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Friday, July 29, 2005

Can planting trees, in some cases, lower water reserves? Apparently so.
Planting trees can create deserts, lower water tables and drain rivers, rather than filling them, claims a new report supported by the UK government.

The findings - which may come as heresy to tree-lovers and most environmentalists - is an emerging new consensus among forest and water professionals.

“Common but misguided views about water management,” says the report, are resulting in the waste of tens of millions of pounds every year across the world. Forests planted with the intention of trapping moisture are instead depleting reservoirs and drying out soils.

The report summarises studies commissioned over the past four years by the Forestry Research Programme, funded by the UK government’s Department for International Development.

This is not, by any means, a blanket statement. However, the study shows that the opposite is also not a blanket statement. The idea that planting forests always conserves the water resources is flat-out false. Here are some examples:
The studies found that in the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, when fields were converted to forests to provide more water for reservoirs, they actually reduced water yields from the land, by 16% and 26% respectively.

In South Africa, the spread of foreign pine and eucalyptus trees across the country has cut river flow by an estimated 3%. The country is currently employing some 40,000 people to uproot many foreign trees. And it taxes plantation owners for their hydrological damage.

High in the mountains of Costa Rica, researchers found that forests do not harvest moisture from the clouds, as previously supposed. Chopping them down in many places barely alters rainfall, according to Sampurno Bruijnzeel from the Free University of Amsterdam, who contributed to the project.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution; more trees is not always the best way to go. But environmentalists, I bet, will not let go of that thought easily.

Back here I noted that adult stem cells keep looking better and better, being virtually as good as embryonic stem cells, not to mention their proven track record. Well, looks like Bill Frist hasn't read that study.
Breaking with President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Friday he now supports legislation to remove some of the administration's limitations on embryonic stem cell research.

Frist, an abortion opponent who just last month said he did not support expanding federal financing of research on embryos, said his decision was consistent with both his experience as a physician and his anti-abortion stance.

The crux of his argument appears to be this:
The Tennessee Republican, who has been said to be eyeing a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, said only stem cells from embryos that "would otherwise be discarded," not implanted in a woman or frozen indefinitely, should be considered for research.

First of all, never say "never". As I pointed out in a diary on (in the first set of comments), saying "never" amounts to predicting the future, which is not a power I typically want to give to the federal government. Ask these 21 children who were adopted as embryos.

Second, this amounts to human experimentation. If you don't consider these embryos truly "human", then what are they? They certainly aren't fish eggs. And further, if they weren't human, the scientists wouldn't want them.

I don't see how someone who is against abortion can be for human experimentation on embryos. The whole "would otherwise be discarded" argument is morally equivalent to a woman getting an abortion because she didn't want to have a baby right now.
"I give huge moral significance to the human embryo, it is nascent human life, what that means is as we advance science, we treat that embryo with dignity, with respect," Frist said.

And performing experiments on them is...what, exactly?
Frist said additional stem cells should be used, so long as there was a careful process of informed consent in which the parents had decided that the embryos should be discarded, not adopted or frozen.

Ah, so "aborting" them is OK as long as the proper government paperwork is fill out. Gotcha. Now that's "respect".

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Tony Blair calls this a "step of unparalleled magnitude". I think he's right, if it sticks.
The IRA has formally ordered an end to its armed campaign and says it will pursue exclusively peaceful means.

In a long-awaited statement, the republican organisation said it would follow a democratic path ending more than 30 years of violence.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the move was a "courageous and confident initiative" and that the moment must be seized.

This is fantastic news for the people of the UK. Some, as the article notes, are still skeptical, which is perfectly understandable. Nonetheless, an official IRA statement calling for all IRA units to "dump arms" and pursue "purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means" is a giant leap in the right direction.

Democracy's busting out all over.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

If the bombings in Madrid and London were really because of Spain's and England's support of the war in Iraq, why then are Algerian diplomats being killed by Al Qaeda? Via Release the Hounds comes word that being a diplomat is enough to get you on their hit list. Ric reminds readers that Algeria did not support the invasion of Iraq.

This goes to further prove James Taranto's assertion (scroll down to "The Road to Baghdad") that the Iraq war would be a pretext, not a provocation, for later acts of terror. Each act of terror simply references the most recent pretext. The goal is the same, it's just that the reason for the bombing du jour supposedly changes.

What it all comes down to is that you >gasp< can't trust terrorists! It's not just that they strike at targets of opportunity, they also use excuses of opportunity as well. Asking "why do they hate us?" is an exercise in futility. They can always come up with one more thing they hate if you keep appeasing them over and over. The Twin Towers are gone supposedly in response to our military presence in Saudi Arabia. If the anti-war left had their way, we'd be out of there, but do you really think bin Laden would have said, "OK, fine, then we won't go after you any more"? (Hint: No.)

Being against a war, but acknowledging a government duly elected by the people is enough to get you killed by Islamic extremists. You can't reason with people like that, and you can't get into their heads and figure out how to calm them down. Until there's a caliphate (run by them, of course), you won't get a break.

Unless and until you defeat them.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

That was Ted Kennedy then:
"We have to respect that any nominee to the Supreme Court would have to defer any comments on any matters, which are either before the court or very likely to be before the court," Kennedy said during a 1967 press conference. "This has been a procedure which has been followed in the past and is one which I think is based upon sound legal precedent."

This is now:
In his June 20, floor speech responding to President Bush's nomination of Roberts to the Supreme Court, Kennedy argued that senators "must not fail in our duty to the American people to responsibly examine Judge Roberts' legal views."

Kennedy listed a number of issues, including workers' rights, health care and environmental regulations, that he considers important.

"Each of these issues, and many others, [have] been addressed by the Supreme Court in recent years," Kennedy said. "In many of these cases, the Court was narrowly divided, and these issues are likely to be the subject of future Court decisions in the years to come."

Click here for the full story and video to back it up.

The double standard is alive and well.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Kossacks at the blog "Daily Kos" have never been a big fan of Hillary Clinton's feigns to the center. The mainstream media is now finding that out.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's call for an ideological cease-fire in the Democratic Party drew an angry reaction yesterday from liberal bloggers and others on the left, who accused her of siding with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) in a long-running dispute over the future of the party.

Long a revered figure by many in the party's liberal wing, Clinton (D-N.Y.) unexpectedly found herself under attack after calling Monday for a cease-fire among the party's quarreling factions and for agreeing to assume the leadership of a DLC-sponsored initiative aimed at developing a more positive policy agenda for the party.


The most pointed critique of Clinton came in one of the most influential blogs on the left, Daily Kos out of Berkeley, Calif., which called Clinton's speech "truly disappointing" and said she should not provide cover for an organization that often has instigated conflict within the party.

"If she wanted to give a speech to a centrist organization truly interested in bringing the various factions of the party together, she could've worked with NDN," the blog said in a reference to the New Democrat Network, with which Daily Kos's Markos Moulitsas is associated. "Instead, she plans on working with the DLC to come up with some common party message yadda yadda yadda. Well, that effort is dead on arrival. The DLC is not a credible vehicle for such an effort. Period."

The post by Markos himself is here.

You'd think with the huge following of Kos visitors (over 500,000 per day),, Howard Dean fans, and a press that is increasingly and openly antagonistic against the right (and the Christian Right in particular), this would result in more Democrats being voted in, not less. Instead it's beginning to appear that this group of hard-leftists who keep pushing further left are simply more vocal, as opposed to more numerous. And indeed the more vocal they are, the more they alienate the folks that the DLC is trying to bring in. Is this a winning strategy? (Hint: No.)

As to Hillary's participation in this, I think it's just another bit of posturing, but if it gets her barbs from the far left it may help a potential presidential candidacy. (See here for my thoughts on that, and here for what "Stonette" Thecla has to say about her.) Could actually be a good political move to get herself in a situation like this. But, as I've noted before, if it's a political move without the actual move, then it's just pure politics. So far, not much substance. We'll see.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Discovery and seven astronauts blasted into orbit Tuesday on America's first manned space shot since the 2003 Columbia disaster, ending a painful, 2 1/2-year shutdown devoted to making the shuttle less risky and NASA more safety-conscious.

At stake were not only the lives of the astronauts, but also America's pride in its technological prowess, the fate of the U.S. space program and the future of space exploration itself.

"Our long wait may be over. So on behalf of the many millions of people who believe so deeply in what we do, good luck, Godspeed _ and have a little fun up there," launch director Mike Leinbach told the astronauts just before liftoff.

My daughter, who has dreams of being a pioneer to Mars, likes the idea that the first Shuttle mission after this long wait, and thus a rather sensitive and scrutinized mission, is a woman. So do I.

You may have heard that John Roberts, Bush's Supreme Court nominee was once a member of the Federalist Society. What does that tell us? Well, according to David Bernstein at The Volokh Conspiracy, not much.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Anita Hill, who once tried to keep Clarence Thomas off the Supreme Court bench, weighs in on Bush's nominee, John Roberts. While reading this article, keep in mind these key points:

Point A: The work "bork" is a verb these days because of litmus tests on issues that the Democrats made Robert Bork take. His ability to judge cases based on the Constitution (i.e. his potential job description) was less important as his views on specific issues.
Point B: Anita Hill herself tried to sink Clarence Thomas' confirmation based on some of his earlier behavior. His ability to judge cases based on the Constitution was less important than his demeanor in years gone by.
Point C: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, had she been held to the same standard as Bork by the Republicans, would never have made it out of committee. She sailed through the Senate confirmation vote.

With that, here are some excerpts from Anita Hill's article:
In his nomination of John G. Roberts for the Supreme Court, President George W. Bush has put forward a highly regarded lawyer who is reportedly a quite likable individual. Roberts' supporters and independent analysts cite a lifetime of achievement as the reason he should be confirmed.

Roberts worked in both President Ronald Reagan's and the first President George Bush's administrations before going into private practice. Republicans are counting on the fact that Democrats will have a hard time voting against someone with government and private practice experience who is widely recognized within the Beltway as one of the country's top appellate attorneys. As Peter Canellos of the Boston Globe wrote, Roberts' career reads like "a 1950s Boys' Life primer on how to prepare for the Supreme Court."

But was John Roberts chosen because he's the best choice for the court or because he may easily be confirmed? And why not choose a woman to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court? Or use this as an opportunity to nominate the first Latino to the court?

We don't know what the decision-making process was, but Ms. Hill seems to suggest that national origin or gender should trump experience and ability. This is much like Point A's issue litmus tests or Point B's bygone bad behavior being overriding concerns vs. job performance. But I think there's larger reason Roberts may have been nominated, and I'll get to that next.
Not surprisingly, the answer to these questions has to do with the politics of confirmability. One thing is certain: If nominees are selected based on the very narrow and elite credentials that brought us John Roberts, a wide range of equally qualified, more diverse candidates will never even be considered.

Here's the crux of the matter; the "politics of confirmability". The irony here is that Anita Hill is decrying the very thing she participated in. Why does George W. Bush have to nominate someone who's "confirmable"? Because the Democrats brought the "politics of confirmability" to us in Points A & B above. And while one might be tempted to paint both parties with an overly broad brush and say they all do it, please refer to Point C.

Ms. Hill goes on to complain about the groups that Roberts belonged to and the gender makeup of the Rehnquist clerks he was a part of. She's worried that those he's associated with weren't diverse enough. She speaks very little about his qualifications, and indeed says she she hopes the Judiciary Committee will determine if he indeed does have the right experience. She doesn't know for sure, but she's more worried about his background in diversity, as though judging constitutional questions is based on who you've known. I don't recall the being a criteria for the Supreme Court. What concerns Ms. Hill further is that if Roberts' background becomes the standard by which Presidents have to choose their nominees, we'll never get another Sandra Day O'Connor, or perhaps a future woman or Latino that doesn't fit the picture. Whether or not that is the case, I'll note again that it is Democrats and Ms. Hill who set this standard of "confirmability". See Points A and B. Again.
With O'Connor on the bench, the Supreme Court was the most diverse in its history. If confirmability through the Roberts "primer" becomes the rule, it is not hard to imagine a return to an all-white-male Supreme Court.

Again, diversity trumps all. I don't recall any blacks on the court when Brown v Board of Education was argued and ruled on (Thurgood Marshall's tenure was 14 years away), and yet they ruled in favor of those of a race other than their own. One doesn't have to be of the same race or gender to rule honestly and fairly with regards to that race or gender, but arguing for Supreme Court diversity suggests a rather dim view of people, and assumes that such honesty and fairness is difficult if not impossible. That's a rather cynical view.
The nomination process may have become so politicized that the only secure nomination is someone who is an ultimate Washington insider, liked by both sides. If so, it misses a chance to reflect the experiences of the vast majority of Americans. Moreover, a gold standard for judicial selection based on exclusivity appears to contradict the values of ever-expanding opportunities we espouse.

Roberts' professional endeavors represent very limited legal experiences that do not appear to be balanced by other life experiences. I hope the Judiciary Committee members will try to determine whether Roberts has the breadth of experience that will help him understand the law beyond what is sometimes a very narrow text.

I don't know enough about John G. Roberts' positions on any issues to pass judgment on his suitability for the court. The concerns I have today are directed more to the process and standards for the nomination. For if confirmability politics continue to control the Supreme Court selection process, it will likely change the face of the court for the foreseeable future.

Ms. Hill, you have yourself and the Democrat Party you allied yourself with to thank for such an outcome. If diversity is really your goal, you'll only get it by de-politicizing the process. I'd like it de-politicized as well, but because I want nominees that best fit the job, not some gender or racial profile. As the points above note, it's the Democrats you have to convince on this point.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

The Blogger News Network has moved. It's switched hosts, and even has a new URL: Stop by the new digs.

Monday, July 18, 2005

As mentioned below, vacation is taking precedence now. See y'all next week.

Remember the evolutionists claim that given enough monkeys banging on enough typewriters sooner or later one of them would type out the complete works of Shakespeare? Via Dean Esmay comes the word that someone's putting that to the test.
So far a simply extraordinary number of virtual monkeys (5.67088e+47 as I write this--the population continuously expands) have typed 1 letter per second each for 5.01633e+48 virtual years, and haven't managed to get much past a couple of dozen letters of any given play.

Click here to join the effort (and become a monkey). (Isn't that de-evolution?) Fun little experiment, but seriously folks, which has a higher probability; typing out the text of all of Shakespeare's plays by chance, or lining up the atoms, molecules, proteins and such of a single cell and get the right amount of jolt to begin life by chance?

Mathematical note: A billion years expressed in the scientific notation you see above is 1.0e+09 (1 times 10 to the ninth--a "1" with 9 zeroes after it). The number of virtual years noted above is over 1 times 10 to the 48th, i.e. a "1" with 48 zeroes after it. Yes, the comparison between random chemicals mixing and monkeys typing may be a comparison of apples and...bananas, but it does help show how astonishingly remote such a chance is.

With friends like these, who need Yemenis.

Oh, wait...she's talking about Yemenis.

(Hat tip to Dean, who's trying to help Jane get the word out.)

With all the classified information leaked out in the Wilson/Niger/Yellowcake/Plame/Rove issue, it's obvious somebody should be going to jail for it. The more we know about Rove's call to Matt Cooper, however, the more we realize that Rove did not break any laws.

But what about the boatloads of classified information that Wilson leaked about his trip to Niger? AJ Strata pulls together the evidence of leaked information from Wilson to the New York Times.

Friday, July 15, 2005

One of the best summation of questions (with or without current answers) in the whole Plame affair can be found here at Even the liberal posters agree that it's a fair summation, even if they take issue with some of the conclusions. Worth a trip over there. The discussion following it is long, but there's a lot of good information in there as well, including a pointer to this blog post dissecting today's New York Times article on the subject. The Times virtually exonerates Rove in the matter.

No, not a death in the family, although sometimes it feels like that. No, this time it's a couple of dead hard drives. From my main PC.

Did I have backups? Oh yeah, I had backups running nightly of the most important data. I have another machine (running Linux) that would backup all the machines on the network to other machines. Unfortunately, this job kept on running faithfully even after I unhooked the main PC from the network. I wrote the script, and was pretty proud of it. Unfortunately, there's little to no error checking. Thus, even when it couldn't connect to the PC, it tried to back it up, and thus faithfully backed up...nothing. And of course, even though I keep two copies of the backup automatically, after two days, both copies were nailed.

You know that knot you get in your stomach with bad news? Yeah, that's me. 24 hours a day.

Blogging will be light for the next few days, and nonexistent next week while recovering from this take precedence (not to mention vacation). This summer has been a busy one, both at home and at work, and the blog volume has suffered, I'm aware. Apologize (to both of you) for that, but them's the priorities. >grin< Thanks for continuing to stop by, even with the uneven postings.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What have we got for our money? Via Beltway Blogroll comes word that Rep. Diane Watson, a California Democrat, counts the cost.
I think $200 billion for peace and democracy is worth it if we had something to show for it. But we haven't gotten peace and democracy. Instead, the $200 billion has bought us

* Over seventeen hundred Americans killed, more than 13, 000 wounded, and an unknowable number of Iraqi civilian deaths;
* A dysfunctional country that cannot move its political process forward;
* A new haven and proving ground for anti-American extremism;
* An insurgency in Iraq that has not diminished;
* A wellspring of mistrust from longtime friends and allies around the world;
* And a devastating erosion of American leadership and credibility.

Liberals like to throw money at a problem and expect it to go away. Likewise, Rep. Watson seems to think that throwing money at Iraq hasn't brought any of that, so we should cut and run. It's all a money issue. Well, it's not.

First of all, to be honest, the cost is higher than that. She alludes to it in her first bullet point, but frames it in a way to suggest that the $200 billion "bought" those casualties. That's a pretty cold-hearted view of those lives. Actually, those lives are part of the price. Is it worth it?

Did it buy peace? I guess if you think "peace" is simply the "absence of war", no, it didn't. But if you think mass graves and rape rooms are components of a country at "peace", I'd have to take a strong stand against your definition. The war's not over yet, true, but Iraqis are already seeing the benefits of being freed from under a murderous dictator. That's part of what has been bought.

Did it by democracy? I really can't think of a convoluted definition of "democracy" that would exclude what's going on in Iraq today. Instead of a dictator who represented the minority and gassed those who opposed him, you have a government that is working out its own way through debate rather than arms. It may not be moving as fast as Rep Watson would like, but it's still in its infancy, for goodness sake. Democracies don't spring up fully grown overnight in countries that have been ruled with an iron fist for generations.

Is Iraq a haven for terrorists? Yes, but it was that way long before we showed up. Abu Nidal, anyone? Cash rewards to families of suicide bombers? Not to mention that there is evidence of Abu Musab al Zarqawi taking advantage of the safe haven that Iraq provided before the Iraq war. Further examples of Iraq being a terrorist haven can be found here. We didn't "buy" this; it was there when we came, and at least now someone's working to eradicate it.

Have we lost the trust of allies and reduced our credibility? Well, if you're talking about losing the trust of France, who was doing secret, back-door oil deals with Hussein prior to the war, I'd say their reluctance to help out had more to do with that than any loss of trust. The Oil-for-PalacesFood program removed more credibility from those involved. If you're talking about the pre-war WMD intelligence being wrong, everybody was equally wrong about that, even those who now call Bush a "liar".

What Rep. Watson ignores are how much better, in general, the lives of the Iraqi people are. The good news from Iraq hardly hits the airwaves in its proper proportion. Just ask Arthur Chrenkoff, who recounts good news from Iraq and Afghanistan. There's a boatload of good to show for it, in addition to a fledgling democracy that she'd rather discount than encourage.

It's very true that the clean-up after the toppling of Hussein and installation of a democracy is taking longer than anyone would like. This is largely because of imported terrorists like Zarqawi trying to terrorize, not just the coalition, but the Iraqis themselves to scare them into renouncing this new government. So far, however, the political process is moving forward. Key milestones have been hit on time, bombings and assassinations notwithstanding. The prosperity of the nation is on the rise, sabotage by terrorists notwithstanding.

Yes, the price is high. The price of freedom always, always is. Be thankful that Rep. Watson wasn't around to decide whether or not to go to war against King George. If she'd gotten her way then, we'd still be a British colony. The cost in lives was much higher, but it was worth the price, don't you think?

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Name that newspaper:
The Supreme Court, by its very nature, must be a conservative body; it is the conservator of our institutions, it protects the people against the errors of their legislative servants, it is the defender of the Constitution itself. To place upon the Supreme Bench judges who hold a different view of the function of the court, to supplant conservatism by radicalism, would be to undo the work of John Marshall and strip the Constitution of its defenses. It would introduce endless confusion where order has resigned, it would tend to give force and effect to any whim or passion of the hour, to crown with success any transitory agitation engaged in by a part of the people, overriding the matured judgment of all the people as expressed in their fundamental law.

Seth Lipsky reveals that this was the New York Times disapproving of a liberal judge, Louis Brandeis, for the Supreme Court in 1916. Indeed, when you consider the Constitution a malleable bit of clay to shape in the manner the current group of 9 justices please, you indeed strip it of its power to constrain the government. In addition, as we've seen lately, legislation from the bench becomes that much more likely.

But he was confirmed. At his retirement, Judge Brandeis looked back.
[The Times] quoted Brandeis as noting that the court “has often overruled its earlier decisions” because it “bows to the lessons of experience and the force of better reasoning, recognizing that the process of trial and error, so fruitful in the physical sciences, is appropriate also in the judicial function.” The newspaper which only a generation ago had insisted the Court, by its very nature, must be a conservative body, now praised Brandeis for being aware that the Court “is not an abstraction but a vital force which gives direction to the pace and range of economic forces.” At the heart of its editorial was this sentence: “The Constitution is a living law.”

I find this a contradiction. Judge Brandeis talks about bowing to the "lessons of experience", yet proud that had "overruled its earlier decisions". That's not learning from experience, that's "trial and error", which is not the way to run a country. George Washington said the same thing this way (emphasis mine):
Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the constitution, alterations, which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments, as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard, by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion....

Washington was admonishing the new country to be extremely careful in experimenting in governing. This was not a blanket statement to never change anything, but to "resist with care" any assault on the main principles underlying it, of which the Constitution is the major part. These days, with the idea of a "living document" and consideration of foreign law in Supreme Court decisions, trial and error rather than experience have become the order of the day, subjecting us to "perpetual change". You don't change the law or the precedent to see what happens, you should be much more sure than that before using the American people as political and social lab rats.

That is why President Bush needs to nominate strict constitutionalists to the Supreme Court.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

From what I've been reading on the blogs, it appears that many folks on the left still don't realize that Joe Wilson, Valerie Plame's husband, has been discredited on quite a number of levels. Abigail at Stones Cry Out has the links to the news stories and the original documents, including the Butler Report and the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the subject.

If you're steamed at Karl Rove, perhaps you should get both sides of the story.

Monday, July 11, 2005

This just in: The media hates Bush.
President Bush just can't win with the broadcast networks.

More than two-thirds of the news stories on ABC, NBC and CBS covering the first 100 days of Mr. Bush's second term were negative, according to an analysis released today by the District-based Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA).

It's actually a slight improvement: During the first 100 days of his initial term in office, the coverage was 71 percent negative, according to a similar CMPA study conducted in 2001.

In comparison, President Clinton's first-term news coverage was 59 percent negative in 1993.

This isn't news to anyone who's honestly looked at the media, and to those who think the big 3 networks play things straight down the middle this won't change their preset notions. But it is one more straw on the camel's back.

Barack Obama took the stage to help the upcoming campaign of Sen. Bill Nelson at one of Nelson's town-hall meetings. During the meeting, the first question was this:
"I see a Democratic Party afraid to say they're Democrats, who voted for the war in Iraq and voted for tax cuts for the wealthy," said Glenn Anderson of Orlando. "Why should I remain a Democrat?"

It was a tough question. But Nelson and Obama tried to answer it.

"The Democrats at times have lost their way," conceded Obama. "We are trying to decide what our core values are."

The criterion for judging the party isn't whether it's to the left or right, "but are we true to our core values," he said.

The key statement immediately follows this.
Nobody defined core values.

You would think that as long as Democrats have been around that they'd have figured out what their core values are by now. They've been losing power in Washington and across America for years, but still haven't decided what they stand for. Mr. Anderson, the questioner, seems to think they should stand for leaving terrorist havens alone and taxing ourselves into oblivion. Doesn't sound like a winning strategy to me.

The economy continues to trundle along quite nicely.
U.S. employers added 146,000 jobs in June, below Wall Street forecasts, but the unemployment rate fell to its lowest point since September 2001 as few people joined the labor force, a government report showed on Friday.

The Labor Department revised up job growth in April and May to 292,000 and 104,000, respectively - boosting the two-month count by 44,000 payroll jobs.

June's tepid employment growth came in below analyst expectations for 188,500 new jobs in the month. But the decline in the unemployment rate to 5.0 percent was a nice surprise, since Wall Street had expected it to hold at 5.1 percent. The drop was mostly due to a paltry 1,000 increase in the work force, which includes those looking for work as well as those who have jobs.

During the 2004 election season, the Democrats harped on how bad the economy had been under Bush, ignoring entirely the recession he inherited and the economic impact of 9/11. However, since the election they've been rather quiet on the subject. And it's no wonder; since the tax cuts, the economy has been continuing to strengthen, right on cue.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Light blogging will prevail the remainder of this week (vacation) and the beginning of next week (business trip), although the business trip evenings will have considerably more free time for evening blogging. Just an FYI to those of you (OK, both of you) who may wonder why things have gotten so quiet around here.

In the meantime, Stones Cry Out has reaction to the London bombing here, here, here and here. It's a sad day in London, and they need our prayers. I do hope, also, that this terrible act doesn't scare the British, but makes them more steadfast in fighting and defeating terrorism.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Who says the Democrats can't use the word "god" in a sentence?
Arguing that Congress has no business interfering with the [Kelo] ruling unless it wants to amend the Constitution, Mrs. Pelosi said: "This is almost as if God has spoken."

Ignoring the fact that Congress is allowed to set the court's jurisdiction via legislation, it's obvious that Pelosi doesn't really believe in 3 co-equal branches of government. Not surprising, since that's how the most liberal of policies have been implemented recently.

Chris Muir has an amusing take on this.

After the December tsunami, Jan Egeland, the UN's head of humanitarian relief, called Western nations "stingy" when it came to providing relief funds. (His suggestion? The classic "raise taxes" answer.) The ~$850 million from the US government and ~$1.5 billion from private donors in the 6 months following the disaster put the lie to that.

Now comes the "Live 8" concert to raise money for poor countries. We still get ripped by the fund-raisers, but we continue to give generously anyway.
PRIVATE American citizens donated almost 15 times more to the developing world than their European counterparts, research reveals this weekend ahead of the G8 summit. Private US donors also handed over far more aid than the federal government in Washington, revealing that America is much more generous to Africa and poor countries than is claimed by the Make Poverty History and Live 8 campaigns.

And what are some of the secrets to this generosity? Let's just say that Egeland would be surprised.
[Carole] Adelman [author of the Hudson Institute report] said this transforms the picture on aid to the developing world, showing how America's stronger economic growth and lower taxation is giving indirect aid to the Third World which dwarfs the government's donations.

(Emphasis mine.) Much more money goes to developing countries from private individuals and corporations than from the government because we have more money in our pocket and can afford to give voluntarily rather than by being "charitable at the point of a gun" (i.e. you're thrown in jail if you don't pay your taxes).

And the side issue is this: America and Americans never get the credit we deserve for being giving people. But y'know, we just keep giving and giving anyway. Instead of whining, more countries ought to be emulating this.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Homespun Bloggers Radio, Program #7, released!

Yes, it's been a while, but HBR is back with some old and some new voices.
  • First, a tribute to Mike "Bunker Mulligan" Reed, an HBR contributor who passed away in June. We'll miss him very much. Juli from Dagney's Rant says it for all of us.
  • Bob James, a new contributor who write the blog CrosSwords, gives us an example of another country that is already misusing Eminent Domain.
  • Andrew Ian Dodge of Dodgeblogium brings the London report, about a Conservative Party that isn't acting all that conservative.
  • The founder of Homespun Bloggers and writer of MuD&PHuD, Tom Carroll, speak out against the Kelo decision with some concrete steps to take to protect your property.

To listen, click here or on the "Homespun Bloggers Radio" button to the left. The current audio feed is a loop of show #7. Also, you can click here to download a high-quality version of the show.

Friday, July 01, 2005

It's Canada Day! OK, I'm not Canadian, nor do I live in Canada, but my company assigned today as a floating holiday for everyone, likely because we have a large office in Montreal. Blogging will be light today & Monday. However, keep an eye out for the long-awaited "Homespun Bloggers Radio" show #7 to be released this weekend.

(OK, maybe it's not exactly "long-awaited", but it has been a while since show #6.)