Thursday, October 27, 2005

Pop quiz for Stephen A. Smith and Deberry

posted by Rob at 8:00 AM

Nope, they're not from Air Force football coach Fisher Deberry. They're from ESPN's mighty Stephen A. Smith discussing DeBerry.

Last Saturday, DeBerry dared to say publically what any sane sports fan would admit - black men and women are, on average, faster and more athletic than white people. Specifically, he said "Afro-American kids can run very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me that they run extremely well."

This is gospel to many individuals in the sports community. I have had a coach at Appalachian State admit as much to me. The coach's program was not as strong as others such as Georgia Southern or Chattanooga because black people don't like cold weather, so they avoid ASU. This was reflected in the starters on the team - all white. And yes, they weren't very good compared to the lineups with more black athletes.

To me, DeBerry was speaking truth evident to anyone ... anyone but people like Stephen A. Smith and CNN's Paula Zahn. The two spoke briefly last night. Sample quote from Smith (emphasis mine):
A lot of times when you speak to a lot of athletes, or if you talk to a lot of black individuals involved in the world of sports, people who couldn't get into the positions of -- an executive position like a GM, like a president or what have you, some of the things that they allude to is everybody is always commenting on our physical prowess and not giving us enough credit for our cerebral prowess.

And that's a problem for them, because a lot of times you look at -- I know me personally, somebody questions my intellect, I'm going to have a problem with them. ...
Note that DeBerry made no comment with regard to the intellect of black athletes. He commented primarily on his team's lack of speed compared to another team with more black athletes. He discussed the need to recruit more black athletes. Case closed.

Still, I offer a quick quiz for Mr. Smith:

1. Name the top 10 players in the NBA. Now, name the top 10 white players in the NBA. Now, count how many of the latter are in the former. How many make the cut?

2. What is the on-field difference in abilities between quarterbacks like Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb, and other QBs such as Brett Farve, Ben Roethlisberger, Jake Delhomme and Peyton Manning?

3. The finish line of the Boston - and any other - Marathon is now officially owned by people from what country? What color are they?

4. Who is the best non-pitcher in baseball? The second best? The third? Fourth? Fifth? Sixth? Stop. Have we found a white person yet? Why not?

5. One of these people do not belong. Who is it and why? Lance Armstrong, Tom Brady, Steve Nash, Roger Clemons and LaDainian Tomlinson. (hint - it is not who gets less media coverage).

Thanks for playing!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ready and willing to do his job

posted by Rob at 1:44 PM

Where are the future leaders of the Democrat Party? I, for one, hope one of them will be found on the campus of Bowdoin College. Alex Cornell du Houx is a 21-year-old senior at the school, where he is development director for the College Democrats of America and co-president of the Maine College Democrats.

As you would expect, he disagrees with President Bush on a great many issues, including Iraq. But Dec. 1, he is heading there as part of the Alpha 1st Company Battalion of the Marines:
"Regardless of my opinions regarding the war in Iraq, it is my duty as a U.S. Marine to serve and I am ready and willing to do my job to its fullest extent," he said.
He also offers an interesting perspective on perspectives:
"I have always felt comfortable expressing my political beliefs. In the Marines, we debate politics all the time in a lively manner. It's very interesting and eye-opening to be able to see both perspectives — where you are in the majority politically at Bowdoin College and in the minority politically in the Marines."
It's interesting that he admits what many refuse to acknowledge - there is a large disconnect between the military and many academic institutions.

Now contrast Alex to this idiot and the DNC chairman.

I don't know much about Alex, other than that he appears to be well connected. He also knows with who to pick fights (Vernon Robinson ran to represent my congressional district. He is a political lunatic. I'm happy Virginia won).

But it's refreshing to read how one young man can disagree politically with his president, but heed his call to duty.

Thank you, Alex, for your service. I wish you a safe tour of duty.

Monday, October 24, 2005

More on the Millions More

posted by Rob at 10:41 AM

Winston-Salem Journal columnist Nat Irvin had the same thoughts as I with regard to the Millions More Movement. He wanted a different message as well (emphasis mine):
Why didn't we hear Mike's story during the Millions More March? Instead we heard from Malik Zulu Shabazz, the leader of the New Black Panther Party, who used his time to spread gossip about the plight of the black man and the racism of the white man. While not all speakers sounded as nutty as Shabazz, the folks who had the loudest voices at the gathering seemed to know little about how to create wealth. Many of the speakers sounded like socialists - not like capitalists. That's fine, but the socialist model for economic growth is not creating wealth anywhere on the planet.
He also offers another example, the story of Eleanor, who told him "how she dealt with white preferential treatment in the workplace":
She had applied for a position at a law firm. A Rhodes Scholar, a graduate of Yale Law School and with an MBA from Harvard, she was well-qualifed for the position. But during her interview, the law partner asked her questions about how she came to be who she was - a black woman born in Jamaica who went to Yale, etc. He never talked about the job itself. She was baffled by the questions, and she did not get the job. After that, she decided she would not put herself in that position again. She created her own private equity firm, where she does the hiring.

Eleanor's and Mike's stories show a gap within black America - a difference not so much in seeing what the problems are, but in seeing how to solve them. One group is looking outside. The other is looking inside.
Preach on, Nat. Too bad the choir has no interest. MMM II was not about actually improving the economic or moralistic lives of black people. For many it was all about politics:
"The need to mobilize and the need to organize is here, like it was 10 years ago," said the Rev. Al Sharpton, as he walked to the stage with the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson. ... "The success of this march will be that we take charge of our communities and make a difference in the 0-6 elections." ...

A constant of the day was criticism of the Bush administration -- from leaders and from crowd members who held signs that said, "Bush Lied, People Died" and charged that the government is insensitive to the needs of black people. ...

Earlier in the day, Malik Zulu Shabazz, chairman of the New Black Panther Party, accused President Bush of "drowning the people of New Orleans and sabotaging the levees" and said that "the real gangsters operate out of CIA headquarters." His comments drew rousing applause.
What a sad, sad waste.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Million Man March Reloaded

posted by Rob at 8:11 PM

There was a large gathering of black men and women this past weekend in Washington, D.C. It was called the Millions More Movement. It celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March. The headline speaker was, of course, Louis Farrakhan.

I glanced around the net to find a transcript of his hour-long speech. I never found it. I did find several articles on the event, most in the so-called black media. What struck me as odd is the sentiment by more than one writer that the Million Man March was a failure. Just ask Morris O’Kelly:
Most of us remember the show of solidarity on the mall in Washington back in 1995. ... It was our house that wasn’t in order and it needed to be addressed first and foremost.

Ten years later, not much has changed, disappointingly I might add. If anything, we’ve moved further down that dubious path of self-destruction. Minister Louis Farrakhan has asked for not only African-American men, but women, children of all races and religious affiliations to also join in this movement.
It also seems that Farrakhan agrees. In an interview with he brags on several statistical improvements in the black community, and does a pretty good impersonation of Bill Bennet by saying, "the crime rate went down, the murder rate went down."

He then adds:
We’re still segregated; we’re still in substandard education, inferior schools, teachers that are fed up because the discipline problem in the schools is horrific. Now when I look at ten years after the Million Man March look at how many factories have been closed in the last ten years. Black men, Brown men are out of jobs. Look at the amount of drugs and guns that have come into our communities. ... Ten years later, young Black men and women now are filling the prisons. And some of the wardens and Black penologists are saying that young Black people are committing crimes that are so horrific that even their elders have never committed crimes like that. We have gone on a degenerative slide.
It thus appears we know have the answer to a question poised by CNN 10 years ago - "What happens back home will determine whether this massive event had a lasting effect, or was just an emotional celebration that lasted no more than one day."

I'm sure the same question is being asked now regarding MMM II - will it have a lasting effect? I, sadly, doubt it.

Here's why. The following are direct quotes from Farrakhan. Guess which ones are from MMM I in 1995, and which are from MMM II.

No. 1 -
I must hasten to tell you, Mr. President, that I'm not a malicious person, and I'm not filled with malice. But, I must tell you that I come in the tradition of the doctor who has to point out, with truth, what's wrong. And the pain is that power has made America arrogant. Power and wealth has made America spiritually blind and the power and the arrogance of America makes you refuse to hear a child of your slaves pointing out the wrong in your society.
No. 2 -
In the last ten years America has experienced more calamities than at any other time period in American history. Why America? God is angry. He's not angry because you're right. He's angry because you're wrong and you want to stone and kill the people who want to make you see you're wrong.
No. 3 -
You've got Arabs here. You've got Hispanics here. I know you call them illegal aliens, but hell, you took Texas from them by flooding Texas with people that got your mind. And now they're coming back across the border to what is Northern Mexico, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. They don't see themselves as illegal aliens. I think they might see you as an illegal alien. You have to be careful how you talk to people.
No. 4 -
Go back, join the NAACP if you want to, join the Urban league, join the All African People's Revolutionary Party, join us, join the Nation of Islam, join PUSH, join the Congress of Racial Equality, join SCLC - the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, but we must become a totally organized people and the only way we can do that is to become a part of some organization that is working for the uplift of our people.
No. 5 -
This is the beginning of a new movement where all of our brothers and sisters, black, brown, red and white, will work collectively to address the many issues that affect our people and the poor in this country.
No. 6 -
The government will never do for the poor of this nation until and unless we organize effectively to make government respond to the needs of the poor ... We must go back home and organize as never before.
No. 7 -
The Democrats have used us and abused us. They look at the black and the brown and the poor like this is a plantation, and our Democratic leaders are like the house Negro on the plantation of Democratic politics.
The first four quotes are from his two-hour speech in 1995. The last three are from an 80-minute speech in 2005. You could easily exchange those lines from one speech to the other and not change their meaning or intent. In essense, Farrakhan said nothing new. Why should we expect any different results?

I bet more than one person swears by this

posted by Rob at 4:54 PM

If you never find time to listen to a sample of callers to Ed Shultz's radio show, here's a nice summation of the content via a letter to the Olympian newspaper:
I read with trepidation the news article regarding Bush's plans to combat possible Asian bird flu by calling in the troops. His comments brought to mind 1930s Germany, with the Gestapo (Homeland Security) and storm troopers (Rumsfeld's Pentagon) in the wings.

I wonder, could a sitting president, twice elected, and supposedly the epitome of patriotic manhood, consider consolidating his ebbing power by bringing an epidemic to his own people? Would he use this ploy to institute martial law?

If he would give funds to Halliburton to organize the hurricane recovery in the South -- the same Halliburton that scammed millions of dollars in Iraq -- then I suppose, with the enthusiastic support of his moneyed power base, he would.

The fact that Congress voted funds, not for public health but for Homeland Security, strengthens this suspicion.

This is a sad day for our United States of America.

Peg Davidson, Olympia

This, dear reader, is an idiot. A complete, unequivocal, no question about it, purer-than-Mother-Sheehans-underwear idiot.

On the bright side, it's pleasing to read that her hopes have been crushed.


(hat tip: BOTW)

I thought it was about me loving my body

posted by Rob at 3:51 PM

Been too busy to blog lately, but this made me laugh. Appalachian State University's NOW chapter is holding its sixth annual "Love Your Body Day" tomorrow:
A representative from Watauga Health Center will speak about reproductive health and safe sex. Prophylactic devices will be issued.
Now that's taking safe sex to an extreme - prophylactic "devices" to use when loving your own body. I wonder what they have in mind?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Teachers vote, kids don’t

posted by Rob at 11:59 AM

Thank you Mike Adams for spanking our "great" governor. Mike Easley has been, to me, an embarrassment as governor. It's a testiment to how poorly state government is covered by local media that there isn't more outrage over this.

Meet Jack Torrence

posted by Rob at 11:20 AM

Simply The. Greatest. Movie. Trailer. Evar!

As a friend remarked when he saw it, "That is fucking genius." Well said.

For an explaination, go here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Threats versus Acts: Where's the media?

posted by Rob at 8:09 AM

Yesterday I spoke to my buddy Greg, who swears he wants to post more here but never has the time. We were discussing what was going on in the world when I brought up the suicide bomber at the recent Oklahoma football game. Greg thought I was making it up. He had not heard anything about it.

Greg is somewhat of a newshound (ie. regular Newsweek reader, loves CNN, PBS), so I was surprised he was unaware of what happened less than two weeks ago:
Student Identified in Oklahoma Explosion: A University of Oklahoma student with "emotional difficulties" was identified Sunday as the person who apparently committed suicide near a packed football stadium using an explosive attached to his body.'s Public Eye blog asks - Is Lack Of Big Media Coverage Of Oklahoma Explosion OK? It doesn't look too deep into finding an answer:
We asked CBS News national editor Bill Felling, who told us the network is looking into the story. Let’s hope so, it’s one worth airing, whatever the facts are.
While CBS is "looking into the story," the State Paper in Nebraska is asking some questions:
The explosion occurred about 7:30 p.m., during the second quarter of the KSU-OU game. During the fourth quarter OU President David Boren informed the media that a student had apparently committed suicide by blowing himself up near the stadium. He asked fans at the stadium to remain calm and said no one was in danger.

How could he have been so sure? The FBI was just then starting interviews with some of Hinrichs’ neighbors and acquaintances. And the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is said to be in charge, would not have had time to arrive in Norman.

It’s also a mystery why the mainstream media outside Oklahoma has pretty much ignored the incident.

Days later the news media was obsessed with the story of a possible terror threat in New York City; and cable news outlets spent far too much time on a bomb threat that briefly closed the Washington Monument. But there was almost nothing about an actual bombing – just 100 yards outside a college stadium full of people – that could have been a terrorism incident gone awry. Did newspaper editors and TV news producers – usually inquiring minds – buy into Boren’s quick dismissal of the event as just a troubled youth’s suicide and ensuing FBI statements that investigators had found no evidence to prove it was something other than a suicide?
Following up on this post, consider these two headlines -
Explosive found at Midvale: A calm and quiet Westwood was briefly disrupted Friday afternoon when the Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad inspected and detonated an explosive device found within the Midvale Plaza apartment complex on the 500 block of Midvale Avenue.

Explosives Found Near Tech Dorms: Three explosive devices found in a courtyard between two Georgia Tech dormitories on the East Campus Monday morning were part of a "terrorist act," an Atlanta police official said.
Three colleges each with bomb-related news. Could that be a trend?

Maybe there is nothing to these stories. They may just be random acts with no real cause or planned effect. But it seems odd to me that more attention is being paid to the over-reaction of possibly terrorist-related threats than actual possibly terrorist-related acts.

Monday, October 10, 2005

A new Monday ritual

posted by Rob at 8:51 PM

I now have a new Monday ritual - living vicariously through the mighty mjd. His "from-the-bar" perspective on yesterday's NFL slate is, simply put, awesome.

He calls it Smorgasbordin. The highlights (for me):
Things just could not be going worse for New Orleans right now. You know what this game looks like? It's like a Tecmo Bowl game, and Jim Haslett keeps picking the wrong play. Try Down and B, Jim. ...

There's a bowling alley right next door to the sports bar. I head over to the window at halftime of a couple of the games, just to stretch my legs. There appears to be some kind of a Special Olympics event going on down at the lanes. There's a couple dozen people with disabilities down there, getting their bowl on, having a good time. I think if you gave me a couple of hours with them, I think I could coach them up to the point where we could beat either the Ravens or Lions. At the very least, we could give them a good game. ...

The commentators are calling the Ravens/Lions game a "dogfight," and a "physical game." And it is, I guess, but don't get it twisted... this is not a good football game. This is exceedingly ugly. I mean, you can put Chris Berman and Verne Lundquist in loincloths, lock them in a steel cage and have them fight to the death, and sure, it might be physical... but that doesn't mean it will be good in any way, or any fun to watch. The Ravens penalty barrage is hilarious, but the game itself? Not a masterpiece.
(hat tip: The Sports Frog)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I can't believe I'm linking over there (Or, why Huff Post isn't a real blog)

posted by Rob at 3:20 PM

While stopping by to read the latest in Greg's double-secret hidden blog - "How men think, part one," too funny - I happened to hit the main page of the Puff Host. This headline caught my eye - "3rd Year Anniversary of Bush Lies in Cincinnati."

Forgive the redundancy of the headline, but don't forgive the content. Steve Cobble, a self-described anti-war activist and political strategist, does a half-ass fisking of a speech by Bush - a speech he doesn't actually link to, which shows both proof of intellectual dishonesty and lack of basic rules of blogging.

I found the speech here. It's interesting to note what Steve quotes and what he ignores. He begins quoting the president with this line: "Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace..." (and no, he doesn't mean Cheney)."

Yet Steve has no snide comment for what Bush said next. I wonder why he ignored this paragraph:
Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism, and practices terror against its own people. The entire world has witnessed Iraq's eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith.
None of that paragraph has yet been proven wrong. Iraq had used chemical weapons against its own people. Saddam sought nuclear weapons. He sheltered terrorists.

Where is *the* lie?

Instead, Steve selectively quotes Bush - "If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today--and we do..."

Note the ellipses. Now why would they be there? What else did Bush say:
If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do -- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?
I guess Steve considers such questions beneath him, but it's one that his "side" needs to answer. Did it make sense for the world to wait to confront a man who most everyone (including Clinton, Gore, and Kennedy) agreed might have dangerous weapons? Was there any reason to doubt he had them?

Instead of pondering such queries, Steve instead Dowdifies another quote from the speech, pasting only "Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas."

Steve omits the start of that sentence - "We've also discovered through intelligence that ..."

Bush was quoting intelligence, intelligence with which, again, most of the rest of the world agreed. It isn't a lie when intelligence is proven wrong, or at least overstated.

The Huffer continues by replacing a glaring omission with a snark:
"Some worry that a change of leadership in Iraq could create instability and make the situation worse." (Like everyone with more brain cells than Homer Simpson? Maybe Harry could speak to that...)
He ignores again what Bush said afterward:
On Saddam Hussein's orders, opponents have been decapitated, wives and mothers of political opponents have been systematically raped as a method of intimidation, and political prisoners have been forced to watch their own children being tortured.
No answer for that, huh. Steve? I admit portions of Iraq are no safer that Detroit. But do you have personal intel that Jalal Talabani has cemented the right to rape and murder in the - say it slowly, it does sound odd - Iraqi constitution?

Random acts of violence in Iraq are deplorable, but they are not now state sponsored (and internationally ignored) as they were in the past. I would consider that an improved situation.

Steve's effort is the perfect cliche for the so-called "anti-war" movement - a well-crafted pack of omissions, leading a supine leftist press, a cowed Democrat Party, and an abused and ignored (and too often, truth-averting) Huff Post readership to believe BUSH LIED!!!!!

Geez I can't believe I linked to that place. Damn you Greg for being so funny!

Back to the Future!

posted by Rob at 11:25 AM

Back in the mid-1990s, plenty of people were making comments like this, only Clinton was the problem. Those people were known as Clinton-haters and were generally ignored in any real discussion of politics and the state of our union.

And no, Gore's comments are not unusual. If you need evidence of how radical and consumed with hate some people have become, click on over here between 3-6 p.m. weekdays and give Ed Shultz a listen. I actually enjoy his show, primarily thanks to the loons he puts on the air.

For example, earlier this week an adult male called in to state his issue with both the Miers nomination and Roberts confirmation. He said both needed to be grilled on their legal opinion of martial law, cause (I'm paraphrasing here) Bush was going to declare martial law prior to 2008 and void elections. He would do so by either allowing or orchestrating another terrorist attack.

This is real nut-job ranting, but I heard somewhat similar sentiments on Rush's show back in 1996 (ie. the country is getting worse and won't survive until 2000, when Clinton will do anything to stay in power).

Of course, those were just irrational Clinton-haters. Bush-haters - for some odd reason - are supposed to be taken seriously.

Insight from Kaus

posted by Rob at 10:08 AM

Kaus trends toward my thinking:
Conservatives, a D.C. Republican friend tells me, wanted a fight over the O'Connor seat for its own sake--and not just for tacky fundraising and self-promotional reasons. They think they represent the majority position on judging; they needed a confrontation to draw the line and prove it. Plus a confirmation battle would be "consciousness-raising," as we used to say on the left, serving (in theory) to actually increase their ranks.

Given how great the party has been at "consciousness-raising" with regard to federal spending and the federal response to national disasters (or terrorist attacks), I'll pass.

Meirs vs. Roberts (or, Appalachian versus UNC)

posted by Rob at 9:34 AM

Back in my college days at Appalachian State University, I did pretty well grade-wise. For a few semesters I was even on the dean's list. A friend at UNC Chapel Hill once tut-tutted my effort, arguing an "A" at Appalachian would be a "C" at Carolina.

That comment comes to mind as I read how the Meirs nomination is being framed. As The Common Man puts it, it's "Conservative common folk" versus the "Conservative elite."

Alamo Nation frames it pretty well:
In the last two days I have heard both Ann Coulter and Tony Snow (not an Ivy Leaguer) question Miers' intelligence. Coulter indicated that Miers' senate confirmation hearings would "make Joe Biden look like a constitutional scholar" while Snow suggested that if asked by a senate judicary committee member about Article III Sec. 2 of the Constitution that Miers would respond with a "Huh?"
I admit, as a graduate of a great university not included among "the elite," I have a soft spot for Meirs. I like that she's an "thinking-outside-the-box" nominee, but I do wish she was younger (ageism!!!).

Peggy Noonan, as is her way, makes several good points today. But even she admits what is really at the heart of the Meirs controversy - no one knows how she will rule:
Back to Ms. Meirs herself, and the merits of her nomination. What would she be like on the bench? I know the answer. So do you. It's: Nobody knows. It's all a mystery.
Meanwhile, as much as I hate to admit it, Coulter makes a good point:
Unfortunately for Bush, he could nominate his Scottish terrier Barney, and some conservatives would rush to defend him, claiming to be in possession of secret information convincing them that the pooch is a true conservative and listing Barney's many virtues — loyalty, courage, never jumps on the furniture ...
She then loses me in the very next paragrah:
Harriet Miers went to Southern Methodist University Law School, which is not ranked at all by the serious law school reports and ranked No. 52 by US News and World Report. Her greatest legal accomplishment is being the first woman commissioner of the Texas Lottery.
That settles it. If Coulter is against, I'm for. Count me among the Coalition of the Chillin'.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Thank goodness for high gas prices

posted by Rob at 6:33 PM

If you're an environmentalist or devotee of global warming, that has to be your slogan this week. Plenty of people want to bash Bush over prices at the pump, but it appears this country has finally found an energy policy that works.

Consider this:
New data from the Energy Department show that fuel consumption over the past month declined by almost 3 percent compared with last year. Analysts attributed the trend to soaring pump prices and a slowdown in economic activity
And this:
In the first look at sales since Hurricane Katrina drove gasoline pump prices to $3 a gallon and beyond, sales of passenger cars grew last month while large, fuel-thirsty sport-utility vehicles languished. Overall, industry sales in September slid 7.6 percent from a year ago. ...

At Honda, sales of the Civic, one of the industry's most popular small cars, grew 37 percent from a year ago. Honda reported a 25 percent sales increase in the gasoline-electric hybrid version of the Civic. Sales of the hybrid Toyota Prius nearly doubled, to 8,193 for the month.
Sure, there is still some real pain at the pump, but silver linings are taking root. Forget federal fuel-economy standards. Real positive action will only be taken when consumers, not suppliers, are forced to alternatives.
As demand for gas declines, supply will grow. That will bring prices down further. At which point, of course, us greedy Americans will return to our SUVs until forced again to use alternatives.

One way to possibly prevent that - keep prices high. As Slate observes:
Practically speaking, the only hope of changing America's driving habits is a hefty price increase that lasts. For, oh, five years. The data show that after that long, even the response of American drivers to higher prices can be pretty sizable. Five years gives people the time to come up with substitutes.

Well, why not a new gas tax? Not "new" in the sense of an add on, but new in the sense that federal and state gas taxes should be based on percentage. Instead of state and federal governments taxing 25 cents on the dollar, why not simply levy a 25 percent of the wholesale value of gasoline per gallon?

Legislators should love it, since when prices jump, government profits as well as business.

Liberals/environmentalists should love it, cause it would continue to hit SUV sales.

Educators would love it, because it would increase demand for good math skills.

Conservatives/Republicans? I don't know. Odds are they would hate it since it would be taking more money from consumers and handing it to the government.

I myself am unsure of the argument. As positive an influence as high gas prices are in some aspects, it still continues to hit me in the wallet. I drive a Dodge Neon which, after six years and 155,000 miles, still gets about 32 miles a gallon. Soon will come the time when it will roll no more. The wife wants an SUV (Ever gone five hours with two kids in a Neon?)

I guess this is what liberals mean when they demand sacrifice?

More support for Michael Brown

posted by Rob at 9:22 AM

Last month, former FEMA chief Michael Brown testified before a Congressional committe that, with regard to reacting to Katrina, one of his mistakes was that he "shoud have set up regular media briefings instead of conducting numerous television interviews."

For that comment he was universally slammed.

The Washington Post today (emphasis mine):
The sensational accounts delayed rescue and evacuation efforts already hampered by poor planning and a lack of coordination among local, state and federal agencies. People rushing to the Gulf Coast to fly rescue helicopters or to distribute food, water and other aid steeled themselves for battle. In communities near and far, the seeds were planted that the victims of Katrina should be kept away, or at least handled with extreme caution.

"Rumor control was a beast for us," said Maj. Ed Bush of the Louisiana National Guard, who was stationed at the Superdome. "People would hear something on the radio and come and say that people were getting raped in the bathroom or someone had been murdered. I would say, 'Ma'am, where?' I would tell them if there were bodies, my guys would find it. Everybody heard, nobody saw. Logic was out the window because the situation was illogical."

When it comes to finding who is too blame for the slow response in New Orleans to Katrina, the self-congratulatory media deserves some.

(Hat tip: InstaPundit)

George smacks George

posted by Rob at 9:08 AM

Will goes after Bush as only he can:
In addition, the president has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution. The forfeiture occurred March 27, 2002, when, in a private act betokening an uneasy conscience, he signed the McCain-Feingold law expanding government regulation of the timing, quantity and content of political speech. The day before the 2000 Iowa caucuses he was asked -- to insure a considered response from him, he had been told in advance he would be asked -- whether McCain-Feingold's core purposes are unconstitutional. He unhesitatingly said, ``I agree.'' Asked if he thought presidents have a duty, pursuant to their oath to defend the Constitution, to make an independent judgment about the constitutionality of bills and to veto those he thinks unconstitutional, he briskly said, ``I do.''

Hard to argue with that.

Random aside, how many liberal/progressive columnists occasionally go after Democrats like this?

Monday, October 03, 2005

More on Miers

posted by Rob at 4:46 PM

As if to further underscore my point in the previous post, here's Emily Bazelon in Slate describing Miers:
She may turn out to have a great legal mind. She may be a thoughtful, incisive Supreme Court justice. But there's no reason to think so now.

Uh ... it's that what the confirmation process is for? John Roberts has proven to have a great legal mind, and may be a thoughtful, incisive judge. Now, did we know that before or after his Senate hearings?

Since my last post, I had a chance to listen to Ed Shultz give his opinion. Unlike others on the left who are hugging themselves they love the Miers pick no much, Shultz is declaring war. He refuses to "misunderestimate" Bush. He will fight against Miers on the grounds that her long history with Bush will make her a yes woman for conservative causes.

Ed is also hoping for a knock-down, drag-out, Karl Rove-Scooter Libby-Abu Ghraib-Where Are The Weapons Of Mass Destruction Fight:
DOES SHE KNOW ANYHING ABOUT THE PLAME OUTING, having been in the White House behind closed doors? What about advising the President on an illegal war? Torture anyone? Does she know anything about that? What does she know about the illegal buying of news by the Bush administration?

There's Something About Miers

posted by Rob at 2:08 PM

I really do not understand the anger of the right by Bush's latest nominee to the Supreme Court. Even the people upset qualify their statement. For example:

Andrew Sullivan: "Still, I'm not saying I oppose this nomination. At this point, I just don't know enough about her judicial views."

"Perhaps they'll change my mind, but so far I'm underwhelmed."

NRO's David Frum: "I am not saying that Harriet Miers is not a legal conservative. I am not saying that she is not steely. I am saying only that there is no good reason to believe either of these things."

NRO's KLo uses Photoshop to express her unease.

I just don't understand the whining, other than to say that conservatives want a fight more than they want a good nominee. Everytime I glance over at Drudge I see reasons why Bush picked her. For instance:
Harriet Miers gave cash contribution to the Democratic National Committee in 1988 and Gore campaign -- while Bush dad was running for president!

On a conference call this morning, former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie admitted Miers was democrat througout the 1980s; asked specifically about the Gore contribution, Gillespie said that she was a 'conservative' democrat who later became a republican
It appears - to me - that Bush made a good pick. It appears she will be a smaller target for the sort of mindless spittle directed at John Roberts by the media and Democrats, especially given that there has been a near demand for a woman to be chosen to replace O' Conner.

Look what TalkLeft is admitting (emphsis mine):
Don't expect the Senate Democrats to put up a fight on Miers. On a blogger conference call last week with Sen. Harry Reid (I wrote about it here), he told us he asked the President to consider Harriet Miers.

My initial reaction to her nomination: Relief. I served with Ms. Miers on the Martindale Hubbell-Lexis Nexis Legal Advisory Board for a few years. She resigned in 2000. ...

I didn't get to know her well, but we sat next to each other for several hours at the last meeting she attended and I liked her. We only talked law, not politics, but she won me over - and I was pre-disposed not to like her, that being the year that Bush was running for President and knowing she was his personal lawyer.
For those worried about whether she is conservative enough, glance at this profile from TIME:
As for her opinions on hot button social issues, Hecht refuses to go into details. "She is conservative, and is very comfortable in the Bush Administration and has felt comfortable being his lawyer," says Hecht, who is known as an arch-conservative jurist in Texas. "She's far more reasonable than I am."
So is the fact she's "reasonable" her big sin?

Kaus' paranoia

posted by Rob at 1:46 PM

Reading posts like this gives me the spooks. I was thinking the same thing.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Erskine Bowles, meet Abraham Lincoln

posted by Rob at 10:42 AM

It is expected that Monday the University of North Carolina system will name Erskine Bowles its new president.

The announcement comes with the obligatory joke - he couldn't get elected to a post, so he found someone to appoint him to one.

Let's also get the cheap pot shot out of the way - his appointment may prove to be Clinton-like (ie. bring in the lawyers!!).

Now let's get serious. The biggest challenge Bowles will face as UNC system president is maintaining the union. The UNC system is comprised of 16 universities. Two of the largest - and most prominent - are the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (defending NCAA national basketball champions) and N.C. State (who needs grass when you have bricks).

Both Carolina and State want to, in a sense, break away from the UNC system's normal operating procedure and set their own tuition rates. As the Raleigh News & Observer puts it:
Some advocates for the schools have chafed for some time at the notion of having to operate within the confines of a large system, and of having to get permission from the Board of Governors when it comes to raising their tuition.
The N&O continues and describes life pre-BOG:
Before that board existed, the state's public universities competed against each other for public dollars, and the battles were sometimes won on the basis of legislative clout, not the setting of orderly priorities based on North Carolina's needs. The board has stopped that, with varying success to be sure.
Carolina and State not only own cults of sports personality, they also arguably own among their alumni bases some of the state's most powerful figures. Those powerful figures are in position to help force the split of UNC and NCSU from some of the rules 14 other campuses have to follow. One could argue they are seeing to secede from the union.

What's driving the fight? Money, of course. But it's not quite put in those terms. It's all about "research":

NCSU and UNC-CH leaders say it's about time. They point out that the two campuses educate nearly 30 percent of UNC system students and conduct world-class research, attracting three out of four of the system's research dollars. Increasingly, they say, the two Triangle campuses are major drivers in North Carolina's changing economy, contributing new technology and spinoff companies.

UNC-CH and NCSU also compete against other elite universities for faculty and students. To win, their leaders say, they need more money and more managerial leeway.

"The state really needs to recognize that its flagships require the tools to be competitive with both the public flagships in other states as well as the great privates," UNC-CH Chancellor James Moeser said.

Arguing for a tuition increase earlier this year, Moeser said he had in his hand recruitment offers from other universities for science professors in three departments. Thirty-two professors received job offers and 11 left, the chancellor reported.

UNC is pushing the fight (N&O notes that "NCSU partisans were quiet during the debate").

I attempt not to view every battle in political terms, but it does seem odd that the liberal flower-child that is UNC is pushing for economic freedom to better compete in a capitalist market. Then there's this, again from N&O:

Campus leaders at UNC-CH and NCSU have repeatedly pointed out that they go up against private universities with deep pockets.

"The private institutions that we compete with have exploded their endowments, have exploded their sources of funding, and their tuitions are high," Carter said.

If the two campuses own a plurality of UNC system alumni - including its most powerful and prominent - isn't it a problem of fundraising from those same alumni that is driving this issue? (As an aside, both have dues-paying alumni associations).

Instead of tapping alumni (and basketball fan) dollars they appear to instead want to target current students. Both UNC and NCSU offer affordable undergraduate tuition ($4,515 at UNC; $4,249 at NCSU). Instead of standing proudly by those numbers, both universities appear to be ashamed by them.

What's wrong with that picture?

Given their power, it's probably inevitable they will get some of what they want. It will be interesting to see, under Bowles, exactly where that line is drawn and what its ramification will be. For if two campuses can set their own rates for their own reasons, why shouldn't UNC Wilmington, UNC Asheville, or UNC Greensboro be allowed to do the same? (note the prefix in all those names).

And will will return to an era when the "state's public universities competed against each other for public dollars." Who will consistently win such a fight, the big boys are UNC Pembroke?

It could be that Bowles first job is to maintain the union. As a 2000 Bowles voter who likes him as a person, I wish him the best.