31 May 2008

Uncontacted Amazon tribe discovered


RIO DE JANEIRO - Amazon Indians from one of the world's last uncontacted tribes have been photographed from the air, with striking images released on Thursday showing them painted bright red and brandishing bows and arrows.

Story is here on MSNBC.

I have told my kids there may be lost tribes living in the clutter in their rooms. I had no idea there were still lost tribes in existence, or "uncontacted tribes" as this tree-hugger puts it. I guess I was right. Its sad they're uncontacted though. Maybe if we had their e-mail addresses we could contact them. If we could exchange digits we could call or at least text.

This Amazonian tribe's first contact was with a helicopter? I wonder how you say, "WTF was that" in their language. Imagine the campfire conversation that night.

Dean Kamen's amazing mind control robotics


Dean Kamen showed some video of the impressive, mind-controlled prosthetic robot arm he's invented today at D6 in Carlsbad. Kamen has been showing the arm off since early 2007, usually via video clips like what he showed today. But today's demonstration at D6 was impressive enough that it's got the gadget blogs and the Twitterverse all aflutter today.

Deservedly so: Kamen's arm, dubbed "Luke" (after Skywalker, I assume), is an incredibly sophisticated bit of engineering that's lightyears ahead of the clamping "claws" that many amputees are forced to use today. The arm is fully articulated, giving the user the same degrees of movement as a natural arm, and is sensitive enough to pick up a piece of paper, a wineglass or even a grape without mishap.

This technology is nothing short of amazing. Every one of our soldiers who comes back wounded deserves this kind of technology and treatment.

The story is here on Wired blog.

30 May 2008

Time Magazine Eats Our Dust


From Time Magazine (!) an article on the similarities of Obama and Carter which I pointed out some time ago:


Of the two likely nominees this year, Obama is closest to Carter in background and policy leanings. The parallels between his campaign so far and the one Carter ran in 1976 are striking. Like Carter, Obama had little national experience when he started to run. Neither was given much chance of winning the nomination. Instead of running on a detailed platform, Carter told crowds that what Washington needed was "a government as good as its people"—just as Obama promises "change we can believe in."
But of course, being Time Magazine, they think it's great news.

If you don't make dust, you eat dust.

Houston -- America's Number One City

Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine ranks Houston as the nation's Number One city:
It's the city of big plans and no rules, beat-the-heat tunnels and loop-the-loop highways, world-class museums and wiry cowboys, humidity that demands an ice-cold martini and the biggest damn liquor store on the planet. How could you not love Houston?

Read the whole article.

29 May 2008

Big Thought

In reading a post about something else, I came across this:

In A Preface to Paradise Lost, C S Lewis contrasts the characters of Adam and Satan, as developed in Milton’s work:

Adam talks about God, the Forbidden tree, sleep, the difference between beast
and man, his plans for the morrow, the stars and the angels. He discusses dreams
and clouds, the sun, the moon, and the planets, the winds and the birds. He
relates his own creation and celebrates the beauty and majesty of Eve…Adam,
though locally confined to a small park on a small planet, has interests that
embrace ‘all the choir of heaven and all the furniture of earth.’ Satan has been
in the heaven of Heavens and in the abyss of Hell, and surveyed all that lies
between them, and in that whole immensity has found only one thing that
interests Satan. And that “one thing” is, of course, Satan himself…his position
and the wrongs he believes have been done to him. Satan’s monomaniac concern
with himself and his supposed rights and wrongs is a necessity of the Satanic
predicament…

One need not believe in a literal Satan, or for that matter be religious at all, to see the force of this. There is indeed something Satanic about a person who has no interests other than themselves.

Obama and Rev. Michael Pfleger


What is it with this guy and crazy ass preachers? Maybe its not limited to preachers and he is surrounded by crazy asses in general.
This is by no means a bash Obama blog. Well okay, its not just a bash Obama blog. There is plenty to go around.
Story on MSNBC here.

Health Care Reform

Fading away along with her campaign is Hillary Clinton's proposal for health care reform. Her plan was the most comprehensive and realistic proposal of all the major candidates and would be much more effective than the health care proposals of either Obama or McCain. Obama's plan is little more than an expansion of existing government programs. McCain's is simply a system of expensive yet inadequate tax credits. Neither addresses the long-term problems facing our health care system.

Yes, I know health care reform is complex and boring. But it's important, so stop your belly-aching, suck it up, put on your big-kid underroos and go check out this analysis of the three candidate's plans. Also note that Hillary even figured out how to pay for it, something that Obama and McCain have not specified with their plans.

Hillary's plan most resembles the Swiss health care system that offers the best model for health care reform. Now take a deep breath and go read about the Swiss health care system here. Four features of the Swiss health system:
  • Accommodation of patient preferences;
  • Decentralization of political power,with local supervision of health care, within a federal system;
  • A high degree of competition;
  • Public/private mix of public, subsidised private, and fully private health care.
Coverage would be separated from employment, each individual would be responsible for purchasing health insurance, individuals would be free to choose their own insurance plan, government would play a supervising role, the problem of "free riders" is eliminated, the problems inherent in a "single-payer" plan would be avoided, while the government would assist insurance purchases for the poor. Medicare and Medicaid would be replaced, with the money currently spent going to assist the disadvantaged purchase basic health insurance.

The main criticism, is that Hillary's plan, like the Swiss plan, requires individuals to purchase coverage, and with penalties for those who do not. However, I don't see what the issue is; we already mandate auto coverage for everyone. Requiring individuals to be responsible for themselves, while assisting those who need some help, is a good idea.

Violence Pushes Immigrants to Flee South Africa

Political fear and uncertainty in Zimbabwe have driven many people to neighboring South Africa, prompting a violent backlash from South Africans who claim that jobs are being lost to immigrants. Analysts examine the dynamics that have led to this rise in violence.

Full story here on NewsHour.

Reality

During three years in the low minors, John Odom never really made a name for himself.

Odom is headed to the Laredo, Texas Broncos of the United League. They picked him up Tuesday from the Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League for a most unlikely price: 10 Prairie Sticks Maple Bats, double-dipped black, 34-inch, C243 style.

According to the Prairie Sticks Web site, their maple bats retail for $69 each, discounted to $65.50 for purchases of six to 11 bats.

John Odom, keep your head up and chest out. I know this sucks, but you've made it farther than millions and millions of people like me, who would love to trade jobs with you. Give 'em hell. And if you're ever in Houston looking for something to do, I'll buy the beer.

28 May 2008

Democratic Delegate Disputes

Democratic National Committee lawyers recommended that half of the Florida and Michigan delegates be seated, seen as a setback for Hillary's convention hopes.

Meanwhile, in Texas, there are credential fights continuing between Clinton and Obama supporters. These arguments over party rules and how the local caucuses were conducted will impact the number of delegates each candidate will receive.
Hillary Rodham Clinton currently leads Barack Obama 65-61 among pledged Texas delegates to the national presidential nominating convention. But his 38-29 delegate lead among at-large delegates to the national convention could change based on the proportion of delegates each candidate has at the state convention.

McCain's Age and Candidate VP Picks

McCain's age as an issue in the campaign cannot be avoided:
Mr McCain's age makes his choice of running-mate particularly important. He needs to choose a vice-president who will make a credible replacement rather than a partisan who can rally the base or merely deliver a useful state. Several governors—Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota (47), Charlie Crist of Florida (51) and perhaps Mitt Romney (61), the ex-governor of Massachusetts—might possess the necessary executive experience. Old-time Reaganites point out that the issue of Reagan's age evaporated when he chose a safe pair of hands in the form of George Bush senior as his running mate.

But at least one blogger is pulling for Jindal (newly elected governor of Louisiana) by making some unusual arguments.

Obama's VP pick current speculation: Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, Virginia senator Jim Webb , or Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius .

Analysis of Farm Bill: "A Disgrace"

An analysis of the awful $307 billion Farm Bill passed by Congress entitled, "A Harvest of Disgrace". An excerpt:

Congress and the farmers have conspired to make an already unjust agricultural policy—a system that has subsidised the “farming” activities of such paupers as David Letterman and David Rockefeller—even worse. Through a complicated and overlapping system of government-sponsored insurance, counter-cyclical assistance, disaster aid and legacy payments tied to nothing, the five-year, $307 billion bill lavishes cash on wealthy farm households, the main restriction on collecting it being a means test that applies to couples making more than $1.5m a year.

And even that can be avoided by employing a reasonably competent accountant.

Promote the Tag Act


The Maryland Chapter of the Modern Whig Party is joining with the National Party on a major advocacy campaign. Our members will soon be contacting lawmakers in a coordinated campaign to promote the "Tag Act." This initiative seeks to pass a law mandating that gas stations post from where their oil is coming.

This is a take on the current practice of labeling such items as toys and clothing with "Made in China" or "Made in the USA." The idea is to empower consumers with the knowledge of where their gas is coming from. For example, many people may not be aware that Citgo gas comes from Venezuela -- an OPEC nation with a government hostile to the US. If consumers then alter their gas purchasing practices, it can have an effect on overall gas prices.


FEMA wants remaining trailer parks in New Orleans closed by the weekend


BAKER, Louisiana - The U.S. government has plenty of reasons to move hundreds of families out of emergency trailers they have occupied since Hurricane Katrina: the start of a new hurricane season, concerns about toxic fumes and the need for residents to find permanent homes.

But some worry they will have nowhere to go once they lose their subsidized housing.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency wants to close its last six trailer parks by Sunday, the first day of hurricane season. Those parks, all in Louisiana, are all that remain of the 111 the agency built and operated in the state after the August 2005 hurricane.

Katrina was quite a disaster and some horrible things happened to some good people. But this was 32 months ago for crying out loud. These people are worthless and lazy. If you can't get it together in the United States after 32 months of handouts and help, then you don't deserve to be here. I say lets gather these lost souls up and trade them to another country for some people who are willing to contribute something. I wonder how many of those trailers are habitable after the Katrina victims were done with them?

The story and a survey here on MSNBC.


Mianyang, China puts on clinic by example in emergency

MIANYANG, China – I had an eerie feeling as I approached the Mianyang Stadium where thousands of survivors of the deadly earthquake in Sichuan province have taken refuge.
From a distance, it reminded me of the New Orleans Superdome following Hurricane Katrina, when city officials opened the sports arena as a shelter of last resort, but where storm victims and their needs were tragically ignored for days.

But as I got closer and started to look around, it appeared that China had studied its own past fumbles in emergency response and noted the mistakes of others.

At the Mianyang Stadium, there were water stations everywhere and nobody was waiting in line. There was free food in another corner of the parking lot and volunteers handing out snacks inside. I approached a group of people to ask if there was enough food available and they laughed saying "there is too much food." preparedness

In one part of the stadium complex there was a medical tent treating physical injuries and stress. One woman was being treated for exhaustion. Two other patients were having acupuncture. And there were psychiatrists roaming the grounds doing counseling.

Even a tent school was set up for the refugee children when volunteers weren't doing organized games and activities with them.

Full story here on MSnBC World Blog.

27 May 2008

USA and the Barbary States


Back in 1784, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had to decide whether to appease or stand up to armed Middle Eastern pirates. Sound familiar? Read When the Founding Fathers Faced Islamists.


IMAGE: Burning of the frigate Philadelphia in the harbor of Tripoli, February 16, 1804, by Edward Moran, painted 1897, depicts a naval action of the First Barbary War.

Improved G.I Bill




The Modern Whig Party fully supports expanding the GI Bill. In a climate of skyrocketing tuition and related costs, the current GI Bill does not even come close to assisting our military veterans as they struggle to attend college.

The notion that improved educational benefits for veterans will somehow harm military retention is a slap in the face because the purpose of the GI Bill is to support the education of "veterans" coming home from service and not to be used against those who choose to leave the military for school.

In addition, the military has a reputation for taking care of its own so long as they remain in the military. Opponents of the expanded GI Bill merely highlight a common belief of neglect and disregard as soon as a soldier becomes a "veteran."

Obama's Commencement Speech at Wesleyan

Talk radio is all over Obama's commencement address at Wesleyan. The transcript of the speech is here. Apparently, they are all upset because he said the graduates should not go out and make money, but should devote themselves to the public good. Isn't that what most commencement addresses are about? Go out there, do good, give something back etc, etc, etc. What are they supposed to say, "Go make money!" ? Which of course, is what most graduates will be doing anyway. I've read the transcript, and the speech was a typical commencement-campaign speech.

But he gave the Peace Corps as an example of how to do good in the world.

The Peace Corps is due for more criticism than it receives.
In Cameroon, we had many volunteers sent to serve in the agriculture program whose only experience was puttering around in their mom and dad’s backyard during high school. I wrote to our headquarters in Washington to ask if anyone had considered how an American farmer would feel if a fresh-out-of-college Cameroonian with a liberal arts degree who had occasionally visited Grandma’s cassava plot were sent to Iowa to consult on pig-raising techniques learned in a three-month crash course. I’m pretty sure the American farmer would see it as a publicity stunt and a bunch of hooey, but I never heard back from headquarters.
Has the Peace Corps really achieved anything of value? The answer, surprising to many Americans, is no.

If Obama wants to laud a group of young people who really are making the world a better place, then why doesn't he recommend joining our Armed Forces? Where else can a young person go to have a greater, positive, and historic impact than in the military? Who is doing more to bring liberty, democracy and prosperity to the world than the Armed Forces? And they certainly aren't doing it for the money.

Now that would have been a speech: Obama at Wesleyan, in front of all those self-satisfied graduates and their parents, encouraging them to enlist in the Army (if the Army would have them), and to go out and selflessly work to make the world a better place.

You would have been able to hear their heads explode from here.

26 May 2008

A President Obama's Judicial Nominees

Barack Obama may have been a professor of constitutional law, but some of his ideas about the role of the Supreme Court could be problematic. Which justices would he appoint if given the chance?
Taken literally, Obama’s conceives the role of the courts as roving advocates of the poor and disadvantaged who will look, not to the text and meaning of the Constitution, but to their own ethics and values — presumably very left-leaning ones — to override statutes, executive branch actions, and the American people themselves.
Given that, one wonders if confirmation hearings for Obama judicial appointees should skip over questions of the law and focus on the appointees’ religious and ethical views, their childhood experiences, and even their record of charitable giving. How else will we know whether they are “sympathetic enough”?
Aside from his judicial philosophy, Obama’s views on specific matters of constitutional law are no secret — and bear little resemblance to the body of case law which has built up over the last thirty years.

Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together

The miracle of the free market has now produced a bacon-chocolate candy. No -- I'm not kidding, link is here. The description:
The initial hit of rich dark milk chocolate is followed by hints of smoky salt from the alder wood smoked sea salt then quickly reinforced by chewy bits of applewood smoked bacon.

The chef who invented them has a 20 minute video explaining her inspiration. Link here.

But I think we all know the real inspiration for this recipe.

Newt's Top 10 List

American Solutions calls it The Platform of the American People. A core set of tri-partisan (majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents) principles and solutions to unite Americans.

#1 English should be the official language of government.

See #s 2 through 10 here.

IAEA: Iran not cooperating

VIENNA, Austria - Iran may be withholding information needed to establish whether it tried to make nuclear arms, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday in an unusually strongly worded report.

The tone of the language suggesting that Tehran continues to stonewall the agency — the U.N. nuclear monitor — revealed a glimpse of the frustration felt by agency investigators stymied in their attempts to gain full answers to suspicious aspects of Iran's past nuclear activities.

Iran has described its cooperation with the agency probe of its alleged nuclear weapons experiments as positive, suggesting it was providing information requested by agency officials. Indirectly disagreeing, the agency also said that Iran continued to deny such activities, dismissing evidence to the contrary submitted for its perusal as misleading or false.

The full story is here on MSNBC.

Memorial Day


Thoughts on Memorial Day at Ace of Spades HQ.

Artwork by Keith Olbermann


I had no idea Keith Olbermann was such a unicorn freak.

Keith Olbermann slams Hillary Clinton

Link to Olbermann's dribble is here.

The latest slams against Hillary over the RFK remark rise to a new level of froth in support of Obama. Why is she being attacked so? I almost feel sorry for her.

What gives Olbermann any qualification to sway my vote? Is it because he speaks eloquently? Is it because he used to be on Sports Center on ESPN? Why? And what happened to the idea that the media hid their own personal views over political topics? This guy is so angry at Clinton he's practically spitting and crying. Can I just have a reasonable person deliver the news without a slant? Try NewsHour.

25 May 2008

Barr To Be Libertarian Nominee

Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr gets the Libertarian nod. Story here. This is a bit of bad news for McCain. More here.

Positive Developments in Colombia

The FARC terrorists in Colombia are in disarray and President Uribe has stated that the FARC is ready to give up. Gateway Pundit has a roundup of the news on this welcome development.

Phoenix Lands On Mars


BBC: Kennedy illness to impact US race

Really? Are you sure?

He couldn't even impact the democratic primary in his own state! He backed Obama in the primary but Hillary Clinton carried Massachusetts by 15 points!

Story here.

Hamas wants Arabs to broker Palestinian accord

DUBAI (Reuters) - Palestinian group Hamas is open to Arab mediation in its dispute with rival Fatah faction of President Mahmoud Abbas, the Arab League chief said in remarks published on Sunday.

Amr Moussa said Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal expressed the Islamist group's view during a telephone conversation to congratulate him for achieving rapprochement between Lebanese rivals, Asharq al-Awsat reported.

"Brother Khaled Meshaal spoke with me ... expressing willingness for a process of the same nature to end the dispute between Fatah and Hamas," Moussa said.
Qatar, spearheading an Arab League initiative, brokered a deal between Lebanese leaders last week defusing 18 months of political stalemate that erupted into fighting this month.

Full report here.

Obama and the race issue

Race is a difficult subject to talk and write about. Although the blogosphere is rarely shy, mainstream journalists often tread lightly for fear of giving offense or indulging in stereotypes. Political candidates sometimes slyly play the race card, but rarely overtly. Not eager to call attention to race as an issue, the Obama campaign plays it down as a factor in the election. But if an Obama adviser were writing an honest memo to the candidate, here's how it might read:
The good news is that you have all but won the nomination. The bad news, if we are willing to face reality, is that the country—some parts of it, anyway—may not be ready to elect a black president of the United States. It is hard to get a precise fix on the problem. Voters generally deny to pollsters that race is a factor in casting their votes, but when they step into the privacy of the polling booth, their prejudices can sometimes emerge. Probably only a tiny fraction of voters are outright racist. But race is not irrelevant to many others, black or white; exit polls vary greatly by state, but show that 10 to 30 percent of primary voters considered race as they voted (if white, those voters broke overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton; if African-American, they voted for you).

The rest is here.

24 May 2008

Who to Believe?

There's this:
It sounds crazy at first. Amid dire reports about the toxic political environment for Republican candidates and the challenges facing John McCain, many top GOP strategists believe he can defeat Barack Obama — and by a margin exceeding President Bush’s Electoral College victory in 2004.
But then there's this:
Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign is in a troubled stretch, hindered by resignations of staff members, a lagging effort to build a national campaign organization and questions over whether he has taken full advantage of Democratic turmoil to present a case for his candidacy, Republicans say.
Time will tell.

Good News For Colombia

BBC News is reporting: The leader of Colombia's largest rebel group, the Farc, has died, the military has claimed in a statement. There has been no confirmation from guerrilla sources. The top rebel commander's death has been rumoured and disproved several times in the past.
But correspondents say the death could mean the end of the Farc if confirmed.

Know your rights!

23 May 2008

What To Do About OPEC

From the Washington Times:

The OPEC policy of limiting production in the face of increasing demand is like that of a cruel dog-owner who puts a collar snugly around the neck of a young puppy, but then refuses to let it out as the dog matures. So as the dog grows, the collar gets tighter and tighter until it chokes to death. But it is not the growth of the dog that kills the dog; the culprit is the dog owner who refuses to let out the collar. This is what OPEC is now doing to the United States, the industrial world at large, and to the Third World — whose impoverished people can least afford to pay for overpriced oil.


Averaged over the U.S. population of 300 million people, the $ 1 trillion OPEC-induced burden levies a tribute amounting to $3,300 per head — for every man, woman and child in the country (or $13,200 for a family of four). The average American worker makes about $45,000 per year, or $35,000 after taxes paid to Uncle Sam. In 1999, a worker supporting a family of four had to pay 3 percent of his disposable income for oil. Now Uncle Saud and Uncle Hugo are taxing him for over 35 percent of his take-home pay. Is it any wonder that such people are not buying houses? Such a massive drain of cash from the pockets of consumers must perforce cause the real estate market to collapse — as well as affecting many other kinds of consumer goods.


And this is just the beginning. OPEC leaders, including Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are already openly discussing raising the price of oil to $200 a barrel or more. In that case, Americans' oil tribute will rise to $1.8 trillion per year, paid to an evil cartel whose total worldwide extortions will cost the global economy more than $7 trillion. If we want to avoid complete economic defeat, we need to destroy the oil cartel.


In order to stop the OPEC looting of the U.S. and world economies, we need to break the cartel's vertical monopoly by creating fuel choice on a global scale. Congress can make this happen with a stroke of the pen, by passing a law requiring that all new cars sold in the United States be flex-fuel vehicles that can run on any combination of gasoline, ethanol or methanol. The technology is readily available and it only costs about $100 per vehicle.

Nationalization of Oil Industry Proposed

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Ca) threatens to nationalize the oil industry. Incredible. Story and video here.

Medal of Honor Awarded

The White House announced Friday that a Pennsylvania soldier who jumped on top of a grenade in Iraq and saved the lives of his comrades will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor.

The nation's highest military honor will be given to 19-year-old Army Pfc. Ross McGinnis of Knox, Pa., on June 2.

Burma


Before the cyclone hit Burma, I was preparing to blog on the supposed referendum on the new constitution, and some background on the incompetent and paranoid regime there. Then the cyclone hit, and the Burmese government got the criticism and attention it deserves.
Still it is terrible what the government is doing to freedom there. The country, which should be one of the "Asian Tigers" is on its way to failing. Story here. More here.
Why have things gone so wrong there? The roots of the military paranoia are rooted in the early 50s. After the Nationalists were defeated in China, their armies fled to Taiwan (which everyone knows, establishing the ROC there) and northern Burma. Burma was weak after independence and had to tolerate Chinese Nationalist armies on their territories for years. The army was also frustrated by the chaotic democracy that arose after independence. Together, this resulted in a fear of loss of control, which the officer corps has institutionalized. The regular troops are volunteers, poorly educated, and fleeing abject village poverty caused by the regime.
The regime has never cared about the people. They care only about control. The regime will stake out an extreme position, and the media will report favorably once they make any minor concession. But even the smallest concession will be revoked once the media has lost focus. This has been their practice for years.
Burma is being courted by both China and India, which are competing to exploit the country, so don't expect anything from the U.N.
Some have even suggested invasion, which would no doubt be welcomed by the oppressed population, as well as the numerous minority groups. But any invasion would be met by an experienced military which would actively resist. A risky and difficult option.
Unless we are prepared to invade, the best we can do for now is to support the people's bid for freedom when the time comes.

Credo Quia Absurdum Est II

I'm sure it tastes great, but this is crazy:


Baskin Robbin’s Large Heath Bar Shake (32 oz) 2,310 calories

266 g sugar 108 g fat (64 g saturated)

Let's look at America's Worst Drink in numbers:

73: The number of ingredients that go into this milkshake.

66: The number of teaspoons of sugar this drink contains.

11: The number of Heath Bars you would have to eat to equal the number of calories found in one Baskin Robbins Large Heath Bar Shake.

8-12: The average number of minutes it takes to consume this drink.

240: The number of minutes you’d need to spend on a treadmill burning it off, running at a moderate pace.

22 May 2008

Dissatisfaction With the Big Two Parties

From neo-neocon, a post about changes in the Democratic Party over time and why some feel alienated. Perhaps the modern Whig Party could capitalize on these dissatisfied, moderate, Democrats.
It’s become more and more apparent as time goes on that many Democrats today and most of their leaders (i.e. Pelosi and Reid), consider the Republicans to be a greater enemy than any country or group on earth—with the possible exception of oil companies.
I think the same thing can be said about Republicans. They are so busy worried about financing campaigns against the Democrats, they are interested only in big contributors and earmarks.

Meanwhile, no one is interested about reducing corruption in government, or doing anything constructive.

No Child Left Behind?

The major charge against the No Child Left Behind Act is that it results in "teaching to the test." But is that really such a bad idea? An article examining the No Child Left Behind Act, which is coming up for reauthorization.

Libertarian Party Convention

Coverage of this weekend's Libertarian Party Convention can be found at Third Party Watch.

A post concerning one of the candidates for the nomination, Bob Barr.

UPDATE: Liveblogging here.

Clinton plays civil rights card

She has a good point. If I was a Michigan or Florida voter in a democratic primary, I'd be pissed that my vote didn't count. The voters aren't to blame for the calendar issue. The state party leaders are. I say, count the popular votes from Michigan and Florida and strip the superdelegate votes from those two states. This lets the popular vote count and punishes those actually responsible.

Story here.

Even democrats draw comparisons between Obama and Carter

The Whig has been all over this analogy, and I think we were first. While we have been lamenting the disasters of the Carter administration (oil shortages, gas lines, inflation, Iran), there are those who draw comparisons in the hope and change aspects.

I had no idea there was anyone (in this country anyway) who looked back to the Carter administration with admiration and pride.

21 May 2008

Phoenix Mars Lander


The spacecraft is set to land on May 25 on a six-month mission to determine whether the region may have once been habitable for primitive life. Story here. More here and here.

A Wind Farm As Big As Texas

Some good news: World's largest wind farm under development in Texas, to be completed by 2015. It could generate enough electricity for 1.3 million homes:
But we are going to have to do something different in America. You can't keep paying out $600 billion a year for oil.

Lieberman: Democrats and Our Enemies

Sen. Lieberman in today's Wall Street Journal. An excerpt:

A great Democratic secretary of state, Dean Acheson, once warned "no people in history have ever survived, who thought they could protect their freedom by making themselves inoffensive to their enemies." This is a lesson that today's Democratic Party leaders need to relearn.

Economy rant

The price of oil is up and therefore the cost of gasoline is up. I took Economics 101 and I get how that works.

Food is also more expensive. Rice, wheat and other crops have been forsaken by farmers for the government subsidized and suddenly highly profitable corn. These crops are in shorter supply which inflates their value. I get that.

So food prices are up and that effects me. And gas prices are up and that effects me too. Why is one of these commodities artificially inflated and subsidized by the government, while the other has its industry leaders called to testify to explain their record profits? I'm sure the millionaire farmer is experiencing record profits too. But somehow that is favorable to congress while the oil industry is not. This seems like an utter waste of time by a legislature that is largely out of touch and incompetent.

California Congresswoman Laura Richardson in foreclosure


Capitol Weekly reports that newly elected California Congresswoman Laura Richardson walked away from the mortgage on her $535,000 Sacramento home, letting the house slip into foreclosure and disrepair less than two years after she bought it with no money down.

"While being elevated to Congress in a 2007 special election, Richardson apparently stopped making payments on her new Sacramento home, and eventually walked away from it, leaving nearly $600,000 in unpaid loans and fees," the publication reports.

The Curtis Park house is not Richardson's primary residence. She also owns a four-bedroom house in Long Beach, in her Congressional district. Real estate records show she purchased that house in 1999 for $135,000. An estimate from Zillow.com puts the current value of that house at $474,000Like many homes that have gone through foreclosure, Richardson's new residence quickly became an eyesore.
This is another example of how we have let the standards for the holders of elective office slide. Why are they scumbags more often than not?

Story here from JammieWearingFool.

Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less

Comments from Newt Gingrich on the subject.

Last week, liberals in Congress voted for the equivalent of a $150 billion tax increase. They voted to make your next trip to the gas station more expensive; to make your next airplane ticket more expensive; to make heating your home more expensive -- even to make feeding your family more expensive.

How did they do it? By voting to block environmentally sound production of U.S. energy in favor of continuing to be held hostage to oil from foreign dictatorships. I'll explain in a minute.

Who's to blame for our high gas prices? The oil companies? The Saudis? OPEC? The answer, unfortunately, is closer to home: The "No-We-Can't" Left in Congress.

Last Thursday, with oil at $124 a barrel, liberals on the Senate Appropriations committee voted to block environmentally sound development of oil shale in Colorado.

20 May 2008

Success in Iraq Not Reported

From the NY Post:

As Iraqi and Coalition forces pile up one success after another, Iraq has magically vanished from the headlines.
Want a real "inconvenient truth?" Progress in Iraq is powerful and accelerating.
My fellow Americans, have you read or seen a single interview with any of the millions of Iraqis in Sadr City or Basra who are thrilled that the gangster militias are gone from their neighborhoods?

This morning, there was a story on the BBC Newshour about how Basra was much safer, and under the control of the Iraqi government.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Obama's VP Pick

Speculation heating up on who Obama will pick as his running mate. Some say Hillary, while some say not so fast, and are pushing Hagel or Edwards. Some say Webb. More analysis and the latest here.

My guess would be Gen. Wesley Clark, as he would bring foreign and military policy to the ticket, but he doesn't seem to be mentioned much. I said back on March 25th, that I would be surprised if Obama picked Hillary to be his VP, and I still would be.

Judicial Branch: Your Banknotes Do Not Please Us


The currency image I added below may already be obsolete. Get ready for our money to look like the above.

Our Judicial Overlords have today decreed that our currency does not meet with their pleasure, and have instructed their minions/other branches of government to bend to their will and redesign the currency. In response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the blind, the appeals court:

[N]oted that scores of countries used different predominant colors and shapes for different denominations, in addition to different sizes and various “tactile features.”

The dissenter Tuesday was Judge A. Raymond Randolph, who said the majority had too quickly accepted the plaintiffs’ assertions and rejected evidence that retooling or replacing the approximately seven million food-and-beverage vending machines in the country could cost $3.5 billion if bills of different size were introduced.

Other parties that would be affected included manufacturers of money-dispensing automatic teller machines and, for that matter, makers of wallets and purses, Judge Randolph said.

Unless overturned on appeal, it also holds the potential to send manufacturers of vending machines back to the drawing boards, open new fashion frontiers for wallet makers and cause the term “greenback” to become increasingly quaint.

I understand that the blind have problems with our currency design, nor do I necessarily disagree that our currency could be better designed, but isn't this an issue for the legislative and executive branch to sort out?

Get Rich Quick: Get Elected To Congress


At least one commentator thinks we don't pay the President and Congress nearly enough, arguing that perhaps an increase in pay would result in a higher quality of individuals running for office.

The interesting thing is that many members of Congress see their wealth increase dramatically while they are in office. The Sunlight Foundation has a project called Fortune 535 that tracks the increase in wealth of members of Congress over their careers. In many cases the increase in wealth is astonishing. Click on the link and see for yourself.

More here at "Congress Has Wealth to Weather Economic Downturn":

U.S. Senators had median net worth of approximately $1.7 million in 2006, the most recent year for which their financial data is available, and 58 percent of the Senate's members could be considered millionaires.

In the House of Representatives, the median net worth was about $675,000, with 44 percent of members having net worths estimated to be at least $1 million.

By contrast, only about 1 percent of all American adults had a net worth greater than $1 million around the same time.

House members lease cars at our expense

Our government (thats you and me) picks up the tab for car leases for members of the House. Representatives are paid $169,000 a year! Yet, despite this well above average salary, a generous pension, a health plan much better than yours, and many other perks (which are detailed here), the House of Representatives has a program that pays for a car lease, gas, and insurance costs.
That’s not the worst of it. Your representatives tend to favor high end leases. No Chevy Cobalts here, rather Lincolns and Cadillacs. And it gets worse. Some of our virtueless Representatives lease foreign made cars.
No virtue, no thrift, no patriotism.
No one making $169,000 a year needs to have their automobile payed for by the taxpayer. And when they are in Washington, there is this wonderful thing called the Metro that goes everywhere they need to be.
This disgusts me.

More of the story here.

19 May 2008

Help Support Our Troops

Support Operation Gratitude.
OPERATION GRATITUDE seeks to lift troops' morale, and bring a smile to their faces by sending care packages to service members overseas. OPERATION GRATITUDE care packages contain food, toiletries, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation, all wrapped with good wishes of love and support.

Obama's Malaise Speech

More people are noting the similarities of Obama to Carter. THE WHIG was way out in front in noticing this. Here's the latest connection from Gateway Pundit:

"The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our Nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America... In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption."
President Jimmy Carter
The "Malaise Speech"July 15, 1979

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK."
Barack Obama
Oregon Rally May 18, 2008

What has been the "carbon footprint" of Obama's campaign?

Much more at Ace of Spades HQ., which observes: We all know it's just "the little people," who barely have carbon footprints at all, who are expected to sacrifice for the sake of the environment and a more equitable distribution of the world's wealth. The wealthy and powerful are too busy imposing sacrifices on everyone else to do any sacrificing themselves.

UPDATE: Its Everywhere! Power Line: "Jimmy Carter Without the Rabbits"

Previously:
May 10: I'm Having A Bad 70s Flashback
May 3: Follow up on: Obama Would Be Another Carter
April 13: Obama Would Be Another Carter

US 'violated Venezuela airspace'

Venezuela has demanded an explanation from Washington after a US military aircraft violated its airspace.
The US ambassador in Venezuela's capital, Caracas, has been summoned to explain Saturday's event.
US officials admitted a naval plane on a counter-narcotics mission had "navigational problems" that led it to briefly enter Venezuelan airspace.
Tension has been rising in the region with both the US and Colombia accusing Caracas of financing Colombian rebels.
'Series of provocations'
Venezuelan Defence Minister Gustavo Rangel said the US jet had been tracked by his country's air defences over the Venezuelan-owned island of La Orchila on Saturday.
Mr Rangel told a news conference that the US aircraft "practically flew over" La Orchila - where Venezuela has a military base and President Hugo Chavez has a residence - and another island before turning back.
"This is just the latest step in a series of provocations," he said.
US officials admitted the incident later on Monday.

Full story here on BBC.

18 May 2008

U.S. Senate: Let Them Eat Cake

Senate panel retains oil-shale moratorium. Amazing indifference to high gas prices in Congress:

The moratorium prevents the Department of Interior from issuing regulations so that oil companies can move forward on oil-shale projects in Colorado and Utah. Allard said the moratorium has left uncertainties at a time when companies need to move forward and in the long term make the United States more energy independent.
"If we are really serious about reducing pain at the pump, this is a vote that would make a difference in people's lives," Allard argued.
But in a 14-15 vote, the committee spilt strictly on party lines and rejected the amendment.

Election Tracking Poll Links

This election polltracker chart could come in handy.

This link provides even more polling details.

Negotiating With Our Enemies

It's not about Obama, it is about a difference in how you view the world. Read the whole article.

It's not a Democrat election policy, it's an entire worldview. Even Barack Obama can't be so vain as to think his fly-me-to-[insert name of enemy here]concept is an original idea.
Increasingly, the Western world has attitudes rather than policies. It's one thing to talk as a means to an end. But these days, for most midlevel powers, talks are the end, talks without end. Because that's what civilized nations like doing – chit-chatting, shooting the breeze, having tea and crumpets, talking talking talking. Uncivilized nations like torturing dissidents, killing civilians, bombing villages, doing doing doing. It's easier to get the doers to pass themselves off as talkers then to get the talkers to rouse themselves to do anything.
And, as the Iranians understand, talks provide a splendid cover for getting on with anything you want to do. If, say, you want to get on with your nuclear program relatively undisturbed, the easiest way to do it is to enter years of endless talks with the Europeans over said nuclear program. That's why that Hamas honcho endorsed Obama: They know he's their best shot at getting a European foreign minister installed as president of the United States.

I Wish My Car Had Corinthian Leather

I came across this at Car Lust, a great blog about, well, cars. If you are of a certain age, this ad will always be stuck in your head. Check out the post at Car Lust, where they have a second-to-second analysis of the ad, and a great spoof posted as well.

The benefits of global warming

WASHINGTON (May 18) - Global warming isn't to blame for the recent jump in hurricanes in the Atlantic, concludes a study by a prominent federal scientist whose position has shifted on the subject.

Not only that, warmer temperatures will actually reduce the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic and those making landfall, research meteorologist Tom Knutson reported in a study released Sunday.

Full story here on AOL news.

Modern Whig Party


THE WHIG supports the efforts of the Modern Whig Party to re-establish the Whig in political life. We here at THE WHIG have volunteered to help efforts here in Texas. Anyone interested in membership or would like to learn more, should visit ModernWhig.com.

Who is a Modern Whig?
Modern Whig members are men and women from all walks of life who embrace certain Republican ideals but also believe in various Democratic items. Essentially, Modern Whig members are independent-minded voters who want to be affiliated with a palatable, middle-of-the-road party.

The fastest-growing mainstream political party.
As one of the original political parties in America, our historic roots include four members elected President and also the original party of Abraham Lincoln. The Modern Whig Party is not a run-of-the-mill third party, but instead seeks to regain its position as a powerful, mainstream advocate for such issues as fiscal responsibility, strong national defense and bold social progression. Originally revitalized as an organization for military veterans and supporters, the Modern Whig Party is quickly gaining a diverse following that continues to add thousands of members each month. With its mainstream approach and bold, common sense ideals, the Modern Whig Party truly is for the rest of us.

Approach to the Issues:
The Modern Whig Party relies on common sense. While we are idealistic to some extent, we also see the value of independent thinking and danger of being limited to one distinct ideology. For more than two centuries, we have carried the mantle of the middle-of-the-road party.

Membership:
The Modern Whig Party is not some sterile organization. We encourage participation and offer leadership positions to many qualified members. Our mission is to re-enter the public consciousness and cater to those voters who are independent-minded and find themselves cherry-picking issues from both the GOP and the Democratic Party. Perhaps this is why our membership is so diverse in their geographic locations, occupations and lifestyles.

We believe that independent voters are the silent majority and all-to-often have to settle for the "lesser of two evils." We also realize that re-establishing a third party is an uphill climb under the current system. This is why our growing membership is key. The Modern Whig Party is geared toward those independent voters who want to be affiliated with a palatable national party. And unlike other existing parties, our party has a past history of success.

A Party for the Rest of Us
We aren't crazy or delusional. We know how hard it is to establish a viable third party. This is why we keep stressing that we are not a fringe group. It's because most third parties are fringe and do not represent the rest of us. But strength comes in numbers. The Modern Whig Party represents the middle-of-the-road mentality. We don't encourage our members to march and we certainly don't try to persuade our members on the issues. Our agenda is merely to express our common-sense ideals and slowly gain ground into the mainstream consciousness. In short, the Modern Whig Party is for the rest of us.




Bush's 'Israel bias' angers Abbas


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has accused US President George W Bush of bias towards Israel, following a speech to the Israeli parliament last week.


"What the president said at the Knesset made us angry, and to be honest, we don't accept it," Mr Abbas said.


Mr Bush lavished praise on Israel and barely mentioned the Palestinians in his speech, which marked the 60th anniversary of Israel's foundation.


In a speech in Egypt on Sunday, Mr Bush said the Arab world needed to reform.


Of course Bush is biased towards Israel. Aren't we all? Which other country in the region would be more deserving of our bias? ...our praise? ...our support? Frankly, the statement that the Arab world needs to reform is putting it mildly.


The full story is here on BBC.

17 May 2008

Command vessel USS Mount Whitney posted opposite Lebanon

It appears the groundwork is being laid for a possible assault in the region.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Saturday, May 17, the USS Mount Whitney , considered the US Navy’s most advanced command, control, communications, computer and intelligence vessel, took up position opposite Lebanese shores for an “unscheduled mission.”

The Sixth Fleet spokesman Lt. Patrick Foughty said the ship would be there “to support additional communication requirements for our ships already underway.”

DEBKAfile’s sources add that the USS Cole missile destroyer arrived in that sector last week, while the USS Harry Truman carrier strike group began cruising in the Mediterranean around Greece, whence the aircraft on its decks can reach Syrian and Lebanese skies. The fleet spokesman added there are no long-term plans to keep the Mount Whitney away from its home base.

Although the US lieutenant did not name those plans, military observers gained the impression that the American navy-air build-up off Lebanon was designed for a short stay or a specific operation, after which it will disperse.

Full story here from Debka.

Big Brown wins Preakness


Big Brown may breeze to the Triple Crown after dominating the fields of both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.


BALTIMORE (AP) - Big Brown charged to the lead turning for home and then cruised down the stretch to win the Preakness on Saturday, still perfect and squarely pointed toward thoroughbred racing's first Triple Crown in 30 years.


"We should have enough horse to get the job done," said trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., who had predicted his bay colt would win the first two legs.


Just as he did two weeks ago in a Kentucky Derby marred by the breakdown of Eight Belles, the colt named for UPS delivered another stunning win, this time by 5 1/4 lengths. Macho Again was second and Icabad Crane was third.


The Belmont Stakes will be run June 7. It's been three decades since Affirmed swept that race along with the Derby and Preakness to give racing its 11th Triple Crown winner.

Senator from Chappaquiddick hospitalized


BOSTON - Edward Kennedy's primary care physician said the senator is "not in any immediate danger" after suffering a seizure at his Cape Cod home Saturday.


Dr. Larry Ronan said preliminary tests showed the 76-year-old Massachusetts Democrat has not suffered a stroke. Ronan said Kennedy was resting comfortably and would undergo further evaluation to determine the cause of the seizure.


Story here on MSNBC.


Chappaquiddick history here.

Prosecution of Terrorists and the Legal System

An strong argument can be made that our criminal justice system is not equipped to handle terrorism. Terrorist suspects can seriously disrupt the criminal justice system by using criminal procedures and discovery to seriously disrupt the judicial process, prolonging cases and trials and making terrorist prosecution excessively onerous and burdensome. Unlike a traditional criminal defendant, who is behaving rationally to reduce his punishment, a determined terrorist suspect, unconcerned over his eventual punishment, can abuse procedures designed to protect car thieves and embezzlers.

Nevertheless, a long term legal solution for dealing with terror suspect and enemy combatants is needed. Some have argued for special terrorism courts. Some argue that a formal system of preventive detention should be established.

This article argues against a formal system of preventive detention and for using federal courts, or for those captured in armed conflict, military courts. I remain to be convinced that our criminal justice system is capable of facing the challenge of terrorism, but the arguments presented are thoughtful, the authors discuss arguments that would be made against their positions, and the article is worth a read.

What Is This Recession of Which You Speak?


Practically speaking, full employment. For the city of Houston, anyway:


A spike in the number of Houstonians who found jobs last month pushed the local unemployment rate to its lowest level in nearly eight years.
The local unemployment rate was 3.8 percent for April, the lowest since December 2000 when it was 3.5 percent, according to data released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission.

"We're at full employment," said Wagher, referring to the economic term that describes an economy in which nearly everyone who wants to work has a job, at least theoretically.

Houston's low unemployment rate is beginning to create another phenomenon: Job seekers from other states are starting to flock to Houston in a miniversion of the Rust Belt in-migration the city saw in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) Insults Military

The words speak for themselves as reported in the De Moines Register:

John McCain's family background as the son and grandson of admirals has given him a worldview shaped by the military, "and he has a hard time thinking beyond that," Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., said Friday."I think he's trapped in that," Harkin said in a conference call with Iowa reporters. "Everything is looked at from his life experiences, from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous."

Harkin said that "it's one thing to have been drafted and served, but another thing when you come from generations of military people and that's just how you're steeped, how you've learned, how you've grown up."

A McCain spokesman said Harkin's remarks were offensive and showed that Democrats are out of touch with Americans' values."Senator Harkin's comments are an affront to the many thousands of Iowans who have served our country so valiantly for generations," said spokesman Jeff Sadosky. "This sort of attack shows just how out of touch Democratic leadership has become with the values that have made our country so great."

Hat tip: Gateway Pundit: Phony Hero Blasts Real Hero

16 May 2008

Obama and the Second Amendment

A lot in the news today about McCain and his speech to the NRA.

But what are Obama's real positions (no hype, no distortion) on the Second Amendment? A clear position is difficult to find. I went to his official web site, and it is not an issue on which he has listed a position. Perhaps his campaign doesn't consider the Second Amendment a priority?

A quick search unveiled this as Obama's stated position on gun control:
  1. Ban the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons.
  2. Increase state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms.
  3. Require manufacturers to provide child-safety locks with firearms.

Source: 1998 IL State Legislative National Political Awareness Test Jul 2, 1998

A ban on the sale or transfer of all semi-automatic weapons leaves single-action revolvers, pump action, bolt-action and lever-action firearms. Would double-action revolvers be banned as well?

He also considers the D.C. gun ban that the Supreme Court is reviewing in the Heller case to be constitutionally permitted. As the D.C. gun laws effectively deny citizens the ability to own a firearm, it is reasonable to believe that Obama would have no problem with a total gun ownership ban.


Democrat's Ideological Divide

I had been wondering about this:

By prevailing in conservative locales where they ordinarily would not have a chance, Democrats are widening the ideological divide in their own ranks and complicating their ability to find internal consensus.

More Bacon Fashion


We here at The Whig strive to stay on top of the latest in bacon fashions.
The latest is this "Unsettlingly Real-Looking Felted Bacon Scarf".

High Oil and Gas Prices

President Bush asked the Saudis for a little help with the price of oil. Saudis to Bush: Yeah, yeah, but what have you done for us lately?

Looks like we might have to just get used to it:
When measured on an inflation-adjusted basis, the current price of gasoline is only slightly higher than it was in 1922. According to the Energy Information Administration, in 1922, gasoline cost the current-day equivalent of $3.11. Today, according to the EIA, gasoline is selling for about $3.77 per gallon, only about 20 percent more than 86 years ago.
From Nancy Pelosi's own web site, she claimed on April 24, 2006 (when gas was $2.91 a gallon) that:

“Democrats have a commonsense plan to help bring down skyrocketing gas prices by cracking down on price gouging, rolling back the billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, tax breaks and royalty relief given to big oil and gas companies, and increasing production of alternative fuels.”

With gas prices approaching $4 a gallon, boy, I sure would like to see that plan about now.

15 May 2008

Whig Party Returns!

MODERN WHIGS ON THE HILL: The national chairman of the Modern Whig Party became the first member of this historic organization in more than 150 years to testify in front of separate US House and Senate hearings. National Chairman Mike Lebowitz testified on Wednesday in support of expanded whistleblower legislation relating to the protection of military personnel who attempt to report wrongdoing such as fraud, waste and abuse. In this regard, the Modern Whig Party supports the upcoming No Fear Act II legislation designed to further protect whistleblowers. The national chairman of the Modern Whig Party is a combat veteran of Iraq, reserve JAG officer and distinguished attorney.

Out of Control Spending

Bush's supply-side tax cuts have produced windfall revenues for the federal government, but profligate spending by both parties has kept Washington in the red. Read the story here.

Both political parties are spending money like crazy. If only there were a political party I could vote for that would restrain spending. If only there were a Whig Party.....

Venezuela to List of State Sponsors of Terrorism?

The latest on the computer files found in a raid by Colombian forces that connects the Venezuelan government with terrorists in Colombia:
Interpol said its forensic experts had found no signs that Colombia had altered files from computer equipment recovered in a raid on the rebels in March.

[T]he Interpol report, released by its secretary general, Ronald Noble, in Bogotá, may advance efforts under way in the Congress to add Venezuela to the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism, which includes Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria and Cuba. Like the United States, the European Union classifies the FARC as a terrorist group.

I, For One, Welcome Our New Judicial Overlords

California Supreme Court channels Kent Brockman: "We've said it before and we'll say it again, democracy just doesn't work." Or at least not fast enough for the California Supreme Court, which abrogates to itself power to legislate, not trusting the legislature or the people to do what is right.

The California Supreme Court today declared that any ban on homosexual marriage was unconstitutional under the California state constitution. Regardless of the outcome, to have the courts setting themselves up as a super-legislature, unbound by judicial restraint, constitutional separation of powers, or precedent, is an increasingly dangerous and untenable state of affairs. It makes a mockery of our claim to govern ourselves.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Marvin Baxter agreed with many arguments of the majority but said the court overstepped its authority. Changes to marriage laws should be decided by the voters, Baxter wrote.

California has been moving towards legislating increased rights for homosexual couples for decades. It was only a matter of time before California, through its legislature, legalized gay marriage anyway. Such a measure had passed the legislature, to be vetoed by the governor. A future change in the governor's office, and the matter would have been law.

But just four justices, knowing better that the other branches, gripped with a fever of self-importance, speaking down to us commoners from their Olympian heights, couldn't wait. Now it has handed the issue over to religious conservatives, who are now motivated to push for a referendum that would place a ban on gay marriage permanently into the state constitution.

Obama slams Bush comments

I don't know who wrote it down for him, but George Bush actually said something very intelligent.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama accused President Bush on Thursday of launching a "false political attack" with a comment about appeasing terrorists and radicals.

Obama has said he would meet with leaders of Hamas and Iran. I don't think he planned to take a pistol to these meetings, so what is the point unless you are negotiating?

In a speech to Israel's Knesset, Bush said: "Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. "We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

This statement is enlightened. In fact, considering the source, its practically brilliant. Why hasn't he been this correct and on message the past 5 years or so? Who knows.

The full story is here on MSNBC.

14 May 2008

Zimbabwe Tragedy

The government steps up its campaign of violence against the opposition, as gangs of ruling-party thugs rampage and kill.
Fair and free elections are impossible under such conditions. No free people should be so denied their rights. The government of Zimbabwe and its political supporters must stop the violence now.
The government announced a presidential runoff in 90 days, giving themselves more time to better prepare to rig the outcome.
The election violence is preventing the distribution of international aid.

How bad is inflation in Zimbabwe? In January 2008, one U.S. dollar equalled $6 million in Zimbabwe dollars. Yesterday, one U.S. dollar equalled $250 million in Zimbabwe dollars. Inflation is so bad, banks have quit lending money for mortgages and cars.

$307 Billion Farm Bill Passes

The $307,000,000,000.00 Farm Bill passed overwhelmingly in Congress. Democrats, Republicans, it is hard to tell who is who in the blur to vote for favors:
Some critics have also pointed to earmarks in the bill, including a tax break for racehorse owners added by the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and $170 million to benefit the salmon industry inserted by House Democrats from the West Coast.

Why Whig?

THE WHIG is conservative in the sense that we want to conserve the legacy of the American Revolution. THE WHIG supports individual liberty and the defense of that liberty. THE WHIG believes the government should be limited, with individuals in our society free to pursue their own happiness. THE WHIG no longer wants to continue to vote against a candidate or a party; we want something to vote for, not just selecting between the lesser of two evils.

Our two main political parties are plagued by internal inconsistencies.

The Democrats intrude in economic matters under the guise of either "fairness" or "the planet". It is popularly accepted that they are the most supportive of personal privacy. Is this perception accurate? Progressive Democrats are willing to massively intrude into personal or family autonomy in the name of "diversity" and "political correctness". Progressive Democrats do not have a "live and let live" approach towards those that do not support their efforts to alter traditional social norms. See "Liberal Fascism" and also here.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are seen as willing to allow economic liberty while seeking to impose their religious social views. Is this perception accurate? Republican are more than willing to support state intervention in the economy when it favors their supporters. See "The Conservative Nanny State" and CEPR.

The Democrats are a more natural "party of government". Willing to accept a wide range of views in their ranks, they are tolerant as long as it helps them gain control of government resources, which they use to buy off sections of the electorate into supporting them. The Republicans are more inept in this, being less willing to accept a wide range of ideologies since their political tolerance is limited by the religious basis of their party's positions. Both are simply political machines, willing to use their political power to direct public resources towards the financial gain of their supporters.

Learn about the Republican Party here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_(United_States)
Republican Party website is here:
http://www.gop.com/

Republicans have recently failed to become the "party of government". Republicans are setting new standards for pork-barrel spending. Abandoning their limited government beliefs, the party has shifted over the years and no longer represents fiscal responsibility, limited government, and has let the religious right cloud its direction and principles. The big-government, "compassionate conservatism" of Tom Delay and George W. Bush has cast their previous principles over the side in favor of money and control.

Learn about the Democratic Party here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_(United_States)
Democratic Party website is here:
http://www.democrats.org/splashcrowd.php

Democrats think the government knows best how to take care of you and legislates accordingly.

Learn about the Libertarian Party here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_Party_(United_States)
Libertarian Party website here:
http://www.lp.org/

They are unnecessarily isolationist, and pursue their positions beyond practicality.

Learn about the Constitution Party here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_Party_(United_States)
Constitution Party website here:
http://constitutionparty.com/

A nationalistic, religious-based party that thinks the Republican are too soft on social issues.

Learn about the Green Party here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Party_(United_States)
Green Party website here:
http://www.gp.org/index.php

Would pursue radical and damaging changes to our national economy.

Post by Romulus and Septimus

Critique of McCain's Budget Proposals

Do McCain's budget proposals make sense? Do the numbers that he is proposing add up? Can he balance the budget by eliminating earmarks while keeping the Bush tax cuts? In short, no.

Via Porkbusters, Tamisan's News has an excellent analysis of McCain's budget proposals, and takes McCain to task for his exaggerations:
It's certainly true that cutting spending by $1 trillion would result in a balanced budget. Of course, the total discretionary budget (including the entire defense budget) is just a little more than $1.2 trillion, so McCain just has to convince Congress to slash discretionary spending by 83 percent. Alternatively, McCain could convince Congress to couple more modest cuts in discretionary spending with deep reductions in popular programs like Social Security and Medicare. Historically, wagers that either of those things would happen have been imprudent investments.

Perspective on the Economy

Here is a chart of the Misery Index from 1948 to present. The Misery Index is the unemployment rate added to the inflation rate. With the current unemployment rate of 5% and the inflation rate of 3%, the current Misery Index is 8. Not the lowest, certainly, but far from disaster. The Misery Index peaked at a whopping 20.76 under Carter. You wouldn't know it from media reports, however.

State Department’s Jihadist Exchange Program

In yet another startling case of incompetence, the State Department is sponsoring international delegations for an Islamic group being investigated for terrorist support.

"Startling case of incompetence" is putting it lightly.

The store here on Pajamas Media.

13 May 2008

The More Things Change ...

Michelle Malkin has started a betting pool on "How long ’til the GOP starts claiming “We are the change that we seek?” and asks: "How much “change” did these feckless Beltway Republicans spend on the high-priced consultants who have turned them into Obama wannabes?"

Hoo boy. The Republicans in Congress are really adrift, aren't they? When you see one of the two big parties trying to mimic the other, you know that they are in trouble. In 90s, it was the Democrats offering watered-down Republican ideas, and now it is the Republicans reacting to the Democrats' initiatives.

Socially Conservative Democrats Win In the South

The second special congressional election in the South in recent weeks has resulted in another Democratic win in seats held by Republican for decades. The mixture of economic populism and social conservatism advocated by both the winning Democratic candidates has a long history in the South.

The results also demonstrate not only that economic conservatism (the candidates ran against federal deficit spending) still has appeal, but that the political ground is shifting underneath the moribund Republican Party.

Speedboats for Hizballah from Iran

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that three weeks before Hizballah seized western Beirut, the Shiite terrorist group took delivery of 35 fast speedboats for use with explosives from Iran. The craft can threaten US Sixth Fleet and Israel Navy shipping close to Lebanese shores, reach Israel’s Haifa and Ashdod Mediterranean ports and raid its coastal oil installations.

The speedboats were tailor-made for Hizballah by Iranian Revolutionary Guards shipyards at Bandar Abbas as the only marine terror fleet operating in Mediterranean waters. Our military sources report the boats are capable of carrying chemical, biological and radiological weapons systems.

They were delivered in mid-April by an Iranian freighter at the Syrian port of Latakia and trucked to Naimah port south of Beirut. There they were hidden in the subterranean hangars belonging to Ahmed Jibril, head of the Palestinian Liberation Front-General Command. Today, the PLF-GC is financed and directed by the Revolutionary Guards. The hangars were constructed in the seventies by East Germany engineers with a protected Mediterranean anchorage and made virtually impenetrable by sea or air.

Gingrich on Cavuto

12 May 2008

Ataturk Quote About Islam

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey: Through the abusive interpretation of ignorant and filthy priests ... Islam, this absurd theology of an immoral Bedouin, is a rotting corpse which poisons our lives.

Chafing Against The Rules They Also Perpetuate

More on the retrograde movement of Arab society from the NY Times. Arabs do not just reject modern values and advancement, but push in the other direction. Read the whole story:

They may chafe against the rules, even at times try to evade them, but they can be merciless in their condemnation of those who flout them too brazenly. And they are committed to perpetuating the rules with their own children.

That suggests that Saudi Arabia’s strict interpretation of Islam, largely uncontested at home by the next generation and spread abroad by Saudi money in a time of religious revival, will increasingly shape how Muslims around the world will live their faith.

To Nader and Enad, prayer is essential. In Enad’s view, jihad is, too, not the more moderate approach that emphasizes doing good deeds, but the idea of picking up a weapon and fighting in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Jihad is not a crime; it is a duty,” Enad said in casual conversation.