Friday, August 31, 2007

Is This News? 

Headline in the Miami Herald: "Lawmakers push a united, hard-line front on Cuba."

The lawmakers number three: Lincoln and Mario Díaz-Balart, from Miami-Dade County, and Albio Sires from New Jersey.

Historical Perspective 

Tracked in America:
This documentary Web site explores more than two centuries of surveillance in America. Included are two hours of audio interviews, 300 photographs, and 25 personal stories beginning in 1917.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Distinction without a Difference? 

Down in Miami, Mustang Bobby (Bark Bark Woof Woof) looks at the reactions to Senators Craig's and Vitter's sex scandals:
My guess is that the calls for Mr. Craig to resign are a combination of practical politics -- boot a perv from a safe seat, keep the john in the one at risk -- and good old fashioned right-wing homophobia. They've got nothing to lose by standing on the pulpit and screaming about Larry Craig's immorality because it costs them nothing and gains cred with the wingnut crowd who love any opportunity to do a little gay-bashing.

Those Darn Feminists! 

In a Palm Beach Post editorial on the "Foley Factor," the writer notes that some Republican leaders have called for Senator Larry Craig to answer to ethics charges or resign in the wake of Craig's Minneapolis bathroom incident and his subsequent guilty plea.

The editorial notes, "It's common for politicians in trouble to get blind support from favored groups. Feminist organizations went easy on Bill Clinton despite his exploitation of women."

Now I suppose this all depends on easily you define "easy," but a few quotes from National Organization for Women press releases from the late 1990s are instructive:
We have said from the beginning that no CEO and no elected official, including the president, should take advantage of the aphrodisiac of power to have sex with interns or staff.

Consensual sex with a White House intern is a abuse of power by the president; but consensual sex is not illegal harassment and it is not an impeachable offense. (August 17, 1998)

We will likely never know the truth about Juanita Broaddrick's accusation against Bill Clinton. It's virtually impossible to prove or defend against a 21-year-old rape charge. Perhaps the best way to respond is to call on President Clinton and his supporters not to launch a broadside against his accuser and to urge the president and the Congress to work to improve the status of women.

Now that she has come forward with her story, the National Organization for Women urges everyone to treat Juanita Broaddrick fairly and respectfully and to take her charges seriously. She must not be besieged by attacks on her mental state or character.

NOW calls on President Clinton to denounce this "nuts or sluts" defense, the argument that she either made it up or asked for it. The president should pledge publicly not to seek, or leak, irrelevant sexual history or other parts of Ms. Broaddrick's personal or work life, and not to let anyone do so on his behalf. (February 25, 1999)
It took me about 15 seconds to find these two quotes, and I'm sure with a little more searching I could find others that call into question the Post's (and plenty of rightwing pundits') assertion that feminists blindly cheered Clinton on.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Don't These Guys Ever Learn? 

Bark Bark Woof Woof details Idaho Senator Larry Craig's votes on issues relating to the gay community:
* Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006)
* Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)
* Voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000)
* Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage. (Sep 1996)
* Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation. (Sep 1996)
Hardly surprising.

Over at The Volokh Conspriacy, Orin Kerr is skeptical that Craig did not receive legal advice prior to his guilty plea.

If Craig did plead guilty to a charge of lewd conduct although his was innocent, he is too stupid to serve as a toll collector, much less a United States Senator.

Sunshine State Stamps 

The Tampa Bay-based My Florida History blog has an interesting post on U.S.postage stamps with a Florida theme.

MFH admits that this is not a complete list.

Other stamps with a Florida theme include a 1982 issue featuring Ponce de Leon and the rather obscure 1924 5 cent stamp depicting a monument in Mayport commemorating the landing of French Huguenots in Florida.

One of my favorites is this 1965 issue commemorating the 400th anniversary of Florida's settlement:

Monday, August 27, 2007

Gonzo Gone 

Michael Foomkin is not too excited about the suspected replacement.

Maybe Yes; Maybe No 

Michael Leeden goes out on a limb:
So maybe Castro is dying, and then again maybe he’s not.
I'm pretty sure he's dying (as are we all) -- it's just a question of when

Via Instaputz

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Dweeb Grows in Brooklyn 

Ann Althouse is enraged over a somewhat humorous video on YouTube that seems to question Rudy Giuliani on changing positions on gay issues, terming it "What crap!"

Ann, of course, is one of those bloggers who claims she is not a right-wing Republican, but rarely is out of step with the RNC.

You say her tirade is just intellectual opposition to dirty campaign tactics? Compare, then, one of Althouse's defense of the Swift Boat allegations in 2004.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Broward and Palm Beach counties are replacing face-to-face visits at their jails with video visits.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Put them on an Ice Flow 

The libertarian position:
As a class, the old and sick are already luckier than the young and healthy. Moreover, as a class, the old and sick have some culpability in their ill health. They didn't eat right or excercise; they smoked; they didn't go to the doctor as often as they ought; they drank to much, or took drugs, or sped, or engaged in dangerous sports. Again, in individual cases this will not be true; but as a class, the old and sick bear some of the responsibility for their own ill health, while younger, healthier people have almost no causal role in the ill-health of others.

Perhaps they deserve it by virtue of suffering? But again, most of them are suffering because they have gotten old, often in high style...

My mom's 81. She has atypical dementia, like her mother before her (this, then is her culpability: poor choice of DNA). She's well-off enough to afford a one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living center, where, by the way, nearly 100% of the residents have some form of dementia. She can't take care of her own hygiene. Her oven is disconnected; I can't take her flowers because she'll run water for them and forget to turn it off. She worked in a war plant during WWII, was a homemaker for fifteen years, then went back to work and paid into Social Security for thirty years, as did her deceased, war veteran husbands. Our financial advisor says the money should hold out ten years, probably longer than she will. If it doesn't, she could wind up as one of four parents in their 80s and 90s my wife and I, and our siblings, will have to decide how to support as we near retirement ourselves. I have yet to talk this over with any of them, but my own plan is to begin robbing libertarians the minute it becomes necessary.

I Know Nothing 

Bark Bark Woof Woof says Karl Rove is trotting out a thoroughly discredited defense -- "I was just following orders."

Maybe, but it seems to me that he is invoking the Sgt. Schultz defense.

Judging the Heavyweights 

The Palm Beach Post's C. B. Hanif gives his take on Hillary Clinton vs. Barak Obama, based on meeting both at the National Association of Black Journalists convention.

He came away with no real criticism of Clinton, but with a feeling that Obama would be a better agent for change.

Advertise for Free 

I assume the Sun-Sentinel doesn't sell space on the opinions page for commercial advertisements and public relations, but they obviously give it away for those purposes, based on the column by Bob Bekoff in today's paper.

Bekoff is the owner of Water Taxi, and was recently involved in a spat with Broward County over government funding for his operations. The end result was the county pulled its funding, in part because they couldn't get good financial information from Water Taxi.

OK, there may be two sides to every story, but if so in this case why not assign a reporter to look into the various allegations Bekoff makes and sort fact from fiction? Oh, wait . . . the Sun-Sentinel did cover this controversy.

Giving the owner of a private company a chance to tee off on an issue that has been previously covered in the newspaper seems to me to show a lack of faith in the veracity of the paper's journalistic skills. The Sun-Sentinel should have said to Bekoff, "You're free to submit a letter to the editor, but we stand behind our coverage of this story."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Florida's Micronesian Community 

The Far Outliers website has a series of posts on emigration of Pacific islanders. In one post he quotes from an article on Micronesian communities in the United States, one of which is in Florida.
This community—if it can be called that—is spread throughout an area that extends from Orlando to Tampa and Clearwater. This place differs from the other destinations we visited in that there are no senior founders of this community, "elders" who pull people together for gatherings and resolve community problems. Nearly all the Micronesians who settled in central Florida were brought out by recruiters to work at SeaWorld, Disney World, Busch Gardens, or one of the several nursing homes in the area. The community here, which is heavily Pohnpeian but with a few Mortlockese thrown into the mix, is composed mainly of young men and their starter families. We met no one who was there longer than ten years, and most have lived in central Florida for just five or six years. This group lacks the experienced leadership that has proven vital for binding together individuals in other migrant communities....

Some of the migrants have continued working in the theme parks. One young man operates the kiddie rollercoaster at SeaWorld while a Pohnpeian woman works the sky lift at Busch Gardens. Most, however, seem to hold jobs in food services, like the young lady from Pohnpei we found rolling cinnamon sticks in another part of the park. All seem to get along very well with their coworkers and enjoy the respect of their bosses.

A small Japanese restaurant called Kanpai employs seven Micronesians, one as hostess and six as chefs. When we went there for dinner one evening, we were treated to a virtuoso performance demonstrating what the Pohnpeian chefs could do with a knife, a hot grill, and bowls of vegetables and meat. The chefs came out, each in front of a grill surrounded by patrons, and did a juggling act with knives and food, as they chopped at lightning speed, swirled and twirled food on the grill faster than we could follow, and doffed their chef hats for the applause that followed their act.

Cartoon Christians 

Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder complain that true Christians are too often held up to ridicule in contemporary American society.

Judging from their opinion piece in today's Sun-Sentinel (Ned Flanders gets his 15 minutes of fame), they have only themselves to blame.

We will ignore the Sun-Sentinel's culpability in printing such a vapid exposition.

Baehr and Snyder run the MovieGuide.org website which dispenses information on films from a "Biblical" perspective. To wit, the review (or more accurately, warning)of the recently released Harry Potter movie:
Very strong occult, pro-witchcraft worldview where the hero and his friends conquer evil villains through evil means, i.e., witchcraft, with some brief talk about the importance of love and friendship, and people wish one another Merry Christmas and one idiomatic reference to prayer (as in “You better pray the villain doesn’t do that”), but in an occult context with no God-centered theology, plus some anthropocentric, neo-Pelagian, false religious talk about choosing the good within you with no appeal to God or Jesus Christ, who is the only Way, Truth and Life, and immoral pagan, politically correct, anti-conservative elements where breaking the rules is applauded and using discipline is given a stereotypical treatment so that those who use it are considered insufferable evil snobs and prigs . . .
In any case, in today's column, their first sentences give you a good idea of where they are going:
An interesting thing happens during The Simpsons Movie, which recently opened Number One at the box office in the United States and Canada. Ned Flanders, often mocked in the television series for his Christian beliefs and strict moral standards, plays the most important role in the story!

This newfound respect for Ned in The Simpsons Movie startled young fans at the press screening.

Oh yes, B & S assert, because "Characters like Ned Flanders . . . can challenge the minds of young people who may never have encountered an authentic Christian or have never been exposed to the characteristics of someone with such strong faith."

Leaving aside the meaning of "authentic," is this even remotely true? In a nation that in which people who profess to be Christians regularly poll at 70% and higher of the total population, what are the odds that more than a handful of "young people" are ignorant of Christians.

I'm sure B & S would respond that most Christians are not real Christians. That is, they don't believe what B & S think they should.

But beyond all this, B & S seem to lose sight of the fact that Ned Flanders is a cartoon character. Sure, as B & S state,
. . . despite the Job-like tragedies, Ned's devotion toward charity never let up and his faith in God has grown stronger. As leader of the Junior Campers (similar to the Boy Scouts), Ned organized a volunteer day at the Springfield retirement home, he spends one day a week feeding the homeless at Springfield's soup kitchen and can often be seen at the Springfield hospital reading to sick children
but are we supposed to be inspired by this (any more so than by a Dudley Doright cartoon)?

Were it not for the authors' pedigree, the entire article could easily be read as satire.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What "Sensible" Sounds Like 

Chris Dodd doesn't have a chance of becoming the Democratic nominee for president, but he certainly makes sense:
It is simply un-American to bar American citizens from traveling to foreign countries. In fact, Americans are currently free to travel to both Iran and North Korea, two countries which pose far more serious threats to American national security than the government of Cuba.
Via The Washington Note

Jacoby: Global Warmers are Dangerous 

In the Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby joins those who think use of the term "global warming denier" is unfair -- even though many of them deny that its happening, or that it's caused by human activity. It's all a scheme to silence skeptical voices, he states, going on to suggest that the campaign to shut up critics is well apace:
Some environmentalists and commentators have suggested that global-warming "denial" be made a crime, much as Holocaust denial is in some countries. Others have proposed that climate-change dissidents be prosecuted in Nuremberg-style trials.
Really? I would be interested in exactly who (it must multiple people, based on Jacoby's use of the plural) is suggesting criminal trials for those who don't think global warming is real. Are these people leaders in the scientific community? The head of major environmental organizations? Government officials? Columnists for major newspapers or broadcast media?

I could find only a single instance of anyone using the Nuremberg trail analogy, and he was just a commenter on a environmental blog who had no scientific background or, as far as I can tell, significant role in the global warming debates. His comments, in full:
Check out this startling excerpt from George Monbiot's new book Heat.

It's about the climate-change "denial industry," which most of you are probably familiar with. What you may not know about is the peculiar role of the tobacco industry in the whole mess. I've read about this stuff for years and even I was surprised by some of the details.

When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards -- some sort of climate Nuremberg.
That's the great thing about the Internet -- you can now find someone who is espousing almost any conceivable position, on any possible issue. Makes it easy to tar your opponents with terrifyingly extreme pronouncements.

Actually, Jacoby's piece is just a [globally] warmed-over rehash of a release and blog post from Marc Morano, who at the time was working for Republican Senator James Inhofe as communications director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Prior to that Morano was a reporter and producer of the Rush Limbaugh television show.

Great source, Jeff, and a good example of bringing an objective eye to the subject.

Trafficing in Bad Ideas 

The Miami Herald is not sure the new toll lanes on I-95 will work, but isn't willing to call the idea failed . . . yet.
We're not terribly fond of tolls -- who is? -- but in this case, some of the money collected from tolls will be used to pay for additional express buses. The buses are key to the project because, in South Florida, they are the most efficient way to transport large numbers of people on a limited number of roads. Unless significant numbers of people choose to carpool or take the bus, I-95 will remain congested despite the two HOV lanes.
Make no mistake about it, this toll lane project is not going to make any one's commute easier. Beyond the reality that few additional commuters will take a bus to work, we will have to put up with construction delays for who knows how long and then with lanes that are almost 10 percent narrower (think about that as you are driving beside an oil tanker at 70 miles per hour).

No, the reason for this "experiment" is that the money was being offered; its continuing justification will be revenue generation, pure and simple.

One Side Fits All 

The Sun-Sentinel's Guillermo I. Martinez complains that Cuba won't let its citizens travel freely.

Mr. Martinez is silent on the U.S. government's prohibition of travel to Cuba by American citizens.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bad Actor 

Among the 50 states, only Mississippi and South Carolina rank lower than Florida on average ACT college entrance test scores.
Acting Education Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg said Florida's scores fell because its ACT participation increased, particularly among black and Hispanic students.

"We have higher number of students taking the ACT, incredible increases, and they include more minorities than other states," Blomberg said. "There's clearly a different population of students included in Florida."
OK, then, I guess 48th isn't so bad, after all.

Where have I heard this line of reasoning before?

Monday, August 13, 2007

What do Iowans Prefer? 

The Iowa Republican Straw Poll drew 14,302 people who were interested enough to "vote" for their candidate (and eat BBQ).

By way of comparison, the University of Iowa averaged an attendance of over 70,000 for its home football games last season.

On the other hand, the GOPers did draw more people than a University of Northern Iowa home football game. Last year the Panthers averaged just over 11,000 people in the stands. Northern Iowa did manage to draw over 19,000 fans to its game against Youngstown State University last October, however.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Eating our Seed Corn 

One of the unfortunate, but predictable, results of the tax-cutting mentality in Tallahassee.

South Florida's Jonah Goldberg 

Shorter Kingsley Guy: I don't mind the government getting into the health insurance business as long as Michael Moore doesn't get any credit.

No Light at the end of the Tunnel 

A depressing article in the Washington Post about the chaos that is growing in southern Iraq as the British leave.

As the article points out, the violence is home-grown:
For the past four years, the administration's narrative of the Iraq war has centered on al-Qaeda, Iran and the sectarian violence they have promoted. But in the homogenous south -- where there are virtually no U.S. troops or al-Qaeda fighters, few Sunnis, and by most accounts limited influence by Iran -- Shiite militias fight one another as well as British troops. A British strategy launched last fall to reclaim Basra neighborhoods from violent actors -- similar to the current U.S. strategy in Baghdad -- brought no lasting success.
It seems increasingly clear that our military presence in Iraq will not have any positive results (in fact, given the carnage there, it is questionable whether one can unequivocally claim that Iraqis are better off now than they were under Saddam). The odds are that our cost in lives and money will largely be for naught the day after we leave Iraq, whether it be tomorrow or in two years.

Prolonging the American military presence in Iraq because the administration is afraid to admit its mistakes, is folly.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Opinions for Cheap 

Ah, Sunday . . . a time to relax with a cup of coffee and the newspaper.

I especially look forward to the opinion/editorial pages, which is why I now subscribe to the New York Times. Not because of the Times' editorials and columnists, but due to the increasing lameness of that section in the Sun-Sentinel.

Yesterday's opinion page hit a new low. It included a column by Earl Maucker on the role of journalists vis-a-vis the government, which was fine and about what you would expect the newspaper's editor to write.

Two of the other columns, however, were little more than free advertisements.
One, "Oil industry has worked to clean up its act," was penned by a marine geologist who is listed as being "in Baton Rouge, LA," but the company, Coastal Planning and Engineering, Inc., seems to be headquartered in Boca Raton. Perhaps, Mr. Finkl's admonition that "If we refuse to make use of our own oil and natural gas resources, we will damage the energy security we seek to protect," in effect a call for greater offshore oil production, would sound a little too close to home if the reader thought the author was referring to Florida, rather than Louisiana. Moreover, what ties might Coastal Planning and Engineering have to the oil industry?

The other, "Lawmakers must be realistic," was written by an employee of the Florida Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. As you might expect, the column was a call for the Legislature to keeps "hands off" the private insurance companies.

Now, I'm sure that the editorial staff at the Sun-Sentinel would defend the choice of these two writers as "telling he other side," but what ever happened to an impartial analysis of the subjects? The information in these two columns could just have easily been read in a company press release.

The final opinion article was by a Jeanette Henderson, who is described as "a speech coach, consultant, commentator, writer, speaker and co-author . . . " Omitted is that Ms. Henderson and her husband have "have served as the Official Speech Coach and Presentation Advisor for every REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION since 1992." The article ("Democrats have to hope war news gets worse") is another in the conservative line of the seemingly sincere advice to the Democrats; for their own good, of course. Her supposedly objective suggestion is that we should all remember that America is at war and the Democrats should help with the war effort. Otherwise, of course, they will be accused of stabbing the troops in the back.

This is why I always read the Times after I finish the Sun-Sentinel -- it keeps my brain from hurting all day.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Who Let Them In? 

Shorter David Frum: Hispanics and Blacks, although American citizens, aren't real Americans (how could they be if they don't vote Republican?).

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Heart of the Matter 

At Balkinization, Marty Lederman examines the unstated assumption in V.P. Cheney's "I don't recall that I gave instructions to that effect" in response to a question from Larry King:
What's interesting is that Cheney pretended to wrack his brain to recall whether he gave the fateful "instructions." As if that might actually have happened -- as if there would be nothing out of the ordinary if the Vice President had "instructed" the President's two closest advisors to try to squeeze a cabinet official.

Any other Vice President in the history of the Republic would have responded in a way that revealed how absurd the question was (i.e., how absurd it should be), to wit:
"I don't give instructions to those persons. They work for the President, not for me. Indeed, when they do act, they act as agents of the President. I can make recommendations, of course. But that's really beside the point, because ultimately it's the President's call whether to send his two closest advisers to bring pressure to bear on a cabinet official."

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?