Friday, June 30, 2006

Canada: Big Flap Over Supporting Troops

From The Calgary Sun, a flap in a Canadian community:
VICTORIA — The annual Canada Day parade in the seaside community of Parksville, B.C., will have one less float Saturday because a local group opposes what it calls the American-dominated military theme of this year’s parade.

The decision by the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce, to sell T-shirts with the message Support Our Troops has started an ideological war of words in this normally tranquil tourism and retirement community about 150 km northeast of Victoria.

The decision to sell T-shirts, for $10 each, was made to raise money to offset parade costs and send a message to Canadians serving in the military that people in Parksville were thinking about them on Canada Day, chamber president Cheryl Dill said yesterday.

But the Oceanside Coalition for Strong Communities says the T-shirts are an open endorsement of American military policy, which many Canadians do not support even though Canadian troops are stationed in Afghanistan.

The coalition had no choice but to pull its float — a puppet show popular with children — in protest from the Parksville parade, spokesman Rick Sullivan said.

“That phrase has become associated with the critical, unthinking, blind support of the American position in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said.

Dill said the chamber of commerce did not intend to ignite a political battle when it decided to sell the shirts on Canada Day.
We are glad that the anti-American types left in a snit, rather than being pandered to by the rest of the residents of this little community.

U.S. liberals claim that they support the troops. In reality, many think pretty much like these leftist Canadians. Not liking the war, they really want want our troops to lose.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Our Soldiers’ Extra Burden

This feature may not be reproduced or distributed electronically, in print or otherwise without the written permission of uclick and Universal Press Syndicate

Britney Spears on the Grassy Knoll?

From Moonbat Central, otherwise known as the Democratic Underground, a whole thread asserting that the Bush family is responsible for essentially all the evil things that have happened anywhere in the world during the last half-century (and even before).

It ought to be in a medical journal, under the heading “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”

Don’t miss the photo that purports to show George Herbert Walker Bush standing in front of the Texas School Book Depository on the day of the Kennedy assassination!

One non-Moonbat dropped in to have a little fun. He suggested:
When it comes to Kennedy . . . [t]here could be records out there placing Britney Spears on the grassy knoll.
Nobody at the Democratic Underground detected any levity in the suggestion.

Instead, one of the Moonbats gave this earnest reply:
Help me understand more about how Britney Spears connects to the murder of the President? I do know she’s a supporter of George W Bush, so maybe you can go from there.
Yep. Being a supporter of Bush is ample evidence to make one a suspect in the Kennedy assassination!

Hat Tip: Brandon Henak

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Associated Press Mangles “Global Warming” Issue

If you believe Associated Press, you would believe that Al Gore’s new movie puffing “global warming” (“An Inconvenient Truth”) has been vetted by scientists and judged to be sound science.

An article datelined today says:
Gore film impresses climate scientists
THEY SAY HE MOSTLY GOT THE SCIENCE RIGHT
Unfortunately, the article doesn’t stand up under critical analysis.

According to the majority staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works:
The June 27, 2006 Associated Press (AP) article titled “Scientists OK Gore’s Movie for Accuracy” by Seth Borenstein raises some serious questions about AP’s bias and methodology.

AP chose to ignore the scores of scientists who have harshly criticized the science presented in former Vice President Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth.”

In the interest of full disclosure, the AP should release the names of the “more than 100 top climate researchers” they attempted to contact to review “An Inconvenient Truth.” AP should also name all 19 scientists who gave Gore “five stars for accuracy.” AP claims 19 scientists viewed Gore’s movie, but it only quotes five of them in its article. AP should also release the names of the so-called scientific “skeptics” they claim to have contacted.

The AP article quotes Robert Correll, the chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment group. It appears from the article that Correll has a personal relationship with Gore, having viewed the film at a private screening at the invitation of the former Vice President. In addition, Correll’s reported links as an “affiliate” of a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm that provides “expert testimony” in trials and his reported sponsorship by the left-leaning Packard Foundation, were not disclosed by AP. See http://www.junkscience.com/feb06.htm

The AP also chose to ignore Gore’s reliance on the now-discredited “hockey stick” by Dr. Michael Mann, which claims that temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere remained relatively stable over 900 years, then spiked upward in the 20th century, and that the 1990’s were the warmest decade in at least 1000 years. Last week’s National Academy of Sciences report dispelled Mann’s often cited claims by reaffirming the existence of both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. See Senator Inhofe’s statement on the broken “Hockey Stick.” (http://epw.senate.gov/pressitem.cfm?party=rep&id=257697)

Gore’s claim that global warming is causing the snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro to disappear has also been debunked by scientific reports. For example, a 2004 study in the journal Nature makes clear that Kilimanjaro is experiencing less snowfall because there’s less moisture in the air due to deforestation around Kilimanjaro.
The Committee goes on to quote numerous scientific critics of the Gore movie.

The AP gives the impression that there is a robust scientific consensus in favor of “global warming,” and a consensus that the phenomenon is caused by human activity.

That’s poor journalism. But it is what we would expect of advocates posing as journalists.

Wanting Peace in Our Time

Dixie Chicks: Strong Gay & Lesbian Fan Base

From The Advocate, gay and lesbian journal, an interview with the Dixie Chicks.
You’re really breaking the genre mold for country music. “Not Ready to Make Nice” could be a gay anthem.

Robison: Yeah, I think there’s a certain defiance to our music. These days — correct me if I’m wrong — you almost have to be defiant in the gay and lesbian community just to stand your ground.

I think you’ve gotten a whole new crowd of gay fans because you were so outspoken.

Maines: We’ve wiped the slate clean as to whom we think our fans are, but we do think we have more liberals and more gay men behind us. We have a gay hairdresser and gay makeup artist who are with us every single day, so they fill us in.

You must see a lot of lesbians at your shows.

Robison: They’re usually on Martie’s side. [Laughs] We always tease her that she gets all the lesbians.
Yep, that’s why everybody needs a gay hairdresser and gay makeup artist!

There Is No “Consensus” on Global Warming

The following is from an essay by Richard S. Lindzen in the Wall Street Journal. Lindzen is Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT. The link is here, but a subscription is required.
According to Al Gore’s new film “An Inconvenient Truth,” we’re in for “a planetary emergency”: melting ice sheets, huge increases in sea levels, more and stronger hurricanes and invasions of tropical disease, among other cataclysms — unless we change the way we live now.

[. . .]

To believe it requires that one ignore the truly inconvenient facts. To take the issue of rising sea levels, these include: that the Arctic was as warm or warmer in 1940; that icebergs have been known since time immemorial; that the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average. A likely result of all this is increased pressure pushing ice off the coastal perimeter of that country, which is depicted so ominously in Mr. Gore’s movie. In the absence of factual context, these images are perhaps dire or alarming.

They are less so otherwise. Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the early 19th century, and were advancing for several centuries before that. Since about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are now advancing again. And, frankly, we don’t know why.

The other elements of the global-warming scare scenario are predicated on similar oversights. Malaria, claimed as a byproduct of warming, was once common in Michigan and Siberia and remains common in Siberia — mosquitoes don’t require tropical warmth. Hurricanes, too, vary on multidecadal time scales; sea-surface temperature is likely to be an important factor. This temperature, itself, varies on multidecadal time scales. However, questions concerning the origin of the relevant sea-surface temperatures and the nature of trends in hurricane intensity are being hotly argued within the profession.

Even among those arguing, there is general agreement that we can’t attribute any particular hurricane to global warming. To be sure, there is one exception, Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., who argues that it must be global warming because he can’t think of anything else. While arguments like these, based on lassitude, are becoming rather common in climate assessments, such claims, given the primitive state of weather and climate science, are hardly compelling.

A general characteristic of Mr. Gore’s approach is to assiduously ignore the fact that the earth and its climate are dynamic; they are always changing even without any external forcing. To treat all change as something to fear is bad enough; to do so in order to exploit that fear is much worse. Regardless, these items are clearly not issues over which debate is ended — at least not in terms of the actual science.

Most of the climate community has agreed since 1988 that global mean temperatures have increased on the order of one degree Fahrenheit over the past century, having risen significantly from about 1919 to 1940, decreased between 1940 and the early ‘70s, increased again until the ‘90s, and remaining essentially flat since 1998.

There is also little disagreement that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have risen from about 280 ppmv (parts per million by volume) in the 19th century to about 387 ppmv today. Finally, there has been no question whatsoever that carbon dioxide is an infrared absorber (i.e., a greenhouse gas — albeit a minor one), and its increase should theoretically contribute to warming. Indeed, if all else were kept equal, the increase in carbon dioxide should have led to somewhat more warming than has been observed, assuming that the small observed increase was in fact due to increasing carbon dioxide rather than a natural fluctuation in the climate system. Although no cause for alarm rests on this issue, there has been an intense effort to claim that the theoretically expected contribution from additional carbon dioxide has actually been detected.

Given that we do not understand the natural internal variability of climate change, this task is currently impossible. Nevertheless there has been a persistent effort to suggest otherwise, and with surprising impact. Thus, although the conflicted state of the affair was accurately presented in the 1996 text of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the infamous “summary for policy makers” reported ambiguously that “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.” This sufficed as the smoking gun for Kyoto.

The next IPCC report again described the problems surrounding what has become known as the attribution issue: that is, to explain what mechanisms are responsible for observed changes in climate. Some deployed the lassitude argument — e.g., we can’t think of an alternative — to support human attribution. But the “summary for policy makers” claimed in a manner largely unrelated to the actual text of the report that “In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.”

In a similar vein, the National Academy of Sciences issued a brief (15-page) report responding to questions from the White House. It again enumerated the difficulties with attribution, but again the report was preceded by a front end that ambiguously claimed that “The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability.” This was sufficient for CNN’s Michelle Mitchell to presciently declare that the report represented a “unanimous decision that global warming is real, is getting worse and is due to man. There is no wiggle room.” Well, no.

[. . .]

So what, then, is one to make of this alleged debate? I would suggest at least three points.

First, nonscientists generally do not want to bother with understanding the science. Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates and politicians of any need to do so. Such claims also serve to intimidate the public and even scientists — especially those outside the area of climate dynamics. Secondly, given that the question of human attribution largely cannot be resolved, its use in promoting visions of disaster constitutes nothing so much as a bait-and-switch scam. That is an inauspicious beginning to what Mr. Gore claims is not a political issue but a “moral” crusade.

Lastly, there is a clear attempt to establish truth not by scientific methods but by perpetual repetition. An earlier attempt at this was accompanied by tragedy. Perhaps Marx was right. This time around we may have farce — if we’re lucky.
Lindzen goes into more detail in his Congressional testimony.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Small Business: Surviving Wal-Mart

One of the standard raps against Wal-Mart and other big box stores is that they drive mom and pop stores out of business.

In a nation where the mythology of the mom and pop store is almost as strong as the mythology of the family farm, this is a potent line of attack.

But the claim is at best too simple, and at worst downright wrong.

From a recent article in the Detroit News.
Conventional wisdom says that once mega-retailers such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Starbucks and other mega-brand juggernauts roll into town, mom-and-pop stores on Main Street are bound to get crushed.

That’s news to Trish Wolfbauer.

The 26-year-old entrepreneur says business at her Roseville coffee shop has never been better since java giant Starbucks came to town. The fact that two of them opened within miles of her Trixi’s Coffee shop only helped get Macomb County residents hooked on gourmet lattes, espressos and cappuccinos.

“Now that Starbucks is around, more people are willing to pay $4 for a cup of coffee,” Wolfbauer said.

Independent specialty stores, boutiques and cafes are surviving — and even thriving — in the shadow of the retail giants through a mix of personal service, specialized skills and unique products. They fend off the mega-stores by catering to a specific clientele or carving out a niche that’s small enough to keep the big retailers out.

A 2005 survey of small-business owners found that 52 percent of those already in business changed their tactics and either retained their market share or actually increased business when a Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl’s or other “big box” retailer opened nearby, according to DollarDays International Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz., an Internet-based wholesaler to small businesses.

“If a store has a niche that means they are highly specialized, and the big guys can’t compete,” said Bruce Wood, a retail analyst with Farmington Hills-based Kenneth J. Dalto and Associates.

One tactic small operators can take is to avoid competing with the powerhouses altogether and focus instead on offering service and merchandise that the big businesses can’t. In some cases, a small business can ride the big stores’ coattails, such as servicing items sold by the big-box stores.

“You can go to Wal-Mart and get a clock and it does the same thing, but they can’t do what we do,” explained Mai Pin, whose family runs the 30-year-old Roseville Clock Shop. The store — within a mile of a Wal-Mart — sells clocks ranging from $20 to $2,000, but 80 percent of its business is repairing and servicing broken clocks.

The mass-merchandising approach of the mega-retailers also creates opportunity for small stores, noted Charlie Owens, Michigan director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

“The weakness of big boxes is that they carry standard products,” Owens said. “Nothing is specialized.”

And that simply won’t do for the Rev. Dr. Althea Brown.

Brown hates showing up at an event in the same clothes someone else is wearing, so the 52-year-old Farmington Hills resident bypasses Neiman Marcus, Macy’s and other major department stores for Tipper’s, a small, independently owned women’s clothing boutique in Southfield that sells upscale new and resale fashions such as Armani, St. John, Dana Bachman and Escada.

That kind of personal service and relationship-building neutralizes the major weapon big retailers wield against small stores — price.

If Brown has to pay a little bit more, she said she’d do it if she’s wearing something unique. “It’s worth a few extra dollars if I don’t see someone else wearing my outfit,” Brown said. “If I like it, cost doesn’t matter.”
It’s true, of course, that mom and pop businesses who offer the same products as the big box stores and charge more are going to get hurt, and badly.

But it’s a poor small business that can’t find a niche to fill or a business plan — stressing service or personal attention or especially knowledgeable salespeople — that will allow it to survive and prosper.

Another dimension of this issue is addressed in an article in the New York Times.
. . . for Sparky Electronics, a family-owned store in California that sells hard-to-find watch batteries and record-player needles, Wal-Mart is more ally than enemy, more lifeline than threat.

The 43-year-old store, which has a loyal customer base of handymen and contractors, wanted a Web site to reach consumers beyond its home in Fresno. But the big technology companies wanted up to $1,000 for a simple site, far more than the owner, Cheryl Cook, was willing to pay.

Then there was Wal-Mart. For $100, the retailer helped create sparkyelectronics.com, complete with the icon that sits above its store, an oversize electrified cartoon character. “The nice thing was that it did not cost us an arm and a leg,” Ms. Cook said.

For thousands of independently owned convenience stores, restaurants and hair salons, the nation’s largest — and most feared — retailer also happens to be a business partner. Through its Sam’s Club division, a chain of 570 club stores, Wal-Mart helps them process credit-card transactions, build Web sites, pay employees and take out loans, all at bargain prices.

In that sense, Sam’s Club is an oasis within the harsh climate of Wal-Mart. At Sam’s, the very qualities that make Wal-Mart such a formidable competitor — its size and hard-nosed negotiating tactics with suppliers — have been unleashed on behalf of small businesses.

At Wal-Mart’s request, for example, the health insurance company Extend Benefits Group waived a $500 fee for Sam’s Club members who signed up for its plans. And the financial services company First Data, which processes credit-card payments, set aside 50 executives to work with Sam’s members.

It is a relationship that the company has invested heavily in. Sam’s Club has exclusive hours for small businesses (7 a.m. to 10 a.m., five days a week), a designated online ordering system for small businesses (order by 5 p.m., pick up anytime the next day) and a team of sales representatives who even make house calls to small businesses.

Sam’s Club is not the only warehouse club store to pursue small businesses — Costco offers services like health care and Web site development, too — but Sam’s is the first to put those customers at the center of its business plan and marketing strategy. Its slogan: “In business for small business.”

Certainly, it is in business to make money. And, as it turns out, small-business owners are ideal shoppers. They consume more merchandise and earn more money than the average consumer. The average household income of a Sam’s Club member is $72,000, says Scarborough Research, compared with about $45,000 for a Wal-Mart shopper.

Sam’s Club, started by Sam Walton, the Wal-Mart founder, in 1983 (the year Costco opened), relies on a simple model: buy and sell products in bulk, charge little more than the original cost and earn profits from annual membership fees. Today, the fees range from $35 to $100 for Sam’s 47 million members, yielding nearly $2 billion.

Sam’s Club’s pile-it-high, sell-it-cheap strategy, while attracting a cross section of consumers, is particularly appealing to small businesses, which can buy a package of, say, 50 bags of Frito-Lay potato chips at 19 cents apiece, resell each for 50 cents and pocket $15.50.

Most businesses that use Sam’s Club depend on it for routine purchases — cleaning supplies, hamburger patties, file folders, ink cartridges. Increasingly, however, they rely on Sam’s Club for basic services that the retailer gets through a growing network of outside companies.

Sam’s Club’s involvement in these services is limited. It negotiates the prices, but companies like Extend Benefits administer them, with Sam’s Club closely monitoring customer service. Sam’s Club generally derives little or no direct profit from its role.

Rather, services like credit-card processing and health insurance generate good will for Sam’s, and create an incentive to renew an annual membership.

Internal research shows that services increase loyalty to the retailer because members cannot secure the same discounts on their own.

The owners of K.C.’s Country Store, in Nacogdoches, Tex., needed to process credit-card and debit-card payments in their two-month-old store. After researching five competing services, they chose First Data, another Sam’s partner, because it charged the lowest rates.

K.C’s., a rural retailer that sells hot dogs, cigarettes and farm feed, is the kind of business that Wal-Mart has competed with — and mostly trounced — for 40 years. “It’s pretty ironic,” said the store’s owner, Chairity Meagley, who is 29. “But Wal-Mart is helping us.”
The issue here is what economists call “transactions costs.”

A small business simply can’t have a sophisticated purchasing department. Neither can it have a specialized Human Resources department to handle things like health insurance.

So the proprietors have to become shoppers, and if they can buy cheaply, they may survive and prosper.

Of course, people who don’t like economic change won’t like Wal-Mart or other big box stores. They don’t like globalization. They are perfectly happy with the status quo, usually because they are well ensconced in good-paying secure jobs and have no urge to do anything entrepreneurial.

They are the last people who should be allowed to dictate economic policy, because they will promote their own symbolic and ideological interests at the expense of the rest of society.

Portrait of the Religious Left

From the liberal online journal Slate, an article about how liberals are hoping for a left-leaning religious movement to counter the Religious Right.

One of the leaders of the would-be movement is a fellow named Michael Lerner, and the article gives a description of a gathering that he hosted.
Last month, Lerner hosted a four-day conference to kick off his aggressively eclectic new interfaith group, the Network of Spiritual Progressives. . . .

Lerner believes in a cosmically big tent. His target is liberal people of faith who feel alienated by the narrow politics of the religious right, and the 26 percent of Americans who self-identify—according to a recent Newsweek/Beliefnet poll—as “spiritual but not religious.”

There was a strong Christian presence among the 1,200 attendees at the NSP conference, but it leaned heavily toward liberal denominations. Quakers and Unitarians outnumbered Evangelicals and Catholics. They were joined by scores of liberal Jews, fewer Muslims, and a sprinkling of Buddhists, Sufis, Baha’i, Wiccans, Native American shamans, and various metrospiritual seekers. Even secular humanists were welcomed.

Together the attendees all prayed in concentric circles, sang John Lennon’s “Imagine” (with the line “and no religion too” tastefully amended), and meditated while eating vegan boxed lunches. At times they seemed like a flock of black sheep. My breakout group of eight—led by a stunning Jewfi woman (Jew + Sufi = Jewfi) in ventilated Crocs sandals—included Unitarian and United Church of Christ pastors, a retired scientist looking to marry faith and reason, and a gay former Christian fundamentalist turned theatrical performance activist. Everyone was highly motivated, but I couldn’t help wondering: How big can such a constituency be?
Good question. The answer is: in spite of the spiritual rhetoric, this is fundamentally a secular group. The inclusion of secular humanists is the giveaway. Whatever the good and bad points about secular humanists, one thing is clear. They are secular.

Who Loves the Mainstream Media?

Click on image to enlarge

Quantifying Bias: MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann

A nice little piece of quantitative research from the Media Research Center:

. . . a tabulation of the people attacked by Olbermann in his “Worst” segments. In these segments, he attacks people he really doesn’t like.

While most of his targets are apolitical, when he picks a political target he almost invariably picks a conservative one.

Between June 30, 2005, when the “award” debuted, to this past Friday, June 23, Olberman designated conservatives as “Worst” 174 times, and liberals only 23 times.

Of course, Olbermann has fewer than one fifth of the viewers of Bill O’Reilly, so his biases probably don’t matter very much.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Marquette Faculty: Rate the University Administration

An e-mail to faculty from the Marquette Public Relations people:
Marquette has been nominated for The Business Journal’s “Great Places to Work” feature. Now the university needs you to complete a simple, anonymous, 38-item online questionnaire. Go online or paste http://www.qmrinc.com/gptwmil into your browser and enter the code [redacted]. The survey is being conducted by a private firm on behalf of The Business Journal.

Surveys must be submitted by Wednesday, June 28. It should take no more than 10 minutes to complete the survey, and there is an opportunity to add your comments about why Marquette is a great place to work.
(We have redacted the code, since we don’t want to give out information that might allow people who aren’t supposed to take the survey to do so. Faculty can either dig it out of their old e-mail, or ask fellow faculty members or administrators for the code.)

People who have been reading this blog won’t be surprised to learn that we expressed a lot of confidence in our “workgroup” (the Political Science Department), and very little in the University administration.

Your milage may vary, of course, but the survey is worth taking.

Pouring Cold Water on Global Warming

The mainstream media treats global warming as a fact, and attributes it to human activity.

Indeed, the media have a record of hyping the most extreme and unlikely doomsday scenarios.

But the evidence is very different from what the mainstream media and Al Gore would have you believe.

Quitting Time for the Democrats (Isn’t it Always?)

Eric Allie, Politicalcartoons.com

Sunday, June 25, 2006

An Interesting Puzzle

From Sykes Writes:

. . . try this, and see whether you can figure out what is going on.

The answer, courtesy of our genius son, is below in white type. If you swipe the cursor over it, it should change color and you should be able to see the answer.

Note that each time, every number that is a multiple of 9 is the same symbol. And your final number has to be a multiple of 9.

Ethical Problems in the Left Wing Blogosphere

Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, proprietor of the Daily Kos liberal blog has been getting some flack lately.

And well deserved flack, it seems.

To begin with one Jerome Armstrong, an associate of his, has been discovered to have been charged by the SEC with promoting the stock of BluePoint Linux Software Corporation on his financial Internet site.
On March 6, 2000 and after, Jerome Armstrong (“Armstrong”) promoted BluePoint on the Raging Bull internet site, which carried hundreds of posts about BluePoint. Armstrong received undisclosed compensation from Markow and Goelo in return for his posts.
Promoting a stock in which you have a financial interest, without disclosing that interest, isn’t just poor journalism. It’s against Federal securities laws.

Armstrong ran the celebrated 2004 Internet fundraising effort for Howard Dean and wrote a book on “people-powered politics.”

He now runs the MyDD.com liberal internet site, and is in charge of Internet strategy for Mark Warner, 2008 presidential hopeful.

According to the New York Post:
“This was a long time ago and I settled the case without admitting or denying guilt, and I paid no fine,” said Armstrong, who refused to comment further.

Armstrong signed off on a settlement of the charges on Dec. 16, 2003, barring him from touting securities. In addition, Armstrong agreed never to deny any of the SEC charges.
A somewhat embarrassing side issue is the fact that Armstrong is an astrologer.

Which brings us back to Zuniga (“Kos”).

He sent out an e-mail to sympathetic (leftist) bloggers, suggesting how to handle the story.
And Jerome’s case, if it could be aired out, is a non-story (he was a poor grad student at the time so he settled because he had no money). Jerome can’t talk about it now since the case is not fully closed. But once it is, he’ll go on the offensive. That should be a couple of months off.

This story will percolate in wingnut circles until then, but I haven’t gotten a single serious media call about it yet. Not one. So far, this story isn’t making the jump to the traditional media, and we shouldn’t do anything to help make that happen.

My request to you guys is that you ignore this for now. It would make my life easier if we can confine the story. Then, once Jerome can speak and defend himself, then I’ll go on the offensive (which is when I would file any lawsuits) and anyone can pile on. If any of us blog on this right now, we fuel the story. Let’s starve it of oxygen. And without the “he said, she said” element to the story, you know political journalists are paralyzed into inaction.

Thanks, markos
Translation: cover-up.

In fact, the strategy wasn’t successful, since New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote a column about this today. Brooks pointed out that Kos is hostile to all but the most left-wing Democrats. Hillary is way to moderate for him.
But the centrist Democrat Mark Warner has also hired [Zuniga’s co-author and one-time business partner Jerome] Armstrong as a consultant, and the Kingpin has graciously exempted Warner from the seventh circle of Kos hell. Warner is frequently celebrated on Daily Kos as something akin to the second coming of F.D.R.
So it seems that if you hire Kos’ buddy, you get favorable treatment on his blog.

Leftist bloggers who prate about a “culture of corruption” in Washington might look a bit closer to home.

All this comes on the heels of the news that the conviction of leftist sugar-daddy George Soros for insider trading has been upheld.

The people who have been throwing all the stones now look pretty naked in their glass houses.

Who Knows? Might Work

Friday, June 23, 2006

Michelle Malkin on Dixie Chicks

From Vent, blogger Michelle Malkin on the recent history of the Dixie Chicks, the singing group that has become outcast in country music circles for (first) attacking President Bush in London, and (worse) bad-mouthing country music fans.

Since Malkin is a lot better looking than any of the Chicks, this is a good way to get briefed on the entire brouhaha.

Marquette’s Dan Maguire: Gloating Over 9/11 Attacks, Blaming America

Very shortly after the 9/11 attacks on the United States, Marquette Theology Professor Daniel Maguire published a reaction in a little-known journal called Cross Currents.

It has been little noticed, but we think it deserves attention, given the light it sheds on the thinking of the pro-abortion liberal theologian.

Maguire begins by recording his movements on that morning, and his joy at finding out that America had lost its “superpower” status.
Cell phones and television at the Columbus airport told us the news, that our superpower status was a myth. In a superpower, the president would not have to hide out in Louisiana and Nebraska because of “credible evidence” that he could not return to the Capital; the congress would not be running from the Capitol Building; schools and businesses throughout a superpower could not be forced shut; I would not suddenly be looking up into a sky where no airplane would dare fly. These were the facts of this new world order. The Defense Department could not defend us — or its main temple, the Pentagon — from a hatred and a mode of power that we had never known before.
Maguire then rhetorically asks: “Why are they killing themselves and killing all those people?” His answer, of course, is that it’s America’s fault.
The government’s answer was that we are good and love freedom and these people are bad and hate it. That vapid answer came from an arrogant national culture that has lost its talent for healthy guilt. The hatred that could so easily paralyze our nation has a history, and as Teilhard de Chardin said, “nothing is intelligible outside of its history.”

Why do the deprived of the world hate us so?

To give an honest answer to the little girl’s question, to start some meaningful reflection and move out of the morass of American jingoism, I look to some thoughtful witnesses and diagnosticians of humankind.
Maguire then quotes an essay he wrote in 1993 as follows:
Can we sit now in our First World comfort at a table with a view of the golf course, and ignore starvation in the Third World and joblessness and homelessness in our cities? The prophets of Israel would answer “no.” In Jeremiah’s words, there is no hiding from the effects of guilt and morally malignant neglect: “Do you think that you can be exempt? No, you cannot be exempt” (Jer. 25). Injustice will come home to roost, whether in wars of redistribution (the most likely military threat of the future), or in crime and terrorism, or in far-reaching economic shockwaves. The planet will not forever endure our insults. If the prophets’ law is correct — and the facts of history endorse it — we will not be exempt.
Clearly, Maguire thinks that the West, and particularly America, is responsible for all the evil in the world.

It could not be that Third-World countries have backward societies that have never advanced to capitalism. It could not be that they have corrupt governments. It must be that we oppressed them.

Maguire continues with the hate-America rhetoric, spitting out the following choice nuggets.
  • The attackers pinpointed the reasons for their outrage. They struck at what they saw as the twin towers of our indifference and at our haughty military heart.

  • . . . many Muslims see us as incapable of an even-handed policy in the Middle East.

  • The Muslim world has a nation-transcending unity that we little understand. The UMMAH, the community of believing Muslims, melts borders between races and nations. That is why so many African Americans were drawn to Islam. All Muslims feel the pain of the reported half million innocent children dead in Iraq due to our sanctions.

  • Our hubris shines through our imperfectly disguised attitudes toward Islam, attitudes that befoul our policies in the Middle East.

  • Tightening security at the airports as we should have done years ago is as late as it is inadequate. (Biological, chemical, and small atomic weapons are probably already in preparation.) All these are efforts to plug the faucet. What is needed is to turn off the faucet. The faucet is perceived injustice in the Middle East, the need for separate states for Israel and for the Palestinians. The faucet is the disastrous maldistribution of wealth in the world and the proliferation of starvation.

  • We can pretend that we are purely innocent and that their hatred of us is “unfathomable.” But the fact remains that the solution to the problems of poor, enslaved, or occupied people is not nuclear physics. All that is needed is the moral and political will.
So Maguire has nothing to suggest but to stop supporting Israel — he could never admit that many Muslims have an irrational hatred of the Jewish state — and have huge new taxes in order to send more money to poor countries.

Which means send it to corrupt governments that have already squandered trillions in foreign aid.

Of course, the 9/11 attackers were not the wretched poor of the Third-World. They were from affluent backgrounds, mostly in Saudi Arabia. It was not poverty that motivated them, but a fundamentalist reading of Islam.

But Maguire has to think as he does, because to think differently would require him to consider the defects of Third-World societies, economies and governments.

It would deprive him of the thrill of self-righteous feelings of moral superiority.

Which is what this sort of politically correct rhetoric is all about. Actually helping poor people requires a bit more intellectual effort.

Immigrant National Anthem

A rather sharply pointed commentary on the whole illegal immigration debate:

From the American Comedy Network, the Immigrant National Anthem.

It starts out “Jose can you mow, all the grass on my lawn.”

Labels:

Democrats: Time to Throw in the Towel

Eric Allie, Politicalcartoons.com

They Really Like Dwyane Wade in Miami

And we do at Marquette too.

Just how much?

Check out Dave Barry’s blog.

And somebody tell Dan Brown about this.

Another High School Student Punished for Free Speech

An of course, punished because the speech was politically incorrect, as the following story in the Los Angeles Times makes clear.
When a school assembly in Mira Loma turned into a virtual rally supporting illegal immigrants, a frustrated Joshua Denhalter asked permission to hold his own demonstration.

The Jurupa Valley High School senior carefully typed up an agenda with speakers and topics to be covered and gave it to school officials. They denied his request, citing fears that a protest could lead to violence.

Annoyed yet undeterred, 18-year-old Denhalter tried to organize an off-campus rally in March but was suspended for three days for handing out fliers about it on school property. He was also told he couldn’t wear a T-shirt with anti-illegal immigrant slogan emblazoned on the front.

Denhalter, of Mira Loma, responded last week with a $25,000 lawsuit against the Jurupa Unified School District, saying his free speech rights had been violated and his reputation damaged. He wants an apology, the suspension erased from his record and an acknowledgment that the school was wrong.

“They pretty much silenced me; they put me in a box,” he said. “They did it because they feared what the other side might do. Because of that, my rights were curtailed.”

Denhalter is scheduled to appear in Riverside County Superior Court today to ask a judge for a restraining order against his school that would require it to let him hold his rally and wear his T-shirt. The school year ends next week.

The school district denied the allegations in a prepared statement, saying a forum was arranged on campus to give all students the right to express their views on the immigration debate.

It noted that students didn’t have an unfettered right to free speech “when such speech incites students to break rules or substantially disrupt school operations.”

Richard Ackerman, Denhalter’s attorney, said the school muzzled Denhalter out of fear that he would be controversial. At the same time, he said, they allowed MEChA, a Latino student club, to organize the school rally supporting the rights of illegal immigrants.

“The only reason they gave for what they did was that his actions would be disruptive,” Ackerman said. “It’s a discussion of a legitimate political issue. In my opinion, they have an agenda besides keeping the peace. It’s political correctness run amok. The government should not be deciding what is controversial.”
As it usually the case, speech is considered “disruptive” if it comes from conservatives, but not if it comes from the left.

This was the case of a student in California who wore an anti-homosexuality t-shirt in the wake of a “Day of Silence” during which the school, in effect, endorsed the gay political agenda.

And there was a recent similar case in North Carolina.

The implication is that politically correct victim groups are allowed to turn violent if they hear or see something that they disagree with, but politically incorrect groups (Christians, whites, Republicans) are expected to just accept opinions contrary to theirs.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Not Up To Idol Status

Episcopal Church Won’t Affirm Jesus Christ

From Shark and Shepherd, the fact that the Episcopal Church, at its General Convention, refused to approve a resolution saying that Jesus Christ is the key to salvation.

Indeed, liberals at the meeting prevented it from even being voted on. The claim was that it would be “controversial.”
The General Convention of the Episcopal Church decided this past week not even to vote on a resolution saying Jesus Christ was the “only name by which any person may be saved,” but heard the newly elected presiding bishop of the church — the first woman in that role — give a sermon using the expression “Mother Jesus.”

The canon theologian for the Diocese of North Carolina, the Rev. Eugene McDowell, saw evil residing in the resolution. “This type of language was used in 1920s and 1930s to alienate the type of people who were executed,” he was quoted as saying. “It was called the Holocaust.”
That’s right.

This is the sort of fellow who invokes the Nazis anytime he finds people disagreeing with him.

The highly controversial resolution says:
. . . the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church declares its unchanging commitment to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the only name by which any person may be saved . . . and be it further

Resolved, That we acknowledge the solemn responsibility placed upon us to share Christ with all persons when we hear His words, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.”
The “Mother Jesus” business is typical of the feminist orthodoxy that has infected “mainstream” Protestant denominations for the last generation.

As we have discussed, the Presbyterian Church has approved language that allows (for example) “Mother, Child and Womb” or “Rock, Redeemer, Friend” to be used in place of “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” to describe the Trinity.

In the Episcopal Church, as in the rest of “mainstream” Protestantism, there is a war between a Christian view of the world and a liberal secular one. The liberals will claim that they are just promoting a more “inclusive” and “progressive” form of Christianity. But the reality is that on virtually every issue they side with secular leftists.

What moves them, in other words, is not Christianity, but a worldly philosophy.

In a post yesterday we suggested that the Episcopal Church might pass, by a narrow margin, a post condemning Satan and all his works.

We now have to revise our opinion. We now suspect that such a resolution wouldn’t pass. Or at least, would be considered too “controversial” to be voted on.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wisconsin Should Adopt the Death Penalty

Our article in The Wisconsin Interest is out, and available on the web.

The key points we make:

  • Opponents of the death penalty claim that there is a very high rate of error, with over 120 innocent people having been put on death row during the past 30 years. In reality, their numbers are radically inflated, and the number of innocent people who have been put on death row is perhaps a third of that.
  • There is no compelling evidence that any innocent person has been executed in the last 40 years. Claims to the contrary are based on tendentious treatment of the evidence. In the only case where these claims were actually put to the test with the use of new technology on old DNA evidence, the executed man was shown to be guilty.
  • The rate of error is doubtless much higher in cases where the death penalty is not at issue, as the work of the Innocence Project shows.
  • Claims that life in prison is a viable alternative to execution offer a false promise. There is in fact no guarantee that the killer will actually serve a life sentence. Activist judges and executives with the power of clemency may, for reasons of ideology or political expediency decide to let murderers out of prison, as Bill Clinton did with Puerto Rican terrorists in 1999.
  • An increasing number of good studies have found a deterrent effect of executions. Although there are studies on the other side of the issue, the mere possibility of a deterrent effect means that failing to execute murderers needlessly endangers innocent people who might become victims.
As Wisconsin faces a referendum on the issue this fall, the intellectual case for the death penalty becomes stronger and stronger.

Turns Out That Reagan Was Right

Episcopal Church and Gay Bishops — Stepping Back from the Abyss

From Reuters:
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - The U.S. Episcopal Church on Wednesday, reversing an earlier decision, adopted a resolution to avoid the consecration of additional gay bishops, a move designed to heal strained relations with 77 million fellow Anglicans worldwide.

The action reversed a decision made 24 hours earlier when one of two legislative bodies at the 2.3-million-member U.S. church’s triennial convention rejected a similar idea.

The resolution adopted by both the church’s bishops and by lay and clergy diocesan representatives voting in separate bodies calls on bishops and local committees “to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate (for bishop) whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”

Debate during the week-long convention made it clear that the “manner of life” caution applied to openly gay candidates for the episcopate.

The church has been in turmoil since its consecration three years ago of Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first bishop known to be in an openly gay relationship in more than 450 years of Anglican history.
What will they do next? Vote, by a narrow margin, to condemn the works of Satan?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

School Bans “Redneck” T-shirt, Loses Court Battle

From New Jersey, yet another case of school officials censoring speech that they find politically incorrect.
Disciplining a student for wearing a $5 T-shirt five years ago could end up costing the Warren Hills Regional School District close to $1 million.

The Warren County district has been ordered to pay nearly $600,000 in plaintiffs’ legal fees incurred during the 5-year-old free speech rights battle over whether a high school student could wear his “redneck” T-shirt. That tally does not include the amount the district has paid its own lawyers.

Thomas Sypniewski Jr. was suspended for three days during his senior year in 2001 for wearing a T-shirt that listed blue-collar comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s Top 10 reasons someone might be considered a redneck sports fan (Reason No. 4: Your bowling team has its own fight song).

District officials said the T-shirt violated the high school’s anti-harassment policy, enforced in the wake of racial incidents in which students referring to themselves as “Hicks” and “Rednecks” harassed black students.

Foxworthy, whose catch phrase is, “You might be a redneck if . . . ,” makes fun of his roots in the rural South with references to tattoo parlors that have financing plans and to a friend who brought beer to a job interview.

Sypniewski’s New York attorney, Gerald Walpin, said the former student never wanted more than an apology and the freedom to wear the shirt. Walpin said he went “on bended knee,” begging the district not to force Sypniewski’s family to have to bring a lawsuit.

School officials have maintained their actions controlled the racially charged atmosphere in 2001.

School board President James T. Momary said given the racial tensions at the time, the district determined the fight over the T-shirt was one worth making.

“We felt we owed it to a minority that was being picked on, to stand up for them,” Momary said last night. “Our job as board members is to guarantee the safety of our kids. It also is to show them the right thing to do.”
As it usual these days, speech deemed politically incorrect is claimed to “offend” or “harrass” some politically correct victim group.

The irony here, of course, is that Foxworthy’s humor makes fun of “rednecks,” although in a gentle, good-natured way. It’s not as though the student wore a t-shirt saying “Redneck Power” (although we think he had a right to do that, if he wanted).

So the liberal bureaucrats didn’t seem to care about free speech. They didn’t care whether the shirt was seen as offensive by black students; they didn’t care whether it objectively was offensive. They just saw the word “redneck” and freaked.

One problem with all these efforts to stop “harrassment” and “offensive speech” is that they will never be implemented in an even-handed way. We can’t imagine a t-shirt that demeans males worn by feminist students being censored.

We can’t imagine that Che Guevara t-shirts would ever be banned, even in Miami schools where many kids have parents or grandparents who were persecuted by Castro.

We hope that many more students use the courts to punish school administrations that try to impose politically correct censorship.

Fat Chance on Either

Moonbat Watch: Crazy Conspiracy Professors

Students who take out large loans to pay for their college education (and parents who cough up many thousands of dollars) would like to think that college professors, as a group, are pretty sensible people.

Many are, and those who aren’t are usually in thrall of some bizarre ideology: Marxism, deconstructionism, post-modernism or such.

But some are just outright crackpots. And these days, it’s 9/11 government conspiracy theories that attract the crackpots.

This is the subject of a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

One of the professors discussed is Steven E. Jones of Brigham Young University, who is famous for his claim that the World Trade Center towers were brought down, not by the aircraft that hit them, but by preplanted thermite charges.

Another is a fellow we know a lot about, James H. Fetzer. Fetzer is a professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota at Duluth.

He has been a big proponent of JFK assassination conspiracy theories, but lately has turned his attention to 9/11.

He spoke at a recent conspiracy conference in Chicago. According to the Chronicle, the scene was like this:
On the second afternoon of the conference, Mr. Fetzer gave a speech in one of the hotel salons to a standing-room-only crowd. It began like an introductory lecture in moral philosophy he might have given at the University of Minnesota. He discussed different theories for the origins of right and wrong — moral egoism, utilitarianism, deontological moral rights. Then he came to the emergency.

“The threat we face,” he said, is “imminent and ominous.” He recommended arming the citizenry.

During the question-and-answer session, an audience member asked whether there might be a way to capture a TV station, to get the word out about September 11. Mr. Fetzer upped the ante on the idea.

“Let me tell you, for years, I’ve been waiting for there to be a military coup to depose these traitors,” he said from the podium.

“Yeah!” shouted some men in the audience.

“There actually was one weekend,” Mr. Fetzer went on, “where I said to myself, my God, it’s going to happen this weekend, and I’m going to wake up and they will have taken these guys off in chains.”

His voice was building. “Listen to me,” he said. “The degree of perfidy involved here is so great, that in the time of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, frenzied mobs would have dragged these men out of their beds in the middle of the night and ripped them to shreds!”

“Yeah!” cried a chorus of voices in the audience. “Yeah!”

Dan Rather: Legacy of Bias

With Dan Rather finally gone from CBS, look for the Mainstream Media to portray him as a hero of American journalism.

In fact, Rather was never much of a journalist, and he had a long history of liberal bias.

For the details on the latter, see the web site of the Media Research Center.

What destroyed him was less the fiasco of the forged documents that he trumpeted as proof of George Bush’s laxity as a National Guardsman than his stubbornness and boneheadedness in denying that anything was wrong with the story. That perfectly epitomized Mainstream Media arrogance.

Did Congresswoman Gwen Moore Support William Jefferson?

Last Friday, the House of Representatives voted to oust Louisiana Democratic Congressman William Jefferson from the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Jefferson has been photographed as part of a “sting” operation by the F.B.I. taking a bribe, and the Bureau found $90,000 in bribe money hidden in a freezer in his home.

Translation: although he hasn’t been convicted of anything yet, he’s pretty clearly guilty.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has pushed to remove Jefferson, in hopes of strengthening the party’s electoral strategy of running against the supposed Republican “culture of corruption.”

Jefferson is black, and the Congressional Black Caucus has resisted efforts to remove him.

We naturally would like to know where Marquette alumna and Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore has stood on this.

The vote on the House floor to oust Jefferson was a voice vote, but the day before (last Thursday) the Democratic Caucus voted, 99 to 58, to remove Jefferson. Such caucus votes are not public.

We have made a total of five phone calls to Congresswoman Moore’s office, asking where she stood on the issue.

The first was on June 8, when we first wrote about the issue, and the other four were on this past Friday, and on Monday (yesterday).

We have gotten no response. In other words: stonewall.

Moore is not listed in news accounts mentioning the few members of the Black Caucus who supported the ouster. So it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that she voted for Jefferson, and doesn’t want to admit it.

It seems that, with Moore, race trumps both good government and the interests of the Democratic Party.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Moby Rove

Presbyterians Move Toward Politically Correct Language for the Trinity

From the Associated Press:
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The divine Trinity — “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” — could also be known as “Mother, Child and Womb” or “Rock, Redeemer, Friend” at some Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) services under an action Monday by the church’s national assembly.

Delegates to the meeting voted to “receive” a policy paper on gender-inclusive language for the Trinity, a step short of approving it. That means church officials can propose experimental liturgies with alternative phrasings for the Trinity, but congregations won’t be required to use them.

“This does not alter the church’s theological position, but provides an educational resource to enhance the spiritual life of our membership,” legislative committee chair Nancy Olthoff, an Iowa laywoman, said during Monday’s debate on the Trinity.

The assembly narrowly defeated a conservative bid to refer the paper back for further study.

A panel that worked on the issue since 2000 said the classical language for the Trinity should still be used, but added that Presbyterians also should seek “fresh ways to speak of the mystery of the triune God” to “expand the church’s vocabulary of praise and wonder.”
Unfortunately, those “fresh ways” don’t square with the Biblical concepts.

“Womb” and “Friend” just flat out don’t mean the same thing as “Holy Spirit.” Likewise, turning “God the Father” into “God the Mother” simply does violence to the language of the scriptures.

But it gets worse.
One reason is that language limited to the Father and Son “has been used to support the idea that God is male and that men are superior to women,” the panel said.
Maybe somebody somewhere has used it that way, but we don’t think it’s very common.

If the Presbyterian Church wants to oppose that, they should simply say they disagree, and not mangle the language of the scriptures.

In fact Galatians says that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Why mangle scriptural language about the Trinity when repeating Galatians makes your point?

We suspect that just quoting scripture is not trendy enough.
Conservatives responded that the church should stick close to the way God is named in the Bible and noted that Jesus’ most famous prayer was addressed to “Our Father.”
We frankly think that, if the trendy types were being entirely honest, they would say that Jesus was a sexist.
Besides “Mother, Child and Womb” and “Rock, Redeemer, Friend,” proposed Trinity options drawn from biblical material include:
  • “Lover, Beloved, Love”
  • “Creator, Savior, Sanctifier”
  • “King of Glory, Prince of Peace, Spirit of Love.”
Yes, just the sort of language to soothe the politically correct. And leave real Christians feeling a sense of intense ennui.
Early in Monday’s business session, the Presbyterian assembly sang a revised version of a familiar doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” that avoided male nouns and pronouns for God.

Youth delegate Dorothy Hill, a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, was uncomfortable with changing the Trinity wording. She said the paper “suggests viewpoints that seem to be in tension with what our church has always held to be true about our Trinitarian God.”

Hill reminded delegates that the Ten Commandments say “the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

The Rev. Deborah Funke of Montana warned that the paper would be “theologically confusing and divisive” at a time when the denomination of 2.3 million members faces other troublesome issues.

On Tuesday, the assembly will vote on a proposal to give local congregations and regional “presbyteries” some leeway on ordaining clergy and lay officers living in gay relationships.

Ten conservative Presbyterian groups have warned jointly that approval of what they call “local option” would “promote schism by permitting the disregard of clear standards of Scripture.”
Those conservative spoilsports. Quoting scripture with the implication that it ought to guide a Christian organization.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Democrats’ Message To America’s Soldiers

Click on image to enlarge

Jordanians Protest Zarqawi Apologists

From The Black Iris:

. . . an account of how four members of an Islamicist party (the Islamic Action Front) in the Jordanian parliament showed up at the funeral of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, calling him a “martyr” and deriding Jordanian victims of an Amman terrorist bombing as an “ignorant mob.”

The result was a protest that, in spite of being almost unorganized, brought out 2,000 Jordanians.

The protestors almost certainly were not pro-American. The vast majority doubtless harbored a deep grudge against Israel and against the U.S. as Israel’s ally.

But terrorism, at least when it involves Muslims killing Muslims, is something they consider beyond the pale.

And that is enough.

Trying to appease or flee from terrorism involves selling out people like these Jordanian demonstrators, just as it involves selling out the vast majority of Iraqis who feel that the removal of Saddam was a good thing.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Unions Wanting to Organize Wal-Mart: Can’t Get Employees’ Votes

A story a couple of months ago on MSNBC deals with the current political campaign against Wal-Mart.

It details some of the things we have already posted about: big money campaigns run by political hot-shots on both sides.

But two passages in the story stand out.
Wal-Mart’s main opponents are the Service Employees International Union, which started Wal-Mart Watch, and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which funds a separate campaign called WakeUpWalMart.com

After failing to organize employees of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. with traditional tactics, the unions decided to use modern campaign and communications methods to drag the company into the public square and try to shame them into change.
And the following . . .
A goal of the UFCW is to show Wal-Mart’s 1.3 million U.S. employees — many of whom have a low opinion of unions or fear retribution if they organize — that unionized labor can change their workplace and lives for the better.

“For years, labor leaders were fighting Wal-Mart the old way, but times have changed,” Kofinis said. “Instead of organizing workers, they’re trying to organize the nation” against Wal-Mart.
Translation: when workers at Wal-Mart get to vote, they won’t vote to unionize.

So the unions are trying to use politics to force the giant retailer to unionize.

It’s basically a protection racket. Wal-Mart is being punished for resisting unionization.

All the rest is simply rhetoric.

Nice to Be the Leader, Right?

Click on image to enlarge

Wal-Mart Store Closes — Viewed as Local Disaster

From the Shreveport Times.
HOMER — Town and parish officials are already sending up red flags for what appears to be a devastating blow to the local economy: the announced closure of Homer’s Wal-Mart store July 1.

The news, though the topic of town talk for weeks, caught area leaders by surprise Thursday. Letters signed by Regional General Manager Bob Erickson were posted on the store’s doors notifying customers of the plans to cease operations this summer.

Erickson calls the closure a tough decision. “However, we have realized that it no longer makes sense for our business to continue to operate at this location,” his letter states.

Forty-two percent of the town of Homer’s taxable income comes from Wal-Mart, Claiborne Chamber of Commerce President J.T. Taylor said Friday. The Claiborne Parish School Board, which just shaved $1 million from its budget because of increased expenses, gets about 14 percent of its tax money from the store.

“It’s a real blow to the town,” said Taylor, who during the interview was in a meeting with Mayor Huey Dean. “We’re very concerned.”
Of course, if a Wal-Mart store is as evil as the activists say, shouldn’t this Louisiana town be saying “good riddance?”

Maybe the town of Homer doesn’t have a lot of leftist activists. Maybe they evaluate the store in terms of costs and benefits, rather than as a symbol in the Culture Wars.

A spokeswoman at Homer City Hall tells us that there is no Starbucks in Homer, which supports our theory. She observes “We’re going to miss our Wal-Mart.”

Media Jihad Against Marine “Hadji Girl” Video

A video, involving an apparent member of the U.S. Marine Corps, has been elevated to the status of a major outrage by the mainstream media.

It supposedly shows a Marine (in the words of the BBC) “singing about the killing of Iraqi civilians.”

The reality, which the Mainstream Media have entirely failed to explain, is that the story is about an Iraqi girl leading a Marine into an ambush, in which her father and brother kill the girls little sister (whom the Marine uses a a shield). The Marine then kills the father and brother.

Rather than being a story about the unprovoked killing of Iraqi civilians, it’s a story about a jihadist attack gone badly wrong for the attackers.

Anybody who doubts media bias on issues like this, we have a suggestion.

Tune in the evening newscast of CBS, ABC or NBC tonight, and see whether they tell the whole story.

Then tune in Fox News Special Report, which can be gotten at 11:00 p.m. (Central Time).

Who gives the full account, and who omits, or downplays, the key details?

Hurricane Hype

Click on image to enlarge

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Wal-Mart: Being Corrupted By Its Enemies?

The current issue of The American Enterprise has the title “The Attack of the Snobs,” and what could be more appropriate than an analysis of the leftist campaign against Wal-Mart.
But “sensible, positive, and productive” are not words that describe many of the activists now militating against suburbia, against “Big Box” retailers, against roadbuilding. “I got mine, now pull up the ladder” snobs are a dime a dozen in these movements, and much of the leadership is supplied by fanatical ideologues who rail against the very idea of single-family homes, private cars, an energy-based economy, and even green lawns.

A prime example of what we are calling The Attack of the Snobs is today’s effort to paint Wal-Mart as a diabolical plague. This is not some spontaneous popular wildfire . . . but rather a coordinated agitation ginned up in war rooms by professional partisans. It is the most expensive campaign ever waged against a corporation, with more than $25 million having been sunk so far (mostly by unions) to turn public opinion against multiple aspects of the formula that created the world’s most efficient retailer.

I quickly count more than a dozen Web sites that beat on Wal-Mart full time. It’s a regular terrarium of screamers: hel-mart.com, walmartvswomen.com, sprawl-busters.com, wakeupwalmart.com. The heaviest is Wal-Mart Watch — with 36 employees in Washington, D.C. and a fat budget — a prize project of the Service Employees International Union. It’s run by a clutch of political hacks, including John Kerry’s 2004 campaign manager and other Kerry and Democratic National Committee strategists. And the other biggest attack squad, WakeUpWalMart, is steered by the political adviser to Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign. So give Wal-Mart credit for creating lots of high-paying jobs for otherwise unemployable individuals.

Hillary Clinton knows which way the wind blows. She served proudly and profitably on Wal-Mart’s board for seven years, without any recorded objection or complaint. But as soon as the unions and anti-sprawlers went after the firm she flipped, returning a $5,000 contribution from Wal-Mart’s political action committee “because of serious differences” with company practices. As is now de rigueur in any culture skirmish, a Michael Moore-style film has been produced, accusing Wal-Mart of every sin imaginable (except profligacy). Its Washington, D.C. premiere was hosted by the honorable pot stirrers George Miller (D-CA) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA).
Being Corrupted By Its Enemies?

So far so good, and this makes us free-marketeers side with Wal-Mart against its leftist enemies.

But the unfortunate part of the story is the way in which the entire culture of the corporation is being corrupted by the need to respond to the attacks.
It’s apparent that the recent attacks against Wal-Mart have seriously distracted the firm from its central task of becoming a more productive company. After powering upward for decades, the company’s stock has fallen since the opposition campaign began (as I write, it’s down 21 percent in two years). Instead of making the tough, gimlet-eyed decisions that cause a business to bloom, Wal-Mart’s CEO now spends much of his time on PR sideshows, touting the introduction of organic carrots and other environmental sops, endorsing a minimum wage hike (irrelevant, since Wal-Mart’s average starting wage is already almost twice the national minimum), and otherwise talking up motherhood and apple pie in an attempt to counteract bad media.

Wal-Mart has also had to set up a fat D.C. lobbying and public relations octopus to defend against the war rooms being run by the Kerry and Dean assassins and union activists. Until recently, Wal-Mart’s lobbying budget was zero. Even after it finally hired its first D.C. representative, he was instructed to take lawmakers out to breakfast instead of dinner to minimize expenses. Now Wal-Mart has resorted to standard defensive lobbying and campaign contributions, and is throwing money at Michael Deaver and other malodorous “image consultants.”

All of this is completely antithetical to the company’s core philosophy of not wasting its customers’ money on frou-frou. For reasons of thrift, company execs, including the CEO, have always shared hotel rooms when they travel. Wood-panelled offices and such are verboten, allowing the firm to spend less than half the industry average on administrative costs. Super Bowl tickets and free dinners from suppliers are always turned down — because such costs would ultimately work their way back into the price of goods. Alas, today’s attack dogs are forcing Wal-Mart to become a more conventional company and unraveling some of the delightful idiosyncrasies that not only brought landmark economic success but also kept the firm close to its customers culturally.
This sort of thing is hardly new to American capitalism. Indeed, Wal-Mart is rather a laggard at paying the political protection money that leftist activists demand.

It’s quite obvious what kinds of protection money are being demanded: “diversity” campaigns run by expensive “diversity” consultants and administered by affirmative action employees. Funding for liberal activist groups. “Outreach” campaigns to fashionable groups. Politically correct political positions on issues that don’t directly affect the profits of a particular business.

(On those issues that do, business will usually stick up for its interests.)

We can’t really blame business executives for paying the protection so that can get on with making money. But in the case of Wal-Mart, it doesn’t seem to be helping them.

We think they should resign themselves to being hated by the leftist snobs, and move ahead with their business.

Progress in Iraq

From Patrick McIlheran, a link to a document called Iraq Index, which is a sober and extensive accounting of how the reconstruction in that war-torn country is going.

The picture is complex, with some good news and some bad news. For example, the number of insurgent attacks has trended upward, but the number of fatalities among U.S. troops has been trending downward.

On an Index of Political Freedom, Iraq ranks at number four among Middle Eastern nations, behind only Israel, Lebanon, and Morocco. It is ahead of sixteen other nations.

Electricity generation is well above estimated pre-war levels.

Polling data is complex and interesting. For example, one poll shows 52% of Iraqis think the country is headed in the wrong direction and only 30% in the right direction (see page 42). But another poll shows 64% of the population saying the country is moving in the right direction. This figure includes only 6% of Sunnis, but 76% of Kurds and 84% of Shiites.

But perhaps the most siginficant result follows from a question that asks:
THINKING ABOUT ANY HARDSHIPS YOU MIGHT HAVE SUFFERED SINCE THE US-BRITAIN INVASION, DO YOU PERSONALLY THINK THAT OUSTING SADDAM HUSSEIN WAS WORTH IT OR NOT? (chart shows those who responded “worth it”).
The chart is reproduced at the below.

It shows that vast majorities of both Kurds and Shiites believe that the liberation was worth it. 91% of the former group and 98% of the latter group say it was “worth it.”

Only the Sunnis, the chief beneficiaries of Saddam’s regime, feel differently.

Thus, the likes of Cindy Sheehan, John Kerry, Congressman John Murtha, and Nancy Pelosi are on the side of the tiny minority of Iraqis who supported Saddam, and George Bush is on the side of the vast majority who wanted freedom.

It’s a stinging rebuke to the Democratic left.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Guantanamo Suicide Tragedy

This feature may not be reproduced or distributed electronically, in print or otherwise without the written permission of uclick and Universal Press Syndicate

Christian News Site

Actually, a site for people who are part of the Christian evangelical culture, and aren’t too strait-laced.

Recent headlines:
  • Outsourced prayer lines confuse callers — a woman called a Christian prayer line and talked to someone who prayed in a strong Indian accent that “all the gods would bless her mightily.”
  • Presbyterian Church USA launches ambitious plan to lose only 5% of members
  • Heart attack victim goes unnoticed at Pentecostal revival
  • Satan to host MTV Music Awards — Satan, who “has become the de facto head of the big three networks,” promises “Live animals copulating during a performance by Aerosmith.”
  • Church franchise a hit, but hostile take-overs rattle congregations — A Tennessee church goes into the franchise business and takes over churches around the country
  • Missionary kids sue parents for ‘sucky, non-western upbringing’

Journalist on Trial in Italy For Defaming Islam

Via Shark and Shepherd:
ROME — Italian author and veteran journalist Oriana Fallaci goes on trial Monday, charged with defaming Islam in a 2004 book.

Fallaci, who lives in New York, was not expected to attend the hearing in Bergamo, northern Italy.

Muslim activist Adel Smith filed a lawsuit against Fallaci, charging that some passages in her book, “The Strength of Reason,” were offensive to Islam. Smith’s lawyer cited a phrase from the book that refers to Islam as “a pool . . . that never purifies.”

Last year, a judge ordered that she stand trial on charges of violating an Italian law that prohibits “outrage to religion.” He cited a passage that reads: “To be under the illusion that there is a good Islam and a bad Islam or not to understand that Islam is only one ... is against reason.”
In fairness to Moslems, it should be pointed out that the law was almost certainly written to protect Christianity from defamation.

But it’s also inconceivable that anybody would now get into legal trouble in Italy (or anywhere else in the civilized world) for defaming Christianity.

Indeed, when an Italian atheist claimed that Jesus never existed, he was allowed to sue the Catholic Church for “abusing popular credulity!”

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Athletic Mascots — You Can’t Make the Politically Correct Crowd Happy

From Fox News “Tongue Tied,” the fact that the school board in Kelseyville, California wanted to be politically correct, and changed the name of the high school mascot from “Indians” to “Knights.”

Guess what happened?
A California school district’s decision to dump its Indian mascot in favor of a medieval knight is prompting howls of protest that the new mascot is insensitive to women and too warlike, according to the Lake County Record Bee.

The Kelseyville Unified School District formally ditched its high school’s 85-year-old Indian in favor of the Knight in March. Since then, however, people have written to the local paper complaining that the new mascot is, among other things, a “step backwards in women’s sports.”

“What will the illustrious female athletes of Kelseyville High School be called? Maidens? Ladies of the Knights? The Damsels?” writes one reader. “What kind of message are you sending your daughters by ignoring their participation and accomplishments, by omitting them from the school’s identity?”

Another complained that the district had “taken a prideful picture of a nonaggressive nature of a true American and replaced it with a picture of an aggressive French Knight . . . a slave owner who put people to death by the thousands for not being on the same page he was religiously in the Crusades. He and his kind were among the world’s most brutal and subversive groups to have ever held control over a group of people.”
It seems that there is just no way to satisfy the politically correct crowd. Thus “Indians” is demeaning to Indians. But “Knights” glorifies and holds in high esteem knighthood. Whichever argument is convenient.

They are in the business of articulating grievances, and they are good at it. Therefore, they can find something “offensive” about any symbol you can think of.

Or at least, any symbol that anybody might want to rally around.

The only way around this is to do what Marquette did: adopt a mascot so insipid that even the politically correct crowd can’t find a way to be aggrieved.

Monday, June 12, 2006

World Cup Time


John Trever

Dixie Chicks Concert Problems

From the Wall Street Journal, an account of how their outspokenness not only against the Bush Administration but against country music fans has caused problems on the concert circuit from the female trio.
Some in the industry lay the problems at the group’s own feet. “The Bush thing may have died down, but then she went and said that stuff about ‘Country listeners are a bunch of rednecks, we don’t need ‘em,’” says Lynn West, program director at WXBM, a country station in Pensacola, Fla. “Every time things seem to die down, she opens her mouth again.”
This is pretty close to what the Program Directors of Milwaukee’s country stations, WMIL-FM and WBWI-FM are saying.
Ms. West never even bothered airing the first single from the album, “Not Ready to Make Nice,” since 80% of listeners’ calls and emails on the subject urged the station not to.

Such responses were widespread, and as a result, the band’s record label, Columbia Records, recently sent the second single, “Voice Inside My Head,” to stations that play other formats such as “adult contemporary” and “adult album alternative.”

To be sure, not every U.S. date is a dud. The band is likely to sell out a night each at New York City’s Madison Square Garden and Boston’s TD Banknorth Garden arena. But Dixie Chicks are no longer planning to make use of additional nights they had held at both venues.

Rather than play the U.S. during the second half of the summer, the band is now planning to return to North America by October 27 — to play a string of dates in Canada, where sales are so strong that extra dates are being added. The new plan reflects a startling reality: Even as the group has been shunned in the U.S., it has picked up momentum overseas, where their political martyrdom has transformed them from a modestly successful act into stars. “Not Ready to Make Nice” may have bombed in the U.S., but it is a mainstream pop hit in Germany, Scandinavia, the U.K. and Australia.

In a statement on their Web site, the Dixie Chicks made a nod to their new status as an act with greater overseas appeal: “We will go where the fans are with great anticipation and no regrets.”
Between the Chicks and country music fans, the “no regrets” is mutual.

Wal-Mart Tells Secret Service About Photo That Portrayed Violence Against Bush — Liberals Mad

Imagine an event that combines the leftist hatred of Wal-Mart with the leftist hatred of George Bush. You would certainly expect to hear about it in The Progressive.
Selina Jarvis is the chair of the social studies department at Currituck County High School in North Carolina, and she is not used to having the Secret Service question her or one of her students.

But that’s what happened on September 20.

Jarvis had assigned her senior civics and economics class “to take photographs to illustrate their rights in the Bill of Rights,” she says. One student “had taken a photo of George Bush out of a magazine and tacked the picture to a wall with a red thumb tack through his head. Then he made a thumb’s down sign with his own hand next to the President’s picture, and he had a photo taken of that, and he pasted it on a poster.”
We don’t know how to interpret the red thumb tack other than as an image of Bush being shot in the head.

Yep, the kid sounds like a real moonbat.

The kid took his film to be developed at Wal-Mart, and store employees contacted the Kitty Hawk police who turned the matter over to the Secret Service.
On Tuesday, September 20, the Secret Service came to Currituck High.“At 1:35, the student came to me and told me that the Secret Service had taken his poster,” Jarvis says. “I didn’t believe him at first. But they had come into my room when I wasn’t there and had taken his poster, which was in a stack with all the others.”

She says the student was upset.

“He was nervous, he was scared, and his parents were out of town on business,” says Jarvis.

She, too, had to talk to the Secret Service.

“Halfway through my afternoon class, the assistant principal got me out of class and took me to the office conference room,” she says. “Two men from the Secret Service were there. They asked me what I knew about the student. I told them he was a great kid, that he was in the homecoming court, and that he’d never been in any trouble.”

Then they got down to his poster.

“They asked me, didn’t I think that it was suspicious,” she recalls. “I said no, it was a Bill of Rights project!”

At the end of the meeting, they told her the incident “would be interpreted by the U.S. attorney, who would decide whether the student could be indicted,” she says.

The student was not indicted, and the Secret Service did not pursue the case further.
One can try to spin this as a violation of civil liberties, but the student produced a poster that seemed to advocate violence against President Bush.

If the Secret Service is not supposed to investigate such incidents, what are they supposed to do?

Presumably wait until somebody shoots at Bush or throws a grenade at him.

If anybody thinks the Secret Service went too far, they need to ask: “suppose a student project seemed to advocate violence against gays or blacks?” The liberals would want the cops to be all over that, and very quickly.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Certainly Not Them!

Click on image to enlarge

Mexican Soccer: We Don’t Want Foreign Players

From Reuters:
MEXICO CITY, May 22 (Reuters) - When striker Guillermo Franco turned up for his first training session with Mexico last November, he said he had fulfilled a boyhood dream by playing international football.

Not everyone shared his enthusiasm, however.

Franco was born and bred in Argentina. He had no ancestral connections with Mexico, arriving in 2003 to play for Monterrey after a move from Buenos Aires club San Lorenzo.

Less than three years later, he was selected to play for the Tricolor by coach Ricardo La Volpe, who himself was born in Argentina and was reserve goalkeeper in his country’s 1978 World Cup winning squad.

Although Franco had legitimately obtained a Mexican passport without any special treatment, his selection split Mexican football down the middle.

The 29-year-old is the second naturalised player to be picked by La Volpe, after Brazilian-born midfielder Antonio Naelson, and critics say the pair, who are both in the World Cup squad, are blocking the way for Mexican-born players.

The most outspoken comments have come from former Real Madrid and Mexico striker Hugo Sanchez.

“It’s very dangerous because we’ve already got two or three and that could became four, five or six and then we will reach a moment when the national team is no longer the national team but a team of naturalised players,” said Sanchez.
Is this a terrible or deplorable situation? We’re not convinced it is.

But when some leftist blow-hard claims that Americans are chauvinistic, xenophobic and intolerant of foreigners, this would be a good thing to throw in his or her face.

And it’s also a good tidbit to have when Mexicans presume to lecture Americans on immigration issues.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

British Study: Better For Kids If Mom Stays Home

From the Daily Mail:
Babies should be looked after by their mothers in their first years of life, Tony Blair’s favourite think tank signalled yesterday.

It published research that admitted babies and toddlers sent for long hours in daycare learn less quickly, have worse health, and behave worse than other children.

It also suggested that the children suffer because mothers who return home from work tired and unhappy are less able to give them the time and full attention they need.

The warnings over childcare published by the Institute for Public Policy Research suggest a dramatic rethink over working mothers and childcare at the heart of the Blairite establishment.

Since 1997 Labour has poured billions into subsidising nurseries and childminders through the tax credit system, through direct daycare benefits, and through the troubled Sure Start project meant to help the neediest families.

Persuading mothers to go back to work soon after their children are born has been a central plank of Mr Blair’s ‘project.’

Three years ago the Department of Trade and Industry - then headed by current Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt - published a paper describing those who do not return to jobs in the first two years after childbirth as a ‘problem.’

It said mothers who stayed at home were not giving the taxpayer a return on the cost of their education.

Despite growing evidence from independent studies that full-time childcare can have harmful effects, new figures from the Education Department last week boasted proudly that a record number of more than 700,000 children now attend nurseries for more than four hours a day.

But two articles in the IPPR’s journal said the children would be better off staying at home with their mothers.

Psychologist and TV presenter Oliver James, who described himself as a ‘reasonable left wing person,’ said he was sceptical about the drive for ‘affordable childcare.’

He said: ‘My proviso comes in when politicians, who have the evidence about how important early care is on children’s development, decide that only people doing paid work are of any value and that there is a moral duty for us all to do a paid day’s work. Trying to persuade parents of very young children, particularly single mothers, to leave them and go out to work, while not an unqualified no no, fails to recognise that somebody has got to be left holding the baby and that, on the whole, it is better if it is one of the child’s biological parents up to the age of three.’ Oliver James added: ‘On the whole children who attend daycare under three are at greater risk of being aggressive.’

A second article by US academic Janet Waldfogel told IPPR subscribers that in the first year after birth ‘there are reasons to think that exclusive mother care would be best for a child.’

She cited learning ability, health and social development as adversely affected for those who are in childcare before their first birthday.

‘Across all three dimensions, with all things held equal, children tend to do worse if their mothers work in the first year of life,’ she said. Children also did best if they lived in two-parent families, she added, in a view that conflicts with the Government’s policy that claims all kinds of families are just as good as each other.
This of course, flies in the face of feminist dogma.

Feminists have long since moved beyond the position that women should have equal opportunity in the workforce. Rather, they think that women should work, and indeed are being anti-social and traitors to their gender if they don’t.

Interestingly, studies like these could be used by liberals who oppose U.S. welfare reforms of the last decade or so. Those reforms have stressed getting welfare moms off welfare and into jobs, with the consequence that their children are in child care.

We think the tangle of pathology that surrounded the old AFDC program, which produced massive long-term dependency, had harmful consequences for children which fully justify the risks of child care. Certainly, self-sufficient two-parent families are radically different from single moms living on welfare.