Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year's Eve Announcement

Some will have noticed that I have taken a bit of an extended vacation during the holidays.

This is just to let you know that Spencerblog will be back tomorrow, Jan. 1, 2008, with an assortment of interesting links, pithy remarks and insightful comments. (My print column will resume Friday.)

To those who have continued to post here while I have been MIA, my warmest and most heartfelt regards.

Cheers and Happy New Year's Eve.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Incandescent Stupidity

Next up, wood-burning stoves, fireplaces and Christmas tree lights.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

America's Melting Pot, With...

While grudgingly defending Geno's Steaks owner Joey Vento's First Amendment right to have a sign asking customers to order in English, Inky editorialists proclaim it "boorish" and worse.

"Say what you will about the sign. We see it as a boorish attempt to intimidate the influx of immigrants while reassuring English-speaking Americans that we still dominate around these parts. At least for now."

Say what you will about liberal editorial writers, they sure sound boorish, snobby and arrogant when lecturing their perceived inferiors about how to run their businesses.

Encouraging all immigrant Americans to learn and speak English is hardly boorish, it's a near essential step in increasing any immigrant's likelihood for success in this country.

Joey Vento seems to know that even if the Inky editorial board doesn't.

That the state Human Relations Commission would attempt to force Vento to take down his "Please Order in English" sign under threat of a large fine and demonize him as anti-immigrant is the real crime here.

Vento stood up to their panty-waisted attempts to bully him. In so doing he won the hearts and support of the vast majority of Philadelphians. (Some 93 percent according to a recent TV news poll.)

The Inky must believe that all these people support boorish intimidation of foreigners.

More likely what they don't support is the bureaucratic intimidation and prosecution of an Italian-American businessman who rightly believes in the value of assimilation and the grand idea of America's melting pot.

UPDATE: CORRECTION - The above referred to editorial appeared in Philadelphia Daily News, not its sister paper The Inquirer. Though both papers are owned by Philadelphia Media Holdings Inc. and published out of the same building, they are distinct and separate entities. Spencerblog regrets the error.

Those Great Medieval Times

Here's a great lead from a story in the Times of London:

"People in medieval times were healthier than modern Britons because they did not suffer from cholesterol related diseases, it has been claimed."

Yes well, it has also been "claimed" that Xenu was "the dictator of the "Galactic Confederacy" who, 75 million years ago, brought billions of his people to Earth in DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them using hydrogen bombs. Scientology holds that their essences remained, and that they form around people in modern times, causing them spiritual harm."

L. Ron Hubbard claimed that and apparently some Scientologists believe it. (Frankly it's not too much weirder than the claims of some other more mainstream religions.)

Anyway, the Times story notes that despite being "healthier" medieval Britons lived about half as long as today's Limeys. So much for being sick when you die.

The story is all about diet and exercise.

"The research also claimed that daily exercise has decreased by at least an average of 96 per cent since Roman and medieval times from eight hours a day to less than 20 minutes due to increasingly sedentary lives."

Another way of putting this would be: Instead of slaving in the field all day doing backbreaking and life-shortening work, today's average Englishman gets to sit down while at work, eat tastier foods, and live a lot longer.

When "Torture" Is Moral

Legal expert Stuart Taylor explains why the Democrats are wrong to push anti-torture legislation while criticizing the Bush Administration.

"To be sure," Taylor writes, "the Bush administration has shown that it cannot be trusted to respect the current legal prohibitions on torture and near-torture."

Legal prohibitions of "near-torture"?

"We've come a long since 2002," writes Taylor, when Nancy Pelosi uttered nary a peep about rough interrogation methods. Yes, a long way toward collective amnesia.

It has been well documented and testified to that so-called waterboarding worked very well to elicit information that prevented terrorist attacks against this country, as even Taylor notes. Whatever the Bush Administration has done, it deserves some credit for preventing another devastating terrorist attack on the U.S. mainland these last six years.

Tactics such as waterboarding et al. ought to be used rarely and sparingly, but they should not be outright outlawed.

Criminalizing interrogation techniques that have been shown effective is self-defeating and stupid. If pouring a little water up a terrorist's nose elicits information that saves the lives of hundreds or thousands of Americans -- good. You don't get better trade-offs than that.

A Petard Hoisting

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer who threatened, bullied and prosecuted his way to the governor's mansion is now getting to see what it's like being the subject of one investigation after another.

Pursued by ambitious prosecutors, it looks like he's given them plenty to investigate.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Crying Dutchman?

U.N. bureaucrats have taken to weeping to win political support for global warming mandates.

Hey. It works apparently.

Free College But Only at the Richest

An interesting development in higher education: No more loans, free education instead, through grants, scholarships, etc.

Some of these schools are so rich (Swarthmore, Penn, Harvard to name a few) they can afford to charge students nothing to attend.

Sub-Prime Evil Doing and its Victims

Iowahawk explains the sub-prime mortgage rate crisis to those who just don't get it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Child Was Born... Horrors!

Mark Steyn corrects Al Gore's and Hillary Clinton's misapprehensions about the baby Jesus... and other things.

Cinderella Movie

I'm watching Cinderella Man on TNT. Jimmy Braddock just knocked out Corn Griffin. I've only seen this movie 5 times and I still got a tear in my eye.

I wonder what will happen when he fights Max Baer.

UPDATE: Russell Crowe is great. But it's Paul Giamatti as his manager who steals every scene he's in.

UPDATE II: Jimmy begs Mae to let him take another fight. "There's still some juice in these legs, and I can still take a few. Baby, please. Just let me take them in the ring. At least I know who's hitting me. ...

UPDATE III: Giamatti (Gould): "Let go of the punches. Hit 'em. He ain't going to like it."

UPDATE IV: Reporter: Bob Johnson, Boston Globe. Two days ago, we ran a story about you giving your relief money back. Can you tell our readers why?
Jim Braddock: I believe we live in a great country, a country that's great enough to help a man financially when he's in trouble. But lately, I've had some good fortune, and I'm back in the black. And I just thought I should return it.

UPDATE V: He's about to go into the ring against Baer who has killed two men. Says a reluctantly supportive Mae: "You just remember who you are."

UPDATE VI: The kids are listening to the fight. Mae catches them. "Please Ma?"

UPDATE VII: The commercials are coming fast and furious now

UPDATE VIII: Gould: Get in there! And BURY 'EM!


UPDATE X: Hey, This is your night. It's the last round Jimmy. There ain't no more!


UPDATE XII: They're rushing the ring. "Braddock lands a crushing right."

UPDATE XIII: "This the finish. Both fighters are tired..."

UPDATE XIV: "There's the bell. This fight is over. UNBELIEVABLE!"

UPDATE XV: "It's unanimious. Winner and the NEW World Heavyweight Champion..."

UPDATE XVI: Title card: Two years later Jim Braddock put his title on the line against Joe Louis. Jim knocked him down in the first round though Louis went on to win the bout. Joe Louis would always call Jim Braddock the most courageous man he ever fought.
Title card: Jim served honorably in World War II.
Title card: He later owned and operated heavy equipment on the same docks where he labored during the Great Depression.
Title card: In the early 1960's he helped build the Verrazano Bridge.
Title card: Jim and Mae bought a house in New Jersey with the winnings from the Baer fight. They raised their children in that house and lived there for the rest of their lives.


Supreme Court Justice Clinton

Doug Kmiec imagines a new President Clinton appointing William Jefferson Clinton to the Supreme Court.

That the former president surrendered his law licence for five years for lying to a federal judge, was credibly accused of committing perjury and obstruction of justice wouldn't that give some senators pause during the confirmation process?

UPDATE: Matthew Franck thinks so.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Larry the Liberal, Bigot and Coward

A practicing and very reasonable Mormon takes down professional liberal Lawrence O'Donnell for his bigoted and silly diatribe against Mitt Romney and the Church of Latter Day Saints.

Also click on the link to Hugh Hewit's radio interview with O'Donnell, where (at the very end) he reveals himself to be not only a religious bigot but a cowardly one at that.

Friday, December 14, 2007

CeaseAccuracy PA

A Philadelphia Inquirer report recently described CeaseFire PA, as "the nonprofit group dedicated to reducing handgun violence in Pennsylvania by promoting tough penalties for illegal gun possession."


CeaseFire PA is a well-known gun control advocacy group, and that's how it should be described. If it were up to CeaseFire, civilian ownership of handguns in this state would be outlawed.

It would be more accurate to say that CeaseFire's goal is making gun possession more illegal for as many people as possible.

In so far as it supported a law that would have criminalized failure to report a lost or stolen gun you could say CeaseFire promotes tough penalties for unreported lost gun non-possession.

Quote of the Week

"Justice does not mean lowering ourselves to the same level as those who would take the lives of our loved ones."

-- N.J. Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo, Democrat from Newark leading the successful charge to outlaw the death penalty.

In other words, Mr. Caraballo is arguing that death penalty supporters are morally equivalent to murderers. That would mean that they have lowered themselves to the "same level" as Jesse K. Timmendequas, the man who raped and murdered 7-year-old Megan Kanka.

Such glib pronouncements of moral superiority are actually evidence of a rather stunning moral obtuseness.

There are decent arguments against the death penalty, but they don't include suggesting moral equivalence between cold-blooded killers of innocent children and those who believe the executing such cold-blooded killers is justified.

To say so, stands morality on its head.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Fredheads of the World Unite

This is one of the reasons I'm a Fred Thompson fan.

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

He Tripped and Fell

It's almost enough to make you lose your faith in lawyers.

But then people who live in glass houses...

At Least THIS Didn't Happen in Penn Delco

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A federal grand jury Tuesday indicted an investment broker from Chester County on multiple counts of fraud for investing four Pennsylvania school districts’ money in a golf course venture that left taxpayers with a net loss of more than $10 million.

The story points, "The state school code allows districts to invest the proceeds of bond issues for capital projects, but limits such investments to certain conservative categories..."

Something about this reminds me of the Penn Delco split-dollar insurance hustle, but this district lost a lot more.

Read the whole thing.

Bali High on Controversy

As UN Climate Change hysterics and hypocrites meet in Bali, a band of contrarian scientists show up to pee all over their parade.

Money Q:

"Lord Christopher Monckton, a UK climate researcher, had a blunt message for UN climate conference participants on Monday.
"Climate change is a non-problem. The right answer to a non problem is to have the courage to do nothing," Monckton told participants."

How dare they.

This debate was supposed to be over.

Don't these people know that Al Gore WON the Nobel Peace Prize for winning an Academy Award?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mercy for Killers

Another regional newspaper reports that lawmakers in N.J. are set ban the death penalty.

Here in Pennsylvania there is no such movement afoot. Perhaps because of stories like this one.

Deserving the death penalty and actually being executed, however, are two very different things. Just ask Maureen Faulkner.

Do Unto Others Before They Do Unto You?

Via Powerline, the Editors at National Review take issue with Republican presidential candidate and minister Mike Huckabee's "Golden Rule" approach to foreign policy.

Money Q:

"Countries aren’t people, and the world is more dangerous than a Sunday church social. Threats, deception, and — as a last resort — violence must play a role in international relations."

And, as the below item makes clear, even at some church socials.

A Free To Carry Zone

The New Life Church in Colorado is not a "gun-free zone" and it's a good thing too.

UPDATE: Here's a darn good account of the attack.

Money Q:

Bourbonnais yelled at the gunman to draw his attention, he said.

"First, I called him 'Coward' then I called him 'S---head' " Bourbonnais said. "I probably shouldn't have been saying that in church."

That's when the shooter pointed one of his guns at Bourbonnais and fired, he said.

Bourbonnais ducked behind a hollow, decorative pillar and was hit in the arm by a bullet and fragments of the pillar.

At about that moment, a female guard with a drawn handgun turned a corner and walked toward the gunman and yelled "Surrender!" Bourbonnais said.

The gunman pointed a handgun at the woman and fired three shots, Bourbonnais said. She returned fire and just kept walking toward the gunman pressing off round after round.

The female guard fired off about a dozen shots.

After the gunman went down, Bourbonnais asked the woman, who has only been identified as a volunteer security guard with the church, how she remained so calm and focused.

Bourbonnais said she replied:

"I was asking the Holy Spirit to guide me the entire time."


Hillary Dillary Doc

Stuart Taylor reminds voters that the Democratic front-runner has, in the past, had a difficult relationship with the truth.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Evel That Men Do

In honor of Evel Knievel, I heard this story over the weekend from a friend who personally knew one of the players involved.

A golfer known to be a welsher by some of his fellow, high-rolling club members, happened to be at the course one day when Evel Knievel was invited out to play.

The welsher, who was also a loud mouth, was sitting at the same table of eight trying to get a game up. Understandably there were no takers.

The welsher wouldn't relent.

"Ah, come on," he said and looked at Evel. "How about we play for $1,000 a side."

The old daredevil shook his head.

"No thanks," he said politely.

Frustrated, the welsher blurted, "What are ya', chicken?"

Evel stood up, reached into his pocket, pulled out a switch-blade and threw it into the middle of the wooden table. It hit, point first, and stuck, wobbling back and forth.

As the rest of the players leaned back from the table, Evel leaned in.

"How 'bout we play for fingers," he said.

Evel Knievel was an American original. Dead at 69.


UPDATE: If that's a true story, it wasn't the first time. (Just keep scrolling.)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Today's Column Today

Here's my print column for today, corrected. (It's not John Possenti, it's of course, Joe Possenti. Unless in the last 24 hours, he's changed his named his name to Joe Boulet.)

Ruinations and more ruinations as prosecutors and other lawyer-types run amok...

Havertown political crank, Joe Breslin, speaks for a lot of Delaware County residents when he blasts the selective prosecution of Haverford Township Commissioner Fred Moran.

Breslin writes that he is "outraged" that Moran was charged, tried and convicted of soliciting a bribe when he was clearly acting in what he believed to be the best interests of township residents.

The only thing Moran was guilty of was "trying to secure an additional $500,000 for the taxpayers from the Haverford State Hospital developer in order to keep taxes down and to avoid a tax increase."

Breslin points to a recently published report about the antics of Philadelphia City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell who refused to introduce legislation to build the $12 million Youth Study Center without receiving something "positive" for West Philadelphia constituents. For her efforts, Blackwell garnered some $11 million in projects funded by other taxpayers.

If, as the prosecuting attorney Assistant Attorney General Marc Costanzo, claimed in the case against Moran, the bribery statute prohibits any "benefit," including the burnishing of one's own political standing, it could just as easily be applied to Blackwell, not to mention a hundred other politicians.

Will it? No.

Expect, Moran's attorney, Tom Bergstrom, to argue such prosecutorial selectivity in his appeals. And rightly so.

* * *

Apparently, I upset Newtown Square Commissioner Linda Houldin the other day with my mentioning the Attorney General's office and her efforts to negotiate a settlement between two warring developers in the township.

According to one of the developers, George Spaeder, Houldin called him Wednesday morning in tears asking if he read my account of the meeting she arranged between him and Claude de Botton. He hadn't yet.

He told me she said I demanded she be investigated for soliciting a bribe. In fact, I had suggested the exact opposite. It was the AG I was took a shot at (see the above item), not Linda.

George said he realized that after he read the column for himself. I told him to call Linda and explain it to her. (She is not returning my calls, including one I made to her the day before the column ran.)

I have been tough on Linda recently for her asinine and clumsy treatment of the BPG Town Center project. But I thought what she did in this case was fine.

Now, if she will just learn how to read.

* * *

And then there's former Penn Delco School Board member John Green...
This week he pleaded no contest to a felony ethics violation for failing to disclose commissions he received from his company for work done for the school district.

According to prosecutors, Green knowingly failed to disclose $838.66 in commissions he was paid over three years.

A quick story to illustrate my feelings on this subject.

When I was in the second grade and in the hospital recovering from an operation, my mother read to me from a book called "The Great Big Book of Jokes."

One night, she read me this:

"Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumped over a candlestick. Big deal."

At the time, I thought that was about the funniest thing I ever heard.

Now, though people getting charged with felonies isn't funny, I feel the same way about this.

As in: John be nimble, John be quick, John failed to disclose his $800 jump over a candlestick.

Big deal.

* * *

There is also this bit of news out of Penn Delco:

From the same people who brought you Keith Crego, introducing Penn Delco's newest school board president, Anthony "Get Steffi" Ruggieri.

After a year on the board, what qualifies Ruggieri for the board presidency? Could it be his extensive experience, his keen intellect and verbal acuity?

Ah, probably not.

It's his canine-like ability to take orders from GOP bosses like Republican leader Joe Possenti.

Back in the day, former school board president Crego complained in a famous e-mail to the township Republican boss that he didn't appreciate all the stuff he'd gotten his "lackeys" in the district to do for him. That's what Crego called them, "lackeys."

Crego is out, charged with multiple felonies. But Possenti's lackeys are in.

It's a new day in Penn Delco.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Classic Case of BDS

Left-wing blogger, college professor and Bush Derangement Sydrome-sufferer Dick Polman weighs in on the new National Intelligence Estimate that says Iran ceased its nuclear program in 2003.

Polman writes:

"President Bush just can't catch a break. It seems like every time he tries to be bellicose, the facts come along and trip him up.

Five years ago, he railed against the "grave and gathering danger" of Saddam Hussein's WMDs, only to suffer irreperable domestic political damage when it turned out that he had committed American blood and treasure to the overthrow of a dictator who had no WMDs. And now he has been embarrassed again: Just six weeks after he raised the specter of the Iranians wielding a nuclear weapon, and invoked "World War III," America's 16 intelligence agencies have concluded in a new National Intelligence Estimate, with "high confidence," that the Iranians actually halted their nuclear weapons program..."

Yes well,

First of all, the "facts" that came along contracted the very "facts" that NIE preparers offered just a few short years ago. These aren't hard "facts" as much as they are educated guesses. What part of "estimate" doesn't Polman understand? Our intelligence agencies have been notoriously wrong in the past.

It wasn't just Dick Cheney who declared there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That was the consenus of the entire U.S. and European intelligence community.
That's where the Bush Administration came up with its best guess of the level of threat posed to the world by Saddam Hussein.

Now the same intelligence community, the one that also said that Iran was seeking a nuke, says Iran ceased it nuclear program in 2003. Good, let's hope they're right. THIS TIME.

But gee, let's think back to what happening then. Oh yeah, the U.S., under the bellicose Bush, was gearing up to go to WAR in Iraq. You think maybe that had something to do with the Mullahs in Tehran rethinking their plans to obtain a nuclear weapon?

If Mr. Polman thinks that ratcheting down the rhetoric concerning the danger of Iran being allowed to nuke-up will pacify the Mullahs dreams of becoming a nuclear power, he is probably mistaken.

The fact is, no one really knows what will work when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons but a combination of carrots and sticks seems to be the most reasonable approach. Figuring out how many carrots vs. how many sticks is the trick here. But Polman acts as if tough rhetoric and credible threats never work against authortarian regimes, when they can and do. Military strikes should always be a last resort.

So far, the "bellicose" Bush hasn't resorted to one against the terrorist-supporting, American-soldier-killing regime in Tehran.

It is obvious that Polman's bigger concern and greater joy is in Bush-bashing.

An objective person would recognize at least the possibility that the Bush Administation's approach is working in the Middle East. But not Polman. Like so many on the Angry Left, he so invested in the idea of America's/Bush's failure, that all objectivity seems to have left him. Instead of analysis, his readers get rants.

Too bad.

When he's not in the grips of a really bad BDS attack, Polman has better to offer.

UPDATE: Here's the WJS edit on the subject. I leave it to you, who sounds more rational on the subject, Polman or the WJS editorialist?

Joining the Herd of Independent Minds

Swarthmore native Holman Jenkins explains the Nobel prize winning concept of "Availability cascade" as it relates to the Nobel prize-winning Al Gore and his campaign to "save the planet."

Money Q:

How this honor (the Nobel) has befallen the former Veep could perhaps be explained by another Nobel, awarded in 2002 to Daniel Kahneman for work he and the late Amos Tversky did on "availability bias," roughly the human propensity to judge the validity of a proposition by how easily it comes to mind.

Their insight has been fruitful and multiplied: "Availability cascade" has been coined for the way a proposition can become irresistible simply by the media repeating it; "informational cascade" for the tendency to replace our beliefs with the crowd's beliefs; and "reputational cascade" for the rational incentive to do so."

Read the whole thing.

Monday, December 3, 2007

This Wine of Ours

I don't often link to stories from our big city competition but... George Anastasia's piece about Philadelphia mob boss Joe Ligambi is pretty interesting.

It was especially interesting to me because recently Mrs. Spencerblog was given two bottles of wine allegedly made by Mr. Ligambi himself.

Made, as in, put up by, not made as in inducted into the family.

The wine came along with a friendly suggestion that we return the bottles when they're empty.

Mrs. Spencerblog wanted to know what happens if we don't.

"Just return the bottles," was the response. In other words, we get to keep our thumbs.


A Liberal Who Got Krugged

Carmen Khia look-a-like Paul Krugman takes Obama to task for not supporting government mandated and controlled universal healthcare.

Two things jumped out at me from the column.

"Why have a mandate?" Krugman rhetorically asks and then answers. "The whole point of a universal health insurance system is that everyone pays in, even if they’re currently healthy, and in return everyone has insurance coverage if and when they need it.

Of course, everyone doesn't pay in. In fact, millions don't and won't. The poor are already exempted from having to "pay in" the current system and they will not be required to pay in any new system.

Second, Krugman lauds John Edwards for his proposal that...

"(I)ndividuals be required to show proof of insurance when filing income taxes or receiving health care. If they don’t have insurance, they won’t be penalized — they’ll be automatically enrolled in an insurance plan."

How about we require individuals to show proof of citizenship and identification when they vote? I guess that won't work because they would have to be penalized by being turned away from the polls.

Krugman trashes Obama for siding with right-wingers, the "enemies of reform." But what he means is the "enemies" of left-wing reform that demands universal federal government mandates and control.

How about this sort of reform, Carmen? It makes a whole lot more sense in the long run.

Black Like Me

The incomparable Shelby Steele explains Obama -- and what race has to do with it -- accurately, sympathetically and sometimes devastatingly.

Money Q:

"So, yes, Obama's interracial background puts him at cross purposes. It gives him a racelessness that is politically appealing to whites, but it also draws him toward precisely the kind of self-conscious black identity that alienates whites. For nearly two decades Barack Obama has attended a black church on the South Side of Chicago that his own mother could never have felt comfortable in. It subscribes to a "Black Value System" in which "black" was always the operative word--"black family," "black community," "black freedom," etc. But it was not a black value system that accounted for Obama's success in life; it was the values of his white Midwestern mother. Could he stand up in his own church and say this?

People do well because they are loved and because much is asked of them--not because they are black or white. Their own sense of responsibility is always their greatest asset. Whatever consolations blackness may offer, it is not an agent. It does nothing. And there is indeed a "fresh" politics to be made from these simple truths. Who better to do this than Barack Obama? Here, within his own actual experience, is his chance to deliver the "freshness" that so many Americans look for in him."