July 30, 2006

A Twisted Webb

The spin continues at Raising Kaine, concerning the now infamous Mason-Dixon poll that has Senator Allen leading by 16-points.
*For an incumbent like Allen, with 97% name recognition (according to the poll), to be under 50% is very, very bad news.

*People simply don't know Jim Webb yet. As J. Bradford Coker, Mason-Dixon managing director, said, "It's only July...Undecided voters tend to go more for the challenger than for the incumbent."

*Mason-Dixon didn't "push" undecideds to make a decision at this point. According to UVA political scientist Larry Sabato:

..once the undecideds are properly allocated, Webb is almost certainly over 40 percent, not this exceptionally low 32 percent. Right now, it’s an 8 to 10 percent race, with Allen out front holding a shaky majority.
Lowell keeps up the spin and forgets a few key factors. Allen is below 50% with 97% recognition, but Webb's recognition with 100 days before the election is very low, and with so little money, he will have a difficult time getting his name out. Allen may not need a huge jump if people are unfamiliar with Webb. And he tries to quote Larry Sabato, but let's break down the numbers to see how he could possibly see James Webb down only 8-10 points. Allen has a 16 point lead in this poll. For Webb to get to 8 points below from the currently 20% undecided, he would need to take more than 70% of the undecided vote, which is difficult enough to do with more name recognition than Webb has; can people unexcited about a candidate really be counted on to come out to the polls voting 3 out of every 4 people for one candidate? By simple probability, this is incredibly unlikely, and even with a few things going James Webb's way, he still could not hope to pull in so many votes. And even taking other polls into consideration (as well we should, since one poll is a terrible measurement), Allen maintains a double-digit lead in most others with far smaller percentages (3-10%) of undecided, again needing large numbers to swing for Webb amongst those undecided voters for Webb to win. Until I start to see polls that suggest leads of 5% or less (where a poll means less than nothing), I will not understand how anyone can give James Webb a shot.

Certainly, this race is not over, and George Allen's campaign should only kick into the next gear to build on that lead over the next few months, but it is simply irresponsible for Lowell to suggest that this poll is anything but disappointing for James Webb and state Democrats. Rather than running these fluff pieces, Lowell would do better to spend more time and effort getting James Webb more money; certainly, he appears to have done a lot of work on that, but how much more money could Webb have if Lowell did not obsess with how a bad poll is actually good.

And soon please Lowell; I cannot be the only one getting dizzy.

UPDATE 1:55 PM: It does appear that some Democrats understand Webb's big problem right now. And yet, Lowell still thinks that press releases will do the trick. Pardon me while I laugh.

July 28, 2006

A Beating

My father sent me this blog article and the link to it. Having served in our armed forces, my Dad has never taken war lightly, so the message in it only resonates that much stronger to me.

As fair warning, it describes a brutal and bloody encounter, so do not read it if you are squeamish, but I will give the Reader's Digest version. A Marine was picking fights with a number of other soldiers, and after picking the wrong guy to mess with, gets it handed to him. If you think this is where it ends, though, you are wrong. The bully continued to get the tar kicked out of him, leaving him in a real mess. The others in the bar had to restrain themselves from helping until the Marine finally cried uncle. This telling of the story does not do it justice, so if you can handle a little violence, go to the link and read it.

What is the point of that story though? Well, Israel has been continually bullied by Islamic terrorists for decades, even though Israel has had an incredibly powerful military waiting to be unleashed each time. War has started up, but eventually, the countries of the Middle East push for Europe and the UN to pull back Israel each time, only for the terrorists to start anew each time. The loss of life continues to build and the bullies continue to stick to their cowardly ways knowing they have support when things get messy. It is time for America and other defenders of freedom to hold back the EU and the UN as Israel hands it to Hezbollah, and potentially Iran and Syria. Again, Israel is like a small tough fighter, easily underestimated. Hezbollah is the cowardly bully, hiding behind Lebanese civilians and anti-Semites around the world. And terror is not just a problem for Israel, and not just the United States, but everyone's problem. Just ask Spain, Britain, Indonesia, and many other countries that have been targets by terror. It may sound inhumane, and the loss of life may be great, but if the current trend holds up, the loss of life may be even greater. No more whining of a "disproportionate response", Israel should show exactly what the appropriate response is; terrorism is intolerable.

Is there a simpler choice?

He is running for Senate in Virginia. His favorite president was Ronald Reagan. And he has interests in big oil.

What, no, I'm not talking about George Allen. I'm talking about James Webb, who reportedly has more than $100,000 in Chevron and Exxon/Mobil stock.

He may be a Republican in Democrat's clothing, but he sure has the hypocrisy part down pat.

UPDATE 11:30 PM: Apparently, there may not be a lot of Democrats buying it. As just about every Republican blogger in Virginia has now noted, NLS is reporting that the Mason-Dixon poll suggests James Webb is down 16 points. How will Lowell spin this one?

July 26, 2006

Al Gore warned us

Global warming is happening ... on Pluto. Maybe all those Plutonians should not have jumped.

July 25, 2006

The "Echo Chamber"

Recently, there has been a big push to change the way blogging works. Much of what is currently done takes an existing story or blog post and, essentially, repeats it. Vivian Paige has worked hard to try to change this, encouraging some original posting by many blogs with F.T. Rea of SLANTblog appearing to be a big inspiration for her. After giving this some thought though, I am not sure I agree with them.

While blogging has been around for some time, years before the last presidential election, it picked up fast with Rathergate. It should be obvious how this worked; a couple blogs picked up on the skepticism, and with enough analysis and "echoing", it came to light that the Killian documents were forgeries. The rest, as they say, is history. A number of similar cases have followed, though none as big as Rathergate. A few more popular blogs can put up a couple posts and get a lot of attention, but the real power comes through when many blogs are talking about the same thing.

Bloggers enjoy first amendment rights that they share with journalists; however, blogging is more of a testament towards democracy. The voices that come together on a common goal are able to see their hopes accomplished; audiences are essentially combined and can all speak together. I applaud the efforts of bloggers to add some new insights online with untouched topics, but these hit only small niches most often. And yes, a lot of the echo chamber may still not do much to impact the way some people think. However, united for a cause, bloggers are more effective than divided.

July 22, 2006

James Webb - Born Ducking, Republican, etc.

There is just a little over 100 days left until the general election, a short three months, and what do we know about Virginia's senatorial race? George Allen has been a popular conservative candidate in Virginia for years, and has become a national symbol in recent years showing a dedication towards many conservative causes. He is very supportive of the troops, pushing for lower taxes to spur economic growth, and strong in family values. He has been open to sharing his opinion on just about any political subject and votes consistently on his values, not on the continuously swaying political landscape. And James Webb? A former Republican who served in Ronald Reagan's cabinet and in Vietnam, Webb is a quite respectable man. He is running primarily with criticism towards the War in Iraq. And? Well, the rest is hard to figure out.

As Carl has noted many times, James Webb has been ducking for about a month now. He proposed a debate with George Allen, but only focused on a couple topics, all of which would gain support from Democrats. Senator Allen, recognizing all Webb would do is pound more negativity in for each of these topics, offered a counter-proposal for the debate, adding in a number of other topics to discuss. And James Webb, rather than offering another idea for the format, slammed Allen and has been fairly quiet about the debate ever since.

Come to think of it, he's been fairly quiet for this entire campaign. Since the primary, George Allen has released a couple different television advertisements, as well as mail ads and radio spots (some of this material can be viewed at the George Allen campaign site). And James Webb has released a few television ads in northern Virginia. Oh wait, that is Josh Rales, a Democrat from Maryland who could be Michael Steele's opponent, who is slamming the GOP every chance he gets while still in the middle of primary season (and might I say, I never want to hear the name Josh Rales again). James Webb has basically been unheard from. And Democrats have run his campaign terribly. They made the same mistake they made in 2004 with John Kerry. He is not the guy to vote for, but rather where the vote goes while voting against the Republican candidate. Will they ever learn?

Outside of the War in Iraq, it does not seem that James Webb has any views on the state of the Commonwealth and our country. Or maybe he is just afraid that he will lose Democrat votes if he reveals too many of them too early. There is also the factor that James Webb is getting a beating (quite significantly, I might add) in money by George Allen, forcing Webb into the tough decision of holding onto money; he needs to spend now to up name recognition, but will not be able to put in a final kick if he runs out of money. He is polling well behind George Allen and, unlike Tim Kaine last year, does not appear to be making any apparent gains. Name recognition is low, money is low, gains are even lower. And if James Webb starts to look like nothing more than a DINO to his liberal supporters, turnout will not be swayed in his favor, even with the marriage amendment that will be on the ballot that will likely bring out the base for both Republicans and Democrats.

Ironically, James Webb's best shot right now may be to go head to head with Senator Allen on the senator's terms. As it appears that Webb may not be the Democrat he claims to be, his best shot may be to try to cut into Allen's numbers by taking independant and "moderate Republican" votes away while hoping enough Democrats will still vote for him knowing of his opposition of the War in Iraq. Otherwise, Webb will have to continue to chug along as a relative unknown and pray that the marriage amendment brings out many Democrats blindly voting party line.

One month of ducking. Three months left until the election. It is hard to believe that anyone thinks that this race will be competitive. But maybe we are simply not speaking their language.

Quack quack.

UPDATE 7/23 12:40 AM: Apparently, James Webb does have some liberal views, while still appearing unclear in other areas.
On Iraq, Mr. Webb would not withdraw immediately, but neither would he manage things as President Bush has (unclear). He hedges on free trade and tax cuts (unclear). He is pro-choice (unfitting). He is pro-gay "marriage" (unfitting). He is anti-NSA wiretapping (unfitting). On some issues -- notably immigration and gun rights -- his words are on firmer conservative ground. But whether he would keep them as a member of the party of Howard Dean is unclear.
Sounds fairly libertarian, but hardly a solid liberal, and certainly much of this is not very public knowledge as he remains focused on the key issue of Iraq.

Also, today was the first scheduled debate, not affiliated with the aforementioned debate. It appears to have taken the turn that was pushed for in the neglected debate. Webb focused on Iraq, Allen pushed Webb on other topics, including a number that Webb appears to have been unfamiliar with (though to be fair, Webb did at least admit as much rather than trying to make some sort of excuse). RK claims victory for James Webb, but this hardly seems like an objective opinion, instead probably trying to remain positive recognizing what is very much an uphill battle. But they do appear to have the text of the debate (which I presume has not been intentionally altered) here.

July 20, 2006

The birth of more than a veto

First, Jerry Fuhrman. Then James Young. And now, Bob Maistros. Indeed, Virginia has been abuzz about George Bush's first veto. As was to be expected, President Bush chose a subject that would be highly controversial for his first veto (seriously, if no one cares about a bill, why bother with a veto?).

Now, some of you may not be familiar with Bob Maistros. Jerry and James have long been respected members of the ODBA, but do not count out Bob. Also a Virginian, he has a great knack for politics and a unique writing style.
The Democrats have been waiting to pounce on this issue like a panther in heat. With the full blessing and support of the media, they will trot out all manner of celebrities and sob stories to label the President as a heartless monster.
And he is not finished socking it to the MSM.
The names of the late Christopher and Dana Reeves will be exalted more often and movingly in the next two months than Mother Teresa's and Albert Schweitzer's were in two generations. And we will see more condemnations of the President as an agent of the fundamentalist religious right than of Osama bin Laden, Hamas and Hezbollah combined.
Nice to see how well multiculturalism is working out.

That said, the fury of the left concerning this decision is pointless. Embryonic stem cell research is still very much legal, and private donations will come in. With all the favor it has seen from Democrats, groups will come out in droves to see it through, even if embryonic stem cell research continues to bring in zero new cures. Well, we'll always have adult stem cell research.

July 19, 2006

A hop, skip, and jump away

July 18, 2006

Cloning a twin?

After studying twins, scientists believe that a clone would feel very much like an individual. I think one thing cannot be tested in such a study though, which is noted; twins are conceived and born at nearly the same time, but a clone would be created based on a previously living human being, someone who most likely has established what direction their genes have taken. Twins do not know what is to come, but tell a clone what the original individual accomplished in his life and I suspect a clone would feel a great deal of pressure.

I hope that this study is not used to try to rationalize human cloning.

July 15, 2006

Fifty wasted breaths

Democrats never seem to have any idea why Republicans think the way they do. And it usually is not just about partisan politics, but also about the emotions that drive them. Democrats were not just frustrated about the 2000 election, they were furious; after giving the president support following 9/11, these feelings returned and have driven their methods ever since. So, the Daily-Kos-wannabe (which, really, is pretty sad) Huffington Post allowed screenwriter Robert J. Elisberg decided to ask 50 questions of Republicans.

"These are friendly questions." Wow, must be close friends then, as he can ask some very personal questions.

"Are you married?"

"How much money do you have in your bank account, stocks and investments?"

"What's your partner's favorite sex position?"

Um, yeah. Right.

Anyway, Philip Winn of Blogcritics decided that he should answer Elisberg's questions. He starts by noting something that myself and other Republicans have known for a while, yet many Democrats cannot seem to comprehend.
The ability to see the negative points of someone and still support them is a valuable one, and the only way to ever cast a vote for anybody — rather than casting a vote against somebody else. In 2004, I didn't vote against John Kerry, I voted for George Bush. I rather get the idea that a lot of people who picked Senator Kerry's name on their 2004 ballot may have done so to cast a vote against George Bush, which doesn't seem to me to be a great way to accomplish anything in politics.
Seems to me that motivation behind supporting a candidate generally gets more people to the polls than motivation against one.

Certainly, Winn did not seem to expect Democrats to get the answers he provides, but he still makes an attempt, giving his opinion as one one right-of-center representative, and he gives some good answers, even to some poor questions, and provides a few counter-questions of his own.
For his part in the event, how would you rate the job the President did protecting New Orleans from devastation?

I don't think that the President of the United States has any business protecting New Orleans or any other American city from natural disaster, so the question is not applicable. His response after the fact was very solid, even if he was a little too easy to give away tax dollars to solve a local problem.

Is it a good thing when a President engages in political pandering, as President Bush did in allocating billions for reconstruction in New Orleans, and President Clinton did in releases a large amount of oil from the National Petroleum Reserves in an election year?
This is one of the reasons we have a federal set-up for our government; states are more than capable of taking on more localized matters. Oh, that's right, what am I thinking? Democrats know that the national government is supposed to hold our hands through everything.
Since getting elected, do you think the President has been more a uniter or a divider?

I do not believe that the President of the United States has any ability to unite the parties, and it was naive of President Bush to believe that he could. The two parties are intractable on most issues even without terrorist attacks and war.
I'd like to offer a counter-question. Can the Democrats name a true uniter amongst United States Presidents? Certainly, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, and Nixon all were very divisive, amongst others, and I suspect Democrats did not feel united with the first Bush or Ford. The president's job is not to be a uniter, but to lead the nation. Political divisiveness was not addressed in the Constitution, nor has it been judged by the Supreme Court. The president has more important things to do than sway with the political wind or attempt to appease everyone.
Would you want Donald Rumsfeld to plan your daughter's wedding?
Please, please, tell me Elisberg is not serious. Did he really need that round 50 so badly that he would list this same question four times? Should I ask Democrats four times if they think a wedding planner should give us her plan for the War in Iraq?

Elisberg not only listed off 50 easy questions, but 50 easy to answer questions. It's true. Democrats are out of ideas and are simply running on negative emotion. Rather than giving us more questions, perhaps Democrats should be looking for solutions to their perceived problems, though I will not complain if Republicans continue to win.

July 11, 2006

Like a home

I'm going to try something a little different with this post. In the past, most of my blogging has centered around politics and society, with some notes on my personal preferences of sports and a little on entertainment. But I would like to relate some of my personal experiences outside of these topics. With the recent calls for bloggers in Virginia to try to be a little more original, I figured it would be worth a try to do something different.

In the past, I had a number of jobs in retail stores, mostly in the summers between each college year. I would certainly not classify any of them as my favorite job, but I have made good friends at each position and acquired experience that should prove invaluable to me in life. I understand that I provided a service to people in helping them acquire the things they needed, not to mention being part of the economic process. However, one thing I have noted is that many shoppers do not tend to treat stores (and sometimes, employees) with much respect. I have become very aware of this and try to apply these experiences; however, this does not seem to be a priority for many.

The main rule of thumb that I prefer to live by when it comes to shopping is to treat a store like it is someone's home. I am their guest. Certainly, as the hosts, employees are supposed to go out of their way to make sure that their guests are comfortable, but there is a certain etiquette that the guests do not seem to consistently live by.

I have noticed many people go into clothing stores and pick up clothes to look at them. This in itself is not unusual. But when there is a mannequin not two feet away wearing the same piece of clothing, it should be rather unneccessary to take a folded shirt unless purchase is intended. Moreover, many people who pick up the clothes, rather than making any effort to refold them, just throw them back on the table, and may do this multiple times; similar things may happen in book stores, where books are carelessly tossed back, or an electronics store where people pull out objects to check them but do not properly replace them. I have seen a number of employees work hard to refold clothes in a section, only to have to go back and refold them again ten minutes later because a shopper had to look through all of them and not buy a single piece. It is understood that a shopper can look through all the merchandise, just as they might browse magazines or photo albums at a friend's house, but would they pull out all the pictures, cards, or whatever else and scatter them randomly on a table? Why treat a store and its employees any differently?

A related case concerns dressing rooms. Taking a bunch of clothes in and trying them on is normal. And a good employee should be ready to take those clothes back from the customer which are not bought and replaced to their proper place. But I have entered dressing rooms which employees had not been able to get back to and found clothes piled up in a corner. This is not just rude to employees, but also to other customers. How many of you like to purchase clothing that has been sitting on a floor that, while assumed regularly cleaned, may not be as clean as, say, on a hanger?

One excuse commonly used is how much of a hurry a person is in. If a customer is really in a hurry, I would think they would come in knowing exactly what they needed and would move quickly to get it, rather than perusing everything, then acting as though they only have two minutes to exit the store upon entering the line to be checked out.

Policies concerning food and pets should ALWAYS be followed. If your kid is hungry, take them outside and give them something there. Finish the iced coffee before entering the store (why, just yesterday I saw someone drop their beverage in a store, and when none of the sales associates were free to clean it up). And it does not matter how cute your Paris-Hilton-wannabe-toy-dog is, pets can potentially be messy, and people will pet allergies become very uncomfortable in the store, even later in the day.

If you get to the register to make your purchase, then realize you forgot something, do not go back and get it, forcing the cahsier and everyone behind you in line to wait. Finish the purchase, then go get what you missed in a seperate purchase.

If an employee is helping someone, whether at the register or on the floor, wait your turn. I cannot say how many times I have had to deal with someone cutting in front of me while in line to ask a question they could have gotten in line to ask later.

Put yourself in the shoes of the employee. Particularly in these summer months when there are many sales and stores see increased foot traffic, retailers have a harder job than some people may remember or realize. While a professional attitude would have them acting patiently with people, they may be stressed from thier activities both in and outside of the store; adding more is inconsiderate. Do not be demanding, but instead, thank them for their work.

When at the register, let the cashier do his or her job. Upon the total, if there appears to be some discrepancies, let the cashier know then politely. They will fix it quickly and apologize for the error. If something is marked "50% off" and does not come up immediately when scanned, perhaps the cashier still has to take off the discount himself. And if you do not like what you hear when it is finished, do not walk out in a huff, leaving a full sale undone. Ask if anything more can be done and try not to leave the employees to the mercy of a manager simply because they could not finish a sale.

And if it is close to store closing time, do not force the employees to keep the store open for too much longer. One time, I was working at a store that was forced to stay open an extra half-hour for a couple that could not make up their minds, all while telling others they could not enter the store. It had already been a long, stressful day, and it was extended, meaning less time for me to spend with loved ones or prepare for the next day. Come back the next day for the item.

Shopping can be an enjoyable experience; even working retail can be fun under good circumstances. Shoppers are guests in stores; would you mess up a friend's house, act rudely to them, then overstay your welcome? Take some of these hints into consideration and shopping may become more enjoyable for everyone involved.

July 06, 2006

Affirmative Action

Originally, I was going to post this as a comment to this post, but while responding to Vivian J. Paige's comment, it started to get a little long, and as I have not commented on affirmative action in a while, I decided to write a full blog post instead.

Affirmative action had its time and place. Certainly, there was a time when it was needed, as this was a segregationalist culture. It was only in the last half century that women and minorities first gained acceptance to the University of Virginia.

However, today there are laws that are strongly against such a culture. People my age (and many older than myself as well) have never lived in a culture that encouraged discrimination on the whole, and could never imagine it taking place.

Women make up a large part of colleges today, more than the majority of students at UVa (in fact, based on the idea of affirmative action, men should be given an advantage for that reason). It is unfortunate that blacks and some other minorities are still not quite getting accepted at a rate similar to their proportion of the population of the United States. But affirmative action is not neccessarily going to help if some of these students are receiving good grades at bad schools. The problem must be fixed at the source.

Some of America's schools are simply not living up to the needs of students, many of these being in urban minority centers and small rural areas. Students who receive good grades at these schools may not necessarily be ready for an advanced education.

And what's worse, minority students who did well at good schools should not have any trouble getting into good colleges. I myself am an ethnic minority, and believe I may have received benefit from it. At times, this really bugs me. Did I get accepted to the University of Virginia because of my merits and abilities, or because my parents did not happen to both be white Americans of European descent? Certainly, I would like to believe it was the former, and I did have to work hard for my diploma, but now I am left with some doubts about myself.

Affirmative action served a purpose in ensuring that students who did not happen to be born white males could get into schools. With that right far from in danger, it is time to eliminate race-based qualifications and artificial quotas. Diversity is a deeper topic than the amount of melanin in a person's skin; it is in ideas and perspectives. Such diversity can be found in the activities and essays listed on a college application, or the employment previously held in a job application. Racial diversity would remain.

July 05, 2006

Racism and Political Party Affiliation

Ever notice how Democrats fancy themselves as the party of the minority? John Hawkins wonders how they can justify this belief. One has to go no further than Senator Robert Byrd (WV - KKK) to show that there is at least some inaccuracy to it. But John shows a number of other inconsistencies.
To begin with, the Republican Party was founded by anti-slavery activists, in contrast to the pro-slavery Democratic Party. It was Abe Lincoln, a Republican President, who led the North to victory in the Civil War and freed the slaves while the Democrats did everything in their power to keep black Americans down.
Indeed, the very origins of the GOP lie in the abolition of slavery; without it and the Civil War, the Republican party may have been no more than a footnote in America's history, while some other party challenged the Democrats as their primary competition.

Things do not show improvement over the next century within the Democratic party, but Republicans make continued progress.
But, what about the revolutionary Civil Rights Act of 1964? That's where the Democrats showed their mettle and Republicans were proven to be racists. Right? Wrong. 82% of Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 versus only 64% of Democrats.
36% of Democrats voting against the Civil Rights Act? And the Democrats represent minorities? I'm scratching my head over that one.

But now, blacks who have a strong influence on politics are generally Democrats, right? *BUZZ* Wrong!
"...(W)hite Republicans nationally are 25 percentage points more likely on average to vote for the Democratic senatorial candidate when the GOP hopeful is black. ...In House races, white Democrats are 38 percentage points less likely to vote Democratic if their candidate is black."


Look to Condi Rice, Colin Powell, Rod Paige, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Larry Elder, J.C. Watts, Michael Steele, Ken Blackwell, Lynn Swann [all conservative or involved in the GOP]...
I will not stand on a pedestal and claim that the Democrats are a party of racists, but I will loudly express that Democrats have no claim in calling the GOP the party of racists.

UPDATE 7/6 12:10 PM: Case in point, Republican could never get away with saying something like this. Yet, I suspect that Biden will not be held accountable for this statement and many Democrats may even stand with what Biden has stated.

July 04, 2006

Proud to be an American

Watching this right now, it is hard to be anything but proud.

Happy Birthday America!

On Thomas Jefferson's tombstone is carved the accomplishments that he felt were the greatest he accomplished in his lifetime. I spent four years of my life at one of them, the University of Virginia. However, another one has had an even longer and more profound impact on my life, the Declaration of Independence.

It was 230 years ago today that it received its first signatures and officially stated our will to seperate from King George III and Britain. We mark this day each year to celebrate the values and freedoms first outlined in that document and later in the Constitution. And this is no small feat. Many nations have risen and fallen in that time, but few have the longevity that our government, which has run continuously over more than two centuries. And the freedoms we have may be unequaled in the world, socially, economically, and politically. So this fateful day each year is marked with American flags, fireworks, and barbeques, just to show that we are happy to be Americans.

Sadly, there are some who do not get it. Some who will not display the flag out of fear of being recognized (perhaps incorrectly) as a sympathizer with President Bush, with the War in Iraq, or some other policy they disagree with. The American flag and the values we associate with it are not representative of the government, but of the people. Thirteen stripes show the colonies, once seperated by their own ways, but fifty stars show the states, shariing a field of blue and a vision.

So, happy Independence Day everyone! Enjoy some sparklers, catch a baseball game, and maybe even cheer for the gold to return home. But most importantly, remember that we live truly blessed lives because eleven score and ten years ago, Mr. Jefferson started a revolution.

Taken from USHistory.org:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. - Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. - And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

- John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

July 03, 2006

What's So Great About America?

I guess this means that Wachovia can expect a few less clients

The New York Times ran a story exposing the monitoring of terrorist financial transactions by the United States. And the editor of the Times believes that he has done nothing wrong.
[New York Times Editor Bill] Keller told CBS host Bob Scheiffer that "when lives are clearly at risk," The Times often withholds information from publication.

"But this was a case where clearly the terrorists or the people who finance them know quite well, because the Treasury Department and the White House have talked openly about it, that they monitor international banking transactions. It's not news to the terrorists," he said.
In the past, this kind of information being revealed would be enough to put a man to death; it is the worst kind of treason. Let's review a little of what Keller said.

"When lives are clearly at risk, the Times often withholds information from publication." So, what he is saying is that by taking away information about the locations of terrorists, lives are not put at risk. I am no Vulcan, but that statement is entirely devoid of logic.

"It's not news to the terrorists." I suspect that many terrorists were unaware of the program. Many financial transactions are easy to track, and insurgents that are paranoid of their actions might consider this. But plenty may have no idea that their names might be even recognized by US intelligence. Having a full awareness of these actions taking place may eliminate banking by terrrorists. If it was risky before, it is not worth taking a chance over now.

And lastly, he believes that the First Amendment will protect him regardless of what he writes. Absolutely, unequivocally false. The First Amendment does have limitations. A person can not yell fire in a crowded theater if there is none, and many actions, which might be considered expressions of one's feelings, are explicitly illegal. Journalists have been arrested, even recently, for dealing with information they do not have clearances for. And, if caught, the source for this information could face very serious charges.

Representative Peter King of New York had this to say concerning the story.
"The Times can't have it both ways," King said. "They can't on the one hand say there's no harm in releasing this. Everybody knew about it. But on the other hand, we had to put it on Page One because it was so top secret."
Anything to sell a few more papers, eh Mr. Keller?