Via Spoons, four years down the drain.

After a four-year investigation, students at the University of Illinois have determined the identity of Deep Throat, the most elusive, anonymous news source in history: Fred Fielding, deputy counsel to former President Richard Nixon

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Hillary in 2008?

From the Washington Post: "In 2000, she repeatedly pledged that she would finish her term without seeking the presidency. Aides say she will not issue such a pledge this time."

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Beltway Road Hazard of the Day

iconToday's trash laying in, on, or near the road was:

  • Fiberglass Insulation - (Or if you're British, fibreglass).

Commute: "Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?" -- Robin Williams
Door to door: 19 minutes

Yeah, but there are far less boiler explosions now

The Sunday Times reports that "In the age of steam, express trains averaged over 80mph... today they're lucky if they beat 60".

According to Bradshaw's Threepenny Railway Guide from 1900, three express trains an hour linked Liverpool and Manchester, taking just 40 minutes. A century later, it takes seven minutes longer. It took 35 minutes to travel from Portsmouth to Southampton in 1898, compared with 46 minutes today. In the 1930s, steam expresses regularly averaged more than 80mph.
I've heard similar stories about Los Angeles. Something like in the 1950s, the average freeway speed was 50 miles per hour. In the 1990s, it was 15 miles per hour.

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After 121 days...

NewsMax is reporting that John Kerry has finally signed the form to release all of his military records.

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The D.C. Personal Protection Act of 2005 would restore firearm's rights to law-abiding Washington D.C. residents. Of course the usual suspects are full of anti-gun rhetoric.

"They're trying to see to it that more children get killed." -- Washington D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat.

"I am incensed by any proposal that is an insult to the memory of the people who have died in this city due to gun violence -- in particular the three children who have died from gun violence this year." -- Washington D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, a Democrat.

Of course, in Illinois, legislators are likening gun owners to rapists:
Sex offenders' names are kept on record, Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) said, why shouldn't gun purchasers' names be archived, as well?

Lies, damn lies, and statistics

GeekWithA.45 points to an alarming statistic.

Liberal Foundations: $24 billion assets, $1.2 billion annual expenditures.
Conservative Foundations: $1.5 billion assets, $100 million annual expenditures.

The disparity aside, aren't you glad McCain got the money out of politics.

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Cemetery planting might offend the deceased

iconNine year old Collin Kelly wanted to celebrate Memorial Day by marking the graves of war veterans with flowers. The Framingham (Mass.) boy collected money, ordered the flowers, and then learned life's lesson that no good deed goes unpunished.

The Kelly family has been on an unexpected adventure since Collin first came up with the idea to plant marigolds at 156 veterans' graves by Memorial Day. Collin thought somebody should put flowers on the graves of these soldiers, many of whom have been buried for decades, and he and his mother, Lynn, got the cemetery's OK to start planting flowers.

But when the cemetery's board of trustees got wind of the plan, they said the Kellys couldn't plant flowers on graves belonging to other families. Though board members said they appreciated Collin's gesture, their decision prompted an outcry from local veterans, nasty messages left for the cemetery superintendent and national media attention.

A few days ago, the trustees and the Kellys reached a compromise: the Kellys and friends could place geraniums, not plant them, on the graves, and they would remove them shortly after.

That's right, they have a "rule" against unauthorized planting, even on Civil War era graves. Only after intense public and media pressure would they relent, and the plants must be promptly removed by Memorial Day's end.
While Collin and several other children could only place the flowers on most of the graves, he was able to plant a geranium at the grave of Clyde P. DeLancey, a World War I veteran who died in 1972. "Today is a special day," said DeLancey's granddaughter, Perry Bent of Framingham, standing next to Collin as he dug.

After Collin moved on to another row of graves, Bent pulled out an index card with writing on it.

"I've got to put up a little political sign that says 'planted by a family member' so it won't get removed," Bent said. "It's sad that you have to do that." In addition to the please-don't-remove instruction, Bent's card read: "Thank you, Collin."
It's amazing that a 9 year old boy understands more than a board room full of cemetery bureaucrats.

They all look alike to me

In a bout of paranoid schizophrenia, Lionel Van Deerlin writes a cliche infested op-ed piece blasting the NRA for having the nerve to protect Second Amendment rights. What's funny is that about half way down, he shows that he knows as little about gun rights groups as he does civil rights.

In Northern Virginia, working behind its newly organized Citizen Defense League, the lobby is pressing for ordinances opening virtually every public place to concealed weaponry. Easily obtained permits would authorize armed entry to parks, libraries, shopping malls, county buildings - indeed, right up to the metal detectors at Reagan National Airport.
That is, of course, news to the Virginia Citizens Defense League, founded in 1994 as the Northern Virginia Citizens Defense League, who has been championing this effort independently of the NRA.

Left-wing Conspiracy
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If writers knew as little about cars as they do guns...


Can you imagine a story beginning, "I raised the hood of my Volkswagen Mini, checked to make sure the spark cylinders were bolted into the pistons, and got in and started the 7-cylinder diesel, only to hear the turbo-supercharged whine of an oncoming Yugo limo - "?
This is why gun enthusiasts get so mad when writers talk about 25 mm handguns, or 40mm handguns, or about guns having magical abilities to shoot down airplanes. In most cases is just ignorant writers now knowing anything about the subject they are writing about. In other cases, it's a deliberate attempt to fool the general public.

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Happy Memorial Day

iconWishing everyone a happy Memorial Day!

(click to supersize)
This is the long awaited World War II Memorial.

This gentleman is a Filipino WWII veteran. He was kind enough to pose for a photograph, and snapped a salute for me. Afterward, he actually thanked me and all of America for liberating the Philippines during World War II. I was dumbfounded.

I tried to get his entire flag in the picture, but it required backing up so far that it would be hard to see him. Plus I wasn't sure how long he would hold the salute, and I risked losing the Lincoln Memorial in the background.

This is the Korean War Memorial. This photo is a reflection of the memorial off the granite walls. I thought it was an interesting look, and the lighting was perfect.

Here is a more traditional view of the Korean War Memorial.

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Sounds like the f-word to me

iconI'm not saying they are avoiding it, but media outlets seem to have come up with a new catch phrase for the F-word:

"Senate Democrats refused to end debate on John R. Bolton's nomination to be U.N. ambassador yesterday..." -- Washington Post.

"Senate Republicans late Thursday failed in their bid to cut off debate over the nomination... The Senate voted 56-42 for cloture, four votes shy of the necessary 60 votes to cut off debate." -- CNN

"The vote against cutting off debate over the confirmation of John R. Bolton to be ambassador..." -- New York Times

"Republicans needed 60 votes to cut off debate and move immediately to a vote on Bolton's nomination..." -- Boston Globe.

"Thursday's delay resulted from a failed Republican effort to cut off debate, a move that required the support of three-fifths of the Senate." -- L.A. Times.

Even the Democrats are avoiding using the f-word. CBS News notes:
"It certainly sounds like a filibuster. It quacks like a filibuster," said Senate Republican leader Bill Frist of Tennessee.

"We are not here to filibuster Bolton, we are here to get information regarding Bolton," countered Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

So it was a "procedural delay" that requires 60 votes to break, but it is NOT, I say again, NOT a filibuster.

When the cat's away...

iconHow Spoons made it on his own for the some 30 years before he met his wife, I'll never know? My guess is he'll never make it. It'll be like Lord of the Flies by the time she gets back.

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Beltway Road Hazard of the Day

iconToday's trash laying in, on, or near the road was:

  • Cone Cups - Dozens of those cone shaped paper cups that you normally see by the water cooler.

Commute: Well, you can forget your troubles with those Imperial slugs. I told you I'd outrun 'em.
Door to door: 16 minutes

More Illinois gun control on the way

iconWhen gun buyers undergo a NICS instant background check, federal law demands that the records be destroyed 24 hours after a "proceed" notification is given to the dealer. That means that if you buy a gun, the dealer calls it in to NICS, the government cannot keep the information on file as a de-facto gun registration scheme.

But if you live in Illinois, they keep the information indefinitely. What's more, localities like Chicago routinely use gun purchase and ownership records to seize firearms. Illinois recently passed a bill that would require Illinois to destroy the purchase records after 90 days. The bill also included an anti-gun provision that forces private citizens to seek government permission before they can sell a firearm (the mythical "gun show loophole"). In an unsurprising move, Governor Blablabla is bowing to the Gun Control Lobby and promises to use his line-item veto power to get rid of the requirement to destroy their gun registry, while keeping the anti-gun provisions.

Illinois is not, and probably never will be friendly to the freedom of law-abiding citizens.

iPods blamed for armed robberies

iconAfter passing a near total gun ban, crime in the U.K. has skyrocketed. In April "street robbery" increased 26% over last year, "gun crime" was up 35%, and the total number of violent offences was up 13%. So who does the UK government blame for all of this? Apparently it's Apple.

The iPod generation is helping to fuel a surge in street crime, Britain's top policeman claimed today.

Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said the latest generation of mobile phones and iPods with their distinctive white leads were partly behind a shock 26 per cent jump in street robbery last month.

Remember, if you get robbed it's your own fault for having such nice things. Still spinning...
In a report to the Metropolitan Police Authority, the Commissioner said the Met had suffered "a bad few weeks" but that crime in the capital was still falling.
Up 26%, up 35%, up 13%. What kind of numbers will it take before they admit crime is actually increasing?

You're a stupid one, Mr. Grinch

iconA West Virginia man was arrested for wearing a Grinch mask. When an officer asked him to remove the mask and told him that it was illegal, he put it back on saying he didn't believe it. (I wonder if being booked and processed made him a believer?)

Wearing a mask or hood in public is a misdemeanor under West Virginia law, punishable by a fine of up to $500, up to a year in jail, or both. Prosecutors say masks can hinder efforts by law enforcement officials to identify criminal suspects.
Actually it probably has little to do with bank robberies or hold-ups. Most anti-mask laws were put in place to combat organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. For some reason, those racist terrorists are less emboldened when they can't hide behind anonymity.

Show me an honest politician,
I'll show you a man who's never held office

iconFour state lawmakers in Tennessee have been arrested and indicted for allegedly taking bribes, reports USA Today. (I'm shocked, I say, shocked!)

In a sting operation dubbed "Tennessee Waltz," the FBI set up a bogus company called E-Cycle Management Inc., then doled out payoffs to lawmakers to sponsor a bill that would allow the business to buy and sell used electronic equipment from the state. The bill was withdrawn Wednesday.

One of the lawmakers charged, state Sen. John Ford, allegedly received payments totaling $55,000, beginning last year. "You are talking to the guy that makes the deals," Ford boasted to the undercover agents, according to the indictment.

Surprisingly, there was no mention of Tom Delay.

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Better than burning them down

iconSay Uncle reports that envirowackos have resorted to planting endangered species to spurn development.

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Law and Order maligns Tom Delay

iconMatt Drudge reports that NBC took a cheap shot at Tom Delay, in an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent.


In the season finale, Detectives Goren and Eames suspect an imprisoned white supremacist is behind the shootings of a judge's family, but their investigation widens when an appellate judge is later murdered...

ADA RON CARVER (COURTNEY B. VANCE) : An african-american judge, an appellate court judge, no less.

MAN: Chief of DS is setting up a task force. People are talking about multiple assassination teams.

DET. ALEX EAMES (KATHRYN ERBE): Looks like the same shooters. CSU found the slug in a post, matched it to the one that killed Judge Barton. Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-Shirt.

One of the joys of the Cosby Show or Seinfeld is that the material is, for the most part, timeless. Taking political cheap shots on the subject du jour is a huge turnoff.

UPDATE: Neal has a suggestion for future scripts:

ADA RON CARVER: "She looks like she was alive when the car went off the bridge"

MAN: "Why didn't she get out? The water is only four feet deep here."

CARVER: "Dunno. Maybe she was dazed. The door might have been jammed. Anyway, she suffocated. Lack of air. Must have been a brutal death.

MAN: "Was she driving when the car went off the bridge?"

CARVER: "Doesn't look like it. The seat is too far back for her to have been driving. Looks like someone taller .. a lot heavier."

DET. ALEX EAMES: "Check the car to see if it has a Ted Kennedy bumper sticker."

Click the link for more.

Make your rifle look like an assault rifle

iconIf you want to turn your post-ban AR-15 into an evil, scary-looking "assault weapon", TAPCO has the 4-position adjustable stocks on sale for $23. It won't make your gun fire any faster, or make the bullets any more lethal, but it scare the piss out of the anti's.


My guess is that TAPCO is clearing out their stock to make room for the new 6-position stocks. Of course if your state passed a ban to replace the federal ban that expired last September, you're shit out of luck.

Go ahead and write down your passwords

iconIT Security gurus are telling people to go ahead and write down their passwords. Their reasoning makes more sense than you might think.

"How many have (a) password policy that says under penalty of death you shall not write down your password?" asked [Microsoft's Jesper Johansson], to which the majority of attendees raised their hands in agreement. "I claim that is absolutely wrong. I claim that password policy should say you should write down your password. I have 68 different passwords. If I am not allowed to write any of them down, guess what I am going to do? I am going to use the same password on every one of them."

According to Johansson, use of the same password reduces overall security.

"Since not all systems allow good passwords, I am going to pick a really crappy one, use it everywhere and never change it," Johansson said. "If I write them down and then protect the piece of paper--or whatever it is I wrote them down on--there is nothing wrong with that. That allows us to remember more passwords and better passwords."

Just don't leave them on a post-it note stuck to your monitor.

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Friday Funnies


(Via TSM, via Say Uncle)

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Ding, ding, ding, ding... we have comprehension

iconI love stories like this.

Beltway Road Hazard of the Day

iconToday's trash laying in, on, or near the road was:

  • Mystery Bag - Could be garbage, could be gold. Lets start the bidding at $5.

Commute: You came in that thing? You're braver than I thought.
Door to door: 24 minutes

Lost is lost

iconDid anyone else watch Lost last night? Did you notice they ran 2 minutes of commercials about every 4 minutes? It was almost enough to make me turn it off and tivo through it later.

What was most disappointing was that all they did was leave you with more unanswered questions. Imagine watching mystery theater each week, and they don't solve any of the mysteries. They just dive right into new ones. Sorry, but I need some gratification. I don't think I'll be back when it comes around again next fall.

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By the content of their character

iconScott Norvell points out shameless reverse discrimination.

KGET-TV in California reports that a white social worker who wanted to attend a meeting of the National Association of Black Social Workers was told he was not welcome because of his skin pigment.

Bakersfield, Calif. social worker Brain (sic) Parnell wanted to attend the New Orleans meeting along with five of his colleagues because he often works with minority children. When he tried to enter, however, he was turned away.

"I approached the registration table and was greeted by a very friendly fellow who looked me in the eye and said, 'Are you black?'" said Parnell. "I told him that I'm not and he told me that the conference was only for people who were black and so I wasn't able to register to attend the conference."

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Suicide not-so-hot-line

iconA suicide hotline in Canada that only receives about 50 calls from suicidal people per year is facing budget cuts. So starting June 1st, it will only be open from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday.

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A crappy idea

iconUsually when you want to cut down on crime you have police officers hang around more often. But Austria is considering taking the expensive, high tech approach.

Manfred Juraczka, a councilor in a Vienna district, said Monday he wants the city to register all dogs' DNA so that droppings left where people walk can be tested and the owner of the guilty dog punished.

"This method offers a multitude of unbeatable advantages," Juraczka said in a statement, adding that all who fail to pick up after their dogs "must count on being caught."

I cannot help but wonder if this isn't the first step toward registering human DNA.

UPDATE: To save money, I recommend they implement something not unlike Maryland's 'Ballistic Fingerprint' database which photographs gun bullets and cartridges. You see, each dog's droppings are unique. Dogs could be registered and their droppings photographed and entered into a database. Police could then photograph rogue poop and use complex computer software to compare it against the database. It should work just as effectively as Maryland's system, and at a fraction of the time and cost of cumbersome DNA testing.


iconA shot of whisky* a day keeps the cancer away.

A medical conference in the Scottish city of Glasgow [where else?] has heard that whisky can protect the drinker against cancer.

"There has been much in the news about the health benefits of antioxidants in red wine. By contrast, very little has been said about malt whisky distillery science," Jim Swan, a doctor who works as a consultant to the drinks industry, told the recent EuroMedLab 2005 conference.

* That's metric for whiskey. They didn't say if American whiskey or Kentucky bourbon would have the same affect.

(Via Pathetic Earthling at Say Uncle)

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Ravenwood's First Law

iconHere is another update on Ravenwood's First Law, not to be confused with Ravenwood's Second Law regarding Second Amendment debate and Wild West comparisons.

Under Ravenwood's Law, a restraining order would restore the basic firearms rights of anyone it protects. Once the judge signs off on it, it would become a defacto gun license for both purchasing and carrying.
This one comes from Rhode Island:
The bill, cosponsored by Rep. William San Bento Jr., D-Pawtucket, would allow anyone who has obtained a protective order against an abuser to skip the seven-day waiting period when buying a gun.

Perry D. Wheeler, a Rifle & Revolver Association lawyer and lobbyist who confirms he provided "parameters of the bill" to Jacquard and crafted its language, says a protective order "will not block a bullet, it won't prevent a punch, and it won't stop a stabbing."

The bill (PDF) is still moving it's way through the legislature.

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The Motley Crue Amendment

iconThe hair band Motley Crue slipped in the F-word while appearing on the Tonight Show on New Year's Eve. NBC banned them from their network, so Motley Crue is suing. These morons are actually requesting that the courts force NBC to put them on the Tonight Show.

The band. . .is requesting a ruling that NBC's ban is unconstitutional, a court order forcing the network to lift it, and unspecified financial damages tied to the band's reduced media exposure.
In case you haven't heard, Constitutional Amendment #28 was recently ratified by the states. It reads: NBC shall not show good taste in music and deny two-bit 80's hair bands access to perform on late night talk shows. If these guys are so good, why don't they go on Letterman? CBS could even boast: "You won't find this on NBC."

Of course they could also spin this as a civil rights issue:

"We meant no harm, but it feels that we're being singled out unfairly," said Nikki Sixx, the band's bassist. "This is a discrimination issue, pure and simple. All we've ever asked is to be treated like everybody else, which is why we're taking this action."
Oh, woe is me. Please pass the world's smallest violin.

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Beltway Road Hazard of the Day

iconToday's trash laying in, on, or near the road was:

  • Plywood - It'll make some bum a nice roof.

Commute: She'll make .5 past light speed.
Door to door: 27 minutes


iconThis had me in stiches for a half an hour: Parade of Unfortunate Star Wars Costumes.
(Via Random Nuclear Strikes.)

iconChildren are becoming an endangered species in San Francisco.

iconIn an effort to cash in on people's addiction, states are sending huge tax bills to smokers who purchase online.

iconPerhaps hoping to reset the clock, John Kerry has once again pledged to release all of his military records. He made a similar promise back in January.

iconAnother neo-con giving up on the Dems.

icon"The Democrats' dependence on blacks for votes means that they must keep blacks dependent on them." -- Thomas Sowell.

iconSex offenders are getting free Viagra, and you're paying for it.

icon"It just keeps getting worse in Iraq. The death toll is rising. Tension is growing between Shiites and Sunnis. Is the country sliding toward civil war?" -- CBS News' Bob Schieffer with their lead story of the day on Thursday Evening.

icon"In speech after speech at the meeting, at a Baghdad social club, delegates called on fellow Sunnis to cast aside doubts and throw themselves into politics to try to weigh in on the writing of a constitution, which is under way in a Shiite-controlled committee in the National Assembly. Even the Association of Muslim Scholars, a leading voice in the Sunni election boycott, signed on as one of the conference's organizers." -- New York Times, Sunday May 22, 2005, on Iraqi Sunni's joining with Shiites to help write their Constitution.

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GFWs want to disarm mascot

iconPioneer Pete, the mascot for Cal State Univ. East Bay, is likely to be disarmed. Gun fearing wussies are afraid of the animated shotgun he carries in the school's logo. (The real mascot carries no gun.)

...though the live mascot carries no weapons, fake or real, Debby De Angelis, director of athletics, doesn't like the shotgun in the logo.

"I've been here for four years, and for four years, I've been saying, 'We've got to at least get the gun out of Pioneer Pete's hands,'" De Angelis said.

So she took a job there and immediately began trashing the mascot. Maybe Gladys Kravitz would make a better mascot.

(Speaking of which, who says Hollywood is out of ideas?)

Pleasure Police
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Darwin Candidates

iconI'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Two Star Wars fans are in a critical condition in hospital after apparently trying to make light sabres by filling fluorescent light tubes with petrol.

A man, aged 20, and a girl of 17 are believed to have been filming a mock duel when they poured fuel into two glass tubes and lit it.

Petrol is metric gasoline. (Except it's measured in litres and costs four times as much.)

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The greater of two evils

iconAn intoxicated passenger leapt out of a car traveling 50-60 miles per hour to retreive a dropped cigarette. Reacting to the incident, Arkansas state police Trooper Jamie Gravier said, "If anything could make him stop smoking, this should be it. The man is lucky to be alive."

Yeah, blame a drunken leap from a moving vehicle on smoking.

(Via Taranto)

UN: More U.S. money, less U.S. influence

iconHow's this for cojones:

Stating that the United Nations needs "nothing less than a transformation," the organization's chief of staff, Mark Malloch Brown, told Congress yesterday that reform could be achieved only by increasing funding and reducing American interference at Turtle Bay.
The U.N. is one of the most corrupt organizations in the world. They give credibility to third world dictators, embezzle blood money from ruthless murderers, cannot keep their staff from soliciting underage prostitutes, and are generally anti-Semetic and anti-American in all of their endeavors. When we should be kicking their sorry asses out of New York, they have the nerve to tell us that we should send them more money and butt out of their affairs.

Unilateral Watch

icon"There is no agreement that allows one side to unilaterally do what it would like to do and the other side to be ignored." -- Senator Lindsey Graham, defending his decision to sell out his party on the issue of filibustering judicial nominations.

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Gun extremism

iconBack in college, my roommate once told me how he waded into a domestic dispute (of which he knew nothing about) to stop a guy from arguing passionately with his wife. My roommate admitted to pulling his gun on the guy. I told him to be careful, because he could have faced a brandishing charge if there was no perceived threat of violence. He said "It's no problem, the gun wasn't loaded."

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I proceeded to lecture him about gun safety. You know what's more stupid than pulling out your gun when you aren't prepared to use it? It's pulling out your gun when you aren't capable of using it. I asked him what he'd have done if the guy would have pulled out his own gun. My roommate replied, "Well, I would have loaded mine real quick."

"Nope," I said. "You'd be dead. And he'd probably be justified in killing you."

I was reminded of that story by this example of anti-gun scare tactics:

The anti-gun-control side made a decent presentation, with data and charts. His opponent then strode to the front of the stage and pulled a gun, aiming it at the audience of what quickly became ducking, screaming women. Having seen a gun before, I wasn't one of them, though it crossed my mind that if I were armed I'd be justified in defending myself against someone who was violating the law against "brandishing."

His point, I guess, was that we should all experience how scary guns are. Immediately thereafter, a "consensus" vote was taken in favor of gun control...

Having not been there, I don't know what I would have done. But Uncle has the right idea. "I guess if I'd been in attendance and capped his ass, I'd still be the extremist, right?"

Cold Dead Hands
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Welcome Ravenwood's Universe Readers

iconI visited four different sites last night that had a "Welcome Instapundit Readers" tag emblazoned on them. Nothing like letting your regular readers know what you think about them. It's reached pet peeve status now.

UPDATE: Very funny smart ass.

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Well it is a basketball state

iconNorth Carolina seventh-graders were given a math problem on a state exam that asked them to calculate the average gain for a football team on their first six plays. The plays were a 6-yard loss, a 3-yard gain, a 2-yard loss, a 7-yard gain, a 12-yard gain, and a 4-yard gain.

The 12-yard gain apparently came on 5th down and 7 yards to go. State officials were defiant.

Mildred Bazemore, chief of the state Department of Public Instruction's test development section, said the question makes sense mathematically and was reviewed thoroughly.

"It has nothing to do with football," Bazemore said. "It has to do with the mathematical concepts that you're studying."

So if it was 75-degrees today, and only 25-degrees yesterday, how many times warmer was it today than yesterday?

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Icy Hot

icon"Antarctica ice cap growing, another sign of warming" -- Palm Beach Post, May 20, 2004.

Global Warming doomsayers have ventured into the absurd.

Global Warming
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What media bias?

iconFor those of you who thought the uncorroborated, single-source, hearsay Newsweek story that trashed the American Military was just an honest mistake:

(click to supersize)

(Hat tip: Free Republic)

UPDATE: Rick Adams has the translation, and even a synopsis of the article inside.

UPDATE: Larry Elder dares Newsweek to run this in the U.S.

The joy of compromise, both sides lose

iconWeak kneed Republican Senators torpedoed their own party's efforts to ensure that George Bush's judicial nominees received an up or down vote in the full Senate, by appeasing Democrats and the mainstream media with a compromise. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, said that preserving the filibuster rule, which is used for blocking legislation like the Civil Rights Act, was not worth discriminating against all of the judges, but some are alright.

He said it was important that the filibuster -- a form of extended debate that has been part of Senate rules since the early 19th century -- was preserved and that most judges would get an up-or-down vote by the full Senate.
So four years is "extended" debate. And so long as "most" of them get a vote, I guess it's okay to horse trade with people's lives. Most, by the way, is 3 of 10. And the sacred filibuster rule that requires a 2/3 majority vote, holding the Senate floor without yielding, stopping Senate operations until a deal is reached, a 60-vote majority, is preserved just as it was 300 years ago when George Washington crossed the Potomac and discovered Plymouth Rock.

The 14 Senators who would be king are:

Robert Byrd (West Virginia)
Daniel Inouye (Hawaii)
Mary Landrieu (Louisiana)
Joseph Lieberman (Connecticut)
Ben Nelson (Nebraska)
Mark Pryor (Arkansas)
Ken Salazar (Colorado)

Lincoln Chafee (Rhode Island)
Susan Collins (Maine)
Mike DeWine (Ohio)
Lindsey Graham (South Carolina)
John McCain (Arizona)
John Warner (Virginia)
Olympia Snowe (Maine)

UPDATE: Of course the filibuster option is still available to Democrats under "extraordinary options", with the Dems being able to decide what constitutes "extraordinary". Republicans on the other hand have pledged not to change any Senate Rules during this term of Congress. (in other words: until after the mid-term elections)

Furthermore, the Senate is trying to subvert the President's power to nominate Judges. From the text:

We believe that, under Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, the word "Advice" speaks to consultation between the Senate and the President with regard to the use of the President's power to make nominations. We encourage the Executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration.
This rule is sure to backfire for the hapless Republicans.

UPDATE2: A quick and hilarious must read: The Filibuster Deal for Dummies.

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This space intentionally left blank

iconAll work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Sorry for the lack of updates, but I worked 19 hours yesterday and today doesn't look to be much better. I didn't get home until 2:30 AM this morning, but I still made it into the office before half of my cow-orkers.

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iconHome ownership has soared, cause home prices to soar, causing property taxes to soar. Lawmakers across the nation are considering lowering property taxes in the face of a tax revolt.

iconFederal lawmakers are considering phasing out the hideous Alternative Minimum Tax. At it's inception, the tax was supposed to affect 1 person in 500,000. Today it affects 1 in 5.

iconWorldwide, Star Wars III has already taken in $303 Million. The opening day broke the record with $50 Million earned on opening day. Of course none of these figures take inflation into account.

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Reading too much into it

iconScott Norvell over at Tongue Tied notes that a Dallas-area parent has demanded that her child's pre-school change it's logo because it features only a white kid.

Leslie Moore, a teacher in McKinney, Texas whose child is in the preschool program, says the logo is racist.

"It sends the wrong message," she said. "It's telling me that every other ethnic race other than Caucasian is inferior to the Caucasian race."

Even though tee shirts and bags are already being printed, along with letterhead, school officials have stopped everything and will meet with Moore to discuss trading the offensive image for another logo that depicts the gorgeous mosaic of ethnicities that is the McKinney school district.

If the logo is talking to her, she has bigger problems than perceived racism.

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Using sunscreen causes cancer

iconHere is more proof that scientists really don't know anything (except how to get more funding).

Scientists are excited about a vitamin again. But unlike fads that sizzled and fizzled, the evidence this time is strong and keeps growing. If it bears out, it will challenge one of medicine's most fundamental beliefs: that people need to coat themselves with sunscreen whenever they're in the sun. Doing that may actually contribute to far more cancer deaths than it prevents, some researchers think.

The vitamin is D, nicknamed the "sunshine vitamin" because the skin makes it from ultraviolet rays. Sunscreen blocks its production, but dermatologists and health agencies have long preached that such lotions are needed to prevent skin cancer. Now some scientists are questioning that advice. The reason is that vitamin D increasingly seems important for preventing and even treating many types of cancer.

So not using sunscreen causes cancer. Now, using sunscreen causes cancer. It sounds to me that the only thing researchers do know is that they need more money. (preferrably the taxpayer's money)

Clinton to Iowa: Come see me in D.C., bring money

iconSenator Clinton is inviting Iowans to come visit her in D.C., and she's asking them to bring money. The Senator doesn't want to throw her hat in the ring for the 2008 Presidential campaign just yet, so a visit to Iowa is out of the question. Instead she is inviting Iowans to come visit her in D.C. for a fundraiser. The kicker is that the fundraiser is for her Senate re-election campaign, in New York.

Clinton aides Friday confirmed that the former first lady -- widely expected to seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2008 -- is inviting supporters to her Washington home for a fundraiser.

Campaign spokeswoman Ann Lewis declined to say when the event would be but said the sole purpose was to raise money for Clinton's Senate re-election in 2006, not to court support in a state that hosts the caucuses that kick off the presidential election cycle.

Now, I don't know any Iowans so I cannot really judge them. But are they really so gullable as to help pay for Clinton's re-election as a Senator from New York? And is Senator Clinton so worried about re-election that she needs to look to Iowa for campaign funds?

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Star Wars X: Where do we go from here?

iconI saw Star Wars last night and was pretty impressed. This is definitely the best film of the prequel trilogy and there's none of the cutesy cuddly bullshit that plagued Jedi, Menace, and Clones. The movie did seem to end rather abruptly though, and leave me wanting for more. But then I've always been a bigger fan of the Empire than of the goody-two-shoes Rebellion.

So now that this is at an end, where do Star Wars fans go from here? Lucas says that he's not going to make any more films, but we can always hope. There were rumors last year that Lucas would go back on his word and finish out the last three Episodes (7-9). But considering this one leaves off with Vader's rise to power, and A New Hope (the original) picks up some 16-17 years later with Luke coming of age, there is a pretty big time gap that *could* be filled. I think exploring more story lines within the Empire would be much more interesting than the post-Empire stories surrounding Leia and Han.

I also wouldn't mind seeing some of the 'alternative universe' books being put down on film. Grand Admiral Thrawn would make a serious ass-kicking villain. If Lucas doesn't do it himself, perhaps someone else can do it under license.

There was a lot of talk about the rise of the Empire mirroring American imperialism, but I don't see it. If you ask me, the peace-through-totalitarianism theme more closely resembled the modern anti-war movement's practice of looking the other way to Saddam's (and other dictator's) human right's atrocities. But then again, it's just a movie.

If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it. I might go see it again before it leaves the theaters.

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An Update on Paper Protection Reform Act

iconSay Uncle has an update on Paper Protection Reform Act, not to be confused with Ravenwood's Law regarding Second Amendment debate and Wild West comparisons.

The Paper Protection Reform Act was written back in February, where I suggested that people receive restraining orders should also be permitted to carry a gun (regardless of conflicting state or local laws that deny that right).

Under this new Paper Protection Reform Act, a restraining order would restore the basic firearms rights of anyone it protects. Once the judge signs off on it, it would become a defacto gun license for both purchasing and carrying.
The Charlotte Observer reports that this bill came up recently in North Carolina.
The N.C. House is slated to hear a bill today that initially would have required sheriffs to concissue temporary ealed handgun permits to those who get protective court orders. It also would have required judges to tell domestic violence victims they could get the permits.
By "would have" they mean that the N.C. Sheriff's Ass. successfully pushed to have the provision removed. Allowing the sheep defend themselves is bad for the shepherd.

UPDATE: Changed proposal to Paper Protection Reform Act on 10/06/08 to eliminate confusion with Ravenwood's Law.

Global Warming may cause the next Ice Age

iconSpoons beat me to the punch with this delightful story about how Global Warming is actually causing Antarctic ice to increase.

Scientists now have incontrovertable proof that the global warming that is shrinking the polar ice caps and raising sea levels is now growing the polar ice caps and lowering sea levels -- just as they predicted.

My biggest fear now is the obvious implication that a rise in global temeratures may cause the next ice age!

In that spirit, I'd like to make the following predictions:

  • The stock market will continue to skyrocket, causing a dramatic decline in stock prices;
  • Hillary Clinton's universal unpopularity will catapult her to electoral success in the 2008 Presidential race;
  • The spread of democracy throughout the Middle East will spread totalitarianism throughout the Middle East.
So basically, if it gets warmer, they're right; if it gets cooler, they're right.

Fake-but-Accurate Reporting

icon"Story that might not be true paints a sadly accurate picture" -- Op-Ed Headline, Seattle Times, May 19, 2005.

First Tom Plate says that it's all the fault of the American Military. If it weren't for Abu Ghraib, Newsweek never would have been suckered into publishing their single source, uncorroborated, hearsay report.

Sure, it was a serious error to go public with a story like this on the basis of a sole source. Newsweek, after all, isn't some bumptious, fly-by-night blog; it's one of the best magazines around, with a famously superb fact-checking staff that ordinarily can distinguish the fly from the ointment with the best of them.

But the print story surfaced in this magazine against the backdrop of those awful pictures of Arab and Muslim prisoners being humiliated, violated and dehumanized by their American captors at Abu Ghraib in Iraq. Without those pictures - and other tales of abuse - the Quran-toilet story would never have been published without far more extensive fact-checking, and surely not on the basis of a single source.

And of course it's all Bush's fault for daring to respond to terrorist attacks in the first place.
Newsweek's little sin is thus nothing compared to this administration's much greater sins. By launching a war against terror in a way that is probably working to infuriate a good part of the Muslim world, the administration has pretty much succeeded in spreading anti-Americanism even without Osama bin Laden's help.
Let's see, terrorists are responsible for: World Trade Center bombing I; World Trade Center bombing II; attacking the USS Cole; attacks on Embassies in Moscow, Manilia, Kenya, & Tanzania; attempting to assassinate a U.S. President; and attacking our military bases in Riyadh & Dhahran. Before Bush became President, the United States had a policy of ignoring terrorist attacks (or at best, responding weakly). But infuriating Muslims is all Bush's fault for starting the War on Terror and offending the terrorists. (src)

Five bucks says this was done by gun grabbers

iconThis sounds more like a desperate hoax from anti-gunners...

On the eve of a crucial vote to reinstate a law allowing more people to carry guns in public, House members received e-mails threatening harassment and blackmail if they voted against the bill Wednesday.

"We will send people to your homes to harass you, and look in your windows," said the message sent Tuesday. "If that does not work, we have information on you, and your family, and we will use it in any way shape or form to get our bill passed."

UPDATE: It looks like I was right.

Carry cash and cigarettes and go to jail

iconRemember, simply carrying 'large amounts of cash' is considered a crime and your cash can be seized on nothing more than suspicion. Granted getting caught with $60,000 and a trunk full of cigarettes looks really suspicious. But a mere 28 cartons doesn't quite add up to huge amounts of cash, even in New York. At $5 a pack, that's only $1400 worth of smokes. These guys appear to be guilty of petty smuggling at the very least, but they should still be given due process.

For the sake of the argument, let's say you are selling your car to a guy in the next state over. You drive your car over there to deliver it and rent a car to drive home. When you deliver the car, are you going to accept a check? Even cashiers checks carry the risk of forgery. If you're speeding on the way home, you might find yourself pulled over by the cops, in a rental car, with $5,000 in cash in your pocket. In the United States, that is often enough to have it seized by local police. Then you'll find yourself in the position of fighting to prove your innocence get it back.

Time might tell if these guys are really guilty of something? But keep this in mind the next time you're traveling with more than $1000 cash on you.

Senators propose lifting D.C. gun ban

iconSenators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cronyn of Texas and George Allen of Virginia have proposed legislation to make it legal to own handguns in Washington D.C. again. It's similar to the House version. Because handgun ownership has been pretty much illegal since the mid 1970s, D.C. has one of the highest rates of handgun crime.

Cold Dead Hands
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1984: Tell on your neighbors, or else

iconDo you know what Sections 416(b)(2), 417, 418, 419, 420, 424, or 426 of 21 U.S.C. 841(b) are? You might want to find out, because if you see someone violating them and fail to report it you could get up to 20 years in prison. Say Uncle has more.

Smell Like a Liberal

iconThis must be a metrosexual thing.

Elizabeth Taylor has White Diamonds. Coco Chanel had Chanel No. 5. Now, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams has his own signature scent, a blend of patchouli, jasmine and citrus christened "Beau-Tie."

That's pronounced "bow tie" for the French-impaired, a coy reference to the mayor's signature fashion accessory. And though Williams does not normally wear perfume, cologne or scents of any kind, he cheerfully accepted a small, beribboned flask of the stuff yesterday from representatives of Aveda during a news conference at the new Gallery Place mall.

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Erlich Vetoes 'Wal-Mart' Bill

iconLast month the Maryland legislature voted to extort money from Wal-Mart. They drafted a bill that would require Wal-Mart to either spend 8% of their payroll on health insurance for workers, or pay it directly to the state of Maryland.

Maryland Governor Robert Erlich, a Republican, vetoed the legislation this week.

Terry Lierman, chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, said the legislature's passage of the bill had been "the right thing to do," given that some Wal-Mart employees now must rely on Medicaid, the state-run insurance program for the poor, for health care.

"Taxpayers are footing an even larger bill with Wal-Mart dumping their employees into Medicaid rather than insuring them," Lierman said in a letter to Democrats this week in which he urged them to turn out for a rally here at the same time Ehrlich vetoed the bill.

Apparently buying their own health insurance never occured to these people.

Beltway Road Hazard of the Day

iconToday's trash laying in, on, or near the road was:

  • Bags o' Grass (not weed) - Maybe they finally mowed that sod that fell off a truck last week.

Commute: She'll do the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.
Door to door: 20 minutes

Abortions yes, career opportunities no

iconA high school in Seattle has banned military recruiters from their campus, in violation of the No Child Left Behind Act. In doing so, they are gambling that their federal funding will not be cut off.

During discussion at the PTSA's meeting last week, Ted Inkley argued against the resolution because he thought it dangerous to deny free speech to organizations simply because their philosophies or intentions disagreed with the PTSA.

Mr. Inkley, an attorney whose daughter is a senior, told the crowded library he could "easily" see a resolution by some other PTA that banned Planned Parenthood representatives from campus because of their views on contraception and abortion.

Steve Ludwig, whose son is a senior and whose daughter will enter as a freshman next fall, made a point shared by many in attendance: Garfield does not allow organizations that promote illegal activities to recruit students to perform those activities, nor does it allow organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, gender, national origin, or sexual orientation to recruit on campus.

"Planned Parenthood, as far as I know, does not advocate or perform illegal acts. The US military does," Mr. Ludwig continued. The soft-spoken carpenter said he would not object if Army representatives came to Garfield to debate their ideas on torture or aggressive war. "What I object to is their coming here to recruit students to perform those acts," he said. "It's not about free speech."

Ludwig's daughter may not end up pursuing a career with the imperial military machine, but at least she'll have easy access to Planned Parenthood, should she decide to date the football team.

Illinois village discovers fire is hot

iconThe village of Palatine (Ill.) has banned sparklers as well as other fireworks. Apparently they've come to the realization that sparklers are hot.

The recommendation came from the Fire Department and Fire Prevention Committee in an effort to decrease the number of injuries associated with so-called safe fireworks. Sparklers burn at temperatures approaching 1,800 degrees and can easily ignite other fires, said Palatine Fire Protection Director Jim Eriksen.
Candle flames burn from 800 to 1400 degrees Celsius; thats 1472 - 2552 real degrees (Fahrenheit).

What an Incredible Smell You've Discovered!

iconVia Taranto, activists are taking advantage of the release of Star Wars III to push their kooky causes.

The release of the latest Star Wars movie this week is creating excitement among fans of the sci-fi saga, but it´s also creating concern among some environmental advocates who fear the Dark Side - in other words, waves of discarded plastic action figures, light sabers and other movie-related paraphernalia headed to landfills.

"We love Star Wars as much as anybody, but it doesn´t mean we should emulate the destructive power of the Death Star by harming the environment," said Anne Reichman, director of Earth911.org, an environmental action and information Web site. "Most people don´t know that these types of figurines can´t be recycled, not even little Yoda. In fact, almost all of these toys will sit in landfills until long after we´re gone."

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Fake but accurate

iconThe defenders of the Newsweek kerfuffle are relying on the fake-but-accurate defense that Dan Rather pioneered after the forged documents scandal at CBS. They are claiming that while the Newsweek story may be fake, it accurately portrays how our evil imperial military machine treats the poor Muslim activists who were rounded up and thrown into prison.

What is most shocking is that defenders are not only circling the wagons around Newsweek, but they are relying on the word of "released detainees". The MRC reports:

CBS and ABC passed along allegations from prisoners. Richard Roth of CBS recalled: "Detainees released in 2003 came home claiming American guards had routinely provoked them by sitting on the Koran, or putting pages in a toilet." ABC's Martha Raddatz argued: "The Newsweek article was not the first time U.S. personnel have been accused of desecrating the Koran. Last year, this British detainee released from Guantanamo said guards 'would kick the Koran, throw it into the toilet and generally disrespect it.'"
A caller to Tuesday night's Chris Core show on 630 WMAL in Washington D.C. parroted the same view and asked, "Why would the prisoners lie?"

The greater question is why are some Americans more apt to believe prisoners of war - members of the Taliban and al Qaeda who have sworn to destroy the "Great Satan" - instead of believing their own military or government?

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Red Alert: Comrades for a Secure Future

iconA petition against Social Security reform was circulated and signed by more than 150 student body presidents at colleges across the United States. They formed a coalition called "Students for a Secure Future", which is promoting turning Social Security into a giant welfare program. The AJC reports:

The statement from the student leaders says the best ways to address Social Security's shortfalls are "to examine the levels at which workers pay into the system, ensure that benefits remain at the current levels for the neediest recipients, and reassess the payout to others."
Examining the levels at which workers pay into the system means that they will demand that the evil, hated, rich to pay more tax (most likely by removing the cap). And by reassessing the payout they will no doubt conclude that the evil, hated, rich don't need Social Security and should be prevented from receiving benefits.

Karl Marx would be proud.

Keyword URLs

iconI wasn't kidding when I lamented about URLs that use keywords. Take this one from CNN. The headline reads: "New rules to crack down on child porn". The URL contains the word 'childporn', which immediately sends up red flags to internet filters and firewalls used by most companies. In some cases the url and subsequent content are blocked completely.

If you are interested in increasing your readership, keep that in mind.

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Beltway Road Hazard of the Day

iconToday's trash laying in, on, or near the road was:

  • Sporks - Hundreds, perhaps thousands of white plastic sporks.

Commute: Flying through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy!
Door to door: 20 minutes

Show of hands...

iconWho's lining up to go see Star Wars at midnight tonight? And who's dressing the part? And who's playing hooky from work because of it?

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ABC welcomes female POTUS

iconABC announced their fall lineup yesterday, and they have indeed picked up Commander in Chief, as Drudge reported earlier this month. The series stars Geena Davis as the first female President of the United States. Davis' character, Hillary Mackenzie, ascends to office as Veep for a President who died before the end of his term.

Who's betting that she's a staunch conservative who promotes family values and smaller government?

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Do not pass go, do not collect $200

iconTwo girls in Dekalb County Georgia will miss their baccalaureate, but will be allowed to attend graduation ceremonies with their classmates. Their crime was using a butter knife to cut a cake. The school's zero-intelligence policy mandated that they each receive a 10-day suspension. One of the girls, Ashley Pickens, said that the teacher who busted them threatened her with arrest, WSB reports.

"He said it really didn't matter [that it was used for a cake]," Pickens said. "[He said] it's a knife on school grounds, and you have to be written up for it--you ought to be glad we didn't have you arrested."
These so-called "zero tolerance" policies trigger the RCOB. I can only hope that these kids grow up realizing that "zero tolerance" policies are a product of moronic school administrators and teachers and that the real world doesn't work this way.

Anonymous Sources

iconI'm beginning to wonder if the media's reliance on the "anonymous source" is just a big cover-up for them making up the news. I don't know about you, but it's been my opinion that your journalistic duty to protect your source goes out the window when your source stabs you in the back. If some guy hung me out to dry with lies and misinformation like they apparently did to Newsweek, I'd sure as hell be pointing the finger directly at them.

I've heard a lot of talk about the journalists duty to maintain the anonymity of their source. They're saying that sources won't come forward if there is a threat they'll be revealed. I think the threat of exposure makes the sources more reliable. I mean, if there is no recourse for these so-called "anonymous sources", what's to keep me from making shit up and telling it to reporters. Especially if the media is going to take all the heat and not even reveal who I am.

Of course the question at hand is why is Newsweek still refusing to reveal their source, one that has severely damaged their journalistic integrity? I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I have to wonder if they really even have one.

Telling them what they want to hear

icon"In order for people to understand we had made an error, we had to say 'retraction' because that's the word they were looking for." -- Editor, Mark Whitaker on why Newsweek retracted their single-source, uncorroborated, hearsay claim that the United States Military defiled the Koran.

I must hang out with the wrong people

iconFrom the MSNBC travel page on single folks taking a vacation:

Singles have always had a hard time vacationing. The typical "single vacation" tends to be a group of friends that ultimately turns into a booze fest worthy of a film crew from Girls Gone Wild (complete with incriminating photos).
They go on to say, "It doesn't have to be that way." WHAT?! That sounds like the perfect vacation to me. We haven't hit GGW status, but this comes close.

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Your tax dollars at work

iconJohn Hindraker notes that there is something fishy going on at the U.N.. They are renovating the U.N. facilities with taxpayer dollars at a staggering cost of $1.2 Billion. Given the U.N. estimate for square footage, that works out to more than $450 a square foot. If you don't believe their suspect figures for total square footage, it's actually more like $1100 a square foot. Those in the industry say that commerical renovation should be priced anywhere from $50 to $250 per square foot. Both figures are well above even the most extreme market estimates.

Hindraker puts this into perspective even more. The U.N. is renovating a 39-story building for $1.2 Billion. The Donald (as in Trump) recently built a brand new lavish 90-story building for $350 Million. That's less than one third of the price and it's new construction. Trump even met with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and offered to do the work himself for under $500 Million. The U.N. has not responded to the offer.

Looking at the evidence and the United Nation's past history of financial mismanagement and scandal, one has to wonder if officials are keeping part of the pie for themselves.

Show me the money

iconThe good news is that we're going to pay you overtime. The bad news is that we're cutting your salary.

Amid this uncertainty, worker advocates say, thousands of technology professionals could be missing out on compensation they deserve, while others could lose overtime eligibility. And for employers, the uncertainty could lead to new headaches in calculating who gets overtime pay--and a higher risk of lawsuits to sort out whether they got it right.
It's like this. You sell your labor for the highest price you can get for the job you want to do. If you think you should be able to charge overtime, then quit and go work someplace else that lets you charge overtime. But suing your employer seems a little too adversarial to me.

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Newsweek gaffe blamed on VRWC

iconJohn Hawkins points out that the Newsweek kerfuffle is being blamed on Karl Rove. Surprisingly, it's not the wackos at Democratic Underground either. It's the above ground wackos at the Huffington Post.

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Beltway Road Hazard of the Day

iconToday's trash laying in, on, or near the road was:

  • Hub Caps - Extraordinary, only because it was two hub caps right next to each other, and they were from different cars. I wonder what they were fighting about?
  • Mop - The blue ragmop kind.
  • Plastic tubing - Looked like a hose at first, all coiled up. But really it was 2" gray plastic tubing. I got a pretty good look at it cruising by at a whopping 5 miles per hour.

Commute: Ain't nothin' but a thang
Door to door: 22 minutes

Or you could just flush $50 down the toilet

iconAccess to New York Times columnists like Maureen Dowd, Bob Herbert, Nicholas Kristof, and Paul Krugman will soon cost you $49.95.

UPDATE: Taranto one-ups my headline with "For $69.95, They'll Leave Out Dowd and Krugman"

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Show me the money

iconVirginia Tech shuffled their season tickets this year to reward the biggest donors. As a generous booster to Virginia Tech, we got to pick our seats rather than have them assigned. I piggy back off my sister's Hokie Club membership, and matched her donation to bring it up to the Golden Hokie level. Basically, I helped her double her status in exchange for the option on a pair of season tickets. Previously I only got to go to the games that she skipped out on, and had to scalp tickets for the rest of the games.

So, she sent me an email last week telling me where our seats would be this year. They're exactly one row down from where they were last year. Just think, if we hadn't pooled our money, we would have been bumped up to the nose bleed section.

Of course, after scalping those dream seats (50-yard line, Row D) for last season's Virginia game, it's going to be difficult no matter where they are. (One day when I'm rich and famous I hope to buy the naming rights to the stadium and sit where ever I damn well want.)

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The Untamed Fire of Freedom

iconFreedom is spreading even further in the Middle East. The Ass. Press notes that women's suffrage is coming to Kuwait.

Kuwaiti lawmakers approved political rights for women Monday, clearing the way for females to participate in parliamentary elections for the first time in the Gulf nation's history.

However, fundamentalist Muslims included a requirement that any female politician or voter abide by Islamic law. It was not clear what limits that would put on women's rights.

This is clearly all Bush's fault. Gains in women's rights were likely born out of the liberation of Afghanistan, where in 2001, it was illegal for women to be taught to read without permission. In 2004, more than 40% of registered voters were women. Let's home Kuwait makes similar improvements.

All Bush's Fault
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To the left of Barney Frank

icon"[Tom DeLay] ought to go back to Houston where he can serve his jail sentence..." -- DNC Chairman Howard Dean at a party convention for Massachussets Democrats.

"That's just wrong. I think Howard Dean was out of line talking about DeLay. The man has not been indicted. I don't like him, I disagree with some of what he does, but I don't think you, in a political speech, talk about a man as a criminal or his jail sentence." -- Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. at the same convention.

Let nothing go untaxed

iconFor some politicians, nothing is worse than not having enough tax money to spend. With about 40% of the U.S. Gross National Product being confiscated in the form of taxes, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find new sources of tax money. So some politicians are taking aim at those evil cell phones. You didn't actually expect them to freeze (or for God sakes cut) spending did you?

Last year, the City Council in Baltimore faced a budget shortfall so bad that it considered laying off 186 city police officers, reducing some fire department operations and scaling back trash collection. Then it found an untapped honey pot: cell phones.

Starting in August, the city began collecting $3.50 a month from each of Baltimore's 238,000 mobile phone subscribers. The extra income has helped to strengthen the city's finances and is expected to help the city fix up schools and trim the property tax.

"I can't remember the last time we've had such an easy budget year," said Sheila Dixon, the president of the City Council. "The bulk of our taxes come from property tax, but when you can't diversify and the federal and state taxes are drying up, you need other income."

Sure, raising taxes is always easy. Notice too how confiscatory taxes are talked about like investments, using terms like "diversify" and "income". If you or I go out and seize money using the threat of lethal force, it's called robbery. When Baltimore does it, it's called an "easy budget year".

Mixing up Cause and Effect

iconWhile unemployment is decreasing in the rest of the nation, the Washington Post notes that unemployment in D.C. is on the rise. Overall unemployment in the District is up to 8.2%. Across the river in Virginia, it's about 3%. In a round about way, they try to say that the poor are hardest hit.

Washington Mayor Anthony Williams and several D.C. Council members have "proposed changes to laws meant to encourage employment of D.C. residents, especially those in poor neighborhoods."

While unemployment has risen in each of the District's eight wards in the past year, a review of the figures shows that Washington's poorest residents are worse off. Ward 8, east of the Anacostia River, had the highest rate at 15.4 percent in February, according to the D.C. Department of Employment Services, up from 12.5 percent a year earlier. . .

In Ward 7, also east of the river but which has more middle-class residents, unemployment was 9.5 percent, up from 7.7 percent a year earlier.

In affluent Ward 3, in Northwest, unemployment rose to 2.8 percent from 2.2 percent a year earlier.

So poor people are more likely to be unemployed, while the "affluent" tend to have jobs. Funny how that works.

Blaming the Media
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Episode Three: Return of the Quagmire

iconWhy can't Hollyweird liberals just let their artwork stand on it's own merit, without trying to interject their political world views? The latest is George Lucas, who is trying to take advantage of the Star Wars hype by comparing the movie saga to the Iraq and Vietnam wars. The media even claims that 'Revenge of the Sith' is a huge jab at President Bush.

"In terms of evil, one of the original concepts was how does a democracy turn itself into a dictatorship," Lucas told a news conference at Cannes, where his final episode had its world premiere.

"The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable.

"On the personal level it was how does a good person turn into a bad person, and part of the observation of that is that most bad people think they are good people, they are doing it for the right reasons," he added.

Lucas is, of course, referring to when the Communist Empire spread from China to Northern Vietnam, and the Rebel Alliance enlisted the help of some furry Ewoks to beat back the Communist agressors. The death star battle is actually just a retelling of the famous battle at Margaret Cho.

I'm sure this also means Lucas is a gun rights advocate. After all, the Rebellion wasn't won using gaffi sticks.

How to drive readers away

iconIf you want to know how to get rid of 97% of your readers, Jon Jay Hooker has the right idea:


That's pretty arrogant, considering his own page doesn't even validate. (I know, neither does mine, but I'm not the one lecturing people on what browser to use.)

(Shamelessly stolen from Say Uncle.)

UPDATE: Apparently this wasn't a bug, it was a feature. Jon Jay Hooker says that it was a "default feature of the software installed by my internet service provider." I apologize for calling it arrogant.

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Getting the message out

iconStar Parker reports that the fight to reform Social Security is not going well. Basically she blasts Bush for clouding the issue instead of getting his message out to the people.

I think part of the problem is that Bush doesn't have a plan for reform. He's said that it needs to be reformed and that Congress must do something, but everything after that is kinda vague. Perhaps pushing a specific plan would clear things up.

Of course, I've yet to see a plan that I even like. The 2% plan doesn't go far enough to fix the problem. It's a good first step, but I would propose a more 'radical' and 'extremist' solution. It seems to me that workers (especially white collar workers) already have private accounts and are accustomed to putting a portion of their income into them. They're called 401k, and currently you are permitted to put up to 15% of your income into them, up to the annual cap. I would rather have the option of opting out of Social Security altogether, so long as I contribute to my 401k. The numbers still need to be worked out, but a person contributing $10-15,000 of their income a year should be in good shape come retirement. If need be, the fed can relax the cap and contribution rate a bit to let people put more pre-tax dollars in there. Or it can be supplimented with IRA accounts. Philosophically, I still don't think that retirement planning should be compulsory but as long as it is, if you can show that you are investing at a certain threshhold people should be permitted to opt out of social security completely.

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Direct wine shipments, what about guns?

iconI'm very happy to report that the SCOTUS has struck down state regulations that had prohibited wine buyers in one state from receiving wine from wine sellers in another state. The Justices ruled that permitting the interstate sale of wine to government authorized buyers (like licensed wholesalers) amounts to protectionism and discrimination.

In a 5-4 ruling, the court said that Michigan and New York had enacted protectionist laws that unconstitutionally discriminated against wineries from other states.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said that the states' claims of possible lost taxes or shipments to minors could not justify taking such strong measures against direct shipping. "The states have not shown that tax evasion from out-of-state wineries poses such a unique threat that it justifies their discriminatory regimes," Kennedy wrote for the majority.

Of course one of the reasons I'm so happy about this decision is not that I like to drink out of state wine. No, I'm thrilled because this logistical model was very close to the way firearms are sold between states.

Buying guns across state lines requires that you arrange the sale through a federally licensed dealer from your home state. So if you see a gun being sold in a magazine or online, you cannot buy it directly from the federally licensed dealer who is selling it because he lives in another state. Even if all the proper paperwork is filed, you must still route the transaction through a local dealer and pay any transfer fees that they apply.

I'm sure the SCOTUS will see that this model (although implemented by the feds) is just another protectionism and descrimination scheme. The claims of possible lost taxes or shipments to minors does not justify taking such strong measures against direct shipments, and I'm sure that the SCOTUS will rush to strike down the unConstitutional law.

(Now pardon me while I hold my breath while I'm waiting.)

Newsweek lied, people died

iconNewsweek is backing off it's claim that American interrogators desecrated the Quran at Gitmo. Apparently their single, uncorroborated source could not prove his claims, and is backing away from the story. But people have already died because of the Newsweek story, reports CNN.

At least 15 people were killed and dozens injured last week when thousands of demonstrators marched in Afghanistan and other parts of the Muslim world, officials and eyewitnesses said.

The Pentagon said last week that it had been unable to corroborate any case like those Newsweek reported in its May 9 issue, in which the magazine wrote that U.S. interrogators at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had defiled the Muslim holy book.

"Top administration officials have promised to continue looking into the charges, and so will we," Newsweek Editor Mark Whitaker wrote in the magazine's May 23 issue, out Sunday.

"But we regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst."

Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita was less than diplomatic about Newsweek's journalistic "oops". "People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said. How could he be credible now?" he said.

UPDATE: The New York Times notes that while Newsweek has apologized for getting the story wrong, they aren't retracting anything. In a move remiscient of Dan Rather's "fake but accurate" reporting, Newsweek Editor Mark Whitaker said, "We're not retracting anything. We don't know what the ultimate facts are."

Scrappleface hits the nail squarely on the head.

For those unschooled in professional journalistic ethics, Mr. Whitaker explained that a retraction demands a higher standard of evidence than an ordinary news item.

"You don't just rush to press with a retraction until you nail down the facts," he added.

UPDATE2: Reuters has another money quote from Newsweek's Editor Mark Whitaker: "We're not saying it absolutely happened but we can't say that it absolutely didn't happen either." But they aren't retracting the story.

UPDATE3: Retracted.

Reporters violate base security

iconMays catches CNN committing a security violation at a military base.

Blaming the Media
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Yes on flavored condoms, no on flavored cigarettes

iconMays sends this link about the pleasure police trying to ban flavored smokes. Reynolds American spokesman Fred McConnell points out that "ingredients like cocoa, sugar, licorice and menthol have been used in cigarettes for 100 years", but that doesn't stop the tobacco nazis from claiming that they need to be banned for the children.

Congress is considering a bill to prohibit the sale of flavored cigarettes as are New York, Minnesota, West Virginia, Connecticut, Illinois, North Carolina and Texas.

At least one tobacco company, Reynolds American Inc., has already stopped advertising them. Another, Altria, doesn't make candy- or fruit-flavored cigarettes and supports a ban.

"These are designed to attract younger smokers," said Michael Bopp of the American Cancer Society. "We don't want to see a product introduced that will give back the gains we've made in this state in reducing teenage smoking."

Is this the world people really want to live in? If you hand out flavored condoms to 13-year-olds it's considered "enlightened", but adults aren't allowed to buy flavored cigarettes. Not to mention the numerous other products that could be next on the hit list: flavored cigars, flavored malt beverages, flavored wines, flavored coffee, flavored tea, flavored liquer, etc..

It just went off

iconI tend to be skeptical any time I hear about a guy who "accidentally" shoots himself while cleaning his gun. But Say Uncle throws the bullshit flag on a guy who claims his gun just 'went off' three times.

A Centre, Ala. man reportedly shot himself three times by accident while cleaning his gun on May 6. From Polk County police reports: Kole Eugene Maxwell, 18, of 10370 County Road, Centre, Ala., was transported to Polk Medical Center for several gun shot wounds to his right side. Police met with Maxwell at the hospital, where he said that he was cleaning his 9 mm pistol when it went off. According to reports, Maxwell would not or could not tell the officer what address he was at when the incident occurred. Police attempted to speak to the subject who had brought Maxwell to the hospital, though, the subject had already left. The scene was then turned over to investigators with the Polk County Police Department. Maxwell was treated and released from Polk Medical Center.
Sounds just a tad bit suspicious to me.

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Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

iconStar Wars debuts this week, and I can hardly wait. I've already re-watched Episode One and Two in preparation for Episode Three. And 'Revenge of the Sith' promises to be dark and solemn as Darth Vader rises to power and brings balance to the Force. It is exactly the kind of story I love.

When playing Star Wars games (like Dark Forces or Jedi Knights) I always choose the Dark Side of the Force. Let's face it, it takes a special kind of person to help whiny people who won't help themselves. When I'm playing a video game, that ain't me.

It's much more fun to do the things you aren't allowed to do in real life; take advantage of others, kill, and steal to get what you want. That may not sound too good, but lets face it, video games and movies are meant to be an escape from reality. If I wanted to contribute to society in a video game, I'd go play the Sims or some lame game like that. And Dark Force powers like the death grip and force lightning are way cooler than the weenie hope and prayer powers that the Light Side is limited to.

I think it's the same phenomenon that makes me root for the bad guy in horror movies. Now if I can just find my gold bikini.

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Mother of Presidents

iconGeorge Allen's name continues to be thrown around for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008. Robert Novak reports that the Senator from Virginia is on a short list of Republican prospects.

Members of the inner circle of high-ranking House Republicans privately agree that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York is an absolute lock for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination and will not be easy to defeat in the general election.

The same lawmakers believe the Republican race to oppose Clinton is wide open but regard Sen. George Allen of Virginia as having the edge over Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee. The consensus among them is that Allen is a better candidate than Frist and will the advantage over him in GOP primaries. The House members see little or no prospect for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sen. John McCain of Arizona or Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The Clinton-vs.-Allen forecast by the leading House members duplicates the National Journal's poll of insiders from both parties.

Virginia is known as the "Mother of Presidents"*, and Senator Allen did graduate from Thomas Jefferson's University of Virginia. I won't hold being a Wahoo against him, considering he has since made amends by helping force the issue with the ACC to invite Virginia Tech. Likewise, Allen has been a terrific Senator and was a wonderful Governor. He follows the teachings of Reagan and Jefferson and describes himself as a "common sense Jeffersonian Conservative".

If he runs, he's probably got my vote.

* Ohio has tried to steal this title, even going so far as to claim Virginian President William Henry Harrison as their own.

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Throwing down the guantlet

iconIan Hamet's challenge:

...please read and attempt the following:
A well regulated Intelligentsia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and read Books, shall not be infringed.
Convince me, using only the text above,
  • that this sentence does not guarantee an individual right, only a "collective" right; or

  • that this sentence means that the only legitimate intelligentsia is the one controlled by government; or

  • that this sentence allows the government to decide which books are safe and which are dangerous, and permits it to ban those it does not approve, and to dictate how all books under private ownership must be stored; or

  • that this sentence permits the government to require the registration of all books and book owners.
(Hat tip to The GeekWithA.45, who apparently still reads that Instadude.)

Cold Dead Hands
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New England worried that executions could become the norm

iconThe execution of Michael Ross, who waived all appeals, was put on the fast track. His execution was New England's first in 45 years, and that has opponents of the death penalty afraid that the practice will suddenly catch on and become popular again. But even "supporters of the death penalty do not expect its wide use in the region."

"Executions in more liberal states are not blocked by public opinion," said John C. McAdams, a Marquette University political scientist and a death penalty supporter. "They're blocked by political elites, and the political elites won't necessarily change their opinions just because one person has been executed."

Yet the Ross case has brought home the reality that Connecticut is now a state where prisoners may be put to death.

"My fear is this will leave a psychic imprint on the state of Connecticut in many different ways," said Robert Nave, executive director of the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty. "It's teaching our children that the state can function as executioner, which I think is frightening."

The eight women that Ross admitted to raping and murdering could not be reached for comment.

Okay for rulers, not for subjects

iconBans on so-called stun guns and tasers are becoming all the rage. Coaldale may join Philadelphia as the only Pennsylvania town to ban the devices, or at least limit their effectiveness in the hands of the commoners. Naturally, agents of the government are exempt from their own rules.

[Solicitor Michael S. Greek] said he wants to make a distinction in the law that differentiates the stun guns police will handle and what is available to the public. He likened it to the difference in strength between a container of Mace people carry for personal safety and the type of Mace a police officer carries.

Any civilian Coaldale resident found to be using a stun gun would face summary charges.

It would not be illegal for a resident to buy such a gun; it would be illegal only to use it in the borough, Greek said.

So stun guns and mace are so bad that they need special rules for the public. But they are okay for police officers to use on people. What's more, it's not illegal to own or possess a stun gun, just to use it. So if you're being raped in Coaldale, don't reach for that stun gun or you'll be summarily charged. In Philadelphia you might even face more prison time than your attacker.

The European Union on Guns

iconSwiss gun-owners are worried about being pushed to adopt E.U. style gun laws. Why they would want to subvert their national sovereignty to a bunch of European bureaucrats is beyond me. But looking at the E.U. model, I would be worried too:

The firearms would also be classified as falling into one of three categories.

The first is banned weapons (automatic guns, disguised weapons and weapons of war such as grenade and rocket launchers), for which an exemption is required.

The second category is weapons requiring approval (revolvers, pistols and semi-automatics) and an acquisition certificate.

A reason must be given when applying for the acquisition certificate (although an interest in guns will do!) but the buyer does not have to prove a need.

Hunters, sports shooters and collectors are exempt from giving a reason for purchase.

The third category is weapons which have to be simply reported. These include rifles used for hunting and sports shooting.

In addition, a European firearms passport will be introduced, which will make life easier for hunters or sports shooters temporarily exporting guns to or passing through a Schengen state.

The requirements which apply to the purchase of weapons will also apply to ammunition.

Having to ask the European Union for permission to buy a gun is obviously troubling. But just as troubling would be having them hold a registry of all European gun owners. Gun grabbers who still insist that registration doesn't lead to confiscation, need to look no further than the New York or California, both of whom have used gun registration databases to confiscate firearms. Or more recently, the city of Denver, who started rounding up dogs and sending them to death camps.

(Dog story via Geek, via Say Uncle.)

Newspaper must remain liberal, as condition of sale

iconThe St. Louis Post-Dispatch is being sold for $1.46 billion to Lee Enterprises. As part of the sale agreement, Lee must agree to maintain the liberal slant of the editorial board for at least the next 5 years.

"For a period of at least five years following the Effective Time, Parent (Lee Enterprises) will cause the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to maintain its current name and editorial page platform statement and to maintain its news and editorial headquarters in the City of St. Louis, Missouri," the agreement states.

The Post-Dispatch platform statement, adopted in 1911, includes the pledge that the newspaper "will always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty."

Beltway Road Hazard of the Day

iconToday's trash laying in, on, or near the road was:

  • Jeep Hard Top
Anyone missing one? Well, half of one?

Commute: At least it's Friday
Door to door: 27 minutes

Negative Spin

icon"Spring sales provided little bounce for many retailers in April as unseasonably chilly - even downright cold - weather and never-seen- before prices at the gas pump kept most shoppers at home." -- CNN/Money (via Dow Jones), May 5, 2005.

"Retail sales jumped 1.4 percent in April, the strongest showing in six months, as consumers streamed back into auto showrooms and shopping malls in what was viewed as a signal that this year's economic slowdown was short-lived." -- AP, May 12, 2005.

The Dow Jones article also notes that large retail chains were "disappointed" in the 2.2% jump in same store sales from last year. That's more than 50% better than the national average.

Blaming the Media
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Top 15 Most Popular Blogging Tips List

iconSo, I'm watching MSNBC the other day, and they do a featurette on the always wonderful John Hawkin's 25 Pieces of Advice for Bloggers. And then Frank J. goes and writes his Blogging Tips and it's really funny. So I start thinking of stuff John and Frank J. left out. . .Stuff that's really important that Bloggers need to know. So I figured I'd take a crack at it:

Ravenwood's Advice for Bloggers

  1. First of all, post lots of Top Whatever Lists and 'Best of' crap. It almost guarantees you lots of links and could even get you on TV. Hopefully this list will prove me right.

  2. Secondarily, if you can't come up with your own content, raid your blogroll for ideas. Bloggers are usually too poor to sue you for stealing their ideas, and too lazy to report you to the FEC for illegal campaign contributions. If they do come after you, try the Jedi Mind Trick.

  3. Make sure your permalink URLs are created using keywords from the entry. That way nanny filters can toss anything having to do with porn, guns, cigarettes, or booze and block those readers who are cyberslacking at work.

  4. Should you be fortunate enough to earn that coveted Instalanche, make sure you post a message at the top saying "Welcome Instapundit Readers!" That shows your regular readers just how unimportant you think they are.

  5. If you're a Femme Blogger, be sure to post lots of naked photos of yourself. If you're too shy, just send them to me and I'll post them.

  6. If you can't afford a webhost, just hotlink photos from other sites. You should get a bounce in traffic when that webmaster starts bitching and moaning about you stealing his bandwidth.

  7. When you send out promotional emails, be sure to do it from your work address. It's so much easier to complain to your boss that way.

  8. If you blog about work, make sure you get all the names and dates correct. That could end up being evidence in your wrongful termination lawsuit.

  9. Post about owning a lot of guns. That makes people think twice about calling you names in the comments.

  10. Whatever you do don't start posting icons for each entry. Once you do, you won't be allowed to stop.

  11. If you need help with anything, don't bother looking it up yourself. Just post an entry asking your readers to do it for you.

  12. Familiarity is overrated. Keep changing the look and feel of your website every few weeks.

  13. People with small monitors and vision problems be damned. Go ahead an used fixed font sizes and screen widths. The horizontal scroll bar is our friend.

  14. Midi files are cool. Nothing says web expertise like having your favorite 1970s TV theme playing as soon as your web site loads.

  15. Hide the volume control on your favorite 1970s TV theme.

  16. Finally, never admit to watching loser networks like MSNBC. Even if they are cleaning up their act with stories about Right Wing News.

Recount Wisconsin

iconNewsmax reports that Bush may have won Wisconsin, which by the way had a margin of victory 10 times smaller than Ohio.

A task force looking into potential voter fraud on Election Day [2004] said Tuesday that it found more than 200 felons voted illegally and more than 100 instances of people voting twice or using fake names and addresses.

The investigators found hundreds of fraudulent votes in all and counted 4,600 more ballots than registered voters in Milwaukee - but did not uncover any proof of a plot to alter the outcome of the hotly contested presidential race in Wisconsin's largest city. They also found ballots cast using the names of dead people. . .

Democrat John Kerry received more than 71 percent of the 277,000 ballots cast in Milwaukee in the presidential race. Kerry won Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes by about 11,000 votes.

Of course the only vote totals that count are the ones counted on January 6th.

Don't know much about Geography

iconApparently the Arizona Republic thinks Tbilisi is a suburb of Atlanta.

PETA Kills Animals

iconThe Center for Consumer Freedom is using a Times Square Billboard to make political hay out of the fact that PETA has euthanized more than 10,000 animals over the years. Apparently they don't understand the difference between humanely putting domesticated companion animals to "sleep", and deliberately and wontonly slaughtering animals and eating their flesh.

They must be thinking that one dead animal is the same as another. But remember, when PETA does it, it is humane. Their animals were bred for human companionship and love, which is good. Cows, chickens, and pigs are bred purely for human consumption, which is bad evil. See the difference? Me either.

Apparently though even when it comes to companion animals, the local SPCA has a much better record than PETA.

Not counting those that PETA held only temporarily -- for spaying or neutering -- the group killed over 85 percent of the animals it took in during 2003...

Other animal protection agencies near PETA's Virginia headquarters "put down" a much smaller percentage of the animals entrusted to them. In 2003 the Norfolk SPCA found adoptive homes for 73 percent of its animals. The Virginia Beach SPCA adopted out 66 percent. PETA could only manage 14 percent.

Hey we meateaters just kill the chickens and eat 'em, we don't cut their whatcha-call-its off.

Street Artists

iconStreet artists are some of the most interesting people. These are real artists who make their living in the public marketplace, usually through tips simply for providing public entertainment. They shouldn't be confused with those NEA type artists who live off of government grants because nobody wants to buy their artwork.

Stormwhispers features a few of the street chalk artists, who have been busy making incredible creations.


Keep in mind that the street is a 2-dimensional canvas.

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Condi for President

iconShe continues to come down on the side of the Second Amendment, and recognizes the racist roots of gun control.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, recalling how her father took up arms to defend fellow blacks from racist whites in the segregated South, said Wednesday the constitutional right of Americans to own guns is as important as their rights to free speech and religion.
Countertop notes that this didn't make the CNN transcript.

(link via Geek)

Cold Dead Hands
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The war against general aviation

iconWhen I heard about the evacuation of the White House and U.S. Capitol Building yesterday, I knew Neal would be all over it this morning. As a private pilot, he routinely counters the war against general aviation. The security overreaction to a single engine Cessna was laughable. But Neal isn't laughing.

Now the media is going to hit us with all sorts of scare stories about general aviation. This morning CNN had a reporter at the Smoketown, Pennsylvania airport from which the small Cessna departed. The reporter told us in somber terms that "this airport has no control tower" and "the pilots can generally come and go as they please." Oh, the humanity! Pilots being able to come and go as they please! How can that be allowed to happen? We're all gonna die!

Today will be a typical day of general media bashing of general aviation. Somewhere in this country in the next few days various media outlets will be recycling their old anti-general aviation stories. We'll see pictures of small airplanes near nuclear power plants and over large cities. To hell with the facts .. this is spectacular stuff!

Neal correctly points out that the danger posed by small private aircraft is virtually nil. Especially compared to the destructive capability of a van load of explosives. Just ask anyone impacted by the Oklahoma City or World Trade Center bombings about that.

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Beltway Road Hazard of the Day

iconToday's trash laying in, on, or near the road was:

  • Hard Hat
In the immortal words of Cletus: "I caught a head! Aw dang, it's been scooped out!"

Commute: Road Warrior
Door to door: 18 minutes

Ravenwood's Law

iconLinda Wiewiorkiewicz is happy that the Arizona governor vetoed a bill that would have allowed people to carry firearms to protect themselves in restaurants. She says that people should leave their guns at home and let police take care of their safety. (Maybe they could post a patrolman in every restaurant.)

Ienjoy taking my family out to the fine dining establishments in Chandler without having to worry about gun-wielding National Rifle Association activists spinning their pistols on the tables.
We do that because spinning them is good gun safety.
I'm also grateful that we don't have to worry about scenes from Gunsmoke when we dance in the nightclubs on Saturday nights.

Thank goodness we have a governor who has the sense to veto a ridiculous bill which would allow gun-packing, wannabe Marshal Dillons into the places where we seek relaxation and good times.

Yeah, because violence never breaks out in nightclubs.
They can bear arms all they want in their own homes. The rest of us enjoy the comfort of a night out without the looming threat of gunfire.
So law abiding citizens with guns are a 'looming threat'. Not like those fine upstanding citizens who drink a half dozen beers at the club before getting into their 2-ton automobile and hitting the streets. Maybe we should ban cars, or beer, or nightclubs altogether. If these people want to dance, let them do it in the comfort of their own home where the rest of us don't have to see their itching and twitching.

Now for this next part, you Constitutional purists may want to sit down and take a deep breath.

The intent of our founding fathers is stated in the preamble - "to insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty. ..."
Actually, the Preamble starts with "We the people", as in people who might also carry guns. That sentence actually reads, "... secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves..." She conveniently left that part off to make it sound like something the government was granting us.
Banning guns from public places ensures our "domestic tranquility," promotes our "general welfare" and secures our "blessings of liberty."
She must have stopped reading after the Preamble, because I've searched the Constitution through and through and I don't see anything in there about banning guns. But I do find a passage in there that says "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed". The "right of the people". That means citizens, you know, those same people from the Preamble.
When it comes to public protection, providing for the "common good" is the job of law enforcement.
Actually, law enforcement is not responsible for your protection. And if they fail to protect you, you pay with your life. There is no recourse, and they cannot be held liable for not protecting you. In short, you are responsible for your own protection. And if you want to carry a gun for your protection, go for it. So long as you aren't denying anyone else of their right to life, liberty or property, more power to ya.
Safeguarding the freedoms that we all enjoy far outweighs pleasing the NRA.
Isn't amazing how she considers violating your freedoms "safeguarding" them.
I might be the only one in Chandler who doesn't have cable TV, but I'm sure you can find old Gunsmoke reruns on one of those channels.
Five bucks says she's never even seen Gunsmoke. And of course, no cliche ridden anti-gun diatribe would be complete without this:
The gunslingers belong in the wild, wild West.
We need a Godwin's Law for guns. I'm proposing one: "As a discussion about guns grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Dodge City or the Wild West approaches one."

Worth 1000 words

Entensity is just now getting around to posting this famous photo from the 2003 Miami-VT game. (Then again, so am I.)

(Link may contain NSFW pop-ups.)

BTW, I was at this game, seated on the 50 yard line. It is the LOUDEST game I have ever been to.

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Carnival of the Vanities CXXXVIII

iconThe 138th Edition of Carnival of the Vanities is posted over at Cynical Nation.

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Save the Glaciers, Kill the Whales

iconThe Swiss are deeply concerned over melting ice. So much so, that they are taking radical steps to keep it from happening.

Alarmed by the retreat of its Alpine glacier, a Swiss ski resort on Tuesday wrapped part of the shrinking ice-cap in a giant blanket in a bid to reduce the summer melt.

If successful, officials at the Gemsstock resort above Andermatt in central Switzerland expect the example to be followed elsewhere in the Alps, where scientists say glaciers are under threat from global warming...

Of course envirowackos aren't impressed.
For Martin Hiller, spokesman on climate change for environmentalist group WWF International, who was on hand to witness the Alpine experiment, the move was positive but offered no real answer to ice loss.

"The solution is to switch to clean energy, we need to cut down on harmful pollutants, such as CO2 (carbon dioxide)," he said.

Just switch to clean energy. How simple. Never-mind that there's no such thing as clean energy. Fossile Fuels: duh; Nuclear: nuclear waste; Solar: destroys the landscape; Hydroelectric: destroys the river and acres of land; Wind farms: chop up the birds. There is no easy solution to our energy needs.

Also, CO2 is not a pollutant. It is a naturally occuring gas just like Nitrogen or Oxygen. It's also what plants breathe. If you get rid of CO2, you have to get rid of plants and all the animals that eat plants and all the animals that eat animals that eat plants.

Of course I've already solved the CO2 problem. For those of you that missed it, I'll say it again:

Most people think that most of our oxygen comes from trees. But with two-thirds of the Earth's surface covered with water, it actually comes from oceans full of plant plankton, who dutifully convert CO2 to oxygen through photosynthesis. The biggest harm to plant plankton is not global warming, since a spike in CO2 would just mean that plant life thrives. Instead, plant plankton's biggest predator is whales. Whales scoop up plankton by the truckload. It would seem obvious then, that the solution is to protect plant plankton by slaughtering whales. With an absence of predators, plant plankton will overpopulate and drastically cut CO2 levels.

Why aren't we teaching this in school?

iconIf you want to know how not to be poor, Dr. Walter Williams has some excellent suggestions.

Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And, finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior.
And if you can't make it through these four steps, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

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Support Your Local Sheriff

iconKevin Baker points to a few instances where police officers are in desperate need of some range time. From the looks of it, you have about a 1 in 30 chance of being hit if they shoot at you. Not to worry too much though, what they lack in skill they are making up for in persistance.

By now everyone's heard about the LA Sheriff's deputies who fired something on the order of 120 rounds at a suspect. Four rounds actually hit the suspect (none life-threatening). One round hit one of the ten deputies. Thats a ratio of 30:1 for hits on the intended target.

It's nice to know that police accuracy is consistent. I was reminded of this post from Sept. 19, 2003 where Thomas Martin McGouey attempted to commit suicide-by-cop in Tennessee. At 30 yards, Mr. McGouey (with a target helpfully drawn on his bare chest) pointed an empty air pistol at six officers.

Twenty-eight rounds fired, one hit.

In the shoulder.

Way to go, guys!

To quote the magnificent Jack Elam, "Well I was in a hurry to save your life I wasn't trying to group my shots"

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Chasing Hillary

iconConsidering how many people close to the Clintons end up dead, in prison, or under indictment, I'm surprised they can get anyone to work for them. Dick Morris, writing for the sometimes reliable New York Post, notes that the indictment of Senator Clinton's Campaign Finance Director, David Rosen, could sink any possibility of a Presidential campaign. Especially since he is a little tired of being made the fall guy, and the evidence against him is starting to mount.

Rosen has been indicted for deliberately reporting that the cost of an August 2000 Hollywood fund-raising gala was only $400,000 when the actual tab was $1.2 million - a step that let Mrs. Clinton spend $800,000 more in "hard money" for her campaign. (After Hillary and opponent Rick Lazio agreed to ban soft money, both camps were scrambling to maximize their hard money on hand). . .

. . .David Rosen calls himself a "guinea pig" for Clinton's lawyers, noting that "the former Clinton White House wanted to hire, or to argue the [Rosen's] case in a certain way." The indicted former finance director said, "And I did it for them. Like, I bit the bullet and went in as a guinea pig and argued their argument for me. Instead of freeing' and runnin' and coverin' my ass, I was a good soldier."

Then Rosen adds, ominously, "So far it's worked out, but I coulda done it a lot different."

Morris thinks that as the evidence against Rosen starts to pile up, he may try to cop a plea deal and implicate Hillary. Assuming of course that he doesn't take a lonely walk through Fort Marcy Park.

I'd like to thank the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority

iconThe Washington D.C. area ranked third in the nation for worst traffic. I would like to thank the incompetents at the WMATA for making Metro one of the worst mass transit systems in the nation. If it weren't for their constant bungling and attempts to drive customers away, this award would not have been possible. Without their lack of hard work and dedication D.C. might not have reached the upper eschelon's of traffic hell.

Had they not had the foresight to remove seats, put on shorter trains, cut service during major sporting events, and arrest people for candy bars, while at the same time hiking fares, who knows where D.C. might have ranked.

Beltway Road Hazard of the Day

iconToday's trash laying in, on, or near the road was:

  • 5 Gallon Bucket
One of those white ones, that hopefully isn't filled with paint or some type of industrial solvent.

Commute: Congested
Door to door: 30 minutes

Global Cooling

iconSelfish American SUV drivers could turn England and Northern Europe into Siberia. CNN reports:

Scientists now have evidence that changes are occurring in the Gulf Stream, the warm and powerful ocean current that tempers the western European climate.

Without the influence of the Gulf Stream and its two northern branches, the North Atlantic Drift and the Canary Current, the weather in Britain could be more like that of Siberia, which shares the same latitude.

Police Taser pregnant woman

iconFirst she refused to sign a speeding ticket and then she refused to get out of her car. So police took her down and spared no expense with the Taser.

She was rushing her son to school. She was eight months pregnant. And she was about to get a speeding ticket she didn't think she deserved.

So when a Seattle police officer presented the ticket to Malaika Brooks, she refused to sign it. In the ensuing confrontation, she suffered burns from a police Taser, an electric stun device that delivers 50,000 volts...

Officer Donald Jones joined Ornelas in trying to persuade Brooks to sign the ticket. They then called on their supervisor, Sgt. Steve Daman.

He authorized them to arrest her when she continued to refuse.

The officers testified they struggled to get Brooks out of her car but could not because she kept a grip on her steering wheel.

And that's when Jones brought out the Taser.

Brooks testified she didn't even know what it was when Jones showed it to her and pulled the trigger, allowing her to hear the crackle of 50,000 volts of electricity.

The officers testified that was meant as a final warning, as a way to demonstrate the device was painful and that Brooks should comply with their orders.

When she still did not exit her car, Jones applied the Taser.

In his testimony, the Taser officer said he pressed the prongs of the muzzle against Brooks' thigh to no effect. So he applied it twice to her exposed neck.

Afterward, he and the others testified, Ornelas pushed Brooks out of the car while Jones pulled.

She was taken to the ground, handcuffed and placed in a patrol car, the officers testified.

She delivered a healthy baby girl on January 31.

All your property are belong to us

iconIf you think New Jersey is going after guns now, just wait until they start seizing property. Just what Jersey needs is a financial conflict of interest.

A New Jersey state assemblyman has introduced a bill that would allow the government to seize the home or car of anyone whose property contains an illegal firearm.

The legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Louis Manzo, D-Jersey City, authorizes the forfeiture of "motor vehicle, building or premise" if a firearm is found in it that is not possessed legally per state law - "even if the firearm was not possessed by the owner of the motor vehicle, building or premise," states a summary of the bill, A3998. The legislation was introduced Thursday.

We already know the definition of 'illegal gun' is a moving target, especially in New Jersey. (New Jersey even classifies some .22s as "assault weapons".) But what else is sketchy is the definition of "contain". If you catch a robber who has an illegal gun, will the police come arrest the guy, and then take your house? What if the guy that steals your car has an illegal gun? Will you never get it back?

New Jersey isn't satisfied with violating just the Second Amendment, now they want to violate the Fourth and Fifth Amendments too. Four protects you against unreasonable search and seizure. Five protects you from double jeapardy and the taking of property without due process. But hey, the Bill of Rights never stopped Jersey before.

Taxpayers to pay medical bills for illegal aliens

iconThe AP reports that taxpayers are going to be forced to pay for emergency care provided to illegal aliens. Well, actually they say "the government" will have to pay, (as does this CNN poll). But we all know that it's Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer who are getting stuck with the bill.

Health care providers can charge the government for emergency care provided to illegal aliens beginning Tuesday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued final guidance Monday that sets up a system for reimbursement. Lawmakers set aside $1 billion over four years for the program, created by Medicare legislation passed in 2003.

So just how will the service provider know that the person they are treating is an illegal alien? Is there currently a proof of citizenship requirement if you show up to the hospital without insurance?

Regardless, I think the hospitals should only be allowed to bill Medicare/Medicaid if the next call is to the INS to come round up the bastard and deport him when he gets discharged.

Left-wing Conspiracy
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The Next Jayson Blair?

iconWired News is looking into some of their freelance stories. And it's not looking good.

Wired News, which publishes some articles from Wired magazine, paid for the review of stories by one of its frequent contributors, Michelle Delio, 37, of New York City. It disclosed results late Monday.

The review determined that dozens of people cited in articles by Delio primarily during the past 18 months could not be located. Many of the people who were cited as sources and who could not be located had common names and occupations and were reported to be living in large metropolitan regions.

At least she is learning from Blair's mistakes. Jayson Blair "interviewed" people with obscure names who lived in the sticks.

Blaming the Media
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Celebrities and blogs don't mix

iconArianna Huffington's new blog launched on Monday and it is already being called a flop. L.A. Weekly says we shouldn't blame the B-list of celebrities who are group blogging. Instead we should blame Huffington for convincing them that they have something to say.

I implore you: Forgive them, because they know not what they do. Not Seinfeld has-been Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her untalented TV-hyphenate husband, Brad Hall, making unfunny shtick of the anti-gay-marriage movement. Not has-been director Mike Nichols, using the forum to parade his high school grasp of U.S. history by mentioning "de Tocqueville" and "Dr. King" in the same paragraph. Not has-been brat-packer John Cusack, penning the 459,308th remembrance of Hunter Thompson for the sole purpose of letting the world know that the actor scored an invite to the writer's intimate memorial service.
For instance Jim Lampley. Now I used to have nothing but respect for Lampley. I love HBO boxing, and he's a good "Real Sports" reporter too. But this diatribe is laughable as well as absurd. He contends that Kerry actually won the election, and as proof points to not only exit poll data (which has been analyzed time and time again and shown to be defective), but to the Las Vegas oddsmakers who relied on that to set odds for the election.
At 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day, I checked the sportsbook odds in Las Vegas and via the offshore bookmakers to see the odds as of that moment on the Presidential election. John Kerry was a two-to-one favorite. You can look it up.

People who have lived in the sports world as I have, bettors in particular, have a feel for what I am about to say about this: these people are extremely scientific in their assessments. These people understand which information to trust and which indicators to consult in determining where to place a dividing line to influence bets, and they are not in the business of being completely wrong. Oddsmakers consulted exit polling and knew what it meant and acknowledged in their oddsmaking at that moment that John Kerry was winning the election.

Has Lampley forgotten Buster Douglas already? Douglas was a 42-1 longshot for beating Mike Tyson, the undefeated - undisputed - Heavyweight Champion of the World. Tyson wasn't just undefeated, he routinely savaged opponents. Only four of his 37 fights had ever gone the distance. Many of his fights never made it out of the first round. Douglas meanwhile wasn't even viewed as a contender. He was meat for the lion. Spectators thought it would take a miracle for him to win.

What's more, Lampley doesn't seem to even grasp the concept of giving odds. Odds have little to do with the actual chance of winning. Bookies give odds in order to even out the bets on each side of the event. You see, bookies don't care if you win or lose. They live off the vig; which is the price people pay to place bets. Odds are put into place so that the payout for bets on one side equals the payout for bets on the other. If the odds were 1-1, nobody would bet on Douglas. But a 42-1 payoff entices people to bet on the underdog so that the bets for the favorite are covered should he walk away with it as expected. So odds have more to do with people's perception of who is going to win more than the actual chance of winning. You would think that a boxing sportscaster would know that.

But even if odds accurately represent the chance of winning, so what. Would Lampley have them not even bother fighting? If the contest goes 12 rounds should they look at the score cards or just trust the Vegas oddsmakers and Harold Lederman's prediction of the score? Last time I checked they actually counted the votes of the judges to see who wins. You would think Lampley would know that, and give George Bush the same courtesy.

Taxes are collected at the point of a gun

iconTaxation is just like robbery. The major difference is who's holding the gun. Like the enforcement of all laws, taxes are collected using the threat of lethal force; that is, with the barrel of a gun. A lot of people think I'm over-dramatizing that but it's true. People have just become so accustomed to it that they don't even realize anymore.

If you don't believe me, try not paying your taxes and see how long it takes for the men with guns to show up. I would advise you hire a good lawyer first, though.

For instance go down to the mall and try to buy something without paying taxes on it. Tell the cashier that you no longer pay taxes and demand that they take them off your bill. If you insist, it's only a matter of time before the guys with guns are called.

When your cable bill arrives add up all those taxes and fees on your statement. Then go down to the cable company and demand that they remove them from your bill. Tell them that you'll wait while they re-tally your bill. Or if you've already paid, demand a refund. Like I said, you'd better have the number for that lawyer handy because you're going to need it.

Next time you're looking for work, try to find a boss that will hire you "under the table". There might be such a job out there, but if you get caught you'll wind up talking to the guys with guns again. Or if you already have a job, next payday take your stub over to the payroll department and demand that they fork over the tax that they withheld. Tell them that you aren't paying taxes this month and demand a check for the difference. Pound on the desk until you get satisfaction.

Next time you're driving through New Jersey, tell the attendant at the toll booth that you're not paying taxes this week and drive on through. See how long it takes for the guys in blue to show up and extract payment.

You see, the problem with taxes is that not only are they confiscatory, but politicians have cleverly and systematically made them almost invisible. When you fill up your gas tank, the sign says $2 a gallon. If it weren't against the law, the retailer would probably put $1.25 per gallon on the sign and hit you for the taxes when you check out. They would much rather advertise their actual price. The reason it's illegal is not out of fairness to you, but because the government doesn't want you seeing how much they are hitting you for in gasoline taxes. If you're lucky, some retailers will put a small sign up that says how much tax you're paying per gallon.

Similar fights are being waged over taxes and fees on your telephone or cable bill. The vendor wants to itemize those taxes so that you don't think they're overcharging you. The government wants them to roll those up into his costs so you don't see how much you're being bilked.

Taxes are withheld from your paycheck up front. People are so accustomed to it that when you ask them how much they earn they say something like, "I take home twelve hundred a month." Tell them you didn't ask them what they take home, you asked them what they earned. A lot of them still won't be able to tell you.

Rep. John Hostettler, a Republican from Indiana, has proposed that federal withholding be repealed. He would have it go back to the old days where payments were mailed in quarterly. Withholding was supposed to be a temporary measure any way. The politicians had promised that withholding was only necessary to help pay for the cost of fighting World War II. They promised that once the War was over, we would go back to the old way again. Well, 60 years later and we're still waiting.

The Federal Tax Withholding Repeal Act of 2005 doesn't stand a snowball's chance of being passed. (It might as well be called the Stepping on Orphans and Puppies Act.) Politicians on both sides of the aisle know that all those spending programs, and all that pork that gets them re-elected year after year, depend on federal withholding. There is just too much at stake to risk public outcry over taxation. Because if people had to actually write a check every month, they might start questioning what they're paying for. And we can't have that.

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No Road Hazards Today

iconI'm working downtown and will be taking the Metrorail to work today. While there won't be any road hazards, I might be unfortunate enough to have an experience like this guy did.

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Repeal Income Tax Withholding

iconKdT reports on another fantastic idea, even if it doesn't stand a chance in hell of being passed. Imagine if people actually had to sit down and write a check for their income tax payments.

-- Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) is looking for supporters to co-sponsor the Federal Tax Withholding Repeal Act of 2005, which would repeal the law allowing the federal government to withhold federal income taxes and social-security taxes. Instead, this bill would implement a system in which employees would make quarterly payments to the federal government. (And wouldn't that quarterly check-writing experience be an eye-opener for the American taxpayer?)
Federal withholding is primarily responsible for the lack of tax outrage in this country. When the ignorant masses apply for jobs, they don't care how much their actual salary is, they only want to know what their "take home" pay is going to be.

There is also a large contingent of taxpayers that view their tax refund as a good thing. Ask them how much they paid in income taxes last year and they say something like, "I didn't have to pay anything. I got money back!"

People like that shouldn't be allowed to vote.

Why 'Shall Issue' is necessary

iconIn gun control meccas like Massachusetts and Maryland, people technically have the right to the concealed carry of firearms. But in practice, getting permission from the government often proves impossible. And sometimes even when you have permission from the government, it's only a matter of time before your subjected to the whim of some government bureaucrat on a power trip.

On an April afternoon seven years ago, Joseph Landers walked out of the M&M Food Shoppe on High Street with a sub sandwich in one hand, a pizza in another, and a stainless steel handgun holstered on his shoulder underneath his coat.

To Landers, a then 49-year-old retired machinist, it was just a normal day in which he planned have lunch with his father at home. The gun was something he carried regularly for protection.

But the trip to pick up lunch turned out to be his last as a licensed gun holder in Massachusetts.

Landers' coat was not entirely zipped up that day, and when the wind blew it open, a Dedham Police officer across the street zoomed in and noticed the gun. Upon request by the officer, Landers produced a valid five-year license issued in 1995 to carry the gun. But the problem was, state law required that he keep the weapon concealed.

While the officer let Landers go without an arrest, the Adams Street resident soon after received notice from Dedham Police Chief Dennis Teehan that his Class A license to carry firearms had been revoked due to the incident.

When you give the government the power to regulate something it ceases to become a right and becomes a privilege. And it doesn't take much for the government to deny you that privilege. 'Shall issue' laws force government officials to issue you a permit unless they have sufficient reason not to. Laws vary from state to state, but most times the reasons are spelled out in the law, and there is an appeals process for being denied a permit. But in 'May Issue' states, you can be denied a permit just because the sheriff doesn't feel like giving you one.

Neo-Temperance takes control of Georgia

iconGeorgia Governor Sonny Perdue, a Republican, nullified property rights and signed a blanket smoking ban into effect.

The law will allow smokers to light up in only a few places, including bars and restaurants that do not admit people under 18; designated hotel and motel rooms; and workplace smoking areas that have an independent air handling system. Violators face fines of $100 to $500.

The Republican governor had said for weeks that he had misgivings about the bill, believing that government should not become "the end-all and be-all nanny for all people."

Neo-Temperance takes control of Austin

iconIn a classic sense of tyranny of the majority, voters in Austin have decided that they know what's best for local property and business owners. By a margin of 51 to 48 percent, voters approved a public smoking ban in all local restaurants and work places. What makes these voters think they have the right to tell people what they can do with their publically accessable private property escapes me.

Whereas before there was an unregulated mixture of smoking and non-smoking restaurants available for people to choose from, effective September 1st government authorities will begin to use the threat of lethal force to make sure that there are only non-smoking restaurants available. Free markets be damned.

Similar measures banning the sale and consumption of alcohol (which is just as deadly, and a greater threat to public safety considering nobody causes an accident because they had a few too many cigarettes) failed in the 1920s. Even worse they ushered in an era of organized crime and murder that still plagues us today. What's more, temperance was indirectly responsible for the hideous Gun Control Act of 1934, a reaction to rampant organized crime.

I have long held the opinion that the neo-temperance movement will be both a success and a failure. That is, they will succeed in banning smoking, and they will fail at preventing it.

Already smoking has been banned in Ireland, Norway, and New Zealand. Currently the bans only impact "public places", but they include private property like bars and restaurants. Successive steps will include private homes and cars, especially where children or employees might be present. Do you have a maid? You might soon need to decide between firing her and continuing your habit. Driving your kid to school? Better not be smoking while you do it.

Anti-smokers and pleasure police have been on the march for decades. They have taken the baby steps approach to pass increasingly restrictive bans on tobacco, with the ultimate goal of complete prohibition.

The Neo-temperance movement is bound to get their wish. A complete prohibition of tobacco products seems inevitable. The smokers just don't have the numbers to withstand the tyranny of majority rule. But a ban on tobacco won't mean cessation. Just like the underground establishments of the 1920s, some defiant bar and restaurant owners will refuse to enforce the ban. Indeed in places where there is already a ban in place, some restaurant workers are looking the other way rather than take on the role of the pleasure police.

Cigarettes may not be as popular as alcohol, but they are certainly more popular than illicit drugs. Throw in cigars and smokeless tobacco, and there are plenty of people around to violate what they view as a silly and unjust law. When criminals organize to meet that demand, lets just hope that we don't get caught in the crossfire.

Related articles:
Lincoln tax revenue up in smoke with ban -- 04/19/2005
Houston, we have a problem -- 03/10/2005
Neo-temperance movement going after alcohol again -- 02/16/2005
Neo-temperance is inevitable, and doomed to fail -- 02/07/2005
1984: Fired for being a smoker -- 01/26/2005
Neo-temperance marches on -- 11/16/2004
Yet another smoking ban -- 11/04/2004
Temperance movement costing lives -- 01/26/2004
All your vices are belong to us -- 01/08/2004
The Unprotected Minority -- 08/19/2003
Pleasure Police, literally -- 10/22/2002

Cuckoo, Cuckoo

iconMost vegetarians don't really mind when other people eat meat. They realize that humans have free will and should be allowed to make their own dining choices. They may try to convince you otherwise, but for the most part they are rational, level-headed people. Then there's Carrie Packwood Freeman:

Let's trade places with theses animals and imagine if your mother were:

o Enslaved as a breeder in a tiny crate her whole life.

o Constantly impregnated as many times as physically possible but never allowed to raise or be with any of her children because her babies were considered "property" of others who are profiting off their bodies.

o Selectively bred with hormones to have profitable, gorging mammary glands, pumped by machine, not for her baby, but so adults of another species could needlessly drink her milk...

o Crowded in indoor cages with other women her whole life to have her menstrual products (eggs) harvested for consumption.

o Killed before middle-age because she was deemed "spent" when her reproduction rate slowed down and was less profitable.

Certainly, these egregious injustices against women would be considered a shocking act of sexist oppression that would be condemned and outlawed by all compassionate citizens. So in a civilized feminist society, why do we allow it to happen to any females? Luckily, this needless exploitation can be stopped - by you. Simply withdraw your financial support from animal agribusiness and put it into more humane proteins like nuts, soymilks, tofu, beans, peas and whole grains. This Mother's Day, make a pledge to help all mothers by ending their suffering. Feel good about choosing vegetable protein instead of buying someone else's stolen milk, eggs or flesh.

Imagine if your mom were an antelope, prancing around the Serengeti, when all of a sudden BAM! KAPOW! ZOINK!, she's jumped by lions and torn limb from limb. And then hyenas come out and chase the lions away just long enough to grab her carcass and run. I don't know what that has to do with anything, I just thought it was imagination hour.

I think what bothers me most is that Freeman thinks that eating meat is "Sexist Oppression". Something tells me that the oppressed women of the world would disagree.

(Hat tip: Taranto)

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What's bad for us is good for them

icon"The great challenge of our time for America is our competitive position in the world and understanding this great diffusion of new power. The United States is no longer the dominant power on earth as we have been the last 50 years. That's good news, I think." -- Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-NE.

Notable Quotables
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Streisand falls prey to Godwin's Law

iconGodwin's Law: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

And when that happens, the person who invoked the comparison loses by default. Case in point, entertainer and part-time foreign policy expert, Barbra Streisand:

Bush's actions remind me of Herman Goering's quote during the Nuremberg Trials, where he stated: "...it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders...all you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism..."

Bring on the sin taxes

iconWith the victory over tobacco nearly in the bag, the pleasure police are setting their sites on their next target: fast food. Detroit is vying to be front runner by imposing a sin tax on fast food.

Faced with a $300 million budget hole, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is hoping people in this already heavily taxed city won't mind forking over a few extra cents for their Big Macs and Whoppers. He wants to ask Detroit voters to approve a 2 percent fast-food tax - on top of the 6 percent state sales tax on restaurant meals.

The mayor says consumers will barely notice the extra cents at the cash register, but critics say the tax would unfairly burden the poor and hamper economic development.

Yes, nobody will notice a small 2% tax when it's lumped in with all those other confiscatory taxes they have to pay. Instead of making the vendor be the bad guy, perhaps the Mayor should be required to go door to door and collect it.

Beltway Road Hazard of the Day

iconToday's trash laying in, on, or near the road was:

  • Ladder
The fiberglass kind, and awfully destroyed. Whoever hit it did a number on it.

Commute: Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
Door to door: 18 minutes


iconWhile Bush was traveling overseas, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said, "I think this guy is a loser." That's leadership for you. Next time you have a difference of opinion with a collegue at work, just call him a loser.

iconDespite their rhetoric about academic freedom, college professors and administrators still expelled a student for his personal views. He dared to suggest that corporal punishment may have a place in our schools.

iconLower tax rates, higher tax revenue. Go figure.

iconCheck out Neal Boortz' Redneck Scrap Book. Paris, France is a lot different than Paris, Kentucky.

iconLarry Elder says that if firms refuse to hire smokers because they tend to be lazy and less intelligent, maybe they should also apply that logic when it comes to hiring Democrats.

iconCarl over at No Oil for Pacifists says that for Kyoto to work, five things must be true. And the probability that all five are true is miniscule.

iconHot Abercrombie Chick asks "How many people would support publicly-funded programs if they had to collect the funds themselves?" Now there's an idea with legs.

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Maryland forces gas stations to raise prices

iconWhen it comes to gas prices, most people blame George Bush, "Big Oil", or taxes. But in Maryland, it's regulators who are intentionally keeping the prices high to protect small businessmen.

A gasoline price war erupted in St. Mary's County last week after one station slashed its price for regular to $1.999 a gallon and spurred three others to follow suit, giving drivers some hope of relief at the pump.

But the price dip proved fleeting.

Maryland regulators quickly stepped in and told the stations that their prices were too low. They needed to go up by 5 cents...

The sudden fluctuation in the Lexington Park area was the result of a little-noticed Maryland law that took effect in 2001. The General Assembly mandated that stations cannot charge less than what they pay for gas -- unless they're lowering prices to compete with a nearby station.

Independent service station owners pressed lawmakers for the measure as a way to protect themselves from big retailers selling gas below cost to drive them out of business and limit competition. Maryland is one of at least 13 states to adopt similar laws, which are not in effect in the District or Virginia.

That is both idiotic and anti-capitalist. If small businesses can't compete, they should find another business. Protectionists seem to think that "Big Oil" and Wal-Mart will drive the competitors out of business, and then jack the prices up to $8 a gallon. If that were true, small businesses would re-enter the market and force them to lower prices through competition. That's the way capitalism works.

What's more, this sort of pricing happens all the time. Check out any sale paper on the day after Thanksgiving. They are filled with ads for products that are priced below cost. It's a hook to get people in the door, and gas stations should be free to do the same.

I would have been defiant and disorderly too

iconIn the name of zero tolerance, school officials have suspended a student for receiving a cell phone call from his mom in Iraq.

The 10-day suspension was issued because Kevin Francois was "defiant and disorderly" and was imposed in lieu of an arrest, Spencer High School assistant principal Alfred Parham said.

The confrontation Wednesday began after the 17-year-old junior got a call at lunchtime from his mother, Sgt. 1st Class Monique Bates, who left in January for a one-year tour with the 203rd Forward Support Battalion.

Cell phones are allowed on campus but may not be used during school hours. When a teacher told him to hang up, he refused. He said he told the teacher, "This is my mom in Iraq. I'm not about to hang up on my mom."

I once had a similar conversation with a mall security guard. I was 24 years old and standing in front of Lynnhaven Mall talking on my cell phone. Mr. Mall Security came over and told me that if I wanted to talk on my cell phone I had to go out and stand by the noisy street. I asked my caller to hold on, and in not so many words told Mr. Mall Security that I wasn't some punk kid and would not be complying with his request. If he wanted to discuss the matter further he should telephone the police and wait for their arrival. (Actually it was more like "Go fuck yourself. I'm not 15. Go call a real cop.") He left and I finished my conversation. Of course that was 8 years ago, cell phones were still pretty rare, and Mr. Mall Security was too timid to do anything else about it.

If a similar thing happened today, I wonder if I'd be arrested for being "defiant and disorderly".

UPDATE: The student's suspension was shortened because of public outrage.

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Business Advice From the New York Times

iconTaranto hilariously points out the New York Times' attempt to give pro-union business advice.

"Wal-Mart critics often note that corporations like Ford and G.M. led a race to the top, providing high wages and generous benefits that other companies emulated. They ask why Wal-Mart, with some $10 billion in profit on about $288 billion in revenue last year, cannot act similarly."--New York Times, May 4

"Standard & Poor's Ratings Services cut its corporate credit ratings to junk status for both General Motors Corp. (GM) and Ford Motor Co. (F). . . . The decision by one of the nation's most respected ratings agencies comes as the two iconic American automakers are losing market share at home to Asian automakers, seeing sales soften for their most profitable models and are facing enormous health care and post-retirement liabilities."--Associated Press, May 5

Blaming the Media
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Customer refused to allow finger reattachment

iconThis guy needs to go to jail.

To a dessert shop customer, the severed fingertip found in a pint of frozen custard could be worth big dollars in a potential lawsuit. To the shop worker who lost it, the value is far more than monetary.

But Clarence Stowers still has the digit, refusing to return the evidence so it could be reattached. And now it's too late for doctors to do anything for 23-year-old Brandon Fizer.

Aside from the despicable lottery mentality, refusing to allow the guy to get his finger reattached should be some sort of crime (if it's not already). He should also be facing a civil lawsuit from the guy who lost his finger.
Even if Stowers decides to sue, an expert in medical law said the fingertip could easily have been returned while preserving the evidence.

"The man who lost the finger has the superior claim," said Paul Lombardo, who teaches at the University of Virginia's law school. "It's his finger and he might be able to use it."

Lombardo said Stowers could have photographed the fingertip, taken a bit of flesh for DNA analysis or gotten an affidavit from the surgeon who would have reattached the digit.

"There is nothing that would prevent preserving the chain of evidence," Lombardo said.

Global Warming blamed on cleaner air

iconClean air is a good thing, right? Well, not if you believe the enviro-weenies. Less pollution in the air means clear skies. Clear skies means more sunlight reaches the Earth, and that contributes to Global Warming.

This latest report conflicts a previous report that said the Earth had continued dimming since the year 2000. But no matter how their views conflict, when you get to the heart of it all scientists seem to have a common goal. More funding.

Dr. Robert J. Charlson, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington and an author of a commentary that accompanied the three papers, said, "This set of papers, taken together, calls attention for more emphasis on research in these topics."

But he added, "Unfortunately, impediments have come up." Four years' worth of data from the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite is unanalyzed, he said, because there is no money for scientists to work with it.

Another satellite, the Deep Space Climate Observatory, which was scheduled to be launched on a space shuttle, awaits in storage. Proposed budget cuts in earth science research at NASA could limit the analysis of data from other satellites, Dr. Charlson said.

It's the same old formula; sound the alarm and then ask for more funding.

Global Warming
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VD outbreak at San Francisco Zoo

iconTwelve penguins have died at the San Francisco Zoo, after an outbreak of chlamydia. Zoo officials are blaming an infected seagull (no doubt a bird that hangs out on the wrong side of the tracks). But I have another theory.

The bacteria, which was most likely transmitted to the birds by an infected seagull, is spread through airborne saliva or other bodily fluids, said Bob Jenkins, the zoo's director of animal care and conservation. A similar disease is sexually transmitted in humans.

"One quick exposure and you're off and running," Jenkins said, adding that at its height, nearly 80 percent of the zoo's penguin colony was infected. "It required very aggressive treatment on our part." [...]

Some of the zoo's 55 remaining penguins are still recovering, he said.

"It's a strong colony, so it seems to be bouncing back well," Jenkins said.

Pardon me for being skeptical, but I think they should have the staff tested. Ten bucks says there's some sicko out there with chlamydia diddling the penguins. I mean, this did happen in San Francisco.

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World's Smallest Violin

iconDespite facing decades in "federal 'pound me in the ass' prison" for bank fraud, twenty-one year old Hakan Yalincak didn't seem to realize the gravity of his situation.

A New York University student was charged with bank fraud after depositing $43 million in bogus cashier's checks into Swiss and American accounts and trying to withdraw the money, prosecutors said Friday.

Hakan Yalincak, 21, also faces civil charges that he convinced two investors to sink $2.8 million into a nonexistent hedge fund and spent the money on luxury items and university donations.

He wept in court as U.S. Magistrate Judge Joan Margolis ordered him jailed until a detention hearing Thursday. "I have a graduation on Wednesday," Yalincak said.

Dumb Criminals
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The futility of bans

iconMetal detectors didn't prevent a Virginia Tech student from being stabbed at a local night club.

Police say the student, 23-year-old Frank Amponsah, worked at the tavern and was escorting a group outside when someone came from behind him and stabbed him.

No one saw the attack.

The tavern's owner says about 200 people were inside, and all of them went through a metal detector at the door. The tavern is the only bar in Blacksburg with one installed.

We can't keep knives out of our prisons, what makes them think they can keep them out of public places?

Global Cooling chills April sales figures

iconRetailers don't buy into the global warming hype. Last month's poor sales figures are being blamed on cold weather.

Spring sales provided little bounce for many retailers in April as unseasonably chilly - even downright cold - weather and never-seen- before prices at the gas pump kept most shoppers at home.

Teens, however, bundled up and headed to the store anyway, picking up hot fashions for spring-break vacations.

Global Warming
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When the words are touched with sorrow...

iconShe's stolen my heart.
She would not return it, now
she weds another.

It should not bug me.
It does. Nothing to do now,
but drink heavily.

Enya - Exile
10,000 Maniacs - More Than This
Peter Gabriel - Your Eyes
Chris Isaak - Wicked Game
A Flock of Seagulls - Space Age Love Song
Haddaway - What Is Love
Everly Brothers - All I Have To Do Is Dream
Cure - Friday I'm in Love
Laura Branigan - Gloria
Cher - Believe
Beatles - Michelle
Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse Of The Heart
Cardigans - Lovefool
Billy Joel - Longest Time
John Cougar Mellencamp - Jack and Diane
Fugees - Killing Me Softly
Garth Brooks - Standing Outside the Fire
Sixpence None The Richer - There She Goes
Offspring - Why Don't You Get A Job

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Beltway Road Hazard of the Day

iconTodd scolded me for dropping the ball on this one. Well, better late than never.

Today's trash laying in, on, or near the road was:

  • Drywall
Coulda been sheetrock, I don't know. I'm not a builder.

Commute: Everyone must be hungover from Cinco de Mayo
Door to door: 20 minutes

Carnival of Cordite XI

iconThis week's Carnival of Cordite has been posted.

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All your bank records are belong to us

iconNothing like having your financials held hostage because your financial software wants to improve their bottom line. Thanks a lot Quicken.

As of April 19th, 2005, access to your portfolio and other investing features of Quicken.com is no longer available for users of unsupported versions of Quicken (Quicken 2002 and older). To regain access to these services, you will need to upgrade to Quicken 2005.
Keep this in mind if you buy their software. They'll probably shut it off after two years and try to coerce you into upgrading. I refuse to do business with companies like that.

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Bushmaster threatens to pull out of Maine

iconMaine is set to ban and confiscate any gun that fits their definition of "assault weapon". One of those definitions is any Bushmaster rifle. Bushmaster, who is headquartered in Maine, is already threatening to leave the state, reports Say Uncle.

Bushmaster Firearms of Windham sent a letter to the committee last week saying the bill "would require Bushmaster to move out of Maine immediately." Richard Dyke, Bushmaster's chairman, said in the letter that the state would then lose the taxes on $60 million in annual sales, the annual payroll of more than $7 million for 91 employees and nearly $34,000 in property taxes.
I'd love to also see them take the Barrett approach. After .50 caliber rifles were banned in California, Barrett refused to do business with the government and police organizations there. Manufacturers who are facing lawsuits, bans, and increasingly hostile regs should start refusing to do business with these governments.

Political Correctness Kills Louie Louie

iconMarching band students in Benton Harbor Michigan have been told not to play the song "Louie Louie", because of it's questionable lyrics. (Even though the lyrics aren't sung.)

"Louie Louie," written by Richard Berry in 1956, is one of the most recorded songs in history. The best-known, most notorious version was a hit in 1963 for the Kingsmen; the FBI spent two years investigating the lyrics before declaring they not only were not obscene but also were "unintelligible at any speed."
The Smoking Gun has the scoop on the old federal case.

UPDATE: "'Louie Louie' ban reversed for school band" - Chicago Sun Times.

Political Correctness Kills Apostrophe

iconThe University of Minnesota is building a "Scholars Walk". But lobbyists wanting the name changed to "Scholar's Walk" to add distinction to the people it honors, mounted an unsucessful campaign to add the apostrophe. The AP reports that political correctness is to blame.

The board worried that the apostrophe would make the four-block walkway appear exclusive at a time the university wants to be inclusive. It might even mean adding apostrophes to Regents Professors Square and a Professors Lane.

"Apostrophes would be out of control!" said board member Margaret Carlson.

Under no circumstances, am I changing the name to Ravenwoods Universe.

Gays should support fair tax plan

iconHere's a case for permitting gay marriage, fair tax reform, or both.

As an increasing number of employers make health care coverage available, unmarried workers are finding that as one barrier falls, another remains standing: taxes.

Whether in same-sex or heterosexual unmarried unions, employees who take advantage of health care coverage for their partners are stuck with tax bills for the benefits.

Under federal law, any portion of an employer-paid insurance premium that goes for coverage for a domestic partner is treated as taxable income to the employee. The employee also may not make any payments for partner coverage, such as premiums under a "cafeteria" benefit plan, with pretax dollars.

Of course, getting rid of the progressive income tax would eliminate this problem.

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Blame Seventeen

iconMore and more states are thumbing their nose at the No Child Left Behind Act. Fox News reports that Utah "enacted legislation to give its own state education standards priority over federal rules."

Utah is one of 16 states challenging or considering challenges to NCLB. Many state officials say they think the law is too rigid in measuring student proficiency and often conflicts with how states track their own progress.

"Our state felt to say 'enough is enough,'" said Utah Superintendent of Public Instruction Patti Harrington.

While I certainly lean anti-Federalist, I don't appreciate the cavalier attitude toward violating federal law. If states can violate this law, what other federal laws can they disobey?

Of course all this harkens back to the Seventeeth Amendment, which provides for the popular election of Senators. Previously Senators had been elected by the state legislatures, which gave the states a voice in federal politics.

With states removed from the federal process, the checks and balances the states had over the federal government was limited. The federal government not only began to expand uncontrollably, but it was empowered to impose its will over the individual states. Over time, mandates were imposed on the states, and the fed took control over some state institutions.

With the removal of checks and balances over the legislative branch, states were also removed from the federal judicial process. With states no longer having an influence on the selection of federal judges, Seventeen also destroyed the checks and balances over the judicial branch.

18,000 more reasons not to live in Maryland

iconI knew auto theft was out of control in Prince George's County (MD), but I didn't know it was this bad.

...there were more car thefts reported in Prince George's last year than in the all of Virginia. Nearly 18,500 cars were stolen in the county, compared with about 17,300 in Virginia.
A car is stolen in PG County every 30 minutes.

Vandy loses bid to rewrite history

iconVanderbilt lost their bid on appeal to remove the word 'Confederate' from 'Confederate Memorial Hall'. The court ruled that it would violate their contract with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who provided funds for the building.

The state appeals court said Vanderbilt must leave the name intact or pay the group the current value of the $50,000 given when the building was constructed in 1935.
This would appear to give Vandy an option to buy their way out, which might be better than gambling on an appeal to the supreme court. If they end up paying off the Daughters, I hope the Daughters buy the biggest gaudiest Confederate monument they can afford right next to the Vanderbilt campus.

Related articles:
Rewriting History - 01/07/2005

Debbie can't do Dallas anymore

iconIt's nice to know that the biggest education issue facing the state of Texas is whether or not their cheerleaders shake their booty too much.

The state's House of Representatives voted 85-55 to approve a bill that would forbid sexy cheers and give the Texas Education Agency authority to punish schools that allow "overtly sexually suggestive" routines at football games and other events.
You think zero tolerance is bad now, wait until teachers and principals start enforcing this one.

UPDATE: This bill appears to be dying in the Texas Senate.

Beltway Road Hazard of the Day

iconToday's trash laying in, on, or near the road was:

  • Sod - As in grass.
They weren't trying to plant it there, it just fell off a truck.

Commute: Brisk
Door to door: 25 minutes

Glock cock on Locke

iconAnyone else catch Sayid "cocking" the Glock he pulled on Locke last night? Sayid brought the pistol to bear on Locke, and to drive the point home, a "ca-click" sound effect was added as if Sayid was cocking the gun. More gun ignorance from Hollywood.

It's like those tires that squeal on dirt, or guys that rack the slide of a pump shotgun two or three times without firing a shot.

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Too shy shy

iconHow tempting is this?

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Worship somewheres else

iconIf you are looking to join a church, you might want to think twice before you show up at one in Los Angeles.

The strangers with shaved heads weren't skinheads - they were leather necks.

Parishioners at a Catholic Church in the Los Angeles area were a little nervous when three tough-looking guys showed up during services the past two Sundays. Sheriff's deputies were called to the church after the men visited the second time.

But San Bernardino County sheriff's Sergeant Frank Gonzales says there was nothing to worry about.

The three men are Marines who had just returned from Iraq. He says the men were very polite and explained they were just looking for a friend.

Did it not occur to them to just ask the guys?

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More Morantics

iconCongressman Jim Moran (D-VA) has stuck his foot in his mouth yet again. WMAL reports on an interview he gave to a lefty website:

Northern Virginia Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA, 8th District) reportedly called Vice President Cheney an "ass-kisser," adding that President Bush doesn't read books, only reads the sports section of the newspaper and surrounds himself with people who just tell him what he wants to hear.

Moran told the editor of the left-leaning website The Raw Story that Bush has "surrounded himself with ideological sycophants. And the biggest ass-kisser of all is Dick Cheney."

Contacted by phone by 630 WMAL this morning, Moran did not deny making the remarks. Rather, he said the quotes were "taken out of context."

So, here's the context, and it looks pretty clear.
Raw Story: Do you really think the president is sheltered from those he's pitching his plan to?

Moran: The only actual news that he reads is the sports section. All the national news, all the opinions that he gets have been filtered, and it goes to his daily briefing that has already been pre-screened to give him what he wants to read. He doesn't read any books, and he doesn't talk with people that don't already agree with him. He's surrounded himself with ideological sycophants. And the biggest ass-kisser of all is Dick Cheney.

For those of you who may have forgotten, Jim Moran is the rabidly anti-gun Congressman who blamed the J-E-W-S for the war in Iraq. Even the Washington Post admits that running Moran out of office should be easier than it has been.
Challenging Moran should be the easiest job in America. After all, this is the congressman who -- you'll need a deep breath to make it to the end of this sentence -- grabbed an 8-year-old boy in a parking lot because Moran thought the kid had threatened him; borrowed $25,000 from a drug company lobbyist five days before agreeing to co-sponsor a bill that would help that lobbyist's client; took a $447,000 loan from a credit company four days before signing on to legislation that the company was pushing; got into a shoving match on the House floor with one colleague; threatened to punch another congressman in the nose; and just last year told an audience that there'd be no war against Iraq without the support of the Jewish community. Whew.
And lucky me, I live in his district.

Greenpeace charged with violating environmental laws


Lawyers selected a jury Monday that will decide whether Greenpeace and its contract ship were criminally negligent by failing to have the proper oil spill response paperwork during an anti-logging campaign.

The environmental activist group, the captain of the Arctic Sunrise and the ship's agent all are charged with misdemeanor criminal counts of operating a vessel without a spill contingency plan or proof of financial responsibility in case of a spill, as required by state law.

Considering Greenpeace is in the habit of ramming other ships, this is no small matter.

(Via Smallest Minority)

Teachers blast new SAT

iconThe National Council of Teachers of English is criticizing the new essay section of the SAT. The say it is "a poor predictor of how well students will perform in college and expressed concern that it could encourage mediocre, formulaic writing," reports the Washington Post.

"The skills that are needed to do well on this test represent a very narrow range of the skills that students will need to do well in the marketplace," said Robert Yagelski, a professor of English education at the State University of New York at Albany and chairman of the task force that drew up the report.
The last place I'd take advice about the skills needed to do well in the marketplace is from a college English professor.

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Democrats' Travel Costs Linked to Lobbyist

iconI wonder at what point the Democrats will wish they could put that genie back into the bottle.

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff paid at least a portion of the expenses for two Democratic members of Congress and two staff members to then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) during a pair of trips in the mid-1990s to the Northern Mariana Islands, according to a former Abramoff secretary and travel records published on the Internet yesterday.
Notice how DeLay's name gets dragged through the mud, even though it wasn't his trip. The two Democrats are James E. Clyburn (SC), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and Bennie Thompson (MS), the senior Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee. All parties involved are pleading ignorance.

House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi warned against changing the subject.

In an ABC interview Sunday, Mrs. Pelosi dismissed questions about travel by Democrats, telling interviewer George Stephanopoulos: "Do not fall into a Republican trap of equating technicalities on reporting, timing of reporting with not upholding an ethical standard of the House."
Whew. Thanks to Pelosi, Stephanopoulos narrowly escaped the "Republican trap".

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Not for sale in D.C.

iconWashington D.C. unanimously passed a measure that would make it illegal to sell prescription drugs at "excessive prices". (Don't worry, illicit drugs will still be available at street value.)

The sponsor of the drug bill, David A. Catania (I-At Large), said the legislation merely allows the city to exercise its broad powers to regulate trade in the District. He said the purpose is not to get the city into the drugmaking business but to encourage drug companies to "right-size their pricing policies."

Under the bill, drug prices in the District would be compared to prices in Europe, Canada, Australia and other countries to determine whether drug companies were charging District residents excessively. A resident who felt gouged could bring a lawsuit. In addition to imposing damages, a judge who found a company in violation of the provision could authorize the District to license a specific drug to an alternative manufacturer.

What manufacturer would have the cajones to illegally produce another company's patented drug, just because some D.C. judge said it was okay? When certain prescription drugs are no longer available in D.C., I wonder if residents will opt for traveling to Virginia or Maryland to buy our expensive drugs, or if they'll go all the way to Canada or Europe.

Hopefully next week the District will pass a similar law prohibiting the sale of gasoline at "excessive prices".

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Beltway Road Hazard of the Day

iconToday's trash laying in, on, or near the road was:

  • Mattress - Twin size
It was a soft mattress (not a box spring) and would probably mess your shorts more than your car.

Commute: No Worries
Door to door: 28 minutes

Student sues after failing to make volleyball team

iconA female senior at Grand Junction High School is suing over her failure to make the volleyball team.

Unlike boys who play football, girls don't have the option of playing on the junior varsity volleyball team if they fail to make the varsity team, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

Jessica Wieker's lawsuit alleges Mesa County Valley School District No. 51 discriminates against girls, which is a violation of a federal law known as Title IX that guarantees equal gender access to public education.

The way Title IX has been implemented, the girl probably still won't get to play volleyball. That's because Title IX stipulates that girls and boys programs have to be equal. While it was intended that schools across the country would start up girls athletic programs (regardless of the level of interest), the law of unintended consequences reared it's ugly head. Instead of creating girl's programs, schools simply eliminated boys programs to bring them into compliance. Lesser sports like wrestling have been decimated because of lack of interest in girl's sports. Schools don't have unlimited budgets and the less popular boy's sports are the often cut instead of investing in even more unpopular girl's sports.

Ravenwood's prediction: The boy's JV team is toast.

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Poll: Bring back Saddam

iconCNN released another poll, and this one concludes that more Americans prefer Saddam.

Fifty-seven percent of those polled said they did not believe it was worth going to war, versus 41 percent who said it was, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,006 adults.

That was a drop in support from February, when 48 percent said it was worth going to war and half said it was not.

It's also the highest percentage of respondents who have expressed those feelings and triple the percentage of Americans who said that it was not worth the cost shortly after the war began about two years ago.

One third of 57% means that only 19% of Americans said it wasn't worth going to war at the outset. Of course retrospective is much easier than predicting the future.

What would those who changed their mind have us do? Put Saddam back in power and reopen the rape rooms. Maybe the next poll should ask the families of the 200,000 people found in mass graves if they thought the liberation was worth it.

Get Your War On
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Affirmative Action needed in Hollywood

iconSpecial interest groups are complaining that minorities are underrepresented in Hollywood.

A study of Asian Americans in prime-time television, released Monday, shows that Asians, who make up 5 percent of the U.S. population, play 2.7 percent of regular characters. It also shows virtually no Asian actors are on situation comedies, and the characters they play in dramas tend to have less depth than most regulars, with minimal on-screen time and few romantic roles.

"Television is still the place where people get to know other people from other cultures ... if they don't have regular contact with them in real life," said Karen K. Narasaki, president of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, the Washington-based civil rights group that commissioned the study. "If Asian Americans are absent, it tends to reinforce the stereotypes."

Had Ms. Narasaki ever seen All American Girl, chances are she wouldn't think that sit-coms are a good way to expose Americans to foreign culture.

Left-wing Conspiracy
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Damn you Russ Meyer

iconLucia Bill is a self-professed champion for members of the IBTC. She's tired of women with big boobs getting all the attention.

With no disrespect to my better-endowed sisters, I think it's time for small-breasted women to start receiving the attention and appreciation they deserve.

I'm not interested in hearing that small breasts are more convenient because you can get away with not wearing a bra, that you won't have any back problems or that "at least they don't get in the way" during sex.

Trust me: I take full advantage of all these perks.

But all of this still carries the connotation that having anything below a C-cup is a consolatory prize -- that maybe I should see if my body has another part worthy of desire.

It's time small breasts were acknowledged as sexy. Period.

Speaking strictly from personal experience, it seems to me that the people most obsessed with breast size are women. Sure, men are attracted to women with big boobs. But men are also attracted to women with not so big boobs. Most men I know are pretty much attracted to anything in a skirt. If they aren't, just wait a few more beers.

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Not so less than lethal

iconCops should go back to just shooting criminals. It's quicker, more humane, and in the case of this guy, the results are the same.

The 24-year-old man had run out a back door of an apartment when officers tried to arrest him early Tuesday, Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Randy Force said. A female officer caught up with the man and shocked him.

When the suspect continued to resist, another officer shocked him with his Taser, Force said. Police did not say exactly how many times the man was zapped.

The man, who was not immediately identified, went unconscious and was pronounced dead later at a hospital, Force said.

Cold Dead Hands

iconTriggerfinger notes that pending legislation in Maine provides for the confiscation (without compensation) of .50 caliber rifles. But reading the text of the bill shows that they actually plan to confiscate all guns that fit their broad definition of "assault weapon".

Any machine gun, assault weapon or .50 caliber rifle or .50 caliber ammunition possessed in violation of section 1051 or section 1058 is declared to be contraband and is subject to forfeiture to the State.
Of course "assault weapon" is an arbitrary term created to include scary looking guns. That is, guns that are not machine guns, but look kinda like them.

(Via Say Uncle)

Fat chance

icon"[President Bush] invaded a sovereign nation in defiance of the UN, he is basically a war criminal. Honestly. He should be tried at The Hague." -- Actress, lesbian, and foreign policy expert Rosie O'Donnell.

Germany was also a sovereign nation when we invaded them in 1945.

Practical Joke of the Day

iconShamelessly stolen from Brian J. Noggle:

The laws of economics have really pulled a good one on the AFL-CIO:
    AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney, who is facing challenges from some of the labor federation's largest member unions, yesterday acknowledged that the organization is financially squeezed and may have to lay off a quarter of its workforce.
If only those employees had a union....

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Beltway Road Hazard of the Day

iconToday's trash laying in, on, or near the road was:

  • Broom - A big push broom, with it's handle intact.
  • Shovel - Not the digging kind, the shoveling shit kind. The big flat kind that would go perfect with a push broom.
The two were only about 500 feet apart, so they probably fell off the same truck. If either of these smacked your car, you'd be looking at some serious body work.

Commute: Clear sailing
Door to door: 23 minutes

Pre-season Power Rankings

iconStewart Mandel has Virginia Tech ranked 6th in the Power Rankings. They are the top ACC school ranked, with Miami coming in second at 9th. Marcus Vick also won the starting job this spring. I can hardly wait for football season to start.

Of course this will be the first year of the ACC championship game. Anything can happen.

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The Magic Rifle

icon"...a sniper atop the Washington Monument (with a .50-caliber rifle) could target anybody or anything within a four-mile radius, including the White House, the Capitol, every building on or around the Mall, and aircraft flying in and out of Reagan National Airport." -- Dianne "gun in her purse" Feinstein.

Nevermind that 4 miles is more than two and a half times the world record of 1.5 miles made by a specially trained marksman. Nevermind that it is practically impossible to shoot down an aircraft moving several hundred miles an hour from several miles away with a projectile a half an inch in diameter. Nevermind that the White House (and most likely the Capitol building) is heavily armored. Why don't we just ban guns from the Washington Monument? Oh wait, we already did that.

Wishful thinking?

icon"DeLay's 'Salute': A Wave Goodbye?" -- Op-Ed Headline, Washington Post, May 1, 2005.

Blaming the Media
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Another dubious poll

iconCNN reports the latest poll shows that "Support lags for Social Security plan". This is despite their admission that "81 percent of respondents believed that the program would need major changes in the coming years." So if more than 8 out of 10 people think that Social Security needs "major changes", why does support lag for changing Social Security?

Well, let's examine it:

Forty-five percent of respondents said that changes would be needed in a year or two and 36 percent said those changes would be needed within 10 years.
Assuming that these are mutually exclusive responses to the same question, this is the 81% that say Social Security needs changes.
But 46 percent said they would be better off if Congress did not pass a plan this year, while 27 percent said a plan favored by most Republicans would be better and 22 percent favored a plan supported by most Democrats.
That's 49% who support changes favored by either Republicans or Democrats, compared to 46% who would rather wait at least a year. Despite 22 percent favoring the unspecified Democrat plan (they have one?), that doesn't really mean that there is no support for changes. After all, doing nothing is not a plan.

Here is where the poll is most dubious, and it is what made CNN deduct that support for Social Security reform lags:

Thirty-five percent of respondents said they approved of Bush's handling of Social Security, while 58 percent said they disapproved.
Set aside the fact that even fair and balanced polls are essentially mob rule and should be ignored. This is the oldest trick in the polling book. Notice that the answers have nothing to do with supporting Social Security reform. Asked this question, a person might disapprove of Bush's handling because he thinks Bush is trying to do too much, OR because he thinks Bush is trying to do too little. Personally, I think Bush isn't doing enough. He needs to be out there more selling a specific plan. And that plan should cover more than a paltry 2%. Personally, I think that a 15% contribution to your 401K should exempt you from Social Security.

Basically, I disapprove of the way Bush is handling the issue, AND I support reform. But CNN would conclude that I support the "do nothing" approach.

The Washington Post tries this technique all the time, most notably in the run-up to the innauguration.

Just about every single question is worded, "Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is [doing whatever]". The problem with this type of question is that it is not specific enough. On the question of Iraq, liberals may think Bush is being too much of a hardliner while conservatives think he's being too soft on the terrorists. Both could easily cast their vote for "disapprove".

The same could be said for the economy, or education, of judicial appointments. As a conservative, I don't think Bush has done enough to make tax cuts permenent. I also think we spend way too much on government schools and that Bush isn't pushing his judicial appoints through effectively. I could easily vote "disapprove" in all three of those categories.

And such is the problem with polls. Next time a newsman says "I have a poll", tell them to shoved it up their ass.

Is the L.A. Times deliberately un-American?

iconPatterico reports that the LA Times is in the habit of editing Reuter's news stories so that they sound more anti-American.

Case in point, concerning the Italian journalist who was fired upon for failing to stop at a U.S. checkpoint in Iraq:

the Reuters story reported that there is definitive proof that the car was speeding towards the checkpoint - critical information that tends to justify U.S. soldiers' decision to fire on the car. But in the version appearing in the L.A. Times, editors cut out the passage reporting that proof.
In the Times defense, they did remove the Reuters scare quotes from "speeding", and newspapers sometimes do lop off the end of wire reports to make them more concise. I'm sure that the Times truncating the report right before the part that exonerated the United States was just a sloppy oversight. Right?

Of course, I don't know what their excuse is for this:

Times editors moved the word "Friday," changed the word "killing" to "slaying," and replaced the word "in" with "on," making the sentence grammatically awkward. [UPDATE: In the comments, Dafydd ab Hugh notes that the use of the word "slaying" tells you something about where L.A. Times editors are coming from.]
At least they didn't say "murdering". It's no wonder their circulation figures are in the toilet.

Blaming the Media
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1984: D.C. police gather personal info at 'safety stops'

iconPolice in Washington D.C. have been setting up checkpoints to conduct 'safety stops'. During the stops, police collect personal information about the driver and some passengers. The information is stored in a government database and used as a tool to fight crime, reports the Washington Post.

The city's practice of recording information at traffic safety checkpoints on violators and law-abiding motorists alike -- and sometimes their passengers -- has garnered little attention since police began entering such data into a computer in 2002. Few, if any, of the more than 100 people pulled over almost nightly at the five or six checkpoints in high-crime areas realize that their names and whereabouts will end up in the database...

D.C. homicide Detective Paul Regan said the collection of such data has been "a great intelligence tool."

So far this has flown below the radar. But civil libertarians, like the ACLU, have been asked for comment. Since this likely disproportionally affects blacks, look for more outrage in the future.

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Felon Party Candidate

iconI continue to be amazed at groups that kowtow to convicted felons. In Virginia, special interest groups are urging Democrat Governor Mark Warner to restore the voting rights of 10,000 convicted felons.

In Virginia, anyone convicted of a felony loses certain rights, including the right to vote, to hold public office and to serve on a jury.

Most states automatically restore a felon's right to vote once he or she has completed a sentence, paid fines and made restitution. But Virginia is one of seven states where felons lose their voting rights for life.

The governor has the power to restore all citizenship rights, except for the right to possess a gun...

Warner already simplified the process by streamlining the paperwork.

I think the bulk of the problem is actually caused by lawmakers and prosecutors. To appear tough on crime, politicians have steadily increased the penalties and reclassified what used to be minor crimes as felonies. Call it the 'Felonization of America' if you will, but crimes that used to be somewhat mundane are now being zealously prosecuted for political gain. Simple drug possession, traffic fines, or filling in that mud puddle in your back yard can get you slapped with a felony. Malice and potential to do harm often don't even enter into the equation.

For instance, here in Virginia a teacher was recently charged for keeping a handgun in their car. The teacher had a permit to lawfully carry a concealed handgun, but apparently didn't realize that he could not even leave it locked in his car on school property. The law changes to permit such an act on July 1st, but since it happened in April, he's facing a felony gun possession charge. So on July 1st, no harm no foul. Up until June 30th, Class 6 felony. Even after July 1st, non-permit holders are subject to felony possession for having a gun on any "portion of any property open to the public used for school-sponsored functions."

I know Ohioans who are reluctant to lawfully carry a firearm, because a simple violation of the statute is classified as a felony rather than a misdemeanor. You have to ask yourself, is it worth risking a felony for tripping over the legaleze put in there by lawmakers?

But I digress. The point is that there are so many crimes classified as felonies, it's hard to weed the good from the bad. I think that a rapist or murderer should never have their rights restored. But someone who was charged with reckless driving in a non-injury accident should absolutely have their rights restored after they've paid their debt to society. The same goes for anyone caught in the Martha Stewart Catch-22, where investigators can't find any evidence of a real crime, so instead they charge people with not cooperating in the witch hunt.

When it comes to restoring the rights of convicted felons, it should be done on a case by case basis, rather than blanket amnesty doled out for political gain. (And yes, that means you George Ryan.)

Keeping Good Company

iconI'm always humbled whenever I make a list of favorites. But John Hawkin's latest list has a lot of exclusive names on it. With yours truly on there, it looks like a game of "One of these things is not like the other..."

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Blame it on the rain

iconI was at Saturday night's rain soaked National's game against the Mets. The highlight of the game was watching the grounds crew struggle to pull the tarp over the infield during the rain delay. The game ended up being called after the infield was turned into a lake before the bottom of the 8th inning. The Nationals won 5 to 3.

I have always had trouble respecting baseball players for their refusal to play in the rain. Then again, I did stand in the torrential downpour of Hurricane Isabel to watch Virginia Tech beat Texas A&M. But the protests by both teams about Saturday's game makes baseball players sound like a bunch of girlie men.

"The conditions were deplorable. I couldn't see anything. I caught a popup and I still don't know if I caught it," Mets catcher Mike Piazza said. "You needed a canoe to get on the field. I'd be surprised if they can get it ready for tomorrow." [...]

Washington's Jose Vidro thought the conditions were worse Saturday.

"That was ridiculous. ... A lot of us could have been hurt. People in our front office, they should think about -- next time they know the rain is coming -- calling off the game," the second baseman said. [...]

Cliff Floyd slipped on his way out of the batter's box...

"The outfield was horrible. You slip out there and hurt yourself, there's nothing else to say: You're on the 15-day disabled list."

Disabled for 15 days because you slip and fall on your ass? What a drama queen.

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1984: Police to use remote camera planes to spy on citizens

iconIf you see something following you around in Maryland, it doesn't necessarily mean you're crazy.

The Charles County Sheriff's Office recently monitored a gathering of motorcycle riders by launching a remote-control aerial camera to watch for emergencies or troublemakers. . .

"I liked what I saw," said Lt. Chris Becker, the agency's commander of homeland security and intelligence. "A tactical operations team member could readily carry it in the trunk of his patrol car and assemble it in just minutes." [...]

"I was quite impressed with how easy it was to launch and how well it monitored the area," he said. "Besides crowd and traffic control, I see law enforcement using the CyberBug in a multitude of applications especially when it comes to crime fighting and homeland security."

Remember, just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean that they aren't really out to get you.

Clinton continues to undermine Bush

iconPresident Clinton continues to defy centuries of tradition and criticize his successor. This time he criticized Bush's energy policies as "dumb economics" at a speech at Brown University.


D.C. not paying the phone bill

iconThe city of Washington D.C. seems to be having credit problems. Verizon is even threatening to shut off their phone service for non-payment, reports the Washington Post.

The troubles date to at least 1998, when the phone company accused the District of failing to pay bills totaling more than $6 million over two years.

"There's never an explanation as to why. They just say: 'Upon advice of counsel, we're not paying this portion of the bill,' " Rabe said. "They have not been, frankly, an easy customer for us to work with." [...]

With the city's contract set to expire at midnight April 30, Verizon executives notified the District in February that it would not agree to an extension at preferred rates. Instead, the city would be free to seek another provider or to pay Verizon the much higher rates it normally charges customers.

Bobb took over the negotiations in mid-April and tried to persuade the company to extend the preferred contract. Verizon refused and, with the expiration date approaching, threatened to cut off non-emergency service unless the city paid its bills.

Perhaps they should treat D.C. like any other credit risk and make them pay a deposit.

Duty. Honor. Country. Nothing is sacred

iconAthletes that attend West Point may be let out of their military committment early to enter professional sports. Confederate Yankee thinks they are sending the wrong message and throwing hundreds of years of tradition out the window in exchange for a better football team.

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Stop. Pay toll.

iconCongress is preparing to make it more expensive to drive the nation's interstate highway system. The formerly "free" highways could soon be littered with toll booths, reports the Boston Globe.

A provision in the $284 billion highway bill under consideration on Capitol Hill could open the way for more tolls on the nation's congested interstates, marking a departure from long-standing federal highway policy that has traditionally frowned on collecting tolls to pay for roads built with federal tax dollars...

Currently, only highways such as the Massachusetts Turnpike that were begun before the establishment of the free interstate system in 1956 can collect tolls.

The proposal marks a response to the growing clamor among state highway officials that the federal government's gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon is no longer enough to fund the nation's transportation needs. Congress has little appetite to raise the tax, leaving tolls as one of the few remaining funding options for road builders.

"Gas taxes are deemed something we can't touch. It's political suicide to add a gas tax," said Neil Gray, a spokesman for the International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association in Washington. "In that bind, what are your options? You can't do nothing."

President Bush supports the bill.

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This sounds familiar

icon"Although privatization has its strongest support amongst Republican Congressmen, two senior ranking Democrats have recently embraced the idea. Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) and Robert Kerrey (D-NE) have introduced "The Social Security Solvency Act of 1998", which would cut the Social Security payroll tax by 2 percent and allow workers to invest the tax cut in personal savings accounts." -- PBS Online Newshour, August 5, 1998.

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