Friday, March 04, 2005

Only closed minds wanted

Hat tip to for bringing to our attention that in Government schools the motto apparently is Only closed minds wanted.

An Atlanta judge has ruled that open mindedness, careful study and critical consideration are religious practices and therefore have no place in taxpayer funded schools.

Judge Clarence Cooper ruled against the Cobb County School District in January, ordering the immediate removal of all stickers. However, the school district appealed the decision, seeking a hold on the removal until the appeal is heard. Judge Cooper’s latest ruling will allow the stickers to remain throughout the school term, minimizing the disruption of classes.

While Judge Cooper acknowledged that the stickers clearly served a ‘secular purpose’, an “observer may interpret the sticker to convey a message of endorsement of religion.”

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to rule on the appeal by the end of the year.

CNN said "Due to the manner in which the sticker refers to evolution as a theory, the sticker also has the effect of undermining evolution education to the benefit of those Cobb County citizens who would prefer that students maintain their religious beliefs regarding the origin of life," Cooper wrote in his ruling.

Cooper said he was ruling on the "narrow issue" of the case, brought against the Cobb County School District and Board of Education by four parents of district students, was whether the district's stickers violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

His conclusion, he said, "is not that the school board should not have called evolution a theory or that the school board should have called evolution a fact."

"Rather, the distinction of evolution as a theory rather than a fact is the distinction that religiously motivated individuals have specifically asked school boards to make in the most recent anti-evolution movement, and that was exactly what parents in Cobb County did in this case," he wrote.

"By adopting this specific language, even if at the direction of counsel, the Cobb County School Board appears to have sided with these religiously motivated individuals."

The sticker, he said, sends "a message that the school board agrees with the beliefs of Christian fundamentalists and creationists."

"The school board has effectively improperly entangled itself with religion by appearing to take a position," Cooper wrote. "Therefore, the sticker must be removed from all of the textbooks into which it has been placed." .....

According to the AP, the schools placed the stickers after more than 2,000 parents complained the textbooks presented evolution as fact, without mentioning rival ideas about the beginnings of life.

What? The First Amendment provides Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

It does not say "Government can't appear to take a position indicating it agrees with religiously motivated individuals."

There were many different stickers, and the one used depended on what was said in the textbook to which it was attached. See this page to see the stickers.


Student suspended for telling the truth

As reported in Zero Intelligence Addison Ryan, a 10th grade student at North Mecklenburg High School in the Charlotte-Mecklenberg School District was suspended for telling the truth. Deb Ryan, Addison's mother, reports that on December 17th there was a "Code Green" fire drill at the school. A classmate asked what a Code Green was.

My son replied, "It's a bomb threat", speculating on the cause of the drill believing that to be the case. A teacher overheard his response and filled out a disciplinary referral form from which he was charged with making a False Warning and immediately dismissed from school.

He was immediately suspended from school pending a disciplinary hearing. Punishment for giving a false alarm is a minimum of long term suspension and a maximum of expulsion. This occurred during exam preparation time. The disciplinary hearing could take up to three days, encompassing not only the review but the exams themselves.

The Ryans got help from the Children's Law Center, a non-profit firm in Charlotte. Their lawyers were able to make a plea deal with the school to return Addison to class after a two day suspension for "disruptive behavior"
(of an earlier incident that had not been severe enough for discipline when it happened but now that they needed an excuse it was big enough to warrant a two day suspension.

Zero tolerance equals zero intelligence.


The Other Side of the FEC

Redstate indicated that the problem reported in The coming crackdown on blogging MAY not be as serious as we all thought.

Trevor Potter, a former attorney in the Reagan Justice Department and former Chairman of the FEC, issued a response tonight to Brad Smith.

Commissioner Smith's interview does a good job at providing misinformation on the subject of the Internet and the FEC, as it was obviously intended to......

After a Federal judge threw out these Smith-supported exclusions for paid advertising on the Internet, the FEC was ordered to open a rulemaking on the question of advertising on the Internet. The Commission has NOT yet even put out any options for consideration--when they do so there will be opportunity for lots of public comment. The Commission will have plenty of opportunity in the course of the rulemaking to distinguish between political candidate or party Internet expenditures (which should be subject to federal campaign finance law like any other expenditure they make, or which is coordinated with them), and completely unregulated activity by bloggers, Internet news services, and citizens acting on their own.

There is NO REASON AT ALL that this FEC rulemaking should attempt to regulate bloggers, Internet-based news entities, or average citizens sitting at their PCs, and I have great faith it will not.......

For more information on the history of FEC regulation and deregulation of the Internet, see my Chapter in the Brookings Institution's New Campaign Finance Sourcebook here at Chapter Nine.


See Michelle Malkin for further information


Texas Radio Stands With Blogosphere

I reported earlier about The coming crackdown on blogging

CQ reports the Lone Star Times, the blog for independently owned Houston, TX talk-radio station KSEV 700 AM indicates we believe that we enjoy the "broadcast exemption" that prohibits the federal government from regulating our speech in the manner they are proposing for "mere" citizen bloggers.

While we still need to talk to some sharp lawyers and nail down the details, if these restrictions come to pass, KSEV and LST are committed to working out a legally sound way in which individual bloggers– of every ideological persuasion and partisan affiliation– can somehow register with us and be credentialed as a press representative of KSEV and LST.

Like Raoul Wallenberg handing out passports, we will start issuing press credentials to any blogger that asks for one.


Pentium 4 to be replaced by dual core processors

Xinhua said Intel will start rolling out Pentium D & Extreme Edition processors to replace Pentium 4 processor, the move seeking to give Intel a lion's share of the dual core processor market.

Now that Intel has almost reached the economic limit of technology in terms of increasing core speeds, the only way for it to deliver increased performance at an acceptable cost is to increase the number of cores per processor package.

Dual-core chips offer two cores on a single silicon die, offering users more performance without significantly ramping up energy consumption or heat gneeration. In his keynote speech, outgoing CEO Craig Barrett said dual-core technology offered Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., a way of continuing Moore' Law without having to increase the chip's frequency.

Pentium D & Extreme Edition are the first in line of nearly 15 dual- and multicore projects under way at Intel's R & D. The difference between the two is that the Pentium D's twin cores don't have Hyperthreading enabled, so a Pentium D will appear to the operating system as two processors. Pentium Extreme Edition, however, does have Hyperthreading and so will appear as four processors. The new Extreme Edition will appear in the second quarter of this year.

The Pentium 4 will move to 65nm fabrication in 2006 when it will be used as the basis for the 'Presler' multi-chip package. Intel said that the processor would continue to be available in its present form for the next two years. Intel expects Multicore products to eventually permeate its entire range, from notebook CPUs to the Itanium server chip.

John Dvorak said Intel nearly put all its eggs in a new architectural basket some years back when it announced the roadmap for the Itanium processor and nearly lost control of the industry it invented. This time it's not trying to reinvent the wheel in such a drastic manner. It simply decided to make a better wheel, not a newer wheel.

What makes it so important at this juncture is that clock speeds have peaked and until now increasing clock speeds has been the primary methodology for improving performance. Despite the fact that the chip makers would promote all sorts of important design changes, it was always clock speed that seemed to matter. If you could double the clock speed you'd make everything inside the chip do things at double speed thus doubling the performance. It was that simple.

Dual core changes the model for doubling the performance. You keep the clock speed the same and double the CPU itself. Put two of them within the chip. This will, of course, become four then eight in the years ahead.

Information Week said Intel anticipates about three-quarters of all its shipments by the end of 2006 will be dual-core versions.

Intel has more than 15 dual and multicore projects under way.

Slashdot said Tom's Hardware reports that AMD is planning to release both it's dual-core desktop and mobile chips at the same time.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

GOP drive to woo blacks alarms Brazile

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile is alarmed by GOP efforts to lure black voters into the party.

She says "It won't take much for the GOP to garner 12 percent to 15 percent of the black vote in future elections, as some blacks are starting to believe the community is not well-served when one party takes their votes for granted and the other party doesn't work to earn them"

She is right. The black community is not well-surved by the Democrats taking their votes for granted, and she is worried about the Republicans working to earn them.

And Bush's "Ownership Society" has appeal.

The Dems are also worried about younger voters liking Bush's proposal for allowing some of Social Security taxes to be directed into personal accounts.

Gee, are the Republicans being unfair to the Democrats? Too bad.


The coming crackdown on blogging

CNET News reports that Bradley Smith (one of the six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission) says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over. In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

Captain's Quarters reports In order for me to operate under those conditions, I will need to hire a lawyer and an accountant to guide me through the election laws and calculate my in-kind donations on almost an hourly basis. How many bloggers will put up with that kind of hassle just to speak their minds about candidates and issues? John McCain and Russ Feingold have effectively created an American bureaucracy dedicated to stamping out independent political speech, and the courts have abdicated all reason in declaring it constitutional.

Please contact your representative or Senator in Congress to get this terrible infringement on free political speech reversed. When the American government threatens to prosecute people for simply speaking their minds, we have truly lost our way.

Michelle Malkin reports Joshua Claybourn of In the Agora analyzes the campaign finance law absurdities and First Amendment infringements on bloggers here and Winfield Myers is on the same wavelength and discusses it here.

Professor Bainbridge says the oddity of campaign finance regulation is that we have ended up in a place in which pornographers apparently have greater constitutional protection than political bloggers. It's like we live in the First Amendment's Bizzaro World.

You can email John McCain here and Russ Feingold here. Please let them know that some of us still believe in free speech.

Reader Gary at RightWingNutHouse wonders if this could backfire Or it might be wedge that begins the reverse some of the ridiculous campaign finance laws. The internet is too dynamic to regulate this way.

Cut on the bias said I called my US Senators as soon as I learned of this, and I'll be calling my representative soon. I encourage all of you to do the same. In fact, I encourage each of you to contact your Senators, find out who on their staff handles these issues, and talk to them immediately. Follow it up with an email or letter with more details. If you do track them down, and you have a blog, list the name of the contact on your blog and let me know (biasblog -at- - I'll link you here so we have a central resource to find out who to contact. and lists Alabama contacts for Senators and Representatives.

I hope everyone is wrong about this being a significant problem, but the MSM certainly is upset at bloggers, so they may be pushing it.


CQ has posted a An Open Letter To The United States Senate that I urge readers to check out, and use as a start for a letter you write to your Senators and Congressmen.


Dems wonder "What if Bush was right"

Mark Noonan learned from the Wednesday, March 2 posting by Tom Elia on The New Editor identifying a very interesting item on the left wing FunctionalAmbivalent entitled Bush, Greatness and the End of the Liberalism which raises the question So here's something I've been thinking about lately: What if President Bush ends up being remembered by history as a great President?

What if the Neocons were right about the Middle East, that it was at a tipping point just waiting for someone to give it a shove toward the modern world? What if Iraq really was the key?

He goes on to identify a number of additional "what if" dominoes, and then asks the question What do we do if President Bush was right? What do we do if the Mideastern dominoes start falling and President Bush goes down in history as Winston Churchill, while we go down as Neville Chamberlain, howling weakly that diplomacy works and military force is no longer necessary? What if our most conservative President goes down in history as a great contributor to the liberal ideals of freedom and tolerance, while we Democrats -- we liberals -- go down as cold-hearted and fearful, unconcerned about the suffering of our fellows while we sit contentedly in our affluence? If that happens, are we even liberals any more?

There are some very interesting comments and trackbacks to his interesting post. Some are the normal "angry left" sort of responses one usually finds on Daily Kos or Atrios but there are some that seem to indicate that Tom (the poster of the question) may not be the only Democrat that can think and reason.

I believe that Bush was right, and that the dominos are falling, and when they finish falling I hope that the loud Bush Haters will be so stunned that reasonable Democratic voices like Tom's will be able to be heard.

To answer Tom's question, yes you will still be liberals, but hopefully once the dominos have fallen, and the loud Bush Haters are stunned into silence, I hope that we can have some reasonable discussions, because there are a number of things that need to be accomplished on a bi-partisan level, that just can't be accomplished with the Bush Haters screaming so loudly.


Google AutoLink Questioned

The Google Toolbar is a useful addition to Internet Explorer. It will not work with other browsers, although there is an independently developed Googlebar that Firefix and Mozilla can use.

Google just recently came out with Toolbar 3.0 beta with support for AutoLink that adds hyperlinks Google deems useful to the Web pages you visit. The idea is to automate the process of jumping from a street address to, say, a map, sparing users having to retype or copy the address.

An article in the Washington Post points out that there is a controversy about whether Google has the right to add links to pages authored by others. For now, AutoLink works in only four categories: street addresses (whisking you to Google Maps by default, but you can switch to MapQuest or Yahoo Maps); ISBN numbers (linking to book pages); package tracking numbers (pointing to DHL, FedEx, United Parcel Service and the U.S. Postal Service); and vehicle identification numbers (jumping to car history reports at, but what would be the case if Google started selling ads for keywords, and whenever that keyword appeared in a page you authored, and if they suddenly converted that keyword into a hot link to the page of the person who bought the ad. Generally a web page designer likes to decide what hot links to include in his page, and where they should link to, and most web page designer would not be happy to know that Google was going to "modify their work" and add links to some page of someone that paid Google money to have their page linked to.

See JackLewis for links to more Blogs discussing this.


Voter Apathy

As the AP reported:

If no one votes in a referendum, does the measure pass or fail? That was the question facing local officials after no one voted in Tuesday's local option sales tax election in Jesup. A small part of the town is in Black Hawk County. The rest is in Buchanan County.

Voters everywhere else in Black Hawk County voted to extend the tax another five years.

But in Jesup, officials were wondering if it passed or failed since none of the 27 registered votes who live on the Black Hawk County side voted.

Phyllis Peters, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Secretary of State's Office, said Wednesday the measure failed.

"Unless there are more votes for 'yes' than 'no', it's doesn't pass," Peters said.

Revenues from the 1-cent local option sales tax would have been used for water and sewer services in Jesup.

Jesup officials declined comment.

Your vote counts

Jesup residents lucked out this time, but just think about it.

If you like lower taxes, ifone person had voted for the tax, all 27 residents would have had to pay for it.

If you wanted to see the water and sewer services improved, if one person had voted for the tax, it would have passed.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Tulsa is among the best at saving cardiac victims

Yahoo! News reports Tulsa is among the USA's best at saving cardiac victims

I am not sure where to find the 2003 study, but in 2001 this shows both Tulsa and Oklahoma City were in the first tier.

This indicated Tulsa had a 26% survival rate; average call-to-shock: 8 minutes, 48 seconds. Oklahoma City had a 27% rate; average call-to-shock: 7 minutes, 36 seconds, and Seattle had a 45% survival rate, highest among the nation's 50 biggest cities. On average, Seattle's emergency crews took 8 minutes 46 seconds to shock victims of sudden cardiac arrest. That time includes 90 seconds of CPR, in accordance with city protocol.

In late 2003 USA Today said Other cities — including Milwaukee, Tulsa, San Francisco, Houston and Kansas City — save more than twice the national average by following the same steps and closely measuring performance.

And another article indicated Tom Wagner, chief operating officer of Oklahoma City and Tulsa's Emergency Medical Services Authority, which provides care for 1.1 million residents in Oklahoma. "We looked at the top two and said, 'What do they do?' " (Ok City was 3rd in that study) and Today, Oklahoma is pouring money and manpower into two key areas that the top cities — Seattle and Boston — view as priorities.

Yesterday USA Today reported Tulsa stands on the opposite side of this great theoretical divide from Oklahoma City, which is increasing its paramedics corps.

The two cities, 100 miles apart, save about the same percentage of cardiac arrest victims — 26% in Tulsa and 27% in Oklahoma City. But their fire departments have different views on how many paramedics they need.

In Tulsa, each resident spends $3.29 per year in taxes for 128 paramedics. In Oklahoma City, residents each pay $11.40 for 226 paramedics.

In Tulsa, five of 30 fire engines have paramedics. In Oklahoma City, almost half of its fire engines have paramedics — 17 of 35.


FOX Is Killing Them

Dirty Harry at Stranded On Blue Islands pointed out that these ratings (PDF file) shows Not only is FOX winning primetime handily but it's non-primetime shows are beating ALL the other's primetime shows. In other words FOX's morning and afternoon shows are beating Paula Zahn, Aaron Brown, Lou Dobbs, and Chris Matthews. Yeah, Linda Vester gets better ratings than Paula Zahn. The sole exception is Larry King. Unbelievable.

Actually Fox's Hannity & Colmes is on opposite CNN's Larry King and if we compare them:

COV AA%AA (000)AA (000)AA (000)AA (000)AA (000)#Tlc

We see that Hannity & Colmes beat Larry King in every category except Tic (whatever that is).

And if you check a comparison of Feb 04 and 05 ratings we see Hannity & Colmes came up 19% and Larry King Live went down 23%:

4 to 5pm: FNC, Your World, +3% vs CNN, Inside Politics/Crossfire, -19% and MSNBC, Lester Holt Live, -39%

5 to 6pm: FNC, The Big Story, +12% vs CNN, Wolf Blitzer Reports, -17% and MSNBC, Connected Coast to Coast, -19%

6 to 7pm: FNC, Special Report, +20% vs CNN, Lou Dobbs Tonight, -17% and MSNBC, Abrams Report, -28%

7 to 8pm: FNC, The Fox Report, +2% vs CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 2% and MSNBC, Hardball, -20%

8 to 9pm: FNC, The O'Reilly Factor, +9% vs CNN, Paula Zahn Now, -17% and MSNBC, Countdown, -22%

9 to 10pm: FNC, Hannity & Colmes, +19% vs CNN, Larry King Live, -23% and MSNBC, Investigates/Reports, +6%

10 to 11pm: FNC, On the Record, +37% vs CNN, NewsNight, -26% and MSNBC, Scarborough Country, -17%

Variety says CNN flops in February as Fox News surges   FNC only cable news network to see gains in primetime


Bait and Switch Salazar

Senator Ken Salazar urged President Bush yesterday to "withdraw all of his renominated judicial candidates"

Matt at BlogsForBush said Meyers has as many as 58 votes according to Arlen Specter, and as Matt said today If Salazar thinks Bush should withdraw the nomination of someone who not only has enough votes to be confirmed but is also near-filibuster proof, then there was never any hope for Salazar... he's just a freshmen obstructionist who thinks President Bush's nominees should be held hostage by the minority party in the Senate. Salazar must be insane if he thinks re-nominating judicial candidates who would be confirmed if they were given the chance to have up-or-down votes makes Bush the divisive one.

Captain's Quarters said Salazar appears to have perfected the bait-and-switch so common to those who want to appeal to the center during a general election and then suck up to the money the rest of the time. (See Hillary Clinton as another example.) The Coloradans who voted for Salazar over the GOP's Pete Coors figured that the two didn't have much difference in policy and that Salazar had more experience. Perhaps they should have checked into Salazar's character a little more closely instead.

As Dirty Harry at Stranded On Blue Islands said Just when you think you've found a reasonable Democrat he exposes himself to be another lying, backstabbing, smarmy, snake oil salesman willing to do or say anything to get elected..


Phishing Bill

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy introduced the "Anti-Phishing Act of 2005" to impose fines of up to $250,000 and jail terms of up to five years against anyone convicted of creating fake corporate Web sites and fraudulent e-mail messages designed to fleece consumers. The legislation would prevent online parodies and political speech from being prosecuted as phishing.

I could not find the full text of this bill, but last year he introduced a similar bill, and its text is here. Related (but not identical) legislation is the Internet Spyware (I-SPY) Prevention Act of 2004 (Passed by the house and received in Senate from House)[H.R.4661.RDS]


Blogs, vlogs, and moblogs

As the The New York Times indicated blogging (online text journals) are expanding, and now there are video blogs, or vlogs, which incorporate moving images, and camera cell phones are being used to create mobile blogs, or moblogs.

As the article indicated, Some vloggers are further blurring the lines between journalism and blogging by producing news reports of local interest. Steve Garfield of Boston, a self-described citizen reporter, took a video camera to investigate, among other things, whether election campaign workers were following the law by staying 150 feet from polling stations. He posted his report here.

Warning: I tried viewing his video, and my computer locked up. I suspect it is a conflict between Real Player and something else on my system, so it will probably work for you, but just to be safe make sure to save any open documents before you try it.

As the article indicated Dozens of free Web-based services, including (owned by Google and host of this blog), Microsoft's MSN Spaces, and, enable people to create a blog within minutes.

Most free services provide only basic features, like posting text, and limit the photos, audio and video that users can upload. But these sites typically offer premium services for $2.50 to $5 a month that provide far richer features.


Not Sir Bill

MacCentral: Bill Gates picks up honorary knighthood from Queen Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates will receive an honorary Knighthood from the U.K.'s Queen Elizabeth II in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.

Gates has been awarded the title KBE, or Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for his contribution to enterprise, employment, education and the voluntary sector in the U.K., and for his efforts to reduce poverty in the developing world, including parts of the British Commonwealth.

As part of the ceremony to present the decoration, Gates will kneel before the monarch, who will tap him on the shoulder with a sword. The motto of the order of chivalry is "For God and the Empire."

Under a system established in 1917, Gates cannot use the title "Sir" because he is not a U.K. or Commonwealth citizen, but he can write the letters KBE after his name."

Ronald Reagan, George Bush Senior, Rudolph Giuliani, Gen. Tommy Franks, former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Bob Hope, and Steven Spielberg have received the KBE.

Once Bill Gages receives this "free upgrade", I wonder if he will be equally generous with upgrades from Microsoft.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Call for freedom

Telegraph reports Arab world squirms at impact of Bush's call for freedom. In the few weeks since President George W Bush declared in his inaugural speech that America would defend itself by promoting "the expansion of freedom in all the world", his speech appears to be having a revolutionary impact on the Middle East.

Iraqis have defied the bombers to go to the polls, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has announced multi-party presidential elections, Palestinians will unveil a democratic reform package in London today and, last night, Lebanon's prime minister resigned in the face of "people power" on Beirut's streets.

They left out the democratic election in Afganistan and the revote in the Ukranian elections, but maybe the Arab world did not notice them.

But I guarantee you that the rest of the world noticed all of it, including the oppressed majority in Iran, and the "Arab Street" in many other countries.

God Bless President Bush, and may God be with the people in all of the Islamic countries, both Arab and non-Arab.

Hat tip to Paul at Blogs for Bush


Best and Worst Governors

The Club For Growth announced their list of Best and Worst Governors for 2004. First place went to Arnold Schwarzenegger with a score of 84 and a grade of A. Oklahoma's Brad Henry (D) got a score of 65 and a grade of C, which put him in 16th place.

4 governors (all Republicans) received a grade of A, 11 governors (7 Republicans, 4 Democrats) recieved a grade of B, 11 governors (7 Republicans, 4 Democrats) received a grade of C, 12 governors (4 Republicans, 8 Democrats) received a grade of D, and 4 governors (1 Republican, 3 Democrats) received a grade of F.

The grades of the governors of some of America’s most populous states are Jeb Bush of Florida, B; George Pataki of New York, B; Rick Perry of Texas, B; and Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, D.

Oklahoma ranked 8th in Real per Capita Spending Increases,1991 –2002 (99% increase), Henry got a 78 Soending Score and a grade of B with -3.4% for Average Annual Recommended Change in Real per Capita General Fund Spending through 2005, and -2.9% Average Annual Change in General Fund Spending per $1,000 Personal Income 2002 – 2005. He got a 60 Tax Score and a grade of C with 2.1% Average Annual Recommended Tax Changes as % of Prior Year’s Spending through 2005, -0.2% Average Annual Recommended Change in General Fund Revenue per $1,000 Personal Income through 2005, and 0.2% Average Annual Change in Real per Capita General Fund Revenue 2002 –2005, 0.0 Change in Top Corporate Income Tax Rate (%point), 0.0 Change in Top Personal Income Tax Rate (%point), 13.0 2004 Combined Top Income Tax Rates (personal plus corporate), 0.0 Change in Sales Tax Rate (%point), 0.0 Change in Gas Tax Rate (cents per gallon), 77.0 Change in Cigarette Tax Rate (cents per pack).

The report says Governor Brad Henry scored an upset electoral victory over conservative favorite Steve Largent by a narrow margin. Compared with Largent, Henry looked like a status quo candidate: the GOP contender had proposed eliminating the state income tax, while Henry sang the praises of his plan to institute a state lottery. The idea of eliminating the income tax was promoted vigorously by outgoing Republican governor Frank Keating, and it’s a testament to his leadership on tax cuts that gubernatorial candidates of all political stripes—including Henry’s primary opponent and the independent candidate—endorsed some version of that idea. All except Brad Henry, that is. But to his credit, in 2003 Henry refused to endorse a 1-cent sales tax increase strongly supported by the teachers’ unions. His FY04 budget included no broad-based tax increases but did include a cigarette tax increase. Henry’s main strength on this report card is spending control, at which Keating did a terrible job. Henry’s budgets have grown substantially more slowly than population plus inflation. Henry’s best tax proposals were a freeze in the top income tax rate at 6.65 percent and the elimination of the capital gains tax for Oklahoma-based property held for five years or more. Both of those represent strong supply-side tax policy that Henry should be encouraging. More of that could earn him a higher grade in 2006.


Supreme Court Bars Death Penalty for Juvenile Killers

As the The New York Times reported the Supreme Court Bars Death Penalty for Juvenile Killers.

Missouri resident Christopher Simmons was 17 years old when kidnapped a neighbor, hog tied her, and threw her off a bridge, killing her. Simmons was sentenced to death for the crime.

Now the Supreme Court has ruled that juveniles may not be sentenced to death. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and noted that the trend among states was to abolish the practice of imposing the death penalty on juvenile criminals and said, "Our society views juveniles ... as categorically less culpable than the average criminal."

The decision is available (in PDF format) here and here

As Mark Noonan with BlogsForBush indicated Justice Scalia disagreed with the decision, "arguing that there has been no clear trend of declining juvenile executions to justify a growing consensus against the practice."

On GOPbloggers Mark indicated As an opponent of the death penalty I find the ruling bizarre - if its cruel and unusual to execute a 17 year old murderer, then its cruel and unusual to execute an 18 year old murderer. Thing is, the death penalty is never, ever cruel and unusual - it is, in my view, just not the most effective way to punish, with the additional problem of the possibility of executing the innocent. Rather than death, I'd sentence our worst criminals to a very, very hard life term. has some additional information

PowerLineBlog noted that Justice Kennedy relied on international law and practice to "confirm" his view that the juvenile death penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. He also cited the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the U.S. signed only subject to the reservation of its right to impose the death penalty for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age.

In NRO's The Corner Shannen Coffin noted that SCOTUS cited an unratified treaty as reasoning for it's decision. No one, however, has directly addressed the implications of Scalia's comment that (paraphrasing) "the court now joins and ratifies treaties."

Opinio Juris noted I am not sad to see the juvenile death penalty go away, but I do think it is odd that treaties to which the U.S. government specifically reserved the question at issue (the international legality of the juvenile death penalty) are being used as evidence of what the U.S. Constitution requires.

Personally I am not sure I understand the difference between being killed by a 17 year old and an 18 year old; it seems one is just as dead, and some very bad crimes are being committed by people under 18.

But the thing that disturbs me the most about this decision is that an unratified treaty was used to make the decision.


Firefox Still Gaining on IE

Technology News reports Firefox Still Gaining on IE But Uptake Slowing, indicating For Internet Explorer, the 90 percent market share level was expected by some analysts to be a tipping point of sorts. However, the current usage is just one-hundredth of a point below that level and when only Windows-based browsers are considered, IE's share rises to around 93 percent. News reports he pace is slackening off with its market share growing just 15% in the five weeks leading up to February 18. In the six weeks prior, it grew at 22%.

Gee they both seem respectible levels, and you can't always maintain extremely high levels.

HTML Fixit notes Recently both Websidestory and Onestat released their findings that although Firefox usage was still growing, it’s uptake was slowing down a little. I don’t believe that is the full story and I’m about to tell you why. The first thing to keep in mind, is that Onestat collect their statistics from users of their various online counter offerings. Websidestory apparently get their statistics from several big sites like Disney, Sony, Best Buy and Liz Claiborne.

The problem is is that both of these methods miss a crucial (vast) and growing Internet population, namely the power users. In the case of Onestat with their online counter systems, the problem is that generally only two types of clients use this type of service, newbies and occasionally businesses. In the case of Websidestory, the big sites they monitor are not those likely to be those visited by power Internet users, if you are one yourself, do you remember the last time you visited Disney or Liz Clairborne?

That skips a vast portion of the Internet’s users, namely the techies and power users. These guys know what they want online, they know where to go, and a vastly higher number of them use the Firefox web browser.

As one of those power users I think one reason power users are moving to Firefox are because of its LiveBookmark support for RSS feeds, as I covered in January and the Tabbed Browsing I covered in February

DigitalHomeCanada reports The Mozilla Foundation, which recently made Firefox 1.0.1 available, says there have been 25 million downloads of the Firefox browser in the first 100 days since its release.

As Software Journal noted They came, they conquered, than they created a mess and now it is the time to clean up the mess. Microsoft released their Internet Explorer browser free in the times when Netscape ruled the World Wide Web with their Netscape Navigator. They hit the competition so hard when they integrated Internet Explorer with Windows 98 that Netscape had to give away their browser application for free. However, it was a step taken too late as Internet Explorer dominated the computers all around the world and reached a stage where it touched the market share of more than 90%.

However, recent days have seen Firefox hitting Microsoft in the same market where Microsoft practically killed all sort of competition. Firefox gave the web users an alternative, which was free, secure and worked nicely. Moreover, people are embracing it with open hands.

If you have not tried Firefox yet, why not give it a try


Crossing Over

RCox wrote a very interesting account of being a credentialed blogger at CPAC. As far as I know this is one of the first events when bloggers were officially recognized and credentialed, but as RCox indicates, whatever colored "tag" bloggers are given by the credentialing people (green at CPAC), we are still not treated as media when it comes to access to newsmakers. This seems particularly distrubing, since as RCox indicated Unlike when I am sitting in my pajamas plotting the downfall of yet another news anchor, at CPAC I had to wear pants and everything. Gee, you would have thought that by wearing pants, it would have been easier for him to be able to interview people. <grin>

At least the CPAC bloggers had their own laptops. John Fund, highly respected Wall Street Journal columnist, apparently did not have his own, and did not want to wait in line in the media center to use one of the machines provided for the press, so he went into blogger's corner and took over a blogger's laptop twice.


Mission based on love

Dems have been fighting President Bush's Faith Based Initiative because they oppose anything related to faith. Today in his speech:
to the Faith-Based Agenda at Leadership Conference, President Bush said Government has got to find ways to empower those whose mission is based upon love in order to help those who need love find love in society.

The Dems are opposed to expressions of faith. I wonder if they are also opppsed to expressions of "love", and helping those who need love find love in society.


World's greatest argument against raising the wage cap

Hat tip to Social Security Choice for noticing the World's greatest argument against raising the wage cap.

Paul Krugman wrote an article Just Say No in which he said "As a result, an increase in the payroll tax maximum would make it much harder to pass other tax increases"

I have always assumed that passing other tax increases was the main objective of Democrats, but I want to thank Paul for confirming that for me.

Paul indicated that some Republicans are reported to be talking about a compromise in which they would agree to some kind of tax increase, probably a rise in the maximum level of earnings subject to the payroll tax. They would offer to use the revenue from that tax increase, rather than borrowed funds, to establish private accounts, thereby assuaging fears about the huge debt buildup that would take place under the administration's plan.

That part is consistent with the Dems opposition to doing anything about creating private accounts in Social Security, but Paul is so opposed to it that he goes on and says "They might even agree to make private accounts an add-on to traditional benefits, not a replacement. But it would still be a bad deal. Creating private accounts in the current environment, no matter how they are financed, would be a mistake."

Even the AARP encourages people to have their own private investment accouts, they just back the Democrats in opposing them within in Social Security.

Hat tip to Social Security Choice


TCS leaders and their spouses

In the past six months the Tulsa Computer Society lost a former President Bruce Carson and the spouse of another former President Ruby McKee


Financing Jihad

Hat tip to LGF for identifying two examples of the financing of jihad today:


The Making Of A 9/11 Republican ran an opinion piece by Cinnamon Stillwell entitled The Making Of A 9/11 Republican.

Having been indoctrinated in the postcolonialist, self-loathing school of multiculturalism, I thought America was the root of all evil in the world...... So, what happened to change all that? In a nutshell, 9/11. The terrorist attacks on this country were not only an act of war but also a crime against humanity. It seemed glaringly obvious to me at the time, and it still does today. But the reaction of my former comrades on the left bespoke a different perspective. The day after the attacks, I dragged myself into work, still in a state of shock, and the first thing I heard was one of my co-workers bellowing triumphantly, "Bush got his war!" There was little sympathy for the victims of this horrific attack, only an irrational hatred for their own country.

Thoroughly disgusted by the behavior of those on the left, I began to look elsewhere for support. To my astonishment, I found that the only voices that seemed to me to be intellectually and morally honest were on the right. Suddenly, I was listening to conservative talk-show hosts on the radio and reading conservative columnists, and they were making sense. When I actually met conservatives, I discovered that they did not at all embody the stereotypes with which I'd been inculcated as a liberal.....

So I became what's now commonly known as a "9/11 Republican." Living in a time of war, disenchanted with the left and disappointed with the obstructionism and lack of vision of the Democratic Party, I threw in my hat with the only party that seemed to be offering solutions, rather than simply tearing away at our country. I went from voting for Ralph Nader in 2000 to proudly casting my ballot for George W. Bush in 2004.

See other writings by Cinnamon Stillwell

Hat tip to LittleGreenFootballs


Monday, February 28, 2005

Lieberman Can Still Think For Himself

ThinkProgress is upset, because it appears that Joe Lieberman can still think for himself on the issue of Social Security.

In 1998 he realized I think in the end that individual control of part of the retirement/Social Security funds has to happen

In 2000 he backtracked and said For a while I was drilling into this idea of privatization of Social Security. It requires taking as much as a trillion dollars out of the Social Security fund. The independent analysts have said that would put the fund out of money in 2023, or if it’s not out of money, benefits will have to be cut by over 50%. That’s just not worth doing.

In 2005 he started thinking for himself again Some of these centrists, such as Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., have been meeting with Republican colleagues to discuss whether there is a middle ground.


Lebanese ministers resign office

BBC News reports Lebanese ministers resign office

Lebanon's Prime Minister Omar Karimi has announced he and his government are resigning, two weeks after the murder of former PM Rafik Hariri.

The move comes as crowds protest in Beirut, calling for Syrian troops to leave the country.

Hat tip to Drudge

Yahoo ran a Reuter's report from 42 minutes ago

As PowerLine said "It seems that Middle Easterners may not be so different from everyone else after all: when they see an opportunity to live normal lives, they seize it. Next stop, Iran?"

As Andrew Sullivan said: I think even the fiercest critics of president Bush's handling of the post-liberation phase in Iraq will still be thrilled at what appears to me to be glacial but important shifts in the right direction in the region. The Iraq elections may not be the end of the Middle East Berlin Wall, but they certainly demonstrate its crumbling. The uprising against Syria's occupation of Lebanon is extremely encouraging; Syria's attempt to buy off some good will by coughing up Saddam's half-brother is also a good sign; ditto Mubarak's attempt to make his own dictatorship look more democratic. Add all of that to the emergence of Abbas and a subtle shift in the Arab media and you are beginning to see the start of a real and fundamental change. Almost all of this was accomplished by the liberation of Iraq. Nothing else would have persuaded the thugs and mafia bosses who run so many Arab nations that the West is serious about democracy. The hard thing for liberals - and I don't mean that term in a pejorative sense - will be to acknowledge this president's critical role in moving this region toward democracy. In my view, 9/11 demanded nothing less. We are tackling the problem at the surface - by wiping out the institutional core of al Qaeda - and in the depths - by tackling the autocracy that makes Islamo-fascism more attractive to the younger generation. This is what we owed to the victims of 9/11. And we are keeping that trust.

The dominos are falling


Battle beween lefties

The Washington Examiner printed a very funny exchange of emails between University of Southern California professor Susan Estrich and Michael Kinsley, opinion and editorial editor at the L.A. Times.

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan

Update 3/7/05:

As Pete The Elder noted, Deacon at Powerline suggests the Susan Estrich start a blog, but as Junk Yard Blog reports she already tried that.

JunkYardDog indicated LATimesBias at one time appeared to be Susan Estrich's blog (it is no longer a blog), and as B. Preston said If "Stop the Bias" is Susan Estrich's blog, it would explain quite a bit. On the blog she writes in all caps, often, a sign that she cannot make her points without resorting to the internet equivalent of yelling at the top of her lungs. Her sentences go nowhere and often make no sense. She can't carry an argument past the first clause in a sentence, let alone sustain it for an entire post. There is no logic to any of the posts there other than a kind of "I am woman, here me roar" schtick that wore old circa 1978. So if "Stop the Bias" is Susan Estrich's blog, the mystery of why the LA Times doesn't publish her editorials is solved: The Times doesn't publish Susan Estrich because she is a lousy writer. Period.



Michaelle Malkin referred to a post by PoliPundit which she says is a simple, humane, effective plan. It was based on some questions from The Hedgehog Blog.

What is your plan, and how will you get it enacted?

PolPundit wants to crack down on employeers who don't check social security numbers by using a pilot program for an Internet-based Social Security number verification service that can verify up to 10 SSNs instantaneously.

Gee that sounds nice. Fake document producers will have an ability to run 10 numbers through the system to find one that will check out, and then they can make up a false social security card for an illegal.

Clearly this will not work until we get identification cards that are not so easy to forge.

Do you really think the American public has the stomach to see 10 million people deported, many of whom have been here all their lives?

We are making a mistake if we worry about whether we should kick out illegals or whether we should let them stay. We need a system with an ID card that is difficult, if not impossible, to forge, and then make sure employeers check for that ID card. I really don't care whether we provide them that card here in the US for an illegal that has been here all his life, or whether he has to get it at the border coming in. He should not be able to get a job without it, and it should indicate whether he is a citizen or not, and if he is not a citizen we should be able to track him.

If the public is not ready to do that, are you prepared to see the Republican Party spend the political capital necessary to convince them?

I really do not care whether we deport the 10 million that are here now and make them come through the border again to get a secure ID card, or whether we provide it here in the country.

I have no problem with Bush's Guest Worker program. But whether the workers for that program are here already or come over to fill a need, they should have an unforgable ID card that says whether they are citizens or not.


Sunday, February 27, 2005

13 States to Raise High School Standards

As GOP Bloggers indicated "13 States to Raise High School Standards"

This is very good news, and it ties in with Bush's Education Initiative

For recent news items related to Education see my site

The education system has been going downhill for years. I am 62, and when my Mother was in college she was called in by the Dean of the College of Education and chewed out for cutting classes. She told him she never cut any of the important classes; the only classes she cut were the Education classes. He was not amused, but my mother realized that the garbage they taught in the Education classes was just not worth while.

We need to test teachers for what they know about the subject they are to teach, and ignore the garbage about HOW to teach.


Terri Schiavo

Most of the bloggers on this subject, including Michael Bates and Powerpundit and Discarded Lies seem to question Michael Schiavo's right to say that Terri would not want to be kept alive in her situation. I agree with Blogs for Bush it is unfortunate that she did not put her desires down in a Living Will, and hopefully her situation will prompt people to make one out, regardless of whether you would want to be kept alive in a situation like Terri's or whether you would want to be allowed to die.

But I wonder two things.

  1. Since February 1990 when Terri collapsed in her home and has been kept alive despite her husband's statement she would not want to be kept alive under circumstances like this, how many babies have been killed by doctors just because that was their mother's CHOICE, without anone considering what the baby's choice might be
  2. How much money has been spent on hospital and doctors charges keeping Terri alive since February 1990, and how many people who are conscious and who clearly say they want to live but who die anyway could have been kept alive with that money


Encouraging Signs

As BatesLine says in The dash (to the right) of Cinnamon there are encouraging signs as the Democrats' vacillating response to Islamofascism are driving otherwise liberal voters to become "9/11 Republicans".