31 January 2009

An Unexpected Ruling

A state appeals court made an odd ruling this week.

It seems that there is a private religious school, and there were two girls who had "'a bond of intimacy' that was 'characteristic of a lesbian relationship.'"

The school investigated, and expelled the girls. Naturally, the girls sued.

In response to that suit, an appeals court decided this week that the private religious school was not a business and therefore did not have to comply with a state law that prohibits businesses from discriminating... The appeals court called its decision "narrow," but lawyers on both sides of the case said it would protect private religious schools across [the state] from such discrimination suits.

Now this seems like a perfectly logical ruling, and makes a lot of sense. But here is the wierd part: the court that held that private religious schools can apply traditional sexual mores to their students? It's in California.

Never fear though. The girls are appealing to the California Supreme Court. There is yet "hope" that the wackos ... I mean, progressives ... will win out.

And this time the L word that wins out is the denomination of the school. Lutheran.

What a Bunch of Snakes!

First Timothy Geithner, now Tom Daschle!

Can't these millionaires afford decent accountants?

The Senate Finance Committee, which has confirmation authority over Daschle as head of the Department of Health and Human Services, is looking into whether no paying 1/8 of a million dollars in taxes is a problem. Hah!

An administration official said Mr. Daschle’s failure to pay the taxes was “a stupid mistake.” But, the official said, Mr. Daschle should not be penalized because he had discovered the tax liability himself, paid up and brought it to the committee’s attention.

The committee report said, “Senator Daschle filed the amended returns voluntarily after Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate the senator to be the secretary of health and human services.”

No, let's look at the timeline. According to the New Orc Times,

The committee report said Mr. Daschle had told the committee staff that “in June 2008, something made him think that the car service might be taxable, and he disclosed the arrangement to his accountant.”

So when did he amend the tax returns and pay up? Six months later, after he knew that he was gonna get caught.

And the Daschle case is particularly egregious, because he used to stand in front of cameras and call other people who did not pay their taxes Benedict Arnold! And he is all set to raise our taxes to pay for socialized medicine.

Geithner got a pass because he was supposedly indispensable. I do not see how you can make the same argument about Daschle.

How many more of these tax scofflaws are we going to get in Mr Obama's inner circle?

Birds of Prey

rap·tor, noun, (from Latin, plural of raptor plunderer, from rapere) bird of prey

Victorsleeps pointed me to this website. I encourage everyone to visit it and fill out the form.

Dear Friend:

I'm writing to alert you to an urgent issue that needs your support. The production of the nation's most advanced fighter aircraft, the F-22 Raptor, is in jeopardy--and along with it more than 95,000 American jobs and more than $12 billion in economic activity. I have signed an online petition urging the Obama Administration to release funds already authorized for ongoing Raptor production to preserve this important program. I hope you will join me in this effort!

By law, our new President must decide the fate of the Raptor program during his first weeks in office. Please join me in signing the online petition [http://www.preserveraptorjobs.com] urging Congress and the Administration to continue F-22 Raptor production, protect American jobs and the economy, and strengthen our national security!

30 January 2009

Have we heard the last ...

... of Rod Blagojevich?

I wonder.

If, as I have written before, Patrick Fitzgerald has in fact over-reached, and does not have the case against Blagojevich he hyped so heavily in December

The the Illinois Legislature may have removed a twice elected governor of the state on trumped up charges and without real cause.

It could lead to very heavy turnover in the legislature in 2010.

29 January 2009

Is it the End of Civilization ...

... or the sign of First Contact with the Vulcans?

The Cult of the Snuggie threatens to take over America! Or at least, a substantial number — 4 million — of late-night couch spuds.

The Snuggie, an oversized fleece blanket with sleeves, stars in a ubiquitous TV ad so cheesy it's practically art, and apparently wildly entertaining. The ad shows people wearing Snuggies at a sporting event, cheering and high-fiving each other while dressed … sort of like medieval monks.

"Every once in a while, a product transcends advertising to become part of pop culture," says Scott Boilen, president and CEO of Allstar Products Group of Hawthorne, N.Y., which conceived and markets the China-made Snuggie.

Have you ever read a more complete condemnation of pop culture?

Can you really tell me that the old guy with the popcorn does not make you think of Sarek?

28 January 2009

Campaign 2010

The first blow of the 2010 Election Campaign is being struck. Success of this move may well allow for the Republicans to take back some congressional seats... if they can actually act like Republicans and Conservatives for the next two years.

What is that blow, you ask?

The Obama-Pelosi-Reid Stimulus Bill.

27 January 2009

Why did Jesus have to die?

James Taranto describes himself as a non-believer in religious matters, and is descended from an ancestry of Turkish Jews. Nonetheless, he gave us a great line today. He was discussing the Covenant - Dallas Academy 100-0 Basketball kerfuffle, and he ended the story with this:

That Covenant is a Christian school prompts Canada's National Post to: "What would Jesus do, if faced with a far inferior basketball team?" What a ridiculous question. Jesus died for our sins, not our wins.

Truth in Advertising

Let's all sing together,

"The Villages ... Florida's friendliest hometown ."

Yeah, you gotta click the link.

An Email to my Senators

Dear Senators Kohl & Feingold,

I implore you, please do not vote for the current House "economic stimulus" bill.

There may be a lot of projects that are worthy of support in the bill, but let them go through the regular budget process.

This bill should only include a 1 year payroll tax holiday (so consumers would have more money in their pockets to spend and businesses could hire more workers), assistance grants or loans for states that are in budget trouble, unemployment insurance payments extensions and school and roads/bridges projects that will begin within 18 months (tops).

Please hold the line on this.

Thank you


I am not sure I support everything I have told them to leave in the bill, but I do not want them to dismiss me as a wacko...

I wonder if either will respond with more than a form letter....

Global Warming .... ummm Postponed by Snowstorm

Mon Jan 26 2009 17:59:26 ET

Al Gore is scheduled before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning to once again testify on the 'urgent need' to combat global warming.

But Mother Nature seems ready to freeze the proceedings.

A 'Winter Storm Watch' has been posted for the nation's capitol and there is a potential for significant snow... sleet... or ice accumulations.

"I can't imagine the Democrats would want to showcase Mr. Gore and his new findings on global warming as a winter storm rages outside," a Republican lawmaker emailed the DRUDGE REPORT. "And if the ice really piles up, it will not be safe to travel."

Update: Foxnews channel (no link yet) reports that the
hearing has been cancelled during the 8 am hour of Fox and Friends.

Sistertoldjah reminds us this is not the first time this has happened:

SAVE IT FOR A SUNNY DAY: Maryville Univ. in St. Louis area cancelling screening of Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’ because of a snowstorm…

Score One for Canada!

From the Toronto Star:

An American education professor, one of the founders of a radical 1960s group known as the Weather Underground, which was responsible for a number of bombings in the United States in the early 1970s, was turned back at the Canadian border last night.

William Ayers, a professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago and a leader in educational reform, was scheduled to speak at the Centre for Urban Schooling at University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. But that appearance has now been temporarily cancelled.

"I don't know why I was turned back," Ayers said in an interview this morning from Chicago. "I got off the plane like everyone else and I was asked to come over to the other side. The border guards reviewed some stuff and said I wasn't going to be allowed into Canada. To me it seems quite bureaucratic and not at all interesting ... If it were me I would have let me in. I couldn't possibly be a threat to Canada."

"I don't know why I was turned back." See, you can be truly stupid and still be a full professor at UC!

"If it were me I would have let me in." Do you think he has any idea how arrogant and stupid this sounds?

Probably not.
The Man's office door today.
"I never killed or injured anyone... The Weather Underground crossed lines of legality, of propriety and perhaps even of common sense. Our effectiveness can be — and still is being — debated. We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam war."

March 6, 1970: "three members of the Weather Underground accidentally killed themselves in a Manhattan townhouse while attempting to build a powerful bomb they had intended to plant at a social dance in Fort Dix, New Jersey -- an event that was to be attended by U.S. Army soldiers. Hundreds of lives could have been lost had the plot been successfully executed."

26 January 2009


I was actually following a link to a Google of "ministry time management" when I saw a link to this. Pretty funny, and very true.

But then, almost everything I know about Pop culture, I learn from Joel McHale...

So I commend to you:

The Five Worst Sources of Advice on Television

24 January 2009


... and frankly surprised by how disappointed I am by this.

Earlier, I noted that former President Bush was in the habit of visiting the troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and I stated that I hoped President Obama would change his ways and do likewise.

It does not look good. The Cleveland Leader reports:

The Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball was begun in 1953 for President Dwight Eisenhower's inauguration. The event recognized recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award. There were 48 Medal of Honor recipients in attendance, who were undoubtedly disappointed by the Commander-in-Chief's failure to show. Over the past 56 years and 14 inaugurations, no President has skipped this event - until now.

The Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball is sponsored by the American Legion, and co-sponsored by 13 other veteran's service organizations, including those such as the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Instead of attending this ball honoring our nation's heroes, Obama was busy making stops at 10 other official balls...

Celebrities were a plenty at the balls, with Stevie Wonder, Shakira, Mary. J. Blige, Faith Hill, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Adam Levine, will.i.am, Sting, Mariah Carey, and Leonardo DiCaprio in attendance at the Neighborhood Ball. In addition, the other nine balls also featured a star-studded lineup including Kanye West and Kid Rock at the Youth Ball, Marc Anthony at the Western Ball, and Cheryl Crow at the Western Ball.

It was the party without all of the celebrities that Obama skipped. The very people who he sought to have support him during his candidacy and campaign, who have fought to protect this country, were snubbed in favor of publicity and the opportunity to rub shoulders - yet again - with the out-of-touch Hollywood elite.

I will say that I thought he had figured some of these things out since the campaign. I am disappointed.

Mr President, the look that you give Vice President Biden in the clip below? That is on my face for you over this.

Quotable Ronald Reagan

“How do you tell a Communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”

- Ronald Reagan - September 25, 1987

Completely Clueless About History

I joined this blog network, which has brought a few more visitors to my blog, and has taken me to a few other sites. One of those was chocolatechicago.cc, a liberal blog hosted by American of African Ancestry. ( I do not like the term African-American any more than I like Scandinavian- American. I am unsure of the acceptability of the term Black, so I will go with AoAA. :-) )

Now I have seen the ".cc" suffix attached to websites before, and I didn't know what it stood for. Apparently it can stand for "completely clueless."

In a post lauding the Bishop Gene Robinson, the blogger makes this astounding statement:

The Conservative Evangelical Christians have been around for years and there is absolutely no record showing them picking up arms against slavery, lynching, racism or other barbaric crimes or social injustices that are committed or were committed in the past.

Completely Clueless.

Evangelicals are the theological descendents of the Methodist movement of the 19th century. It is a direct line from John Wesley to the Holiness movement to most Evangelicals and Pentecostals in North America today. As a professor of mine once said, Methodism in the 19th century was the tail that wagged the American dog.

While it is true that the Baptist, Methodist and other churches did split at the time of the Civil War into southern and northern factions, it is also true that Methodists, the conservative evangelicals of their day, led the fight for abolition in England and the United States. A simple Google search would have led chocolatechicago to Wikipedia and Library of Congress where he could have learned about these things. Or he could have just gone to the movies.

But then, liberals don't want to learn. It might challenge their opinions.

And I am posting this here, because I refuse to join a blog in order to comment on it.

An Honest Global Warmist

James Lovelock, the originator of Gaia theory happens to believe that humans are causing global warming. He is not, however, a complete lunatic. That may sound like a contradiction in terms, but it is apparently true. He gave an interview to New Scientist magazine.

Most of the "green" stuff is verging on a gigantic scam. Carbon trading, with its huge government subsidies, is just what finance and industry wanted. It's not going to do a damn thing about climate change, but it'll make a lot of money for a lot of people and postpone the moment of reckoning. I am not against renewable energy, but to spoil all the decent countryside in the UK with wind farms is driving me mad. It's absolutely unnecessary, and it takes 2500 square kilometres to produce a gigawatt - that's an awful lot of countryside.

He even has a plan to stop global warming without destroying Western civilization or stomping all over the aspirations of the developing world:

There is one way we could save ourselves and that is through the massive burial of charcoal. It would mean farmers turning all their agricultural waste - which contains carbon that the plants have spent the summer sequestering - into non-biodegradable charcoal, and burying it in the soil. Then you can start shifting really hefty quantities of carbon out of the system and pull the CO2 down quite fast... The biosphere pumps out 550 gigatonnes of carbon yearly; we put in only 30 gigatonnes. Ninety-nine per cent of the carbon that is fixed by plants is released back into the atmosphere within a year or so by consumers like bacteria, nematodes and worms. What we can do is cheat those consumers by getting farmers to burn their crop waste at very low oxygen levels to turn it into charcoal, which the farmer then ploughs into the field. A little CO2 is released but the bulk of it gets converted to carbon. You get a few per cent of biofuel as a by-product of the combustion process, which the farmer can sell. This scheme would need no subsidy: the farmer would make a profit. This is the one thing we can do that will make a difference, but I bet they won't do it.

He doesn't seem to notice but the biosphere is 18 times as much of a problem as humans. But nevermind that.

This guy is at least honest, and inventive.

Why couldn't Bill Clinton have picked this guy to be his vice president?

Science as a slave of an ideology II

Discover is the only magazine that I subscribe to right now on my own. (In spite of the fact that they are global warmists.)

But the December issue had an article that just drove me crazy. Entitled Science's Alternative to an Intelligent Creator: The Multiverse Theory, it told of the theoretical work of a cosmologist.

There are many such examples of the universe’s life-friendly properties—so many, in fact, that physicists can’t dismiss them all as mere accidents.

“We have a lot of really, really strange coincidences, and all of these coincidences are such that they make life possible,” Linde says.

Physicists don’t like coincidences. They like even less the notion that life is somehow central to the universe, and yet recent discoveries are forcing them to confront that very idea. Life, it seems, is not an incidental component of the universe, burped up out of a random chemical brew on a lonely planet to endure for a few fleeting ticks of the cosmic clock. In some strange sense, it appears that we are not adapted to the universe; the universe is adapted to us.

Call it a fluke, a mystery, a miracle. Or call it the biggest problem in physics. Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multi­verse.

The idea is controversial. Critics say it doesn’t even qualify as a scientific theory because the existence of other universes cannot be proved or disproved. Advocates argue that, like it or not, the multiverse may well be the only viable non­religious explanation for what is often called the “fine-tuning problem”—the baffling observation that the laws of the universe seem custom-tailored to favor the emergence of life.

Now, I, for one, am truly fascinated by mathematical and cosmological theories, even though I do not understand them at all. This one falls into that category. My problem with this article, and, indeed with this theory, is that it jumps off from a philosophical/scientific assumption: there is no god, so we must find a way to explain the universe without one.

This flies squarely in the face of Occam’s Razor. That 14th century rule of logic says "entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem." This particular theory is perhaps the perfect violation of Occam’s Razor, because that Latin phrase is translated "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity." (Even better if the alternative version is used which translates "plurality should not be posited without necessity".)

Given the choice between an unprovable multiverse and the equally unprovable existence of an intelligent creator, the usual translation of Occam’s law, “all else being equal, the simplest solution is the best” would seem to point to the existence of intelligent creator. (I confess a bias here.)

Scientifically, the theory is succinctly critiqued near the end of the article.

“If you allow yourself to hypothesize an almost unlimited portfolio of different worlds, you can explain anything,” says John Polkinghorne, formerly a theoretical particle physicist at Cambridge University and, for the past 26 years, an ordained Anglican priest. If a theory allows anything to be possible, it explains nothing; a theory of anything is not the same as a theory of everything, he adds.

Gee, they remembered to point out Polkinghorne's bias.

And then we got this very silly bit of business from a defender of the theory.

Supporters of the multiverse theory say that critics are on the wrong side of history. “Throughout the history of science, the universe has always gotten bigger,” Carr says. “We’ve gone from geocentric to heliocentric to galactocentric....This is just the same process repeating itself.”

No, Dr. Carr, the universe did not get bigger. Our collective ability to perceive it improved.

As I said, I have my bias, and the magazine pointed out Polkinghorne's. It is certainly fine for scientists to explore all kinds of alternatives, but it would be nice if they would disclose their biases as well... or at least if a supposedly objective scientific magazine would do so.

What bias in my speaking of? The scientist who is being profiled, and whose theory is being explicated in this issue of Discover is a Stanford professor named Andrei Linde. A third of the way through the article, we are suddenly told that Linde began to formulate his theory “a professor at the prestigious Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow.”

In other words, he began to formulate a scientific theory that just happen to fit perfectly with the Soviet communist vision of a godless world.

Linde’s cosmology is actually a servant - perhaps slave - of a communist atheistic worldview.

We can see how well that works the underground slave camps of North Korea.

22 January 2009

Childish Things

It seems to me that the only thing I have ever seen President Obama be really passionate about is ... that Barack Obama should be president!

He has a pretty consistent voting record on the far left, but I wonder if that was not just positioning himself for a post-Bush run...

On the whole, his cabinet and other nominations are fairly centrist, or balanced. (Leon Panetta at CIA is a concern to me, but that is another post.)

While it is true that Obama is moving rapidly on several issues that are favorites of the Left (Abortion, Gitmo, "torture"), he is taking it easy on other areas (card check, tax increases), and I think this is a result of the mainstream advisers he has surrounded himself with. (Whether this continues remains to be seen.)

It seems to me that this is causing consternation on the Left. This is particularly true among those members of Congress who cut their teeth back when the GOP had decided to be the Anti-Clinton party (yes, they did start it), and then spent the next 8 years being anti-Bush. Now that they are in power, they want to do things their way, now.

This is, I think, the reason for the much quoted Majority Leader Reid statement, "I do not work for Barack Obama."*

Maybe this is who Obama was really addressing in his inaugural addressl when he said,

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.

*Granted, the statement is couched in some constitutional structure language, but it seems to me that there was a signal being sent.

Political Banking

I pointed out earlier that having the Government invest in banks was a bad way to spend the TARP money.

WSJ opined recently on how the feds have beaten up on Bank of America:

In October the U.S. Treasury had insisted on investing $15 billion in his bank. Come December, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told him that Merrill had to be saved, and that BofA had to be the savior. Mr. Lewis said yesterday that the government was "firmly of the view" that canceling or delaying the Merrill deal might result in "serious systemic harm."

In other words, the feds believe that the way to calm financial markets is to force the nation's largest, and a heretofore healthy, bank to swallow toxic assets it didn't want. In return, yesterday the Treasury agreed to invest $20 billion in BofA, for which the government will receive preferred shares paying 8%. Treasury, the FDIC and the Fed will also partially insure $118 billion in troubled assets -- mostly Merrill's. In return for this downside protection, BofA will have to render unto Caesar another $4 billion of preferred stock plus warrants.

Sound familiar?

Just buy the troubled assets you took the money to buy and leave the banks alone!

An Opportunity for Conservatism

This was embedded in a WSJ article by Peter Wehner & Paul Ryan last week. It is key:

Of course, this health-care plan is occurring against our particular fiscal backdrop: Without major reform, our federal entitlement programs will soon double the size of government. The result will be a crushing burden of debt and taxes.

In short, we may be approaching a tipping point for democratic capitalism.

While the scope of the challenge should not be underestimated, those of us worried about this fundamental reorientation of politics and economics have several things working in our favor. Among them is that a public accustomed to iTunes, Facebook, Google, eBay, Amazon and WebMD is not clamoring for centralized, bureaucratic government. The strong American instinct for individual initiative and entrepreneurship remains intact.

In addition, confidence in government -- from Congress to those responsible for oversight of the financial system -- is quite low.

Our sense is that at the moment, the public is not thinking in terms of "big government" or "small government." Instead, Americans want efficient government -- one that is modern, responsive and adaptive. People want government to act as a fair referee, providing guardrails that allow individuals to rise without intrusively dictating individual decisions.

If conservatives hope to win converts to our cause, we need to understand this new moment and put forward an agenda that reforms key institutions in a way that advances individual freedom, without creating an unacceptable level of insecurity.

I really hope that the people who wrongly thought that the path to John McCain's victory lay in being more populist than Obama are listening ...

Your Tax Dollars at Work

The pure genius of those who govern our nation!

The state legislature of Minnesota decided to mandate that all diesel fuel sold in the state be blended to contain 2% bio-diesel fuel. I do not know if this was done just to increase the sale of soybeans or out of some concern for oil shortages or the environment or what ...

There is a problem with this, though: bio-diesel turns into gelatinous slime in very cold temperatures, more easliy than regular diesel. But that's okay, because there are never cold temperatures in Minnesota!

Reports the STrib:

Bloomington Public Schools closed Friday after biodiesel fuel required to be used under state law gelled in about a dozen school buses due to subzero temperatures. The problem left some students at bus stops on Thursday morning for as long as 30 minutes or sitting on stalled buses.

In the south metro area, the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District started school two hours late Friday after a similar problem with biodiesel fuel in about a dozen buses the day before.

The Minnesota legislature has mandated increasing the bio-diesel blend to 5% in the spring.

But that is ok, because there is an eco-friendly (?) solution that will allow the busses to burn biodiesel without having the fuel turn to sludge in the busses:

"We didn't have this problem due to a few reasons, but one of them is luck," said Joe Raasch, deputy chief of operations for St. Paul Public Schools. "In extreme weather like this, sometimes we'll keep buses running all night."

Is it any wonder that these people may yet give us Senator Al Franken?

Padding My Resume

Now, for the third time, I have been thanked for my contributions to Best of the Web Today. Here, here and here. I have been holding out for three as a sort of threshold before making any grandiose claims. Granted, once Mr. Taranto misspelled my name, and most recently, he disagreed with me.

Nonetheless, I shall now add to my curriculum vitae, "Contributor, Wall Street Journal Online."

Now, how many do I need before referring to myself as a Contributing Editor?

20 January 2009

A Little Bigotry at the Inauguration

A number of years ago, my mother attended a ceremony marking an anniversary of Women's Ordination in the Lutheran Church. She later called the presider and told her she was offended. "You thanked everyone present for working for equlality of women in the church, except one group of people. If the male pastors of the church had not supported the move, you would not be ordained today. You slighted them and you owe them an apology."

A similar situation arises today.

I was frankly offended by the way the Rev Joseph Lowery ended his benediction. He said

"We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to give back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right," Lowery said.

I will cut Lowery some slack, because he is 87 and was in the trenches - and jail cells - in the Civil Rights movement, but let's be honest: if white people had not by and large embraced what is right already, Obama would be an also ran in the Democratic party.

If he had couched it with a "will continue to" or "will grow in embracing", I would be okay with it, because clearly we are not done. But the statement stands that we, white people, have not embraced what is right.

That is racist and bigoted. It marred an otherwise fine occassion.

UPDATE: That was fast. I had not even finished this piece when an update occurred. I think it was about 40 minutes after the Benediction itself when this passage appeared on Wikipedia:

His invocation drew immediate criticism from many conservatives for the following passage: "Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen. Say Amen"[citation needed] The line is part of a civil rights chant that Lowery has included in many speeches over the years.[7] [8]

There is no citation for the "criticism from many conservatives" claim, and Google reveals nothing. There was no comment on it on the Fox News Coverage immediately following the ceremony.

Maybe they are anticipating
my post!

An Important Difference

John Steele Gordon is so intent on setting up his article, telling the story of Andrew Jackson's inaugural, the he drops this odd paragraph into the column:

Mr. Obama will be the country's first African-American president, but he is actually far more than that. He will be the first president whose ethnic identity is not linked to the extreme northwest corner of Europe. All 42 men who have been president of the United States up to now were either British, Irish or Dutch in ancestry -- except Dwight Eisenhower, whose ancestors came from the Saarland, in Germany, which borders the Low Countries. Most of the 42 had colonial ancestors (including Eisenhower, whose antecedents came to Pennsylvania in 1741), and would therefore qualify as WASPs, to use the not-altogether-complimentary -- or accurate -- acronym coined in the 1960s.

This is wrong on three counts. First, it lumps all Irishmen in together. Andrew Jackson's ancestry was from the North; that is very different, in this country and in the old, from being an Irish Catholic whose roots were in the south. Second, and perhaps this is a result of editing to fit the column space, but the paragraph focuses on Eisenhower in a way that it required a careful re-reading to see that he is not actually calling Jack Kennedy a WASP, which would be silly.

Third, in the 20th century, the ethnic origins of most Americans became so mixed, that I suspect that it is almost preposterous to claim that most American presidents since 1948 have have one particular national heritage (though I am prepared to be corrected on that. Richard Nixon's family tree includes a French Princess.)

Fourth, and most importantly, Gordon has neglected the maternal, and, in terms of nurture, more significant side of Obama's family tree. His mother was born a Dunham, which makes Obama English, just like many of his predecessors.

The more significant difference about Obama is his generation. Depending on who you read, Baby Boomers are defined as those born after WW2, up to 1958 or 1964. I believe the former figure to be correct. Not only because the demographic curve drops off in 1959 (or 60), but because the collective formative experience of Vietnam, the American cultural revolution and Watergate only directly shaped those old enough to remember or be a part of it.

This was aluded to in political campaigns by both Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France,

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French presidential candidate, addressing a campaign rally in Paris yesterday, where he condemned the Left for instinctively backing troublemakers rather than the police.

He summoned memories of the student revolt of 1968, saying: "In this election, it is a question of whether the heritage of May '68 should be perpetuated or if it should be liquidated once and for all."

If elected, Mr Sarkozy promised to break with the "cynicism" of the "gauche caviars", who he blamed for a crisis of "morality, authority, work and national identity". Citing the recent mini-riot in Gare du Nord, he repeated his accusation that the Left "systematically takes the side of thugs, troublemakers and fraudsters against the police".

and Obama, who in about an hour will be President of the United States:

"There's no doubt that we represent the kind of change Senator Clinton can't deliver on. And part of it's generational," Obama told FOX News." Senator Clinton and others have been fighting some of the same fights since the '60s. It makes it very difficult for them to bring the country together to get things done. And I think that's what people hunger for."

This does not necesarily sit well with the Boomer generation, who make up a majority of political pundits, 'senior leaders in the black community' and high ranking politicians. I think this comment from an internet chat page is refective of the mood:

I certainly will vote for Obama in November. I'd feel a little better if he weren't so dismissive of "the '60s generation" because we're still here and in great numbers, and didn't act as if he'd be happy to work with the Republicans. Because they won't work with him. Other than that, he's a marvelous voice and presence and a great step toward regaining our moral standing in the wolrd. Only a step, but a wonderful first one.

They will vote for him, they assume the Republicans are the problem, but they want their due.

Obama may not give it to them.

Like JFK said 48 years ago today,

Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans...

That is the most significant difference I see in Obama. It is for that reason that the youth vote turned out in spades. I think that is the essence of "hope" and "change" that Obama speaks of. I do not know if he can deliver on it, but I think that that is the most important difference in this inaugural.

Gordon goes on to say

So the inauguration of Mr. Obama is being seen, rightly, as a moment in American history when the idea that "Anyone can grow up to be president" is becoming more true than it had been previously. American democracy is being significantly deepened and widened by his accession to the presidency.

While this is not how he meant it, I think it does represent the public enfranchisement not only of blacks and other minorities, but of the post Boomer gerenations, and that is significant.

My fellow Repubilcans ....

My good friend, victorsleeps, celebrated MLK Day by remembering that the good Doctor himself was ... a Republican!

And I suspect that many more blacks will now see the way clear to be as well, as James Taranto yeah scratch that pointed out after the election.

At any rate, happy birthday Dr. King. You had a dream, and many of us still hold it. You paid a high price, and we continue to reap the rewards of your sacrifice.

19 January 2009

Be Quiet, Tom

This is just malicious.

Former Republican congressional leader Tom DeLay has said if Obama was serious about changing Washington, he would announce: "We are in crisis, we are at war, people are losing jobs; we are not going to have this (inauguration) party. Instead, I'm going to get sworn in at the White House. I'm going to have a nice little chicken dinner, and we'll save the $US125 million."'

After eight years, the Dems have won control of the White House.

One Hundred and forty-six years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and forty-five years after the Voting Rights Act, this nation has elected a black man president.

People have a right to celebrate those things, and to say otherwise is pure petulance.

Please be quiet, Tom.

Really Stupid Stuff, part 686

What is the deal with the two bathtubs?

First of all, don't they have lawn chairs at this home or resort where this couple is relaxing? Bathtubs seem kind of inconvenient.

But secondly, why would you take an E.D. treatment and get in separate bathtubs? Maybe a hot tub, but separate bathtubs? Kind of defeats the purpose, don't you think?

17 January 2009

Quotable Richard John Neuhaus

Richard John Neuhaus, son of a Lutheran pastor, a Lutheran pastor himself, and then a convert to Catholicism and a Roman Catholic priest, died on January 8, 2009 at the age of 72. This is my second favorite of Neuhaus quote:

“When I come before the judgment throne, I will plead the promise of God in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. I will not plead any work that I have done, although I will thank God that he has enabled me to do some good. I will plead no merits other than the merits of Christ, knowing that the merits of Mary and the saints are all from him; and for their company, their example, and their prayers throughout my earthly life I will give everlasting thanks. I will not plead that I had faith, for sometimes I was unsure of my faith, and in any event that would be to turn faith into a meritorious work of my won. I will not plead that I held the correct understanding of “justification by faith alone,” although I will thank God that he led me to know ever more fully the great truth that much misunderstood formulation was intended to protect. Whatever little growth in holiness I have experienced, whatever strength I have received from the company of the saints, whatever understanding I have attained of God and his ways - these and all other gifts received I will bring gratefully to the throne. But in seeking entry to that heavenly kingdom, I will…look to Christ and Christ alone.”

Richard John Neuhaus. Death on a Friday Afternoon


Minnesota (Not) Nice, part 4

Michael Stokes Paulsen, a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Mn and a former associate dean of the U of M Law School, makes a legal case that builds on the facts I have repeated earlier here and here and here:

[A]s matters stand now, the Minnesota recount is a legal train wreck. The result, a narrow Franken lead, is plainly invalid. Just as in Bush v. Gore, the recount has involved "unequal evaluation of ballots in several respect" and failed to provide "minimal procedural safeguards" of equal treatment of all ballots... The different treatment makes the results not only unreliable (and suspicious), but unconstitutional...

This means two things: First, the process must conform to Minnesota election law. Second, it must conform to Bush v. Gore. Whatever standards Minnesota uses must be applied uniformly, consistently, and under clear standards not admitting of local variation. Discrepancies between machine counts and hand recounts, and between numbers of recorded votes and signed-in voters, however resolved, must be resolved the same way throughout the state.

The standards for evaluating rejected absentee ballots likewise must be uniform, with decisions made according to legal standards, not by partisan campaigns. If the Minnesota Supreme Court fails to assure these things, the matter could go right up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And what if there is no reliable way to determine in a recount who won, consistent with Bush v. Gore's requirements?

The Constitution's answer is a do-over.

And in the meantime, if the legislature refuses to go along, Pawlenty could appoint a temporary
Senator, say, Norm Coleman, to the seat...

It would not surprise me if the people of Minnesota have in fact elected Mr Franken. These are, after all, the same people who at least nominally are Viking's fans, so their collective taste is certainly impeachable. But Franken needs to have won fair and square, and it is incumbent on the courts, at this point, to make sure whoever gets the seat did.

Note: over the last few weeks, Senate Majority Leader Harry Ried has said that there were two men who would never sit in the Senate: Rod Blagojevich's appointee, and Norm Coleman. Given what happened with Roland Burris, I think the odds are at least 50-50 for Coleman.

16 January 2009

Suppression of Speech

From our local paper, a letter to the editor:

Reagan eliminated fairness on the airwaves, allowing discrimination against progressive viewpoints, so we also need a program of affirmative action redressing past wrongs by requiring fairness from all broadcasters, but requiring more fairness from some. We should exempt stations carrying progressive programming like Air America affiliates and community radio stations across the country from the revived Fairness Doctrine.

Maybe this as a win for conservatives. Since the television networks are filled with shows that promote all sorts of sexual promiscuity ... they should now have to give 50% of time to more wholesome fare. Ditto for the sexually charged popular music on the airwaves and on satellite radio. In fact, in keeping with Bruce's call to redress past wrongs, I think that advocates of traditional values should simply have carte blanche to control what comes across the cable that run over and under our public streets for the next three to five years.

Or Not.

Let's be clear about the fairness doctrine and what it was. It

required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was (in the Commission's view) honest, equitable, and balanced.

The Equal Time requirement covers political candidates, not controversial issues.

I do not think that a Fairness Doctrine would stand up in court today, for a very simple reason. In 1974, the SCOTUS held, in Miami Herald v Tornillo, that if you wanted balance in the newspaper market, start your own. This seemed a turnaround from 1969's Red Lion Broadcasting v the FCC , where the court upheld the right of the FCC to impose the fairness doctrine. "Because of the scarcity of radio frequencies, the Government is permitted to put restraints on licensees in favor of others whose views should be expressed on this unique medium."

Given the explosion of media, including the internet, digital radio (which makes more channels available) cable tv and satellite radio and tv, I do not believe that the situation the court faced in 1969 is anywhere close to the one we live in now.

Finally, the attempt to resurrect the fairness doctrine is really about shutting down right-wing talk radio. Really.

If you doubt that, check out the last seven paragraphs
here. Steve Rendall hosts a radio show which claims to have been "challenging media bias and censorship since 1986." It is heard on 130 stations. (If you go to Limbaugh's website, and start counting stations, you get to 130 in the states whose names begin in A-G! Is jealosy at work here?) Apparently Rendall is not interested in challenging media censorship which disagrees with him, even if it is ineffectual. He writes:

When Edward Monks, a lawyer in Eugene, Oregon, studied the two commercial talk stations in his town (Eugene Register-Guard, 6/30/02), he found “80 hours per week, more than 4,000 hours per year, programmed for Republican and conservative talk shows, without a single second programmed for a Democratic or liberal perspective.” Observing that Eugene (a generally progressive town) was “fairly representative,” Monks concluded: “Political opinions expressed on talk radio are approaching the level of uniformity that would normally be achieved only in a totalitarian society. There is nothing fair, balanced or democratic about it.”

So the talk radio is uniformly conservative, yet the town remains generally progressive, he says. So the conservative talk show format of the local radio has had no effect on the town's political makeup; it just irritates him. That's tolerant. Rendall continues:

What has not changed since 1987 is that over-the-air broadcasting remains the most powerful force affecting public opinion, especially on local issues; as public trustees, broadcasters ought to be insuring that they inform the public, not inflame them.

Rendall offers no evidence that conservative talk radio only "inflames," not "informs" the public. (Perhaps he sees this as self-evident. Perhaps he also does not understand how inflamatory it is to scare people about talk radio by invoking phrases like
"a totalitarian society.")

Justice White wrote in the Red Lion case,

... if experience with the administration of these doctrines indicates that they have the net effect of reducing, rather than enhancing, the volume and quality of coverage, there will be time enough to reconsider the constitutional implications.

So, if Justice White is to be believed, any law or policy that seeks merely to shut down a particular kind of political speech (which could be done by making a station carrying, say Michael Medved, to also carry Air America programming to the dismay of its bottom line) would be unconstitutional.

I hope.

15 January 2009

A (soon to be )Ho ... AND stupid!

Natalie Dylan, the 22-year-old who’s selling her virginity online, says there’s just one celebrity she’d want to deflower her: Kim Kardashian. “She’s really beautiful,” Dylan told The News’, Nancy Dillon before adding, “but ... I’m heterosexual. I just ­admire her beauty.”

Ummm, Natalie, this is a little awkward, but I'm afraid it is incumbent on someone to ask some questions. Do you know what "virginity" is? Do you know how you lose it? Are you aware that Kim Kardashian doesn't have the right equipment to take it from you?

Do you really have any idea what you are doing?

Misleading Headlines

An AFP headline claims:

Obama pledges to succeed where Bush failed on bin Laden

The text of the story reads:

Said Obama: "We're going to do everything in our power to make sure that they cannot create safe havens that can attack Americans. That's the bottom line."

And then they pick up on the same quote I have in another post:

"My preference obviously would be to capture or kill him. But if we have so tightened the noose that he's in a cave somewhere and can't even communicate with his operatives, then we will meet our goal of protecting America."

All he pledges to do is his best, which is all he can do, and frankly, what Bush has done, in my opinion. The headline is politically slanted and misleading.

Maybe it got lost in translation from Frog....

Never Mind!

The Timesonline reminds us:

As recently as October 7, in a presidential debate, Mr Obama said: "We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al-Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority."

Last night, President-Elect Obama, about to be tasked with carrying out our biggest national security priorities, chatted with Katie Couric:

: How important do you think it is, Mr. President-elect, to apprehend Osama bin Laden?

Mr. Obama: I think that we have to so weaken his infrastructure that, whether he is technically alive or not, he is so pinned down that he cannot function. My preference obviously would be to capture or kill him. But if we have so tightened the noose that he's in a cave somewhere and can't even communicate with his operatives, then we will meet our goal of protecting America.

In other words, Pres Bush has done just fine.

14 January 2009

A TARP is No Substitute for a Proper Repair

Out where I used to live, folks who had roof damage or decay would often get up on the roof and tie and nail down a blue tarp, rather than repair the roof.

Sometimes this was economic necessity. Sometimes it was laziness. I think that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is guilty of doing the same thing for another reason: extremely bad judgment.

Frankly, the whole Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, bothers me.

It is not just that it is a whole lot of money. It is the way it was spent.

Exodio, one of my blog correspondents, refers to the day when TARP was passed as the day we went from the USA to the USSA - United Socialist States of America. I am not sure he is completely wrong about that.

Here are the words of Fed Chairman Bernanke in a speech given at the LSE this week:

[W]ith the worsening of the economy's growth prospects, continued credit losses and asset markdowns may maintain for a time the pressure on the capital and balance sheet capacities of financial institutions. Consequently, more capital injections and guarantees may become necessary to ensure stability and the normalization of credit markets. A continuing barrier to private investment in financial institutions is the large quantity of troubled, hard-to-value assets that remain on institutions' balance sheets. The presence of these assets significantly increases uncertainty about the underlying value of these institutions and may inhibit both new private investment and new lending. Should the Treasury decide to supplement injections of capital by removing troubled assets from institutions' balance sheets, as was initially proposed for the U.S. financial rescue plan, several approaches might be considered. Public purchases of troubled assets are one possibility. Another is to provide asset guarantees, under which the government would agree to absorb, presumably in exchange for warrants or some other form of compensation, part of the prospective losses on specified portfolios of troubled assets held by banks. Yet another approach would be to set up and capitalize so-called bad banks, which would purchase assets from financial institutions in exchange for cash and equity in the bad bank. These methods are similar from an economic perspective, though they would have somewhat different operational and accounting implications. In addition, efforts to reduce preventable foreclosures, among other benefits, could strengthen the housing market and reduce mortgage losses, thereby increasing financial stability.

Now I'm just a simple country preacher, and there is a lot about this mess I do not understand. There are some things that I think I know to be true:

The Troubled Asset Relief Program, as its name implies, and Bernanke states, was designed to finance the public purchase of troubled assets - a.k.a. toxic paper - held by endangered banks. These assets consisted mostly of securities backed by an interest in sub-prime mortgages. There would be ups and downs to doing so.

First, simply doing what the program was designed to do, buying these assets from the banks, would have given money to the banks and would have relieved them of these troubled assets. True, some sort of government created or subsidized mechanism would have been needed to manage these mortgages the government had just bought. But if we had simply paid the same banks to manage these assets, re-negotiating longer term, lower interest mortgages, then the banks would have had a new source of income and the foreclosure rate could have been stemmed, which, Bernanke says, "could strengthen the housing market and reduce mortgage losses, thereby increasing financial stability."

Aside from the expanded liability for the government (owning long term mortgages of dubious value), the biggest losers in this process would have been the banks, because there was no way we were going to buy these troubled assets at face value. I am afraid that that may have been the key that caused Paulson and the Bush Administration to wave off this method in favor of direct investment in the banks. This was a serious mistake.

Since there was no perfect solution, I accept that we should choose the least bad solution. But given the choice between

1) having he government buy and hold a bunch of mortgages in what amounts to a giant subsidized housing scheme, or
2) the government buying interest in the form of preferred stock in a bunch of banks,

I would prefer the former. Much. Better to expand the public housing program exponentially than take this rather considerable step down the road to socialism.

At this writing, Wikipedia's Socialism entry starts:

Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production ...

Yes Socialism. Who would have thought three years I would be accusing a Republican president who championed the "ownership society" of leading us down that road.

How Obama Got Elected

I am not sure if this says more about the media, its choice of stories and their influence

or about the Republicans failure to communicate

or about the quality of the voters in this country, but this is a fascinating survey.

Who's Tolerant and Who's Not

The left likes to tout the notion that they are tolerant and the right is not.

Then why is it that the selection of Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren (with whom I have significant theological differences) to pray at the Inauguration incited a firestorm of attacks from the Left (as I noted here and here), including demands that he be disinvited?

Yet, now that the Inaugural Committee has asked Gay Episcopal Bishop Vicki Gene Robertson "to lead prayers at the opening of celebrations next Sunday leading up to his inauguration next week."

This has gotten so little response from the Evangelical community that I (a news junkie) did not know it happened two days ago until an Episcopal colleague expressed his dismay with it this morning at a pastor's breakfast. So apparently the intolerant evangelicals are actually more tolerant than advertised. And how tolerant is Bishop Robinson?

Bishop Robinson was himself among those who attacked Mr Obama over the choice of Rick Warren, describing it as a "slap in the face."

It just goes to show what I have said for years: the left is tolerant of anything and anyone as long you don't disagree with them.

13 January 2009

Enhanced Interrogation Tecniques

Newsweek offers some sobering advice on the issue of "torture."

First of all, let me re-iterate what I wrote 2 1/2 years ago: what was done at Abu Graib was not torture. Stupid, demeaning, and wrong, yes. Torture, no!

After enduring the Left's and the MSM's complaints about torture for years, now come Taylor & Thomas over at Newsweek with a new discovery: torture may, in fact, work!

The issue of torture is more complicated than it seems. America brought untold shame on itself with the abuses at Abu Ghraib. It's likely that the take-the-gloves-off attitude of Cheney and his allies filtered down through the ranks, until untrained prison guards with sadistic tendencies were making sport with electric shock. But no direct link has been reported. Waterboarding—simulating drowning by pouring water over the suspect's mouth and nostrils—is a brutal interrogation method. But by some (disputed) accounts, it was CIA waterboarding that got Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to talk. It is a liberal shibboleth that torture doesn't work—that suspects will say anything, including lies, to stop the pain. But the reality is perhaps less clear.

Last summer, the U.S. Senate (with Obama absent) voted to require the CIA to use no interrogation methods other than those permitted in the Army Field Manual. These are extremely restrictive: strictly speaking, the interrogator cannot ever threaten bodily harm or even put a prisoner on cold rations until he talks. Bush vetoed this measure, not unwisely. As president, Obama may want to preserve some flexibility. (Suppose, for instance, that after a big attack the CIA captured the leader who planned it; there would be enormous pressure to make the terrorist divulge what attack is coming next.) Obama may want to urge Congress to outlaw "humiliating and degrading" treatment of prisoners. But he might also want to carve out an exception for extreme cases, outlining coercive methods, like sleep deprivation, that could be used on specified detainees. To provide political accountability, the president should be required to sign any such orders, share them with the congressional intelligence committees and publicly disclose their number.

Can you hear the CIA interogators under this proposal? "Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease tell me what plans you have made to attack us. Pretty please?"

Rob Pollock, Paul Gigot and Bret Stephens got it right on the Journal Editorial Report the other night:

POLLOCK: Look, I think [President Elect Omaba] definitely believes what he said. He believes the interrogation techniques are wrong. Liberals are counting on the fact that there's going to be this sort of Jack Bauer exception, that the agent is going to break the rules when he gets the really bad guy. That's not the way the world works. It's not a ticking bomb kind of scenario.

What we know is, when we get a really high-value target, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, that's when we apply those kinds of techniques. Agents are not going to risk their careers putting...

GIGOT: They take signals from the top. And in the wake of the 1970s and the Church Committee, and the attacks on the CIA during the Cold War, a lot of operations are shriveled up because nobody wants to take any risks.

STEPHENS: That's exactly right. The CIA basically died as an organization in 1975, in the wake of Frank Church's investigations. That's precisely the signal president Obama seems to be sending now, that he wants this lily white organization that's going to cow, above all, to the dictates of people like the Daily Kos, the left wing bloggers, who have treated the CIA like the origin of evil.

And if something terrible happens because of the handcuffing of our counter-terror officials, the usual suspects will play their usual roles. The Left will wring their hands and wonder why they hate us. And Congress will hold hearings to find out why agents with one hand tied behind their backs couldn't stop the terrorists.

Slow down, people, part 2

Since before the election, I have noted that the Obama campaign has been trying to lower expectations of their supporters. Now Newsweek has joined the effort.

In times of war and crisis, as presidents such as Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt discovered, the nation needs a strong chief executive. The flaw of the Bush-Cheney administration may have been less in what it did than in the way it did it—flaunting executive power, ignoring Congress, showing scorn for anyone who waved the banner of civil liberties. Arguably, there has been an overreaction to the alleged arrogance and heedlessness of Bush and Cheney—especially Cheney, who almost seemed to take a grim satisfaction in his Darth Vader-esque image.

In other words, if Bush & Cheney did it, and we yelled about it, now when Obama does it, it will be okay.

"Conservative" Defined

...at least in practical terms of as opposed to "Progressive."

I joined the Widget political discussion channel, and happened to take a look at the Conservative Oasis where this interesting comparison popped off the page at me.

There is nothing more mind bending than watching a child try to make a point in order to “make” his point, intentionally being obtuse for the purpose of drawing the attention of the other intellectually weak sheep around him.

This is, in fact, how the left operates most of the time. They come up with cute marketable catch phrases like “pro choice” to hide the fact that one of the choices is killing a baby. “Progressive” sounds so attractive, because people want, naturally, to move forward, to have the feeling of getting things done, or to suggest to others that they possess an “open mind”, which of course one must have if one wants to be really fair and considerate in this world.

What conservatives instinctively understand is that freedom is lost without boundaries; that promoting the good in people is better for society as a whole; that sometimes we need protection from our desires, and if not, then protection from those who cannot control theirs. We see a beauty in order; and are capable of accepting that authority exists, and for good reasons, most of the time. We understand that compassion means that you help people when they need it, sometimes only when they deserve it, while at the same time understanding that helping people too much is often not truly helping them at all...

Conservatives understand that you just can’t walk away and expect these people to “calm down and leave us alone”. Radical, militant Islam is a fervent, fanatical empire building entity based on a form of their religion. This is a modern day . These people are not just wanting to be left alone. They want, well, what Hitler wanted. What we face in this Country is not just a fight against . We also face a fight against a radical element of our own society, our own populace, our own politics.

12 January 2009

Sad. Really Sad.

Consider this text without yet knowing who wrote them.

After visiting Sderot last April and seeing the serious psychological damage caused by the rockets that had fallen in that area, my wife, ... and I declared their launching from Gaza to be inexcusable and an act of terrorism. Although casualties were rare (three deaths in seven years), the town was traumatized by the unpredictable explosions...

One would think that that might lead the speaker to sympathize with the Israelis.

From Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who was negotiating between the Israelis and Hamas, we learned that there was a fundamental difference between the two sides. Hamas wanted a comprehensive cease-fire in both the West Bank and Gaza, and the Israelis refused to discuss anything other than Gaza.

Of course, anyone who has read a newspaper lately knows that Hamas was part of a unity government until they took one of the Fatah Presidential guards and threw him off a building and then engaged with Fatah in a civil war, finally seizing power in Gaza. Hamas has no authority over the West Bank, which has been pretty quiet for the last couple of years.

Palestinian leaders from Gaza were noncommittal on all issues, claiming that rockets were the only way to respond to their imprisonment and to dramatize their humanitarian plight. The top Hamas leaders in Damascus, however, agreed to consider a cease-fire in Gaza only, provided Israel would not attack Gaza and would permit normal humanitarian supplies to be delivered to Palestinian citizens.

After extended discussions with those from Gaza, these Hamas leaders also agreed to accept any peace agreement that might be negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads the PLO, provided it was approved by a majority vote of Palestinians in a referendum or by an elected unity government.

Note, not just "an elected government", but "an elected unity government." So Abbas can negotiate, but it is only effective after those who reject Israel's right to exist and started a civil war are legitimized and brought into the government.

This is not to say that the problems faced by the people of Gaza are inconsiderable.

After about a month, the Egyptians and Hamas informed us that all military action by both sides and all rocket firing would stop on June 19, for a period of six months, and that humanitarian supplies would be restored to the normal level that had existed before Israel's withdrawal in 2005 (about 700 trucks daily).

We were unable to confirm this in Jerusalem because of Israel's unwillingness to admit to any negotiations with Hamas, but rocket firing was soon stopped and there was an increase in supplies of food, water, medicine and fuel. Yet the increase was to an average of about 20 percent of normal levels. And this fragile truce was partially broken on Nov. 4, when Israel launched an attack in Gaza to destroy a defensive tunnel being dug by Hamas inside the wall that encloses Gaza.

Never mind the 3000 rockets that Hamas fired into Israel during the cease fire. Our author pays them no mind, so why should we?

this fragile truce was partially broken [by Israel] on Nov. 4 ....

'Partially broke the truce?' Is that like being a little pregnant?

... when Israel launched an attack in Gaza to destroy a defensive tunnel being dug by Hamas inside the wall that encloses Gaza.

Defensive tunnel.

If we are going to redefine the function of tunnels used to smuggle in offensive rockets, then there is no end to what we can redefine. Like the defensive takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran? Maybe we should rename a certain event the Tet Defensive!

Seriously, is there a more deluded man in America (who is neither homeless nor under a psychiatrist's active care) than James Earl Carter, Jr?

Correction: as noted by Exodio in the comments section, neither Fatah or Hamas has clean hands here, so I have made a couple of corrections to the original text.

People of Fortitude

Item 1, a definition:
Etymology:Middle English, from Latin fortitudin-, fortitudo, from fortis

strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage

Item 2, a poorly thought through declaration

In a joint statement, five Senate Democratic leaders vowed to block the appointment, arguing that Blagojevich is unfit to make the selection. "This is not about Mr. Burris; it is about the integrity of a governor accused of attempting to sell this United States Senate seat. Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated," the leaders said in a statement issued minutes before the governor's announcement.

In a statement issued in Hawaii, Obama called Burris "a good man and a fine public servant," but the president-elect said he supports the position taken by Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) and other Democratic leaders in opposing the selection.

Item 3, constitutional and political reality sets in (after a meeting with a couple of lawyers):

U.S. Senate officials on Monday certified Roland Burris to fill the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama and Senate Democratic leaders said they expect to seat the next Illinois senator on Thursday.

"The secretary of the Senate has determined that the new credentials presented today on behalf of Mr. Burris now satisfy Senate Rules and validate his appointment to the vacant Illinois Senate seat," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement with his No. 2, Illinois senior Sen. Dick Durbin.

"Accordingly, barring objections from Senate Republicans, we expect Senator-designee Burris to be sworn in and formally seated later this week. We are working with him and the office of the vice president to determine the date and time of the swearing-in," they said.

The statement followed a meeting between Burris' lawyers and the Senate leaders. Burris dispatched his attorneys to the Capitol with formal paperwork designed to persuade Democrats to accept his appointment.

Of course this whole thing could have been avoided if the Illinois Legislature had done what was proposed right away: call a special election to fill the Senate seat as soon as Blogojevich was arrested. But they did not do that, because the Dems were afraid they might lose the seat in the wake of the Blagojevich mess.

Ahhhhhhh .... politics! I just hope the politicians of Illinois remember to give their constituents a kiss now that they are done.