Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pump Up Your Food Budget

Corn-a-Hole is a GREAT idea!

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers shot up 3% in May from the previous month and is up 24% over the past year. Crop prices increased 2.1% and livestock prices are up 3.9% as higher feed costs are working through animal production. Farmers received higher prices for milk, hogs, hay and broilers. Lower prices were received for vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower, and for cattle. Prices paid by farmers rose less sharply, adding 0.6% for the month and 6% over the past year. Farmers paid more for hay & forages, gasoline, and fertilizers. Feed supplements, complete feeds, diesel fuel and feeder cattle cost less in May.

Bon Appetit!!

Really, Really, Really Big Case for WI Supremes

This is a major case. Watch it carefully.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to decide whether the state incorrectly charged sales tax on a companywide software package installed by the Menasha Corp. in the 1990s, a widely followed case that could result in hundreds of millions of dollars of refunds to firms across the state.

That'll blow a hole in DarthDoyle's Fantasyland budget...about $350 million worth.

The case is a test of the definition of modified software under Wisconsin law.

Modified software is not subject to sales tax, whereas off-the-shelf programs, such as those sold in boxes at retail outlets, are taxed.

In the Menasha case, the company purchased a multimillion-dollar software package from the German company SAP in the mid-1990s and then adapted it for its own uses.

Menasha, based in Neenah, is a privately held company that has sales of about $850 million annually making packaging at plants across the United States.

The state imposed a sales tax on the purchase, which Menasha paid and then appealed. The state Tax Appeals Commission ruled in favor of Menasha, but Dane County Circuit Judge Steven D. Ebert later ruled that the Wisconsin Department of Revenue was correct in assessing the sales tax.

Earlier this year, the Court of Appeals in Madison reversed Ebert's ruling and said the tax should not have been assessed.

Menasha contends that its modifications were substantial enough so that "package" does not apply. This ain't like TurboTax. SAP software requires significant tailoring for most installations; IIRC, a Milwaukee-area company spent over 4 years rewriting and tweaking code to get the system up and running.

Deloitte: Milwaukee's Not All Bad; JS Reporter Doesn't Get It

Well, if you don't count taxes and a "listless" population-increase projection, the area is not a bad place to set up business.

Here's an interesting paragraph from the JSOnline report:

With 2.1% of its work force employed as scientists and engineers, metro Milwaukee trailed some of the rival regions only by narrow margins. It compared with 2.5% for Minneapolis and 2.3% for Charlotte - both big university towns - but lagged the 3.5% for Austin.

....and Austin, home of the University of Texas-Austin, is NOT a 'big university town'?

A better way to look at those numbers is as follows:

'...Minneapolis, home to 3M Corp and Medtronics, Charlotte, the "Research Triangle" town, and Austin, which houses a major IBM installation...'

See, people go where the JOBS are--not to "college towns."

Spineless Republicans Caving at Joint Finance

Just a small paragraph describing Joint Finance Committee proceedings today:

There was no challenge to the $20 jump in the $55 annual vehicle registration fee.

That means that NO REPUBLICAN objected to this 36.3% increase in fees.

Maybe a good slap across the chops would help them understand?

MEYER (Eagle River) RHOADES (Hudson) SUDER (Abbotsford) KESTELL (Elkhart Lake) STONE (Greenfield) VOS (Racine) DARLING (Mequon) OLSEN (Berlin)

On Beauty from a Legitimate Liturgist

A nice take on the (Aristotelian-derived) component of Beauty in the Liturgy from a legitimate practitioner of the liturgical arts who comments on Sacramentum Caritatis, B-16's encyclical:

We are reminded of much by the words of the Holy Father, that the beauty of the liturgy has nothing to do with us personally, for indeed the liturgy is not at all about us personally, but rather about Christ and his sacrifice for us.

Beauty in the liturgy has been misunderstood by many who seek an encounter with Jesus on their own terms in order to fulfill some pre-supposed need or desire, [which is] an approach that seeks to fabricate beauty much like selecting paint and drapes for a bedroom.

Beauty is not accidental, but essential to the liturgy, for Beauty is an attribute of Christ himself. Contrary to the cliché, Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. It is not relative, but absolute. So often we [mistakenly] approach Holy Mass as we might a group therapy session-- to be caressed and affirmed by music, or kind, encouraging words “shared” in a homily. When our expectations are not met, we claim the Mass “had nothing for us”.

The truth of the matter, however, was that our own expectations blurred our ability to encounter and be encountered.

...Pope Benedict’s comments make plain that the liturgy is nothing of our own making. It is through the activity of God himself whereby we encounter the living Christ, the very foundation of our worship.

To be a Christian, and especially a Catholic Christian, means oftentimes to be counter-cultural. That is, the Church and her worship do not conform to popular culture -- the liturgy, the Pope observes, can not be held hostage by the latest trends. Thus, Roman Catholic worship, the Mass in the Roman Rite, does not reflect “current fashion”, neither in language nor music. It does not arise from the norms of popular culture nor should it be manipulated to reflect them.

The term "cosmic worship" is applicable to the Mass, and nothing less should be accepted.

Recently, a parish was asked to mimic the Elmbrook Church's "worship style" (at least in terms of adding 'greeters' and instituting "praise groups" of singers, etc.)

Nothing could display a greater ignorance of the Church and its liturgical theology and practice (except, perhaps, granting the wishes expressed in the letter.)

Referring to Para 42 of the Pope's letter:

Pope Benedict makes three main points: the importance of the heritage of Roman Catholic sacred music, the importance of careful selection of sacred music to accompany the celebration of the sacred mysteries, and the pre-eminence of Gregorian chant in the sacred music repertoire.

Roman Catholic sacred music arises not only from Holy Scripture, but is linked by tradition to the ancient music of the early church, finding its basis in the music of Hebrew temple worship. Catholic sacred music did not appear from a vacuum. Its origins are clearly traceable from the ancient Israelites to chant forms, to polyphonic music of two and more voices, unison and multi-part hymns and canticles arising from Scriptural models, to contemporary motets and choral works building upon and developing from the tradition of Renaissance polyphonic masters.

It is important to note that what is referred to here is not the development of secular song forms, but specifically sacred music forms. In the progression of music history, secular forms develop alongside sacred forms, sometimes, as today, intertwining.

The Holy Father does not skirt the issue as many have by claiming music is merely a matter of taste. Certainly, he instructs, we can not say that one song is as good as another. “Praise choruses” and much of what we blithely term “contemporary Christian” music has arisen outside living liturgical tradition of Roman Catholicism, and as such, does not comprehend the liturgical seasons and less so the concept of religious mystery. Finding its origins in non-Catholic, non-liturgical surroundings, devoid of mystery, stripped of tradition, often lacking any distinct creed or body of doctrine, the “contemporary Christian” genre is hardly a perfect match for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Rite

...Instead of deepening true devotion and expounding upon sacred mystery, it detracts from the celebration, making itself the focus as a means whereby the faithful are caused to succumb to a primitive emotional response. Sacred music within the Roman Catholic context must enhance worship, enabling a deeper participation in the transcending sacrifice of Calvary made real and present to us in the Holy Mass. Music of the Praise and Worship genre by its very nature is designed as a “stand-alone” worship experience within a context of an assembly of non-Catholics who have no Mass, who have no Eucharist,...

This goes to the meaning of Pius X's phrase: "...raising the mind AND the heart to God"; the conjunction is extremely important. Sacred music must (repeat, MUST) raise the mind as well as the heart, and raise them to God--or it is not sacred music. It may be nice--but it's not what's required.

Plenty more at the link.

HT: ChristusVincit

Denying Reality: Military Style


Brit Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig liked cavalry and infantry. Liked that disciplined frontal assault a lot, too (think the Brits during the American Revolution.)

Well, it cost the British Army 60,000 casualties at the Somme, on the FIRST day of the battle. Machine guns, you know, old chap.

But Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig didn't get it--so in the ensuing 120 days, another 340,000 Brit casualties were taken.

And he STILL thought that the horses and infantry were here to stay:

As late as 1926 --years after the horror of World War I ended -- Haig still clung to old-world notions of warfare. He wrote the following, which I reproduce because it is so unbelievable, so astonishing, that it makes one wonder how the human race ever got as far as it has:

"I believe that the value of the horse and the opportunity for the horse in the future are likely to be as great as ever. Aeroplanes and tanks are only accessories to the men and the horse, and I feel sure that as time goes on you find just as much use for the horse -- the well-bred horse -- as you have ever done in the past."

Well, for the "well-bred horse," there IS the Kentucky Derby.

And 'boots on the ground' are still with us. But they don't march in neat, broad, lines against automatic weapons, Sir Field Marshal.

(Source: The Rude Awakening)

Schlafly on the Immigration Bill

Phyllis Schlafly is clear, concise, and to-the-point. Too bad that Our President is busy calling names to actually read the damn fool bill.

The Kennedy-Kyl (K-K) Amnesty bill should be titled An Act to Destroy the Republican Party because it pits President Bush against the majority of the Party that elected him. When Senator Ted Kennedy appeared as the centerpiece of the photo-op announcing it, that told the grassroots all they needed to know about the politics of the deal trumpeted as bipartisan.

The Bush Administration has been tone deaf about how offensive are the words comprehensive and compromise. The American people want border security that we can see with our own eyes on television, and they are ready to defeat and disdain Members of Congress who vote for a package deal that contains amnesty and guest worker proposals.

Despite denials, the K-K bill is amnesty. It will give 12 to 20 million illegal aliens exactly what they want, namely, the legal right to remain in the United States by being immediately given a probationary visa.

The K-K bill increases legal migration by at least 50 percent over the next decade by granting green cards to all the remote relatives who are in the chain migration categories, a number estimated at 750,000 to 900,000 a year (triple the current number of 250,000). Giving green cards to millions of additional relatives ensures that legal immigration will continue to grow as this larger pool of permanent residents brings in spouses.

The K-K bill will bring into our country at least 400,000 guest workers per year. That's twice the number in last year's unacceptable Senate bill.

The K-K bill claims that benchmarks must be met before amnesty/guest-worker provisions go into effect. But the benchmarks do not require that we have closed the border, do not require that all the fence be built which Congress mandated last October, do not require that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) implement the entry-exit visa system so we can know if visitors and guest workers actually leave, do not require employee verification, and do not require that DHS deport absconders (the 600,000 aliens who have already been ordered deported).

The only thing the bill actually requires is that DHS speedily process amnesty applications and green cards for chain migration.

[Yah. That'll work. DHS' "capabilities" are exemplified by its outstanding response to the woman who questioned the activities of the Middle-Eastern "Rock Band" on a flight--and its outstanding "absconder" followups (see above.)]

The K-K bill authorizes 4,000 new Border Patrol agents, but doesn't require that they be actually trained or deployed. It's difficult to hire and keep Border Patrol agents because of the way some have been prosecuted and sentenced to long prison terms after intercepting professional drug smugglers bringing in vans of illegal drugs.

Another benchmark is that "tools" will be provided to prevent illegals from getting jobs, including requirements for ID standards and an employee verification system. But there is no requirement that anybody actually use the tools.

The costs of the K-K bill are mind-boggling, and the Senate has made no attempt to estimate or figure out how to pay them. The Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector puts a potential price tag on this bill of $2.5 trillion, which is five times the cost of the Iraq war!

Rector gave the House Judiciary Committee detailed
testimony setting forth how he arrived at this figure. At least 60 percent of illegal aliens lack a high school diploma, which means they will work low-wage jobs, pay little or no income tax, and be heavy users of our schools and means-tested social benefits such as Medicaid, school lunches, WIC, subsidized housing, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and free legal counsel.

Fiscal costs would go up dramatically after amnesty recipients reach retirement. Each elderly low-skill immigrant imposes a net cost (benefits minus taxes) on U.S. taxpayers of about $17,000 per year. These costs would hit Social Security and Medicare at the very time Social Security is expected to go into crisis.

Section 413 calls on Congress to "accelerate the implementation" of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) (announced by Bush at Waco in 2005) so that the U.S. can "improve the standard of living in Mexico." Do U.S. taxpayers want to take on the awesome economic burden of solving poverty problems in Mexico?

[I'm sure that the Mexicans will be very pleased to have Congress meddling in THEIR internal affairs, too!]

The K-K bill states that we want to increase access to credit for "poor and under served populations in Mexico," and expand efforts "to reduce the transaction costs of remittance flows" from the U.S. to Mexico (now running at $23 billion a year).

The K-K bill also puts us into a "partnership" with Mexico for "increasing health care access for poor and under served populations in Mexico," for "assisting Mexico in increasing its emergency and trauma health care facilities," and for "expanding prenatal care" in the border region. It looks like Robert Rector's estimates are only the start of the costs that will put a truly incredible burden on American taxpayers.

And Schlafly doesn't even touch the H1-B/L-1 controversies, wherein Bill Gates (inter alia) has threatened to "leave the USA" if he can't increase H1-B (read: cheap) labor quotas.

WSJ v. NRO: Not Pistols, But a Debate?


We hereby challenge the Journal’s editors to debate the immigration bill in a neutral venue with a moderator of their choosing — two or three of us versus any two or three of them. We propose to do it in Washington next week so it will have the maximum impact on the Senate’s consideration of the most sweeping immigration reform in decades (time and place to be worked out in a mutually satisfactory fashion).

It shouldn’t be a problem for the Journal’s editors to take up this challenge, since opponents of the bill aren’t “rational” on the question, have no arguments, and are “foaming at the mouth,” as they explained in a videotaped session of one of their editorial meetings last week. Click here to watch — you have to see it to believe it.

We urge them to come out of the shadows, and hope defending the bill in this forum is not another one of those jobs that no American will do. (We would challenge President Bush himself to a debate on behalf of the conservatives he has maligned, but we fear he hasn’t read the bill.)

So who at the Journal is willing to debate the merits of the legislation rather than cast aspersions from afar? We await the answer. To keep us posted in the meantime, we hope they videotape their consideration of this challenge

The WSJ editors may not bring their seconds: Big Ag, the Fortune 50, Big Tech, and Housewives-With-Maids.

HT: Hot Air

Confirmed: Mayor Barrett is WRONG

Yesterday we observed that the Mayor of Milwaukee's statement on SB104 was possibly inaccurate.

Today I can tell you that it was, indeed, inaccurate.

Here's the newspaper summary:

Barrett said the bill is needed to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, teenagers and those with felony and domestic violence convictions.

Wrong-o, Tom. Wisconsin is one of 27 States which DO NOT SUBMIT mental-health records to the Federal NCIS database.

Fortunately, Sen. Alberta Darling (R) is trying to retroactively save the Mayor's bacon by proposing legislation to remedy this deficiency. (A story not mentioned in the online JS today.)

By the way--it was Jim Doyle who VETOED that legislation last session, while he was VETOING concealed-carry.

The Canard on Fred Thompson--Why It's Irrelevant

Here's a line you'll hear and see a lot regarding Fred:

My issue with Thompson has nothing to do with him personally, but that he lacks executive experience

(This was from Phil Klein's blog-entry for the American Spectator blogsite.)

To borrow the Perry Mason line, that's "irrelevant and immaterial," Your Honor.

We've had good experiences with ex-Governors in the Presidency--and notably bad experiences.

The question is not "executive experience." The question is whether Fred Thompson has a cohesive vision for the country, in domestic AND foreign affairs, grounded (respectively) in the Constitution and in reality, which he can clearly and consistently articulate.

The other important question is whether Thompson can attract and retain the talent at Cabinet-level to execute the policies flowing from the vision. This particular question cannot be answered by any candidate at this time; but the last several years have taught us that it is, indeed, important.

Let's go a little farther: the candidate who succeeds in the '08 election will be the one whose vision transcends "party" politics and engages the imagination and consent of the population.

Candidates May Speak Frankly

Running for judge in Wisconsin?

Feel free to have an opinion--or actually believe something.

Wisconsin Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, and eight state residents filed a lawsuit in December challenging two ethics rules that prohibit judges and judicial candidates from making public statements that would appear to commit them in an issue or making pledges, promises or commitments that would compromise their impartiality.

The group and the residents filed the suit after several judicial candidates declined to answer a questionnaire about how they would interpret abortion laws.

U.S. District Judge John Shabaz ruled Tuesday the rule preventing public statements is too broad and unconstitutional.

A judge or a candidate can disclose opinions as long as he or she doesn't clearly commit to a decision, which Shabaz suggested would be statements such as "I will" or "I will not."
"Phrases like 'I believe' or 'It is my opinion' signal the absence of commitment," Shabaz wrote.

It's my opinion that sunlight is a good disinfectant.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Remembering Harry John

Harry was idiosyncratic, as mentioned by Tom Roeser. A great story:

I remember I made several visits to his estate in behalf of a right-to-life organization I headed for some years-“Friends for Life.” The ritual could easily be turned into a hilarious comic novel by Evelyn Waugh. There was scant possibility of talking to him as he was in the chapel saying his prayers. Letters sent to him went generally unanswered. The one shot you had to communicate with him was at Mass at the point in the Sacrifice of General Intercessions. At that point the priest can choose to invite the worshipers to express aloud their request for God’s help. I remember attending several times and at the Intercessions expressing loud enough that the old man could hear it…as he stood with his head bowed…the need for financial help for this particular charity. The game was that if you made an impression at General Intercessions with your loudly expressed verbal prayer so that Harry John (if not God Almighty) would hear it, you might be invited by a functionary to attend the brunch in company with others.

At the brunch you maneuvered delicately to try to get a seat near the Font of all Generosity. I recall thinking that I had almost nabbed a seat next to His Honor only to have it snatched away with a superb football player’s block by a nun who also gave me the elbow which reeled me off balance. As it turned out, she was Mother Angelica, the soon-to-be-world-famous entrepreneur of the cable network “Eternal Word” which made her a household figure in Catholic circles…she building the network, stemming from initial Harry John grants to one of the most powerful religious stations in the country.

The experience of Mother Angelica which was also felt by Cdl. Mahony...

The rest of the story on Harry follows.

There was the case when John commissioned a treasure hunt for sunken ships plus risky investments in gold futures and junk bonds. Mrs. John and Gallagher filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee county circuit court to have John removed as a De Rance director. After a five month trial, the judge announced the plaintiffs had proven their allegations

Roeser does not mention that the "treasure hunt" actually paid off--the find was worth well over $50 million; but the claim had been sold off by Ms. John and Mr. Gallagher and the attorney in the case.

This was a very controversial ruling, even among disinterested attorneys. It represented something of a change in public policy regarding one's own fortune.

The Other Life of a Liturgeist; Anti-Catholicism, Again

Methinks the pastor is a prudent fellow.

UPDATE: this incident was played by all three Milwaukee TV channels (complete with live interviews) and has gone national via AP. The amount of vitriol and ignorant remarks directed at this parish priest is incredible. Charlie's program carried a "Bible-believing" woman who actually stated that 'the Bible [approves] of [sex toys] in marriage.'

All the coverage that I saw was sympathetic to the woman, perhaps partly because the parish priest did not make himself available for interviews and issued the standard "personnel matter" statement in writing.

But like the Xavier HS case, (see also here and here) the coverage is really anti-Catholic. Which is why I changed the title of this post. Curious, no, that the "wronged" in both these cases is a woman... UPDATE: The Catholic League agrees that (at least BabaWawa) is another anti-Catholic.

When her parish priest asked to meet with her, Linette Servais thought she was going to get a thank-you for her 35 years of service as organist and choir director at St. Joseph Catholic Parish in rural New Franken, near Green Bay.

Instead, she was given an ultimatum - quit her sales job with a company known as Pure Romance or be fired from her church work.

Pure Romance is a $60 million a year business based in Loveland, Ohio, that employs 15,000 consultants who sell spa products and "romance enhancers" - sex toys - at homes parties attended by women. Think Tupperware parties for the bedroom.

Ms. Servais didn't give up all that much:

Servais had worked for years without pay and did not seek any, but in recent times she'd been paid $1,000 a year to direct the choir and play the organ, a skill she learned from her grandmother, who had also played at the church.

The article does tell us how the pastor found out about her, ah, trade:

Servais said Dombroski's request for a meeting came shortly after she displayed some of what she calls spa products at a parish trade show that also featured other home businesses and craft sales.

The good Father may be able to find someone, equally well-trained, for another $1K/year. It's my understanding that the 'side-job' wedding-organist gigs pay well in Green Bay.

HT: The Provincial Emails

The Liturgeists Pushed Beckwith Out


For someone like me, who was interested in both the spiritual and intellectual grounding of the Christian faith, I didn’t need the “folk Mass” with cute nuns and hip priests playing “Kumbaya” with guitars, tambourines and harmonicas. And it was all badly done.

After all, we listened to the Byrds, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, and we knew the Church just couldn’t compete with them.

But that’s what the Church offered to the young people of my day: lousy pop music and a gutted Mass. If they were trying to make Catholicism unattractive to young and inquisitive Catholics, they were succeeding.

What I needed, and what many of us desired, were intelligent and winsome ambassadors for Christ who knew the intellectual basis for the Catholic faith, respected and understood the solemnity and theological truths behind the liturgy, and could explain the renewal movements in light of these.

So he left.

Gratias a Deo, he also returned.

HT: The New Liturgical Moment

Beating the Dead Horse

Now, 10 or so years after the fact, they manage to find 1,000 unhappy people:

More than 1,000 Catholics from all corners of the country have signed a petition protesting Lincoln Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz's actions against members of the Lincoln-based Call to Action Nebraska.

The petition also included criticism of his refusal to participate in the annual nationwide audit to determine whether churches are compliant with church policies regarding sex abuse. It will be delivered to the Lincoln Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church on Friday.

"We are not happy with the way Bishop Bruskewitz has been handling things in the diocese and wanted to draw attention to that," said Rachel Pokora, president of Call to Action Nebraska.

Aaawwwwww, geeee....Looks like somebody wants their daughter married "in the Church."

In an attempt to gain credibility, the group of twits bring up The Audit!!--which Bp. B. has not used since 2003:

Though the Lincoln Diocese participated in the organization's first audit in 2003, it has not participated since and was the only diocese in the country to decline participation in the most recent audit.

"We find this to be very disappointing because we feel the children of Lincoln and the diocese are at risk," said Nicole Sotelo, spokeswoman for the Chicago-based Call to Action U.S.A.

CTA/USA did not provide a listing of abuse incidents in Lincoln. That's because there have been none.

HT: Shaking Off Sleep

YESSSSS!!!! Fred's IN!!

Fred Dalton Thompson is planning to enter the presidential race over the Fourth of July holiday, announcing that week that he has already raised several million dollars and is being backed by insiders from the past three Republican administrations, Thompson advisers told The Politico.

SB 104: Does It Solve the Problem?

The Mayor of Milwaukee testified yesterday in the "showtime" hearing in Milwaukee:

Barrett said the bill is needed to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, teenagers and those with felony and domestic violence convictions.

Really? The 'mentally ill'?

As we mentioned earlier,

Only 22 states currently submit mental-health information to NICS’ Mental Defective File or its Denied Persons File, according to the FBI.

Maybe Wisconsin is one of those 23 States. (Research is underway.)

Reality Check: Governments SPEND TOO MUCH

Yah, hey.

The federal government recorded a $1.3 trillion loss last year — far more than the official $248 billion deficit — when corporate-style accounting standards are used, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The loss reflects a continued deterioration in the finances of Social Security and government retirement programs for civil servants and military personnel. The loss — equal to $11,434 per household — is more than Americans paid in income taxes in 2006.

Bottom line: Taxpayers are now on the hook for a record $59.1 trillion in liabilities, a 2.3% increase from 2006. That amount is equal to $516,348 for every U.S. household. By comparison, U.S. households owe an average of $112,043 for mortgages, car loans, credit cards and all other debt combined

Unfunded promises made for Medicare, Social Security and federal retirement programs account for 85% of taxpayer liabilities. State and local government retirement plans account for much of the rest.

And Wisconsin's "state and locals" are likely disproportionately represented in the pile.

HT: Grim'sHall

Homeland "Security" ---Who's Kidding Whom?

This is the Department which will be screening immigrants, too.

A declassified report confirms that Annie Jacobsen accurately recounted suspicious activities on a Northwest flight from Detroit to Los Angeles in the summer of 2004, and that a number of Syrians attempted a dry run for a terror attack.

...The Homeland Security personnel involved did not pass the irnformation along to their Operations Center, even though the leader of the group had been involved in a similar incident in January of that year, on Frontier Airlines. It didn't get logged into the HSOC database until the Washington Times reported it on July 26, 2004. By that time, all 12 Syrians had left the country.

TSA, for its part, said that the matter did not merit a referral since all of the passengers could be "cleared". It's fuzzy about why they thought that, since the DHS found a pattern of suspicious activity for eight of the men involved, including a "similar" incident involving the leader five months earlier. His third time, on a trip back from Istanbul, the FBI finally detained him.
DHS rejects the TSA excuse, stating categorically that the incident should have been logged into the HSOC and merited further investigation.

Can't even keep their own story straight.

HT: Captain's Quarters

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hypothetical Question

I have a question for you. Strictly hypothetical, of course.

Let's imagine that Criminal A was released from prison about 4 months ago and is suffering from a shortage of cash. And let's imagine that he meets Criminal B, who has been out of prison for about 3 years, has a job running drugs, and a few guns.

Criminal A would like to purchase a gun from Criminal B, to facilitate cooperation from a few future robbery victims.

You suppose that Criminals A & B will carefully observe the following: (?)

1. The transferee has done all of the following:

a. Provided identification to a firearms dealer as required by rule under sub.
(2g) (a).

b. Completed a notification form described under sub. (2g) (b).

c. Provided the firearms dealer the name, address, and telephone number of
the transferor from whom the transferee intends to obtain a handgun.

2. The transferor receives written notification from a firearms dealer that the
dealer requested the department of justice to conduct a firearms restrictions record
search regarding the transferee and either the department issued a unique approval

number for the transferee under sub. (2g) (c) 4. b. or the department did not complete
a firearms restrictions record search within the time period under sub. (2) (d) or (2g)
(c) 4. c.

(b) If the transferee in a transaction to which par. (a) applies requests that a
firearms dealer request a firearms restrictions record search regarding the
transferee, the firearms dealer shall do all of the following:

1. Inspect identification provided by a transferee under par. (a) 1. a. as required
by rule under sub. (2g) (a).

2. Promptly after receiving a completed notification form under par. (a) 1. b.,
convey the information from the completed notification form to the department of
justice as required by rule under sub. (2g) (b) and request a firearms restrictions
records search.

3. Promptly notify the transferor identified under par. (a) 1. c. in writing as
provided by rule under sub. (2g) (c) 5. of an approval or denial issued by the
department of justice under sub. (2g) (c) 4. or of the expiration of an applicable
deadline for completing a firearms restrictions record search under sub. (2) (d) or (2g)
(c) 4. c.

(c) The department of justice shall conduct a firearms restrictions record search
requested by a firearms dealer under par. (b) 2. and notify the dealer of the results
of the search as provided by rule under sub. (2g) (c) 4.

(d) A firearms dealer may charge a transferee the fee under sub. (2i) plus $5
for requesting the department of justice to conduct a firearms restrictions record
search of the transferee under this subsection.

Say what? You don't think so?

Well, Senators COGGS and LEHMAN, not to mention

are all absolutely, positively CERTAIN that the above-described niceties will be observed, to the letter, jot, and tittle.

Otherwise, they wouldn't be wasting the time and resources of the State Legislature to "debate" the merits of this fine piece of sausage, would they?

More Immigration Bill Problems

...and if you think the Senate bill is a steaming pile, look what the immigration attorneys' webpage says about the process:

This time, Senate Republicans can be certain that no matter how harsh a bill they craft, the bill will be significantly liberalized in a two step process. First, the House's bill will likely be STRIVE, or something even more generous (and bear in mind that STRIVE is more liberal than McCain-Kennedy in the number of its beneficiaries, in addition to having SKIL, AgJOBS, DREAM, and other goodies).

This time, Senate Republicans can be certain that no matter how harsh a bill they craft, the bill will be significantly liberalized in a two step process. First, the House's bill will likely be STRIVE, or something even more generous (and bear in mind that STRIVE is more liberal than McCain-Kennedy in the number of its beneficiaries, in addition to having SKIL, AgJOBS, DREAM, and other goodies).

Second, the Conference to reconcile the Senate's tough bill with the House's liberal bill will be controlled by Democrats from both chambers, probably Sen. Kennedy and Rep. Conyers. The likely result will be something far more generous than anything the Senate will pass.

That is why Sen. Kyl has to get all the concessions from Sen. Kennedy in the bank now, while the issue is still in the Senate. This way, Sen. Kyl is assured that the final Act will be slightly tougher on enforcement than otherwise. And that is why Sen. Kennedy continues to make concession after concession necessary to move the bill along, knowing full well that during Conference, the CIR bill will become more generous.

To the great credit of the politicians of both parties, they are moving the legislative process forward in the Senate despite strong opposition from both ends of the political spectrum. And the House is doing more than waiting in the wings. As Rep. Hoyer, the House Majority Leader, has already let slip, the House is determined to act on immigration regardless of what the Senate does.

The House's bill, the first glimpse of which should be available during markup in the week of June 4th (the same week that the Senate will finalize its bill), will likely have so much good news that the bar will likely drop its collective jaw! A Conference is, therefore, very likely on this bill even if the Senate bill fails.

The bar should face up to the undeniable fact that our immigration law is broken, and badly in need of a total re-write. That is the process that the Senate has so courageously begun. Those who cannot see the trees of the Senate bill's language for the wood of the legislative process would be well counselled to heed Bismarck's admonition that 'Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made'. Lets make improvements to the extent that is possible as the process unfolds, and prepare for a feast at the end. Bon Appetit!

Of course, when attorneys say "Bon Appetit," it is usually not good news.

The Immigration bar, however, is not concerned so much about unskilled immigrants as they are about 'skilled' immigrants. This means (by and large) software engineers. Microsoft and other tech firms (the chipmakers) argue strenuously that there is a "shortage" of software and computer engineers.

That would be believable if the salaries for such folks were increasing. But they are not--either at the entry-level, nor at "experienced" levels. What's going on is simple: the software and chip manufacturers would like to import lots of cheap labor from India; H1-B visas are the vehicle, and they look to large increases in H1-B authorizations from the House bill.

That will require the assistance of the Immigration bar.

Bon Appetit, indeed.

The President Talks Tough

Yah, sure, Mr. President.

"A lot of Americans are skeptical about immigration reform, primarily because they don't think the government can fix the problems," Bush said.

"And my answer to the skeptics is: give us a chance to fix the problems in a comprehensive way that enforces our border and treats people with decency and respect. Give us a chance to fix this problem. Don't try to kill this bill before it gets moving," Bush told students and instructors at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

And for SEVEN YEARS you've had the Border Patrol, ICE, etc., under your command...

So why do YOU think, Mr. President, that 'the Government can fix the problem'?

"Those determined to find fault with this bill will always be able to look at a narrow slice of it and find something they don't like,"

Actually, Mr. President, there are broad swaths of this Bill which are un-likeable. See Hugh Hewitt's list--that's just National Security. More here, and here.

And Hewitt is a "moderate."

Dear Mr. President,

Please get in touch.



Where DO These People Come From?

Followed a fifty-ish woman driving a Lexus 450 with dealer-plates down the road today. Had a passenger, nicely-dressed, so I assume he was the salesman from the dealership.

Obviously the woman was confused.

By the way she drove, it was clear that she thought she could buy both the car AND a driver's license in one fell swoop.

Jerked to a stop instead of making a left-turn, (with about 100 yards to spare between her and the 35-mph oncoming traffic). Jerked to a start when the oncoming traffic disappeared.

Managed to get to 40 or 42 MPH on the westward leg of the journey (in a 35 MPH zone,) and damn near vulcanized the road by standing on the brakes when she saw the radar-cop on the side--and trust me, these guys don't get TOO excited about 5-over drivers.

Hope the salesman survived the trip, and that she practices a bit more before obtaining a license from DMV.

Or just gets used to driving in civilization, or something.

Get Your Digitalis: 1957 Inflation Warnings Below!

Keep your oxygen and heart meds handy. This is purported to be a collection of apocryphal Inflation Warnings ans social signals from the year 1957 (in the USA.)

(1) "I'll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, its going to be impossible to buy a weeks groceries for $20.00."

(2) "Have you seen the new cars coming out next year? It won't be long when $5,000 will only buy a used one."

(3) "If cigarettes keep going up in price, I'm going to quit. A quarter a pack is ridiculous."

(4) "Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging a dime just to mail a letter?"

(5) "If they raise the minimum wage to $1, nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store."

(6) "When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday cost 29 cents a gallon? Guess we'd be better off leaving the car in the garage."

(7) "Kids today are impossible. Those ducktail hair cuts make it impossible to stay groomed. Next thing you know, boys will be wearing their hair as long as the girls;"

(8) "I'm afraid to send my kids to the movies any more. Ever since they let Clark Gable get by with saying damn in "Gone With The Wind", it seems every new movie has either hell or damn in it."

(9) "Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn't surprise me if someday that they will be making more than the President."

(10) "I never thought I'd see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric. They are even making electric typewriters now"

(11) "It's too bad things are so tough nowadays. I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet."

(12) "It won't be long before young couples are going to have to hire someone to watch their kids so they can both work."

(13) "I'm just afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to a whole lot of foreign business."

(14) "Thank goodness I won't live to see the day when the Government takes half our income in taxes. I sometimes wonder if we are electing the best people to Congress."

(15) "The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on."

(16) "I guess taking a vacation is out of the question now days. It costs nearly $15.00 a night to stay in a hotel."

(17) "No one can afford to be sick any more, $35.00 a day in the hospital is too rich for my blood

Still there?

HT: The Big Picture

The Big Money Behind "Enviros"

Cynicism comes naturally to anyone who pays attention.

Thus, when you hear the term "regulation," you can believe the pap-spewing telling you about how "regulation" provides untold benefits to mothers and children, the Republic, and the Globe in general.

Or you can dig around a bit to find the hidden agenda--which often is a "larger-profits" agenda.

Sure enough, "regulation" of waste-incineration is crawling out from under the skirt of WMX, also known as Waste Management. (The link provides some interesting history--it's a 1997 release from Greenpeace excoriating WMX for its terrible actions. Wonder if Greenpeace ever got in on the gravy-train described below?)

Basically, there is money to be made in incinerating certain forms of hazardous waste, and companies specialize in it. Then cement kilns found they could do it, too, and since the heat was useful to them, they charged only a third of what the incinerators were charging. The incinerators began setting up environment suits against the kilns.

"Examples of industry-environmentalist cooperation are numerous. Blakeman Early of the Sierra Club stated forthrightly that “The commercial waste industry has an interest in improving regulations sufficiently to drive mom-and-pop operations out of business.”
Adler notes that WMX, the largest waste management company in the United States, “has funded the National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Wilderness Society, and World Resources Institute, typically giving over $700,000 annually to environmental causes.”

A former director of environmental affairs for WMX, William Y. Brown, who also served as acting director of the Environmental Defense Fund, acknowledged, “We’re in a position to benefit from the same objectives that [environmental groups] are pursuing…. Stricter legislation is environmentally good and it also helps our business.”

It's no different from the "Regulation" of shoe-shine stands at airports, or of "barbering" services. It's merely elimination of the competition.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

HT: Arms and the Law

Venezuela: What the MSM Doesn't Tell You

Here's the AP wire report from JSOnline this morning.
Venezuelan police fired tear gas and plastic bullets Monday into a crowd of thousands protesting a decision by President Hugo Chavez that forced a television station critical of his leftist government off the air.

There's a picture of a protester throwing a rock at Venezuelan troops; the protester is one of thousands who are unhappy that the Marxist dictator of Venezuela has shut down the country's only independent TV station--in favor of a State-run enterprise.

Here's the Gateway Pundit blog coverage:

For the first time today, Hugo Chavez has sent in tanks to the city centers to line up against the opposition protesting his Marxist takeover of the media

While the picture above was described as a "tank" by the bloggers, it looks more like an armored vehicle (no long-gun is visible in the pic.)

But text from this site indicates that there were tanks:

Venezuelan army tanks and security forces deployed across the capital and other cities ahead of the protests, which are expected to continue Sunday

Likely there will be no AP reports of tanks after the "Equal Time" laws are passed, either.

On the other hand, that's what "Equal Time" is all about. Chavez and other Lefty dictators get the time. You get whatever's equal--as determined by the Left.

HT: Newsbusters

Monday, May 28, 2007

Not Just Today

These men and women should be gratefully remembered every day...

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

--Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Updated Food Pyramid

Couldn't resist. Stolen from The Big Picture.

ACORN's Getting Active

Yah, hey.

For only $10.00/month, ACORN's going to fix the crime-problem in the area around 55th/Silver Spring.

At least, that's what their flyers said--which were stuffed into every doorway in the area in the last few days.

Actually, that could be a hell of a deal. If they can do for $10.00/month what the entire Milwaukee Police Department cannot do, it may be worth the investment.

Federal Rules: Wisconsin Suffers

As we mentioned, Federal grants look very nice. But like some other books, the cover is misleading.

In order to get "free" Federal money for transportation projects, Wisconsin drivers have to purchase expensive reformulated gasoline (using Corn-a-Hole) and wait in line every two years for someone to "check" their car's emission.

If the EPA approves the request, motorists in the region still would have to use reformulated gas. The vehicle inspection maintenance program, which inspects 750,000 cars and light trucks a year, likely also would have to stay because it's required by federal law.

Business in Southeastern Wisconsin has been squelched by EPA ozone rulings for years. To help businesses,

...the state will ask the EPA to declare that eight counties, including six in southeastern Wisconsin, are in compliance with federal standards for a pollutant known as ozone.

The change in designation would be a major coup for economic development efforts in the region. Wisconsin's longstanding violation of ozone levels has "essentially stifled growth" for large companies, said Allen Shea, the DNR's top air regulator.

As most people know, a good deal of the pollution migrates to SE Wisconsin from the south--specifically NE Illinois and Ohio. It's called airborne pollution, and it gets here with the wind.

But it's not that simple:

On Monday, George Torres, Milwaukee County director of transportation and public works, warned the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority that lifting the ozone designation could threaten another part of the KRM line's funding - federal grants aimed at reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. Transportation consultant Peter Peyser agreed those grants are tied to the region's ozone status.

Which is to say that the ChooChoo boys will be unhappy.

All to get the "free" Federal money.

Chertoff's Homeland "Security"--Faking It

While Mike Chertoff is slandering citizens who don't think much of the Immigration Bill, his minions at Orlando are apparently falsifying paperwork on arrivals at the airport.

Six U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Orlando Sanford International Airport have come forward alleging they were told to falsify customs records for arriving international passengers in order to handle large volumes of traffic and to create the impression they were carrying out the required number of enforcement screenings.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the six federal whistleblowers – all agricultural specialists – charged they were given stacks of forms, called IO25s, for people they had not personally interviewed and told to enter false information into the Treasury Enforcement Communication System database.

And to make it even more interesting, the falsifications may have long-term repercussions on the travelers who were not really interviewed:

Further, the workers charge they were told to code the IO25s as ENF, for "Enforcement Action," instead of the less serious code of PPQ, for "Plant Protection and Quarantine."

"This would falsely reflect that the passenger or crew member had been stopped, interviewed, and bags inspected in connection with a suspicion of possessing contraband or engaging in unlawful activity," reported the special counsel. "Several of the whistleblowers questioned this and were told that things were done differently at Sanford, and that they should go ahead and enter the information as directed."

Chertoff did not have a comment.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

"Inside the Vatican" Stuff on Liturgy and Personnel Issues

There are some fascinating (really, really juicy) bits of info in these YouTubes for those of you who watch liturgical developments.

Even my Prot readers may enjoy this--if nothing else, to learn that the Woes of Management are exactly the same everywhere.

The speaker, Bp. Fellay, is a very persuasive guy.

Interesting. In the second UTube, a dark reference to Cdl. Arinze...

And just exactly where is Cdl. Sodano? What office does he occupy?

HT: Rorate Coeli

DOT Thinking....or Not...

Headless reminds us that Wisconsin's very own DOT drew up the route for this windmill to travel.

And if you've looked at the corner in question in Meno Falls, you'll note that the truck had to make a 120-degree turn (to approximately 4:00, not 3:00)

DOT states that they drew the route with overpass-height and bridge-strength in mind.

Obviously, extreme turns aren't a problem for DOT folks who drive State-issued cars.

Not Convinced About "The Economy?"

Despite the Bushbot yappings and mewlings, some folks remain un-convinced that Everything's Coming Up Roses.

And as usual, FedStats are questioned. Here, the "employment" numbers from BLS, which actually issues ANOTHER report which damages the creds of the better-known "employment" report:

But that [the discrepancy between reported and real] can be huge is evident in another report issued last week by that same Bureau of Labor Statistics (which might better be called the Bureau of Labored Statistics). It's called Business Employment Dynamics,

...this series reports detailed gross job gains and losses in the private sector based on nearly complete coverage "of the employment universe provided by the unemployment insurance system."

...Thus, compared with a gain for the quarter of 442,000 jobs reported in the so-called establishment survey, the Business Employment Dynamics, or BED, reckoning was a scant 19,000 additions. In manufacturing, the 9,000 jobs lost according to the payroll figures balloon into a loss of 95,000 jobs in the BED data; the improbable 20,000 additions in construction (think: housing) turns into a loss of 77,000 by BED's measure; the 507,000 gain in private services shrinks to 108,00. And so it goes.

---Alan Abelson, quoted in The Big Picture

Memorial Day

From PowerLine, a story of a survivor:

One of Mr. Thorsness's most vivid memories from seven years of imprisonment involved a fellow prisoner named Mike Christian, who one day found a grimy piece of cloth, perhaps a former handkerchief, during a visit to the nasty concrete tank where the POWs were occasionally allowed a quick sponge bath. Christian picked up the scrap of fabric and hid it.

Back in his cell he convinced prisoners to give him precious crumbs of soap so he could clean the cloth. He stole a small piece of roof tile which he laboriously ground into a powder, mixed with a bit of water and used to make horizontal stripes. He used one of the blue pills of unknown provenance the prisoners were given for all ailments to color a square in the upper left of the cloth. With a needle made from bamboo wood and thread unraveled from the cell's one blanket, Christian stitched little stars on the blue field.

"It took Mike a couple weeks to finish, working at night under his mosquito net so the guards couldn't see him," Mr. Thorsness told me. "Early one morning, he got up before the guards were active and held up the little flag, waving it as if in a breeze. We turned to him and saw it coming to attention and automatically saluted, some of us with tears running down our cheeks.

Of course, the Vietnamese found it during a strip search, took Mike to the torture cell and beat him unmercifully. Sometime after midnight they pushed him into our cell, so bad off that even his voice was gone. But when he recovered in a couple weeks he immediately started looking for another piece of cloth."

DC Gun Ban Action and a Warning from the DC Circuit

Interesting, courtesy of John Lott:

"Yesterday the DC Circuit granted DC's unopposed motion to stay the mandate in the Parker case until August 7, the deadline for a cert petition. In an extraordinary statement (see attached), Judge Silberman warned DC that it would have been inappropriate to request a stay if DC did not intend to file for cert."

In other words, Silberman suspects that DC is just playing games with the Court to avoid changing its gun-ban ordinance per the recent decision.

A suspicion which appears to have grounds:

There are rumors floating around DC that DC and the gun control groups getting cold feet and believe that they will lose if they go to the Supreme Court. A couple of different people told me about this last night at the annual CEI dinner. My own guess is that if DC doesn't appeal after making so much noise about doing just that, gun control groups will suffer a serious black eye and will be taunted with that decision for years. For them not to go forward, they must be really worried about suffering a very serious loss at the Supreme Court.

Later in Lott's post, the Mayor of DC acknowledges that a loss at SCOTUS would have serious effects in Chicago, Boston, and NYC--but the Mayor intends to 'do what is right for DC citizens.'

Well, Your Honor, "what is right" would be to abrogate your stupid ordinance.

But don't let that bother you; fight on!!!


Governors As Presidents: The Resulting Problem

While it's likely that the Shark has more finely-tuned (and elegant) comments on this issue, I'll toss the ball into the cage.

Over the past several months, the idea that GWBush is a 'Governor-serving-as-President' has crawled around inside my head.

It's clear that GWB had the right instincts regarding the 9/11 event (and its predecessor attacks on the US) and has chosen an effective way to keep the battle off US soil. For this he deserves all the thanks and credit which can be given him. Similarly, on the life issues, GWB has been consistent--and on the right side.

On the rest of the domestic front, however, GWB has been damn near a disaster; his spending programs are almost laughably excessive; his immigration program is universally disliked; his understanding of Con Law is weak (see, e.g., his signature on McCain-Feingold, or the continuing imbroglio over Executive powers vis-a-vis internal security), his appointments to the Cabinet are weak, (and he earned no gold-star for Ms. Myers, either) and he has invited the Democrats to construct a massive tax-increase program in response to the Federal deficit.

In short, GWB is a "Big Gummint Republican," which is the worst of all possible worlds for Conservatives; we have to hold our noses and vote for him--or perhaps, 'vote against the worse' is the way to put it.

Along comes Cato with an interesting paper. (HT: Captain's Quarters)

Federal spending on aid to the states increased from $286 billion in fiscal 2000 to an estimated $449 billion in fiscal 2007 and is the third-largest item in the federal budget after Social Security and national defense. The number of different aid programs for the states soared from 463 in 1990, to 653 in 2000, to 814 by 2006.

The theory behind aid to the states is that federal policymakers can design and operate programs in the national interest to efficiently solve local problems. In practice, most federal politicians are not inclined to pursue broad, national goals; they are consumed by the competitive scramble to secure subsidies for their states. At the same time, federal aid stimulates overspending by the states, requires large bureaucracies to administer, and comes with a web of complex regulations that limit state flexibility.

At all levels of the aid system, the focus is on spending and regulations, not on delivering quality services. And by involving all levels of government in just about every policy area, the aid system creates a lack of accountability. When every government is responsible for an activity, no government is responsible, as was evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

(The same can be said for State aids to localities and schools in Wisconsin, by the way. Just change the number of zeros and a few names.)

Cato bemoans the imminent Death of Federalism. The cause of this is bi-partisan; but another, equally descriptive term would be "bi-cravenism." Members of Congress (with a few exceptions) are fixated on one thing: re-election; and to assure that result, they apply the grease of Spending; and if they can force the several States to spend as well, (the usual hook buried in the bait) the effect is multiplied for whatever interests they happen to serve. The President can (and in the last two Administrations, DOES) cooperate in these efforts.

The Reagan Revolution did attempt to address this. A look at Figure 1 shows that the percentage of the federal budget devoted to state subsidies dropped from 1980 (15.5%) to 1990 (10.8%). By the time the Clinton era came to an end, it had reached a historical high (16.0%), about where it remains today. During this time, both Republican and Democratic executives and Congresses contributed to the problem

Going hand-in-hand with increased Federal "aid" is increased State and local spending (and consequently, taxing) as the States and locals must jump through certain, usually-expensive hoops to get the Fed moneys. (Does the Milwaukee Choo-Choo controversy ring a bell? Well, then, how about "Click-It-or-Ticket"?)

It occurs that one who occupies the Presidency should have a larger weltaunschuung than that demonstrated by Clinton and Bush; that treating the Presidency as a "Larger State Governor" position is wholly inadequate to the Federalist principles of the Constitution, particularly the now-dead-letter 9th and 10th Amendments.

And it is a prescription for fiscal debilitation of the taxpaying citizens.

Something to think about...

Immune to Irony, Driving Away Friends

Linda Chavez, an ex-AFT (union) exec and ex-Reagan Administration appointee, spews the following bile:

Some people just don't like Mexicans -- or anyone else from south of the border. They think Latinos are freeloaders and welfare cheats who are too lazy to learn English. They think Latinos have too many babies, and that Latino kids will dumb down our schools. They think Latinos are dirty, diseased, indolent and more prone to criminal behavior. They think Latinos are just too different from us ever to become real Americans.

No amount of hard, empirical evidence to the contrary, and no amount of reasoned argument or appeals to decency and fairness, will convince this small group of Americans -- fewer than 10 percent of the general population, at most -- otherwise. Unfortunately, among this group is a fair number of Republican members of Congress, almost all influential conservative talk radio hosts, some cable news anchors -- most prominently, Lou Dobbs -- and a handful of public policy "experts" at organizations such as the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, in addition to fringe groups like the Minuteman Project.

Even if it were true, it has little to do with the instant problem: ILLEGAL immigration, cheap/under-the-table payments, tax evasion...

Ms. Chavez should be acquainted with the ins-and-outs of that, right?

In 2001, President George W. Bush nominated her for Secretary of Labor, but the nomination was withdrawn after it was revealed that she had allegedly given money to an illegal immigrant who lived in her home. Chavez contended that she had not actually employed the woman, but had merely provided her with emergency assistance.[1] The woman Chavez allegedly employed (who is now a legal citizen of the United States) also insists she was not an employee of Chavez, and credits Chavez with helping her at a time when she needed it most. A subsequent investigation of the matter by the FBI found Chavez was not guilty of any wrongdoing.

Granted--some portion of the anti-Amnesty group are racist, or xenophobes.

And some portion of the pro-Amnesty crowd are craven opportunists, whether political, union-based, or "capitalist." (See, e.g., the pimps in Minnesota.)

But Ms. Chavez' screed is another example of exactly what she protests. She ought to know better.

Photo ID to Vote? 7th Circuit Says "OK"

The State of Indiana requires a photo ID to vote. The Usual Suspects sued.

...So it is that when the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in January (and effectively affirmed the decision by denial of a rehearing in April) that Indiana was within its rights to require photo IDs at the polls, the state Democratic Party and would-be voters represented by the ACLU decided (just last week) to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the decision.

But the U.S. Constitution gives to state legislatures the responsibility to “prescribe” the “times, places and manner of holding elections,” and the high court has consistently held that states have the right to impose regulations on voting in order to ensure the integrity and fairness of the balloting.

Two very familiar names emerge. Sadly, one looks like a fool with an agenda.

Plaintiffs in the Indiana case (Crawford v. Marion County Election Board) argued that the requirement for a photo ID would disenfranchise a fairly large number of voters. But, writing for the majority, acclaimed Judge Richard Posner noted that “the principle [sic] evidence on which the plaintiffs relied … was declared by the district judge to be ‘totally unreliable’ because of a number of methodological flaws.”

Against Posner’s logic and multiple citations of relevant case law, dissenting Judge Terence Evans struggled to find enough flexibility in Burdick to allow him to overrule the district court and the state Legislature and thus find the ID requirement invalid.

Most of his five-page dissent, however, is devoted neither to case law nor to citations of constitutional clauses, but rather to what he called “anecdotal tidbit[s]” and to his own impressions of how things ought to be.

Precise facts do not seem to matter to him: “This law will make it significantly more difficult for some eligible voters — I have no idea how many, but 4 percent is a number that has been bandied about — to vote.”

Facts may be unimportant to Evans, but his own policy advice to the elected state legislators does seem to matter: “Constricting the franchise in a democratic society, when efforts should be instead undertaken to expand it, is not the way to go.”

And again, without citing evidence, he writes: “I believe that most of the problems with our voting system … [he gives multiple examples] … are suggestive of mismanagement, not electoral wrongdoing.” This isn’t judging; it’s legislating from the bench.

We'll see how Evans' yammerings hold up at the SCOTUS level--if they grant cert.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Find-A-Problem for $30 Million

It's been reported that the Federal Highway Trust Fund is dishing out $30 million to the several States....

As an enticement for the several States to loose upon the driving public swarms of officers to harass them...

...Finding among their "offenses" the high misdemeanor of Not Wearing a Seat Belt.

Meaning that the State of Wisconsin is willing to spend your time and money to harass YOU while you drive.

Password Protected? Not According to the 10th Circuit

Interesting questions, here:

The Fourth Amendment generally prohibits warrantless searches of an individual's home or possessions. There is an exception to the warrant requirement when someone consents to the search. Consent can be given by the person under investigation, or by a third party with control over or mutual access to the property being searched. Because the Fourth Amendment only prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures," permission given by a third party who lacks the authority to consent will nevertheless legitimize a warrantless search if the consenter has "apparent authority," meaning that the police reasonably believed that the person had actual authority to control or use the property.

Under existing case law, only people with a key to a locked closet have apparent authority to consent to a search of that closet. Similarly, only people with the password to a locked computer have apparent authority to consent to a search of that device. In Andrus, the father did not have the password (or know how to use the computer) but the police say they did not have any reason to suspect this because they did not ask and did not turn the computer on. Then, they used forensic software that automatically bypassed any installed password.

The majority held that the police officers not only weren't obliged to ask whether the father used the computer, they had no obligation to check for a password before performing their forensic search. In dissent, Judge Monroe G. McKay criticized the agents' intentional blindness to the existence of password protection, when physical or digital locks are such a fundamental part of ascertaining whether a consenting person has actual or apparent authority to permit a police search. "(T)he unconstrained ability of law enforcement to use forensic software such at the EnCase program to bypass password protection without first determining whether such passwords have been enabled ... dangerously sidestep(s) the Fourth Amendment."

So 'permission to enter and search' includes password-locked (think padlocked) areas under the exceptions to the 4th's general prohibition of 'unreasonable search'?


HT: The Agitator

Mark Shea: Here's REAL "Torture"

The fellow (who actually knows nothing whatsoever about interrogation techniques) might want to examine REAL 'torture' methods utilized by the "victims of Gitmo's" brothers-in-arms.

HT: Moonbattery

Who LIKES the Immigration Reform Bill?

Here's a list, courtesy of Malkin:

ACORN, Asian American Justice Center, Center for American Progress, Center for Community Change, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), Denver Area Labor Federation, El Centro, Inc., El Pueblo, Hate Free Zone, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, LA County Federation of Labor, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, LULAC, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, MALDEF, NAACP, NAKASEC, NALACC, National Capital Immigrant Coalition, National Council of La Raza, National Immigration Forum, National Immigration Law Center, Nebraska Appleseed, New York Immigration Coalition, PCUN/CAUSA, SEIU, SEIU 32BJ, SEIU Florida Healthcare Union, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, UNITE HERE, UNITE HERE Local 226 Las Vegas, UNITE HERE New Jersey State Council, United Farm Workers, United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society.

The Catholic groups are the usual suspects, including the USCC, which has yet to meet a stupid idea which they don't embrace.

More interesting are the labor groups. My friends who argue that the illegals, when 'legalized' will vote Republican, should re-examine their belief system given the facts above.

ACORN, of course, has its own objective, loosely defined as "anarchy."

By the way, the funding for this coalition comes from a Soros-connected source.

Even Mike McCann Didn't Think Like This

...although I wouldn't put it past DarthDoyle (as AG or as Governor.)

In discussing San Francisco's gun-control program (only crooks will have guns, doh...) the DA says the following:

The idea, she contends, is to remind legal gun owners how to behave.

"Just because you legally possess a gun in the sanctity of your locked home doesn't mean that we're not going to walk into that home and check to see if you're being responsible and safe in the way that you conduct your affairs," Harris said.

Maybe the 4th Amendment doesn't apply in the area governed by the 9th Circus.

HT: ClayCramer

Preventing Local LEO's From Asking Questions

The usual-suspect RINOs voted against an amendment to the Immigration Crap.

Senator Coleman’s legislation will not require local law enforcement to use their own resources to enforce federal immigration laws. Moreover, it does not require local law enforcement to conduct immigration raids or act as federal agents. Senator Coleman’s bill will simply give law enforcement officers the ability to inquiry about a person’s immigration status during their routine investigations, and in turn report their findings to the appropriate Federal authorities though already-established channels, as they are currently required to do by law.

This was a tight vote; it lost, 49-48. The RINOs?

Graham (R-SC) [the Republican Breck Girl], Hagel (R-NE) [working on Pomposity Crown '07], Lugar (R-IN) [ran for Pres, bailed in 4 months], Martinez (R-FL) [also RNC Chairman], Snowe (R-ME) [against all odds, still not entirely senile], Specter (R-PA) ["Scotty"] , Voinovich (R-OH)

HT: The Captain

Goes Fast, Flies High

The Badger Blogger picked up a habit from Chris, and gives us a good one:

The SR-71 holds many records for its class, including:

–Absolute speed record of 2,242 mph
–Absolute sustained altitude record of 85,068.997 feet
–Coast-to-coast speed record at an average 2,124 mph (coast-to-coast in 68 minutes)
–New York to London: 1 hour 54 minutes (Concorde averaged 3 hours 20 minutes, and the Boeing 747 averages 6 hours)

These records are all below the actual top speed, which is only said to be Mach 3.3+.

Follow the link for the picture.

Asian Badger doesn't even DREAM in those numbers...

WSJ Editorials: Fact-Challenged

There are a lot of folks who take the Wall Street Journal's editorials seriously, including the editors of the WSJ.

Over the years, however, we've become more and more skeptical of the underlying philosophy (or 'religion,' if you prefer) and assertions made by the editorialists.

Now it appears that other Conservatives are a bit restive, too.

Yesterday, the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector sent this letter to the editor to the Wall Street Journal in reply to an editorial Thursday criticizing his immigration research. Heritage released it to the public Thursday afternoon and it is reprinted in full here.

Your May 24 editorial attacks my research on the fiscal costs of low skill immigration as perpetuating a “myth”. Roughly one third of immigrant households are now headed by immigrants without a high school degree. My research, based on Census data and other government sources, shows these “low skill immigrant” households receive, on average, $30,160 per year in government benefits while paying $10,573 in taxes. Thus each such household costs the taxpayer $19,588 per year. Overall, the net cost to U.S. taxpayers is $89 billion per year. My report suggests that the country would benefit fiscally by having fewer low skill immigrants, who are net tax consumers, and more well educated immigrants who are net tax payers.

How does your editorial refute this finding? By changing the subject. Rather than rebut my contention that low skill immigrants are a fiscal drag, it presents statistics about how much all immigrants, including college graduates, pay in taxes. Far from refuting my study, this tactic is either misleading or, at best, irrelevant. It certainly does not demonstrate that low skill immigrants pay more in taxes than they take in benefits.

The editorial also asserts, contrary to the manifest facts, that low skill immigrants do not receive large amounts of means-tested welfare assistance...Immigrants do have limited eligibility for welfare, which is why my report counts the welfare received by immigrant households based on the immigrants’ self-report of welfare receipt to the Census Bureau

...Unless immigrants are over-reporting their own welfare benefits, one finds that low skill immigrant households receive about $10,000 per year in means-tested welfare throughout their lifetimes. This figure does not include other major benefits such as public education, Social Security, and Medicare.

It would be foolish to measure immigration only in terms of "cost," and I don't propose to do so. However, it would be nice if the WSJ condescended to acknowledge facts, rather than regurgitate the Big Agriculture/Fortune 500 line of crap now and then.

Advice to GWB: Try to Keep a Few Friends

The Spectator Blog opines that GWB's religious fervor over Amnesty will alienate his friends.


...he continues to misrepresent the immigration debate, and thus lose any chance to attract fence-sitters to his side. Again today, he suggested that the opponents of his immigration plan want us instead to do a massive manhunt and forcibly and quickly deport all 12 millions [sic] illegals -- and then says that, well, of course that's an impossible task, which is why his opponents are wrong. But not even the anti-immigration hardliners at National Review have ever suggested doing that. Again and again and again, the mainstream anti-illegal immigration folks have said their preferred option is to get tough on border enforcement and get tougher on employers who hire illegals, and let the rest of the problem work itself over time by mere attrition. That is NOT a massive deportation scheme. For Bush to continue to insist that mass, forced deportation is his opponents' only alternative is like sticking a hot fork in their eyes. And, since a large percentage of them are people who otherwise are among the last holdouts SUPPORTING Bush on other matters, his insult to their motives and their intelligence is particularly ill advised.

GWB also trots out his Homeland Security Gnome, Mike Chertoff, to call people who oppose this abomination of legislation 'nativists', and 'racists', and other endearing terms.

Chertoff has plenty of problems within the Homeland "Security" Department--like ICE agents who simply ignore or actively stiff local requests for assistance with illegals who behave in a criminal fashion. He doesn't really need any more enemies, either.