Yesterday at Heathrow Airport in London, after making a connecting flight that would take us home to Boston, we sat at the gate for about 25-30 extra minutes. With my three young children and Gwendolyn on board and with a long flight ahead of us I certainly would have preferred to leave on time. At some point my newly-turned 3 year old might decide to act like, well, a 3 year old, and the longer she was required to maintain her behavior the more likely that decompensation would be.
And then we heard the announcement, the explanation for the delay. It seems a passenger had checked a bag on to the flight, but had not boarded the plane. The baggage container in the hold of the British Airways 777 had to be explored, and the bag identified and retrieved, then the container replaced. This delay was more than welcome, given the circumstances. I was very pleased to see that British Airways was not willing to fly with an unaccompanied bag in the hold. I know this is now standard procedure, but it was the first time I'd experienced it in action. I found the rest of their security procedures quite well executed also.
As a result, I'm quite comfortable flying British Airways.
Turkey, since the dramatic reforms of Kemal Ataturk, at the conclusion of the first world war and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, has been as close to a western democracy as any predominantly Muslim state. In particular, legal reforms eliminated the religious influence of Islamic law.
Between 1926 and 1930, the Turkish Republic achieved a legal transformation which might have required decades in most other countries. Religious laws were abolished, and a secular system of jurisprudence introduced. The concepts, the texts and contexts of the laws were made harmonious with the progressive thrust of Atatürk's Turkey. " The nation", Atatürk said, " has placed its faith in the precept that all laws should be inspired by actual needs here on earth as a basic fact of national life."
Among the far-reaching changes were the new Civil Code, Penal Code, and Business Law, based on the Swiss, Italian and German models respectively.
The social reforms outlawed wearing of the fez for men and the headscarf for women.
In his program of modernization, secular government and education played a major role. Making religious faith a matter of individual conscience, he created a truly secular system in Turkey, where the vast Moslem majority and the small Christian and Jewish minorities are free to practice their faith. As a result of Atatürk's reforms, Turkey -unlike scores of other countries- has fully secular institutions.
The leader of modern Turkey aspired to freedom and equality for all. When he proclaimed the Republic, he announced that " the new Turkish State is a state of the people and a state by the people." Having established a populist and egalitarian system, he later observed: "We are a nation without classes or special privileges." He also stressed the paramount importance of the peasants, who had long been neglected in the Ottoman times: " The true owner and master of Turkey is the peasant who is the real producer."
Seems Ataturk was a student of American History. The rise of Islamic Fundamentalism, in particular, the move to have Muslim nations ruled by Islamic law, however, has been threatening Turkey. Recently the people have been rising against that trend, and the Turkish military has taken an interest as well.
ISTANBUL, Turkey - At least 300,000 Turks waving the red national flag flooded central Istanbul on Sunday to demand the resignation of the government, saying the Islamic roots of Turkey's leaders threatened to destroy the country's modern foundations.
Like the protesters — who gathered for the second large anti-government demonstration in two weeks — Turkey's powerful secular military has accused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of tolerating radical Islamic circles.
"They want to drag Turkey to the dark ages," said 63-year-old Ahmet Yurdakul, a retired government employee who attended the protest.
More than 300,000 people took part in a similar rally in Ankara two weeks ago.
And if the government doesn't heed the people?
The military said Friday night that it was gravely concerned and indicated it was willing to become more openly involved in the process — a statement some interpreted as an ultimatum to the government to rein in officials who promote Islamic initiatives.
The military, one of the most respected institutions in Turkey, regards itself as the guardian of the secular system and has staged three coups since 1960.
Do small allowances like headscarves mean that full Sharia law is just around the corner in Turkey? Let's call it a "camel's nose in the tent" situation a la creeping socialism. My dad, an immigrant from Turkey in the 1950's, would applaud this resistance to Islamification. He was justifiably proud of the westernization of Turkey by Ataturk, and believed firmly that Turkey would never be dragged back "to the dark ages." Even if the people start to drift in that direction, it seems the military will stand athwart such regression. This is a model for the hoped-for democratic transformation in Iraq (albeit with much more violent resistance). To ultimately accomplish it will definitely, and quite obviously, take a substantial Iraqi military willing to stand behind the transformation, and enforce it if necessary, and may also take a leader with the strength and charisma of a Kemal Ataturk.
Posting, that is. I've been traveling with my family, visiting London and Paris, and we'll be leaving later this morning on our return journey. My youngest, now 3, celebrated her birthday in Paris. I think the splendor of the Chateau de Versailles was lost on her, however. On the downside, the weakness of the dollar against the British pound and the Euro was shockingly evident.
I plan to post some of the photographs periodically once home. Of course, I'll also be resuming commentary on the usual topics. Some of the things that took place in my absence were fairly remarkable, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's admission that he'd only believe General Petraeus if he said what Sen. Reid already believes. There was the vote for a timeline that the Iraqi government doesn't want on a bill that is sure to be vetoed. There was Sen. Reid's statement that the war was already 'lost', nearly instantaneously used as enemy propaganda. There was the classified briefing by General Petraeus which was characterized completely differently by Democrats and Republicans present immediately following the meeting. That classified briefing transcript is something that needs to be leaked. It would be useful, certainly, to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who declined to attend.
In the overseas press I witnessed thoroughly biased journalism by the BBC and CNN international, particularly about the subpoena of Sec. of State Rice, during which the CNN lead in actually used the word 'bought' instead of 'sought', then during the more detailed report they reverted to 'sought' much further in than most would be paying attention. The BBC anchor a couple of days ago badgered the witness during an interview with former UN ambassador John Bolton after the congressional vote, then softballed the Democratic congressman who appeared second. The International Herald Tribune had an article about the unseasonably warm European weather, which the meteorologists interviewed attributed to weather patterns, but which the writers attributed to global warming. Of course, it's been unseasonably cold and rainy this April near my home, also due to global warming. I'll add some of the relevant links later if possible; it's not possible now.
As you can see, I haven't been completely out of touch, just absent from the blog. That should change soon. Bonjour, mes amis. Au revoir, Paris.
Round One goes ever so slightly to the Boston Red Sox, 7-6 winners over the Yankees in Fenway Park last night.
The offense came for the Yankees from the place it's come so far this young season, from Alex Rodriguez, who is as locked in as you can be right now. For the Sox it did not come from the usual suspects, with Jason Varitek and Covelli Crisp delivering big hits. The GW hit was off the bat of reserve Alex Cora, flaring a single over a drawn-in infield in the eighth inning.
Round Two tonight, seventeen more to follow.
Not that I'm a seven-post-a-day guy or anything, but we've got New Hampshire school vacation week, and posting will be really light, perhaps even non-existent. I hope to have some great photos when I return. Until then, however, enjoy the 'Friends of Giacomo' blogroll or explore the archives. There's lots to read.
That would be DJ Drummond's piece this morning over at Wizbang, on the role of the media in the Va Tech killings, the killer himself, and what makes one worthy of this life we lead.
This particular monster wanted attention. He sent out photos, a "manifesto", a video comparing himself to every person he ever considered great, though he was - at best - a pathetic failure who wasn't man enough to accomplish anything more than to blame everyone and everything else for his failures. He is not worth remembering.
A man, a real man anyway, is the sum of the good he does, and he establishes his name through honorable and virtuous acts. Heaven is by the grace of God, but a man's honor and name is something he can build and know might have a chance of surviving him. Like Dr. Liviu Librescu, or Jacob Russell Ryker. Maybe like Todd Beamer or Paul Ray Smith.
Read the whole thing. Please.
And you can add Jay Tea, who writes on the constant urge some have to give up more rights and freedoms and rely on the government when something bad happens.
But we do not wish to be burdened with the responsibility of caring for ourselves, so we call upon the government to make certain we make the right choices, and accept whatever punishment, fine, or sanction they see fit if we put ourselves at risk.
In the name of our own safety, our own security, and our own peace of mind, we, the undersigned, do hereby pledge our lives, our fortunes, our liberty, our judgment, and our own common sense.
Read that whole thing, too.
Being "a danger to himself or others" should have been enough to prevent the Virgina Tech killer from purchasing weapons ... but only if all of the links in the communication chain function properly. Cho Seung-Hui was deemed such by mental health professionals in 2005, after being investigated for stalking two women. But a failure to communicate fully kept that information from the background check that was performed when he went to make his purchases. Here's where it gets a bit sticky.
McLEAN, Va. - A judge's ruling on Cho Seung-Hui's mental health should have barred him from purchasing the handguns he used in the Virginia Tech massacre, according to federal regulations. But it was unclear Thursday whether anybody had an obligation to inform federal authorities about Cho's mental status because of loopholes in the law that governs background checks.
Well yes, and no. I wouldn't exactly call them "loopholes." According to Virginia officials that judge needed to commit Cho to inpatient treatment, but instead sent him for (non-compulsory) outpatient management.
The 23-year-old South Korean immigrant was evaluated by a psychiatric hospital after he was accused of stalking two women and photographing female students in class with his cell phone. His violence-filled writings were so disturbing that professors begged him to get counseling.
The language of the ruling by Special Justice Paul M. Barnett almost identically tracks federal regulations from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Those rules bar the sale of guns to individuals who have been "adjudicated mentally defective."
The definition outlined in the regulations is "a determination by a court ... or other lawful authority that a person as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness ... is a danger to himself or to others."
Virginia State Police send information on prohibited buyers to the federal government. They maintain that the sale was legal under state law and would have been barred only if the justice had committed Cho to a psychiatric hospital. Barnett ordered outpatient treatment instead.
You see, the individual in question is not at the mercy of the professional who evaluated him. The justice system steps in and can alter the assessment and recommended management in small and seemingly insignificant ways. Should he have been barred from the purchases simply by the assessment of the mental health professional, or does it depend on the judge's ruling for inpatient treatment? The state of Virginia and the BATF will need to figure that out, as clearly there's some confusion.
Another film worth a look, in two parts, via Power Line (thanks). Part One:
Spend the 47 minutes to have a look. Fred Barnes quotes Mr. Hayward here:
It's important to note than Hayward, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is not a global warming denier. "Much of what Vice President Gore says about climate change is correct," Hayward says in the film. "The planet is warming. Human beings are playing a substantial role in that warming." Beyond that, however, he disagrees sharply with Gore.
"The problem with Vice President Gore and other global warming extremists is that they distort the science, grossly exaggerate the risks, argue that anyone who disagrees with them is corrupt, and suggest that solutions are easy and cheap," Hayward says. "And that's an all too convenient fiction."
I think I'd rephrase the first paragraph slightly, particularly given some of the things he discusses in the film. "The planet seems to be warming. Human beings may be playing a substantial role in that warming, but there are too many unknowns currently to be definitive."
I'm having a tough time doing a serious blog post tonight, so I've been reading other blogs and news, and channel surfing. I got into the CineMax movie channels, looking for a film worth watching. Hmm, let's see.
Nope. After the events in Blacksburg it's enough to make you want to watch Bill Maher. No, not really.
Where's Emily Litella when you need her?
Warning: click 'pause' when Emily's done, otherwise it'll keep playing.
I've lived and worked in Essex County in the northeast corner of Massachusetts since moving here 14 years ago. Until last year I hadn't seen anything like this.
But here we are, 1 year later, and it's deja vu all over again. A view of the same parking lot/strip mall from today:
A little less water, but still impressive.
I wasn't able to get close to the Friendly's last year, but it was under water then also. The next shot is from the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune showing the same restaurant a little closer up.
Lawrence: A Friendly's employee carries food and supplies out of the restaurant during a rainstorm that caused flooding around the building. A line of employees trudged through the water saving everything from ice cream to napkins and loaded it all into a refrigerated truck. Photo by Angie Beaulieu
I suspect they won't bother rebuilding this time.
Bob Geldof, leader of the Boomtown Rats, with 1979's British Pop and Rock 'Song of the Year".
The silicon chip inside her head
Gets switched to overload.
And nobody's gonna go to school today,
She's going to make them stay at home.
And daddy doesn't understand it,
He always said she was good as gold.
And he can see no reasons
'Cause there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be shown?
Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
I want to shoot
The whole day down.
From "The History of the Boomtown Rats:"
While in Atlanta during the tour, one radio station's wire service ticked out the story of Brenda Spencer, the troubled schoolgirl whose wild shooting spree in San Diego made front-page news. She explained herself simply: "I don't like Mondays” Geldof composed the song on the spot, originally as a reggae. Back in Los Angeles after the tour, a studio demo was recorded with grand piano and vocals.
... of important current stories. When a psychopathic killer goes on a spree in this country, it's certainly understandable. I spotted this story in the OR copy of the Boston Globe today, and found it interesting.
BAGHDAD -- In the first major shake-up of Iraq's fragile coalition government, six ministers loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr pulled out of the Cabinet on yesterday over Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's refusal to set a timetable for an American troop withdrawal from Iraq.
The action frees Maliki to pick qualified people to fill ministries that are widely seen as ineffective, corrupt, and sectarian. Yet it could also deepen tensions with Sadr within the government and on the streets, which could thwart US and Iraqi efforts to bring about political reconciliation and stability, Iraqi officials and analysts said.
The story is a little confusing in one part.
At the Iraqi parliament, where a suicide bomber detonated explosives last Thursday killing one person and injuring 22, senior Sadr legislators yesterday framed the departures in nationalistic terms. They said they wanted Maliki to replace Sadr loyalists in the Cabinet with "independent technocrats" who would not place sect, tribe, or religion over the best interests of Iraqis. Then, they urged other political parties to follow their example.
Seems to go against the first two paragraphs. In any event, It now seems that al-Maliki will be bringing together a cabinet that is much more likely to be interested in working for peace, including working with the Americans. In addition, it's interesting that al-Maliki refuses to set a timeatable for and American troop withdrawal. Do the Democrats know this?
I disagree with the analysts here. This should be a plus, further marginalizing al-Sadr and making his followers much more clearly to everyone involved a negative influence.
A shooting at Virginia Tech. The death toll 30 minutes ago was 22. Now they're reporting 30.
BLACKSBURG, Va. - A gunman opened fire in a Virginia Tech dorm and then, two hours later, in a classroom across campus Monday, killing at least 30 people in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history, government officials told The Associated Press. The gunman was killed, bringing the death toll to 31.
"Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions," said Virginia Tech president Charles Steger. "The university is shocked and indeed horrified."
It was not immediately clear whether the gunman was shot by police or took his own life. His name was not released, investigators offered no motive for the attack. It was not known if the gunman was a student.
Let's leave the police second guessing/gun control/terrorist/"friends should have known" comments aside until we actually know some facts. My heart goes out to all of those families that have lost sons and daughters today. These kids didn't deserve this, and they and the Virgina Tech community don't deserve to be made into a political football ever, let alone with warm blood still on the ground.
No life should be taken so senselessly, let alone lives so young and full of hope and promise.
4/17/07 0820: Exactly.
This atrocity was the responsibility of one individual, one person who decided -- for whatever reason -- that this life was no longer tolerable and chose to leave it, and -- damn him to hell -- to take over 30 others with him.
This deed was not committed by a weapon, a political movement, or some failing of society. It was not carried out by a video game, a rap song, or pornography. This was, ultimately, the fault of exactly one man -- and we can't punish him for it, as he has already chosen to enact the ultimate sanction upon himself.
There will be a time to look at how to prevent such a bloodbath in the future. And both sides have their points. Yes, it's true that if there were no guns there'd be no shootings. And if I had the ability to spit $100 bills I'd be wealthier than Warren Buffet. And yes, if there was a concealed carry firearm in one of the classrooms the death toll could have been dramatically diminished. But even if the law had said there could be, what if there wasn't? And yes, if all mentally unstable people were able to be identified conclusively before the fact we could also stop these things from happening. How many misidentified stable individuals mistakenly labeled would that take?
Let's hold off on the recriminations and finger-pointing for a little while, okay?
Yeah, I know the return date this year is April 16, but April 15 is traditionally the date. It just happens to fall on a Sunday this year. Stephen Moore, formerly of the Club For Growth and now the Wall Street Journal's senior economics writer had an article on the tax code in Friday's Journal that's worth reading as you pore over your 1040. Unfortunately it's subscription only, but I've taken the liberty of excerpting broadly (but not too).
In 2005 an astonishing six out of every 10 taxpayers needed the help of a trained professional to complete their returns. Tax preparation is now one of America's fastest growth industries. A Cato Institute study finds that 1.2 million workers are employed as tax accountants, lawyers, and H&R Block employees. Even so, to make sense of their taxes American workers and businesses devote 6.4 billion hours a year, about 45 hours per return. There are now 16 separate tax breaks for college education and several dozen for energy conservation, including write-offs for such things as purchasing electricity-saving refrigerators. About two-thirds of Americans say they can't figure out basic IRS regulations or the tax laws on the sale of a home.
It's a great system, isn't it. 6.4 billion hours. Productivity loss, anyone? Drain on the economy?
In the beginning the return was indeed simple, resembling the postcard flat tax that Steve Forbes and Dick Armey have advocated in recent years. The original 1040 form in 1914 was so compact, the New York Times printed it on the front page. There were a grand total of four instruction forms. Now there are 4,000.
Tax rates were modest too, ranging from 1% to 7%, with most income under the equivalent of a half-million dollars today exempt. The opponents of the income tax urged that, at least, there should be a provision to the 16th amendment capping the tax rate at no more than 10%. Advocates claimed this was unnecessary because the tax rate would never exceed 10%. By 1918, when the government wanted money to fight World War I, the rate was 70%.
"Advocates claimed this was unnecessary because the tax rate would never exceed 10%." Ahem.
The original IRS enforcement office had 4,000 employees. Now the IRS has 100,000 tax agents, more employees than the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Food and Drug Administration combined. Yet Congressional Democrats want to hire thousands more tax agents to audit more Americans and close the $300 billion "tax gap." Before hiring more tax snoops, we might want to heed the warning of historian Charles Adams, who notes in his book "For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization": "From the earliest records of civilization, tax laws have taken away liberty more often than foreign invaders."
And finally, from the NY Times, circa 1909. Yes, the same NY Times, different era.
We should have listened to the advice rendered by the New York Times, which while editorializing against the income tax in 1909 warned: "When men get in the habit of helping themselves to the property of others, they cannot be easily cured of it."
I'm fairly safe in saying that 98 years later the Times has changed its mind. Remember that, and think back to the comments of Hillary Clinton on taxes:
"Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you," Sen. Clinton said. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
...and on Social Security:
"We can’t afford to have that money go to the private sector. The money has to go to the federal government because the federal government will spend that money better than the private sector will spend it."
-- First Lady Hillary Clinton in a disagreement with a Republican congressman
That's a cold slap in the face as you sign that 1040 and send in your check.
I know what my problem is. It's that there isn't anybody, or any group of people, that I really "hate." (Well, other than terrorists trying to kill me, the people I love, and other innocent people for absolutely insane reasons.) There are groups so clueless that I feel sorry for them, and other groups whose aims are so counter to what I believe that I despise those aims, and hope they fail, (like Yankee fans, for example - kidding!) but that's as close as I can get to "hate." I'd have never been able to generate the required face redness and raise my voice and blood pressure properly toward Emmanuel Goldstein, for example, during the Two Minutes of Hate in Orwell's 1984.
So I've kept my little underexposed corner of the blogosphere civil, kind of the way I'd hope that political and current affairs discussions should be between people who respect each other. I've had a few trolls leave comments that didn't belong or were unnecessarily contentions or vile, and I've deleted them. I've had to ban a couple, but nothing too severe. If, after reading my posts you don't know what's expected of you then "Don't come around here no more."
As I lamented yesterday civility, unfortunately, seems to be going out of style rapidly. And now a couple of guys have decided that what we really need is a blogosphere code of ethics. These gents have come up with a plan to enforce civility in the blogosphere, and you too can have a badge to mark your level of honor. The New York Times discusses their proposal.
Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Wales talk about creating several sets of guidelines for conduct and seals of approval represented by logos. For example, anonymous writing might be acceptable in one set; in another, it would be discouraged. Under a third set of guidelines, bloggers would pledge to get a second source for any gossip or breaking news they write about.
Bloggers could then pick a set of principles and post the corresponding badge on their page, to indicate to readers what kind of behavior and dialogue they will engage in and tolerate. The whole system would be voluntary, relying on the community to police itself.
“If it’s a carefully constructed set of principles, it could carry a lot of weight even if not everyone agrees,” Mr. Wales said.
Mr. Wales and Mr. O’Reilly were inspired to act after a firestorm erupted late last month in the insular community of dedicated technology bloggers. In an online shouting match that was widely reported, Kathy Sierra, a high-tech book author from Boulder County, Colo., and a friend of Mr. O’Reilly, reported getting death threats that stemmed in part from a dispute over whether it was acceptable to delete the impolitic comments left by visitors to someone’s personal Web site.
But the question has to be asked, where do these guys get off thinking that they should be able to impose a code of conduct on the internet? And whether it's "acceptable" to delete comments? It's my blog, I paid for it, I'll delete them if I want. Big Brother, indeed. FIAR at Radioactive Liberty addressed this "plan" soundly, and in a less polite way than I would - but that's his right.
how do you make a moron understand that freedom of speech means they have a right to a forum, but not that they have a right to my forum? They’re already too stupid to grasp the notion that I have every right to scoop up the dog s**t they leave on my lawn. How is a “Code of ethics” going to stop their light speed, full throttle stupidity?
The Brad Stone article goes on to describe several bloggers who have been on the receiving end of death threats and other sorts of illegal activities. An attempt is made to deliberately conflate illegal activity with undesirable behavior. This is a common tactic of Socialists.
It reminds me of the Leftist Sow that wanted to outlaw spanking, and kept saying how wrong it is to beat an infant, as if spanking an unruly child, and violently beating a newborn baby are in any way similar. Socialist Swine always take an already illegal activity, and equate it with a legal but undesirable one. It’s an underhanded tactic to get reasonable people to agree that something must be done, but it isn’t the criminal behavior that’s the target.
At The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler is another splendid response. I can't do justice to this eviscerating fisking, you'll have to check it out yourself. Both FIAR and Emperor Misha at those two sites pick out the following for particular ridicule.
Mr. O’Reilly said the guidelines were not about censorship. “That is one of the mistakes a lot of people make — believing that uncensored speech is the most free, when in fact, managed civil dialogue is actually the freer speech,” he said. “Free speech is enhanced by civility.”
"Managed civil dialogue is actually the freer speech?" Daniel Henniger in the Wall Street Journal today tries to put some lipstick on it.
The censorship claim is often made by political Web players who want to be "free" to use whatever means will achieve the end of driving their opponents over the cliff. Consider the Congressional Black Caucus. Its affiliation with Fox News to conduct presidential debates was fire-bombed recently on "progressive" Web sites. Example: "Guess it takes a whole lot of grease to fry CBC's chicken." Scared, the three major Democratic presidential candidates pulled out. Censorship? Try doublespeak. The strategy of deploying charged and hyper-aggressive language is now evident: First intimidate one's targets, then coerce them--into conformity or silence. And do it always under the banner of free speech and democracy.
I don't think those candidates were scared, other than being scared of losing support from the vaunted "Netroots." Still, rather than enforce a code of conduct, why don't we just require all bloggers read this book, and this one, before being allowed to run a blog. Come to think of it, there are quite a few others who might find the information useful.
As constituents and public officials wished Gov. Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey a full recovery from his injuries in a car accident, many were shaking their heads that someone who is so smart, and has so much to lose, would put himself at risk by apparently not wearing a seat belt.
Such was the surprise that the issue became an instant corollary to the main news that Mr. Corzine had been so seriously injured, with multiple broken bones, that he needs help breathing from a ventilator and faces months of rehabilitation.
In interviews and on the Web, people in New Jersey and from around the country expressed incredulity over the state police superintendent’s statement that the governor routinely refused to wear a seat belt. Some accused the Democratic governor of hypocrisy, even arrogance. A few called for his resignation.
Many said that if it turns out that Mr. Corzine was not wearing a seat belt when the crash occurred, he should receive a citation for violating the state’s mandatory seat belt law. The fines are $20 and court costs are $26 per violation. Others wondered why the state trooper driving the car did not insist that he wear one.
New Jersey’s Seat Belt Law applies to drivers, all passengers between 8 and 18, and all front-seat passengers. The law makes the driver responsible for proper seat belt use only by those younger than 18.
Massachusetts passed it's own seatbelt law a while ago, and was only able to do so when the legislature insisted that they'd only use the law in secondary citation. They changed it recently to a primary citation law. New Hampshire is the only state with no seat belt law, but one is being considered. New Hampshire also doesn't have a helmet law for motorcycles.
As an orthopaedic surgeon I'd like to see everyone buckle up, and particularly all kids buckled in properly installed car seats/boosters as needed.
The safety belt is the most effective safety device available to every motorist because it prevents the 'second collision' - the collision of the occupant with the inside of the vehicle. The National Highway Safety Administration estimates that manual lap-shoulder belts reduce the risk of serious injury to the head, chest and extremities by 50 percent to 83 percent3.
Medical costs for unrestrained occupants are three times higher than for persons wearing safety belts. To be effective, the safety belt must be buckled around the person. There have been no reported medical reasons not to use safety belts. The risk of injury for pregnant women and for motorists with arthritis, osteoporosis, stiff joints and many other medical conditions is greater if safety belts are not used. While it is true that a few injuries have been attributed to seat belt use, a review of the statistics makes it clear that the risk of injury from wearing safety belts is far less than the benefits of using them.
I'll admit to being a little torn, though. The libertarian in me wants to believe that the government should not have the right to punish you for being stupid. People do a lot of dumb things. Like, oh, say, smoking, which is legal. Drinking is legal but drinking and driving is not. Why? Not because you might hurt yourself, but because you might hurt someone else.
Some people are wondering why a man as smart and informed as the Governor refused to buckle up. My dad, considered by many a brilliant man, always refused to use a seat belt, even though he lived in Connecticut, a primary seat belt law state. I was never really quite sure why, but it was I believe a combination of resistance and fatalism. He didn't want the government telling him what to do, and if he was in a horrible crash he'd have preferred it to be fatal.
Some of the state usage rates in a recent '06 NHTSA report (pdf) are interesting. The general trend of use is upward in all states, even those where the law is secondary citation. For example, Nevada had use of 75% in 2001, 94% in 2006. Idaho went from 58% in 2000 to 80% in 2006. I'd say if you're going to pass the law then you'd better do some public education. I'd like to believe that an educated populace will protect themselves, and not require the long arm of the law reaching into their vehicles to click the buckle.
The Duke "Rape" case is over. The Attorney General for North Carolina, Roy Cooper, will be on '60 Minutes' Sunday night discussing the collapse of this house of cards. And yet, some people still are hanging on to the identity politics of the situation - privileged, white boys
raping doing something terrible to oppressing hiring underprivileged black girl. Witness Terry Moran of ABC News, who writes on his blog that you shouldn't "feel too sorry for the Dukies."
Mike Nifong, the North Carolina prosecutor who pursued a case of rape and kidnapping against three Duke University lacrosse players, has been found to have been reckless and deceitful in the discharge of his duties according to the state's attorney general. He abused the power the people of Durham granted him. Based on the public record of what he did in this case, he may well be properly disbarred.
The accuser in this case has been shown to be either a vicious liar or a troubled fantasist.
The three young men who she accused are truly innocent of the charges brought against them according to the North Carolina Attorney General and the investigation led by his office.
Ditto. All of the above quite accurately gives the status of the case at this time. Unfortunately Mr. Moran can't tear himself away from the identity politics through which most of the media, and certainly the 88 Duke faculty members, saw the case.
But perhaps the outpouring of sympathy for Reade Seligman, Collin Finnerty and David Evans is just a bit misplaced. They got special treatment in the justice system--both negative and positive. The conduct of the lacrosse team of which they were members was not admirable on the night of the incident, to say the least. And there are so many other victims of prosecutorial misconduct in this country who never get the high-priced legal representation and the high-profile, high-minded vindication that it strikes me as just a bit unseemly to heap praise and sympathy on these particular men.
Because many others have this happen it's inappropriate to sympathize with these three? Why? As I discussed with my friend's wife last summer, no one said that the lacrosse team members, Finnerty, Seligman and Evans included, were choir boys. But they were completely innocent of the charges, which was really the only important point. Despite that inescapable conclusion Mr. Moran has decided that he needs to make them as guilty as they can possibly be while still being innocent. For example.
They were part of a team that collected $800 to purchase the time of two strippers.
And this relates to being charged with sexual assault how?
Their team specifically requested at least one white stripper.
Those racists! And this relates to being charged with sexual assault how?
During the incident, racial epithets were hurled at the strippers.
I heard that too, but I haven't been able to confirm it. And this relates to being charged with sexual assault how?
Colin Finnerty was charged with assault in Washington, DC, in 2005.
And this relates to being charged with sexual assault (in Durham) how?
The young men were able to retain a battery of top-flight attorneys, investigators and media strategists.
To fight off false charges. Let me say that again. To fight off false charges, ones that could ruin them. Yes, they were fortunate to have access to resources, but they're still a couple million short on their attorney fees, all needed to fight off a frame up.
And now Mr. Moran slaps on the identity politics colored glasses and holds the Duke laxmen guilty of a serious liberal media crime - being white with money.
As students of Duke University or other elite institutions, these young men will get on with their privileged lives. There is a very large cushion under them--the one that softens the blows of life for most of those who go to Duke or similar places, and have connections through family, friends and school to all kinds of prospects for success. They are very differently situated in life from, say, the young women of the Rutgers University women's basketball team.
It's because it was Duke, isn't it? Ah, but there are lots of cases of prosecutorial misconduct, and this one got all the attention solely because the unfair treatment was to rich white guys, or so Mr. Moran thinks.
The media covers few, if any, of these cases. Most of the victims in these cases are poor or minority Americans--or both. I would hate to say (ed: no you wouldn't) the color of their skin is one reason journalists do not focus on these victims of injustices perpetrated by police and prosecutors, but I am afraid if we ask ourselves the question honestly, we would likely find that it is.
No, Mr. Moran, the reason the media covered this one with such attention was because the media covered - inaccurately - the accusation and the filing of charges with such attention, as if they themselves were proof, and because so many race baiters quite conspicuously and publicly jumped aboard a ship that would eventually sink spectacularly. If you'd like those other cases of prosecutorial misconduct to get similar attention, then give them the same media frenzy when the arrest is made and the charges filed. I'll be happy to write about those other cases if the big media will feature them prominently from moment one and be so quick to assign guilt, like they were in this one.
4/14/07 1255: To witness one of those race-baiters in action, with not only identity politics-colored glasses on but also blinders, check out the exchange between Michelle Malkin, guest hosting for Bill O'Reilly and Malik Shabazz of the New Black Panther party. Pretty nice. To lapse so readily out of civil discourse, on TV no less, because you find yourself defenseless in a battle of wits is pathetic. Here's Ms. Malkin's post on the episode.
Frankly, I could care less about Imus, who now will no longer be on MSNBC. It matters not to me whether an overpaid pseudo-intellectual radio personality with a penchant for vitriol and politician schmoozing keeps his job or not. Would I fire him? Probably, but I would have done so immediately, before a race-based chorus had screamed in my face for a week. Either way, I'm not terribly concerned with his fate.
I am concerned, however with lowering of standards of behavior. This is one of the great crimes of our culture today, the discourteousness and bad language that seems almost standard in interpersonal interactions. Think about the contacts you have with people in the sphere of your life everyday. The jerk on the highway who races up in the left lane at high speed, cuts you off, and then exits a quarter mile ahead. The moron who not-so-sheepishly edges his way in front of you in a line, all the while looking at the ceiling to avoid making guilt-inducing eye contact. The blowhard at the ballpark who spouts profanity throughout the game in front of your children, then flips you off when you politely ask him to keep it down. The cad carrying on the loud and occasionally profane conversation on a cellphone at the next table of the diner. The parents who go to bat for their bratty first-grader who won't listen to or respect the teacher. It's all about "me," and if what "I" want to say and do bothers you, well, tough. You'd better accept it, no matter what it involves.
It wasn't always that way, of course. There was a time when the phrase "polite society" really meant something. And now Imus has stepped into the breach with his own brand of uncouth and derogatory commentary. That the black community uses that same language, and even celebrates it in rap music, is another side of the problem. And yes, it is a problem. But it's a bigger problem for those who would excuse that language simply because of a cultural connection. It's inappropriate, coarse, and vile no matter who says it, and no matter the circumstances. Period.
Which brings us to the lower standards club, those who would take offense that the use of that language in rap was noticed, and mentioned, in stories about Imus. Witness Atrios:
This morning on CNN Howard Kurtz pulled the "what about the rappers! that's where the word ho comes from!" stunt. What this has to do with Don Imus calling the Rutgers Women's Basketball team whores for no apparent reason other than the crime of being mostly black I do not know. In any case, we're seeing a pretty quick creep of this collective responsibility thing. Because many of the women are black, and rap is a black thing, and some rappers use the word "ho," it's absurd to focus on Don Imus calling these women a bunch of whores without pointing out that other people have used the word ho in other contexts. Or something. I really can't follow the logic.
Then there is the group that focus on the achievements of the girls, these great basketball players. And, yes, they were superb in the NCAA tournament, and should rightly be proud of every moment. It demeans these achievers to insult these student-athletes with racist insults like Imus did. But isn't it even more damaging to those who haven't achieved, those who need the hand up even more? After all, they don't even have a deserved sense of self esteem and worth to fall back on.
The answer is that it's inappropriate for both, because both uses debase human beings who deserve the respect and human dignity that should be accorded to all. Those pointing out that such language is present in rap are not doing so to excuse Imus, or to deflect attention from his statements, but to condemn all uses of it. Imus was wrong, and so are they. Why should the bar be lower? Where do you think Imus got the phrase from in the first place? People will reach whatever lowest level of acceptable behavior you set for them, and it's curious that those who would champion minority achievement are unwilling to hold them to reasonable standards of civil society. It's not that the rappers can't produce the lyrics they do, it's that they shouldn't.
A slur aimed at specific people is obviously different than a generic slur in a rap song, but it's not that different. If one is offensive, so is the other, and it's hard to argue that the cesspool of misogyny in contemporary rap has no effect on the wider culture. It's not that this excuses what Imus did. It's just the opposite. If we're justifiably outraged by what Imus said, shouldn't we be just as outraged with anybody else who says the same thing, regardless of their skin color?
Indeed. Oh, I'm not black, how can I know what they've been through, the racism and hatred they've faced? Hey, "bitch" and "ho" are either derogatory misogynistic epithets inappropriate in civil society, or they're not. You choose. Personally I'd like to see us edging back toward "polite society" as a meaningful phrase.
The Duke Lacrosse Case has blown up, with all charges to be dropped, ABC News is reporting.
April 10, 2007 — The office of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper will announce that he is dismissing all charges against three Duke Lacrosse players, ABC News has learned from sources close to the case.
The three players, Reade Seligmann, David Evans and Collin Finnerty, were facing charges of first degree kidnapping and first degree forcible sexual offense. The charges stem from an off-campus party on the night of March 13, 2006.
There may or may not be a lot more detail from the prosecutors that took over after Durham DA Mike Nifong recused himself. Suffice it to say that the questions that everyone has been raising about this case likely were the questions that couldn't be reconciled with the facts available. The multiple and shifting stories from the accuser, the faulty lineup, the absence of one of the players from the house at the time it allegedly took place, the DNA report showing DNA from five individuals but none of them the accused. Now the only thing left will be the second shoe dropping, the ethical problems of Mr. Nifong, which have yet to be adjudicated. KC Johnson at Durham-In-Wonderland has a thorough summary of the issues with Mr. Nifong's conduct (and also the gand of 88 - see below), including withholding the exculpatory DNA report from the defense.
There may or may not be a lot more detail from the prosecutors that took over after Durham DA Mike Nifong recused himself. Suffice it to say that the questions that everyone has been raising about this case likely were the questions that couldn't be reconciled with the facts available. The multiple and shifting stories from the accuser, the faulty lineup, the absence of one of the players from the house at the time it allegedly took place, the DNA report showing DNA from five individuals but none of them the accused.
Now the only thing left will be the second shoe dropping, the ethical problems of Mr. Nifong, which have yet to be adjudicated. KC Johnson at Durham-In-Wonderland has a thorough summary of the issues with Mr. Nifong's conduct (and also the gand of 88 - see below), including withholding the exculpatory DNA report from the defense.
In many ways, the disgraced DA was his own enemy: he offered no fewer than 11 separate (and often mutually contradictory) explanations for the decision to withhold the DNA.
And [The Bar overseers] correctly argued that the “Defendant’s contention that he was under no obligation to provide the information because no trial date was set necessarily implies that he was also entitled to withhold and never disclose potentially exculpatory information in any case that settled prior to trial.”
Also still to come, what happens to the gang of 88, the Duke faculty members who believed the narrative so much that they convicted the players publicly and repeatedly based simply on the accusation, without considering the facts of the case. I certainly hope none of them were law faculty.
The players, though, have to deal with the notoriety, the sense that some people, likely including the gang of 88, will have that they "got away with it," guilty but free. As former Reagan Secretary of Labor said after being acquitted of corruption charges, "Where do I go to get my reputation back."
4/11/07 1000: Charges dropped.
The result of our review and investigation shows clearly that there is insufficient evidence to proceed on any of the charges. Today we are filing notices of dismissal for all charges against Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans.
The result is that these cases are over, and no more criminal proceedings will occur.
We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations. Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.
We approached this case with the understanding that rape and sexual assault victims often have some inconsistencies in their accounts of a traumatic event. However, in this case, the inconsistencies were so significant and so contrary to the evidence that we have no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house that night.
"No credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house that night." Players livid, understandably. Angevin13 at The Oxford Medievalist points out, appropriately, something I neglected to mention, that there were more than three lives adversely affected by this farce of a prosecution.
There are, however, additional victims. The Duke lacrosse coach, who was forced to resign; the Duke lacrosse team, which had its season canceled; I'm even prepared to call the fabricating "victim" a victim of Nifong's exploitation. Sadly, there are no winners here.
He's absolutely right. The accuser here was another Nifong victim. Mr. Nifong needed to determine, well before this became a cause celebre, whether there was a shred of credibility to the charges. Get her story down to the dotted i's and crossed t's, then find out if the facts support that narrative. He probably should have waited to bring charges until the DNA evidence had returned, and dismissed the thought of doing so once the evidence was exculpatory. Doing so would have been much more fair to her than pandering to her hurt and his self-interest.
In a column over at Real Clear Politics, former NYC mayor Ed Koch analyzes the Iraq war conflict from the standpoint of our international allies and concludes that some ultimatums and timetables are necessary. While I'll agree with his analysis, I think his solutions are not the answer, as he admits surreptitiously toward the end of the column. Let's have a look and discuss things as we go.
I also believe that -- based on the information then available and the advice to the president by the CIA and its then director, George Tenet -- our 2003 invasion and liberation of Iraq was justified.
Considering that even Saddam's own generals believed Saddam had WMD, it's easy to understand why the CIA came to an erroneous conclusion. However, if we had known then what we know now about the lack of WMD in Iraq -- we should not have invaded.
That's the old "knowing what we know now" dodge that so many seem to be doing (Hillary?). The circumstances, however were that we didn't know what we know now. What we knew then was what the Iraq generals thought, that Saddam had WMD stockpiles. Given the attacks of 9/11, the antipathy of Saddam for America and the risks of those WMD falling into rogue hands the action was felt to be necessary - by 87 Senators! A more accurate way to phrase it would be "knowing what we knew then."
Notwithstanding our mistake, we are nevertheless facing in Iraq the heart of the fundamental enemy of Western civilization and moderate Muslim states -- Islamic terrorism. If the United States were supported by our allies with troops on the ground, which is the case in Afghanistan, we should stay in Iraq and endeavor to destroy the insurrectionists and terrorists and assist the Iraqi government to govern Iraq free from terrorism and jihadists.
Notwithstanding the fact that "knowing what we knew then" it wasn't a mistake, here's an admission that the the battle represents the heart of the struggle with Islamic terrorism, and an admission that fighting them in Iraq is worthwhile. Mr. Koch adds the qualifier that we should be supported by our allies with troops on the ground. Yes, but the action and the cause are justified with or without those troops. That lack of support only speaks to strategy and tactics, not justification.
Make no mistake. The terrorists and jihadists are seeking to turn Iraq into a radical Islamic state devoted to spreading terrorism, and providing sanctuary for those bent on destroying Western civilization. If they could, they would join with Iran to build what they hope would be an invincible army dominating first the Persian Gulf area starting at the Mediterranean Sea and encompassing all of central Asia. Their ultimate goal is to reestablish an Islamic Caliphate, stretching from Spain, across North Africa to the Middle East, central Asia, finally reaching Southeast Asia and Indonesia, an area that today has a population of 1 billion, 400 million Muslims, under one Islamic government and religious leader.
Amen. But shortly Mr. Koch starts to waver, bowing to the opinion of elite media that has driven the people.
If the United States, on its own, could defeat the terrorists and their goals by waging the battle now ongoing in Iraq, as President Bush believes we can, I would support that effort. But I, like most Americans, have concluded that we cannot do it alone.
I believe that unless we are joined by a significant number of our allies, regional and NATO, who would provide combat troops and share in the costs of war, we should leave Iraq.
In pursuit of such a decision, I urge the President to issue an ultimatum to our allies, both regional -- Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, the Gulf States -- and our 25 NATO allies,
So Mr. Koch doesn't think we can do it without help, and the next step is to offer an ultimatum to those who should be most inclined to help. And what would happen if they failed to step forward and we pulled out? Mr. Koch knows that the result merely strengthens the enemy and postpones the next - and likely even more bloody - battle, fought perhaps where we'd prefer not to fight it:
I have no doubt the war will continue for generations yet to come should we leave under any of these circumstances and that we will be compelled to fight that war in our homeland as the jihadists follow us across the seas to attack us here, as they already did in first attacking the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993 and again on September 11, 2001. There have been comparable attacks on Great Britain, Spain and other nations, including moderate Muslim countries, by the Islamic terrorists.
Mr. Koch drew together all the proper assessments, and drew the wrong conclusion. He admits that going into Iraq was, at the time, the right decision. He knows that Iraq is now the heart of the battle against Islamic terrorism. He knows how important it is to win this battle. He admits that failure in Iraq, specifically by withdrawal, would only delay and worsen the eventual conflict. And yet, despite those realizations, he's willing to bet that undesired outcome on hoping that the other nations affected, the allies and middle east nations that should be helping us, wil come to their senses.
If on receiving the ultimatum, our allies recognize that they risk losing the future protection of their ally, the U.S., and its armed forces, which saved them from both German and Soviet occupation and protected them for so many years, they may have an epiphany.
I'm not holding my breath.
A day late (at least), but congratulations are in order for now-second time PGA winner Zach Johnson, who played a very solid back nine, made enough birdies, including 13, 14 and 16, and held off Tiger Woods after the latter made eagle on 13. After failing to birdie 15 Woods needed a couple of birdies in the final three holes, but none were forthcoming. It was amusing to watch the leaderboard, as five or six guys had the lead at one point or another.
The list of Masters champions reads like a Who's Who of golf celebrity, with guys like Nicklaus, Palmer, Faldo, Player, Woods, Hogan, Snead and Watson all having more than one win. The list of those who have one Masters title contains some a little more obscure. Mark O'Meara, George Archer, Jack Burke and Bob Goalby were all excellent players, just not the names at the tip of the golfing public's tongue. To that list you can now add Zach Johnson. If he wants to join the likes of Woods and Player he'll need to produce again and again. By the way, the winning score of +1 (289) was the highest winning score, matched only by the aforementioned Jack Burke in 1956 and Sam Snead in 1954.
Hopefully this Letterman appearance won't use up the last of his 15 minutes.
Richard S. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology at MIT, has a brief article in Newsweek that is worth reading on the topic of global warming. It's a little disjointed in that, given the space limitations that I'm sure he had, he tried to hit a lot of points quickly, and in so doing was unable to explain them in depth.
I want to focus on the end of the article. No, not the last paragraph, the disclaimer.
Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has always been funded exclusively by the U.S. government. He receives no funding from any energy companies.
Just so you don't think that Exxon Mobil is paying him to say this. Because that is always the rejoinder when a scientist of note blows apart the "concensus" on global warming by actually writing a non-alarmist article. (Let's just note that concensus matters not nearly so much as proof.)
Bill Hobbs notes that Al Gore stands to profit from trading in "carbon offsets." Should Mr. Gore be listing that in a disclaimer at the end of his speeches? As Christopher Horner details in The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming (and Environmentalism), perhaps even more often than for the "skeptics" the global warming advocates often are either sponsored by alarmists or stand to profit by pushing the alarmist mantra. See what he had to say about Enron, for example.
All of this is nonsense. Have the debate, argue the science, and continue to observe, explore, theorize and test. There may be secondary gain, but if you can't disprove the assertions then that secondary gain is irrelevant. Demonizing the messenger through "guilt by association" says nothing, nothing at all, about the content of the message.
Moqtada al-Sadr is now calling on his followers to go after American troops. If it wasn't earlier, it is now officially time to take off the kid gloves and treat this guy and his militia as the disruptive anti-democracy Iranian sympathizing and supported subversive force that they are.
BAGHDAD - The renegade cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged the Iraqi army and police to stop cooperating with the United States and told his guerrilla fighters to concentrate on pushing American forces out of the country, according to a statement issued Sunday.
The statement, stamped with al-Sadr's official seal, was distributed in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Sunday — a day before a large demonstration there, called for by al-Sadr, to mark the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.
"You, the Iraqi army and police forces, don't walk alongside the occupiers, because they are your archenemy," the statement said. Its authenticity could not be verified.
In the statement, al-Sadr — who commands an enormous following among Iraq's majority Shiites and has close allies in the Shiite-dominated government — also encouraged his followers to attack only American forces, not fellow Iraqis.
Let's outline this for a second. The Iraqi government insists that they want us there, to help the Iraqi Army and the government until they can take care of themselves. The Iraqi Army and the CF have been working together for some time, in combined operations. This Iranian proxy is now speaking up to call for attacks on the US troops, trying to divide that working relationship. Why do you think that is? Might it have something to do with Iran's actions over the last two weeks, seizing the British sailors? Do you think that Iran might be interested in getting us out of Iraq, so that they could push their influence to create a Shiite Islamic government there?
This is transparent, and unless you want Iranian domination over Iraq (like you already have over Syria and, by extension, Lebanon) than you'd best defeat this guy and his followers. And if the Iraqi government and the Iraqi army resist? Well, that might well be a reason to consider withdrawal, but knowing that there'll be another conflict to come.
"Should every one of you come home in a flag-draped coffin, they will declare it a victory. If you are victorious they will be forever stained as the cowards who not only devalued your efforts, but could give a damn about the sure slaughter of possibly millions of Iraqis that would occur upon your evacuation."
"Wars were historically fought on battlefields. Wars were historically fought between nations in uniform. This battle, as you know, is different.
You're fighting representatives from many nations, who wear no distinguishable clothing, and shoot at you not on a battlefield, but in cities, in homes, behind women and children. If you were initially prepared to fight this kind of war the left would have called you savages.
Read the whole thing, or watch the video.
The White House's new plan for immigration reform is out, and the usual suspects are, once again, up in arms.
LOS ANGELES - Organizers expect several thousand people at an immigrant rights rally on Saturday, saying many illegal immigrants are angry about a White House plan that would grant them work visas but require them to return home and pay hefty fines to become legal U.S. residents.
Immigrant rights advocates say many of the area's illegal immigrants feel betrayed by President Bush, who they had long considered an ally.
"People are really upset," said Juan Jose Gutierrez, president of Los Angeles-based Latino Movement USA, one of several organizers of Saturday's rally. "For years, the president spoke in no uncertain terms about supporting immigration reform ... then this kind of plan comes out and people are so frustrated."
The White House's draft plan, leaked last week, calls for a new "Z" visa that would allow illegal immigrant workers to apply for three-year work permits. They would be renewable indefinitely, but would cost $3,500 each time.
To get a permit and become legal permanent residents, illegal immigrants would have to return to their home country, apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate to re-enter legally and pay a $10,000 fine.
Well, it's either worth leaving your home country to come to the USA, or it isn't. What's the cost-benefit analysis on being able to stay a legal resident in the country at, oh, say $15-20/hr in a legitimate manufacturing job vs. being forced to leave due to your illegal status to return to a land with no job for you, or perhaps one at $1.50/hr? Because that's really the choice here. You're not going to get majority support of the American people for full amnesty, which was really what the Senate bill that passed last year was, in disguise.
The plan is far more conservative than the one passed by the Senate last year with bipartisan backing and support from President Bush. That plan would have allowed many of the country's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants to stay in the United States, work and apply to become legal residents after learning English, pay small fines and back taxes and clear a background check.
Is there a high fee for the visa? Sure. Is it worth coming? I'll bet the people desperate for work here will pay it gladly. And they'll feel good about it, because they'll be welcome.
4/8/07 1330: So, you don't think the protests will convince Americans to support amnesty? Well, think again.
And when I talk to leadership, I just say there’s no trust with the American people after what happened in 1986. Nobody believes that the enforcement is going to come, so show that you’re going to have some enforcement. Show that you’re going to protect the borders, and then we’ll talk about how we take care of the rest of the issue. It’s a huge, massive, massive problem.
It's April and, this being New England we received about three inches of snow yesterday. Nonetheless, the start of The Masters, from Augusta National is the official start of the golf season for the region. I've always enjoyed watching The Masters, and it's made particularly enjoyable because the club and CBS minimize the advertising and maximize the golf. The arrival of The Masters means it's time to dig out the clubs, shine 'em up, and stock the bag. Do some stretching. Swing the weighted club. Hit the practice tee.
Last year Phil got the green jacket from Tiger.
The year before Tiger got the jacket from Phil.
Who will it be this year? Who will be hitting that intimidating tee shot on 18 through the chute of spectators, trees on the right, fairway bunker left beckoning, needing to hit the fairway to bring home the win? Odds are it'll be one of those two. Aw, heck, odds are it'll look (a little) like this. (This is actually Tiger on the 8th tee.)
4/5/07 1115: A little more Tiger, for those of you interested. From a previous Masters, a stroke of genius from off the 16th green.
How about a slo-mo of the swing with the driver? I'm pretty amazed at how still his upper body is once he's reached his full torso turn but his arms are still coiling up to parallel.
Philosophical question: If you continue to get tagged to write things about yourself that you haven't written before, how long will it be before you run out of things to write? Now, how long will it be before you run out of things that others might find interesting?
I politely decline while thanking AVI for the invite. It's just not me. Here's what I wrote last time.
So this will be the last link on this branch.
I will, however, give you five sites on the blogroll you should definitely check out. Go see what's being served at Wake Up, America, WILLisms.com, The Oxford Medievalist, American Princess, and, of course, Assistant Village Idiot. You'll be glad you did.
For what, you may ask? For writing the column I intended to write about Al Gore's passionate jihad, now coming to you as a narrow 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA (warning: pdf document) being misrepresented by advocates as deciding the issue of anthropogenic CO2-induced global warming (ACGW), such as this.
There are strong signals in the majority opinion, however, that the court would view with suspicion any finding that these emissions do not endanger public health or welfare
One of the clearest discussions of the issues involved in that case, both scientific and legal, comes from the blog of Dr. Motl. Here's a taste, but if you're interested in the topic please read the whole enchilada.
The carbon dioxide accusations are precisely the type of pseudoarguments that the Article III declares invalid because they are neither concrete or particularized nor actual or imminent. Instead, they are conjectural, hypothetical or speculative - and they can also be described as a "generalized grievance" - which are exactly the adjectives that are not allowed. Needless to say, the proposed "remedy" - namely regulation - is not "likely" to fix the alleged problem (global warming) because the Chinese and Indian companies will keep on emitting which hopefully makes it clear that EPA has to win.
The EPA, of course, didn't win, but Mr. Motl was in complete agreement on standing with Chief Justice Roberts' dissent. The actual decision, however, neither affirmed nor denied CO2 as a "pollutant," it merely directed the EPA to go back and determine if the science supported treating it as such. It's hard to fathom that a gas that humans breath out in increased concentrations with every breath, that plants thrive on for energy, and that even at 380 ppm (that's parts per million) is not at unprecedented levels, with or without warming, can be considered a pollutant. If it's a pollutant, then, it's a pollutant if and only if it results in catastrophic warming, and not because it is harmful or toxic in any direct way. So, does it?
A Swedish couple is apparently having trouble with naming their now six-month-old baby daughter. They've chosen a name frowned upon by the authorities who must register the child. Their offense? Headbanging in the first degree.
Couple Fights to Name Baby 'Metallica'
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - Metallica may be a cool name for a heavy metal band, but a Swedish couple is struggling to convince officials it is also suitable for a baby girl.
Michael and Karolina Tomaro are locked in a court battle with Swedish authorities, which rejected their application to name their six-month-old child after the legendary rock band.
"It suits her," Karolina Tomaro, 27, said Tuesday of the name. "She's decisive and she knows what she wants."
Although little Metallica has already been baptized, the Swedish National Tax Board refused to register the name, saying it was associated with both the rock group and the word "metal."
Her older sisters "Poison" and "Megadeath " are hoping the authorities will finally relent.
Is this move by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the Iraq War equivalent of Godwin's Law?
WASHINGTON - President Bush and Congress are wrestling for the upper hand in the Iraq War debate, with neither side willing to back down and a top Democrat saying for the first time he wants to yank money for combat. Bush was expected to speak Tuesday to reporters at the White House on Iraq war funding.
The president's remarks come one day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who previously has stopped short of saying he would support measures to cut off funds, announced he would try to eliminate money for the war if Bush rejects Congress' proposal to set a deadline to end combat.
"If the president vetoes the supplemental appropriations bill and continues to resist changing course in Iraq, I will work to ensure this legislation receives a vote in the Senate in the next work period," Reid said in a statement.
I see. So the standoff has come to the point where a side that claims that they "support the troops," despite relatively ample evidence to the contrary, has decided not to support the troops with funding if the President doesn't agree to a non-sensical artificial timeline. We seem to have reached a point, rather rapidly actually, where one side has called the other side Hitler.
Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is a mainstay of Internet culture, an adage formulated by Mike Godwin 1990. The law states:
As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.
There is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically "lost" whatever debate was in progress.
Senator Reid has moved the actions suggested much farther to the left, and, I suspect, much farther to the left than the American people will support, probably much farther to the left than a majority of the Senate will support. Cutting off the funds for troops in the field if you don't get your way on a timeline for withdrawal? Some support.
4/3/07 1045: From Captain Ed:
At least this threat falls within their Constitutional authority. Their previous efforts have all encroached on the President's authority to command the troops, setting up a 535-member committee as a replacement for the Commander-in-Chief. The Democrats have been loath to use this tool, however, for two reasons. One, it is unprecedented for Congress to abort funding while American troops remain engaged with an enemy. And two, it makes Democrats responsible for the results of such an unprecedented surrender -- and there is no other military term for a withdrawal from a theater in which an army is engaged with an enemy.
He also feels this is likely a bluff, in that it has the potential to lose him not only the majority vote he received for the original timetable resolution but also the majority in the Senate, if Sen. Lieberman takes offense.
With the arrival of spring comes the start of a new baseball season, and so it was today. Curt Schilling led the Red Sox onto the field in Kansas City in the opener for both teams. The results? Err, not so good. Pretty much every year, due to the early April weather that often visits Boston, the Red Sox start on the road. And, while you'd like to think you can bring it every game, it is certainly not unheard of for the team to start the season 0-1. (29-36-1 all time on the road)
That said, I don't have the sense that this team will get as far as they hope. They are a little short of starting pitching depth; they are a little short in the bullpen, with the exception of their closer (who was supposed to be a starter); they are a little short of offense, once you get past David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez (whom Gerry Callahan can't chase out of town fast enough, even while admitting how extraordinary he is offensively).
Offense? I'm underwhelmed to this point by JD Drew and Julio Lugo. Kevin Youkilis is a nice player, an on base guy playing a power position. Dustin Pedroia? Coco Crisp? Convince me that you're all that. Jason Varitek? I love the big guy, but I'd love him more hitting a solid .290 with a little more pop.
I'll be watching the minors and the trade wires, because if this team wants the gold ring they're going to need some help. Another starter, another bat (or two). Could a Craig Hansen move Jonathan Papelbon into a starting role. That would be ideal, but it won't happen for a couple of months at least.
No, I'm not going to live-blog the final game, Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Florida Gators. I, frankly, don't have a dog in this fight. So I'll watch, and enjoy, and see if the game unfolds as I expect.
And how is that? Florida will play Florida's game. They'll run as much as they can. As one of the better passing teams in recent memory they'll move the ball crisply and look for either open threes or duckins to Horford and Noah, with the added bonus of going inside that they might pick up early fouls on Oden. Corey Brewer will drive the ball and pressure the defense. They'll jump the passing lanes and try to make OSU play "fast," or at least faster than they're comfortable playing. That's what happened in the second half in their earlier game. And they'll crash the glass, particularly Noah and Richard.
And Ohio State? They should protect the ball and avoid steals, and they'll run their offense and look for openings to drive the gaps, particularly the precocious point guard, Conley Jr.. One thing they should do is look to the players not being guarded by Brewer for their offense. He's one of the better one-on-one defenders in the country. They'll try to keep Oden out of foul trouble, and may play some zone to do it. And they'll rely on their sharp shooting guards.
Who wins? I've got Ohio State in an upset. They're a much better team now than they were in their earlier loss to Florida.
So, throw it up already. Let's go.
04/02/07 2220: Not looking good for the Bucks at halftime. Greg Oden has been as good as advertised, but the guards have been rushing bricks up to the rim, and Corey Brewer has taken over at times, OSU better be careful, or Florida will nail a couple threes and put them down for good.
04/02/07 2330: It's over, and the Gators have repeated. Every time OSU made a run Florida would come up with a steal, a fast break for a dunk, a rebound putback, a dagger three. And they kept Ohio State at arms length the entire second half. The most telling statistic was this: 4/23 vs 10/18. That was the Buckeye three point field goal ineptitude vs. the success from three by Florida. End of story.
The ambiguity in the title is intentional, brought on by the glacial response by the transgressed parties of Iran's snatching of 15 members of the British military from Iraqi waters a week and a half ago. The captive sailors remain in Iranian custody, used for propaganda with staged/coerced "confessions" in video releases, all of which, from the capture to the manner of treatment, falls outside of Geneva Convention regulations for military personnel in uniform. Iran is a signatory to that convention.
Mark Steyn captures exquisitely the puzzled expressions on the faces of those who must devise a plan for dealing with such international nose-thumbing in his Sunday column today.
On this 25th anniversary of the Falklands War, Tony Blair is looking less like Margaret Thatcher and alarmingly like Jimmy Carter, the embodiment of the soi-disant "superpower" as a smiling eunuch.
But, as a point of law, they are also "citizens of the European Union."...So if Europe is as it claims to be, what's it going to do about it?''
Short answer: Nothing.
OK, well, how about the United Nations? Those student demonstrators want the execution of "British aggressors." In fact, they're U.N. aggressors. HMS Cornwall is the base for multinational marine security patrols in the Gulf: a mission authorized by the United Nations. So what's the U.N. doing about this affront to its authority and (in the public humiliation of the captives) of the Geneva Conventions?
Short answer: Nothing.
Read the whole thing. Yesterday I praised the EU for issuing a statement on the captives, and intimating that additional "appropriate measures" might be required for refusal to release them. Unfortunately they still haven't done much, and have declined economic sanctions, the simplest pressure that can be brought to bear. On the other hand, it's more than Ms. Pelosi was willing to do.
See also: Blue Crab Boulevard