April 30, 2005
Bipartisan Border Bungling
Conservative commentator and author Michelle Malkin has a thought-provoking op-ed entitled Bipartisan bungling on borders on the Jewish World Review website. Here's a taste:
Now, before my fellow conservatives get all outraged about Hillary's politically calculated doublespeak on border security, here's another catch: President Bush has the exact same position as Hillary.
She's calling it the way she sees it, and I have to admit that what she has to say makes sense.
You should go read the rest.
Darth Vader's Blog
You've got to go read Darth Vader's blog. It gives you a different perspective on the whole rebellion thing. Even galactic monsters have rotten days!
April 29, 2005
A Senator's Personal "Nuclear Option"
I've just read this article at opinionjounal.com. It describes another unconstitutional way that Senators can delay (indefinitely, it seems) confirmation votes on executive nominees. Here is an excerpt:
With a showdown looming over the filibuster of judicial nominees, now is the time to point out another abuse of the Senate's "advise and consent" power. It's called the "hold," whereby an individual Senator can delay indefinitely a Presidential nomination, and it is seriously interfering with the operation of the executive branch.
Call it every Senator's personal "nuclear option." If he doesn't like a nominee or, more likely, doesn't like a policy of the agency to which the nominee is headed, all he has to do is inform his party leader that he is placing a hold on the nomination. Oh--and he can do so secretly, without releasing his name or a reason.
Like the filibuster, the hold appears nowhere in the Constitution but has evolved as Senators accrete more power to themselves. Senate rules say nothing about holds, which started out as a courtesy for Members who couldn't be present at votes. Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden has said holds are "a lot like the seventh-inning stretch in baseball. There is no official rule or regulation that talks about it, but it has been observed for so long that it has become a tradition."
I find this an alarming "tradition". What do you think?
Why is this a "non-starter"?
Democrats decry President Bush's plan to save our Social Security program as a "non-starter". Here is an article by Robert C. Pozen, who is in the retirement/investment industry, that asserts that Bush's plan will work. Here's an excerpt:
Ever since President Bush first floated the idea of personal retirement accounts as part of Social Security reform, fiscal hawks have been going berserk: "This will only increase future government borrowing when the federal deficit is already sky high!," they say. Well, they're wrong. There is a way to have personal retirement accounts, or PRAs, and actually decrease the government debt. If PRAs of modest size are combined with something called the "progressive indexing" of benefits, the government borrowing needed to finance Social Security would be dramatically reduced.
It's worth the read.
Somehow I get the impression that the Democrats' sole political strategy is to impede progress in this nation. It is truly a sad state of affairs.
April 28, 2005
Peggy Noonan -- Beltway Bullfight
This article by Peggy Noonan does a good job summing up the John Bolton nomination and some of the controversy surrounding him. Here's an excerpt:
The case of John Bolton is about politics (unhousebroken conservatives must be stopped), payback (you tick me off, I'll pick you off) and personality. People who have worked with him allege he is heavy-handed, curmudgeonly and not necessarily lovably so.
I don't know him, but I suspect there's some truth in it. Do the charges disqualify him to serve as American ambassador to the United Nations? If reports of his behavior are true--he is tough, pushes too hard, sends pressuring e-mails and may or may not have berated a coworker as he threw paper balls at her hotel door--the answer is no.
Go read the rest . . .
April 27, 2005
Great Orators of the Democratic Party
"One man with courage makes a majority."--Andrew Jackson
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."--Franklin D. Roosevelt
"The buck stops here."--Harry S. Truman
"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."--John F. Kennedy
"We're going to do something. We're not going to do nothing."--John Kerry
. . . and the Democrats wonder why they lost the election last November . . ?
[This was nipped in it's entirety from an OpinionJournal email newsletter]
Good News From Iraq, Part 26
Have you noticed that the Good News posts are getting longer and longer? I see that as proof that things are improving there -- every day.
Here is an excerpt:
Recently, British Broadcasting Corporation decided to conduct a little vox populi around Iraq: "Two years after the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Baghdad, marking the fall of the city to US-led forces, BBC Arabic.com asked seven Iraqis for their thoughts on how life has changed for them since the conflict." The results were surprising, certainly for the BBC, whose attitude towards the liberation of Iraq has always been at best lukewarm. They were surprising for me too, not so much in what the seven Iraqis had to say, but that the BBC still chose to run the story.
Here's Saad, 32, sound engineer from Basra: "Iraqis are feeling better. They are breathing the air of freedom. They read, watch and say what they want. They travel, work and receive a living wage. They use mobile phones, satellite dishes and the internet, which they did not even know before... As for terrorism, we are now beginning to unite against it and to defeat it."
Noura, 32, computer engineer from Baghdad and a Christian: "While we lost security after Saddam's fall, we gained our freedom and a chance to build a new society."
Nada, 32, government worker from Mosul: "We never imagined that the Turkmen community would have a political party representing them in Iraq, but this is happening now."
Kaban, 31, electrical engineer from Baghdad: "There have been many changes since the fall of Saddam's regime, but the most important change was that we feel free... However, those who say that security was better in the past are completely wrong. It is true we did not have suicide car bombings in Saddam's era, but our homes did not feel safe from the intrusion of Saddam's security men, who came in the middle of the night to kidnap, kill or rape."
Waala, 25, schoolteacher from Baghdad: "The Sunnis in Iraq do not live in isolation from the political and social circles of life, as many people outside Iraq seem to believe. Nothing has affected our relationships with each other - we face the same problems. This applies to Sunnis or Shia, Christians or Muslims, Arabs or Kurds. Unfortunately, the refusal by some Sunnis to participate in the elections was the cause of some political isolation."
Imad Mohammed, 25, university graduate from Baghdad: "I am no longer worried about losing my dignity or my life. And I am also getting a higher income, like most Iraqis."
Yes, the sample is hardly representative, and the concerns also expressed by the seven interviewees are many, most notably the still precarious security situation. But the sense of new-found hope and optimism cannot be easily dismissed, particularly since it also seems to be reflected in other interviews, opinion polls, and changes on the ground. Here are some stories from the past fortnight that you might have missed.
Go read the entire article. It is a long one, but it gives you the rest of the story about Iraq . . .
April 26, 2005
Under the Big Top
There is Tom DeLay, in the center ring with all of the spotlights focused solely on him. Meanwhile, many of the other legislators are scurrying around like rats in the dark hastily getting their own travel documentation in order -- so as to survive the scrutiny that DeLay is currently undergoing.
Talk about a bunch of two-faced hypocrites! What a circus . . .
Moving to Munuvia
Just wanted to let you know that I am moving my blog to American Geek in Munuvia. It may take me a while to migrate all of my archives from here to there, but that is definitely the plan.
Please head on over there and see my new digs. The site is a bit plain, right now, and I'll be doing some remodelling over the next few months, but mostly I'll be posting.
See you there . . .
April 23, 2005
joannejacobs.com: Two schools in Milwaukee
This post at joannejacobs.com refers to an interesting article in Milwaukee Magazine about two elementary schools who both primarily have black students. One school has better test scores (by far)than the average for black students district-wide, the other school has below-average results.
Why? Go read and find out.
I think you'll find that you're not surprised. What bothers me is that many people who are in the business of education seem to be baffled at how simple the answer is!
And now for something completely different . . .
I did this for . . . some strange, unknown, reason. I guess my Yankee roots still definitely shine through -- despite living in Texas for the last thirty years, or so . . . only where did my "5% Midwestern" come from?
Your Linguistic Profile:
30% General American English
0% Upper Midwestern
April 21, 2005
(Wednesday, 13 April) Just wanted to ask for your prayers today for my father-in-law. He is having knee replacement surgery at 0830 this morning. He is in his seventies, but is in very good health (except for the knee).
Anyway, please pray for his surgery and subsequent rehabilitation.
UPDATE (Wednesday, 13 April): He came through just fine! He's hooked up to a machine that continually bends and unbends his knee. He's feeling well, and will start rehabilitation probably on Sunday or Monday. Please continue to pray for him, and thanks for your prayers thus far!
UPDATE (Thursday, 14 April): My FIL had a fever last night, but evidently this was not unexpected and has come down to 99 degrees today. He has been up twice walking a bit in his room with the physical therapist. The PT is expecting him to be moved down to the rehab floor tomorrow. My FIL is also getting a walker tomorrow -- so he's gonna be mundo mobile! All good news -- thanks for your thoughts and prayers!
UPDATE (Friday, 15 April): My FIL is without fever, is not in pain -- not sure if this is due to meds, or what -- and was issued a walker today and used it a couple of times. After due consideration, the doctors decided to not move him to the rehab floor until Monday (mainly because his knee was not done draining and he wouldn't be able to start the rehabilitation regimen until Monday anyway -- they don't do weekends, I guess). There you have it, thanks for the prayers!UPDATE (Saturday, 16 April): My FIL is not doing so well today. His fever is back and he's been feeling poorly enough to reduce his walking around time today. Please pray!
UPDATE (Monday, 18 April): Good news! My FIL is doing much better! He had to have a transfusion of blood yesterday -- evidently he lost more blood than they anticipated. But since then he's been getting better and better. He was moved to the rehab floor this afternoon, and will begin intensive physical therapy (from 8-2 every day) tomorrow. Thank you for all of your prayers -- they have been very much appreciated!UPDATE (Tuesday, 19 April): Well, it looks as if my FIL is out of danger. In fact, he began rehab today. They get him at 8 in the morning, feed him breakfast, then work his tail off until lunch time. They feed him lunch, then work his tail off until 2 PM, then they take him back to his hospital room. He had a good day today. My mother-in-law is doing better now, too. She was pretty worried there at first when he wasn't doing too well, but she says he's doing a lot better (and so, she is feeling better). I appreciate all of your prayers, and will shamelessly ask for more -- because they are making a difference!
UPDATE (21 April 2005): My FIL has a bit of a swollen knee, today, so they sent him for an ultrasound. The doctors are thinking that it is just from all of the work they had to do to it during surgery and the intense physical therapy he has undergone this week. Meanwhile, my MIL's blood pressure has gotten a little high -- not dangerous, but definitely elevated -- so her doc doubled her BP meds for awhile. She'll be alright, but this has been hard on her. Please continue your prayers. You are so appreciated!
The Bolton Mugging
This article (you may have to register to read it) on the Wall Street Journal online, does a good job of pointing out the problems with both the Democrats' approach to the Bolton confirmation, and the Republicans' temerity.
"This smear campaign is all the more offensive because it is designed to avoid a genuine policy debate. Mr. Bolton, who has worked as a diplomat in two different Administrations, is being sent by Mr. Bush to lead a reform of the U.N. that desperately needs it if it is going to be effective. His skills helped repeal the U.N.'s "Zionism is racism" resolution in the early 1990s, and more recently he ran the successful and innovative Proliferation Security Initiative that helped put Libya out of the WMD business. But Democrats don't want to debate that record, because they know they'd lose. So they have set about to destroy Mr. Bolton personally instead.
You should go read the rest . . .
April 18, 2005
MIT Prank, or Maybe Professors Really Don't Know Everything
This CNN article is really great. You've got to read it . . .
In an effort to keep the record straight, Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit lays out the facts about what was said leading up to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
More Education Stuff from J. Jacobs
Here are a couple of education-related articles from Joanne Jacobs education website.
Go here to see some results of a study about what factors seem to affect a child's performance in school. It's not what many people have been saying all these years!
And this link is to an article discussing the relationship between effective teaching and teacher certification.
April 15, 2005
E-joke From My Sister
My sister forwarded this email joke to me, and, aside from making me laugh, I thought it said a lot about the unique character of Texans -- so I'm reprinting it here (with some minor changes to thwart search engines).
Due to the popularity of the Survivor shows, Texas is planning to do one
entitled, "Survivor-Texas Style." The contestants will all start in Dallas,
then drive to Waco, Austin, San Antonio, over to Houston and down to
Brownsville. They will then proceed to Del Rio, El Paso, Midland, Odessa,
Lubbock and Amarillo. From there they will go to Abilene, Ft. Worth and
finally back to Dallas. Each will be driving a pink Volvo with bumper
stickers that read: "I'm G-ay," "I Love The Dixie Chicks," "Boycott
Beef", "I Voted For John Kerry," "George Strait $ucks," "Hillary in 2008,"
and "I'm Here to Confiscate Your Guns."
The first one to make it back to Dallas alive wins.
I think it is appropriate to have an income tax joke today, don't you?
A man submitting information to his income tax preparer was[Hat tip to The Good Clean Funnies List]
asked how many dependents he had. "Sixteen," he replied.
The preparer asked, "Would you mind repeating that?"
The man replied, "Not if I can help it."
April 14, 2005
It's the Freedom
More than just a physiological function, memory has its moral injunctions, as well. To remember--the word is derived from the Latin word rememorari, "to be mindful of"--enjoins us not to forget, not to let slip into oblivion, but to maintain a space in our thoughts for the presence of something, or someone. This space can range from celebrating the 4th of July to solemnly vowing before the gates of Auschwitz, "Never again." At the same time, the word connotes the opposite of dis-member, implying that the act of memory is also an act of reconstruction, of piecing together again, of making what is now broken, or perhaps dissipated, whole again.
It makes for good reading . . .
Iraq Workers Protest Insurgent Attacks
ABC News has a report (dated 24 March 2005) about Iraqi workers protesting terrorist attacks. It looks like it is getting less fashionable to murder people over there . . .
(Hat tip to Steven Vincent at In the Red Zone.)
April 13, 2005
California and Public Education
"Right now, California is lagging far behind in education. Students are scoring extremely low on standardized tests and many cannot read (California's averages on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests from 1992 to 2003 place it 44th out of 48 states in mathematics and 48th out of 48 in reading). Something needs to change; some action needs to be taken to boost education for all students across the state. California officials have been working on the problem, but it has not been solved."
Wouldn't want to move there without planning on alternate education for my kids . . . !
The 65% Solution: One Man's Way to Better Schools
George Will has a good article on washingtonpost.com about a way to introduce more efficient budgeting of education dollars. It's worth the read.
By the way, most of my education-related posts are the result of browsing Joanne Jacobs blog site.
What Neuroimaging Reveals and Doesn't about Reading Difficulties
This interview of Dr. Sally Shaywitz may only be of interest to my wonderful wife -- who is very much interested in reading difficulties. However, it is worth reading if only because Dr. Shaywitz is one of the world's foremost authorities on dyslexia and other reading dificulties. And we all are touched by it in one way or another (unless of course, you live in a vacuum -- but then you wouldn't be reading this blog!).
Education Funding & American Idol
Lisa Snell, Director of Education and Child Welfare Program, Reason Public Policy Institute posted this op-ed, 'The president plays the Simon part; Congress, alas, is Paula', and draws parallels between our government and the television program American Idol in the continuing saga of funding education in this country.
The Dying of the Light
Thunder6 at 365 and a Wakeup has a post about losing a good soldier, Corporal Glenn Watkins. Freedom is not free, and I am amazed (and honored)(and proud) at how many of our men and women continue to willingly put their lives on the line in order to bring freedom to an oppressed people.
Here is an article written by Greg Moore, a Staff Sergeant of the 2-108 battalion in the New York National Guard. He has just recently returned home from a deployment in Iraq, and describes his homecoming. Grab a tissue first!
Partying in Iraq
MDG over at Ma Deuce Gunner has a good post about a celebration in Kirkuk, Iraq last week. They were celebrating the announcement of a fellow Kurd ascending to the presidency of the transitional Iraqi government.
Doesn't watching Iraq transform into a democracy before your very eyes give you goosebumps? It does me! I am in awe of the spirit of freedom that is spreading throughout that country . . . and into the greater region around it . . .
We are witnessing history in the making.
April 12, 2005
Christina is a decent southern gal who has a knack for thoughful prose. She records her thoughts on her blog at Feisty Repartee. In the highly politicized blog environment that I normally browse in, Feisty is a breath of fresh air. You will find yourself laughing and crying with her.
Her blog is one I highly recommend.
The Right and the Pope's Legacy: Willful Blindness
Controversial? I have no doubt.
Worth the read? Without question.
The Gate of Hell
This article reminds us of what we need to never, ever forget -- lest we allow it to happen again. Please read.
Hey, Profs, Come Back to Earth
Here is an interesting article at washingtonpost.com about how college campuses seem to be polarized -- one way or another -- with protests, imbecilic behavior, and nasty goings-on -- all in the name of "political freedom". We expect this kind of activity from young college students . . . The problem is that now it is the professors that are doing (or at least orchestrating) it!
Hmmmm. Let's see, young college students in the seventies are just the right age for college professors in 2005! I think I may have put my finger on the cause of this . . .
Hypothesis: Many of those demonstrating young college students of the 1970s never grew up, could not get real jobs, so they went back to school and never left . . . now they're in their 50s or 60s, they still have not grown up, and they still can't get a decent job outside of academia, so they act like the ignorant kids that they were in the 1970s . . . !
Kind of a second childhood.
April 08, 2005
ACLU Lawsuit Challenges Behavioral Profiling
The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging behavioral profiling at Boston's Logan Airport.
This, combined with their recent harrassment of the Minutemen group in Arizona that was assisting U.S. Customs in spotting people illegally entering the country across the U.S. - Mexico border, makes me wonder if the ACLU is now owned and operated by terrorists.
At one time, I had a lot of respect for the ACLU. But I certainly don't anymore . . .
My brother and sister-in-law might be interested in this little tidbit of information (if they haven't already heard it).
The St. Petersburg Times, Online Edition, has an interesting article that discusses how 39% of the Florida state legislators with school-age children have their kids in private schools. These are the same people who are working out significant legislation concerning Florida's public schools. What's up with that?
There's more, so you should go read the rest . . .
[Hat tip to joannejacobs.com]
Ma Deuce Gunner
MDG, who blogs at Ma Deuce Gunner, is a US soldier in Iraq who has some interesting things to say. In this post, he writes about "Heroes and Patriots" -- and he's talking about Iraqis. You should go and read this one.
Blogger is bugging me!
Blogger has not been allowing me to post since last night. If you can read this, then it is only by some screw up on Blogger's part! I'll try to catch up on my posting this weekend.
UPDATE (18:45 08 Apr): Yay! It's working again! I think. At least for now, anyway. Let's see what I can post now . . .
April 07, 2005
Ed, over at the Captain's Quarters, has an pretty interesting post about some UN reports discussing the number of Iraqi children at risk of starvation.
My read on this is that we finally know what happened to the Voodoo Economics that one of our presidential candidates (I forget which one) was accused of in years past -- the United Nations adopted it (VE) for those reports that require statistical analysis!
The Arab spring continues in Lebanon
Charles Krauthammer at Townhall has a good article that makes some reasoned speculation concerning what Syria's leaders must be worrying about lately.
Check it out.
April 06, 2005
John's Journal - In memory of Michelle Witmer
This blog is the a part of one father's efforts to deal with the grief of losing a daughter in Iraq. He had three daughters serving there, until he lost one on 9 April 2004.
Oh, and be sure to click on the Witmer Family Website link, too.
This is not easy to read. But it is part of this country's struggle, right now. And we all need to be reminded of the very real sacrifices that are being made on our behalf over there every day. God be with them . . . and with us . . .
Go on and read it.
Chrenkoff - My Pope
Chrenkoff, who is originally from Poland, and now lives in Australia, has a touching tribute to John Paul II that he has entitled simply 'My Pope'
Lance in Iraq
The post has several pictures, so it may be a bit slow to load if you're on a dial-up connection. However, it's well worth the wait if you want to see Iraqi children who are happy with the presence of US troops. Be sure to click on the link above the top picture for a related article in Stars & Stripes emagazine.
Another "Who's on First" knockoff!
You've gotta read this, too. Another modern adaptation of the Abbott & Costello "Who's on First? skit. I can't believe I ran across two of these the same day.
I really do enjoy Abbott and Costello movies -- even though they were old when I discovered them as a child . . .
Hu's in China
I just cannot help myself here. The following is a modern adaptation of the Abbott and Costello skit "Who's on First?"
It tickled my funny bone and I had to post it!
I got it in an email that I get every weekday from the Good Clean Funnies List. You, too, can subscribe for free (click the link).
Without further ado, I present:
Hu's in China
Bush: Condi! Nice to see you. What's happening?
Condi: Sir, I have the report here about the new leader of China.
Bush: Great. Lay it on me.
Condi: Hu is the new leader of China.
Bush: That's what I want to know.
Condi: That's what I'm telling you.
Bush: That's what I'm asking you. Who is the new leader of China?
Bush: I mean the fellow's name.
Bush: The guy in China.
Bush: The new leader of China.
Bush: The Chinaman!
Condi: Hu is leading China.
Bush: Now whaddya' asking me for?
Condi: I'm telling you Hu is leading China.
Bush: Well, I'm asking you. Who is leading China?
Condi: That's the man's name.
Bush: That's who's name?
Bush: Will you or will you not tell me the name of the new leader of China?
Condi: Yes, sir.
Bush: Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China? I thought he was
in the Middle East.
Condi: That's correct.
Bush: Then who is in China?
Condi: Yes, sir.
Bush: Yassir is in China?
Condi: No, sir.
Bush: Then who is?
Condi: Yes, sir.
Condi: No, sir.
Bush: Look, Condi. I need to know the name of the new
leader of China. Get me the Secretary General of the U.N.
on the phone.
Bush: No, thanks.
Condi: You want Kofi?
Condi: You don't want Kofi.
Bush: No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass
of milk. And then get me the U.N.
Condi: Yes, sir.
Bush: Not Yassir! The guy at the U.N.
Bush: Milk! Will you please make the call?
Condi: And call who?
Bush: Who is the guy at the U.N?
Condi: Hu is the guy in China.
Bush: Will you stay out of China?!
Condi: Yes, sir.
Bush: And stay out of the Middle East! Just get me the guy
at the U.N.
Bush: All right! With cream and two sugars. Now get on the phone. (Condi picks up the phone.)
Condi: Rice, here.
Bush: Rice? Good idea. And a couple of egg rolls, too.
Maybe we should send some to the guy in China. And the
Middle East. Can you get Chinese food in the Middle East?
[GCFL credited this as being received from Freund Milton.]
April 04, 2005
Losing a Friend
This article shows us the reality of the sacrifices our troops are making on a daily basis:
"RAMADI, Iraq. This is a column I hoped I would never have to write. It's about the death of a soldier who, like so many I've met on my four trips to Iraq to ride along with and write about soldiers, became a quick and loyal friend during the short time I knew him."
Please read it.
May he rest in peace
As you well know, Pope John Paul II has passed from this world. He left a legacy (to Catholics and Protestants alike) of tolerance for differences in peoples and cultures, and intolerance for immorality. He, along with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, contributed greatly to the collapse of the Soviet Union. His passing is mourned by millions, and he will be missed for many years to come.
"We are coming to the end of a century which began with confidence in humanity's prospects of almost unlimited progress, but which is now ending in widespread fear and moral confusion. If we want a springtime of the human spirit, we must rediscover the foundations of hope. Above all, society must learn to embrace once more the great gift of life, to cherish it, to protect it, and to defend it against the culture of death, itself an expression of the great fear that stalks our times."
- Pope John Paul II, Oct. 2, 1998, 'Ad Limina' address to the Bishops of California, Nevada, and Hawaii
(Hat tip to Michelle Malkin.)
Short Circuiting Fate
Here is an interesting anecdote as told by one of our soldiers in Iraq.
Joanne Jacobs blogging for education
Here are a couple of posts by Joanne Jacobs dealing with education. Her blog is well worth perusal.
Kids need meat
April 01, 2005
Michelle Malkin has a good rundown of the Sandy Berger imbroglio. I have some strong feelings about this, myself.
Berger stole the classified documents, then lied about it. He only admitted to taking them after he was caught.
If I had done that, I would be in jail for 15 years, plus pay the maximum fine ($100,000).
Berger, however, just gets his hand slapped ($10,000 fine, no jail time, his clearance is lifted for just three years), and gets to walk away -- but several classified documents that he pilfered are still missing!
This just disgusts me.