Monday, May 31, 2010

Get the news from Russian TV

Posted by parallel

It is really sad that one now has to look at Russian TV to get the news about the Israeli attack on the aid convoy heading for Gaza. What little is reported in the US media is watered down, even reporting lower numbers of killed and wounded.
see Global outrage at Israel violating international maritime law

The Tragedy of Gaza

Posted by parallel

The Gaza Strip is a 25 by 5 mile concentration camp holding about one and a half million impoverished Palestinians, half of whom originally fled from the Israelis during the 1949 war. According to Wikipedia, “The UN, Human Rights Watch and many other international bodies and NGOs consider Israel to be the occupying power of the Gaza Strip as Israel controls Gaza's airspace, territorial waters and does not allow the movement of people or goods in or out of Gaza by air or sea.” There are three land crossing points, the one into Egypt is still controlled by Israel, thanks to the $28 billion bribe to Egypt from the US.

After the population of Gaza elected Hamas in 2005 and their Palestinian victory in 2007, the Bush administration secretly signed off on a deal to funnel arms and money to Abbas to remove Hamas from Gaza by force. It is apparently OK for the US to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries if it doesn’t like them, like Gaza above or Mosadeqh's overthrow in Iran in 1953. Does anyone doubt Iranians still remember that? It must be legal as our President can designate anyone, even
Americans, a “terrorist” without trial and order them assassinated. That can’t be illegal as we are a nation of laws.

Anyway, Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip is now in its fourth year and they only allow basic foods and basic medicine in. No building materials to allow them to repair the buildings Israel flattened, not even such dangerous materials as powdered coffee. No trade to give them hope of eventual recovery, no material for the 100 new schools they require, certainly no exit to their requisitioned farms in Israel.

According to the CIA, 44% of Gaza’s population is fourteen or younger. The Fourth Geneva Convention, article 33, makes collective punishment a war crime. When Nazi Germany did that, perpetrators were punished. When Israel does it, our legislators are so afraid of AIPAC they turn a blind eye.

The people of Gaza are virtually helpless to do anything about it. When they resist this daily humiliation, and armed robbery, in the only ways available to them, they are labeled terrorists. Israel ignores all international condemnations such as Goldstone’s 600 page report for the UN. Obviously, international opinion can be safely ignored as long as Israel has America’s veto power on the UN Security Council. Might is right and we are a nation of laws.

Although Netanyahu recently boasted that Israel controlled America’s foreign policy and can get away with claiming they would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East, it recently surfaced they offered to sell nukes & missiles to S. Africa’s then apartheid government (birds of a feather?) A number of people object to Israel’s apartheid policies and their lethal collective punishment of countless innocent children.

The latest result, now making headlines, was for a group of people concerned when the United Nations, among others, described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as "grim" and "deteriorating" decided to try and actually help. Their small flotilla of ships carrying aid was boarded by Israeli commandos in international waters. For any other country that would be an act of war or piracy. Israel's deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, called the unarmed passengers Al Qaeda and stated “There was no question of easing the blockade.”

News is sparse as Israel has blocked most communications (a long history of blocking communications - remember the USS Liberty?) and it will be interesting to see the spin they and the US media put on it. It seems the passengers were mainly European, with a number of prominent activists and even an 85 year old survivor of the Holocaust. Breitbart reports 19 passengers killed and 36 wounded, many of them Turks, but this needs confirmation.

If pre-emptive strikes are legal, what can be wrong with a friend shooting up a few unarmed ships carrying Al Qaeda intent on providing aid to the “cockroaches” (as the settlers call Palestinians.) Maybe the President has secretly designated all Gazans as terrorists, even the kids, so it would be legal to exterminate them all. We are a nation of laws who would never condone anything illegal. The $5 billion/year from Congress to Israel confirms they have done no wrong, right?

Friday, May 28, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

A two-year-old who smokes like a fiend.

Oh hell. They took it down. Here's the CNN report.

Sestak Backs up White House Story...

... and in so doing discredits his own.

So there it is. In a statement released minutes ago, Joe Sestak makes clear that he has been misrepresenting the truth on the White House job offer for months.

When he answered "yes" to Larry Kane's question: "Is it true that you were offered a high-ranking job in the administration in a bid to get you to drop out of the primary against Arlen Specter?" that was no true. According to the White House he was offered an "unpaid advisory position." That is not a job.

The most commonly understood definition of the word "job" is this: "A regular activity performed in exchange for payment, especially as one's trade, occupation, or profession."

When Kane followed up and about the specific job of Secretary of the Navy, which is a paid position by the way, Sestak smiled and said "no comment." When Kane came back and asked about it being a "big job," Sestak nodded.

That turns out not to be true. Sestak was offered, according to everybody's story now, an unpaid position as a White House advisor. That is not a job. In the days after asserting that he was offered a job, and the White House denied any such offer, Sestak would only say he was "asked a question" and he "answered it honestly."

He knew what he had said. He knew it wasn't accurate. He knew what he said brought the White House under suspicion of having committed a crime and covering it up. Now, it turns out, according to Sestak himself, he created a false impression with his answer. He let it stand. And he repeated it week in and week out for months.

I, for one, believed Sestak when he said he was offered a job. I believed it because of the way the White House behaved in softening its own denials about the offer. I also believed it because I thought Sestak was a man of honor and not crazy enough to level a bogus charge against the leaders of his own party.

If this the true story, there was no reason for it not to have come out within days of Sestak misspeaking. Sestak himself should have corrected the record. He didn't. So it turns out Arlen Specter was right about him. Sestak used the controversy for political mileage. And now he is the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate to represent Pennsylvania.

How this with sit with the voters, I don't know. But I am frankly amazed at Sestak's brazen misrepresentation of the truth, his failure to correct his misstatement and his willingness to let others be suspected of committing a crime that never happened.


White House: Sestak offered Unpaid Advisory Position

From the Washington Post:
At the urging of the Obama White House, former President Bill Clinton asked Rep. Joe Sestak if he would abandon his plans to challenge Sen. Arlen Specter in a Pennsylvania Democratic primary in exchange for an unpaid, advisory position, according to a White House counsel report issued Friday morning.

The rest of the story can be read here.

Sestak has yet to respond to this version of events. But if this is what happened it was Sestak who misled the country for months.

When he was asked if he was offered a job to get out of the primary he said "Yes." A job is not an unpaid advisory position. When he was asked if it was a big job, he smiled and nodded and then declined to elaborate, leaving the clear impression that he was offered a job, a big job, something of value, but he turned down the offer.

For months he's been saying he was asked a question and he "answered it honestly." No, he didn't. Not if what the White House now says is true.

We're waiting for Sestak to make a statement... with baited breath.

Take This Job and Guv It!

Gov. Chris Christie goes toe to toe with a carping public school teacher in New Jersey. And clobbers her... and her out-of-touch union.

Oil's Not Well: More Grown-Ups Please

Kim Strassel on the politics of oil and oil spills. The GOP needs to be grown-up about this. As grown-up as say, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana).
"I know that this committee has its eyes on the environment. We in Louisiana . . . not only have our eyes on it, we have our heart invested in it and we are making a living on that delta. But we need the oil that comes from offshore to keep this economy moving. We must examine what went wrong, weigh the risk and rewards, fix what is broken and move on . . . If we could do without this oil, we would. But we simply cannot—not today, not in the near future."
"How principled," writes Strassel. "How refreshing."

Here Here.

Imitating the Caterwauling Cajun does nobody any good.

Coming Soon: The "Official" Statement on Jobgate

It appears the Sestak-White House job offer mess will come to a head soon. (My print column is up.)

But several questions were raised yesterday by the president's performance at his presser. He told reporters that nothing "improper" occurred and that an "official" statement would be forthcoming on the matter sooner rather than later.

That it has taken this long for the White House to quit stonewalling and come up with its version of its talk with Joe about quitting the primary suggests, at the very least, something very stupid occurred. If Sestak is telling the truth (and I think he is) some White House honcho made it clear to Joe that if he got out of the race he could expect a nice big plum of a job.

Such an offer is arguably a crime. But such offers, we understand, are a matter of routine. The more the public finds out about these sorts of deals being offered the more cynical the public becomes about Washington and its ways of doing business. (Think Louisiana Purchase and Cornhusker Kickback to buy votes for a healthcare bill the public didn't want.)

It would have been more accurate for the president to have said "nothing uncommon" occurred in the Sestak matter. But think about it. It has been four months since Sestak blew the whistle on the offer.

At first the White House angrily and "vociferously" denied such an offer was made. Nothing improper about that? Indirectly and falsely calling a member of your own party a liar is, well, a little uncommon, even for this White House. It took a few weeks but the White House started to walk back from its flat out denial to its "nothing inappropriate occurred" stance.

Others, including the Administration's preferred senate candidate Arlen Specter, said that if what Sestak alleged was true, a felony had been committed by someone in the White House. White House advisor David Axelrod recently agreed that a job offer to Sestak to get out of the race would "constitute a serious breach of the law." But he said there is no evidence that happened.

No evidence? Well, there is the word of Congressman Sestak that it did. So now we await the "official" White House statement on the matter. Sestak says he will wait for the statement and then respond to it publicly.

Yesterday the president, for the first time, commented on the matter. At the same press conference, on another matter, he said he didn't know whether his administration's Director of Minerals Management Service, Liz Birnbaum was fired or resigned.

"She was fired," a New York Times reporter informed him.

Nice. The New York Times seems to know more about what is going on in his administration than President Obama does.

It is fair to conclude that Obama doesn't know, one way or another, if anything "improper" occurred in the Sestak matter. No doubt, he has been told that by his underlings. That's their story and they're sticking to it. Fine. But the president has promised an "official" statement that explains what did happen. It's four months late in coming but better late than never.

And it better be good.

UPDATE: Sestak says the White House spoke to his brother, Richard, Wednesday to tell him a statement would be released Friday.

UPDATE II: Quote of the day:
Sestak declined to say whether the alleged job offer was inappropriate and defended Obama's integrity. "I think the president's a pretty legitimate, you know, person," he said.
A ringing endorsement.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Give Me BP Over BO

I know BP is an evil oil company that is responsible for the greatest environmental disaster in American history but listening to BP's Kent Wells makes me feel better than listening to the President of the United States defend his administration's handling of the crisis.

You want to understand what BP is doing to plug the hole, listen to Wells. You want defensiveness and political posturing, listen to the White House.

Let's Drum Up Some Drama Over Kagen

Posted by Undercover Corporate Titan

Let's face it; the President has the right to appoint individuals to the Supreme Court.  The Senate advises and consents.  No fair-minded person wants this to be a political tussle everytime a vacancy opens up.  Yes, I know the Democrats ganged up on poor Robert Bork for no good reason, but do we really want that to set the standard?
Elena Kagen is a well-regarded, smart woman who formerly served as Supreme Court clerk for Thurgood Marshall, when he was in his dotage.  She will be a reliable vote for the liberal wing on virtually any type of matter reaching the Court.  It is probably too much to ask that she be part of a principled opposition.  Unless, of course, "empathy" has become a legal principle when I was not looking.
The Supreme Court has to be fully staffed to carry out its primary mission (which is reversing the 9th Circuit every chance it gets).  I suggest we get right to the confirmation, eschewing the bipartisan effort to raise political contributions to derail/push through the nomination.  Maybe we could use this time to look into why we don't use the stone from "Lost" to plug the BP oilwell.

The Joe Show

To recap:

Appearing to Care about New Orleans

WaPo's Richard Cohen takes Obama to task for not being a very effective president right now. But he can't do it without suggesting George Bush was much worse.
Early this month, Barack Obama went down to Louisiana to eyeball the possible damage from the blowout of BP's exploded oil rig, keep the cleanup crews on their toes -- no version of "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" from him -- and show the Gulf states and the rest of the nation his concern. On May 3, The Washington Post's website played the story precisely where it belonged -- entombed in the middle of the page. In its placement, it said the president of the United States did not, in this case, matter all that much.

Everyone knew that Obama was merely showing that he was not George W. Bush. He was not going to ignore a calamity, especially one affecting New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. On the other hand, we all knew that he could not reverse the winds or cork the spill. In fact, he could do precious little except show that he cared.
That's what Democrats are supposed to be good at, showing they care. But how is it Cohen thinks Obama did such a better job of this than Bush? All you have to do is look at the dates. Katrina hit on New Orleans Monday Aug. 29, 2005. Bush flew over the ravaged city that Wednesday and was in the city by Friday. The BP oil rig blew up, killing 11 workers, on April 20. Obama didn't make it down to New Orleans until May 2. So President Bush made it to the scene of the "calamity" in four days while it took Obama 12 days. That's four times longer for President Obama to find the time to survey the greatest environmental disaster in American history.

Obama certainly showed he was not George Bush. He's worse. Much worse. By Cohen's own standard, worse by a factor of four.

Heck of a job, Richie.

Meanwhile, political magpies like James Carville are screeching for Obama to do more, or at least appear to care more, for the suffering people of Louisiana. "We're about to die down here," screeches Carville. At least on this, Cohen is right. There isn't much Obama can do.

UPDATE: Rove weighs in.
Could this be Mr. Obama's Katrina? It could be even worse. The federal response to Katrina was governed by the 1988 Stafford Act, which says that in natural disasters on-shore states are in charge, not Washington. The federal obligation is to "support . . . State and local assistance efforts" by providing whatever resources a governor requests and then writing big checks for the cleanup. Mr. Bush had to deal with a Louisiana governor and a New Orleans mayor who were, by federal law, in charge.

But BP's well was drilled in federal waters. Washington, not Louisiana, is in charge. This is Mr. Obama's responsibility. He says his administration has been prepared for the worst from the start. Mr. Obama's failure to lead in cleaning up the spill could lead voters to echo his complaint in Katrina's aftermath: "I wish that the federal government had been up to the task."

Daily Times Question of the Day...

... Does everyone deserve a second chance?
Whether it be athletes (Michael Vick, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez) or politicians (Gary Hart, Richard Nixon) or anybody else, we seem to live by the mantra 'Everybody deserves a second chance.'

Well, is that true? Are there things people do where they don't deserve a second chance?
Yes. I think that is true. I think mass murderers shouldn't get a second chance. Even if they are lousy mass murderers and only kill three or four people, we shouldn't give them a second chance to become really great mass murderers like Adolph Hitler, Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin and the Green River Killer. I think that would be wrong. Call me mean and unforgiving if you want. But I think mass murderers should only get one chance. And that's it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Jobgate II

The lame duck doesn't say quack about it. But somebody's going to have to say something soon. The pressure is building. My print column is up.

UPDATE: All seven Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have signed a letter to AG Eric Holder asking him to appoint a special prosecutor into this matter.

Sestak has said that he would "absolutely" cooperate with an federal probe of the matter and since both he and the White House have absolutely refused to cooperate with journalists asking questions about Sestak's allegation a special prosecutor may be the only route to the truth.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor... (we wish!)

Kellogg's Race Boondoggle: It's GrrrrrrrEAT!

Cereal king Kellogg's has a bunch of Race Flakes running its foundation. Prof. Stephen Thernstrom reports on the foundation's $75 million racial "Healing Initiative"
The foundation calls this "the most significant effort in our nation's history to bring racial healing to communities and dismantle structural racism in America." In fact, it's the largest single boondoggle ever created for the racial-grievance industry.
What will these sort of nitwits think of next.

Joe vs. the Volcano

This L.A. Times headline sez it all:
Obama White House probe of Obama White House finds no Obama White House impropriety on Sestak
The rest of the story is here. The headline perfectly captures why the Obama White House won't be successful in deep-sixing the story.

Alex Rose has our story here.

Meanwhile, last night on the Fox News Special Report panel, Tucker Carlson suggested the controversy could actually help Sestak in his senate campaign in so far as it distinquishes him from the White House ala Mark Critz in the 6th Congressional District. Mara Liason rightly disagreed. Critz, the Democrat who won John Murtha's seat in a special election ran to the right of his Republican opponent and away from the liberal agenda in Washington. Critz is pro gun, pro-life and anti-Obamacare. Sestak is none of those things in a state swinging back to the right of center.

Furthermore, Sestak is running to "stand with" with President Obama and his agenda. He says so explicitly. That he didn't follow White House orders to clear the field for Specter may suggest to some that Sestak has an independent streak, but to others it will only show he puts his personal ambition over the party.

As for his publicly mentioning the alleged White House job offer in the first place during a TV interview, Charles Krauthhammer attributes it to a "rookie mistake."

It brought some attention to him but it didn't really help get him elected. What elected Joe Sestak was his pointing out Specter's flaws as a principled politician and creature of Washington's unsavory political culture.

Sestak opened a can of worms for the White House with his allegation. Getting those night crawlers back in that can is proving more difficult for the White House, Sestak, and the Democratic party. Specter said during the campaign that if what Sestak says is true felonies were committed and that he should either put up or shut up. Now that he's a lame duck, it's doubtful he'll choose to quack about the matter. But we'll see.

Journalists and other members of Congress are watching the White House and its Attorney General stonewall the matter. The stonewalling is foolish to do so. This is not Watergate. This is politics as usual. Party members are frequently offered inducements, subtle and not so subtle, not torun for this or that by party leaders to clear the field for others.

What is unusual is that one of the players would pop off and tattle on his own party's leaders.

There are a lot of places it can go from here. Few of them good for Sestak or the man he wants to "stand with" next year as a U.S. Senator.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Story That Won't Die...

Joe Sestak's claim that the White House offered him a job to drop out of the race with Specter. He made it again the other day when asked about it.

The White House continues to stonewall. Robert Gibbs says White House lawyers have looked at the matter and determined nothing "inappropriate" occured.

Sorry boys, that won't cut it. There is the possibility that a felony occured here. Specter himself said if what Sestak said was true a crime was committed. Specter had to insinuate Sestak was lying. Sestak is sticking to his story but answering no further questions about it.

The most transparant White House in history is being about as transparent as a brick wall.

Now even a Democratic congressman, Athony Weiner from New York is calling on the White House to tell what happened, who was involved and who said what to whom.

Republican Darrell Issa recently tied Attorney General Eric Holder up in knots for not answering direct, pointed and fair questions about the matter and the responsibilities of the Justice Department to investigate such matters.

It's time for the White House to come clean. It was time for that weeks ago.

Dressing for Successing

William Penn 7th graders ask the school board to change the school uniform policy. Nothing wrong with asking. The answer should be no.

Blimps on the Rise

World's largest airship inflated in cattlebarn. One question: How the hell are they going to get it out of there?

But it's nice to see blimps, like this one, making a comeback. Blimps is cool.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Save a Pelican and Feel Good, Baby, Feel Good!

An anonymous commenter to my post "Drill, Baby, Drill in ANWR" offered this video as rebuttal to my suggestion.

Yep. That oughta' do it. But how many 5-year-olds drive?

Mayor Daley Kasstigated

John Kass observes:
In anti-handgun Chicago, criminals aren't bothered by Mayor Richard Daley's handgun ban. They haven't been bothered for years.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

At TNR, Bill Galston looks at the poll numbers and concludes things look bad for Democrats this fall.
Connect the dots and we have the portrait of an electorate that’s highly dissatisfied with the status quo and that seems poised to give more votes in the aggregate to Republican than to Democratic candidates this fall. I don’t know how many House seats that translates into, but I’d be surprised if the number didn’t start with a “3” (at least). As far as I can see, only a big change in the economy—a significant increase in the rate of GDP growth leading to a noticeable reduction in top-line unemployment numbers and a bump up in real disposable income for those who have jobs—would be enough to change the overall outlook for November.

Hating Arizona? Si, si, Senor!

Frank J. has a random thought:
So the Mexican president attacks the Arizona law and gets a standing ovation from the Democrats in Congress. Is it just me, or is that really perverse? They’re standing up for a leader of a frenemy nation at the expense of an American state (and the large majorities of Americans who support the law). I doubt many put much thought in it — they probably just went, “Here’s a chance to mindlessly pander to Latinos!” — but this just all seems like one of the problems of having a Congress where most people don’t like America. Or maybe they like America, but it’s not really high on their lists of things they like.

The proper response to the Mexican president coming to America to attack one of our states would be for someone — preferably someone in a cowboy hat — to silently march up to Calderon and lift him up by the back of his collar and belt and carry him all the way to the border to Mexico then toss him in the river there, saying, “And don’t come back until you learn some manners.”

Culture Clash

The new culture war: Government control vs. Free enterprise.
This is not the culture war of the 1990s. It is not a fight over guns, gays or abortion. Those old battles have been eclipsed by a new struggle between two competing visions of the country's future. In one, America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise -- limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose.
Which side are you on?

The 5 Most Popular Safety Laws (That Don't Work)

Posted by parallel

Really, is it ever possible to be too safe? Especially when it's our children at stake? Actually, yes. Especially when the rule or law intended to make us safe is so poorly thought-out that it either does nothing but suck up public money, or creates a ripple effect of unintended side effects.
Five Laws

Some other government programs are even worse, like the War on Drugs, not to mention preemptive wars.. What others could you add to the list? A gloomy Jefferson opined, "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground."
If you talk to normal people in everyday situations, like the barber shop, most seem to hold intelligent positions and complain of government stupidities. Why then do we allow the government to inflict these stupidities upon us?

I think much of the problem is that it takes too much money to get elected and most politicians have sold their souls before reaching office. Anyone that is so keen for power should be viewed with suspicion. We would probably be better off selecting politicians by using a pin in the telephone directory. Meanwhile, dump all incumbents (they would learn after a few cycles of this) and elect Ron Paul as President, or failing that, at least elect Gil Spencer ;-)

Four Score and Seven Minutes Ago...

The Senator from Sandy Berger

A bit of interesting skulduggery from Jack Cashill on the Clinton machine and how it used Joe Sestak to defeat one of its most hated and dangerous enemies, Curt Weldon.

None of this will be brought up in the upcoming senate campaign. Toomey has enough to go after Sestak on his voting record alone. So it would be foolish for him to be sidetracked into this political whodunit.

Still, for political junkies, it's a fun and enlightening read, even if Cashill never quite proves his case.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Drill, Baby, Drill in ANWR

Has it occurred to anyone that if the U.S. government allowed drilling for oil and gas in a tiny portion of the remote Artic National Wildlife Reserve we wouldn't have to worry so much about accidents like the one in the Gulf of Mexico?

Obama's Lame Tribute to Daniel Pearl

Joe Sestak isn't the only who could use a better speech writer.

Mark Steyn on Obama's lame remarks after signing the Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act:
"Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world's imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is."

Now Obama's off the prompter, when his silver-tongued rhetoric invariably turns to sludge. But he's talking about a dead man here, a guy murdered in public for all the world to see. Furthermore, the deceased's family is standing all around him. And, even for a busy president, it's the work of moments to come up with a sentence that would be respectful, moving and true. Indeed, for Obama, it's the work of seconds, because he has a taxpayer-funded staff sitting around all day with nothing to do but provide him with that sentence.

Instead, he delivered the one above, which in its clumsiness and insipidness is most revealing. First of all, note the passivity: "The loss of Daniel Pearl." He wasn't "lost." He was kidnapped and beheaded. He was murdered on a snuff video. He was specifically targeted, seized as a trophy, a high-value scalp. And the circumstances of his "loss" merit some vigor in the prose. Yet Obama can muster none.


From the New Yorker (and I don't care if it's digitally manufactured.) It rocks.

Sestak's Bump Not Big Enough

Joe Sestak leads Pat Toomey in a recent poll by 4 percentage points, causing some Democrats to crow he will win in November.

This is silly.

Smarter Democrats are very worried that Sestak's bump in the polls after his nationally-covered upset of Arlen Specter is not much bigger. It should be given all the slobbering media coverage he's received this past week.

Jim Geraghty has more on this at NRO.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Take the deal, Mr. President

Posted by parallel

In order to become one of the policy makers in DC, you have to fail psychology 101 and be barking mad.
Turkey and Brazil put together a package for Iran to ship 65% of their stock of low enriched uranium out of the country, just what America said they wanted them to do last fall. America’s response? “They are only doing this to stop new sanctions, so of course we can’t agree to that trick.”

It looks like the war party has captured President Obama. His administration has now shifted the goal posts again and says it will only talk to Iran if they agree to stop enriching uranium as fuel for nuclear reactors. No matter that they are allowed to do that under the NPT and IAEA inspectors can insure that the uranium is not diverted.

So it looks like we may go to war to prevent Iran from making replacement fuel for their American reactor that makes essential items for medical use. If we just allowed Iran to use their uranium for peaceful purposes there wouldn't be any sitting there to make weapons. As Pat Buchanan says
Take the deal, Mr. President


Posted by parallel

As the number of government workers and teachers gets nearer to 50% it will get more difficult to elect people who will curb this theft of taxpayers’ money. This is but the tip of the iceberg: most government workers get much better fringe benefits than those providing the money.
In Yonkers, more than 100 retired police officers and firefighters are collecting pensions greater than their pay when they were working. One of the youngest, Hugo Tassone, retired at 44 with a base pay of about $74,000 a year. His pension is now $101,333 a year.

…about 3,700 retired public workers in New York are now getting pensions of more than $100,000 a year, exempt from state and local taxes.
NY Times

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why Joe Will Lose in November

Hey, my Friday print column is up, and it's not even Friday yet. With comments and everything.

Researchers Create the World's First Fully Synthetic, Self-Replicating Living Cell

Posted by parallel

Producing self-replicating life from scratch has to be a big step for mankind, even if this is a very small step in making any advanced form of life.


Last year, the president proposed a $100 million cut in the federal budget. Sound like a lot of money to you? It's not really. Check this out.

It is illegal in this country to destroy legal tender in this country. The producers of this video should be brought to justice. (Hat tip: mdplumber)

Old School

Linda Reilly reports that an Upper Darby school prinicpal found a 1915 copy of "Rules of Teachers" in an old safe.
The “rules” prohibited teachers from marrying during the term of their contract or from riding in a carriage or automobile with any man unless he was their father or brother.

“You are not to keep company with men,” the list specifies along with a directive to “be home between the hours 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.”

Teachers may not loiter downtown in ice cream stores, smoke cigarettes, dress in bright colors or dye their hair.

Dresses must not be any shorter than 2 inches above the ankle.
Kinda of makes you feel bad for all those in the transgender community of the time, don't it?

Absurdly Opitimistic

While Democrats bask in the glory of seeing a pro-life, pro-gun, anti-Obamacare Democrat elected to replace the late John Murtha, George Will enjoys their latest performance in the Theater of the Absurd.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tain Plays Terrific-Lee

Congratulations to my young friend Tain Lee for winning the NCAA Division III Golf Championship at Hershey Links Golf Course last week.

A sophomore at Claremont Mudd Scripts College in California, I first played golf with Tain when he was about 12. His father, Spencer is the President of Roto-Rooter and the friend of a certain Undercover Corporate Titan, who posts occasionally on Spencerblog.

This kid can flat out play. Hits it long for a 150-pounder and has a pro short game. He's transferring to Cal Berkeley next year and will, no doubt be an asset to its 28th ranked Division I golf team.

One of these days I'm going to bring him in as a ringer for the Glen Mills Scholarship Fund Golf Outing and we'll lap the field.

Read This Blog Or We'll Defrock This Kitten

Protecting the Panthers?

The Obama Administration's nol pros of Philly's New Black Panthers leads a U.S. Attorney to resign.
A letter of resignation obtained by The Washington Examiner from a former Justice Department employee makes clear DOJ has refused to allow attorneys in the Voting Rights Section to testify before the congressionally-chartered bipartisan U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, despite subpoenas that could result in their being held in contempt.

Joe's Terrible Victory Speech

Somebody please, get this guy a speech coach!

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Homer Needs to Nod

Aren't you sick of those all those political wives who parade their politician husbands in front of cameras to apologize after they get caught in a sex scandal?

Rep. Mark Souder is, according to the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto. Souder announced he was resigning from Congress the other day after getting caught cheating on his wife.

In today's Best of the Web, Taranto quotes Souder as saying:
Quite frankly, I am sick of spouses who drag their politicians up in front of the cameras, rather than confronting the problem that they caused.
Problem is, Souder didn't say that. He said "Quite frankly, I am sick of politicians who drag their spouses up in front of cameras..."

Personally, I like it better the other way but Souder said what he said.

Expect a "Homer nods" from James tomorrow. But it would be more appropriate for his wife (if he has one) to drag him in front of a webcam to tearfully apologize for the amusement of his many readers.

Kagan Selection: Unhealthy for the Constitution

Tony Blankley argues that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan must be defeated so that the U.S. Constitution can be upheld.
I introduce, as Exhibit A on behalf of this choice, the provision in Obamacare that requires every American citizen to buy a health-insurance policy. When the case challenging the constitutionality of that provision reaches the Supreme Court (as about 20 state attorneys general are currently attempting to accomplish by litigation), the government will argue that it is permitted under the power of the federal government to regulate interstate commerce.

They will be forced to argue that the mere inaction of an individual American citizen is an act of interstate commerce worthy of regulation. If that proposition is upheld by the Supreme Court, then we will no longer have a limited government. The government would then have the power to outlaw and punish (by fine or prison term) any American’s decision not to exercise, not to vote, not to eat four servings of vegetables a day — any human inaction would be sanctionable under the Interstate Commerce Clause — and then adios liberty.
Supporters of this mandate claim it is akin to requiring drivers to carry liability insurance.

Two differences:

1. States issue drivers licences not the U.S. Government. The feds are precluded from usurping this responsibility.
2. People don't have to drive. Driving is a privilege. Breathing, and being left alone to do it, is a right.

You want health insurance you have the right to buy it. You don't you have the right to live with the consequences.

No doubt, Obama expects Kagan to uphold his healthcare plan. Her views on the Commerce Clause and how elastic it is, ought to be fleshed out. And if she refuses to answer questions that she herself has said nominees should answer, she should be denied a seat on the court.

Gore Inspires Grads

Al Gore's speech to the graduates focuses the great achievements of America's environmental movement since the 1960s... Just kidding.

Our Learning Disabled Court

George Will on the 9th Circuit's learning curve:
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is a stimulus package for the Supreme Court, which would rather not have one. The 9th Circuit, often in error but never in doubt, provides the Supreme Court with steady work: Over the last half-century, the 9th has been reversed almost 11 times per Supreme Court term, more than any other circuit court. This week, the Supreme Court should spank it again and ask: Is it too much to ask that you pay some attention to our precedents?

On Thursday at 9:30 a.m., the justices are expected to meet to decide whether to dignify the 9th's latest misadventure -- an impertinence, actually -- with a full hearing, including additional briefing and oral arguments, or whether to summarily reverse it. They should do the latter by 9:35 a.m.
Read the whole thing.

Politics As Usual?

Connecticut Democratic Senate candidate lawyer Dick Blumenthal is revealed to have lied about serving in Vietnam. He says he "misspoke" and that he's staying in the race.

Having personally served in the U.S.S. Starship Reserve during our police action on Gliese 581 d, (fourth planet of the red dwarf star Gliese 581) I have no sympathy for Mr. Blumenthal.

When we returned home from that unpopular war (so unpopular that many Americans never even heard of it) there were no marching bands to greet us either.

I resent Blumenthal's attempts to win voters' sympathy with his own phony claims of military service.

If he thinks not serving in Vietnam was tough, he should try fighting Cromulans on ice sheets, 450 miles below the surface of a planet 160 million light years from earth.

And then to come home and have everyone not only forget about it, but look at you like YOU'RE the CRAZY one when you bring it up at cocktail parties... well, talk about adding insult to injury.

If Mr. Blumenthal wants to run for something he should enter the governor's race on Mercury, where lying is not only an accepted part of the political culture, it's legally required.

Political Hygiene

From Today's Wall Street Journal:
The most satisfying outcome across all parties and ideologies was arguably Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak's comfortable victory over Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Senate primary. In defeating the 80-year-old Mr. Specter, voters showed there is at least some limit to partisan opportunism and thus committed an act of political hygiene.

Mr. Specter fled the GOP last year when it became clear he would lose a Republican primary to former Congressman Pat Toomey, and he promptly switched positions on everything from union "card check" to health care. Mr. Sestak ran by claiming to be the more authentic Democrat, despite President Obama's embrace of Mr. Specter, at least as long as the President needed him for the 60th health-care vote. In crunch time in the primary, the White House decided to sit this one out. One disloyal act is repaid in kind.

The Incumbent Killer

Wooed by Snarlin' Arlen, the Democratic faithful fell for Smilin' Joe. My print column is up.
President Barack Obama “loves” Arlen Specter.
So does Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, Vice President Joe Biden and the entire Democratic establishment.
They loved him when he switched parties and supported the president’s agenda.
But they don’t love him as much this morning.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

AP: Sestak Defeats Specter

It's over.

The Sestak Surge

356,816 54.0%

304,362 46.0%

With 60 percent of the vote in.

Sestak's Margin Widens

200,989 51.7%

187,901 48.3%

With 34 percent of the vote counted.

Joe Maintains Slim Lead

Sestak leads by less than 5,000 votes, with 25 percent in.

Joe Takes the Lead

124,084 51.4%

117,209 48.6%

With 23 percent of the vote counted.

UPDATE: Toomey cruises to GOP nod.

Neck and Neck

44,735 50.0%

44,789 50.0%

Specter Clings to Small Lead

With a little over 5 percent of the vote in Specter is clinging to a 53 to 47 percent lead over Sestak. But most of those votes are from Philly. So no clear trend yet.

UPDATE: Suddenly, it's even, Steven. 50 - 50

And the Winner Is.... The Sixers!

Hey, forget Sestak and Specter for a moment. The Sixers just won the 2nd pick in the NBA Lottery.

Evan Turner, a point 6'7 guard from Ohio State wouldn't be a bad grab.

UPDATE: And the Flyers are up 2-0 too.

Polls Close

All that's left now is the counting.

I Love You, Man!

Under the headline:
Obama, Ma, Where's My Pa.? Staying in the White House, Ha Ha Ha
James Taranto goofs on Obama's distancing himself from Specter
Sen. Arlen Specter (R2D2, Pa.), facing a tough primary challenge today, is getting a little help from President Obama--and we do mean a little help, as Politico reports:

The 80-year-old Republican-turned-Democrat will have to settle for Obama's image on a campaign ad proclaiming "I love Arlen Specter"--and a weekend conference call the president held with black Pennsylvania clergy.

This raises an interesting epistemological question: When Obama says, "I love Arlen Specter," is he lying? Or is this like the parody ad that Chief Justice William Rehnquist described in Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (1988): "That speech could not reasonably have been interpreted as stating actual facts about the public figure involved"?

Politico reports that Specter wants a presidential visit but has been "deemed too shaky to risk Obama's direct involvement":

"It's hard to see how he pulls this thing out," said one top Obama aide of Specter, by way of explaining why Obama would not be in the Keystone State before Specter's Tuesday Democratic primary showdown with Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Penn.). "Public and private tracking [polls] are all running away from him."

Would an Obama visit help Specter? Gov. Jon Corzine, Gov. Creigh Deeds and Sen. Martha Coakley would probably say yes, if they existed. Of course, given the president's track record as a campaigner for Democrats, Obama will end up looking even worse if Specter manages to pull off a victory after Obama stayed away.
Maybe this is Obama's way making good on his offer of a job to Joe Sestak. Turns out to be Arlen's.

He Reports, Dems Decide

On Fox News, reporting from Philly, Carl Cameron just said that turn out in the city has been "shamefully" light, which is not to Specter's advantage.

Furthermore, he said, as if Specter didn't have enough to worry about, both the Flyers and the Phillies are in action tonight at home.

The $4.7 Trillion Man

A preview of the Toomey campaign against "Joe Saystax"

Sing-a-long With Cliff

More from Dem Chairman Cliff Wilson on Sestak's chances against Toomey in the fall.

Wilson says in a Sestak v. Toomey match-up, Sestak will be seen as a "moderate liberal" and Toomey will be seen as an "extreme" conservative.

But what makes Toomey an "extremist," he doesn't say. Of course, in general, the media will attempt to paint Toomey's social positions as being "extreme" when, in fact, they are more mainstream and moderate than Sestak's. Toomey is pro-life but not obnoxiously so. He will also be pro-gun and against gay marriage. But then so are a majority of Pennsylvania voters.

On fiscal issues, Pa. voters have grown more conservative the past two years. They don't like the bailouts that Sestak voted for or the huge spending bills that are putting the country further and further into debt. Wilson seems to be counting on the voters loving Sestak more for his military record than for anything else.

But Toomey won't attack Sestak's military record. He won't try to paint Sestak as a soft-on-terrorism, anti-war liberal. He'll be painting him to be a typical tax-and-spend, big goverment-loving liberal. And it should stick because Sestak's voting record as congressman reflects it to be true.


If Arlen wins, I'm getting me one of these Specter masks for Halloween.

Party Chairman Wilson Predicts...

I just left county Democratic Chairman Cliff Wilson at party headquarters in Media where he predicted Joe Sestak will beat Arlen Specter, possibly by as many as 10 percentage points.

Furthermore, he said he never understood why national and state party leaders ever thought Specter would be a better Democratic candidate than Sestak in the fall against Republican Pat Toomey.

Specter's primary problem is that though he won the votes of numerous Democrats in general elections over the years, he was never popular at all with the party's core primary voters. Wilson's analysis makes perfect sense because I agree with it.

I think Specter loses big in the fall if he wins the primary. But I think Sestak has his own problems. The rest of the state is not a liberal as he is. And admiral or no admiral he voted with a Democratic agenda in Washington that is not at all popular right now.

The question in the fall will be, if Sestak wins, which candidate can paint the other as the more radical. Sestak, for instance, gets an F from the NRA for his postions on gun control. And he's a down the line liberal on other issues as well. If he can convince voters he's really a moderate because of his military service, despite his very liberal voting record, then he will have a good chance to win. If however, Toomey can successfully hang Sestak's voting record around his neck, less so.

Anyway, here's Cliff, who said while the nasty weather may depress some turnout, especially in areas where people have to walk to the polls, he doesn't see it necessarily helping either candidate much. A few months ago he said he thought turnout could hit 50 percent. Now he won't be surprised if its as low as between 25 to 33 percent.

Boxed In by Rain?

If the turnout stays light in Philadelphia, Sen. Anthony "Outside the Box" Williams' campaign for governor is in trouble. And as I said before, so's Arlen's. WaPo's Chris Cillizza says so too.

But it just occurred to me: If Specter pulls this thing out, a lot of pundits and commentators are going to have egg on their faces. Maybe even whole omelets. Which is why I am on record saying either candidate could win big or lose big. Nothing would surprise me in this strange race.

Meet Pia

In Philadelphia I was handed a little slip of paper that said:
Republicans, Don't let Bob Brady Go Uncontested! Write In Pia Varma.
I guess I haven't been paying enough attention. Pia is a right-wing, anti-incumbent, small-government, free market zealot.

Check her out:

Meanwhile, Over the Border in Philly...

Recognizing that the city vote was going to be important to Sen. Arlen Specter's chances to defeat Joe Sestak in today's primary, I went down to West Philadelphia this morning to check out a couple of polling places.

Chester Walker, 62, was coming out of the Walnut Park Plaza on his Jazzy scooter, heading up the street to the Walnut Care Pavilion to vote. (Odd that, since there was a polling place in his own building.)

Sporting a "Yes We Can" cap with a photo of President Obama on it, Walker said he planned to vote for Specter.

"I think Specter is my man," he said. "He's been doing good for the people. I don't know nothin' about that other guy... Even when he (Specter) was with the Republicans he was doing good for people."

However, Drucilla McLaughlin, a elderly resident at the Walnut Care Pavilion, said she was going with Sestak.

"I like Sestak. He always does what he says he's gonna' do," she said.

And Specter?

"He's OK. He's a Republican isn't he?"

Used to be.

Meanwhile, shivering outside Walnut Park Plaza, Democratic committeeman Robert King said action at the polls had been "very slow." As for Specter's chances, he said, "I don't know. We can't tell nothin' yet. We can't open the machines." But, he added, "seems like Specter is doing good. I think a lot of people would like to see him win."

Asked if he ever voted for Specter when he was a Republican, King replied. "I might have."

Specter Poll-Axed?

Latest RCP poll average: Sestak up 3.2. Rasmussen has Sestak up 5.

Accountability Journalism

My buddy Bill Bender at asks us to forget about Sestak-Specter for a moment a pay a little attention to the 6th Congressional District where former Inky editorial writer Doug Pike is taking on war veteran and surgeon Manan Trevidi in the Democratic primary.
Today, Democratic voters will choose between the wealthy writer and the hard-charging doctor. They have virtually identical positions on the key issues, and the contest is likely to be the most competitive in the region's congressional districts.

"My background lends itself to contrasting against Jim Gerlach at a time when the pocketbook issues are foremost," says Pike, who tapped his war chest last week to air a 30-second TV spot focusing on job creation. "I've been writing about that stuff for years and holding people accountable as an editorial writer."
I don't know how Doug Pike got "wealthy" but good for him. As for him "holding people accountable as an editorial writer..." well, as a not-so-wealthy, part-time editorial writer myself all I can think to say is "Go Doug, Go!" Summed up this way... "Brandy! Throw more Brandy!"

Where's Waldo-bama

Reports Politico:
President Barack Obama says he loves Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) — just not quite enough to hazard an 11th-hour political trip to Pennsylvania for an ally of convenience increasingly viewed as unlikely to win.

Just last year, the White House was crowing about Specter’s conversion to the Democratic Party, and Obama pledged, “He will have my full support. . .”

Tuesday’s primary is telling a different story: Once thought to be an unalloyed asset for most any Democratic candidate, Obama’s personal involvement is no longer guaranteed — or guaranteed to succeed.

When I Came Home From the War...

Democratic Senate candidate "misspoke" about serving in Vietnam. No, it was not Joe Sestak, as much as Arlen Specter wishes it was.


Rep. Issa just won't let it go. Gotta' admit he does a pretty good job of grilling Holder.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Salon Likes Joe

All eyes on Specter-Sestak.

Don't Hate Us, San Fran

Almost 6 in 10 Pennsylvanians favor stricter immigration laws, like Arizona's. But we won't pass any because we'd hate to be boycotted by San Francisco. Right?

Iran Plans to Ship Its Uranium to Turkey.

Posted by parallel

The earlier nuclear deal fell through when the Western powers insisted that Iran should ship its uranium to Russia and then get it processed into fuel rods by France. Iran’s experience was that both countries were susceptible to US persuasion to renege on deals and feared they might ship the uranium out of the country and never get it back. For example, Iran paid Russia for an advanced air defense system they need now but Russia has not delivered it. France never returned the billions it received from Iran for a nuclear deal they later canceled.

The current proposal, worked out by Turkey and Brazil, is for Iran to ship 1,200 Kg of 3.5% enriched uranium to Turkey, where it would be stored. Then a year later “obtain the right” to purchase 120 Kg of uranium enriched to 20% from Russia and France, needed now for their small medical reactor.

The NY Times reports that this deal may be unacceptable to “Washington and its partners” presumably because the US and Israel want to stop Iran making its own fuel for power plants and possibly because they would lose the chance to simply keep most of Iran’s uranium indefinitely.

Mrs. Clinton said. “Every step of the way has demonstrated clearly to the world that Iran is not participating in the international arena in the way that we had asked them to do and that they continued to pursue their nuclear program,”

Having already forecast the deal will fail, Mrs. Clinton will need to wait for Israel’s instructions for a mutually satisfactory way of keeping the planned military strike on Iran alive. In the face of the evidence, the propaganda that Iran is making nuclear weapons becomes an increasingly hard sell, but I see the neocons have already started. One unjustified, illegal, trillion dollar war is not enough for them. Is it a part of the “spend your way to wealth” plan?

Down to the Wire

The Specter-Sestak race comes down to the wire.

Win or lose, I think Specter is toast as a U.S. Senator. If he wins tomorrow, he loses in the fall to Pat Toomey. It's already been a very tough year for incumbents but especially for Democratic incumbents.

All signs point to a squeaker tomorrow but it may not be. Specter could lose big or win big, all depending on who turns out. Sestak will need a pretty big turn out to overcome the party establishment and special interests lined up behind Specter.

An underdog win would make him a darling of the progressive left nationally, but that could leave Sestak to the left of a majority of Pennsylvania voters.

He is a big government Democrat at a time when people are more cynical and suspicious of Washington than they have been for decades. Specter typifies that cyncism. Changing policies, changing faces, changing parties for no other reason to keep his job.

A lot of Democrats are going to have a hard time pulling the lever for Specter tomorrow. I don't blame them. The question they have to ask themselves is who will be the better candidate against Pat Toomey in the fall.

Right now, it looks to me like either of them will lose come November.

Woody? Could he? He Did!

Woody Allen defends Roman Polanski.
"It's something that happened many years ago... he has suffered.... He has paid his due," Allen told French radio station RTL.

"He's an artist, he's a nice person, he did something wrong and he paid for it. They (his critics) are not happy unless he pays the rest of his life. They would be happy if they could execute him in a firing squad," he said.
"Enough is enough," he added.
"It's something that happened many years ago."

So did the murder of Holly Maddux. Should we have let Ira Einhorn stay put in Europe too?

"He (Polanski) has suffered..."

How? By fleeing America and living the good life in France?

"He has paid his due..."

By spending 45 days in a diagnostic prison center?

"He's an artist."

So what? That permits him to drug and rape a 13-year-old girl?

"He's a nice person..."

Nice people don't drug and rape 13-year-old girls. Or "take advantage" of 16-year-old girls either.

"He did something wrong and he paid for it."

Yes, he did something wrong. No, he didn't pay for it. He fled the United States so he wouldn't have to pay for it.

"They (his critics) will not be happy... (blah blah blah.)"

No one wants to put Mr. Polanski in front of a firing squad. His "critics" simply want him to be extradicted back to where he committed his crime to serve whatever reasonable prison sentence a California judge deems to impose.

Mr. Allen who wooed and eventually married the adopted teenage daughter of his girlfriend Mia Farrow, may feel a special kinship with Mr. Polanski when it comes to his attraction to young girls. He seems to feel that his status as an "artist" should preclude normal standards of decent behavior from being imposed on him.

He is free to think so.

And "we" are free to think that a man who admits to having illegal sexual intercouse with a minor and flees our criminal justice system should be punished for it.


Took some time off to win an age-appropriate basketball tournament in Coral Springs, Florida.

Mission (surprisingly) accomplished.

Special congratulations to 55-Over Division MVP Bob "Firedog" Mahoney and Team captain Kevin "Roy Hobbs" McNamara.

After spending two nights in a Delray Beach hospital bed, McNamara came off a morphine drip to hit several big shots in both the semi-final and championship games. I kid you not.

The Vitas Big 55 squad is confident it can withstand any investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Thankfully, morphine, Icy Hot, Tums, Lisinopril, Crestor, Synthroid and Advil are NOT on the list of substances banned by the Masters Basketball Association.

Oil's Not Well

OK, so the feds fell down on the job of inspecting BP's oil rig last year. Maybe that would have prevented the accident. Maybe not. What is clear is that the oil company fell down on following its own safety procedures, procedures that exist to protect its employees, its investment, and the environment.

With or without government oversight, oil companies have strong incentives to run their drilling operations in a manner that doesn't end with them blowing up and killing workers, not to mention the costs of losing all that oil and cleaning up the mess they made.

This accident will cost BP billions in fines, in lost revenue and in legal claims. Those who were responsible for ignoring standard safety procedures should be fired and/or prosecuted.

All that said, it has been years since a serious accident has occured on one of these deep water rigs. It is typical for human beings to get complacent under such circumstances. This accident will be a reminder to the rest of the industry they remain in a dangerous and high risk endeavor. Certainly the men and women who work on these rigs know that. The executives who run these companies should remember it daily.

Civil Rights Battle for School Choice

In Boston, Jeff Jacoby notices in the battle for school choice our gubenatorial candidate Anthony Williams is a leader.
As it happens, the ADL regional board isn’t the only liberal voice in Philadelphia calling for expanded school choice. State Senator Anthony Williams, a black Democrat and a candidate in Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial primary this week, is the founder of a charter school, a champion of vouchers, and an ardent believer in the power of competition to improve the quality of education. His position puts him sharply at odds with the state’s largest teachers’ union, which opposes choice and has endorsed his main opponent. But Williams — like the local ADL leadership — sees school choice as the great civil rights battle of the day.

“Anybody who was for Brown v. Board of Education — it baffles me that they would be against vouchers,’’ he told me last week. “Brown condemned schools that were separate and unequal. Well, that’s exactly what we’re back to now — schools that are segregated by income, by ZIP code, by race.’’

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Truly Great Guitarist.

Posted by parallel

With great pleasure I discovered the guitarist Kaori Muraji this weekend. She is a Japanese lady born in 1978 who has signed an exclusive contract with Decca Music – so others have recognized her worth.

Having been taught the classical guitar by Len Williams, father of John, I have been following guitar music and players for a long time. I think John Williams is still probably the best in the world, although near the end of his reign. Another Englishman, David Russell, is probably the heir apparent.

There is a small handful of other guitarists who are in the same league. Interestingly, as it takes a lot of finger strength to be really good, several are female. Apart from Sharon Isbin, whose interpretations are not my favorite, I like Ana Vidovic.

I really liked Ms. Muraji‘s playing: she is a breath of fresh air. Being very pretty helps.
It seems she plays a range of music from classical and guitar standards like the “Concerto de Aranguez” through “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” where her tremolo is near perfect for much of the piece. It is very difficult to get the sound that even, plucking with different fingers.

Several of her pieces are available on YouTube (search Kaori Muraji) where you can also hear her play a modern piece “A Song of Early Spring,” “Here There and Everywhere” and a close-harmony version of “Over the Rainbow” that I like.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Diversity For Thee, But Not For Me

[Posted by Jake]

With the retirement of Justice Stevens, the last Protestant on the United States Supreme Court will be gone. At no previous time in our nation's history has the Court failed to have representation from the citizenry's largest religious group, which seems a rather perverse interpretation of the Left's diversity mantra.

If Elena Kagan is successful in gaining the Senate's confirmation, then the High Court will consist solely of Jewish and Catholic Justices. It's probably politically incorrect to notice, however this glaring omission in the face of the diversity sales job by Obama for his nominee, appears rather hypocritical.

There will be three women on the Supreme Court, which is appropriate and long overdue. The latest intelligence suggests that since the Obama presidency is looking more and more like a one-term aberration, the legacy building has started already. Obama is going to be highlighting his commitment to women, diversity, blah, blah, blah as his lasting contribution to the nation, trying to divert attention from the trillions wasted in socialist misadventures. That's all well and good, but couldn't he have still played the diversity card by selecting a Protestant woman?

Unfortunately, the diversity double standard continues with nominee Kagan, even beyond religion and gender. If she is approved, the Supreme Court will overflow with East Coast, Harvard and Yale, government and academia backgrounds. Those limited life experiences belie a world view at odds with Obama's strategic narrative of empathy with the common man. Cases like Western water rights, a pending matter on the Supreme Court docket, will be decided by a thoroughly disconnected group of arbiters.

The only area where Kagan appears to be uniquely diverse is the prevailing Beltway assumption, reported and then retracted by CBS News under heavy pressure from the White House, that the nominee is a lesbian. Why wouldn't Obama expand his legacy building to include the gay community? The Administration's fierce counterattack against any mention of Kagan's apparent homosexuality makes a mockery of their self-righteous diversity efforts. This duplicity demonstrates a disturbing lack of integrity by the President.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Seen the Debt Clock?

Posted by parallel

Did I mention I hate propaganda? Why are we told the “official” unemployment rate is around 10% when the true rate is closer to 20%? Or, the inflation rate is only 2.3%? It is if you leave out the things you actually spend money on like food and gasoline. The US debt is currently thirteen trillion dollars. The U.S. Government’s Budget Deficit was $82.7 billion in April; normally a surplus in the month of tax returns and is forecast to continue at a trillion dollars per year for the indefinite future.

There are three ways out of the mess. The only good way is to cut expenditures, but history shows that is the last thing to happen while politicians are addicted to getting elected. Even though there are several painless cuts that could be made, like no more trillion dollar wars or ending the war on drugs that costs seventy billion every year. As King, Governor of the Bank of England said recently. “..The entire [cost cutting] measures are somehow in the future. You need to start and get on with it….”

More likely it will be some combination of (hyper) inflation and increased taxes. Politicians prefer the former as it is easier to print money: the damage doesn’t surface until later. Of course you don’t have to even print it anymore but just click a key on the computer. Arlen Specter voted not to institute regular auditing of the Fed. Better for the plebs not to see what is happening. Let’s spend ourselves into wealth. Who knows, it may work this time. President Obama promised not to increase taxes, so that’s out, right? It doesn’t count if taxes are called something else.

King also pointed out that we have many of the same fiscal problems haunting Europe. If you have any doubt about that, see the hypnotic Debt Clock /index.html
Scarier than Alien. I wonder who is going to bail us out when the time comes.

The Color of Money

Gov. Chris "Jersey Fats" Christie is taking on the education establishment and cutting spending. Any chance Pennsylvania will elect a governor who will have the guts to do the same here? Fast Eddie Rendel didn't. We'll see.

New Cokesup

Heinz is changing the recipe for its ketsup.

Don't worry it's been taste tested.

Two words leap to mind: New Coke. It was taste tested too.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Win Some, Lose Some

Posted by parallel

Two days ago, the Haverford Board of Commissioners voted that the RHM Sewer Authority could not pursue the gigantic sewage tank they were proposing to site in Glendale Park. At least not anywhere in Haverford. It’s not the end of the story though as something has to be done to fix the leaks of sewage into Darby Creek. Let us hope that this time we will get real facts and a comprehensive solution to the problem for the whole system.

I really hate being told lies. Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels’ style of propaganda is still with us. Iran will have a nuke within a year! In the spring of 2006 Bloomberg News apparently reported that Iran was only sixteen days away. In 2007 that had risen to three months. AP keep repeating how Iran has broken the conditions of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but never spells out how, as Iran hasn’t. IAEA reported it had "not detected the use of nuclear material in connection with the alleged [weapon] studies, nor does it have credible information in this regard."

Don’t confuse the issue with the facts. Instead of helping Iran develop nuclear power, as promised by the NPT, America pushed through a Security Council resolution forbidding them to even do it themselves, as Iran is fully entitled to do. Apparently it only doesn’t matter making several hundred nuclear weapons if your lobby is powerful enough, like Israel’s. Consider an Israeli major, Lani Kass, is now senior Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. Philip Giraldi reports she thinks war with Iran is desirable. There’s a surprise.

According to the main media, Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad had all kinds of links to Pakistani Taliban. In a lesson on winning friends and influencing people, our chief diplomat Hillary Clinton stated there would be ‘very severe consequences’ if an attack on the US were traced back to that country.
The emerging story is that the Pakistani police have not been able to find any links to the Taliban. The Taliban are known to be good at blowing things up, so it is unlikely his idiotic bomb was the product of their training. More likely Shahzad was distressed by America bombing Pakistan and he did something stupid.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Four Nuns for Brother Bob

Bob "Herky" Herdelin is bringing out the big guns in his public relations war with U.D. police chief Mike Chitwood.

Guns as in nuns.

Chitwood called Herdelin's bar a "cesspool" and a "criminal enterprise."

The nuns say Bob is "a stellar man to be respected."
Sister Francis, with 55 years in the order, called his shore homes “immaculate.”

“He does everything to make us comfortable. We stayed at one of his houses Memorial Day last year,” she said.

“It’s sad anyone would accuse Bob of being a slumlord,” Sister Dorothy, serving for 65 years, said. “I had the pleasure of staying in his homes all free of charge. He’s extremely kind.”

Sister Roberta, serving for 66 years, described Herdelin’s homes as “beautiful and immaculate.”

“He’s very good to us and generous,” Sister Roberta said.
What any of that has to do with the township wanting to see his bar closed is hard to say. Sounds like he's been good to the sisters, letting them use his palaces at the beach when he doesn't have them rented to the likes of Oprah Winfrey and they're grateful.

Herdelin is both likeable and, no doubt, generous. But his bar is definitely not a place where the saints go marching in.

To Give and Die in L.A.

Los Angeles is going bankrupt thanks to its public employee unions. T
he city is chin-deep in California's trickle-down misery, and last week Richard Riordan, who was L.A. mayor from 1993 to 2001, coauthored with Alexander Rubalcava—an investment adviser—a Wall Street Journal column declaring the city's fiscal crisis "terminal." They say Villaraigosa should "face the fact" that "between now and 2014 the city will likely declare bankruptcy." Villaraigosa says that will not happen. But look what has happened.

For 15 years Villaraigosa was an organizer for the Service Employees International Union and the city's teachers' union. Now he is trying to cope with, and partially undo, largesse for unionized public employees: "I have to sign the checks on the front, not just the back."
It's called reaping what one sows.

Tiger's Pet Pachyderm

Tiger Woods was in town yesterday to promote the AT&T National at Aronimink C.C. in Newtown Square. He brought his pet elephant, Scandalina, with him.

She's a baaaaaad girl.

My print column is up.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Shill, Baby, Shill...

... for the environmental movement.

Rep. Greg Vitali attempts to put a damper on exploiting the greatest energy find of the 21st century.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Reloading Sarah

[Posted by Jake]

Great piece on Sarah Palin in the USA Weekend section of the Delaware County Daily Times. It's a tough decision deciding what's more enjoyable -- learning more about this compelling woman and her wonderful yet typically flawed family, or anticipating the kneejerk animosity from the mainstream media and their flaming partisans over this innocuous article.

I don't know what it is about the former Governor of Alaska that gets the left wingnuts so worked up, but watching the CNN and MSNBC talking heads explode every time she zings another Democrat sacred cow is riveting theater. Can you ever remember any politician's book, traditionally light journalism, being subject to such annoying over-analysis and hairsplitting? And who in their right mind really thought that her "reload" cheerleading was a clarion call for violence?

Military/gun metaphors are widespread in our society. Weren't Andy Reid and Joe Banner in the Eagles' "war room" during the recent NFL draft, promising they weren't rebuilding, they too were "reloading"? Didn't Obama "batten down the hatches" to keep the Democrats in "lockstep" to pass the "mission critical" health care reform? Weren't Republicans just "non-essential personnel" trying to "shoot down" this legislative "dud"? Something about Sarah Palin just seems to "trigger" hypocrisy and double standards.

For the time being, I think I'd rather just go on appreciating her and the diverse group of attractive Republican women like Ann Coulter, Michelle Bachmann, Condoleezza Rice and Michelle Malkin who are bringing fresh "ammunition" to public debate across the nation. They represent a welcome "leave" from the churlish entitlement mindset and crisis-mongering of the Democrat majority.

Happy Mother's Day?

It's Mother's Day. Big deal. My print column is up.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

This Isn't Your Father's Teaparty Anymore

Moms are turning out for teaparties in droves. Michael Graham has the story.
Moms like Christen Varley, the suburban mother of four who organized the successful tea party rally on Boston Common last month. Moms like Karen Miner Herd, who calls herself "one of the founding mothers" of the tea party movement in Virginia.

Her favorite tea party sign? "Menopause Was Change Enough for Me."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bowden on America's General

I bought this month's Vanity Fair magazine because Grace Kelly was on the cover and Tiger Woods' sex buddies were promised inside. (You'll want a shower if you read that story.)

But it was Mark Bowden's piece on Gen. David Petraeus that made the magazine worth the cover price.

Read it all.

Spencerblog Joins the Mile High Club

No, not that club. The Mile High Blogging Club.

I am as I type this some 30,000 feet over, I dunno, Kansas maybe, heading back home from Las Vegas where I went to visit a sick friend. (He's not physically ill. He has a gambling problem.)

Anyway, USAir is now offering WiFi service and it's awesome. I'm on it right now, and of course, it reminds me of Louie CK's excellent bit on "How everything is amazing but nobody's happy."

I just watched it again. You can see it here.

As Louie CK tells Conan O'Brien
"I was on an airplane and there was high-speed Internet on the airplane. That's the newest thing that I know exists. And I'm sitting on the plane and they go, open up your laptop, you can go on the Internet.

"And it's fast, and I'm watching YouTube clips. It's amaz--I'm on an airplane! And then it breaks down. And they apologize, the Internet's not working. And the guy next to me goes, 'This is b___s___.' I mean, how quickly does the world owe him something that he knew existed only 10 seconds ago?"
It's a great bit. But here's the thing. Airplane WiFi costs $12.95 a shot. So no wonder the guy was angry. I'd be angry too. Or at least, I'd want to make sure I didn't get stung for the $12.95 I just charged to my credit card.

Not that I begrudge USair, or any of the airlines, a way to make a buck. I kind of feel sorry for the airlines. They hardly make any money. They're always going bankrupt and yet they still get people from here to there in amazing time. Like Louie CK points out.

OK, so I just paid $7 for a Bud Light. That was my choice. I didn't have to buy it or drink it. And my Pastrami Reuben sandwich cost $7 too and was mostly bread. But it did come with a chocolate chip cookie, chips, and Naturally Fresh Thousand Island dressing. I didn't have to buy that either, but what else is there to do on a 4-and-a-half hour flight, but eat and read? Well, now you can blog, but that costs money too.

BTW there was nothing naturally fresh about Naturally Fresh Thousand Island dressing, seeing as how it comes in a plastic container with a foil top. If anything, the dressing is unaturally fresh. Tasty too, thanks to the ingenuity of mankind.

Also my rowmate and I would like to thank whoever the passenger was who didn't show up for seat 17E. Flying is much more comfortable when nobody sitting next to you in the middle seat.

I may even have another Bud Light. It is, after all, Friday and still happy hour here in this time zone. Throw in the Wifi and I'll be out an additional $34 for the flight.

For a Friday night out, pretty cheap. I think I'll check out what's new at Netflix.


It's a Whole New Race

Sestak pulls even with Specter. And my print column is up.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

School Choice and Test Scores

Charles Murray argues that standardized test scores alone are a poor way to evaluate schools.
There are millions of parents out there who don’t have enough money for private school but who have thought just as sensibly and care just as much about their children’s education as affluent people do. Let’s use the money we are already spending on education in a way that gives those parents the same kind of choice that wealthy people, liberal and conservative alike, exercise right now. That should be the beginning and the end of the argument for school choice.

Going Before the Bar?

Bob "Herky" Herdelin is filing his $1.7 million lawsuit against Upper Darby Police chief Mike Chitwood. He says his name has been "desecrated." But how do you desecrete a name like "Herky?"

Many years ago, I wrote about a lawsuit Bob filed (or threatened to file) against an admitted prostitute who was picked up near his bar and raped.

She told police that Herdelin tried to get her to drop the charges against the cab driver who was ultimately convicted in the case. Herdelin was charged for interfering in the investigation and ended up taking ARD. Then he sued the rape victim, claiming she lied about his offer.

I wonder if he ever collected on that one.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It Could Happen To You!

Tom Burns comes up with a little idea and makes it big. My print column is up.

Tea Party Profiling

[Posted by Jake]

Tea Party critics got a civics lesson recently by Nigel Coleman, leader of the Danville TEA Party Patriots in southern Virginia. Coleman, who coincidentally is black, expressed concern that the "racist" label is so toxic that it undermines all responsible dialogue.

A grass roots movement that is predominantly white is not, and nor does it have to become, inevitably racist. "I went to a wine festival yesterday," Coleman said. "Weren't too many black people there, either. Nobody called them racists."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Another Spencerblog BIG Announcement

In the spirit of Ronald Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!" - and at the suggestion of Media civil rights attorney C. Scott Shields - Spencerblog readers will now be able post comments in real time.

Rules of civility, however, will remain in place. Comments deemed off topic, offensive and/or beyond the pale will be removed.

Snarky is fine. Personal insults are not.

We'll see how it goes.


UPDATE: Whoops! There. That should do it. Thanks Danny!

E-Mail of the Day

A couple of weeks ago, I commented on a suggestion by Joe "The Nerd" Ferraro who believes that increasing the number of U.S. congressmen will improve our "representative Democracy." He sent me this e-mail the other day, to which I respond below.
Mr. Spencer,

I just saw your mention of a couple of weeks ago. I am really grounded on planet earth. I actually grew up in Chester (St Robert's '75) reading the
Delco Times, maybe that is where my problems started...

Since you want to poke a hole in my premise, let me ask you at the National Level how many Congresspeople do you think we need? (I don't think it was really all that fair to shift what I was talking about from Federal to State.)

At this point we are playing a zero-sum game against the south and the west. Ten years ago we gained people and lost seats. If the lower house of
Congress is supposed to be flexible (as it was in the 19th century) why does it have to stagnate now. The founders of the country put a mechanism in to allow for growth. If you are one of those people who believes the constitution was written by four guys named Matt, Mark, Luke, and John - then we have really gotten away from what they wanted.

Are we done growing in the same way we stopped inventing at the beginning of
the 20th century when they closed the patent office?

What is a fair number of Representatives for what is becoming a more multicultural (heterogeneous) society?

You can make fun of me, but the numbers are telling me pretty loudly (I have a math degree, fwiw) that our democracy is floating away from us. Seriously, what do you make of these numbers?
Spencerblog responds:

The difference between us is that we see the world differently. When you see a congressman you see a altruistic servant of the people. When I see a congressman I see a self-serving careerist who takes from one group of people and gives to another, while paying himself a nice salary with excellent benefits.

Advocating for more congressman is like advocating for more ticks on your dog.

I'm on the dog's side.