Saturday, November 23, 2002
Friday, November 22, 2002
An estimated 55,000 students were discharged last year, some for legitimate reasons such as cutting school or turning 21 years old, but many were pushed out to keep them from dragging down school graduation rates and percentages of passing test scores, according to Robin Brown, co-chair of the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council, educators and other children's advocates studying the emerging issue. The critics, including parents, say many students could have remained but were encouraged to seek a general equivalency diploma.
Thursday, November 21, 2002
(2002-11-19) -- Tom Ridge, soon to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said the new mega-agency is "not what you think."
"I know a lot of folks think that we're going to be spying on Americans," said Mr. Ridge. "I know that because of all the emails and phone calls from average Americans that we've intercepted." ... (from Scrappleface)
...Frank Chodorov insisted that taxes on income and inheritance were "different in principle from all other taxes." In the seminal work, "The Income Tax: Root of all Evil," he elaborates:
The government says to the citizen: "Your earnings are not exclusively your own; we have a claim on them, and our claim precedes yours; we will allow you to keep some of it, because we recognize your need, not your right; but whatever we grant you for yourself is for us to decide."
Fundamentally, taxes on income imply a complete denial of private property, which is what socialism is in all its permutations; it rejects man's absolute and natural right to his property and vests property rights in the political establishment. The 16th Amendment did just that. When they incorporated the Amendment into the Constitution, Americans said a resounding "yes" to socialism.
A newly disclosed memo from a Los Alamos National Laboratory supervisor said nearly $1.3 million worth of computers, phones and other property was unaccounted for over a yearlong period. Gee, don't they store nuclear materials over at Los Alamos too. Crack security team, just like those new federal airport security folks. If you don't federalize, you don't professionalize.
The EPA is spending $715,000 to study whether Ozark Oak trees are polluting the air. And if they do, will there be large rallys by environmental groups to pick up the pace of deforestation?
I am shopping - just in case the president doesn't heed my words, just in case the voices for peace are disregarded, just in case war breaks out. I'm shopping for some hope along with items for a Relief Kit for Iraq.
I pick up a bottle of shampoo and some hope that conditions in Iraq will soften. Life for the ordinary person has been hard. Can human compassion reach across borders and begin to heal the hardships of sanctions?
I pick up a fingernail clipper and hope we can trim our oil consumption. If we were less dependent on Middle East oil how would our policies change?
I pick up four bath towels and dream that they could wipe away the threat of chemical and biological weapons. Can we find ways to feel safe that don't depend on threatening annihilation?
I pick up a package sanitary pads and some hope for a new cycle of peace. Life has its cycles and we seem stuck in a violent whirlwind. Can we hope for a new season of reconciliation? (via Best of the Web)
The left gets nuttier by the day. Two constant left themes regarding Iraq are 1) The massive numbers of children killed (by the US) because of sanctions. 2) This is all about oil, and if we only rode our bicycles more we wouldn't be after poor Saddam. We have addressed the fallacies of both assertions many times in this blog, but now I want to take a different tack and perform a little thought experiment.
Assume both assertions are true. Let's follow the prescription and end our dependence on foreign oil completely. *Poof* The great engine that runs on water (that the evil oil companies suppressed in the 1940's) is rediscovered and the global need for oil drops to zero. (Also the price). 95% of Iraqs foreign income comes from oil. They also import almost all their food and medicine. If the world stopped using oil, the economy of Iraq (and most of the rest of the Arab middle east) would collapse since none of those countries have used their oil revenue to invest in new industries or diversify their economic base. The number of children dead from famine and lack of medical care would increase many-fold. So how about this for a Berkeley VW beetle bumper-sticker
"I'm selling this piece of crap and buying a Hummer to save a child in Iraq".
Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Among 18- to 24-year-old Americans given maps:
87 percent cannot find Iraq
83 percent cannot find Afghanistan
76 percent cannot find Saudi Arabia
70 percent cannot find New Jersey
49 percent cannot find New York
11 percent cannot find the United States
Although does it really matter if they can find these places on a map? If 87% of air force pilots flying to Iraq didn't know where it was on a map, then I'd be really worried. If some kid is going to spend his entire life in East Bumblefuck, Kentucky, do we really care?
"In Nevada, voters rejected a ballot measure that would’ve legalized small amounts of marijuana. Opponents said legalizing pot would’ve sent the wrong message to Nevada’s young gamblers and prostitutes."
Tuesday, November 19, 2002
It's a rhetorical question with no response required . . .
Suppose there was such a thing as a time machine. Suppose all the bad-guy Germans of the 1930s and 1940s -- the Gestapo, the Brownshirts, the Blackshirts -- were fed into the time machine and emerged as modern-day Americans. Suppose they all still held the beliefs they had when they died.
So my question is, Which political party would they support now, Democratic or Republican?
As this article is in a San Francisco publication you know the writer is expecting you to think of the Nazis as Republicans. I have two things to say to this. First, what if I wrote that a bunch of members of the KGB and young Pioneers were fed into a time machine and became modern day Americans, which party would they vote for? Obviously not Republican. Okay so now we are simply at the point where we are arguing whether Nazis or Communists were worse for mankind. Where exactly does that get us?
And if this author was able to get past his programming which automatically makes him consider Republicans to be Nazis he would see that the answer to his question isn't that clear. As Hayek argued quite convincingly in The Road To Serfdom, there really isn't much of a difference between Nazis and Communists as they are both against individual freedom and favor paternalistic societies. They both attracted the same type of people, and in some cases, the same people (Hayek even gave the example of someone who was conflicted over which totalitarian group to join). So I think that things aren't as clear as this writer seems to think. And considering most libertarians (which is an ideology which is exactly the opposite of Communism and Nazism) I know tend to sometimes vote Republican and almost never Democratic, I think the answer is actually the opposite of what the author supposes.
"When I hear blacks saying I want more blacks, or liberals saying I want more liberals, that doesn't seem like diversity - that sounds like self-serving pleading."
--Alan Dershowitz, member of Harvard Law's Committee on Healthy Diversity (sounds a bit like the Committee on Public Safety), at a "town hall" meeting on a proposed speech code.
I'll jack up your taxes
Elected is elected, you can't fire me now
That's the beauty of democracy.
Dog tax, tobacco tax, car and environment tax,
did you really think that more wasn't on the way?"
Earth-surface-use tax, breathing impact tax
Air's gonna get expensive
And I'm not even close to done.
A tooth-tax for food-chewing
A bio tax on digestion . . .
It also always amazed me how the intellectual standards were lowered for those who played athletics. Penn had some amazingly smart people and then they also had some who were dumber than a box of hair. One good thing that always came out of this though was that it helped me graduate Magna Cum Laude as almost all classes were graded on a curve.
I feel better now.
Monday, November 18, 2002
Military scientists have long been intrigued by the potential harnessing of microwave technology to paralyse enemy capabilities. The US air force used a related technique to disable Yugoslavian power grids during the Kosovo campaign.
Since then, research has advanced so rapidly that US officials believe a single microwave device carried by an unmanned aircraft could hit 100 targets with 1,000 pulses of high-intensity energy on a single sortie.
"We think the procedures and government showings required under FISA, if they do not meet the minimum Fourth Amendment warrant standards, certainly come close... We, therefore, believe firmly ... that FISA as amended is constitutional because the surveillances it authorizes are reasonable."
So the appeals court just said "close enough" which I honestly didn't think was part of constitutional law. Either a law met the minimum requirements or they didn't. And its not like the minimum requirements were that cumbersome.
And now for something completely different. This decision kind of reminds me of an interchange between Samuel L. Jackson (or at least I think it was him) and Robert De Niro in Jackie Brown:
Jackson: So is she dead?
De Niro: Pretty much.
Mr. Gore plans to produce his own campaign ads for TV and radio. The spots will feature the candidate himself. The following is an excerpt of a script from one such ad.
MR. GORE: Do you know the central thesis of the The Federalist papers number nine? (PAUSE) Of course you don't.
Have you ever read any of Shakespeare's plays or sonnets all the way through? (PAUSE) I doubt it.
Can you work through a simple quadratic equation? (PAUSE) Don't make me laugh.
Let's face the facts: You people are idiots. You elected George Bush, and then handed him a Republican majority in Congress.
I'm Al Gore, and I'm smarter than you. Don't trust your puny little brain to make the right decision about who should lead our nation. Trust me. I know what's best for this country. Remember, you people are idiots. Vote for Al Gore."
I had my scuba gear in a shoulder bag. Our highly trained security mechanics pawed at it like monkeys who had found a fruit basket. Great. Kink the hose near a connection and I suddenly don't have air at 130 feet. One of these frauds pulled out my dive computer. He looked as if he wasn't sure whether to inspect it or peel it.
"What is this?" he asked.
"A coconut," I didn't say, or I would still be in jail. I did say, "A dive computer."
He looked at it without comprehension, then asked me again what it was. Presumably he suspected that it might have turned into something else in the intervening two seconds. It's how dive computers are. One minute a computer, the next minute a rainbow-colored unicorn.
Brainless thoroughness complemented thorough brainlessness. They pulled everything out, knowing what none of it was, and stuffed it back in, having accomplished nothing. The exercise was pointless. I had two dive lights containing twelve C-cells. They could have been carefully sealed Semtex. The dive computer could have been full of C4.
And the airlines wonder why people fly less.
Having reached Guad, I was chowing down on really great ribs at Bruno's when a buddy handed me a printout from the Washington Times. First sentence: "Language tucked inside the Homeland Security bill will allow the federal government to track the e-mail, Internet use, travel, credit-card purchases, phone and bank records of foreigners and U.S. citizen in its hunt for terrorists."
Once the barrier is breached between governmental and private records, surveillance will grow like kudzu-so that we will be safe. If the government can have access to all existing records to protect us, it will shortly want to create new ones to protect us. At Fort Meade in Maryland broods the National Security Agency, which is not supposed to, and may not, spy domestically. It has phenomenal capacity for intercepting, decrypting, collating, storing. Just the thing for prospecting for terrorists, don't you think? You can bet the Homeland Security people have thought.
Fear not, though. These same Homeland Security people have said that, why no, they would never, ever, do anything wrong, and they even have a Privacy Officer to make sure. What could be more reassuring? Building a system to spy on Americans, the government assures us that it won't use it to spy on Americans, and to protect us against the possibility, the government will provide a Privacy Officer who works…for the government.
The new SEC unit, nicknamed "Admissions Impossible Squad" will have its work cut out for it. Admissions of children of Wall Street analysts into hard-to-get-into schools have skyrocketed recently. And the Grubman twins have already been accepted into the Buckley School, Groton and Harvard.
An SEC spokesman called the admissions "unusual." Alarms went off when stocks held by the Buckley, Groton and Harvard endowment portfolios rose dramatically after various investment houses upgraded them from "oink-oink" to "must have!" -- Wall Street's highest equity rating.
"Yet Libertarians are now serving, in effect, as Democratic Party operatives. The next time they wonder why the Bush tax cuts aren't permanent, why Social Security isn't personalized and why there aren't more school-choice pilot programs for low-income kids, all they have to do is look in the mirror."
As the Agitator's rant on this is pretty good I wont rant on for long. I just want to say that I think John Miller forgets that libertarians are radical individualists and no schmuck telling them to conform is going to make them do it. You know some people actually do have ideals and will vote them. Amazing isn't it? Why should libertarians be forced to vote for the lesser of two evils? Plus, I think most libertarians value gridlock since its probably the best way to keep things that are too dangerous from getting done and so don't agree with John Miller's assessment that filibuster proof GOP majorities would be a good thing.
Plus, if you look at the history of political thought, before the Socialists became so prominent, the Conservatives were the main political foe of those who considered themselved libertarian. Libertarians have a history of pissing off conservatives and I really do hope that continues. Gotta keep 'em on their toes.
"What the hell were we doing yesterday, taking kids out of the stands and beating them?"
--My co-worker Mike hypothesizing on how his favorite football team, the Buffalo Bills, could have committed 139 yards in penalties during their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.