Monday, March 24, 2008

Despite Media Drumbeat, Economy Not So Bad

The media has been busily telling us how bad the economy is for the better part of the past seven years, never acknowledging the facts. In recent months, as their goal of electing a Democrat becomes ever more possible, the bad news on the economic front- whether justified or not- has increased correspondingly. Unfortunately, despite their best attempts, the economy is not cooperating as they would probably like.

A case in point is the housing industry. Home sales have been dropping for the past six months, and in advance of the latest release of data, reporters have been busy telling us how bad the housing industry is going to be. The numbers for February were released today, but unfortunately for the media, home sales actually increased in February! Not that the actual facts stopped the media from painting the news in the bleakest possible light. As the Associated Press report puts it,
Analysts cautioned against reading too much into the one-month rise in sales. Many economists are predicting that the steep slump in housing will not bottom-out until later this year after prices fall further and allow huge levels of unsold inventories to be reduced.

And of course, the AP then inserted the requisite warning about a recession they have been trying to provoke for seven years, and also managed to include a plug for the Democratic Party's preferred 'solutions'- more government! The article continued,
The steep slump in housing has raised concerns about a possible recession. Democrats are pushing the Bush administration to do more to stem a tidal wave of mortgage foreclosures to keep more unsold homes from being dumped on an already glutted market.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, on Monday called on President Bush to appoint an emergency working group on foreclosures to recommend new ways to confront the housing crisis.

"Over the past week, we've seen unprecedented action to maintain confidence in our credit markets and head off a crisis for Wall Street banks," Clinton said. "It's now time for equally aggressive action to help families avoid foreclosure and keep communities across this country from spiraling into recession."

This is wonderful news overall. If the media and the government would simply allow the market to work on its own, I am confident that the nation will manage to survive the fall in home prices, considering that the housing market has been overheated for some time- especially in the San Francisco area where I reside. But of course, if the media reported the facts on the ground without their usual bias, the chances of electing a Democrat in November would lessen- and that is definitely not the result that the media want to see. So they continue to push their recession theories. We can only hope that the recession theory bears as little relation to the truth the media's line on Iraq, global warming and most other stories that find their way to the mainstream media's front pages.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Futility of Surveillance

In our modern society, it seems we are moving ever closer to constant video surveillance. We are told by the authorities that this ubiquitous monitoring is 'for our safety'. But is it really? First we hear that the City of Dallas has turned off their red-light cameras because they didn't make as much revenue from them as they had hoped.

Then comes the chilling news that in New York City, a rape was captured on camera, yet the police failed to see it. According to the story in the New York Daily News,
A 19-year-old woman was raped at knifepoint inside the Van Dyke houses in Brooklyn early Thursday - a housing complex with more than 200 cameras supposedly monitored around the clock by the NYPD.

Sources told the Daily News that at least one video camera recorded the rapist grabbing the young woman and pulling her into an elevator.

This would be bad enough if the police hadn't employed a particularly mealy-mouthed way of excusing their negligence. According to the Post, the DEputy Police commissioner, one Paul Browne, claimed that "there was no suspicious action captured on tape", a claim that the story itself clearly showed to be false. Then the Daily News also quoted an anonymous police officer as saying that,
"It's mind-numbing, and actually difficult, to watch 30, 40, 50 cameras, all flashing different images every five to seven seconds," said a cop familiar with the system. "It's bad for the residents, it's bad for the cops."

This is the fallacy of camera surveillance. In the case of traffic cameras, the real purpose is revenue, not safety, And in the case of personal surveillance, it does not really help to protect individuals from criminals. It merely provides the illusion of safety, not actual safety. If government is going to claim that they are better at looking out for us than we are, then they need to be better at actually meeting the standard they have set. Ultimately, this is why we should never trust government with anything that can be done better by individuals. As far as our own personal protection goes, it is far better for us to be responsible for that, and let the police focus on bigger things that we as individuals cannot deal with. It is the same in the case of the national government- they can deal with threats to our nation in a way that we as individuals cannot, but we are far better at dealing with issues that are closer to home than some far-off federal bureaucracy.

As for the failure in this case, there is no excuse. If the cameras are truly being monitored 24 hours a day, then there is no way they ought to have missed this. And their sorry attempts to worm their way out of responsibility is appalling. I know the police have a difficult job, especially in cities like New York, but there is no excuse for missing this kind of thing. the police ought be ashamed and for the Press, there ought to be some very hard questions asked of the folks responsible for allowing this appalling incident to occur.

Friday, March 14, 2008

About that Global Warming...

Al Gore has made a lot of money and publicity with his crusade against global warming. I have written in the past how this whole crusade seems to be based on a Big Lie, and its real purpose appears more intended to get global government so the rest of the world (ie. the United Nations) can gain control over the United States' many assets without having to go through the awkward exercise of actually getting a their authority recognized by the US Congress.

However, there has been a backlash against the Gore Warming crusade (fueled partly by Gore's own hypocrisy in using large motorcades, private jets and his lavish lifestyle- none of which are designed to show others that he is serious about the entire issue. Not that the press has bothered to do any real reporting- they have fallen in line with Gore's crusade lock, stock and barrel- refusing to report on critics and making statements equating said critics with Nazis and other undesirables. However, the evidence is mounting that Gore and his global warming friends are no more accurate in their claims than Newsweek was in its new ice age campaign in the 1970s.

Recently the critics are becoming more vocal. And today, Fox News is reporting that the founder of the Weather Channel, John Coleman, is preparing to sue Al Gore for fraud. According to the report on,
John Coleman, who founded the cable network in 1982, suggests suing for fraud proponents of global warming, including Al Gore, and companies that sell carbon credits.

"Is he committing financial fraud? That is the question," Coleman said.

"Since we can't get a debate, I thought perhaps if we had a legal challenge and went into a court of law, where it was our scientists and their scientists, and all the legal proceedings with the discovery and all their documents from both sides and scientific testimony from both sides, we could finally get a good solid debate on the issue," Coleman said. "I'm confident that the advocates of 'no significant effect from carbon dioxide' would win the case."

Throughout the controversy, the press has been consistently against any criticism of the global warming meme, muzzling critics and refusing to present a balanced picture of the issue. Only global warming advocates are allowed air-time to present their views- opponents are tarred as being owned by 'Big Oil' and presented as akin to Holocaust-deniers.

Coleman is a long-time skeptic of the entire global warming campaign. Based on his history, there is no doubt he is far better positioned to understand the idea's truth or falsehood than Al Gore- a man whose money came largely FROM the oil companies. In addition, Gore's massive insincerity has been on display before- remember his claim to have invented the Internet? So if the chips were down, I would believe Coleman before I would place credence in Gore. But the Press obviously believe otherwise.

Today's story was front-page news on Fox News, and was linked to by the Drudge Report. But the other so-called 'mainstream' media have pointedly ignored this. I could find no mention of the story on the main pages of the following news outlets- CNN, ABC News, CBS News, MSNBC or the New York Times.

So, it would seem that the media are ignoring what should be a headline story. The question is whether they are ignoring it due to their invested interest in promoting the global warming meme, their known political bias or pressure from their friends in the environmental movement. Any of these rationales makes a mockery of their claims to be professional and unbiased. But we knew that a long time ago, didn't we? Cross-posted on NewsBusters.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More on the Media's Responsibilities

I have written of late more than once about reporters and their responsibilities under the First Amendment. I am decidedly not in favor of reporters abusing their positions to enable federal criminals (the leakers within the bureaucracy) and aiding and abetting enemies of the United States (Islamists and terrorists). However, reporters absolutely should report when elected officials also abuse their positions, and they should not be silenced by the threats of said public officials.

And that certainly appears to be the case in Duval County, Texas. It is being reported that Sheriff Santiago Barrera, Jr has threatened reporters with jail time if they wrote about his son's arrest. As reported by the Associated Press,
When the Duval County sheriff said he would lock up reporters from local newspapers if they kept "interfering" in his business, no one took the threat lightly.

For 20 years, Sheriff Santiago Barrera Jr. had done what he pleased with no challenges to his reign. He decided who sat in his jail and when they were released. Sometimes it was before a judge got involved and other times it was after.

"I brought the sheriff's department from nothing to what it is right now," said the 67-year-old Barrera.

That's why journalists are on edge about Barrera's recent threat to an Alice Echo-News Journal reporter.

Christopher Maher wrote a front-page story about the arrest of the sheriff's 42-year-old son Miguel Barrera on charges of public intoxication and resisting arrest. According to the newspaper, when Maher called the sheriff about another story, Barrera said, "If you guys keep interfering with my business, I'm going to have you arrested."

This is where the sheriff is crossing the line. His son's arrest for public drunkenness and resisting arrest absolutely should be news in the community. Is it front-page news? Since the sheriff is being challenged by one of his former subordinates, it would seem that, at least by current journalistic 'standards', it is. However, there is no question that this is something that should be reported.

Too often, public figures seem to either have the Press in their pocket (see the case of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton or virtually any other Democratic politician accused of a crime) or cowed (see the cases of CNN vis-a-vis Saddam Hussein, of Google in regards to China). However, the Press has a responsibility to report on all public figures' pratfalls, no matter what the party of the offender. The sheriff has essentially threatened the Press, and in my judgement, he should be brought to account for that threat.

The news media has a responsibility to report honestly. Too often, they seem a curious combination of sheep and bull- the former when a totalitarian regime (whether foreign or local as in this case) or a favored (invariably Democrat) politician is concerned, and bullish when the subject is either their own nation's interests or a disfavored (invariably Republican) politician. It would be nice if they could report objectively, regardless of the subject's political power or affiliation. But then, if they could do that, they would actually be worthy of respect, instead of their current, well-earned contempt.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Anti-American Press Helping Islamists

The mainstream media, constantly leaking information that helps our enemies, constantly trying to force the United States into defeat but constantly claiming to 'support the troops' has been confirmed as being traitors. To refresh, according to Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution,
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

So, have the United States media been 'giving aid and comfort' to enemies of the United States? According to a report released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the answer is a definite 'Yes'. As reported by the US News & World Report, the authors state that,
The paper "Is There an 'Emboldenment' Effect in Iraq? Evidence From the Insurgency in Iraq" concludes the following:

* In the short term, there is a small but measurable cost to open public debate in the form of higher attacks against Iraqi and American targets.

* In periods immediately after a spike in "antiresolve" statements in the American media, the level of insurgent attacks increases between 7 and 10 percent.

* Insurgent organizations are strategic actors, meaning that whatever their motivations, religious or ideological, they will respond to incentives and disincentives.

I would think that by now, even the dimmest of reporters and editors would be aware that their constant anti-American reporting is assisting the Islamists we are fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world. And if one reads history, one can discover that the North Vietnamese knew the only way they could win was through the treasonous attacks by useful American idiots such as Jande Fonda. So this is not exactly news, or shouldn't be.

The Press ought to be aware by now of the power of the pen. After all, they are always reliable in releasing hit pieces on REpublicans shortly before the elections- if that is considered to be a useful tactic, how can the fail to understand that their lack of support for their President and their fellow Americans in the military are aiding our enemies now?

Not let me clearly state that debate of tactics is and should remain a protected right. For example, John McCain has maintained for some time that our strategy in Iraq was failing and the we ought to change it. That is legitimate debate. But writing after two weeks that Iraq is a 'quagmire' as so many reporters did, or constantly publishing articles designed to reduce support among Americans, such as the New York Times, the New Republic and so many others have done, is treason. Pure and simple. So every time the New York Times publishes an article calling for withdrawal, every time a Nancy Pelosi or a Harry Reid declares the war 'lost' they are aiding or enemies. And in these cases, they ought to be indicted for treason, since they are clearly operating with little or no expert advice. Constructive criticism is one thing- calling for withdrawal is another.

The Constitution makes clear the standard of guilt- a standard no prosecutor would have any trouble proving, since these opinions are so widely published and read. Obviously there are debates to be had, but in my opinion, it is time to start putting the clamps on these disloyal media types who are so busy helping our enemies that they are killing their fellow citizens. And that, my friends is treason.

As Allahpundit over at Hot Air commented, this report "comes with plenty of caveats" but the basic premise- that the negative coverage does indeed embolden our enemies, is pretty hard to discount. So isn't it time that the Justice Department starts enforcing some of these laws., and in the process, maybe forcing our anti-American Press to make some hard decisions about which side they are actually on? Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

The Myth of European Superiority

Liberals and their shills in the mainstream media have been trumpeting the benefits of European society- low crime, high benefits and so forth, for as long as I can remember. These arguments are used primarily to convince wary Americans that the European model is vastly superior to ours. However, is this view of the EU really true? Recently I have seen two articles that suggest this may not in fact be the case.

Firstly, in an article on Trading, the European Union was celebrating the fact that unemployment had dropped to the lowest rate in twenty-five year- to a mere 6.9 percent. As reported by,
The average unemployment rate in major European Union (EU) countries stands at 6.9 percent and is the lowest in 25 years, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Tuesday.

"I very much welcome the European Growth and Jobs Monitor's main message: that despite the decade-long defeatism of the cynics -- Lisbon is working," Barroso said in a statement on the newly-released European Growth and Jobs Monitor, a competitiveness ranking jointly developed by German insurer Allianz SE and the Brussels-based think tank Lisbon Council.

The study aims to measure the performance of 14 European countries in implementing the so-called Lisbon Growth and Jobs Strategy.

Of course, this is still a full two percentage points above the US unemployment rate, which was recorded as being 4.9 in the last reports from the US government. Remind me again about the European Union's superior economy?

Secondly, it appears that the supposed safe havens European cities are so often presented to be is also a myth. And the answer appears to be yes. It is well-known that since the British disarmed the population, violent crime in Britain has skyrocketed. A study by Sean O'Neill of the London Telegraph concluded (perhaps surprisingly) that the United States is among the middle-ranking countries in crime statistics- the list is dominated by European countries. Mr. O'Neill writes that,
PEOPLE living in England and Wales are at greater risk of falling victim to crime than citizens of most other industrialised nations, according to a study published yesterday.

The International Crime Victims Survey, based on 34,000 telephone interviews across 17 countries, found that 26 per cent of people - more than one in four - in England and Wales had been victims of crime in 1999. The figure for Scotland was 23 per cent and in Northern Ireland 15 per cent.


After Australia and England and Wales, the highest prevalence of crime was in Holland (25 per cent), Sweden (25 per cent) and Canada (24 per cent). The United States, despite its high murder rate, was among the middle ranking countries with a 21 per cent victimisation rate.

However, in this area, England is definitely not alone. It appears that other European cities are also experiencing similarly high crime rates. The Power Line blog reported on an article first published in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten which lamented the fact that crime in Oslo, Norway's capital city, is now four times as high as in New York- long the city that set the standard for Europeans to deplore the United States' crime. The newspaper goes on to report that,
Oslo had the highest rate per person in Scandinavia in terms of reported crimes, with 90 reported crimes per 1,000.

Copenhagen had 50 crimes reported per 1,000 and Stockholm had 79.

In New York, there were 22 reported crimes per 1,000 inhabitants.

This means there were four times as many reported crimes per person in Oslo as in New York.

So in other words, in any one of the Scandinavian capitals, a resident or visitor is far more likely to be the victim of a crime than in infamously violent New York? And the mainstream media have managed to completely ignore this little statistic? Hmmm. I wonder if the statistics were reversed, how many US and European front pages would be screaming about how violent the United States is and how we need more gun control? Oh, wait- this is the mainstream media- they are defined by their lack of principle and objectivity.

Between these stories, is it any wonder that Americans are somewhat reluctant to adopt the EU's high taxes, low level of personal protection, complete lack of military muscle to defend themselves and their willingness to welcome aliens who have no interest in assimilation, only invasion and conquest?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

PC Police Strike Again

The Left loves to claim First Amendment protection for everything from pornography to treason. However, they are not very good at extending the protection of the First Amendment to ideas with which they disagree. And the idea that the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution should be treated equally as the First is one they strongly oppose, to the point of censoring anyone with a differing opinion. Nowhere are these censors more active than in the school system.

The latest evidence of the PC police's inconsistency in First Amendment support and their virulent opposition to the Second Amendment came in Pennsylvania. According to the Associated Press, a fourteen-year-old boy who wore a T-shirt bearing an image of a weapon was given detention when he refused to cover the images. As the Associated Press reports,
The shirt bears the image of a military sidearm and on the front pocket says "Volunteer Homeland Security." On the back, over another image of the weapon, are the words "Special issue Resident Lifetime License — United States Terrorist Hunting Permit — Permit No. 91101 — Gun Owner — No Bag Limit."

Officials at the Millersville school told him to turn his shirt inside out. When Miller refused, he got two days of detention.

Fortunately, the boy's parents are more cognizant of the rights extended by the First Amendment than the blinkered school officials. They filed a lawsuit against the school district for denying their son his First Amendment rights. The school district's response? A lawyer for the school district claimed that, must create a safe environment for students in the post-Columbine era, and bringing even the image of a gun to school violates the district's policy.

This is the height of idiocy. An image of a gun on a shirt that clearly is patriotic, pro-American is somehow creating an unsafe area? How about the kids who wear T-shirts celebrating drugs, or mass murderers like Mao Tse-tung or Che Guevara? Do those also create an unsafe environment? I would hope that the school district loses this case. If they had a uniform and the student violated the uniform code, that would be one thing, but disciplining the boy because he wore a shirt with the image of a weapon is entirely ridiculous.

On a side note, where is the press' usual reluctance to name names of non-adults? The student in question is underage. Were this a story about a teen pregnancy, I have no doubt the press would refuse to name the girl in question (though the purported father's name would probably be splashed all over the headline). Why was this student not treated similarly? is it becasue of his message or because of his gender?

Friday, March 07, 2008

VBS Does North Korea

For some reason the outpost of Stalinism known to the world as North Korea is not getting much press these days. Perhaps it is because reporters don't like to report on things that can't be forced into their 'Socialism/Communism are better than Calitalism' world view, but more likely it is because President Bush's six-country diplomacy has actually succeeded in reducing the threat posed by the Stalinist country. in any event, I see very few front-page stories these days on North Korea and misery of the people who have the misfortune to live in this repressive dictatorship.

However, a group of enterprising videographers from VBS TV managed to penetrate the country's famous curtain and have brought back a fair amount of video demonstrating that the country's Dear Leader Kim Jong Il is no better (and probably worse) for his people than his late unlamented father Kim Il Sung.

For the complete, fourteen part series, visit the VBS website. And then wonder why the mainstream media has so suddenly lost interest in North Korea now that they are not pulling the United States' tail in public these days. The only thing the New York Times wants to do is to publish government-approved photographs and puff pieces. A far cry from the combativeness and hostility they exhibit toward our own, elected government. But then the Times has long preferred dictators to Republicans.

AP Highlights Jobs Cut- Ignores Unemployment Drop

According to an Associated Press report today via Yahoo! News, employers eliminated 63,000 jobs in the month of February- the most in five years. Naturally, the headline at Yahoo! screamed "Employers Slash Jobs by Most in 5 Years". It is in the interests of the national media to make the economic picture seem as bleak as possible- it increases the chances of a Democrat getting elected in November. The reporter, one Jeannine Aversa, writes,
Employers slashed 63,000 jobs in February, the most in five years and the starkest sign yet that the country is heading dangerously toward recession or is in one already.

Unfortunately, for the media, the numbers don't actually play along- unemployment actually dropped despite the job cuts. To Aversa's credit, she included the good unemployment numbers in her second paragraph, thought she seems to feel constrained to paint it in a gloomy manner, writing,
The Labor Department's report, released Friday, also indicated that the nation's unemployment rate dipped to 4.8 percent as hundreds of thousands of people -- perhaps discouraged by their prospects -- left the civilian labor force. The jobless rate was 4.9 percent in January.

Ms. Aversa, this doesn't make sense. If thousands of people left the workforce, how could the unemployment rate drop? If employers cut jobs, one would expect to see the jobless rolls swell. However, this ahas not actually occurred. Therefore, one can reasonably assume that the economy is doing just fine- so fine that it can absorb these job losses without so much as a hiccup.

However, that narrative does not seem to match the national media's preferred scenario. So Aversa continues with the doom-and-gloom pen, writing that,
With the economy losing momentum, fears have grown that the country in on the brink of its first recession since 2001.

Economic growth slowed to a near standstill of just a 0.6 percent pace in the final quarter of last year. Many economists predict growth in the January-to-March quarter will be worse -- around a 0.4 percent pace. Some believe the economy is shrinking now.

Spreading fallout from the housing and credit debacles are the main factors behind the economic slowdown. People and businesses alike are feeling the strains and have turned cautious. Adding to the stresses on pocketbooks, budgets and the economy: skyrocketing energy prices. Oil prices have set a string of record highs in recent days. Gasoline prices have marched higher, too.

To help shore up the economy, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled last week that the central bank is prepared to lower interest rates again. Economists predict another cut on March 18, the Fed's next meeting. The Fed, which has been slicing the rate since September, recently turned more forceful. It slashed the rate by 1.25 percentage points in the course of just eight days in January -- the biggest one-month reduction in a quarter century.

The White House and Congress, meanwhile, speedily enacted an economic relief package, including tax rebates for people and tax breaks for businesses. That -- along with the Fed's rate cuts -- should help give a lift to the economy in the second half of this year, says Bernanke.

Still, unemployment is expected to move higher this year. The Federal Reserve predict the jobless rate will rise to as high as 5.3 percent in 2008. Last year, the unemployment rate averaged 4.6 percent.

All the economy's troubles are putting people in a gloomy mood.

If the press had reported the economy accurately for the past six years, I suspect people might not be in such a gloomy mood. If the press could put the US economy in perspective- for example, comparing our economy with that of say, Germany or France or any other country in Europe, people might realize that things are not as bad as the press wants to paint them. But of course that would require objective reporting, and would lessen the possibility of electing a Democrat in November.

CA Rules Parents Can't Educate Children

Homeschooling, along with other alternatives to the public schools is becoming increasingly popular as the public schools sink further into political correct touchy-feely 'educating', as opposed to actual teaching. However, a California court ruled today that in California, parents do not have the right to educate their children unless they hold a California teaching credential. As reported by the liberal San Francisco Chronicle's online edition,
A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution.

The homeschooling movement never saw the case coming.

"At first, there was a sense of, 'No way,' " said homeschool parent Loren Mavromati, a resident of Redondo Beach (Los Angeles County) who is active with a homeschool association. "Then there was a little bit of fear. I think it has moved now into indignation."

Naturally, the teachers' union is ecstatic- they have one more weapon to force all students not in private schools into their little socialist paradise, thus allowing them to demand more money. And parents have one less alternative to the forced indoctrination into Leftist philosophy that has taken over the public school system. Personally, I would rather my children learned about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, George S. Patton, Booker Washington, Douglas MacArthur, Christopher Columbus, John C Fremont, Kit Carson, Davy Crockett Chester Nimitz and other great American heroes than feminist or environmental icons like Rachel Carson or Susan B. Anthony. The former were far more important to the development of this great nation than the latter, no matter what the arguments of the chattering classes.

This case has some interesting angles. On the one hand, I am a firm believer that states should be in charge of their own education. As the story states, the attorney for the home-schoolers admitted that, as regards the court decision,
"They just affirmed that the current California law, which has been unchanged since the last time it was ruled on in the 1950s, is that children have to be educated in a public school, an accredited private school, or with an accredited tutor," she said. "If they want to send them to a private Christian school, they can, but they have to actually go to the school and be taught by teachers."

If this is state law, then it behooves either to change in in the Legislature (unlikely due to the amount of influence the teachers' union possesses over the Democratic majority), or to have the California Supreme Court step in and overturn the law. As I am not a legal expert, I cannot say for sure what the California Supreme Court might do, but they tend to be more conservative than the government, so there is a good chance they might tell the Legislature that the law forcing children to attend school is unconstitutional.

However, I also believe that parents should absolutely have the right to educate their own children. Many parents, myself included, have far more education, skills and knowledge than the typical primary and even secondary-school teacher. For example, my wife is a registered nurse in two different countries. I myself hold a graduate degree in History, have worked as a professional musician and have technical certifications as well. I even hold a California 30-day substitute teaching permit. But neither she nor I hold a teaching credential. So in California's eyes, that would disqualify us from teaching our children at home, even though we are expert in many areas that virtually no primary-school teacher can match. Not even mentioning the fact, as reported this morning by Lee Rodgers on KSFO radio that homeschooled children outperform their public school counterparts in virtually every statistical area.

Ultimately, I would hope the California Supreme Court strikes down this law as unconstitutional, but based on my reading of the California Constitution Article 9, I fear that the 1953 law does not violate the Constitution itself, so we will have to put our trust in the Legislature. And they are far too much under the thumb of the teachers' union to expect any action that way.

UPDATE: It seems Jerry Pournelle has weighed in on this topic as well. His thoughts are more succinct than mine- he says sue. For Jerry's thoughts, go to the link, then scroll down to 'Sic Semper Tyrannus'. A fitting demarcation for the tyranny the government has become.

Thoughts On Clemens

By request of the United States Congress, the Federal Bureau of Investigation to opened an investigation of star pitcher Roger Clemens for possibly lying to Congress about his use of steroids. I have read a few commentators who are asking why the FBI should even be involved in this case. Major League Baseball is, after all, not a government operation. However, I believe that the FBI should indeed investigate Clemens. Why? Becasue if he lied under oath, that is perjury- the very same crime committed by Bill Clinton that ended up losing him his law license and getting him impeached. Perjury is a federal crime and it is a rather major crime. One simply should not lie under oath, no matter how embarrassing the resulting testimony. And if Clemens did lie under oath, then he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

However, I do have a problem wondering why Congress feels it should be involved in Major League Baseball's steroids issues. The government is a bloated, embarrassing creature already, and one that cannot even keep its own finances in order- that is why we have so many budget issues. Certainly the Commerce Clause was never intended to allow Congress to interfere in organizations such as Major League baseball. Congress needs to set their own house in order before they ought to worry about possible cheating in sports.

Professional sports should be able to police themselves- if they consistently fall short of the public's ideals, then their viewership and fan base will drop, as we have seen with baseball over the past couple of decades. Congress should have zero role in overseeing what is essentially a private concern. I understand the desire members of Congress have to be in the public limelight and this case certainly gives them an easy path to it while bringing virtually no accompanying risks. However, they would be better advised to do something about real concerns- like disloyal bureaucrats, deadly Muslim terrorists and the spiraling federal budget deficit due to their earmarks and other pork, before thinking about professional athletes possibly doing drugs in order to succeed in their chosen sports.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Press Defends Illegal Leaking- Again

The US media seems to think that their job description includes deciding what information is and is not legal to leak and print- never mind that we elect Presidents, Senators and Representatives to do this, not members of the scribbling class. This arrogance and complete lack of care for their fellow Americans was famously demonstrated in the NSA and SWIFT banking exposes by the New York Times resident anti-Americans, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau. However, these are not the only such cases. Recently, Risen has once again exposed classified data with the aid of hidden law-breakers in the government. In this case, Risen exposed a CIA-Mossad operation to destabilize Iran. Risen has been subpoenaed by a federal court to reveal who gave him this data, but predictably, he sees his mission of aiding America's enemies and assisting said enemies to kill American citizens as more important that assisting the government to uphold laws about leaking sensitive information. And equally predictably, the rest of the mainstream media is rallying to his defense. Haaretz, an Israeli news source, reported on the topic today, casting Risen in the role of victim. According to Haaretz,
The Bush administration is prolonging the hunting season against journalists. The latest victim is James Risen, The New York Times reporter for national security and intelligence affairs. About three months ago, a federal grand jury issued a subpoena against him, ordering Risen to give evidence in court. A heavy blackout has been imposed on the affair, with the only hint being that it has to do with sensitive matters of "national security."

But conversations with several sources who are familiar with the affair indicate that Risen has been asked to testify as part of an investigation aimed at revealing who leaked apparently confidential information about the planning of secret Central Intelligence Agency and Mossad missions concerning Iran's nuclear program.

Haaretz goes on to bring up the infamous Plame hoax to support h their argument that the Bush Administratioj is 'waging war on journalists', repeating the false claim that Vice-President Richard Cheney's then chief of staff, L. Lewis Libby leaked Plame's name. As a matter of fact, it was State Department hack Richard Armitage who actually first mentioned Plame's name, though I am not sure how much leaking was involved concerning someone who was listed as a CIAS employee in Who's Who!

Haaretz, in the person of reporter Yossi Melman, also seems to misunderstand the First Amendment. Melman says,
In Israel, military censorship would have prevented the publication of details such as these. But in the U.S., where the principle of freedom of the press is sacred and anchored in the constitution, there is no compulsory and binding censorship. There is, however, an expectation there that the press will show responsibility. This expectation has increased in recent years, particularly with the conservative Bush administration and in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Yes, there is freedom of the press. However, it has been long established that said freedom does not extend to assisting people to leak info to hurt the United States, nor are reporters allowed to determine what info should and should not be published. There are laws on the books about leaking information, and the Pentagon Papers case notwithstanding, government leakers are in fact breaking the law and reporters who then publish that info and refuse to cooperate can and in my opinion should be prosecuted as accomplices up to and including treason.

In the end, what Risen's source did was to leak information that assists the United States' enemies and hurts the U.S. That is treason, in addition to breaking the law on classified information. Risen surely knew what he was doing and gleefully published it in an attempt to hurt the Bush Administration, since he cannot or will not realize that he is not hurting the Bush Administration but rather hurting his own country- not that he would care about that. Risen strikes me as a person who would rather see Muslim fanatics running the United States than an elected Republican President. I hope that the court fines Risen and his employer to the full extent of the law and throws him into prison for as long as it takes to get him to testify. if he will not testify, then keep him in prison. He is an accomplice to his source's treason. That in itself is a crime, and he ought to be held responsible. And for the rest of the media, cheerleading for traitors exposes your own vested interests. be careful- the American people are slow, but not stupid and sooner or later they will wake up and demand compensation for your long-standing work to help destroy your own country. Cross-posted on NewsBusters.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Once again, let's Name That Party!

Once again, the mainstream media displays their party prefernce, as it is another edition of Name That Party! In this instance, as reported by CBS television station KDKA Channel 2, Pennsylvania State Representative Frank LaGrotta stands accused of two criminal counts of conflict of interst. Strangely, though the story discusses LaGrotta's purported transgressions in detail, his party affiliation is somehow neglected!

As KDKA reported on the case,

LaGrotta was arraigned last week in Harrisburg on two criminal counts of conflict of interest.

He is accused by the State Attorney General Tom Corbett of hiring two relatives for his office payroll who allegedly did nothing for their state pay check.

But the real focus has been on whether LaGrotta is helping state investigators finger top legislative leaders whom the Attorney General thinks may have used tax dollars to pay their staff for political work.

KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano asked LaGrotta's attorney to answer that question.

"Certainly he has been cooperative," said LaGrotta's attorney Stephen Colafella. " He's attempted to address not only the issues with his case, but some of the more general questions about things that may have gone on."

Colafella stopped short of saying that LaGrotta's testimony would hurt House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese or former House Whip Mike Veon.

Now the story mentions possible wrongdoing by three elected officials in Pennsylvania. One would think that somewhere in the story, the party affiliation of said elected officials might be mentioned. However, a quick Google search finds that of the three, Frank LaGrotta, Mike Veon and Bill DeWeese, all are members of the Democratic Party.

Hmmm. Interesting that of the three, all are Democrats, and yet the CBS station KDKA managed to completely avoid mentioning the party affiliations of any of the three in this story that ostensiblyt is to discuss an elected official accused of criminal conflict of interest. And in fact, this is a possibility that there is an even bigger corruption story. yet somehow the three eleceted officials named all manage to have their party affiliation ignored by KDKA. I won't waste my time hypothesizing if a Republican who was even marginally linked to such a story would have his party affiliation similarly left out of the resulting story. I think we all know that answer. Hat tip to NewsBusters reader Mike Costarell. Cross-posted at NewsBusters.

CNN Neglects Accused Politician's Party- Again

It's time for yet another edition of Name That Party! Disgraced Newark, New Jersey mayor Sharpe James' trial for abusing his powers for favoritism and corruption began today in federal court. According to the prosecutor the former mayor,
...abused his office by steering discounted city property to a girlfriend who then sold the parcels for large profits, a prosecutor told jurors Monday at James' fraud trial. Former Newark, New Jersey, mayor Sharpe James going on trial for federal corruption charges. "This case is about fraud, favoritism and concealment," Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Kwon said in his opening statement. James got romance while co-defendant Tamika Riley made profits by quickly selling the land instead of redeveloping it as required, Kwon said. "The only people who didn't benefit from these land deals were the people of Newark," Kwon told the jury.

Yet in the entirety of the article on CNN's site, the party affiliation of Mayor James was never mentioned. Not once. Surprised? Not when one discovers that James is a Democrat. It seems that for CNN, if an accused person is a Republican, that is news-worthy, but when the principal is a Democrat, the party is something that readers simply don't need to know. Wouldn't it be nice if the media treated parties the same when it came to reporting allegations? However, if they did, they wouldn't be the mainstream media- partisan, subjective and thoroughly untrustworthy. Hat tip to NewsBusters reader grumpybb. Cross-posted at NewsBusters.

A Miniature Deterrent

I own a few guns, though i am by no means a collector. However, I have long appreciated both the workmanship and the need for weapons to provide personal protection since the police rarely can arrive in time to prevent criminals from attacking. Thus I was fascinated today to see a report of the world's smallest handgun- the Swiss Minigun. According to the report in the United Kingdom's Daily Mail,
This is the world's smallest gun - and although it might look like a harmless toy to some it is anything but as it is capable at firing deadly bullets at a speed of 300mph.
The Swiss Minigun, being marketed as a collector's item, is two inches long, and fires 4.53mm bullets.Costing £3,000 in stainless steel, a gold-plated, diamond-studded version is also available.

The official site for the company contains more information. The Swiss Minigun measures a mere 5.5 centimeters (2.2 inches) long and weighs only 19.8 grams (0.7 ounces). In other words, it is the perfect crime deterrent- for women in particular as it is small and light enough to be easily carried in a handbag. Unfortunately for US gun enthusiasts, the weapon is illegal in the United States as it is too small to qualify as a sporting weapon. Pity- carrying one of those would be reminiscent of the classic scene in the first Men in Black movie where Will Smith's character is issued the Noisy Cricket pistol- which turns out to have a punch far exceeding its size.

In any event, I find the Minigun to be a wonderful weapon- I just wish we could own it here in the United States. Just why does a weapon have to be classsified as a 'sporting weapon'? I don't recall the Second Amendment mentioning anything about the militia being 'sporting'? Just a thought....

StoneHead Returns

In more ways than one. Despite the continuing demands of my real job, I am back and will do my best to maintain a steady stream of posts. There has been a lot happening over the past few weeks, from the move by Captain Ed Morrissey from Captain's Quarters to Michelle Malkin's Hot Air site, to Senator John McvCain's clinching of the Republican Presidential nomination, to the continuing struggles of the vaunted Clinton Machine.

First, let me congratulate Ed Morrissey on his move to Hot Air. As of January 29, 2008, he had closed Captain's Quarters, though his posts will remain online as archives for those who are interested. Captain Ed has been a model for my own modest blogging efforts, and I am sure that he will continue to provide scintillating commentary and analysis on current events from his new perch. I will miss the daily exercise of checking Captain's Quarters, but at least with his move to Hot Air, I have one less bookmark to keep up!

I would also like to extend my congratualtions to Senator McCain for clinching the Republican Presidential nomination. According to the Associated Press, not only has McCain has secured more than the requisite 1191 delegates to clinch the nomination in last night's contests, but his remaining serious rival (no, I don't count Ron Paul), former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, has withdrawn from the race. Writes the AP,
John McCain clinched the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday, an extraordinary comeback for a candidate whose White House hopes were dashed eight years ago and whose second bid was left for dead eight months ago.
"The most important race begins," he said in an Associated Press interview.
According to the AP count, the four-term Arizona senator surpassed the requisite 1,191 GOP delegates as voters in Ohio, Vermont, Rhode Island and Texas put him over the threshold. The triumph came one month after his Super Tuesday coast-to-coast victories gave him an insurmountable lead in the delegate hunt and forced his chief rival, Mitt Romney, to drop out of the race.

I find the AP's report interesting insofar as they don't seem to feel the need to admit that their own reporting was one of the primary causes why McCain was 'left for dead eight months ago'. Interesting how there is no mention of just who left McCain's candidacy for dead. However, as I wrote earlier, while I endorsed former massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (shortly before his Super Tuesday defeat that led to his withdrawal), I believe that Senator McCain is a worthy candidate and an honorable man. I am proud to support Senator McCain and I strongly urge any readers of this blog to consider doing so as well.

Meanwhile, Senator Hillary Clinton's Texas/Ohio firewall has apparently held- at least to the extent of allowing her to stay in the race for the Democratic nomination. However, she trails Illinois Senator Barack Obama by just over one hundred delegates with twelve contests and 611 delegates left to be pledged. According to ABC News, neither Obama nor Clinton are likely to be able to secure the nomination prior to the convention, which means the Democratic superdelegates will end up deciding who is the nominee. Writes ABC News,
ABC News' current delegate estimate has Obama at 1,555.

That means he would need to win 77% of all the remaining pledged delegates to hit the magic number of 2,024 to secure the nomination. That is highly unlikely due to the proportional delegate allocation rules in the Democratic Party.

Clinton would need to win 94% of all the remaining pledged delegates to hit the magic number of 2,024. (ABC News currently has her at 1449.)

So, clearly they both are going to be relying on superdelegates to secure the nomination.

This exposes both the structural problem with the Democratic Party- allowing too many party bigwigs to decide nominations, and the issues the Democrats have with identity politics. Since you have two of the Democrats' favored victims classes- a woman and a black man- running for the nomination, the traditional Democratic politics of destruction are going to be used internally for the first time. This is why running on identity politics is a bad idea and why Republicans need to really emphasize that it is who you are, not what you are, that really should matter.

Ultimately, I believe that Barack Obama will be the nominee, unless the Clinton machine uses the superdelegates and the courts to overturn the primary voters' decisions. Since this is the Clintons we are discussing, that is a definite possibility- we already know that if the decision comes down to the convention, the Clintons will use all arguments necessary to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates, despite the Democratic Party's stated refusal. However, the Democratic race will be fun to watch- especially for Republicans who listened to pundits crown Hillary a year ago and tell us that the Republicans would have a bruising, lengthy primary. that the exact opposite has occurred despite the best efforts of the media should tell you all you need to know about the pundits' accuracy- and the preferences of the national media.