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The Therapy Sessions
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

It's time for a crackdown in Fallujah

Stop playing around with these guys. There have to be consequences for this: Four US contractors killed in Fallujah.

I suppose John Kerry will want to run away, or try to hand things off to the corrupt and thoroughly incompetent United Nations, just like Al Qaeda would want.

It is useful to remember Winston Churchill, speaking in 1934:
"Many people think that the best way to escape war is to dwell upon its horror. They flaunt the grisly photographs before their eyes. They fill their ears with tales of carnage. They dilate upon the ineptitude of generals and admirals."

But dictators always find a reason to make trouble, Churchill said:

"They will say: you are rich; we are poor. You seem well-fed; we are hungry. You have the past; let us have the future." And soon the day comes when they say: "You are weak; we are strong."

Like Churchill, we are at the beginning of a long and costly global war.

His war was against Hitler, and ours is against Arab tryanny.

Ours - which may soon involve nuclear weapons - is - in some ways - more frightening.

But it's also important to remember that we are winning:
Survey finds hope in occupied Iraq
An opinion poll suggests most Iraqis feel their lives have improved since the war in Iraq began about a year ago.

Steven Den Beste:
We have to respond, and we have to respond massively. But that response must be targeted only at those truly involved in this attack. Sunnis collectively must not feel themselves victimized by it. And that's why this is exactly the right response:
U.S. troops on Thursday vowed to use overwhelming force to enter the volatile Iraqi town of Falluja and hunt down those who killed and mutilated four American contractors.

Marines took up positions on the outskirts of the restive town west of Baghdad where insurgents ambushed the contractors on Wednesday, but the U.S. army's deputy director of operations Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said they would return.

"Coalition forces will respond," Kimmitt told a news conference. "They are coming back and they are going to hunt down the people responsible for this bestial act.

"It will be at a time and a place of our choosing. It will be methodical, it will be precise and it will be overwhelming."

What is needed is a response which simultaneously punishes al Qaeda and reassures the Sunnis. But to do that, there has to be preparation. Our intelligence people now are busting their butts trying to learn everything they can about this attack and those responsible for it. Until they begin to make headway in that process, we must wait...

...And if we succeed (in democratizing Iraq), and if it actually does inspire liberalization elsewhere, it will be a catastrophe for the Islamists, and they know it. The insurgency in Iraq now is attempting to make that fail, by trying to prevent any reconciliation with the Sunnis.

I agree.


Another reason to like NCLB

There aren't many, but I like exposing people who don't really give a damn about education: Pa. won't release teacher test data:
The Pennsylvania Department of Education has refused a request by The Inquirer to reveal how many middle school teachers failed certification exams in each of the state's 501 school districts.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, seventh- and eighth-grade teachers must have certification in the subjects they teach by June 2006. Teachers who do not have the certification can obtain it by passing exams in those subjects.



A puzzle, from the Feces Flinging Monkey:

His website has the answer.


Worst debacle since McGovern?

I'm not sure if Dale Franks is right, but I just like the way he puts things:
So I don't buy the argument that the coming election will be another nail-biter. I think, all other things being equal, Kerry is gonna get beaten like a red-headed step-child, and by October it'll be so obvious that the Democrats will start looking at how they can pull a Torricelli on this guy's campaign. I honestly think this is shaping up to be worse debacle than McGovern.


Oh, Richard Cohen....

The world is changing.

The herd of great beasts lumbers in search of water.

Once they were the giants of the land, feared by all. But now they are steadily being overtaken by quick thinking, warm-blooded, scurrying little creatures.

The herd is ignorant of its coming extinction, ignorant of everything except the importance of continuing its plodding journey to quench its thirst.

But a single paleo-liberal ignores the group, and turns his head to see the approaching meteor.

He isn't quite able to grasp what it all means:
Bit by bit, the UN is making itself look both silly and bigoted in the place that matters most to it - the U.S. The UN's persistently one-sided resolutions, its proclivity to blame Israel for everything and the Palestinians for nothing - not even for repeatedly rejecting every peace plan offered them - reduces it to irrelevance.

But this dinosaur still feels that US foreign policy should be subject to the UN's OK.

He just feels that way, he can't explain it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Come on, William!

Despite numerous articles and copious amounts of information, William Raspberry still can't figure it out: I Still Don't Understand Why We're In Iraq

William, repeat slowly after me: we are trying to create the world's first Arab democracy. That's D-E-M-O-C-R-A-C-Y. It is a very important form of government that will hopefully allow the Arab world to solve its own numerous problems and not just blame them on Jews and Americans.

Oh dear. I still don't think William understands.

I have no problem with somebody who thinks our adventure in Iraq will not work. They need to be heard.

I have a problem with somebody who refuses to understand why we are there and what we are trying to do. That much should be clear to anyone by now.Every American should know why we are there, and should hope that we succeed. If we fail, the results for us will be very bad, and for the Arab world they will be catastrophic.

William Raspberry will be on display at your local museum someday, and example of the exotic beasts that once roamed Washington in great herds, and are now (all too slowly) dying out: Clueless Paleoliberals.

Ladies and gentlemen, step right up and understand that men like this once swayed masses.

Today his simple brain can't wrap around a basic concept like the importance of liberty. He is lost in the past, muttering about Vietnam, busing and the evils of Nixon.

By the way, please don't feed the tard. He's on a special diet.


The advantage of ADHD

When I used to teach chemistry at Villanova, I was annoyed by a growing problem in universities today. I wrote a piece on it and published it in the college paper, and I got myself in a little hot water.

Here is the piece, and there are footnotes at the bottom:
On the first day of class, one of my students spoke with me privately. I must give him fifty percent longer than his competition on tests and quizzes, he told me. He has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I must keep this secret. If the other students find out, they are likely to feel cheated at the special advantage he gets.

They should.

Learning Disabilities (which increasingly include disorders as benign as “Test Taking Anxiety”) are becoming common at the college level: Currently, anywhere from three to five percent of students claim to have ADHD or a similar learning disability(1), and the number is growing (2).

These students are entitled to special privileges: extra time to take tests, free tutoring, private (sometimes unmonitored) testing environments, exemptions from standard disciplinary rules, personal note takers and, in some instances, laptop computers (3). Some psychiatrists even believe ADHD students should have special access to calculators and reference books on tests (4). All of these “accommodations” are given confidentially, and no mention of this advantage is made on their transcripts. When these “special” students take the SAT, MCAT, and LSAT (the medical and law school admissions tests), the tests are un-timed and can be taken privately (5).

It is a chilling thought: This college student, who today can’t take a timed test or gets nervous trying to think in a room with other students, could tomorrow be your child’s emergency room doctor.

I don’t deny that ADHD students are different. They are. And learning disabilities like dyslexia are very real. But despite all the opinions from the “experts,” I continue to be an ADHD agnostic.

Psychiatrists look down on people who, like me, suspect that most of these “learning disabilities” might – just possibly - be symptoms of undisciplined home environments. They know - they just know - that such thoughts are the prejudices of unwashed commoners, people unblessed with advanced degrees in psychiatry.

But even the psychiatrists have their doubts.

In 1998, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommended “a more consistent set of diagnostic procedures and practice guidelines (6),” and added that “further research is necessary to firmly establish ADHD as a brain disorder (7),” leaving open the possibility that ADHD might be an environmentally determined problem. The ADHD explosion is clearly a largely American phenomena (8), and its “sufferers” tend to be male, and richer and whiter than the general population (9).

But psychiatrists have been busy since then, and ADHD diagnoses have increased alarmingly (10).

Fearful of lawsuits from parents (11) who can’t understand the academic sluggishness of their undisciplined children, schools plunged in headfirst. Society’s bill for special education was $40 billion in 1995(12), much of that coming because of the new learning disability trend. To pay for these expensive, mandatory federal programs, districts turn to the only revenue source available: They raise school taxes (13).

The money is often wasted. As the NIH sadly concludes: there are “consistent findings that despite the improvement in core symptoms” due to Ritalin and expensive therapy, “there is little improvement in academic achievement or social skills” in children treated for ADHD (14).

A joint report from the Progressive Policy Institute and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation laments that the education community now “attempts to serve an ever-growing population of youngsters with an ever-lengthening list of problems and difficulties, some of them ambiguous in origin, subjective in identification, and uncertain as to a solution…particularly in the LD (Learning Disability) area (15).”

These students are now filtering into our colleges, where they often receive the same unfair advantages they received in high school. Sadly, very few academics have been able to bring themselves to an amazingly simple conclusion about knowledge:

The ability to concentrate on a problem and solve it quickly is not an optional aspect of competence.

It is an integral part of competence.

But what happens next? Is there really any demand for workers who, because of their documented inability to concentrate will take, say, fifty percent longer to do the same job as their peers?

Of course there isn’t.

An employee who takes fifty percent longer to do a job is going to be fired, especially if he plans to bill his company for the extra time. These people will learn to work as fast and as well as their peers, some say. But if they can do this, it calls into question whether this disability was ever a disability at all.

I have a grimmer view about the future: I believe that when these “special” people are fired, they’ll sue, claiming discrimination. You can already hear the lawyers licking their lips.

We can only hope they lose: The productivity of our nation depends on it.

One of my students failed a test the other day. She has to study, I said. She told me confidentially that she think she has a problem concentrating on tests. She’s going to talk to some people about getting this documented. She wanted me to know.

Oh brother.

1. ADHD claims: NIH statement (point number 3) on ADHD, November 1998 available at this web address: ( http://consensus.nih.gov/cons/cons.htm ): search by date (This web address doesn’t work when I try to copy the link) November 1998 = ADHD report). This fact is in the intro (pg. 8 of 45).
2. ADHD growing: pg 46/371 (this is 371 pages long when opened as Adobe Acrobat file. This is page number of 28 of the report) (middle of page) in the report written by the Progressive Policy Institute/ Thomas Fordham Foundation. Available at this website: http://www.edexcellence.net/fordham/foreports.html
click “Rethinking Special Education for the Twenty First Century.)
also: Running on Ritalin by Laurence H. Diller, M.D; Bantam Books.1998 Pg. 2.
3.accommodations: pg. 48/371 (Page number 30 - bottom of page) PPI/Fordham report
4.. E. Hallowell and J. Ratey. Answers to Distraction. Pantheon Books, NY 1994 (see accompanying faxed sheet, pg.36 of this book)
5. SAT: 48/371 PPI (page #30 - bottom of page)
LSAT: http://www.lsat.org/LSAC.asp?url=lsac/accommodated-testing.asp
MCAT: http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/about/accommodations.htm

6. NIH (November 1998) report in Conclusions (pg. 3 of th report, pg. 7 of 45 on Adobe Acrobat) .
7. NIH (November 1998) report in “1. What Is the Scientific Evidence To Support ADHD as a Disorder?” (top of page 7) 10/45 on the Adobe Acrobat Reader
8. American: page 8 middle of the page (pg 11 of 45) NIH
9. Richer, whiter and wealthier: PPI/ Fordham 49/371 (page 31 top of page)
10. alarming increase: 46/371 PPI/Fordham (page 28 top to middle)
11. lawsuits: 51/371 (page 33) PPI/Fordham – top of page.
12. $40 billion 21/371 PPI/Fordham (page 2 top of page)
13. taxes 344/371 PPI/Fordham (top of page 336)
14. Not effective for ADHD Page 10 NIH)13/35 NIH
15. PPI quote 347/371 PPI/Fordham (pg. 339 middle)

Monday, March 29, 2004

Leave the dog out of it!

The Sun Newspaper Online
AN ARMY sniffer dog was the target of an ASSASSINATION bid by Iraqi guerillas because he found so many weapons.

What a good dog!

(Thanks to Rick)


I pledge allegiance...to the golden, crapping bird on high

A website grades the flags of various nations. Quite funny: Failing Grades

One that does poorly is Zimbabwe's, which features eye-jarring colors and a hawk sitting on a toilet:

I'm glad I don't have to pledge allegiance to that!
(Thanks to All Agitprop, All the Time)


Nine foot inflatable Satan terrorizes southern folk group!

It looked too fake to be real, but it's for sale on Amazon:Amazon.com: Music: Satan Is Real

You can listen to samples from the group (including the cover song) on that website. All of the poor fans of this group advise that you can't judge the album by its cover on this one.

But the cover is all I care about.
(Thanks to Die Puny Humans)


Blaming the victim

Hunger in the U.S.:
Households without money to buy enough food often have to rely on cheaper, high calorie foods to cope with limited money for food and stave off hunger. Families try to maximize caloric intake for each dollar spent, which can lead to over consumption of calories and a less healthful diet.

This is how liberals explain away one of the most stunning paradoxes in the US. The paradox, simply stated, is this:
If so many Americans suffer from "hunger," why is OBESITY the biggest health problem afflicting the poorest Americans?

As usual, the left has half of it right: the poor eat too much junk food. But poor people don't eat bad food because they are trying to "maximize caloric intake."

That's bullshit.

They do it because they don't understand basic home economics, the most important lesson of which is this: if you want to save money, DO THE WORK YOURSELF.

If you learn to cook, you can feed a family of four an astonishingly small amount of money.

I love to cook, and I bet I can feed four people for a week on less than $10/day.

Here's how I would do it:

My Grocery List (prices in suburban Philly, March 2004)

Potatoes (5 lb)......................................................$1.99
Celery (1 bunch)....................................................$1.39
Cabbage(1 head)..................................................$0.98
Onions (3 lb).........................................................$1.69
Vegetable oil(24 oz).............................................$1.19
Sugar (1 lb)...........................................................$0.43
Flour (5 lb)............................................................$1.92
Eggs (1 doz).........................................................$1.99
Rice (2 lb).............................................................$1.39
Spaghetti(2 lb).....................................................$1.75
Tomato sauce(28 oz)........................$0.79 X 2 = $1.58
Whole chickens (2-3 lbs)...... $3.00 X 3 (birds) = $9.00
Ground beef (2 lb)................................................$4.58
Milk (1 gallon, 1% milkfat)..................$2.44 X 2 =$4.88
Cheese (Monteray Jack, 10 oz)............................$3.50
White bread (1 loaf)............................................$1.99
Sliced ham (3/4 lb)..............................................$2.25
Hot Dogs (pkg of 8).............................................$1.29
Frozen vegetables (10 oz pkg).......$0.85 X 7 = $5.95
Lettuce (1 head ).................................................$0.69
Tomatoes (1 lb)...................................................$0.69
Butter (2 sticks)...................................................$2.19
Orange Juice, frozen conc. (can).......$1.38 X 2 = $2.76
Macaroni (16 oz, dry)...........................................$1.02
Kidney Beans (32 oz, dried).................................$1.43
Cereal (Puffed Rice, large box).............................$3.25
Total ..................................................................$63.13

Just the basics. No processed food.

That is an average of $9.01 a day to feed a family of four, less than it would cost to take for the whole family to eat dinner at McDonald's. Granted, nobody is going to get fat on the menu (and that is part of the point), but they aren't going to have "hunger" or malnutrition either.

Here is what I would do with this for a week:

Breakfast: Cheese omelette, oatmeal and OJ
Lunch: Macaroni and Cheese
Dinner: Meatloaf (with tomato sauce glaze), mashed potatoes and peas (milk for the kids)

Breakfast: Cereal, oatmeal and OJ
Lunch: Chicken noodle soup, home-made bread
Dinner: Panfried breaded chicken breasts stuffed with cheese and spinach, served under tomato sauce and over rice (milk for the kids)

Breakfast: Pancakes, OJ
Lunch: Potato soup and biscuits
Dinner: Salisbury Steak, panfried potatoes, green beans

Breakfast: French Toast, orange juice
Lunch: Ham sandwiches with lettuce and tomato, macaroni salad, leftover soup
Dinner: Hot Dogs, cooked cabbage on the side, salad

Breakfast: Biscuits, cereal and orange juice
Lunch: Chile con carne with cheese, over rice.
Dinner: Spaghetti with meatballs, green beans

Breakfast: Cereal, OJ
Lunch: Cabbage rolls stuffed with rice and beef, in tomato sauce
Dinner: Fried Chicken (wings and drumsticks), beans and corn

Breakfast: Cereal, OJ
Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwiches, salads
Dinner: Chicken thighs in tomato sauce, over spaghetti, spinach

Yes, things are tight, and the meals won't be huge. But nobody's gonna be starving either.

And in reality, poor children qualify for the lunch and breakfast programs at their schools, so making the lunch and breakfast on workdays is probably unrealistic.

The kitchen, of course, should be stocked with extras like mayonaise, vinegar, ketchup, pepper, salt, jam, baking powder, yeast and syrup. But in a typical house, the usage of these things is unlikely to exceed a dollar or two a week.

The menu is lacking in fish, and perhaps I should have made tuna casserole using canned tuna.

If you are willing to cut out cheese, milk and meats, you can live a lot cheaper (with children, though, this would be unacceptable). If you are prepared to live on a real Third World diet (mostly cabbage, rice or potatoes) , you could do it for $20/week.This is how Chinese graduate students live on paltry stipends (about $10,000 a year) in the US and still send most of their money home to their families at the end of the month.

I believe that any person who wishes to apply for food stamps or any other government assistance program must first be required to take a basic home economics and a cooking course.

Our grandmothers - who knew this stuff instinctively - would be laughing at how spoiled and clueless we are.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Ant city

It's great fun to take out your frustrations, imagining that you are giant with a huge magnifying glass, training concentrated sunlight on the helpless people scurrying below: ANT CITY.

As a bonus, I took out a huge gas truck and destroyed the city!

(Thanks to A Bad State of Gruntledness)


Bush lied!

It is worth remembering what we DID find:
(U.S. weapons inspector David) Kay's list is chilling. It includes a secret network of labs and safe houses within the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi foreign intelligence service; bioorganisms kept in scientists' homes, including a vial of live botulinum toxin; and my favorite, 'new research on BW [biological weapons]-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever, and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin' -- all 'not declared to the U.N.'

I have been to medical school, and I have never heard of Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever. I don't know one doctor in 100 who has.

It is a rare disease, and you can be sure that Hussein was not seeking a cure.


Lincoln Illinois is going to need more hotel rooms!

If they build it, the Rogers family will be coming! And we won't be the only ones!

This is an artist's rendering of a proposed 305-foot monument of Abraham Lincoln to be built in Lincoln, Ill. Supporters such as Rev. S.M. Davis, a Lincoln pastor who first suggested the statue, say it would be visible for about 20 miles and have hopes it could become one of the biggest tourist attractions in America. (AP Photo/HO)

We won't be able to hold the kids back!

(What is on top of that barrel, by the way? A cut watermelon?)


Medical inflation

The exploding cost of (effectively) socialized medicine!

How can it be tamed?
Why has the cost of laser eye surgery fallen 22 percent in four years? For the same reason the cost of cosmetic surgery has been rising slower than the inflation rate. These elective procedures are generally paid for by individuals, from their own resources.

Individuals paying directly for procedures actually keep costs down?

Who knew?

When I got my laser surgery in 2000, it cost $4500.

Now, at the same facility with the same doctor, the procedure is around $3000.

It is medical disinflation in action!

Friday, March 26, 2004

The truth underneath the fury

Yep, that's about the size of it:
This is the real lesson emerging from the 9/11 Commission hearings if you listen above the partisan din. In their eagerness to insist that Mr. Bush should have acted more pre-emptively before 9/11, the critics are rebutting their own case against the President's aggressive antiterror policy ever since. The implication of their critique is that Mr. Bush didn't repudiate the failed strategy of the Clinton years fast enough.

We're all aggressive, unilateral warriors against terror now.


Bitch slapping to the oldies

Simmons Cited for Slapping Man at Airport

Getting bitch slapped by Richard Simmons doesn't look good for anyone's manhood credentials. It's kind of like having your ass kicked by a little girl.

People always said Richard Simmons seemed...well, a little gay.

Me? I never saw what they were talking about.


No longer Israel's problem

USS Clueless:
For the last 55 years, the Palestinians have had a problem. That problem is their refusal to accept the existence of Israel.

For the last 55 years the Palestinians have managed to make themselves into a problem for Israel. Sharon has now figured out a way to make it so that it will no longer be Israel's problem. With a pullout from Gaza, a completion of the wall around the West Bank and a pullout there, the Palestinians may well still have the will to target Israel but their means and their opportunity to do so will be drastically reduced.

Attacks on Israelis will continue, but the rate will be much lower than now, which is lower than it was a year ago. And there's good reason to believe that it will be reduced enough to bring about a crossover in Israel. It will no longer cripple Israel's economy or tie its politics into knots. That will be a major change.

The Palestinian strategy against Israel has always been the strategy that a small child uses against his parents when he throws a screaming tantrum in public. The child wants something and the parents refuse it, and the child has no direct ability to force his parents to change their minds. So the kid makes a scene and attracts attention, hoping the parents will yield in order to shut him up....

...All parents soon learn, if they didn't already know it, that giving in to a child's tantrum is a really good way to get a lot more of them. More to the point, doing anything which the kid interprets as being a reward for the tantrum, even if it was not intended to be, will get you more tantrums. It doesn't matter why the parents did what they did; what matters is whether the brat decides that tantrums are effective. By the same token, anything which seems to militants to be a positive result of their attacks will encourage more attacks.

Leave it to Den Beste to put the Palestinian problem in the context of Parenting 101.


The second phase

In city seen as Iraqi success, extremists rise

BASRA, Iraq - Given the choice, Rana al-Asadi wouldn't wear a head scarf. But a few weeks ago, the 22-year-old English major at Basra University decided she didn't have that choice anymore.

Menacing groups of men have been stopping cars at the university gates and haranguing women whose heads are uncovered, accusing them of violating Islamic law. Male students have accosted them as they walked to class. As Asadi spoke to a reporter in a courtyard, a scruffy-looking man handed out flyers that likened uncovered women to prostitutes and murderers.

"I fear them," she said simply.

The Inquirer is starting the next phase of anti-Iraq war campaign.

So far this is play-by-play since last year.

Early March, 2003: Iraq is going to a bloodbath, with hundreds of thousands dead civilians and possibly ten thousand dead Americans! The Iraqis will fight us tooth and nail!Saddam Hussein will attack Americans and his own people with his chemical weapons!

Late April, 2003: After a quick and relatively antiseptic war, the US will be unable to keep a lid on Iraqi chaos! Iraqis are gald to have Saddam, but they are eager to fight Americans!

Late Summer, 2003: Iraq looks more stable, but the US faces a long war of attrition that will eventually force it to admit it needs the UN to stablize things!

Early winter, 2003: It's another Vietnam! We are backing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi police who helping us stabilize things, but they are hated by their countrymen!

January, 2004: OK, the US is beating the insurgency and the Iraqi police are taking care of crime, but American dreams of democracy for Iraq will turn the situation into a civil war that the US cannot control! The Iraqi people may not want us to leave, but the insurgency will intimidate them into hating the US!

Current: OK, Iraq looks like its on the way to a stable, sovereign, democratic Iraqi government. It looks like the Iraqis think the war was worth it, and they want America to stay until a good government is in place. But these people will never have a real democracy! They are lost in the Middle Ages and they treat their women badly! (This from a country that, for the majority of its existence, didn't even give women the right to vote. Iraqi women will have that right, by the way).

As everyone knows, the editors of the Philadelphia Inquirer are brilliant.

And the Bush Administration is a bunch of fools who can't comprehend the complexities of international relations.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

A reason to be proud of the U.S.

I am happy to be the citizen of a country that stands up for the idea that a mass murderer of hundreds of Jews deserved to die:

U.S. Vetoes U.N. Resolution Condemning Killing of Hamas Leader Yassin


Human rights abuse?

Israel Defense Forces paratroopers caught a retarded Palestinian boy,aged 14, wearing an explosive belt at the Hawara roadblock, south of Nablus, in the West Bank on Wednesday afternoon.

"He told us he didn't want to die. He didn't want to blow up," the officer said...The soldiers then sent the robot to hand the scissors to the boy. He cut off part of the vest and struggled with the rest. "I don't how to get this off," Abdu called to the soldiers.

Where are all the condemnations from human rights organizations?

Oh, the Arabs did it.

Why did I even bother to ask?

(Thanks to Marc)


Spanish for kicking ass

This bullfighter is so busy kicking this bull's ass that he doesn't even notice that he lost his shoe!


Education equality?

Good old Jesse Jackson:
In the past five years Florida has delivered real school choice to more American schoolchildren than anywhere else in the country. Which is no doubt why Jesse Jackson was down in Tallahassee earlier this month calling Governor Jeb Bush's policies 'racist.' He and his allies understand all too well that when poor African-American and Latino children start getting the same shot at a decent education that the children of our politicians do, the bankrupt public education empire starts looking like the Berlin Wall.



Puny Americans! How you fear having your testicles crushed! Weaklings! Zhang Xiao Ju laughs at your fear!:

Former Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson, D-Culver City, kicks Zhang Xiao Ju between the legs during a demonstration performed by Buddhist monks at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.

To hell with the Arabs, the Asians are tougher than we are.


Stupid French Arabs

French Group Suspends Train Bomb Threats
PARIS — A mysterious group that claimed to have planted bombs on the French railroad network announced Thursday it is suspending its terror threats while it improves its ability to carry them out.

Help Wanted: Shadowy terrorist organization seeks skilled bomb maker. Experience destroying civilian targets a plus. Applicant must be a self starter who shares our irrational hatred for infidels. Good salary, benefits. Seventy-two virgin retirement plan available. All explosives provided, but the directions are confusing.

UPDATE: AZF may be a small, incompetent terrorist group, but the French are eager to surrender anyway:

Over the past three months, a group called AZF - thought to consist of no more than two people - has threatened to detonate bombs under trains unless the French state pays a ransom, originally set at €5m (£3.3m).

The French government has communicated with the blackmailers by telephone, and through coded newspaper small ads. It has also made two unsuccessful attempts to pay the ransom.

Careful, before anyone thinks the French are wimping out, it may just be clever ruse by the greatest French policeman ever.

(Hat tip to Sean for the Independent article)


Headline policing

Kobe's Lawyers Want Sex in Trial

They do, do they?

Update: Almost as soon as I see it, Fox corrects it. Them editors is quick!

Ohh, they want sex details in the trial....


Not quite, Dick

Former Clinton Political Consultant Dick Morris thinks Bush is on his way to an election day blowout:
I have doubted the conventional wisdom that this election would be close. If Bush continues to stay on the offensive and Kerry's responses remain as inept as they've been, the Massachusetts Democrat will go downhill faster than he is now doing on his skiing vacation.

Bush's attacks have focused on the issues of terrorism and taxes. Kerry has not even answered the first charge and has given only a ritualistic denial of the second. Instead of answering Bush's charges in detail, he piously asks, in his ads, if the president has anything more to offer America than negative ads. But Americans don't see the Bush ads as below the belt, but as welcome information about a man they don't know who is running for president.

I'm not sure that I agree.

Like an economist trying to gauge the future performance of the economy, Morris can only say what will happen if events keep on going as they are.

And if things keep going the way they are, I agree with Morris: Kerry will be fatally wounded well before election day.

But events rarely stay the same, and events determine elections.

I think Bush's father lost to Clinton in 1992 because of a single jobs report. The unemployment rate was 7.9 percent (or something like that) and Clinton jumped all over it. As everyone knows, it is the president's economic policies - not the spending habits of 300 million people - that make the economy grow or contract.

It didn't matter that the numbers were eventually revised downward. The perception was out there: the country under Bush was horribly off course.

There are many factors that could change the course of the election. A terrorist attack would help Bush, but a sharp downturn in the value of American housing would help Kerry.

And with a weak dollar, the second is a real possibility.

A sharp stock market decline, a civil war in Iraq, a bad jobs report or any unexpectedly bad economic data could doom Bush.

But it would have to be something REALLY BAD to make America turn to a candidate as weak and unprincipled as Kerry.

But it puts Democrats in the awkward position of hoping for bad news. That usually looks bad.

I love to read political predictions. In my less disciplined moments, I even make them.

But I am well aware that predictions - even from the pros - are usually not worth the paper they are printed on.


The test

Cox & Forkum: Wrong Answer

(Thank you Claudia)


The United Nations of Dictators

We went into Iraq for the wrong reasons! Democratization is good, but that's not why Bush said we were going in!

Not quite. Spreading democracy in the Arab world was always one of the reasons.

But it was a muted reason. I wonder why...

From QandO
The Administration... presented the 'democratization' argument. Not front and center, but I don't think I need to describe the difficulties of making that argument before the United Nations Security Council, do I? (hint: China, Syria, etc) Somehow, I don't think it would have been good policy to make the 'we need to start getting rid of dictators' argument in front of the United Nations of Dictators.

Exactly. If only liberals understood a little thing called strategy.


Just let this program die!

Subtract an ad? It doesn't add up:
Participation in the federal Food Stamp Program has dropped 30 percent in recent years, so the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to use the language of the marketing world, is trying to reposition the program.

The USDA is stressing that food stamps are an aid to proper nutrition. It also is trying to get more people - especially the working poor - to apply for this benefit.

"Aid to proper nutrition," my ass.

If you want food stamps to aid proper nutrition, you only let them apply to fruits and vegetables.

Not Chee-tos.

Why does the government do stuff like this? If people don't have enough initiative to go get food stamps, I guess they didn't need them that badly.

But like any federal Goldilocks program (so named becuase they never go away), it has taken on a life of its own.

It's not going to let itself get defunded because people don't need it anymore.

Hell, the government still has the mohair subsidy (which ABC's Sam Donaldson uses to rake in thousands of federal dollars) and the Helium Fund (setting aside a strategic Helium reserve to prevent Germany from filling its dirigibles in WWI).

Besides, in the bizarre logic of big government, dependency is good.

Who would doubt that?

If you want to save a quick $20-30 billion a year, gutting the Department of Agriculture would be a good start.

It should be inspecting food, and that's about it. No agricultural subsidies, no sweet deals with ADM, and - God help us - no food stamps.

(Hat tip to the wife....)

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


One of the more interesting stories in the past few days has been the confused reaction in Hamas to the death of its spiritual leader, Sheikh Yassin. Initially, Hamas leadership was full of bluster and fury, promising to make Israel and America pay for his death in blood.

Hamas today hastily withdrew its threats against America:
Rantissi has vowed retaliation for the killing of Yassin, but he pulled back from threats to retaliate against the United States or U.S. interests overseas in retaliation for his predecessor's killing.

'We have an enemy,' Rantissi told ABCNEWS. 'This enemy is occupying our land. United States of America is supporting this enemy. But we said it clearly. We will not target any American targets and we will continue our resistance just inside our country Palestine.'

What happened to the days when EVERY fanatical Muslim group in the region was foaming at the mouth, shouting threats at the US? Back then, threatening the US had no consequences, and killing a few Americans was sometimes a good way to get them to listen to you. After years of tirades against the US, Islamic Jihad killed 244 marines in Beiruit in 1983, and America withdrew from Lebanon shortly afterward. Just like Islamic Jihad wanted.

To person on the left, Hamas's current confusion must surely be baffling.

But to a realist, Hamas - fanatical nutcases all of them - are just being rational.

Picking a fight with America was once easier. But something changed in the last few years (I wonder what it was?), and even the most hard-headed fanatics can sense it.

Hamas does not want to be in a war against America.

If Hamas killed Americans anywhere, Americans would be going THERE. Into Gaza and the West Bank.

And we would not stop at retailiation. Our price would be the eradication of their organization.

This is a good message for everyone to understand.

Sometimes, it pays to be a unilateral superpower with a grudge.


Kerry stumbles over the truth

Forget about flip-flopping: The thing that bothers me about Kerry is the way he is piously telling people things that HE KNOWS are wrong.

This is most egregious on trade. Kerry is not a dummy (or so we're told). He has watched Bush's (truly stupid) steel tariffs backfire, dragging an economy of 300 million in order to save the jobs of a few thousand steel workers. He is familiar with the (stoopid) Smoot-Hawley Tariffs, which Hoover used to turn a sharp economic downturn into The Great Depression.

Yet, Kerry continues to tell cheering unions that to "protect" American jobs, the US must "get tough on trade"- play hardball with our trading partners, revise trade treaties and "protect" US jobs.

He knows those things won't work, and if elected, he wouldn't do them.

They'd be disastrous, and he knows it.

This is, after all, is man who voted FOR all those trade treaties, because he is well aware that trade is good for the economy.

Kerry knows better.

And the pattern continues in Iraq.

Iraq is our most important foreign policy experiment since World War II. If it fails, the age of nuclear terrorism will not be far away. And that war is likely to be on our soil.

Kerry says he will enlist the help of our "allies" and the UN. On occasion, he describes the whole Iraq venture as a waste of resources.

He knows better. He know it's important (he voted for the war, after all).

He also knows that France, Germany and Russia have no intention helping us AT ALL in Iraq, and that the UN is in no position to help much either.

But he hopes to win the votes of the Deaniacs, so he tells them what they want to hear.

And of course there are the entitlements (with politicians of either party, they are always there).

Like any politician in Washington, he knows that the US government is spending its way into catastrophe.

Kerry knows that the numbers do not lie, but he insists that Social Security and Medicare must be kept in their current disastrous states.

He knows that reform will have to come. He knows that the only open question is who will determine the terms of that reform: our elected officials or our creditors.

In most cases, Kerry is just playing politics, trying to win over factory workers, the dumb left or senior citizens.

That is what newspapers call it anyway.

Sixty percent of Americans think Kerry just tells people what they want to hear.

Sweet talking Kerry could just be considered misinformed.

But when Kerry himself knows better (and has demostrated so in the past), this activity goes by another name.

It is called lying.


A very rude joke

A woman was shopping at her local supermarket where she selected:
a half-gallon of 2% milk,
a carton of eggs,
a quart of orange juice,
a head of romaine lettuce,
a 2 lb. can of coffee,
and a 1 lb. package of bacon.

As she was unloading her items on the conveyor belt to check out, a
drunk standing behind her watched as she placed the items in front of
the cashier.

While the cashier was ringing up her purchases, the drunk calmly stated,

"You must be single."

The woman was a bit startled by this proclamation, but she
was intrigued by the derelict's intuition, since she was indeed single.

She looked at her six items on the belt and saw nothing particularly unusual about her selections that could have tipped off the drunk to her marital status.

Curiosity getting the better of her, she said "Well, you
know what, you're absolutely correct. But how on earth did
you know that?"

The drunk replied, "Cause you're ugly."

(hat tip to the wife)


Philly teachers strike out

Please let this be wrong. Please:Teachers come up short in testing
In Philadelphia, students aren't the only ones struggling to pass tests.

Half of the district's middle school teachers who took tests to become certified as highly qualified under the federal No Child Left Behind law failed, district results show.

Math teachers did the worst: Nearly two out of every three failed that exam, while more than half flunked the science test, 43 percent the English exam, and 34 percent the social-studies test...

"There was stuff on there I've never seen," Haver (a math teacher) said, adding that some of her colleagues were equally perplexed. "When it was over, we just put our pencils down and looked at each other, like: 'What was that?' "

The Inquirer prints some "sample questions" from the test in question.

I pray to God that these reporters have taken only the easiest questions (perhaps just to make the teachers look dumb?):

1. According to some scientists, the Earth’s average surface temperature is rising as a result of the greenhouse effect. An increase in the atmospheric concentration of which of the following gases is considered to be primarily responsible?
c.Sulfur Dioxide
d.Carbon Dioxide

2.Which of the following statements is true of hurricanes but not tornadoes?
a. They form over water.
b. They have very high winds
c. They may cause great property damage
d. They may cause human fatalities


1. The average number of passengers who use an airport each year is 350 thousand. A newspaper reported that the number in 350 million. The number reported in the newspaper is how many times the actual number?
a. 10
b. 100
c. 1,000
d. 10,000

2. If there are exactly five times as many children as adults at a show, which of the following cannot be the number of people at the show?
a. 102
b. 80
c. 36
d. 30

Please let there be some mistake here. Those must be the easiest questions. They must be the ones that everyone got right, on an otherwise hard test that half of Philly's teachers failed.

But this guy has his excuses down: It was the test's fault!
But Nick Perry, a science teacher at Conwell Middle School, said one test was not an accurate measure of a teacher.

"Content sometimes is really overrated. A teacher is like an artist, a coach. He has to be able to inspire children," said Perry, a seventh-grade science teacher, who has a master's degree in environmental science and the necessary certification.

Inspire them with what? The idea that any idiot can be a teacher?

I think I just became a believer in No Child Left Behind. If the new law does nothing else, testing like this will make it worth it.

UPDATE: Philly has decided that is now going to hire a test prep firm to help its teachers do better.

Well, that's nice.

But doesn't that constitute "teaching to the test?"

UPDATE II: Philadelphia Inquirer | 03/26/2004 | Tom Ferrick Jr. | Teacher test is fair; failure rate isn't:


That's nice, but we should wait until the check clears


Qaddafi's son speaks up:
"The Libyan people is (sic) interested in progress, development, democracy, human rights, and freedoms, and all these constitute the agenda of our institutions which mirror the thoughts and aspirations of the [Libyan] society. Soon Libya will witness [development] that will be a precedent with regard to the Arab world, and it will be manifested by freedom of the press and freedom of printing...Libya must be a democratic and open country. If it isn't, it will become a reactionary, dictatorial, and fascist Arab country."



Show flips from triple threats to XXX
The Cosentino family gathered around the television for their favorite event of the year: WrestleMania XX, the Super Bowl of the wrestling world.

They broke out popcorn, chips and soda. Eight-year-old Nick wrapped his lucky beach towel with a portrait of The Rock around him and settled on the couch next to dad.

But an hour and a half into the pay-per-view wrestling extravaganza, the young fan witnessed a few moves he'd never seen before.

Triple threats? Triple X? What's the difference?

Thanks Trench!


Gomer Kerry

Go-oo-olly, Sarge!

Thanks to TheTrenchcoat Chronicles


Jackson's "Hot Rod"

It's an odd idea for a movie, even for Michael Jackson (news). "Jersey Girl" director Kevin Smith (news) says he once got an offer to direct the pop singer in a movie about a man who turns into a car that gets ridden around by a boy.

Smith tells Playboy magazine that Jackson wanted to play the car/man role. The proposed title of the film, and Smith says this is no lie, was "Hot Rod."

Yeah, maybe it is a little odd.

Thanks to the Radical Cowboys.


Just give up now and avoid the violence!

ETA hoping for concessions from Socialists:
ETA is hoping to win concessions from the Spanish Socialists who take power next month.

The Basque separatist group ETA may call a unilateral cease-fire in its campaign of violence, a founder and other Basque sources said, in an effort to win political concessions from the newly elected Socialist government that will take power next month.

And if the Spanish don't give in immediately, a few good bombings will set them straight.


Medicare's about to get REALLY expensive

Medicare finances show steep decline:

Annual report turns grimmer, says program could run out of money in 2019.

WASHINGTON - Medicare, the federal health-insurance program for older Americans, will fall into deficit this year and exhaust its surplus funds by 2019, seven years earlier than expected, according to projections released yesterday.

I don't suppose it will do any good to get either Bush or Kerry to comment on this.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004


Den Beste:
(This), in fact, is exactly what a lot of Europeans think is needed: for America to capitulate.

It's the same old refrain, endlessly repeated. So they're pinning their hopes on a Kerry Presidency.

Which is a problem, for them. Kerry has emerged from the primary process saddled with political burdens which will cost him. With emergence of a clear winner in the contest for the Democratic nomination, Bush gave him a call and congratulated him, and let him know Bush was thinking about him.

Translation: 'INCOMING!'.

The Republicans have started campaigning against Kerry, and he's getting hurt.

A fair amount of that has been self-inflicted. He bragged about getting private endorsements from foreign leaders, got hammered, and then publicly picked up the endorsements of Malaysia's Mahathir and Spain's Zapatero, neither of which are particularly held in high regard in the US. Kerry's campaign then decided that foreign endorsements were not a good thing.

Yep, that's about the size of it.


Advanced case of nuance

I think it would take more than a few drinks for me to understand this level of nuance:
"For you see," John Kerry continued, “Again and again and again in the debate, it was made clear that the vote of the U.S. Senate and the House on the authorization of immediate use of force on Jan. 12 was not a vote as to whether or not force should be used."

My vision is blurry, but that quote is still not clear.


A fool's campaign

FBI Spied on Kerry in '70s, Report Says
Reports that the FBI monitored John Kerry's anti-war activities in the early 1970s highlight the need "to be vigilant about civil liberties," the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said Monday.

In a radio interview Monday evening on WBZ-AM in Boston, Kerry said the reports are "such ancient history."

"It's just sort of in the past, but it underscores to everyone of us why we have to be vigilant about civil liberties, why we have to have an attorney general who respects the Constitution, and why our Bill of Rights is so important in the United States," said Kerry, who was on vacation in Sun Valley.

Kerry was smart to call this story "ancient history," but he lacks the discipline to leave it there.

He may wish he had.

The more the press snoops around this story, they closer they will come to this:
The Kerry campaign hopes this wipes out questions raised by the New York Sun's coverage of Kerry's attendance at a 1971 Vietnam Veterans Against the War meeting at which some activists had a conversation about possibly assassinating US Senators. That said, it doesn't account for the campaign's earlier insistence that Kerry was not present at that VVAW meeting when, in fact, he was.

That will not play well on TV, and it is the last thing Kerry wants to be discussing.

Just keep talking, John.

Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the FBI story link.


Dumb Irish

Oh my.

Left-wing politicians opposed to a planned visit by President Bush called Monday for his Secret Service agents to be disarmed while in Ireland.

Yes, we all know how careless those Secret Service agents can be with their guns...

Do these Irish clowns just do it for the press, or do they actually realize that this would make a bombing or shooting highly likely on Irish soil?

Oh yeah, these guys are good to have on our side (sort of).

Thanks Claudia.


That which fails to kill me doesn't last long

A great new saying, from Misty:

What doesn't kill me is dead when I'm through with it.

Classic. Thanks Norman.


Oh not again

My younger son Tim is sick again. He woke up this morning in a pile of shit and vomit.

Since my wife stayed home with him yesterday, it's my turn.

I used to like staying home.


Inky misses the point

Self defense is understandable, but peace won't come with the killing of any one terrorist leader.

The Inquirer seems to have mastered the art of nuance.
This much needs to be made clear: Just as the United States has a right to go after Osama bin Laden, Israel had a right to go after Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

OK. got it.
As the founder and leader of Hamas, a group whose terrorists are responsible for hundreds of attacks, including suicide bombings, against Israeli Jews and Arabs, Israel had a right to go after Yassin as a threat to the state.

OK. Evil man. Got that too.
But that doesn't mean the killing was the best strategy

Hmmmm. Please explain.
It's hard to see how the killing will make Israelis safer or end the 3-year-old Palestinian uprising that has claimed hundreds of lives on both sides.

What were Israel's other options?

Ignore him? That has been a fatal strategy that Israel has followed for a decade.

Arrest him? And this would make Palestinians rational and ready to return to the bargaining table?

On the contrary, it would unleash the same terrorist forces that Israel faces today - except that they would have a demand after each attack: Israel must free Yassin!

Israel has acted wisely. Every leadership change in an autocratic organization like Hamas increases the possiblity of fragmentation.

I believe that the Palestinian Authority faces civil war. The Israeli wall and the targeted assassinations of people like Yassin make civil war more likely.

I hate war, but I can be quite Machiavellian: if you can get your enemies to fight amongst themselves, you make yourself safer.

This is Israel's long term strategy.
And does anyone think for a moment that catching or killing bin Laden or his lieutenant, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, will shatter al-Qaeda or stem Islamist extremists' attacks against the United States?

Does anyone seriously think it will HURT?

It is clear from this editorial that Inquirer's editorial staff is deeply divided. This editorial is the work of a committee, with little contributions from everyone.

There is nothing "clear" about it.

Some editors have no problem with the killing of Yassin. A few editors are under the mistaken impression that a peace process can forced on the region by the US. Some just want to blame Bush.

Israel is engaged against an enemy that demands its complete destruction. There is no negotiation with such a foe.

Some people at the Inquirer seem to believe that Arafat can be pressured into recognizing Israel's "right to exist."

But these cynical editors know the truth: Arafat already did so, as one of the conditions of Oslo in 1994.

Lot of good that worthless promise has been (Is the world still unaware of this man's complete contempt for the truth?).

Israel is - and let me make this clear (not Philadelphia Inquirer "clarity," but John Rogers' clarity) - AT WAR.

Israel has a right to exist because eight million, heavily-armed Jews are living there, and they are willing to fight to the death to maintain their state.

It doesn't matter what the US says. It doesn't matter what Arafat says, or the UN says. And it certainly doesn't matter what the impotent Europeans say.

This much needs to be crammed down Arab throats: Israel is here to stay. Get over it.

Maybe the fact that a bunch of Jews can make a working economy and a succesfull democracy in such an inhospitable land should tell you something about your own governments and economies.

For 50 years, Arabs have been killing Israelis for being successful where they themselves have failed.

It is time to tackle the root of Arab failure. And that is why we are in Iraq.


The Next Che

Just what we need: another Che Guevara. Good ole' Tim Blair:

Attention, Indymedia revolutionaries! You now have a new dead hero:

Iraqi leaders condemned the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, whom they hailed as a "Palestinian Che Guevara".

They're right; the resemblance is uncanny.

Yassin’s got all of Che’s qualities -- wild beard, fashionable headgear, no pulse -- plus additional groovy wheelchair charisma! No wonder artists adore him.


Poor Bill

Photo from Randal Robinson:

Quote from Iowahawk:
"Do you want to know why I am sympathetic to Bill?
This is Hillary Clinton's orgasm face."

Monday, March 22, 2004

African Americans vs. Europeans

In a recent blogging experience at Geoff Castle's blog, I made an offhand comment, repeating something that I had read many times before:

The income of average European is roughly the same as the average African American.

That is, most Europeans are no better off than American blacks, who liberals view as a "disadvantaged" group.

I was immediately called a liar, and asked to prove it.

I think I did:

Per Capita GDP's of several European countries:

France.....$26,000 (ppp adjusted dollars, 2002 data)

We'll be nice and say the average European GDP is $25,500.

The average US per capita GDP is .....$36,300.

25,500/36,300 = 70 percent.

"Nationally, the average black household income in 2002 was about $29,000, compared with about $42,000 for all races, according a Census Bureau report."

29,000/42,000 = 69 percent.

Conclusion: the average European is about as well off as the average American black.

Liberals should be called upon to admit one of the following:

1) Europeans are much poorer than we thought


2) African-Americans have it much better than we thought.

Anything less is nuance.


The happiest day

Sheikh Yassin has said the happiest day of his life would be the day he died a shahib (a martyr).

He certainly had a smile on his face here (GRAPHIC IMAGE ALERT! I warned you!) (well at least on the half of his head that still has a face on it).

(hat tip to the Feces Flinging Monkey)

You may wonder how I can feel such joy over a man's violent death?

Only because I remember that the hatred that this man spewed was responsible for the murder of this little girl:

and dozens of others like her. People inspired by Yassin killed her - a five year old girl - just because she was born a Jew.

I have nightmares that I am Gal Eizenman's father. I can't imagine living a waking day with such misery.

Happy shahib, bastard.

A little more: From It Can't Rain All The Time:

And, of course, Hamas and the Palestinians have gone batshit —

The eyes of many burned with tears of rage as they chanted slogans like “death to Israel” and “death to America”, the BBC’s David Chazan reports.

Perhaps my memory is faulty, but I don’t remember Palestinian marchers ever yelling much of anything else. Was there a report of Palestinian marchers yelling “Long live Israel, long live America!” and I missed it? I’m thinkin’ not.

All appeared united in mourning for the founder of Hamas, the group which has been one of Israel’s most intransigent enemies, adamantly rejecting any peace negotiations, our correspondent says.

Adamantly rejecting any peace negotiations? Oh my.


Faces of evil

Score One for Middle Earth


Oops. Sorry for removing your tyrant!

Iraq war wasn't justified, U.N. weapons experts say

Nobody is calling for us to reinstate Saddam. I guess it wasn't that much of a mistake.


Slimy Euros

Oh my:

EU ministers issued a statement condemning what they called the assassination of Sheikh Yassin, saying it has inflamed the situation in the Middle East. The statement reflected the views just expressed by Mr. Straw, saying Israel is not entitled to carry out what the ministers described as extra-judicial killings.

Shame on these people.

Sheikh Yassin was committed to the murder of 9 million Jews and the destruction of their country. The man makes Yassir Arafat look good.

This man was no "partner for peace."

He is Israel's Osama, and I'm glad he's dead.

The Europeans applaud as Spain rounds up the men who killed hundreds of Spainards.

But when Israel gets a man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Jews, it condemns the action.

And if Israel had merely arrested Yassin, they would have condemned that too.

If it makes the Palestinians upset, the Europeans get upset.

Some allies, huh?

What do you think, John Kerry? I can't wait to hear him get on both sides of this story.


Here comes the teacher shortage!

It is a problem that comes up every year: the Philadelphia region teacher shortage.

It is misnamed: the region cannot attract enough math and science teachers.

I wonder why....


It might have something to do with the fact that people with math and science degrees have numerous options in the private sector.

People who majored in say ... fingerpainting .. consider teaching to be the ONLY option of getting gainful employment (and rightly so).

I've never read a story about the dearth of English or art teachers (although occasionally, there are shortages of Spanish teachers and school psychologists).

The logical response - therefore the response any business uses - would be to pay more to get the people that are most in demand.

A business would never pay an acutuary the same as an accountant. Both do work with numbers, but any business that tried to cut costs in that way would soon have no acutuaries.

But the NEA would never let such an idea go through. Why should a calculus teacher get more money than an English teacher? They both teach!

The real reason they oppose it, however, is that it would fragment their union. That would be bad for the NEA, but it would be very good for education.

Union-types never understand supply-and-demand issues.

People who work at McDonald's make minimum wage. This is not because McDonald's is a greedy expolitive corporation. McDonalds has to keep its costs as low as possible. Anybody can do a burger flipping job, and such workers are easily replaced.

Calculus teachers are hard to replace (hence the shortage of them). Higher pay will encourage some to stay, more to teach math, and more mathematicians to consider teaching as a profession.

Hence, it would solve the problem.

Thus, it is the last thing the NEA wants. The union doesn't want to solve the problem, because creating a "teacher shortage" is their whole strategy.

Only then can argue that all teachers need higher pay.

But most teachers make enough money. With a bachelor's degree, a few fluffy teacher certification courses and three months vacation a year, a teacher shouldn't be living the high life. Especially not on the taxpayer's dime.

Philly isn't close to figuring this supply-and-demand issue out.

The problem in Philly's schools is more acute:city is not attracting or maintaining the best teachers.

But Philly thinks its only problem is monetary compensation. They think that if they can solve that, the problem is solved.


They're "thinking:" If we paid more, the best teachers would come to Philly, and our students would begin to excel. (Strange, but that is exactly what the teacher's union believes, too!).

Such logic works when you are talking about a nice place to live.

But Philly is a dying city, suffocating under oppressive taxes and a corrupt government.

I taught general chem at the college level for five years, and, for the most part, I enjoyed it. I am a young technical professional, but I would not mind teaching at the high school level for a few years, if for no other reason than to feel that I was helping things. Pay would not be huge concern if I felt I was doing good.

What holds me back from teaching in Philly?

Three things.

1. I'd have to move and become a resident of Philly. The hell with that.

2. I'd have to spend money and time getting certified (and I am allergic to bullshit classes). Fuck that.

3. I would be told how to do my job, and my job would be babysitting a bunch of undisciplined, little shits from broken homes. The idea that I would expect students to attend class and do homework would be challenged. I would be told to pass students who knew nothing, and not to rock the boat. No way.

Expecting kids to actually learn in such an environment is ridiculous.

No, Philly.

Your problem is more than your pay. Washington DC spends more money per student, and pays its teachers more; its schools are even worse.

The problem is that your schools are run by a bunch of bureaucrats who don't understand that the feeling of doing a job well is just as important as the monetary compensation (bureaucrats rarely feel that way).

A job in Philly's schools is akin to asking a skilled mason to build sandcastles. Each day he builds a masterpeice, but every night a high tide comes and washes it away. His bosses expect him to start from scratch each morning, happy to do it all again. And meanwhile, they invent rules forbidding him from using bricks or cement.

Teaching in Philly is an exercise in frustration.

$150,000 a year wouldn't get me to take a job like that.


Ask the Iman: how do I keep my wife in line?


Muhammad Kamal Mustafa, the imam of the mosque of the city of Fuengirola, Costa del Sol, was sentenced by a Barcelona court to a 15 month suspended sentence and fined for publishing his book 'The Woman in Islam.' In this book, the Egyptian-born Sheikh Mustafa writes, among other things, on wife-beating in accordance with Shar'ia law.

On pages 86-87, Mustafa states: 'The [wife-]beating must never be in exaggerated, blind anger, in order to avoid serious harm [to the woman].' He adds, 'It is forbidden to beat her on the sensitive parts of her body, such as the face, breast, abdomen, and head. Instead, she should be beaten on the arms and legs,' using a 'rod that must not be stiff, but slim and lightweight so that no wounds, scars, or bruises are caused.' Similarly, '[the blows] must not be hard.'

Mustafa noted in his book that the aim of the beating was to cause the woman to feel some emotional pain, without humiliating her or harming her physically. According to him, wife-beating must be the last resort to which the husband turns in punishing his wife, and is, according to the Qur'an, Chapter 4, Verse 34, the husband's third step when the wife is rebellious: First, he must reprimand her, without anger. Next, he must distance her from the conjugal bed. Only if these two methods fail should the husband turn to beating.

America, ask yourself why they hate you.

Ummm....maybe because they are lost somewhere in the Dark Ages?

Sunday, March 21, 2004

A drinking game

I've been here before (and I bet I'm not the only one). I really like this game:J2O

I first saw it at Quotes, Thoughts and Other Ramblings.

I'm reading a lot of new stuff lately. It's kind of fun.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Great Stuff

From die puny humans:

The Canonical List of Weird Band Names: including but not limited to --

A Cat Born In An Oven Isn't a Cake
Accidental Goat Sodomy
Anal Beard Barbers
The Archbishop's Enema Fetish
The Ass Baboons of Venus

Beef Masters
Ben Wa and the Blue Balls
Bertha Does Moosejaw
Biff Hitler and the Violent Mood Swings
Bulimia Banquet

Cancer Bunny
Chewbacca Plaid Cock
Clive Pig and the Hopeful Chinamen
Crappy the Clown and the Punch Drunk Monkies


March Reads

I have a list of blogs I travel to just to see what they are talking about. They are all on my blogroll on the right (under Interesting Reads), and I visit them frequently to see what's going on. They are all great blogs, but I want to discipline myself to reach out and read more of the stuff that is out there.

This month, I've picked several blogs that I will add to my frequent visit list. These sites looked interesting on the first visit, and I will checking back every day or so to see what they are talking about:

It Can't Rain All The Time...
die puny humans
Quotes, Thoughts, and other Ramblings
A Man Needs A Fish Like A Woman Needs a Bicycle
Everything I Know is Wrong
All Agitprop, all the time

I just need to broaden things out a little.

Friday, March 19, 2004

The smell of fatwas in France

French: World More Dangerous Place

My, such slimy hypocrisy and utter contempt for the obvious.

It could only be the French:
"We have to look reality in the face: we have entered into a more dangerous and unstable world, which requires the mobilization of the entire international community," (French Foreign Minister Dominique) de Villepin said.

More words from a professional talker. Nothing more.

What will France be mobilizing? Its diplomatic corps?

And than this:
"Terrorism didn't exist in Iraq before," de Villepin said. "Today, it is one of the world's principal sources of world terrorism."

Terrorism didn't exist in Iraq before, because Iraq was funding the terrorists attacking Israel.

For Europe, it is not terrorism when Israeli schoolchildren are blown up. It is glamorous resistance to vile Jews.

But when Europeans are being blown up, it's the American's fault for "destabilizing" things (as if this is bad in the world's most oppressed corner of the world).

Only a brute would think that the Madrid bombings were the fault of terrorists for actually killing people with bombs.

"Non, non. We must talk of root causes!"

But not if the "root cause" is oppression in Arab world.

Non, that's acceptable.

The root cause is that the US is allowing Israel to exist.

Superior diplomatic reasoning from a blow-dried effeminate Frenchman with a porn starlet's name.


Science and culture

I’m always amazed by the lack of depth in science education in American society.

I’m not worried that people don’t remember the anatomy of a paramecium or any other science trivia.

I’m referring to the discipline of scientific inquiry: the scientist’s habit of withholding judgment until all the facts are in, all the experiments complete.

As a former liberal, I noticed that many of my peers had a near pathological hatred for science and scientists. Some of this was just disgust with the way it was taught (“I hate memorization…”). Some of it was fear of the products of technology (“frankenfoods” and chemicals). And often there was a sense that scientists, who often tend to be white and male, are part of some oppressive conspiracy.

I never understood any of it.

In my experiences with scientists, I found them to be more human and less likely have personal hang-ups than most of the artsy types I knew. They were easy to talk to and work with, less likely to be offended by offhand comments, and more willing to cut loose and have a good time.

The scientific method is like a discipline, and people who refuse to think in a disciplined manner often find themselves enthralled by many specious theories and silly superstitions. These people tend to be quite common in the humanities, where specious theorizing often passes for deep thought.

For example, many of fellow English majors (yes, my wasted youth) proudly declared themselves communists. At the time, I let it go. But as I hear more from the Ivory Tower, I find it striking that many of these people are still there, and their beliefs are unchanged (after 1989, no less!). The communist parties continue to be a decisive influence in European politics. The large global “peace” protests (attempting to protect Saddam's right to kill his countrymen) of February 15th, 2003 were sponsored by International Answer, a communist front. And no one even blinked.

How can any rational person be a communist (or even a socialist)? Hundreds of attempts have been made to make communism work, and all have failed (most miserably). These experiments are useful in so much as they produce evidence: there is not one economic success, and there are hundreds of millions of failures buried in mass graves in every continent on the planet. Can anyone show me a single communist state that has managed to grow economically and while protecting human rights?

The lack of one would mean either that communist theory is ridiculous, or that it is to difficult to mold to human reality and thus impractical as a global goal.

Yet people believe, they really do!

Europe currently appears to have given in to its pacifist inclinations. Pacifism, like communism, can be shredded by the evidence. Would the world be better place had our ancestors used a non-violent approach against despots? Would the Constitution ever have been produced without blood? Would slavery have been eliminated without cannons?

Pacifists consider such questions to be rude, evidence of a brutish ignorance, and they evade the answers because they don’t like them: Pacifism is, after all, resignation to tyranny. But these ideas still appeal to the undisciplined thinker, most of whom consider themselves to be very well educated.

Marxism, in fact, is like a religion with its own ideas of salvation: everyone sharing, everyone living equally well in a fantasyland where all needs are met by the benevolent state. Its facts are more articles of faith than evidence. This explains something else: Communism’s discomfort with religion. Its so inflexibly athiestic that even weird movements, like China’s Falun Gong, aren’t tolerated. “You shall have no Gods before me” is also Marx’s first commandment.

Marxism and pacifism may be extreme examples, but the problem of unscientific thought extends further. Islamism – the idea that fundamental Islam is going to take over the world – is the fantasy that has most of the Arab world in thrall today. The facts don’t even come close to supporting it, but they have their own TV network to take care of that inconvenience.

Unscientific thought muddies our politics, too, trying to make political debate look like struggles between good and evil. One party wants to help everyone and the other party wants to help themselves.

We all know which is which.

One party wants to pay for everyone’s education and everyone’s drugs (they even want to remind you to take them everyday). They want to help you get a house, and give you one if you are poor enough. They make no distinctions about who ends up poor and who ends wealthy. They consider impolitic to discuss why some people consistently end up poor, but only because they are confident of the answers anyway (its obviously racism or the wake of capitalist greed). These benefits are expensive and the high taxes to pay for them are a bitter pill, but these wonderful people promise to take care of you.

Their motto appears to be: we care about your future as much as you do!

It sounds great. Great in the sense that the words to a rock song seem perfect until you see them written down.

It’s then that you realize that they don’t make any sense. Wait a second! Nobody cares about my future more than me! It makes sense that I be trusted on spending my money on ways to secure my future as I, not the benevolent government, see fit. That is what America is all about: trusting in the little guy take care of his own business!

In addition, the Democratic Party seems right now to be consumed by the politics of emotion. Where does John Kerry stand? It doesn't matter. Democrats just hate Bush, they seem to be saying (Geoff Castle is a prime example).

They complain about jobs (though the unemployment rate was higher throughout much of Clinton's presidency), but they have no plan (that they mention) to bring back all the "lost jobs." They want to protect American jobs from foreigners, but they are not protectionists (or so they say). Economic growth (4+%) has been stellar, but they gripe that it is meager. They complain about Iraq, but they are unclear what they would do differently (Kerry calls it a mess, but says we have to stay the course and get the UN (which already ran away once and has little desire to run things) in charge...huh?). The Democrats fall over themselves to say they will "preserve" Social Security and Medicare without reform, but both programs are wildly insolvent. Without reform they will collapse.

Don't be distracted by these things! Believe! Have faith! Vote for Kerry!

I can't stand such emotionalism.

I guess such sentiments put me in the sphere of the other party, the selfish party.

They have some strange beliefs, too. Large numbers of them have a real problem with the idea of a right to privacy (it may not be in Constitution, per se, but I believe it falls under “the pursuit of happiness”). Some of them want to indoctrinate my children with bizarre interpretations of religion, and many are very distrustful of anyone who doesn’t share the same ethnic background.

So that's me: a former Democrat and now a skeptical Republican. Where else can a fiscally conservative, socially moderate student of history fit in?

Thursday, March 18, 2004

What a bargain!

Pressure Building for Drug Importation
WASHINGTON — Importing drugs would save Americans 30 to 300 percent of the cost, but industry sources say that with this discount come fewer safety controls and a risk to the development of new life-saving medicines.

Now that's savings!

How exactly do you save 300%??!


Philly's mobs win again

Once again, the unions shoot Philly in the foot:
"We've decided not to shoot The Real World in Philadelphia. That's final. Our stuff is not in Philadelphia," said a spokeswoman for the television production company that had been setting up in Old City but left rather than deal with city construction unions.

"Really, we are very disappointed, but we've moved on," said Daniella Cracknell of Bunim/Murray Productions in Van Nuys, Calif.

Construction union officials said they had offered Bunim/Murray a deal to keep the production here, but whether any union offer would have saved the shoot remained questionable yesterday.

I hate The Real World. All I see is a group of self-centered, untalented American Idol wannabes annoying each other while trying to act cool.

But the point is clear: not even the glitz of TV can make Philly look like a hip place to be as long as the unions really call the shots in the city.

Good old Philly: you just won one for the fat union slobs everywhere who would rather extort than compete.

The drain of tech workers from the city will continue. Your tax base will shrink, and your problems will become more acute.

Is it any wonder when it costs 50% more to build a house in Philly than it does in the suburbs?

In the suburbs, the taxes are lower, the schools are better, the neighborhoods are safer, union rules are lax and business thrives.

The quality of life - for everyone - is better as a result.

Only an ideology-blinded Democrat could fail to make the connection.

Hey, here's one:
The loss of a visit from the popular Real World television show might not seem like a big deal to Mayor Street and some labor leaders in this city. The mayor suggests the city is just fine without MTV's gift of positive, internationally distributed exposure.


Kerry campaign poster of the day

From Randal Robinson and obtained via Marc

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Passion of the idiot

Yes, even in suicide, proper planning matters:Man treated after attempting to nail himself to cross

HARTLAND — A Hartland man was treated at a Pittsfield hospital after he nailed himself to a cross. The 23-year-old man apparently was trying to commit suicide Thursday evening in his living room, the Bangor Daily News reported...

Lt. Pierre Boucher said the man took two pieces of wood, nailed them together in the form of a cross and placed them on the floor. He attached a suicide sign to the wood and then proceeded to nail one of his hands to the makeshift cross using a 14-penny nail and a hammer.

"When he realized that he was unable to nail his other hand to the board, he called 911," Boucher said.

It was unclear whether the man was seeking assistance for his injury or help in nailing down his other hand.

(From Best Of The Web)

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Europe is Al Qaeda's bitch now

Hey Akbar, it worked with Spain.

Now let's see if we can get France to get rid of that headscarf ban.


It's a quagmire!

Yet another poll of the Iraqi people.

And this one is from that bastion of neoconservative thought, the BBC:
About 6,000 interviews were carried out in total, half in Autumn last year and half this Spring, in a project run by Oxford Research International (ORI).

Seventy percent of people said that things were going well or quite well in their lives, while only 29% felt things were bad.

And 56% said that things were better now than they were before the war.


Best buddies

Oh boy:
BEIJING (Reuters) - China and France will hold rare joint naval exercises off the mainland's eastern coast on Tuesday, just four days before Beijing's rival, Taiwan, holds presidential elections.

France joins forces with dictators to intimidate democracy.

But it's not all bad news for Taiwan:
"Through this joint exercise, we hope to learn the French navy's combat training experience and combat thought," Ju was quoted as saying.

French combat thought? There is only one French combat thought: "Run away!"


The inequality mirage

Even now and then, the Economist says something so elegantly, so succinctly, that no further comment is needed:Poverty and inequality
HUNDREDS of millions of people in the world are forced to endure lives of abject poverty—poverty so acute that those fortunate enough to live in the United States, or Europe or the rich industrialised parts of Asia can scarcely comprehend its meaning. Surely there is no more commanding moral imperative for people in the West than to urge each other, and their governments, to bring relief to the world's poorest. And what a tragedy it is, therefore, that many of the kind souls who respond most eagerly to this imperative bring to the issue an analytical mindset that is almost wholly counterproductive. They are quite right, these champions of the world's poor, that poverty in an age of plenty is shameful and disgusting. But they are quite wrong to suppose, as so many of them do, that the rich enjoy their privileges at the expense of the poor—that poverty, in other words, is inseparable from a system, capitalism, that thrives on injustice. This way of thinking is not just false. It entrenches the very problem it purports to address.

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