Tuesday, October 31, 2006

And the Thomas Sowell Award Goes to ...

Thomas Sowell!

Never heard of the Thomas Sowell Award? That's OK -- I just made it up. What is the Thomas Sowell Award? Ah, great question. The Thomas Sowell Award is the award bestowed on that person who best exemplifies clear-thinking, plain-speaking, common sense. Now you understand why the Award goes to Thomas Sowell. Who else out there comes even close to dispelling the spin, talking points, and echo chamber -- on both the right and the left -- than Thomas Sowell.

Case in point: Thomas Sowell's opinion piece in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. Here is an excerpt that really cuts through the fog.
However we got into Iraq, we cannot undo history--even recent history--by simply pulling out and leaving events to take their course in that strife-torn country. Whether or not we "stay the course," terrorists are certainly going to stay the course in Iraq and around the world.

Political spin may say that Iraq has nothing to do with the war on terror, but the terrorists themselves quite obviously believe otherwise, as they converge on that country with lethal and suicidal resolve.

Whether we want to or not, we cannot unilaterally end the war with international terrorists. Giving the terrorists an epoch-making victory in Iraq would only shift the location where we must face them or succumb to them.

Check out the whole article here.

Monday, October 30, 2006

How to Be a Good Liberal

You have to be against capital punishment, but support abortion on demand.

You have to believe that businesses create oppression and governments create prosperity.

You have to believe that guns in the hands of law-abiding Americans are more of a threat than U.S. nuclear weapons technology in the hands of Chinese and North Korean Communists.

You have to believe that there was no art before federal funding.

You have to believe that global temperatures are less affected by cyclical documented changes in the earth's climate and more affected by soccer moms driving SUV's.

You have to believe that gender roles are artificial but being homosexual is natural.

You have to believe that the AIDS virus is spread by a lack of federal funding.

You have to believe that the same teacher who can't teach 4th graders how to read is somehow qualified to teach those same kids about sex.

You have to believe that hunters don't care about nature, but loony activists who have never been outside of San Francisco do.

You have to believe that self-esteem is more important than actually doing something to earn it.

You have to believe the NRA is bad because it supports certain parts of the Constitution, while the ACLU is good because it supports certain parts of the Constitution.

You have to believe that taxes are too low, but ATM fees are too high.

You have to believe that Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinem are more important to American history than Thomas Jefferson, Gen. Robert E. Lee, Thomas Edison, and Alexander Graham Bell.

You have to believe that standardized tests are racist, but racial quotas and set-asides are not.

You have to believe that Hillary Clinton is normal and is a very nice person.

You have to believe that the only reason socialism hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried is because the right people haven't been in charge.

You have to believe that homosexual parades displaying drag, transvestites, and bestiality should be constitutionally protected, and manger scenes at Christmas should be illegal.

You have to believe that illegal Democratic Party funding by the Chinese government is somehow in the best interest to the United States .

You have to believe that it's okay to give federal workers Christmas Day off but it's not okay to say "Merry Christmas."

You have to believe that this message is a part of a vast right wing conspiracy.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ho-Hum. Bears 7 - 0

Just kidding. After the way the Bears played 2 weeks ago against the Cardinals, I don't think the Bears will be taking any team for granted. They certainly showed it today, piling up 41 points against the hapless 49ers.

Stay tuned for next week however. The Bears are undefeated and will be facing the Miami Dolphins -- a team that jealously guards its record as the only team to go a whole season undefeated. You can bet that the Dolphins organization will be asking players from that team to stop by this week and remind the current players of the legacy they need to uphold.
America Alone

In anticipation of getting my hands on a copy of Steyn's America Alone (currently #17 on amazon.com), here are a couple of reviews that have come out on the book. I know this post will be kind of long, but once you read through it, I think you'll agree that it's a vitally important topic and Steyn's America Alone is an important book.

From National Review:
No Time to Go Wobbly


‘Live free or die; death is not the worst of evils.” That 1809 message, sent by General John Stark to his Revolutionary War comrades 32 years after the battle of Bennington, is now New Hampshire’s motto. Granite State resident Mark Steyn takes General Stark at his word. In contrast to the pampered charges of Europe’s bloated nanny-state, says Steyn, only free and self-supporting citizens, willing to stand up and fight, have a shot at winning the existential struggle with radical Islam . . .

Wait a second: “have a shot”? Mark Steyn believes that the United States of America has only a shot at winning the War on Terror? Come off it. Steyn can’t seriously believe the West might actually lose to the likes of Osama bin Laden and his pathetic suicide squadrons. Okay, maybe we’re looking at years of scattered terrorist attacks and international police actions. But lose?

That is exactly what Mark Steyn believes. The West is losing the War on Terror, Europe as we know it is fated to disappear, and a stranded America is going to be lucky to pull out a victory in the struggle for its cultural and physical existence. Yes, that Mark Steyn. The funny one. You want funny? Then by all means read Steyn’s book. The jokes are all there, along with Steyn’s dazzling trademark wordplay, and the usual switchblade putdowns. But when it comes to Mark Steyn, funny’s just another word for sad, smart, scary, and (unfortunately) largely true.

Europe defeated, neutralized, locked in an open and bloody civil war, and effectively enabling the world’s Islamists in their quest to destroy the United States: Think about that scenario for as long as it takes to get past the schadenfreude, and weep. Weep for us, and for them (because despite our spats, we are still Europeans). The collapse of the West’s own homeland is almost too horrible to contemplate. Yet it is happening before our eyes.

Europe’s ever-deepening surrender to radical Islam is a tribute to the emptiness of multicultural ideology, to the disabling effects of the welfare state, and, above all, to the power of demography — the last of which, Steyn cautiously notes, accounts for a good 90 percent of everything. European fertility rates have fallen to unprecedented levels. The population of the developed nations was once twice as large as the Muslim world (30 percent to 15 percent of global population). By 2000 we were even, at 20 percent apiece. And in 20 more years? Steyn points out that on current trends, by mid-century, tiny Yemen will have more people than a vast and empty Russia. Already, in France’s larger urban centers, up to 45 percent of the population under 20 is Muslim. Before risking death for freedom’s sake, you must first be born.

Steyn lays out the consequences of these fearsome demographic facts. Millions of now-teenage Muslims will shortly be entering Europe’s voting booths. So we’ll soon see the rise of Islamist political parties, which will share Osama’s Islamicizing goals, if not his tactics. A Europe where Muslims already exercise a virtual foreign-policy veto will be intimidated and broken by the duo of terrorist Islamist “bad cops” and peacefully political Islamist “good cops.” After all, terrorists have already toppled one European government (Spain). That, says Steyn, is the merest beginning.

Even now, sections of France where Muslims dominate have turned into “no go” zones for police and firemen. For their physical and psychological safety, Western women living in heavily Muslim urban centers are beginning to walk about covered. A few Westerners are even converting. And Steyn believes that as Europeans face the prospect of living as a frightened minority in Muslim-dominated cities, more Western converts will follow. Bereft of cultural confidence and lacking the will to fight, Europe is assimilating to its immigrants.

Impossible? Well, Steyn is never more persuasive than when he cites his nemesis, Euro-liberal Timothy Garton Ash. In Garton Ash’s scenario, by 2025, an aging Europe will be desperately in need of Muslim immigrants to support its pensioners. Speaking for Europe’s petrified (i.e., “multiculturalist”) leaders, Garton Ash says it would be a mistake even to try to bring these immigrants into a European cultural framework. On the contrary, he argues, Europe and the Muslim world will have to enter into a “great arc of partnership.” So in Europe, cultural appeasement is the order of the day.

The demographic disaster has only just begun, and already the English national flag (which features the “crusader” cross of St. George) has been banned in British prisons. Steyn reminds us that America’s colonists pledged to resist “the first unjust demands of an encroaching power,” lest a succession of “convenient” concessions prove “fatal to public liberty.” But that was General Stark’s old New Hampshire. In the new Hampshire, the new Brussels, and the new Paris, we’re seeing an endless train of small and “convenient” concessions. At this rate, says Steyn, Osama bin Laden won’t need to march in triumph down the Champs-Elysées. A decade or so down the road, he and his only somewhat less ornery fellow travelers will have Islamified Europe piecemeal. In Steyn’s words, “The last people around in any numbers will determine the kind of society we live in, and right now the last people around Europe will be Muslim.” With Mr. Ash running Europe’s assimilation project, time is not on our side.

As the world’s most advanced demographic basket case, Russia, already barely able to raise an army to defend its borders, is likely to lose large chunks of its territory to China on one hand, and to a succession of new Islamic states carved out of its decaying carcass on the other. Steyn reminds us that this means still more nukes floating around the Middle East. As far as the Islamists are concerned, Steyn informs us, it was they — and not the U.S. — who won the Cold War. American money and technology may have helped push the Soviets over the edge, but the Islamist fighting spirit in Afghanistan delivered the death blow. Absent a willingness to risk death for freedom, our money and technology will avail us nothing when our paid assassin wheels round from his Soviet victim and turns the knife on us. Russia’s but one example. Simply as a matter of fact, says Steyn, every year more of the world lives under Islamic law.

In short, jihad can win. Nor is Steyn shy about dating the apocalypse. Steyn expects an implosion of the welfare state, societal collapse, fascist revivalism, and bloody civil unrest in a semi-Islamic Europe within a generation, with much of the change emerging within the next ten to fifteen years, if not sooner. Add terrorist nuclear strikes to this scenario. And here’s a new one: Steyn predicts freelance nuclear attacks against Middle Eastern countries by independent actors in the West (should Western governments refuse to retaliate against Middle Eastern states for terrorist nukes).

All this makes Steyn the new anti-Fukuyama. America Alone is Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” cubed. Huntington envisioned relatively stable ongoing conflict between well-established civilizational zones. Steyn is talking about the collapse of the European heart of the West, and even its partial recruitment to the Islamist camp.

About a month after 9/11, Francis Fukuyama responded to claims that the terror attack had falsified his “end of history” thesis, and validated Huntington’s “clash” instead. Fukuyama dismissed Islamist terror as a futile rearguard action by traditionalists hoping to derail the unstoppable “freight train” of modernity. “I see no lack of a will to prevail in the United States today,” said Fukuyama. Democracy, Fukuyama noted, is spreading to more and more parts of the world. Immigrants flood the West and “eventually assimilate to Western values.” Above all, insisted Fukuyama, Islamism has “virtually no appeal in the contemporary world apart from those who are culturally Islamic to begin with.” Besides, Fukuyama assured us, modern Islamic societies simply aren’t viable.

In effect, America Alone provides an answer to each of Fukuyama’s post-9/11 claims. Half the West is already doomed, says Steyn, which will leave America isolated and vulnerable. Europe’s will is broken, while America’s fighting spirit is halfway out the window. Democracy may spread — and must spread — says Steyn, as our only shot at stopping a rapidly proliferating Islamism. Yet the West’s watery multiculturalism has proven incapable of inspiring loyalty among immigrants, who are assimilating Europe to Islam instead. Even if only Muslims are radicalized, their numbers are large enough to defeat us. And given those numbers, and the resulting cultural pressures, the small stream of Western converts could someday become a rushing river. On one point, Steyn would agree with Fukuyama. An Islamic Republic of France or an Islamic States of America would not be a viable society. Unfortunately, we know that “History” has proven all too eager to waste precious human lives and decades on dangerous and ultimately non-viable social experiments.

So have we left Fukuyama’s “End of History” for Mark Steyn’s “New Dark Age”? Unfortunately, we’re much too close to Steyn’s frightening vision for comfort. Yet therein, says Steyn, lies our hope. The horrors playing out in Europe may wake up what’s left of the West to the real alternatives, to wit: live free or die.

Mr. Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
And here is a review by the great Mona Charen:
Steyn at the Bridge
Read this book.

A review by Mona Charen

I’ve never read such an amusing book about such a grim subject. Mark Steyn’s America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It is in deadly earnest — our civilization is facing a crisis of confidence and demographic vigor just at the moment when a jihadi world movement stands poised to upend us. And yet Steyn’s inimitable wit enlivens every page. As NR readers already know, he is the Errol Flynn of commentators, finishing off opponents with a single flick of his rapier. Whether that rapier will finally be silenced by a scimitar is the story of this book.

Steyn is not the first to tackle the theme of Western pusillanimity in the face of Islamic barbarism — While Europe Slept, Londonistan, Eurabia, and others have plumbed similar themes — but he is undoubtedly the most stylish. Here is his rejoinder to an Episcopal priest who told his congregation after the London bombings “There are no Muslim terrorists. There are terrorists.”

“It’s not the perfect fatuousness of the assertion so much as the meta-message it conveys: we’re the defeatist wimps; bomb us and we’ll apologize to you.” Later, he warms to the subject: “Most mainline Protestant churches are, to one degree or another, post-Christian. If they no longer seem disposed to converting the unbelieving to Christ, they can at least convert them to the boggiest of soft-left political clichés, on the grounds that if Jesus were alive today he’d most likely be a gay Anglican bishop in a committed relationship driving around in an environmentally friendly car with an ‘Arms Are for Hugging’ sticker on the way to an interfaith dialogue with a Wiccan and a couple of Wahhabi imams.”

Beyond the absurdity of this spectacle is the bleak reality that for whatever reason — and Steyn advances the view that it’s a combination of multiculturalism — welfare-state torpor, and prolonged adolescence, native Europeans are fast disappearing. He makes a powerful case that demography is the ball game.

“What’s the Muslim population of Rotterdam? Forty percent. What’s the most popular baby boy’s name in Belgium? Mohammed. In Amsterdam? Mohammed. In Malmo, Sweden? Mohammed. By 2005, it was the fifth most popular boy’s name in the United Kingdom.” By mid-century, Steyn observes, if Muslims continue to have large families and Europeans continue to have tiny ones, the nation of Yemen will exceed Russia in population. “In the fourteenth century, the Black Death wiped out a third of the Continent’s population; in the twenty-first, a larger proportion will disappear — in effect, by choice. We are living through a rare moment: the self-extinction of the civilization which, for good or ill, shaped the age we live in. One can cite examples of remote backward tribes who expire upon contact with the modern world, but for the modern world to expire in favor of the backward tribes is a turn of events future anthropologists will ponder, as we do the fall of Rome.”

Now to my favorite part:

This book isn’t an argument for more war, more bombing, or more killing, but for more will. In a culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of “suttee” — the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural: “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

India today is better off without suttee. If you don’t agree with that, if you think that’s just dead-white-male Eurocentrism, fine. But I don’t think you really believe that. Non-judgmental multiculturalism is an obvious fraud, and was subliminally accepted on that basis . . . . But if you think that suttee is just an example of the rich, vibrant tapestry of indigenous cultures, you ought to consider what your pleasant suburb would be like if 25, 30, 48 percent of the people around you really believed in it too. Multiculturalism was conceived by the Western elites not to celebrate all cultures but to deny their own: it is, thus, the real suicide bomb.

The lone exception to this downward spiral in the West is the United States. Our birthrate plus immigration means that our population is growing, not shrinking. (Actually, our growth is due to red state birth rates. If it were up to the blues, we’d be in Europe’s fix.) But most American liberals are as weak-minded as the Europeans when it comes to the matter of will. They do not feel the urge to preserve Western civilization as strongly as the desire to apologize for it — and that may be the death of us.

— Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist and author who blogs on National Review Online’s “The Corner.”

What Do our Children Need -- Sensitivity Training
or a Future?

Mark Steyn is one of the best writers out there right now. His focus is almost exclusively on the clash of cultures between the West and Fascist Islam. His articles are so compelling and cogent that I don't even want to post excerpts so I post them in their entirety (as I do below).

Before reading on, I also want to note that Steyn recently came out with a full-lenght book on this topic: it's called America Alone. You can check it out at amazon.com. I've already ordered my copy. Stay tuned.

Only choice on war is to win or lose it

October 29, 2006

I was on C-SPAN the other morning, and a lady called in to complain that ''you are making my blood pressure rise.'' Usual reason. The host, Paul Orgel, had asked me what I thought of President Bush and I replied that, whatever my differences with him on this or that, I thought he was one of the most farsighted politicians in Washington. That's to say, he's looking down the line to a world in which a radicalized Islam has exported its pathologies to every corner on Earth, Iran and like-minded states have applied nuclear blackmail to any parties within range, and a dozen or more nutcake basket-case jurisdictions have joined Pyongyang and Tehran as a Nukes R Us one-stop shop for all your terrorist needs. In 2020, no one's going to be worrying about which Congressional page Mark Foley is coming on to. Except Mark Foley, who'll be getting a bit long in the tooth by then. But if it really is, as Democrats say, ''all about the future of our children,'' then our children will want to know why our generation saw what was happening and didn't do anything about it. They will despise us as we despise the political class of the 1930s. And the fact that we passed a great prescription drug plan will be poor consolation when the entire planet is one almighty headache.

My caller at C-SPAN thought this Bush farsightedness shtick was ridiculous. And, though I did my best to lower her blood pressure, I can't honestly say I succeeded. But suppose the ''Anyone But Bush'' bumper-sticker set got their way; suppose he and Cheney and Rummy and all the minor supporting warmongers down to yours truly were suddenly vaporized in 20 seconds' time. What then?

Nothing, that's what. The jihad's still there. Kim Jong Il's still there. The Iranian nukes are still there. The slyer Islamist subversion from south-east Asia to the Balkans to northern England goes on, day after day after day. And one morning we'll switch on the TV and the smoke and flames will be on this side of the Atlantic, much to President Rodham's surprise. Bush hatred is silly and parochial and reductive: History is on the march and the anti-Bush crowd is holding the telescope the wrong way round.

"We're in this grand ideological struggle," said the president two days later. "I am in disbelief that people don't take these people seriously." He was sitting in the Oval Office with a handful of columnists including yours truly. At the risk of making that C-SPAN caller's head explode, it was a great honor. I wasn't the only foreigner in the room: There was a bust of Winston Churchill, along with those of Lincoln and Eisenhower. A war president, a war prime minister, a war general.

Bush was forceful and informed, and it seems to me he performs better in small groups of one-night-only White House correspondents than in the leaden electronic vaudeville with Helen Thomas, David Gregory and the other regulars. (You can judge for yourself: Michael Barone has posted the entire audio at U.S. News & World Report's Web site.) He dismissed the idea that going into Iraq had only served to "recruit" more terrorists to the cause. (General Pace told me last week that, if anything, the evidence is that Iraq has tied up a big chunk of senior jihadists who'd otherwise be blowing up Afghanistan and elsewhere.) The president's view is that before it was Iraq it was Israel; with these guys, it's always something. Sometimes it's East Timor -- which used to be the leftie cause du jour. And, riffing on the endless list of Islamist grievances, Bush concluded with an exasperated: "If it's not the Crusades, it's the cartoons." That'd make a great slogan: it encapsulates simultaneously the Islamists' inability to move on millennium-in millennium-out, plus their propensity for instant new "root causes," and their utter lack of proportion.

"We need to be on the offense all the time," said the president. I pointed out that, when the military are obviously on offense -- liberating Afghanistan, toppling Saddam -- the American people are behind them. But that it's hard to see where the offense is in what to most TV viewers has dwindled down to a thankless semi-colonial policing operation with no end in sight. How about a bit more offense? Syria's been subverting Iraq for three years. Why not return the favor?

"We are on the offense," he insisted, sounding sometimes as frustrated as us columnists that so much of the wider momentum had become (in Charles Krauthammer's words) "mired in diplomacy." Still, it was a different conversation than most Bush encounters with the media-political class. I happened to be plugging my book on a local radio show this week just as a Minnesota "conservative" (ish) Democrat joined the herd of stampeding donkeys explaining why they were now disowning their vote in favor of the Iraq war. What a sorry sight. It's not a question of whether you're "for" or "against" a war. Once you're in it, the choice is to win it or lose it. And, if you're arguing for what will look to most of the world like the latter option, you better understand what the consequences are. In this case, it would, in effect, end the American moment.

Does that bother people? Bush said something, en passant, that I brooded on all the way home. Asked about poll numbers, he said that 25 percent of the population are always against the war -- any war.

That sounds about right. And it's a bit disturbing. To be sure, if Canadian storm troopers were swarming across the 49th Parallel or Bahamian warships were firing off the coast of Florida, some of that 25 percent might change their mind, though it might be a bit late by then. But, as America's highly unlikely to be facing that kind of war in the foreseeable future, that 25 percent's objection to the only wars on offer is rather unnerving.

The invaluable Brussels Journal recently translated an interview with the writer Oscar van den Boogaard from the Belgian paper De Standaard. A Dutch gay "humanist" (which is pretty much the trifecta of Eurocool), van den Boogaard was reflecting on the accelerating Islamification of the Continent and concluding that the jig was up for the Europe he loved. "I am not a warrior, but who is?" he shrugged. "I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it."

Too many of us are only good at enjoying freedom. That war-is-never-the-answer 25 percent are in essence saying that there's nothing about America worth fighting for, and that, ultimately, the continuation of their society is a bet on the kindness of strangers -- on the goodnaturedness of Kim Jong Il and the mullahs and al-Qaida and what the president called "al-Qaida lookalikes and al-Qaida wannabes" and whatever nuclear combination thereof comes down the pike. Some of us don't reckon that's a good bet, and think America's arms-are-for-hugging crowd need to get real. Van den Boogaard's arms are likely to be doing rather less of their preferred form of hugging in the European twilight.

©Mark Steyn 2006

The Hypocrisy of Homosexual "Marriage"

Interesting article by Kevin McCullough. Despite their incessant claims that they are entitled to "marriage", McCullough makes a compelling argument that homosexuals are not sincere about marriage. To the contrary, he claims that their real agenda is to destroy the institution of marriage.
Radical homosexual activists hate biblical marriage, because in order to achieve its benefits and blessings they must first conform to God's plan for the sexual actions, and the sinful nature in man is not willing to make such submission and conformity happen. The existence of joyful biblical marriage being practiced, by "thumpers" in "Jesusland" infuriates them and thus the only action they can attempt is to destroy the institution that allows such fundamental societal success to happen.
Though not addressed directly in the article, there is a fundamental flaw to both the argument for homosexual "marriage" and, whether accurate or not, McCullough's argument that the agenda of the homosexual lobby is to detroy marriage.

Marriage is created by God; it is not a secular institution. Politicians and courts can pass laws and hand down decisions promoting homosexual "marriage", but the reality is, no matter what they call it, they can not alter the nature of marriage.

Think of it this way. You might want to be a cat; and you may want to be one really bad. You could even persuade Congress to pass a law declaring you a cat, or get a friendly judge to rule that you are entitled to be a cat with all the rights and privileges of being a cat. Go ahead: chase mice, shred the back of the couch, pee in a big kitty litter pan. It doesn't matter. You still won't be a cat -- it's not in your nature.

Similarly, neither homosexual activists, nor liberal politicians, nor activist judges can destroy marriage because it not a human institution.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Professional and a Class Act

Congrats to the Cardinals for winning the World Series. In looking at some of the on-line coverage today, I was struck by a couple of pictures of Ivan Rodriguez, catcher for the losing Detriot Tigers.

Now I don't know anything about Rodriguez and could be completely wrong. But, in looking at these two pictures, I suspect that Rodriguez is a pro in the mold of Michael Jordan and a class act to boot.

It's pretty easy to see that this picture shows that Rodriguez is a class act. His team just lost the World Series to a team that most sports prognosticators said didn't have a chance of winning. Losing is always tough and I imagine that the Detroit players were feeling pretty lousy after the game. However, as this picture shows, Rodriguez and at least one other Tigers player went to the Cardinals locker room to congratulate them. Total class on their part.

I'm reaching on my speculation on this photo, but I suspect I'm not off base. I think this shows Rodriguez to be a player with the intensity and drive of a Michael Jordan.

Why is he still in the dugout after the game when most or all of his teammates have left? I'm sure they had no desire to stick around to watch the celebration -- the players running around the field jumping all over each other, the fans cheering, the fireworks going off, the media types hovering about sticking cameras in faces and asking their idiotic questions (how does it feel? what are you thinking now?)

I think Rodriguez is still there for just that reason: to see the other team enjoy the victory and sear it into his memory so he can use it next year to motivate him to play even harder. Many of his teammates want nothing more than to forget this Series; but, I bet Rodriguez stayed in that dugout so he won't forget what it's like to come this far and have to be on the sidelines while his opponents are on the field celebrating their championship.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

OK, No More Group Hugs Until Those Math Scores Improve!

This article in today's Washington Post jumped out at me. (Stories that are reality-based tend to stand out in MSM publications.) I couldn't help chuckle reading how dismayed these professional educators must be to learn that faux self-esteem pronunciations are no substitute for actual learning.

The story is entitled 'For Math Students, Self-Esteen Might Not Equal High Scores'. The article points out that:

It is difficult to get through a day in an American school without hearing maxims such as these: "To succeed, you must believe in yourself," and "To teach, you must relate the subject to the lives of students."

But the Brookings Institution is reporting today that countries such as the United States that embrace self-esteem, joy and real-world relevance in learning mathematics are lagging behind others that don't promote all that self-regard.

Consider Korea and Japan.

According to the Washington think tank's annual Brown Center report on education, 6 percent of Korean eighth-graders surveyed expressed confidence in their math skills, compared with 39 percent of U.S. eighth-graders. But a respected international math assessment showed Koreans scoring far ahead of their peers in the United States, raising questions about the importance of self-esteem.

If you think your self-esteem can bear it, you can read the whole article here.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Something to Think About

Saw this blurb on Fumare. Interesting. I don't necessarily buy his thesis, but it certainly does give one something to think about.
Robert Cox: When will the right recognize the cost of conceding Web 2.0?
WASHINGTON - If you doubt the Internet is causing a sea change in politics, just ask “independent” Senate candidate Joe Lieberman, who came out on the wrong end of a blogger-fueled campaign for the Democratic nomination in Connecticut.

That was no accident.

In the waning days of Howard Dean’s abortive presidential campaign, I met many of the talented folks who played a role in turning the Dean Web site into a powerful fundraising tool that propelled an unknown candidate into the national spotlight. At various blogging conferences since, I have had the opportunity to observe many of these bright minds strategizing on how to best leverage the emerging world of blogs and other “social networking” services known as “Web 2.0” to advance their liberal political agenda and win elections.

Their common refrain: “We need to own the Internet the way the right owns talk radio.”

They got me wondering whether the online “conservative elite” was aware of what the left had in mind and, if so, whether they were concerned. During the past few years, I have had the opportunity to ask this of Internet specialists working on the Bush-Cheney campaign, top officials in the Republican National Committee, communications specialists at the White House and dozens of top conservative bloggers.

A-List blogger and talk radio show host Hugh Hewitt’s response was typical: “It doesn’t matter who creates the tools used by bloggers, but what bloggers do with those tools.”

When I suggested that ceding control of the major “nodes” in the online world to the left was a huge mistake, they were dismissive. It became clear they could not imagine one day finding themselves boxed out of what is fast becoming the biggest force in electoral politics.

Enter Fox News pundit, author and top-rated blogger Michelle Malkin. Last week she received notice from YouTube, the world’s most popular video sharing service, that her video had been deemed “offensive.” The result? Her account may be terminated and her videos deleted.

YouTube refused to say why her videos were “offensive” and there was no avenue available to challenge the decision. Today, her videos are gone and her voice is suppressed on the most important video “node” on the Internet.

Some might note that Malkin can still host her videos elsewhere. Of course she can, but that would fail to understand the powerful forces of “network externalities” at play online. There is no Avis to eBay’s Hertz for good reason: Once an online network is fully catalyzed, there is no reason to join an alternative network. If you want to get the most money for your Beanie Baby collection, you are going to want access to the most potential bidders — and that means eBay.

YouTube is poised to become the eBay of video file sharing. If you want the biggest audience for your video, you want access to the most potential viewers — and that means YouTube.

Google understands this dynamic, which is why the company announced Monday that it will purchase YouTube — a company that has never made a dime — for $1.65 billion. YouTube fits very well within the Google online media portfolio. The company already owns Blogger.com, the most popular blog hosting site online, and Google News, which in two short years has become one of the top news sites in the world.

Don’t think it matters? Consider that, according to USA Today, 98 percent of the money donated to political parties by Google employees — “Google Millionaires” — went to Democrats.

But it’s not just Google’s media and financial muscle that benefits the left. Liberals run the leading blog search engine — Technorati. They run the leading blog software manufacturer — Six Apart. They invented two of the most important blogging technologies — Podcasting and RSS. The list goes on and on.

It may not matter who manufacturers your radio since all points on the dial are equally accessible and the choice is tiny compared to the number of Web sites, but on the Internet, where popularity is often directly proportional to technological acumen and popularity, once achieved, breeds more popularity, who builds what means everything.

Malkin may have been the first casualty in the coming information war but she certainly will not be the last. Yet online conservative elites seem not to care. They fail to realize that voters are increasingly accessing news and information from these new media sources and that these sources are using their editorial discretion to publish and promote a liberal — not conservative — agenda.

Still think it doesn’t matter? Just ask Michelle.

Robert Cox is a member of The Washington Examiner’s Blog Board of Contributors.

Technology always runs in front of the rest of our culture, particularly, the law. While the law has done a lot to catch up with the internet, it still has a ways to go. However, I think that sites like youtube will eventually be treated, not like newspapers or television, but more like a "public square". As a result, the people who run these sites will not be able to arbitrarily suppress voices they disagree with. Moreover, if the folks who run youtube had any sense, they should have picked someone besides Michelle Malkin to muzzle. Something tells me that she won't go away quietly!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Winter Rolls in Early


Snowfall Sets Record As December Comes Early

Earliest Measurable Snowfall Joins Sub-Freezing Temperatures

(CBS) CHICAGO The calendar said October, but it felt and looked more like December. Chicago picked up its first official snow of the season Thursday, setting a record for the earliest measurable snowfall.

A total of 0.3 inches of snow fell at O'Hare International Airport this morning, breaking a record set in 1972. While average date for the first trace of snow is Oct. 30, the first measurable snowfall usually does not come until mid-November.

CBS 2's Kristyn Hartman and Katie McCall contributed to this report.

(© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Adios Air America

Got a note from a friend with this dispatch from the AP. As my friend noted -- "Rush Limbaugh they ain't!"
Air America Radio Files for Chapter 11
NEW YORK (Oct. 13) - Air America Radio, a liberal talk and news radio network that features the comedian Al Franken, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a network official told The AP.

The network had denied rumors just a month ago that it would file for bankruptcy protection. On Friday, Air America spokeswoman Jaime Horn told The Associated Press that the filing became necessary only recently after negotiations with a creditor from the privately held company's early days broke down.

The network will stay on the air while it resolves issues with its creditors, Horn said. In addition to Franken, the network also features shows from liberal talk show host Randi Rhodes and syndicates shows from Jerry Springer and Portland, Ore.-based talk show host Thom Hartmann.

Horn declined to name the creditor with which talks had reached a logjam. The company will operate in the interim with funding from its current investor group.

Air America also said Friday it had named Scott Elberg as its new CEO. Elberg, a former general manager of the radio station WLIB in New York, has been with the network since May of last year.

The filing and executive shuffle marked the latest turbulence at the liberal talk radio network, which went on the air two years ago. This April, Danny Goldberg stepped down as CEO and was replaced by an interim chief executive from a management consulting firm.

"Nobody likes filing for bankruptcy," Elberg said in a statement. "However, this move will enable us to concentrate on informing and entertaining our audience during the coming months."

Air America has struggled financially since its inception. According to documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, the company lost $9.1 million in 2004, $19.6 million in 2005 and $13.1 million so far in 2006.

Air America also disclosed in the court documents that two directors departed in the last two months, Douglas Kreeger and Tom Embrescia. Gary Krantz also departed as president in June, and executive vice president Tom Athans and chief operating officer Carl Ginsburg both left in July.

AP Business Writer Vinnee Tong contributed to this story.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

'In Your Face' Ad Too Much for Weak-Kneed Republicans

Here is an ad that was prepared for the Republicans this election. Although the ad is factually correct in every way, the Republicans rejected it. I guess they're worried about offending the tender sensibilities of the Democrats.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Amazing Skidboot

Monday, October 09, 2006

What Happened?

I used to love Charlotte Church's music -- not anymore. I've no idea (but have my suspicions) as to what happened to this young lady, but can only pray that she turns her life around. Here is the story from Catholic Online re the Ignatius Press announcement that they are pulling all her products.

Ignatius stops sale of Charlotte Church works after singer's TV pilot

By Simon Caldwell

Catholic News Service

LONDON - The U.S. publishing company Ignatius Press has refused to sell any works by Welsh singer Charlotte Church after she called German-born Pope Benedict XVI a Nazi and mocked the Catholic Church.

The directors of Ignatius Press said they were offended when the Welsh singer mocked the Catholic Church in the pilot of a proposed eight-part television chat show.

Church, dubbed the "Voice of an Angel" before she turned her talents to popular music, also dressed up as a nun and pretended to hallucinate while eating "communion" wafers imprinted with smiling faces signifying the drug Ecstasy.

She smashed open a statue of the Virgin Mary to reveal a can of hard cider inside, said she worshipped "St. Fortified Wine," and stuck chewing gum on a statue of the child Jesus.

Ignatius Press announced that Church's products have been withdrawn from its Web site and catalogue.

"It is with regret that we do this," the company said in a statement to its customers on its Web site, www.ignatius.com.

"Miss Church possesses a great gift from God, and in the past she has used her talent often to offer praise and glory to Our Lord," the statement said.

"We cannot stand by a young woman who uses her stature in the media to mock the Eucharist, slander the Holy Father, and denigrate the vows of religious women," it continued.

"Therefore, our catalogues and Web site will immediately withdraw all compact discs, cassette tapes, DVDs and VHS tapes that feature Miss Church. Please join us in praying for this troubled young woman," the statement added.

Church declined to comment.

Church, 20, was raised a Catholic and sang for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican at the age of 12.

The pilot for "The All New Charlotte Church Show" was filmed before a live studio audience July 12.

Ignatius Press was founded by Father Joseph Fessio, a California Jesuit who studied under the future Pope Benedict at the University of Regensburg in Germany in the 1970s and who continues to be a close friend.

Pope Benedict, the son of a German policeman opposed to Nazism, was forced into the Hitler Youth movement as a child, and during World War II he served briefly in an anti-aircraft battalion.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

"We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst."

-- C. S. Lewis
"Let's hear it for women's liberation. Our 13-year-olds are free to look and act like sluts."

Terrific article by Mona Charen -- she hits the nail right on the head. The callowness, blindness and outright stupidity of so many in our culture is sometimes staggering. We not only tolerate, but we sometimes encourage, girls to dress and act like tramps, and then we're outraged when they do so, or when boys treat them that way.

Like I said, Mona Charen nails this point in her article here. Check out this excerpt:
Do you allow your pre-teen daughters to wear T-shirts with suggestive messages? Well, plenty of parents do. Just stroll through any clothing store catering to the younger set, and you will find "Hottie" and "Sexy" on shirts too small to fit anyone older than 12. Bare midriffs are marketed to girls as young as 7 and 8. I don't have daughters; I have sons. But I hate for them to be living in such a coarse society.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Me and the Journal and the November Election

I love it when people agree with me; it's especially cool when the group of folks who agree with me includes the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. I am utterly unconvinced by the incessant refrain by Republicans that, despite who poorly they've governed, we conservatives need to hold our nose and vote Republican anyway or face the prospect of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and/or Senate Leader Harry Reid.

For example, on Sept. 25th I wrote to a friend:
Amen -- you are totally 100% right on here.

I am sick and tired of being told by various Republicans to support them or else run the risk of Democrats taking back the House and/or Senate. My response is: If that happens, who'd be able to tell the difference?

Is there really much of a difference between our current crop of Republicans and the Democrats? I'd like to see those differences. For example, we have a Republican president, a Republican House and a Republican Senate. So, how come we can't even pass a bill outlawing partial birth abortion? A law that is supported by a large majority of Americans.

On abortion and many (most) other conservative issues, Republicans have abandoned conservatives. Now, with an election looming and their poll numbers sagging, they come calling again. This time, however, I'm not buying it. I'd rather vote for a candidate who will stand for his principles but doesn't have a chance of winning, than support a candidate who tells me before the election that he/she is a conservative, but acts and governs like a liberal.
In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, the editors wrote:

The 109th Congress has gone home to fight for re-election, and the best testament to its accomplishments is that very few Republicans are running on them. They're running instead against the peril to the country if the Nancy Pelosi Democrats take power.

We'll know in six weeks if this liberal fright mask is enough to save the GOP majority, but it's not too soon to say that Republicans in the 109th have been a major disappointment. The best thing about this Congress is that by doing little at least it did little harm. But despite their best chance in 50 years to reform the creaky institutions of the welfare state, Republicans couldn't maintain the unity or discipline to achieve nearly any of what they promised in 2004.


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