Saturday, May 31, 2008

Snotty Texas Judge: Screw the Constitution!

The snotty judge-ette who who can't understand the Constitution has her undies in a bundle.

The judge then said she would sign the initial document, but only after all 38 mothers involved in the case the high court ruled on signed it first.

State officials had said earlier that children could start being returned Monday, but attorneys for the parents said the new requirement could add days to the time frame.

The high court on Thursday affirmed an appeals court ruling ordering Walther to reverse her decision last month

Hell hath no fury...

HT: John Lott

National Gun Ban: Get Rich Selling Knives

In England:

One of Britain's leading trauma surgeons has told how one in three of his Accident & Emergency patients is now a stabbing victim.

Karim Brohi, a consultant surgeon at the Royal London Hospital, said the proportion of injuries from knives and guns was now on a level with - if not greater than - cities such as Los Angeles or Chicago.

He described how, on occasions, the wards in his hospital resembled "a war zone" with some patients being treated for their second or third knife wound.

And - in a letter to the Evening Standard - Mr Brohi, along with two senior trauma medics, called for more prevention strategies to solve the underlying causes of knife crime.

No question about it. Gun control worked.

HT: Clay Cramer

"Well, I Had a Couple of Drinks..."

Drinking leads to forgetting stuff.

When the officer walked up to the woman's car, he noticed she was not wearing pants or underwear, just a white sweater. The woman initially denied that she had been drinking but later admitted she had had a couple drinks earlier in the evening.

The report did not say whether the woman's clothing was in her car.

China Is Our Friend, Part 60,186: Utilities, Slurping, and National Defense

If you rely on electricity, you'll be interested in this story.

If you're Governor Jim Doyle's security guy, you'll be interested in this story.

And if you are fool enough to think that PRChina is "our friend," maybe this story won't matter to you...

Computer hackers in China, including those working on behalf of the Chinese government and military, have penetrated deeply into the information systems of U.S. companies and government agencies, stolen proprietary information from American executives in advance of their business meetings in China, and, in a few cases, gained access to electric power plants in the United States, possibly triggering two recent and widespread blackouts in Florida and the Northeast, according to U.S. government officials and computer-security experts.

One prominent expert told National Journal he believes that China’s People’s Liberation Army played a role in the power outages

You will remember this outage:

...the intrusion may have precipitated the largest blackout in North American history, which occurred in August of that year. A 9,300-square-mile area, touching Michigan, Ohio, New York, and parts of Canada, lost power; an estimated 50 million people were affected.

Officially, the blackout was attributed to a variety of factors, none of which involved foreign intervention. Investigators blamed “overgrown trees” that came into contact with strained high-voltage lines near facilities in Ohio owned by FirstEnergy Corp. More than 100 power plants were shut down during the cascading failure. A computer virus, then in wide circulation, disrupted the communications lines that utility companies use to manage the power grid, and this exacerbated the problem...

Just a coincidence, that virus, of course...

PRC tried it again, and succeeded:

...a blackout in February, which affected 3 million customers in South Florida, was precipitated by a cyber-hacker. That outage cut off electricity along Florida’s east coast, from Daytona Beach to Monroe County, and affected eight power-generating stations

...a Chinese PLA hacker attempting to map Florida Power & Light’s computer infrastructure apparently made a mistake. “The hacker was probably supposed to be mapping the system for his bosses and just got carried away and had a ‘what happens if I pull on this’ moment.” The hacker triggered a cascade effect, shutting down large portions of the Florida power grid, the security expert said. “I suspect, as the system went down, the PLA hacker said something like, ‘Oops, my bad,’ in Chinese.”

But it's hardly restricted to just shutting down infrastructure.

...officials are worried about the Chinese using long-established computer-hacking techniques to steal sensitive information from government agencies and U.S. corporations.

Brenner, the U.S. counterintelligence chief, said he knows of “a large American company” whose strategic information was obtained by its Chinese counterparts in advance of a business negotiation. As Brenner recounted the story, “The delegation gets to China and realizes, ‘These guys on the other side of the table know every bottom line on every significant negotiating point.’ They had to have got this by hacking into [the company’s] systems.”

That would not be surprising, knowing the Chinese' inclination to cheat. (See, e.g., the various "fake" brand-label items. Ask Briggs & Stratton, or Chrysler Corp. about that...)

Now we get to Jim Doyle.

During a trip to Beijing in December 2007, spyware programs designed to clandestinely remove information from personal computers and other electronic equipment were discovered on devices used by Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and possibly other members of a U.S. trade delegation, according to a computer-security expert with firsthand knowledge of the spyware used. Gutierrez was in China with the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, a high-level delegation that includes the U.S. trade representative and that meets with Chinese officials to discuss such matters as intellectual-property rights, market access, and consumer product safety. According to the computer-security expert, the spyware programs were designed to open communications channels to an outside system, and to download the contents of the infected devices at regular intervals. The source said that the computer codes were identical to those found in the laptop computers and other devices of several senior executives of U.S. corporations who also had their electronics “slurped” while on business in China

Heh. Jim Doyle, world-traveler, was just over in PRC on a trade mission. By now the PRC knows the personal peccadillos of all the Republicans in the Legislature. And they're probably laughing up their sleeves about the State of Wisconsin's budget "remedy."

And who traveled with Doyle? Have they had their laptops scoured since?

“China is indeed a counterintelligence threat, and specifically a cyber-counterintelligence threat,” said Brenner, who served for four years as inspector general of the National Security Agency, the intelligence organization that electronically steals other countries’ secrets. Brenner said that the American company’s experience “is an example of how hard the Chinese will work at this, and how much more seriously the American corporate sector has to take the information-security issue.” He called economic espionage a national security risk and said that it makes little difference to a foreign power whether it steals sensitive information from a government-operated computer or from one owned by a contractor. “If you travel abroad and are the director of research or the chief executive of a large company, you’re a target,” he said

And now we get to the "We may be lying about this...." part, wherein hacked USGovernment agencies deny that there was "any damage."

That is, 'There's no damage we're going to TELL YOU about, stupid!!"

In 2007, an unidentified hacker broke into the e-mail system for Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s office, and the Pentagon shut down about 1,500 computers in response. But officials said that the intrusion caused no harm. In 2006, a State Department employee opened an e-mail containing a Trojan horse, a program designed to install itself on a host machine to give a hacker covert access. As a result, officials cut off Internet access to the department’s East Asia and Pacific region, but the department suffered no long-term problems

"Nothing to see here. Move along."

This IS serious.

So why are so many officials increasingly sounding the alarm about network attacks, Chinese hacking and espionage, and the advent of cyberwar?

Part of the answer lies in officials’ most recent appraisals of the cyber-threat. They cite evidence that attacks are increasing in volume and appear engineered more to cause real harm than sporadic inconvenience. Without naming China, Robert Jamison, the top cyber-security official at DHS, told reporters at a March briefing, “We’re concerned that the intrusions are more frequent, and they’re more targeted, and they’re more sophisticated.”

What about a three-to-five day power blackout in SE Wisconsin? Think you and/or your business could take that without missing a beat?

Because most of the infrastructure in the United States is privately owned, the government finds it exceptionally difficult to compel utility operators to better monitor their systems. The FBI and DHS have established formal groups where business operators can disclose their known vulnerabilities privately. (Companies fear that public exposure will decrease shareholder confidence or incite more hackings.) But membership in these organizations isn’t compulsory. Furthermore, many of the systems that utility operators use were designed by others. Intelligence officials now worry that software developed overseas poses another layer of risk because malicious codes or backdoors can be embedded in the software at its creation. U.S. officials have singled out software manufacturers in emerging markets such as, not surprisingly, China.

But hey! That software was CHEAPER!! We got our SCADA system's security at the best possible price--what could possibly go wrong??

Were it just a matter of keeping your beer cold, or your Legislator's drinking habits private!

“Numerous computer networks around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, were subject to intrusions that appear to have originated within” the People’s Republic of China. Although not claiming that the attacks were conducted by the Chinese government, or officially endorsed, the declaration built upon the previous year’s warning that the People’s Liberation Army is “building capabilities for information warfare” for possible use in “pre-emptive attacks.”

Defense and intelligence officials have been surprised by China’s cyber-advances, according to the U.S-China Economic and Security Review Commission. In November, the commission reported that “Chinese military strategists have embraced … cyberattacks” as a weapon in their military arsenal.

“We are currently in a cyberwar, and war is going on today,” Andrew Palowitch, who’s now a consultant to U.S. Strategic Command, told an audience at Georgetown University in November. STRATCOM, headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, oversees the Defense Department’s Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations, which defends military systems against cyber-attack. Palowitch cited statistics, provided by Cartwright, that 37,000 reported breaches of government and private systems occured in fiscal 2007. The Defense Department experienced almost 80,000 computer attacks, he said. Some of these assaults “reduced” the military’s “operational capabilities,” Palowitch noted.

For all his other problems, at least The President is paying attention to this.

...the White House [has crafted] an executive order laying out a broad and ambitious plan to shore up government-network defenses. Known internally as “the cyber-initiative,” it was formally issued in January. The details remain classified, but it has been reported that the order authorizes the National Security Agency to monitor federal computer networks. It also requires that the government dramatically scale back the number of points at which federal networks connect to the public Internet. The Office of Management and Budget has directed agencies to limit the total number of Internet “points of presence” to 50 by June.

Some doubt that it is only PRC who is playing with our national defense systems--and it's probably not ONLY the PRC. On the other hand,

China’s military history has been defined by asymmetric warfare, said Harry Harding, an expert on Chinese domestic politics and U.S.-China relations, who teaches at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Cyber-warfare is just one of the more recent tactics. If the U.S. government tries to protect its systems, the Chinese will simply attack the private sector; he cited the financial services industry as an obvious target. “I have no doubt that China is doing this,” Harding said.

The good news: computer hackers cannot disable a good old-fashioned Mauser 98 action.

Buy more ammo.

Friday, May 30, 2008

RadioMouth Misses the News, Rants to No End

A late-afternoon Milwaukee RadioMouth rants about J B Van Hollen's "security guard" noises for the Republican Convention.


Maybe he should read the newspaper during "prep time"--instead of the Racing Form.

The REST of the Fr Pfleger Story

Take it from Roeser--because he knows.

Pfleger loves a show and he relished his clowning around, affecting Hillary sobbing into a hanky and prancing around as a performer for the relish of the crowd.

The speech should have been the last straw in a series of Pfleger insults to his Church and the IRS, making a mockery of its supposed stance against mixing politics with nonprofit church worship. If this had been another priest who had gone to a church, blistered Obama and his black following, you could bet that he would be hauled down to the chancery and silenced…sent to a rehab center because of mental imbalance (a favorite prior archdiocese punishment to some authenticist priest dissenters) before the day is over.

But in an archdiocese where ecclesial leadership comes in the form of parsing over performance, where lay public relations specialists hold sway, that is not likely to happen. But still, Pfleger’s near-lunatic conduct has shocked even the staid Democratic party adherents who plan to occupy many of the posh offices that used to be Quigley preparatory seminary which they have now assigned to themselves.

Now as before, the archdiocese, fearful of its own shadow, trembling in its deference to the largely Irish bloc of hack, pro-abort Democratic politicians who guide much of its fundraising, doesn’t want to encourage a racial confrontation over removal with the white Pfleger the darling of black activists, leading the Church to be perceived as…horrors!...authoritarian, seeking to censor the fiery pastor for political activity in behalf of “civil rights” so treasured by the oligarch one-party (most of whom nominal Catholics) that has been in power in Chicago longer than the USSR existed from Lenin to Gorbachev.

Previous archbishops were themselves simpatico to calming the waters with the local Dems. Now the job has been handed over to the de-facto CEO of the archdiocese, Jimmy (his baptismal name) Lago, the lay chancellor…formerly Ed Vrdolyak’s best Democratic precinct captain. Lago more than anybody else understands that Pfleger is far more than just another hyperbolic racial demagogue. He is a key operator in the Cook county Democratic party, and is every bit as bright a light in the Democratic party firmament in his own way as are the Democratic Catholic Daleys, the Madigans, Emil Jones, the Hynes, Eddie Burke, the Stroger clan et al, not to forget that great layman Dickie Durbin. And then you get to the black Protestant wing: Barack Obama and the three Jacksons.

Jimmy Lago understands that to make Pfleger a martyr ruptures the archdiocese’s indissoluble linkage with the Democratic party, the party of abortion and gay rights and secularism. That tie-in now goes right up to the probable (the election is his to lose) next president of the United States, Barack Obama Although Obama has issued a statement chastising Pfleger for his wild and frenetic appearance at Trinity United Church of Christ…and Pfleger himself has expressed contrition for acting much like a drunk on a spree…, Pfleger still has an enormous following among blacks and is in fact, word and deed a major Democratic party leader.

If this had happened to a Roman Catholic pastor in, let us say, Deerfield who entertained a crowd with prancing about insulting Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in favor of John McCain, a heavy hand bearing the ecclesial ring now bequeathed to the chancellor would smack him upside the head and he’d be on a long-long sabbatical.

Pfleger should be unhorsed as pastor tomorrow, chastised officially, not given any further pastoral appointments while he undergoes prolonged suspension. He truly is one of the very few Catholic clerics who has earned his trip courtesy of the mental health budget to the funny farm for psychological counseling.

There is one very slight chance some of these censorious actions would happen. Not because he has harmed the Church. Mercy, no. If he has indeed harmed the Obama campaign so seriously…by resurrecting the specter of a loony rogue pastor ala Jeremiah Wright…that Pfleger’s future service to the Democratic party has ended. That just could be.

Obama really has been put at a disservice by this clerical clown, a disservice that Obama didn’t ask for, doesn’t deserve and could, if continued, haul him down. This could kick up Jeremiah Wright, always jealous of competition, for a repeat. But I don’t think Pfleger will be unhorsed or even seriously criticized by Church authorities. Pfleger will appear chastened either at the archdiocesan office or in his rectory and will stay that way until the very next opportunity to misuse his ministry for partisan political advantage while the archdiocese turns its back and raises its eyes in hypocrisy.

The short version?

1) The Archdiocese of Chicago is not run by its titular head, Cdl. George--rather, it is run by a claque of Democrat Party operatives.

2) Said Democrat Party operatives are perfectly happy with Pfleger's service to the Party. Therefore, who gives a damn about his 'service to the Church,' which is convenient, but secondary?

3) If Pfleger endangers the Party, he's out. But so far, so good.

Now you understand why Wisconsin Catholics are distinctly uncomfortable with John Huebscher, the apparatchik on the Wisconsin Catholic Conference's payroll. Huebscher, not as important to the Democrat Party as is Pfleger in Chicago, keeps a lower profile--but he is no less a threat to the Church.

Who Shot Rick Santorum?

The ex-Senator from Pennsylvania certainly made enemies of the Cato variety with this:

...One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a libertarianish right. You know, the left has gone so far left and the right in some respects has gone so far right that they touch each other. They come around in the circle. This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone. That there is no such society that I am aware of, where we’ve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.

The Cato-ites were in high dudgeon, of course.

He declared himself against individualism, against libertarianism, against “this whole idea of personal autonomy, . . . this idea that people should be left alone.” Now he’s also against the conservative idea that taxpayers matter, that the federal government has a limited role.

Of course, the Cato crowd is wrong about a few details. Feddie provides a bit more, now from Huckabee, who drew a LOT of scorn from the Libertarian-leaners.

Republicans need to be Republicans. The greatest threat to classic Republicanism is not liberalism; it’s this new brand of libertarianism, which is social liberalism and economic conservatism, but it’s a heartless, callous, soulless type of economic conservatism because it says “look, we want to cut taxes and eliminate government. If it means that elderly people don’t get their Medicare drugs, so be it. If it means little kids go without education and healthcare, so be it.”

Well, that might be a quote pure economic conservative message, but it’s not an American message. It doesn’t fly. People aren’t going to buy that, because that’s not the way we are as a people. That’s not historic Republicanism. Historic Republicanism does not hate government; it’s just there to be as little of it as there can be. But they also recognize that government has to be paid for.

If the Pubbies buy into the social liberal/econ conservatism yappaflappa as described by Huckabee, they will also recede to Congressional numbers which resemble those of the FDR days.

We can, and should, have debates about 'how much Gummint is TOO much Gummint.' See Wiggy's post on the topic here for starters. But the lumpen-draconian libertarian MeMeMeMe stuff is simply not Conservatism. It is selfishness.

RIP Korman--

One of the best.

In fact, so good that he could make you ROTFLMAO when he never said a word, and just let Tim Conway do his thing.

Here: the Dentist

HT: Ace

UW Prof Endorses Obama (in 1996)

A UW prof endorsing Obama? So? The sun rises in the East, right?

But there's MORE to the story.

Apparently, Obama actively sought and received the stamp of approval of a Marxist third party that operated briefly in Chicago between 1992 and 1998. The group was called the "New Party" and was started in 1992 by Daniel Cantor (a former staffer for Jesse Jackson's 1988 presidential campaign) and Joel Rogers (a sociology and law professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison).

(The red typeface is a pun, folks.)

Here's the history as written at

The New Party was a Marxist political coalition whose objective was to endorse and elect leftist public officials -- most often Democrats. The New Party's short-term objective was to move the Democratic Party leftward, thereby setting the stage for the eventual rise of new Marxist third party.

Most New Party members hailed from the Democratic Socialists of America and the militant organization ACORN. The party's Chicago chapter also included a large contingent from the Committees of Correspondence, a Marxist coalition of former Maoists, Trotskyists, and Communist Party USA members.

Hoo haaa. UW has Commies on the payroll, and they endorse Obama.

GWB Was McClellan's Kinda Guy

All you need to know about McClellan (and his godfather, GWB) is in this little quote:

Tom Pauken, who chaired the state's Republican Party in 1994 and whose bona fides are well established, warned in May 1999 that Bush was a "me-too Republican."

Comments the Spectator's Paul Chesser:

When loyalists to President Bush -- most notably Karl Rove -- say they are shocked about the things McClellan wrote in his new book about the administration (and what he's saying now), I have little sympathy. After all, this is what (pretty much) the whole Republican establishment tried to sell with the Bush package back in 2000, including how great it was that he worked with Democrats...

It's no surprise that GWB is an extremely 'moderate' Republican. So why is it a surprise that his entourage consists of the same?

NBA Commish: You'll Spend More, Milwaukee

Who the hell is THIS guy?

NBA commissioner David Stern said Thursday that the Bradley Center will suffice for now as the home of the Milwaukee Bucks, but the community will have to consider a new arena some day

..."Everybody agrees that this is not the revenue producing arena of the future that will enable the Bucks to compete in the future NBA. But based on good faith on both sides and the attempt to deal with the problem on an ad hoc basis, they seem to be doing OK. The crunch hasn't quite hit yet. But everybody knows this is a building that will ultimately need to be replaced."

"I think down the road given the shape of the bowl and constriction of the site . . . that eventually the citizens of Milwaukee will be facing the issue of a replacement for the Bradley Center," Stern said. "But why rush it? It's a good dialogue to have, a good discussion to have. The negotiations between the Bucks and the Bradley Center will have to reflect on the need to squeeze additional dollars out of this facility. But the Bucks are well managed, and for a period of time, this arena will do. And the planning process will obviously have to begin."

Notice how this guy neatly slips "...the citizens of Milwaukee..." into the BOHICA of "...facing the issue of a replacement for the Bradley Center." And you can expect, over the next several months, that the Mayor of Milwaukee will be shaping the spin to include "...the Greater Milwaukee area..." which will be code for Stadium Tax II.

You want a translation?


Van Hollen: "Not MY Idea" on Security

As I suspected, the foofoodust coming from ex-DoJ folks is pretty thick.

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said Thursday he doesn't believe he needs a taxpayer-funded security detail at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul in September and didn't request one.

In an interview with the WisconsinEye network, Van Hollen said the issue was raised by aides in April, not by him.

"I didn't request it. All it was was an internal discussion," Van Hollen said. "I would be very surprised if I did" need security.

Some entrenched bureaucrats who are unhappy with Van Hollen had raised this "security request" (in effect, manufacturing an issue to discredit Van Hollen) after they had been demoted.

Joell Schigur, the former head of the state Department of Justice's public integrity bureau, previously expressed concerns about the fact that she was demoted from that position weeks after questioning whether it was proper for Van Hollen to receive state-sponsored security at a political event.

I guess Joell will have to find a new skeleton in the closet.

Mob Attacks Motorist, Fire Department

Yes, that's a Milwaukee story--reported by Channel 12 News last night.

A Milwaukee man said he thought he was going to die when a mob attacked him after he accidentally hit a 3-year-old girl with his car on Monday.

The man, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation, said the mob also attacked firefighters who arrived at the scene to help the girl.

Firefighters put their lives on the line every day, but Milwaukee Fire Chief Doug Holton said that danger is increasingly coming from the people on the ground, not from those in the buildings. Holton said this must stop.

"Mob"? "Increasingly"? This is not good news, Mayor Barrett.

Hmmmmm. The local print medium isn't reporting this "increasing" danger.

Evidently the people responsible for the little girl were NOT paying attention, at all. The motorist will not be ticketed.

By the way, somebody stole the motorist's car and trashed it, too.

GWB and Condi: Losing Control?

PJB argues that the US is no longer a credible broker in the Middle East.

Israel has ignored Bush's demand that it stop building and expanding settlements on a West Bank that is to be the heartland of a Palestinian state. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been secretly negotiating with Syria for the return of the Golan Heights in exchange for peace.
When America refused to play honest broker between Jerusalem and Damascus, Turkey, at Israel's request, stepped into the role.

The pro-American Lebanese government of Prime Minister Siniora has negotiated a truce and power-sharing arrangement with Hezbollah, giving that militant Shiite movement and party veto power in the Beirut government. Egypt is negotiating with Hamas for a truce in the Israeli-Gaza war and to effect the exchange of a captured Israeli solider held by Hamas for Hamas fighters held in Israel

We had mentioned earlier that Ms. Rice seems to be failing with North Korea, as well.

Buchanan has reservations about the "democratize" thrust of Bush's foreign policy--and Bush should share those reservations.

The Bush democracy crusade was put on the shelf after producing election triumphs for Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

I guess those were not exactly the results that we expected, eh?

Poncho Ladies: Excommunicated

No real surprise here:

The Vatican issued its most explicit decree so far against the ordination of women priests on Thursday, punishing them and the bishops who try to ordain them with automatic excommunication.

The decree was written by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and published in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, giving it immediate effect.
A Vatican spokesman said the decree made the Church's existing ban on women priests more explicit by clarifying that excommunication would follow all such ordinations.

Excommunication forbids those affected from receiving the sacraments or sharing in acts of public worship

Reuters' religion reporter immediately contacted notorious dissenter Fr. T Reese, SJ, who was removed from his position at America magazine for his ....ahhh...notorious dissent. Think of him as the Scott McCallum of the priesthood. Reese conjured up a popular front:

Rev. Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, said he thought the decree was meant to send a warning to the growing number of Catholics who favor admitting women to the priesthood.

"I think the reason they're doing this is that they've realized there is more and more support among Catholics for ordaining women, and they want to make clear that this is a no-no," Reese said.

...."growing"? "who favor"?...

And he adduces the utterly inane argument that Christ (who is God, after all) was "constrained" in His actions:

Proponents of women's ordination say Christ was only acting according to the social norms of his time.

The poor guy couldn't get past the Scribes and Pharisees.


Crazytown Colorado

And you thought all the granola-contents were in California!

With today's signature on SB200, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, has struck gender-specific restrooms and locker rooms statewide, giving woman and girls reason to fear being confronted by predators, cross-dressers "or even a homosexual or heterosexual male," according to a critic.

The state's new "transgender nondiscrimination" bill makes it illegal to deny a person access to public accommodations including restrooms and locker rooms based on gender identity or the "perception" of gender identity.

As a result:

"Henceforth, every woman and little girl will have to fear that a predator, bisexual, cross-dresser or even a homosexual or heterosexual male might walk in and relieve himself in their presence. The legislation lists every conceivable type of organization to which this law applies, including restaurants, bathhouses, massage parlors, mortuaries, theaters and ‘public facilities of any kind.’ Those who would attempt to protect females from this intrusion are subject to a fine of up to $5,000 and up to one year behind bars," he [Dr. Dobson] continued.

Fortunately, Colorado is also a CCW State.

Texas v. FLDS: The Final Chapter?

Looks as though the Social Worker Hive has been stoppped, at least for the time being.

In a crushing blow to the state's massive seizure of children from a polygamist sect's ranch, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that child welfare officials overstepped their authority and the children should go back to their parents.

The high court affirmed a decision by an appellate court last week, saying Child Protective Services failed to show an immediate danger to the more than 400 children swept up from the Yearning For Zion Ranch nearly two months ago.

"On the record before us, removal of the children was not warranted," the justices said in their ruling issued in Austin.

In another note:

Texas officials claimed at one point that there were 31 teenage girls at the ranch who were pregnant or had been pregnant, but later conceded that about half of those mothers, if not more, were adults. One was 27

There are two distinct issues here. First is the FLDS' claim that there is some sort of "religious" mandate for the practice of polygamy (which will be perfectly legal if SCOTUS follows the "logic" of Justice Kennedy, et al, in Casey and Lawrence.) Their claim is bogus under natural law, period.

The second is the remedy taken by Texas CPS--which was simply asinine. Forcibly removing, at gunpoint, 400++ children from their homes is...well....illegal.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

State Employees Get Raises

The State employee contracts are up for renewal, and the increases are...nice.

Least (bi-ennial): 8.30%

Most (bi-ennial): 11.00%

In addition, it's worth recalling that State retirement bennies are "fixed-benefit," meaning that retirement income is guaranteed to be $X/month, unlike "fixed-contribution" which means that the State's annual contribution towards a retirement fund is $X/year.

And those retirement bennies are a FAR cry from 401(k)'s, which may or may not include a contribution from the employer.

HT: FoxPolitics/Mary Lazich

Tell Me Again About "Not 'Nuff Money" for UW Officials

Every few years (or more frequently) we hear all about the AWFUL situation at UW; they just cannot possibly recruit and hire qualified folks for positions because the compensation schedule is insufficient.

Martin, who reportedly made more than a half-million dollars in fiscal year 2006, will be taking a pay cut to come to Madison -- although she will make significantly more than Wiley's pay of $327,000 per year. In February, the UW Board of Regents voted to set a pay range of $370,000 to $452,000 for the position in an attempt to attract top candidates for the job.

The new Chancellor-ette took a CUT in pay to come to UW.


Which logical conclusion (based on the "compensation problem" blather) will the Regents choose?

1) Actually, $450K plus house plus car plus all expenses is sufficient for a high-prestige appointment such as UW-Madison; or

2) This candidate is not highly qualified.

By the way, you'll be hearing even more about "Domestic Partner Benefits."

"Domestic partner benefits have become increasingly important and it's the case that faculty do leave universities without them for universities that offer those benefits," says Martin

The big secret with "D P Bennies" of course, is that the bennies are payable for any current shackup. It's Universal HealthCare with window dressing nomenclature.

HT: Random10

One Less Mass Murder, Thanks to CCW

Not reported in the Milwaukee JS:

...The alleged mass murderer had already killed two victims & had injured two others with gunshot wounds, but after reloading to resume his shooting spree he was shot & killed by an armed CCW permit holder who was also at the bar. The alleged mass murderer & his two dead victims were already dead by the time Police arrived on the scene

(In a small town in Nevada.)

HT: Of Arms and the Law

The Search for Meaning

Can you decipher this?

"....But I am worried about the occasions on which antifoundationalist celebrations of queerness rely on their own projections of fixity, constraint, or subjection onto a fixed ground, often into feminism or the female body, in relation to which queer sexualities become figural, perfomative, playful, and fun. In the process, the female body appears to becomes its own trap, and the operations of misogyny disappear from view."

Well, I can't either. Probably because I didn't study enough German literature, or something.

Next time you're in Madistan, ask the UW's Chancellor-ette about it.

HT: Charlie Sykes

Lied on Your HELOC App? It's Dischargeable

This is interesting.

...Judge Leslie Tchaikovsky ruled that a National City HELOC that had been "foreclosed out" would be discharged in the debtors' Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Nat City had argued that the debt should be non-dischargeable because the debtors made material false representations (namely, lying about their income) on which Nat City relied when it made the loan. The court agreed that the debtors had in fact lied to the bank, but it held that the bank did not "reasonably rely" on the misrepresentations.

...I argued some time ago that the whole point of stated income lending was to make the borrower the fall guy: the lender can make a dumb loan--knowing perfectly well that it is doing so--while shifting responsibility onto the borrower, who is the one "stating" the income and--in theory, at least--therefore liable for the misrepresentation. This is precisely where Judge Tchaikovsky has stepped in and said "no dice." isn't so much that individual loans are fraudulent than that the published guidelines by which the loans were made and evaluated encouraged fraudulent behavior, or at least made it "fast and easy" for fraud to occur.

HT: Calculated Risk

Next time you hear some shill arguing that "the Banks were forced to make bad loans [by the Feds...]" remind them of this little story.

Obama as Fiction Writer

Lawrence Henry shares my take on Obama.

Obama is not making "gaffes." He's been a myth-maker from the first. Isn't that the message of his books? He is basically nothing, with a mother who's a total flake and a father who's as absent as a father can be, no real other family to depend on. So he uses his brains (he has some), and he turns to literature of various kinds to assemble an identity.

...He's Gatsby, he's the King (or the Duke) from Huckleberry Finn, he's Philip Roth's carefully constructed professor from The Human Stain. He is, in short, a creature of American literature, not really an organically developed person at all

It's an interesting way to run a campaign. Bill Clinton got away with it for the most part--but that's because Bill Clinton was an 'extraordinarily good liar.'

Tax Ranking Spin

There was lots of ballyhoo!! and shouting!!! yesterday as a story from the Wisconsin Taxpayers' Alliance showed that Wisconsin's State/Local tax burden was 11th in the country.

That is, Wisconsin is out of the Top 10 Bloodsucking States.

But if you think you paid a lot of taxes, you're right--because:

...Wisconsin's taxes actually rose slightly in the fiscal year ended in June 2006 but those of other states rose more quickly

Yup. Some other States out-taxed Wisconsin last year.

Another news-editing quirk: while most reports stated that Wisconsin had only been in the "Big 10" since 1980, that does NOT tell the whole story.

Berry said the last time the state ranked 11th in the nation or better on taxes was in 1980, the year in which then Republican Gov. Lee Sherman Dreyfus and state lawmakers made a one-time cut in income taxes of $942 million.

Aside from that single year anomaly, the state has been in the top 10 since 1969, Berry said

Uh huh. That should make our Legislative Democrats feel better...

The actualities?

...all state and local taxes amounted to $22.3 billion, or 12.3 percent of personal income in Wisconsin in 2006. That was up slightly from the previous year, when taxes accounted for 12.1 percent of personal income.

The national average in 2006 for state and local taxes was 11.6 percent of personal income

In other words, you're still screwed more than most US citizens.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Temporary Supremacy

Owen, a pleasant fellow, only scored 90%. 'Salright. He's just a kid.

I managed a 96.7%

Missed the Jamestown question because I was taking a nap at the time Jamestown was settled.

Following Gay "Marriage" Is...

Scalia in Lawrence:

...At the end of its opinion--after having laid waste the foundations of our rational-basis jurisprudence--the Court says that the present case "does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter." Ante, at 17. Do not believe it.

More illuminating than this bald, unreasoned disclaimer is the progression of thought displayed by an earlier passage in the Court's opinion, which notes the constitutional protections afforded to "personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education," and then declares that "[p]ersons in a homosexual relationship may seek autonomy for these purposes, just as heterosexual persons do." Ante, at 13 (emphasis added).

Today's opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned. If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is "no legitimate state interest" for purposes of proscribing that conduct, ante, at 18; and if, as the Court coos (casting aside all pretense of neutrality), "[w]hen sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring," ante, at 6; what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising "[t]he liberty protected by the Constitution," ibid.? Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry. This case "does not involve" the issue of homosexual marriage only if one entertains the belief that principle and logic have nothing to do with the decisions of this Court. Many will hope that, as the Court comfortingly assures us, this is so

Next stop: Polygamy/Polyandry.

How to Lose $7.2 Billion

The French Bank, Societe General, lost about $7.2 billion on trading activities--all due to the activities of ONE of their employees. The report has been issued, and there are five lessons extracted by ComputerWorld.

Supervision was lacking. Despite several internal alerts that should have triggered a closer look at his activities, Kerviel remained largely unsupervised...

A new desk manager assigned to Kerviel in April 2007 was ineffective and weak, and did not have enough support from his superiors...The manager did not carry out an analysis of the earnings generated by his traders — a task that was supposed to be one of his primary responsibilities

Several alerts by the front office got little attention and less response...despite the suspiciously high value amount (59% of his group's earnings) and growth in Kerviel's declared earnings in 2007, no investigation or analysis was ever done.

Kerviel's manager had an overly tolerant attitude toward intraday trading activities. Such trading by Kerviel was "unjustified" given his assignment and lack of seniority as a trader, the report noted

The operations environment was critically chaotic. A "chronically" understaffed middle-office operations group, combined with fast growth and a rapid multiplication in the number of products, contributed to a chaotic operations environment,...

Any one of these is "textbook." Altogether, they add up, no?

Legal Asininity In Print (or) Why Dealing With Lawyers Leads to Drink

Pace Rick Esenberg, this is proof-positive that the legal profession is clearly removed from the real world.


This Article asks whether a fair application of the Supreme Court's current doctrine of stare decisis to the Supreme Court's current doctrine of stare decisis would counsel in favor of adhering to current doctrine or departing from it. Professor Paulsen argues that the paradoxical answer is that current doctrine of precedent suggests that current doctrine of precedent disserves all of the doctrine's supposed policy justifications. Accordingly, the Court's current doctrine of stare decisis may and should be overruled - according to the Court's current doctrine of stare decisis.

Throw away all those OTHER "lawyer-joke" books...

HT: Feddie

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Is This Appropriate "Punishment"?

A under-18-year-old high-school athlete gets a DUI ticket, first one, no injuries, no property damage.

As a result, the athlete is "suspended" from athletic competition.

For ONE-HALF of the season.

(This did happen, but I'm being deliberately hazy about the details. It happened within SE Wisconsin.)

Seems to me that this is not the way to bend the sapling, folks.


Obama Revises More History

We've already mentioned that Obama does NOT know when the Civil Rights marches occurred--he claims to have been conceived at that time, but his birth certificate shows he was born in 1961.

The marches were in 1965.

Here's another offering from the Mal-Educated Candidate:

Obama also spoke about his uncle, who was part of the American brigade that helped to liberate Auschwitz. He said the family legend is that, upon returning from war, his uncle spent six months in an attic. “Now obviously, something had really affected him deeply, but at that time there just weren’t the kinds of facilities to help somebody work through that kind of pain,” Obama said

The RUSSIAN Army liberated Auschwitz, Barak, baby.

You can look it up.

HT: Gerald

Obama at Seance

Honestly, you'd think the guy is Dan Quayle or GWB the way he mangles stuff.

Here's a snip from his Memorial Day speech in New Mexico:

On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience here today -- our sense of patriotism is particularly strong.

Of course, it's possible that he did NOT mangle his text, I suppose.

HT: JustOneMinute

The Madison Disconnect

Had the occasion to drive to Madison on Memorial Day.

Nice day for a drive, too...

And nice to know how the REST of the State lives.

Gasoline out there? $3.86/gal. for 'regular.'

When we left Milwaukee, the signs here read $4.16.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sociology 101, Birth and Death of Civilizations

Dreher read Sorokin's The Crisis of Our Age and took away a bit which he shared.

"Crisis" is a summation of Sorokin's cyclical theory of social development. He believed that civilizations cycle through three basic states, based on the dominant view of the nature of truth within that civilization:

1. The ideational, in which a culture is built around God, or some other transcendental source of truth. Material concerns are secondary to spiritual ones.

2. The idealistic, which synthesizes spiritual and material values through reason.

3. The sensate, in which a culture is built around material concerns, and de-emphasizes the spiritual as the foundation upon which the culture is built.

Sorokin held that both the ideational and sensate were only partial truths, and that true human flourishing would be out of balance if civilization focused too heavily on one over the other. Yet both provide for authentic human needs; as such, neither ideational nor sensate cultures can go on forever, without suffering a correction -- possibly traumatic -- marking the transition from one state to another. The idealistic model is, well, ideal, but it is also the most unstable, and rarest.

Sorokin was the first head of Harvard's sociology department.


As order developed and wealth began to spread, the ideational culture of the early Middle Ages, gave way to the idealistic culture of the High Middle Ages, perfected intellectually in the work of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Scholastics. But then, in the 14th century, the Scholastics lost the great medieval debate to the Nominalists, who taught that the only truths we can know for sure are those revealed to us through our senses

Occam (of the razor-fame, preceding Gillette) was the first Nominalist.

Nominalism is the eccentric cousin of Aquinas' definition of knowledge, which (inelegantly approximated) stated that 'knowledge is the conformance of one's mind to reality.' Of course, Aquinas included God as the prime part of 'reality;' Occam's nominalism offered the possibility of excluding God.

Thus, ironically, we have 'knowledge' which is only relative, because it lacks the Center. Phrased another way, the Catholic mind seeks synthesis; the relativist mind doesn't care about that.

The denial of universals carries with it the denial of everything transcending experience. The denial of everything transcending experience means inevitably -- though ways are found to hedge on this -- the denial of truth. With the denial of objective truth there is no escape from the relativism of "man the measure of all things. " The witches [on the heath in "Macbeth" -- RD] spoke with the habitual equivocation of oracles when they told man that by this easy choice he might realize himself more fully, for they were actually initiating a course which cuts one off from reality. Thus began the "abomination of desolation" appearing today as a feeling of alienation from all fixed truth--Richard Weaver

Sorokin maintains that the "sensate" phase of the West, (c. 1400-date) has brought significant benefits in science, art, literature. But it's not unalloyed progress.

A further consequence of such a system of truth [sensate] is the development of a temporalistic, relativistic, and nihilistic mentality. The sensory world is in a state of incessant flux and becoming. There is nothing unchangeable in it -- not even an eternal Supreme Being. Mind dominated by the truth of the senses simply cannot perceive any permanency, but apprehends all values in terms of shift and transformation Sensate mentality views everything from the standpoint of evolution and progress. This leads to an increasing neglect of the eternal values, which come to be replaced by temporary, or short-time, considerations. Sensate society lives in, and appreciates mainly, the present. Since the past is irretrievable and no longer exists, while the future is not yet here and is uncertain, only the present moment is real and desirable.

Dreher's own short essay on Rieff's work:

Writes Rieff: "The question is no longer as Dostoevski put it: 'Can civilized men believe?' Rather: Can unbelieving men be civilized?" That is, can people who do not believe in the existence of objective truth, and the possibility that it can be authoritatively expressed, ever form a durable civilization?

That second question, "Can unbelieving men be civilized?" is far more portentous than Dostoevsky's...

History, Considered

G K Chesterton reminds us of real history.

IF our faith had been a mere fad of the fading empire, fad would have followed fad in the twilight, and if the civilization ever re-emerged (and many such have never re-emerged) it would have been under some new barbaric flag. But the Christian Church was the last life of the old society and was also the first life of the new. She took the people who were forgetting how to make an arch, and she taught them to invent the Gothic arch. In a word, the most absurd thing that could be said of the Church is the thing we have all heard said of it. How can we say that the Church wishes to bring us back into the Dark Ages? The Church was the only thing that ever brought us out of them.

The Revisionists have yet to prove otherwise, but they enjoy unchallenged lies.

HT: VeniSancte

Elisabeth Witte, A Great Heart

Elisabeth sang...

Our association goes back more than 30 years, to the Conservatory Singers days. The lady was always helpful, slightly reserved if you did not know her, and a heartfelt smile and greeting when she knew you.

Yes, I knew Gerhard, too--

Elisabeth will always be that 'edelweiss smile,' and a great heart.

In paradisum deducant te angeli.

Memorial Day: Part Three

Now comes Grim, a gentle warrior and academic, quoting GKC, on the need for soldiers.

Then Alfred smiled. And the smile of him
Was like the sun for power.
But he only pointed: bade them heed
Those peasants of the Berkshire breed,
Who plucked the old Horse of the weed
As they pluck it to this hour.

“Will ye part with the weeds for ever?
Or show daisies to the door?
Or will you bid the bold grass
Go, and return no more?

“So ceaseless and so secret
Thrive terror and theft set free;
Treason and shame shall come to pass
While one weed flowers in a morass;
And like the stillness of stiff grass
The stillness of tyranny.

“Over our white souls also
Wild heresies and high
Wave prouder than the plumes of grass,
And sadder than their sigh.

“And I go riding against the raid,
And ye know not where I am;
But ye shall know in a day or year,
When one green star of grass grows here;
Chaos has charged you, charger and spear,
Battle-axe and battering-ram.

“And though skies alter and empires melt,
This word shall still be true:
If we would have the horse of old,
Scour ye the horse anew."

To understand the reference to the White Horse, go here.

Memorial Day: Part Two

".....Let us sleep now..."

Strange Meeting--Wilfred Owen
It seemed that out of the battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.
Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,-
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.
With a thousand fears that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
"Strange friend," I said, "Here is no cause to mourn."
"None," said the other, "Save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something has been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress,
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery;
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark; for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.Let us sleep now . . ."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Feingold's Secret Foreign Junket

And awaaaayyy they go!!

Usually, Jim Sensenbrenner is bashed all to smithereens for taking a trip overseas during Congressional breaks.

We're sure that Senator Feingold will get the same treatment--except Feingold's being a bit circumspect:

Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold also plans to spend this week's recess in a foreign country as part of his work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But that's as much as his staffers would say about his trip.

Obviously a "Top Secret/Eyes Only" itinerary, right, Rusty?

Back-Billed for Gas? Reality-Check Time

Yah, it's awful.

At least 21,000 We Energies customers are getting hit with unexpected bills totaling about $3 million after broken meters failed to accurately report natural gas usage this winter

We Energies is back-billing customers by estimating their gas usage.

As you might imagine, some folks are unhappy with the results.

A couple of days ago we got the bill for usage from early April through early May. We used LESS natural gas and LESS electricity than the year-ago period. (The utility provides cute little charts right on the bill.)

And the bill was higher than the year-ago comparable--by about $30.00. That's because the utility is charging more per therm and per KWH than last year.

Too bad about the meter problem, but hey! Prices are up, folks.

Dells Misses Foreign Labor. Awwwww. Too Bad

According to the JSOnline's story, Wisconsin Dells employers are scrambling for labor. Several days ago, a similar complaint was voiced by employers in Door County.

...due to changes to the national temporary guest-worker program and the weak American dollar, General Manager Tom Diehl and other Dells employers are facing an international labor shortage this summer.

"We have 27 (foreign workers) this year," Diehl said before the Tommy Bartlett Show opened its season Friday night. "Usually, we have no less than 60."

The nationwide crunch among tourist-town employers comes after Congress failed to renew a provision that exempted returning foreign guest workers from counting toward the limit of 66,000 per year. Without the exemption, applications for the H-2B visas were filled remarkably fast this year.


Read the entire article. Go ahead. What's missing from the article's text?

(Hint: it's spelled W-A-G-E-S)

Same thing was missing from the Door County article.

Reality-check time, here. There are PLENTY of American college students who would love to have a summer job paying $8.00-$10.00/hour. But if they want to pay a big chunk of their tuition bills with the proceeds, then living expenses have to be considered.

A college-student friend of ours took a summer job at the Dells a few years back. Even though she lived in a rental property with 3 other kids and lived on the usual Ramen-noodle diet, the expenses almost equalled the net-after-tax income.

Contrast that with real-life experiences of a few decades ago, when an ambitious college student could knock down ALL their tuition payment with a summer-job wage if they were living at home. Yes, college tuitions have risen, faster than medical costs, in the last 20 years or so. But then, "summer job" wages haven't kept pace, either.

According to DoL's COL-index: $2.50/hour in 1965 would be $17.+/hour today, and the UW-M's $150./semester tuition of 1965 would be $1,022.00 in 2008.

Maybe "creative recruiting" should include rents and meals--or larger wages?

Naaaaahhhhh. That would be silly--having Americans do jobs that Americans are WILLING to do.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day: Part One

Ross McGinnis will receive the Medal of Honor, posthumously.

McGinnis distinguished himself so greatly in his first three months in Iraq that a waiver was requested - and granted - to promote him to Specialist (E-4) despite lacking the requisite time in service.

On December 4, 2006, at the age of 19, Ross McGinnis traded his life for the lives of four members of his squad, when he jumped on a grenade and shielded them from the blast. He remains 19 years old forever.

On the last day of his life, PFC McGinnis was manning the .50-caliber machine gun mounted in a turret atop his Humvee, and serving as the rear guard in a mounted combat patrol against insurgents and sectarian fighters. As the convoy made a turn onto a narrow street, a fragmentation grenade was thrown from the rooftop of an adjacent building. According to the official report, "[McGinnis] immediately yelled "Grenade!" on the vehicle's intercom system to alert the four other members of his crew...[he] made an attempt to personally deflect the grenade, but was unable to prevent it from falling through the gunner's hatch."

For his subsequent actions, McGinnis was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the military's third-highest award for combat heroism (specifically, for "gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States").

According to platoon sergeant Cedric Thomas, who was commanding the vehicle, "McGinnis yelled 'Grenade...It’s in the truck!’...I looked out of the corner of my eye as I was crouching down and I saw him pin it down.

From the Silver Star citation:

When the grenade detonated, PFC McGinnis absorbed all lethal fragments and the concussion with his own body killing him instantly. His early warning allowed all four members of his crew to position their bodies in a protective posture to prepare for the grenade's blast. As a result of his quick reflexes and heroic measures, no other members of the vehicle crew were seriously wounded in the attack. His gallant action and total disregard for his personal well-being directly saved four men from certain serious injury or death.

"He had time to jump out of the truck. He chose not to."
Greater love than this has no man...

Condi: Failing

I recall a local RadioYapper going into verbal....ahhh....bliss over the possibility of a Condi Rice run for the Presidency. I didn't understand that then; it was never obvious to me that Ms. Rice was anything more than a very bright and likeable lady.

It may well be that those are all the credentials she will have to show...

The "surge" of troops to Iraq has produced the signal foreign policy success of George Bush's second term. In his devastating Weekly Standard cover story on Condoleezza Rice's tenure as Secretary of State, my friend Stephen Hayes reports that Rice opposed the surge. (Hayes quotes Rice confirming her opposition to the surge in a May 9 interview conducted with him for the article.) The success of the surge is of course attributable to the brilliant performance of the American armed forces under the leadership of General Petraeus.

In his intensely reported article, Hayes takes a look at the major areas of foreign policy committed to Rice's care during Bush's second term: North Korea, Syria, Iran and Iran's terrorist proxies. In these areas, the administration's record is one of miscalculation, retreat and failure. Why? By way of explanation, Hayes quotes an unnamed State Department official: "We have gone from a policy of preemption to a policy of preemptive capitulation."

As one might expect, PowerLine's focus is on the Gordian Knot called the Middle East, where there is no initiative which seems to work. I don't think Condi should take the fall for that, because it seems that a 1,000-year history of intransigence (on both, or all three or four, sides) is a lot to overcome in 4 years--or 8.

But opposing the Surge? Bumbling on North Korea?

She coulda done better.

Demand Drops as Price Increases

No surprise here, but the numbers are interesing.

Americans drove less in March 2008, continuing a trend that began last November, according to estimates released today from the Federal Highway Administration....

The FHWA’s “Traffic Volume Trends” report, produced monthly since 1942, shows that estimated vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on all U.S. public roads for March 2008 fell 4.3 percent as compared with March 2007 travel. This is the first time estimated March travel on public roads fell since 1979. At 11 billion miles less in March 2008 than in the previous March, this is the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history.

Maybe spending $Umpty-Zillion on I-94 from Illinois to Milwaukee is ...ill-advised?

HT: Calculated Risk

It's Just Not FAIR, Herbie!


Gasoline's over $4.00/gallon, food prices are up 12-18% since last year, medical costs continue to escalate....

And Herbie Kohl, Nobody's Senator, votes to give "aid" to farmers earning $5 million/year.

What a maroon he really is.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Secondary Handgun Market

After you read this post, which is mostly* factual, you tell ME how to fix the 'secondary gun' problem.

It's VERY obvious from reading the post, folks.

* The "gun-show loophole" is a LOT smaller than the article implies.

Housing Bottom?

Not if you believe in "return to the norm."

San Francisco vs. Beer


The scientifically-inclined Random10 asks a very good question:

How can beer get cold if carbon dioxide traps heat?

This may become a serious problem for the tavern-keepers of San Francisco.

As energy prices soar and the economy stalls, San Francisco bureaucrats provide their solution. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District's board of directors voted 15-1 to impose fees on businesses that emit carbon dioxide.

Any bar which pours a tap beer, or opens a bottle of same, will (by definition) "emit" carbon dioxide.

Obviously, SanFran needs a Tavern League.

P-Mac: Conservative Prophet

Sykes was kind enough to point out the column, run in some foreign country's newspaper. McIlheran objects to Obama's 'greed and gluttony' remarks made in Seattle, and clarifies the likely results of implementing the thoughts.

Here's the first excerpt of interest:

The trouble with saying America eats too much is that we don't have a collective mouth. We have 300 million individual ones, of varying degrees of sinful gluttony. Public policy is too blunt an instrument to redeem them.

The correct safeguard against such personal, individual failings is personal, individual morality, bounded by social expectation, not legal commands. This would be obvious had the left not spent the past two centuries emasculating any extragovernmental institution, especially religion.


Buried in the midst of far more elegant writings is this:

Of COURSE "conservatism" recognizes frailty and relativism--but that is not per se "gloomy." It's realistic, and underlines the locus of real problems in the polity: the moral frailty of individuals. That is precisely the reason that Conservatives are wary of Big Gummint: it's not going to resolve failings of individual humans. No way. No how.

Or this, from R R Reno:

...freedom cannot give itself the obligations necessary for its own perfection: the ordered liberty of assent to that which is greater.

And from the same post, this from Deneen, briefly summarizing Aristotle's concept of the ideal polity:

...a proper economy is cognizant of limits to moneymaking in the name of fundamental human goods of which prosperity is a part, but only a part. Those goods include healthy and stable communities which are both formed by culture and in which cultures are maintained and preserved; a sound culture that inculcates central human virtues and that is ably passed on from one generation to the next; a culture that makes and keeps good families; a culture that inculcates the very virtues that will be necessary for a good, humane, and moral economy (one that avoids the abuses that we have recently seen in our financial markets); a culture that strongly emphasizes a sense of gratitude and obligation between generations; a culture that encourages stewardship, conservation and fidelity; and perhaps above all, a culture that reins in and chastens our eternal temptation toward Promethean or sinful self-aggrandizement, that teaches and enforces limits, that calls to our mind our flaws, and that does not allow us to lose sight of our fundamental condition of being dependent upon one another. A further good is our ability to act in concert with one another to achieve and maintain such a culture and polity - citizenship as shared and mutual governance, which goes far beyond our current conception as citizenship as suffrage...

McIlheran, of course, is correct. The second part-of-interest in his column is the prophesy:

But now, in policy we trust. So Mr. Obama thrills his Whole Foods base and spooks everyone else because they suspect he's fixing to have some form of government decide what "too much" is...

And makes a social observation which is Chestertonian to the core:

Mr. Obama's gaffe exposes the default pessimism of his base, emotionally drawn to constraint, whatever the excuse.

Having relegated God to a museum, they now must replace Him, substituting 'rules of the polity' for the 10 Commandments and the Beatitudes.

They will rebuild Nature in their own image and likeness, and with their own rules; a hubris which calls to mind the trusim about "fools rushing in..."

Texas v. FLDS: Texas Imitates WI, Flouts Constitution

Seems like those "child protection" folks need a little review-time on the Constitution.

In Texas, just like in Wisconsin, a court slapped down an out-of-control "social services" department.

In a ruling that could torpedo the case against the West Texas polygamist sect, a state appeals court Thursday said authorities had no right to seize more than 440 children in a raid on the splinter group's compound last month.

The Third Court of Appeals in Austin said the state failed to show the youngsters were in any immediate danger, the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court action.

It was not clear when the children — now scattered in foster homes across the state — might be returned to their parents. The ruling gave a lower-court judge 10 days to release the youngsters from custody...

..."Evidence that children raised in this particular environment may someday have their physical health and safety threatened is not evidence that the danger is imminent enough to warrant invoking the extreme measure of immediate removal."

The court also said the state was wrong to consider the entire ranch as a single household and to seize all the children on the grounds that some parents in the home might be abusers

Ironic, too, that under the language of a recent SCOCA ruling, the FLDS' un-natural "marital" practices would be perfectly Constitutional. (See dissenting opinion from SCO CA.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The ACTUAL Burke

When advocates of same-sex 'marriage' claim to be following Edmund Burke, it's useful to know what Burke actually had to say about matters.

First, the essayist's precis:

For the pseudo-Burkeans, the goals are almost always liberal in nature, based on the modern and very un-Burkean idea that the justice of any society consists of the equal treatment and provision of equal political power to people in very unequal situations, i.e., same sex couples and traditional married couples, foreign immigrants and native citizens, the educated and the uneducated. Burke was no egalitarian. In particular, he argued that it was unhelpful to emphasize our “common humanity” in discussing political matters, because group identities and the associated differences in station demanded different treatment in proportion to those differences:

The legislators who framed the ancient republics knew that their business was too arduous to be accomplished with no better apparatus than the metaphysics of an undergraduate, and the mathematics and arithmetic of an exciseman. They had to do with men, and they were obliged to study human nature. They had to do with citizens, and they were obliged to study the effects of those habits which are communicated by the circumstances of civil life. They were sensible that the operation of this second nature on the first produced a new combination; and thence arose many diversities amongst men, according to their birth, their education, their professions, the periods of their lives, their residence in towns or in the country, their several ways of acquiring and of fixing property, and according to the quality of the property itself — all which rendered them as it were so many different species of animals. From hence they thought themselves obliged to dispose their citizens into such classes, and to place them in such situations in the state, as their peculiar habits might qualify them to fill, and to allot to them such appropriated privileges as might secure to them what their specific occasions required, and which might furnish to each description such force as might protect it in the conflict caused by the diversity of interests that must exist and must contend in all complex society; for the legislator would have been ashamed that the coarse husbandman should well know how to assort and to use his sheep, horses, and oxen, and should have enough of common sense not to abstract and equalize them all into animals without providing for each kind an appropriate food, care, and employment, whilst he, the economist, disposer, and shepherd of his own kindred, subliming himself into an airy metaphysician, was resolved to know nothing of his flocks but as men in general.

Actual egalitarianism springs from brotherhood, which of course, implies God; so the denial of God is the root of the faux-brotherhood "egalitarianism."

And Burke didn't have much good to say about atheists--which he recognized in the French Revolution:

We know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by his constitution a religious animal; that atheism is against, not only our reason, but our instincts; and that it cannot prevail long. But if, in the moment of riot and in a drunken delirium from the hot spirit drawn out of the alembic of hell, which in France is now so furiously boiling, we should uncover our nakedness by throwing off that Christian religion which has hitherto been our boast and comfort, and one great source of civilization amongst us and amongst many other nations, we are apprehensive (being well aware that the mind will not endure a void) that some uncouth, pernicious, and degrading superstition might take place of it.

Well, he was right.

Ryan: "People Are Sick and Tired of That"

Man, was that a dead-on observation!!

Paul Ryan said the above after stating that 'in Washington, there's a lot of finger-pointing...[but] no SOLUTIONS are offered' [to problems]. (Sykes show, 10:20 AM or so...)

Nice to know that someone else understands the term "the Common Good."


Buried in the middle of a lengthy (and lefty-ish) essay in the New Yorker is indirect affirmation of Ryan's thought:

As long as Bush and his party kept winning elections, however slim the margins, Rove’s declared ambition to create a “permanent majority” seemed like the vision of a tactical genius. But it was built on two illusions: that the conservative era would stretch on indefinitely, and that politics matters more than governing. The first illusion defied history; the second was blown up in Iraq and drowned in New Orleans.

Distilled: Ryan's proposals aim at "governing," rather than "politics."

MORE: (same essay)

Recently, I spoke with a number of conservatives about their movement. The younger ones—say, those under fifty—uniformly subscribe to the reformist version. They are in a state of glowing revulsion at the condition of their political party. Most of them predicted that Republicans will lose the Presidency this year and suffer a rout in Congress. They seemed to feel that these losses would be deserved, and suggested that, if the party wins, it will be—in the words of Rich Lowry, the thirty-nine-year-old editor of National Review—“by default.”

And, vaguely counter-echoing themes we've mentioned before in this blog:

On April 4th, a rainy day in New York, I attended Buckley’s memorial Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral with some two thousand people, an unusually large number of them women in hats and men in bow ties. George W. Rutler, the presiding priest, declared that Buckley’s words helped “crack the walls of an evil empire.” Secular humanism, he said, “builds little hells for man on earth. . . . Communism was worse than a social tyranny because it was a theological heresy.” The service reminded me of the movement’s philosophical origins, in the forties and fifties, in a Catholic sense of alarm at the relativism that was rampant in American life, and an insistence on human frailty. The conservative movement began as a true counterculture; how unlikely that its gloomy creed took hold in America, the optimistic capital of modernity.

Of COURSE "conservatism" recognizes frailty and relativism--but that is not per se "gloomy." It's realistic, and underlines the locus of real problems in the polity: the moral frailty of individuals. That is precisely the reason that Conservatives are wary of Big Gummint: it's not going to resolve failings of individual humans. No way. No how.

Deneen, again:

"citizenship as shared and mutual governance, which goes far beyond our current conception as citizenship as suffrage."

Remember, Deneen began his essay by observing that the size of Gummint has grown concomitant with the growth of the economy:

The growth of Guvment and the scale of the economy increased together, constantly in tandem. It could be argued that this is simultaneously the logic of market capitalism that requires a strong state (of course, a liberal state) in order to expand with firm expectations of stability and enforcement of laws and contracts, and it is the logic of the Constitutional order (modified and interpreted increasingly so along the way), which was designed in significant part to support this economic logic (as Antifederalists saw on their first reading).

Interesting stuff.