Friday, February 03, 2006

Offending Religion

Muslims all over the world are upset because a Danish newspaper printed 12 cartoons they say are offensive to Muslims, and they are threatening an International Day of Anger, because Islamists faked some additional cartoons and attributed them to the Danes to inflame the Arab world.

News alert to Muslims: Denmark is NOT a Muslim country. And newspapers in Muslim countries regularly run cartoons offensive to Jews.

I've got news for them. America is a (80 to 90%) Christian country, and our own newspapers praise artwork with Christ in urine, and the Virgin Mary covered in dung, mocking images of Jesus Christ, or Bin Laden as Christ, Rolling Stones prints a cover with Kanye West-as-Christ, and we have a network that plans to feature Britney Spears as the host of a fictional cooking segment called "Cruci-fixin's" in an upcoming "Will & Grace" epsiode, and a network plans an epsiode that makes a mockery out of the sacrament of the Eucharist, and many others too numerous to name, yet while it makes Christians sad, and even angry, we are not rioting in the streets.

Check out the new Faces of Muhammad blog.

Daryl Cagle, of the professional cartoonists index, has been following this story on his blog, and also prints lots of cartoons arguing for and against these depictions of Mohammad.


Jews against Boehner

David Harris on NJDC blogged What Every American Jew Should Know About John Boehner

  1. For School Prayer and Amending the Constitution: Rep. Boehner supported a school prayer amendment to the United States Constitution in 1997; voted to permit school prayer "during this time of struggle against the forces of international terrorism"; and voted to only allow federal aid to schools that allow prayer.
    Why should a Jew oppose prayer? Don't Jews pray? There is nothing that Boehner has said that would restrict prayers to Christian Prayers.
  2. For Forced Religion in Anti-Poverty Programs: Rep. Boehner voted to permit taxpayer-funded anti-poverty programs to require aid recipients to join in religious activities.
    Actually what he supported was allowing faith-based organizations, including Jewish organizations to participate on an equal footing with secular organizations.
  3. 100% Against a Woman's Right to Choose: Rep. Boehner received a "0%" pro-choice score from NARAL Pro-Choice America in 2005.
    Jewish babies are being aborted every day.
  4. For Religious Employment Discrimination: Rep. Boehner voted to permit taxpayer-funded anti-poverty programs to engage in federally-funded employment discrimination.
    As indicated above, he favors allowing Faith Based organizations to participate on an equal footing, and if a Jewish organization decides to participate, it would be able to require its employees to be Jews
  5. Against the Rule of Law in Ten Commandments Case: Rep. Boehner voted to prevent the Justice Department from enforcing a court order to remove a 5,000 pound Ten Commandments monument from Alabama's state supreme court.
    The 10 commandments come from the Torah.
  6. Against Common-Sense Environmental Safeguards: Rep. Boehner voted for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
    Environmental risks are minimized, and it would make us less dependent on Muslem controlled sources of oil.
    voted to gut the Endangered Species Act; and voted to weaken the National Environmental Policy Act.
  7. For More Religious Employment Discrimination: Rep. Boehner voted to permit taxpayer-funded job training programs to engage in religious discrimination when hiring and firing employees with federal funds.
    As discused twice above, Faith Based Jewish groups would be as eligible as Christian groups to bid to participate.
  8. Against Confronting Proselytizing at the Air Force Academy: Rep. Boehner voted against an amendment to squarely address religious coercion and proselytizing at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado.
    They may have gone overboard at the AF Academy, but the amendment to "address" it went overboard the other direction.
  9. Led the Effort to Inject Religious Employment Discrimination into Head Start: Rep. Boehner added a controversial amendment in September to a previously bipartisan School Readiness Act which would "allow federally funded early-child-care providers to discriminate on religious grounds"
    This is the 4th (of 10) objections to allowing Faith Based organizations to participate on an equal footing with secular groups.
  10. Pushed Ohio Schools to Embrace "Intelligent Design:"
    Genesis is a part of the Torah.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Carter Lost His Mind

CNN reported Hamas deserves to be recognized by the international community, and despite the group's militant history, there is a chance the soon-to-be Palestinian leaders could turn away from violence, former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday.

Carter also said: Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
Carter, who monitored last week's Palestinian elections in which Hamas handily toppled the ruling Fatah, added that the United States should not cut off aid to the Palestinian people, but rather funnel it through third parties like the U.N.
Oh, that's a brilliant idea. The UN can certainly be trusted, can't it. Maybe they will set up another Oil for Food Program.
"If you sponsor an election or promote democracy and freedom around the world, then when people make their own decision about their leaders, I think that all the governments should recognize that administration and let them form their government," Carter said.
I don't believe anyone is suggesting not letting them form their government, or even withholding recognition of that government (assuming an area that is not a "state" can have a government). Now negotating with such a "government" or providing it with money are entirely different matters.
"If there are prohibitions -- like, for instance, in the United States, against giving any money to a government that is controlled by Hamas -- then the United States could channel the same amount of money to the Palestinian people through the United Nations, through the refugee fund, through UNICEF, things of that kind," he added.
Even if US Law would permit it (and I am not sure it would), I am not sure which of those funds is the least dishonest.
CQ blogged If people use democracy to elect hate-filled bigots and murderous terrorists into power, then they should suffer the consequences of that choice, not get a free pass from the world. Hamas explicitly calls for the destruction on Israel in its charter and has refused to change its position, even after its electoral victory. It has conducted attacks on Israeli citizens, both suicide bombings and quasi-military rocket attacks. It gets its funding from Iran due to its Islamofascist goals and activities, and some evidence exists that it partners with al-Qaeda.

None of this matters to Carter, the fool who first allowed Islamofascism into power with his refusal to support the Shah and his subsequent inaction after Iranians sacked our embassy in Teheran. He continues his decades-long effort to follow in the footsteps of Neville Chamberlain, only he refuses to share in Chamberlain's epiphany about appeasement after Munich. Carter also insisted that Yasser Arafat was ready to make peace, and instead we got stiffed at Oslo and at Wye and wound up with two intifadas as a result.

Carter remains America's most embarrassing and dangerous ex-President. With his apologetics for terrorists, one hopes that his credibility will finally dissipate and his advice will be recognized for the foolishness it is.

Tigerhawk blogged Before we get to the really stupid part, haven't we learned that "channeling" money through the United Nations -- which quite obviously has worse internal controls than Jeff Skilling's Enron -- is a profoundly bad idea? The left, which thinks that every nickel the Pentagon loses is a totem to financial mismanagement, suddenly gets all "billion here, billion there" when the United Nations is involved. The great American center knows that it would be asinine to recruit Kofi Annan's friends and relatives to launder our money so that we can skirt federal law and continue to fund the Palestinian Authority.

The people of Palestine elected a government that is expressly at war with America's most stalwart ally outside of the Anglosphere, and Jimmy Carter declares that notwithstanding this they have a right "to pay their school teachers, policemen, welfare workers, health workers and provide food for people."

Wrong. The Palestinians have a right -- finally -- to elect their own leadership. They have exercised that right. They have a responsibility to pay their school teachers, policemen, welfare workers, health workers and provide food for people. That Palestinian Arabs have exercised their rights in a way that makes it very difficult for them to perform their responsibilities reflects on their immaturity -- or even incompetence -- as a society.

It is this kind of thinking that is killing the Democrats.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Western Union Stops Sending Telegrams

LiveScience reports After 145 years, Western Union has quietly stopped sending telegrams. On the company's web site, if you click on "Telegrams" in the left-side navigation bar, you're taken to a page that ends a technological era with about as little fanfare as possible: "Effective January 27, 2006, Western Union will discontinue all Telegram and Commercial Messaging services. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you for your loyal patronage. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a customer service representative."
The end of an era. Now all we need is for McDonalds to stop selling hamburgers.
The decline of telegram use goes back at least to the 1980s, when long-distance telephone service became cheap enough to offer a viable alternative in many if not most cases. Faxes didn't help. Email could be counted as the final nail in the coffin. Western Union has not failed. It long ago refocused its main business to make money transfers for consumers and businesses. Revenues are now $3 billion annually. It's now called Western Union Financial Services, Inc. and is a subsidiary of First Data Corp. The world's first telegram was sent on May 24, 1844 by inventor Samuel Morse. The message, "What hath God wrought," was transmitted from Washington to Baltimore. In a crude way, the telegraph was a precursor to the Internet in that it allowed rapid communication, for the first time, across great distances. Western Union goes back to 1851 as the Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company. In 1856 it became the Western Union Telegraph Company after acquisition of competing telegraph systems. By 1861, during the Civil War, it had created a coast-to-coast network of lines.


Muhammad cartoon row intensifies

BBC NEWS reported Newspapers across Europe have reprinted caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to show support for a Danish paper whose cartoons have sparked Muslim outrage. Seven publications in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain all carried some of the drawings.

They were very brave, but I suspect they may start getting the same attacks that are happening now in Denmark. See this post for links to sites posting all 12 cartoons.
Their publication in Denmark led Arab nations to protest. Islamic tradition bans depictions of the Prophet.


Move On's "Operation Democracy" Plan

Left Wing MoveOn hopes to enable Democrats to take over Congress in 2006, and they call their plan "Operation Democracy"; this seems like an "interesting" name, since the Dems are so opposed to efforts to expanding Democracy in the Middle East.

Here's are the three pillars of the plan:

  1. Hold Republicans accountable every day on Iraq,
    As George Bush said in the State of the Union speach, "in less than three years, that nation (Iraq) has gone from dictatorship, to liberation, to sovereignty, to a constitution, to national elections." As the Dems "hold us accountable" for that, they show that they had little if any part in it.
    their corruption,
    Republicans got more of the Abramof money than Dems did, because Republicans are in control (why pay for ineffective votes), but the Dems got a significant part of the money.
    and the economic reverse-Robin-Hood-ism that has become their trademark.
    As George Bush said in the State of the Union speach, "Our economy is healthy, and vigorous, and growing faster than other major industrialized nations. In the last two-and-a-half years, America has created 4.6 million new jobs - more than Japan and the European Union combined. Even in the face of higher energy prices and natural disasters, the American people have turned in an economic performance that is the envy of the world."
    We'll be cranking up our Operation Democracy program to full throttle—our biggest push yet. This is earlier than any other effort out there.
  2. Encourage Democrats to stand up and fight.
    I prefer to see them quivering in the corner, consumed by their anger.
    Democrats win when they act strong
    It is better to be strong than to act strong
    —it's our job to support them when they do and call them out when they don't.
    Like forcing 25 of them to fall on their sword in a foolish attempt to filibuster Alito?
    We'll push in our advocacy work for Democrats to take bold stands on key issues.
  3. Get out the vote. In an off-year election, turnout will be key.
    It is the key in any election.
    If as many Democrats vote as turned out in 2004,
    which is unlikely since turnout is normally much less in off-years.
    we'll win a lot of close Congressional races. That will take some nitty-gritty work on the ground. We'll be adding a "national phone program" to Operation Democracy so MoveOn members in any town or state can volunteer.


Microsoft to Set Rules for Government Blog Complaints

eWeek reported Microsoft has pledged to create rules on how it will deal with government complaints about Web sites and blogs hosted by the U.S. software giant. Following concerns on how Microsoft pulled the blog of a critic of the Chinese government, Microsoft said that in the future it will only block access to diaries on its MSN Internet portal when it is presented with a court order or another legally binding decision. But the blog will only be banned in that particular country.
Do they mean that a Chineese court can issue the order, or will it take an American court?
"Going forward we will have a policy of removing access for the country where the blog was issued
I believe they mean where the court order was issued, rather than the blog,
but not outside that country," Brad Smith, Microsoft 's chief counsel, said at a Microsoft conference. Microsoft will find a technical solution to make sure the blog will still be viewable in other countries. "We want to formulate a new framework and new principles. Principles need to emerge," said Smith, adding that the need for clear guidelines became imperative after MSN took down the popular blog written by Zhao Jing last month.
A deplorable act. Have they reinstated the blog?
Smith defended Microsoft's decision by saying it had received an order from the information authorities in Shanghai, which Microsoft found to have legal authority to decide what can be published in China. "That was one of the things that made us sit and think. [Now] it will be transparent what is happening and why," Smith said. Around 3.3 million bloggers in China publish their Web diaries on the Spaces pages of Microsoft's MSN service. Microsoft is not the only company struggling with China's censorship rules. Last month the country's propaganda chiefs closed the outspoken supplement Freezing Point of respected newspaper China Youth Daily, and Web search leader Google announced restrictions on a new service for China to avoid confrontation with Beijing.


Kerry lost his mind

Drudge reports Sen. John Kerry claimed this morning on NBC TODAY that 53% of America's children do not graduate from high school -- a claim that raised eyebrows in the NBC control room, sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT.

Kerry made the comments after host Katie Couric asked the former presidential candidate about Bush's State of the Union call to train 70,000 additional teachers in math and science.

COURIC: He wanted to train 70,000 additional teachers in math and science.

KERRY: That's terrific. But 53 percent of our children don't graduate from high school.

He must be counting the children that are aborted. They don't finish high school. They don't even get a chance to go to school.
Kids don't have after-school programs...
They should spend that time doing their homework, and then they might not grow up to be Senators as dumb as Kerry.
He didn't ask America to sacrifice anything to achieve great goals
Maybe Dems have to ask people to suffer to meet their goals. Bush wants to spread Democracy so people will not have to suffer
and the biggest example is making the tax cut permanent for the wealthiest people in America.
Everyone that pays taxes benefited from the tax cut, and if it is not made permanent, everyone that pays taxes will see a tax increase.
The average American struggles to find time to take carry of families, working two or three jobs... It's a disgrace. He did not tell the real state of the union.

Kerry's 53% claim conflicts with a recent press release from the U.S. Census Bureau: "High School Graduation Rates Reach All-Time High"

And the Census Bureau's own website states: 85.9 Percent Of Americans Aged 20-24 Are High School Graduates. (U.S. Census Bureau Website, , Accessed 2/1/06)

The Anchoress blogged Is John Kerry really this dumb?

Flip blogged According to National Center for Education Statistics, the high school graduation rate currently stands at nearly 75% (measured as the number of new graduates as a percentage of all 17-year-olds). What's more, this figure has risen consistently during Bush's Presidency. Pessimism, for all its ill consequences, is typically rooted in a cynical or overly negative evaluation of actual *facts*. Here, Kerry makes a heroic leap by incorporating pure fiction into his maligning of the President's policies.

Jayson blogged Riiiiiight. Yeah, sure, perhaps among those who get their news from DailyKos. On the other hand, here are the actual numbers for the general population:

86% = High school graduates among the age 20-24 demographic.
87% = High school graduates among the age 25-30 demographic.
88% = Among 35-40 year olds.

Go figure.

Memo to John Kerry:
I’ll have what you’re smoking, Chomsky.


State of the Union

This was my first attempt to live blog something, and I learned a lot. I thought I could have several "Blog This" windows open, so I could set up a structure and then just fill in my comments, but opening the second BlogThis apparently deletes the first one. Oh well, here is the

State of the Union

Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress, Members of the Supreme Court and diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Today our Nation lost a beloved, graceful, courageous woman who called America to its founding ideals and carried on a noble dream. Tonight we are comforted by the hope of a glad reunion with the husband who was taken from her so long ago, and we are grateful for the good life of Coretta Scott King.
As indicated here this was a very good touch.
Each time I am invited to this rostrum, I am humbled by the privilege, and mindful of the history we have seen together. We have gathered under this Capitol dome in moments of national mourning and national achievement. We have served America through one of the most consequential periods of our history - and it has been my honor to serve with you.

In a system of two parties, two chambers, and two elected branches, there will always be differences and debate. But even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone, and our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger. To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a spirit of good will and respect for one another - and I will do my part. Tonight the state of our Union is strong - and together we will make it stronger.
I am sure he will try, but the Democrats are so filled with anger that I don't think there is any way they will go along, even if it would mean they would be able to get some of their ideas passed.
In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the future and the character of our country. We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom - or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life. We will choose to build our prosperity by leading the world economy - or shut ourselves off from trade and opportunity. In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting - yet it ends in danger and decline. The only way to protect our people ... the only way to secure the peace ... the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership - so the United States of America will continue to lead.

Abroad, our Nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal - we seek the end of tyranny in our world. Some dismiss that goal as misguided idealism. In reality, the future security of America depends on it. On September 11th, 2001, we found that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state seven thousand miles away could bring murder and destruction to our country. Dictatorships shelter terrorists, feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror. Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer, and so we will act boldly in freedom's cause.
He is absolutely right, and that is why this country is so lucky to have George W. Bush as our President during these troubling times.
Far from being a hopeless dream, the advance of freedom is the great story of our time. In 1945, there were about two dozen lonely democracies on Earth. Today, there are 122. And we are writing a new chapter in the story of self-government - with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan ... and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink ... and men and women from Lebanon to Egypt debating the rights of individuals and the necessity of freedom. At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half - in places like Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran - because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom as well.

No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical Islam - the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death. Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder - and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously. They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder. Their aim is to seize power in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world.
And the Democrats aim is to help them. That is absolutely insane, but they are so filled with hatred that they do insane things.
Lacking the military strength to challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear. When they murder children at a school in Beslan ... or blow up commuters in London ... or behead a bound captive ... the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. But they have miscalculated: We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.

In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores.
That is absolutely correct. They already struck us once, on 9/11, and we don't want it to happen again. It is much better to fight them on their land than on ours.
There is no peace in retreat. And there is no honor in retreat. By allowing radical Islam to work its will - by leaving an assaulted world to fend for itself - we would signal to all that we no longer believe in our own ideals, or even in our own courage. But our enemies and our friends can be certain: The United States will not retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to evil.

America rejects the false comfort of isolationism. We are the Nation that saved liberty in Europe, and liberated death camps, and helped raise up democracies, and faced down an evil empire. Once again, we accept the call of history to deliver the oppressed, and move this world toward peace.

We remain on the offensive against terror networks. We have killed or captured many of their leaders - and for the others, their day will come.

We remain on the offensive in Afghanistan - where a fine president and national assembly are fighting terror while building the institutions of a new democracy.

And we are on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory. First, we are helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old resentments will be eased, and the insurgency marginalized. Second, we are continuing reconstruction efforts, and helping the Iraqi government to fight corruption and build a modern economy, so all Iraqis can experience the benefits of freedom. Third, we are striking terrorist targets while we train Iraqi forces that are increasingly capable of defeating the enemy. Iraqis are showing their courage every day, and we are proud to be their allies in the cause of freedom.

Our work in Iraq is difficult, because our enemy is brutal. But that brutality has not stopped the dramatic progress of a new democracy. In less than three years, that nation has gone from dictatorship, to liberation, to sovereignty, to a constitution, to national elections. At the same time, our coalition has been relentless in shutting off terrorist infiltration, clearing out insurgent strongholds, and turning over territory to Iraqi security forces. I am confident in our plan for victory ... I am confident in the will of the Iraqi people ... I am confident in the skill and spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to win, and we are winning.

The road of victory is the road that will take our troops home. As we make progress on the ground, and Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead, we should be able to further decrease our troop levels - but those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington, D.C.

Our coalition has learned from experience in Iraq. We have adjusted our military tactics and changed our approach to reconstruction. Along the way, we have benefited from responsible criticism and counsel offered by Members of Congress of both parties. In the coming year, I will continue to reach out and seek your good advice.

Yet there is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for success, and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything but failure. Hindsight alone is not wisdom. And second-guessing is not a strategy.
I just wish the Democrats could understand that.
With so much in the balance, those of us in public office have a duty to speak with candor. A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq would abandon our Iraqi allies to death and prison ... put men like bin Laden and Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country ... and show that a pledge from America means little. Members of Congress: however we feel about the decisions and debates of the past, our Nation has only one option: We must keep our word, defeat our enemies, and stand behind the American military in its vital mission.

Our men and women in uniform are making sacrifices - and showing a sense of duty stronger than all fear. They know what it is like to fight house to house in a maze of streets ... to wear heavy gear in the desert heat ... to see a comrade killed by a roadside bomb. And those who know the costs also know the stakes. Marine Staff Sergeant Dan Clay was killed last month fighting the enemy in Fallujah. He left behind a letter to his family, but his words could just as well be addressed to every American. Here is what Dan wrote: "I know what honor is. It has been an honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to.... Never falter! Don't hesitate to honor and support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth protecting."

Staff Sergeant Dan Clay's wife, Lisa, and his mom and dad, Sara Jo and Bud, are with us this evening. Our Nation is grateful to the fallen, who live in the memory of our country. We are grateful to all who volunteer to wear our Nation's uniform - and as we honor our brave troops, let us never forget the sacrifices of America's military families.
They got a prolonged standing ovation.
Our offensive against terror involves more than military action. Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change. So the United States of America supports democratic reform across the broader Middle East. Elections are vital - but they are only the beginning. Raising up a democracy requires the rule of law, protection of minorities, and strong, accountable institutions that last longer than a single vote. The great people of Egypt have voted in a multi-party presidential election - and now their government should open paths of peaceful opposition that will reduce the appeal of radicalism. The Palestinian people have voted in elections - now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace. Saudi Arabia has taken the first steps of reform - now it can of fer its people a better future by pressing forward with those efforts. Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our own, because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens. Yet liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty is the right and hope of all humanity.

The same is true of Iran, a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people. The regime in that country sponsors terrorists in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon - and that must come to an end. The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions - and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats. And tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. And our Nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran.
Absolutely. And we need to do more to broadcast those ideas into the country of Iran, so that the citizens of Iran know what is going on.
To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress, fighting disease, and spreading hope in hopeless lands. Isolationism would not only tie our hands in fighting enemies, it would keep us from helping our friends in desperate need. We show compassion abroad because Americans believe in the God-given dignity and worth of a villager with HIV/AIDS, or an infant with malaria, or a refugee fleeing genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery. We also show compassion abroad because regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption, and despair are sources of terrorism, organized crime, human trafficking, and the drug trade.

In recent years, you and I have taken unprecedented action to fight AIDS and malaria, expand the education of girls, and reward developing nations that are moving forward with economic and political reform. For people everywhere, the United States is a partner for a better life. Short-changing these efforts would increase the suffering and chaos of our world, undercut our long-term security, and dull the conscience of our country. I urge Members of Congress to serve the interests of America by showing the compassion of America.

Our country must also remain on the offensive against terrorism here at home. The enemy has not lost the desire or capability to attack us. Fortunately, this Nation has superb professionals in law enforcement, intelligence, the military, and homeland security. These men and women are dedicating their lives to protecting us all, and they deserve our support and our thanks. They also deserve the same tools they already use to fight drug trafficking and organized crime - so I ask you to reauthorize the Patriot Act.
This is absolutely correct. The Democrats do not seem to feel it violates civil liberties to give the government tools to use against organized crime or drug dealers; why is it so bad to give them tools to use against terrorists who woould fly planes into buildings and kill thousands.
It is said that prior to the attacks of September 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al-Qaida operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack - based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute - I have authorized a Terrorist Surveillance Program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have - and Federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed. This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al-Qaida, we want to know about it - because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.
He is absolutely correct. If Bush did not try to connect the dots, and if we were struck again (as we would be), the Dems would be angry at him for not trying to connect the dots. But when he does try, they are angry. They are just angry people.
In all these areas - from the disruption of terror networks, to victory in Iraq, to the spread of freedom and hope in troubled regions - we need the support of friends and allies. To draw that support, we must always be clear in our principles and willing to act. The only alternative to American leadership is a dramatically more dangerous and anxious world. Yet we also choose to lead because it is a privilege to serve the values that gave us birth. American leaders - from Roosevelt to Truman to Kennedy to Reagan - rejected isolation and retreat, because they knew that America is always more secure when freedom is on the march. Our own generation is in a long war against a determined enemy - a war that will be fought by Presidents of both parties, who will need steady bipartisan support from the Congress. And tonight I ask for yours. Together, let us protect our country, support the men and women who defend us, and lead this world toward freedom.

Here at home, America also has a great opportunity: We will build the prosperity of our country by strengthening our economic leadership in the world.

Our economy is healthy, and vigorous, and growing faster than other major industrialized nations. In the last two-and-a-half years, America has created 4.6 million new jobs - more than Japan and the European Union combined. Even in the face of higher energy prices and natural disasters, the American people have turned in an economic performance that is the envy of the world.

The American economy is pre-eminent - but we cannot afford to be complacent. In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors like China and India. This creates uncertainty, which makes it easier to feed people's fears. And so we are seeing some old temptations return. Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our high standard of living while walling off our economy. Others say that the government needs to take a larger role in directing the economy, centralizing more power in Washington and increasing taxes. We hear claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy - even though this economy could not function without them. All these are forms of economic retreat, and they lead in the same direction - toward a stagnant and second-rate economy.

Tonight I will set out a better path - an agenda for a Nation that competes with confidence - an agenda that will raise standards of living and generate new jobs. Americans should not fear our economic future, because we intend to shape it.

Keeping America competitive begins with keeping our economy growing. And our economy grows when Americans have more of their own money to spend, save, and invest. In the last five years, the tax relief you passed has left 880 billion dollars in the hands of American workers, investors, small businesses, and families - and they have used it to help produce more than four years of uninterrupted economic growth. Yet the tax relief is set to expire in the next few years. If we do nothing, American families will face a massive tax increase they do not expect and will not welcome.

Because America needs more than a temporary expansion, we need more than temporary tax relief. I urge the Congress to act responsibly, and make the tax cuts permanent.

Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax dollars. Every year of my presidency, we have reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending - and last year you passed bills that cut this spending. This year my budget will cut it again, and reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities. By passing these reforms, we will save the American taxpayer another 14 billion dollars next year - and stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. I am pleased that Members of Congress are working on earmark reform - because the Federal budget has too many special interest projects. And we can tackle this problem together, if you pass the line-item veto.
I agree completely. I don't know whether it is constitutional, but we should try it again, and if it is declared unconstitutional again we should push for a constitutional ammendment to give the President the same power many state Governors have.
We must also confront the larger challenge of mandatory spending, or entitlements. This year, the first of about 78 million Baby Boomers turn 60, including two of my Dad's favorite people - me, and President Bill Clinton.
The camera focused on Hillary, who just had a stunned look on her face, like a deer caught in a car's headlights.
This milestone is more than a personal crisis - it is a national challenge. The retirement of the Baby Boom generation will put unprecedented strains on the Federal government. By 2030, spending for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone will be almost 60 percent of the entire Federal budget. And that will present future Congresses with impossible choices - staggering tax increases, immense deficits, or deep cuts in every category of spending.

Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security,
This line got a reverse standing ovation, where the Democrats stood and applauded their action to prevent saving Social Security. As I indicated here: "Hillary was expecially gleeful. If she is elected president in 2008, let us see how gleeful she is when her ideas are rejected as well, and nothing is done."
yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away - and with every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse. So tonight, I ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of Baby Boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This commission should include Members of Congress of both parties, and offer bipartisan answers. We need to put aside partisan politics, work together, and get this problem solved.

Keeping America competitive requires us to open more markets for all that Americans make and grow. One out of every five factory jobs in America is related to global trade, and we want people everywhere to buy American. With open markets and a level playing field, no one can out-produce or out-compete the American worker.

Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy. Our Nation needs orderly and secure borders. To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty ... allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally ... and reduces smuggling and crime at the border.
We also need a fence system along the entire border and we need to station our military along the border to protect this country.
Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care. Our government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility. For all Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care ... strengthen the doctor-patient relationship ... and help people afford the insurance coverage they need. We will make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology, to help control costs and reduce dangerous medical errors. We will strengthen Health Savings Accounts - by making sure individuals and small business employees can buy insurance with the same advantages that people working for big businesses now get. We will do more to make this coverage portable, so workers can switch jobs without having to worry about losing their health insurance. And because lawsuits are driving many good doctors out of practice - leaving women in nearly 1,500 Ameri can counties without a single OB-GYN - I ask the Congress to pass medical liability reform this year.
I agree with all of those ideas.
Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.

The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly 10 billion dollars to develop cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources - and we are on the threshold of incredible advances. So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative - a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants; revolutionary solar and wind technologies; and clean, safe nuclear energy.
Of these I believe that Nuclear offers the most hope.
We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen.
Cars that run on hydrogen will only work if we first build a lot more Nuclear Plants to generate that hydrogen.
We will also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips, stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment ... move beyond a petroleum-based economy ... and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.
We also need to encourage domestic production, including drilling in ANWR.
And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hard-working, ambitious people - and we are going to keep that edge. Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our Nation's children a firm grounding in math and science.

First: I propose to double the Federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next ten years. This funding will support the work of America's most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.

Second: I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit, to encourage bolder private-sector investment in technology. With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life - and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come.

Third: We need to encourage children to take more math and science, and make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We have made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country. Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers, to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science ... bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms ... and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world.

Preparing our Nation to compete in the world is a goal that all of us can share. I urge you to support the American Competitiveness Initiative ... and together we will show the world what the American people can achieve.

America is a great force for freedom and prosperity. Yet our greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and how we treat one another. So we strive to be a compassionate, decent, hopeful society.

In recent years, America has become a more hopeful Nation. Violent crime rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the 1970s. Welfare cases have dropped by more than half over the past decade. Drug use among youth is down 19 percent since 2001. There are fewer abortions in America than at any point in the last three decades, and the number of children born to teenage mothers has been falling for a dozen years in a row.

These gains are evidence of a quiet transformation - a revolution of conscience, in which a rising generation is finding that a life of personal responsibility is a life of fulfillment. Government has played a role. Wise policies such as welfare reform, drug education, and support for abstinence and adoption have made a difference in the character of our country. And everyone here tonight, Democrat and Republican, has a right to be proud of this record.

Yet many Americans, especially parents, still have deep concerns about the direction of our culture, and the health of our most basic institutions. They are concerned about unethical conduct by public officials, and discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage. And they worry about children in our society who need direction and love ... and about fellow citizens still displaced by natural disaster ... and about suffering caused by treatable disease.

As we look at these challenges, we must never give in to the belief that America is in decline, or that our culture is doomed to unravel. The American people know better than that. We have proven the pessimists wrong before - and we will do it again.

A hopeful society depends on courts that deliver equal justice under law. The Supreme Court now has two superb new members, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito. I thank the Senate for confirming both of them.
And thanks to the Democrats for that foolish attempt at a filibuster. I suspect in the runup to the 2006 elections the tape of Kennedy going ballistic will play almost as often as the tape of the Senators browbeating Alito and driving his wife to tears.
And I will continue to nominate men and women who understand that judges must be servants of the law, and not legislate from the bench. Today marks the official retirement of a very special American. For 24 years of faithful service to our Nation, the United States is grateful to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
I was disappointed that she was not there, perhaps in Laura Bush's box, so the camera could focus on her.
A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research - human cloning in all its forms ... creating or implanting embryos for experiments ... creating human-animal hybrids ... and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator - and that gift should never be discarded, devalued, or put up for sale.

A hopeful society expects elected officials to uphold the public trust. Honorable people in both parties are working on reforms to strengthen the ethical standards of Washington - and I support your efforts. Each of us has made a pledge to be worthy of public responsibility - and that is a pledge we must never forget, never dismiss, and never betray.

As we renew the promise of our institutions, let us also show the character of America in our compassion and care for one another.

A hopeful society gives special attention to children who lack direction and love. Through the Helping America's Youth Initiative, we are encouraging caring adults to get involved in the life of a child - and this good work is led by our First Lady, Laura Bush. This year we will add resources to encourage young people to stay in school - so more of America's youth can raise their sights and achieve their dreams.

A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of suffering and emergency - and stays at it until they are back on their feet. So far the Federal government has committed 85 billion dollars to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. We are removing debris, repairing highways, and building stronger levees. We are providing business loans and housing assistance. Yet as we meet these immediate needs, we must also address deeper challenges that existed before the storm arrived. In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child ... and job skills that bring upward mobility ... and more opportunities to own a home and start a business. As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for the day when all Americans are protected by justice, equal in hope, and rich in opport unity.

A hopeful society acts boldly to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS, which can be prevented, and treated, and defeated. More than a million Americans live with HIV, and half of all AIDS cases occur among African-Americans. I ask Congress to reform and reauthorize the Ryan White Act ... and provide new funding to states, so we end the waiting lists for AIDS medicine in America. We will also lead a nationwide effort, working closely with African-American churches and faith-based groups, to deliver rapid HIV tests to millions, end the stigma of AIDS, and come closer to the day when there are no new infections in America.

Fellow citizens, we have been called to leadership in a period of consequence. We have entered a great ideological conflict we did nothing to invite. We see great changes in science and commerce that will influence all our lives. And sometimes it can seem that history is turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore.

Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing. Lincoln could have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery. Martin Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma, and achieved only half a victory over segregation. The United States could have accepted the permanent division of Europe, and been complicit in the oppression of others. Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back, or finish well?

Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom's advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward - optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of victories to come.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.


Tuesday, January 31, 2006

SOTU - Advance Energy Initiative

Live Blogging the State of the Union - Advance Energy Initiative

Clean Coal, Solar Power, Nuclear

Cars that run on hydrogen, Ethanol on things other than corn

Replace 75% of oil imports by 2025


SOTU - Health Care

Live Blogging the State of the Union - Health Care

Wider use of electronic records to save cost.

Health Savings Accouts

Medical Liabilty Reform


SOTU - Save Social Security

Live Blogging the State of the Union - Save Social Security - The Dems were gleeful when he said they did not pass my recommendations to save social security. Hillary was expecially gleeful. If she is elected president in 2008, let us see how gleeful she is when her ideas are rejected as well, and nothing is done.


SOTU - Coretta Scott King

Live Blogging the State of the Union - Started off with the passing of Corretta Scott King -- A very good touch.


Is there a place for democracy in the Middle East?

Iraq the Model blogged Is it possible for democracy to succeed here? And is the struggle to change our backward present and catch up with the modern world a losing one? Are we really ready to change ourselves and replace the old ways of violence and hatred with tolerance and dialogue for a better future? And do we deserve help from the world in our battle?.....
These are questions everyone is asking, and I am glad we have bloggers like Iraq the Model to give us his thoughts.
These questions and others are insistently looking for answers especially after seeing the results of the latest elections in more than one spot in the region; these results shown that Islamists have the advantage and it shown the humble achievements of the secular/liberals. Through this post I’d like to summarize some of the factors that contributed to this situation as well as my expectations for the future as an ordinary middle astern citizen who belongs to the reform camp and tries to figure out what’s going on around him.

If we go back in time to the latest colonial era we’d see that the intellectual environment at that time was far more developed than at the later stages of independence and national governments, we’d see that freedom of press and expression was fairly better than what we had at later times and even religious parties we’re going through a phase of reevaluating their history and ideologies; at that time there were many religious reformists who were calling for rereading our history and were searching for dialogue channels with the western civilization. Even the Muslim Brotherhood-to which most current Islamic parties belong-we’re more ready to talk, discuss and reform than they are now and at that time, this was considered a leap on the road of reforming the religious thinking.

But the independence wave that came later mostly through military coups allowed the pan-Arab nationalists to take over and impose their point of view on the peoples; they took away freedoms of speech and though and oppressed everyone that didn’t follow their ideology. The people found themselves stuck with one leader, one party and one opinion to follow while all kinds of opposition were either eliminated or severely marginalized. This was at least the case in Iraq for decades and the same applied to the rest of the neighborhood more or less. In Iraq were not allowed group or meet for any reason outside the approval of the party and it was officially considered a crime for a number of people to gather and talk politics, the charge that I remember too well was that “they are grouping” and that was enough for conviction. That’s why each and every meeting required the approval of the government before it could be held.
Which made it almost impossible for an opposition to form.
However there was one place that the government couldn’t stop people from meeting at, that was the mosque. Although mosques were told to close their doors outside prayer hours, Friday prayers represented a chance for people to meet in hundreds or even thousands to listen to a preacher who scorned this life and promised them a place in heaven if they did as God said. At that time of dictatorship not many could enjoy a decent life, so many of us had to dream of a better life in heaven.
We all hope for that too, but fortunately our churches don't preach that one has to kill others or ourselves to achieve salvation.
Liberals and seculars couldn’t preach to a crowd but clerics-through prayer times-could. When Saddam was toppled and pan-Arabism was defeated in Iraq, there were no liberal or secular leaderships or organizations on the scene but religion was there as it was hardly interrupted by the succeeding events.

I recall that when we and other groups were forming our own parties, we would consider it a success if there were 50 of us in any of the earlier meetings. Here I’m talking about parties that were formed inside Iraq by Iraqis who remained inside and were so eager to group and express themselves. On the other hand were religious parties; those already had their offices (the mosques) and a schedule for meetings (prayer times).
They had a powerful advantage, but it gives hope that four years from now, when Iraq holds its next election, the secular parties will be much better established, and hence should do much better in the elections.
Unlike them, we had to find an office and we didn’t have holy dates and times for our meetings; clerics didn’t have to send invitation cards, hang banners or give every member a phone call as their audience was coming out of fear from God’s punishment. We were scattered trying to put ourselves together while they were highly organized.

A party that could manage to gather 500 of its supporters in a rally was considered lucky and organized while clerics had countless opportunities to order their followers to take to the streets and demonstrate for whatever cause. We are not the minority but we are the least organized when compared to the religous parties. When people voted for the religious choice that was because religion was in front of them all the time while parties like ours were more like a new face in the neighborhood, interesting but not convincing.

That wasn’t the only factor that influenced the Iraqi elections; there are other factors that are just as important. Lack of security and the feeling of being targeted had led many people to entrench behind their sects. killings or marginalization were guided by the sectarian/ethnic identity to a great extent and this applies to all parties. And that’s why I believe that not all those who gave their votes to the Islamists-whether Sunni or Shia-were really religious people; I know many who voted for 555 or 618 but they do not practice Islam! Such people voted religious because it gives them a feeling of security; a Shia fears a Sunni interior minister while a Sunni fears a Shia interior minister…it is a lack of trust escalated by the criminal acts that choose targets by sect.

It is difficult to convince the simple segment of the population that democracy will not allow dictators to appear again and that it guarantees pluralism. We simply haven’t absorbed these concepts and it seems rather impossible for our people to trust democracy from the first trial. Another factor that affected our choices is that part of the middle eastern personality that prefers confrontation, not for the sake of confrontation itself but because of that belief that confronting the present reality can make a change.... Some said that it was too early to push the region to do elections because elections would bring fundamentalists…but if we don’t start now, then when?! The wheel of change has to take its course and delaying it in my opinion won’t do us any good. What happened was a natural outcome of our war with ourselves; we have to learn from this and develop the way we think and interact with the variables and we will certainly figure out what our mistakes were. This takes time but democracy is still the one and only solution and we need to go through all its stages, even if we make wrong choices, what matters is that these would be our choices, not someone else’s.


Countdown for nasty Windows virus

BBC NEWS reports PC users have been urged to scan their computers before 3 February to avoid falling victim to a destructive virus. On that date the Nyxem virus is set to delete Word, Powerpoint, Excel and Acrobat files on infected machines.


Roll Your Own Ringtone

Wired News reported Cell-phone customers have spent more than $4 billion on ringtones taken primarily from popular hits. Now MIT's Media Lab hopes to unleash some new creativity into this market with a ringtone composition tool to the masses for free.

On Friday, the university handed out awards for original ringtone compositions created using its Hyperscore songwriting software. U2's the Edge acted as one of the judges, although he did not attend the event. "Ringtones are a legitimate branch of pop music, and this is a great opportunity for up-and-coming songwriters to create something designed specifically for the medium," said Edge.

Hyperscore is now on hundreds of thousands of computers and is integrated into music education programs across the globe. The program will be included on MIT's $100 laptop, to be handed out to thousands of school kids around the world next year. And Windows users can now download the basic model, which limits song lengths to 30 to 60 seconds, for free. (Mac and Linux versions are in the works.)


Blogs versus the NY Times in Google

Kottke blogged In 2002, Dave Winer of Scripting News and Martin Nisenholtz of the New York Times made a Long Bet about the authority of weblogs versus that of NY Times in Google:

In a Google search of five keywords or phrases representing the top five news stories of 2007, weblogs will rank higher than the New York Times' Web site.
I decided to see how well each side is doing by checking the results for the top news stories of 2005. Eight news stories were selected and an appropriate Google keyword search was chosen for each one of them. I went through the search results for each keyword and noted the positions of the top results from 1) "traditional" media, 2) citizen media, 3) blogs, and 4) Finally, the scores were tallied and an "actual" winner (blogs vs. and an "in-spirit" winner (any traditional media source vs. any citizen media source) were calculated.

Here are the results
Search TermMedia vs Citizen MediaNYT vs Blogs
hurricane katrinaCitizen mediaNY Times
harriet miersMediaNY Times
london bombingMediaBlogs
iraq electionMediaBlogs
terri schiavoCitizen mediaBlogs
pope john paul ii deathMediaBlogs
gaza withdrawalMediaBlogs
scooter libby indictedMediaBlogs
judith miller jailMediaBlogs

Here's the overall results, excluding the Judith Miller search:
Overall winner (in spirit): Media (beating citizen media 6-2).
Overall winner (actual): Blogs (beating the NY Times 6-2).


Tasting Victory, Liberals Instead Have a Food Fight

Dana Milbank opined in WaPo
The new Washington Post-ABC News poll

If one controls the questions, they can get a poll to say anything they want, but based on how you are interpreting the poll, it looks like you have been smoking those funny looking cigarettes again.
finds congressional Democrats in the best position they've held in 14 years, besting President Bush and Republican lawmakers on Iraq,
The Dumbocrats dont have any plan for Iraq other than pull out and llet the terrorists set up a base there.
the economy,
As a result of the tax cuts, the economy is in fantastic shape
health care,
What do you think would happen to the economy if the Dems had their way on health care? Want to see? Look at Europe, with its stagnent economy.
We need to build the wall AND put the military on the border, but the Dems don't favor either solutionl all they want to do is turn the illegals into citizens so they can vote.
More money went to Republicans, because Republicans are in control, but many Dems got money as well.
and more. All of which can mean only one thing: It is time for the Democrats to eat their own.
I second the motion.
Right on cue, liberal activists including Cindy Sheehan and Ramsey Clark gathered yesterday at the Busboys & Poets restaurant and bookshop at 14th and V streets NW for what they billed as a forum on "The Impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney." But the participants, while charging the administration with "crimes against humanity," a "war of aggression" and even "the supreme international crime," inevitably turned their wrath on congressional Democrats, whom they regarded as a bunch of wimps.
They must have been smoking the same funny cigarettes as you are.
"Does the Democratic Party want to continue to exist
Let us hope not.
or does it want to ignore what 85 percent of its supporters want?" demanded David Swanson, a labor union official who runs "Impeach PAC" and other efforts to remove Bush from office. Singling out Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (Nev.) for derision, Swanson said that Democrats who do the right thing "are exceptions."


It Is The Only Way We Can Live

Leftwing blogger Digby blogged "It Is The Only Way We Can Live"

It must be sad to have to live like that. Did you ever consider moving to Oregon? The Supreme Court recently supported doctor assisted suicide for people suffering, and who have no prospect of recovery.
So we only got 25 Senators to vote for a filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee who, if defeated, would be replaced by someone just as bad by a president in the pocket of his radical right wing. Well.
Actually Alito is one of the most qualified candidates for the Supreme Court in a long time, and if the Democrats had been able to come up with anything other than the fact that he MIGHT vote to reverse a 30 year old decision that even liberal constitutional experts (who like the results) believe was not a proper decision, they could have gotten more than 25 to support their filibuster.
Do you know how many votes the Republicans managed to get when uber wingnut Antonin Scalia was confirmed? 98. And Democrats had a majority. We didn't have to even think about a filibuster. We couldn't defeat Clarence Thomas and we had a majority, a huge push from women's groups and a very dramatic set of hearings that went into the wee hours of the morning. It is very, very tough to do.
And Clinton's two nominees got confirmed with a significant number of conservative votes, because prior to the past few years the Senate did not impose a political partianship expectation on a Judicial Appointment. But now that the Democrats have shown us how they expect things to be done, just think what would happen in the unlikely event that a Democrat ever again makes it to the White House, and attempt to nominate a Liberal as extreme as the two Clinton nominated. They will be destroyed by the same tactics the Dems have taught the Republicans.
Kevin Drum says:
The lefty blogosphere has spent the last week trying to fire up support for a filibuster of Samuel Alito. This campaign was never likely to succeed, and today it failed as expected. But that's not all: it failed by the embarrassingly lopsided margin of 72-25. I'm glad the filibuster took place, because even in failure it puts a marker down for future court fights.
It may guarantee that an extreme Conservative, regardless of how qualified, will not get confirmed, but it also guarantees that an extreme Liberal, regardless of how qualified, will not get confirmed. Only stealth candidates, with no paper trail, will have a chance, and lacking judicial experience, no one will be able to predict what they will do.
Still, even given the amateurish way that Senate Dems handled it, I expected it to get more than 25 votes. So here's today's assignment: In 5,000 words or less, what does this say about the influence of the lefty blogosphere?
I didn't expect it to get more than 25 votes and I'm frankly stunned that we did as well as we did. Indeed, something very interesting happened that I haven't seen in more than a decade. When it became clear that the vote was going against the filibuster, Diane Feinstein, a puddle of lukewarm water if there ever was one, decided to backtrack and play to the base instead of the right wing. That's new folks. Given an opportunity to make an easy vote, until now she and others like her (who are legion) would always default to the right to prove their "centrist" bonafides. That's the DLC model.
And conservatives love it when the Radical Left discredits the DLC model. That is the only way Clinton got elected, and we certainly don't want to see that happen again. Any time you see a Dem reaching for the Center, come down on him or her hard, and force him or her to go back to the extreme left, where they will not have a chance of getting elected.
When you have a free vote always use it to show that you aren't liberal. That's why she was against it originally --- a reflexive nod to being "reasonable." Obama had to choke out his support for a filibuster, but he did it. A calculation was made that he needed to play to the base instead of the punditocrisy who believe that being "bold" is voting with the Republicans. Don't underestimate how much pressure there is to do that, especially for a guy like Obama who is running for King of the Purple. The whole presidential club, including Biden joined the chorus.


Monday, January 30, 2006

Cartoons bring Muslim wrath on Denmark

MSNBC reported Denmark warned citizens on Monday not to go to Saudi Arabia and Gaza gunmen said any Danes or Norwegians who came there would face attack, as Muslim fury mounted over newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

They can't be as bad as the way Christ is treated in this country. After all, the US is a predominately Christian country (as is Denmark), and we have had government sponsored art exhibits showing Christ in urine, etc. At least they dont have to pay for these depictions of Mohammad.
Denmark has defended the Jyllands-Posten newspaper’s right to publish the satirical drawings that seemed to portray the prophet as a terrorist and which a Norwegian paper has run too.
Actually the Koran depicts him as a killer, unlike the Holy Bible, which depicts Jesus as a peaceful man.
Some Muslims, who deem images of prophets disrespectful and caricatures blasphemous, have reacted angrily, threatening Danes, calling for goods boycotts and demanding an apology.

To see the 12 cartoons visit Michelle Malkin or Gaijin Biker


Kick Me, I'm a Democrat

Michael Kinsley complains in Slate It seems to be time once again to play Kick the Democrats. Everyone can play, including Democrats.

Sounds like fun.
The rules are simple. When Republicans lose elections, it is because they didn't get enough votes. When Democrats lose elections, it is because they have lost their principles and lost their way. Or they have kept their principles, which is an even worse mistake.
Or maybe it is they don't have any principles or ideas, just hatred.
Democrats represent no one who is not actually waiting in line for a latte at a Starbucks within 150 yards of the east or west coastline. They are mired in trivial lifestyle issues like, oh, abortion and gay rights and Americans killing and dying in Iraq, while the Republicans serve up meat and potatoes for real Americans, like privatizing Social Security and making damned sure the government knows who is Googling whom in this great country.
Talk about a distortion; the requested Google info had no personal data; it was just to see how often children might encounter porno sites when searching for something else.
Just repeat these formulas until a Democrat has been sent into frenzies of self-flagellation, or reduced to tears.
Those poor, poor, jackasses.
There is always a pick-up game of Kick the Democrats going on somewhere. But something about the Alito confirmation—the pathetic and apparently surprising inability of 45 Democratic senators to stop 55 Republicans from approving anyone they want
It is called a majority vote.
—seems to have made the game suddenly a lot more popular. How dire is it for the Democrats? George Will noted on TV the other day that they have lost five of the past seven presidential elections. This baseball-like statistic—"Democrats have lost X of the past Y elections"—has been one of Will's favorite tropes over the generations. But why now five out of seven? Two out of the past four would be equally accurate, and not nearly as grim.
Zero out of the past two looks even more grim.
If you take a longer view, things get grimmer again. In fact, you can measure back from the present to any of the past 20 elections (which takes you back to 1928) and only once (starting in 1932) do the Democrats come out ahead. But this hardly supports Will's contention—and everyone else's—that things went to hell in the 1960s. If this exercise has any meaning, they've been in hell continuously since 1936.
Not sure what he is talking about; they might not have held the WhiteHouse that much, but they held Congress for 40 years.
And then there is election of 2000. We can argue forever (and will) about who won that election,
George Bush took the White House.
but if the question is whose views attracted more voters, there is no dispute that the answer is the Democrats. Attributing 2000 to the Democrats means they have won two of the past three elections, three of the past four, and a non-apocalyptic three of the magic seven.
If you are free to attribuite an election to the Democrat regardless of who really wins, it looks like they don't have anything to be crying about.
The official illustration of the Kick the Democrats movement is a map of the United States, showing huge swaths of red with just a few tiny accents of blue.
And we need to do something about those blue areas.
Of course this gives an unrealistic advantage to big states with few people.
But who get two Senators, just like the blue latte drinking states.
But then so does our electoral system. The deeper flaw is the assumption that everybody in red states is red and ditto the blues. A map showing red and blue people, not states, would look a homogenous purple. John Kerry got 43 percent of the vote in states that went for George Bush, and Bush got 45 percent in Kerry states.
So Bush beat Kerry even in states he lost.
Liberals are not nearly so rare and so culturally isolated as the official map would suggest. This is little comfort to Democrats when it comes to the math of winning elections. But it does suggest that endless self-flagellation about their values and beliefs may not be the best strategy for turning things around.

This is not an argument for complacency. Obviously the party that has lost the White House, both houses of Congress, and now the courts needs some new ideas and new energy. But it seems undeniably true to me—though many deny it—that the Republicans simply play the game better. You're not supposed to say that. At Pundit School they teach you: Always go for the deeper explanation, not the shallower one. Never suggest that people (let alone "the" people) can be duped.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Cindy Sheehan Considering Senate Run

FOXNews Cindy Sheehan, the peace activist who set up camp near President Bush's Texas ranch last summer, said Saturday she is considering running against Sen. Dianne Feinstein to protest what she called the California lawmaker's support for the war in Iraq.

This is good news. The Rabid Left won't let her get by with it, but it will be nice to see a fight on the left, and with Dems criticizing Sheehan.
"She voted for the war. She continues to vote for the funding. She won't call for an immediate withdrawal of the troops," Sheehan told The Associated Press in an interview while attending the World Social Forum in Venezuela along with thousands of other anti-war and anti-globalization activists.
Go get her, Cindy!!!!
"I think our senator needs to be held accountable for her support of George Bush and his war policies," said Sheehan, whose 24-year-old soldier son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004.

CQ blogged Feinstein has always enjoyed a lock on her seat, and even the GOP hasn't focused as much of their energy on her as they have on the more-radical Barbara Boxer. Feinstein's relatively centrist approach has made her a tougher target for Republican opponents in liberal California. The state Republican party has been in disarray for several years and mostly unable to mount serious challenges for state-wide seats for the last decade. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger's surprise election as governor has done little to build party credibility.

A primary challenge to Feinstein might give Golden State Republicans an opening to reverse that trend. With Sheehan attacking Feinstein from the leftist base, Feinstein will have to move towards Sheehan to head off the Senator's traditional Bay-area support from abandoning her for the new radical on the block. That will leave Feinstein vulnerable in the general election, especially if the GOP can find a well-known, credible challenger for her seat.

It will probably prove a long shot for the GOP, but it might turn out that Sheehan could be an unexpected gift for GOP hopes of reinvigorating the party on the West Coast.

Stephen Bainbridge blogged I don't agree with very many of Diane Feinstein's policies and I've never voted for her, but that doesn't prevent me from admiring her considerable political skills. She's doubtless the most popular politician in California and deservedly so. She's smart, a demon fund raiser, and well within the mainstream of California politics. I can't imagine Sheehan getting 5 or, maybe, 10% of the primary vote unless Feinstein decides to deliberately pull her punches so as to avoid excessively enraging the left coast Kosites in the party.

Mark Noonan blogged You know, Cindy, you're right - Feinstein does need to be held accountable. We can't let such a warmongering, right wing Senator continue to represent the people of the San Franciso Bay area, Santa Monica and other enclaves of the People's Democratic Republic of California. You know, Cindy, Feinstein is Jewish...and you know what that means! That's right - she's part of the Zionist plot to get America to fight for Israel (and oil, etc) by conquering Iraq from its freedom-loving President, Saddam Hussein.

You can count on a lot of financial support for your run for office - just let us know where to send the checks.

Sean Hackbarth blogged Please! Please! Please! Run, Cindy run! Seriously, other than sheer entertainment value a Cindy Sheehan run for California Senator would be immediately dead in the water. She's a kook who hangs around Hugo Chavez and Harry Belafonte. She'd grab the votes of only the Joel Steins of California and not those who still love their country but have become disillusion over the Iraq War. Plus the California GOP has shown no ability to field a credible state-wide candidate who isn't a celebrity.


Public-School Students Score Well in Math

NYT A large-scale government-financed study has concluded that when it comes to math, students in regular public schools do as well as or significantly better than comparable students in private schools.

After fudging the numbers to get the results they wanted.
The study, by Christopher Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski, of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, compared fourth- and eighth-grade math scores of more than 340,000 students in 13,000 regular public, charter and private schools on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress. The 2003 test was given to 10 times more students than any previous test, giving researchers a trove of new data.

Though private school students have long scored higher on the national assessment, commonly referred to as "the nation's report card," the new study used advanced statistical techniques to adjust for the effects of income, school and home circumstances.
If you are able to decide how much to fudge the numbers based on what values you put on eiach of the circumstances, you can get any results you want.
The researchers said they compared math scores, not reading ones, because math was considered a clearer measure of a school's overall effectiveness.
And because the public school kids could not read well enough to take the reading test.
The study found that while the raw scores of fourth graders in Roman Catholic schools, for example, were 14.3 points higher than those in public schools, when adjustments were made for student backgrounds, those in Catholic schools scored 3.4 points lower than those in public schools.
And if they increased the amount the penalized students for being Christian even more, they could have made the public school figures seem even better.
A spokeswoman for the National Catholic Education Association did not respond to requests for comment.


Big Loser in Palestinian Vote

WaPo reported Standing in a sunny Rose Garden on June 24, 2002, surrounded by his top foreign policy advisers, President Bush issued a clarion call for resolving the deadly Israeli-Palestinian conflict: "I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror." This week, Palestinians gave their answer, handing a landslide victory in national legislative elections to Hamas, which has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings and desires the elimination of Israel. Bush's statement calling for new leaders was aimed at the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, but in the same speech he also said it was necessary to thwart Hamas -- formally the Islamic Resistance Movement -- and other militant groups.
The Palestinian people only had two choices; corruption or violence. They did not like corruption, so they voted for violence. I suspect they will see that violence will not get them jobs, and they will see that what money they get (and hopefully it will not be much) will not go to improving their infrastructure, but will go to buying weapons rather than going to the pockets of corrupt Fatah leaders, and they will decide they need something different from either one. Hamas will not know how to run a government, and will just increase attacks on Israel, but that will be difficult because of the war, and Israel's counter attacks will kill many more Palestinians than they kill Israelis, and this may be the best way to show them that violence is not the answer.
The election outcome signals a dramatic failure in the administration's strategy for Middle East peace, according to analysts and some U.S. officials. Since the United States cannot deal with an organization labeled a terrorist organization by the State Department, Hamas's victory is likely to curtail U.S. aid, limit official U.S. contacts with the Palestinian government and stall efforts to create an independent Palestinian state.

More broadly, Hamas's victory is seen as a setback in the administration's campaign for greater democracy in the Middle East. Elections in Iran, Iraq, Egypt and now the Palestinian territories have resulted in the defeat of secular and moderate parties and the rise of Islamic parties hostile to U.S. interests.
The moderates in Iran never were in power, so the fact that they elected a fool for President does not mean a significant change. Iraq may well form a very democratic country. Egypt may have elected a few of the Islamic Brotherhood, but they were the only opposition to the dictators controlling the country, and the dictators are still in control.
NYT reported Arie Schmidt stopped on Saturday to place a pebble on the memorial to the 21 dead at the Dolphinarium disco, killed in a suicide bombing by Hamas in 2001. The dead were mostly teenagers. Mr. Schmidt sighed, then chained one careful word to the next on what it means that Hamas is now the official Palestinian power. "I tell you," he began, "we think it is actually the best thing that can happen to Israel. "Because now we see the real face of the Palestinians," said Mr. Schmidt, 56, a computer engineer from Haifa who considers himself neither on the left nor the right. "From their vote we can understand their theory to destroy the state of Israel is not a theory but a fact. "So," he said, in a conclusion that may not seem immediately logical to outsiders but was repeated again and again in interviews here, "I think it is the best chance for peace. I think Hamas can understand there is no way to destroy the state of Israel and will take a course to peace. "Hopefully."

Hopefully. And if it does not turn out that way, and if a war does start in Armageddon, we know that the end result will be the return of Christ.