31 March 2008

Congressman Jefferson (D-LA) Corruption Case

Developments in the William Jefferson corruption case. The article does not mention that he is a Democrat, and (D-LA) was mentioned only in the photo caption. Anyway, from the AP:

The international bribery investigation of Jefferson already had produced a mountain of evidence against him — most notably $90,000 found wrapped in foil in a freezer in his Washington home — when the FBI carried out the search of his office in the Rayburn House Office Building.
Prosecutors contend he used his influence as chairman of the congressional Africa Investment and Trade Caucus to broker deals in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and other African nations on behalf of those who paid bribes to him.
The search was "necessary, appropriate and constitutional," Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, head of the Justice Department's criminal division, said at a news conference on the day the indictment was made public.
"Some of those documents that we were able to obtain through the process have indeed supported the charges that are presented today," Fisher said.
Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney expressed disappointment in the court's action Monday, but said, "The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute the case."

Noose Hanging at Columbia Update

Via Instapundit: JammieWearingFool has an update on the Columbia Noose Hanging Investigation. JammieWearingFool makes a prediction: "Someone close to Constantine or Constantine herself will be found to have placed the noose there, and they'll somehow blame it on racism and a climate of intolerance."

US Relations in NATO Improving

An analysis of NATO, France and Afghanistan from the Economist. It seems that the situation is improving, thanks in part to French President Sarkozy. I havent seen much positive about our relations with our European allies in the U.S. press. An excerpt:

But out of the gloom comes some hope, in the dashing form of Nicolas Sarkozy. Despite the Bush administration's unpopularity in Europe, the French president has gone out of his way to befriend America and wants France to rejoin NATO's integrated military structure, from which de Gaulle withdrew in 1966. Even better, French forces hitherto deployed in Kabul seem ready to fight the Taliban. Mr Sarkozy is expected to announce in Bucharest the deployment of about 1,000 French soldiers alongside the Americans in eastern Afghanistan. This would release some American forces to move to Kandahar, keep the Canadians in Afghanistan and, perhaps, encourage others to do more.

Zimbabwe Results Delayed

The government of Zimbabwe has delayed the election results. Either they are rigging the results, like in Kenya, or some negotiations are taking place within the upper levels of the military and security forces to decide how far they are willing to go.

Bush to Support Ukraine NATO Bid

This story is from the BBC; I haven't seen anything on it in the US media. Ukraine in NATO would be a very big deal in the region and will profoundly affect our relations with Russia.
European partners in Nato have been guarded about Ukrainian and Georgian ambitions to join in the face of heated opposition from Russia - including a threat to train nuclear weapons on Ukraine.

More on D.B Cooper

Loot suspected to be from D.B. Cooper's crime is up for auction.

Hero Awarded

The Medal of Honor will be awarded to Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor. His family will receive the medal during a White House ceremony April 8.

30 March 2008

Report on Basra

Another report about the fighting in Basra.

It seems that Sadr has ordered a withdrawal of his forces.

Expect the media to go back to ignoring any success.

Democratic Alienation

News article from Time magazine (!) about Leiberman supporting McCain for president. It has some good quotes about the problems in the Democratic party. It has a reference to Zell Miller's speech in 2004. My favorite lines from that speech:

Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator.
And nothing makes this Marine madder than someone calling American troops occupiers rather than liberators.
Tell that to the one-half of Europe that was freed because Franklin Roosevelt led an army of liberators, not occupiers.
Tell that to the lower half of the Korean Peninsula that is free because Dwight Eisenhower commanded an army of liberators, not occupiers.
Tell that to the half a billion men, women and children who are free today from the Poland to Siberia, because Ronald Reagan rebuilt a military of liberators, not occupiers.
Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier.
And, our soldiers don't just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home.
For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest.
It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom he abuses to burn that flag.
No one should dare to even think about being the commander in chief of this country if he doesn't believe with all his heart that our soldiers are liberators abroad and defenders of freedom at home.
But don't waste your breath telling that to the leaders of my party today. In their warped way of thinking, America is the problem, not the solution. They don't believe there is any real danger in the world except that which America brings upon itself through our clumsy and misguided foreign policy.
It is not their patriotism, it is their judgment that has been so sorely lacking.
They claimed Carter's pacifism would lead to peace. They were wrong.
They claimed Reagan's defense buildup would lead to war. They were wrong.
And no pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often than the two Senators from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.

Gore to the Rescue?

Al Gore coming to the rescue of a divided Democratic convention? Story here.

Zimbabwe Elections


As expected, problems with the elections in Zimbabwe.

Newt Answering the Obama Challenge

http://newt.org/MediaCenter/tabid/61/Default.aspx

NewsHour analysis on Iraq and the rivalry among Democrats

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/jan-june08/sbclinton_03-28.html

Hillary Clinton rejects call to quit race

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7321119.stm

U.S. warns N. Korea on missle test

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7318864.stm

29 March 2008

Obama's Careful Statements

As usual, an excellent post from Neo-Neocon, this time about Obama.

More on Red Light Cameras

It seems that revenue from red light cameras here in Houston is falling. Notice that the emphasis is on the profit rather than supposed safety issues.

Houston: America’s Booming Opportunity City

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An article from The American about how Houston is poised to become a great world city:

Other cities enjoy better locations for shipping, richer agricultural resources, or similar proximity to oil fields. The answer, I have come to understand as I have worked in Houston as a reporter and consultant, echoes something that the late Soichiro Honda once told me: “More important than gold and diamonds are people.” This critical resource, more than anything, accounts for Houston’s headlong drive toward becoming not only the leading city of Texas and the South, but also a player on the global scene: it is emerging as one of the world’s great cities.

Well, how about that? I can tell you that Houston is a great place to live and work.

Congressional Inaction and its Impact

An interesting article from the American Enterprise Institute about how Congressional inaction has contributed to the current economic crisis.
A quote:
There are two current and glaring examples of this dangerous dithering: the gradual loss of financial business to foreign markets and the failure to adopt legislation that would subject Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to adequate regulation. Congress has been warned about both situations, yet neither issue has received the attention or the action it deserves. The outcome may well be that future crises will result in ill-advised and hasty legislation.

Fighting in Basra

Things are heating up in Basra.

More news about Basra from Iraq the Model.

Battlestar Galactica

On the best shows on television, Battlestar Galactica, is back for its final season on April 4th! Check out the Battlestar Wiki.

More Electricity for Me!

Ah, the greens want all to turn out their lights tonight at 8pm. Why? So they can feel good about themselves without actually accomplishing anything:

On Saturday, March 29, 2008, Earth Hour invites people around the world to turn off their lights for one hour – from 8:00pm to 9:00pm in their local time zone. On this day, cities around the world, including Copenhagen, Chicago, Melbourne, Dubai, and Tel Aviv, will hold events to acknowledge their commitment to energy conservation.

Conditions in Somalia

I will from time to time, post on Somalia. For me, it is like rubbernecking at a car wreck; I find it impossible not to look. The complete collapse of government, and the resulting decades of anarchy with little end in sight, is hard for me to understand. Meanwhile, the society continues on, while conditions get worse and worse and the fighting continues. More reports of fighting here.

I recently read Links by Naruddin Farah. It got good reviews, but I did not find it as compelling and profound as the reviews make the novel out to be. However, it did provide an interesting look into the mindset and outlook of a least one Somali. The conditions in Mogadishu described in the book were chaotic, violent, and strange, but the main character adjusted very quickly to the society there, even after years in the western world.

And of course, there is Infidel by Ayan Hirsi Ali. I can not add much that has not already been said about this book, but her descriptions of her early life in Somalia and its collapse are compelling.

Somalis have an online community here.

28 March 2008

Mortgage Crisis

I like what McCain had to say about the mortgage crisis. From the AP: "I have always been committed to the principle that it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers," McCain said. "Government assistance to the banking system should be based solely on preventing systemic risk that would endanger the entire financial system and the economy."

A bailout is just a form of subsidy. And when you subsidize something, you will get more of it. By ameliorating the consequences, you encourage risky behavior. And you discourage the taking of individual responsibility.

I would imagine that all adults have suffered the usually harsh and immediate consequences of making a financial mistake; are we all to be compensated by the government? As Gerald Ford said, " A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have."

Besides, if you take out a no-document, no money down, 105% loan-to-value, adjustable rate mortgage that you can barely afford before it adjusts, and things go south, well, all I can do is say as gently as possible: "What were you thinking?" Which applies even more so to the lender.

More Admissions from NY Gov. Paterson

From Scrappleface: Gov. Paterson Admits to Dope, Coke, Grassy Knoll Shots
Most amusing.

Texas Party District Conventions

Tomorrow, the Republicans and the Democrats hold their District Conventions. The Republican ones promise to be dull affairs, but I am interested in what happens with the Democrats. They had a lot of new participants at the precinct conventions, and things got a little chaotic. If the candidate's supporters do not show and continue to participate, it could effect the eventual delegate count from the state.

Obama supporters especially, since so many were first time participants, may think that the matter is settled and not realize they have to keep on showing up, all the way to the state convention, when the number of delegates for each candidate is finally nailed down. That is why news reports have to publish estimates of delegate counts. Until the states finish with their state conventions, no one knows for sure just how many delegates each candidate will get.

Also, with the confusion at the precinct level, I expect there will be some credential fights.

Segregation Comes to Harvard

Maybe the multiculturalists will be happy when all of America accomodates Sharia, just like the enlightened people at Harvard. Where are the feminists? Where are the protests?

From Pajamas Media:

In America, the principal of egalitarianism — that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities — has been on a slow but decidedly forward march.
Until recently at Harvard University.
On February 4, 2008, in an act of segregation disguised as “collaboration,” Harvard University set the clock back fifty years by agreeing to ban men from a popular university gym for six hours each week to appease Muslim women. Harvard University spokesman Robert Mitchell stated to me that this was done at the behest of a group of women “whose religion does not allow them to remove their burqas and/or hijab in the presence of men.”

Case Dropped Against Haditha Defendant

Good. Story here.

Tatum was the third enlisted Marine to have all charges dismissed.
Four enlisted Marines were initially charged with murder, and four officers were
charged with failing to investigate the deaths. Over time the case has shrunk,
including removal of all murder charges.



An excellent posting on this subject, along with a history of the story, on Gateway Pundit.

The Religion of Peace

From the Koran:

Sura 4-89: “They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): but take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (from what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case)take no friends or helpers from their ranks…”

Sura 9-29: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor holdthat forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of theBook, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

Sura 22-9: “As for the unbelievers for them garments of fire shall be cut and there shall be poured over their heads boiling water whereby whatever is in their bowels and skins shall be dissolved and they will be punished with hooked iron rods.”

Sura 47-4: “When you meet the unbelievers, strike off their heads; then when you have made wide slaughter among them, carefully tie up the remaining captives.”

27 March 2008

Film Critical of Islam Posted Online

From the BBC: Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders has posted a controversial film critical of Islam's holy book, the Koran, on the internet.
The opening scenes show a copy of the Koran, followed by footage of the attacks on the US on 11 September 2001. The 17-minute film was posted on video-sharing website LiveLeak.

UPDATE: Liveleak took the video down and have replaced it with a statement that they were being threatened. The video can now be found on Google Video. Thanks Google, we appreciate your commitment to freedom of speech.

Ralph Lauren's car collection

Ralph Lauren has quite the car collection. In fact, his collection has been the subject of museum exhibits and a book. It has been said that his collection, while not the biggest, may be the most valuable in the world, per automobile. To quote AutoWeek reader Jerry Eddens who wrote to AutoWeek, "Ralph Lauren really gets it. He understands that cars are meant to be driven, Italian cars are meant to be red, German cars are meant to be silver, and British cars are meant to be green." Imagine deciding what to drive based on your mood or clothes for the day. Wow!

http://www.autoweek.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/200803100430/FREE/250516022



http://www.autoblog.com/2007/10/09/ralph-laurens-car-collection-in-pictures/

"Open the pod bay door, Hal"

Robots tapped for colonoscopy work
Researchers developing self-propelling probes that crawl inside colon

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23833830

Um, yeah, I'll take my chances. - Rom

FOX News Poll: More Than Half Believe Obama Doesn't Share Views of Pastor Wright

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,339949,00.html

Top Clinton Adviser Says Superdelegates Will Decide Election, Obama's Victories 'Irrelevant'

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,330919,00.html

Courts legislating?

California Legal Decision on homeschooling and other topics...

http://newt.org/tabid/102/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/3278/Default.aspx

Nobody saved me from a bad decision. Anyone done that for you?

McCain takes hard line against irresponsible borrowers.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/vote2008/blog/2008/03/mccain_takes_hard_line_against.html

Poll posted on NewsHour

Poll: Americans Grim on Economy, Split on Presidential Race
A new Pew Research Center poll finds that Americans have a strongly negative view of the economy, are closely split over support for presidential candidates and that the controversial remarks of Sen. Barack Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, have not hurt the candidate's campaign. Pollster Andy Kohut explains the numbers.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/jan-june08/polls_03-27.html

Absolutely brilliant....

One afternoon at Cheers, Cliff Clavin was explaining the Buffalo Theory to his buddy Norm. "Well, ya see, Norm, it's like this...A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd of buffalo is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. The natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of theweakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cell. Excessive intake of alcohol as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That's why you always feel smarter after a few beers."

JUDGE ORDERS ENGLISH

We need more judges like this. English should be our National Language. The ACLU and LULAC will probably join in on the defendant's appeals.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23831149

26 March 2008

Argument for Limited Government

The linked article was being advertised all over the radio talk shows earlier this week. So of course, I was suspicious.
But it' s a good article, worth readling, entitled Limited Government: Are the Good Times Really Over? It makes the argument for limited government, and arguing against not only both Democrats and Republicans, but also Libertarians. I think I found another Whig. A quote:
Utterly missing in this election season is a serious focus on limited or constitutional government. The Democrats, generally speaking, want more government, not less, so their neglect of the issue is to be expected. But the Republican dereliction is more troubling. It represents a falling away from the standards of Ronald Reagan’s conservatism—a decline already reflected in the “compassionate conservatism” of George W. Bush. After 9/11, many prominent conservatives—e.g., George Will, David Brooks, Fred Barnes —pronounced that small government conservatism is dead. That awful reminder of the dangerous world we live in, and of the need to defend ourselves, somehow meant that big government conservatism, as they called it, was now the only game in town. Conservatives would need to make their peace with this idea, they argued, in order to win future elections.

Dems For McCain If They Don't Get Their Way?

From Fox News, an new poll:

Many Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama supporters are ready to spurn the
Democratic party and vote for John McCain in November if their candidate doesn’t
win the presidential nomination, according to a new poll out
Wednesday.

However, I would think that by November, Democrats will have cooled down and will vote their nominee regardless.

More on Medellin Decision

The Volokh Conspiracy has two detailed postings about the Medellin decision and its importance. Links here and here. An excerpt:
The fact that the ICJ is composed of representatives of dictatorships and unnaccountable elites doesn't mean that all of its decisions are wrong or that it will never come up with good legal rules. On average, however, the legal rules established by a democratic process are likely to be superior to those promulgated by the minions of repressive regimes and unrepresentative legal elites who dominate the ICJ. In the human rights field in particular, representatives of dictatorships have strong incentives to promote rules that facilitate repression rather than freedom.

McCain No Libertarian

An opinion in the NY Times shows that McCain is no libertarian. Well, here at THE WHIG, we're not libertarian either. (We're Whigs!) Despite his past efforts to curb congressional pork, McCain believes in government regulation.

Affirmative Action and the Media

This story on MSNBC didn't stay on their web page for very long. I was surprised it was posted at all. Also, the original headline was "Is Affirmative Action Passe?" and was later changed to the current, more hostile headline.

Ward Connerly is certainly the bee in the affirmative action bonnet.

Zimbabwe

The tragedy that is Zimbabwe is in the news. Don't think government matters? The economic and now social collapse that is Zimbabwe was completely the result of Mugabe's regime.

They have an election coming up, but not much chance of any change. One-third of the population has already voted with their feet and have left the country.

Mmmmm -- Bacon

Bacon cups! Now why didn't anybody think of that before?

25 March 2008

U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs World Court and Executive Branch

An important and correct decision today in the Medellin case. The full report is here. An excerpt of the report from SCOTUSBLOG:

The Court said that the legal effect of a World Court decision is controlled by Article 94 of the United Nations Charter, which means, the Court went on, that the U.S. and other member countries that submitted to World Court jurisdiction on a given dispute assume “a commitment…to take further action through their political branches to comply.” Thus, it added, Article 94 “is not a directive to domestic courts. It does not provide that the United States ’shall’ or ‘must’ comply” with such a ruling. Enforcement depends, it said, upon a diplomatic, not a judicial, remedy — that is, a political, not a legal, enforcement mechanism. The Court went on to say that this mechanism should not be turned over to state and federal courts in place of the political branches of the government.
“Our Framers established a careful set of procedures that must be followed before federal law can be created under the Constitution — vesting that decision in the political branches, subject to checks and balances,” Roberts wrote. To turn over to the judiciary the task of deciding when a treaty becomes domestic law, the Chief Justice added, would be to give the courts “the power not only to interpret but also to create the law.”

The decision protects American sovereignty from the World Court and also limited presidential power over the states. (Two Whig principles) The Bush administration supported the World Court intrusion into our criminal laws.

D.B. Cooper Found?

The FBI says it's analyzing a torn, tangled parachute found by children in Washington state to see whether it was used by plane hijacker D.B. Cooper.

I always wondered what happened to him.

UPDATE: More info here.

Ocean on Titan?

Saturn's moon Titan may have a deep, hidden ocean, according to data published in the journal Science. Story here.

I say we send Spaceman Pirx to check it out.

I have long thought that Fiasco by Stanislav Lem would make a much better movie than Solaris. I read The Futurological Congress in one night; it freaked me out.

Detroit Mayor, Aide Plead Not Guilty

On Tuesday, the usually gregarious Kilpatrick was subdued as he stood mute to eight felony charges of perjury, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office during his arraignment in Detroit. Story here.

Iraqi Offensive in Basra

The Bush administration hailed an Iraqi offensive against Shiite militiamen in the southern city of Basra as a ``bold decision'' that shows the country's security forces are capable of combating terrorists.

Clinton Addresses Wright Controversy

Sen. Clinton: "You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend."

Vice Presidents

Speculation abounds about vice-presidential picks, even for the Democrats. The Democrats are getting some silly ideas.

I would be very suprised if either Clinton or Obama were to pick the other as their running mate. Either Clinton or Obama would have more real power and influence if they stayed in the Senate than if they became Vice-president. And what if the Democrats lose in November? Then whoever didn't get the nominations would be able to say "I told you so" and would be primed to go in four years. Also, a presidential candidate would want someone more dependent on them and someone without all the accumulated baggage. A fresh face would be preferable.

As for McCain, I suspect he will go with Gov. Crist of Florida. Crist is the right age, a governor of a swing state, conservative and popular. McCain's main problem is the right wing of the Republican party and he doesn't have to worry about appearing more moderate.

China Protests

A lot in the news about protests in China about Tibet. Also reports about protests in Szechuan. Speaking of unintended consequences in the previous post, China's leaders may have made a mistake with the Olympics. Protests in China are frequent, but because of the approaching Olympics, the media are paying more attention. Here's what I think:

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Conspiracy Theories

What I find most interesting about controversies concerning the Rev. Wright is his adherence to the old chestnut of conspiracy theories. From the Wall Street Journal:

In a sermon delivered at Howard University, Barack Obama's longtime minister, friend and adviser blamed America for starting the AIDS virus, training professional killers, importing drugs and creating a racist society that would never elect a black candidate president.

Conspiracy belief accomplishes two things. First, conspiracy theories are handy because they make the believer of the conspiracy into a more important person. The conspirators must think that you are important because why else are "they" conspiring against you? Conspiracy believers are the center of attention, as the conspirators are focusing their efforts on keeping you ignorant, holding you down, etc.

Second, conspiracy theories are reassuring. Someone, at least, is in charge and has a plan. Sure, they may be evil or corrupt, but at least someone, somewhere has their act together. The conspirators must be smart, ruthless, can get things done and are in charge.

The reality is much more frightening. No one is in completely in charge, our leaders are not omniscient or infallible, and we are all subject to the unintended consequences of our actions.

24 March 2008

Foreign Relations

An excellent analysis from Real Clear Politics about America's international popularity. What we would have to do to appease public opinion in the Middle East is certainly not worth the cost. A quote:
It is worth noting that American relations with European governments have rebounded strongly in the last few years with the elections of Angela Merkel in Germany and Nicolas Sarkozy in France. And the next president, Republican or Democrat, is likely to close Guantanamo and sign legislation to restrict American carbon emissions, mollifying two justified European criticisms.
Yet the tensions between American and European worldviews ultimately have little to do with specific policies. Europe is an increasingly pacifist continent -- which is an improvement upon its bloody history, but a source of inevitable tension with a superpower that must occasionally enforce world order. European governments generally view international institutions as a way to constrain American power. Any future American president will continue to view those institutions as a way to amplify our influence in keeping the peace.
And the broader Middle East is an even more difficult case. A close look at the Pew poll shows that appeasing public opinion in this region would require not merely leaving Iraq but also leaving Afghanistan, abandoning the war on terror and ending our support for Israel.

One Blogger Can Make a Difference

From Pajamas Media, an inspiring story of how one lone blogger got the UN to act.

A useful site that keeps tabs on the UN is Eye on the UN.

Freedom of Speech

Think what is happening in Canada can't happen here in the good ol' US of A? Don't think you will have to answer to a government agency for your advocacy of a political opinion?
Think again.
And again.
And then maybe some more.

Freedom of Speech

When the BBC is even mildly backing freedom of speech over multiculturalism, you know things have gone wrong. The story is about how the Human Rights Commission in Canada is threatening freedom of speech:


The Canadian equivalent of Denmark's cartoonists, or the Netherlands' Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is the outspoken conservative columnist Mark Steyn.
In a 2006 article he used demographics to suggest that the West would succumb to Muslim domination.
The piece, entitled "The future belongs to Islam" and published by the Toronto magazine Maclean's, argued that Europe was "too enfeebled to resist its remorseless transformation into Eurabia".


Late last year the students, supported by the Canadian Islamic Congress, took their demand to the federal Human Rights Commission and similar bodies in British Columbia and Ontario.
The move both publicised the dispute and highlighted a previously little-known aspect of the commissions' remit - the possibility of suppressing speech.


Leading the charge against the commissions is Ezra Levant, an Alberta-based publisher who was targeted by a complaint after reprinting the Danish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in his (now-defunct) newspaper in early 2006.
His accuser, a Calgary Muslim leader who cited the Koran in his complaint, said the publisher had spread hatred.
In January Mr Levant appeared before an Alberta Human Rights official charged with deciding whether to refer the matter to a special tribunal.
In a videotaped statement later posted on his website, Mr Levant called the commission a "sick joke" and defiantly pleaded guilty.
"I'm not going to try to minimise what I've done and beg for mercy," he told the BBC News website. "I have the right to violate all those Koranic precepts because we follow Queen Elizabeth's law, not Muhammad's law."


In case you havent seen Ezra Levant's argument before the Human Rights Commission, it is a brilliant defense of free speech and opinion. This video should then link you to the rest of the statements made by Mr. Levant.





Mr. Levant's website can be found here.

What Year Is It?

Today I came across three articles about allegations of witchcraft:

One in England, from immigrants from the Congo. The girl involved was cast out of her family.

One in Mexico. A case of the evil-eye. The man involved was killed.

One in Saudi Arabia. But these seems to happen all the time there. They were executed.
Here is an article titled, "What if Ronald Reagan Had Not Run and The Soviet Union Still Existed?" The article comes from www.newt.org.

http://newt.org/tabid/102/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/3270/Default.aspx

23 March 2008

Obama Unfavorable Rating Hits All-time High

The News Buckit: Obama unfavorables hit all-time high

Rating the Police?

An article about a site that allowed the public to comment on police officers. Now, I support law enforcement, but I also believe in accountability.

The alarming part of the article is the desire for legislation to prevent such sites.

Jerry Dyer, the chief of the Fresno Police Department and president of the California Police Chiefs Association. . . said his organization and other law enforcement groups planned to press for legislation to stop the Web site.
Gino Sesto, a founder of RateMyCop.com, said the site does not post identifying information beyond what would appear on a traffic ticket issued by an officer.

Dutch Film About Islam Shut Out

A website that a Dutch right-wing politician was planning to use to release a film expected to be fiercely critical of Islam has been suspended. I had been following the story about the film and was planning a link to it. I guess not.

A Better Battery, Please

Yesterday and today I was doing yard work with the Black & Decker trimmer I got last year that uses their 18v rechargable battery system. The trimmer works fine, but the batteries just do not hold enough charge to get much work done. (Or maybe my yard is such a mess) A recent article in the Economist surveyed the current state of battery technology. A quote:
“We've still got a long way to go in terms of getting the ultimate battery,” says Dr Thackeray. Compared with computer chips, which have doubled in performance roughly every two years for decades, batteries have improved very slowly over their 200-year history. But high oil prices and concern over climate change mean there is now more of an incentive than ever for researchers to join the quest for better battery technologies. “It's going to be a journey”, says Ms Wright, “where we're going to be using the gas engine less and less.”

Texas Earmarks

$2.2 billion in earmarks for the State of Texas is as distressing as it is remarkable. The entire "earmarking" process is defended by both political parties. These earmarks pay off the local political elites to generate a base of political support. The entire process can only lead to increased corruption. When the power to dole out the public money devolves to a single individual, with so few checks, nothing good can come from it.

Which is why THE WHIG supports the efforts of PorkBusters. Give them a visit.

Advice to Haggle?

Mrs. Septimus has some not too favorable comments regarding this new article advising consumers to haggle prices at big box stores as if they were in a bazaar. Apparently these article are printed every few years, and result in nothing but headache for all involved:

I feel like I need to do a respond to all.

I was once in retail management. Everyone in retail hated these articles!! As a manager I knew my margins, my employees did not. People would come in and quote these articles saying we had to give them discounts, haggle,etc. Some would even get angry with me! I had some leeway with pricing at almost every employer I ever had. But, it was usually only on one or two items and you usually had to spend BIG$$. Notice in the article what was getting haggled. Big ticket items or items that were bought with high margin items.

I was a Merchandise Manager with Target. The Electronics dept was under me. Most television sales we only made about $10 off the sale. If they were an advertised sale, we only made about $3. We sold lots of things at a loss, i.e. : diapers and formula. Clothing usually has outrageous markup.That is where $$ is made. Haggling clearance clothing may get you a better price.


Bottom line, take this article with a grain of salt. Most retailers have cut as much as they can off prices to stay competitive. Most retail employees have no idea what the margins are on the items they are selling.Nor do they understand it. You can always ask, but 99% of the time you will hear a no. If anyone does get a yes! I would love to hear about it.

22 March 2008

Easter Peeps Show

A slideshow featuring peeps from the Washington Post.

Open Government

An editorial today in the Houston Chronicle on open government:
More than two centuries ago, Patrick Henry proclaimed that "[t]he liberties
of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of
their rulers may be concealed from them." These words remain as true today
as they were 200 years ago. For more than four decades, FOIA has been
perhaps the most important federal law to ensure the public's right to know
and to balance the government's power with the need for government
accountability.
Read the entire article here:

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/5639213.html

Its good to see two senators support open government, instead of just supporting earmarks or higher pay for themselves.

Agent of change?

It appears a Obama advisor has let slip what they really think the future will look like in Iraq:

http://hotair.com/archives/2008/03/22/a-century-in-iraq-if-it-works-right-obama-adviser/

Apparently Obama's campaign is in agreement with McCain that we will be in Iraq for years and years to come, just like in Germany, Japan, Korea, the Phillipines, etc, etc.

Obama is playing a double game, just like the news about Obama's position on NAFTA a few weeks ago. I doubt he will be an agent of change as much as his supporters think.

No doubt in a few days, they will issue a statement "clarifying" their position.

Video -- Honest R&B song

While poking around on You Tube, I found the video below. Very funny.

Typcial White Person

From Powerline Blog News:


I've expressed admiration for Barack Obama's political skills, but maybe, in a
time of stress, his inexperience is beginning to show. In an interview earlier
today, he referred to his grandmother--the one he slandered in his speech on
Tuesday--as a "typical white person."
Think about it: can you imagine any Presidential candidate, in any context, describing anyone as a "typical black person?" Or a "typical Asian person?" Worse, what Obama said was that the "typical white person" views others of different races with fear and suspicion. Obama appears to be digging himself in deeper and deeper

The post and the video is at:
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives2/2008/03/020088.php

Maybe he was thinking about this:




And of course, the inevitable t-shirt:





Undecided? Think about this...

I believe the Presidency has been changed by 9-11. Sure, the President has always had to be concerned with security and the military and the like. But since 9-11, these things are not just a possibility for the President, they are guaranteed to come up. The United States is now in the same arena of dealing with terrorism as Europe has been for centuries. We have enjoyed a peaceful sleep here for the last 60 years; but things are different now. Aren't they? Don't you feel that? Tell me I'm not the only one who thinks 9-11 could happen again any day, in any city. Will it be my friends in Chicago this time? Will it be the nut jobs in L.A.? Will it be us here in Houston, or even New York again? I'm not fear-mongering by all of this but stating what I think is the reality that we are vulnerable. Since 9-11 we have become keenly aware that people want to hurt us and sometimes even how they want to hurt us, but I don't think we're significantly safer. So ask yourself this question. "Who do I want in the Oval Office on the next 9-11?" This question smacks of similarities with the Hillary Clinton phone call commercial and I happen to think that is the best political ad I've seen in many years. Once you answer that question, ask yourself questions about other issues that are important to you. My feeling is that we all want more affordable health care. We all want to pay less taxes. We all want a stable economy and reasonable prosperity. And there are a myriad of other issues that may be important to you personally. But if we aren't safe and secure as a nation - if we can't or won't defend ourselves as a nation, these other issues just don't matter.

21 March 2008

Progress

I am late in getting started on The Whig. I have been assembling a play set. I hesitate to write more under the influence of this many pharmaceuticals, beer and a few lemon bars. My adoring children don't understand what is taking so long with the play set and keep asking if they can play on it tomorrow. I have discovered new levels of pain and agony. I have never felt so old and fat in my life. I know it only got up to 78 degrees or so today but about 4 o'clock I would have agreed with everything Al Gore ever said about global warming. However, in front of an a/c vent, I have regained most of my senses. Progress continues...

U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo

The link is an excellent article on the continuing fallout from the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo. In Kelo, the court decided that if your local government wants to take your property in the name of "progress" and give it to another private party, it can do so. After that decision, all property rights in the USA are on shaky ground. An excellent article from Pajamas Media:

http://pajamasmedia.com/2008/03/the_kelo_calamity_eminent_doma.php

Even more disturbing is the lack of correction from the legislatures of the states. Even in those states that have enacted legislation supposedly resticting eminent domain proceedings, they are largely ineffective.

Happy Easter

The Daily Telegraph (UK) has an interesting article explaining the timing of Easter:

Almost everyone has remarked on how early Easter is this year and it's
true: of the 35 alternative dates for Easter Sunday, March 23 is only one day
from the earliest possible (March 22), making it the earliest Easter since 1913.

Egg-timer: Easter won't be this early again until 2160.
The latest possible date is April 25, which last
happened in 1943 and is next due in 2038.


The whole article is at: http://http://www.telegraph.co.uk/portal/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/portal/2008/03/22/ftqi122.xml

New Team Member

This blog was intended to be a team effort, but the other part of the team hasn't gotten here yet.
The report:

I am on day-2 of the "Build and Play in a Day" set and am happy to report
that I have an upright structure in the back yard. My back yard looks a
little like the WTC did on 9-12 and I am in a dazzling amount of pain. I'm
guessing the "in a day" part is for the Army Corps of Engineers.

Corruption in Government

An immigration agent demands sex for a green card. It's not surprising, but it is always a disappointment to see this kind of thing happen:

http://http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/21/nyregion/21immigrant.html?ex=1363838400&en=68dec5bf354dcb45&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

Our laws are often such a muddle, they give discretion to bureaucrats and the advantage to those with inside information on how the system works.

Red Light Cameras

I was suprised to find a news article in the media even slightly critical of red light cameras, but here it was: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23710970

At least the Dallas City Council admits they were installed for the revenue, and not for safety. I have always had concerns over these things. I, for one, and weary of the government viewing me as a resource to be exploited.

Here is a link to the National Motorist Association, which is fighting these things: http://www.motorists.org/

US Supreme Court and the Second Amendment

When the other events of the past week have been forgotten, the most important even in the past week was the oral argument in Heller, which will be remember and studied for years.
This is the link to the transcript so you can see for yourself:

http://http://www.supremecourtus.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/07-290.pdf

Many discussions, one is here: http://http://balkin.blogspot.com/2008/03/liberals-make-fun-of-living.html

and an excellent collection of discussions here: http://http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/index-to-scotusblogs-heller-coverage/ .

20 March 2008

The Whig

In presenting to the public the first postings of THE WHIG, it would not be inappropriate to set forth the reasons that have led to its establishment. This is not because custom has made it proper, or that the public have a right to expect from each new actor a preliminary bow; but mainly because the reasons themselves are of weighty and earnest import.

The predominant interests of our country are involved in the issue of great and often-recurring political contests. These contests are always of prevailing concerns, and at times all-absorbing. The leading intellects of our country, so long as our institutions shall happily remain free, must be largely devoted to the discussion of questions pertaining to the management of the national government.

As the country increases in population and wealth, these questions are becoming more varied and complicated. The necessity for new measures, and for the the enlarged application of established principles to meet the exigencies of the times, demands constant actions on the part of those to whom the people have committed their most sacred interest. The formation of parties taking antagonistic positions on these matters is a necessary result, aside from the inducements to division arising from personal ambition, cupidity, and love of place and power, which are found mixed up with all human affairs.

Of such organizations, numerous and constantly springing up, the greater part are indeed of a local nature, or grow out of temporary excitements. Two, however, embrace nearly all the rest, and mainly divide the government. These great organizations are born of different elements, exist by different means and in a different atmosphere. In every thing fo vital concern, their relation, by principal, policy, practice, is that of natural, unavoidable opposition.

The one is in all things essentially conservative, and at the same time is the real party of progress and improvement. It commends itself to the people, and is supported by them, not less for its rigid adherence to the republican creed -- for its unwavering support of constitutional and established rights, and its endeavors to preserve law, liberty, and order inviolate -- than for the inherent fairness and justice of its principles and policy.

Such is that portion of the community who have justly adopted from the men of the Revolution the ever-honored title of WHIGS. In all that tends to give strength to the federal republic, and knit together its various setions by the indissoluble bands of a common interest and affection, the Whig party occupy the advance ground. Protection to the laborer and the producer, to the merchant and manufacturer; integrity and economy in the discharge of official trusts; the vigilant defense, as against the world, of national dignity and honor; the observance of honor and good faith in all our dealings with and treatment of other nations; the maintenance of a sound currency; simplification of the means of revenue; a vigorous administration of the laws; the adoption, by constitution means of such regulations as shall confine the Executive and the Judicial power within due bounds; the general promotion of knowledge and and enlargement of the means of education. These form an outline of the distinctive principles of the Whig party.

When the personal rivalries and partisan asperities of the day shall have been forgotten, the positions and aims of the Whig party will stand out like watch-towers and beacon-lights on the mountain side, and be referred to and quoted as monuments to inspire, as precedents to guide, another race of statesmen and patriots. And whatever it may now do, the world will then acknowledge the moral heroism of those who, doubtless with some defects and some temporary mistakes, yet withstood in their day, the tide of corruption, the insidious arts of demagogues, and the clamors of faction, and taking their stand on the platform of the Constitution, defended the honor and integrity of their country from open and secret assault, and preserved to their countrymen the inestimable blessings of a good government.

The other great political division is as essentially anarchical in its principles and tendecies. In saying this, we would not be understood as denying to the body of its memebers their claims to sincerity. But whatever the pretensions of their leaders may be, they are practically working to destroy the prosperity of the people, to weaken the authority of law, and utterly to change the basic elements of government. We know these are grave charges, we believe they can be substantiated.

A portion of the evidence lies in actual results. It is an unhappy and imperishable part of the national history. Professing an exclusively democratic creed, and a desire to advance the "greatest good of the greatest number" the period of the dominancy of this party in the government has been signaled by widespread distress. A profligate waste of the national treasures; the country without a currency at all equal to its wants; a depreciation of nearly every species of property; cheating honest industry of its rewards; a dishonorable feeling with respect to the national debts; a blind obedience to party dictation, in which the voice of conscience is stifled and patriotism and the eternal rules of justice thrown aside as worthless considerations; a corruption of the elective franchise; countenance and support given to organized revolutionary parties acting in direct hostility to the laws; and the basest perfidy towards an unoffending nation proposed and upheld.

These acts and consequences have attached themselves to and distinguished the party which has strangely arrogated to itself the title of Democratic, as if democracy consisted not in levelling-up and preserving, but in reducing all things to an equality of degradation and ruin.

Yet these, however disastrous, are practical errors of individuals are are of little consequence. They are of the present, and will belong to history, and their effects become weaker with remoteness in the past. It is the principles and tendencies that are of abiding concern. And these appear to us thoroughly wrong and pernicious. They receive doctrines from designing leaders, of which they recognize neither the nature nor the end. They are led on they know not to what.

But discerning citizens of the republic cannot fail to see that they are practically working to relax the whole sprit of the law among us, to disorganize and change the original framework and proportions of our government, and under the deceptive name of advancement, insensibly descending in a rapid progression to disaster. There is scarcely any dangerously radical opinion; any specious, delusive theory, on social, political, or moral points, which does not find its peculiar growth amoung the elements of that party. They have a feeling, that the very fact that an institution has long existed, makes it insufficient for the growth of the age.

In a word, change with them is progress; and whatever the the maddened voice of faction, or the mercenary designs of party leaders demand a triumph over established institutions and rightful authority, they rush blindly but exaltingly forward, and call it "reform". It is thus, that everywhere and at all times, they have been disposed to make the stability of legislation dependent on the dominancy of party, and to consider the idea of law as having no majesty, no authority, no divine force inherent in itself. And in all this they are paving the way to despotism.

For while in the false idea of "progress", they would deny the existence or renounce the exercise of those large and beneficient constiutional protections provided by the sages of the Revolution, they permit their acknowleged proponents to usurp the most extended and unlawful authority.

To resist earnestly and unweariedly these destructive measures and principles, is the one great object of the Whig party. Yet in this we claim that degree of independence which every right-minded citizen in the republic should vindicate -- liberty to judge for ourselves as great interest change and new events arise.

The above is a paraphrase from "The American Review: A Whig Journal of Politics, Literature, Art, And Science" published in January 1845. I edited and updated some of the language and terminology.

It seems however, that in our own time, something has gone wrong in that what should be two opposing parties have, as the result of corruption and collusion, have developed a shared interests to the detriment of the American people, arising out of a desire to deplete the public treasury and to use the power of government for their own selfish purposes. That is, to buy the support of enough of the electorate, with our own wealth, to ensure a majority of the vote on election day.

Thus we have the elimination of the traditional, small-government conservative, and in its place, large-government "compassionate conservatism" with the same ultimate end as the Progressive Left Democrats, resulting in an ever-increasing budget deficit and an ever-increasing intrusion into the citizen's private life with the goal of the "progress" of society and of the righting of every perceived slight. That is, the unlimited exercise of government power at the expense of individual property and liberty.

In opposition of this modern development, we advocate the revival of, if not the Whig party, then at least a modern Whig philosphy dedicated to the limitation of government and to the expansion of individual freedom.

The name Whig always stands for individual Liberty.
Whig meant Liberty in England.
Whig meant Liberty during the Revolution.
Whig meant Liberty in 19th century America.
Whig still stands for Liberty today.

19 March 2008

Welcome

Welcome the The Whig. Here we will be blogging about politics and current events, as well as some topics of general interest.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says that there is nothing new under the sun. No doubt much of what is said here could be found elsewhere. But perhaps we will be able to contribute in some small way to the public discourse.

We welcome comments and discussion, and civility is appreciated.