Here a few facts that I found fascinating.
The man Morris respected most in the world was George Washington. He had worked with Washington before Valley Forge, and though twenty-years his junior, had struck up a friendship with Washington. As a member of Congress, Morris visited Washington in Valley Forge and greatly helped with the logistics of their poor soldiers plight (many of whom did not even have adequate footwear for the harsh winter). Morris helped in two ways – he was mathematically gifted and helped organized the movement of supplies. More importantly, as a member of Congress he had the influence to help get the hungry Army some much needed supplies. It was at Valley Forge that he met the marquis de Lafayette. The triad of Washington, Lafayette, and Morris formed a tight friendship. Washington was both a friend and a father figure to them both. Lafayette was a young idealistic French officer who came over to help us fight his country's traditional enemy. Morris was a dandy, a ladies man, but willing and able to use his diplomatic skills in the service of his future nation. The three of them really made an unlikely combination of friends, but their mutual goals and willingness to work hard made solid relationships.
Even though Morris did not share all of Washington's mores, he had the utmost respect for our first president. We are indeed fortunate that Washington had no desire to be king and that he willingly relinquished power by refusing to run for more than two terms as president. We take that for granted today, but Brookhiser's book reminded me how revolutionary it was for someone to voluntarily relinquish power in the eighteenth century.
During Washington's Presidency, Morris served as minister to France during the French Revolution. He was reacquainted with Lafayette who had returned home. Lafayette was dismayed at how bloody the French Revolution was; many people were killed simply because they displeased the leader of the day. He attempted to flee to Holland, but was captured an thrown in jail. Acting on behalf of the US, Morris advanced 10,000 livres from the US credit to cover Lafayette's personal expenses in prison and told the jailers that America would hear with "great concern" if their hero "should be in want." Later, Morris loaned the Lafayette family 100,000 livres of his own money.
In addition to glimpses into the lives of our founding fathers, Brookhiser reminded me of something I had long forgotten. The founding fathers considered political parties to be bad things (page 167 if anyone wants his references). In 1800, Morris first proposed the role of opposition. This seems like common sense to us, I even wrote a summary of the loyal opposition concept last year. However, this concept was one that the founding fathers did not consider until the creation of political parties forced them to do so. To their credit, statesmen such as Morris not only created the idea, but supported it as a democratic alternative to civil war. (There were times when many politicians, including Morris, advocated breaking up the new Union – by force if necessary. Obviously none of these impulses ever resulted in action).
Morris also anticipated the end of slavery – not because he saw the good in men, but because he believed slavery was uneconomical. In his words, "Time... seems about to disclose the awful secret that commerce and domestic slavery are mortal foes; and, bound together, one must destroy the other. I cannot blame Southern gentlemen for striving to put down commerce, because commerce, if it survives, will, I think, put them down...." (page 195).
All in all, a very interesting book and well worth the read.
Tenure-track professors are hired and given several years to show results. After a certain amount of time, usually three years, the professor is evaluated. Depending upon the evaluation, he is faced with three outcomes. His contract is not renewed (most Americans would say he was fired), his evaluation term was extended (usually for another three years), or he was promoted to associate professor and given tenure.
Tenure is the mother-lode for professors. A professor with tenure may only be fired for doing something newsworthy (such as killing a student). Even if a professor ceases doing any research and only does an adequate job teaching, he has a guaranteed job until he retires. Tenure has its problems. For instance, it protects lazy professors. One would expect good professors would not need this protection since administrators would want to retain qualified, competent, and hard-working professors.
However, today I am reminded why tenure was established. It was to protect professors who exercise their rights to free speech. Professors who pursue research that goes against accepted practice would be fired at many universities if they did not have tenure. Despite their reputations for objectivity, scientists are a very close-minded community with a rigid belief system. They are very open to ideas within their belief system, but any idea that challenges accepted knowledge is usually treated with contempt and faces major hurdles to even be published. (This is why most non-tenured professors rarely challenge the status-quo; not only do they not have the protection of tenure, they will not get published which reduces their chances of ever receiving tenure). Barry Marshall is an example of someone who managed to overcome these hurdles, but for every Marshall who succeeds, many more fail.
Tenure not only protects scientific research, but political free speech. This is also a good thing. One of my favorite writers, Mike Adams, would have long been fired were it not for the protection of tenure. His recent column, Redheaded Woodpeckers, if written by any non-tenured professor, would spell the end of that professor's career. In these politically correct days, the advantages of tenured faculty feeling free to pursue their own research and to speak out outweigh the disadvantages of carrying some dead weight.
Mr Pasqua denied knowing that any such transactions were taking place in the 1990s but he said it did not surprise him.I did not take a bribe. I knew nothing about these bribes. But if my fellow French ministers took bribes, I would not be surprised.
"Former Interior Minister Charles Pasqua is not involved, but maybe other former ministers are involved," he said.
I don't know if Pasqua is an honest man being frank with the media about the lack of ethics in French government, or a dishonest man badmouthing his co-conspirators in order to distance himself from trouble. Neither explanation improves my opinion of the French government.
On Friday, January 23, 2004, FDIC Consumer Call Centers in Kansas City, Missouri, and Washington, D.C., began receiving a large number of complaints by consumers who received an e-mail that has the appearance of being sent from the FDIC. The e-mail informs the recipient that Department of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge has advised the FDIC to suspend all deposit insurance on the recipient's bank account due to suspected violations of the USA PATRIOT Act. The e-mail further indicates that deposit insurance will be suspended until personal identity, including bank account information, can be verified.You may now return to your normal surfing.
This e-mail was not sent by the FDIC and is a fraudulent attempt to obtain personal information from consumers. Financial institutions and consumers should NOT access the link provided within the body of the e-mail and should NOT under any circumstances provide any personal information through this media. You also should be aware that clicking on the e-mail link could activate a virus, Exploit-URLSpoof.gen, that might not be immediately detectible.
The FDIC and the FBI are attempting to identify the source of the e-mails and disrupt the transmission. Until this is achieved, consumers are asked to report any similar attempts to obtain this information to the FDIC by sending information to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone with questions about this scam may contact the FDIC Call Center toll-free at 1-877-ASK-FDIC (275-3342), which is staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, or look for updates on the FDIC Web site.
The original idea was that Sen. Edwards himself would bowl.What bright campaign manager thought of this fiasco? It reminds me of Clinton's infamous runway haircut, albeit on a smaller scale.
...when I arrived at the bowling alley, about 15 minutes before North Carolina's Sen. Edwards, trouble was brewing. It was like The Perfect Storm, with two powerful opposing forces on a deadly collision course:
On the one hand, you had hundreds of people there to see the candidate, including a large, aggressive press corps that was not wearing appropriate bowling footwear.
On the other hand, you had league bowlers, who were there to bowl, dammit.
Into this festive scene surged Sen. Edwards, whose campaign theme is that he is going to bring America together. He stood on a platform and gave a speech, surrounded by a dense crowd of media and applauding supporters. About 25 feet away, outside the crowd, the bowlers offered their rebuttal. It was a weird kind of stereo: In one ear, I'd hear Sen. Edwards explaining how he would provide economic opportunity to all Americans; in the other ear, I'd hear: "OUR WHOLE NIGHT IS RUINED! YOU DON'T GIVE A (bad word) ABOUT US!"
In another column, Mr. Barry also gives his brief impression of Wesley Clark.
Sometimes I wonder if the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.Some things never change.
Lady Quixote: What sound does a duck make?The Little Princess is one smart two-year-old.
Little Princess: Quack! Quack!
Lady Quixote: What sound does a dog make?
Little Princess: Woof! Woof!
Lady Quixote: What sound does a cow make?
Little Princess: Moo! Moo!
Lady Quixote: What sound does a mommy make?
Little Princess: Chocolate!
The castors are designed for soft floors.Wonder what sort of protection my floor would require if the castors weren't designed for soft floors?
To protect your floor, use KOLON carpet/floor protector; sold separately.
TIKRIT, Iraq - The U.S. military said Friday it may fill in the spider hole that Saddam Hussein used as his final hiding place to prevent it from becoming a tourist attraction.I hope not. Once Iraq is a peaceful and stable country, I hope the spiderhole – complete with lice – becomes a major tourist attraction. Let all people, especially those who desire power – mull upon how a modern day Ozymandias spent his last days as a tyrant.
For the rest of you, let me use the actual words of the contenders to summarize the entire debate. (Disclaimer, I am snipping bits from various parts of the debate in order to organize the discussion by subject. The candidates actually skipped around quite a bit as they avoided answering some questions.)
JENNINGS: Democrats everywhere tell us that they want to nominate a man who will not be beaten by President Bush using the Republican weapon of taxes. You know that President Bush will be relentless on this subject. You know that it is the Republicans' argument of choice. It works for Republicans.Other than comic relief, why is Sharpton even in the debates? He clearly has no idea what he talking about. We might have time for some serious answers if Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich were not up there. Then again, we would probably just give the other politicians more time to side-step questions. At least Sharpton and Kucinich add some humor to the process.
DEAN: Well, Peter, you may notice that my voice is a little hoarse. It's not because I was whooping and hollering at my third- place finish in Iowa; it's because I have cold.
I'm going to take a different position than everybody. I think we ought to get rid of the whole Bush tax cut, and here's why: There was no middle-class tax cut.
LIEBERMAN: In this campaign, I am the only candidate up here on the stage that has come out for genuine tax reform, not only to protect the middle-class tax cuts that middle-class families did get in the last three years, that many of us fought for, but to apply, to carry out, to pass a tax cut for 98 percent of the income tax payers and to pay for it by raising taxes on the 2 percent. JENNINGS: Reverend Sharpton, I'd like to ask you a question about domestic policy, if you don't mind. …if you become the nominee, and you have the opportunity to nominate someone to be chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, what kind of person would you consider for the job? You can name someone in particular, if you have someone in mind.
SHARPTON: I think, first of all, we must have a person at the Monetary Fund that is concerned about growth of all, not setting standards that would, in my judgment, protect some and not elevate those that cannot, in my view, expand and come to the levels of development and the levels of where we need to be.
I think part of my problem with how we're operating at this point is that the IMF and the policies that are emanating there do not lead to the expansion that is necessary for our country and our global village to rise to levels that underdeveloped countries and those businesses in this country can have the development policies necessary.
JENNINGS: Forgive me, Reverend Sharpton, but the question was actually about the Federal Reserve Board.
SHARPTON: Oh, in the Federal Reserve Board, I would be looking for someone that would set standards in this country, in terms of our banking, our -- in how government regulates the Federal Reserve as we see it under Greenspan, that we would not be protecting the big businesses; we would not be protecting banking interests in a way that would not, in my judgment, lead toward mass employment, mass development and mass production.
I think that -- would I replace Greenspan, probably. Do I have a name? No.
HUME: Senator Kerry, Governor Dean has said of you, and I believe also of Senator Edwards, that you cast votes that you knew were wrong on the war for political reasons. How do you answer that charge?Unquestionably, if John Kerry, John Edwards, or Howard Dean had been elected president in 2000, Saddam Hussein would still be in power.
KERRY: I answered by saying that there was a right way to hold Saddam Hussein accountable and there was a wrong way.
The right way was what the president promised, to go to the United Nations, to respect the building of an international coalition in truth, to exhaust the remedies of inspections and literally to only go to war as a last result.
If anybody in New Hampshire believes that John Kerry would have in fact gone to war the way George Bush did, they shouldn't vote for me.
EDWARDS: …I said from the very beginning, before the first resolution was ever voted on in the Congress, that in order for this effort to be successful it was absolutely critical that when we reached this stage that it be international, that it not be an American operation, that it not be an American occupation. And so long as it was that, we'd see the problems we've seen right now.
...And I thought it was critically important for us to say to this president, "What you're doing is wrong. You have to change course."
DEAN: Iraq was not an imminent threat to the United States. I disagreed with Senator Lieberman, Senator Edwards and Senator Kerry.
We had successfully contained Iraq for 12 years with no-fly zones. They had virtually no air force to speak of. It turned out they did not have the weapons of mass destruction that people thought they did, myself included. It turned out that much of what the president told us was not so.
I believe that Saddam Hussein's removal from power is good. But I also believe that the way to have done it was to do it through the United Nations, which is why I opposed the president's war in Iraq from the beginning.
HUME: Senator Lieberman, you voted the same way. You have also objected to the way the president has handled things. And yet you went ahead and voted for the $87 billion, which Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards did not.For that response, I will give Joe Lieberman the last word.
How do you answer what they have to say here? LIEBERMAN: Look, when I voted for the resolution in the fall of 2002, I had no illusions. I knew it would be an unpopular vote in parts of the Democratic Party and my race for the presidency...
But a just war it was. And again, we are safer as a people with Saddam Hussein in prison, not in power.
Now we have an extraordinary opportunity in the war against terrorism to build an Iraq, a democratizing, modernizing country in the middle of the Arab and Islamic worlds, which will send a message to the majority in the Islamic world that there is a better way than the hatred and death that Al Qaida presents to them.
It is, if you'll forgive me, the American -- the democratic way. That's what we have an opportunity to do now.
I had hoped that at least one of the Democratic contenders would bring a dose of fiscal responsibility to the campaign. Alas, the non-partisan National Taxpayer Union claims otherwise.
"All the Presidential challengers have to varying degrees disparaged the current size of federal deficits," said study author and NTUF Policy Analyst Drew Johnson. "Yet, our examination of the candidates' spending promises reveals an inconvenient fact: the deficit potholes they're complaining about on the road to the White House would only deepen under their own policies."Johnson noted that the study "does not even consider that the temptation to spend more money can increase after entering the White House." George W. Bush, for example, who campaigned as a fiscal conservative in 2000, has presided over a jump in federal spending of 23.7% since taking office. Yet, Johnson still found that even the most parsimonious of the Democrat Presidential candidates would have outpaced the spending run-up under Bush by 15%. Assuming these figures are true, this is really disheartening. No wonder some people see no difference between the two parties. While I think both parties profess to support different ideas, neither of them have many fiscally disciplined politicians. The scariest thing about these findings is that only Dennis Kucinich has proposed any ideas that would actually cut spending. What is a fiscal conservative to do?
...Highlights of the study include:If the policy agenda of any one of the eight candidates were enacted in full, annual federal spending would rise by at least $169.6 billion (Lieberman) and as much as $1.33 trillion (Sharpton). This would translate to a yearly budget hike of between 7.6% and 59.5%.while John Kerry would "only" increase spending by $265.11 billion.
All candidates offer platforms that call for more spending than would be offset by repealing the Bush tax cuts (using even generous estimates of the tax cuts' impact).
The eight candidates have proposed over 200 ideas to increase federal spending, and only two that would cut federal spending. Those two proposals have been offered by Dennis Kucinich (thus, the seven other candidates haven't made a single proposal to cut any spending).
Although they may attempt to stress their policy differences, Howard Dean and Wesley Clark would both increase annual federal outlays by roughly the same amount ($222.9 billion vs. $220.7 billion, respectively)...
You have a good time stealing cars around the country. You like to travel, so you only steal a few cars in one location, then you move on. This way, the cops don't have time to learn your methods. Then you come to Columbus, Ohio. You spot a real winner. The car is really hot, you can probably pocket $35k from the local fence for a few minutes work. The dumb owner didn't even lock it.
You hop in the car. With your skills, it only takes a few seconds to hotwire it. You drive off, already planning how you will spend your money. All of a sudden, the car stops and the car's tape deck starts blaring.
Bad boys, bad boys, Whatcha gonna do, Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?You realize the door is locked as you see some of Ohio's finest come for you.
The man admitted that he'd been smoking marijuana in a coffee shop and had bought £140 worth of the drug to take home.
He was handed over to Belgian police who took him to a police station to Antwerp but then found his marijuana was cabbage.
A police spokesman said: "He was quite mad about it. We've set the man free, because it's not prohibited to bring cabbage over the border.
"Probably the man had smoked so much in Holland, that he didn't realise he'd been swindled."
Police say a masked man entered the baker's shop in Wetzlar. The knife-wielding raider ordered the 47-year-old woman working there to hand over cash.
She reacted by taking several rolls and pieces of pastry from the display and throwing them at the man. He fled, but managed to snatch the woman's handbag which contained £20.
However, I give President Bush an A- for the war on terrorism. He has made some mistakes, but has achieved much. To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, in 2003 the story was that the terrorists did not bark in the States. Keep them on the run, Mr. President.
The entire transcript of President Bush's SOTU address and my comments follow:
Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens: America this evening is a nation called to great responsibilities. And we are rising to meet them.Agreed.
As we gather tonight, hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women are deployed across the world in the war on terror. By bringing hope to the oppressed, and delivering justice to the violent, they are making America more secure.
Each day, law enforcement personnel and intelligence officers are tracking terrorist threats; analysts are examining airline passenger lists; the men and women of our new Homeland Security Department are patrolling our coasts and borders. And their vigilance is protecting America.I partially agree. Homeland Security is still undergoing reorganization, but the new policy to fingerprint and photograph visitors has already caught a number of criminals. Nevertheless, our borders are still very porous. I believe the main reason we have not seen another terrorist attack is that most terrorist leaders are dead and the others are on the run. So I give you kudos for this, but let's not deceive ourselves into thinking our Homeland Security Department is effective yet.
Americans are proving once again to be the hardest working people in the world. The American economy is growing stronger. The tax relief you passed is working.I appreciate the tax relief, I really do. However, that is only part of the reason the economy is growing. One of the other reasons is that you finally abolished the horrific steel tariff you imposed despite running as a free trade advocate. I hope you have learned your lesson.
Tonight, members of Congress can take pride in the great works of compassion and reform that skeptics had thought impossible. You're raising the standards for our public schools, and you are giving our senior citizens prescription drug coverage under Medicare.Reform? What reform? You have created a new entitlement program that will cost billions. While I oppose the further growth of the nanny state on principle, I am outraged you do not limit this benefit to poor Americans. It is unjust to place future generations deeper in dept to pay for the drugs of rich retirees.
Ronald Reagan couldn't keep his promise to abolish the Department of Education, but at least he managed to limit its growth. Despite the 10th Amendment, you persist in finding new ways for the Federal government to interfere in the lives of every aspect of American life. If you had to interfere, the Cato Institute gave you good advice three years ago. Unfortunately you ignored it and now even more tax money is wasted by the Department of Education.
We have faced serious challenges together, and now we face a choice: We can go forward with confidence and resolve, or we can turn back to the dangerous illusion that terrorists are not plotting and outlaw regimes are no threat to us. We can press on with economic growth, and reforms in education and Medicare, or we can turn back to old policies and old divisions.I think it shameful to mix your plans for fighting international terrorism with your plans for increasing the size of the domestic bureaucracy. You make a serious point about the dangers of ignoring terrorism. September 11th should have taught all of this harsh lesson, but many of us need the reminder. However, you paint a false picture of our options facing "reforms" in education and Medicare. True reform would be to reduce the role of the federal government and, at a minimum, to means test Medicare recipients. It is immoral to mortgage our country to provide benefits to wealthy retirees.
We've not come all this way -- through tragedy, and trial and war -- only to falter and leave our work unfinished. Americans are rising to the tasks of history, and they expect the same from us. In their efforts, their enterprise, and their character, the American people are showing that the state of our union is confident and strong.I agree, but why? In foreign affairs your leadership in the war on terrorism has been one of the primary reasons for our success. However, in domestic affairs, our success is coming despite the actions in Washington, not because of them.
Our greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American people. Twenty-eight months have passed since September 11th, 2001 -- over two years without an attack on American soil. And it is tempting to believe that the danger is behind us. That hope is understandable, comforting -- and false. The killing has continued in Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Mombasa, Jerusalem, Istanbul, and Baghdad. The terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilized world. And by our will and courage, this danger will be defeated.Well said. I remember many leftists saying that if we dared fight the terrorists, we would reap many more attacks on American soil and that terrorist leaders would come out of hiding to fight us. Instead, we are stronger than ever and terrorist leaders are being dragged out of the ground.
Inside the United States, where the war began, we must continue to give our homeland security and law enforcement personnel every tool they need to defend us. And one of those essential tools is the Patriot Act, which allows federal law enforcement to better share information, to track terrorists, to disrupt their cells, and to seize their assets. For years, we have used similar provisions to catch embezzlers and drug traffickers. If these methods are good for hunting criminals, they are even more important for hunting terrorists.I am not convinced of this. The Patriot Act had some good points to it, but it also had many flaws. You need to completely revamp the act before I will ask my representatives to renew it. You certainly did not make the case for its renewal.
Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year. The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule. Our law enforcement needs this vital legislation to protect our citizens. You need to renew the Patriot Act.
America is on the offensive against the terrorists who started this war. Last March, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a mastermind of September the 11th, awoke to find himself in the custody of U.S. and Pakistani authorities. Last August the 11th brought the capture of the terrorist Hambali, who was a key player in the attack in Indonesia that killed over 200 people. We're tracking al Qaeda around the world, and nearly two-thirds of their known leaders have now been captured or killed. Thousands of very skilled and determined military personnel are on the manhunt, going after the remaining killers who hide in cities and caves, and one by one, we will bring these terrorists to justice.Hear! Hear!
As part of the offensive against terror, we are also confronting the regimes that harbor and support terrorists, and could supply them with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. The United States and our allies are determined: We refuse to live in the shadow of this ultimate danger.Well said!
The first to see our determination were the Taliban, who made Afghanistan the primary training base of al Qaeda killers. As of this month, that country has a new constitution, guaranteeing free elections and full participation by women. Businesses are opening, health care centers are being established, and the boys and girls of Afghanistan are back in school. With the help from the new Afghan army, our coalition is leading aggressive raids against the surviving members of the Taliban and al Qaeda. The men and women of Afghanistan are building a nation that is free and proud and fighting terror -- and America is honored to be their friend.You have done well here, President Bush. I was afraid you would abandon Afghanistan once our military destroyed the terrorist organizations. However, you have pleasantly surprised me and I hope you stay the course with Afghanistan even if it is of little strategic value. It is the right thing to do.
Since we last met in this chamber, combat forces of the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Poland and other countries enforced the demands of the United Nations, ended the rule of Saddam Hussein, and the people of Iraq are free.Wonderful job, Mr. President! Together with other countries that truly love freedom for all, not just themselves, we have made the world a better place. I am a bit leery that you are allowing the UN to have a minor role again; their track record leaves much to be desired. However, you have probably done as well with that gaggle of blunderers as any human could and I trust you will not give them enough influence to screw things up in Iraq.
Having broken the Baathist regime, we face a remnant of violent Saddam supporters. Men who ran away from our troops in battle are now dispersed and attack from the shadows. These killers, joined by foreign terrorists, are a serious, continuing danger. Yet we're making progress against them. The once all-powerful ruler of Iraq was found in a hole, and now sits in a prison cell. Of the top 55 officials of the former regime, we have captured or killed 45. Our forces are on the offensive, leading over 1,600 patrols a day and conducting an average of 180 raids a week. We are dealing with these thugs in Iraq, just as surely as we dealt with Saddam Hussein's evil regime.
The work of building a new Iraq is hard, and it is right. And America has always been willing to do what it takes for what is right. Last January, Iraq's only law was the whim of one brutal man. Today our coalition is working with the Iraqi Governing Council to draft a basic law, with a bill of rights. We're working with Iraqis and the United Nations to prepare for a transition to full Iraqi sovereignty by the end of June.
As democracy takes hold in Iraq, the enemies of freedom will do all in their power to spread violence and fear. They are trying to shake the will of our country and our friends, but the United States of America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins. The killers will fail, and the Iraqi people will live in freedom.The Coalition of the Willing's victory in Iraq was truly an amazing triumph over evil that only the most blind or bitter would deny.
Month by month, Iraqis are assuming more responsibility for their own security and their own future. And tonight we are honored to welcome one of Iraq's most respected leaders: the current President of the Iraqi Governing Council, Adnan Pachachi.
Sir, America stands with you and the Iraqi people as you build a free and peaceful nation.
Because of American leadership and resolve, the world is changing for the better. Last month, the leader of Libya voluntarily pledged to disclose and dismantle all of his regime's weapons of mass destruction programs, including a uranium enrichment project for nuclear weapons. Colonel Qadhafi correctly judged that his country would be better off and far more secure without weapons of mass murder.Hear! Hear! Thank you Mr. President for showing doubters that American is not a paper tiger, that we will not be terrorized, and that dictators should tread lightly or be deposed.
Nine months of intense negotiations involving the United States and Great Britain succeeded with Libya, while 12 years of diplomacy with Iraq did not. And one reason is clear: For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible, and no one can now doubt the word of America.
Different threats require different strategies. Along with nations in the region, we're insisting that North Korea eliminate its nuclear program. America and the international community are demanding that Iran meet its commitments and not develop nuclear weapons. America is committed to keeping the world's most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous regimes.Good for you! And good for the world. Your efforts to make the world a safer place are one of the few reasons I still support you.
When I came to this rostrum on September the 20th, 2001, I brought the police shield of a fallen officer, my reminder of lives that ended, and a task that does not end. I gave to you and to all Americans my complete commitment to securing our country and defeating our enemies. And this pledge, given by one, has been kept by many.I 100% agree. The overwhelming majority of Americans support our troops and we appreciate our true allies.
You in the Congress have provided the resources for our defense, and cast the difficult votes of war and peace. Our closest allies have been unwavering. America's intelligence personnel and diplomats have been skilled and tireless. And the men and women of the American military -- they have taken the hardest duty. We've seen their skill and their courage in armored charges and midnight raids, and lonely hours on faithful watch. We have seen the joy when they return, and felt the sorrow when one is lost. I've had the honor of meeting our servicemen and women at many posts, from the deck of a carrier in the Pacific to a mess hall in Baghdad.
Many of our troops are listening tonight. And I want you and your families to know: America is proud of you. And my administration, and this Congress, will give you the resources you need to fight and win the war on terror.
I know that some people question if America is really in a war at all. They view terrorism more as a crime, a problem to be solved mainly with law enforcement and indictments. After the World Trade Center was first attacked in 1993, some of the guilty were indicted and tried and convicted, and sent to prison. But the matter was not settled. The terrorists were still training and plotting in other nations, and drawing up more ambitious plans. After the chaos and carnage of September the 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers. The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States, and war is what they got.Thank God Al Gore could not carry his own state of Tennessee.
Some in this chamber, and in our country, did not support the liberation of Iraq. Objections to war often come from principled motives. But let us be candid about the consequences of leaving Saddam Hussein in power. We're seeking all the facts. Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations. Had we failed to act, the dictator's weapons of mass destruction programs would continue to this day. Had we failed to act, Security Council resolutions on Iraq would have been revealed as empty threats, weakening the United Nations and encouraging defiance by dictators around the world. Iraq's torture chambers would still be filled with victims, terrified and innocent. The killing fields of Iraq -- where hundreds of thousands of men and women and children vanished into the sands -- would still be known only to the killers. For all who love freedom and peace, the world without Saddam Hussein's regime is a better and safer place.I, and most of my fellow Americans, agree. This is why you will probably get my vote in November. Your domestic policies are abysmal, but we can survive four more years of domestic mismanagement more easily that we could survive stopping the war on terrorism with so much left undone. Too bad a fiscally conservative Democrat who also values world security is not running against you.
Some critics have said our duties in Iraq must be internationalized. This particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, El Salvador, and the 17 other countries that have committed troops to Iraq. As we debate at home, we must never ignore the vital contributions of our international partners, or dismiss their sacrifices.Well said! Some fools will still spout the lie about your "unilateralism", but most Americans laugh at them. The gentle dig at Dean was pretty humorous too.
From the beginning, America has sought international support for our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we have gained much support. There is a difference, however, between leading a coalition of many nations, and submitting to the objections of a few. America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country.
We also hear doubts that democracy is a realistic goal for the greater Middle East, where freedom is rare. Yet it is mistaken, and condescending, to assume that whole cultures and great religions are incompatible with liberty and self-government. I believe that God has planted in every human heart the desire to live in freedom. And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for decades, it will rise again.This was the best part of the speech. It clearly spells out Bush's view of American foreign objectives and I find myself in full agreement with them.
As long as the Middle East remains a place of tyranny and despair and anger, it will continue to produce men and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends. So America is pursuing a forward strategy of freedom in the greater Middle East. We will challenge the enemies of reform, confront the allies of terror, and expect a higher standard from our friend. To cut through the barriers of hateful propaganda, the Voice of America and other broadcast services are expanding their programming in Arabic and Persian -- and soon, a new television service will begin providing reliable news and information across the region. I will send you a proposal to double the budget of the National Endowment for Democracy, and to focus its new work on the development of free elections, and free markets, free press, and free labor unions in the Middle East. And above all, we will finish the historic work of democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, so those nations can light the way for others, and help transform a troubled part of the world.
America is a nation with a mission, and that mission comes from our most basic beliefs. We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire. Our aim is a democratic peace -- a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman. America acts in this cause with friends and allies at our side, yet we understand our special calling: This great republic will lead the cause of freedom.
In the last three years, adversity has also revealed the fundamental strengths of the American economy. We have come through recession, and terrorist attack, and corporate scandals, and the uncertainties of war. And because you acted to stimulate our economy with tax relief, this economy is strong, and growing stronger.I am glad to see the tax cuts even though you overstate their effectiveness. Our economy is growing, in part because of your tax cuts, but only in part. I also very mixed feelings about the child tax credits. This is simple redistribution of wealth (that is, those who pay absolutely nothing in taxes will get a "refund" of cash via these tax credits). However, this does tend to benefit the poorest amongst us, so it is not one of my larger concerns with your fiscal irresponsibility.
You have doubled the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000, reduced the marriage penalty, begun to phase out the death tax, reduced taxes on capital gains and stock dividends, cut taxes on small businesses, and you have lowered taxes for every American who pays income taxes.
Americans took those dollars and put them to work, driving this economy forward. The pace of economic growth in the third quarter of 2003 was the fastest in nearly 20 years; new home construction, the highest in almost 20 years; home ownership rates, the highest ever. Manufacturing activity is increasing. Inflation is low. Interest rates are low. Exports are growing. Productivity is high, and jobs are on the rise.I agree. However, if you truly believe this, why are you enabling the biggest real increases in domestic discretionary spending in modern history?
These numbers confirm that the American people are using their money far better than government would have -- and you were right to return it.
America's growing economy is also a changing economy. As technology transforms the way almost every job is done, America becomes more productive, and workers need new skills. Much of our job growth will be found in high-skilled fields like health care and biotechnology. So we must respond by helping more Americans gain the skills to find good jobs in our new economy.Is this the responsibility of the federal government? As you just stated, the American people can manage resources better than the government. Despite your earlier words, I fear you about to hypocritically attempt to manage the resources of individual Americans.
All skills begin with the basics of reading and math, which are supposed to be learned in the early grades of our schools. Yet for too long, for too many children, those skills were never mastered. By passing the No Child Left Behind Act, you have made the expectation of literacy the law of our country. We're providing more funding for our schools -- a 36-percent increase since 2001. We're requiring higher standards. We are regularly testing every child on the fundamentals. We are reporting results to parents, and making sure they have better options when schools are not performing. We are making progress toward excellence for every child in America.Yep – I knew it. Hypocrite. How much more taxpayer money will you waste trying to manage resources?
But the status quo always has defenders. Some want to undermine the No Child Left Behind Act by weakening standards and accountability. Yet the results we require are really a matter of common sense: We expect third graders to read and do math at the third grade level -- and that's not asking too much. Testing is the only way to identify and help students who are falling behind. This nation will not go back to the days of simply shuffling children along from grade to grade without them learning the basics. I refuse to give up on any child -- and the No Child Left Behind Act is opening the door of opportunity to all of America's children.Why do you think this is a federal problem at all? Lower our taxes, abolish the Department of Education, and let Americans solve local problems at the local level.
At the same time, we must ensure that older students and adults can gain the skills they need to find work now. Many of the fastest growing occupations require strong math and science preparation, and training beyond the high school level. So tonight, I propose a series of measures called Jobs for the 21st Century. This program will provide extra help to middle and high school students who fall behind in reading and math, expand advanced placement programs in low-income schools, invite math and science professionals from the private sector to teach part-time in our high schools. I propose larger Pell grants for students who prepare for college with demanding courses in high school. I propose increasing our support for America's fine community colleges, so they can -- I do so, so they can train workers for industries that are creating the most new jobs. By all these actions, we'll help more and more Americans to join in the growing prosperity of our country. Job training is important, and so is job creation.
We must continue to pursue an aggressive, pro-growth economic agenda. Congress has some unfinished business on the issue of taxes. The tax reductions you passed are set to expire. Unless you act -- (applause) -- unless you act -- unless you act, the unfair tax on marriage will go back up. Unless you act, millions of families will be charged $300 more in federal taxes for every child. Unless you act, small businesses will pay higher taxes. Unless you act, the death tax will eventually come back to life. Unless you act, Americans face a tax increase. What Congress has given, the Congress should not take away. For the sake of job growth, the tax cuts you passed should be permanent.I'd like you to start pursuing an aggressive, pro-growth economic agenda. Renewing the tax cuts is a good idea, but tax cuts alone are not enough. A promise from you to avoid all protective tariffs in the future would be a good start.
Our agenda for jobs and growth must help small business owners and employees with relief from needless federal regulation, and protect them from junk and frivolous lawsuits.This will help a great deal. Keep the federal government and lawyers out of our way and let us work. Good luck getting this pass Congress – I suspect the effort will make your negotiations with the UN look easy.
Consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of energy to make our economy run -- so I urge you to pass legislation to modernize our electricity system, promote conservation, and make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy.No! No! No! Do you not see how you have just contradicted yourself. It was only one sentence earlier. We do not need MORE regulations, we need LESS regulations.
My administration is promoting free and fair trade to open up new markets for America's entrepreneurs and manufacturers and farmers -- to create jobs for American workers. Younger workers should have the opportunity to build a nest egg by saving part of their Social Security taxes in a personal retirement account. We should make the Social Security system a source of ownership for the American people. And we should limit the burden of government on this economy by acting as good stewards of taxpayers' dollars.I agree. I would like to see you start acting as a good steward of our money.
In two weeks, I will send you a budget that funds the war, protects the homeland, and meets important domestic needs, while limiting the growth in discretionary spending to less than 4 percent. This will require that Congress focus on priorities, cut wasteful spending, and be wise with the people's money. By doing so, we can cut the deficit in half over the next five years.If you and Congress can accomplish this without resorting the accounting gimmicks that are illegal for businesses, but standard practice for the US government, I would cheerfully vote for you in November. However, I suspect I have better odds of winning the lottery (and I don't buy tickets).
Tonight, I also ask you to reform our immigration laws so they reflect our values and benefit our economy. I propose a new temporary worker program to match willing foreign workers with willing employers when no Americans can be found to fill the job. This reform will be good for our economy because employers will find needed workers in an honest and orderly system. A temporary worker program will help protect our homeland, allowing Border Patrol and law enforcement to focus on true threats to our national security.Your proposed program does give amnesty to illegal immigrants. It may not give them any advantages towards receiving citizenship, but it clearly provides amnesty for breaking the law. I have not yet made up my mind about your program. It has the benefit of being feasible to implement; however, be honest about your proposal.
I oppose amnesty, because it would encourage further illegal immigration, and unfairly reward those who break our laws. My temporary worker program will preserve the citizenship path for those who respect the law, while bringing millions of hardworking men and women out from the shadows of American life.
Our nation's health care system, like our economy, is also in a time of change. Amazing medical technologies are improving and saving lives. This dramatic progress has brought its own challenge, in the rising costs of medical care and health insurance. Members of Congress, we must work together to help control those costs and extend the benefits of modern medicine throughout our country.Your pandering to yet another special interest group is sickening. Earlier, you said Americans can manage resources better than the government. Yet, you proudly helped broker the biggest new entitlement program in years and what does it try to do? Manage health resources. The program certainly should not pay for benefits for wealthy retirees. Your fiscal irresponsibility scares me.
Meeting these goals requires bipartisan effort, and two months ago, you showed the way. By strengthening Medicare and adding a prescription drug benefit, you kept a basic commitment to our seniors: You are giving them the modern medicine they deserve.
Starting this year, under the law you passed, seniors can choose to receive a drug discount card, saving them 10 to 25 percent off the retail price of most prescription drugs -- and millions of low-income seniors can get an additional $600 to buy medicine. Beginning next year, seniors will have new coverage for preventive screenings against diabetes and heart disease, and seniors just entering Medicare can receive wellness exams.
In January of 2006, seniors can get prescription drug coverage under Medicare. For a monthly premium of about $35, most seniors who do not have that coverage today can expect to see their drug bills cut roughly in half. Under this reform, senior citizens will be able to keep their Medicare just as it is, or they can choose a Medicare plan that fits them best -- just as you, as members of Congress, can choose an insurance plan that meets your needs. And starting this year, millions of Americans will be able to save money tax-free for their medical expenses in a health savings account.
I signed this measure proudly, and any attempt to limit the choices of our seniors, or to take away their prescription drug coverage under Medicare, will meet my veto.
On the critical issue of health care, our goal is to ensure that Americans can choose and afford private health care coverage that best fits their individual needs. To make insurance more affordable, Congress must act to address rapidly rising health care costs. Small businesses should be able to band together and negotiate for lower insurance rates, so they can cover more workers with health insurance. I urge you to pass association health plans. I ask you to give lower-income Americans a refundable tax credit that would allow millions to buy their own basic health insurance.This sounds nice, but you have not addressed any of the real problems. You have just proposed new ways to redistribute income. You should be focused on real problems, such as balancing the rights of patients with the concerns of doctors of ridiculous legal liabilities. You should be resolving the problem of free-ride countries like Canada who can sell drugs for less because they do not pay little or none of the development costs.
By computerizing health records, we can avoid dangerous medical mistakes, reduce costs, and improve care. To protect the doctor-patient relationship, and keep good doctors doing good work, we must eliminate wasteful and frivolous medical lawsuits. And tonight I propose that individuals who buy catastrophic health care coverage, as part of our new health savings accounts, be allowed to deduct 100 percent of the premiums from their taxes. A government-run health care system is the wrong prescription. By keeping costs under control, expanding access, and helping more Americans afford coverage, we will preserve the system of private medicine that makes America's health care the best in the world.
We are living in a time of great change -- in our world, in our economy, in science and medicine. Yet some things endure -- courage and compassion, reverence and integrity, respect for differences of faith and race. The values we try to live by never change. And they are instilled in us by fundamental institutions, such as families and schools and religious congregations. These institutions, these unseen pillars of civilization, must remain strong in America, and we will defend them. We must stand with our families to help them raise healthy, responsible children. When it comes to helping children make right choices, there is work for all of us to do.So you want the federal government to fund drug testing for our children, yet you ask professional teams to "get tough." To be consistent, why don't you request mandatory drug testing for professional athletes? Not that I recommend this. I recommend staying out of it. The federal government has no business getting involved. Not only is this an inefficient use of resources, it opens the door for a more oppressive government. After you leave power, the next President may make the drug testing of schoolkids mandatory. What about homeschoolers – will the State then have the power to force these children to be subject to unreasonable searches?
One of the worst decisions our children can make is to gamble their lives and futures on drugs. Our government is helping parents confront this problem with aggressive education, treatment, and law enforcement. Drug use in high school has declined by 11 percent over the last two years. Four hundred thousand fewer young people are using illegal drugs than in the year 2001. In my budget, I proposed new funding to continue our aggressive, community-based strategy to reduce demand for illegal drugs. Drug testing in our schools has proven to be an effective part of this effort. So tonight I proposed an additional $23 million for schools that want to use drug testing as a tool to save children's lives. The aim here is not to punish children, but to send them this message: We love you, and we don't want to lose you.
To help children make right choices, they need good examples. Athletics play such an important role in our society, but, unfortunately, some in professional sports are not setting much of an example. The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football, and other sports is dangerous, and it sends the wrong message -- that there are shortcuts to accomplishment, and that performance is more important than character. So tonight I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches, and players to take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough, and to get rid of steroids now.
To encourage right choices, we must be willing to confront the dangers young people face -- even when they're difficult to talk about. Each year, about 3 million teenagers contract sexually-transmitted diseases that can harm them, or kill them, or prevent them from ever becoming parents. In my budget, I propose a grassroots campaign to help inform families about these medical risks. We will double federal funding for abstinence programs, so schools can teach this fact of life: Abstinence for young people is the only certain way to avoid sexually-transmitted diseases.While this is a nice change from the previous administration, whose Joycelyn Elders misled millions of children about the effectiveness of condoms, the federal government should leave local problems up to local authorities.
Decisions children now make can affect their health and character for the rest of their lives. All of us -- parents and schools and government -- must work together to counter the negative influence of the culture, and to send the right messages to our children.You make some good points here; however, we need a President with the courage and integrity to reform the courts. Do not react to activist judges by passing specific amendments each time they violate existing laws. Instead, ask Congress to impeach specific judges as they abuse their authority.
A strong America must also value the institution of marriage. I believe we should respect individuals as we take a principled stand for one of the most fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization. Congress has already taken a stand on this issue by passing the Defense of Marriage Act, signed in 1996 by President Clinton. That statute protects marriage under federal law as a union of a man and a woman, and declares that one state may not redefine marriage for other states.
Activist judges, however, have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.
The outcome of this debate is important -- and so is the way we conduct it. The same moral tradition that defines marriage also teaches that each individual has dignity and value in God's sight.
It's also important to strengthen our communities by unleashing the compassion of America's religious institutions. Religious charities of every creed are doing some of the most vital work in our country -- mentoring children, feeding the hungry, taking the hand of the lonely. Yet government has often denied social service grants and contracts to these groups, just because they have a cross or a Star of David or a crescent on the wall. By executive order, I have opened billions of dollars in grant money to competition that includes faith-based charities. Tonight I ask you to codify this into law, so people of faith can know that the law will never discriminate against them again.I am leery of this idea as well. Yes, religious charities are doing some of the most effect work with the poor. They were doing even more work before the federal government got involved with FDR. Reduce our taxes and eliminate the federal programs. If we get to keep more of our own money, many of us will be glad to donate more to charities that actually help others. We can see who is effective locally, trust us to donate wisely. We would be hard pressed to do worse than the government.
In the past, we've worked together to bring mentors to children of prisoners, and provide treatment for the addicted, and help for the homeless. Tonight I ask you to consider another group of Americans in need of help. This year, some 600,000 inmates will be released from prison back into society. We know from long experience that if they can't find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to commit crime and return to prison. So tonight, I propose a four-year, $300 million prisoner re-entry initiative to expand job training and placement services, to provide transitional housing, and to help newly released prisoners get mentoring, including from faith-based groups. America is the land of second chance, and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.Yet another federal program that will inefficiently address the problem. Why? We have plenty of existing programs? Do they work? If not, scrap them and use those funds for your new ideas? If they do work, why do we need a new program?
For all Americans, the last three years have brought tests we did not ask for, and achievements shared by all. By our actions, we have shown what kind of nation we are. In grief, we have found the grace to go on. In challenge, we rediscovered the courage and daring of a free people. In victory, we have shown the noble aims and good heart of America. And having come this far, we sense that we live in a time set apart.Nice sentimental close. I am glad to see a President who shares the faith of the majority of Americans and is not afraid to allow his faith to guide his actions.
I've been witness to the character of the people of America, who have shown calm in times of danger, compassion for one another, and toughness for the long haul. All of us have been partners in a great enterprise. And even some of the youngest understand that we are living in historic times. Last month a girl in Lincoln, Rhode Island, sent me a letter. It began, "Dear George W. Bush. If there's anything you know, I, Ashley Pearson, age 10, can do to help anyone, please send me a letter and tell me what I can do to save our country." She added this P.S.: "If you can send a letter to the troops, please put, 'Ashley Pearson believes in you.'"
Tonight, Ashley, your message to our troops has just been conveyed. And, yes, you have some duties yourself. Study hard in school, listen to your mom or dad, help someone in need, and when you and your friends see a man or woman in uniform, say, "thank you." And, Ashley, while you do your part, all of us here in this great chamber will do our best to keep you and the rest of America safe and free.
My fellow citizens, we now move forward, with confidence and faith. Our nation is strong and steadfast. The cause we serve is right, because it is the cause of all mankind. The momentum of freedom in our world is unmistakable -- and it is not carried forward by our power alone. We can trust in that greater power who guides the unfolding of the years. And in all that is to come, we can know that His purposes are just and true.
May God continue to bless America.
I give you a D for your domestic agenda. Other than your tax cuts, you have accomplished little. Spending is higher than ever and many of your new initiatives treat symptoms, not problems.
However, I give you an A- for your war on terrorism. You have made some mistakes, but you are achieving progress. To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, in 2003 the story was that the terrorists did not bark in the States. Keep them on the run, Mr. President. I wish you could be as effective against America's domestic problems as you are against our foreign ones.
1. Your ideal theoretical candidate. (100%)So only two candidates agree with me over half the time. My disagreements with President Bush are mostly due to my economic beliefs (e.g, free trade is good, budgets should be balanced) and my beliefs about government (government should be smaller and the feds should leave as much as possible up to local governments). I find it slightly depressing that none of the other candidates share even half of my beliefs.
2. Bush, President George W. - Republican (74%)
3. Libertarian Candidate (55%)
4. Phillips, Howard - Constitution (32%)On the other hand, I would be concerned if I had more in common with many of these folks.
5. Lieberman, Senator Joe, CT - Democrat (32%)
6. Kucinich, Rep. Dennis, OH - Democrat (31%)
7. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat (31%)
8. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (29%)
9. Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat (28%)
10. Gephardt, Rep. Dick, MO - Democrat (28%)
11. LaRouche, Lyndon H. Jr. - Democrat (26%)
12. Hagelin, Dr. John - Natural Law (22%)
13. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (17%)
14. Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol, IL - Democrat (15%)
15. Green Party Candidate (14%)
16. Clark, Retired General Wesley K., AR - Democrat (13%)
17. Socialist Candidate (1%)
Gephardt declared a year ago that - win or lose in his presidential bid - he was not seeking re-election this fall to the 3rd District congressional seat that he's held since 1977.I hope Gephardt keeps this promise.
Gephardt has repeatedly denied Republican speculation that he might reconsider his plans to retire from the U.S. House, or choose instead to challenge Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo.
John Kerry rode an 11th-hour surge to victory in Iowa's kickoff presidential caucuses, upsetting Democratic front-runner Howard Dean and stunning caucus favorite Dick Gephardt.If this report is correct, then I believe this does indeed signal the end for Gephardt.
Gephardt scrapped plans to fly to New Hampshire for next week's primary after a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, a source said Monday night, possibly signaling the end of his presidential campaign.
Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina was in second. "It feels terrific," Edwards said as he awaited the final results at a downtown hotel. "What's happened here the last two weeks with my campaign has been phenomenal." The Dean campaign said he called Edwards to congratulate him on his strong showing.So Dean, the frontrunner, came in third. The 2004 Democrats may have decided not to run off a cliff after all. The next few days should be quite interesting.
Many bloggers are making their own predictions, including Ben, Xlrq, Antioch Road, The Yin Blog, Cornfield Commentary, and Polipundit. Slate's Kaus then explains why the numbers you hear tonight will be an undemocratic result while Kos believes any margin of victory by Dean will be a great victory.
Poliblog found a story that Edwards and Kucinich have agreed to support each other if either of them do not have enough supporters to be viable. (One of the oddities of the Iowa caucus is that votes from supporters of non-viable candidates do not count, so delegates may change camps throughout the process). I suspect this deal will help Edwards, but it was a clever move for both of them.
My very first post discussed Bush's thinking:
I am amazed at how the mainstream media continues to underestimate and misunderstand President Bush. While I certainly do not agree with all of President Bush’s decisions (for example, his imposition of steel tariffs was a horrible mistake – for all his faults, Bill Clinton would have never done this), I do respect President Bush’s competence and think he is fairly predictable.I still think President Bush is fairly predictable and he is still confusing his critics. I have created a grid that may help explain his perspective.
In general, the Republican Party supports smaller government and traditional values. The Democratic Party usually believes all problems require federal programs except traditional values – to put the best possible spin on it, they believe this is none of the government's business. The Libertarian Party shares some of the characteristics of both mainstream parties. They believe in a smaller government, but also believe the government should be value neutral. I am obviously painting with a broad brush here, but this is a useful model for discussion. President Bush does not fall within any of these categories. He believes in traditional values, but he wants governmental programs to actively support these values. This is a major departure from the mainstream Republican Party and has confused many people. However, keeping my grid in mind, it explains his marriage proposal, his immigration proposal, and even his new drug entitlement program.
I am skeptical about all of these, especially the drug entitlement program. I am strongly in the camp of a smaller government. However, President Bush is the first president in recent times to try to use the power of government to support traditional values. Obviously, this is what he means by compassionate conservatism. Unlike the drug entitlement, which will cost a great deal over time, Bush's marriage support proposal will be a very small part of the Federal budget.
Marriages that last are clearly an effective way out of poverty. Recent studies have provided empirical support for the beliefs of our grandparents. Let's see if Bush's new approach can work. If not, at least we have tested a new idea and then will have an empirical reason for rejecting it.
This morning I received a fun quiz from one of my readers (Bill B.). You have to answer four simple questions. The only trick is that you have to answer as quickly as possible.
-----start email quiz----- Subject: How Smart Are You?
My apologies for the scroll downs, it's necessary so you don't peak at the answers. Enjoy!
This is only for "smart people"
Are you the weakest link? Below are four (4) questions. You have to answer them instantly. You can't take your time, answer all of them immediately. OK? Let's find out just how clever you really are.
GO!!! (scroll down)
First Question: You are participating in a race. You overtake the second person. What position are you in?
Answer: If you answered that you are first, then you are absolutely wrong!
If you overtake the second person and you take his place, you are second!
Try not to mess up on the next question.
To answer the second question, don't take as much time as you took for the first question.
Second Question: If you overtake the last person, then you are...?
Answer: If you answered that you are second to last, then you are wrong again. Tell me, how can YOU overtake the LAST person?!
You're not very good at this are you?
Third Question: Very tricky math! Note: This must be done in your head only. Do NOT use paper and pencil or a calculator. Try it.
Take 1000 and add 40 to it. Now add another 1000. Now add 30. Add another 1000. Now add 20... Now add another 1000. Now add 10. What is the total?
Scroll down for answer...
Did you get 5000? The correct answer is actually 4100. Don't believe it?
Check with your calculator!
Today is definitely not your day. Maybe you will get the last question right?
Mary's father has five daughters: 1. Nana, 2. Nene, 3. Nini, 4. Nono.
What is the name of the fifth daughter?
Answer: Nunu? NO! Of course not. Her name is Mary. Read the question again.
---------end of email---------
I missed the first and last questions; and thought the quiz was fun. Of course, answering questions in a hurry is a bad idea as a general practice, it does lead to mistakes. I also noted that whoever made up the quiz screwed up on questions 1 and 2. There are situations where you can be in a race and overtake the second person without then being second. There are also situations where you can be in a race and overtake the last person. Hasn't the quiz writer ever heard of a race track? In long races, faster competitors lap their slower competitors...
I loved the last question.
I understood I would lose a few comments in the transition, but also knew I could probably salvage them from the nucleus database. In fact, I plan on doing this today. This was an acceptable cost to me. The King is very skilled at MT and has developed many elegant coding tricks for MT sites (I am not a coder, but I know enough to follow coding logic once someone else has done the work). I am quite happy with his work and would highly recommend him.
However, the biggest risks in new endeavors are the unexpected consequences. It is difficult to weigh the pros and cons of decisions when you are unaware of some of the consequences. I did not realize that switching from Nucleus to MT would void all the permalinks people have placed to my site. After all, when I switched from Blogger to Nucleus, all of my old Blogger posts still work.
Had I realized that up front, I would not have moved to MT. However, given all the time the King and I have invested in implementing my theme in MT, I am certainly going to stay with MT. Today I will also add a section on the left that references my most popular posts with their new permalinks. I regret any inconvenience this loss of old permalinks has caused my readers, but I have learned two things from this experience. One, if I ever switch to another program (doubtful), I will ensure I do so in a way that saves all permalinks. Two, as people experience unexpected consequences throughout their lives, it probably influences their thinking. After all, only a fool does not learn from experience. Thus, the law of unexpected consequences – along with personal experience with these consequences – may explain why people grow more conservative with age.
NASA takes a lot of flack, sometimes deservedly so, but they also deserve a lot of credit. Imagine the patience and skill it took to design the entire mission and ensure everything went perfectly. Merely confirming that Spirit had safely left the lander was an exercise in patience.
The team had sent the command to leave the lander at 3:21 a.m., then waited for more than an hour and a half before learning the results.Kudos to NASA for an excellent job so far. Hopefully their success will continue with Opportunity, which is scheduled to land in nine days on the opposite side of Mars.
It took the craft only 78 seconds to travel the 10 feet from the lander onto the surface, but the craft then had to locate the sun, take pictures of its surroundings and wait for a passing Mars orbiter before it could phone home with confirmation of its success.
It has been 40 years since the Democrats won a resounding victory in a race for the White House. That was in 1964, when the GOP nominee, Sen. Barry Goldwater, was seen as an extreme right-winger.While it has been 40 years since a Democrat won over 90% of the electoral vote, Bill Clinton's victory over Bob Dole was quite decisive. Clinton won 70.4% of the electoral votes and a slight majority of the popular vote in the 1996 election. So it has only been 8 years since the Democrats won a resounding victory in the race for the White House, while it has been 16 years since the Republicans last did so.
C'mon Taranto - give credit where credit is due. Love him or hate him, Clinton was the most charismatic Democratic politician since JFK.
Update: James Taranto responded.
It is you who made a facutal [sic] error. Clinton had a popular-vote plurality of 49.24% in 1996, not a majority and hardly a resounding victory.I appreciate the quick response, but I there are two points that I would like clarified. One, where are you getting your data about the 49.24%? I don't trust everything I see on the internet, but I found these 1996 presidential election numbers at several sites. These numbers give Clinton a majority vote of 50.06%. Perhaps your numbers include all the fringe candidates? I did not find a reference that included them; however, I can see where they might lower Clinton's popular vote by a percentage point.
More pertinent to my initial point, winning 70% of the electoral college is a resounding victory. As you and your team have correctly pointed out many times, albeit in the context of Bush vs. Gore, the electoral votes are the only votes that matter. This double-standard is unworthy of the high quality that I have grown to expect from reading your column.
Final Update: James Taranto promptly and politely responded again. The fringe candidates did indeed reduce Clinton's share of the popular vote by almost a percentage.
The Infoplease figures are incomplete. According to "Presidential Elections 1789-2000" (CQ Press), Ralph Nader received 684,902 votes (0.7%), and other candidates got 905,807 (0.9%).My compliments to Taranto for the online reference, it is very useful and I am sure I will use it in future posts. However, this does not change my main point. Winning over 70% of the electoral votes is a resounding victory no matter how you choose to look at it. Perhaps the root of our disagreement is not the use of the word resounding, but of victory. From our emails, I have the impression that Taranto is using victory as a proxy for mandate. Look at the impact of changing this one word in the disputed sentence:
Here is an online source for pesidential[sic] election data that I've always found reliable: http://uselectionatlas.org/USPRESIDENT/frametextj.html
Anyway, I certainly wouldn't call a victory "resounding" with less than 50% of the popular vote and fewer than 400 electoral votes. Resounding victories are FDR's (all four of them), LBJ's in '64, Nixon's in '72 and Reagan's in '84. Maybe Reagan's in '80 and Bush's in '88 too...
It has been 40 years since the Democrats won a resounding mandate in a race for the White House.Now that is a statement that is much clearer and one in which I would agree. Victories are decided by electoral votes. Mandates are decided by the people.
As a blogiversary present to myself (and my readers), I commissioned the wonderful talents of the King of Fools to give my site the new look you see today. I highly recommend the King to anyone who desires a custom look. He has been an artist and a gentlemen. He listened to what I wanted, made great suggestions, and even implemented one feature before I had the chance to ask.
As part of this new look, I am transitioning from Nucleus to MT. No transition is painless, although this one has been smoother than I imagined. If you spot any bugs or problems, please let me know via comments or email.
Another blogger prediction has been fulfilled. Khobrah sent me an email stating my post motivated him to open his site. If you like movie reviews, go visit him. He specializes in the cinematic swordplay genre, but I have found him to be a connoisseur of many genres of old movies, including science-fiction. The reviews at his site are far more detailed than anything you will find in a newspaper and he does warn his readers before he discusses major spoilers.
He also takes request for movies to be reviewed.
I dislike smoking - I'm not a rabid anti-smoker, but think it is a filthy and foolish habit. My maternal granddad picked up the habit in WWII, managed to survived four years of hazardous duty, and then died from lung cancer a decade ago. His wife still lives, but suffers from lung damage. The evidence on second-hand smoke is still a bit soft, but it is highly likely that her suffering was caused by second-hand smoke (she never smoked herself). My brother has been smoking since college and I expect I'll lose him to lung cancer in a few decades unless medical science can get ahead of the problems caused by smoking.
Given this, it may surprise you to know that I am concerned at how the government is infringing on the rights of smokers. The rights of smokers are being slowly trounced upon in ways that freedom loving Americans should abhor. This is a particularly interesting issue for me as many different "rights" conflict with one another.
The right of an individual to smoke, drink, or otherwise harm himself with legally obtained products so long as he does not harm others.
The right of an individual to avoid being harmed by others (and while the science is still soft about the carcinogenic properties of second-hand smoke, it is indisputable that many people suffer when exposed to second-hand smoke).
The property rights of the store owner.
The rights of government to regulate.
For the most part, the free market can handle this conflict. I am very concerned about local governments telling property owners (usually restaurant owners) that they cannot allow smoking on their property. My community has no regulations on this and we have no problems. More and more local restaurants are converting to smoke-free facilities, but they are doing this because of local demand. Given a choice, many patrons – including myself – will spend their money in smoke-free restaurants instead of restaurants that cater to both smokers and non-smokers. Smoke rarely respects the boundary between the smoking and non-smoking sections and I've had the taste of a few good meals diminished by the odor of cigarette smoke. So I vote with my pocketbook and give preference to smoke-free businesses. I also let restaurant owners know why they receive (or do not receive) my business.
As you would expect from a free market, there are still a number of restaurants in the area where smoking is allowed (mostly bars, but also some nice dining establishments). As more restaurants become smoke-free, I've noticed smokers make up a greater and greater percentage of the clientele in the restaurants that allow smoking. I am glad smokers still have a place to go smoke and eat in peace. I may think they are making a stupid decision to smoke, but so long as cigarettes remains legal, I support peoples' right to smoke in peace.
I admit the government has some place in this discussion, but only a limited roll. They are certainly within their rights to ban smoking from government buildings – after all, they are the property owner. They are certainly with their rights to regulate the sale of tobacco. However, they have no right to forbid other property owners from allowing people from using a legal product in accordance with the product's design.
To paraphrase Pastor Niemöller
First they came for the smokers, but I was not a smoker – so I said nothing. Then they came for the junk food eaters, but I was not obese – so I did nothing. Then came the video gamers owners, but I was not a video gamer. And then they came for the registered gun owners, but I was not a registered gun owner – so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left who could stand up for me.
So let's stand up for the smokers, folks, before they come for you and me.
In my blogger predictions, I said Jim would start farming out the Best of Me. Little did I know he had already made arrangements to do so - the first Best of Me not hosted by Jim was posted yesterday. Ilyka Damen did a great job. Of course, I may be biased because yours truly was compared to one of my favorite bloggers.
Jeremy Wright also did a wonderful job hosting the Carnival of the Capitalists. These collections of good blogs leaves me with quite a dilemma. Do I spend my sparse blogging time reading or writing? At least it is a nice problem to have.
Update: The informatin in this post applied to Nucleus. With the move to MT, none of this still applies.
In order to thwart spamming robots and for security reasons, HTML code will not work in my comments section. However, several of my readers have let me know that they would like to personalize their messages (mostly by simply adding bold and italics).
To support popular demand, I have added a plug in to Nucleus. It was written by Wouter Demuynck who was kind enough to make his work freely available to all Nucleus users. It adds some enhancements to the basic comment functionality.
If you wish to enter a link to another website, simply type in the website name (example, type www.solport.com).
You can make part of your text bold by placing [b] before the part you wish made bold and by placing [/b] after the part you want bold.
You can place part of your text in italics by placing [i] before the part you wish made bold and by placing [/i] after the part you want in italics.
If you like smiley faces, the comments support the following emoticons
wink :wink: or ;) or ;-)
rolling eyes :roll:
right arrow :arrow:
green grin :mrgreen:
smile :-) or :)
frown :-( or :(
big grin :-D or :D
eek 8O (8 followed by an Oh, not a zero)
I am going to paste parts of this message in the comments for this post. This will allow you to see how the plug in works.
Posting political predictions is easy. So after posting mine, I decided to do something much more difficult. I have taken up another almost impossible challenge. Foolhardy as it may be, I shall run where the brave have not gone. Yes, I have dared to make forecasts about the most elusive of creatures, my fellow bloggers. Some predictions are serious. Some are not. Figuring out which are which is part of the fun.
The King of Fools will consider quitting his day job to become a full-time web designer in response to high demand for his services.
On April 1, 2004 a host of bloggers will take up Owen's Open Offer.
Boots and Sabers will publish them all.
In a remarkably effective partnership, Kevin Whited and Greyhawk organize military voters, taking advantage of the fact that soldiers can change their state of residence while serving overseas. Several hundred thousand soldiers choose to "move" to South Dakota. After the absentee ballots are counted, Obstructionist Daschle receives tens of thousands of votes from an obscure Indian reservation, while John Thune receives hundreds of thousands of legitimate military votes and thus wins in a surprising landslide.
Chris Muir will find a way to work Admiral Quixote's Roundtable into his awesome cartoon. Shortly thereafter, he will be picked up for syndication. Some will call this a coincidence, but enlightened readers will know better.
PETA will seek a legal injunction forbidding Robert Prather from harming the dog pictured on his website.
Former blogger Fersboo will return to blogging at a group blog. Bonus points to anyone who can identify the names of Fersboo's previous two blogs.
Steven Taylor will become more popular than Glenn Reynolds for the month of October, 2004. For similar reasons, the Command Post will temporarily become more popular than the web-sites of the mainstream media.
Scott Ott will publish a serious (non-satirical) piece summarizing the various positions of the Democratic candidates for president as well as President Bush's positions on steel tariffs, new entitlements, and immigration policy. No one will realize Scott was serious.
The death of Castro hits the Commissar hard, but he vows to expose even more imperialist lackeys, capitalist reactionaries, and Zionist running dogs than ever before. In a nod to the new world order, he adds La Mancha to his map of blogosphere states.
Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth, which will include a blog about cinematic swordplay and reviews of other movies, will officially open.
The DNC sends hackers and PETA after Tasty Manatees due to Ryan's bringing Gephardt and Clark's unethical activities to light.
Tim Blair flees to America for asylum after dispatching two large burglars who broke into his house. The Australian authorities are outraged that Blair defended himself with a firearm despite many laws against this type of self-defense. Over the objections of the State Department, President Bush grants Blair asylum.
Dean and Rosemary decide they have too much free time, and adopt teenage triplets who do not speak English. At the same time, Arnold Harris, Mark Noonan, and Allison get together and start a group blog resulting in a dramatic decrease in the word count in the Dean's World comments. The number of comments are further diminished when Tim The Soldier is hospitalized by crazed PETA members, angered by his inhumane treatment of eels and armadillos.
Christopher Genovese quits his job, moves to Rolla, Missouri, and starts a children's science museum with the help of an anonymous partner. It becomes very successful.
Val Prieto steps off the plane onto free Cuban soil thirty days after Castro's death.
Homosexual Libertarians attempt to hunt down the Calico Cat. In a freak coincidence, another mob of angry investment fund managers also attempt to hunt him down at the same time. Both angry groups get in an argument over who gets to attack the Cat first and end up attacking each other in front of the Calico Cat's residence. Police arrest all of them and the Cat escapes harm.
Ara Rubyan, scared by the vision of President Howard Dean, begins campaigning for a Republican for the first time in his life. The sudden change concerns his family, who has him committed for observation.
On May 21, no one visits Exoteric's site as regular readers finally obey Exoteric.
Dowingba leaves Canada after receiving hate mail from the Liberal Coalition. After they track him down, Dowingba decides that is the last straw on top of all the cold weather. He accepts a job in the Deep South, thereby finding both good weather and friendly conservatives.
Xrlq manages to become a contestant on the Wheel Of Fortune Blogger Special Episode, but loses because he refuses to buy vowels.
Paul Burgess shaves unexpectedly after an ugly incident in which his beard tangles in his slide-rule. However, a clean-shaven Burgess then meets the woman of his dreams who collect antique calculators.
Ith starts a PAC: Californian Cat-Lovers for Bush. The Democrats still carry California, but the race is much closer than expected and the new PAC provides the extra votes to elect a Republican congressman to represent Monterey.
Kevin and the Pundit Filter crew become enormously successful and each blogger receives offers to become syndicated columnists. The fifth blogger, who signed up to be part of the crew but then got sidetracked by real life, becomes the answer to a question in the Blogger version of Trivial Pursuits.
Despite being sober, Bryan is arrested for BUI: Blogging under the influence.
Chief Wiggles is called in as a witness in the Ali family's case against the New York Times. The Alis win and the New York Times is forced to run a full page apology in the Iraqi News. Their lawyers decry this act of anti-Americanism without intending nor seeing the irony in their position.
Sarah's readership skyrockets when Google's new AI starts returning her site in response to Robert A Heinlein queries.
A leak from one of President Arroyo's aides reveals that Dean Jorge Bocobo is one of the key minds behind Arroyo's presidency.
Doom 3 is released, becomes the hottest selling first-person shooter game in history, and Nepenthe Island is not updated for 60 days.
Tired of being continually critiqued, Kevin Drum hires some liberal students to post intriguing comments at Dead Ends in the hopes of distracting his nemesis. The ploy works until one of the students is converted by the experience, spills the beans, and joins Dead Ends as a co-blogger.
2004 will be the year that John Ray and Erica leave blogspot.
The NRA recruits Colin Glassey to write a guide for why liberals should oppose gun control.
The Weasel Watchers also add an easily accessible search feature to their web-site.
Bill Hobbs accepts a bribe from George Bush.
The Best of Me becomes too much for Jim to handle alone. Thus, Jim puts it on a rotating schedule, but still brings it home several times a year.
Here are my political predictions for 2004.
President Bush will win reelection (OK, I started with a easy one)
More WMDs will be found in Iraq - these WMDs will be displayed in such a manner only unreasonable people will question it.
Unreasonable people will claim the US planted the WMDs.
The aforementioned WMDs will be found between the Democratic Convention and the November election
Time's first choice for person of the year will not turn it down. (Another easy prediction, but I wanted to publicize Rumsfeld's commendable behavior).
John Thune will defeat obstructionist Daschle
After the new senators take office in 2005, the Republicans will have at least 55 Senate seats, but less than 60 (they currently hold 51).
I'll revisit these predictions in November, 2004.
Many columnists and bloggers have been discussing Brazil's response to the new US policy of fingerprinting visitors. However, they focus on the new policy instead of pointing out the utter lack of principles shown by many critics of this new policy. Let me give you some background. Despite showing their political bias by putting quotes around the word terrorist, the BBC captures the key points of the story.
Brazilian Judge Julier Sebastiao da Silva reacted to the new US plan to fingerprint and photograph Brazilian visitors to America by ordering that that US citizens will be fingerprinted and photographed on entering the country [Brazil].
"I consider the act absolutely brutal, threatening human rights, violating human dignity, xenophobic and worthy of the worst horrors committed by the Nazis," Federal Judge Julier Sebastiao da Silva said in the court order.
There are two points here. First of all, while I agree and support Brazil's decision to fingerprint American visitors to Brazil, I completely disagree with Judge Sebastio's perspective. This act is not brutal by any reasonable interpretation of the word and using it in such a way weakens the word. A very sensitive person may consider their human rights and dignity violated by this act, but I certainly do not. Someday I hope to visit Brazil, and the fact that they will now fingerprint and photograph me barely influences me at all. To the very minor extent this practice does influence me, it encourages me as I hope the process will dissuade the small population of crooked Americans from also visiting Brazil. Thus, the process actually helps protect my human rights and dignity from being violated from real criminals. The Brazilian judge also misuses the word xenophobic. A fifteen second process of fingerprinting and photographing visitors in an attempt to dissuade criminals after the events of September 11 is hardly an abnormal or unreasonable response. And Judge da Silva's comparison of this mild act with the worst horrors committed by the Nazis shows either his complete ignorance of history (in which case he should not refer to these horrors until he educates himself) or his complete lack of perspective (in which case he has no business being a judge and should be removed from office).
My second point is the one that really amazes me. Judge da Silva claims the US policy is absolutely brutal, threatening human rights, violating human dignity, xenophobic and worthy of the worst horrors committed by the Nazis yet sees nothing wrong with returning perceived vast evil with equivalent vast evil. What hypocrisy! What an utter lack of principle! If a good person sees an evil person doing an evil deed, he should try to stop him. But not by becoming like him, or he has become evil himself. When many nations fought the evil of Nazism, they did not adopt the evil practices of Nazism to do so. Good thing Hypocrite da Silva and his unprincipled supporters had no say in WWII. Hopefully those who call Judge da Silva a hero simply haven't thought the issue through.
If you don't like bad puns, avoid this post. Make sure you don't read the comments too.
It is not our technology, impressive as our equipment may be. It is not our spending, even if we are willing to spend more in total and per capita than any other free country in the world. It is because of our brave volunteer soldiers who are willing to put their lives in danger for the rest of us.
When 1st Sgt. David Henry heard Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Cooke had been killed outside the wire in Iraq, he wasn’t surprised.
Cooke was that kind of sergeant major, Henry said. He was a leader who went where his soldiers went and took the risks they took even though he didn’t have to.
“He didn’t have to be out there with soldiers manning checkpoints, checking on soldiers during cordon searches,” said Henry, 1st Squadron, 1st U.S. Cavalry Regiment rear detachment noncommissioned officer in charge at Büdingen. “But that’s what he liked to do.”
May God be with you Sergeant Major. And many thanks to all our brave soldiers for putting their lives on the line to make the world a safer place.
A tip of the helm to Sir Dave for bringing this story to my attention.
Today I received a well-forwarded email that asked people to boycott Target. The message alleged many reasons for the boycott. I am very sympathetic to boycotts, but I also like to investigate things for myself. I won't copy the email here, but among its many allegations, it claimed Target was a French owned company that discriminated against veterans in its giving policies. If these allegations were true, I would join the boycott.
However, the allegations are completely false. Target is a well run American company and it has made contributions to veterans. This is from the Veterans of Foreign Wars website.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars would like to remind all that the Internet culture weaves rumors and misinformation. Simply put, don’t believe everything you read. For example, an e-mail message urging veterans to boycott Target has been circulating on the Internet because a solicitation request to support “The Moving Wall” was denied.
Target has a long-held corporate policy regarding donations. And in all fairness, Target contributes more than $2 million weekly to charitable causes and is one of the corporate sponsors for the 2003 tour of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Fund’s “The Wall That Heals.” “The Wall That Heals” is a traveling Vietnam Veterans memorial and museum that has a strong educational component for schools and serves to honor all our veterans.
The email I received has apparently become widespread enough that Target also mentions it on their web-site and clearly and honestly denies it.
This is a great example of why people need to fact-check what read via the internet as well as what they get from the media. And I hope my readers will continue to send me email, but please review the following before forwarding me a chain email.
Update: Another reader forwarded me this response to the false email:
I got this same e-mail weeks ago and was able to confirm that it was indeed a false rumor. Target for one is not a French company. They are part of the Dayton-Hudson group of store whose home base is in the midwest. Dayton owns Mervyns also. Pro-life groups have been boycotting Mervyns, Target and all other stores owned by this group because they have been, and are still, staunch supporters of planned Parenthood.
I believe this is also untrue, at least for now, but I am always willing to consider new information. According to my research, Target's parent company did support Planned Parenthood for many years. They briefly decided not to support Planned Parenthood in 1990, but changed their mind after pro-abortion supporters threatened a boycott. Of course, this triggered a boycott from the pro-life supporters. So Target tried to please everyone. They greatly reduced their funding to Planned Parenthood to about $18,000 per year and insisted that this money only be used for education on HIV/AIDS and pregnancy prevention at locations that do not perform abortions.
However, this compromise was unacceptable to many pro-lifers who correctly pointed out that money is fungible and that this freed up $18,000 for Planned Parenthood to use for other purposes and that Planned Parenthood was using their "education" funds to promote abortion. Target admitted the promotion of abortion charge was true at a press conference in 1990, but continued to provide the minor amount of funding to Planned Parenthood in an attempt to avoid controversy. Many pro-life groups continued to boycott Target. As one pro-life organization stated, they had already accomplished the financial part of their objective (the dramatic reduction to $18,000 per year, a nominal fee, did dry up this formerly large source of pro-abortion funding). However, the boycott continued because Planned Parenthood probably desired the credibility it received from the support of a major Minnesota corporation.
Thus, many pro-lifers continued to boycott Target for the next ten years. In January 2000, the Dayton Hudson company reorganized as the Target Corporation. Shortly thereafter, the Target Foundation stopped funding Planned Parenthood in any way, shape, or form. Like most groups that succumb to pressure, Target claimed the boycott was not a factor in their decision, but I don't believe reasonable people believed them any more than intelligent people believed that the EU's threat of trade war had no influence on the Bush administration's decision to eliminate the steel tariffs.
So it appears all pro-life boycotts ended in 2001 after Target ceased providing even a nominal sum to Planned Parenthood. These sources were used in compiling this column. Admiral Quixote is not associated with the Target Corporation.
My in-laws are yellow dog Democrats from the Deep South. If you are not familiar with the phrase, it means they would vote for a yellow dog if it was on the ballot as a Democrat instead of voting for a Republican. My in-laws are kind generous people who are relatively well-informed compared to the average American. Unfortunately, they only get their news from old (liberal) media and they believe every word must be true or it would not be on TV (or in the paper, or in Time, etc). Thus, they believe most Republicans are evil people who want to oppress the poor to favor the rich. When the Democrats do something awful, they shake their heads and say both parties are evil, but at least the Democrats are the lessor of two evils.
This Christmas vacation, we spent a few days at their Tennessee farm. As expected, I heard a few anti-Bush remarks and how they were looking forward to voting against him in 2004. I saw no point in commenting on this, but Lady Quixote (who unlike my Independent self, is a strong Republican) jumped into the fray. She asked who they would vote for if Howard Dean was running against President Bush. I was shocked to hear my father-in-law say he would not vote for Dean. Assuming Dean wins the Democratic primary, this does bode well for the Democrats in the South. It may be moot since the South seems to be more Republican every year, but when a yellow-dog Democrat won't vote for his party, you know the Democrats have lost touch with the heartland.
Dean's almost magical ability to raise scorn in the South makes the Democratic primary more interesting. It may not make much difference in the national election (the South would probably vote to reelect President Bush even if Dean was respected in these States), but it may greatly influence the Democratic party. What happens if Al Sharpton wins a few Southern primaries? His delegates at the Democratic primary may make things interesting at the Democratic convention (or, more realistically, in the hidden negotiations before the convention). It should be an interesting year for watching politics.
The first color image from Spirit, America's most recent probe to Mars, is now available.
For those of you with high-bandwidth connections, a larger (8 MB) version of the photo is available from NASA. Spirit has been sending black and white photos back since it landed on January 3rd. NASA did this to save bandwidth (black and white photos take less bandwidth than color photos), but NASA is now starting to use Spirit's high resolution color cameras.
If all goes well, Spirit will be joined on Mars by its twin sister Opportunity. This rover should land just after midnight eastern time on January 25. Opportunity should land halfway around Mars from her sister.
While I was on vacation, others were posting some great stuff. Iowahawk had a funny, yet thought-provoking, post on why he is a Democrat. Let me share one of his many reasons:
I am a Democrat because I believe in campaign finance reform. Sadly, our politics are dominated by advertisements, paid for by the contributions of giant corporations. All too often, these drown out legitimate grassroots opinions, like the kind heard on TimeWarner-AOL-CNN, TimesCorp, or Disney-ABC.
In a similar satiric vein, Sergeant Stryker imagines Wesley Clark on Hardball.
On a more serious note, Clayton Cramer posted a nice summary of the main four Christian perspectives on war: pacifism, non-resistance, defensive war, and just war. While I am firmly in the just war camp, I believe a rational case can be made for the non-resistance and defensive schools of thought. The pacifists are just delusional in my opinion (I'll be glad to respond in detail if anyone disagrees, but first ensure you read the difference between pacifism and non-resistance). My only point of disagreement with Cramer is the claim that that some of Jesus’s disciples regularly carried swords. I can think of one example (Peter when expecting an attack on Jesus), but am not aware of any other cases. I don't think this changes Cramer's argument, but I don't think the case needs to be overstated. I will write Cramer and ask him to expand on this if he is aware of more examples of which I am not aware. Now there were many Roman soldiers who believed in Jesus (e.g., the Roman Centurion whose faith impressed Jesus Himself), perhaps this is what Cramer meant. At any event, while I may nitpick the details, I agree with Cramer's main points.
Cramer was really on roll while I was away. In another post, Cragmer manages to fisk Professor Volokh in a very convincing manner. Volokh is usually well reasoned, but everyone has a bad day. One of the better characteristics of the blogosphere is that people will fact-check (and logic check) your postings.
Well, sticking with my resolution of getting more sleep, I'm logging off for the night. Just in time to finish watching LSU win at least a share of the college national championship barring a comeback from Oklahoma.
In December, Justene Adamec started a Secret Santa group for bloggers. I participated and it was a lot of fun. When I got back from vacation, I found a gift on my doorstep and another via email. My Secret Santa sent me a very cool mug from a conservationist group. I had never heard of Friends of the Sea Otter, but they seem like an effective voice for the mammals. The mug will prominently displayed on my desk at work. My Santa also sent me an Ebay gift certificate which is greatly appreciated. Thank you! Now the only question is – who are you? :-) From the partial list of participants that I found at Calblog, I will guess you are e-claire.
For my part, I was Amanda’s Secret Santa – one of the young ladies at The Twins Tell the Truth. I was glad to see both Amanda and her mother enjoyed the books – they were some of my favorites when I was Amanda’s age and I look forward to when my children can discover them.
With the advent of a new year, it is traditional to make resolutions. I have not usually made serious resolutions before, but I decided to do so for 2004. A man should set high goals for himself and I have attempted to do so with these resolutions. I am posting them here as additional motivation for myself and ask that my faithful readers occasionally prompt me about them.
Reread the entire Bible
Spend more time with my wife and children
Finish rebuilding our money pit (we bought an old house last year that has been a fiscal disaster, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.)
Read at least 24 non-fiction books and post comments on them
Start a small, part-time business
Write and submit a short story for publication
Get more sleep
Get more exercise
Give my web-site a face lift
Start and post an idea of the week
Reduce my sugar intake; in part by consuming no more than 1 soda per month
See the Southern Cross
Answer my email in a more timely manner
Some of these resolutions seem to contradict each other (accomplish more while sleeping more and spending more time with my family). This means I will have to be more productive with my time and while that is not a resolution in itself, it is a requirement to reach my goals. While these goals are ambitious, I believe I can obtain all of them in 2004 if I better organize my time. I’ll keep everyone posted.
Drewhead is a friend of mine despite being a Clemson graduate. The Clemson Tigers trashed my beloved Tennessee Volunteers at the Peach Bowl while I was on vacation. The Volunteers were expected to win. Both teams were on winning streaks, but Tennessee was the higher ranked team, had played a tougher schedule, and had more experienced players. Yet Clemson won fairly easily. I think the reason for this is a lesson for us all.
Clemson is a young team who went through a lot of problems this year. They overcame a lot to get to the Peach Bowl and they were excited to be there. Their players gave it their all and earned my respect.
On the other hand, Tennessee expected to go to a better bowl. The Volunteer players were upset that lower ranked teams went to more prestigious bowls (e.g., even the Outback Bowl ignored the Volunteers and asked the lower ranked Gators – who the Volunteers had beaten – to play instead). Unfortunately, Tennessee has a habit of only playing well when they feel like it. The Volunteers love challenges and will play their hearts out when they are underdogs. They did it this year when they upset the Miami Hurricanes in South Florida. They did it a few years ago when they beat FSU for the national championship. However, they tend to sulk like children when they are disappointed and don’t put much effort into games in these situations. They slacked off last year against Maryland – also at the Peach Bowl – because they also were upset about being passed over by more prestigious bowls. As much as I love the Vols, this aspect of their character is disheartening. They could learn a lot from the Clemson Tigers – whether you are playing for a national championship or just playing for a pride, you should always play your best. Clemson did, and the Tigers deserve the upset victory.