Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Media Names Party- for Republicans

Does the media treat Democrats and Republicans differently when stories of their various peccadillos reach the Press? Well, in actuality, the question is essentially a moot point. There are stories today on the NewsBusters front page testifying to said bias. However, in Yahoo! News' choice of front-page stories today, we can see yet another example of this bias.

It seems that Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska has been indicted on seven counts of making false statements. And where did Associated Press writer Lara Jakes Jordan place the senator's political affiliation? in the very first paragraph, of course. According to the story,
Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican senator and a figure in Alaska politics since before statehood, was indicted Tuesday on seven counts of failing to disclose thousands of dollars in services he received from a company that helped renovate his home.

Of course, this appears to be insufficient for Jordan. She goes on to tar Stevens' fellow Alaskan representative with the same brush, writing,
The investigation has upended Alaska state politics and cast scrutiny on Stevens — who is running for re-election this year — and on his congressional colleague, Rep. Don Young of Alaska, who is also under investigation.

Hmmm. When Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana was caught with bushels of money stuffed in a freezer, I do not recall Jordan or anyone else writing about the negative prospects for Jefferson's fellow congressmen- some of whom were also under investigation. And I certainly do not recall that the Associated Press was particularly interested in following lobbyist Tony Rezko's money trail when it appeared to be getting close to Obama.

I have no sympathy for Stevens. if he did what he is accused of, he deserves to pay the price. It is things like this that dampen American enthusiasm for politicians. However, I don't recall a similar hue and cry from the AP about serial defaulter Laura Richardson and her sweetheart deal, nor any interest in following the sweetheart deals for California Senator Dianne Feinstein's husband.

If only the Associated Press was as industrious in following up cases like this as they are when the target has an 'R' after his or her name. but that of course would require both objectivity and professionalism- something the AP has proven time and again that they sadly lack. Cross-posted on NewsBusters.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Return of Nuclear Power

Nuclear power has been one of the environmentalists' main enemies for as long as there has been a modern environmental movement. The infamous movie The China Syndrome by uber-activist Jane Fonda was a dramatization intended to sway the American people (and as much of the world as they could) into an hard opposition to anything nuclear. And it worked in the United States, where no new nuclear plant has been built in over thirty years.

But the same is not true in Europe. Because in western Europe, nuclear power has long been used to create energy and there has been not so much as a single mishap. But in the United States, the environmental activists have been able to use the courts and their ignorant friends in the media to shut down plant after plant, forcing us to rely ever more on imported oil. Europe long ago figured out that nuclear power was a help much more than a hindrance. Could that view finally be coming about in the United States as well?

In an article published in the Wall Street Journal online edition on July 21, William Tucker argues that the American public's attitudes toward nuclear power may be shifting, and that for nuclear power to succeed in the US as it has in Europe, such a shift is vital, since in this country, government does not invest in such things- they are all done by private development. Writes Tucker about the future of nuclear power,
All over the world, nuclear power is making a comeback. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has just commissioned eight new reactors, and says there's "no upper limit" to the number Britain will build in the future. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has challenged her country's program to phase out 17 nuclear reactors by 2020, saying it will be impossible to deal with climate change without them. China and India are building nuclear power plants; France and Russia, both of whom have embraced the technology, are fiercely competing to sell them the hardware.

And just last month John McCain called for the construction of 45 new reactors by 2030. Barack Obama is less enthusiastic about nuclear energy, but he seems to be moving toward tacit approval.

In the U.S. at present, 104 nuclear plants generate about 21% of our electric power. Last November, NRG Energy, of Princeton, N.J., became the first company to file for a license to build a new nuclear plant since the 1970s. Almost a dozen more applications have now also been filed.

But the United States has a unique difficulty in moving forward in the pursuit of nuclear power- the question of cost. As Tucker points out, most developed countries that use nuclear power- the French, the Brit8ish, the Japanese- all rely on investment and development from their respective governments. As a result, the environmentalists cannot stop them from pursuing as the government has a great deal more power to carry out its directives- and judges are not nearly as independent.

None of this is true in the United States. Government neither invests nor directs power projects, and the judiciary is frequently at odds both with the best interests of the nation and with the objectives of the elected government. Therefore most of the heavy lifting has to be carried out by corporate entities- and they are vulnerable both to legal challenges and local government obstacles. So if nuclear power is to succeed in this country, argues Tucker, then the people must be brought around to believe that nuclear power is not an evil, but rather a force for good. On the positive side, the current high price of oil, coupled with the fact that a great deal of it resides in the hands of declared enemies to the United States, has provided a boost for alternate energy sources. And there is no single source that can match the potential of nuclear energy.

But what about safety? Americans still remember the Three Mile Island incident, which although there were absolutely no casualties- no one was even injured or diagnosed with radiation poisoning- still has an effect on how Americans view nuclear power. This despite the fact that the US NAvy, which operates one of the most extensive collection of nuclear-powered facilities in the world has virtually spotless safety receord when comes to handling nuclear power. And no American nucelar pwoer plant has ever been built along the lines of the deadly Chernobyl plant in the former Soviet Union. Even at Three Mile Island, where the plant experienced a partial core meltdown, the entire damage was contained within the reactor, and no one was injured.

But reality has always had a hard time competing with the meme favored by the media of the time. And for a long time, the media was one of the biggest enemies of any new nuclear power plant. Recall how the media did their best to encourage the forces trying to shut down Diablo Canyon in California. However, as Tucker writes, this is finally beginning to change. In the past year, there were "almost a dozen" applications to build new nuclear plants filed in the United States.

I believe that nuclear power is the best solution for all of us. Most alternative power sources are too costly to be efficient and few of them are as reliable and robust as nuclear power plants. Wind is dependent on the atmospheric conditions, as is solar. And both can be easily disrupted and require enormous amounts of real estate. Nuclear on the other hand, currently generates roughly 75 percent of France's electricity, according to Tucker. He writes, "With a fully developed nuclear cycle, the French now store all the waste from 30 years of producing 75% of its electricity beneath the floor of one room at La Hague in Normandy." So much for the waste problem.

If nuclear power is indeed on the way back, we will finally have the trump card in our oil dependency problem. If we can generate most of our electricity from nuclear, we can put our public transport on electricity as they do in Japan and Europe and release ourselves from our need for foreign oil. And for us to be truly safe (and to devalue the Middle East once again into the backwater it richly deserves to be relegated) we desperately need to find an answer to our energy problem. Perhaps we may have finally found that answer- an answer that was before us the entire time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hillary Prepares for 2012

Hillary Clinton apparently is not ready to go quietly into the night. On the contrary, it appears that she is already thinking about 2012. According to a story in the New York Observer online edition, Clinton is asking donors to her 2008 Presidential run to allow her to roll their contributions over into her 2012 Senatorial election fund. According to the Observer,
Hillary Clinton's campaign is sending out letters to donors asking permission to roll a $2,300 contribution to Clinton's 2008 general election coffers to her 2012 senate election fund instead of offering a refund.

Pardon me for being slightly suspicious, but how many of us actually believe that Clinton is really saving up merely for her 2012 Senatorial election? I may be incorrect, but it is much more likely that Hillary is stockpiling for another run at the Presidency. If Obama wins, of course, she will not be able to run in 2012, but if John McCain should manage to win- not an impossibility, by any means- then Hillary will almost certainly run for the PResidency again in 2012. Of course, if Obama loses this time around, it is almost certain that he too will run again in 2012, and if both run again, they will in all probability be facing another bitter grudge match, as both are well-funded and extremely ambitious. So Hillary will need every dollar she can squeeze out of her donors, since she is likely to be the underdog in a rematch with Obama.

However, unfortunately for Hillary, not all of her donors are willing to allow her to hang on to their money until 2012. As the Observer reports of its anonymous source,
This donor, at least, had no intention of signing. "Of course I'm going to get my money back," the donor told me.

So it may be difficult for Hillary to hang on to her cash. And once she loses her war-chest, she will be even more an underdog. Her campaign this time around was not well-run, and she demonstrated many times the political weaknesses that I for one suspected might doom her. She is a very weak candidate, without much real experience (other than being married to a President) and a well-documented habit of mendacity. If Hillary does run again in 2012, she will face an uphill battle, as she iwll no longer be the Establishment candidate.

My own feeling is that Hillary's chances of becoming President probably are gone. 2008 was practically tailor-made for her, and all the signs seem to indicate that this is probably going to be a Democratic year, despite the Democratic Congress' bungling. However, she not even able to grasp the nomination from Barack Obama. And if Obama wins in 2008, she cannot run again until 2016, and she is no longer very young. And unlike Ronald Reagan and John McCain, Hillary has neither a executive experience nor a reputation for bipartisanship. But most of all, she lacks Reagan's communication skills. So her age will be a much bigger stumbling-block than it was for Reagan and remains for McCain. I guess the Clintons may indeed be pinning their hopes on Chelsea at this point

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

College Sports Corruption?

Jason Whitlock, of the Kansas City Star newspaper is one of the few sports journalists for whom I hold respect. Most so-called sports reporters are on the level of ESPN's appalling Stephen A. Smith- loud, obnoxious and with little actual understanding of that which they are bound to report on. Whitlock, however, is both independent and doesn't play the race card without reason. He is therefore always worth reading, whether one agrees with him or not. As an aside, he was one of the few sports journalists not to get caught up on the wrong side of the infamous Duke Rape Hoax.

He has a column today on the NCAA and college basketball and football student-athletes. The column was occasioned by a University of Arizona basketball recruit, one Brandon Jennings, choosing to play overseas as opposed to attempt to meet the UNiversity of Arizona's admission requirements. Whitlock argues that this should be an opportunity for the NCAA to overhaul it's rules and admit that many of these athletes are not students and never will be. He writes,
1. Acknowledge that college basketball and football players are entertainer-athletes, not student-athletes. Bring them on campus, pay them, free them of academic responsibility and let them entertain students, alums, boosters and fans while auditioning for a pro career.

2. Form an alliance with the NFL and NBA and invest in education/athletic academies for talented young basketball and football players (of all colors) beginning in eighth and ninth grade.

The NCAA pays its basketball and football players with a currency (education) many of them aren't prepared to spend or value. That has to change, and it's incumbent on the NCAA to be a big part of the change.

I had a discussion about this very point with a colleague who like me is a huge college sports fan. As I see it, there are two separate issues here- first is that not everyone is entitled or even needs a college education. If an athlete cannot meet the entrance standards for an educational institute, then he or she should definitely have the option of playing professionally, whether it be in Europe or in some minor league in the United States. Baseball players do precisely that all the time.

The second issue is the fact that many of these athletes are not prepared for the rigors of a college education. This is a failing of the schools that supposedly prepared them- the primary and secondary school systems, and that needs to be corrected as well. However, I have to disagree with Mr. Whitlock as far as having the NBA and the NFL create academies. They are in the business of presenting a professional product, not educating kids. However, if the universities went back to their core mission, then both the NFL and the NBA should in fact focus on minor leagues, as baseball has. The NBA does have the NBDL, and the NFL should create something similar for those who aren't ready for the prime-time.

As I see it, the universities should go back to the basics- being educators, not minor leagues for the professionals. If an athlete cannot meet the academic standards, then he or she should not gain admission. Period. Student-athletes should be precisely that- students first and athletes second. Athletes who cannot gain admission should be prepared to go overseas or play in the minor leagues to hone their skills. But the money involved in college basketball and football is so immense that schools seem to have forgotten their own basic mission while wallowing in the cash generated by these sports.

It is time to re-focus. Schools should be schools, not minor leagues for the NBA or NFL. While football contains a large number of athletes for whom it is not an end-all, basketball is much more problematic, especially as it has been taken over by the hip-hop generation that does not appeal as much to mainstream fans, and by definition, many of these guys are not scholars.

However, Mr. Whitlock is absolutely correct on at least one point- the current system is a disgrace and needs overhaul. The coaches, the administrators and above all the athletes are being forced to live a lie in most cases and it is time to clean up the system once and for all.

Is Wind Power the Answer?

Texas billionaire and oilman T. Boone Pickens thinks that answer is a resounding yes. On his site today, he writes an impassioned call for the United States to develop facilities to capture wind power across the United States. Regarding the potential of wind power, Pickens writes,
Studies from around the world show that the Great Plains states are home to the greatest wind energy potential in the world — by far.

The Department of Energy reports that 20% of America's electricity can come from wind. North Dakota alone has the potential to provide power for more than a quarter of the country.

And Pickens pulls no punches in describing the amount of money that importing foreign oil costs the United States every year. He writes,
As imports grow and world prices rise, the amount of money we send to foreign nations every year is soaring. At current oil prices, we will send $700 billion dollars out of the country this year alone — that's four times the annual cost of the Iraq war.

Projected over the next 10 years the cost will be $10 trillion — it will be the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.

In contrast, he concedes that creating the facilities to capture wind power would require a large amount of start-up capital, but he argues that the overall cost would be quite small when compared to the constant expenditures we require now for our energy supplies.

Mr. Pickens has some excellent points. However, I am not entirely sold on wind power as being The Answer for America's energy needs. While I certainly agree that wind power could help, I do not believe that it is reliable enough- I have been becalmed too many times at sea. However, there is no question that the United States needs to break its dependency on foreign oil- for us to be giving our sworn enemies millions of dollars is worse than insane- it's simply suicidal.

Personally, I believe that the only real long-term answer is nuclear power, coupled with a nation-wide network for electric cars. However, if wind power can assist in producing some of the power necessary, I am certainly not against it, as it is both cleaner and safer than nuclear plants. So Mr. Pickens' plan is something I would definitely support.

Unfortunately, the Democratic Party is in power, and their answer to the energy problem seems to be the same as it was during Jimmy Carter's Administration- drive smaller cars and wear more sweaters. And allow the government to tell us how and when we are allowed to use energy, of course. More government power is the Democrats' answer to everything- just one more reason not to vote for them, at least in my books.

UPDATE: Forgot to include the link to Mr. Pickens' plan. Fixed. In addition, as was pointed out by commentator Juan, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have adequately dealt with our energy issues. However, I believe that as the Democrats have been more recalcitrant in refusing to tap our own energy reserves and are currently in power, they are slightly more culpable, thus my specific reference to them in the post.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Congress Ratings Fall Even Lower

Proving once again that most Americans are sublimely indifferent to substance as opposed to style, a new Rasmussen poll shows that Congress' approval rating has fallen into single digits, for the first time in history. However, despite the fact that Democrats can blame only themselves for their abject failure to do anything that they promised when they took control in 2006, the poll also shows Democrats enjoying a substantial lead in the Generic Congressional Poll. So either most voters don't care that Democrats have proven to be even worse at keeping promises and actually governing responsibly than the republicans, or they aren't aware of just how badly Congress is performing. Since Congress' approval ratings consistently come in well below those of the President, it must be the former, although the media's relentless effort to cover up Democratic excesses and failures does not help in exposing just how badly they are doing.

As reported on Rasmussen's website, the new poll find that,
This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category.

In addition, the poll also found that most voters believe that Congressmen are out for Number One. According to the Rasmussen website,
Most voters (72%) think most members of Congress are more interested in furthering their own political careers. Just 14% believe members are genuinely interested in helping people.

Considering members like Louisiana's William Jefferson (he of the freezer filled with cash), and califronia's Laura Richardson (she of the multiple home defaults and expensive car leases), it is easy to agree with the voters. However, until the Press actually does its job in fairly reporting on the peccadillos of Democrats with the fervor it pursues members of the Republican Party, and until voters vote on the actual performance of the parties as opposed to the media's presentation of that performance, I doubt we will see any change.

But may God help the American people if the voters give the Democrats enough of a majority to actually carry out their wishes. I for one do not wish to live in a nanny state where the government has total control over the people's lives. But I fear that it iwll take another four years of Jimmy Carter-like disaster to make the American people realize just how badly Democrats govern. And who knows if we will even have an American nation left by that time, as the judges a Democratic President will appoint will undoubtedly overrule Heller, reinforce Boumediene, disarm our military and grant Sharia law, as is already happening in Britain.

It is no wonder that Osama bin Laden, Hamas and most other of our enemies are working so hard to elect Barack Obama. They know that he will hand victory to them without them needing to fire a shot.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Remembering Marco Polo (Bridge)

It is instructive that so close to the anniversary of American independence is another anniversary much more somber in nature. To be specific, today is the seventieth anniversary of the battle at Marco Polo bridge in Beijing. This incident was the final straw in the long history of Sino-Japanese irritants, and led to open warfare between the Empire of Japan and the forces of Revolutionary China (led by Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang Party, or KMT).
As a result of the battle, China and Japan were engaged in full-scale war, as opposed to the mostly diplomatic battles they had engaged in since the end of the previous war in 1931. This war continued until Japan surrendered to the United States and the remainder of the Allies in 1945.

One side effect of the war was to allow Mao Tse-tung's Communists to grow strong as the Nationalist Party (KMT) focused its energies on fighting the Japanese. The Chinese Communists and Chiang Kai-shek's KMT were deadly enemies, and in the years leading up to the battle at Marco Polo Bridge the KMT had forced the Communists to retreat in the famous Long March, greatly weakening them. Chiang intended to destroy the COmmunists before taking aim at the Japanese. However, this policy was not shared by all of his supporters. In fact, Chiang Kai-shek was actually kidnapped by Marshal Zhang Xueliang in order to force him to agree to put resistance to the Japanese as his first priority.

Chiang did agree to focus on defeating the Japanese, but at the cost of allowing the Communists (who did virtually nothing against the Japanese) to grow strong. In fact, they grew strong enough that at the end of World War II, they were quickly able to defeat the KMT and seize control of China, although it ought to be noted that they were aided by the corruption and elitism that was prevalent in the KMT as well. Had Chiang been willing to consider land reform, he might have managed to defeat the Communists despite their strength. So in one aspect, the battle at Marco Polo Bridge was an important step on the road to China's submission to the bloody hands of the Communists under Mao Tse-tung.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

Today is the anniversary of the fledgling United States' declaration of Independence from the imperial domination of England and the beginning of the Great Experiment- and experiment that has actually succeeded beyond anyone's wildest expectations. Despite the best efforts of the Marxists in Congress who call them selves the Democrat Party, and their miniions in the PRess and on the judicial bench, we are still a freer society than any other and God willing we will continue in that vein.

Today is a day to reflect on the sacrifices of those- especially soldiers and sailors- who gave their lives for this country, and to remember the countless heroes, such as John Paul Jones, Stephen Decatur, Francis Marion, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Douglas Macarthur, John McCain and David Petraeus who continue to guarantee that we are able to enjoy the liberties to which we have become accustomed.

Please remember to salute Old Glory today and while you are reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, think on what that Pledge has cost over the years. We fought the greatest military power in the world to gain our independence. We fought Muslim barbarians in the Barbary States to save our citizens from the Islamic slave trade. We fought our own brothers to eliminate slavery in this country. We fought a atrocities of Nazism and stamped out the racist designs of the Japanese Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, we contained and then brought down the Soviet empire in Russia. Today we face an old threat reborn in a new and savage guise, but if we stand together and remember that we are all Americans, we can persevere.

Posting will be light for the remainder of this week and weekend as I will be busy with music and family business. Have a very happy Independence Day and God bless the United States of America.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Is Fetching Coffee Sexist?

Apparently it is if your name is Tamara Klopfenstein. The afore-mentioned Ms. Klopfenstein actually brought a lawsuit complaining that being asked to bring coffee for her superiors was a sexist act.

According to the report on the Philadelphia Inquirer's website,
Nine minutes after receptionist Tamara Klopfenstein complained - for the second time - about getting her bosses coffee, she was fired.

"I don't expect to serve and wait on you by making and serving you coffee every day," Klopfenstein e-mailed to her boss at National Sales & Supply L.L.C., of Bensalem.

Manager Jason Shrager told her the issue wasn't "open for debate."

Naturally, Klopfenstein sued the company, where according the notes in reporter Jane Von Bergen's story, "she had been employed as a part-time receptionist and data entry clerk for six weeks." So let's recap:

Part-time receptionist and data entry clerk is requested to get coffee for her managers. She complains in an email not once but twice. After the second complaint, an email where she essentially told her managers that she considered bringing them coffee beneath her dignity (part-time receptionist, remember), she was fired- essentially on the spot.

Fortunately, there are sane judges even in Philadelphia. The presiding justice, one Berle Schiller, threw out her complaint.
"The act of getting coffee is not, by itself, a gender-specific act," Schiller wrote. The fact that a vice president wrote "looks nice, dresses well," on notes when she was hired also doesn't add up to discrimination, the judge wrote.

This cannot be more true. It is just one more sad result of a world whee people are convinced that they are too good for this or that task. Ms. Klopfenstein was a part-time receptionist and data entry clerk. This is not exactly a highly skilled position, and her tenure with the firm was a mere six weeks. Where exactly did she decide that it was acceptable to dictate to her superiors what tasks she would and would not perform for the company? I am entirely in agreement with the judge in this case- the only negative is that her lawyers have said they will appeal, and their chances of finding an agreeable judge who will decide that somehow this incredibly silly woman's 'rights' were violated are regrettably high considering this country's legal profession.

However, this is not the only issue. According to the blog Classical Values, Klopfenstein's attorneys are planning to make the argument that "some tasks are inhernetly more offensive to women". Classical Values very properly skewers THAT idea, writing,
To see this out, let's assume getting coffee is less offensive to men than women. Does that mean it should become "men's work," and that only men should be asked to fetch coffee, lest women be offended by being asked? Can anyone tell me how that wouldn't be sexist? If a man worked somewhere and could show that only men were tasked with getting coffee, couldn't he sue?

And why couldn't women also sue? If we adopt the plaintiff's position, and the company were to show more sensitivity by defering to women, what would stop a woman from turning around and claiming that the company was preventing her from doing what had become "men's work"?

Essentially we have here a very silly individual who somehow believes that she- a very unimportant and low-ranking cog in the firm- has the right to dictate to her superiors what she will and will not do. And when her superiors very correctly determine that this type of person is not an asset and terminate her employment, she runs off to court to try to somehow punish them for making that decision. I applaud Judge Schiller, but unfortunately, our court system tends to allow people like Klopfenstein multiple chances to win, no matter how bereft of logic and value their cases may be.

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.