Friday, December 12, 2003

Check out this site, specifically the cartoon for Dec 11.

While I agree with you regarding censorship on a national level, I think that was just a small part of Jonah's point. I believe he was not advocating censorship but illustrating that we do accept it in some form or another on a daily basis. Further we get upset over trivial "censorship" such as a controversial performing "artist" whose performance is cancelled by a college scared to lose alumni contributions, or the Dixie Chicks losing sales due to "censorship" when in reality they've just pissed off their core who stopped buying their albums. On the other hand a major infringement of our First Amendment rights (ie. McCain-Feingold) has just occurred, is truly censorship, and no one seems to care. It's the swallowing a lion whole but choking on a gnat thing. I think this is the point he was trying to make.

I agree wholeheartedly with you on the perils of limiting free speech. I believe that if I wanted to contribute 47 million dollars of my money to re-elect President Bush that should be my prerogative. Furthermore, if I own a private company and I want to give 47 million dollars from its profits, so be it, the employees of the company who do not agree with it can seek employment elsewhere, it is my company. The government should not be involved in this process at all.
The saddest part of the campaign finance reform developments is the simple fact that the very people who are entrusted with interpreting and upholding the Constitution of the United States have decided that this obscene piece of legislation is somehow "constitutional."

The door is now wide open for a whole generation of activist judges to spin the constitution into a shadow of its former self.

I'm not sure I agree with Goldberg on the whole concept of good and bad censorship, at least not on a national level. Free speech is free speech, and the act of picking and choosing which speech should be limited is a slippery slope no matter where your beliefs are. More often than not the first amendment becomes a disguise for some other political motive. Free market forces and local governments would go a long way to keeping X rated movies off Saturday morning TV, and any school board that would allow Neo Nazis to speak at a school would be sent packing the very next day by the citizens of their community. Since what is good censorship and what is bad censorship will always be subjective, these decisions are best left to individuals, and when necessary, local government.

If you want to keep your own rights of expression in tact, you have to deal with the occasional flag burner, sacrilegious performance artist, or hate speaker. It comes with the territory.
Great piece by Jonah Goldberg on NRO today re: "Campaign Finance Reform" and censorship. I haven't even wanted to go down that road because it depressed me so much, but I had to post something.
I got this e mail in regard to a suggestion that I replied to on Omar's site yesterday. The suggestion was to get the Iraqi bloggers laptops so as to make it simpler for them as right now they have to go to the Internet Cafes in Bagdhad to post. I said that I'd be happy to help if it were actually possible for them to get access in their homes or offices. There was a suggestion of a collection from all of the readers by a few, and I also mentioned that I might be able to see what our family member at Dell could work out for us (who knows, they may even want to donate, imagine a commercial where they are "bringing the voices of the oppressed" to the world through donating in that way?) I admit, rather idealistic, but worth a try.

Back to the point. This guy impressed me, both by the fact that he's already serving and ready to offer part of his pay to fund an Irai blogger, and by his astute observations. Here's another reason that we say thank you for our friends in Britian. Here's the e mail, name withheld for protection:


British Officer serving here in the "deep South", MORE than willing to chip
in a few pounds/ bucks to promote blogging for Iraqis.

I check this site, (my E mail address every few days). Sort it out and my
cheque is in the post/ credit card on the net. In this war you bloggers are
"the front line", because this one we win or lose on the streets of small
town USA. Only two groups seem to have worked this out, our friends
(you guys) and our enemies. Guess whom I'm supporting.

God bless you all.
Pray for us.

Don't you realize that contacting a television network and expressing your displeasure with their coverage is censorship? I suppose you were one of those people who forced poor CBS at gunpoint to pull that gripping and historically accurate miniseries "The Reagans" off the air as well.

You're right that people need to be vocal about these things, because even the most biased news organization will sit up and take notice when their audience leaves them. This, of course, is the free market in action, otherwise known to liberals as "the vast right wing conspiracy."

That CNN headline wasn't one of their most flagrant abuses, but it was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. The worst thing about it is that I now expect the story to be bogus, but I'll check it out anyway because of my keen interest in the Iraq situation. I'm sure the news weenies at CNN are all excited about their powers of persuasion, but this gets them nowhere in the long run, as is evidenced by Fox beating them like a circus monkey in the ratings.

The next chapter of liberal media comedy is going to be their much talked about radio talk show network, which is supposedly going to be called "Central Air." It really tells you something about the state of liberalism when even the liberals know that admitting their ideology openly will kill any chance of getting ratings.
I read the article on Schroeder's statement yesterday, and everyone in conservative circles picked up on Bush's "response" to the question of whether the administration's position on this was "illegal under international law". We always enjoy the contrast of our "plain speaking" President vs. the polictically correct diplomatic speech that comes from the State Dept. (Granted that is the State Dept's job-diplomacy-aka "talking in circles and accomplishing almost nothing".) It's the same reason that we love to listen to Rumsfeld. Who else will look a reporter straight in the eye and with a derisive laugh say "you can't be serious?" when they ask a completely ridiculous question, and then go on to address not only the question, but why it is so ridiculous, unless of course it is SO ridiculous that it isn't even worth answering!

As far as the biased reporting goes, I can honestly say that if I read that headline "US Compound Blasted In Iraq", I wouldn't think anything of it. Until I see specifics (such as "17 American soldiers dead") or a report of injured, I don't even bother clicking. It's been that biased for that long, on most major stations. Not to mention that when the headline of Gwyenth Paltrow getting married shares the same space as international and national news, and there is NO coverage of the 10,000 person march against terrorism in Iraq, well, that about says it all. You know darn well if there were 10,000 Iraqi's marching FOR the Ba'athists return or "against the occupation" it would be the lead story in every news outlet. For years, the news media has been accused of an enormous bias toward reporting only "bad" news. Until Americans demand otherwise, it will continue to "sell" news in that way. I would suggest that you write to CNN as well as changing your home page. I have written to every news network and a bunch of major blog sites this week regarding the Dec 10 Demonstration in Iraq. There are a bunch of us that did that are all frequent visitors to the Iraq sites, and the coverage improved over a couple of days, with even CNN finally giving it half a minute on the TV (though NO info on the website), and an interview of the editor of Iraq Today yesterday at noon on CNN as well (which he was kind enough to contact me about after I had written him). NRO's Corner first posted about Omar's post on "It's not about the oil" after I sent them an e mail alerting them to it. They've been good about covering the major news coming off the Iraq blog sites ever since. "Power of the People" in the US is a real thing, because of capitalism more than anything else, but most of us that don't lean far left, myself included, I believe relate speaking out on things as "whining and complaing" which is what we equivilate with the left leaning segment, so we tend not to do it.
Ok, that's the last straw. I'm officially switching my home page. Yeah, yeah, I know, not exactly front page news, but the reason I'm switching it is part of a much larger problem.

Up until now I've used Apple's default home page, which is hosted by Netscape. It's a pretty ordinary "everything you need at your fingertips" type of site like Yahoo or MSN. Like all sites of this nature, the Apple site has a prominently featured news section. In this case, the news content comes from CNN. Now we all know that CNN likes to drive in the left lane, but their web based news takes things to a whole new low. While there is certainly the expected left leaning bias, the people who write the headlines, which serve as hyperlinks on this site, are completely out of control. The headlines are so exaggerated and embellished that they often bear little resemblance to the event that they're referring to. I know a good headline is supposed to get you to read the story, but this site has become a joke. Here's one of today's headlines:

U.S. Compound Blasted in Iraq

Now, perhaps I'm naive, but this sounds like one of our compounds was blown up, or at least severely damaged, which is disturbing news. Of course, I took the bait and clicked the hyperlink. The next page had the following headline:

Iraqi Rebels Fire Shells at U.S. Compound

Ok, so in the nanosecond it took to load the next page, the situation seems to have improved a bit at our compound in Iraq. Further reading reveals that there were no injuries and only light damage to a non critical building. In other words, this is a non story. Of course, most of the rest of the article goes on to detail all of the recent attacks on our troops, which revealed what seems to be the true purpose of this article: spreading fear uncertainty and doubt about the Iraq situation.

To be fair, here are all the other CNN headlines today:

Murderer Charged With Killing, Burying 3 Teens
Tenn. Crash-Landing Kills Four
Gay Officers Slam Military Policy
Drunkenness Gene Found in Worm
Man Said Parents Dead 40 Times

I checked all of these stories, and in each case the headline accurately describes the event, without exaggeration. So it does seem that CNN is capable of writing an accurate headline. What has pushed me over the edge is the fact that the headline embellishments only seem to crop up when the story is about Iraq, Halliburton, SUV's or some other topic that CNN sees as reflecting badly on the current administration. I get sucked in almost every day by these headlines just to find out that nothing has really happened, but CNN felt compelled to remind me of the things that Bush is doing wrong in their eyes.

While I'll miss the Apple specific stuff on the site, its just not worth it to sift through CNN's pretend news every day.

Yet another example of why the U.N. should not control the internet.
Love it. Particularly the President's response to German chancellor Schroeder's remark about international law.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Scott, yeah don't I know it, fair hasn't been fair since oh, I'd guess at least 1980.

I could not have said this better myself. I also think this general concept applies to the current interpretation of the Separation of Church and State - it bears almost no resemblance to its original intent.

The word "fair", in its true meaning, is to liberals what garlic is to a vampire. Sure they use the term all the time, but they interpret it to mean something entirely different. This word is abused all the time by the left, who claim that raising the taxes on the "wealthy", who already pay a grossly disproportionate share of taxes, is fair. They claim that subsidizing a dying industry with taxpayer money so it can compete with foreign competitors is fair. They will tell you with a straight face that it is fair to deny a white person a job so that a less qualified minority can be employed instead.

Webster's dictionary defines the word "fair" as it applies to this discussion, as the following:

1) Free from favoritism or self-interest or bias or deception; or conforming with established standards or rules

2) Showing lack of favoritism

Show me just one of the left's pet policies that can be described by the above definitions.

I agree with Tom that we need to dump Social Security right now, and this illegal immigration issue is only one of a dozen reasons why. Here's how I'd do it:

1) Stop SS withholding immediately.

2) Give everyone over 50 the choice to stay with the current system or be reimbursed with an amount proportionate to what they have put onto the system, which would be tax free. At this point the SS fund would be split into two groups: The money required for those who choose to stay with the current system, and the reimbursement fund.

3) Everyone under 50 gets reimbursed with an amount proportionate to what they have put into the system.

I'm no economist, but I think this principle is, well, fair.

Forget it, I found the link at Drudge.

People using other people's SS#'s illegally, we then let become legals, and pay them SS benefits? WHAT?

You want fair? Here's fair. You can gladly come into this country as a legal, documented citizen from Mexico to live and work. If you do, that is your choice to become an "American". If you want to come here to work for 10 years because the opportunities are better, and then go back to Mexico and live there for the rest of your life and have the benefits from your 10 years in the US, plus benefits from Mexico, SORRY--TOO BAD! Instead I suggest that you work on making your own country better at providing opportunities for your people. If you want to work to make money to send home to bring your family here as well, as legal documented citizens, I have no problem with that.

Just plan on learning English.

This is extremely disturbing. It's time we get some data together that shows just how much illegal immigrants put into our Social Security fund. This point has been brought up several times and, unless I'm missing something, it just doesn't add up. If it's illegal to hire an illegal immigrant, how is it that social security dues are being deducted from their "under the table" paychecks? While there are some loopholes that allow some illegal immigrants to work here legally, I would be very surprised if the SS dues paid by these people even came close to the amount taken out of the system by the entire illegal immigrant population. I won't even go into the drag on our medical industry and educational system.

We've got enough legal dead beats bringing the system down as it is without extending the benefits to citizens of other countries. Isn't it ironic that the same people who opposed funding for our own troops in Iraq will gladly give money away to foreigners as a reward for breaking our laws.
This to me, is a good case for ending Social Security completely. 100%. Bye bye.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Exactly my point, they aren't in any way contributing to the tax base, they are taking away from it. "No messy tax stuff" to deal with, means that they aren't paying into the "public fund" that they are taking from in other areas. That practice is very common in FL too, where right outside of the wealthy Palm Beach area, there are tons of Haitians that are "employed" in the same way. I don't like the "public fund" in the first place, but I sure as heck don't want to be paying my taxes, plus paying for someone else!

And though I realize that they contribute in a way to the community, they do not pay taxes or Social Security as Ridge stated. That as far as I can tell is an outright lie.

I agree with your last take completely, but we'll be lucky to see it in our lifetimes. Doesn't mean we shouldn't keep lobbying for it though!

Regarding illegal immigrants "contributing" to the system; the real problem here are legal citizens who take advantage of the reduced cost of using illegal immigrants as a labor force. A very popular practice in my former residence, Atlanta, GA is to go to the local "labor pool" (translation: a bunch of Mexicans waiting on a corner) and pick up laborers for the day. The landscaping industry, which is big business in Atlanta, is very big on the labor pool. You can hire people real cheap for the day, they will work hard for long hours, and there's no messy tax stuff to deal with. The problem is, someone else (the US taxpayer) is paying the difference in wages plus a lot more at the end of the day. By hiring an illegal immigrant, you reduce the chances of other legal, taxpaying Americans of finding employment, and you cheat the government (taxpayers) out of the cost of whatever government services the illegal immigrant is going to consume while in this country. Sure, you save a few bucks, but you're sticking it to your fellow taxpayers at the same time.

People who claim that they do it out of sympathy are practicing pretty selective sympathy when you consider the number of legal citizens in the US who are out of work. Even if your sympathies are with minorities, there are still plenty of minorities who are legal citizens that need work. In the end, it all comes down to money. But what people don't realize is that they're still paying, it's just taking the form of higher taxes.

Ideally, I'd like to see a society with open borders and completely free enterprise, but until we abolish the welfare state and get a handle on terrorism, among other things, illegal immigration will always be damaging.
Photos of the Iraq demo against terrorism are at Zeyad's site (Healing Iraq) in the links to the right. Also an account is up at Omar's sight (Iraq The Model). Al-J is estimating 10,000 marchers and that is usually under estimated since they are so biased against a democratic Iraq. Of course there is minimal news on it here in the west, though some have said that they have seen coverage on Fox on TV. There is nothing on their website however.

Scott, I agree that what he was trying to get at (when you read the entire article) was that we don't have the "manpower" (or the maybe the "manhood" if you get my drift) to deal with the sheer volume of illegals that are already in the country. I can see a screening process, after which point they be given some sort of legal status IF we are ready to "shut down the borders" to completely enforce LEGAL immigration from that point on. He does make reference to this, but I'm still waiting to hear any kind of a plan, vs. a generalized idea.

It just really kills me that NOBODY questions Ridge on how in the world undocumented illegals could be contributing to the system monetarily!

Granted it has been 5 years since I was in the world of a large business, but I hired hundreds of people over five years, and I can definitely say that you did NOT mess around with the law in that area. Employees, if they did not have a SS# and citizenship, had to have a green card with all info and a copy sent to the IRS with their paperwork. If they had neither, and yes, I did encounter lots of these (specifically in Worcester, MA which has a large hispanic population, and in NYC area, NO EMPLOYMENT. Therefore, their only chance at employment is "under the table" payment, which does not contribute in any way to the tax base. However, they happily accept our health care and our education for their children, which drains the tax base.

Somebody help me with the math here!

(Enjoyed Sowell's piece, always like reading him and Connerly.)
The statement by Tom Ridge, at least on the surface, is pure garbage. Perhaps this is just another vote buying scheme, in which case I too will officially be opposed to this President's domestic policy.

The only thing that could possibly justify Ridge's statement in my mind would be if the administration was planning on taking a seriously hard line against illegal immigration, and is using this to soften the blow with Hispanic voters. While the thought of legalizing 10 million illegal immigrants is very troubling, if it were followed by the President slamming the borders shut it might be a better solution than having the current joke of a system go on indefinitely. This just might be a way for the President to come down hard on illegal immigration while actually gaining the support of some Hispanic voters. If this were to work, it would be a shrewd political move indeed.

Still, I think that scenario is probably far fetched. We're likely witnessing another cave in by the President on an important domestic issue. Didn't his father also kind of screw things up domestically in the latter part of his term?
OK, I have tried to post twice on that same story Tom, but have been having server problems.

Anyway, here's the part that really bothered me:

Ridge said he thinks the body politic is about ready to address the issue of the illegal immigrants, who he said contribute to communities and Social Security and pay taxes. He referred to a growing number of bills that would grant residency to some of those living here illegally. He said one of these, which would require all illegal immigrants to leave the country before applying for residency, is "not workable."

How in the world do they contribute, rather than drain, SS and Tax money? Could somebody please explain that to me?

I'm seeing a possible 8 million new voters for this administration after reading this article, especially since the majority of those granted "legal" status would be in FL and CA, both pivotal states to winning re election.

I can't say that there is any hard evidence that the "legalizing" would offer voting rights, but let's just say at this point, it wouldn't surprise me. If that happens, I will become the harshest critic on this administrations domestic policies, which have been poor in a lot of areas (spending, spending, spending), while supporting the stance on foreign policy which has been fairly principaled in my view.
This is rather disturbing.
Thomas Sowell has an interesting observation regarding the Wright Brothers and diversity. As we all know, the left's concept of diversity is shallow and cosmetic. But when this limited world view seeps into our classrooms and begins to taint the teaching of history, it's time to take notice. This revisionist history, where relatively trivial figures are elevated to the status of Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln just because of their ethnicity is truly ridiculous. It all reminds me of a radio broadcast I listened to a few years back. The subject of the show was ancient African cultures, and the guest was a professor from one of the Atlanta black colleges. He proceeded to denigrate many of the non- black ancient cultures, and his argument was based on the "fact" that they all stole their knowledge from African cultures. Yes, the Greeks must have stole the concept of democracy from some hapless African tribe, and the ancient Mesopotamians must have cribbed the concept of writing from some more advanced culture on the African continent. Of course, nobody knows what happened to all the alleged advanced African cultures, but that's beside the point. It was a sad exercise, but thankfully it was a call in show and one woman called in and completely shut the professor down. In a thick southern drawl she said "you must be really insecure about your own culture to have to claim credit for the accomplishments of others." The professor sputtered on, but never really came back from this simple observation. This woman's point still applies today. There are plenty of important contributions made by minorities in history without us having to invent new ones or elevate relatively unimportant ones in the interest of "diversity." Downplaying the accomplishments of white males does nothing to elevate the accomplishments of non whites. Yes, much of the history of this country is dominated by white males, but this is history, not some story book. You have to tell it like it is. Imagine the outcry if some white historians tried to downplay the suffering of black slaves, or claimed that some white folks did more for civil rights than Dr. King. Heads would certainly roll.

Painting a fanciful picture of diversity and calling it history is no better than the practice of white supremacists denying that the Jewish holocaust ever happened. This is history. It's sometimes ugly, cruel, and unfair, and it's not always going to be sympathetic to certain political agendas. Putting more emphasis on changing the future rather than changing the past would be a good idea for some of those on the left.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Here's a dose of reality for those who think our civil liberties are being stripped away by the Patriot Act. Strangely enough, those railing against John Ashcroft and The Patriot Act have been unable to cite a single example of someone's rights being violated. Now we know why.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Good news on the U.N. bid for control of the internet. For now.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Check out the conversation going on over at Iraq at a Glance (link to the right). A perfect example of what I was talking about earlier. Many Iraqis are just too indoctrinated with fear to be able to see any differently than Al-Jazeera et al have taught them.
Kerry and Michael,

There seem to be several problems with the process of setting up an Iraqi government and Ayatollah Sistani is only one of them.

The first and possibly biggest problem is that the CPA is dominated by State Department personnel. This does not bode well based on past performance.

As for caucuses for delegates to the Provisional Government, I believe that is still up in the air. Iraqi minority groups (Sunnis, Kurds) are concerned that if delegates are selected in a general, nationwide vote they will not be represented well, if at all in laying out the country's future. Not to mention the former Baathists who are likely to be elected as well. It sounds as if Bremer has his work cut out for him and needs to start pushing more aggressively for regional caucuses - it is far too early for a general Iraqi election.

Third, the requirements in the Agreement on Political Process call for the following four elements in the intermediary Fundamental Law (a sort of transitional constitution): a "bill of rights"; a "federal arrangement for Iraq"; judicial independence and judicial review; and "civilian political control over Iraqi armed and security forces." However there is no requirement that these four principles be included in the final constitution!

And finally, it is never a good idea when a few unelected individuals have too much control of government (e.g. U.S. Federal Courts).

Here's the November 15 agreement re: the CPA and transition in Iraq. Sidenote--When viewing, check out "essential services" tab at top. The photos of the electrical rebuilding are phenomonal. Since none of the dates have come to pass yet, I take a "believe it when I see it" approach. There haven't been many agreements on paper that have "held" completely in places going through the change that Iraq is right now. That is not to say that I don't believe that the people of Iraq are not capable of making it happen, it is just that I don't think that the "average" Iraqi holds that much sway yet, they don't realize that they do, and thus they don't, if you get my meaning. Just read the link to the NY Times article in my post from Tuesday, Dec 2nd. We are reminded that the fear is still so pervasive that many people won't be honest with their opinions or endorsements. I will continue to do some more research on this subject. Cullinan will be doing a follow up article and links to previous articles as well, so it should be interesting reading.

Let's hope more of Iraq starts to "voice" themselves as some of their brave citizens have.
There has been much talk over Sistani in Iraqi circles as of late. Many of us debate where the government is going, or ought to go, on the Iraqi blog sites (listed in our links). Here is an interesting article that I found at NRO. Comments anyone?

Sorry for the brief post and quiet weekend, however, we are in the midst of a true snowstorm, it has been snowing since yesterday and the weather this morning says that we will end up with anywhere from 12-15 inches in our area (because we are right on the coast), but just 20 minutes inland, where my husband works, they are calling for 15-25 inches total. While this is not all that unusual in late January/early Februrary, it is very much so for our first real storm of the year. Looks like we'll be having a white Christmas!

Needless to say, we've been doing more shoveling than blogging.....!