Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy Memorial Day

Posting will be non-existent over the coming weekend, so I wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Memorial Day. This year, Memorial Day occurs on Monday, May 28.

Memorial Day was first established by order of Union General Robert Logan in 1868, and was first celebrated on May 30 or the same year. The first state to recognize it was New York, in 1873, and by 1890, all of the Northern states recognized it. It became a national day of remembrance following World War I, when it changed to a day of remembrance for all American war dead, not just those in the Civil War.

On this day, it is a time to consider the sacrifices of this great nations sons and daughters on the field of battle. From the Revolutionary War, through the brother-on-brother bloodshed of the Civil War, the triumphs of the Second World War and the un-announced losses during the Cold War, and continuing today in Iraq and other far-flung duty stations, our soldiers have performed bravely and honorably. As we now are in the first years of a new millenium, I want to express my gratitude and that of my family to those who have stood guard over us, andd to say thank you.

Were it not for these brave men and women, we would now not be able to say we are citizens of the greatest nation on Earth. All the benefits of our society flow directly from these men and women who are willing to lay down their lives that we may enjoy the fruits of freedom. Freedom is not free- only surrender and submission come without a fight. So enjoy your three-day weekend, but don't forget to say thank you to these brave members of American society yourself. Thank you and Happy Memorial Day!

Pen and Sword

Defense Secretary Robert Gates addressed the commencement ceremonies at the United States Naval Academy this year with the following remarks:
"remember the importance of two pillars of our freedom under the Constitution: the Congress and the press."

"Both surely try our patience from time to time, but they are the surest guarantees of the liberty of the American people," Gates told the 1,028 graduates during a sunny ceremony at the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, Md.

These are nice remarks, but ir could be of more value perhaps if Gates had delivered them to Congress or the Press. It is not the military who has run amok during the last six years, doing everything in their power to destroy the Bush Administration and bring the United States to defeat in the war agains Islamic terrorism. On the contrary, while the current problems are due largely to the Press' refusal to honestly report the situation on the ground, and their amazing determination to betray the secrets of the war against terrorism, the current chances of success are due entirely to the dedicated men and wmone of the United States Armed Forces.

Certainly the military must remember that they report to the elected officials of the United States. But historically, we have had few problems with that. By contrast, the imperial Press has proven itself an enormous problem to the health of this nation over the last forty years. And Congress' refusal to take responsibility is of equal importance. We elect our leaders to make decisions for us. If they cannot or will not do so, then they need to be recalled and replaced. That is the value of elections. Certainly the Press and Congress are pillars of democracy in theory. But if the pillars do not perform their responsibilities as they should, they serve only to undermine, not to strengthen.

Going forward, I am certain that the new graduates of the United States Naval Academy will serve our nation and its people honorably and well. I am not so sure about the recent graduates of the nation's journalism schools.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Whither Nash?

I rarely weigh in on sports, simply because this is not a sport-oriented blog and I am aware that when one discusses sports, rationality often is thrown out the window. However, in the wake of the san Antonio Spurs' recent win over the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Playoffs, thee has been some astonishingly bad commentary from supposed sports columnists I feel must be rebutted.

First, some background. In the closing seconds of Phoenix's Game Four win in San Antonio, the Spurs' Robert Horry committed a foul on Phoenix's point guard, Steve Nash. It was by all accounts a hard foul, but not intentional. However, two members of Phoenix's team, All-Star forward Amare Stoudemire and reserve Boris Diaw, got off the bench and moved forward onto the court. As per NBA regulations, they were each suspended one game. Horry received two for his foul, and the Spurs proceeded to win the series, prompting many columnists to blame the NBA Commissioner David Stern for ruining, Nash's chance to win a championship. To quote CBS columnist Gregg Doyel, "He should've won a third MVP this season and should be remembered as one of the six best point guards in NBA history, somewhere behind Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson, somewhere with Bob Cousy, John Stockton and Isiah Thomas."

I disagree, Mr. Doyel. Nash has won two MVPs largely because the sportswriters who vote on such awards dislike Kobe Bryant, who should have been the league MVP two years ago, based solely on on-court performance. Last year, the league MVP should have been either Dirk Novitzky or Dwyane Wade, again based solely on regular-season performance. If you took Kobe off the Lakers, they would be a twenty-win team. Take Tim Duncan off the Spurs, and they are not a championship contender. Take Wade off the Heat and they are not a championship team. Those are legitimate league MVPs. So to call Steve Nash a Hall-of-Fame point guard is ridiculous. He has had three great years, running an offensive system tailor-made for him. But his previous career was not Hall-worthy by a longshot. The best argument against Nash's MVP credentials however is simply that when he left the Dallas Mavericks, they got better. That is not what happens if a real league MVP leaves a team.

I like Nash, and his team is certainly fun to watch. But he is not one of the greatest point guards in NBA history. Unlike Jerry West or John Stockton (or Jason Kidd, for that matter), Nash can't defend a wet paper bag, and he doesn't take over games the way Magic or West or Jordan did. So to claim that the Suns were cheated or that somehow Nash deserves a championship is simply false.

If the Suns somehow learn to play defense and some kind of half-court basketball, they may indeed win a championship. But Phoenix's scheme is basically dependent on outscoring the opponent, not getting defensive stops. And in the playoffs, a championship team has to get stops. Phoenix usually cannot do that, which is why they have problems beating teams that do play both sides of the ball. Until Phoenix can play defense, they will continue to be entertaining, but they will not win any championships. And for sportswriters to suggest otherwise reveals that they know less about the game that they claim.

Navy Technology

This is one in a series of posts on the history of the United States Navy.

The United States Navy has a long history of technological innovation. This technology has traditionally been used either to increase naval power projection or to make the lives of the servicemen and women safer.

An excellent example of the latter occurred on May 24, 1939, when the McCann-Momsen rescue chamber was used to successfully rescue 33 survivors from the submarine USS Squalus, which sank in 240 feet of water off the coast of New Hampshire.

The rescue chamber was devised by then-Lieutenant-Commander Allan McCann (1896-1978), based on an original design by then-Commander Charles Momsen (1896-1967), who also invented the Momsen Lung. McCann served under Momsen, who commanded the Squalus rescue operations. Both McCann and Momsen went on to serve with distinction in the Second World War, and retired with the ranks of Vice-Admiral.

The United States Navy and the American nation can be proud of Americans such as Momsen and McCann. I trust that their example will serve to inspire future Americans to uphold the traditions set by heroes such as these.

Air Cars!

According to Popular Mechanics magazine, a partial answer to the problem of the internal-combustion engine may have arrived. The magazine reported that air-powered cars will be sold in India starting in 2008. Designed by a former Formula One engineer, the cars can travel up to 68 miles per hour and have a range of 125 miles. The vehicle, named the CityCAT, is built by Luxembourg-based carmaker MDI, and will sell for approximately US $12-13,000.

The magazine reports that,
It will take only a few minutes for the CityCAT to refuel at gas stations equipped with custom air compressor units; MDI says it should cost around $2 to fill the car’s carbon-fiber tanks with 340 liters of air at 4350 psi. Drivers also will be able to plug into the electrical grid and use the car’s built-in compressor to refill the tanks in about 4 hours.

While they do have some drawbacks, such as being held together entirely by glue, this represents a possibility for the United States as well. With a few modifications, perhaps this could offer an answer for our dependency on foreign oil. It would not take that much to add compressed-air rechargers to service stations, and thus extend the range. In addition, I could see an air-powered motor as a possible replacement for the hybrid's gasoline-powered motor. Is anyone in the auto industry listening?

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What About Google?

Google admitted today that its ultimate goal is getting as much personal information on its users as possible. Eric Schmidt, Google's Chief Executive, said,
“We are very early in the total information we have within Google. The algorithms will get better and we will get better at personalisation.

“The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such as ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ and ‘What job shall I take?’ ”

The question that we users have to ask is whether we trust Google with such personal information. While Google has been fairly resolute so far in keeping its users' data from government in the US and Brazil, this is the same company that has a track record of playing nice with dictators (though not with the United States under a Republican).

Being a corporate employee myself, I do not subscribe to corporate paranoia theories, so do not automatically ascribe demonic or evil tendencies to Google. However, I also am a little worried by the company's preference for working with Communist China as opposed to the democratic U.S. Thus I recommend that we should watch Google closely in their effort to gather data. After all, isn't this data mining? If the federal government (which already stores vast amounts of info on each of us) is not allowed to do it, why should Google?

Moral Equivalency

Those on the left side of politics often like to claim that there is moral equivalency between the United States and the various dictatorships- Russian, Chinese, Muslim- that we tend in opposition to. This was a favorite ploy of the former Soviet Union, who used the many useful idiots in media and academia to spread it around the world, especially the world of politics and media.

However, let us take a close look at whether the United States can really be made out to be morally equivalent to those other states. Foremost, let me state the grounds for examination. I do not dispute that various Administrations have used underhanded and brutal techniques to advance the interests of the United States. Nor do I argue that the United States has not always acted precisely in accord with our principles. However, I do not believe that the detractors of the united States can show me an example of any nation that can honestly say it has acted in a more principled manner. Certainly no European or Asian nation can claim a more pure record either in domestic or international affairs.

In the case for moral equivalence, the argument is usually made that the United States is amoral, or an empire, just like its opponents. However, this argument is easily demolished. The United States is an elected republic. Every citizen has an equal vote, and our leaders- at every level- are truly elected by the people, for the people. In addition, we have a truly free media, able to criticize our leadership at its leisure, which is easily demonstrated by the many critical leaks we have seen in the last few years. And we have a volunteer, citizen military, which is subordinate to our elected leaders.

Our economy is based on a mostly free-market model, though government interference ebbs and wanes. And there is a strong array of checks and balances throughout to ensure that no single organ of government ever can claim sole ascendancy. Our judicial system too is covered in checks so as to prevent innocent citizens from falling prey to unscrupulous officials. There are certainly miscarriages of justice, but in the main, I would say our judiciary bends over backwards to protect the rights of the accused.

But the single most important factor is the United States' reluctance for empire. Though we have undoubtedly interfered in other countries' affairs (most notably in South America), we have rarely sought empire. The United States took virtually no part in the empire-building of the nineteenth century, though it was not averse to sharing the gains made by others, especially in China. And only in the case of the Philippines at the end of the Spanish-American War, with the full support of the yellow press, did the United States actually become a colonial power. Even at the height of U.S. power in 1945, the United States made no attempt to subjugate its defeated opponents. Rather, U.S. aid and assistance enabled Germany and Japan to rebuild themselves.

Compare this with the nations that are often used as U.S. counterparts. The former Soviet Union was an empire, built by autocracy and maintained by the power of the Red Army and the secret police. For almost a century, Soviet tanks made sure that the satellite states of Eastern Europe were walled off from Western influence. no wall exists to keep Americans inside America. We worry about keeping illegals out, not keeping our own citizens in. No Communist state has a concern with illegal immigrants, since non one other than deluded intellectuals wants to live there. You could buy Pravda in New York City. Where could you buy Newsweek in the U.S.S.R? No Soviet leader was ever elected by the free vote of the people, and the entire government was essentially at the beck and call of the supreme leader. the Soviet judiciary was used by the state to send millions to the gulags merely for voicing displeasure with the system. When has an American ever been imprisoned in similar conditions in America merely for speaking up?

Nor does Communist China bear close examination. The Great Leap Forward, a state-mandated economic plan, killed millions. And to this day, Chinese are not free to say anything they wish, nor can they freely peruse the wealth of material on the internet, thanks in part to hypocritical American companies such as Google. Rule of law and contracts can be set aside at any moment by the will of the state. And certainly, neither China nor any other Communist state stands for the spread of freedom. Not as long as political opponents are imprisoned.

Cuba? The same argument applies. Cuba has political prisons. No Cuban is permitted to speak freely, save fort the favored few, and only to the right people. Cuban prisons are filled with dissidents and even the so-called elite are trying to defect.

What about Muslim states? Well, examination of Saddam Hussein's Iraq revealed a nation entirely at the mercy of the dictator. According to a 1999 report released b y the American Federation of Scientists, secret prisons, mass graves, systematic repression of the people and the use of chemical weapons against his own people highlighted the reign of Hussein. In addition, we know that his son Uday, as reported by the United Kingdom's Guardian, was "a monster even by the standards of Saddam Hussein's Iraq". The Guardian wrote in 2003,
Uday's excesses carried over in his private life where he had a reputation for ordering any girl or woman who caught his eye to be brought to his private pleasure dome.

The palace, a bad taste Arabian nights fantasy, was decorated with indoor fountains and erotic murals and was in the grounds of his father's presidential estate. A nearby chamber contained huge stashes of drugs as well as an HIV testing kit, according to US forces.

He is also reported to have operated an even more private torture chamber on the banks of the Tigris.

When do Americans behave in this way before the appreciative gaze of their countrymen? When a few U.S. troops dishonored their uniforms with far less horrific behavior, it was a front page scandal for years. And thee is no question of any American leader behaving in the way that Saddam Hussein or any other dictator did. It is simply impossible to consider.

Ronald Reagan, in the almost forgotten debate of 1967 against Robert F. Kennedy confronted the moral equivalency so prevalent today amongst the Left. But his optimism and strength are sadly lacking today, it seems. How are we to triumph over medieval Islam if we cannot even trumpet our positives? And to combat moral equivalency, we must know our own history. Acknowledge the dark stains, but all means, but also take pride in the successes and the many bright spots.

The United States is a free republic- one that stands for the spread of freedom. Communism and all other forms of autocracy simply cannot make that argument. Not China, not the USSR, not Cuba. In the face of the millions of victims of Communism, Nazism and other totalitarianism (radical Islam qualifies here as well) in the twentieth century, one cannot make the argument for moral equivalency with a straight face. Yes, it is true that the United States has done things of which we ought to be ashamed. But to what standard do we refer? Can any other state claim a better record? And in the way we conduct ourselves, we have much to be proud of. We stand for freedom, a free economy, a free press, and the self-determination of citizenry. We have liberated far more nations than we have colonized. We have contributed far more to the world than we have taken, and we continue to try to uphold our honor in increasingly difficult times, despite the sneers of European or other kleptocrats whose time would be better spent attending to the dark shadows in their own pasts as opposed to telling us about ours.

Hat tip to Power Line.

Citizen Leadership

In the days of the Roman Republic, there was a strong ideal of the citizen-leader. The most famous example is to be found in the story of the Roman general who left his home to lead his troops, then retired to his estate at the conclusion of his campaigns. The famed general Scipio Africanus, victor over Hannibal in the Punic Wars is a good example of this ideal. The Roman Republic also had a tradition of elected citizen leadership, whereby citizens were elected by their peers to serve, but were limited in the length of time so as to prevent any single citizen from gaining too much power.

While the Roman model is perhaps not the best one to follow, their ideals were sound. Mark Tapscott elaborates on that ideal today in the Washington Examiner, arguing that the United States needs a return to term limits for Congress so as to eliminate the professional politiican. DEfining the classes of politicians, Tapscott says in part,
Politicians in both major parties who repeatedly seek re-election to keep “bringing home the bacon” while feathering their own nests are careerists. Candidates in both parties who bring the real world to Washington to clean it up — and who can’t wait to return home — are citizen legislators.

Careerists thrive on the power, perks and prestige that come with being insiders. Until now, their power stemmed from a monopoly on information, which they selectively shared with the rest of us. Theirs is the world of old media, big impersonal institutions and spinning “experts.”

By contrast, citizen legislators thrive on the power of principle and the liberating independence that comes with being outsiders. Their power stems from their cultivation of information to the widest possible audience and the accountability that comes with such transparency. Theirs is the world of Internet-based new media and the collaborative networking that thrives there.

While I am not certain that the court system as presently staffed would allow such a term limit to succeed, I agree that we need to wrest power from the hands of hacks such as Ted Kennedy, Trent Lott, Robert Byrd and other career politicians. And Tapscott advances the idea that since the COnstitution allows the states to propose amnedments, we can render the ccourts powerless to stop term limitis if they are incorporated into the Constitution. After all, the Presidency has a term limit on it. Why not Congress as well? For that matter, why not add term limits for judges as well?

The current group of lawyers, fat cats and professional politicians have failed utterly to solve the nation's problems, succeeding only in running up enormous deficits and secretive earmarks, while taxes have become ever more onerous. Ronald Reagan famously declared that "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem". We need more leaders like Reagan to help solve that problem- not more professional politicians.

Hat tip to Captain Ed Morrissey.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Smelling Sense

It seems that Germany has decided to use potentiaslly violent protestors' own smell to track them down at the upcoming G-8 conference in Berlin. According to a spokesman,
German authorities are using scent tracking to keep tabs on possibly violent protesters against next month's Group of Eight summit - a tactic that is drawing comparisons with the methods of former East Germany's secret police.

Scent samples have been taken from an undisclosed number of people believed to be a possible danger to the upcoming summit so that police dogs can pick out the perpetrators if there is violence, the Hamburger Morgenpost reported Tuesday.

While this is certainly a trend to keep our eyes on, I do not see any immediate danger. Unlike a repressive nation such as China or Russia (where such protestors tend to be machine-gunned, though the left-wing protestors don't like to mention that), Germany has proved that they are a nation governed by law. So though there is certainly a risk of repression in such techniques, I will withold judgement, as the protestors' violent tactics in the past have earned this for them.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Japanese Bullies Move Online

Japan's school system has long had problems with bullying. Known as 虐め (ijime) in Japan, this practice has in the past been aimed at anyone who the bullies (often aided and abetted by teachers) felt didn't "fit in". Despite increasing publicity, the practice has not gone away, though in recent years it has become less conspicuous.

However, according to Japan's Weekly Playboy magazine, the practice has simply moved to the burgeoning online world of the Internet. Playboy reports that,
"Last year alone, the National Police Agency received 8,037 reported cases of online slander or defamation, a 39 percent increase over the previous year. Of these, 57 developed into criminal defamation cases where arrests were made. Both the number of reports and the number of arrests hit record highs," a police beat reporter for a national daily tells the weekly.

It appears that the problem is exacerbated by the fact that while the students are quite technically competent, the teachers who are responsible for teaching the subjects in the school system are not. In fact, according to an expert interviewed by the magazine,
"There's not a school teacher in the country who specializes in information technology education," Net crime expert Fujita tells Weekly Playboy. "IT in schools is being taught by teachers who know a bit about computers, but the vast majority of teachers don't know anything about computers and are petrified of the day they're ordered to teach information technology classes."

The article advises students that the best way of dealing with the bullying is to simply ignore it, but I would recommend that the object turn the tables on the perpetrators by learning the technology and then counter-attacking with the attacker's own methodology. Bullies typically cannot deal with a strong opponent, so in this case, the best form of defense is attack. And it is high time that Japan's schools realize that if they are going to teach a subject, it requires a true subject matter expert. Just as so many Japanese teachers of English are in fact incapable of carrying on a conversation in English, too many of Japan's computer teachers seem to be incapable of understanding the subject as well.

And American teachers might want to think about this as well- too many of them seem to believe that a degree in a social studies field, for example, qualifies them as an expert on international relations or military strategy. Concentrate on your subject and realise that just because you hold a degree does not automatically qualify you as an expert on fields outside your discipline. This is particularly true of journalism students, whose discipline is among the weakest and easiest to complete, yet who somehow believe that an ability to pontificate somehow makes them experts on any issue they choose to discuss.

More on Amnesty

Captain Ed Morrissey posted a thoughtful critique of the arguments against the new amnesty agreement reached by the Senate. While I will not recap it in its entirety, I would like to comment on the agreement.

Captain Ed wrote:
There are 12 million illegals in the US. Let me explain how difficult that would be. In the first place, the ICE has to find them, usually where they work. They then have to build a probable cause for a raid and search warrants (unless we want to toss out the 4th Amendment). That takes quite a bit of time; it might take months to build that kind of a case against an employer, but at least it will take a few weeks. Then they raid the shop, arrest everyone without proper identification, and start the deportation process -- which requires a hearing for each person in court to determine their status. During that period, we have to house and feed them.


If we really want to solve the porous border and the immigration issue, then we need to start somewhere to stop the problem from getting worse first. This bill is not perfection by any means -- but it is a reasonable starting point.

Captain Ed has a point about the difficulty of deporting 12 million illegal aliens. However, if we simply enforced the laws already on the books- especially as regards employers, we can put the pinch on the companies who employ illegal aliens to the point where it is extremely difficult for them to find work. If we coupled that with a crackdown on illegals' access to Social Security, public education, the courts and healthcare, we could make things very uncomfortable for them. Would they leave? Possibly not, but if we force them to face life without all the perks they seem to feel entitled to (and which their home country certainly would not give to any illegal there), some of them might rethink the benefits of being in the United States.

That being said, I doubt we will do better than this bill in the current political culture. Republicans have no stomach for actually listenting to their legal constituents- they are too worried about the Azatlan-promoting activists with whom the foolish media are so in love. And Democrats see the illegals as a vast new Democratic constituency, so they will certainly not put any obstacles in front of this rush to amnesty.

The only thing we can do is to put pressure on our elected representatives to enforce the border security provisions in this bill, and make enforcement more than just a word thrown around by clueless politicians. We need a strong fence, a robust deportation effort, a campaign by the federal government to take cities like San Francisco who think federal law is made to be broken to court with severe financial penalties, a crackdown in illegal alien employers, a Congressional law depriving illegals of standing in US courts and above all, we need the southern border locked down.

Hat tip to Captain Ed Morrissey.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Policy of Strength

Bernard Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University has written an article in the Wall Street Journal regarding our problems with the Middle East. Professor Lewis' principal thesis is that Islamic thought has long considered the United States weak. This theory dates back to the Cold War. Professor Lewis writes,
During the Cold War, two things came to be known and generally recognized in the Middle East concerning the two rival superpowers. If you did anything to annoy the Russians, punishment would be swift and dire. If you said or did anything against the Americans, not only would there be no punishment; there might even be some possibility of reward, as the usual anxious procession of diplomats and politicians, journalists and scholars and miscellaneous others came with their usual pleading inquiries: "What have we done to offend you? What can we do to put it right?"

Professor Lewis is of the opinion that Muslims such as Osama bin Laden and al-Quaeda considered that in order to defeat and subjugate the West, the U.S.S.R. must be defeated first. They considered the task of defeating the United States would be comparatively easy. This strategy had two parts- drive the U.S. out of the Middle East first and then begin attacking the U.S. itself. However, the U.S. response to the attacks of September 11 took them entirely by surprise. They did not expect it, and the Bush Administration strategy of taking the war to their lands, coupled with our proactive military activity has so far kept them on the run.

Muslims respect strength, whereas they despise weakness. But this image of the United States as strong will only endure as long as our political leaders remain resolute. Professor Lewis concludes by writing,
More recent developments, and notably the public discourse inside the U.S., are persuading increasing numbers of Islamist radicals that their first assessment was correct after all, and that they need only to press a little harder to achieve final victory. It is not yet clear whether they are right or wrong in this view. If they are right, the consequences--both for Islam and for America--will be deep, wide and lasting.

Read the whole thing. I would suggest that we ignore Professor Lewis' analysis at our peril. But are the media and the Democrats listening in their mad rush to declare defeat? Of are they instead like the ancient Byzantines, who were arguing the nature of the Trinity as the Muslim invaders were tearing down their walls, raping their women and subjugating their once-proud empire? Hat tip to Power Line.

A Moment of Harmony

President Bush is excoriated and ridiculed by his political opponents and much of the Press on a daily basis. he has the most pressurized job in the enituire nation, and possibly thee world. So it is nice when he has a chance to indulge in activites that are entirely without partisan rancor. And it is even more pleasing when the President, who to his enemies is either a complete incompetent or an evil mastermind, can perform successfully in arenas in which he has no formal training.

A case in point occurred at the 400th anniversary celebrations for Jamestown, Virginia this past weekend. The Virginia Symphony Orchestra was performing John Philip Sousa'a great march "Stars and Stripes Forever" when the conductor handed the baton to the President, who conducted the remainder of the march. And by the musicians' accounts, he performed admirably. The conductor, JoAnn Falletta said of the President,
"We didn't expect him to know the score so well," Falletta said afterward. "He was not shy about conducting at all. He conducted with a great deal of panache."

The musicians were impressed by how musical Bush was, Falletta said. "He was cueing the brass, he was cueing the percussion, he kept the tempo going," she said.

Sometimes one needs a release from the stresses of the job, and it pleases me that the President was able to indulge in simpler pleasures, at least for a moment. And I would like to applaud the symphony conductor and the musicians for the professional courtesy. As a former professional musician myself, it is not easy to perform under a non-professional guest conductor- especially at a moment's notice. It seems that all involved performed with courtesy and professionalism. A fitting moment for the 400th anniversay of the first permanent English-speaking settlement in what would become the United States of America, which is in my opionion the greatest nation on Earth.

Hat tips to Power Line and Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus.

Immigration Analysis

It has been obvious since the Democrats took control of Congress in the midterm elections that we would see some form of amnesty for the illegal aliens in this country. The only question was to what extent the government would cave to the illegal alien lobby.

We now have our answer. However, one can take either a half-empty or half-full perspective on the resulting bill in the Senate. Michelle Malkin calls it amnesty and condemns the Senate Republicans. Malkin has been on this story for a long time, and she is quite accurate in her characterization. This looks, smells and sounds like amnesty.

However, Captain Ed Morrissey takes a more positive view of the Senate compromise, noting that
Conservatives don't get everything they want, of course, but we don't control Congress any more, either. While one could argue that no bill beats a bad bill, this compromise does not look all that bad. Its focus on border security and identification of illegals as part of the process of normalization addresses two significant national-security concerns, and it still penalizes illegals -- just not to the extent desired by conservatives.

I agree with Malkin, though Captain Ed makes a good point in that elections do have consequences and this is better than the disastrous bill that McCain tried to force through before the elections. I still have to ask the Congress though- what part of illegal do you fail to understand? These folks are here illegally, and thus, it is certainly not our responsibility to feed them or give them anything at all. Legal immigrants I welcome with open armss. Illegal imigrants should receive jail stays and a trip back home paid for either by themsleves or the Mexican government while being fined of every penny they earned while here illegally.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Changing the Rules

Anyone recall a couple of years ago, when the Republican majority considered changing Senate rules to make things more difficult for minority Democrats to filibuster judicial appointees? The change was designed to ensure that appointees received a straight up of down vote. However, most of the major media at the time were strongly against the idea and the headlines screamed that Republicans were trying to shut down debate. The Washington Post warned at the time, "That change has been dubbed the "nuclear option," because of its potential to disrupt the Senate and shatter what little comity remains between Republicans and Democrats ." In the end, Republicans relented due to the infamous "Gang of Fourteen" arrangement brokered by John McCain among others, and the rules remained unchanged.

However, it appears that shattering comity in Congress isn't so important when Democrats hold a majority. In the new Democratic House, Speaker Pelosi is apparently unhappy that Republicans have been able to defeat her on a number of procedural votes, so she is considering changing rules that date back to 1822 in order to shut Republicans completely off the floor.

I am certain that the same newspapers and other news providers that were so appalled at the proposed Senate rule changes will be in the forefront of the campaign to chastise Ms. Pelosi for her imperial and unprecedented move. Should they remain silent in the face of this naked power grab, they will reveal themselves as the partisan, Democratic Party mouthpieces that they are so often accused of being.

05/17/2007 UPDATE: House Republicans forced the Democratic leadership to cave on the rule-change by forcing prodecural vote aftger procedural vote. Ms. Pelosi finally withdrew her motion to change the rules in the face of the Republicans' efforts. So we will never know what the Drive-By Media would have done. However, seeing as none of them bothered to headline it, I would say that we can make an informed opinion that they would have buried the story- if they bothered to report it at all.

NY Times Discovers U.S. Isn't So Bad!

At least not compared to some other countries, including socialistic Japan. The New York Times today is surprised to discover that foreign justice overseas is not exactly like that practiced in the United States. Outside of rogue District Attorneys such as Mike Nifong of Durham (who of course was aided and enabled by hack reporter Duff Wilson of- the New York Times!), prosecutors here are not known for forcing confessions from innocent people. And our justice system, on the whole, tends to bend over backwards to protect the accused. Remember the ideal of innocent until proven guilty, Mr. Wilson?

This is not the case in other countries. Any American who has visited Mexico knows that Mexican justice is a misnomer, based as it is on violence, graft and corruption. But Japanese justice is also not perfect. The Times has discovered what any expatriate who lived in Japan and reads the Japanese papers knows- that Japanese prosecutors and police tend to believe that one is guilty until proven innocent. An acquittal is a black mark for the prosecutor and judge, and they will use psychological torture to achieve it. For the Times staff, that would be real torture, not what was practiced by our Intelligence officers to try to keep us safe from violent Muslim terrorists.

The Times writes that,
The Japanese authorities have long relied on confessions to take suspects to court, instead of building cases based on solid evidence. Human rights groups have criticized the practice for leading to abuses of due process and convictions of innocent people.


The law allows the police to detain suspects for up to 23 days without an indictment. Suspects have almost no contact with the outside world and are subject to constant interrogation, a practice that has long drawn criticism from organizations like the United Nations Human Rights Committee and Amnesty International.

Suspects are strongly pressed to plead guilty, on the premise that confession is the first step toward rehabilitation.

For all the faults in the United States' justice system, such as ambulance-chasing attorneys and overly activist judges, I think our system is much fairer than most. Yes, O.J. got off, but that was the result of a flawed prosecution, not a flawed system. On balance, we are privileged to live in the wealthiest and most free country on Earth. The New York Times has spent the better part of the past six years trying to help Islamic terrorists desstroy this country. Maybe this article will open their eyes to what they are trying to destroy. At least we can hope. Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

Illegals Sue Government

For lack of overtime???

It appears that a ccompany located near Boston employed many illegal aliens. As is typical, this was conducted under the table, and it came to and end when federal immigration agents raided the place and arrested many of them in March.

However, the illegals are now suing in US court claiming that they were cheated out of overtime wages.
It said the company channeled payroll through Front Line to avoid a federal law requiring workers be paid time and a half for overtime.

"In a lot of ways, what they did unfortunately is not out of the ordinary. The practices are very common in a wide range of workplaces, especially those that use predominantly immigrant workers," said Audrey Richardson, an attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services, which represents the workers.

My first problem is that these illegals should not be allowed to sue the federal government at all. They are here illegally, so if they are suing, the suit should be thrown out and the members of the class action suit deported post-haste. In addition, this statement is simply staggering in its assumption that illegals somehow should have rights that American citizens are denied. I am a citizen but I am expected to follow every US law. Why are illegals exempt? As for Richardson's comment regarding these "standard practices", perhaps companies should not use illegal workers. If the workers are here illegally, then they have to take the risks associated. They are here illegally. If I wanted to work illegally in Mexico, what would the conditions be like? Certainly not as cozy as they are for Mexican illegals here.

The sooner we crack down and close our borders the better. Any companies found using illegal workers should be fined crippling amounts and put out of business. Then the illegals won't have to worry about overtime, since they won't be getting paid at all, and they might actually have to go back where they came from.

Warming Skepticism

Environmentalists are loud and persistent in claiming that the Earth is undergoing "catastrophic global warming', due entirely to human interference. Reporters, most of whom have no training or expertise whatsoever, have bought into this feel-good campaign just as they did with the "new ice age" mantra thirty years ago. Articles decrying human existence and claiming that the Earth is in imminent danger clog the news media. But how accurate is all this?

Not very, according to a paper released today by the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The release states that, "Many former believers in catastrophic man-made global warming have recently reversed themselves and are now climate skeptics." The paper then follows up this statememt with a list of some of the prominent climatologists who have changed their opinions about global warming based on new research.

This serves to tell us two things:

First, reporters should not be trusted when they opine on topics of this sort, since most of them have absolutely no knowledge or expertise regarding the subjects on which they write. Their pack mentality, coupled with their espousal as a group of far-left ideologies make them prone to emotional, agenda-driven writing, whether the facts bear it out or not. And they also tend to see non-government organizations through a rose-colored lens, applying none of the highly skeptical focii that they would give to a corporate entity. One has only to look at the media's coverage of Hurricane Katrina or the coverage of the Enron vscandal versus the Teamsters scandal to see these trends in action.

Second, climatology is a science of uncertainty. I freely admit I am no expert, which is why I tend to be skeptical. However, please remember that meteorologists can't even predict the weather for a weekly period with any accuracy. Why should we trust them to be able to predict long-term trends with any more success? In addtition, as many meteorologists and climatologists will admit, there is no reliable data for the period prior to approximately 1900. All we have are computer models, and as a computer scientist myself, I know that the output is only as good as the formulations that create said output. Since no one has any real idea, the data parameters are based on guesswork- not the best foundation for research on an issue of this potential magnitude.

A fair sample of journalistic standards (or lack thereof) where global warming is concerned is this article from Sky News. Note the screaming headline and how only a single report (from an environmenttalist group that has heavily invested in convinving us that climate change is necessary) is used as a source. No counter-evidence is included. And of course, when this article ineveitably turns out to be wrong (five years till climate disaster? really?), the staff writers will deny any responsibility for needlessly inflaming fears. The media is infamous for writing screaming headlines and then tyring to pretend that it never happened when they turn out to be wrong, as they have on virtually everything in the last thirty years. I am not surprised that more and more scientists are coming around to skepticism as regards global warming. I am surprised only that so many fell for this alarmist, thinly-sourced campaign in the first place.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Cell Phone Insurance

When you purchase a new cellular phone, the company will try to get you to buy insurance for the phone, usually telling you that if anything happens, the phone will be replaced. As I just discovered the hard way, this insurance is completely useless. if ssomething does go wrong with the phone, you wwill be told that your insurance buys you nothing. Should you persist, the support rep will invaribly tell you that you can contact the insurance carrier, but you will have to pay more to replace the phone in deductible fees than a new phone (with contract) would typically cost.

In my opinion, this borders on false advertising. In any event, I do not recommend purchasing the insurance on any cellular phone, seeing as how no matter how long you have the phone, you will have to pay more in fees than replacing the phone would cost you. Cell phone companies are rapacious enough, but there is no need to inflate your monthly bill by purchasing insurance that you can never use.

I cna only see this to be useful if one purchases an expensive phone and does not wish to renew the contract. In that event the insurance might prove to be useful, but i maintain that it is essentially useless for those of us who tend to keep phones for long periods of time. In my case, I cannot replace the phone without paying more than it is worth, or signing a new contract, which I do not wish to do. So I am stuck with an unusable phone and without recourse to get a replacement.

The provider with whom I had this experience was T-Mobile, but I suspect that all providers are similar in their claims and in the uselessness of their insurance to actually be useable. To conclude, I do not recommend purchasing cell phone insurance. The carriers themselves cover the phones for the first year or so, and once that warranty expires, additional insurance will purchase you nothing but frustration when you need to use it.

Protecting the Seas

This is one in a series of posts on the history of the U.S. Navy.

The United States Navy has a long history of protecting commerce on a global scale. In fact, this tradition dates back almost to the very beginning of the Navy itself. The Continental Navy was established by order of Congress on Friday, October 13, 1775, and the first Navy of the United States was established in 1794, with the first warships (USS Consitution, USS Constellation and USS United States) being authorized the same year and launched in 1797. First administered by the Department of War, the Department of the Navy was established on April 30, 1798.

The new nation lost no time in exercising the power of the navy. On this day in 1800, Captain Edward Preble arrived in Batavia, Java in the U.S.S Essex to escort American merchant shipping through the dangers of the Far Eastern seas. As a nation based on free commerce, the United States understood the necessity of protecting its merchant fleet.

The Essex's Commanding Officer would be the same Captain Preble who later would be promoted to Commodore and command the American task force in the first Barbary war. During his period of command, Commodore Preble oversaw the burning of the captured frigate USS Philadelphia and secured a treaty with the corsairs of Morocco.

Preble also was responsible for many of the Navy's rules and regulations, and his officer coprs included many of the early heroes of the Republic, including Stephen Decatur, William Bainbridge, Isaac Hull and David Porter. Preble's career and life were shortened due to illness, but he established a tradition of discipline and professionalism that has endured to this very day.

Approval - Denied!

The mainstream media have long held President Bush's low approval ratings in front of us to remind us that he is not a very popular president. this is beyond dispute, though we may differ in analyzing why the president's approval ratings are so low. However, since the same media is trumpeting the Democratic Congress (and by inference a Democratic President in 2008) as the cure, let's see if they are doing any better.

According to a Gallup poll published yesterday, it seems that Congress is even less popular than the President. Gallup is reporting that Congress' own approval ratings have dropped to 29 percent, as compared to the President's 33 percent approval rating. The facet of this poll that is surprising is that Congress scores this low despite the media giving the Democrats a virtual pass on their ethical probelms, as compared to the Republicans. But this is normal- the media can always be counted on to cover Democrats much more positively than Republicans.

These results should come as no surprise. It is very hard for a Congress as evenly divided as the last few have been to get anything done, thus it is normal for Americans to shower Congress as a whole with disapproval, while still thinking that their own representative is doing a great job. The problem is exacerbated by this Congress' determination to try to confront the President at every juncture, and their disinclination to actually make good on the campaign promises that carried them to victory- cleaning up corruption and pulling the troops from Iraq. This Congress does not have the intestinal fortitude to de-fund the troops, and there is no Constitutional alternative. On the corruption front, the Democrats have shown themselves to be even less inclined to tackle the culture of corruption than were the Republicans. These factors are combining to make Congress' approval ratings sink to levels below even those enjoyed by the President.

If Congress wants to raise their approval ratings, allow me to offer some suggestions:

1. Cease these partisan witch-hunts and actually concentrate on passing legislation that both parties can agree on.

2. Admit that the President is the Commander-in-Chief and either de-fund the troops completely or give them the money they need to continue successfully prosecuting the war against Islamic fundamentalism- including the campaign in Iraq.

3. Realize that their own corruption scandals (William Jefferson, etc) are equally as damaging as were those of the Republicans and carry through on their promise to clean up the Congress. Especially in need of reform are the rules governing how members interacact with lobbyists, and their use of government (ie. taxpayer) funds.

4. Allow the Bush tax cuts to stand and continue to cut taxes for the rest of us. I am aware that this last recommendation is impossible with a Democratic Congress, but I think most Americans would prefer a smalller, lighter government that allows taxpayers to keep more of their own money for themselves.

If Congress follows at least a few of these recommendations, I could see their approval climbing out of the gutters. But then again, this is a Democratic Congress. Run by limousine liberals like Nancy Pelosi, I do not believe that they will adopt any of these ideas, which will hopefully lead to a change of heart by voters in the 2008 elections.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Hillary's Military

Hillary CLinton, like most Democrats, is no friend to the United States military. Despite her transparent attempts to paint herself as a defender of the military, her record shows that she has never voted for any funding increases, nor has she ever wiedled her considerable influence to help any branch of the military. However, she is now trying to convince Americans that she would be a strong President in defense of the United States.

Very well, Mrs. Clinton. Since the only evidence of how you might behave as Commander in Ciheif can be found from your role as co-President in Bill Clinton's Administration, let's take a look at how that Administration used the military. David Limbaugh has done the groundwork for us in his excellent article over at, wherein he looks at how the Clinton Administration used the U.S. military.

His findings may surprise. Using U.C. Berkeley law professor John C. Yoo's essay "The Imperial President Abroad" which was published in The Rule of Law in the Wake of CLinton, edited by Roger Pilon as a source, Limbaugh writes that,
Even more noteworthy than the Clinton administration's frequent deployments of our troops in Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti and his cruise missile volleys into Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq, is that "in none of those cases did Congress provide authorization for the Clinton's decision to use force abroad."

Note that we're not debating the technicality of a formal declaration of war. Clinton didn't get congressional authority at all. I'm out of space, but the specific data on the Clintons' several deployments in the face of congressional disapproval is documented (including the damning vote counts) in the article.

I do not recall any media talking heads or Democrats condemning Clinton's Congressionally unapproved military excursions at the time, but should Hillary be elected and continue the pattern, then I shall be very interested to view the Democratic and media reaction. Not that I expect anything from it, but it will at least expose their hypocrisy.

Fatah is "Secular"?

According to the United Kingdom's Telegraph they are. The Telegraph posted an article today announcing that the Palestinian Interior Minister has stepped down. However, inside the article, one could find this line:

"The resignation cast new doubt on whether the power-sharing partnership between Islamist Hamas and secular Fatah could continue."

It is the height of ignorance to call Fatah "secular". They are of a different sect than Hamas, but both are radical Islamist groups- they differ only to the extent that they are willing to admit it to the fatuous idiots who comprise the mainstream news. Both groups have written articles that call for the extinction of Israel. Both groups have carried out terrorist attacks against the West and both groups are corrupt. So where's the difference?

I think Captain Ed Morrissey provided an excellent analysis, as he wrote,
Forming unity governments might seem like a great idea, but a society has to have some kind of unity on which to base it. The Palestinians right now do not have even a protostate but a massive amount of gang turf. Hamas and Fatah have operated as the terrorist groups they are rather than as true political parties. Neither have interest in actual politics but in power grabs, which has been all too apparent in the failure of both groups to actually govern in any sense of the word.

Aside from providing yet another example that coalition governments of this type cannot work in reality, this article also provides a window into the mindset of the mainstream news people, who couldn't care less about actually performing research- apparently it's all about trying to convince ordinary Americans that Islamic terror organizations are "secular".

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sayonara, Ai-chan

Ijima Ai (飯島愛) is a remarkable person. After starting her career as an AV (adult video) star, she became a hostess on the late-night Tokyo Television show Gilgamesh Night (ギルガメッシュ ナイト). The show was a thinly disguised celebration of the Japanese AV industry, and featured the starlets of the moment doing many silly things so they could show off their unclothed figures. However, it was a pleasantly mindless way to pass the time in 1990s Japan, and I confess to having watched it more than a few times myself.

Iijima herself, however, managed to parlay her hostess role on Gilgamesh Night into regular roles on more mainstrweam shows and eventuallyt became an accepted part of Japanese television. She released her autobiography in 2000, and watched it become a best-seller, while continuing to perform on Japanese television, and simultaneously running her own talent agency.

However, according to the Shukan Post (週間ポスト) and via the Daily Mainichi (毎日新聞) Wai-Wai online pages, Ms. Iijima is retiring from show business at the tender age of 34. She is citing a pelvic illness and also her parents' infirmities, but Wai-Wai reported that she also was embezzeled to the tune of over a million yen from her talent agency.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Ms. Iijima perform through the years in her various incarnations, and would like to wish her the best in whatever field she turns her talents to. I trust that she willk repair her health and prevail in her embezzlement case. Good luck and thanks for the show. Sayonara.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

America Welcomes Visitors...

...but not with a friendly smile. U.S. immigration officers are not known for their customer-relations skills. As I can testify, the Immigration and Naturlaization Service, now part of the overly-bloated Department of Homeland Security is neither friendly nor welcoming to the many legal visitors who favor our shores with their presence (although they seem to bend over backwards to the illegal visitors).

However, it appears that if enough visitors complain, something CAN be done. The United Kingdom's Daily Mail newspaper reported today that U.S. immigration officers will be put through a training by the Walt Disney Company, whose employees are renowneds for their ability to put park visitors at their ease, even in the midst of asn unhappy experience. the Daily Mail described the training by saying,
Immigration officers will be taught the secrets of Disney theme parks by learning how to welcome visitors, manage large queues and respond to 'negative reaction' from the public without letting their smiles slip.

This strikes me as a good idea in the main. Good customer service skills are essential in a position such as these folks hold. However, I also have a couple of concerns, namely that:

1. Immigration officers will focus so hard on being nice to foreign visitors that they may allow their function as law enforcement and security to slip by the wayside.
2. The Disney training may improve the immigration officers' public image, but will it improve the department's sorry record in the arena of actually assisting legal immigrants and visitors to the United States?

This record needs to change. Soon. Hopefully, the Disney training will be a first step in that dirdection.

Friday, May 11, 2007

CNN Wishful Thinking

None of the major news providers in the United States are friendly to George W. Bush. CBS' transgressions have been well-documented, but they are hardly the only news organization that has spent the last six years trrying to destroy Bush's Presidency. However, CNN has been one of the most blatantly biased, and have made clear their prefernce for working with dictators such as Saddam Hussein to helping the United States under George W. Bush.

The CNN bias was clearly on display tonight, as CNN International channels flashed a "Bush Resigns" chyron for approximately 12 seconds. Tell us again about ther being no media bias, CNN?

No matter what the excuse, this behavior has been par for the course from the mainstream news organizations during Bush's Presidency. They have lied about him (CBS), twisted facts to make him appear wrong, refused to report honestly about the Iraq campaign and flat-out broken the law by publishing classified information simply because it might embarrass or damage him (New York Times). And let us not forget that the news organizations tried to throw the 2000 election to Al Gore by calling Florida for Gore while the polls in heavily Republican northern Florida were still open- a clear violation of federal election law.

The FIrst Amendment may protect the media from criminal prosecution, but there is a clear pattern of misrepresentation and outright false reporting here, and I would hope that once Mr. Bush leaves office, he pursues a remedy in the civil courts for what has been a clear campaign against him from the moment he was first elected. The only way to understand this systematic campaign to destroy him is in the context of an imperial media who cannot stand the fact that most Americans do not agree with their hard-left, anti-American agenda. One would hope that Americans continue to cancel subscriptions and turn to alternative news sources so that the traditional media might understand that this sort of behavior is simply not acceptable.

Correction- Late-night typing is never good. It is "chyron", not "chyon".

On Health Care

The US healthcare system is often lambasted by reporters, left-wing politicians and intelligentsia for its failings. These critics would have us believe that the socialized medicine in places like the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and hilariously, Cuba, are much better for patients.

However, the evidence keeps being uncooperative. Let's take cancer, for example. According to a recent report released by Sweden's Karolinska Institute, we can see that cancer patients in the US have a much better chance of being cured than anywhere in Western Europe. The actual quote from the UK's Daily Telegraph is as follows:
Dr Nils Wilking, a clinical oncologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said: "Our report highlights that in many countries new drugs are not reaching patients quickly enough and that this is having an adverse impact on patient survival. Where you live can determine whether you receive the best available treatment or not.

"To some extent this is determined by economic factors, but much of the variation between countries remains unexplained. In the US we have found that the survival of cancer patients is significantly related to the introduction of new oncology drugs." ...
The proportion of colorectal cancer patients with access to the drug Avastin was 10 times higher in the US than it was in Europe, with the UK having a lower uptake than the European average.

As a colorectal cancer survivor myself, I am very grateful I live in the United States. I have experienced socialized healthcare in Japan and personally, I prefer the US system. No, our healthcare system isn't perfect (though getting the government and the trial lawyers out and allowing the market to adjust price, quality would be a significant step in the right direction) . But the evidence shows time and again that socialization is not the answer. Too bad the media and half of our elected politicicans cannot or will not understand that simple fact. Hat tip to Captain Ed Morrissey.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Practical Education

M.R.S degrees, anyone? That is the latest suggestion for educational reform, at least according to Mike. That would be Professor Mike Adams, UNC-Greensboro criminology professor. In his May 7 column, Dr. Adams proposed with his tongue firmly in cheek that women, instead of taking Womens' Studies classes which he judges as being essentially worthless (and I largely agree with him) should instead take classes designed to help them be good mothers.

This is an excellent idea. Parenting is the most important job any of us will ever hold, and children do not come with handbooks, making the job much more difficult. I think that all of us- not just women- should have to take classes designed to help us with parenting. Since fewer and fewer people get these sorts of skills from their parents, maybe the education system can help out. Instead of running classes on racism and how to hate the United States, they can go back to the basics- the three Rs.

Essentially, colleges and high schools need to focus back on the core courses we expect our children to learn. Reading- all high school graduates ought to be able to read a newspaper and intelligently discuss any and all topics therein. Writing- the same students should be able to write literately and intelligibly anything from a term paper to a letter of condolence. And Arithmetic- everyone should be able to balance their chequebook, understand basic mathematical concepts and formulae and perform any needed math actions in daily life.

So what should colleges teach? Well, knowledge of one's culture is important, especially when it is taught from a perspective of pride, as opposed to dislike of one's culture. History, Latin, Greek, should all be basic components of an undergraduate education. Higher mathematics, starting from calculus should be offered for those interested. And higher science course, in the theoretical realms should also be offered, In addition, the skills for such fields as architecture, electrical engineering and other similar fields would be imparted.

College should not be for everyone. Let's tighten up the admission requirements, and make sure that university students are only those who really belong, not just those from the right ethnic or cultural background. And let's also do a better job of watching over the professors, so as to eliminate the ideological indoctrination that too many of the social sciences have turned into.

College is expensive. So let's get the government out of education. If you cannot afford college, but you are academically eligible and the college wants you, they ought to help out in the form of scholarships. And let's get rid of athletic scholarships. Scholarships should be reserved for those who excel in an academic or musical discipline, but who cannot afford to go otherwise. And of course, if the government got out of the education loan business, most tuition rates would come crashing down, as no one aside from a few of the super-rich can afford college tuition these days.

I seem to have diverged somewhat off to a tangent, but educational reform doesn't stop with the practical education suggested by Dr. Adams. It includes so many other factors as well. I don't intend this entry to be an end-all, but merely a start to the discussion. Anyone who cares to chime in, please feel free to comment as well.

Japan's Abortion Alternative

Germany pioneered the idea of a "baby hatch" where parents could drop off unwanted infants. However, the idea has been slow in catching on. Now, a hospital in Kumamoto Prefecture has opened the first Japanese "baby hatch" according to Breitbart News.

This seems to me a good idea, in the main. It is a much more humane idea than abortion, as it gives the child a life- albeit one without it's natural parents. However, being adopted myself, I can testify that if one lands with a loving adopted family as I did, then the lack of natural parents is not such a handicap. And certainly, I would prefer to see babies live than murdered in the brutal process of abortion.

However, the article also reveals government-think that I do not agree with. Upon the opening of the baby hatch, several officials of the Japanese governenment were quoted, one of whom, identified as government spokesman Shiozaki Yasuhisa said, "It is the government's role to help parents raise children on their own."

Now this statement can be interpreted in many ways, but at heart it seems to me to be a declaration of the Nanny State at its worst. It is the government's role to protect it's citizens and provide a safe environment so that they can raise children on their own. Government should have no more of a role in child-rearing than it does in who a citizen goes to bed with in the evening or what adults do behind closed doors. While Japan's government is generally bevevolent and definitely is protective of the family, no government should be able to dictate to its citizens what or how they rear their children, with the obvious caveat of raising their children as traitors, etc.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

More Japanese Fluff

There is a "music idol" group in Japan called Morning Musume (モーニング娘). This is a particularly annoying group of teen and pre-teen girls who run around "singing" while the media pretends they have talent. Of course, since the Japanese use the word "talent (タレント)" to describe performers who don't actually have any, this is not entirely a misnomer in this particular instance. There are also sub-groups of the main who go by such names as "Mini-Moni (ミニモニ)" which stands for mini-morning musume, etc. This group apparently is constantly being refreshed with younger members while those members who reach the age of eighteen are "encouraged" to retire, so there is a constant turnover. And of course the constant addition of new memnbers ensures that the target audience (pre-teen boys, naturally) remains interested, thus the money keeps flowing into the talent agency responsible for the whole thing.

I just discovered that they now have their own variety show on Japanese television. *sigh* Well, at least they give the "boob tube" a way to live up to its name- in more ways than one.

Hat tip to Expat Leo.

Plaintiff Pelosi

The Speaker of the House has shown that she is not a particularly accomplished leader, nor does she have a good grasp of diplomacy. However, her latest antic has shown the depth of her lack of leadership. According to The Hill magazine, Pelosi is threatening to sue the President if he issues a signing statement on the new compromise Iraq bill.
“The president has made excessive use of signing statements and Congress is considering ways to respond to this executive-branch overreaching,” a spokesman for Pelosi, Nadeam Elshami, said. “Whether through the oversight or appropriations process or by enacting new legislation, the Democratic Congress will challenge the president’s non-enforcement of the laws.”

Well, Madame Speaker, signing statements predate this President, and have been used by all parties in the past. In fact, to use an example from the lasst Democratic Administration, Assistant Attorney General Walter Dellinger wrote to White House Consel Bernard Nussbaum in 1993 on the subject of signing statements, saying in part,
More boldly still, the President may declare in a signing statement that a provision of the bill before him is flatly unconstitutional, and that he will refuse to enforce it. This species of statement merits separate discussion.(6)

In each of the last three Administrations, the Department of Justice has advised the President that the Constitution provides him with the authority to decline to enforce a clearly unconstitutional law.(7) This advice is, we believe, consistent with the views of the Framers.(8) Moreover, four sitting Justices of the Supreme Court have joined in the opinion that the President may resist laws that encroach upon his powers by "disregard[ing] them when they are unconstitutional." Freytag v. C.I.R., 111 S. Ct. 2631, 2653 (1991) (Scalia, J., joined by O'Connor, Kennedy and Souter, JJ., concurring in part and concurring in judgment).(9)

If the President may properly decline to enforce a law, at least when it unconstitutionally encroaches on his powers, then it arguably follows that he may properly announce to Congress and to the public that he will not enforce a provision of an enactment he is signing. If so, then a signing statement that challenges what the President determines to be an unconstitutional encroachment on his power, or that announces the President's unwillingness to enforce (or willingness to litigate) such a provision, can be a valid and reasonable exercise of Presidential authority.(10) And indeed, in a recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Federal Election Comm'n v. NRA Political Victory Fund, supra, the court cited to and relied upon a Presidential signing statement that had declared that a Congressionally-enacted limitation on the President's constitutional authority to appoint officers of the United States was without legal force or effect. Id. at * 11.

This clearly shows that Pelosi either fails to understand that signing statements have been used in the past to declare a part of an otherwise palatable bill unconstitutional, or she is angling to set up what amounts to a shadow government, usurping the powers vested in the President. The first option makes her incompetent, the second makes her a potential criminal. Neither is a good place to be for the Speaker.

Personally, I think Pelosi would be better advised trying to make good on the Democratic promises to clean up and reform the ethics of Congress than trying for yet another showdown with the President. But then this Democratic leadership has already shown that they are neither competent nor ethical- just power-hungry.

Democratic De-Funding

...or not as the case may be. It seems that after flirting with various unconsitutional and ineffective methods of surrenderin to tthe Islamic fundamentalists to satisfy their base, Congressional Democrats have finally seen the light and are now trying to defund the campaign in Iraq. While this is constitutional, their methods as usual leave much to be deisred. The new bill, as reported by the Associated Press, would only fund the Iraq campaign until July, then would set conditions for further funding, essentially usurping the President's Constitutional authority as Commander-In-Chief.

If the Congressional Democrats want to de-fund the Iraq campaign, so be it. They have the Constitutional authority to do so, and as we all know, elections do have consequences. However, the Democrats are desperately afraid of being held responsible for an Iraqi collapse, which is almost certain to follow any precipient withdrawal. This means that they are still trying to play games with military funding so as to avoid appearing to be responsible.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Congress, this is patently transparent. Either defund the Iraq campaign, or allow the troops the money that theey need. But don't try to play games and then claim you "support the troops". This sort of behavior will persuade neither your based nor the troops.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Kennedy "Sincerity"

Massachusetts senior Seantor Edward "Teddy" Kennedy is a buffoon (as well as a let-off manslaughterer). This is well known. However, for some reason he reamins hugely popular in his home state, and thus is virtually guaranteed re-election until he finally passes on. However, Kennedy is also a hypocrite. Regarded as a friend opf the envirtonmental movement, Kennedy has long been spared criticism because of his supposed support.

Unfortunately, like most other society enviropnmentalists (Hollywood actors and Manhattan socialites come rather quickly to mind), Kennedy is only an environmentalist when his interests are not threatened. According to the Boston Globe, Kennedy has used his position to secretly shot down a wind-farm project that was planned for off-shore of his vacation home. The Globe opined, "But like a lot of well-to-do Cape and Islands landowners and sailing enthusiasts, Kennedy doesn't want to share his Atlantic playground with an energy facility, no matter how clean, green, and nearly unseen."

Yes, Teddy Kennedy, like most limousine liberals, is a hypocrite. It's so easy to tout environmentalism fort the little people- as long as we elites aren't affected. It's easy to call for reduction of greenhouse gasses- as long as our motorcades are still allowed. And it is OK to force people to pay energy taxes as long as we can do as we wish. this is a typical of the Left. The only mystery is why so many Americans have yet to figure this out.

Viva Sarkozy!

Jaques Chirac spent his time as President of France pandering to Islamic fundamentalists, while simultaneously trying to feather his own nest and throwing the United States under the bus at every opportunity. A better example of political spinelessness would be hard to find, and only the Russian Dictator Putin and Democratic Party here in the United States matched Chirac as an enabler of the enemies of freedom.

However, the election of Nicolas Sarkozy may bring a fresh wind to French government circles. The first thing Sarkozy did after winning the French Presidency was to send a message to the United States, plainly stating that he wanted to tell his "American friends that they can rely on our friendship ... France will always be next to them when they need us." Of course, he threw the usual sop to the global-warming hysterics, but it does seem that perhaps he will be a better friend to the United States than was his predecessor. And maybe he can lead France out of the Socialist rut they have so long been trapped in.

A strong France that is willing to stand and defend the principles of Western culture and civilization is better for the world than the weak, pandering version that currently exists, and a strong European economy will only help the United States, relieving us of the necessity of being the world's major economic force. We can hope....

Shame and Consequences

In our society today, it seems there is no longer any uderstanding that "actions have consequences". We also do not utilize the powerful weapon of public shame. However, it seems that down in Alabama, they understand the idea of shame as punishment. According to the United Kingdom's Daily Mail, an Alabama judge ordered convicted shoplifters to stand outside the store from which they stole wearing signs proclaiming their guilt.

This is a brilliant idea. Instead of sending minor offenders to jail, let them be ridiculed by their peers, and maybe in future they won't do it. This decision, coupled with the media's favorite society slut Paris Hilton failing to squirm out from a jail sentence, may signal that we are seeing the return of sanity. Of course, considering our judiciary (and our useless media who loves the criminals at the expense of real victims), that remains to be determined, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

Friday, May 04, 2007

CNN Does It Again

We have long known that CNN only cozies up to dictators, mass murderers or other equally despicable folks. We also have long known that CNN hates Republicans and has a secret distaste for the UNited States- unless we are under a far-left Democratic Administration. However, their distaste for all things Republican has usually been masked better that in the following example. CNN caused an outcry by posting a headline on their site attempting to tie former President Ronald Reagan to insanity.

WorldNet Daily reports today that
In a story about a newly published compilation of Reagan's writings, the original AP headline read: "Reagan's wit, humor comes through in detailed diaries."

But on CNN's homepage, the network's altered headline read: "Reagan diary gives new take on insanity."

This is par for the course for CNN. This is a network that cannot get enough of a Castro or a Saddam. This is a so-called "news" network that is perfectly willing to lie or hide the truth when being asked by a murderous dictator, but can't move fast enough to denigrate or otherwise insult an American leader- when the leader in question is a Republican.

All we can hope for is that CNN will fall due to its own lies. As Michael Ledeen likes to say, "Faster, please."

Royal Violence

Segolene Royal, the left-wing Socialist candidate for the French presidency, has warned that France risks violence if Nicolas Sarkozy, her center-right opponent, wins the election to be held on Sunday.

Isn't it interesting that it is always the Left who warns about violence if they don't win elections? When was the last time that a conservative politician was reduced to this sort of demagogism? I don't recall Nixon complaining when JFK stole the 1960 election. I certainly don't recall George H.W. Bush complaining or threatening violence when he lost a close election to Bill Clinton in 1992. But I certainly recall the threats of violence from the Left about both Gore and Kerry's losses to George W. Bush, and it is a constant refrain from the worldwide Left when their favored candidates are in trouble to warn that violence might result from a loss.

If societies are frightened of violence from the Left, maybe an increased vote for the Right mmight take care of the problem. After all, the conserfvatives have proven far better at controlling violence than leftisits. Conservatives put criminals in prison for long periods of time. Leftists give criminals perks and early releases. But more fundamentallly, conservatives carry guns. Leftists simply set up no-gun zones for the pleasure of mass-murderers.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A New Hope

We have been fighting Islamic fundamentalists for the better part of the last ten years (though only knowingly since 2001). And it seems that we have yet to make a dent in their America-the-Great-Satan ideology. However, a new article by Instapunk offers perhaps a solution to this.

Instapunk suggests in his article that:
The correct mission for western propaganda is to ignore the west altogether, forget Judaism and Christianity, and inflame the existing conflicts among the most devout of muslims. Goad them to become even more extreme in their definitions of what it means to be true to the message of the Prophet. The CIA doesn't need savvy political operatives; it needs demonically shrewd theologians who can catalyze the explosion of Islam into hundreds of fanatical splinter denominations. Then we can stand aside and watch as they tear themselves to pieces in an orgy of religiosity.

It just might work. After all, it certainly works for the Democrats- forget about everything except Our Enemy George Bush. So why not use the same strategy for the West's war against Islamic jihad. Just don't tell the Left- they haven't yet realized that saving their lives and their country from Islam is more important than scoring political points against the President. Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Harry Potter - Book Seven

I have long been entertained by JK Rowling's Harry Potter universe. While I myself gain considerable enjoyment from reading the series, I have never had the interest or the time to spend endlessly theorizing over what may happen next, and was more than slightly bemused to stumble across the so-called 'shippers (those who fancy a particular romantic pairing). These 'shippers can be violent!

However, after visiting some more mature sites, I discovered that there are adult fans who can discuss the books intelligently. Upon reading some intelligent arguments over what has happened and what may be coming in the final book, I actually wrote up a small effort of my own to address what I believe may occur in Book Seven "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows". The complete essay will hopefully cause no lessening of enjoyment, but it will be interesting to see which of my predictions, based solely upon my reading of the series, will come true or not. And if I am completely wrong, then I shall laugh at my own temerity in attempting to predict an author's choices and enjoy the read along with Ms. Rowling's many other fans.

In any event, we now have roughly two months and twenty days to wait for the release of Book Seven. May it be worth the wait!

The Germans Get Sense?

Maybe. It is no secret that France and Germany were two of the prime movers behind the campaign to allow Saddam Hussein stay in power due to their sweetheart deals. It is also no secret that France is actively trying to sabotage the actions of the United States in the global arena, despite their own imperial pretensions, and Germany was at least an equal partner in the effort, up until recently.

However, the new Chancellor, Angela Merkel, appears to understand the dangers of alienating the United States. In an article in Der Spiegel, she is reported as "Re-orienting Germany away from Russia and towards the U.S.". This is more than just political posturing. It appears that Ms. Merkel actually understands the threat the West faces from the growing societies under totalitarian rule, such as China, as well as the threat facing the West from Islam.

On the threat coming from Asia, Der Spiegel writes,
Though the West, with 12 percent of the world's population, is still responsible for 60 percent of global economic output, the balance is shifting. Two decades from now, Europeans and Americans will produce less than half of the world economic product -- and with only 10 percent of world population by then. The Asians, says Merkel, are pursuing a "divide and conquer" strategy, and the best way to counteract is for the West to join forces. Democracy, freedom and a market economy are the values that Merkel sees as binding the United States and Europe together.

This is patently true. The bedrocks of our shared heritage are our belief in the rule of law, a free political system and a free market. These are our strongest weapons in the fight against totalitarianism- no matter what it calls itself. On a related topic, there is also her belief that there can be no solution in the problem of Islam without a strong partnership with the United States. Again according to Der Spiegel,
Merkel thinks differently. She is dedicated to the trans-Atlantic relationship and bases it on a fundamental political calculation. She is convinced that there can be no progress anywhere in opposition to the United States -- not in Europe and not in the Middle East. Even Europe's relationship with Asia requires coordination with Merkel's friends in the White House.

It seems that Merkel "gets it". This is good news not just for we Americans, but for all Westerners. Islam and all other enemies/competitors of the West have always relied upon the essential competition and divisions between European countries (and America as well) to help them realize their plans of conquest, whether that conquest be economic or military. Islam has tried this tactic a number of times through history, and China apparently is following suit. The Soviet Union also tried to drive wedges between the countries of the West.

However, Merkel is quite right. We must stand together, or ultimately, we will be defeated. Although George Bush has done a creditable job of coalition-building (despite the reports of the feckless idiots in the media), we must ultimately stand as one to prevail. Based on this report, seems that if Ms. Merkel has her way perhaps Germany will see the light. We can but hope.

Insurgent Splits

Apparently the so-called "insurgents" in Iraq are no more able to get along with each other than they are to defeat the US and our allies- despite the media's hopes. According to al-Reuters, the chief of al-Quaeda in Iraq was killed by other Islamic groups.

If this is true (and the US military has so far not confirmed it), then this would be yet another blow to al-Quaeda. They have staked much or even most of their prestige on defeating the United States in Iraq, and save for their success with the always malleable media, they have failed signally. It appears that they have also managed to rub the other anti-American groups in Iraq the wrong way as well. This highlights the fallacy of the "My enemy's enemy is my friend" philososphy, which we have used to our detriment as well. Hopefully this report proves true, as the more al-Quaeda suffers, the less chance there is that they will be able to repeat the events of September 11.