Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jeremiah Wright and the Black Christian Church

What is the main purpose of the black Christian church? You might think that its purpose is learning about and worshiping God and Jesus Christ. That is, after all, the purpose of Christianity, isn’t it?

Like white Christian churches, the black church is not monolithic; all black churches are not the same. There are Baptist churches, Church of God churches, and other denominations within the “black church,” just like there are in white Christian churches. And, just like white churches do not all “operate” the same way, neither do all black churches “operate” the same way.

However, understanding that there are some differences in the fine details of how various churches do things, most people will acknowledge that God and Jesus are the same, regardless of the color of your skin, and there are not different requirements for what God and Jesus expect from their flock depending upon skin color. So, why are there such differences in the way they behave? Why should white Christians and black Christians worship differently? Why are church services dramatically different in Jeremiah Wright’s church than in the white Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, or other Christian church down the street?

The answer is that black churches—some of them, at least—are not just places to worship God and Jesus, they are places where politics is alive and thriving, places where politics plays a large part in services and sermons. Jeremiah Wright’s church is one of those. Wright is the just-retired pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ, the church where Democrat presidential hopeful Barack Obama belongs, in case you didn’t know. At Trinity, in addition to learning about God and Jesus the congregation also gets a strong dose of Jeremiah Wrights’ black politics. There, Wright has a somewhat captive audience for his political extremism, anti-white and anti-America tirades. Among those in that audience are children as young as Barack and Michelle Obama’s young girls who were born in 1999 and 2001. And over a period of several years, they may well come to believe as Wright does, as Michelle Obama apparently did.

Jeremiah Wright spewed divisiveness and poisonous rhetoric about his country—their country— to his congregation from that Christian pulpit with the authority of a trusted and respected figure in their lives. He spewed anti-white rhetoric and anti-America rhetoric from that Christian pulpit. He spewed absurd conspiracy theories from that Christian pulpit. Is there ever justification for that? Is any of that a legitimate part of Christian theology? And, is that the way to close the racial divide that persists in America, or does that perpetuate or widen that divide?

At first I tried to give Wright the benefit of the doubt when he spit out his anti-white and anti-America rants. I accepted the assertion that we heard only pieces of sermons, and that he preached in that church for more than twenty years and those rants were not representative either of complete sermons or of most of his sermons. Wright removed the hesitation I had in believing the harsh accusations against him when he addressed the National Press Club and revealed himself to be an egotistical defender of his foul rhetoric, putting his own interests above the interests of his congregant, the first black man ever to have a realistic chance at being elected President of the United States.

The picture that emerges from Wright’s behavior in the pulpit and his performance at the National Press Club is a picture of a man who inflames racial feelings in his congregation, and whose motive is to persuade them not to be part of the existing culture, but to resist becoming part of that culture and instead to insist that the existing culture adapt to their preferences. Is this the essence of the black liberation theology that Wright subscribes to? Is this philosophy held by all members of Trinity Church? Watching the congregants shouting, clapping, cheering and jumping up and down to those portions of Wright’s sermons filled with anger and idiotic conspiracy theories leaves the clear impression that most do.

All of which begs the question: Does Barack Obama believe all of Wright’s poisonous ideas, or some of them? You can see the evidence in Michelle Obama’s public statements that she at least partially subscribes to them. And while Barack Obama has been more thoughtful and more careful to not make inflammatory statements like his wife, you can see evidence of his own acceptance of the black liberation theology that Wright professes in the ideas he has expressed. Until a day or two ago he defended Wright and his tirades, and only when Wright’s comments at the National Press Club made an already bad situation worse and obvious to all that it was taking a toll on his candidacy did Obama denounce Wright’s inflammatory ideas.

Blacks Americans are a minority, and a small minority, at that. They comprise just 12.1 percent of the population of this country which, interestingly, is slightly less than Hispanics, who are 12.5 percent of the population. Non-Hispanic white Americans comprise 69 percent of the population, and like it or not, a majority of that magnitude determines the characteristics of their culture. What Wright preaches is that by refusing to adopt the predominant culture as determined by seven of ten Americans, and instead defiantly clamoring for the majority to accede to the wishes of one of ten Americans, blacks can somehow change the way the majority thinks and wants to live. But all the Jeremiah Wrights in the world can’t overcome a seven-to-one majority, and the harder they try, and the more adamant and militant they are in trying, the longer it will take for them to be fully accepted, and the farther outside the norm they will be. Jeremiah Wright and his foolish ideals are doing grave damage to black Americans, holding them back, and perpetuating the very circumstances that he so loudly and profanely decries.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Where In the World is Matt Lauer, Part II

After criticizing Matt’s silly looking five o’clock shadow, he has partially redeemed himself by doing a segment on the Anne Frank House while in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The Anne Frank House is the place where Anne and her family, another family and a couple of other Jews hid out from the Nazis until they were betrayed by an unknown person. If you read my column about a local college’s observance of the Holocaust, you know that I was quite affected by the photo exhibit and the play The Diary of Anne Frank. Although the Today Show’s segment was too short and didn’t do a very complete job of showing, I appreciated that brief glimpse at this special place.

Matt still sports the five o’clock shadow, though.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Where in the World is Matt Lauer?

Every year NBC Today’s host matt Lauer travels to undisclosed locations around the world, and upon arrival teases viewers to guess where he is.

A viewer wrote in criticizing the show for not being “greener” in its traipsing around the globe, but one look at matt and it’s obvious that Matt is indeed being green. He didn’t bother to shave this morning, saving electricity or water, both of which must be in short supply in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Or, maybe Matt thinks the five o’clock shadow somehow makes him look cooler and more hip.

You look, silly, Matt. Drag your razor out of the suitcase, and next time try to look normal.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Need A Chuckle?

After much too long, A Little Levity has been updated with a few new laughers.

Check it out.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ah, Spring

It appears that spring may finally have arrived. The weather has been warming up for the last couple of weeks, trees are greening up, tulips and flowering trees are in bloom, I’ve had to mow the lawn twice already … yep, spring is here.

That’s not to say that there is no further threat of a cold spell, though. It’s a rule of thumb around here that May 15 is the day after which it is usually, though not always, safe to put out the plants. Another such rule holds that you don’t put things out until its green all the way to the top of the mountain. That’s still a couple of weeks away, by my judgment.

It was very nice today, pretty cloudy, but about 82 degrees, and I was out trying to finish up cleaning up the property this afternoon. Still many leaves and other remnants of fall and winter to take care of, and also spraying the unwanted little green things that spring up among the gravel on the walk and such. I’d been outside for about two hours when Diane got home from a couple of errands, so I came inside for a bit.

I sat down to have some lunch and rest for a while when we heard rumbling. We were about to experience the first thunderstorm of the season. Not long thereafter, sure enough, the rains came, big drops at first, and then gradually gaining speed and frequency until it was a full-scale downpour. I look out through the patio door and noticed some white stuff bouncing off the deck: Hail. The stones were many, but fortunately not very big. And they didn’t last very long.

The first thunderstorm is a good sign that spring is finally here.

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When the Going Gets Tough, Rely on Children

Think what you like about the Iraq war, but the coalition forces are having a negative impact on certain anti-freedom forces there. The bad guys are on the run and can’t effectively oppose the coalition forces in fair fights, so they resort to IEDs, suicide bombers, attacks against civilians and other equally cowardly techniques in their desperation. Now, as impossible as it sounds, the cowards have stooped to yet a lower level of behavior, as reported by the BBC.

Militias recruit child bombers

Insurgent groups and militias in Iraq are recruiting children for attacks, according to a United Nations official. The findings of the UN special representative for children and armed conflict echo concerns expressed by the US military about insurgent tactics. In some cases children are paid to carry out attacks, the UN envoy, Radhika Coomaraswamy, told the BBC.

Last month, the US released footage of what it said was al-Qaeda propaganda showing children being trained. The US says children are being taught how to use guns and carry out kidnappings in addition to other terrorist activities.

Ms Coomaraswamy labeled the practice "intolerable", adding that "their poverty is being exploited." Speaking to the BBC in the Jordanian capital, Amman, she said: "Some are paid, mainly for mortar attacks and for placing bombs."

She added that the use of children had been going on since 2004 and was a growing problem. "Many of them no longer go to school, many are recruited for violent activities or detained in custody, they lack access to the most basic services and manifest a wide range of psychological symptoms from the violence in their everyday lives." She said approximately 1,500 children were also "known to be held in detention facilities."

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Duck Update

Today I saw Momma duck fly in right next to her nest. I don’t have a direct view of the nest, as I’m looking through the patio door, and the nest is a little above and to the right of the glass in the door, so I don’t know if anything special was going on, but it was the first time I have seen Momma not in the nest.

A little later when I was leaving for some appointments, about 9 a.m., I saw a male and female Mallard near the garage, which is about 50 f eet from the nest. When I came along, the two flew away. (The ones in the picture are not the ones I saw.)

I went up to the nest just now and Momma is there, hidden among the leaves. Corky the Beagle-mix was wondering around closer to the nest than usual. I don’t know if she doesn’t realize Momma is close by, or if she just doesn’t care.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

This Isn’t About Politics! Really!

Please bear with me for a few minutes on this one, all of you readers who don’t like American politics. This is about human nature and social allegiances and the fascinating interplay of these factors with the world of ... dare I speak it? ... politics.

For the first time in America’s history there is the real possibility that a black man or a woman could be elected President of the United States. This possibility has put into play an entire new set of factors, namely that if he is nominated some people will vote for the black man specifically because he is black, and some will vote against him specifically because he is black. Some people will likewise vote for the woman, if she gets the nomination, specifically because she is a woman, and, similarly, some people will specifically vote against her because she is a woman.

The degree to which these factors will enter into the presidential decision making is a question mark, but you can bet it will enter into the equation. Skin color and gender ought not to be a factor on either side of that decision; we ought to vote for the candidate that each of us thinks is the best choice.

A different twist on this concept is that some people will not vote for the likely Republican nominee because of his age. He’s too old, some say. The converse of that argument, that people will vote for him because he is old, hasn’t be advanced, as far as I know.

My personal view is that more black voters will vote for Barack Obama because he is black than either white people will vote against him because he is black, or that women will heavily support Hillary Clinton because she is a woman, or that men will not support Hillary Clinton because she is a woman. But that is just one guy’s opinion.

What is yours?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Barack Obama: The Al Gore of Economics

Democrat presidential hopeful Barack Obama figured right: Pennsylvania voters told pollsters covering the primary election that the most important issue to them is the economy. This helps explain Obama’s tactics of late. He has resorted to demagoguery, using scary economic predictions that bear no resemblance to reality to attract voters away from rival Hillary Clinton. He said recently that the economy is teetering on the brink of "something worse than a recession." Hmmm. Wonder what he's hinting at? An objective look at the data proves otherwise, however. We may be approaching a recession, some say, but maybe not, according to others. And if we have a recession, there is no evidence to support the idea that it’ll be 1929 all over again, as Obama implies.

A look at the data belies the Illinois Senator’s message. Unemployment stood at 5.1% in March of this year, which is just slightly above the rate at which the workforce is considered fully employed, and that rate is lower than at the same time in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. Further, the average period that the unemployed were not working is 16.2 weeks, which seems like a long time. But in historical terms, that figure has been consistently higher than it is today since April of 2002.

The Consumer Price Index reflects increases of prices overall since last year at 3.1%. Is that bad? Well, no, not really. Most people think of Cost of Living goes up between three and four percent annually. And in 2007 the CoL rose by 4.1%, which is greater than in both 2004 and 2005, both of which were higher than 2008 to date.

In 2006, the most recent year for which data is available, the poverty rate for families was lower than it’s been since 2002, and for families with a female head of household it was lower than since 2004.

Gross Domestic Product continues to rise at a steady level.

If the U.S. is still producing at a consistent rate; if prices are rising at normal levels, and slower than in recent years; and if poverty rates are lower than recent years, does that sound like an impending depression to you? Sure, we have some problems, which a little research will show isn’t unusual. The housing market has distress in the sub-prime area, something like six percent of the total housing market. And energy prices, particularly gasoline, are rising rapidly. But in constant dollars, gasoline prices still haven’t reached the level of the 80s crisis.

None of that stops Barack Obama from trying to scare people into voting for him by exaggerating data about the economy.

The economy and global warming have something in common: Experts and authorities are deeply divided on both issues, although you would never know that through media accounts. There simply is no consensus among scientists on whether Man causes global warming, or on whether the U.S. is headed for a recession.

It seems that Barack Obama may be the Al Gore of Economics, shouting “the sky is falling, the sky is falling,” when it is demonstrably untrue.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mindless Hatred

The college where my wife works focused on the Holocaust during April, featuring the play “The Diary of Anne Frank,” a Holocaust Cantata, a lecture series that included a Holocaust survivor, and a photo display by a local man who served in the European Theatre from 1942 to 1944. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Max Kammer chronicled his experiences in the war through photography, capturing most of the photos in this exhibit at Ordoff and Buchenwald, Germany, cities where some of the initial World War II attacks occurred. Max is a personal friend, was a childhood friend of my father, and is Jewish.

For many of us the Holocaust is a nebulous thing, something we’ve heard about, but perhaps don’t know much about. That’s what it was for me, at least. I knew, for example, that Hitler’s Germany mistreated, imprisoned and murdered millions of Jews, and I had seen photos here and there from the camps, but I hadn’t gotten a close view until I saw Max’s photos and watched the play about Anne Frank. It’s a compelling story about an extremely bright and talented young lady. The story is so good that even an untalented cast can’t mess it up. The cast I saw did a very good job.

Max’s photos were taken as his company liberated the concentration and death camps. Mostly, the photos did not show bodies of Jews murdered by the Nazis; they showed prisoners in their cells, thin as rails, living in unbelievable conditions, like the one shown at left.

There are people who argue against the commonly accepted story of the Holocaust who are identified as “Holocaust deniers.” Contradicting the term, these folks don’t claim the Holocaust didn’t occur — most of them, anyway — they claim that the Holocaust did not occur in the manner and to the extent commonly accepted. In fact, the “deniers” really think that term is inappropriate, preferring “revisionists.” They don’t believe that the Nazi government had a policy of deliberately targeting Jews and people of Jewish ancestry for extermination as a people; that six million Jews were systematically killed by the Nazis and their allies; or that genocide was carried out at extermination camps using tools of mass murder, such as gas chambers.

Commonly, Holocaust denial suggests that the Holocaust is a hoax aimed at advancing the interest of Jews at the expense of other peoples, and is generally considered to be an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, the methodologies of which are often criticized as ignoring historical evidence to reach a predetermined conclusion. A great deal of the denial or revisionism occurs in the Arab nations, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is one of the more recent examples. He said just three years ago that the Holocaust was a fairy tale that had been promoted to protect Israel. Are the Arabs, or perhaps more properly, the Muslims, the modern equivalent of Nazi Germany?

The Holocaust is all too real to Max, and he has the evidence on film and paper. His photos don’t prove six million murders, but they show the brutality and horrors that Hitler subjected Jews to starting in 1939. Whether the number is six million or the revisionists’ lesser numbers is irrelevant; the brutality and inhumanity are appalling, ghastly and unimaginable.

We all can think of people we don’t like very much, or maybe actively dislike, or perhaps even hate. But it takes a special person to be so screwed up that they hate an entire race or group, and that characteristic is magnified to a level that is difficult to comprehend when such people actually brutalize and kill the group that is the focus of their hatred.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Duck!! It’s A Mother

Devoted readers may remember my rant last year about the “War of the Leaves,” the annual struggle to remove 40 million leaves from the tiered planted area behind our deck that the guy that built this house adorned with the most efficient leaf-catching plants known to Man.
This year’s war was the worst yet, because we have had several very windy days in both the fall and the winter, with prevailing breezes of 30 mph and gusts of 50 or so. Those days blew in additional leaves from neighboring yards, compounding the chore of removing them.

I approached the task a little differently, foregoing raking in favor of using a blower for the task of moving the giant leaf piles to the wooded part of my lot. Mostly what has happened is that I have had to clear the planted area and deck multiple times, five, so far.

As spring approached there was a lot of unusual bird activity, which I wrote about. You remember: the dozens of vultures? But another bird appeared that was unusual in a different way. Not too far from our house—probably a couple hundred yards, as the crow flies—is the Town’s water supply pond, which has a rather large number of ducks on
it during spring/summer/fall. Imagine my surprise when I saw one of those ducks walking around in the planted areas behind the deck. The only time I’ve seen ducks this far from the pond is the occasional fly-over. I commented to Diane that this critter must have bad radar or something. I didn’t see the duck again after one other sighting the next day.

Until yesterday. While removing the leaves for the fifth and I hope final time, this time with the vacuum feature of the blower, I stuck the vacuum’s pick-up tube in a planter and noticed something that looked a whole lot like the furry seeds that dandelions produce
, only a lot larger. And then, I noticed the duck’s head nestled in the leaves. What I had mistaken for large dandelion-like seeds was duck down; that darned duck has built its nest out there, nowhere near the water.

I’m a little surprised that our prized hunter, Corky, the Beagle-mix, hasn’t found the duck, but since she doesn’t get up on the tiers often, I guess the critter and her babies will be safe. At least until they hatch and start moving around.

I could end this by saying, “Life is sweet - when the birds come home to roost,” but that would be plagiarizing Buffalo, and that would be wrong. So, I’ll just stop.

More Bad News for "Manmade

Global Warming" Advocates

Hurricane Expert Reconsiders Global Warming Link

Prominent MIT hurricane scientist Kerry Emanuel has publicly reversed his view regarding global warming's alleged impact on hurricanes.

“The [computer] models are telling us something quite different from what nature seems to be telling us," said Emanuel, whose views on hurricanes and global warming have been prominently cited by Al Gore and other promoters of climate change fear.

He told the New York Times. "There are various interpretations possible: The big increase in hurricane power over the past 30 years or so may not have much to do with global warming, or the models are simply not faithfully reproducing what nature is doing. Hard to know which to believe yet.”

In 2005, a few weeks before Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Emmanuel asserted in a paper that he had found statistical evidence linking rising hurricane energy and global warming.

His conversion is a very important new development in the climate debate, said Marc Morano, a top aide to climate change skeptic Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.

"First, 2007 turned out to be the ‘tipping point’ for global warming fears, and 2008 appears to be the year of vindication for skeptics as many prominent scientists reverse their climate views, more and more skeptical scientists speak out, and new data debunks man-made climate fears.

“Now another major scientist reconsiders his views on a significant aspect of man-made climate fears.”

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tax the Rich, Hurt the Poor

Barack Obama either doesn’t understand economics, or he is so tightly bound to the leftist tax-and-spend philosophy that he can’t see what should be plain to everyone. At last Tuesday’s Democrat debate with Hillary Clinton, Obama seemed confused when confronted with the historical reality that raising tax rates on capital gains will result in less revenue for the federal coffers, not more.

ABC’s Charlie Gibson presented information showing that when the capital gains rate goes up, revenue from the tax goes down, and when the rate is lowered, tax revenues increase. Obama responded to Gibson, who to his credit actually pressed Obama on an issue for a change, that raising the capital gains tax is necessary "to make sure . . . that our tax system is fair and that we are able to finance health care for Americans who currently don't have it and that we're able to invest in our infrastructure and invest in our schools. And you can't do that for free." Gibson tried a second time to get through to the Illinois Democrat that he would not be able to fund universal health care by raising the capital gains tax, to which Obama replied that economic reality might not be economic reality, depending upon what happens on Wall Street.

It is rare instances like this, when Obama is actually pressed on the finer points of an issue, that he reveals the inner Barack: a hopelessly left-wing ideologue that puts dogma ahead of common sense. By insisting on raising taxes when the result will be negative revenue, Obama shows us that he’s more concerned with punishing “the rich” (making the tax system fair) than providing universal healthcare. Never mind that when asked where he would draw the line controlling who got a tax hike he drew that line right through the middle class.

Despite this glaring inconsistency between what he wants to do and what works, Obama would not concede that raising taxes on capital gains would do precisely the opposite of what is required to be able to provide universal health care. His mind is made up, and damn the facts. It’s very much like his foolish plan to withdraw troops from Iraq, whatever the situation and whatever the consequences.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Missing the Point

Here is an interesting bit of a story from the BBC:

Washington diary: On misspeaking
By Matt Frei, BBC News, Washington

A medieval Bible scholar scrutinizing [sic] parchment documents, or a philologist grappling with the language of the Dead Sea Scrolls would feel at home in the current election campaign.

Who else would be prepared to agonise [sic] over the true meanings of a few words, the way the candidates, their surrogates or the ringside observers of my profession are?

The last time I came across this degree of semantic scrutiny was at Oxford University, where jealous academics took special glee in gouging each other's eyes out over a few misused words.

The tribe of Obama is currently battling the tribe of Clinton over the exact meaning of the word "bitter". [sic]

The failure of the Brits to spell and punctuate correctly notwithstanding, the words political candidates speak are important. Yes, anyone can goof up once in a while, but words have meaning, which is the entire point of using them. And when a candidate trips over their words, or when those words belie something contradictory, or even sinister, we had better pay attention.

True enough that today’s political atmosphere is focused on the minute aspects of campaign rhetoric, but that is due to the nature of the Democrat contest to see who the party’s nominee will be, and not some sinister plot by Republicans. No doubt the Republicans would be proud to have designed this mud bath, but the truth is, they had nothing to do with it. Hillary stretches the truth about Bosnia, and Obama can’t explain his questionable relationships. No vast right-wing conspiracy here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Desperate or Dumb?

Out there on the campaign trail trying to scare up votes to close the Obama gap, Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton was seen in a bar slamming down shots of Crown Royal followed by a beer.

Now I don’t oppose anyone having a drink or two, but I have to draw the line at Ms. Clinton allowing herself to be recorded drinking in a bar while campaigning.

What kind of a message is she sending to the world? I suppose it was to make her appear more human, more like “one of the guys,” a “regular person.”

I wonder what young, suggestible kids think of this exhibition? Are they impressed? Does it make drinking seem okay to them?

I think she used extremely poor judgment; I think she is desperate; and did something stupid to try to get votes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Good Grief, Take II

First, he announces he’s going to talk with the leader of the terrorist organization Hamas, against U.S. policy and the wishes of the administration. Now we learn that former President Jimmy Carter has laid a wreath of red roses at the grave of Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat during a visit to the West Bank on Tuesday.

"He and Mrs. Carter and his son Jeff wanted to pay their respects to President Arafat," Carter's trip director Rick Jasculca told Cybercast News Service. Arafat, the "godfather of terrorism," was linked to the deaths of two American diplomats in 1973, among a long list of murderous behavior.

Angered by Carter’s insolence, the Israeli government refused his request to visit Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Good for the Israelis.

Will someone please put Carter out of my misery?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Opportunity Knocks

China has already overtaken the US as the world's "biggest polluter," a report to be published next month says

The BBC reports that "research suggests [China's] greenhouse gas emissions have been underestimated, and probably passed those of the US in 2006-2007.

"The University of California team will report their work in the Journal of Environment Economics and Management.

They warn that unchecked future growth will dwarf any emissions cuts made by rich nations under the Kyoto Protocol.

"The team admit there is some uncertainty over the date when China may have become the biggest emitter of CO2, as their analysis is based on 2004 data.

"Until now it has been generally believed that the US remains 'Polluter Number One.'"

Attention Manmade Global Warming fanatics: China needs you. As soon as the airlines get their planes back in the air, go there.

They need you.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

More Reasons Why Neither Democrat

Should Be President

Democrat presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama told a crowd in San Francisco that he understands why residents of Pennsylvania feel bitter. “You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them.” “And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

That view is insulting to the people of Pennsylvania and the Midwest. Are people who own guns bitter? Are religious people bitter? Are people who’ve lost their job anti-immigrant or anti-trade? Are Pennsylvanians so shallow and ignorant?

If a relative few blacks or Pennsylvanians or Midwesterners live in undesirable circumstances, Obama extrapolates that view to the entire nation, despite contrary evidence. But it is precisely the same mistake Obama makes in embracing the church to which he’s been a member for 20 years and its America-is-a-horrible-place mentality. Is this merely a cheap and tawdry campaign tactic designed to attract support and appeal to the terminally aggrieved? Or is it what he believes? I think probably both; I think he believes it.

His rival for the nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton, seized upon Sen. Obama’s comment and said she would help economically struggling communities, not look down on them, and said residents in small towns suffering from job losses across the state were resilient and optimistic. Her take: "Pennsylvania doesn't need a president who looks down on them," Clinton said, "they need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families." If things in your life aren’t exactly peachy, vote for Hillary and she will fix it for you. Need a new job, or more vacation time? Hillary’s your girl. Want free health care? Give Hillary a call some morning at 3:30 a.m., and she’ll get it done for you, right after she solves that economic crisis, that call that came in just before yours.

Her approach is less caustic than Obama’s, but it is not substantially different. Clinton panders to everyone who wants the government to care of their every need, and that group grows larger day by day, but she has so far managed to do it without the insult voters.

But the United States does not need as president someone who sees the country in unrealistically negative terms. We don’t need a president who believes our country is a horrible place. And the United States does not need as president someone who believes it is the president’s job to be involved in their day-to-day lives of her/his subjects and take care of them.

Add this to the reasons why neither Sen. Clinton nor Sen. Obama is suitable to be elected President.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Uncle Jay Reports on Your Tax Dollars at Work

This is an old video, but is worth a couple of minutes of your time.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ted Turner on Global Warming

The following excerpt is from an appearance by Ted Turner on the Charlie Rose program.

Your reactions, responses, opinions and/or comments are requested:

It’s possible that in 15 or 20 years we can completely redo it. If we—we have to mobilize. This is how important it is, and how important that we do it quickly. We have to mobilize the same way we did when we entered World War II in 1941. We have to fully mobilize everything we have and put it into changing the energy system over, and not just here in the United States, but all over the world.

It’s going to be the biggest business project in the history of world. Fortunes, billions of dollars are going to be made. Hundreds of thousands of people are going to be employed.

We’re going to have clean air. We’re going to have so many benefits from it. It’s not going to cost us anything once we get going with it. It’s not going to cost us anything.

Only the people that don’t understand it think it’s going to—not doing it will be catastrophic. We’ll have eight degrees—we’ll be eight degrees hotter in 10—not 10, but in 30 or 40 years. And basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died, and the rest of us will be cannibals.

Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state—like Somalia or Sudan—and living conditions will be intolerable. The droughts will be so bad there’ll be no more corn grown. Not doing it is suicide. Just like dropping bombs on each other, nuclear weapons is suicide. We’ve got to stop doing the suicidal two things, which are hanging on to our nuclear weapons and after that we’ve got to stabilize the population.

The Preeminent Issue

Courtesy of columnist Walter Williams, here is a topic that every American ought to spend time thinking about:

There's a measure introduced in every Congress since 1995, by Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., called The Enumerated Powers Act that would require that all bills introduced in the U.S. Congress include a statement setting forth the specific constitutional authority under which the law is being enacted.

The Enumerated Powers Act currently has 44 co-sponsors in the House. In the Senate, it has never had a single co-sponsor, and that's a Senate that includes our three presidential aspirants. The question one might ask is why would Sens. Obama, Clinton and McCain have a distaste for, and fail to support, a measure binding them to what the Constitution actually permits?

Good Grief!!

As if things in the Mid-East aren’t bad enough, now comes word that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is going to meet with the leader of the terrorist organization Hamas. While the United States is trying to isolate the Islamist Palestinian terrorist organization, Mr. Carter plans to meet Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Syria next week. I wonder what they’ll talk about?

The meeting in the Syrian capital Damascus may also include former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Maybe the best we can hope for will be that Mr. Carter and Mr. Annan will be able to do more together and out of office than either or both of them accomplished while they held office. I suppose we should all hope that the result will be to persuade Hamas to stop killing innocent people, but that seems unlikely, given that one would be hard-pressed to find two people whose list of successes is shorter than these two.

The operative question is: Can they do something to actually make matters worse? If so, get ready.

Sexism, Italian Style

From the "People Are as Weird as Anyone" file is this little tidbit:

Italian opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi has claimed that right-wing female politicians are better looking than their left-wing counterparts.

Mr Berlusconi, the centre-right's candidate in elections this weekend, was quoted as telling local media that the left had "no taste" in women.

The conservative leader has a long record of making outlandish comments.

His remarks provoked an angry reaction from the centre-left, which accused him of being sexist.

Mr Berlusconi was quoted as saying that when he looked round parliament, he found that female politicians from the right were "more beautiful".

"The left has no taste, even when it comes to women," the 71-year-old was quoted as saying.

Monday, April 07, 2008

America Alone: Soon to Be Banned in Canada?

Mark Steyn’s best seller, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, suggests that the Western world is falling to the unrelenting tide of radical Islam, and concludes that if we don't do something soon, we'll wake up one day to the end of church bells, replaced by a Muslim call to prayer; the end of free speech, replaced by strict, religious-based censorship; the end of liberty and justice for all, replaced by Sharia law.

That is Mr. Steyn’s belief; it may or may not be yours, or mine. Few of us would argue that Mr. Steyn is entitled to his beliefs, as are we all, and that he is further entitled to express those beliefs publicly. But perhaps not free speech does not exist in Canada, where the government is considering banning the book.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has labeled the book as "flagrantly Islamophobic," and it is now out of official favor of the Canadian government.

That, dear friends, is what censorship is all about.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Whence Cometh Visitors?

I haven’t posted the locations of recent visitors to Observations in quite a while.

It is always interesting to see where these visitors live, and it always makes me wonder what mechanism brings them here.

Most interesting to me is the location of visitors from outside the United States.

Here is a list of some recent viewers:

  • Adelaide, South Australia
  • Bulgaria, Sofia, Grad Sofiya
  • Canada, Mitchell, Ontario
  • Canada, Toronto, Ontario
  • Hong Kong, Central District
  • India, Pune, Maharashtra
  • Iran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Chahar Mahall va Bakhtiari
  • Ireland, Louth
  • Spain, Brea Baja, Canarias
  • Spain, Salt, Cataluna
  • Houston, Texas
  • Lincroft, New Jersey
  • Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
  • Evansville, Indiana
  • Ft Mitchell, Kentucky
  • Maumelle, Arkansas
  • San Marcos, Texas
  • Manorville, New York
  • Shady Spring, West Virginia
  • Great Falls, South Carolina
  • Glens Falls, New York
  • New Haven, Connecticut
  • Burlington, Massachusetts
  • Austin, Texas
  • Soddy Daisy, Tennessee
  • Durham, New Hampshire
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia

Saturday, April 05, 2008

John Cornyn on Republican Conservativism

A while back I received an email from Vincent Harris in the Senate office of Texas Republican John Cornyn, and Vincent asked if I would be interested in being included in the Blog Roll on the Senator's Web site. I was, therefore I am.

I had heard of Sen. Cornyn and knew a little about him and his conservative views. I have made it a point to learn more about him, and have spent some time on his Web site. He is up for re-election this year, and three Democrats are battling for the right to oppose him in November. I find that he expresses the Republican conservative philosophy very well, and the video below, taken from a speech from the campaign trail, is a good example.

The Media’s Recession

An occasional theme here at Observations is the media and its penchant for biased reporting. My buddy Buffalo posted an article on this subject a few days ago, that particular story having to do with twisting data to show that motorcycle riding without a helmet is dangerous and the death rate is rising as a result of weakened laws mandating that riders wear helmets.

It really isn’t difficult to find examples of media mischief in reporting. Sometimes it is likely a matter of trying to attract viewers/listeners/readers, and sometimes there is a strong suspicion that other motives are behind the media’s malfeasance.

An example of the latter might be reflected in an AP story headlined “Huge job losses set off recession alarms.” The zeal with which the news outlets report negative economic news gives one the distinct impression that the US economy is in recession, and indeed, many reports state that unequivocally. It doesn’t help when presidential candidates say as much in their attempt to persuade voters that the economy is in a shambles and they are the only person on Earth that can fix it. The fact that the president can’t fix the economy is the subject of another piece, however.

The AP story begins, “It's no longer a question of recession or not. Now it's how deep and how long.” This point is supported by evidence such as that “the national unemployment rate climbed to 5.1 percent,” and that “job losses are nearing the staggering level of a quarter-million this year in just three months.”

To the uneducated eye this seems a reasonable deduction from the evidence presented. However, a little historical information and a basic understanding of the economy tell a different story.

For example, in the best of times the national unemployment rate is in the 4.8 percent range, and the rule of thumb is that when 5.0 percent of workers aren’t working, that is full employment. That might seem counter-intuitive, but “unemployed” does not always mean standing in soup lines, losing homes, and starving children. That five percent often is a matter of temporary unemployment as workers move from one job to another, or reflect those out of work for a short period of time. That 5.0 percent does not involve the same people today as it did in November.

The official measure of unemployed people in the U.S. as of January 2008 was 7.6 million, a rate of 4.9%, or full employment. Now that the unemployment rate has risen two-tenths of a percent to 5.1%—or one-tenth of a percent higher than the full employment rate—the US is in a recession, according to the AP story.

The second piece of evidence, that “job losses are nearing the staggering level of a quarter-million this year in just three months,” is also misleading. “InContext,” an online publication of Indiana University’s Kelly School of Business, says the following about unemployment: “… on average, we can expect a change of 300,000 or more in the number of people unemployed once every 10 months.” This shows that the jobless rate is subject to periodic swings, and while 250,000 in three months is a much quicker rate than 300,000 in ten months, it represents just three months. Next month could see a dramatic reduction of additional job loss, or even an increase in new jobs.

The technical definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. The housing market, the job market, and gasoline prices are three of many pieces of that equation. It doesn’t matter how many people think a recession is raging, and it doesn’t matter how many political candidates say we’re in a recession, there isn’t a recession until the specific terms of that definition are met.

There is no housing crisis, unemployment is still fairly low, and in constant prices gasoline is less expensive now than in the 80s. Is the US in a recession? No. Is it headed toward a recession? Maybe.

The more the media focuses on and magnifies these relatively tiny negative fluctuations in the housing market and the job market, the higher the number of uninformed or poorly informed people will be persuaded that the country is in a recession. The extent to which media malfeasance produces a sense of doom in the populace that leads to behavior that actually worsens the situation may mean that the media may create a recession or at least contribute to the downturn in the economy.

It isn’t the media’s job to try to persuade the American people that the economy is bad when it isn’t, or to elect one person instead of another, or that this war is worse than that war, or that this administration is worse than others, through biased, inaccurate news reporting. Yet that is what we see happening.