Note: This is a lengthy video, running about 16 minutes. But it's well worth watching.
Marine Sgt Mike McNulty is on activation orders to Iraq (second tour). On December 1st, 2007, Mike went to visit a friend in Chicago before deploying to say goodbye. In order to get to his friend's residence, and keep in mind that Chicago is a myriad of diagonal and one-way streets, the front entrance (right way) to the one-way street was blocked. Mike, being a Marine, overcame and adapted by driving around the block to the other end of the street and backing up all the way to his friend's place.
While saying goodbye, at about 11am, he noticed a man leaning up against his car. Mike left his friend's apartment and caught the man keying his car on multiple sides.
After caught in the process, the man told Mike, "you think you can do whatever you want with Department of Defense license plates and tags". (In Illinois you can purchase veteran, Marine, or medal plates. Mike has Illinois Marine Corps license plates.) During the exchange, he made additional anti-military comments.
Mike called the Chicago police and had the man arrested. A citation against the man was issued for misdemeanor criminal damage to private property.
As it turns out, the man is Chicago lawyer Jay R. Grodner, who owns a law firm in the city and has offices in the suburbs.
“I will end George Bush's war against science. I will end the ban on stem cell research.”
The Iowa caucuses are 14 days away, with the New Hampshire primary five days later. And what follows from there won't be pretty. The way Americans are selecting our presidential candidates in 2008 is, frankly, a mess.
The first problem is the overall length of the campaign. There are few more demanding physical activities than running for president, other than military training or athletics at a very high level--and this will be the longest presidential contest on record. The first candidate this season announced Dec. 12, 2006; virtually all the Democrats declared by late January, and almost every Republican by mid-March. So next fall we'll elect a president who's spent two years rocketing around the country in an aluminum tube and sleeping in strange hotel rooms on a brutal, exhausting campaign trail.
This gives America the longest leadership selection contest in the democratic world.
“The detainees at Guantanamo are not American citizens, they are enemies of this nation and they do not enjoy the rights of American citizens,” he said. “And they are not entitled to habeas corpus protection.”
The crowd of a little over 100 people in Waterloo applauded the line, as they did several others on the last stop of first day of “The Clear Conservative Choice: Hands Down!” tour across Iowa. Thompson also clarified when he would he would be willing to raise his hand. “When Chief Justice John Roberts swears me in, I won’t mind raising my hand.”
Public Utilities Commissioners worried aloud about FairPoint Communications Inc.'s promises of expanded broadband, financial viability and changing terms of its proposed $2.7 billion purchase of Verizon's landlines in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.
"One conclusion has become clear, and that is that the petition as filed is not in the public interest," Commission Chairman Thomas B. Getz said.
"Given that conclusion, the question then becomes is there some set of conditions that would satisfy the public interest," he said.
“Stay tuned to NewsNine for our Storm Watch Team coverage of the [add ominous news theme music here] Nor' Easter!”
In February of 2004, NYU held a conference about fear. The conference was called “Fear: Its Uses and Abuses.” In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, posters with crude caricatures of Japanese and Nazis appeared with “Warning! Our homes are in danger now!” Exclamation points at the beginning and close of the warning, in case the message escaped us. It was called propaganda. As reported in the New York Times, in an article by Edward Rothstein, (propaganda’s) “accepted function was to galvanize, urge, justify, remind and yes, frighten.” (italics Ron's)
After September 11, with the emerging threat of Islamic terrorism becoming more manifest in the public mind (many of us took this threat more seriously than others prior to this atrocity), what sticks out most immediately is how, again according to Edward Rothstein, there were “[s]o few examples of graphic American propaganda and none using ethnic or racial caricatures. Yet beginning with Al Gore, who delivered the keynote address at the Conference, the former vice president asserted again and again that the American government is preoccupied with instilling fear.” The conference was essentially about fear being encouraged by our government and exacerbated by the media. It was compared with the irrational fear of Communism and the perversions of McCarthyism.”
The goal of the conference promoters was clear to me. Indeed we now all have reason to be afraid. But apparently we’re afraid of different things. Some factions are less concerned with the folks who have declared war on us and who are determined to kill us, our children and our civilization. These factions have chosen our elected government, chosen by us to secure and defend us, to be their adversary. Evidently my fear was rational. I just had the wrong enemy in my sights. To which my grandfather would have responded, had he been born elsewhere and not in a shtetl, “poppycock.”
The Left are more afraid of what enemy might think of us then what they might do to us.
Really? So it’s “impolite” to make non-Christians look at a decorated tree and recognize its religious connotations, but it’s okay to piss off Christians by not letting us celebrate Christmas the way we want to?
This attitude just boggles my mind. When Christian schoolchildren are forced to acknowledge non-Christian holidays like Hanukkah, Passover, and Ramadan, they call it “diversity”. But when non-Christian schoolchildren are asked to do the exact same thing by acknowledging Christmas, suddenly it’s “impolite”.
The obvious question is this: why did Fonseca (who is bilingual) think it was appropriate to run the meeting in Spanish? After all, African-Americans are well represented on the council, and many of the Latino parents speak English. Furthermore, current bylaws stipulate that all parent meetings across the district be held in English.
Apparently Fonseca took the opportunity to challenge those bylaws, motivated by a lawyer’s conclusion that the English-only rule was illegal and impractical and the district’s assurance that it would not be enforced. The LAUSD probably fears the reactions of parents like Guadalupe Aguiar, who told the [L.A.] Times that it is “racist when parents are told that, in America, they have to speak English.”
...Hispanic Democrat [Rep. Charles Gonzalez of Texas] is quoted in the [Wall Street] Journal as saying, “If it is not relevant, it is discriminatory, it is gratuitous, it is a subterfuge to discriminate against people based on national origin.” This type of heated rhetoric made its way to the House Floor on Nov. 8, when Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois called English-only requirements symbolic of “bigotry and prejudice.”
But not all politicians think it’s racist to insist that employees speak English when working in America. In fact, Gonzalez and Gutierrez were reacting to an amendment introduced by Lamar Alexander from Tennessee. Alexander’s legislation would shield employers from federal lawsuits if they refuse to hire non-English speakers. The amendment passed the Senate by 75-19 last month, and, more recently, the House by 218-186, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is determined to kill it.
But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that last year filed over 200 lawsuits against employers over English-only rules, has a different vision. Its lawsuit against the Salvation Army accuses the organization of discriminating against two employees at its Framingham, Mass., thrift store "on the basis of their national origin." Its crime was to give the employees a year's notice that they should speak English on the job (outside of breaks) and then firing them after they did not. The EEOC sued only four years after a federal judge in Boston, in a separate suit, upheld the Salvation Army's English-only policy as an effort to "promote workplace harmony." Like a house burglar, the EEOC is trying every door in the legal neighborhood until it finds one that's open.
When I speak on college campuses, I find that students are either baffled by democracy's workings or that they don't see any point in engaging in the democratic process. Sometimes both.
As the Founders knew, if citizens are ignorant of or complacent about the proper workings of a republic "of laws not of men," then any leader of any party -- or any tyrannical Congress or even a tyrannical majority -- can abuse the power they hold. But at this moment of threat to the system the Framers set in place, a third of young Americans don't really understand what they were up to.
Here are some actual quotes from otherwise smart, well-meaning young Americans:
"I show my true convictions by refusing to vote."
"The two parties are exactly the same."
"Congress is bought and paid for."
"Elections are just a front for corporations."
"My teacher says you shouldn't believe anything you read in the newspapers at all," a 16-year-old from affluent Menlo Park, Calif., told me last week.
The United States has been blessed with more than 200 years of a strong democracy, so it's easy to yield to a comforting -- and lazy -- conviction that it's magically self-sustaining and doesn't need to be defended, an idea that would have horrified the Founders, who knew that our democracy would be a fragile thing.
Type A believes the preponderance of established scientific evidence. Whether Type A believes it because they are equipped to do so, or whether they believe it because they are gullible, or whether they believe it because they are stupid, or whether they choose to/pretend to believe it because they are anti-progress, anti-capitalist, anti-global economy, communist, hippy or anarchist is neither here nor there. They believe or profess to believe that there is a pressing threat to the continuation of human life on this planet such as we have known it since the earliest civilizations began to build harbours and ports on the edges of the land. It’s a big deal.
Then there is Type B. Type Bs do not believe this. They think the evidence is wrong, misinterpreted, flawed, misrepresented, unconvincing, not to be acted upon. Type A will call Type Bs “deniers” which irritates them with that suggestion of holocaust denial, not to mention its accompaniment of that special whiff of sanctimonious self-righteous and political correctness that many Bs observe will always hang about your classic Type A. Type B believes the evidence is either manufactured, ignored or slanted. They believe that the whole eco industry and the thousands of academic departments which have sprung up have a vested interest in those alarm bells. They think it’s political correctness, a new orthodoxy, liberal, bossy and dishonest.
Finally there is Type C, the category into which Jim falls. Type C says: “I cannot possibly know. I hear this from one side and that from another. Both seem convinced, both seem to be marshalling impressive technical figures to their side. I cannot make a judgment.”
Obviously there are views that shade between the three categories but in essence you either believe, deny or sit on the fence.
Take for example, this round of college-age letter writers touting the plans of Hillary Clinton and others to make college more "affordable."
"Hillary wants to make going to a four-year college easier and have it cost less. She wants to expand the HOPE tax credit so a family can receive up to $3,500 as opposed to $1,650," wrote one student.
Others have touted larger federal Pell Grants, lower interest rates on government-backed loans and even direct government aid to colleges and universities.
None of these letters — and it is worth repeating — none have addressed the question of where this government largesse is going to come from.
What the use of government subsidies means — and what these young, innocent letter writers miss — is that the cost of a college education comes out of someone's pocket, not thin air.
This happens in two ways — greater government debt or higher taxes — and more often both.
You know, I've read and heard other folks talking about Fred's laconic laid back style and the seemingly lack of fire in the belly attitude. While I cannot speak to that sentiment personally, I can definitely say that there was no evidence of that here today. While this was a short stop consisting of a small amount of time for opening remarks and only 3 questions from the crowd, he seemed upbeat in a serious type of way (no, he was not bouncing around the stage) as he brought his defense and strength message to this bastion of veterans.
Look, I was quite disappointed that the time between the "Ask Fred" event and his answers. Further, I thought that the lack of being in NH often kinda let folks go off the cliff as far as expectations were concerned ("Hey, where's Fred?"). This did not, his chances help.
That said, if he does come often and shows the same type of command of details and the speaking presence he did today, who knows? Maybe some of that "uncampaign sparkle and mystery" may return to the Fredster.
Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.
A THANKSGIVING POST: My old colleague, the legendary British journalist and drunk Henry Fairlie, had a favourite story about his long, lascivious love affair with America. He was walking down a suburban street one afternoon in a suit and tie, passing familiar rows of detached middle-American dwellings and lush, green Washington lawns. In the distance a small boy - aged perhaps six or seven - was riding his bicycle towards him.
And in a few minutes, as their paths crossed on the pavement, the small boy looked up at Henry and said, with no hesitation or particular affectation: "Hi." As Henry told it, he was so taken aback by this unexpected outburst of familiarity that he found it hard to say anything particularly coherent in return. And by the time he did, the boy was already trundling past him into the distance.
In that exchange, Henry used to reminisce, so much of America was summed up. That distinctive form of American manners, for one thing: a strong blend of careful politeness and easy informality. But beneath that, something far more impressive. It never occurred to that little American boy that he should be silent, or know his place, or defer to his elder. In America, a six-year-old cyclist and a 55-year-old journalist were equals. The democratic essence of America was present there on a quiet street on a lazy summer afternoon.
Henry couldn't have imagined that exchange happening in England - or Europe, for that matter. Perhaps now, as European - and especially British - society has shed some of its more rigid hierarchies, it could. But what thrilled him about that exchange is still a critical part of what makes America an enduringly liberating place. And why so many of us who have come to live here find, perhaps more than most native Americans, a reason to give thanks this Thanksgiving.
When I tuck into the turkey on Thursday, I'll have three things in particular in mind. First, the country's pathological obsession with the present. America is still a country where the past is anathema. Even when Americans are nostalgic, they are nostalgic for a myth of the future. What matters for Americans, in small ways and large, is never where you have come from - but where you are going, what you are doing now, or what you are about to become. In all the years I have lived in America - almost a decade and a half now - it never ceases to amaze me that almost nobody has ever demanded to know by what right I belong here. Almost nobody has asked what school I went to, what my family is like, or what my past contains. (In Britain I was asked those questions on a daily, almost hourly, basis.) Even when I took it on myself to be part of the American debate, nobody ever questioned my credentials for doing so. I don't think that could ever happen in a European context (when there's a gay American editor of The Spectator, let me know). If Europeans ever need to know why Ronald Reagan captured such a deep part of the American imagination, this is surely part of the answer. It was his reckless futurism (remember star wars and supply-side economics?) and his instinctive, personal generosity.
Second, I'm thankful for the American talent for contradiction. The country that sustained slavery for longer than any other civilised country is also the country that has perhaps struggled more honestly for the notion of racial equality than any other. The country that has a genuine public ethic of classlessness also has the most extreme economic inequality in the developed world. The country that is most obsessed with pressing the edge of modernity also has the oldest intact constitution in the world. The country that still contains a powerful religious right has also pushed the equality of homosexuals further than ever before in history. A country that cannot officially celebrate Christmas (it would erase the boundary between church and state) is also one of the most deeply religious nations on the planet. Americans have learnt how to reconcile the necessary contradictions not simply because their country is physically big enough to contain them, but because it is spiritually big enough to contain them. Americans have learnt how to reconcile the necessary contradictions of modern life with a verve and a serenity few others can muster. It is a deeply reassuring achievement.
Third, I'm thankful because America is, above all, a country of primary colours. Sometimes the pictures Americans paint are therefore not as subtle, or as elegant, or even as brilliant as masterpieces elsewhere. But they have a vigour and a simplicity that is often more viscerally alive. Other nations may have become bored with the Enlightenment, or comfortable in post-modern ennui. Americans find such postures irrelevant. Here the advertisements are cruel, the battles are stark and the sermons are terrifying. And here, more than anywhere else, the most vital of arguments still go on. Does God exist? Are the races equal? Can the genders get along? Americans believe that these debates can never get tired, and that their resolution still matters, because what happens in America still matters in the broader world. At its worst, this can bespeak a kind of arrogance and crudeness. But at its best, it reflects a resilient belief that the great questions can always be reinvented and that the answers are always relevant. In the end, I have come to appreciate this kind of naivety as a deeper form of sophistication. Even the subtlest of hues, after all, are merely primary colours mixed.
At the end of November each year this restless, contradictory and simple country finds a way to celebrate itself. The British, as befits a people at ease with themselves, do not have a national day. When the French do, their insecurity shows. Even America, on the fourth of July, displays a slightly neurotic excess of patriotism. But on Thanksgiving, the Americans resolve the nationalist dilemma. They don't celebrate themselves, they celebrate their good fortune. And every November, as I reflect on a country that can make even an opinionated Englishman feel at home, I know exactly how they feel.
"My America," first published November 24, 1996, Sunday Times of London
Even if the climate is changing, is there anything we can do about it? No one is sure. Lowering emissions may indeed slow down or even eliminate excess global warming. Then again, it may not have any effect at all.
And here is where politics insinuates itself into the debate to the detriment of science as well as the debate itself. Scientists argue whether the Greenland glaciers are growing or shrinking, whether the Antarctic ice cap is melting, whether the cyclical nature of sunspots are to blame for the increase in temperature, even whether polar bears are at risk of becoming extinct or not. But it is politicians and advocates who argue about climate change “solutions” and charge their opponents with being mindless fanatics or anti-science zealots depending on whose ox is being gored.
Where does that leave rational, thoughtful science enthusiasts like you and me who may not have the technical acumen to judge the efficacy of scientific arguments but who try and follow the debate anyway?
On the outside looking in, I’m afraid.
And here is where you will find the most bizarre collection of anti-globalists, anti-capitalists, “sustainable growth” nuts, and population control fanatics allying themselves with Third World kleptocrats in order to soak the west with “carbon offsets” and other gimmicks without reducing emissions by one single molecule. This was the now defunct Kyoto agreement, the first attempt by this motley coalition to radically alter western industrialized civilization.
At least on the other side of the political coin with the most organized efforts to debunk global warming there is the rationality of promoting an anti-warming agenda based largely on economic interests. Lost profits may not be a very noble reason to oppose efforts to reduce emissions but at least it has logic so sorely lacking on the other side.
This then is the political atmosphere in which charge and counter charge is hurled back and forth, with the global warming cadres spewing nonsense about comparing skeptics with “Nazis” while the skeptics accuse climate change advocates of being Luddites.
So what went wrong with Vista in the first place? Let’s start off with the elephant in the room. The product was overpriced from the outset. Why was it so expensive? What was special about it? All the cool and promised features of the original vision of Longhorn were gutted simply because it was beyond Microsoft’s capability to implement those features.
This failure to deliver what was promised—even after several delays in the product’s release, by the way—did nothing to excite anyone. It made the company look bad. It directly resulted in a no-confidence vote that was manifested in a lackluster reception and low sales. Microsoft should have scrapped the project two years ago and instead patched XP until it could deliver something hot.
Microsoft’s initial approach to marketing this turkey was obviously going to be to put it on just new machines, which would eventually saturate the market, but the PC manufacturers squawked and demanded the continuation of XP sales.
More than 1.4 billion people around the world seem to be emailing each other a lot, and those emails get delivered a lot faster and more reliably than “snail mail.” Lots of people are innovating around the Internet – voice calling over the Internet, e-commerce, blogs, education, employment, and healthcare services, music and video streaming and downloads, and such – and lots and lots of people are profiting from those innovations and the websites and companies that operate online.
Despite what Al Gore may think, the Internet was an invention of the U.S. government and a number of universities and other entities a couple decades ago. As the Internet became what it is today, the government created a nonprofit organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, to manage what was then a growing network of networks. Today ICANN does things like manage the assignment of Web sites domain names – the .coms, .orgs, .edus – for example.
But countries like China aren’t happy about U.S. control of “the tubes.” They’d rather have the U.N. run it. I wonder how the U.N. would’ve handled the situation in Burma recently when the government cut off all Internet access to all anti-government protesters, or how it would’ve handled the imprisonment in China of dissidents and reporters who emailed news out of the country.
The notion of surrendering management of the Internet – a global, strategic infrastructure for communications and commerce – to the UN is just a plain dumb idea. We shouldn’t be handing over something that works right to an institution that has difficulty doing anything right.
“There is something profoundly wrong — something that should trouble all of us — when we have elected Democratic officials who seem more worried about how the Bush administration might respond to Iran's murder of our troops, than about the fact that Iran is murdering our troops.”
“There is likewise something profoundly wrong when we see candidates who are willing to pander to this politically paranoid, hyper-partisan sentiment in the Democratic base, even if it sends a message of weakness and division to the Iranian regime,” Lieberman said in a thinly veiled swipe at Clinton's Democratic challengers.