My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Senator Obama: You Are Not Credible 

"the man I saw yesterday was not the man I knew for 20 years."

Not buying it, Senator. Rev. Wright started uttering these sort of pronouncements in 2001--and those are just the ones that made it onto the TV. So, for at least the last seven years, this man has been spewing hatred and disdain for the country which makes it possible for him to do such things.

Has Obama not been to church for seven years? Did none of his parishoner friends mention to him what their pastor said?

This is a man that Obama described as "a close friend", a "spiritual mentor"--did he really not understand his theology?

I suppose we are forced to conclude that, in matters of friendship and judgement, Senator Obama has a disturbing ability to suspend any objective assessment of the people in his life. Which, in the case of your buddies and your family, is a good--even an endearing--thing.

But in the case of the Commander-In-Chief of the U.S. Military, such an ability is disturbing, frightening, and . . .


Not that Obama had all that many great credentials to begin with, but surely this revelation of how poor his personal judgement is is enough to end his candidacy.

Oh . . .but wait . . . Obama is a Democrat, and that means never having to say "sorry".

I suspect he will survive this kerfuffle--albeit damaged--and continue on to the Democratic nomination. But I also think the only reason he came out today and denounced Rev. Wright is that there's polling data in his campaign that shows the he's hemorrhaging votes in the middle.

And that's John McCain's wheelhouse.

Today's move had nothing to do with next week, or even August. Today had everything to do with November, and the hopes that he could prevent John McCain from winning 45 states.

It will be interesting to watch the polls over the next few days to see how they shift.

By the way, speaking of polls, yesterday's poll that has Clinton ahead of McCain by 9 pts? Ignore it. "Survey of all adults" is vastly skewed to the left, as opposed to "likely voters." No reason to get excited right now.


Can We Get A "Do-Over"? 

My friend, the Captain, pointed something out to me today after listening to Jeremiah Wright: He has pretty much guaranteed that Barack Obama is unelectable.

Hillary's personality pretty much guarantees that she's unelectable.

And John McCain's inability to connect with Republicans pretty much guarantees that he's unelectable.

So, now what? Like I said, can we get a do-over?

Those on the Left are waiting for Al Gore to ride to the rescue; those on the Right are waiting for Newt.

And the people in the middle are going "we're screwed."

Sounds like a great year for a third party. Except that third parties can't get elected.

As much fun and interest as this whole year has held, it has managed to point out that the way we elect Presidents in this country has serious deficiencies, some of which are not recoverable.

Here Come The Dems: One Week To Go! 

By and large, the Democrats in charge of the Colorado State Legislature have disciplined themselves to stay in touch with the political center of Colorado. There is almost certainly a calculation that, if they can contain their radical impulses through November, they will almost certainly pick up a few seats to make it even safer for them to go after their real agenda in the two years after that.

But, ocassionally, they do slip and let their true colors show. From last week, via Education News Colorado (and a hat tip to Denise)

The bipartisan proposal to significantly change the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights and effectively repeal Amendment 23 was formally introduced Wednesday, setting up an end-of-session debate on two of Colorado's key fiscal issues.

Okay. In what context is this "bipartisan?" Well, a Republican--Steve Johnson of Ft. Collins--is one of the sponsors. But I would hardly use one sponsor as evidence of "bipartisanship," as the article itself notes how the Republicans are hardly united:

Romanoff may face a challenge getting the two-thirds majorities he needs. Some Republicans are talking about an alternative plan . . .

But, then, neither is that evidence of a complete lack of bipartisanship. I just find it very interesting that the first piece of rhetoric designed to garner public support for a Democratic idea is "bipartisanship," but you almost never see that when it's a Republican idea ("on largely partisan lines . . .").

Nevertheless, the idea itself screams of "Democratic money-grab"

. . .the measure would retain TABOR's requirement that voters approve all new taxes and tax rate increases but end the TABOR tax refunds, instead diverting revenues in excess of the TABOR limit into the State Education Fund.

The proposal also would repeal the elements of Amendment 23 that require annual K-12 spending increases (inflation increases plus 1 percent and the 5 percent "maintenance of effort" requirement) and the Amendment 23 prohibition on using education fund dollars to offset general fund spending on education.

In exchange, the amendment beefs up the State Education Fund with the TABOR surpluses plus legislative authority to add extra money to the fund, and creates a "rainy day" fund within the State Education Fund that could be used only under certain circumstances and with a two-thirds legislative vote.

So, let's look at that just a little bit.

They want to end the TABOR refunds: for a couple years there, that didn't matter. But, given that Referendum C was supposed to be worth $3.2 billion, and it actually turned out that it was worth $5.9 billion, that actually means $2.7 billion is in the hands of the government instead of in the hands of the citizens of Colorado. That's about $568 that could have been in the hands of every Coloradan.

Instead, we'll get Senator Windels bragging about how the Legislature has added $182 per pupil funding.

BUT!!! .. . . in exchange, they'll give up Amendment 23.

Woo. Since Amendment 23 was going to expire in two years, anyway.

OHHHH but wait:

The 2008-09 school finance act, House Bill 08-1388, contains an amendment inserted by the House Education Committee that continues the Amendment 23 "maintenance of effort" provision after its scheduled expiration.

So, maybe the legislators will simply wait for their leader to win a concession from Republicans, and then backdoor the remaining provisions of Amendment 23 along with an extension.

The bottom line is that there may have been some hope that the last week of the legislative session could have come and gone without the Democrats reaching straight into your pockets; any such hope seems to be fading.

Let's hope the state Republicans can muster a little backbone and hold the line.

And then use the summer to come up with some really good ideas how to totally revamp education funding in this state. The current model of relying on local property taxes, the state, and little bit from the Feds, makes it a near certainty that every 3-5 years, there will be a bit of a panic regarding education funding.

Somebody ought to address this. Maybe they can start with this.

Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee hears a proposal to raise the $5 bet limit in blackjack and poker games and on slot machines at Colorado casinos.

Maybe it's just me. We can either take Gov. Ritter's way of freezing property taxes to collect an additional $1.7 billion from everyone who owns property, in conjunction with the legislature holding on to the TABOR refunds to the tune of $2.7 billion from every taxpayer . . . or we could see if there's anything to be gained from siphoning off a little of the state's gambling revenue.

I don't know. We'll probably just keep doing what we've always done, so we can keep getting what we've always gotten. Only more expensively.

That's the Democratic way.


So, Who Would Be Lincoln? 

The Hillary Campaign sent this to the Obama Campaign yesterday [in part]:

But what I think the people of Indiana deserve is a real one-on-one debate where Senator Obama and I right there in Indiana discuss these issues. . . .

Unfortunately Senator Obama has not agreed yet and he's turned down every debate that has been offered. . . .

“So here's my proposal - I'm offering Senator Obama a chance to debate me one-on-one, no moderators.

“Just the two of us going for 90 minutes asking and answering questions.

“Remember that's what happened during the Lincoln-Douglas debates. We've had four debates between Senator Obama and myself. That's all we've had since this whole campaign has gone on, we've had debates when other candidates were in, but just four between the two of us. Lincoln and Douglas I think had something like seven or maybe even eight debates. . .

Well, she imagined sniper fire--maybe she'll start imagining men sneaking up behind her in the theater, too.

Just for grins, maybe the two of them should look up the Lincoln-Douglas debates to see how they tackled the issues of the day. Sadly for them, they might just discover that those two giants had something today's Democrats sorely lack: a set of principles.

And, while he's trying to stay relevant, John McCain should very publicly accept Hillary's invitation. As I counseled a couple months ago, he could do the world a world of good by taking part in the debate and steering the conversation to important issues, and away from the silly tripe that passes for Democrat "debate" these days.

In the meantime, what are we to make of Sen. Obama's courage, when he complains about a single difficult question in the last debate, and then dodges a meeting with his chief opponent. I suspect the Russians and the Saudis are a bit more difficult in negotiations--he seems to want to wear his unpreparedness on his sleeve.


Reasons for Cautious Optimism 

[Note: this post was begun 24 hours before Hillary won her Pennsylvania primary by 10 points; sometimes, events just coincide with thought processes.]

I have been critical of the efforts of the political Right and the Republican Party to get its message out, to get organized, and to counter some of the more successful efforts of the Left. I believe the word I've used before is "bumfuzzled."

Well, I'm happy to say, that may be changing a bit.

Start with this weekend's Samsphere, an event sponsored by the Sam Adams Alliance (Brewer, Blogger, Patriot . . .) in downtown Denver. The purpose of the Samsphere was several-fold, but primary among them was the encouragement, mentoring and nurturing of new bloggers with a Conservative bent. This is envisioned as a potential Right-leaning counter to the MoveOns and the ProgressNows of the world. AND, it might even have a little bit of money to back it up. What a good thing. For more on Samsphere, check out Ben's take on the events.

Secondly, though I can't share specifics, I have been informed that there is a developing network of financial resources working to counter some of the money on the Left. Of course, we can never compete with George Soros, but it's possible that we can get into the game enough that our actual ideas will get out there. And when our ideas get out there, we tend to win.

Third, we on the Right have one massive, unassailable advantage on our side: our opponents are Democrats. As evidenced by tonight's Pennsylvania primary, Hillary and Barack seem destined to bring their squabbling all the way to Denver. The longer it goes, the more they have to try to win the votes of the Left, which will make the entire rest of the political spectrum shun them, as they did John Kerry and Al Gore before. Besides which, an ugly convention in Denver means pretty good things here in Colorado.

I'm not saying that this is a done deal, or that I think Republicans can walk through the elections; I'm just saying that I think we're actually in the game. And that's something I was very doubtful of six months ago.

Meaningless List 

Just 'cuz sometimes its good to do trivial.

Top 8 Movie Battles--Hand-to-Hand

Disclaimer: I don't watch a lot of what Hong Kong has to offer in the way of martial arts films, so I have to admit to a huge hole in the making of this list. I'm sure there are some wonderful scenes to be found therein, but I haven't seen them.

8. Bloodsport (1988) Jean-Claude van Damme Yeah, some of the fighting was poorly staged, and the plot was thin . . .er, anorexic. But you can't have a list of this nature without finding a way to get Bolo Yeung into the mix.

7. Kiss of the Dragon (2001) Jet Li The entirity of the last 20 minutes of this one is non-stop action. From the dispatching of thirty with sticks in the span of about 45 seconds, to the very stylish battle with the twins, Jet Li demonstrates why Mel Gibson said after "Lethal Weapon 4" that he was a freak (they actually had to ask Jet to slow down during a couple scenes so the camera could capture it).

6. Lone Wolf McQuade (1983) Chuck Norris The story follows the basic plot lines of every Chuck Norris film, but a. there's this one move Chuck does in breaking a pool cue and then turning it immediately into a spinning attack that's pretty sweet, and b. how can you miss when you have Chuck Norris and Kwai-Chang Caine fighting?

5. The Protector (2007) Tony Jaa Actually not a very good movie, and the fighting was too obviously staged at points. But the next-to-last fight is a veritable festival of mangled limbs, dislocated joints and snapping bones. Fun to watch with the eyes closed, just for the sound effects!

4. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) The fights at the end are, in my opinion, really cool. They have some completely unrealistic moves, combined with some strong displays of serious swordsmanship, and a finishing scene between Aragorn and the Uruk leader that seems about as real as any sword fight I've seen.

3. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999) This is on here just for the final scene between the two Jedi and Darth Maul.

2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2003) There are a great many fights scenes to choose from in this one, but I prefer a little more realism in my fight scenes, so some of the high flying ones have to be discounted (no matter how beautiful, artisti, or ballet-like they come off). So that leaves me with the fight between Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang, which seems to have been staged without the benefit of any ropes--just two accomplished martial artists having at it. Besides, there had to be a girl fight on this list somewhere--it just so happens that this is a GREAT girl fight.

1. The Matrix (1999) The first fight scene between Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburn, right after Reeves first plugs in to learn how to do it, is, in terms of speed and creativity, one of the better ones out there.

Feel free to suggest additions and changes to the list.

Can We Trade? 

I note with some distress today that Jimmy Carter is returning to the U.S. after a pointless visit to Hamas.

And the Pope has returned to Rome after a triumphant visit to the U.S.

Boy, did we get the short end of that exchange.


A Source Of Light 

Actually, two Sources of Light, both of which have been extinguished.

Colorado gathered Saturday to honor two heroes and to remember them as men with flesh-and-blood lives. . . .

Fire Chief Terry DeVore and firefighter John Schwartz died Tuesday protecting their southern Colorado community, battling a blaze that destroyed at least 24 homes and prompted the evacuation of 1,200. . . .

DeVore and Schwartz died when a truck they were driving to fight the blaze plunged 15 feet into a wall of fire after a bridge collapsed.

There is some strange quirk of character that grows in some men (and women) that makes them run towards a fire. DeVore and Schwartz were such men.

Hopefully these two men's names will be permanently plastered in the minds and hearts of the men and women of Ordway, CO. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends.


Unfortunately, The Law of Unintended Consequences Reared Its Ugly Head 

Boy, if that isn't an understatement of epic proportions.

But, luckily, every once in a while, the Law brings us some good, clean, unintended ironic

In the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world, the giving over of land for biofuel production was supposed to boost energy independence and be part of the climate change solution.

Unfortunately, the law of unintended consequences reared its ugly head.

Commodity prices have risen as farmland is dedicated to crops for fuel production. Deforestation, which contributes to global warming, has accelerated as land is devoted to biofuel production.

And the inefficiencies of some biofuel production are becoming apparent. In the U.S., corn ethanol represented just 3.5 percent of the motor gasoline supplies in 2006. But it took 14 percent of the nation's corn crop to produce it. By 2010, 30 percent of corn is expected to go to ethanol.

And this is from the Denver Post editorial pages. Heh heh heh.

Yet, they stop FAR short of calling for a moritorium on the production of biofuels.

Still, I guess those of us on this side of the global warming debate need to recognize those few ocasssion when there's at least a bit of honesty brought to the debate by the "professional lournalists."

If for no other reason than the shock value.


A Strong Defense of Bob Schaffer 

Follow this link to read a through defense of Bob Schaffer's role in the CNMI issue. The big blue lie machine is starting to ramp up on this one-- do yourself a favor and get the facts.


Media Malfeasance: Even the Pope Is Fair Game 

The headline coming out of the media is something like this:

Benedict Becomes First Pope to Visit Amican Synagogue

Which he is, of course, so that's not so bad. But how about this one:

Pope Worries That Big Powers Control Decision Making

Wonder who he was talking about in that?

Except that he really only made that remark in passing. The vast majority of his Holiness' address to the United Nations was devoted to a thorough-going discussion of human rights, where they emanate from, and the responsilities governments have to uphold them. It's a wonderful speech, with a great deal of text devoted to the doctrine of "responsibility to protect".

Every state has the primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights, as well as from the consequences of humanitarian crises, whether natural or man-made. If states are unable to guarantee such protection, the international community must intervene with the juridical means provided in the United Nations charter and in other international instruments. The action of the international community and its institutions, provided that it respects the principles undergirding the international order, should never be interpreted as an unwarranted imposition or a limitation of sovereignty. On the contrary, it is indifference or failure to intervene that do the real damage.
[emphasis mine].

Rather than an argument that powerful states act too much on their own, it is a rather pointed call to action to prevent atrocities like the ones in North Korea, Darfur, and (dare I say it) throughout the middle east.

And I doubt you'll see the professional journalists make much of this quote:

Human rights, of course, must include the right to religious freedom, understood as the expression of a dimension that is at once individual and communitarian . . . . It is inconceivable, then ,that believers should have to supress a part of themselves--their faith--in order to be active citizens. . . .The rights associated with religion are all the more in need of protection if they are considered to clash with a prevailing secular ideology or with majority religious positions of an exclusive nature.

Now, what part of the world do you suppose the Pope was talking about there? In exactly what part of the world are people denied the right to participate in public life if their faith is different from the "majority religious positions?"

Anyone, anyone? Bonus points for a Lefty who gets this right.

At any rate, the media has absolutely NO CLUE how to deal with a man whose Faith drives his convictions about the world. And, of course, they are absolutely terrified by the thought of criticizing Islam. But this Pope does not back down, even when he couches his thoughts in careful language.

What an honor it has been to have this great religious leader in our country for a while. What a shame we don't have the institutions to give him his due.



Senator Obama, Your Teflon Is Starting To Flake Off 

You know things are getting bad when your loudest apologists say this about your debate performance:

And the strange thing is not that he was knocked back on his heels - although he was, repeatedly.

The strange thing is that, somehow, he never seemed to see a single punch coming. He was stunned - maybe out on his feet. That's the best explanation I can come up with. . . .

The thing about a debate that's different from a fight is that no matter how bloody it gets, nobody wants to stop it. And the best thing you can say about Obama's performance is at least he never said, "No mas."

First of all, it's about damn time a member of the media actually pressed Obama on stuff like this. Hats off to George Stephanopoulis and Charlie Gibson.

Second of all, as my brother so aptly puts it,

given your razor-thin record of accomplishment, I think that knowing about the people you choose to hang out with is pretty important.

Dad used to preach "you are known by the company you keep" and "actions speak louder than words." So when the company you keep is Wright/Rezko/Ayers/Mrs, and your actions are missing in action, then that is how we know you, Senator.

The left has been very willing to forgive a great deal from Senator Obama--nothing has stuck to this guy. But, as any cook knows, when you heat, and then clean, and then heat a teflon pan over and over, eventually the teflon starts to flake off. What you're left with is a big hunk of pretty useless metal.

"Pan" Obama may have enough coating to survive the primary battle with the mother of all "heat sources", but the "Independents" who are going to eventually elect the next President are never going to flock to him as his worldview begins to become more obvious.


"Pro-Business" Ritter: Oh, Did I Mention This? 

That I'm actually going to be charging Colorado businesses MORE in tax this year.

What, you didn't see the story? Perhaps that's because it was buried on page 2 of the business section.

That's why we're here.

It was pitched as part of a pro-business legislative package. Now it seems that a key part of Gov. Bill Ritter's agenda will create more losers than winners in the corporate community. . .

It was Rep. Douglas Bruce who ferreted out the harsh truth about the bill. Quizzing Todd Herreid of the Colorado Legislative Council staff, Bruce let it be known that the council used Department of Revenue information and estimated 70 percent of Colorado corporate filers would pay more in taxes, somewhere between $25 million and $50 million in the aggregate. The remaining 30 percent get the savings.

Oh, well. I suppose the Governor can still be said to be 30% pro-business.

[cross-posted at RitterWatch]

"Pro-Business" Ritter: Oh, Did I Mention This? 

Your State Legislature Spending Your Money 

According to the Journal of the House, here's the title of Bill 1370:

Concerning increasing the level of services provided by
school counselors to students in public secondary schools,
and, in connection therewith, creating the counselor corps
grant program and making an appropriation

On the other hand, here's how the Rocky Mountain News blog describes the Bill:

House takes final vote on a bill to add 70 new academic counselors to grade schools across Colorado.

I suppose if you work hard enough, they're the same thing--if you speak "Legislative-ese."

Whatever the case, the bill passed 42-22 along largely party lines.

So now there will be 70 new academic counselors for grade schools. Great. One question:

What for?

It's not as if students in elementary schools have class choices to make. And it's pretty tough to make the case that an 11-year old needs "counseling" to decide their future.

So what are these jobs? Probably just a nother way to get 70 more union members and voters in the schools--funded by the state, not local government.

Gee, thanks.

For the record, my local Reps Gagliardi, Benefield, and Jahn all voted yes.

Happy Tax Day 

If you hated doing your taxes this year, imagine doing them next year--when the end result will be about $1800 worse than this year . . .

If Obama or Hillary get elected.

If you want to save yourself some of the trouble next year, vote for McCain. He has an interesting idea:

Finally, McCain offered an intriguing suggestion - perfectly timed for April 15 - that should have widespread appeal. He would give every American the option to bypass the convoluted Internal Revenue Code and instead file taxes under a dramatically simpler system.

At tax time, individuals who wanted to avoid the mind-numbing complexity of Form 1040 could file using a tax code with a generous standard deduction and only two rates. No other exemptions. Should this option become popular - and granted, many of us do love our deductions - it might further discredit the 67,000-page federal tax code.

Personally, I like--I depend on--my mortgage deduction. But if it'll save ten hours of preparation and lots and lots of stress, I'll take it.

At any rate, let's just say the choice is fairly stark in the Fall, based simply on tax policy.


A Source Of Light 

America is going to be graced for the next several days with the presence of a very courageous man of God.

Benedict, in making his first trip as pope to the United States, brings an agenda, and it's more the stuff of a theology lecture than a mass-media event. . . ..

To be sure, there are tangible goals: Ramp up frank interfaith dialogue. Return Catholics to regular, traditional worship that reminds them of their long history. But his biggest aspiration for his six-day trip is to encourage Christians to believe in Jesus -- to really believe in him, not as a metaphor but as a real miracle meant to deliver human beings from misery and war. . . .

Benedict feels that Western, secular societies don't take profound, supernatural religious faith seriously, a condition that he believes leads to rampant consumerism and nonchalance about such things as poverty. Religion-inspired terrorism shows, he believes, the opposite phenomenon: faith unhinged from reason. . . .

Many here predict he will expand that idea at his address Friday to the United Nations by talking about the link between freedom and religion. He believes, essentially, that there is such a thing as right and wrong, that it comes from God and that it is the basis of free societies. . . .

Greatest hits include a 2006 lecture quoting a source calling Muhammad inhuman (which led to riots in the Muslim world and the killing of a nun), a document last year in which he said other Christian churches are "defective" and his decision last month to personally baptize a famous Italian Muslim journalist on Easter. Some called the baptism incendiary; others said he was trying to make a point to Muslim countries about religious freedom for minority Christians.

I hope the media covers the Pope with anything resembling fairness and balance. And I'm also hoping the Pope is blunt about secularism and about religious tolerance.

We could use such a message these days.

. . . And The Dim Bulb In The Box 

Jimmy Carter, yesterday on This Week:

"I think there's no doubt in anyone's mind that, if Israel is ever going to find peace with justice concerning the relationship with their next-door neighbors, the Palestinians, that Hamas will have to be included in the process." . . .

"I think that it's very important that at least someone meet with the Hamas leaders to express their views, to ascertain what flexibility they have, to try to induce them to stop all attacks against innocent civilians in Israel and to cooperate with the Fatah as a group that unites the Palestinians, maybe to get them to agree to a cease-fire — things of this kind," he said.

I barely remember the late 70s--I was 11 when Carter left office. My memories, however, are of a dismal, disspirited country with boatloads of problems and a President who had no grasp on how to solve them.

So, by all means . . .go solve the middle east, Mr. Carter.


Several Questions For Senator Obama 

Barack Obama, to a friendly audience in San Francisco [courtesy Powerline via Hugh Hewitt]:

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

So, middle-Americans' bitterness is why they cling to the Second Amendment to the Constitution, to their Faith, and to the Rule of Law vis-a-vis immigration.


Q: Senator Obama, exactly WHY in the world do want to be the leader of a people, so many of whom you so clearly do not understand and despise?

Q: Senator Obama, are THESE the type of people you intend to "bring together"?

Q: Senator Obama, to use your logic, "they" cling to their bitterness and their religion because they haven't had jobs in 25 years; why do you, who have always had very good jobs and opportunities, cling as you have for the last 20 years to the religion of bitterness preached by Rev. Wright?

Q: Senator Obama, are you really comfortable describing such a vast swath of American society as bigots? Ah, but you did: ". . .they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them . . ."

What's remarkable, among the many things here, is that the original poster of this speech quoted Obama as an example of why he's failing to really connect with the working class. NOT, mind you, as a matter of abhorrent political demagoguery, but merely as a curious explanation for a political phenomenon.

In other words, the Huffington Poster saw nothing wrong, either, with calling middle America bigoted, bitter, armed and unstable.

There is, indeed, a huge divide in America today. And it is one that Barack Obama can no more bridge than he can leap tall buildings.

Oh, he'll get a [-nother] pass on this one from Democratic voters; this just won't play too well in the Fall, when those same Americans are faced with a choice between him and a genuine American war hero.


How Darkness Multiplies, And How WE ALL Bear Responsibility 

Have you seen this video? I don't know how you could have avoided it, but maybe you were lucky enough to miss it.

Sorry about that.

But this has me troubled in so many ways I don't even know where to start. How about the news blurb:

Eight Florida teenagers are accused of beating up another teen so they could make a video to post on the Internet.

Authorities say Victoria Lindsay was attacked on March 30 by six teenage girls when she arrived at a friend's home. One of the girls is alleged to have knocked the 16-year-old victim into unconsciousness.

First of all, having a pre-teen girl, I'm scared to death. Which "sleepover" is intended to be her last? You know, of course that's an absurd stretch . . . but we've gotten all too accustomed to absurd stretches becoming reality, haven't we?

My next thought was "how did the dad keep himself from seeking revenge?" I don't know how in the world he managed to restrain himself--through the Grace of God, no doubt. And a restraining order and heavy sedation, perhaps.

For myself, my next thought was I'd better get my kids' martial arts training started--and soon. Start with the flat palm to the filchum . . .

And that's how it starts.

This atrocity started with a girl having a computer which gave her a forum which gave the WHOLE WORLD access to her thoughts on an instantaneous basis. Believe me, there are very few things the world needs LESS than instantaneous access to a 16-year olds every thought. But that venting--that small act of darkness--found its way into a joke, perhaps, and got bigger. Then the girls who were the butt of the joke get insulted and decide to gang up; somehow, somebody thinks it's a good idea to videotape this event, so the darkness can be spread to the farthest reaches of cyberspace; finally, the girls suck two boys (wonder how they got THAT to happen) into being lookouts and "dead-drop" drivers . . . . and so on, and so on.

And the quicker we react to exact vengeance on the girls, the sooner we let the darkness into us.

It's the terrible trap this society has put us in: we can't resort to limited violence, in the way other generations did (remember "meet me at the bridge after school"), so the pressure builds; our schools tell us that the only thing that's wrong is judgement itself--not the acts that deserve judging--, so the pressure builds; children are brought up to indulge feelings of aggrievedness (?) in every little act, because no feelings are unimportant, and so the pressure builds; eventually, physics demands that there be a release to the pressure--and children left unsupervised with access to cars, time, and privacy have NO trouble finding opportunities to let the pressure out.

In a sad way, given the utter lack of remorse these children apparently showed while in custody, its a small miracle that one of them didn't think it would be good idea to hit the victim with a tray or a glass, doing real damage or killing her.

And through it all, there's no filter on any of these children that says "this is wrong, this is enough, it ends now."

Justice demands that these children spend time in jail, but that probably won't help--they'll come out even more hardened and more violent than before, only with less of a future to look forward to. The grandmother whose house was the chosen venue for this beating will likely be in the market for a new home--and a new liability insurance carrier, once her current one pays off the victim's family. But that doesn't really help--I'm sure granny had no idea what her darling granddaughter had in mind for that afternoon.

With luck, the liability will reach as far as YouTube, who should be found contributorily culpable based on the intent to post the video to the website. Perhaps no monetary damages are warranted, but there should be much better content filters in place to prevent this sort of thing from going viral. But, again, that won't help--there are many forums on the net for those with a craving for a few minutes of fame.

Ultimately, the entire society had better start looking itself in the mirror, and assessing whether a.)we're doing all we can to ensure the continuance of this civil society or b.)if this society we've built is worth saving at all.

There are SO many sources of darkness in this world--it's just a little more outrageous when it touches on the young. But, unfortunately, if it hadn't touched on the young generations ago, there wouldn't be the type of world we live in now where darkness is apologized for (go on Oprah, have a tearful moment, all is forgiven . . .), condoned (are we REALLY going to go to China for the Olympics this year?), or even celebrated (check the rap sheets of the top-selling musical artists last week . . .).

The only real answers lie with each one of us, I suppose. The darkness is dispelled by the light, if only the Light has the courage to shine out. So, I'm going to echo a challenge my minister issued on Sunday: go be a source of light this week. Find something nice to do for somebody who doesn't know you or who doesn't deserve it, but who really needs to know that there's somebody out there who gives a damn.

And, while you're at it, give your kids a hug and ask them how their day went.


NOT Rice for Veep 

Start from here:

“Condi Rice has been actively, actually in recent weeks, campaigning for this,” Senor said this morning on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

Let me open the commentary by saying how much I like and respect Secretary Rice. This is a brilliant and talented lady, who has served the President and her country with distinction. Sure, she's been less effective that I would have hoped at State, but that's a bigger problem than anybody realizes, I think. And besides, she's a very accomplished classical pianist--gotta love that.

That said, she would be a terrible choice for Veep. She doesn't bring any state along with her, her issue set is the same as the Presidential nominee's, she's never won an election or done the fundraising circuit, and she is still identified with the current administration--not really something that's likely to help in the Fall. She would be chosen for one reason and one reason only: the color of her skin.

I hate to say it that way, but I think that's the way it is. Secretary Rice would be an enormous asset to any administration; but not in this capacity.


A Source of Light: Somaly Mam 

I went on my quest to find today's Source in the newspaper. It took a long time to find a positive story, but here she is:

Working as a teenage sex slave in a Cambodian brothel, Somaly Mam says, she served up to 30 clients a night. Some hit her. "I never thought, just lived hour by hour. I played with nothing. In my head: nothing. It was dark, dark, dark. I never trusted people," Mam said Friday during a visit to Denver.
"I was dead."

She tried suicide, she said.

Her turning point: the day a brothel pimp fired a bullet through the head of her friend, Srymom, who dared refuse customers — a warning to other girls to obey. Mam said she then began trying to help a newcomer, a girl with dark skin like hers, eventually using the brothel keys to set her free.

Brothel owners soon released Mam, deeming her too old for Cambodia's booming sex trade.
Ever since, Mam has been arranging rescues of child sex slaves, more than 4,000 over the past decade. The group she formed — Acting for Women in Distressing Situations — counsels and rehabilitates them at shelters in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

By EVERY standard that our society uses to evaluate our expectations of people, Somaly Mam should be a drug-addicted, welfare-dependent basket case. She would probably fit onto several affirmative action/charity lists, and be able to live her life in America relatively free of worry or effort. And EVERYBODY would understand if she were selfish, or complained about everything, or was just a miserable person.

But that's not what she chose to do with her life. Instead, she has dedicated herself to bringing out other girls trapped in the cesspool she came out of. Reminds me of a story:

A man falls in a hole, and he can't get out. He sees his preacher walk by, says "Hey, Father--can you help me out?" The Priest looks at the hole, pulls out a piece of paper, scribbles a prayer on it, and throws it down to him. A minute later, the man sees his doctor walk by, says "Hey, doc--I'm in this hole; can you help me out?" The doctor looks at the hole, writes out a prescription, and tosses it down to the man. A minute after that the man sees a friend. "Hey, Charlie, I'm in this hole--can you help me out?" Charlie looks down at him, looks at the hole for a second, and then jumps in. The man is astonished. "Charlie, what'd you do that for?! Now we're both in this hole!" Charlie smiled and said: "Yeah, but I been in this hole before, buddy, and I know the way out!"

Somaly Mam is uniquely qualified to be helping out sex slaves; but, she's not stopping there--by getting one girl out of that hole--she's working to end the practice altogether.

Now Mam and two former U.S. Air Force Academy cadets, Nic Lumpp and Jared Greenberg, are launching a private U.S. effort to fight the multi billion-dollar sex trade that governments and police have been unable to kill.

Based in Denver, the Somaly Mam Foundation (somaly.org) has raised $400,000 and aims to collect $1 million by July, thanks to corporate and celebrity backers such as actress Susan Sarandon.

Again, by our standards, this woman is a hero for being able to function in society; instead, she's burning brightly, with an ambition that is as big as her past is hellish.

We wish her luck--I have no doubt that she will find a way to make a difference in Cambodia, and hopefully around the world.


A Source of Light 

It is somewhat the nature of blogs, and in particular of conservative blogs, to spend most of our time and energies snarking at the media, at politicians, and at anybody else that gets on our radar. It is, to be simple, the path of least resistance, as SO much of what the media and politicians do is either worthy of correction, scorn or mockery.

But, while that is ocassionally a very useful service (as with RatherGate), it very rarely does much to improve the world around us, to make it more comfortable or enjoyable, or to bring a little light into the world.

SO . . .

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that "shining a light" would have implications for this blog. Tonight, I unveil what I hope to be a at-least-once-a-week feature which I'm calling "A Source of Light." I will use it to bring to your attention someone or some organization that is making a positive difference in the world.

I hope you enjoy.



Random Global Warming Thoughts 

--First, I noticed the description of a show on the History Channel tonight that said, in part, " . . .examines past climate catastrophes and explores what we can learn from them to avoid future catastrophes" or something like that.

And, me being the cynic, my first thought was "We seem to have survived the past "catastrophes"--maybe they weren't so bad, after all."

--Then I noticed this, courtesy of Mark Steyn at NRO.

Global temperatures will drop slightly this year as a result of the cooling effect of the La Nina current in the Pacific, UN meteorologists have said...

This would mean global temperatures have not risen since 1998, prompting some to question climate change theory.

That really doesn't require comment. Just picture a slightly smug grin.

Presidential Speculation 

I have been devoting a little bit of RAM the last couple of days to the question of "Why doesn't Hillary graciously concede?"

Now, understand, I don't have a lot of RAM to begin with, and of that, I have very little to spare. So any thoughts on this matter are in that particular context.

My first thought was that she is simply THAT power-hungry and ambitious, and, like Al Gore, refuses to accept that mathematics of her situation. Such thinking is widespread, including from the likes of my brother.

My second thought is that she is simply staying close by, in case the Mrs. and the Preacher and the Rezko ultimately team up to derail him. Unfortunately for her, Obama seems remarkably impervious to such controversies, in a way we haven't seen since . . . well . . . Mr. Clinton.

And that got me thinking. If McCain gets the nod and becomes President, he's a perfect candidate for a single term, given his age and health record. And, certainly, she cares enough about her political future to know better than to go scorched earth at this point--there could be a lot of promise in another run in four years. So why not bow out now when she could curry a lot of good will among the party faithful? Unless . . .

Unless she has some information in hand that doesn't want to use, or at least, hasn't yet used, that would drive Obama out of the race. The Clintons have never been above the political "crotch shot," so you know she'd use it if she needed to. She must be thinking that she can make it a good enough race after Pennsylvania to justify taking it to the convention, where she and Bill will be able to "buy" the nomination. And if that plan fails, then and ONLY then would she go for the knockout punch.

Otherwise, it doesn't make sense for her to keep holding on to this foolish hope. Especially when she continues to make bad mistakes like the false recollection of sniper fire in Bosnia and her aide's meeting with the Columbian ambassador in contradiction to her public position and her astonishingly self-centered charitable givings.


A Contrast: "Darth" Cheney vs. "Bubba" Clinton 

Since the story seems to be the headline in the major dailies, let me just remind you of a widely-overlooked point of comparison.

Clintons Earned $109 Million in 8 Years

In the past eight years, Bill and Hillary Clinton earned a combined $109 million, with the former president collecting nearly half of that money as a speaker hired at times by companies that have been among his wife's most generous political supporters. . . .

The Clintons paid $33 million in federal taxes during the eight-year period and donated $10 million to charity, . . .

I think it's admirable that the Clintons have parlayed their political success into a financial empire; and I think it only appropriate that they give back: that $10 million to charity is roughly the amount of the traditional tithe. Good for them.

But you would imagine that a couple so focused on the plight of the poor, who has been called the "first black President", who are famous for "feeling your pain", might just have found a way to make a bigger charitable give than that. Perhaps they could stand to learn the lesson from one of the most reviled men in America:

Dick Cheney Donates Millions to Charity

. . . .Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne gave away nearly $7 million last year to help the poor and to medical research.

According to income tax information released by the White House on Friday, the Cheneys' adjusted gross income in 2005 was $8,819,006.

I don't begrudge the Clinton's success, and it's wonderful that they give as much as they do to charity. But every once in a while it's good to remember that there is (even for a man of Bill Clinton's appetites) a limit to how much you can spend, and that great wealth brings great opportunity to affect the lives of others.

A lesson, clearly, the Oh-So-Hated Vice President learned, and the ex-President and Senator have yet to learn.


Obama--Phone Home: The Worm Is Turning 

Here's the amazing headline from the New York Times:

Obama’s Support Softens in Poll, Suggesting a Peak Has Passed

Ruh-roh, Raggy! When your number one constituency--the press--starts to turn on you, it's not a good thing. It doesn't really matter what the actual numbers are or the real stuff in the poll turn out to be--the headline does the work.

Maybe the "professional journalists" have actually started looking at this guy and his record. After the wife, the Reverend, and the Rezko, perhaps its dawning on people that this guy is NOT ready for this just yet.

Oh . . . you mean you want the actual numbers? Okay.

:Obama favorability: 62%, down from 69% a month ago
:Primary matchup: Obama 46%, Clinton 43%, down from 53-38
:General matchup: Obama 47%, McCain 42%, down from 50-38
:Men: Obama 47%, Clinton 42%, down from 67-28

His numbers are taking a similar dive with whites, under 45, and those who make over $50k.

Those don't sound like good things going into the Fall.

Joshua Sharf For District 6 

One of our own, Joshua Sharf, who has been blogging at View From A Height for several years now, has entered the fray, and put his name in to get onto the primary ballot in the State District 6 GOP race.

His reason, to his credit, is not out of love of power or the desire to attain glory and fame (not that a state house seat can do that), but out of dissatisfaction with the other candidate, a lady named Rima Barakat Sinclair.

Why would Joshua be dissatisfied with her candidacy? Vincent Carroll nailed it today:

Rima Barakat Sinclair, her campaign Web site assures us, "continues to work for better understanding among peoples of different backgrounds" and "has regularly participated in interfaith dialogue." No doubt this enduring interest in "understanding" and "dialogue" is what prompted this Republican candidate for House District 6 in Denver to craft the following words two years ago regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

"Soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces have murdered children for throwing stones at army tanks. Israeli soldiers have claimed that the children represented a 'security' threat to them. . . . The systematic indiscriminate murder of civilians and the illegal collective imprisonment of a whole nation have been slowly suffocating the life out of the Palestinians. The brutal act of imprisoning 1.4 million people in an attempt to bring a whole nation to its knees is evidence of depraved Israeli policy. The sadistic conduct of preventing medical help from reaching the injured while Israeli soldiers watch is in violation of laws of man and of God."

We endorse Joshua whole-heartedly in this race. It's also quite refreshing that he jumped into this race for reasons other than self-promotion. Over the course of the last four years, he's proven to be a knowledgable, articulate promoter of conservative ideas. Help him get onto the ballot by signing a petition if you come across it, and then vote for him when the primary rolls around.


Beyond the Panic, Some Intelligent Questions 

The whole world is up in arms over the new report out today on high school graduation rates. Key findings of the study:

:Results show that graduation rates are considerably lower in the nation’s largest cities than they are in the average urban locale. Further, extreme disparities emerge in a number of the country’s largest metropolitan areas, where students served by suburban systems may be twice as likely as their urban peers to graduate from high school.

:Our analysis finds that graduating from high school in the America’s largest cities amounts, essentially, to a coin toss. Only about one-half (52 percent) of students in the principal school systems of the 50 largest cities complete high school with a diploma. That rate is well below the national graduation rate of 70 percent, and even falls short of the average for urban districts across the country (60 percent). Only six of these 50 principal districts reach or exceed the national average. In the most extreme cases (Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, and Indianapolis), fewer than 35 percent of students graduate with a diploma.

Expect to hear a great deal in the days and weeks to come about this "crisis", and a demand that politicians "do something about it," which usually translates into spending more government money on education.

The problem with that, as the Washinton Times so succintly points out, is this:

The cities of Detroit and Baltimore are among the worst in our nation (with 24.9 and 34.6 percent graduation rates, respectively). The irony is that these "urban" school districts receive some of the highest per-pupil funding in the country. Detroit receives $11,000 per pupil, while Baltimore gets $9,600. The national average is $8,700. New York state is the highest at $15,000.

. . . .in many urban schools, we can't graduate 75 percent. Action, accountability and standards are great concepts. Still unanswered is why schools that get the most money are still the worst performers? Who is held accountable for that?



The Growing Authenticity Gap 

I surmised at one point earlier this year the Mitt Romney couldn't break through because something about him just did not ring authentic with Republicans. John McCain, for all his flaws, is very authentic.

And, I think that's going to play true in the general election also. We all know the problems that Hillary has with authenticity--the Bosnia delusion just the latest example. But the more we see of Obama and Wright and Rezko and the Mrs., the more Obama starts to ring a little false.

All things being equal, undecideds tend to value authenticity, which is why Bush beat Gore and then Kerry.

Maybe there's a little hope for the White House in the fall, after all.

Opening Day List 

Top Five Baseball Movies:

1. The Natural--for one thing, Robert Redford actually IS an athlete, and looks like it during the baseball footage; for another thing, this one sort of defined the genre

2. The Rookie--this one goes high on the list because, as a middle-aged father with old baseball dreams, it hits really close to home; besides that, the depiction of the sacrifice involved in chasing that dream rings true, and there are no less than three bona fide tear-jerker moments

3. Field of Dreams--"Hey, Dad. . . .you want to have a catch?" One bona fide MAJOR tear-jerker moment, and a lot of very good humor spread throughout

4. Bull Durham--so many great baseball lines, and the portrayal of a clubhouse atmosphere and the cameraderie of guys is right on

5. *61--the HBO movie; great stuff, as we've come to expect from HBO

I know there are those out there going "what about 'For Love of the Game'" Doesn't count . . . at its core, that's a pretty good love story that can only be understood by baseball lovers. Neither does "A League of Their Own", for different reasons.

There will be disagreements, especially from people who know the older movies. Oh, well--add 'em to the list--I always need new movies to watch!

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