaded journalists will shrug off what conservative author and talk show host Hugh Hewitt has dubbed "Chuckaquiddick" by arguing that "everybody does it." If that is so, they should be leading the charge to find out who else at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has been doing it. And to whom they have been doing it.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Please Shut Up!

Barbra Streisand, the singer-come-scientist, has announced that hurricanes Katrina and Rita are absolutely the result of global warming.

“This summer's back-to-back super storms are proof positive we have entered a new period of global warming emergency," Streisand warns. "We are in a global warming emergency state, and these storms are going to become more frequent, more intense," Streisand proclaimed, in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer. Sawyer somehow missed the opportunity to press Streisand on an important point, failing to note the string of 17 powerful Category 5 storms during Streisand’s lifetime.

Here are of a few of them:

  • In 1947, when Streisand was five years old, a Category 5 hurricane struck the Bahamas with 160 mph winds in 1947
  • In 1950 a Cat 5 hurricane named "Dog," packing 185 mph winds, churned-away in the Atlantic.
  • In 1951 a Cat 5 storm named "Easy" ripped the seas with 160 mph sustained winds. Streisand was 13 years old when "Janet" hit Mexico with 150 mph winds
  • Streisand was 16, when "Cleo" formed with 140 mph
  • At 18, Streisand read news about "Donna" AND "Ethel" -- both storms carried 140 mph winds and formed 9 days apart in 1960
  • In 1961, when Streisand was 19, it happened again: Two Category 5 storms scared the world: "Carla" and "Hattie!" "Carla" maxed out at 175 mph winds
  • And who could forget Hurricane "Camille" -- which smashed into the United States with 190 mph in 1969?

Barbra Streisand is poorly informed, and ought to learn to keep quiet. She sings pretty well, and maybe she’s a fair actress, but she’s no scientist. Her egomaniacal ranting serves no useful purpose.

Leaving behind the crazed ranting of a Hollywood know-it-all, and focusing instead on a real authority, Bob Balling, a world renowned and respected climatologist from Arizona State University, told a meeting of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness in Tucson a few years ago the following:

"From 1979 to 1990, and during the time of most rapid buildup in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, the satellite-based temperature measurements have shown a planetary warming of only 0.001°C (including data from 1991 and 1992 would lower this value because of the cooling effects from the aerosols produced by Mt. Pinatubo). Most of the numerical models of climate suggest that the warming (given the known increase in equivalent CO2) should be of the order of 0.3°C over the same period of time. The satellite data indicate virtually no warming at all, and certainly do not support the claim of accelerated warming in recent decades.

"Very simply, the climate record over the last century, or decade, is not pointing in the direction of a greenhouse apocalypse."

According to an article by the National Academy of Sciences, the “Earth's surface temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century, and surface temperatures have risen at a substantially greater rate than average in the past two decades. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely because of human activities, for the most part. But it is not known how much of the temperature rise to date is the result of human activities,” [my emphasis] the NAS says, citing an unidentified report. However, the NAS article goes on to say that “[c]limate models do not adequately represent all the processes that contribute to variability of the climate system. A Research Council report,Improving the Effectiveness of Climate Modeling,” identifies the lack of a coherent national climate modeling program and sufficient computing resources and suggests areas for improvement.”

There are many opinions on this subject, and there is no consensus in the scientific community. The quoted material from the above sources contains one opinion that there is no greenhouse catastrophe on the horizon, and the other suggests that man may be having an effect on the gradual warming of the Earth, but admits that the climate models are insufficient.

So far, evidence shows that Barbra Streisand produces a lot of hot air, and scientists just aren’t sure if the activities of humans are affecting the global temperature, or not. However, if the atmosphere is warming, people like Barbra Streisand are certainly contributing to it.

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Damn Spam!!

Regrettably, I am forced by the frequency of SPAM COMMENTS to initiate word confirmation on comments.

I hope this little inconvenience does not deter anyone from adding a comment.

Give Peace a Chance: Turn Up the Heat!

What was done
Historians typically point to political, economic, cultural and ethnic unrest as the chief causes of war and civil strife. In the present study, Zhang et al. argue that changes in climate play a key role as well; and to examine their thesis, they compared proxy climate records with historical data on wars, social unrest and dynastic transitions in China from the late Tang to Qing Dynasties (mid-9th century to early 20th century).

What was learned
War frequencies, peak war clusters, nationwide periods of social unrest and dynastic transitions were all significantly associated with cold as opposed to warm phases of China's paleotemperature reconstructions. More specifically, all three distinctive peak war clusters (defined as more than 50 wars in a 10-year time period) occurred during cold phases, as did all seven periods of nationwide social unrest and nearly 90 percent of all dynastic changes that decimated this largely agrarian society. As a result, the authors conclude that climate change was "one of the most important factors in determining the dynastic cycle and alternation of war and peace in ancient China."

What it means
Historically, warmer climates have been much more effective than cooler climates in terms of helping to "keep the peace" in China. Based on this model, perhaps we should all pray for a little global warming to give peace a better chance worldwide.

Zhang, D., Jim, C., Lin, C., He, Y. and Lee, F. 2005. Climate change, social unrest and dynastic transition in ancient China. Chinese Science Bulletin 50: 137-144.


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Golden State Educators File Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Unions to Block Funds for Anti-Schwarzenegger Electioneering

Sacramento, California (September 22, 2005) – A group of California teachers and professors today filed a statewide class-action lawsuit in federal court against the state’s largest teacher and faculty unions seeking to bar union officials from forcing more than 350,000 California educators to pay significant dues increases earmarked for political electioneering during this year’s special election.

Filed by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, the civil rights suit seeks to enjoin the use or further collection of a $60-per-teacher mandatory dues increase imposed by California Teacher Association (CTA) union officials and a 10 percent mandatory dues increase imposed by California Faculty Association (CFA) officials that are earmarked for efforts to defeat Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ballot propositions.

Since September 1, CTA union officials have written checks to several campaign committees totaling $23 million from a loan that is secured by guarantees of higher compulsory dues paid by educators as a job condition. Earlier in the summer, CTA officials announced another $22 million in expenditures.

Like many public servants, the six named plaintiffs object to paying for union political activities with which they disagree, so they asked the Foundation for free legal assistance. They seek an order certifying their suit as a class action for all CTA members and nonmembers, and all CFA nonmembers. The educators also ask for an injunction to block the use or further collection of the special dues increase and an order that every teacher and professor be given notice and allowed to obtain a refund, plus interest.

More ...

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Friday, September 23, 2005

When Your Hand is Empty, Bluff!

Now that the Senate Judiciary Committee has wisely approved and sent to the full Senate the nomination of John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, things have started to get really interesting. It is an important decision, to be sure, as John Roberts could lead the court for decades. However, the whining and gnashing of teeth on the Left has already begun, as Democrats, who lost a fight they should not have picked, start posturing for both the Senate vote, and the next nominee President Bush will send to the Senate.

In a fit of frustration out of all proportion to the event, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) who voted against confirmation, said, "I knew as little about what Judge Roberts really thought after the hearings as I did before the hearings.” Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), still smarting after making a fool of himself during questioning, said the central issue was whether Roberts is committed to civil rights. "Nominees must earn their confirmation by providing us with full knowledge of their values and convictions they'll bring to decisions that may profoundly affect our progress as a nation toward the ideal of equality. Judge Roberts has not done so," he said, after his thumbs-down vote. New York Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer accused Republicans of "marching in lockstep" on the Roberts’ vote, while Democrats made independent decisions.

Those comments are revealing. All three show us that these Democrats either don’t know or don’t care about what qualifies a person to serve on the Supreme Court, and apparently have forgotten the rule of the game for questioning judicial nominees, which is that you don’t ask, and they should not tell, their position on issues likely to come before the court; they should not explore a nominee's philosophical views. This was set in stone, if not before, then certainly during the confirmation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an historically liberal justice. Ask Joe Biden.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said: "If we could look at the person before us based on qualifications, character and integrity, and not require them to show an allegiance to a particular case or a cause, it would serve the country well." Right-o Sen. Graham, but you didn’t go far enough: Qualifications, character and integrity are all that one needs to know, and you cannot require a nominee to discuss philosophy.

That circus of the Judiciary Committee looks all the more foolish when one considers the lessons of history regarding Supreme Court Justices. A conservative nominee may well become a liberal judge, and vice versa. It’s happened before, and more than once. John Roberts might become the next John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or Stephen Breyer, all committed liberals. Justice Souter, for example, was nominated by George H.W. Bush. Twenty bucks says George the Elder didn’t expect Mr. Justice Souter to be a liberal.

More foolishness came from Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the Committee’s ranking member, who said of the upcoming nomination to fill Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s seat, "I hope that this time the president will follow through, share with us his intentions, and even seek our advice before he acts; that little thing called the advice-and-consent clause of the Constitution."

Telegram for Mr. Leahy: It’s the President’s call, not yours.

The federal judiciary is the only branch of government that Democrats have under their control. The worst thing can happen, therefore, is for President Bush to nominate another originalist candidate to the Supreme Court to fill swing voting Justice O’Connor’s seat. The last thing the Democrats need is another justice that follows the Constitution. You can bet they’ll fight dirty to prevent the confirmation of an originalist, and the Republicans had better be ready, because the Democrats are good at fighting dirty.

Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said he had told President Bush to expect a very contentious hearing on the next nominee's confirmation, because with the balance of the court at stake, Democrat senators will be even more eager to learn views that the candidate will, and should, refuse to divulge. "It's going to produce a lot of angst," Specter said.

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Revelation in the eye of the storm

By Wesley Pruden
Published September 23, 2005

Sometime in the 19th hour of the Senate grilling of John G. Roberts, one of the senators leaned over to whisper into the ear of a colleague: "If this were a prizefight, the referee would have to stop it."

None of his Democratic tormentors, in fact, had laid a glove on the president's nominee to be the chief justice of the United States. There was blood on the floor, but all of it shed by Democratic senators. There was no work for a cut man in the judge's corner.

The lifeless forms of senators lay scattered across the landscape with jaws agape, arms and legs akimbo in exhausted repose, and when sweet silence settled at last upon the ornate Senate conference room Joe Biden had given himself terminal catarrh by the sheer volume of the goatish gas forced through his windpipe with endless rants, recitations, declamations, orations and soliloquies disguised as questions. Teddy Kennedy, the gasbag emeritus of the world's most abusive body, had all but put himself to sleep with his own repetitious tedium. Chuck Schumer, who looks as if he had been marinated in toxic brine when he attempts a smile, stumbled like a schoolboy over the learned questions assembled by aides. Judge Roberts could only look pleased with himself.

Well, why not?

Nevertheless, the outline of yesterday's 13-5 vote by the Judiciary Committee to send the Roberts nomination to the full Senate reveals clearly the Democratic strategy to derail the president's next nomination to fill the seat to be vacated by Sandra Day O'Connor.

Three Democrats joined the 10 Republicans on the committee to send the nomination to the Senate with a recommendation to vote "aye." Russell Feingold and Herb Kohl probably would have voted aye, anyway, but they were joined by Pat Leahy, who has no ambition to be reasonable about any Republican nominee. His vote was meant to demonstrate that the party of Kennedy, Schumer and Richard Durbin is reasonable, fair, moderate, kind, judicious, compassionate and all the other things that modern national Democrats usually are not. The leadership could have chosen others to play the Leahy role. Joe Biden, perhaps, but he is eager to run for president, though a Biden presidency is about as likely as an Al Sharpton or Ralph Nader presidency, and he must pander to the party's loopy base. Dianne Feinstein often hints that she knows better, but she is nevertheless from San Francisco, where playing straight is a recipe for suicide.

The Democratic reluctance to make a serious attempt to derail the Roberts nomination demonstrates most of all that the party leaders understand how careful they must be lest the public, which only pays attention in moments of high drama, figure out that the Democratic game is to smear any Bush nominee beyond recognition. Borking has become the party's natural pastime.

When the Democrats on the committee explain, with feigned sadness, how they would like to vote for Judge Roberts but cannot because they fear he is an "ideological candidate," what they mean is that he has the wrong ideology. Abortion has become the sacrament of the party; a clever nominee might one day soon trump Teddy and Joe and Chuck by asserting that not only does the Constitution guarantee the right of abortion, but guarantees the pregnancy to make an abortion possible. (If Teddy were not so long in the tooth he might even volunteer for duty.)

This Democratic fear of the public catching on gives George W. Bush a foolproof strategy of his own. He should send up a conservative nominee with the back-channel message that like him/her or not, this is as "moderate" as you're going to get. Knock this one down and the next candidate will be someone you'll like even less. Knock that one down, and you'll get Janice Rogers Brown, who will give you the tutorial on the Constitution that you should have got in law school.

This is the red-meat politics that frightens Republican presidents. But since the Democrats want to fight like Mike Tyson, George W. should be the first to bite off some ears.

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Muscular Idealism

Historian Victor Davis Hanson says the Arab world must realize Islam and freedom can coexist.

Scholar-author Victor Davis Hanson says the Arab world is learning the hard way that Islam and freedom need not be mutually exclusive.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, Victor Davis Hanson has emerged from the relative obscurity of his academic post at Fresno State University to become something akin to America’s “historian in chief.” Spurred by a legion of eager editors, Hanson has translated his expertise in classical military history to the war on terror. The result: some 300 essays – and counting – and an army of devotees. He notes with pride that his supporter base includes many U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan; he receives numerous e-mails every week from military personnel fighting in the war against terrorism.

Hanson’s primary platform for explaining this first war of the 21st century has been a decidedly modern mode of communication: the Internet. His weekly commentaries have poured forth from the Web-based daily version of National Review, a leading voice of the modern conservative movement. But Hanson reminds those who dismiss him as a Republican shill that he’s a registered Democrat. Underscoring the broad appeal of Hanson’s perspective, his essays on war have appeared in The New Republic, The New York Times, The American Legion Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and City Journal.

More ...

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The Boomerang Nebula

I have for a very long time been fascinated with space and the amazing objects out there. The Hubble Space Telescope has "caught" the Boomerang Nebula in these new images taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys. This reflecting cloud of dust and gas has two nearly symmetric lobes (or cones) of matter that are being ejected from a central star. Over the last 1,500 years, nearly one and a half times the mass of our Sun has been lost by the central star of the Boomerang Nebula in an ejection process known as a bipolar outflow. The nebula's name is derived from its symmetric structure as seen from ground-based telescopes. Hubble's sharp view is able to resolve patterns and ripples in the nebula very close to the central star that are not visible from the ground.

The Boomerang Nebula is about 5,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the Southern constellation Centaurus. Measurements show the nebula has a temperature of only one degree Kelvin above absolute zero (nearly -460 degrees Fahrenheit).

Image Credit: NASA, ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

A Problem of Unrealistic Expectations

Reasonable people in the U.S. realize that the faulty response to Hurricane Katrina wasn’t all George Bush’s fault, or even former FEMA Director Mike Brown’s fault. As the floodwaters are seeping out of New Orleans, reality is seeping into the consciousness of Americans, and the recognition is dawning that there were problems at all levels of government, local, state and federal. Most Americans also realize that the most serious repercussions resulted from the failure to properly implement the evacuation plans, clearly a local and state responsibility.

What most people may not recognize is that many victims – perhaps most of them – were victims because they expected “government” to take care of them. They have fallen victim to the “government-as-savior” mentality.

There is a substantial number of Americans who don’t lift a finger to provide food for themselves or their family. Sure, some of them are unable to work, either because of some physical or mental handicap, or because they haven’t taken the time to learn how to do anything productive. And, yes, some of them are looking for work, but can’t find a job for which they are qualified. To this latter point, however, the caveat must be noted that prior to Hurricane Katrina, unemployment was at one of the lowest levels in decades.

But since the 1960s, America has been teaching its citizens that if you don’t work to earn money to eat – whatever the reason, or whatever the excuse – your benevolent federal government will feed you. It will provide a roof over your head. It will give you free medical care. It will do everything you ever will need. A look at the statistics of America’s poor reveals that more than a few of them own air conditioned homes, cars, satellite TV and have a fairly wide variety of perks one would not expect of people “living in poverty.” Americas poor, or at least a good many of them, have it pretty good. For these people, “government” has come through.

But the idea that government will protect you from all wrongs and all dangers is a fantasy of the dependency culture in America, where millions of people have bought into the liberal philosophy: “Don’t worry; be happy.”

Then a strong Category 4 hurricane slammed into the Gulf Coast in just the right place, and New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana, along with parts of Mississippi and Alabama, got hit hard. It was the greatest natural disaster in the history of the nation, and “government” didn’t quite rise to meet expectations. Some people died and others suffered.

The initial reaction of many Americans was, “How could government fail so very badly?” Instead of blaming nature, they blamed government. Instead of rushing to help, they rushed to judgment. Instead of being happy that so many had survived, they were angry that government had not saved them from all discomfort.

What we have here is a case of unrealistic expectations based upon a foolish and deadly dependency.

Putting the reaction of some critics into perspective, an Indonesian diplomat commented: "We have been puzzled by the pictures on television. We were plucking starving, bedraggled people out of trees more than a week after the [December] tsunami, and the reaction was invariably one of gratitude and thanksgiving. In America there is only complaining that someone did not get there sooner with more."

Americans not so long ago were taught that God helps those who help themselves. Even if you don’t believe in God, that statement still stands tall. If instead of trying to get yourself out of trouble, you sit around waiting for someone to save you, you might die. Some residents of the Gulf Coast area learned that lesson too late.

As long as we are pointing the finger of blame, targeting government officials and government agencies, let’s also point it at the sad culture of dependency we have created, where the natural human drive to do for one’s self has been replaced with the notion that “government” will do it for you.

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A Few Facts About the Constitution

by The Windjammer

September 17, marks the anniversary of the final draft of the United States Constitution which was framed and adopted by the Constitutional Convention consisting of delegates from twelve of the thirteen original states. Rhode Island was the only state which did not send a delegate to the convention.

The convention, headed by George Washington, started its task in May of 1787 and worked on the document until September 17, 1787. It contained seven articles in addition to the preamble. When I was just a tad, every boy and girl had to learn the preamble before moving on to the fifth grade. "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

It was required to be ratified by nine of the thirteen states to become effective. The dates of ratification by the states were: (1) Delaware, Dec. 7, 1787; (2) Pennsylvania, Dec. 12, 1787; (3)New Jersey, Dec. 18, 1787; (4) Georgia, Jan. 2, 1788; (5) Connecticut, Jan. 9, 1788; (6) Massachusetts, Feb. 6, 1788; (7) Maryland, Apr. 28, 1788; (8) South Carolina, May 23, 1788; (9) New Hampshire, June 21, 1788; (10) Virginia, June 25, 1788; (11) New York, July 26, 1788: (12) North Carolina, Nov. 21, 1789; (13) Rhode Island, May 29, 1790.

The Constitution went into effect on March 4, 1789 (the first Wednesday in March). It is the law by which we live. It is the oldest federal constitution in existence.

Article I establishes the Legislative Branch as a bicameral Congress and outlines the general powers of those bodies as well as the requirements for the Representatives who comprise the House of Representatives or "Lower House" and the Senators who make up the Senate or the "Upper House." It also imposes limitations on the powers of the member states

Article II establishes the Executive Branch and outlines the electoral process for choosing the chief executive as well as the duties and qualifications of the President

Article III establishes the Judicial Branch and defines the various levels of courts in the federal system. (Section 2 of this article outlining the jurisdiction of courts was later amended by the 11th Amendment)

Article IV guarantees a Republican form of government (not the Republican Party) as well as assuring that new states may be admitted. It also provides for certain interstate relations

Article V provides for amendments to be added to the original document

Article VI provides for the payment of debts of the confederation prior to the adoption of the Constitution. It also states that the Constitution shall be the supreme law of the land and that all states shall be bound by it. It further prescribes that elected or appointed officials shall take a constitutional oath, but no religious test shall be required

Article VII provides for the adoption of the Constitution upon ratification by nine states

The first ten amendments, known in the aggregate as the Bill of Rights, were proposed by the First Congress to address certain rights such as the right to free speech and the right to keep and bear arms and to confirm the powers of the states and the people in matters not covered by the Constitution.

There have been an additional seventeen amendments, one of which negates another.The last amendment, Amendment XXVII, was ratified on May 7, 1992.There have been a number of attempts through the years to make other amendments which failed to acquire the necessary support

I hope this little bit of information will pique your interest enough to cause you to get a copy of the Constitution and to read and digest it..

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Friday, September 16, 2005

Heroes of the storm abound in the land

Wesley Pruden

September 16, 2005

This could have been a special, defining moment in America. Maybe it is, anyway, despite the best efforts of the race hustlers.

Rarely if ever in the nation's history have so many Americans gone out of their way to lend a hand to their suffering neighbors. Contributions to the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, the Southern Baptist Relief and other church charities are pushing close to the billion-dollar mark. That's in addition to the government's tens of billions.

Strangers across the land are opening their homes to perfect strangers. No small deal. The Internet is strangling with offers of help, of a spare bedroom, of a vacant house, and if anyone has put strings on any of this, racial or otherwise, it escapes everybody.

Here's a sampling of one of the hundreds of Internet offers, lifted in its entirety from a blog set up by the Houston Chronicle: "I know that we're a long way from you, but ... we would love to help someone displaced by Hurricane Katrina. We live in a modest home in Lake Arrowhead in the mountains of Southern California. We have 2 bedrooms, a small loft and a private bathroom upstairs that is just waiting for someone. We would love to help someone get back on their feet and through God, our community and church, we can do that. We would love to help make a difference in someone's life. We live in a mountain community that does get some snow in the winter, but it is usually mild. We're only 30 minutes from the city of San Bernardino and the county is already set up to assist those displaced by the hurricane. We also have wonderful schools and caring people. We can also assist in helping to find work and permanent housing. We can take a couple or a single mom with kids ... We have a king-size bed in one room and 2 twins in the other, and we can get a couple more beds if needed. You don't have to worry ... Let us help you get your life back together."

The story of the fortnight is an outpouring of good will like this, yet the television networks and many of the newspapers persist in portraying the story of Katrina as a story of racism, bigotry, greed, indifference and abdication of responsibility. No one can point to a single example of white mistreatment of black. The stark photographic images, in fact, show white hands reaching out to relieve black suffering. This is no more than should be; helping a fellow man in need, like helping your mother, deserves no particular praise.

But the race hustlers are determined to manufacture racism where there is none. Not just the rapper who accuses George W. Bush of genocide, of having arranged through neglect the breaching of the levees so as to wash black Orleanians to a watery death. Rep. William Jefferson, the New Orleans congressman, says, "If these people hadn't been poor and black, they wouldn't have been left in New Orleans in the first place." The Rev. Jesse Jackson accuses the Red Cross of consigning the black refugees from the storm to their doom: "The rescue has been slow because some see us as foreigners 2/3 human." The Rev. Al Sharpton showed up amidst the welcome at the Astrodome in Houston to pronounce the Herculean relief efforts -- by National Guardsmen, mostly white, from 23 states -- as "inexcusable." All crap. But where are the Democrats to denounce this libel? Where are the Republicans, awash in their familiar cowardice, to defend the president from such calumny?

Barbara Bush, the president's mother, visited the Astrodome and saw reality. "And so many of the people here, you know, were underprivileged, anyway, so this is working very well for them." An unfortunate choice of words in an atmosphere when regiments of knockers are always crouched to pounce, to twist innocent words into something harsh and hateful. Mrs. Bush observed, as others did, that black children in the arena were being seen by dentists and physicians (unpaid volunteers all, mostly white) for the first time in their young lives. A fair-minded person would say, along with hundreds of their grateful parents, that yes, "this is working very well for them."

There are villains aplenty in the horrific wake of Katrina. But they're far outnumbered by the heroes. Americans who want to see heroes need only look in a mirror.

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times.

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When did parents stop being right?


Scripps Howard News Service

How is it possible that we've gotten to a point in our culture in which parenting experts tell us moms and dads that we have to "earn" our authority - even when it comes to an infant? (Just try asking the police officer who pulls you over if he's "earned his authority" to do so that day.)

That helping our child grow up with strong self-esteem is the most important task of parenthood?

The most important task? What about learning to esteem others?

We're instructed by the experts to criticize only the behavior of the child, never the child himself, as if bad behavior showed up in the morning cereal box, not in the heart. And remember, disguise your "no's" as much as possible. One expert gives us "seven ways to avoid saying no to your child."

I would suggest that, instead, more parents should choose to use "no" as a complete sentence.

And for heaven's sake, the experts tell us - don't spank your children. After all, we're reminded by one expert that Adolf Hitler was spanked as a child.


What's going on here is a culture that has abandoned the once-unquestioned notion that parents really do know better than their children, and that children desperately need parents who have that confidence, and authority, if they are to thrive. We see the result. Too many joyless, snarly, angry children and teens - and parents who are tyrannized by them - making everyone miserable.

It's not a surprise, by the way that we see kids in control of their parents. Kids have been attempting power grabs since the beginning of time. What's changed is the impotence of the parents in the face of the power grabs: I like to call it "imparentancy."

This seems to come from the prevailing notion from the experts that, all evidence to the contrary, children are born into the world full of inherent wisdom, goodness and virtue (and so needing only a little gentle parental cheerleading). You don't have to see "Lord of the Flies" to know they are not. Here's the proof: Have you ever heard anyone say, "That little guy must be exhausted - he's being so sweet and kind and generous"? No, when our defenses are down, our true natures are more likely to come out - and they are not pretty.

We're crazy about our kids, and we should be. But when we idolize them and idealize them, we don't do them any favors. When we believe that with the "right technique" we can have these almost perfect little people, we don't give our kids the freedom to be kids, to fail, to learn and to grow. We don't give them the experience of their full humanity.

The cultural implications for this are huge.

Here's what one high-school teacher wrote to me about what she's seeing in her classroom as a result of idolized kids: "...we have pumped our young people full of self-importance in the hope that this would transfer to their acceptance of the importance of others; yet, we have created nothing more than a generation of selfish and rude people who truly believe that they are the sun around which all else revolves."

The sad fact is that by not recognizing a child's true character, that our children are wonderful, flawed little human beings - just like us - we don't get to their hearts and help them to deal with the flawed tendency of those hearts. Instead, we idolize our kids and admire them to excess. We protect them from every adversity ("Don't you dare cut my kid from the team!"). We give 2-year-olds choices at every opportunity - all the better to build their all-important self-esteem. We deliver "no's" dripping in sugar, we "separate the behavior from the child" and we always tell them how wonderful they are, even when they are not being wonderful at all at the moment.

I'm not saying for a minute that I don't blow it and fall into a lot of these traps myself with my own four little ones. I am saying that too many of us parents today make such practices the rule of our home, and so we deny our children their humanity because we refuse to see them - and help them, and encourage them - as they really are.

(Betsy Hart is the author of "It Takes a Parent: How the Culture of Pushover Parenting is Hurting Our Kids - and What to Do About It." She can be reached at

When did parents stop being right?

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Not Everyone Condemns the Federal Response to Katrina

Here at Observations I’ve repeatedly laid the responsibility for the first and most serious screw-ups in New Orleans where it belongs: with the local and state governments. That position isn’t in vogue, and it isn’t sexy. Everyone who attempts to say "let's wait and see before hanging people" is shouted down.

Even so, there are a few brave souls out there willing to publicly say that the naysayers, Bush-bashers, and critics of everything George Bush is now and has ever been associated with, are wrong about the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Here is an excerpt from one such opinion, reported on

More frustrating still, it appears that Bush and everybody else associated with Katrina's federal rescue effort has precious little to apologize for.

In fact, as chronicled over the weekend by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette's Jack Kelly, the so-called villainous, incompetent feds actually performed quite well this time - in comparison with past efforts.

"The federal response here was faster than [in Hurricane] Hugo, faster than Andrew, faster than Iniki, faster than Francine and Jeanne," a National Guardsman involved in the Katrina rescue effort told Kelly.

The federal government pretty much met its standard timelines, but the volume of support provided during the [first] 72-96 hour[s] was unprecedented."

After Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992, National Guard troops didn't arrive on the scene in strength for five days.

And as NewsMax noted last week, FEMA's response to Hurricane Floyd in 1999 - with the agency then under the vaunted leadership of President Clinton's appointee James Lee Witt - was fraught with month-long delays.

After Katrina's floodwaters hit, however, the National Guard, the Coast Guard and, yes, FEMA - was on the scene in force in three days.

In just the first week after New Orleans' levees had been breached:

  • More than 32,000 people had been rescued by Coast Guard helicopters.
  • Shelter, food and medical care had been provided to more than 180,000 evacuees.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers had all but repaired the breaches and had begun pumping water out of New Orleans.

Unnoted by columnist Kelly is the fact that the extraordinary first week's effort took place while roving bands of Katrina "victims" were shooting at the rescuers.

Considering the complete collapse of city and state rescue efforts - where even the most basic stipulations of New Orleans' evacuation plan were ignored - the federal operation was a model of efficiency.

It's just too bad that the head of the federal government can't muster the political courage to say so out loud.

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Post-Katrina Frenzy

By Helle Dale
September 14, 2005

Great disasters bring out the best and the worst in us humans. The international response to Hurricane Katrina demonstrates this fact, no less than reactions among those stricken all along the Gulf Coast.

People around the world have expressed their sympathy, sent condolences, offered help and started collections to help the victims. Everybody from the Queen of England to Pope Benedict XVI sent their condolences. Over 90 nations offered assistance and European countries opened up their strategic oil reserves. Though many of those offers of aid come in forms that cannot be used, let's appreciate the spirit of generosity.

Yet, what has been far less appealing is the unseemly international display of "schadenfreude" over the fall of the mighty United States, which has been mixed with sanctimonious sniffing at the sight of poor, black Americans stranded in the New Orleans convention center and the Superdome after the storm.

As usual, the international media has served as an echo chamber of the American media. Just as CNN was ready from day one to look for people to interview to blame to the federal government, so were media the world over ready to blame President Bush for the actions of Mother Nature. In the words of the Irish Times, "This is a defining moment for Mr. Bush, just as September 11 was. So far his reputation for prompt and firm crisis management has fallen far short of what is required."

Perhaps the most appalling reaction of this kind came from the Economist magazine, which is otherwise among the best-informed European publications about to the United States. Last week's cover carried a picture from New Orleans of a weeping black woman, with the title: "The Shaming of America." Shaming? Since when is it a shame to be hit by the worst natural disaster in your nation's history, to have infrastructure washed away in an area comparable to Britain, whence the Economist hails. Did the Economist blast the "shaming of France" in August 2003, when a heat wave killed an estimated 11,000 mainly elderly people, but failed to bring the French government back from vacation? By contrast, the death toll to date in New Orleans is a few hundred.

Now, we all have been distressed by the inadequacy of U.S. government responses at all levels in the first days after Hurricane Katrina. But jumping to conclusions and implications of collective guilt contained in the Economist's editorial on the hurricane are just outrageous. For instance: "Since Hurricane Katrina, the world's view of America has changed. The disaster has exposed some shocking truths about the place: the bitterness of its sharp racial divide, the abandonment of the dispossessed, the weakness of critical infrastructure. But the most astonishing and most shaming revelation has been of its government's failure to bring succor to its people at their time of greatest need."

Meanwhile, in the Financial Times, another influential British publication widely circulating in the United States, columnist Philip Stephens opined on the disaster under the headline "The world needs a powerful but more humble America." He writes that "there is a sadness at the loss of so many lives but also a nagging satisfaction that Bush's inert administration has been humbled." One should presumably be grateful that Mr. Stephens concedes that the world still needs the United States with all its shortcomings.

Critics of the war in Iraq, on the other hand, have found fertile ground in the debris from the hurricane. The Swiss paper Le Temps knew exactly why the New Orleans levees broke: "The sea walls would not have burst in New Orleans if the funds meant for strengthening them had not been cut to help the wear effort in Iraq and the war on terror." A total fabrication, of course.

In Germany, unsurprisingly, some even blamed the American rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, and argued that Americans reaped what they sowed because of their contribution to global warming. "Americans have a big effect on the greenhouse effect," noted Joern Ehlers, spokesman for the World Wildlife Fund Germany.

What most international media totally fail to understand is that the American federal system does not give the president dictatorial powers to override elected state and local officials, who have the first line of responsibility for their citizens. How to make them live up to those responsibilities, work together and how best to involve the federal government at the appropriate time and level are the serious questions to be answered.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Katrina and the Federal Government

Here’s a very simple history of the beginning of the United States of America.

When the colonists decided to break away from Mother England, it was for a reason. The colonies wanted to be out from under the heavy thumb of the British Crown. In establishing a new country, the Founders decided its government would be not a government of one, as was England, but a government of the many, the citizenry.

Each of the original colonies/states would remain somewhat independent in a shared sovereignty with the federal government, and the federal government would be limited in its role and relationship with the states. There were clearly defined duties for the federal government. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution sought to reinforce that concept. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Moving forward to present times, although the Congress and the Supreme Court have frequently and inappropriately trampled the states’ Tenth Amendment rights, there still is a prohibition against the federal government simply coming into a state and taking over, uninvited.

Because of these protections from the federal government, states are required to ask for federal help, except in the event of armed insurrection, in which case the federal government can move in a quell the trouble.

That situation did not exist when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. As bad as things were, with the punks and thugs killing a few people, raping a few others, looting and generally causing trouble, those difficulties did not constitute an insurrection, and therefore did not compel the federal government to take action. The response to Katrina was the responsibility first of the local government and its leaders to implement pre-storm plans and post-storm plans, and then of the state government and its leaders to respond. Third in line comes the federal government, but only when it is invited to participate by the governor of a state. At the point that one of the governors realized that state and local governments were in over their heads, then the governor could ask for federal assistance.

Some think that President Bush should have ignored the Constitutional separation between the states and the federal government, and rushed federal help into New Orleans without having been asked to do so. That would be exercising power the President does not have.

Many people say that the feds acted too slowly. Prior to receiving a request from a state, the fact that the federal government didn’t act was exactly the proper response. If the feds acted too slowly after a request for federal intervention, that is another matter entirely.

There will be plenty of time to sort all of this out after the situation in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi has been stabilized. In the meantime, everyone should just shut up.

Our society has become so dependent upon the federal government and so accepting of its increasing intrusions into our lives that there now is an expectation on the part of a frighteningly large segment of our population that the feds should fix all our problems. But that is not the way the system is supposed to work, and we’d better realize that before all states’ rights have been whittled away, and we will then be no better off than when we were 13 colonies, and no better off than other nations where there is much less individual freedom that here.

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Assigning blame

Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON -- In less enlightened times, there was no catastrophe independent of human agency. When the plague or some other natural disaster struck, witches were burned, Jews were massacred and all felt better (except the witches and Jews).

A few centuries later, our progressive thinkers have progressed not an inch. No fall of a sparrow on this planet is not attributed to sin and human perfidy. The three current favorites are: (1) global warming, (2) the war in Iraq and (3) tax cuts. Katrina hits and the unholy trinity is immediately invoked to damn sinner-in-chief George W. Bush.

This kind of stupidity merits no attention whatsoever, but I'll give it a paragraph. There is no relationship between global warming and the frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes. Period. The problem with the evacuation of New Orleans is not that National Guardsmen in Iraq could not get to New Orleans, but that National Guardsmen in Louisiana did not get to New Orleans. As for the Bush tax cuts, administration budget requests for New Orleans flood control during the five Bush years exceed that of the five preceding Clinton years. The notion that the allegedly missing revenues would have been spent wisely by Congress, targeted precisely to the levees of New Orleans, and reconstruction would have been completed in time, is a threefold fallacy. The argument ends when you realize that, as The Washington Post notes, "the levees that failed were already completed projects."

Let's be clear. The author of this calamity was, first and foremost, Nature (or if you prefer, Nature's God). The suffering was augmented, aided and abetted in descending order of culpability by the following:

1. The mayor of New Orleans. He knows the city. He knows the danger. He knows that during Hurricane Georges in 1998, the use of the Superdome was a disaster and fully two-thirds of the residents never got out of the city. Nothing was done. He declared a mandatory evacuation only 24 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit. He did not even declare a voluntary evacuation until the day before that, at 5 p.m. At that time, he explained that he needed to study his legal authority to call a mandatory evacuation and was hesitating to do so lest the city be sued by hotels and other businesses.

2. The Louisiana governor. It's her job to call up the National Guard and get it to where it has to go. Where the Guard was in the first few days is a mystery. Indeed, she issued an authorization for the National Guard to commandeer school buses to evacuate people on Wednesday afternoon -- more than two days after the hurricane hit and after much of the fleet had already drowned in its parking lots.

3. The head of FEMA. Late, slow and in way over his head. On Thursday he says on national television that he didn't even know there were people in the Convention Center, when anybody watching television could see them there destitute and desperate. Maybe in his vast bureaucracy he can assign three 20-year-olds to watch cable news and give him updates every hour on what in hell is going on.

4. The president. Late, slow and simply out of tune with the urgency and magnitude of the disaster. The second he heard that the levees had been breached in New Orleans, he should have canceled his schedule and addressed the country on national television to mobilize it both emotionally and physically to assist in the disaster. His flyover on the way to Washington was the worst possible symbolism. And his Friday visit was so tone-deaf and politically disastrous that he had to fly back three days later.

5. Congress. Now as always playing holier-than-thou. Perhaps it might ask itself who created the Department of Homeland Security in the first place. The congressional response to all crises is the same -- rearrange the bureaucratic boxes, but be sure to add one extra layer. The last four years of DHS have been spent principally on bureaucratic reorganization (and real estate) instead of, say, a workable plan for as predictable a disaster as a Gulf Coast hurricane.

6. The American people. They have made it impossible for any politician to make any responsible energy policy over the last 30 years -- but that is a column for another day. Now is not the time for constructive suggestions. Now is the time for blame, recriminations and sheer astonishment. Mayor Nagin has announced that, as bodies are still being found and as a public health catastrophe descends upon the city, he is sending 60 percent of his cops on city funds for a little R&R, mostly to Vegas hotels. Asked if it was appropriate to party in these circumstances, he responded: "New Orleans is a party town. Get over it.''

©2005 Washington Post Writers Group

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Opportunity knocks for the knockers

By Wesley Pruden
Published September 9, 2005

Some of our fast friends in the rest of the world who thought they understood us have decided that maybe they don't.
"We have been puzzled by the pictures on television," a friendly Indonesian diplomat says. "We were plucking starving, bedraggled people out of trees more than a week after the tsunami, and the reaction was invariably one of gratitude and thanksgiving. In America there is only complaining that someone did not get there sooner with more."
Sad but true. Americans were once taught that God helps those who help themselves, as illustrated by this story: A man marooned on a roof in a flood prays loudly for help, and a boat arrives at once to pluck him to safety. "Well, I might get my feet wet," he says. "I'll wait for a helicopter." The boat departs and soon a helicopter chatters to a spot just above his head and drops a rope ladder. "Well," the man said, "heights make me dizzy. I'll wait for the water to go down." The helicopter flies away, the water continues to rise. The man drowns and wakes up in heaven. He confronts St. Peter and complains crossly: "I asked God to save me and I don't understand why He didn't hear my prayer." St. Peter shakes his head in disgust, or as close to disgust as heaven allows. "Look, bub," he says, "God sent a boat, and then a helicopter, and since you were such an ungrateful jerk He let you drown."
Unless we're all jerks, we all stand humiliated for what the televised acts of a miserable few over the past fortnight have told the world about us, portraying us as a nation of whining, churlish ingrates and opportunists, or worse, eager to exploit the suffering of others.
The newspapers frame the television images as the lasting public perceptions. "Anarchy in the USA," screams the headline in Britain's best-selling newspaper, the Sun. "Apocalypse Now," cries Berlin's Handelsblatt. A Portuguese cameraman tells Lisbon television: "It's a chaotic situation. It's terrible. It's a situation we generally see in the Third World." In fact, residents of the Third World, from South America across Africa to Asia, have the right to feel insulted by odious comparison. "I am absolutely disgusted," a Sri Lankan businessman says of the thieves, murderers and rapists who turned New Orleans into a killing field. "Not a single tourist caught in the Asian tsunami was mugged. Now with all this happening in America we can easily see where the civilized part of the world lies."
But as appalling as the behavior of the churlish, the thuggish and the barbaric has been, the behavior of our politicians is worse. The politicians, who have the excuse of neither poverty nor ignorance, deliberately exploit the misery of others for personal gain. The early rebukes of the mayor, the governor and the president got things moving, but with that accomplished you might think that for once we're neither black nor white, liberal nor conservative, Republican nor Democrat, but Americans eager to help other Americans.
And most of us are. But the decent instincts that drive most Americans are scarce in certain precincts when opportunity knocks. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the leaders of the congressional Democrats, have been particularly knavish (and congressional Republicans particularly cowardly in confronting the partisan calumny). Mrs. Pelosi gave reporters a heroic (and unlikely) account of how she set the president straight in a private conversation with him. It's not clear whether the Secret Service was standing by lest she, like Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, threatened to punch him out. She called Mr. Bush "oblivious, in denial, dangerous." Harry Reid demanded the president account to him for the time spent clearing brush at Prairie Chapel Ranch, as if he should have been hitting the slots in Las Vegas. "Why didn't President Bush return immediately from his vacation?"
When Rep. Diane Watson of California said "desperate people do desperate things," she was "explaining" looters, robbers and rapists in the Big Easy, but she might have been talking about her Democratic colleagues in Washington. None of the mudballs they've thrown at George W. connect; most Americans don't blame presidents for hurricanes. When Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. asked, "Who are we to say what law and order should be in this unspeakable environment?" he only reveals that he never listened in Sunday school. Lawlessness and disorder, whether by lynch mobs or by roaming robbers and rapists, is wrong. Democratic frustration runs at flood tide, with no relief in sight.
Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Politics At Its Worst

Democrats, liberals and other Bush haters just can’t wait for a fresh opportunity to bash their favorite villain.

The last great opportunity in the form of Cindy Sheehan had run its course, and things were just too quiet. So as the day after the worst natural disaster to strike the United States in decades (or ever, by some accounts) dawned, the snipers, whiners, bellyachers, moaners and groaners, buck-passers, cheap-shot artists, political haymakers, shysters, finger-pointers, grumblers, and other related malcontents took to the airwaves, print vehicles and blog sites to spew their venom.

It’s easy to understand that people are appalled at the human suffering they see 24 hours a day on cable news. The situation on the Gulf Coast is indeed horrible, and our sympathy and even our anger are appropriate responses in such cases.

What is not acceptable is the furor created by the Bash Bushing Bunch, which is not so much angry that a huge storm leveled homes, churches and businesses in a wide area of three states, or that a major U.S. city, illogically positioned and built below sea level, is mostly under water, as it is eager to take shots at the President of the United States. What is also unacceptable is the complicity of the media in this cheap exercise.

Most offensive is not that people want to know what happened to delay needed relief efforts, but that even before they know what happened they are ready, ropes in hand, to hang George Bush. This crude and tawdry behavior is unbefitting of Americans, and an ABC News/Washington Post poll shows most Americans hold state and local authorities more responsible than the federal government by a 75 percent to 67 percent margin, and President Bush is thought responsible by 44 percent. A CNN-Gallup-USA Today poll found that only 13% blamed Bush, and only 18% blamed federal agencies. (Previous poll information corrected)

These critics are beyond taking sound advice, or following reasonable suggestions to keep quiet for a month or so until the situation can be stabilized. They don’t understand how relief efforts are designed, and they don’t care. It is pure politics, and everybody knows political activity often takes place the gutter. Such is the nature of this inappropriate noise.

The President has been roundly and inappropriately blamed for failing to put federal relief efforts in action. The agency targeted for criticism is the Federal Emergency Management Agency: FEMA. However, it is not FEMA’s role to be first on the scene of a disaster. According to the agency’s Strategic Plan, “In accordance with FEMA’s primary authorizing legislation, the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, … primary responsibility for disaster response rests with State and local authorities. This means FEMA does not respond to all disasters that occur in the United States. Instead, when State and local capacity to respond is threatened or overwhelmed, a Governor may ask the President for Federal assistance.” [Emphasis added] Clearly, FEMA is not supposed to do what many Americans mistakenly blame it for not doing.

While the Bush Bashing Bunch is still in manic mode, some common sense has filtered through the intolerant din of blame from Bush critics. Bob Williams, President of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, writing in the Wall Street Journal a column, titled Blame Amid the Tragedy: Who should be held accountable for the response to Katrina, had the following analysis:

Many in the media are turning their eyes toward the federal government, rather than considering the culpability of city and state officials. I am fully aware of the challenges of having a quick and responsive emergency response to a major disaster. And there is definitely a time for accountability; but what isn't fair is to dump on the federal officials and avoid those most responsible -- local and state officials who failed to do their job as the first responders. The plain fact is, lives were needlessly lost in New Orleans due to the failure of Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Blanco, and the city's mayor, Ray Nagin.

The primary responsibility for dealing with emergencies does not belong to the federal government. It belongs to local and state officials who are charged by law with the management of the crucial first response to disasters. First response should be carried out by local and state emergency personnel under the supervision of the state governor and his/her emergency operations center.

The actions and inactions of Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin are a national disgrace due to their failure to implement the previously established evacuation plans of the state and city. Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin cannot claim that they were surprised by the extent of the damage and the need to evacuate so many people. Detailed written plans were already in place to evacuate more than a million people. The plans projected that 300,000 people would need transportation in the event of a hurricane like Katrina. If the plans had been implemented, thousands of lives would likely have been saved.

But such reasoned explanations will fall on deaf ears, because most of the critics really don’t care about accurately assigning responsibility for inaction or wrong action, they care only about their narrow self-important goal of blaming George Bush.

The nation’s growing dependence upon the federal government to solve all our problems has invaded and destroyed to a significant degree the ability of Americans to think for themselves and act in their own best interest as individuals. So, when Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, those addicted to government incorrectly believed that Washington ought to have had federal relief efforts on the outskirts of New Orleans, Gulf Port and Biloxi with boats, helicopters, trucks, buses, bulldozers, food, water, medicine and thousands of first responders at the ready.

These expectations are not only unreasonable; they are irrational.

So many of the American people suffer from one or both of these obsessions – dependence on the federal government, and hatred for George Bush. It is nauseating and disgusting. It threatens our very existence.

A country so deeply divided along political lines that even a great tragedy is fair game for political opportunism, and whose citizens are so dependent upon government to solve its problems that they can no longer think clearly, surely can’t survive for very long.

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A Little Croton Oil Goes a Long Way

by The Windjammer

I don’t know how many of you youngsters below the age of 70 know about castor oil and croton oil, but there are still a few people around of my generation who had first hand knowledge of at least one of them.

Castor oil is a viscid oil extracted from the beans of the castor plant, used as a cathartic and lubricant. I can tell you from personal experience that it is sometimes both in the same dose.

Croton oil is a viscid oil extracted from the seeds of a small East Indian tree (Croton tiglium) used as a cathartic or purgative. The difference between castor and croton is a whole lot more than just the spelling and the defining.

Castor oil used to come in pint bottles. Croton oil used to come in bottles so small that you could lose one in your knickers pocket and not be able find it when you really needed it. The reason, as an explanation for the benefit of the uninitiated, was obvious to anyone who accidentally mistook one for the other. One little dip of the sharp end of a wood toothpick into the oil and then wiped on to a piece of bread so it wouldn’t get lost would do more for the afflicted than two rounded tablespoons of nose-held dosage of castor oil.

We had a druggist in the town where my Granddad had his store. He was a fine man, a staunch Baptist, was well-liked and respected by all. I’ll not mention that he also had a beautiful daughter who was the outstanding town belle because that has nothing at all to do with the story.

Someone heard one of those made-up stories and one of his Odd Fellow friends hung it on Doc. I think they were still friends after the story came out. The fact that his drug store was located on the main corner and one of those poles which carried all the electricity the town had or needed stood directly across the street from his front door. They only needed one pole every few hundred feet because that was back before air conditioning and such and didn't need as much electricity as you do today. If you wanted to cool off on a hot day, you went to the drug store and sat under one of those big old ceiling fans. I’ll tell the story here, but don’t you believe one word of it.

Doc hired an ol’ country boy to run errands, tend the soda fountain and keep the toilet paper rack filled. Doc had to go uptown which was almost an entire block away and left the boy in charge. He told him to NOT dispense any medicine, but to tell the customer that he would be back in about an hour.

A suffering customer came in, sneezing so hard he could hardly catch his breath nor wipe the tears from his eyes between ahchoos. He pleaded with the clerk to give him something to stop his sneezes. He broke Clem’s resolve when he told him that he couldn’t live until Doc got back. The boy, filled with pity, took a bottle of croton oil and handed it to the victim at no charge and told him to take it.

When Doc came back and asked if he had any customers, the clerk told him what he had done, Doc turned white as a leghorn hen and said, "My word, boy, that stuff won’t stop his sneezing."

The boy replied, "The heck it won’t. Look at him standing over there hugging that pole. He’s afraid to sneeze."

I know that by now you must be wondering where all that is heading.

I just heard a well-known politician making all kinds of asinine remarks and accusations about another well-known politician (I hope you noticed that I didn’t name any names) and it dawned on me that the party of the first part must have got hold of some croton oil and thought you were supposed to inject it into the lower end.