30 June 2008

Prizes Encourage Space Development

From Jerry Pournelle via Instapundit: "Obama says McCain was silly to offer his prize. Kennedy didn't offer a prize. He built NASA and had the government spend $30 billion dollars. I don't know what would have happened had Kennedy instead offered $15 billion tax free to the first American to land on the Moon and return, but had he done that it might have worked out better than NASA: we might not have built an enormous standing army of development scientists who conceived Shuttle as full employment insurance. . . . Government can try to influence the future, and should, but government often mucks things up. Prizes and X Projects are ways that have been effective in the past. Of the two, prizes have the least effect on everything else: they don't build bureaucracies, and nothing is paid unless the technology is developed and demonstrated."

Repairing the Economy

Earlier, I had posted on a basic approach we should be taking on the economy. What I said was hardly new, but I think it helps provides a basic approach to analyzing economic news and proposals. For example:

Americans Oppose Income Redistribution to Fix Economy

When given a choice about how government should address the numerous economic difficulties facing today's consumer, Americans overwhelmingly -- by 84% to 13% -- prefer that the government focus on improving overall economic conditions and the jobs situation in the United States as opposed to taking steps to distribute wealth more evenly among Americans.

And this:
America’s tradition of bold national projects has dwindled. With the country’s infrastructure crumbling, it is time to revive it.

In 2005 the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that $1.6 trillion was needed over five years to bring just the existing infrastructure into good repair. This does not account for future needs. By 2020 freight volumes are projected to be 70% greater than in 1998. By 2050 America’s population is expected to reach 420m, 50% more than in 2000. Much of this growth will take place in metropolitan areas, where the infrastructure is already run down.

If America does not act. . . it will have the infrastructure of a third-world country within a few decades. Economic growth will be constricted, and the quality of life will be diminished.

“Make no little plans”, said Daniel Burnham, one of America’s great urban architects. “They have no magic to stir men’s blood.” It’s time to think big again.

The Right Response

From the Times (UK): Al-Qaeda and the Taleban are in retreat, the surge has worked in Iraq and Islamism is discredited. Not a bad haul.
Every death is an unspeakable tragedy. It's right that each time a soldier is killed in action we ask why. Was it really worth it?
The right response to the loss of brave souls such as Corporal Sarah Bryant, the first British woman to die in Afghanistan, is not an immediate call for retreat. It is, first of all, pride; a great, deep conviction that it is on such sacrifice that our own freedoms have always rested. Then, defiance. How foolish is the enemy that it might think our grief is really some prelude to their victory? Finally, confidence. We are prevailing in this struggle. We know it. And everywhere: in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and among Muslims around the world, the enemy knows it too.

29 June 2008

Biofuel use increases poverty

Biofuels are not the answer.

Report here.

Israel Agrees to Prisoner Swap with Hezbollah

How is this not negitiating with terrorists?

Full story here.


Virtually every day now there are disturbing headlines here about the assassination of yet another Mexican official, gangland-style shootouts in broad daylight, the gruesome discoveries of kidnapped and tortured murder victims – many of them beheaded – and police chiefs quitting their jobs and fleeing the country in terror.

Story here.

28 June 2008

Obama doesn't get it

SPEAKING without a text in front of him, Barack Obama betrays a troubling lack of knowledge on important issues - such as the law and terrorism.

The story here.

Hat tip: USS Neverdock

First Newt said it, now Chuck Norris says it. "Drill here. Drill now."

Do not mess with Chuck Norris.

Some people wear Superman pajamas, but Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas. When the boogieman goes to sleep, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris is his own father. "BC" stands for Before Chuck. Chuck Norris does not go hunting; Chuck Norris goes killing. Chuck Norris is so fast, he can run around the world and punch himself in the back of the head. The quickest way to a man's heart is with Chuck Norris's fist. There is no theory of evolution, just a list of animals Chuck Norris allows to live.

Chuck Norris is here.

Dennis Miller on the environment

"Why can't I take terrorism as seriously as Al Gore takes global warming?" Perfect.

Help US Military families with USA Cares

USA Cares exists to help bear the burdens of service by providing military families with financial and advocacy support in their time of need. Remember that freedom isn't free.

USA Cares provides "A Hand Up, Not A Hand Out."

• Assisting wounded warriors and their families
• Preventing home foreclosures and evictions
• Helping with basic needs during financial crisis

Visit USA Cares for more information and to donate.

Quote About Houston

Mrs. Septimus pointed this quote about Houston to me, from Lisa Kleypas, and it's true:

In a state of generally friendly people, Houstonians are the nicest, as long as you don't mess with their property. They have a high regard for property, that is to say land, and they have a particular understanding of it.

As the only major American city with no zoning code to speak of, Houston is an ongoing experiment in the influence of free market forces on land use. You're likely to see strip clubs and triple-X stores cozying up to circumspect office buildings and condos, and shade-tree mechanics and shotgun houses sidled against concrete plazas studded with glass skyscrapers. That's because Houstonians have always preferred real ownership of their own land over letting the government have control over how things ought to be arranged. They'll gladly pay the price for that freedom, even if it results in undesirable businesses springing up like mesquite trees.

More threats from Iran

The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said the country would impose controls on shipping in the vital Gulf oil route if Iran was attacked.

I think it is safe to assume Iran would use anything it can. If the US had nuked Tehran in 1979 like we should have, the world wouldn't be dealing with this now.

Pakistan launches anti-Taliban offensive

Pakistani forces bombarded suspected militant hideouts with mortar shells Saturday as the government launched a major offensive against Taliban fighters threatening the main city in the country's volatile northwest.

Pakistan can not be considered a serious partner to the US war on terror. Half-measures and incompetence are all they have managed in the last 6 years, and this includes the US writing the checks!

ONN Video

Today Now!: How To Pretend You Give A S**t About The Election

26 June 2008

What Happens Next In Zimbabwe?

More of the same:
"The most likely scenario is that Mugabe will go ahead with Friday's election and win it," said political analyst Brian Raftopolous. The economy would continue to decline, as little in the way of aid, investment or reforms would be forthcoming to help the country back on its feet, he added.
Meanwhile, hundreds of opposition party supporters, subject to increasing violence and intimidation, try to flee the country.

Inflation there has hit 4,000,000%:

The official inflation rate was put at 165,000 percent by the government in February, but independent estimates put the real figure closer to 4 million percent.

Zimbabwe is believed to be the only country in the world that now carries out routine financial transactions in dizzying set of quadrillions — one quadrillion is a 1 with 15 zeroes behind it, or 1,000,000,000,000,000.

Photo: IRIN used with permission

Developments with North Korea

They have lied about what they are up to so many times, and since it is so hard to tell what is really going on there, its natural to be skeptical about anything they say.
Show me.
There are a lot of people in our State Department that think just talking so that we can talk some more about talking some more is an accomplishment in itself.
Both Obama and McCain reacted cautiously to the developments today, caution probably the best reaction to anything from North Korea.

Astros pitcher attacks GM

I understand the guy's frustration. Who would want to leave "the show"? ...hitting white balls at batting practice, never handling your own luggage and all that.

However, despite the temptation, I can not come up with a scenario where choking my boss would make a situation better.

Analysis of Obama's Social Security Fix

I thought I had read years ago that removing the upper limit on Social Security contributions would resolve the coming shortfall. So I thought that Obama's plan to do just that would fix the program. It might not:
According to the Social Security Administration actuaries, uncapping all wages subject to the payroll tax (not just those above $250,000) doesn't make much difference to the system's long-run solvency. If the increased payroll tax payments earn increased benefits, then only about one third of the system's 75-year shortfall is addressed. Even if there is no corresponding benefit increase, only about half the shortfall is addressed.
Previous posts on Obama's Social Security plan here and here.

Basic To Do List

What can the government do to encourage economic growth?

1. Reduce regulation and taxes. While both are necessary, and often well-meaning, both should be kept as simple as possible, as all taxes and regulation impose cumulative burdens on our economy.

2. Transportation/communication. The reliable, rapid movement of ideas, goods and people is the cornerstone of our economy.

3. Cheap energy. Not necessarily cheap oil; but abundant, low cost energy is vital to economic growth. Our economy boomed when energy was cheap. The problem is that we don't have alternatives to oil. We need to develop energy flexibility so that when one form of energy become too expensive, we can switch to another.

4. Stability. This allows families and businesses to plan ahead. The economy needs stable prices, a stable currency, and stable property rights.

International economic competition is heating up.
Is our government helping?

Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms

The U.S. Supreme Court in Heller, confirmed that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right. More at SCOTUS blog, here, including links to the text and analysis.

25 June 2008

No Death Penalty for the Rape of a Child

The Supremes have spoken: no execution of child rapists. Discussion on the decision can be found here, where the questions are: Is the Eighth Amendment a general tool for invalidating criminal laws that the Justices think are too punitive and therefore unwise? Or is it only a specific tool for invalidating punishments that are way out of the mainstream?

The dissent:
The Eighth Amendment protects the right of an accused. It does not authorize this Court to strike down federal or state criminal laws on the ground that they are not in the best interests of crime victims or the broader society. The Court’s policy arguments concern matters that legislators should—and presumably do—take into account in deciding whether to enact a capital child-rape statute, but these arguments are irrelevant to the question that is before us in this case. Our cases have cautioned against using “ ‘the aegis of the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause’ to cut off the normal democratic processes,” Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U. S. 304, 323 (2002) (Rehnquist, C. J., dissenting), in turn quoting Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U. S. 153, 176 (1976), (joint opinion of Stewart, Powell, and STEVENS, JJ.), but the Court forgets that warning here.

Link to the text of the decision here.

Both Obama and McCain criticized the decision. Both candidates stated that the decision interfered with the ability of state legislatures to punish the most heinous crimes.

Terror Attack Comment Controversy

What in the world was McCain's advisor thinking when he said this:
The adviser, Charlie Black, was quoted in an interview with Fortune magazine describing the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an “unfortunate event” but adding that: “But his knowledge and ability to talk about it re-emphasized that this is the guy who’s ready to be commander in chief. And it helped us.” The magazine then added: “As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. ‘Certainly it would be a big advantage to him,’ says Black.’’

Not very bright to say things like that, because no matter what you say now, it will look like he wants a terrorist attack to happen.

But after castigating the McCain campaign, CNN turns around and makes the same claim, but in Obama's favor. Not a very nice thing to say either.

Getting Away With It

From the BBC: Look around the world and what you see is one nasty regime after another getting away with it.
The UN is toothless, the EU is gormless and the US has had "the willing" kicked out of it by Iraq and Afghanistan.

Free Speech in Canada in Danger

Toronto Sun asks: Anyone care about free speech?
Speaking hurtful opinions that make people or groups uncomfortable, is a hazard of a free society -- and preferable to having free speech stifled.
The consequences of curbing, restricting or punishing free speech are worse than tolerating what we might not like to hear. Free speech is the lesser of evils.
History has proved that curbing free speech is characteristic of tyranny.
Hat tip: Jihad Watch

24 June 2008

A Different Edwards for V.P.

Houston Chronicle reports that Pelosi is urging Obama to consider Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) as VP:
There's a Texas lawmaker being talked up as a 2008 vice presidential candidate in the nation's capital, and it's not the usual suspect, Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Edwards' most powerful backer is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who on Tuesday urged Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to consider Edwards for the No. 2 slot on the presidential ticket.

Obama and Ethanol

From the NY Times: Obama camp has close ties to ethanol industry.

Mr. Obama is running as a reformer who is seeking to reduce the influence of special interests. But like any other politician, he has powerful constituencies that help shape his views. And when it comes to domestic ethanol, almost all of which is made from corn, he also has advisers and prominent supporters with close ties to the industry at a time when energy policy is a point of sharp contrast between the parties and their presidential candidates.

The replacement of traditional fuels with biofuels has dragged more than 30 million people worldwide into poverty, an aid agency report says.

Our prior post on how ethanol is a bad deal.

Sharapova wins at Wimbledon

Story here. Wimbledon site here.

Crescit Eundo

Congratulations to the Modern Whig Party!
They have announced that they have now grown to over 5,000 members.
Keep up the good work. THE WHIG supports you.

From the second post on THE WHIG:
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.

US Sailors stranded in Hong Kong

More than 100 US sailors were marooned Tuesday in Hong Kong's famous "girlie" bars after their aircraft carrier hoisted anchor and left without them. The sailors were left behind when the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and its support ships decided to leave Sunday because of an approaching tropical storm.

While officers managed to contact most of the men who had been on shore leave in the former British colony since Thursday, more than 100 could not be reached and were left behind.

Cougar vs man

A cougar attacked, killed and partially ate a New Mexico man. Well, yeah.

Story here.

I seem to recall that is what cougars do. I can see shooting the cat if this happened in a neighborhood or near a park or a school, but this guy lived in a trailer out in the middle of nowhere. And he bathed outdoors.

I think this would be an ideal spot to move the people who are living in their cars.

Obama snubs muslims II

As Senator Barack Obama courted voters in Iowa last December, Representative Keith Ellison, the country’s first Muslim congressman, stepped forward eagerly to help.

Mr. Ellison believed that Mr. Obama’s message of unity resonated deeply with American Muslims. He volunteered to speak on Mr. Obama’s behalf at a mosque in Cedar Rapids, one of the nation’s oldest Muslim enclaves. But before the rally could take place, aides to Mr. Obama asked Mr. Ellison to cancel the trip because it might stir controversy. Another aide appeared at Mr. Ellison’s Washington office to explain.

“I will never forget the quote,” Mr. Ellison said, leaning forward in his chair as he recalled the aide’s words. “He said, ‘We have a very tightly wrapped message.’ ”

If Obama can't even unite his followers, how do you suppose he will unite the country? Full story.

23 June 2008

Columbia Professor Fired

From JammieWearingFool: The Columbia professor that started a fervor over a "noose" she claimed she found on her doorknob has been fired for plagiarism.

In a van down by the river!!!

What has happened to Americans? People are taking to living in cars! This is pure laziness. We are the wealthiest nation on the planet. We have more opportunity here than anywhere on earth. If you can't get it together here, there is no hope for you. Maybe your dreams of making a fine living as a dog whisperer haven't been realized. Maybe you should stop smoking dope and playing video games.

I say, let's gather all these hippies up, take them to a third-world country, and trade them for hard working people who actually deserve to be here. They are living like third-world inhabitants, and there are third-world inhabitants who are willing to work hard and better themselves. Citizenship comes with responsibilities!

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

For those who don't know, Pacifica is a small, hard left radio network. They call themselves Progressive and they can get really far out there. I think the whole operation is run by some hold-over hippies stuck in 1968. They have a show by a Nation of Islam minister, a Green Party show, an hour devoted to being a vegan, etc. I sometimes listen to them just to hear their often bizarre take on the world.

When Bill Clinton was President, they criticized him because he was way too conservative for this crowd. There was an effort at one time on the station to have Madeleine Albright indicted for war crimes. You can imagine what they think of Bush. Needless to say, they were very excited about Obama.

Their flagship show is called "Democracy Now". So you can imagine my disbelief when there was actually criticism of Obama this morning for opting out of federal public campaign financing. There was actually a segment on it on their show. One of the guests for the segment was the head of Americans for Campaign Reform. Supposedly bipartisan, when he started making excuses for Obama dropping out, the host Amy Goodman (die hard Progressive) gave the guy a hard time for not sticking to his principles.

AMY GOODMAN: I have to say, it’s interesting to hear campaign finance groups be so uncritical of this decision when this is the very issue that, for example, you, John Rauh, have set up your organization around, Americans for Campaign Reform, and particularly around the issue of clean money and elections and cutting down the role money plays in elections.

AMY GOODMAN: David Brooks had an interesting piece in the New York Times called “The Two Obamas.” He said, “God, Republicans are saps. They think that they’re running against some academic liberal who wouldn’t wear flag pins on his lapel, whose wife isn’t proud of America and who went to some liberationist church where the pastor damned his own country. They think they’re running against some na├»ve university-town dreamer, the second coming of Adlai Stevenson.

“But as recent weeks have made clear, Barack Obama is the most split-personality politician in the country today. On the one hand, there is Dr. Barack, the high-minded, Niebuhr-quoting speechifier who spent this past winter thrilling the Scarlett Johansson set and feeling the fierce urgency of now. But then on the other side, there’s Fast Eddie Obama, the promise-breaking, tough-minded Chicago pol who’d throw you under the truck for votes.”

Now I didn't think much when Obama bailed out of the public financing. It is to his financial advantage to do so, and breaking a pledge is easy to do when you're a politician and have something to gain.

But I forgot that to his supporters, Obama was supposed to be different. To them, he was supposed to be better. He's not of course, but this move may have chipped away at some of the faith people had in him. The story to me is the criticism from the left that has been generated by this move out of the public financing system. It may not immediately hurt him, but the blind, unthinking enthusiasm of his supporters is his biggest asset. Perhaps acting like the politician he certainly is, may over time dampen that enthusiasm.

The Obvious Prediction of the Week Award Goes To...

The U.N.
For going out on a limb and predicting a bad year ahead for Darfur.
Let's all say a prayer for the people of Darfur tonight.

U.S. Ignores Kyoto Treaty, Decreases Emissions While Europe Signs Treaty, Increases Emissions

U.S. "greenhouse emissions" are down, while those in Europe are on the increase. Brilliant. We avoid the costs and restrictions of Kyoto, and manage to pollute less on our own. Someone please tell Al Gore and other hysterical ninnies to shut the hell up. More here from Rachel Lucas.

Democracy for Zimbabwe

From Pajamas Media: The silence of the world grows deafening as Robert Mugabe mercilessly crushes those who dare to oppose him.

Here is something from mtvU.com: Zimbabwe Election: Take Action. They have an online petition to the South African president, and some videos and interviews about the disaster there. Here's one:

NASA Needs to Encourage the Private Development of Space

From Pajamas Media: NASA's plans for the future look like the same plans that have made the agency a bureaucratic dinosaur.

22 June 2008

Do-Nothing Politics

From the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs, an article titled "The Future of American Power". One part of it really hit home with me:

The problem today is that the U.S. political system seems to have lost its ability to fix its ailments. The economic problems in the United States today are real, but by and large they are not the product of deep inefficiencies within the U.S. economy, nor are they reflections of cultural decay. They are the consequences of specific government policies. Different policies could quickly and relatively easily move the United States onto a far more stable footing. A set of sensible reforms could be enacted tomorrow to trim wasteful spending and subsidies, increase savings, expand training in science and technology, secure pensions, create a workable immigration process, and achieve significant efficiencies in the use of energy. Policy experts do not have wide disagreements on most of these issues, and none of the proposed measures would require sacrifices reminiscent of wartime hardship, only modest adjustments of existing arrangements. And yet, because of politics, they appear impossible. The U.S. political system has lost the ability to accept some pain now for great gain later on.

As it enters the twenty-first century, the United States is not fundamentally a weak economy or a decadent society. But it has developed a highly dysfunctional politics. What was an antiquated and overly rigid political system to begin with (now about 225 years old) has been captured by money, special interests, a sensationalist media, and ideological attack groups. The result is ceaseless, virulent debate about trivia -- politics as theater -- and very little substance, compromise, or action. A can-do country is now saddled with a do-nothing political process, designed for partisan battle rather than problem solving.

Progress on any major problem -- health care, Social Security, tax reform -- will require compromise from both sides. It requires a longer-term perspective. And that has become politically deadly. Those who advocate sensible solutions and compromise legislation find themselves being marginalized by their party's leadership, losing funds from special-interest groups, and being constantly attacked by their "side" on television and radio. The system provides greater incentives to stand firm and go back and tell your team that you refused to bow to the enemy. It is great for fundraising, but it is terrible for governing.

Our political dysfunction is evident in the false choices presented by our politics.

Applied to the increase of energy costs, it is as if we can only choose between conservation or drilling, or nuclear or solar power. Why aren't we trying multiple policies to address the problem? Instead of taking action now to reduce the cost of energy while we move longer term to adopt nuclear power, plug-in hybrids, expanding mass transit and carbon capture, the perfect is presented as the enemy of the good.

Reviews: The Utility of Force and God And Gold

I had the good fortune to read both of these books at the same time. Taken together, they help provide a framework for understanding what is going on in the world, and the nature of conflict.

The Utility of Force, is a complex book which provides a quick history of warfare, relates the author's (a retired British officer) experiences and discusses how modern conflict has changed and how we should understand modern conflicts. His basic concept is "war amongst the people". He argues that the concept of mass industrial war is outdated, and current and future conflicts are among the people, in which we are seeking not destruction, but seeking to establish a condition.

War amongst the people is conducted best as an intelligence and information operation, not as one of manoeuvre and attrition in the manner of industrial war.
For it must never be forgotten: war no longer exists. Confrontation, conflict and combat undoubtedly exist all around the world and states still have armed forces which they use as symbols of power. nonetheless, was as cognitively known to most non-combatants, was as battle in a field between men and machinery, war as a massive deciding event in a dispute in international affairs, industrial war -- such war no longer exists. We now are engaged, constantly and in many permutations, in war amongst the people. We must adapt our approach and organize our institutions to this overwhelming reality if we are to triumph in the confrontations and conflicts that we face.
For example, fighting will take place among the civilian population, conflicts will be timeless, we fight so as not to lose the force, the side are non-state actors, and new uses are found for old weapons. There will be an intertwining of the concepts of defense and security. Media strategies must be incorporated into planning, as well as planning for the relationship between the media and the law.

God And Gold, is about the how first the Dutch, then Britain, and now America are responsible for the current trade, financial, and international systems of the world, and how the modern world came to be. The author observes that since 1688, the Anglo-Americans have beaten back every attempt by other powers to create an alternative system of global organization to the Anglo-American "maritime system" of trade and military power. Spain, France, Germany, Russia, all have failed over three centuries to stop the Anglo-America system of power.

By doing what came naturally, by following the logic of their geography, culture, and society, the British and then the Americans happened on a way of managing their affairs in the world that provided for a flexible and durable form of global power suited to their circumstance while committing them to a less difficult set of tasks and conflicts than other leading powers have faced.

For the Anglo-American, the great prize has been and remains the construction of a global system that meets their economic and security needs.

The end is control of the system that binds them all together.

The author make the case that after every triumph, the Anglo-Americans have tried to perfect the world, and have then suffered the worst setbacks. The book isn't a triumphalist screed, but an explanation of why things are the way they are in the world, and an examination of the historical forces that will determine American policy into the future.
Both books are excellent in helping to understand current events and what to expect in the future.

U.S. Embassies at risk

Despite an intensive $4-billion drive to protect U.S. embassies against violence, at least 150 American missions abroad still fall short of security standards put in place after deadly bombings.

The push to secure U.S. diplomatic missions began in earnest after bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania a decade ago, assaults that killed 231 people, including 12 Americans. The security effort took on new urgency after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S., which led to government-wide vulnerability reviews.

Its a decade since the embassy bombings and going on 7 years since the WTC attack. We have been lucky so far. Congress needs to spend the money to correct the problems or close the embassies and bring the diplomats home.

Maybe with that $54M we have left over we can develop bombs which are magnetically attracted to Iran

The Navy's newest attack submarine, the New Hampshire, was christened Saturday, delivered eight months ahead of schedule and $54 million under budget.

The New Hampshire was christened by the widow of a pilot killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

I guess intimidation tactics work

Zimbabwe opposition leader pulls out of runoff.

The only real surprise is that the opposition leader is still alive.

Freedom of Speech

An excellent article on free speech at Political Cortex by a self-described "left-wing ideologist" wherein he finds common ground with a right-winger. Click here for the article that prompted the response..

An extreme right-wing ideologist might wish to enact laws prohibiting the burning of a flag or the utterance of "profanities"; many extreme left-wing ideologists, on the other hand, can regularly be counted on to wish prohibited the type of speech most commonly referred to nowadays as "hate speech" -- that which is derogatory or offensive to certain groups of people (usually maligned minorities or religious groups).
The laughable irony being, of course, that the same people whom a left-wing ideologist would wish to contradict in most cases would, should laws against hate speech arise, be empowered by those very laws to agitate for their own brands of prohibited speech. The tenuous rationale behind banning hate speech would very quickly -- and logically -- be applied to other types of speech. Call it the epitome of oxymoronic concepts: "Limited freedom."

There is no such thing as limited freedom when it comes to speech. If a society commits itself to the right of its members to say whatever they wish without fear of legal reprisal, that society must accept the inevitability of certain of its members saying things that offend other members of that society.

With freedom of speech under assault in Canada under the guise of protecting the citizenry from "hate speech", it is important to remember why our bill of rights is so important.

Another point to remember is that free speech also lets us know who not to listen to. When you hear someone go off on how "the holocaust never happened" or "9/11 was an inside job" or some such, you know that you no longer have to pay that person any attention, nor take their views into account. In Europe, and now apparently in Canada, people with such views will know to keep such thoughts to themselves. Oh no -- it is better for every extreme crazy to spout whatever nasty thought enters into their fevered brains. The better to know you. And the better to ignore you.

21 June 2008

Massachusetts Tax Revolt

A voter's initiative in Massachusetts to repeal the state income tax seems likely to be on the November ballot. The repeal would remove 40% of the state budget. The chances of it passing are apparently high. I find this remarkable for a state with the reputation of favoring big government like Massachusetts.

Texas does not have a state income tax, and it's a great relief when you move here from another state. Although property and sales taxes are high, not having to file a state income tax return is a great benefit.

I only found out about this on Samizdata, a blog out of the U.K.! A search for "Massachusetts income tax" only produced a couple of articles. Talk about being ignored by the national media.

Iran: Attack By Israel Impossible!

From the BBC: Iran has said it considers a military attack on its nuclear facilities by Israel as "impossible".


You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Wiretapping Measure Advances

The House passed a new wiretapping law with bipartisan support. The measure must now be reconciled with the Senate version passed last February.
The bill requires approval by the secret FISA court of procedures for intercepting foreigners' e-mails and telephone calls. Spying on U.S. citizens, including those overseas, would require individual warrants from the same court.

Discussion of its provisions at The Volokh Conspiracy.

You Knew It Was Coming

Sigh. Obama claims in a speech that if you are against him, its because he has a funny name and he's black.

FOD Video

20 June 2008

Article About the Modern Whig Party

An article about the Modern Whig Party. There's also some comments and discussion.

The Modern Whig Party aims to be a centrist alternative to Democratic liberalism and Republican conservatism. Its Web site says the party is the “fastest growing mainstream political party” in the United States.

Candidate's VP Picks

Latest word is that McCain is leaning towards Minnesota Governor Pawlenty. McCain needs a more exciting pick, like Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, or an already national figure that appeals to moderates.

As for Obama, if he were to pick Kansas Gov. Sebelius, it would quiet those pushing for Hillary to be his running mate.

Israel Rehearses for Attack on Iran

From The Telegraph (UK): Israel has carried out a full rehearsal of an air assault on Iran's nuclear sites involving scores of aircraft, American officials have said.

The target of the exercise was 900 miles from Israel, roughly the same distance as Iran's nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz.

As many as 100 F16 and F15 warplanes were involved in flying long-range missions supported by air refuelling tankers. They were alongside specially configured Israeli helicopters with long-range fuel tanks which practised rescuing downed combat aircrew.

Having created so much domestic political opposition with the US-led attack on Iraq, President Bush is unlikely to be able to cobble together in the last seven months of his presidency the necessary support at home for a US-led attack.

But an Israeli-led attack, tacitly allowed by US commanders responsible for Iraqi airspace, is something that would not need domestic American political support.

Disgraceful Farm Bill Becomes Law Over Veto

Congress overrode Bush's veto and passed the $300,000,000,000.00 Farm Bill into law.

I like the analysis by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader which asks: Why does such execrable legislation command such widespread support?

Notwithstanding widespread and scathing criticism, the farm bill has overwhelming bipartisan political support. The presidential veto easily was overridden. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama support the farm bill.

James Madison's brilliant analysis of faction in The Federalist No. 10 argues that in a republic the pernicious influence of factions is limited by, among other things, the competition of other factions. If there are many factions, it should be difficult for any one faction to achieve the votes needed to pass its pet legislation. However, sometimes competition among factions is weak.

Competition among factions is weak when benefits are concentrated and costs are dispersed.

Recognizing that legislative and other governmental failures are inescapable should cool one's ardor for governmental solutions to societal problems. Voters must recognize the natural and inherent limitations of government. They must understand that forces promoting poor policy are part and parcel of democratic government. Finally, voters must rediscover the reasons for and appreciation of limited government that was so profoundly discerned by our founding fathers.

Seventy years of farm and other special interest legislation should persuade almost everyone, Republican or Democrat, to resist the seduction of golden tongues that continually whisper: "I have a government program that will help you. Vote for me."

Video -- How the Bill Became a Law:

Seventh Marine Has Charges Dropped in Haditha Action

From the Denverpost.com:

Yesterday’s good news about the dismissal of all charges against Lt Colonel Jeffrey Chessani is ruined by this news: Incredibly enough, the prosecution has appealed the decision so Chessani is not out of the woods yet. In fact, he may be have to go through another trial.
“We would hope that after years of litigation they would look at their track record, which is 0-7 of eight for the prosecution on this so-called massacre, and they would say ‘enough is enough,’” Rooney told me this morning.

More here:

The Times, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa, and the rest of the anti-war drum-pounders who fueled the smear campaign against the troops two years ago should hang their hands in shame. They won't, of course. Perpetuating the "cold-blooded Marines" narrative means never having to say you're sorry.

Previous post: Sixth Marine Aquitted for Haditha Action -- Now Waiting for Obama and Murtha to Aplogize for Announcing that the Marines Were Guilty

Elektratig: The Whigs vs. Modern Liberals

Elektratig: The Whigs vs. Modern Liberals

19 June 2008

Basic Research

From LGF: Democrats Hire Radical Islamic Group to Register Voters - Fraud Ensues

Are the Democrats so desperate to get Barack Obama elected that they’ll climb into bed with one of the most notorious radical Islamic groups in the world—a group that is openly dedicated to destroying Western civilization and establishing a global caliphate?
It would seem so.

You know, if the campaigns would use Google before signing these people up, it would prevent these kinds of problems.

Recently, McCain had his own problem arising from a failure to Google when he had to cancel a fundraiser in Texas because the host was a former Republican candidate for governor who made a joke about rape years ago when running against Ann Richards:
The McCain people said [Clayton William's] "lie back" joke was news to them, even though it made national news and has been floating around for 18 years. You expect me to believe that? Don't the clowns at McCain headquarters know how to Google? How could they not know about Williams' most infamous political moment?

OK, OK, OK, I Will Say Something Nice About Obama

Apparently, he eats bacon. Via Althouse From The View:

Joy asks Michelle what she has for breakfast, and she says:

"Toast, fruit, and I do my protein as: bacon. We're bacon people."

Joy does a mini-cheer: "Bacon! Bacon!" The audience shows enthusiasm.

Somers in all seriousness says if you're going to have bacon, you should have Bob Evans Canadian Bacon. Michelle and just about everyone laughs at her for that absurd suggestion. Somers also recommends turkey bacon and "smart bacon" — and much grumbling is heard. "Smart bacon" is soy. Michelle is all "soy, sounds good" as she elbows Joy Behar. Those 2 seem to be bonding over bacon. Whoopi sneaks over to join the group: "I'm just going to say leave the bacon alone. We'll eat anything, but don't touch the bacon." Ha ha. The health nannying is shot to hell. "

Does Obama eat bacon?" Joy asks. Michelle: "He will eat the bacon." Ha ha.

Popular &. Electoral Votes

I mentioned yesterday how increasing the size of the House of Representatives would reduce the chances of the winner of the popular vote for President not receiving the majority of the electoral college.

Turns out there was a story at the Politico discussing the chances of that happening again. The article discussed the concerns it could happen to Obama, but mentions that others think it more likely to happen to McCain.

The story at the Politico links to FiveThirtyEight.com, which has some serious statistical analysis of the upcoming election. Their analysis shows that the electoral college works against Republicans, contrary to the conventional wisdom.

More on this concern at Some Thoughts On A Hypothetical Constitutional Crisis. An excerpt:
The momentum to abolish the electoral college has abated in mainstream debates, and the Democratic Party, not wanting to look like sore-winner-losers, never took up the cause even though Al Gore received more votes than George W. Bush.
One Republican who has advised the McCain campaign thinks the country "can stand that sort of thing once every 100 years, but not twice in 8 years—especially with the Republicans winning every time."

17 girls from Gloucester, Mass High School carry out pregnancy pact

"Some girls seemed more upset when they weren't pregnant than when they were," said Gloucester High School principal Joseph Sullivan.

The 17 girls who successfully became pregnant are as young as 15.

If we can't educate our kids any better than this, we should just quit.

18 June 2008

More Iranian Sanctions

Efforts are underway, in the U.S. and in Europe, to tighten sanctions against Iran. But of course, since the Iranians can read, they have recently withdrawn about $75 billion from European banks in advance of the sanctions. Banks in China, the UAE, Malaysia, and India can still do business with Iran.

There is some question as to whether additional sanctions will be effective to change the direction of the Iranian regime:
[T]he high price of oil is making the Iranians confident they can outlast any sanctions threat. As for the ultimate military option, Cox says the Europeans are vehemently against it. Iran insists it wants to develop nuclear power for peaceful means only, but many in the international community do not believe that and fear Iran could soon have a nuclear weapon.
The resistance against using military force against Iran is building. More here. Even though talking to Iran doesn't seem to be producing much results.

The Boston Globe passed along this plan as a "solution":
[A]n international consortium would run a uranium enrichment facility on Iranian soil. This could provide Iran with a supply of nuclear fuel for the 20 reactors it wants to build by 2035. And if Iran's leaders rejected participation in such a consortium, their bluff would be called.

But they don't specify what should be done after this bluff was called.


Apparently, there is a restaurant in California called Marini's that sells chocolate-covered bacon (CCB) pictured here. >>>

But I know what you are thinking -- I'm nowhere near California!

We wouldnt bring this idea to your attention, only to frustrate you.
So THE WHIG tracked down how to make your very own chocolate covered bacon.

Procedure here. Proceed at your own risk.

Turnabout is Fair Play

Not long ago, Chinese officials sat across conference tables from American officials and got an earful.
Chinese officials seem to be galled by the apparent hypocrisy of Americans telling them what to do while the American economy is at best stagnant. China, on the other hand, has maintained its feverish growth.
In the last six weeks alone, a senior banking regulator blamed Washington’s “warped conception” of market regulation for the subprime mortgage crisis that is rattling the world economy; the Chinese envoy to the World Trade Organization called on the United States to halt the dollar’s unchecked depreciation before the slide further worsens soaring oil and food prices; and Chinese agencies denounced a federal committee charged with vetting foreign investments in the United States, saying the Americans were showing “hostility” and a “discriminatory attitude,” not least toward the Chinese.

Increase the Size of Congress

Should we increase the size of Congress? Your first reaction is probably the same as mine was -- who needs more politicians? But we could use more representation.

An increase in the size of the House of Representatives could open up the institution, could make it more responsive, and could make more districts competitive. There is no reason for 435 members except inertia. A simple change in federal law would provide for the increase. Congress was intended to grow with the nation, and the failure to increase its size has made House districts very large. With a current population of over 300 million, the current size of the House of Representatives is too small.
As the U.S. population grew, so too did the supply of representation. By 1911, the year the House increased its membership to the current level, 92 million Americans enjoyed a per capita representation — the total population divided by the number of House members in any given year — of roughly 210,000.
After the 2000 census, each member of the House will have to represent an average of 650,000 people. Consider that the next time you try to set up an appointment with your “representative.”
An added benefit would be to correct the imbalances in the electoral college, helping to prevent the situation in 2000, when Gore won the popular vote but lost in the electoral vote.

A proposal called the "Wyoming Rule" would provide for the state with the smallest population to get one House seat, and that state's population would serve as the population basis for House districts. Using the "Wyoming Rule" would provide for a current House of 568 representatives. The "Wyoming Rule" would also provide automatically for future population growth.

Many countries have lower chambers larger than our House. The US House is one the smallest in the world among established democracies with over around 60 million residents. Britain has 646, France has 577, Germany has 613, Japan has 480, all with smaller populations, and also demonstrating that assemblies can function with more than 435 members.

More here, advocating a House of 650 representatives. Advocating for an even larger House here. I think that this proposal goes a bit too far.

How House seats are currently determined for each state here.

Obama campaign excludes Muslim women wearing hijabs from camera's view of podium

A young Muslim woman said she and another woman were refused seats directly behind Barack Obama — and in front of TV cameras — at a Detroit rally because they wear head scarfs.

Hebba Aref said Wednesday that she and Shimaa Abdelfadeel were among 20,000 supporters who gathered to see Obama on Monday at the Joe Louis Arena when the groups they were with were separately invited by Obama campaign volunteers to sit behind the podium. But Aref said the volunteers told members of both parties in separate discussions that women wearing hijabs, the traditional Muslim head scarves, weren't included in the invitation and couldn't sit behind the podium.

Aref, a 25-year-old lawyer, said a member of her group was told by a volunteer that she could not invite Aref because of "a sensitive political climate."

Full story here.

A Party In Freefall

In writing the post below, I read Scot Faulkner's 3Jun editorial in the Washington Times about the disaster the Republicans are heading into in November:

[Republicans] grasp at straws about America's racial undercurrents and the Democratic Party's uncanny ability to lose elections. These retreats into fantasy will not prevent the tsunami that is heading toward the party on Nov. 4.

The Republican Party seems like a random collection of egos and personal agendas. Many of these personal agendas have embraced Big Government and Big Brother with more zeal than the most ardent leftist. They see dispensing favors and funds as their ticket to electoral bliss. They ignore the epic failures of the Bush presidency, and those of the recent Republican era in Congress, in the hopes that Americans will somehow do the same.

Review: Naked Emperors: The Failure of the Republican Revolution

Read this book and despair. I just finished reading Naked Emperors: The Failure of the Republican Revolution, by the former House of Representatives Chief Administrative Officer Scot M. Faulkner.

The book is an up-close account of the Republican takeover of the House in 1994, efforts to reform the operations of the House, the opposition to the reforms, the failure of the Republicans to fully realize their once-ambitious agenda, and the degeneration of House Republicans into parodies of the dysfunctional Democrats they replaced.

The book is partly about settling scores, partly an eye-witness account of politics, and partly an explanation of his disillusionment with the Republican Party.

Some quotes from the book:

Rep. Jim Nussle (R-IA): "If we are naive enough to keep running business as usual, we will meet with the same demise that the Democrats met this time."

Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA): "If this just degenerates, after an historic election, back into the usual baloney of politics in Washington, and pettiness in Washington, then the American people, I believe, will move toward a third party in a massive way. I think they are fed up with Washington, they are fed up with its games."

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. The Republicans in Congress sure didn't seem to learn many lessons, and quickly fell into the same habits as the Democrats had prior to 1994.

The author point this out towards the end observing that the country would be much better off if everyone would learn not just "from the implosion of the Republican Party but also from the multiple mistakes made by both political parties in the Congress." And that they must stop turning a blind eye to the larceny and foibles of their own colleagues.

Towards the end the author asks: "Are we destined to be disappointed in our elected officials and to be disenchanted with the entire system of representative democracy? Are we dammed to watch the same set of flawed players recycle and repackage themselves to then lead us through yet another round of disappointment and disillusionment?"

He observes that a small elite actually runs the nation. These "oligarchs" co-opt new infusions of House members and staffs because the newcomers give in to the temptations of public office.

The author offers some suggestions for improvement: removing the influence of money by the public funding of congressional campaigns; limiting federal spending to a fixed percentage of GDP; greater public access to information online; and better use of technology to allow greater public access and participatory decision making.

Blogger arrests on the rise

A study of blogger arrests from 2007 shows that arrests of online bloggers, particularly those seeking to expose their government as corrupt, political issues, or human rights abuses, have been steadily on the rise - especially in what are considered repressive societies.

According to the study, at least 64 known arrests have resulted since 2003, but 3 times more were arrested in 2007 than in 2006.

Story here.

Michelle Obama to get a makeover

I find it curious that the necessity for a personality makeover is so public. Why not just make the changes and not publicize it? Maybe we wouldn't notice? Even Mrs. Obama's friends refer to her as "the taskmaster", which is simply a nice way of saying she's a bitch.

This serves to illustrate that we can spin anything these days. Everything is choreographed. All we have to do is put her on The View and give her some softer things to talk about; have her make reference to how poor she was growing up in Chicago, have her talk about the kids, and hope, and change, and JFK.

Give me a break! She's an America hating, witch despite her overwhelming success here and her free ivy league education. Am I wrong?

17 June 2008

Brothels feel the pain of economic slump

Nevada's legally operated brothels, which typically generate $50 million annually, have seen business drop 45% in the last 18 months. It appears some business incentives are needed for business time.

DNC member vows support for McCain

The story on LGF.

DNC delegate stripped of her delegate status after stating she will vote for McCain over Obama. Can you imagine an RNC delegate jumping ship because Romney didn't get the nod?

17June -- Poll Results

From ABC News, the latest poll results:

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll underscores the conundrum of the 2008 presidential election: If everything is so good for Barack Obama, why isn't everything so good for Barack Obama?

Among all Americans, Obama leads by a fairly narrow 6 points; among those most likely to vote -- an estimate that it's admittedly early to make -- the two are locked in a dead heat.
In generic preference in local congressional elections, by contrast, the Democrats lead the Republicans by 15 points, a wide 52-37 percent, among all adults.
Obama's advantage vs. McCain is about the same as in an ABC/Post poll last month -- no bounce from Obama's victory in the long-fought Democratic nomination campaign.

Obama, more broadly, also faces significant unease with his resume, with just half of Americans, 50 percent, saying he's experienced enough to serve as president. Forty-six percent think that's not so, a large number to lose on the basic question of qualifications.

Both also have problems with their base. Full story here.

16 June 2008

Planets Common

About a third of all the Sun-like stars in our galaxy harbor modestly sized planets, according to a study announced Monday by a team of European astronomers.

About one in 14 stars harbors a massive giant planet like Jupiter or Saturn, Dr. Mayor estimated. If in fact one in three harbors a Neptune or super-Earth, that is an appealing situation for astronomers and others who would like someday to find someplace livable or even someone living Out There.

Full story here.

Developments in Zimbabwe

The story in Zimbabwe continues. When I started posting on Zimbabwe, it looked like there might have been hope for peaceful change in a country where the tragedy is ruling-party made. Now hopes are fading that peaceful change will take place.

Mugabe threatens: How can a ballpoint fight with a gun?

Who is behind the regime?

Analysis: Democracy is a sham, the economy is a basket case, political repression rules. Change must come to Zimbabwe.

After the June 27th elections, a flood of refugees is expected.

The BBC has been covering Zimbabwe a good bit. They have a feature called "Harare Diary" where a local citizen relates what life is like in Harare with the uncertainty and the 165,000+% inflation. Notably, several people have written in to ask why people there have not risen up in mass protests to overthrow the government.

And via LGF, a story in the N.Y. Sun on the how the Carter Administration helped bring Mugabe to power.

14 June 2008

Does Obama Have The Experience To Be President?

Former President Jimmy Carter: Obama does not have the "proven substance of experience to be President." Thanks to USS Neverdock.

Former President Bill Clinton: “When is the last time we elected a president based on one year of service in the Senate before he started running?” From the N.Y. Times. He starts discussing the one year in the Senate at 5:00, with the above quote at 7:20.

Flag Day

Flag images from Flags of the World.
More from wizbang.

Iraqis Moving Into Amarah

I don't post more about Iraq not because I'm not interested but because I don't trust the reporting coming out of Iraq. But apparently, the Iraqis are preparing an offensive:

Iraqi security forces are preparing for a new offensive targeting what they refer to as "outlaws" in the southern city of Amarah.

More here:

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called on outlaws on Saturday to surrender to authorities in a new government security crackdown on militias in southern Iraq.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

From TigerHawk, a lovely picture of an Ohio judge who recently decided that the death penalty there was unconstitutional.
The judge's decision is discussed here.
This judge is an ignorant fool to honor Che Guevara. More on the cult of Che from Slate:

The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster.

Che presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's "labor camp" system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims.

Credo Quia Absurdum Est III

The UN Human Rights Council said the UK must "consider holding a referendum on the desirability or otherwise of a written constitution, preferably republican".

The council has 29 members including Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Sri Lanka.

The resulting report said Britain should have a referendum on the monarchy and the need for a written constitution with a bill of rights.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "With so many human rights abuses around the world the UN should be busy reporting on issues of starvation, execution and the denial of the vote to huge numbers of people around the world. Saudi Arabia and Cuba should pay a little more attention to their own human rights record."

Syrian representatives accused the UK of discriminating against Muslims and Iran complained about the UK's record on tackling sexual discrimination.

As a Whig, I am hardly a monarchist, but I thought this story was interesting to show how absurd things can be at the UN. Iran complaining about sexual discrimination in Britian. Saudi Arabia, Cuba, China, and Sri Lanka complaining to Great Britian about governance and human rights?

Human Rights Watch doesn't think much of the U.N Human Rights Council.

More on the absurd United Nations Human Rights Council here. They usually keep themselves busy condemning the United States and Israel.

Social Security Doughnut

I had previously posted about the candidates' Social Security plans back on 9 June. I mentioned that Obama had mentioned a "doughnut hole" plan for increasing contributions. Obama has elaborated on his idea. The cap at $102,000 would remain. But for income over $250,000.00, the social security tax would be reimposed. Story here. Powerline News has more.

Of course, as mentioned in the earlier post, this would remove from social security the concept of contributions relating to social security benefits, and would remove any remaining vestige of a retirement supplementary scheme to a money-shifting welfare program. While this plan would remove the impending shortfall, it could have more long-term political implications for Social Security.

Another approach, besides the preferred method of privatization, would be to peg Social Security increases to the rate of inflation instead of to wage growth. Fred Thompson offered this proposal and it died along with his campaign. This would also eliminate the projected shortfall, but is viewed as a political non-starter, as opponents claim Social Security would be "slashed".

Political journalist Tim Russert dies

Tim Russert, NBC News’ Washington bureau chief and the moderator of “Meet the Press,” died Friday after suffering a heart attack at the bureau. He was 58.

Store here.

I liked Tim Russert because he was smart and respectable. He reported on politics without making obvious references to his personal views of the candidates or whom he personally supported. He will be missed.

12 June 2008

Spanking in Court

Does this happen anywhere else in America but Texas?

Los Fresnos Justice of the Peace Gustavo Garza was sued by three families who say Garza left them with no real option when he told them they must pay a fine for their children's transgressions or paddle them in open court.

Garza is "basically turning the courtroom into something more resembling the Jerry Springer Show than a court of law."

More here.

Oil Everywhere But On The Market

From the WSJ:

Amid $135 oil, it ought to be an easy, bipartisan victory to lift the political restrictions on energy exploration and production. Record-high fuel costs are hitting consumers and business like a huge tax increase. Yet the U.S. remains one of the only countries in the world that chooses as a matter of policy to lock up its natural resources. The Chinese think we're insane and self-destructive, while the Saudis laugh all the way to the bank.

Before reading that article, I'm not sure I fully realized just how much oil is underground the U.S.A. I mean I knew it was a lot, but wow. Check out the post below for the uses the Saudis have for our money. Nice.

Saudi Government Funds Hate Academy

Textbooks at a private Islamic school in northern Virginia teach students that it is permissible for Muslims to kill adulterers and converts from Islam, according to a federal investigation released Wednesday.

Other passages in the school's textbooks state that "the Jews conspired against Islam and its people" and that Muslims are permitted to take the lives and property of those deemed "polytheists."

The passages were found in selected textbooks used during the 2007-08 school year by the Islamic Saudi Academy, which teaches 900 students in grades K-12 at two campuses in Alexandria and Fairfax and receives much of its funding from the Saudi government.

Full story here.

Supreme Court Gitmo Ruling

An excellent discussion of the recent Supreme Court Gitmo Detainee ruling over at Professor Bainbridge.com. The text of the decision is here.

From the majority opinion (We gotta be free):

Security subsists, too, in fidelity to freedom’s first principles. Chief among these are freedom from arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by adherence to the separation of powers.

From the minority opinion (The Constitution is not a suicide pact):
The game of bait-and-switch that today’s opinion plays upon the Nation’s Commander in Chief will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.
The more interesting issue at play here, however, is whether or not Congress can limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to even be able to review these cases. Section 2 of Article III of the Constitution states:
In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.
One of the questions before the court was whether or not Congress had limited the ability of the Federal Courts to even hear these challenges. A concern is that the court would disregard the plain language of the Constitution and either prohibit or work around this possible limit to its own power. If the court were read this Section in a very limited away, then there may be no way for Congress to limit the Supreme Court's powers. Professor Bainbridge asks:
Why wasn’t the revised statute struck down today construed to create such an exception? And, if it did not, what is to stop Congress from doing so now (other than political reality)?

Who's Behind Obama?

A guide to the main players in Barack Obama's aspiring administration.

11 June 2008

Pakistan Says U.S. Coalition Forces Killed 11 Troops

I seem to recall these were the same people who were dancing in the streets on 9/11/01.

Freedom Chipped Away

Freedom of speech under serious legal assault in Canada.

But liberty is under threat in America, too, in the national capital, with police checkpoints set up at night:
D.C. police set up a vehicle checkpoint Saturday night in a neighborhood reeling from gun violence as civil liberties groups threaten legal action.
Police stopped motorists traveling through the main thoroughfare of Trinidad, a neighborhood near the National Arboretum in northeast Washington.
Police checked drivers' ID and turned away those who didn't have a legitimate purpose in the area, such as a church visit or doctor's appointment.
The D.C. gun ban reduces crime doesn't it? The one constitutional infringement produces another infringement.

How can these police checkpoints be legal? Would you want to be stopped while you are traveling, and whenever the police want be forced to produce ID and explain why you want to go somewhere? Do you want such police checkpoints to become routine?

A review and discussion of the constitutionality of these intrusive police checkpoints can be found at The Volokh Conspiracy, where the conclusion is that such general-purpose checkpoints are unconstitutional. The Supreme Court case City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32 (2000) would seem to prohibit such general crime-fighting police checkpoints:
If we were to rest the case at this high level of generality, [however], there would be little check on the ability of the authorities to construct roadblocks for almost any conceivable law enforcement purpose. Without drawing the line at roadblocks designed primarily to serve the general interest in crime control, the Fourth Amendment would do little to prevent such intrusions from becoming a routine part of American life.

The Internet Is for Porn

You can't make this stuff up:

A federal judge overseeing an obscenity trial exploring the extreme fringe of pornography posted explicit photos and videos on his personal Web site, a newspaper reported Wednesday. Kozinski, chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who has since blocked public access to the site, said he didn't believe the images were obscene.

The revelation about Kozinski came as opening statements were under way in the trial of Ira Isaacs, a businessman accused of breaking U.S. obscenity laws by distributing pornographic movies that depict extreme fetishes, including bestiality.
Isaacs' attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, told the judge he opposes recusal.

More from Slashdot:

Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, acknowledged that he had posted the materials, but says he believed the site to be for personal storage only, and not accessible to the public, though he does acknowledge sharing some of the material with friends.

The files included images of masturbation, public sex, contortionist sex, a transsexual striptease, a photo of naked women on all fours painted to look like cows, and a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal. The latter two are especially ironic in that the trial involves the distribution of allegedly obscene sexual fetish videos depicting bestiality, among other things, by Ira Isaacs, an L.A. filmmaker."

Didn't catch the Avenue Q reference? Audio here. Video here..

Obama VP Committee Chairman Resigns

It's appropriate that Johnson resigned, but it all could have been avoided if Obama had made a better choice in the first place. See earlier post on the subject on THE WHIG.

Was it a rookie mistake? If so how many more rookie mistakes before it becomes a disaster? If it wasn't a rookie mistake, it must be a bad habit.

I thought Obama was different

Last month, Sen. Barack Obama turned to James A. Johnson, a former Fannie Mae chief executive and Washington insider since the Carter administration, to lead the vetting of potential running mates for the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee.

James Johnson received more than $2 million in home loans below average market rates from Countrywide Financial, a partner of Fannie Mae and a leading purveyor of the kind of subprime mortgages that spawned a national housing crisis.

"He's tagged himself as a different kind of politician," said Republican strategist Mark Corallo. "He's supposed to transcend party, transcend politics. He's exploited that more than anyone in recent memory, and it becomes demoralizing to all the starry-eyed Obamaphiles who are saying, 'I thought he was different.' "

Full story here.