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Monday, January 31, 2005

For perspective, "trevino" at compares Kos' bitter "we were right, they were wrong" pouting with what freedom really looks like in Iraq; it's not (as one Kos poster said) just a bunch of pretty pictures. He also points out that the first free elections in South Africa "was preceded by a series of horrific 'township wars' that left tens of thousands dead". Were they worth it? The answer to both election battles is a resounding "Yes".

The fourth Homespun Bloggers Radio program is on the air! This edition of HBR includes the following segments:

  • Jay Dean (The Radical Centrist) shows how California politics could be made more responsive to the voters.
  • Andrew Ian Dodge (Dodgeblogium) has advice for British libertarians who are trying to regain a foothold. We also feature a song by his band, "Growing Old Disgracefully".
  • Derek Gilbert (Weapon of Mass Distraction) observes that in the evolution / creation debate, certain news organizations and certain bloggers are ignoring discoveries that don't conform to their positions.

To listen, click here or on the "Homespun Bloggers Radio" button to the left. The current audio feed is a loop of show #4. Also, you can click here to download a CD-quality version of the show. The 3 previous shows can also be heard by clicking here.

On "Considrettes Radio" today I talked with Bill Bennett about comparing Iraqi voters, who braved threats of violence and death to vote in huge numbers, with some American voters, who, along with Barbara Boxer (D-Neptune) think that standing in the rain to vote is equivalent to disenfranchisement. (In my call, I said that Boxer complained about California voters in the rain, but she actually came to the defense of the poor, wet voters in Ohio.) Fractured definitions of "disenfranchisement" aside, though, you really have to hand it to the Iraqis for not cowering in the face of real danger and standing up for themselves.

"Considerettes Radio" on Bill Bennett's Morning in America (WGKA, Atlanta, GA) 1/31/2005 8:20am EST (181K)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

From Instapundit, comes this E-mail he got regarding the Democrats and their situation as the minority party.
You rightly point out that we liberals must do our best to shout down, disassociate ourselves, do everything we can to make ourselves no longer the party of Michael Moore, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, et al.

And as you noted, the Right does do a better job of quieting its 'idiotarians'. The only problem is, they essentially do it with the "bribes and promises" approach. Jerry Falwell, even when muzzled, knows that to some degree he and the people he represents will get a hearing from the White House and congress, the American seats of power.

On the left, we are a minority in all branches of government. How can we cast off the extremists if we have nothing to offer to placate them, nothing to drive them away with? It makes it harder to easily dismiss them, and as we get drawn into a serious debate with them (which we'd handily win), the Republicans will simply say, "Look, the Democrats can't even stop their circular firing squad, how can they run the country?" and we'll lose more seats in Congress.

I'm with the College Dems at my school, and the reactionary extremism is so thick you could cut it with a knife. What's the solution for people like me? What *can* we do? Casting out the extremists seems an awful lot like putting salt on a bird's tail.

The first thing that came to my mind was, "Well, how did the Republicans do it?" They certainly haven't been in this current situation for very long, relatively speaking. I'm no political strategist, but I'd at least have to say that it can be done (even if I can't explain how). The Right has had its share of extremists; how did we handle them?

As Glenn asks:
The question is, will the Democrats be willing to do to Ted Kennedy, for his remarks on the war, what Republicans did to Trent Lott, for his remarks on Strom Thurmond and the 1948 election?

I'd add that they could learn something from how the Republicans handled David Duke as well. The Democrats have shown, over the course of decades, that it doesn't really matter what you sound like as long as you vote the Democrat line. You can shake down corporations like Jesse Jackson as long as you pull in Democrat voters. You can engage in the politics of personal destruction, as James Carville has done for years, as long as you don't question a Democrat president.

That's the attitude that has to change before anything else can.

Honestly, I wrote my comment about "...but..." yesterday totally unaware that James Lileks had made the concept of the "Damning But" a full-blown blogosphere meme. Well, great minds think alike...and sometimes so does mine. :)

Tim Blair this morning has seen 2 examples of the DB already. Thus begineth the avalanche.

Friday, January 28, 2005

I've found the local Air America radio station in Atlanta, and I'll occasionally flip over to it when the other stations are at commercial. It's difficult to listen to for all the trash talk going on. (Republicans are less concerned about the troops than Democrats are? Please, Ms. Rhodes! It's Ted Kennedy trashing the troops, not Republicans. The story is even linked on the Air America site today. You do read your own network's site, right?)

I'm not typically in the car when Al Franken is on, but apparently his show is just as pointless. John Hinderaker, of Power Line fame, was interviewed by Franken today, and Franken couldn't even be bothered to ask about the allegations that were made of John earlier in the show. He was more interested in talking about himself. Read all about it here.

This, along with the way the top-tier liberal blogs have shown that they don't want to cover any topic that might be damaging to them, continues to show that if you want to hear the whole story, you're far more likely to hear it from the right than from the left. Conservative / libertarian bloggers will be far more fair and honest in their attitudes and opinions, especially of their own, than liberals have shown themselves to be. Again, I say this as a generality. I'm sure there's evidence of other individual lefties doing some introspection, but the ones more folks are reading & listening to simply just don't have the time to be intellectually honest. For the big-time lefties, blind partisanship is the rule, not the exception.


That's the word that has made the Left in this country sound like they were bolstering dictators and terrorists.
  • "Saddam Hussein is a murderous dictator, but...."
  • "Osama bin Laden may want us dead, but...."
  • "Elections in Afghanistan were good, but...."
  • "The capture of Saddam Hussein was good, but...."

In most of these cases, the argument or idea following "but", had it been followed, would have left the status quo in place for the foreseeable future. Sanctions and the Oil-for-Palaces Food program would have continued to enrich Hussein and left the people of Iraq in poverty, even while the rape rooms would still in operation and Uday and Qusay would be continuing their own reign of terror . Al Qaeda would still be protected by the Taliban. Women would still be denied an education and voting rights in Afghanistan.

But no thanks to the anti-war left, liberation has come to two countries, and the second one of them is holding an election. I wonder how soon we'll hear this: "Oh, the election was a good thing, but...." There's no question we'll hear it. it's just a matter of when. How quickly will the pessimism of the Left kick in?

Be listening. And realize who really wants to see freedom spread.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Planned Parenthood dismisses the idea that there is any link at all between having an abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer.
Studies have shown that abortion is not associated with breast cancer. Undaunted by the absence of compelling evidence, anti-choice extremists insist on making the connection anyway. Once more they are using misinformation as a weapon in their campaign against safe, legal abortion.

However, it appears they're not willing to publicly argue the science in court.
For the first time, a court ordered a judgment against an abortion clinic for performing the procedure without informing the patient of psychological risks and increased risk of breast cancer.

The lawsuit against the All Women's Health Services clinic in Portland, Ore., was the second of its kind in the U.S. to be successfully prosecuted but the first to obtain a judgment.

Jonathan Clark, attorney for the 19-year-old plaintiff, told WorldNetDaily he believes the judgment "makes a pretty powerful statement about the science," indicating the clinic was not willing to argue against the claim that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer.

"This case was set to be tried in Multnomah County, which is a very liberal county where folks are inclined to lean towards abortion," he said. "But in the trial setting, the science would have come under close scrutiny."

The clinic made an offer of judgment last year enabling the plaintiff, who was 15 at the time of the May 2001 abortion, to win the lawsuit without a trial. The judge signed the agreement Monday. The amount of the judgment was not disclosed.

This action may open the door for others, since PP doesn't seemed to want to put it's claims to the test.
Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, said in a statement that women in the position of the plaintiff will not receive justice until they file civil lawsuits.

"Women have been told lies about the research and have been cruelly exploited by two industries -- the breast cancer fund-raising industry and the abortion industry," she said.

The plaintiff has a family history of breast cancer, which she indicated on the clinic intake forms.

Malec points to research in 1994 at Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center by Janet Daling and her colleagues, showing teenagers with a family history of the disease who procure abortions before age 18 have an incalculably high breast cancer risk.

Biological and epidemiological evidence also indicates abortions that occur before the birth of a first child are the most carcinogenic, Malec said.

And who do you think has been aiding and abetting PP in this bit of denial?
In the process of researching the case, Clark said he came across many media headlines that slanted studies on abortion and breast cancer.

"As I read the studies, which we would have tried to bring into evidence [if there had been a trial], they often showed abortion does pose increased risk for breast cancer," Clark said.

Oh, that liberal media, who are more concerned with their pet issues than keeping women from disease.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The mainstream media is portraying the controversy over the "We Are Family" tolerance film and accompanying teaching materials incorrectly. Nobody's calling "SpongeBob" gay. Here's the real story.
The mainstream media is twisting the truth about the controversy over a tolerance video to be distributed to elementary school children that features a who's who of cartoon characters, including SpongeBob and Barney the dinosaur, claims a pro-family advocacy group.

The content of the video itself -- tolerance and diversity -- and whether or not SpongeBob is "gay" are not the issues, insists Stephen Bennett of the American Family Association.

"No, Sponge Bob or none of the other cartoon characters featured in the video are 'gay,'" said Bennett. "The video itself does not promote homosexuality, but no doubt will open the door to a secondary discussion of accepting homosexuality as natural and normal."

The AFA has claimed that the new video -- "We Are Family," based on the 1979 hit song -- is being used as a "gateway" to promote the homosexual lifestyle through an accompanying teacher's guide and the producer's website, which has a "tolerance pledge" for children to sign and print out that includes "sexual identity."

However, that's not all. There's a Soviet-style scrubbing of history going on now.
Bennett, who says he formerly was homosexual, claims an entire list of downloadable teacher's guides disappeared from the We Are Family Foundation website over the weekend.

"We have documented proof of the organization's deletion of the pro-homosexual material after the controversy hit the media last week," Bennett says.

The material discusses fighting "homophobia" and "compulsory heterosexuality," as well as using "gender neutral" language.

The AFA said it has been threatened with a lawsuit by Nile Rogers, the maker of the video, and the We Are Family Foundation.

Bennett said that after he debated Rogers on Fox News Live on Saturday, all of the pro-homosexual content was removed, including the "tolerance pledge."

Another posting of the pledge, however, remains on the site here.

Bennett said a report by ABC News with Peter Jennings treated the story fairly, showing Bennett providing links that included pro-homosexual books such as "Heather Has Two Mommies" and "Daddy's Roommate."

But these links from the We Are Family Foundation also are gone.

Sounds like the "tolerance" crowd can't tolerate a little scrutiny

Back here and here and finally here I discussed how little attention some of the top liberal bloggers gave to the CBS panel report on the "Memo-gate" issue. I noted, however, that they did find time to dissect Armstrong Williams' admission of getting money from the Bush administration while commenting favorably on "No Child Left Behind". Now that was a legitimate story and worthy of dissection, but I noted that while conservative blogs covered both issues quite fully, Kos, Atrios and Josh Marshall gave extremely short shrift to the CBS issue. In the case of Marshall, it got "zero shrift". Both stories had to do with media believability and behind-the-scenes influence, but while the conservatives gave big coverage to both stories, the liberal bloggers couldn't get past their blind partisanship.

I wrote to Josh Marshall, noting this situation. The E-mail I sent is in the second link above, and his response is in the third. His answer to my charge of blind partisanship was that he hadn't commented on quite a few issues besides Social Security lately, which was true, although he did find time to mention the "big" news that a radio station in Brattleboro, Vermont dropped the Rush Limbaugh program for Air America.

Today comes the news that Maggie Gallagher got a bunch of cash from the Bush administration for research and articles. Again, it's worth looking into, for the same reason that the CBS issue is worth looking into. And again the conservative bloggers are all over the story (Instapundit,, La Shawn Barber, and Captain Ed, to name just a few).

And wouldn't you know, in the middle of an avalanche of Social Security posts, Josh Marshall manages to find time to cover this, too! A major media news organization gets outed for "myopic zeal" and heads roll, but that's not worthy of coverage. Yet a single writer's potential conflict of interest (which Marshall himself says "wasn't as egregious as the Williams one") is enough for Josh to do the research to look for some dots to connect.

Once again, we have another good reason to look to center-right blogs to give you a more even-handed treatment of the news. This is not to say that there aren't liberal blogs that did cover the CBS issue, but if the top-tier guys--the ones drawing the readers--can't manage a little fairness and balance, it really doesn't speak well for their side of the aisle.

(Cross-posted at Comments welcome.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Anti-semitism is still alive and well.
Russia's nationalist lawmakers have asked the prosecutor general to ban all Jewish organizations because of their "extremist" views, in a vitriolic call ahead of this week's 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

The letter was dated January 13 but only rose to public attention this week. It shocked human rights defenders and even some of the original signatories reportedly changed their minds and were recalling their names.

A foreign ministry statement issued on the eve of President Vladimir Putin's attendance at the Auschwitz memorial commemoration in Poland said "the statement has nothing to do with the official position of the Russian leadership."

The seven-page call signed by 20 members of the 450-seat State Duma lower house of parliament that included the Communist Party and nationalist groups used some of the most profane language against Jews publicly published in the post-Soviet era.

"The whole democratic world today is under the financial and political control of the Jews," said the statement.

The group was led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky and his Liberal Democratic Party.

How short our memories are.

My blogger-in-law, Jim Jewell, has a piece published in "Christianity Today". It's about the challenges and victories of he church in Mongolia, where he and my sister visited last year to observe the work of one of their clients, LifeQwest.

Sen. Hillary Clinton is trying to sound more centrist as she prepares the ground for a possible presidential bid.
ALBANY, Jan. 24 - Proposing new political language about abortion rights for the Democratic Party, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said today that friends and foes on the issue should come together on "common ground" to reduce the number of "unwanted pregnancies" and ultimately abortions, which she called a "sad, even tragic choice to many, many women."

Yes, she's sounding more conservative on this. I mean, she's challenging the orthodoxy as put out by the biggest proponents of abortion, Planned Parenthood:
Many women who have an abortion suffer severe and lasting psychological damage.

Expert Opinion:
Serious emotional problems following abortion are uncommon. Most women report a sense of relief, although some may experience temporary depression. Serious psychological disturbances after abortion occur less frequently than after childbirth.

[Hat tip to James Taranto for the link.] So Hillary's building her common ground some distance from the liberal foundational idea that abortions are, in fact, a very good thing overall. Mrs. Clinton says that to "many, many women", abortion is a "tragic choice" while Planned Parenthood's "Expert Opinion" says that "most women" feel relieved. She's sounding positively pro-life for a bit there.
Mrs. Clinton, in a speech to about 1,000 abortion rights supporters at the state Capitol, firmly restated her support for the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, Roe v. Wade. But then she quickly shifted gears, offering warm words to opponents of abortion - particularly members of religious groups - asserting that there was "common ground" to be found after three decades of emotional and political warfare over abortion.

And here she's reaching out to religious groups for that common ground. Well, as you know, for many of those religious groups I'm assuming she's referring to, the time to deal with this issue is far earlier than the third trimester of the pregnancy; about 9 months earlier. Don't have sex, and there's a 0% chance you'll get pregnant. Finding common ground between "abortions for all" and "abstinence" is a tough call to make, and Hillary continues to reach for it.
While she acknowledged in her address today that Americans have "deeply held differences" over abortion rights, Mrs. Clinton told the annual conference of the Family Planning Advocates of New York State, "I for one respect those who believe with all their heart and conscience that there are no circumstances under which abortion should be available."

In addition to her description of abortion as a "tragic choice" for many," Mrs. Clinton said that faith and organized religion were the "primary" reasons that teenagers abstain from sexual relations, and reminded the audience that during the 1990's, she promoted "teen celibacy" as a way to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.

"The fact is, the best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place," Mrs. Clinton said.

Again, positively pro-life, although the "teen celibacy" thing doesn't really ring a bell, neither in my mind nor on the Web. A search of Google for "teen celibacy" and "clinton" doesn't turn up much (though it does turn up this book review on a NOW website that claims teen celibacy doesn't work). In fact, the majority of the web sites found cut down the idea and/or associate it with President George W. Bush. Nobody on the left who expressed an opinion in this search had anything good to say about it, let alone remembering anything Hillary did in that cause. Maybe that's why she needed to remind folks about what she did, but it appears her efforts didn't do much good. Is she trying to get that idea out there again as part of her "common ground"?
Mrs. Clinton also called today for the Bush administration, religious groups, supporters and opponents of abortion rights and others to look beyond the abortion rights divide and form a broad alliance on other issues that she suggested as less incendiary: sex-education programs for teenagers that included abstinence education, emergency contraception for women who have recently had unprotected intercourse, and family planning.

Ah, here's where she let's us know what this "common ground" is:
  • "sex-education programs for teenagers that included abstinence education" - A small but good point, although when I was in high school 20-some years ago, that's exactly what I got; a sex-ed class that did include abstinence along with what the other options were. That's not really a radically new idea, and not one that seems to have been all that effective. But at least it's one small step for Hillary.
  • "emergency contraception for women who have recently had unprotected intercourse" - Sounds like RU-486. Yeah, the religious groups will love that.
  • "family planning" - That's what Planned Parenthood (you know, the "abortion is a relief" folks) already says it's doing.
  • And the aforementioned teen celibacy.

So of the four "common ground" areas, one's been tried and didn't work well, two are the status quo in favor of pro-abortionists, and one, while sounding good, is virtually uniformily rejected by liberals even with Hillary behind it. How exactly is this "common ground"?
Several women in the audience reacted positively to Mrs. Clinton, whose remarks were interrupted by applause several times and ended with a standing ovation. But they also said her language and themes seemed politically calculated to deal with the abortion "freak-out" among Democrats, as one audience member put it, and reach out to independent and conservative voters in hopes of broadening her base of support for a possible 2008 presidential run.

And that's what this all is; political calculation. She checks off a list of conservative-sounding objectives, but her ideas are nothing more than the standard leftist line. Liberals will love it because it sounds centrist. Independents and Conservatives shouldn't be fooled until she acts centrist. Given what actions she thinks needs to be taken, we won't be.

(Cross-posted at Comments welcome.)

Monday, January 24, 2005

First climate change scientists tell us that curbing fossil fuels may actually speed up global warming. And now climate change scientists tell us to...curb fossil fuels.
The global warming danger threshold for the world is clearly marked for the first time in an international report to be published tomorrow - and the bad news is, the world has nearly reached it already.

The countdown to climate-change catastrophe is spelt out by a task force of senior politicians, business leaders and academics from around the world - and it is remarkably brief. In as little as 10 years, or even less, their report indicates, the point of no return with global warming may have been reached.


The report urges all the G8 countries to agree to generate a quarter of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and to double their research spending on low-carbon energy technologies by 2010. It also calls on the G8 to form a climate group with leading developing nations such as India and China, which have big and growing CO2 emissions.

They don't know why it may be happening, they don't really know if man is causing it, and they can't agree on what will change it, if anything. Again, is this the kind of thing we want to base public policy decisions on? If we'd followed the "global freezing" crowd's advice in the 70s, what kind of hit would our economy have taken because of bad science?

UPDATE: WorldNetDaily covers this report today, but also notes this about the circumstances surrounding Russia's signing of the Kyoto Protocol:
The report comes just three weeks before the Kyoto Protocol, designed to deal with the climate change issue, takes legal effect on signatories Feb. 16.

The controversial Kyoto Protocol became binding on industrialized nations who have signed onto it after Russia reluctantly moved to ratify it.

But, Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin reports, Vladimir Putin's personal economic adviser, Andrei Illarionov, said last summer Russia's approval of Kyoto came under severe duress – an "all-out and total war on Russia" directed by Blair. He said the pressure included "bribes, blackmail and murder threats."

Illarionov said global warming advocates refused to answer questions posed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at a Moscow symposium. He claimed British science advisers tried to stop skeptics from being heard.

"When this attempt to introduce censorship ... failed, other attempts were made to disrupt the seminar," said Illarionov.

Illarionov said "none of the assertions made in the Kyoto Protocol and the 'scientific' theory on which it is based have been borne out by actual data. ... There is no evidence confirming a positive linkage between the level of carbon dioxide and temperature change. If there is such a linkage, it is of a reverse nature. ... The statistical data ... are often considerably distorted if not falsified."

One wonders if other countries signatures are just results of this kind of coercion.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

OK, I supposed it's about time I cleared something up about the name of this blog. (After almost 3 years, it's about time, no?) I've never really covered that topic, and something happened recently that I figured would happen a lot earlier, and it gives me a reason to talk about it.

Clayton Cramer was among the first big-time blogs to link to and blogroll me, of which I was extremely honored. (By "big-time" I mean someone way higher than me in the ecosystem.) I even quote some very kind words from him from that initial post up on the top of the left-hand column. That was almost a year ago.

He linked to another post of mine on Friday, and he introduced it this way:
Excuse me while my brain explodes. Considerettes pointed me towards this, and as much as I think highly of Considerettes, I had to go read the Reuters article she linked to:

Emphasis mine. I would just like to let folks know that I am, in fact, of the male gender. >grin< I most certainly do not fault Clayton for this little slip-up, because it's entirely understandable. To wit, from

1. Small; diminutive: kitchenette.
2. Female: usherette.
3. An imitation or inferior kind of cloth: leatherette.

[Middle English, from Old French, feminine of -et, -et.]

The word "Considerettes" is my title for this site because it is part of my larger essay site called "Consider This!" The longer pieces would be there, and the shorter takes on the day's events would be here; hence "Considerettes" using sense 1 of the definition. (Although, you could make the case that the long essay portion has languished while the blog has moved to the fore. I may need to reorganize that layout sometime in the future.) With the recent meteoric rise of a bloggress calling herself "Wonkette", the assumption of sense 2 was inevitable. (And I'm definitely not intending sense 3! These are only the highest quality pixels you're reading.)

So now you know. "Conservative commentary served up in bite-sized bits" are "Considerettes".

(You know, couldn't "Considerettes" be the name of the cheerleading squad for the high school debate team? Naaah.)

Today's Odd Considerettes Search Phrase - mccollum jig mp3. [#4 on Google]

Here's a look at how bad things have gotten for CNN and how good they're going for FNC (via Drudge):
CNN hemorrhaged more than half their audience from the 2001 Inauguration, overnights show. The troubled news network only averaged 779,000 viewers during yesterday's Inauguration coverage from 10am-4pm with just 168,000 of those viewers landing in the coveted 25-54 demo.

Like CNN, MSNBC also suffered major losses, only averaging 438,000 viewers throughout yesterday's coverage (141,000 in 25-54), down a whopping 68% over 2001 and faring even worse in primetime with just 385,000 viewers.

In contrast, Fox News averaged 2,581,000 viewers from 10a-4p (up 30% over 2001) and their 25-54 demo average of 705,000 came close to CNN's total coverage ratings yesterday.

And the primetime numbers are about the same:

FNC -- 2,439,000 (up 57% OVER '01)
CNN -- 1,353,000 (down 14% over '01)
MSNBC -- 385,000 (down 47% over '01)

Don't get cocky.
NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker slammed rival CBS News over the Bush National Guard scandal, insisting that the story would never have made the air at his network.

Speaking at the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles Friday, Zucker says it is was "shocking" to see "the degree to which responsibility was abdicated on the a piece about the President of the United States, six weeks before the election." He specifically cited Rather’s "lack of involvement on a piece like that."

Zucker expressed surprise that CBS seemed to have none of the safeguards that his own network put in place after its own 1991 scandal involving NBC Dateline.

The newsmagazine failed to disclose that a General Motors car had been rigged to explode during a crash test or that the order of some footage had been switched.

Zucker contended the Bush National Guard scandal would never have happened under Tom Brokaw or Brian Williams.

I certainly hope that would be true, but just remember that pride goes before destruction.

Friday, January 21, 2005

David Limbaugh has more to say about how Social Security, while it was a crisis under Clinton, is no big deal under Bush.
Two major changes have occurred since those long-forgotten days when Democrats were identifying Social Security as a crisis that had to be fixed immediately: The problem has gotten worse, and Democrats have proven they weren't sincere in the first place.

Bill Clinton pretended to be adamant about fixing the problem. Al Gore lectured his presidential opponent George W. Bush for not approaching the problem with sufficient urgency. Allusions to the ephemeral "lock box" were Algore's favorite sound bites.

That was then. This is now.
One would think, then, that President Bush would be entitled to some credit for his willingness to tackle the notorious third rail of politics. He has little to gain politically from pursuing a solution.

Think again. In response to President Bush's plan to add a private accounts option, Democrats insist that two rights make a wrong. That is, even if the president's reform would enhance the average American's retirement security, it must not be permitted if it would also help big business, which Democrats openly despise. You see, it's not just the whack jobs on the Left, but the entire Democratic leadership apparatus that is saying the president is doing this as a sop to Wall Street.

Limbaugh notes that Democrats are turning to semantics to try to come up with an issue to oppose the President on.
Like little kids, they are arguing over the semantics of whether we are currently facing a "crisis" in Social Security or just a major "problem."

Add Josh Marshall to the list of little kids who want to leave Social Security just the way it is; broken. (He's even doing his own semantic two-step; handing out "bounties" for folks who can find places where a government official used the word "privatization" in the same sentence with "Social Security".)

For Democrats, their view of the issues is so heavily colored by the party of the person sitting in the Oval Office that they can't really be taken seriously.

Oh please!
In 1993, many ABC network affiliates and conservative watchdogs told Steven Bochco that an adult-themed drama like "NYPD Blue" had no place on network television.

Bochco, the man behind such hits as "Hill Street Blues" and "L.A. Law," prevailed and got his gritty cop show on the air, but he thinks that wouldn't be possible in today's politically charged media landscape.

"The medium has become increasingly conservative," he told reporters who visited the "Blue" set on the 20th Century Fox lot Thursday as part of the Television Critics Assn. winter press tour.

And "Desperate Housewives" is, what, all about a neighborhood of June Cleavers? "Increasingly conservative" indeed.
He had hoped the series would pave the way for more sophisticated drama, but said the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction in the past five years. After the controversy generated in large part by Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during last year's Super Bowl halftime show telecast on CBS, "NYPD Blue" has had to fight with ABC over content issues that never were questioned in the past, Bochco said.

"So you stop doing them," he said. "It's a setback."

People wake up to what's been going on in the TV world and speak out over it, and to Bochco this is a setback? For all the chants of "We're giving the people what they want", you'd think he would want to know what the people want. Turns out the people don't figure into their equation at all. They're just a convenient plot device.

Scott Ott's "Cliff Notes" to W's second inauguration speech hits every single nail squarely on the head. Satire makes you laugh and makes a point. Scott covers both areas.
As critics began their dissection of President George Bush's second inaugural address, the White House today released a "more direct" version of the speech, stripped of the soaring poetic highlights of the original, "so that the average public school graduate, journalist and pundit can understand what the president means."

We want freedom everywhere, not because we're crazy dreamers, but because governments held accountable to their people don't launch wars against each other. In the good old days, we could sit back and watch as tyrants tortured the helpless and fortified their arsenals. A rifle in the Middle East, or Asia, was no threat to our shores. Today, a man carrying a briefcase could wipe out millions of Americans in a single afternoon. We can't eliminate the sinful urges of crazed men, but we can help oppressed people to dump their dictators. Kill the snake by cutting off its head.

Right now, the United Nations is united only in shared office space in New York. We have nothing in common with non-democratic regimes. Their presence in the U.N. gives aid and comfort to an enemy. People always talk about the legitimacy that the U.N. can bring. That's true. The U.N. brings legitimacy to dictators as they crush the hopes of millions. Negotiating with tyrants is a waste of time that only lets them gear up for eventual armed conflict, either with their own freedom-starved people or with other nations that recognize the threat too late. All I'm saying is, why wait?

I could talk all day about Social Security reform, tort reform, public school reform, welfare reform or a hundred other domestic issues. But a single dirty bomb, or reservoir poisoning, or falling skyscraper would put all of those issues on the back burner in a flash. I've laid out my vision for many domestic issues, but freedom is the foundation on which they all stand.

While a lot of folks get offended that I talk about God, I don't think God gets offended.


John Hawkins of Right Wing News E-mailed a bunch of right-of-center blogs asking them for their most and least desired nominees for the 2008 presidential election. It's quite an interesting list. A couple of things to note about it:
  • Condoleeza Rice is #1 with a bullet, way ahead of #2 and getting the most points of any nominee on either the most or least desired list. Not bad for allegedly "racist" and "sexist" conservatives.
  • Everyone on the "Least Desired" list except one also appears on the "Most Desired" list. The right certainly isn't as monolithic a group as some think.

Worth a look.

Today's Odd Considerettes Search Phrase - Milwaukee's Best repackaging. [#5 on Google]

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Marc at "hubs & spokes" wonders why all of a sudden, after a decade or so of both Republicans and Democrats talking about a crisis coming in Social Security, that as soon as Bush wants to do something about it, the liberals all of a sudden say there isn't one. For example, who said this?
If we act now, we can ensure strong retirement benefits for the baby boom generation without placing an undue burden on our children and grandchildren. And we can do it, if we act now, with changes that will be far simpler and easier than if we wait until the problem is closer at hand.

(Hint: It was spoken in 1998.) And there's more quotes and graphs to boot.

Hindus want to reclaim the swastika.
Hindus in the UK are starting a campaign to reclaim the swastika from its Nazi associations.

German MEPs called for a Europe-wide ban of the symbol after Prince Harry wore it on a fancy dress costume.

But Hindu Forum spokesman Ramesh Kallidai said the swastika had been a Hindu good luck charm for centuries.

The group will stage public awareness workshops across the UK and lobby politicians in an attempt to educate the public and prevent a ban, he said.

"It's the second most sacred symbol in the Hindu tradition which has been used for 5,000 years to ward off evil," Mr Kallidai said.

Didn't work all that well in the 1930s and 40s. However, I think they do have a point.
"Just because at a particular moment in history one section of society used it, or a mirror image, to unleash xenophobic ideology does not mean Hindus should be punished," Mr Kallidai said.

"It's like saying the Ku Klux Klan burn crosses so therefore let's ban the use of crosses worldwide."

All true, but I'm guessing that it'll take at least another generation before the world is really ready for something like that. There's still way too much that was evil associated with it in the minds of many people in the world. I'm not looking to hasten its return, but I guess I can empathize with the Hindus.

Scott Ott's "ScrappleFace" has a devastating satire of what an inauguration speech that would make Democrats happy would sound like.
"During my campaign, I said I wanted to protect our Constitution, fix the Social Security bureaucracy, limit government spending and increase academic rigor in our public schools," Mr. Bush is slated to say, "But in the interest of unity, I will now devote myself to protecting the Social Security bureaucracy, fixing our Constitution, increasing the deficit and limiting academic rigor so our public schools have more time to teach the fundamentals of diversity, tolerance and safe sex."

And he's just getting started. It winds up with a line that could make only the ACLU happy.
Thank you. Good luck to you. And good luck to the United States of America.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I've not been very good at keeping up with the Homespun Symposium questions of late. Here's this week's:
What are your predictions for the elections in Iraq? Will there be violence? What will the government look like? Will it be legitimate, liberal, and capable of accomplishing anything? And what effect will the election have on the U.S.?

Let's take these one at a time, but I'm going to answer the first question by answering the rest.

Will there be violence? - Most assuredly, and it's happening already. A government duly elected by the people of Iraq will most certainly look different than al Qaeda and their ilk would like it to look, and they'll do whatever they can to, if not prevent the elections, at least continue to make things difficult for any government that takes power. The terrorists would promise "peace" as long as they are given total control of the country, but it would be the same kind of "peace" that the Left fawned over while Saddam Hussein was in power. So yes, there will be violence, but violence that seeks to destroy the rule of law should be dealt with, not capitulated to.

What will the government look like? - For starters, I have no delusions that this is going to be an American-style republic from the word "go". It takes time for everyone--citizens and politicians alike--to get used to how things work (ask Russia) and no doubt there will be false starts and fundamental problems in the near future. I have no doubt the Left will try to paint everything--from serious problem down to the smallest trifle--as "proof" that the new government is a failure, but the important thing is that Iraq is moving in the right direction. (What would today's Left have said about the new American experiment's success or failure knowing that slavery was still in full operation through the mid 1800s? The Founding Fathers got us going in the right direction, but they didn't solve all the problems right out of the gate.)

Having said that, while I don't think the new Iraqi government will "look like" what we have here today, I do believe that over time it'll be more and more recognizable as a representative republic.

Will it be legitimate, liberal, and capable of accomplishing anything? - I believe it will be able to make its own strides, although at first that will be, as I've said, slow moving. An entire generation has grown up distrusting its government (for good reason) and getting out that ingrained thought pattern may take yet another generation. There still should, of course, be some healthy skepticism of governmental power in general, but the mindset of wholesale distrust and fear of it may take another generation to get rid of. This goes for the governing as well as the governed. Those in power may consider what Hussein and the Ba'athists did the norm and may exercise their power in a similar fashion at the start. This will put those higher up, and especially at the top, in a situation where they must be the first to throw off the old mindset of how government operates that was the norm during the reign of Hussein. The sooner they lead in this by example, the sooner the people will be able to properly adjust to their new situation.

And what effect will the election have on the U.S.? Conservatives and liberals will celebrate the coming of a representative republic to the Arab Middle East, although if Afghanistan is any indication, the liberals joy will be extremely short-lived. They will, as I mentioned, be ready to pounce upon any problems (big or small, real or imagined) in the new Iraqi government as some sort of "proof" that we should have left Saddam Hussein in power there and let sanctions "work" (by which they mean continue to enrich UN thieves and Hussein's cronies, while leaving the people of Iraq to fend for themselves).

I'm not sure if the new Iraqi government will be a 100% gung ho ally, because there's more to their situation than who rescued them. They still have to live with their neighbors and their foreign policy will therefore be heavily influenced by their geography. (All the more reason for the idea of a representative republic to spread throughout the Middle East.) However, in the long run, I think they'll be more like the countries of eastern Europe who feel more thankful that they were rescued from dictators by the US than they feel required to toe the anti-America line of France and Germany. In that sense, I believe they'll be a good ally.

Today's Odd Considerettes Search Phrase - "how to avoid my nick from being over ran?". [#7 on Yahoo Search, in good company with Instapundit (#1), Tapped (#2 & #3), and Andrew Sullivan (#4)]

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

This can only be good news:
The first known visual evidence of dissent within the world's most secretive state emerged yesterday when video footage taken in a North Korean factory showed a portrait of the dictator, Kim Jong-il, defaced with graffiti demanding freedom and democracy.

The 35-minute video clip, said to have been taken in November, was posted on the website of an opposition group based in South Korea. It shows a poster of Kim scrawled over with the words: "Down with Kim Jong-il. Let's all rise to drive out the dictatorial regime.''

It ain't much, but it's a start. The more this gets out, the more folks who were afraid to speak out may do just that. Could Korea be united someday?

Friday, January 14, 2005

The headline reads, "Fossil fuel curbs may speed global warming". Yup, you read that right.
Cutting down on fossil fuel pollution could accelerate global warming and help turn parts of Europe into desert by 2100, according to research to be aired on British television on Thursday. "Global Dimming", a BBC Horizon documentary, will describe research suggesting fossil fuel by-products like sulphur dioxide particles reflect the sun's rays, "dimming" temperatures and almost cancelling out the greenhouse effect.

The researchers say cutting down on the burning of coal and oil, one of the main goals of international environmental agreements, will drastically heat rather than cool climate.

"When the cooling affect goes away -- and it must do because particles like sulphur dioxide are damaging to humans -- global warming will be much stronger," climate change scientist Dr Peter Cox told Reuters on Wednesday.

Once again, to make national (or global) policy decisions based on global warming science, whichever way it predicts things will go, is reckless.

Dean, from "Dean's World", has been all over the question "Does HIV actually cause AIDS?" Before you answer that question, start here with the most recent post on the topic, and look at those listed as "Related Posts". Most of what Dean has been reporting is not "this blogger's opinion", but scientific studies, unedited, that bolster the idea that perhaps HIV and AIDS aren't related. He's also offered to post any researcher's data, again unedited, to refute that. Dean's no conspiracy theorist, he's just been looking at the data and calls it like he sees it.

The third Homespun Bloggers Radio program is on the air! Our first show for 2005 includes the following segments:
  • The second half of my "audio fisking" of John Kerry's farewell speech to his supporters.
  • Paulie (The Commons at Paulieworld) reads a letter from the front lines.
  • Mike (Bunker Mulligan) gives us an engineer's look at earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as predictions of them in the Atlantic Ocean.

To listen, click here or on the "Homespun Bloggers Radio" button to the left. The current audio feed is a loop of shows #2 and #3.

Further information and links to CD-quality versions of the program can be found at the main Homespun Bloggers web site.

Thanks for listening!

UPDATE: Thanks to McQ at Q&O and Bryan Preston of Junkyard Blog for the PR.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

You'd think the former president of CBS News, Van Gordon Sauter, might be more inclined to defend the folks there over the charges of liberal bias. But you'd be wrong.
What's the big problem at CBS News?

Well, for one thing, it has no credibility. And no audience, no morale, no long-term emblematic anchorperson and no cohesive management structure. Outside of those annoyances, it shouldn't be that hard to fix.

Personally, I have a great affection for CBS News, even though I was unceremoniously shown to the door there nearly 20 years ago in a tumultuous change of corporate management.

But I stopped watching it some time ago. The unremitting liberal orientation finally became too much for me. I still check in, but less and less frequently. I increasingly drift to NBC News and Fox and MSNBC.

I find this very interesting. Now, folks have been leveling the "liberal bias" charge against CBS for quite a long time, but apparently in the most recent 20 years it's gotten so bad that even its former president can bear to listen to it. How damning is that?

However, Sauter seems to think that Les Moonves can bring the network to the center.
Although himself a liberal, Moonves will mandate a clear and defensible center for the news organization. CBS News long has been in third place — once an intolerable position. Much of that disaffected audience must be restored if CBS News is to be resurrected. Flavored news, of the right or left, won't work. Networks must offer nonpartisan, objective news.

OK then, what's he been doing all this time up until now? If he's so committed to that why has he waited so long to do anything? Frankly, I don't have as much faith in Moonves as Sauter has. Either that, or Sauter marks his "center" farther to the left than I think it really is.

Josh Marshall Update: Josh responded rather quickly to my E-mail:
doug, thanks so much for your comment about a "glimmer" of intellectual honesty. but truly, i don't need to prove anything to you in that department. i think you'll notice that i haven't commented on quite a few issues beside social security of late. josh

So a mainstream media outlet nailed for political bias (in all but name) is no big deal to Talking Points Memo. Well, at least we know where he stands; keeping a broken retirement system the way it is is more important that trusting allegedly "objective" news organizations. Gotcha.

Today's Odd Considerettes Search Phrase: "bild a lung experiment pictures". [#13 on Yahoo Search]

Joshua Marshall Update: Still no word from Talking Points Memo about the CBS panel report on day 3 since it's release. To TPM, it simply doesn't exist or is unworthy of even a good snarking. However, in his defense, Josh did at least have the honesty to call those memos what they were; forgeries. (He even got some hate mail from a long time fan of his for noting that. That guy's probably reading Kos now.)

However, that was Sept. 15, 2004, and not one mention of it since then, and, most notably of course, since the release of the report that put "myopic zeal" into the current vernacular. Instead most of the main page is devoted to determining who belongs to what he calls the "Fainthearted Faction" (Democrats who want to actually do something about the broken Social Security system) or the "Conscience Caucus" (Democrats who think that if it's broken, why fix it). So I've decided to write to Josh and try to find out what the real deal is. Here's the E-mail (links below are for your benefit, to see what posts I'm talking about):
I've noticed that Talking Points Memo hasn't yet commented on the report from the panel investigating the CBS story on Bush's National Guard service record. I don't quite understand how such a big media story like this has dropped below your radar, especially since you did do the digging and found the time to comment on how a radio station in Brattleboro, Vermont dropped Rush Limbaugh for Air America.

Aren't you concerned that this "myopic zeal" may be more widespread than this report suggests? Don't you care about the accuracy of what the mainstream media reports as long as it's bad for conservatives? I do give you credit for calling the memos what they were--forgeries--and taking heat from some fans of yours. That showed a glimmer of intellectual honesty, but that was 4 months ago. The panel's report is big news for a media company that trades on its "objectivity". Is that 200+ page report not worth at least -briefly- commenting on?

When the story first broke you were asking questions, looking into things, reproducing interview transcripts. You said there were a lot of outstanding questions about Bush's record. However, when you came to the point on 9/15/04 that you thought the memos were forgeries, you stopped saying anything about the entire TANG story, let alone CBS's irresponsible actions covering it. There are a number of possible explanations for this. Could this be a case of fear that the charge of a systemic liberal bias in the media could be true? Could this be a case of indifference to sloppy reporting against conservatives? Could this be a case of denial that anything is really wrong? Your unwillingness to even touch on this doesn't speak well for you.

Given their reactions to this report, I consider Atrios and Kos "blind partisans" who can't or won't take an honest look at things that may put the Left in a bad light. Are you one of them?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

This is just bizarre.
PEOPLE are to be tortured in laboratories at Oxford University in a United States-funded experiment to determine whether belief in God is effective in relieving pain.

Top neurologists, pharmacologists, anatomists, ethicists and theologians are to examine the scientific basis of religious belief and whether it is anything more than a placebo.

Headed by Baroness Greenfield, the leading neurologist, the new Centre for the Science of the Mind is to use imaging systems to find out how religious, spiritual and other belief systems, such as an illogical belief in the innate superiority of men, influence consciousness.

A central aspect of the two-year study, which has $2 million (£1.06 million) funding from the John Templeton Foundation, the US philanthropic body, will involve dozens of people being subjected to painful experiments in laboratory conditions.

While enduring the agony, they will be exposed to religious symbols such as images of the Virgin Mary or a crucifix. Their neurological responses will be measured to determine the efficacy of their faith in helping them to cope.

The aim is to develop new and practical approaches “for promoting wellbeing and ultimately maximising individual human potential”.

Sorry, but I don't think God's going to let anyone put Him in a test tube and light a fire under Him. But then this study doesn't even assume the existence of God; it's just an experiment to see if religious imagery, and people's response to it, has some healing potential. That last line is what shows that; they're looking to maximize human potential, not see if, as the headline reads, God relieves pain. This is just nutty.

I popped by the Daily Kos a couple of days ago to see what they were saying about the CBS fake memo story. It was one of their members back in September that tried to show that the memos written in proportional-spaced type could conceivably have been done on a specific vintage 1970s typewriter, although there was nothing at all suggesting that's what was used, nor did they answer the myriad of other typeface questions.

Turns out that dKos has been completely silent on the matter of the panel's report. This big news story, a big black eye for CBS, and nothing at all from this lefty site. Later on I saw that Instapundit had remarked about this, also noting that Atrios and Josh Marshall had been quiet as well, as of 7pm on the 10th. (As a side note, Glenn did mention that the Armstrong Williams story got plenty of play, while on Instapundit, as on most conservative blogs, both stories got covered. Which side is more fair an balanced?)

About an hour and a half later, Atrios had this post up. In it he tries to keep up the "fake but accurate" meme.
One botched news story at CBS, in which the substances was entirely true but the window dressing was not authenticated, and multiple people lose their jobs, and it becomes the biggest media story of the year.

if it's fake, it ain't accurate. But at least he acknowledged that something happened.

However, Josh Marshall and the Kossians are still mute, as though nothing happened. Keep this in mind when determining if your favorite blog is blindly partisan. The conservative blogs have been all over Armstrong Williams, most pretty critical of him and some really peeved. (See Glenn Reynolds again, but also Michelle Malkin (here, too), LaShawn Barber, and me to name just a very few.) While all Atrios can do is yell "touche", without even acknowledging the merits of the report, and other lefty blogs just plug their ears and shut their eyes, it's the conservative blogs that are willing to look at both sides, the good and the bad, on both sides of the aisle.

For a recent history lesson, remember that the conservative blogosphere was just as upset, if not more, over Trent Lott's remarks at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday. In this post, Glenn even notes that Atrios and Josh Marshall (the same guys who are so quiet now) are right in their hassling of Lott. And see here for a demonstration of how it was conservative bloggers that were among the first to deal with this. You can search for "trent lott thurmond" at Instapundit to find links to still other righty blog coverage and outrage over this.

(Remember this when folks call Fox News biased when noting a conservative tilt. The farther to the left, the less likely to be fair and balanced.)

Do we need to put Atrios and Marshall on blogicide watch, or has the exposure of CBS also exposed these guys as simply blind partisans who have no interest in intellectual honesty? Perhaps they should be relegated to the same virtual location as Democratic Underground; the Moonbat Cave.

UPDATE: Kos has finally posted on the matter, although the vast majority of it is a rehash of a September Salon article, which itself is a rehash of AP reports about a story that's been trying to get legs since Bush was a governor. As with Atrios, Kos refuses to consider the meat of the panel's report or even touch on the "myopic zeal" issue. Apparently to him, fake documentation doesn't matter (as long as it has a Republican in its sights). Yes, those memos were part of a larger body of documentation, but given how poorly the (known) fake ones were vetted, it casts a dim light on their judgement with the rest of it. You can't trust what comes out of CBS if they won't question their own evidence. It was a hatchet job thrown together in an attempt to remove Bush from office; that's the salient point. Instead, Markos wants to re-re-re-dredge up 30-year-old charges. Talk about "myopic zeal".

And here's an ironic line from his post:
Congratulations to them [the "Right"] -- they successfully defended a deserter who not just failed his duty, but whose actions forced someone else to head to Vietnam in his stead.

I'm sorry, I didn't realize we were talking about Bill Clinton. >grin<

[Big thanks to Junkyard Blog and Arthur Chrenkoff for the linkage. Scroll on up for the latest update on this.]

Howard Fineman at MSNBC has a great analysis of the dying of a political party. No, it's not the Republicans or the Democrats he's referring to. It's the AMMP, the American Mainstream Media Party that's being torn apart. It was born during the Vietnam War, the civil rights struggle, and the Watergate scandal. But that was then, this is now.

Whether he intends it or not, Fineman makes quite a case for the American Liberal Mainstream Media Party, that it exists to promote liberal causes, especially in recent history. Republicans can't get their word out unmolested via the ALMMP, so they have to go elsewhere; as Fineman notes, "with mailing lists, grassroots politics and direct-mail, first through the Postal Service, then the Internet." He's basically exposing the political bias at, among other places, CBS, though, again, I'm not sure he intended that. It is interesting to note that he does acknowledge the lack of (or utterly lost) credibility the media now has. He closes the article this way:
In this situation, the last thing the AMMP needed was to aim wildly at the president — and not only miss, but be seen as having a political motivation in attacking in the first place. Were Dan Rather and Mary Mapes after the truth or victory when they broadcast their egregiously sloppy story about Bush's National Guard Service? The moment it made air it began to fall apart, and eventually was shredded by factions within the AMMP itself, conservative national outlets and by the new opposition party that is emerging: The Blogger Nation. It's hard to know now who, if anyone, in the "media" has any credibility.

And, as Walter Cronkite would say, that's the way it is.

UPDATE: James Taranto, commenting on the same article, has this to say about how well the AMMP got its intended job done (first quoting Fineman):
The seeds of its demise were sown with the best of intentions in the late 1960s, when the AMMP was founded in good measure (and ironically enough) by CBS. Old folks may remember the moment: Walter Cronkite stepped from behind the podium of presumed objectivity to become an outright foe of the war in Vietnam. Later, he and CBS's star White House reporter, Dan Rather, went to painstaking lengths to make Watergate understandable to viewers, which helped seal Richard Nixon's fate as the first president to resign.

The crusades of Vietnam and Watergate seemed like a good idea at the time, even a noble one, not only to the press but perhaps to a majority of Americans. The problem was that, once the AMMP declared its existence by taking sides, there was no going back. A party was born.

The broadcast in which Cronkite declared America "mired in stalemate" and urged withdrawal from Vietnam aired on Feb. 27, 1968. In November of that year, Democrats began an almost unbroken string of electoral losses, including seven of the past 10 presidential elections.

If you accept Fineman's thesis, then the 2004 election was also a repudiation of the AMMP. As an erstwhile antiwar activist who never renounced his "war crimes" calumnies, Kerry was the perfect candidate of the partisan media. No wonder CBS and others tried to puff up Kerry as a "war hero" while obsessing over supposed deficiencies in President Bush's National Guard record.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

What happens with welfare run amok? Just ask Hans Bricks (or Hubs & Spokes):
Psychiatrists in Germany wield more power than the Pope. Don’t wanna work? No problem – just get a psychiatrist to diagnose you with a rare case of Berlinerwork-a-phobia.

And why should you work?
Until last year, Germany’s unemployed received up to 67% of their last salary for one year and after that up to 57% almost indefinitely. Given this generosity, it is no coincidence that of the 4.4 million unemployed, more than 1.7 million have been jobless for a year or more

Hans quotes from a Wall St. Journal article (link for subscribers only) that also notes that economic growth in Germany was 1.7% last year and could slow to 1.2% this year. Compare that to the 3.5% growth liberals have been deriding all this year, worried that tax cuts would kill growth. Nope, what kills it is out-of-control government spending, especially socialist policies that just get bigger and bigger.

On the first "Considerettes Radio" of 2005, I talked with Kevin Wall, who was sitting in for the recuperating Bill Bennett, about yesterday's panel report on the CBS fake memo story. Throughout this entire affair, from the "news" story itself, through the denials, to the investigation itself, saving face and protecting an image has been the paramount concern at CBS. Not telling the truth and not proper journalism; it's been all about the image. That's why Rather and Heyward are still there, because to remove them would harm their image far worse than taking out some middle management. And image is everything, it seems.

"Considerettes Radio" on Bill Bennett's Morning in America (WGKA, Atlanta, GA) 1/11/2005 7:55am EST (273K)

Les Moonves, reacting to the CBS panel report:
"This is a rude awakening for CBS News," Mr. Moonves said, "and the CBS News culture has to change."

That statement is immediately followed by this paragraph:
What exactly that will mean is still uncertain, though several staff members reported the morale in the department to be devastatingly low. "We are all sad and miserable," said one CBS production staff member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect against criticism from superiors at the network.

Um, sounds like that's part of what needs to change.

WorldNetDaily has a good article (with links) on many bloggers' reactions to the CBS panel report.

Monday, January 10, 2005

What if all the available human and proto-human fossils found to date were all really good old standard homo sapiens? Would that turn the evolutionist argument on its ear? Well guess what?
It is one of the best-known stories in science: the evolution of mankind from ape-like creatures to modern humans via knuckle-grazing cave-dwellers. Now it has been blown apart by the first comprehensive study of all the fossils, which has revealed that they are probably all variants of Homo sapiens.

The discovery comes as fossil-hunters in Indonesia continue to defend claims to have found yet another new species of human, dubbed "Hobbit Man". If true, the diminutive creature would join such famous specimens as Lucy, Java Man and the Neanderthals in the complex family tree of mankind.

The findings have significant implications for the often bitter debates between fossil-hunters about the significance of their finds. While they no longer bicker over the so-called "Missing Link" - the now-derided idea of a creature linking humans to chimpanzees - experts continue to argue over the relationship between Australopithecines and early humans, and between Neanderthals and modern humans.

The number of human species claimed by fossil-hunters now stands at around 10, while the total number of human-like species exceeds 50. Such claims have long been based on supposedly significant differences in sizes and shapes of fossil bones. Now they have all been thrown into doubt by research showing that the differences lie within the range expected for just a single species.

Professor Maciej Henneberg, of the University of Adelaide, a world authority on fossil human anatomy, made the discovery after analysing the skull sizes and estimated body weights for all of the 200 identified specimens of human-like fossils known as hominims. These span the entire history of humans, from the emergence of so-called Australopithecines with an upright stance more than four million years ago to neolithic modern humans from around 10,000 years ago.

Prof Henneberg found that the fossils show clear evidence of evolution, with substantial increases in both skull sizes and body-weight. However, he also found that the fossils show no evidence of being anything other than a single species which had grown bigger and smarter over time. According to Prof Henneberg, the much-vaunted differences in fossil size used to identify "new" species all lie within the normal range expected for one species.

Plotted out as a graph, they form the classic bell-shaped curve found using data from modern humans.

We need to note that there is a huge difference between micro-evolution (within a specie) and macro-evolution (from one specie to another). Changing skull sizes is micro-evolution, or simply "adaptation". It's the macro bit that has had evolutionists and creationists at odds. And this new study appears to show that scientists have been finding macro-evolution only because they wanted to.

Hat tip to Weapons of Mass Distraction.

Some heads are finally rolling at CBS over their fake memos.
Four CBS News employees, including three executives, have been ousted for their role in preparing and reporting a disputed story about President Bush’s National Guard service.

The action was prompted by the report of an independent panel that concluded that CBS News failed to follow basic journalistic principles in the preparation and reporting of the piece. The panel also said CBS News had compounded that failure with a “rigid and blind” defense of the 60 Minutes Wednesday report.

Asked to resign were Senior Vice President Betsy West, who supervised CBS News primetime programs; 60 Minutes Wednesday Executive Producer Josh Howard; and Howard’s deputy, Senior Broadcast Producer Mary Murphy. The producer of the piece, Mary Mapes, was terminated.

Dan should've been fired for it as well. The (CBS) article on this does mention him a bit, but it makes it sound like he's leaving as a result of this.
The correspondent on the story, CBS News anchor Dan Rather, is stepping down as anchor of CBS Evening News.

Rather's leaving has never been tied to the fake memo story. It was just sold as a mutually agreed-upon move for all involved. This line in the story, however, makes it sound like Rather's departure was because of the fake memo issue. Sounds like a case of trying to garner sympathy after the fact.
The panel said a "myopic zeal" to be the first news organization to broadcast a groundbreaking story about Mr. Bush’s National Guard service was a key factor in explaining why CBS News had produced a story that was neither fair nor accurate and did not meet the organization’s internal standards.

Emphasis mine. Can we now put to bed the whole "fake but accurate" line of reasoning by some who so desperately tried to come to the aid of Dan? They weren't accurate.
The report said at least four factors that some observers described as a journalistic “Perfect Storm” had contributed to the decision to broadcast a piece that was seriously flawed.

"The combination of a new 60 Minutes Wednesday management team, great deference given to a highly respected producer and the network’s news anchor, competitive pressures, and a zealous belief in the truth of the segment seem to have led many to disregard some fundamental journalistic principles," the report said.

That last reason really says a lot, and it underscores the problem when you have a newsroom where 90+% of the crew is of one mindset. Having so zealous a belief in the truth of something you've done little to confirm can only come from pre-conceived notions of what you think the truth is. The assumptions were already in place due to an entrenched liberal groupthink. What this demonstrates is that what CBS and others like it consider "fair and balanced" is hiding their assumptions as best they can. It has little to do with any supposed "objectivity". It's just that they got cocky, lazy, or some combination, and they got caught this time. How many times have they gotten away with it?

Given that, this line is a bunch of hooey.
While the panel found that some actions taken by CBS News encouraged such suspicions, “the Panel cannot conclude that a political agenda at 60 Minutes Wednesday drove either the timing of the airing of the segment or its content.”

As I said, if they had a zealous belief in something they hadn't done due diligence on, that can only have come from entrenched assumptions. While it may not have been an official, stated agenda by the network, signed off on by everyone involved, the effect is the same.
The producer of the piece, Mary Mapes, was also faulted for calling Joe Lockhart, a senior official in the John Kerry campaign, prior to the airing of the piece, and offering to put Burkett in touch with him. The panel called Mapes’ action a “clear conflict of interest that created the appearance of political bias.”

Everything about this created the appearance of political bias! It walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but this report is calling it a pomegranate! It's like those lawsuits that corporations settle for millions of dollars but don't take any of the blame. This just doesn't fly with me.

Here's some more of that zealousness in action:
After rushing the piece to air, the panel said, CBS News compounded the error by blindly defending the story. In doing so, the news organization missed opportunities to set the record straight.

“The panel finds that once serious questions were raised, the defense of the segment became more rigid and emphatic, and that virtually no attempt was made to determine whether the questions raised had merit,” the report concluded.

Why set the record straight in the second place if there was no real desire to do it in the first place? That's an agenda, official or not. >quack< And here's more:
The panel believes a turning point came on Sept. 10, when CBS News President Andrew Heyward ordered West to review the opinions of document examiners who had seen the disputed documents and the confidential sources supporting the story.

But no such investigation was undertaken at that time.

“Had this directive been followed promptly, the panel does not believe that 60 Minutes Wednesday would have publicly defended the segment for another 10 days,” the report said.

Foot-dragging on a direct order from the President of CBS News betrays still more agenda-drive action (or inaction). It's still a duck. >quack<

It's truly amazing how easy CBS News is let off in this. It's as though this one "news" story was a very selective black hole, sucking in just those specific individuals in the news room who were incredibly zealous enough to ignore all standards of good journalism, but suggesting that politics didn't play a role at all. >quack< At least some of the right people were held responsible for their actions and the report also puts out some ideas to keep this from happening in the future. But a senior VP, and executive producer, and a senior broadcast producer were all a part of this, including the story producer. I really don't believe that just those folks are the overzealous ones. I think a lot more has to change at CBS, both in mindset and in personnel, before it can be trusted with news again. And I wonder how the other major network news organizations compare to this, given the same mindset in their offices.

Oh yeah...that liberal media. >quack<

Friday, January 07, 2005

Amy Ridenour is now pointing out that Media Matters stands by its original story that they did not, in spite of Staples statements to the contrary, take anything Staples said out of context or misrepresent it. The original press release is here. Their current press release (really, an open letter to Ron Sargent, Staples CEO) says in part:
As you may know, Staples, Inc. officials reviewed, edited, and approved the Media Matters press release of January 4, 2005, in both draft and final form. That release stated that Staples was not renewing advertising on Sinclair local news programming due in part to concerns registered by visitors to the website, which was launched December 14, 2004, to protest the conservative slant of Sinclair's news programming, in particular a nightly conservative commentary called "The Point."

Visitors to the site who contacted Staples, Inc. received email replies from the company informing them that as of January 10, 2005, Staples, Inc. would no longer advertise on Sinclair local news programming.

On January 4, 2005, Staples, Inc. confirmed these facts both to Media Matters and to reporters. For example, on January 5, 2005, Staples, Inc. spokesman Owen Davis was quoted as telling the Chicago Tribune: "In general, we don't explain decisions regarding our media buys. But we did consider the concerns expressed by our customers with some political partisan programming, specifically 'The Point.'" And also on January 5, 2005, The Washington Post quoted Mr. Davis as saying that "Staples did consider among other factors the concerns expressed by our customers" regarding the content on Sinclair news programs.

They're even quoting Owen Davis from the Post article, which I still think is the main point that Staples won't address. Media Matters is standing by their original statement, that Staples won't advertise on Sinclair news programs, and that the action was politically motivated, and I agree with them that nothing Staples has said since then has completely contradicted Media Matters. Until we get a clarification/explanation from Davis, not Capelli, it's all just talk and kiester-covering.

Thus Amy's analysis still stands, for want of a better explanation (that Staples could provide). They were just too clever for themselves.

Yes, the United States really should hold back on its pursuit of tsunami relief efforts. After all, as the French noted, this could be "damaging" to the United Nations. Without the UN, who'd hold all these important meetings on the subject?
While the United Nations appears to be adept at having meetings, the organisation is hopeless on the ground say career foreign service officers in tsunami-affected regions.

As news media are increasingly dominated by footage of US, Australian and regional military forces actually delivering aid to stricken survivors of the Boxing Day tsunami, UN officials are carping about housing in major cities far removed from the front lines and passing around elaborate business cards.

Organising to organise seems to be the word of the day for the UN, say career US foreign service officers anonymously, who fault the international organisation for taking credit where none is due and proving hopeless at actually delivering relief.

A blog (The Diplomad) run by "career US Foreign Service officers" -- many serving in what they call the "Far Abroad" as a eupehmism for what appears, often, to be Sri Lanka -- is loading the internet with accounts of UN ineptitude in the wake of the tsunami disaster.

In the meantime, we're doing something about it. Who's being stingy?

Nope, this crosses a line.
Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.

The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams "to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts," and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004.

Williams said Thursday he understands that critics could find the arrangement unethical, but "I wanted to do it because it's something I believe in."

Well if you believe in it all that much, why the payout? I'm going to have to go with the Democrats on this one.
The top Democrat on the House Education Committee, Rep. George Miller of California, called the contract "a very questionable use of taxpayers' money" that is "probably illegal." He said he will ask his Republican counterpart to join him in requesting an investigation.

UPDATE: One of the founders of agrees.

The blog for the National Center for Public Policy Research (run by Dave Ridenour's wife Amy), has an update on the Staples issue. They've been in direct contact with Paul Capelli, a Staples spokesman, trying to get to the heart of the matter. After the press release noting that, given Staples pronouncement on the matter, they no longer believe a boycott is warranted, Amy adds a few notes about the whole incident.
This is my take on what happened here. I suspect Staples originally was too clever by half. It sent emails to lefties that said that its current ad on Sinclair news would end 1/10 -- apparently phrased to maximize the likelihood that the lefties would be happy with the email without Staples actually having to do what the leftie wanted.

Probably seemed like good customer relations at the time.

The plan blew up when Media Matters put out a press release declaring victory, and the right started asking questions.

Staples could no longer have it both ways, but it gamely tried to by saying both that it was not political and that it respects its customers' wishes (hence the news stories Wednesday). Didn't work.

Now, just to regain the reputation it had as nonpolitical just a few days ago, Staples has had to publicly divorce itself from the lefties it unwittingly married. Meanwhile, Media Matters is exposed for declaring victory without actually (as far as we can tell) having any proof Staples ever did anything it wasn't planning to do with its ad buys.

That's my take on it, anyway. Perhaps new information -- such as proof from Media Matters that Staples explicitly said it boycotting Sinclair news out of concern that Sinclair news might be excessively partisan -- will yet develop.

I'd have to agree that there was something going on with respect to trying to look good to liberals. In none of the National Center's discussions, nor in any of Staples statements since this started, has the name Owen Davis showed up, even though it was his words that seemed to confirm what Media Matters was saying. He sounded as though Staples was no longer going to by ad time on Sinclair news programs when he said that that portion of the advertising accounted for "a very small part of the overall buy". And there was this from the same article:
"Staples does not disclose the decision-making or specifics of its media-buying activity," Davis said. "With that said, Staples did consider among other factors the concerns expressed by our customers" regarding the content on Sinclair news programs, Davis said.

He was talking as though the ad decision had in fact been made, and in part because of customer complaints about Sinclair, but now Staples is backpedalling rather hard. Capelli's statement to the National Center says that this was just part of a regular plan of marketing.
Capelli, however, told The National Center that Staples stopped advertising on Sinclair news on January 10 because a previously scheduled ad campaign targeted to the Christmas season had ended. A new ad campaign, consisting of a different combination of ad buys, on a "back to work" theme had previously been scheduled to replace the ad campaign utilizing Sinclair news.

The two statements don't quite agree. I'd be really interested in hearing what Davis says he meant.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The 2004 election just keeps making history. And exposing extremists.
small group of Democrats agreed Thursday to force House and Senate debates on Election Day problems in Ohio before letting Congress certify President Bush's win over Sen. John Kerry in November.

While Bush's victory is not in jeopardy, the Democratic challenge will force Congress to interrupt tallying the Electoral College vote, which had been scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. EST Thursday. It would be only the second time since 1877 that the House and Senate were forced into separate meetings to consider electoral votes.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., signed a challenge mounted by House Democrats to Ohio's 20 electoral votes, which put Bush over the top. By law, a protest signed by members of the House and Senate requires both chambers to meet separately for up to two hours to consider it. Lawmakers are allowed to speak for no more than five minutes each.

"I have concluded that objecting to the electoral votes from Ohio is the only immediate way to bring these issues to light by allowing you to have a two-hour debate to let the American people know the facts surrounding Ohio's election," Boxer wrote in a letter to Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, a leader of the Democratic effort.

To give you an idea of how rare, and (in this case) silly this is, consider that this hasn't happened since 1877, and this time around the vast majority of Democrats don't want to do this.
Many Democrats oppose challenging the Ohio vote, concerned that it would do little but antagonize voters who consider the election over. The numbers are also politically daunting: Bush won an Ohio recount by more than 118,000 votes, and won nationally by more than 3 million.

But Bush and Jones and the other Democrats involved have either voters just as extreme, or have such short attention spans that they won't remember this.

Dave Ridenour has noticed that Staples is boycotting (i.e. stopping all ad purchases from) Sinclair Broadcasting, because of E-mails from angry customer (i.e. Kerry supporters) saying that the network has a right-wing bias. In the news article cited, Staples spokesman Owen Davis said that, while they don't disclose the specifics of its decision-making process, "Staples did consider among other factors the concerns expressed by our customers" regarding the program broadcast by Sinclair featuring the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal".

Dave cancelled his account at Staples until they clarify this situation; whether the report is untrue, or if it's true, and right-wing bias was they're reason, then whether they'll also boycott networks for left-wing bias. Dave said that he'd certainly have some nominations to forward on to Staples. CBS comes to mind of course, but I'd also suggest NBC for airing gossip about the Bushes from Kitty Kelley for 3 days straight on the "Today" show. (I made this same point in my segment on the most recent Homespun Bloggers Radio show.) Which more clearly shows bias; one show features guys who were actually there vs. 3 days of hype over a gossip book? You make the call.

To Staples.

UPDATE: Staples is denying any bias, and denies cutting off Sinclair from it's marketing budget. The spokesman for this statement is Paul Capelli. What's interesting is that for certain kinds of contacts, Owen Davis and Paul Capelli are interchangeable (e.g. this news release). In their denial, Capelli says, "Our media buying process with Sinclair Broadcasting stations has recently been misrepresented by an organization with no affiliation to Staples", but the Post article was just quoting Davis. Very strange.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

If you were in the business of selling service A, would you also hand out, for free, product B that would keep people from needing service A? Probably not. As it turns out, this also goes for Planned Parenthood, but in a more subtle way.
The consumers group best known for rating cars and washing machines has turned its testing prowess to condoms to find out which ones measure up best and how other birth control methods compare.


A melon-colored model distributed by Planned Parenthood performed the worst, bursting during a test in which the latex condoms were filled with air.

I'd heard this story on the radio yesterday, and it added that another PP condom was in the bottom 3 as well. So what they're doing is giving kids a false sense of security, so that they'll be back for the big dollar service.

It's all about the money.

France is upset that we're not ceding our charitable contribution handling to the UN.
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, met here Tuesday with top U.S. officials in an effort to coordinate tsunami aid better and perhaps also to smooth over any lingering resentments about each side's assistance efforts.

The meetings came after France, in particular, had grumbled over a U.S. official's suggestion that France was not being particularly generous, and as President Jacques Chirac was reported to be growing increasingly concerned that U.S. aid efforts were designed to circumvent the United Nations in potentially damaging ways.

After all, if Kofi and his son don't get their cut from all this money, that's damaging to the UN. Or not.
But a German press account, the general outlines of which were confirmed by a French official, suggested that Chirac was concerned that the U.S. tsunami aid operation had sidestepped traditional UN channels. This followed a U.S. decision to form a separate aid coalition with Australia, Japan and India, all key regional powers with substantial resources.

The account, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, reported that Chirac, without openly criticizing the Bush administration, feared "that Washington is deliberately circumventing the United Nations and wants to compete with the international organization."

It said, without citing its sources, that "President Chirac wants to hinder America from using its ad hoc-organized aid operation to set a precedent that will lastingly weaken the role of the United Nations."

It quoted him as having said publicly that the tsunami had provided proof that the fate of all people "cannot be separated from that of our planet" and that global organizations like the UN must therefore be strengthened.

The UN won't even call the actions in Darfur what they are; genocide. They were paralyzed when the Rwandan genocide was taking place. They had plenty of time to act and chose not to. But now, all of a sudden, we need to strengthen this organization? Why, so they can waste more time (and money) deliberating? Who's helicopters are already dropping aid where it's needed? How much is it costing us to have the USS Abraham Lincoln available for the effort? What country is giving more private donations than any other (total dollars and per capita)? I know private donations don't really show up on France's or the UN's radar, but in America that's where compassion is understood to really begin; at home, not in DC. Even though it's not possible for the time being, Americans are also waiting in line to adopt orphans from this tragedy. You can't put a price on that.

But to Chirac and his ilk, this is all a dangerous precedent. Pathetic.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Stingy? Us? Bruce Bartlett explodes the thought that the US is being too stingy with its money.
The other day, a United Nations official accused the United States of being “stingy” in terms of aid to tsunami victims in South Asia. After criticism from the State Department, the official clarified his position. Americans are not being stingy in helping tsunami victims, only stingy in terms of overall foreign aid as compared to other countries.

This is a familiar attack, which comes up annually when the foreign aid appropriations bill is before Congress. But let’s look at the facts. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, in 2003, the world’s major countries gave $108.5 billion in combined foreign aid. Of this, the U.S. contributed $37.8 billion or 35 percent of the total. The next largest foreign aid contributor was The Netherlands, which gave $12.2 billion, following two years in which it was actually a net recipient of foreign aid.

The claim of stinginess, however, comes from a different calculation—foreign aid as a share of national income. In 2003, U.S. foreign aid came to just 0.34 percent, well below the world leading Dutch at 2.44 percent. Other big contributors are Ireland (1.83 percent), Norway (1.49 percent), and Switzerland (1.09 percent). The U.S. would have to triple foreign aid just to reach the lowest of these contributors.

But, as with most statistics, if you only look skin-deep, you're not getting the whole picture.
The first thing one notices when looking at the big foreign aid contributors is that they all spend very little on national defense. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2002, The Netherlands spent just 1.6 percent of its gross domestic product on defense. Norway spent 2.1 percent, Switzerland spent 1.1 percent, and Ireland spent a piddling 0.7 percent. By contrast, the U.S. spent 3.4 percent—and this was before the Iraq war. It’s easy to be generous with foreign aid when another country is essentially providing your defense for free.

Quite so. Bartlett has further information that shows that we in the US are quite the generous lot, especially non-governmental charity. Charity begins at home, not in Washington, DC.

It took them a month, but they did the right thing.
House Republicans suddenly reversed course Monday, deciding to retain a tough standard for lawmaker discipline and reinstating a rule that would force Majority Leader Tom DeLay to step aside if indicted by a Texas grand jury.

The surprise dual decisions were made by Speaker Dennis Hastert and by DeLay - who asked GOP colleagues to undo the extreme act of loyalty they handed him in November. Then, Republicans changed a party rule, so DeLay could have retained his leadership post if indicted by the grand jury in Austin that charged three of the Texas Republican's associates.

This is a fine example of a party, as well as it's top leaders, admitting that they were wrong and unethical, and taking the proper steps to right it. This is amplified by the fact that it could directly affect DeLay himself. Fine job, folks.

I'm finally back. I didn't go far during my Christmas break, and I was at home for much of that time, but I just didn't want to take away from family time. If blogging was even a remote possibility, the temptation to be watching the news or reading the blogs too much would always be there, so I just took that off the table completely. (However, I did spend a little time doing some PR work for Homespun Bloggers Radio. Take a listen. Programs #1 and #2 are in the loop and program #3 is in the works.)

Last week, it was my turn to pose the Homespun Bloggers weekly Symposium question. I'd been considering this for a while, and I didn't want mine to be a typical question, at least given the ones asked so far. I think we've had some great questions and equally good answers thus far, but I wanted to be a little different from the standard political ones. Besides, we'd be just coming off vacations and we'd probably not be ready to be incredibly deep right from the start (at least I wouldn't be). So this one's a little more on the light side. My symposium question is:
What was your favorite family vacation (when you were a kid), and why? If you have children, have you taken your kids on that same vacation? If so, what did they think of it?

I actually have a few favorite family vacations from when I was a kid, and some of them I've taken my kids to see.
  • Disney World, Orlando, Florida - Yup, one of the big standard vacations on the East coast. We kept a diary (I was the official scribe) so a lot of our memories stuck with us because of that diary. I highly recommend doing this for big vacations. When I went as a kid, it was just the Magic Kingdom. Nowadays, there's Epcot, Disney/MGM, the Animal Kingdom, water parks and on and on, so when we took the kids to see Disney, there was a lot more to do, and it's all really well done. We didn't think the Animal Kingdom was going to be all that interesting ("a big zoo" we thought), but were we ever wrong. When we go again (have a couple of days left on our passes), we'll spend more time there. But roaming around the Magic Kingdom, showing the kids some funny things about the Haunted Mansion that you'd miss on your first time in, and finally riding Space Mountain (I don't do roller coasters, but decided that if I was ever going to do one, the first one I officially chickened out on should be it) brought back a lot of great memories.
  • Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia - One of the vacations we took when I was a kid was what we've since referred to as the "History Vacation". The folks wanted to have an educational vacation so we visited Washington, DC and Colonial Williamsburg, VA. To be honest, I don't remember much about the DC leg of that trip, although we do have pictures to prove we were there. However, I loved Colonial Williamsburg and couldn't wait to bring my own kids there. The big thing I'd recalled was the maze built in hedges behind the governor's mansion (although it was smaller than I remember--probably because I was taller). But walking down the streets where some of the founding fathers walked and being in the same rooms they were was something I enjoyed. (I've always had a sense of the historical significance of particular current events, and perhaps this is where it started.) My kids had been studying colonial America that school year (nice thing about homeschooling; you can tailor the curriculum & vacations to work together), and on the drive on the way up we read an historical fiction book about a couple of children in colonial Williamsburg (thus we were on the lookout for places mentioned in the story, most notably the Magazine), and so my kids enjoyed this trip as well.
  • Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, Ontario - In addition to visiting some family in New York and Ontario, a couple of our vacations had this on the docket, and we as kids just loved it. (So much so that we went back there some years later.) At the time, it was one of the largest science museums around (may still be), and you can spend days in there. Even back then, I was a budding computer geek and most of my memories of there are of the computer-related exhibits (1970s vintage). My kids really get into science museums as well, so someday this may be a destination for us as well.