The Blogging Forecast is looking very dismal this week, folks. My apologies in advance. It's not likely I'll get anything posted, but something may slip out.
In the meantime, go amuse yourselves with Dinosaur Comics.
"Opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making." -- John Milton
The Blogging Forecast is looking very dismal this week, folks. My apologies in advance. It's not likely I'll get anything posted, but something may slip out.
We haven't been home owners that long, so I don't know how unusual this is. But we just got a notice in the mail that, if I'm reading it correctly, states that we have been assessed nearly $4,000 in street repairs. Yes, our street needs it badly, but where does the city think that we and all our neighbors are going to get $4,000 each? This ain't a ritzy neighborhood.
Peggy Noonan says this is how you know Hillary is running for Presient.
Ten days ago a reporter interviewed her in the halls of the Senate . . . and asked if she planned to run for president. She did not say, "I'm too busy serving the people of New York to think about the future." She did not say, "Oh, I already have a heckuva lot on my plate." She said, "I have more than I can say grace over right now."
I have more than I can say grace over right now. What a wonderfully premeditated ad lib for the Age of Red State Dominance. I suggested a few weeks ago that Mrs. Clinton was about to get very, very religious. But her words came across as pious and smarmy, like Tammy Faye with a law degree. Maybe she still thinks in stereotypes; maybe she thinks that's what little Christian ladies talk like while they stay home baking cookies. Whatever, it was almost as good as her saying, "I'm running, is this not obvious to even the slowest of you?"
Owen over at Boots and Sabers recently criticized the Wisconsin DNR for forcing Eau Claire-based Menards, Inc. to move jobs out of the state. Not only has Menards announced that it would seek to build in Belgrade, MN, but it also announced plans to expand a plant in Plano, IL, rather than in Eau Claire.
DNR officials insisted they were working with Menards on the project and were stunned when the company issued the press release. It’s common for companies to rework plans after getting guidance from the DNR, said Scott Humrickhouse, director of the DNR’s west-central region.
The DNR ultimately ends up approving 80 percent of applications for wetlands fills, he said.
“We thought we were working with them toward a mutually agreeable solution,” Humrickhouse said. “It’s pretty typical on a project this big that you’re going to have some give and take.”
The DNR said the Truax Prairie watershed drains into a series of connected wetlands, including two under the footprint of the proposed building.
Menards has been prosecuted by the DNR for violating environmental laws, including a case hotly contested by Menards scheduled for trial this spring. Last fall the company was charged in Eau Claire County Court after authorities said Menards employees flushed hazardous materials down a drain in a maintenance shop at its Eau Claire distribution center.
File this one under "How Stupid Do They Think We Are?"
A “Law & Order” episode airing tonight might hit a nerve for people in northwestern Wisconsin, but an NBC spokeswoman said it’s not based on the Sawyer County tragedy.
“ ‘Law & Order’ is totally fictional,” spokeswoman Jeannette Ketoen said. “It’s ripped from the headlines, but it’s not based on what has happened in your area.”
Barron County Sheriff Thomas Richie said the episode hits too close to home.
. . .
Richie said it made him sick to see previews for tonight’s hauntingly familiar “Law & Order” episode.
“This isn’t TV material, this is real life for the people up here,” he said.
But Ketoen said the plot has nothing to do with the shootings in Sawyer County.
“If you watch the show you’ll see it’s totally fictional,” Ketoen said. “Perhaps the same thing has happened somewhere else.”
Eau Claire attorney Harry Hertel said potential jurors in Sawyer County who see the episode might wonder about the facts of the real case and be tainted.
“You certainly hope that people will decipher that,” Hertel said. “A substantial risk in airing the show is that they will lose potential jurors in Sawyer County if that is where the case is held.”
I just got done watching that "Law and Order" episode featuring an incident based on last November's hunting massacre in Sawyer County near my home town. While the situation in the episode was eerily similar to the Sawyer County killings, the episode focused more on the actions of another hunter who pursued the killer. There was no attempt to explain the motives for the killings in the episode, except for the suggestion that it might be a disagreement over a tree stand. Nor was there any racial aspect to the incident as depicted.
Greg over at "What Attitude Problem" passes along this list from Chuck Colson, outlining what Colson feels are the top ten moral issues facing America today. It should come as no surprise that Colson puts "Sanctity of Life" at #1. Colson doesn't limit this to mean only abortion, but defines this as "preserving sanctity of life by resisting the encroachment of abortion, euthanasia, cloning, and embryonic stem cell research."
[The bill] takes advantage of the public’s confusion about cloning to sell the moral equivalent of snake oil. To understand why this is the case, we need to understand cloning. It’s a process known as “somatic cell nuclear transfer,” or SCNT.
In SCNT, a “biotechnologist removes the nucleus from a mature human egg.” He replaces that nucleus with “nucleus of a body cell from [a] DNA donor. . . . A little shot of electricity comes next, and if all goes well, a new human cloned embryo comes into being.”
While all of this is much easier said than done, the important part is that “there is no more cloning to be done since a new human organism now exists.”
bill, like similar legislation in Washington , does nothing to prevent SCNT. All it would do is prohibit implanting the cloned embryo “with the purpose of producing a human being.” But since a human being has already been produced, when they use the words producing a human being, what the sponsors mean is bringing the cloned embryo to birth. Anything short of that is permissible under this bill. New Jersey
You could clone human embryos and harvest stem cells, or you could grow fetuses for medical experiments, or let embryos gestate for nine months, abort them, and harvest the organs. [Wesley Smith, writing in National Review] gives these moral horrors a fitting name: “fetal farming.” People in the state of
have been misled into thinking that the bill would prevent the advent of a “Brave New World.” Instead, as Smith says, it ushers it in. Washington
In other news, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Bush Administration's challenge of Oregon's assisted-suicide law -- the only law of its kind in the country.
Oregon's Death With Dignity Act, the administration's target, was approved twice by the state's voters and took effect in November 1997. According to the state, in a brief filed last month, 171 patients have used the law to administer lethal doses of federally regulated drugs that their doctors prescribed for them.
In the administration's view, suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose" under regulations that carry out the federal Controlled Substances Act. Consequently, the administration will argue before the Supreme Court, as it did unsuccessfully in the lower federal courts, that doctors who prescribe drugs for committing suicide violate the federal law and are subject to revocation of their federal prescription license. The license applies to broad categories of medications and is necessary, as a practical matter, for a doctor to remain in practice.
What the heck does "heteronormative" mean?
Yesterday I mentioned the blog maintained by Battlestar Galactica producer Ron Moore. On it, he'll respond to fan questions about the show. Moore used to do this on AOL's "Star Trek" forum back when he was one of the producers on "Deep Space Nine," so I'm not surprised to see him doing it again.
"The question I would really like to see addressed is how to reconcile the underlying quest of Battlestar Galactica with actual scientific plausiability. The quest of Battlestar Galactica is to find Earth, the 13th Colony. However, it is a basic and well-substantiated tenet of science that human life here on Earth evolved slowly from a primate ancestor. Attempts to deny evolution based on the notion that human kind deserves a far more worthy origin than what evolution details, are a diservice to the pursuit of scientific truth and endeavors in our own world. There was always that reactionary sense to the original series, which drove it away from a secure standing as *science* fiction. How will the new series avoid this pitfall?"
I don't have a direct answer for this question yet. There are a couple of notions rolling around in my head as to how we reconcile the very real fact of evolution with the Galactica mythos, but I haven't decided which approach to take. However, it was a fundamental element of the orginal Galactica mythos that "Life here began out there..." and I decided early on that it was crucial to maintain it.
When homeland security emerged as a major issue in the election -- and a major reason George Bush was re-elected -- New Yorkers whined that red staters have no right to declare homeland security their issue because the red states weren't attacked by terrorists. Al-Qaeda, they argued, targeted New York and Washington, not the Amana Colonies.
From New York City much of America may look like a collection of cow towns. But rural Homeland Security spending is here to stay, and we are lucky it is. Just because al Qaeda targets big cities doesn't mean that's their operatives aren't living in the heartland awaiting the opportunity to strike. To catch them, we have to go on the offensive by giving first responders around the nation the equipment and the training necessary to spot and kill or capture terrorists. We also must imbue in them a sense that in this war, we are all on the front lines. Thwarting the next attack likely depends on the actions of an alert sheriff's deputy or border agent well outside of Los Angeles or New York.
We saw this in late 1999, when an alert border agent in Port Angeles, Wash. -- population 18,000 -- unraveled the so-called Millennium Plot. Ahmed Ressam tried to cross the border from Canada with more than 100 pounds of explosives in his car. Likewise, Zacarias Moussaoui -- now on trial for his alleged involvement in the 9/11 plot -- was picked up not in Los Angleles or New York, but in Minnesota, where he was taking flight lessons.
Many Americans probably don't realize that the North Star State's large Muslim refugee population and its proximity to Canada make it an attractive place for militant Islamists. That's one reason why Coleen Rowley, chief legal advisor in the FBI's field office there at the time, was alert enough in August 2001 to realize Moussaoui might be part of a larger plot to attack the United States after he was discovered taking flight lessons in Eagan, Minn.
After watching last Friday's episode of Battlestar Galactica (a series I've praised here), I didn't quite know how to react. The Cylon Sex-bot character has talked about God in previous episodes, but never quite so . . . "evangelically" as she did in this latest episode.
I wonder why this car got pulled over?
Offered without comment.
Pfc. Rob Jacobs of New Jersey said he was initially ecstatic to get a package of letters from sixth-graders at JHS 51 in Park Slope last month at his base 10 miles from the North Korea border.
That changed when he opened the envelope and found missives strewn with politically charged rhetoric, vicious accusations and demoralizing predictions that only a handful of soldiers would leave the Iraq war alive.
"It's hard enough for soldiers to deal with being away from their families, they don't need to be getting letters like this," Jacobs, 20, said in a phone interview from his base at Camp Casey.
Found at "Hill Country Views" . . . so I'll play this game, because I'm always willing to share.
While we were visiting family up North this past weekend, we heard that this week's episode of NBC's "Law and Order" would feature a storyline based on the massacre of 6 hunters in Sawyer County last November. As you might imagine, there is some concern about how this incident will be depicted. The folks up there assume that a fictionalized version of the events will be slanted to make the murdered hunters look like the aggressors.
After a wild car chase through Manhattan's streets leaves one man dead and a teen injured, Detectives Fontana (Dennis Farina) and Green (Jesse L. Martin) connect some dots and discover that the chase began in upstate New York after a hunting party was massacred by the now deceased driver -- but finding the man who chased the murderer puts prosecutors in a bind. As the reluctant hero (as Stoller, guest star Mike Pniewski) is publicly lauded for his efforts, A.D.A.s McCoy (Sam Waterston) and Borgia (Annie Parisse) carefully make their case that his poor decisions only endangered other lives.
I'm not a huge fan of American Idol, but if it's on when I'm in the vicinity of a television, I'll tune in. This evening, for example, I happened to have positioned myself on the couch with a sleepy toddler on my lap, and . . . American Idol was on. (That's my excuse.)
I missed this on Friday, and in case I wasn't the only one, I pass it along now. Leonard Pitts wonders why we aren't more outraged by Jeff Gannon's/James Guckert's presence at a presidential press conference because (gasp!) he's not a "journalist!"
Three weeks later, I'm still waiting for a good explanation of what Jeff Gannon was doing in the White House. And for you to be upset about it.
If an individual reports for a recognized media outlet that observes customary standards of journalistic integrity -- even if it tends to view the world through a conservative or liberal editorial prism -- that person is a reporter. But if the person works for an outlet that simply promotes, or advocates for, one political party or another, then the line between reporter and shill has been well and truly crossed.
So where is our outrage?
Frankly, the only thing more galling than the brazenness with which the White House abrogates the public's right to know is the sheep-like docility with which we accept it.
When the history of this era is written, people will wonder why we didn't challenge its excesses, why we didn't know the things we should have. If you're still around, remember the uproar you do not hear right this moment and tell them the truth.
Sorry, Leonard. I can't muster any outrage over this non-scandal. How about boredom? I've got plenty of that.
It's been awhile since I wrote about the service learning issue at UW-Eau Claire. Briefly, UW-EC is one of a handful of public universities that requires students to complete a certain number of hours of volunteer community service as part of their graduation requirements. Academia thinks this is wonderful. I think it's a terrible idea for reasons I outlined here. But once these additional "feel good" requirements are put in place, they're rarely removed.
I'm not at work today. If I kept this up for more than a week, I suspect my employer would stop paying me. Wouldn't it be great if I was a member of Congress? Then, like John Kerry, I could skip almost 150 days of work and still get paid.
According to a study released today by the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU), an obscure federal statute still on the books requires Congressional absentees to forfeit their pay unless they or a family member are ill; but leaders have failed to enforce the law while rank-and-file lawmakers seem reluctant to voluntarily comply.
. . .
According to 2 U.S. Code 39, “The Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives, respectively, shall deduct from the monthly payments (or other periodic payments authorized by law) of each Member or Delegate the amount of his salary for each day that he has been absent from the Senate or House, respectively, unless such Member or Delegate assigns as the reason for such absence the sickness of himself or of some member of his family.” Under 2 U.S. Code 48, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House are responsible for certifying the salary accounts of their respective chambers, and so must make an inquiry into whether Section 39 deductions are in order.
- The chronically absent list is filled with Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates, including John Kerry (D-MA), John Edwards (D-NC), Bob Graham (D-FL), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Richard Gephardt (D-MO), and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). But House Members bidding for Senate seats were also prominent on the list, including Brad Carson (D-OK), Mac Collins (R-GA), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Pete Deutsch (D-FL), Joseph Hoeffel (D-PA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Chris John (D-LA), Denise Majette (D-GA), George Nethercutt (R-WA), and Patrick Toomey (R-PA).
- From January 2003 to the October 2004 recess, John Kerry missed 146 days of votes without being granted leave. Total salary overpayment: $90,932.68. His running mate, John Edwards, compiled 102 days of unexcused absences during that period, for an overpayment of $63,543.16. Both Senators missed every vote during the months of July, September, and October.
- On the House side, Dick Gephardt’s failed bid for the Presidency cost taxpayers $81,362.53 in excessive pay. Gephardt was absent for 85 of the 109 days the House cast votes in the year 2003 alone. Combined with 2004, Gephardt had the highest unexcused absence rate in the House, at 131 days – still short of Kerry’s record total.
- Then-Rep. Jim DeMint’s successful 2004 bid for South Carolina’s Senate seat could help to explain some or all of his 37 unexcused absences, and an apparent $23,305.56 salary overpayment. In 2003, now Kentucky Governor and former Rep. Ernie Fletcher (R) missed 27 session days, for a total salary overpayment of $16,640.91. Three Georgia lawmakers who were locked in tight contests – Collins, Isakson, and Majette – racked up 55 days of unexcused absences and $34,643.40 of potentially illegal salary among them during 2004.
The blog formerly known as "Kim's Thoughts and Observations" is no longer restricted to just Kim's thoughts.
I don't get the appeal of gossip columns. I don't understand why they're necessary. What purpose do they serve? None that I can see.
Eloise at Spitbull points out this catty piece of "journalism" about Harvard President Larry Summers who has come under fire for suggesting there are innate differences between men and women, accounting for the fewer number of women in the highest levels of math and sciences.
The overweight Summers is socially inept, with sloppy eating habits and poor grooming. Colleagues speculate Summers' lack of social skills might indicate he has the neurobiological disease Asperger's Syndrome.
I'm taking a long overdue day off today -- call it a "mental health" day.
Ward Churchill may or may not be Native American, but there's one group that proudly claims him: the Raelians.
"Mr. Churchill is exactly right in what he wrote!," said Ricky Roehr, leader of the U.S. Raelian Movement, in a statement issued February 10. "If we are to have peace, we must take responsibility for our part in the violence and stop handing out blame as if we have done nothing. Quite the contrary, we have done terrible things to countless people. Churchill addressed the cause of the 9/11 attacks, and people want to shoot the messenger. Fox News and the right wing would have him thrown out of the U.S. for being unpatriotic and insensitive to the innocent people killed in the 9/11 attacks. It is precisely Churchill's compassion for loss of innocent life that prompted his essay."
Roehr sent Churchill a copy of the release along with a personal note, but so far the Raelian hasn't heard back from the besieged professor.
Gates was so honored because of the $3 billion he donated, a Rael spokesperson said, to “charitable trusts which are promoting greater equality in global health and learning.”
For Rael, it’s a quick leap from Gates’ philanthropy to the evil of Catholicism, which teaches that “money is bad” and should be “donated to the Vatican, which will only add this money from poor people to its outrageous wealth and use this money for converting more people to a religion which, among many other crimes, promotes AIDS by lying about the effectiveness of condoms, has always been against medical developments such as vaccines or surgery and was a supporter of slavery and money laundering.”
. . .
Rael bestowed Honorary Priest status on Linda Ronstadt, the singer who gave us the gutsy version of “When Will I Be Loved.” Ronstadt’s shining moment, however, came when she praised Michael Moore, maker of the anti-Bush documentary, during a Las Vegas concert.
Rael used the controversial Ronstadt moment to launch a diatribe against the president, the Iraq war, WMDs, neglect of the Palestinian cause, Bush’s hypocrisy as a Christian and the practice of flossing your teeth.
Rael, leader of the International Raelian Movement (www.rael.org) has just named Eminem an Honorary priest of the Raelian Movement for his latest song “Mosh”. This title is not given often, and only given to public figures not afraid of jeopardizing their careers for their standing up for peace – especially in this time where the Bush administration calls all anti-war comments as “unpatriotic”.
James Taranto's "Best of the Web" today points to blogger David M's piece pondering the identity of the person who wrote Monday's Wall Street Journal editorial on the Eason Jordan "kerfuffle." (The word "kerfuffle" being a big clue, apparently.)
David forwarded us his blog entry, asking if we did indeed write the editorial. That is a question we cannot answer, for Journal policy is to keep the authorship of editorials confidential. An exception is made when editorial writers are nominated for prizes--which means that bloggers who wish to learn who wrote this editorial should be rooting for the author to win a Pulitzer.
Isn't this a perfect example of how bloggers are amateurs (amateur: "one who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession")? If David enjoys puzzling over the authorship of newspaper editorials, more power to him--but it's hard to imagine anyone making a living that way.
There's also something sweet in how the bloggers have taken such offense at the editorial. Rather than bask in their victory, they are focused on letting the world know how much they crave the approval of the big boys at the Journal.
Okay, one more link before I collapse into bed.
Apologies, readers. This is turning out to be the busy week that I thought last week was going to be. Not only am I not finding time to blog, I'm not finding time to even read the news, so I have no idea what's going on in the world. Such is the life of a busy dad with a busy toddler.
I also agree with Lileks:
Asked if Easongate was over, I thought it was, possibly because . . . what else can be done to the man? Send nasty mails to the Waterloo, IA TV station that hires him to revamp thier high school sports coverage? . . . But then I did think of something else I'm sure is glaringly obvious to all. I think the Eason Jordon case is less important than the Dan Rather case, for obvious reasons. But it seems to have produced the same amount of enthusiasm. At some point this amount of glee is going to be applied towards someone who might actually turn out to be innocent. What then? Well, it'll kill the credibilty of those who led the charge, and help the reps of those who turn it away. It'll be a big self-correcting moment, but the self-correcting won't be the story; the story will be the mistake. Ah HAH!
And so forth, until open war is declared and the New York Times deploys its hunter-killer bots to go back in time and terminate the guy who invents the WWW. I'm beginning to think they would if they could.
Full disclosure -- I know the seller of this eBay item. But I thought it was amusing enough to pass along anyway.
Directly from your favorite liberal's secret collection, this Barbara Streisand record novelty is a bowl pressed from her actual LP, Lazy Afternoon. Well, we can't prove it was actually from Barbara herself, but this bowl would make a nice chip or snack bowl at your next Anti-Bush, Anti-War, hate America rally.
I agree with Sean.
The blogosphere has a symbiotic relationship to the MSM. By commenting and arguing with the stories they put out, webloggers feed off of the MSM's output. The MSM reads what webloggers are pumping out, and it inspires more stories, which further feeds the blogosphere. This isn't a zero-sum game. Both entities gain.
I'm not saying the MSM doesn't have oodles of faults. They do. They have liberal biases they don't admit to. They've become sloppy. They've allowed their political views to color and shape the news. In the context of all Eason Jordan has done and said he doesn't deserve to be running CNN. What I worry about is some webloggers tossing around reckless accusations destroying their credibility and hurting undeserving people in the process.
This book caught my eye this past week:
The findings in numerous national polls conducted by highly respected pollsters like The Gallup Organization and The Barna Group are simply shocking. "Gallup and Barna," laments evangelical theologian Michael Horton, "hand us survey after survey demonstrating that evangelical Christians are as likely to embrace lifestyles every bit as hedonistic, materialistic, self-centered, and sexually immoral as the world in general." Divorce is more common among "born-again" Christians than in the general American population. Only 6 percent of evangelicals tithe. White evangelicals are the most likely people to object to neighbors of another race. Josh McDowell has pointed out that the sexual promiscuity of evangelical youth is only a little less outrageous than that of their nonevangelical peers.
Alan Wolfe, famous contemporary scholar and director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, has just published a penetrating study of American religious life. Evangelicals figure prominently in his book. His evaluation? Today's evangelicalism, Wolfe says, exhibits "so strong a desire to copy the culture of hotel chains and popular music that it loses what religious distinctiveness it once had." Wolfe argues, "The truth is there is increasingly little difference between an essentially secular activity like the popular entertainment industry and the bring-'em-in-at-any-cost efforts of evangelical megachurches." It is not surprising that George Barna concludes, "Every day, the church is becoming more like the world it allegedly seeks to change." We have very little time, he believes, to reverse these trends. African Christian and famous missions scholar Professor Lamin Sanneh told Christianity Today recently that "the cultural captivity of Christianity in the West is nearly complete, and with the religion tamed, it is open season on the West's Christian heritage. I worry about a West without a moral center facing a politically resurgent Islam."
In a 1999 national survey, George Barna found that the percentage of born-again Christians who had experienced divorce was slightly higher (26 percent) than that of non-Christians (22 percent). In Barna's polls since the mid-1990s, that number has remained about the same. In August 2001, a new poll found that the divorce rate was about the same for born-again Christians and the population as a whole; 33 percent of all born-again Christians had been divorced compared with 34 percent of non-born-again Americans — a statistically insignificant difference. Barna also found in one study that 90 percent of all divorced born-again folk divorced after they accepted Christ.
. . .
John and Sylvia Ronsvalle have been carefully analyzing the giving patterns of American Christians for well over a decade. Their annual The State of Christian Giving is the most accurate report for learning how much Christians in the richest nation in human history actually give. In their most recent edition, they provide detailed information about per-member giving patterns of U.S. church members from 1968 to 2001. Over those thirty-plus years, of course, the average income of U.S. Christians has increased enormously. But that did not carry over into their giving. The report showed that the richer we become, the less we give in proportion to our incomes. In 1968, the average church member gave 3.1 percent of their income—less than a third of a tithe. That figure dropped every year through 1990 and then recovered slightly to 2.66 percent—about one quarter of a tithe.
. . .
Popular evangelical speaker Josh McDowell has been observing and speaking to evangelical youth for several decades. I remember him saying years ago that evangelical youth are only about 10 percent less likely to engage in premarital sex than nonevangelicals.True Love Waits, a program sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention, is one of the most famous evangelical efforts to reduce premarital sexual activity among our youth. Since 1993, about 2.4 million young people have signed a pledge to wait until marriage to engage in sexual intercourse. Are these young evangelicals keeping their pledges? In March 2004, researchers from Columbia University and Yale University reported on their findings. For seven years they studied 12 thousand teenagers who took the pledge. Sadly, they found that 88 percent of these pledgers reported having sexual intercourse before marriage; just 12 percent kept their promise. The researchers also found that the rates for having sexually transmitted diseases "were almost identical for the teenagers who took pledges and those who did not."
It's rare, but sometimes a species thought to be extinct manages to survive, hidden away in some remote valley where it continues to thrive.
The Bible classes began in Virginia in 1929 after a majority of students failed a simple Bible test.
The lessons were conducted inside public school classrooms until 1948, when the Supreme Court ruled that the lessons violated the principle of separation of church and state. A few years later, the court revisited the issue and approved classes held away from school premises.
Most towns have done away with the classes, but the 20 school divisions that have kept the classes generally stretch along Interstate 81 in western Virginia, known to some as the state's "Bible Belt." In the Staunton area, more than 80 percent of first-, second- and third-graders participate.
This will be my only link to the DailyKos. I don't link to Kos on principle. Friends don't let friends read Kos, and they surely shouldn't send total strangers that way. But everyone should read this, because this is a fine example of the sickness that festers in the left.
You cannot have a functioning civil society when half the members of that society have decided the other half seriously intends to institute the equivalent of a new Nazi regime.
This stuff started as simple hyperbole, and both sides were equally guilty of using it. There's even a cute little Internet custom that says the first side who resorts to a Nazi analogy loses the argument. Ha, ha. Yet at some point a scarey-large number of people missed the joke. And then a scarey-large political party told those same folks to come on in.
It's not like the left has always been this way. And I'm not even claiming this is a common belief even now. It's just too d*mn easily tolerated by those who should know better.
When a political ally says, "I think President Bush is trying to make the United States just like Nazi Germany, so I oppose him," the proper response is not, "Well, that's a bit of a stretch for me. But since we both agree we don't want him elected, let's join forces." The proper response is "Get away from me you freaking lunatic! I don't want anyone mistaking my rational opposition with your nutjob ravings!"
The Democratic Internet constituency was and is motivated by one thing more than anything else: hatred of George W. Bush. To see that you only have to take a look at dailykos.com, run by Democratic consultant Markos Moulitsas, which gets 400,000 page views a day--far more than any other political weblog--and which received funding from the Dean campaign (which Moulitsas disclosed). It seethes with hatred of Bush, constantly attacks Republicans, and excoriates Democrats who don't oppose Bush root and branch. When four American contractors were killed in Iraq in April 2004, dailykos.com wrote, "I feel nothing over the death of the mercenaries. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them." This repulsive comment produced no drop-off in page views. This was what the left blogosphere wanted. Kos was an early enthusiast for Dean's campaign for Democratic chairman and disparaged other candidates.
For 12 years, Democratic chairmen were chosen by Bill Clinton. He built a new generation of fundraisers who relished contact with the Clintons. Now the big money comes from the left blogosphere and Bush-hating billionaires like George Soros. Dean gives them what they want. As Dean says, "I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for." Hate. But Bush hatred was not enough to beat Bush in 2004--while Democratic turnout was up, Republican turnout was up more--and doesn't seem likely to beat Republicans in 2006 and 2008. The left blogosphere has driven the Democrats into an electoral cul de sac.
We can only hope. Because the alternative is a party in power that's motivated solely by hatred for the "other." And that is one of the scariest things I can imagine happening to this country.
Following up on this post, here are a few more thoughts on the frightening power of blogs.
The pack mentality is extremely effective in justifiable cases, like Rathergate. After all, Rather broadcast a fraudulent story and stonewalled efforts to get at the truth. This Eason story was a little bit more on the borderline. I know the intellectual argument that can be made against me on this, and I'm not saying that I disagree with it. Yes, it is important to know that the head of a major news organization holds such crazy, paranoid views about the military. But the pleasure with which some blogs went after Eason, and the fact they could bring him down without the help of the MSM opens the door to the possibility of using this influence unjustly in the future. I think we all need to respect the power we collectively hold with these little blogs.
The blogosphere will get burned. It's not a question of if but when.
I felt a bad twinge while reading Captain Ed's attack on Brett Stephens. It seemed to me Ed was taking seeing a conspiracy when none existed.
A mob mentality is the opposite of conservative political philosophy and temperment. I'm reading Edmund Burke right now, so I'm riveted on the damage mobs can do. A mob destroys. Rarely does it create. Is it the intention of some in the blogosphere to destroy the MSM? If so, they should be clear about their mission to their readers. Or do they want better, more accurate news?
[W]hile respecting the power, don't divorce it from the question of justice. And I firmly believe justice was done here. And further, I believe the only reason justice was done in this case is because the blogosphere forced the issue.
. . .
It is true that it is easier for something scandalous to get out, destroying reputations and careers at staggering speed in this new age. But the media have been in that same business for ages. Since Watergate, a heck of a lot of journalists consider that their primary mission.
What I consider a the more important lesson - and perhaps more important warning - is the removal of that power from the hands of a small elite, increasingly at odds with their fellow citizens' interests, and placing into the hands of everyone. Yes, such democratization carries danger. But in my opinion the alternative carries even more.
After last November's elections, the Democrats began to wonder what they needed to do to reconnect with "red state" America. Did they need to get religion? Did they need to start supporting the military? Did they need to become country music fans or start following NASCAR?
Democrats elected Howard Dean chairman of their national party on Saturday, casting their lot with a skilled fund-raiser and organizer whose sometimes caustic, blunt comments can lead to controversy.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, not always a Dean supporter, said Friday, "He has used the power of technology, the force of his personality and the depth of his ideals to bring new people into the party."
CNN chief news exec Eason Jordan resigned yesterday and the blogosphere is crowing about it. And I wonder if I'm the only one just a bit distrubed by this. If Rathergate wasn't proof enough of the power of blogs, this should do it.
The New York Observer has the full story [no longer available at their website . . . link removed until I can find a cached version] of Dawn Eden's firing from the New York Post, officially for blogging on company time, but coming right after an incident where she was criticized for "inserting a pro-life viewpoint" into an article she was copyediting. Dawn corrects a few of the story's errors at her own blog, but otherwise says
"But overall, I'm elated. Gurley set out to draw a portrait that would--as with all his work--go deeper than the average personality profile, and he's unquestionably succeeded."
Ms. Eden was given a story by Post reporter Susan Edelman to copy-edit. The story was about women with terminal cancer who want to have babies: Through in-vitro fertilization, multiple embryos are fertilized and implanted one at a time until as many as 12 survive.
According to Ms. Eden, she was repelled by what she interpreted as a "cavalier" attitude about the embryos in Ms. Edelman’s story: "Treating them as a manufactured commodity that don’t have significance as human life," Ms. Eden said. (Ms. Edelman declined to comment when reached by The Observer.)
"I got choked up," Ms. Eden said. "How are people going to ever understand the complex issues involved here, if the story they’re reading reduces it to ‘Oh, isn’t this nice? We can just make lots of embryos and not worry about whether they live or die.’"
Ms. Eden read a line in the draft of the story: "Experts have ethical qualms about this ‘Russian roulette’ path to parenthood." She saw her opportunity: She added a phrase: " … which, when in-vitro fertilization is involved, routinely results in the destruction of embryos." And where Ms. Edelman had written that one woman had three embryos implanted "and two took," Ms. Eden changed that to read: "One died. Two took."
Ms. Eden said she thought she was performing a service for the reader, since she believed that the Post had been "notoriously oblivious" to the nuances involving embryonic life.
The Post hired her full time in 2003. She loved editing and writing punning headlines. But she landed in hot water after giving an interview to Gilbert, a G.K Chesterton magazine, in which she talked about her faith and working at the Post.
She said her boss, chief copy editor Barry Gross, chided her, telling her, "Some people already think the Post is conservative, and we don’t need New York readers also thinking it’s a Christian paper and that there are Christians working there."
"I don’t recall saying that," said Mr. Gross. "But I can’t swear that I didn’t. I mean, there’s no question people think we’re conservative." He added that he did caution her to cool it a bit in the future.
There was another chat with Mr. Gross after Ms. Eden resisted working on an article about a murdered porn star. She’d made it clear that she was disgusted with the cheerful, lurid commentary.
J.J. Blonien, of Americans for Prosperity - Wisconsin, has a great editorial on Gov. Doyle's budget in the Wisconsin Conservative Digest.
Doyle’s plan does provide for temporary property tax relief, but he does this by increasing shared revenues to school districts and local governments by more than an estimated $1.5 billion. While Doyle espoused the miracle cure that his snake-oil tax freeze would bring property taxpayers, he never mentioned the debilitating side effects — increased government spending. Doyle’s slight-of-hand is nothing more than a shell game that shifts money from one funding source to another.
A genuine tax freeze would hold the line on government spending, while Doyle’s scheme increases state spending by nearly 10 percent. Rather than funding this spending increase at the local level through property taxes, Doyle is proposing to fund the tax shift by increasing fees such as hunting licenses by more than 50 percent and by Enron-style accounting tricks.
The bottom line is that while local property taxes may not increase this year, overall spending by school districts and local governments is likely to increase at a rate that exceeds inflation and growth. The true fiscal impact of government is measured in how much it spends, not in how much it taxes. And as we know, government spending increases are usually followed by tax increases.
Doyle’s one-time con job of robbing Peter to pay Paul is nothing but a desperate attempt to co-opt the genuine tax freeze plan currently working its way through the legislature. Doyle knows that property taxes will be the number one issue in next year’s race for governor and he doesn't want to be remembered as the governor who vetoed the property tax freeze.
This morning I heard a bit of Bill Bennett's radio program while driving to work. He and his guest were discussing the controversy over Ward Churchill, and the guest (I wasn't in the car long enough to find out who it was) mentioned that at UC-Santa Cruz, they have someone even worse than Churchill -- Angela Davis.
Davis spoke out against the structure of the American legal system, explaining that punishment and democracy are mutually exclusive.
"The law is based on the assumption that every person that goes before it is the same as every other person," Davis said. "Can democracy exist if everyone is the same?"
Owen at Boots and Sabers is all over Governor Doyle's proposed budget, and I'm beginning to see why some of my fellow Wisconsin Bloggers refer to Doyle as "a wholly-owned subsidiary of WEAC." An $850 million increase?
Basically, he is saying that he will sign a “freeze” on local sending if the State spends more on the local governments. Note that this does not actually decrease spending. All it does is shift more of the burden on the state instead of on the local governments. To a Wisconsin taxpayer, it does not matter whether the tax bill says “State of Wisconsin” or “City of Waukesha.” It’s still the same spending.
It gets worse. In order to fund the increased spending by the state on local governments, he wants to raid the transportation fund. The transportation fund has all of the tax dollars generated by the fuel tax and other transportation related taxes. It is sequestered from the general fund and is supposed to be spent exclusively on transportation infrastructure. (This is part of how they justify the gas tax by saying that only people who buy gas - hence, are driving on the roads - pay for the roads.) If Doyle raids this fund, one has to ask the question, how will we pay for transportation infrastructure? Especially the rebuilding of the Marquette Interchange?
Doyle just wants to shift tax dollars from one pile to another. He isn’t actually doing anything about the exorbitant rate of government spending in Wisconsin. If we move dollars out of the transportation fund, we still have transportation spending to take care of. Will he raise transportation taxes or move money from yet another pile into the transportation fund? Or will he just not complete things like the Marquette Interchange?
James Rowen is yet another voice coming out against reform in Wisconsin's electoral process. Jib does a good job dissecting Rowen's arguments here, so I'll just interject that my jaw dropped open when I read this comparison:
The tire-slashings damaged a parking lot filled with vans rented by Republican election workers. It was stupid and criminal behavior, but let's also remember that it was a prank that got out of hand.
This is a good time to recall another high-profile prank that went awry last year in Milwaukee near UW-M, when a group of nerdy "Rocky Horror Picture Show" devotees knocked down and frightened a young woman.
If you've spent any time in northwestern Wisconsin over the last four or five years, you've probably noticed signs throughout the region that read "NO LINE" in bold letters. It's a reference to the plan by American Transmission Co. of Pewaukee to build a high-voltage power line linking Wausau with Duluth.
Our elected officials issued a clear, emphatic “no” when the votes were tallied, but they were not merely saying no to American Transmission Co. and the power line. It’s clear to us that the County Board also said no to a few other things — such as the power to negotiate with ATC leaders, the ability to reduce the potential impact of the power line on its constituents and the opportunity to reap a financial windfall that can help out our financially strapped county.
By saying no to the project, Douglas County essentially said yes to a loss of leverage on the issue altogether. The Public Service Commission has approved the project, many high-ranking political leaders know that the line is needed and the permits needed to grant ATC the access it needs to construct the line are being written and approved. The line will be built, the only variable is what route it takes, but our county leaders will no longer be a part of that process.
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The potential exists for many more private landowners to be impacted now that the county has opted out of the project. Had Douglas County agreed to negotiate, only a handful of citizens would have been affected. Now somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 80 folks might have to worry about the power line becoming a part of their land. The county could have avoided this altogether.
It’s ironic that while SOUL (Save Our Unique Lands) members are no doubt celebrating what they perceive to be a victory, they’ve effectively lost a lot of power themselves. They could have been a part of the planning, making sure that the rights of property owners aren’t infringed and that their environmental concerns are addressed. Not anymore. The role of SOUL now drops from being that of a lobbyist to a run-of-the-mill protester.
The Bush Administration's reward for the capture for bin Laden or Zarqawi stands at $25 million. Thomas Friedman, writing in the New York Times, has an interesting perspective on these price tags. He thinks they should be marked down.
First, both of these guys are obviously megalomaniacs, who think the world is just hanging on their every word and waiting for their next video. All we are doing is feeding their egos, and telling them how incredibly important they are, when we not only put a $25 million bounty on their heads, but in the case of bin Laden, double the figure. We are just enhancing their status on the Arab street as the Muslim warriors standing up to America, and only encouraging other megalomaniacs out there who might have similar fantasies to follow suit. We should be doing just the opposite - letting these two losers know that we don't think they are worth more than a penny or a pistachio.
Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are a curse on their civilization. Their capture will have meaning or real value to them, to us and to the world, only if it is done by Arabs and Muslims for the sole purpose of purging their civilization of these two cancer cells.
Also, if bin Laden's or Zarqawi's own neighbors turn them in for nothing, it will have a much greater deterrent effect on others. After all, what story would you rather read after bin Laden's capture?
"Osama bin Laden was apprehended this morning after villagers turned him in to local police. The villagers collected the $50 million reward and then fled their country in ski masks, not wanting anyone to know their identities.Osama bin Laden was captured this morning after villagers tipped off local police. One of the villagers, Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed, told reporters: 'This man sullied the name of Islam, a religion of mercy and compassion. There is a special place in hell for him. I will dance on his grave.'"
Friedman also adds this interesting twist.
What I would do with the $75 million we have budgeted as rewards for bin Laden and Zarqawi is use it instead to sponsor an essay contest for high school students in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Syria and Egypt. The contest entry form would say the following: "In 2,000 words, write an essay on one of these two topics: 1. Why do you believe the Arab-Muslim world is fully capable of achieving democratic, representative government and how do you envisage it coming about through peaceful changes inside your country, without any American or other outside help. 2. Write an essay about the lives of any of the great medieval Arab or Muslim mathematicians, scientists or philosophers and how their innovations helped to shape our world today."
The winners would be awarded visas and four-year scholarships to any accredited university in America to which they could gain acceptance. The winning essays would be posted on the Web in English, Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and French. What do you think would make America more secure? Rewarding one person for turning in bin Laden or putting thousands of young Arabs and Muslims through American schools?