Saturday, November 20, 2004

pas au-dela : the smiting of homosexuals

Boy, I really enjoyed this...

"Dear President Bush,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from you and understand why you would propose and support a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. As you said 'in the eyes of God marriage is based between a man a woman.' I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination... End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however,regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that
this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?"



I don't care if he still won, I'm not tired of this yet.
I may be an idiot, but I don't really care.

The fiscal management genius of the current administration

The New York Times > Business > Greenspan Sees No Rise Soon for the Dollar:

"'Current account imbalances, per se, need not be a problem,' he said in a characteristically technical speech, 'but cumulative deficits, which result in a marked decline of a country's net international position - as is occurring in the United States - raise more complicated issues.'

Mr. Greenspan said foreign investors, in part because they fear having too much money at risk in the United States, would eventually become reluctant to take on more such assets.

'It seems persuasive that given the size of the U.S. current account deficit, a diminished appetite for adding to dollar balances must occur at some point,' Mr. Greenspan said. 'But when, through what channels, and from what level of the dollar? Regrettably, no answer to those questions is convincing.'"

Funny, it looks like deficits might just matter after all... - Specter drafting pledge on judicial nominees

Wow, this is one of the worst things I've ever heard. This is not what Madison had in mind when he was talking about separation of powers. Bill Frist and any other Republican Senate leadership should be forced to read the Federalist Papers and then arrested for treason.

In Federalist 77, Hamilton makes the argument that influence of the President over the Senate in the matter of appointments should be tempered by the Senate's ability to restain the President. He clearly argues against vesting appointment powers solely in the executive, stating that it would "enable him much more effectually to establish dangerous empire over that body [Senate], than a mere power of nomination subject to their [the Senate's] control."

That's all out the window - this pledge, in essence, gives up the ability to counter the President on appointment, without knowing the qualifications of the appointee. Hamilton goes on to write that should the Senate reject a qualified candidate, the blame would rest with them, in the eyes of the citizens. Now, in limiting criteria for evaluating candidates a priori, the Senate Judiciary has conceded a portion of their consent power, and if they should confirm a marginal nominee, the blame will rest with them also. They can't win, and the President can't lose.

I'm sorry, but this is super-problematic - maybe the worst thing the Bush administration has done. The branches of government are NOT SUPPOSED TO WORK TOGETHER; this is the check on power. As troubling as it may seem to some, the actions of one rogue Senator, acting alone but within the rules of Senate, should be able to stop a nominating process. For theorists like Madison, the result of action is much more dangerous than the result of inaction, except in the case of military affairs, which is why command is vested in the single authority of the executive.

Fortunately, the pledge is meaningless as a binding oath. Unfortunately, Senator Specter may be too motivated by internalized ethics to break it, when the ethic he should be listening to is the ethic of DEMOCRATIC RESPONSIBILITY. No, I don't mean Democrats like the donkey - I mean DEMOCRACY - responsiblity to the Constitution and the citizens of Pennsylvania AND NO ONE ELSE

Senators are not national positions. They represent local interests and local interests alone. While the scope is larger than a US Representative, only the executive is charged with national interest. That's the only way this Federalism thing works. Of course, the Republican Party loves to argue "states' rights", but this pledge is anything but a counter-argument.

Sorry that Pat Toomey didn't win, but live with it. I hope once Senator Specter is installed as Chair, he tells all of them to take a flying leap...

Friday, November 19, 2004

Response to Libertarian Hack

L-Hack writes :

"What kind of liberal are you? Its your duty to tell parents how to raise their kids, you can't possibly expect stupid bible thumping conservatives to raise a tolerant child. Since you can't win an election anymore have a court take those kids away or at least have the schools teach a class on Heather has Two Mommies or Daddy's Roommate."

From the Associated Press

"Mr. DeMint, a Republican, said this week that openly gay people and unwed, pregnant women living with boyfriends should be barred from teaching in public schools."

'Nuff said.

More on T.O. & Monday Night Football

Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, writes in today's NY Times:
"Pittsburgh is feeling great about itself right now, even with a myriad of problems, because the Steelers are winning."

Let's see how great they feel next month when the city runs out of money and they can't pay for policemen.

Remember the Simpsons episode where Homer becomes Sanitation Commissioner?

Mayor Quimby: Simpson, you idiot! You spent your entire year's budget in a month! Your department's broke!

- Homer: [panics] Uh...oh no! Wait! I think I've got the perfect solution.

Quimby: You'd better! 'Cause those garbage men won't work for free!

- Homer: D'oh!

One more thing - Rooney writes:

Our game represents special values: tough but fair competition on a level playing field, teamwork, an extraordinary work ethic and a diverse meritocracy. We represent achievement and excellence based on performance, not on extraneous outside personal factors.

Level playing field...what is this guy, a socialist? That salary cap interferes with the market - clearly Milton Friedman doesn't run this league.

Don't these people understand, when you don't interfere with the market, it corrects itself to everyone's advantage! Just look at the NHL...

(I forgot, you can't)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Family Values

I have some exciting work someone sent me from Yousef Taibi, entitled "Rights of Husband". I'm thinking this guy might be some kind of Islamic Dr. Phil.

It's too long to post in its entirety (link below), but here's a little taste:

Almighty say: "And to those whose put you fear disloyalty and ill conduct, admonish them first next refuse to share them beds, and last beat them lightly but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means of annoyance.

Imran Ibn-ul-Arabi said: Avoid husband's brother as you avoid death. These traditions emphasize how strictly women should avoid being alone with their husband's brothers, it has been equated with death.

What to speak of the guarding of modesty, Islam envisages a women whom nobody can see or hear.

If you're looking for some traditional values, click here.

Intelligence suggests Iran trying to adapt missiles for nukes - Nov 18, 2004

"Powell partially confirmed claims by an Iranian opposition group that Tehran is deceiving the United Nations and is attempting to secretly continue activities meant to give it atomic arms by next year."

If he's correct:
Pre-emptive war as a deterrent doesn't work.

I've said this from the beginning - going to Iraq pre-emptively would cause nations to do one of two things.

1. Stop nuclear programmes and state-supported terrorism, on the belief that America "means business" when it comes to pre-emptive strikes on real (or supposed) threats.

2. Get a nuclear missile/bomb within 18 months. Knowing that the US military was tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan, if I was the ruler of an "axis of evil" nation, I'd do whatever I could to get nuclear, because I might be next on the list, but I'm certainly not a parallel activity.

If he's wrong:

U.S. Intelligence is still in the toilet, and they can't be trusted for anything, including domestic terrorism protection.

The worst thing is, we can't get help because we cried wolf about Iraq, and like L-Hack said, we can't handle Iran alone under the current circumstances.

The result:

If Iran has nuclear weapons and US policy stays constant

1. Iran gets a nuclear weapon. Personally, I don't think it's that big of a deal. Sure, they have all that "Great Satan" rhetoric, but who are they going to use it against. They're a heck of a lot more stable than Pakistan, who's in an active war with India, but they didn't use their nuclear device. If you think it's because India has nuclear weapons also, that only bolsters my argument. By that logic, Iran won't launch on Israel or the U.S.

If Iran has/does not have nuclear weapons and US policy changes.

Say hello to our largest partner in the War on Islam...I mean War on Terror. Welcome, China!!! It's not like they aren't bankrolling us already, but just think about how much more in debt we'll have to go to finance a war effort in Iran. They'll be like Mr. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life, when everyone is in a panic and selling, they'll be buying, and when it's all over, they'll own the American economy. Of course, a hands-off policy on Taiwan will be the first request...I mean demand. Who knows what else?

Of course, someone is going to have to fight in this war. I guess traffic in my area should go down, with all the young people in my area, those new high school and college graduates will be commuting to work on the Tehran Belt-line everyday instead of I-40. This is nuts, you think, this was hype to try to get the Democrats in office. There's a little truth in every lie and rumor, and it will start slowly - first doctors and nurses, then computer technologists, then police officers, and the next thing you know, we'll have had a draft, and no one will have realized it until it was too late. - Writers - Jeffri Chadiha: Controversy surrounding Owens' MNF promo touches deep social issues - Thursday November 18, 2004 2:09PM

"In fact, I tell you what's been the most amazing moment for me since Monday night. It was a friend telling me that one of his buddies was shocked by the suggestion that all this controversy could've had anything to do with racial attitudes. As my friend's friend said, 'Aren't we past the days when we have to think like that?'"

"I guarantee you that if Peyton Manning had been the man Sheridan jumped on, there wouldn't be half the controversy. If it had been Eva Longoria, the Latina co-star of Desperate Housewives, there also wouldn't be as much of an outcry. Two minorities locked in a sexual embrace isn't as shocking a thought in some of those red states."

I thought this fuss was about overt sexuality on TV, and I still do. L-Hack is always telling me I need to see other side of the coin - the world through the eyes of a red state parent, I almost could with this one. I don't agree with the complaints, I don't think it was that shocking (there's been a lot worse on NYPD Blue), but while I'm free to engage in relativism, I'm sure that others believe that's how we got here and they're angry. I get it - at least I think I do.

I can empathize and I can process the concerns of middle-Americans if it's based in sexuality, like I think it is. If race is an issue here, I just can't get my head around it - if it's race + sexuality, I still can't grasp the foundation of the concern. I'm going to assume I'm right, and this is only about sexuality, because if it isn't, someone is going to have to explain this to me or help me understand this.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Its just a plant ?

In your disclaimer you claim to be liberal but then state its up to the kids parents to teach them human sexuality. What kind of liberal are you? Its your duty to tell parents how to raise their kids, you can't possibly expect stupid bible thumping conservatives to raise a tolerant child. Since you can't win an election anymore have a court take those kids away or at least have the schools teach a class on Heather has Two Mommies or Daddy's Roommate.

L-Blowhard writes
With Christmas coming up, I know what I'm buying for my conservative friend's kids.

I can't wait to see what the New York Review of Books has to say.

I could always go with Heather has Two Mommies or Daddy's Roommate

(Disclaimer : I'm a liberal, but I would NEVER, EVER buy these books for my friend's kids - that's up to them. I don't have kids, and I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it is to explain human sexuality

The end of the Bush doctrine (for now)

Fear not liberal friends, you may want to cancel that relocation to Canada, for it's highly unlikely that Bush’s second term will usher in new military interventions, or a foreign policy that really pisses off the EU/UN. Despite the loss of Powell and not having to face the voters again the neocons have diminished credibility and fewer resources in which to enact their agenda.
It was thought Syria or Iran may be the next target of U.S. military power, but I believe the 2nd term will have to be far more cautious, it may not be by choice but there are several factors suggesting a kinder and gentler foreign policy:
1. Economic - We don't have the money. The cost of reconstructing Iraq will be so much more than originally though it warrants its own posting, also try telling those boomers we have no money for their retirement because we are rebuilding Syria.

2.Military - Where is the administration going to come up with 100,000+ troops to occupy/rebuild places like Iran or Syria in the next few years? The Pentagon is already struggling to cope with the troops it needs in Iraq. Any effort to commit U.S. forces elsewhere is likely to run into intense resistance from the rank and file, we will be calling up reservist from D-Day if there is another war.

3.Diplomatic - The neocons influence seems to wane when it comes to dealing with China and Russia.

4. Political - How many Senators and congressman want go back to their districts for re-election having voted for another preemptive war? Assuming a majority of congress supported another intervention how may politicians would have the guts to vote for a war that would cost them their seat?

There is still a chance of targeted air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities or terrorists camps in any number of countries but the days of full scale invasions are over for now. Think of it this way, Iraq is really just a practice war, the big cheese is Saudi Arabia

The marvels of modern technology

"The Web site already offers target practice with a .22 caliber rifle and could soon let hunters shoot at deer, antelope and wild pigs, site creator John Underwood said on Tuesday. Texas officials are not quite sure what to make of Underwood's Web site, but may tweak existing laws to make sure Internet hunting does not get out of hand. 'This is the first one I've seen,' said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife director Mike Berger. 'The current state statutes don't cover this sort of thing.' Underwood, an estimator for a San Antonio, Texas auto body shop, has invested $10,000 to build a platform for a rifle and camera that can be remotely aimed on his 330-acre (133-hectare) southwest Texas ranch by anyone on the Internet anywhere in the world."

How do I get my venison when I'm done hunting?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Why didn't Apu get super-rich in the 1990s?

Taken from Beliefnet: "In many ways, the character is stereotypical of Asian immigrants to North America, and a model minority member. Born in Pakistan, Apu and his family migrated to Ramatpur in India, and later studied at the Calcutta Institute of Technology (CalTech), where he graduated at the top of his class of seven million. In the 1970s, he came to the United States on a student visa to do graduate study in computer programming at the Springfield Heights Institute of Technology (try the initials). During his nine years at the school, he took a job at the convenience store to pay off his student loans, a choice that evolved into a career. Apu often works 18 hours a day, seven days a week, and, on at least one occasion, worked 96 hours straight. He is frequently the victim of shoplifters and armed robbers."

OK - here's a guy with a degree from an Indian scientific university and graduate work in the U.S. If he came in the 1970s, he got caught in the Carter recession, and his foreign national status would have kept him locked out of the red-hot defense industries throughout the 80s, but by the late 1990s, with people paying oodles of money to any moron that could piece together code, how come Apu didn't jump on this? Was it his illegal immigrant status? He was naturalized in May of 1996, so that would have left him plenty of time to milk some cash out of or on the freelance consulting circuit. Is the Quik-e-Mart that lucrative? Is the tech industry in Springfield that weak?

It's Just a Plant

With Christmas coming up, I know what I'm buying for my conservative friend's kids.

I can't wait to see what the New York Review of Books has to say.

I could always go with Heather has Two Mommies or Daddy's Roommate

(Disclaimer : I'm a liberal, but I would NEVER, EVER buy these books for my friend's kids - that's up to them. I don't have kids, and I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it is to explain human sexuality. I don't know if these books help, especially for homosexual parents, but I can't imagine any circumstance where It's Just a Plant is appropriate.)

Yes, I'm a drain on society, with all that income tax I pay...

"I know how badly we need college professors, trial lawyers and celebrities with their vast contributions to America but if I had to start a country I know who I would take."

Considering the 4.3% contribution the entertainment industry makes to the GDP, and seeing it is one of the few industries in America where we run almost a 100% surplus with the rest of the world, I think I wouldn't mind having celebrities in my country.

Of course, college professors haven't contributed much over the last century, besides a polio vaccine, the nuclear bomb, the World Wide Web, game theory, DNA, the human genome project, and the computer, to name a few.

The 3rd President of the United States seemed to think that universities were pretty important, as did the 28th President and the 27th President and future Chief Justice of the United States.

Another mugging

I was a kid in New York during the Bernie Goetz ordeal when I first heard the expression "a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged ".
After the very brutal murder of Theo van Gogh by shooting, throat slitting and dagger plunging with a note the Dutch may have seen enough.
Unlike the Spanish, this incident seems to have stiffened their upper lip.
It will be difficult to blame this one on bush although some will surely try and the call for more tolerance is being heard from the NYT and European left, you know the "all cultures are equally good, and that making distinctions among them is racist and immoral..." crowd.
After decades of reacting to social problems with more tolerance the Dutch have built a culture in which extremes clash more violently precisely because of that tolerance.
The Dutch, not waiting to see if they pass the global test, are prepared to enact laws that make the patriot act seem reasonable.
Lets hope they succeed while still allowing weed and hookers otherwise the terrorist have already won.

It's not just about gays...

Timothy Gay writes in today's Washington Post :
"Here's what Republicans of conscience have to understand about the machinations of Karl Rove and company. Fear isn't some emotion that can be easily bottled back up after it's been -- viciously -- unleashed. It isn't a once-every-four-years vehicle that can be wheeled out for a few months, then stowed back in the garage to be retooled for the next election cycle. Encouraging fundamentalist preachers to pound their pulpits and inveigh against gay people has consequences. It puts men and women in communities across this country at personal and professional risk. There's nothing more despicable than creating a phony political issue (just how many gay couples are clamoring for marriage certificates in the state of Ohio, anyhow?) and preying on people's prejudices."

He's talking about fear of gay marriage and the "moral decay" that so many think will come from it, but there's another fear that people need to come to grips with and the administration needs to stop feeding people - fear of terrorism.

They've got this country so frightened of a terrorist attack that most people think it's a life-or-death issue. You have a better chance of dying in your car, you have a better chance of having a fatal accident in your home, and according to this site on terrorism odds, you have a better chance of dying in a lightning strike (1 in 2.4 million) than if terrorists were blowing up one shopping mall per month.

All this "moral decay", all this "terrorism" - it's ridiculous. If you want to worry about something, worry about higher interest rates due to rising deficits and foreign debt holdings (no, Libertarian Hack, I'm not talking a gloom & doom scenario - think mid-70s). If you want to worry about something, worry about the rising price of oil, China & India's increased consumption, and the very real likelihood that within your lifetime, pure gasoline-run cars are going to become much too expensive to operate for most Americans.

If you want to worry about something, worry about the fact that less and less American kids want to study science and engineering in college, and as India modernizes each year, we can't count on a supply of immigrants advance technology and science in this country. If you want to worry about something, worry about how you're going to pay for cancer treatment (you have a 1 in 400 chance) without health insurance. If you want to worry about something, worry about the U.S. moving to comply with the WTO about agricultural subsidies, which will likely make us an importer of food very shortly. If you want to worry about something, worry about how we have to follow the WTO, but China still gets to peg their currency at an exaggerated depressed rate which just feeds our trade deficit.

If you want to worry about something, worry that a man was elected to the United States Senate that said unwed pregnant mothers and homosexuals shouldn't be allowed to teach school. Worry about the election of a U.S. Senator that wants to execute abortionists (how's that for a culture of life), and fears the spread of "rampant lesbianism" in public schools.

If you want something, if you need something, there's a lot more out there than gays and terrorism.

Exit stage left.

Mr. Blowhard
I never derided exit polls, only your worship of them when they go your way.
So your point is that wealthy gadabouts, ivory tower academics and the poor vote largely democratic, while the upper middle class (small business owners, professionals) and the military vote republican. I know how badly we need college professors, trial lawyers and celebrities with their vast contributions to America but if I had to start a country I know who I would take.

Several times in my life the Jets have started fast in the 1st half only to finish 9-7 and back into a wildcard.

Mr. Blowhard that's his name that name again is Mr. Blowhard.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Is it really the dawn of the Chinese Century?

David Scott Lewis writes :
"In 1984, it was clear to anyone with a pulse that Japan was about to take over the world. Within 10 years, Mitsubishi was going to challenge Boeing for leadership in commercial aviation. Fujitsu and other tech firms, guided by Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), and Yamanouchi and the Japanese pharma industry, guided by the government's Science and Technology Agency, were slated to take over the computer, electronics, and biotech industries. The book Created in Japan proved beyond any doubt that Japanese firms were going to lead the world in innovation and capture global markets: the so-called Pacific Century was upon us, and Japan, Inc. was going to steer her course.

The Japanese had MNCs to rival those of America. It had the most developed global trading networks. It had a rich portfolio of patents. It had staunch government backing. Fast-forward two decades, and we're hearing the same message, but this time it's China that will steer the course of the Pacific Century. Yet, the arguments were far more compelling 20 years ago; after all, China has none of the above. History, however, took Japan (and the world) on a different course."

Wow, that was within my lifetime too. I remember as a kid thinking how the Japanese would own all of New York, if we didn't have a war with the U.S.S.R. first (thanks a lot, Red Dawn, for putting ideas like that in my head.

Libertarian Hack - This one's for you. - Writers - Peter King's MMQB: When handicapping the playoff races, watch teams that can run and pass - Monday November 15, 2004 12:44PM:
"New York Jets (6-3). If I were Herman Edwards, I would not be listening to WFAN around 1:05 this afternoon. That's when the Dog, Chris Russo, will spend the next five hours screaming about how horrible the Jets are at clock management. And boy, will he be right."

Libertarian Hack is a Jets fan, and after I got done watching the Steelers tear the Browns up yesterday, I was drawn into the closing minutes of Jets/Ravens. I'm not a Jets fan, but I like Curtis Martin, as a Pittsburgh guy and Pitt, I hate the Ravens - can't stand 'em one bit. Anyhow, with 8 seconds and 1 TO left, one of the best RBs in the NFL, and a highly mobile QB in Quincy Carter - the Jets were within 10 of the end-zone.

If I'm the coach, I lineup for one more shot at the end-zone and use my timeout if I don't get in to setup the fieldgoal and the tie. What happens?

They let the play clock run down, burn the timeout to avoid the delay of game penalty, immediately kick the fieldgoal, and lose in overtime.

How dumb! - Some worry evolution dispute hurts image - Nov 12, 2004

"Doughnut shop worker Maria Jordan, 48, said her Atlanta customers were shaking their heads over the latest dispute. 'Lord, don't we have more important things to worry about?' she asked. 'It's just a flat-out embarrassment.'"

Yeah, it's pretty embarrassing, but it also reflects another problem - the "stove-piping" of public education in America.

Get this straight...creationism is philosophy, evolution is science.
They are different attempts, stemming from different disciplines, for man to explain himself in the universe.

Why don't we teach the history of science and influence of philosophy in scientific advancement?
Why don't we stress the role of religion in history more?

Of course, this would drive parents nuts, to hear about how the inquisition broke Gallileo for his subversive scientific thought.

Creationism is a valuable and important contribution to the philosophical efforts of man trying to explain his origins, but if you can't take the bad with the good, stay out of the debate.