Friday, February 29, 2008

 

Barak Obama, Uber-Liberal From Chicago

The populist Chicagoan

Chicago and Illinois have a well deserved reputation for corruption. Here, the political culture is fundamentally corrupt. Chicago politicians are some combination of aloof (Governor Blagojevich), bafoonish (just about any alderman), clownish (Cook County Board President Todd Stroger), inarticulate (Senate President Emil Jones), arrogant (Speaker Mike Madigan) and power hungry (Mayor Daley). But they all have one thing in common, and it isn't honesty.

But Barak Obama seems surprisingly clean, at least as clean as it gets around here. (Though the Rezko trial, which begins Monday, may prove interesting.) Still, leaving aside Obama's leftward bent, as a lifelong Chicagoan I find the fact that a Chicago politician is the odds on favorite for the presidency quite startling.

In an excellent post rebutting this hit piece on the Right in the San Fransisco Chronicle, Bookworm takes a look at the real Barak Obama:
the man who wants to disarm America; who expressly rejects choosing judges who actually apply the law, as opposed to contemplating their liberal navels; who intends to spend America into a stagnant European style economy; who has the stench of Chicago politics and political favoritism hanging about him; who intends instantly to withdraw from Iraq, thereby snatching defeat from the jaws of victory; who deeply admires one of the loudest black voices touting antisemitism, anti-Americanism and black supremacy; who has a bad habit of speaking out of both sides of his mouth; whose wife and mother dislike America and all that it stands for; and who has the most liberal voting record in the Senate.

By the way, that’s just a partial list of things both conservative and moderate Americans should fear when it comes to Obama. The middle name issue is a straw man — it’s not the real thing. We don’t need to fear “Obama the Muslim,” who doesn’t exist, except for purposes of newspaper smears. We do need to fear Obama the uber-liberal and the man who surrounds himself by people who hate America, who hate capitalism, who hate whites, and who hate Jews.
She is right.

Paul Mirengoff thinks "Obama may turn out to be the most intellectually dishonest Democratic presidential nominee of my lifetime."

I wonder if the media will ever seriously scrutinize Obama. If they don't, will McCain and the GOP have enough recources to set the record straight regarding Obama the uber-liberal and the people with whom he surrounds himself? Even if they do, I wonder whether it will matter.

Diego: We don’t need to fear “Obama the Muslim,” - That will be the MSM battle cry as to weather or not Obama should be president and it will be convincing.

will McCain and the GOP have enough recources to set the record straight regarding Obama the uber-liberal - No. The GOP didn't even take control of it's own primary. They wont make enough noise here.

I don't think Obama will win the general election but it is easy for me to see how he could. The GOP will fight the MSM and a weak case will be made out of the serious concerns listed above. The question to voters will be something like: Are you sophisticated enough to vote for a liberal or are you too afraid to elect an African-American progressive? Or perhaps: Are we ready for Obama or are we just going to accept McCain?

 

Language matters

The headline of a WSJ article is

Trader Hits Jackpot in Oil,
As Commodity Boom Roars On.


If you read the article you find out that Andrew Hall successfully predicted the increased demand for oil in 2003.

Around 2003, Mr. Hall became convinced big structural changes were looming in the oil markets. For more than a decade, oil had ranged from $10 to $30 a barrel. But growth in demand was starting to outstrip growth in supply. And the once-sleepy economies of China and India were starting to compete for that fuel.

To place his bet, he focused on what was then a stagnant corner of the commodities world: The extremely long-term market in which traders buy and sell oil to be delivered years in the future. [Emphasis added.]


Notice the use of the terms jackpot and bet. They imply that there is a good amount of luck in that this is the same way we describe the winnings of lottery winners. Shame on the WSJ for implying that Mr. Hall's earnings where the product of luck. They aren't, traders who have a long career almost completely eliminate luck from their returns. Mr. Hall had an insight and he placed a futures position to take advantage of that insight.

 

Change Is Coming To Wrigley Field

One way or another, much to the consternation of Cub fans

Earlier this week Sam Zell, owner of the Chicago Cubs, went public with the idea of selling the naming rights to Wrigley Field. Predictably, Cub fans absolutely hate the idea. Fran Spielman comments:
Another downer for baseball purists would be the potential sale of Wrigley naming rights. Without the $400 million-plus generated by a new corporate name over 20 years, Zell wouldn't get what he wants for the stadium, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to finance a Wrigley renovation.

Tribune Co. risks a potential backlash from the name change, as evidenced by the furor that followed Zell's remarks on the subject this week. But the media conglomerate stands to make out like a bandit. Zell would receive a huge upfront payment for Wrigley -- tens of millions more than he might otherwise get by selling the stadium privately -- because the finance authority can issue tax-exempt, longer-term bonds at a reduced interest rate.

The stadium deal also has opened the door for Zell to put other issues on the table that could bolster the value of the Cubs, ranging from a request for more night games and outdoor concerts, to increasing the density of a "planned development" that currently allows a restaurant and 400-space parking garage.
Zell also wants the city to drop Wrigley Field's landmark status.

Zell, an astute businessman who knows a thing or two about public relations, raised these issues in just about the most provocative way possible. The Sun-Times quotes Zell from a CNBC interview:
"Wrigley is an obvious world-wide icon and Wrigley Field is world-wide known. But, in the world of economics, when I bought the Tribune, I didn't get a discount because I wasn't going to use the naming rights that field represents," Zell said in an interview on the CNBC program "Squawk Box."

"Perhaps the Wrigley Co. will decide that, after getting it for free for so long, that it's time to pay for it."
I rather doubt it. As I see it, the whole point is to generate public support for Zell's proposal to sell Wrigley Field to the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which owns US Cellular Field:
(Cubs Chairman Crane) Kenney later told reporters any deal with the ISFA could take time because the Cubs need to gather political support from Mayor Richard Daley, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, Ald. Tom Tunney, state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz and state Sen. John Cullerton. Kenney said the company hoped to get a deal done on the ballpark by Opening Day on March 31.

"We need all of their support, and we're working hard with each of them to explain why we think the stadium deal is good for the team, for our employees, the shareholders of the Tribune and for the community," Kenney said.
They are also working hard on the fans, most of whom view Wrigley Field as sacrosanct.

Its a good move for Zell and I think he'll succeed in getting the ISFA to take the ballpark off his hands. Wrigley Field is an albatross, politically, financially, and public relations wise for the team. The Cubs are worth much more should they successfully rid themselves of it.

But from a taxpayer's standpoint, what possible rational exists for having the state take responsibility for Wrigley Field? There is no reason to do it. As a practical matter, the Cubs have nowhere else to go.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

 

New diet that works

The foreign exchange student diet.

Jonathan McCullum was in perfect health at 155 pounds when he left last summer to spend the school year as an exchange student in Egypt.

But when he returned home to Maine just four months later, the 5-foot-9 teenager weighed a mere 97 pounds and was so weak that he struggled to carry his baggage or climb a flight of stairs. Doctors said he was at risk for a heart attack.


His host family didn't feed him very well. However, that is not what they claim.

The host father, Shaker Hanna, rejected McCullum's story as "a lie," suggesting that he made it up because his parents were hoping to recover some of the money they paid for his stay as compensation.

"The truth is, the boy we hosted for nearly six months was eating for an hour and a half at every meal. The amount of food he ate at each meal was equal to six people," Hanna said. He added that the boy was active, constantly exercising and playing sports.

Apparently there is a sport in Egypt called Starve American.

The McCullums said AFS discourages parents from telephoning or e-mailing their kids abroad, believing the distraction would run counter to the program's goal of immersing them in local culture.

"They told us to have as little contact as possible, and we bought into it," Elizabeth McCullum said. She said she had confidence in AFS, regarding it as "the gold standard" of exchange programs, but now is aware that things can go terribly wrong.


Johnathon was immersed in the culture of being abused by the host family. On that count, the program was a success. I would like to know if the kid has any history of eating disorders but beyond that it just seems like the kid was in a terrible situation and he just wanted to survive. I doubt the Hanna's will be getting any more students. On the other hand I could use a year abroad with them.

 

Bobby Jindal for Governor

... of Illinois.

Downstairs, legislators gnashed their teeth, while upstairs at the Capitol here this week, the new governor claimed victory against the old customs down below.

Six weeks into the term of Gov. Bobby Jindal, an extensive package of ethics bills was approved here this week, signaling a shift in the political culture of a state proud of its brazen style. Mr. Jindal, the earnest son of Indian immigrants, quickly declared open season on the cozy fusion of interests and social habits that have prevailed among lobbyists, state legislators and state agencies here for decades. Mostly, he got what he wanted.

Mr. Jindal, an outsider to that rollicking if sometimes unsavory banquet, a Republican with a missionary’s zeal to smite Louisiana’s wickedness at one of its presumed sources, called on the Legislature to reform itself and its high-living ways.

Grudgingly, pushed by public opinion and business pressure, it went along. When the legislative session ended Tuesday, lawmakers had passed bills aimed at making their finances less opaque, barring their lucrative contracts with the state — some have been known to do good business with them — and cutting down on perks like free tickets to sporting events. The bills, which advocates say will put Louisiana in the top tier of states with tough ethics rules, now await Mr. Jindal’s signature, which should come early next week.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

 

Obama's UN Tax On America

I wanted to blog about this last week, but I didn't get the chance:
A nice-sounding bill called the "Global Poverty Act," sponsored by Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Barack Obama, is up for a Senate vote on Thursday and could result in the imposition of a global tax on the United States. The bill, which has the support of many liberal religious groups, makes levels of U.S. foreign aid spending subservient to the dictates of the United Nations.

Senator Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has not endorsed either Senator Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in the presidential race. But on Thursday, February 14, he is trying to rush Obama's "Global Poverty Act" (S.2433) through his committee. The legislation would commit the U.S. to spending 0.7 percent of gross national product on foreign aid, which amounts to a phenomenal 13-year total of $845 billion over and above what the U.S. already spends.
The bill was voted out of committee:
Like earmarks, which are inserted into bills and congressional conference reports, the Global Poverty Act passed the House and a key Senate committee without any hearings being held into it. What's more, no recorded vote was held in either body. It had very little support in either body until somebody decided that it had to be pushed at this time. So, last September 25, it passed the House-by voice vote-and on February 13 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed it-also by voice vote. (The bill had only 84 co-sponsors in the House and nine co-sponsors in the Senate).

In the House, according to the office of Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the sponsor, it was considered non-controversial because some Republicans were backing it.

My suspicion is that it is being pushed through the Senate right now in order to give Obama a legislative victory. Obama, after all, has only been in the Senate since 2004. He has cast some votes, but his legislative actions and accomplishments are not considered impressive. But the Global Poverty Act is his vehicle; he was the sponsor in the Senate. Passage through Congress-and even a signing of the bill by President Bush-could make this political rock star look like another Bono. As president, Obama himself could implement it. What an amazing coincidence!

 

America's Overseas Bases

How many Americans support bringing all the troops home?

While writing my last post, I thought of something Wretchard once wrote:
Washington's sheer importance may have diminished it as a purely national capital.
Re-reading that post with my own post fresh in my head, I recalled a poker table conversation which took place at an Indiana riverboat in the fall of 2006. A Michigan attorney in his mid 40's struck up conversation with a Texas truck driver who was probably in his early thirties. Both of them hated Bush and were supporting the Democrats. When the truck driver insisted that we needed to get our troops out of Iraq as fast as possible, the attorney went him one better: He said we should bring all our troops home and close all our overseas military bases. This drew supportive remarks from some of the other players (all of whom were men in their early 20s) at the table, something which surprised me. When I asked the attorney what he thought the consequences such a retreat would bring, his response was that he didn't care. Maybe then, he opined, Washington would start paying attention to us and spend more money on ordinary Americans. I've often wondered how many Americans share that view.

 

President Obama

A frightening thought

One of the reasons behind Obama's spectacular rise is that, as the candidate with the least experience in Washington, he can credibly articulate something many Americans see as our biggest problem:
But the biggest divide in America today is not between its people, it is between its people and their leaders in Washington, DC.
I think a healthy majority of Americans would agree with that last point. In my opinion, it is the biggest problem we face as a nation and his ability to articulate it is one of his biggest strengths.

I've always considered Obama too far to the left to possibly win in November. I'm beginning to fear that may not matter. John Hinderacker argues "Obama's appeal lies, in part, in his ability to make liberalism seem palatable." He cautions:
Ronald Reagan came to power at a time when America had been carrying out, for sixteen years, an experiment with liberalism that by 1980 had brought the country to the brink of catastrophe. Americans did not adopt conservative principles because they sounded good on first hearing. They adopted conservative principles because of bitter experience with the alternative.

Today, the benefit of that experience has largely been lost. A generation of American voters has not experienced the failures of the Great Society, the near-collapse of American cities, double-digit inflation and unemployment, seventy percent tax brackets, or the disaster of Jimmy Carter's foreign policy. In the absence of historical memory, and with a powerful assist from the ever-forgetful press, liberalism is once again emerging as the philosophy that sounds good. The fact that it doesn't work awaits as an unpleasant surprise for a new generation. In the meantime, Barack Obama may well be the plausible candidate who can lead voters, once again, down the blind alley of leftism.
I thought about that while watching this video:



Via Scott Johnson, who notes a few quotes from the video:
I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems...

...I will not weaponize space...

...I will slow development of future combat systems...

...and I will institute a "Defense Priorities Board" to ensure the quadrennial defense review is not used to justify unnecessary spending...

...I will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons...

...and to seek that goal, I will not develop nuclear weapons...

...I will seek a global ban on the development of fissile material...

...and I will negotiate with Russia to take our ICBMs off hair-trigger alert...

...and to achieve deep cuts in our nuclear arsenals...
I find Obama's proposal to essentially disarm America frightening. Scarier still is the fact that the Democratic Party's Intrade Presidential Election Winner contract has been holding fairly steady, trading between 64 and 68 ever since Obama became viewed by that same market as the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

 

The Academy Awards

Absolutely Annoying

For the second time in my life, I watched the Academy Awards. My girlfriend and her daughter kind of made me. The only other time I watched the show was ten years ago, when I was marooned at my mom's house by a basketball injury to my driving foot. It was Roberto Benigni's big year and he helped provide the only interesting moment in the show as far as I was concerned. Meryl Streep (I think) presented Benigni, who'd celebrated a previous award he'd received that evening in a rather bizarre fashion, with his award by pointing it at him as he approached her. It was a moment few other people seemed to have noticed.

I found this year's show to be much more annoying that the one from ten years ago. Perhaps that's why the ratings are so low. William Katz comments:
An industry that doesn't give a damn about its audience, a politicized industry lacking in glamour and style, but with an opinion on everything; an industry that replaced talent with education, and now hires any Ivy Leaguer it can get its hands on; an industry that, as an insider friend of mine said, is simply a glamorous alternative to Wall Street; an industry that doesn't know the words to "There's No Business Like Show Business"; and an industry that is boring itself and the nation.
How true.

 

Public Official A

Is Governor Blagojevich

So says U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve. From an AP article:
Federal prosecutors routinely disguise the identities of people mentioned in indictments and other court papers, calling them such names as Public Official A, Individual B or co-schemer C. The idea is to protect the reputations of individuals who have not been charged with a crime and not tie them needlessly to corruption.

In court papers, prosecutors have already told how Rosenberg sought $220 million in business for an investment firm, Capri Capital, from the Illinois Teachers Retirement System, the $30 billion nest egg that pays the pensions of downstate and suburban school teachers.

Prosecutors had already alleged that Rezko and Levine, who has pleaded guilty and figures to be a witness, schemed to squeeze Rosenberg for a $2 million payoff or a $1.5 million campaign contribution. They said in the indictment the contribution was to be for "a certain public official." In later filings, they called him Public Official A.

St. Eve for the first time Monday said the campaign contribution was to go to Blagojevich.
Adlai Stevenson, whose term ended in 1953, was the last Democrat to be elected governor who managed to stay out of federal prison. Both Otto Kerner and Dan Walker served federal time, though Walker's crimes were unrelated to his term in office. Will Blagojevich make it two Illinois governors and three Democratic ones in a row? At the very least, it seems as if an indictment is merely a matter of time.

 

Justice Hillary?

Yikes

This is a good reason for conservatives to vote for John McCain:
But a seat on the Supreme Court would free Clinton to put her keen intellect to work in resolving Constitutional issues that desperately need to be saved from a wrecking ball by a Court that has veered dangerously to the right. It would allow her the potential to leave an enormous legacy, without worrying about how to vote because of the next election coming down the line.

This is an idea, by the way, that a BuzzFlash reader sent in to us early this morning, and it's one -- given an Obama victory in November -- that would probably make it through the Senate because the Dems are highly likely to pick up more Senate seats in the November election. Secondly, Senators are normally quite deferential to voting for other Senators when it comes to appointments such as the Supreme Court. Even the avalanche of opposition that the right-wing media mongers would raise would probably not stop a Clinton Supreme Court confirmation.
I hope the GOP makes an issue of this if Barak Obama is the Democratic nominee.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

 

Primary Objective

I think Obama is going to get the nomination but I'm not counting out the Clintons yet. They will do anything they can to get it. I don't buy the notion that they might hold back 'for the good of the party' at the debates or anywhere else. If there is nothing else left for them, as in they don't consider waiting until 2012 or power of a lesser kind an option, then they will go all out.

Friday, February 15, 2008

 

World Series Prediction

Spring seems a year away based on the current weather conditions around here but the baseball is being thrown around somewhere and there is no harm in an early prediction.

Angels over Cubs, 4 games to 2. No Red Sox. No Tigers. No Mets.

Cubs fans will have reason to be excited when the Angels take out the heavily favored Red Sox in the ALCS and even more reason after winning game one from the Angels. But after that it's Angels as Champs.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

 

Al Qaeda Leaders Charged

They should be summarily executed rather than tried

John Hinderacker comments:
I'm not particularly happy about this. The "defendants" will have a right to counsel, enjoy a presumption of innocence and can appeal their convictions all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. This strikes me as another step in the transformation of a military campaign into a law enforcement effort. If these terrorists have exhausted their usefulness as sources of intelligence, the course most consistent with military history would be to shoot them. We are far down the path of giving lawyers priority over soldiers in fighting the war against the jihadists.
Sadly, he's right.

Friday, February 08, 2008

 

Obama Now The Favorite?

The bettors at Intrade think he is. I'm not quite sure I agree.

 

Live Free And Die

Surrender your liberty for your own good

David Shearman, co-author of the book The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy greatly admires China's governing style and views the "unbridled individual liberty" we enjoy in America as a threat. In order to solve the "global environmental emergency" he believes we must rethink democracy:
There must be open minds to look critically at liberal democracy. Reform must involve the adoption of structures to act quickly regardless of some perceived liberties. It is not that liberal democracy cannot react once it sees a threat, for example, the speedy response to a recent international financial emergency. If governments can recognise a financial emergency and in an instant move heaven and earth (and billions of dollars, pounds sterling and euros) to contain it, why are they unable to do the same in response to a global environmental emergency?
Because the "global environmental emergency" exists only in the minds of people like David Shearman, people who believe we should simply cede power to them.

Via Prometheus, who wonders:
If just this one case, why this one and not others? If a general prescription, should we do away with democracy in favor of an authoritarianism of expertise?
It seems to me that far too many Americans, particularly the elites, favor complete deference to "experts."

Shearman concludes:
If we do not act urgently we may find we have chosen total liberty rather than life.
Yeah, right.

 

Sharia In Britain

Is submission unavoidable?

Is the imposition of sharia law in Britain unavoidable? The Archbishop of Canterbury thinks so:
Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4’s World at One that the UK has to “face up to the fact” that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Dr Williams argues that adopting some aspects of Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion…

He says Muslims should not have to choose between “the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty”.…

He stresses that “nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that’s sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states; states; the extreme punishments, the attitudes to women as well”…

“We don’t either want a situation where, because there’s no way of legally monitoring what communities do… people do what they like in private in such a way that that becomes another way of intensifying oppression inside a community.”
Via Allahpundit who observes that stories like this are "so common and dispiriting that I don’t know what to say about it anymore." I know how he feels.

Douglas Murray calls for the resignation of the Archbishop:
The effort to provide men and women with equal rights before the law is one of the greatest achievements of the human species. In sharia - even the 'early' parts of sharia where people don't have hands cut off or get flogged or beheaded - the testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man. In calling for the institution of Islamic sharia, the Archbishop of Canterbury has just trampled on the worth, equality and dignity of women in Britain who were born Muslim. This is not liberalism. It is discrimination. There is no more damage that Rowan Williams can do. He must resign.
Noting that his book America Alone has been alarmist by some, Mark Steyn wonders:
So I'd be interested to know from The Economist et al, just what would alarm you? Or, to put it another way, it's clear Canada, Britain and much of Europe have boarded the Sharia Train. What makes you think it's a stopping service that'll allow you to disembark at a station halfway down the track, rather than an express service to an inevitable destination?
As Islam means submission, the answer should be obvious.

 

North Korea & The UN

Working together

New York Philharmonic music director Lorin Maazel had this to say just prior to a trip to North Korea:
"People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw bricks, should they?" Mr. Maazel told the Associated Press. "Is our standing as a country — the United States — is our reputation all that clean when it comes to prisoners and the way they are treated? Have we set an example that should be emulated all over the world? If we can answer that question honestly, I think we can then stop being judgmental about the errors made by others."
Perhaps some enterprising reporter could ask him if North Korea's gulagags are one such error.

Why is it that some people demand the US must be perfect before it directs any criticism at anyone else? I wish they'd hold themselves to the same standard.

Better still, hold the UN to that standard. According to a report the from Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, North Korea has used the United Nations Development Program in North Korea to transfer money to its diplomatic missions in violation of UN rules and international financial regulations:
Why did the North Koreans go to such lengths to get the money abroad? The subcommittee asked North Korea, which replied in a meeting with Senate investigators last week. "After seeking instructions from their government in Pyongyang," the report says, North Korean diplomats explained that the transactions took place shortly after President Bush's "axis of evil" speech and their government expected that sanctions against North Korea would be tightened. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs identified the UNDP account as a "more secure channel to fund their embassies abroad." Indeed.

The subcommittee also discovered violations involving U.N. funds. Specifically, it found that the UNDP transferred money on behalf of Unesco and the World Intellectual Property Organization to a "trading" company in Macau with ties to a North Korean company engaged in weapons sales. The sums were small -- about $52,000 -- but the implications are large. There's no way of knowing how many such transactions occurred -- which is to say, there's no way of knowing how much U.N. money went to fund North Korean weapons activity.
Via Claudia Rosett, who comments:
But for the moment, in view of that disappearing Jay Lefkowitz speech on North Korea, described in the post below, and the findings of this PSI report on how North Korea battened onto the UNDP-related bank account as a handy means of obtaining a “more secure channel” for funneling money around the world without getting caught, can anyone explain how Condi Rice’s trusted envoy to the Six-Party Talks, Chris Hill, could read a report like this and still believe he can cut a viable deal with North Korea about nuclear bombs?

For that matter — since the U.S. provides the lion’s share of the money for the UN, and then has to spend all this time and effort to track down even a portion of the laundered, skimmed and scammed funds — can anyone explain why the UN, the UNDP, or the UN ETC, is necessary to the U.S. in the first place? Wouldn’t it be simpler to not pay the money, therefore not have to do the policing, and instead spend the time, effort and billions looking for ways, and appropriate allies, to genuinely deal with what matters to America?
Rosett's post covering the State Department's relegation of Hill's report to the memory hole is here.

The UN is actually worse that Rosett allows in that it is actively used by our enemies to undermine American interests. Joe Katzman observes:
The U.N. has been a haven of the corrupt and a tool of the hostile for most of its history - dominated by Third-World kleptocrats who demand for themselves what they will not grant their own suffering peoples, bought as required by the Arab League, and played largely for the benefit of the Soviet Bloc. So long as it remained irrelevant to serious politics, it status as a low-cost diplomatic nexus made it worth the triviality of its monetary fees. Belmont Club, who noted that "corruption at the United Nations was only tolerable for so long as it did nothing of consequence," had it exactly right.

Ah, but the U.N. has far grander ambitions now. Lofty ambitions of power untrammeled by its performance, and demonstrably unencumbered by notions of liberty, accountability, or humanitarian concern. Like Marxism before it, however, the U.N.'s dismal record of blood and failure is no mistake, and no accident. Despite apologists' untiring claims to the contrary, its record exist precisely because of its underlying concepts, not in spite of them.

What was once tolerable, is tolerable no more. What was once a simple waste is becoming something rather different: an active threat.

The U.N.'s weapons are theft and paralysis. Against it are arrayed the weapons of accountability and will. As Belmont Club notes above, the hostility is obvious, and the terms of the game crystal clear. Will the U.S. surrender, or prevail? The two sides cannot be bridged; the circle cannot be squared.
As I've said before, I wish more Americans, aside from those who desire surrender, realized this.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

 

Open-Field Politics

Michael Barone observes that every candidate's strategy has failed because entered a period of open-field politics:
For a decade from 1995 to 2005, we operated in a period of trench-warfare politics, with two approximately equal-sized armies waging a culture war in which very small amounts of ground made the difference between victory and defeat. It was pretty clear what the major issues were, what strategies were necessary to win a party's nomination, how to maximize your side's turnout on election day (and, increasingly, in early voting).

But times change. Somewhere between Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and the bombing of the Samarra mosque in February 2006, I believe we entered a period of open-field politics, in which voters and candidates are moving around -- a field in which there are no familiar landmarks or new signposts.
I hope he's right.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

 

Michael Jackson

Using his music to promote a product is despicable.

 

Absolutely No Sense Of Right & Wrong

Just happy to be the center of attention

In Boynton Beach, FL two teenage girls admitted that they stole $167 from a girl scout who was selling cookies outside of a supermarket. After authorities caught up with them, the thieves returned to the scene of the crime, allegedly to taunt the victim. They have not (yet?) been charged with a crime and show absolutely no remorse. Indeed, they relish the attention they are getting.

They say they did it because the "needed the money." Both say they are upset only because they got caught:
"We went through all that effort to get it, we got all these charges and we had to give the money back. I'm kind of pissed," one of the girls told WPBF.

The other girl told WPBF that she was upset because police found them.

"I'm not sorry, I'm just pissed that I got caught," the girl said.

Money collected from the cookie sales were supposed to go toward Smith's sleep-over trip with Troop 664 to the Miami Seaquarium. Police were unable to recover the stolen money, but a father of one of the teens accused in the crime paid the money back to Smith's mother, WPBF reported.

Authorities said the teens were not charged because they did not use force to steal the money, nor did they take the money from the Girl Scout’s hands.

The State Attorney's Office will decide if the teens will be charged.

The Winn-Dixie supermarket is donating $200 to the troop, WPBF reported.
Here's the video:




I would like to see the entire interview, but I don't think the thieves were being sincere in their remarks. It seems to me that they were simply reveling in the attention they were getting, trying to garner even more attention for themselves by making provocative remarks. I sure hope their remarks get the attention of the sentencing judge.

Via Laura W.

Friday, February 01, 2008

 

Arlen Specter Asks Some Good Questions

Senator wants to know why NFL destroyed Patriots spy tapes (From ESPN)

I think the Senate has more important things to do than worry about the NFL but I'm glad someone is inquiring. I've been wondering all season how this all went virtually unreported.

The Patriots were caught cheating. The evidence was confiscated by the NFL, viewed by the commissioner's office and then the evidence was destroyed. The Patriots were then punished but that's it, story over...really? I didn't think so and a few others agreed but it all got ignored.

Just what was all this evidence? What did the commissioner see on the video recordings? How far back did this go? The Patriots were accused of this in the past so there was likely much more than just the tapes/discs made during the first game of the '07 season when they were caught.

My initial thoughts were that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell found some pretty damning evidence against the Patriots that went back to their Super Bowl victories. This could have a negative impact on the NFL on a large scale. There is a lot of money involved in all this. Sweeping it all under the rug was a good move for the NFL (provided they get away with it which looks to be case) but not for fans that care.

The Patriots are on the verge of going undefeated this year and making history. I don't think this taints their 2007 season but it does taint their legacy in my opinion. I pulled for them against the Rams, Eagles, and Panthers in prior Super Bowls (I always pull for the AFC) but have been rooting against them all year.

A disclaimer should be given here though; I am a Miami Dolphins fan and therefore would like to see the 1972 Dolphins undefeated record remain. However I'm not trying to diminish the Patriot's record if they go undefeated. Although I rooted against perfection, I liked the 1998 Broncos and 2005 Colt teams that made it deep into the season without a loss. I don't believe these Patriots are cheating their way to perfection this year but the NFL has cheated the fans in a big way and perhaps the other teams out of a lot of money.

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