Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Vote For Mitt Romney Is Not A Sin

Here is a question for my fellow Christians to ponder: what guidelines does our faith place on the appointment of political authority? None, really.

So that ends the discussion? Not quite. Let us proceed to the next question: what does the Bible say about the role of human governments? I can find one passage, a command of Jesus cited in the Synoptic Gospels:

"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's" (Matt 22:21, Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25)

Translation: give to the State what is due to the State. What is due to the state? What its laws demand. But how do we know that the laws are right? For those of you who brought your Bibles, turn to Exodus 20:15:

You shall not steal.

The Biblical qualification for a political officeholder is that the individual must refrain from the following:

  1. Directly employing the State to engage in theft, whether on behalf of the State, the private sector, or a foreign State;
  2. Failing to administer the State's duly authorized protections against theft.

Among the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, I believe that the one who will allow the least amount of theft is Mitt Romney. None of them can beat Ron Paul on fiscal policy, but his isolationist foreign policy violates the second provision. McCain opposes government overspending, but not government overtaxing, as evidenced by his opposition to Bush's tax cuts; he also steals people's First Amendment rights, and (with Huckabee) is lax on immigration law enforcement. The Club for Growth lists unsavory details of Huckabee's fiscal policy here, and expressed these semtiments on Romney's fiscal policy:

The Club's President, Pat Toomey, highlighted Governor Romney's call for permanent tax cuts, tax reform, spending discipline, regulatory relief starting with the reform of Sarbanes-Oxley, and tort reform as "solidly pro-growth."

"Governor Romney outlined today an economic platform that is, generally speaking, very pro-growth despite the surprising limit he suggests for tax-free savings," Toomey said. "As the governor develops the specifics of his economic policies, we hope he will boldly build upon the limited government, free-market policies he discussed today."

"The other presidential candidates should follow Governor Romney's lead and propose similar, if not more extensive, measures to protect American taxpayers and promote continued economic expansion."

But isn't subscribing to a false religion a sort of theft? Yes it is. One cannot give all that is due relationship-wise to another if one believes falsely about that other, thus false belief steals a portion of that due relationship. Mormons reject, among other Christian doctrines, its most crucial - that of the Trinity - and even teaches that God was once mortal, "once a man like us [who] dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345-46, cited by this official LDS source).

But since the government has no jurisdiction over this sort of theft - the failure to conform the thought life to the demands of God - this issue is relevant to politics only if one is likely to (unconstitutionally) use his or her political office to expand false belief regarding God. Unless there's something we don't know about his gubernatorial record in Massachusetts, I think America is safe on this front if he's elected Prez.

Update: Additional comments included in last paragraph - see italicized and parenthetical statements.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Now That He's The Frontrunner...

Buy my McCain/Feingold '08: Silence The Vote! merchandise. All proceeds will be used to become a wealthy capitalist.

This is what's on the back of the shirts:

Justice Scalia's birthday is March 11. I think he wears a size XL.

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Rudy's Out, Too

But we've known that for weeks.


Silky Pony Goes Out To Pasture

John Edwards bows out of the race.

On his show this morning, WBAP host Mark Davis opined that among the Dems there are two types of voters: pro-Hillary and anti-Hillary. Thus his theory goes that most Edwards votes will go to Obama.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Democratic Response

Ladies and gentlemen, Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius:

Our struggling economy requires urgent and immediate action, and then sustained attention. Families can't pay their bills. They are losing their jobs, and now are threatened with losing their homes.

That's kinda like saying that New Yorkers are Republicans - some of them are, but not a majority. The unemployment rate is 5% (December 2007, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics), and the notion that a majority or even a significant minority of American homeowners are on the brink of foreclosure is doubtful.

In fact, over the last year, the Democratic majority in Congress has begun to move us in the right direction— with bipartisan action to...raise the minimum wage...

Oh yeah, increasing business costs will sure boost the economy.

We know that caring for our children, so they have a healthy and better start in life, is what grownups do. Governors in both parties, and a large majority of the Congress are ready, right now, to provide health care to 10 million American children, as a first step in overhauling our health care system.

Please read John Goodman's Five Myths of Socialized Medicine (PDF file).

Reading the rest of her speech...I have never seen so many words used to say so little. How did this chick get elected governor?


State Of The Union Address

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States:

In the work ahead, we must be guided by the philosophy that made our nation great. As Americans, we believe in the power of individuals to determine their destiny and shape the course of history.

Eminent domain abuse notwithstanding.

To build a prosperous future, we must trust people with their own money and empower them to grow our economy. As we meet tonight, our economy is undergoing a period of uncertainty. America has added jobs for a record 52 straight months, but jobs are now growing at a slower pace. Wages are up, but so are prices for food and gas. Exports are rising, but the housing market has declined. And at kitchen tables across our country, there is concern about our economic future.

Better off than the Carter years, but could use some improvement.

In the long run, Americans can be confident about our economic growth. But in the short run, we can all see that growth is slowing. So last week, my Administration reached agreement with Speaker Pelosi and Republican Leader Boehner on a robust growth package that includes tax relief for individuals and families and incentives for business investment.

A nice token, but probably going nowhere near the root problems. Is the real estate crisis regional and not national? Why are banks lending to people who can't afford the loans? Is the Community Reinvestment Act making them do it?

Most Americans think their taxes are high enough.

We see the glass as too full.

With all the other pressures on their finances, American families should not have to worry about the Federal Government taking a bigger bite out of their paychecks. There is only one way to eliminate this uncertainty: make the tax relief permanent. And Members of Congress should know: If any bill raising taxes reaches my desk, I will veto it.

Read my lips, no new taxes.

Next week, I will send you a budget that terminates or substantially reduces 151 wasteful or bloated programs totaling more than $18 billion. And this budget will keep America on track for a surplus in 2012. American families have to balance their budgets, and so should their Government.

Better late than never, Big Spender.

Last year, I asked you to voluntarily cut the number and cost of earmarks in half. I also asked you to stop slipping earmarks into committee reports that never even come to a vote. Unfortunately, neither goal was met. So this time, if you send me an appropriations bill that does not cut the number and cost of earmarks in half, I will send it back to you with my veto. And tomorrow, I will issue an Executive Order that directs Federal agencies to ignore any future earmark that is not voted on by the Congress. If these items are truly worth funding, the Congress should debate them in the open and hold a public vote.

Read my lips, no new undebated earmarks.

Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to...allow State housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to help homeowners refinance their mortgages.

I love this - this fix is a Federal law allowing states to go into deeper bond debt.

The Congress must also expand health savings accounts

I have never liked that idea. A specialized retirement fund I can understand, especially if my employer matches my contributions. But a specialized health care fund? What if I need the money for something else?

Thanks to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships you approved, more than 2,600 of the poorest children in our Nation's capital have found new hope at a faith-based or other non-public school. Sadly, these schools are disappearing at an alarming rate in many of America's inner cities. So I will convene a White House summit aimed at strengthening these lifelines of learning. And to open the doors of these schools to more children, I ask you to support a new $300 million program called Pell Grants for Kids.

More spending.

Trade brings better jobs, better choices, and better prices. Yet for some Americans, trade can mean losing a job, and the Federal Government has a responsibility to help. I ask the Congress to reauthorize and reform trade adjustment assistance, so we can help these displaced workers learn new skills and find new jobs.

More spending.

To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology.

Wait for it...

Together we should take the next steps: Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions.

This whole idea of state-funded technological research assumes that government knows best which research efforts are more promising than others. What happened to the power of individuals that you spoke aboput earlier?

And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases. This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride. The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change. And the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more efficient technology.

There's a market for clean, efficient technology. It will arrive when the private-sector creative genius kicks in, and isn't fettered by excessive taxation and regulation.

To keep America competitive into the future, we must trust in the skill of our scientists and engineers and empower them to pursue the breakthroughs of tomorrow. Last year, the Congress passed legislation supporting the American Competitiveness Initiative, but never followed through with the funding. This funding is essential to keeping our scientific edge. So I ask the Congress to double Federal support for critical basic research in the physical sciences and ensure America remains the most dynamic nation on earth.

More spending.

I have submitted judicial nominees who will rule by the letter of the law, not the whim of the gavel. Many of these nominees are being unfairly delayed. They are worthy of confirmation, and the Senate should give each of them a prompt up-or-down vote.

No wonder John McCain didn't show up for the speech.

Charitable donations are higher than ever. Faith-based groups are bringing hope to pockets of despair, with newfound support from the Federal Government. And to help guarantee equal treatment for faith-based organizations when they compete for Federal funds, I ask you to permanently extend Charitable Choice.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! You just said that individual effort is dishing out more charity, but you still want to increase entitlements! What happened to your faith in the power of individuals?

Every Member in this chamber knows that spending on entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is growing faster than we can afford. And we all know the painful choices ahead if America stays on this path: massive tax increases, sudden and drastic cuts in benefits, or crippling deficits. I have laid out proposals to reform these programs. Now I ask Members of Congress to offer your proposals and come up with a bipartisan solution to save these vital programs for our children and grandchildren.

But he refuses to say how. More taxes? Less entitlement? Invade Canada and steal their oil, beer and moose herds? Sell New England to the European Union? Raffle off tickets to throw pies at our Congressional representatives?

[W]e also need to acknowledge that we will never fully secure our border until we create a lawful way for foreign workers to come here and support our economy.

We do have a way! We're just lax at enforcing the rules!

In Iraq, the terrorists and extremists are fighting to deny a proud people their liberty and to establish safe havens for attacks across the world. One year ago, our enemies were succeeding in their efforts to plunge Iraq into chaos. So we reviewed our strategy and changed course. We launched a surge of American forces into Iraq. And we gave our troops a new mission: Work with Iraqi forces to protect the Iraqi people, pursue the enemy in its strongholds, and deny the terrorists sanctuary anywhere in the country.

The Iraqi people quickly realized that something dramatic had happened. Those who had worried that America was preparing to abandon them instead saw tens of thousands of American forces flowing into their country. They saw our forces moving into neighborhoods, clearing out the terrorists, and staying behind to ensure the enemy did not return. And they saw our troops, along with Provincial Reconstruction Teams that include Foreign Service Officers and other skilled public servants, coming in to ensure that improved security was followed by improvements in daily life. Our military and civilians in Iraq are performing with courage and distinction, and they have the gratitude of our whole Nation.

The Iraqis launched a surge of their own. In the fall of 2006, Sunni tribal leaders grew tired of al Qaida's brutality and started a popular uprising called "The Anbar Awakening." Over the past year, similar movements have spread across the country. And today, this grassroots surge includes more than 80,000 Iraqi citizens who are fighting the terrorists. The government in Baghdad has stepped forward as well — adding more than 100,000 new Iraqi soldiers and police during the past year.

While the enemy is still dangerous and more work remains, the American and Iraqi surges have achieved results few of us could have imagined just 1 year ago:

When we met last year, many said containing the violence was impossible. A year later, high profile terrorist attacks are down, civilian deaths are down, and sectarian killings are down.

When we met last year, militia extremists — some armed and trained by Iran [emphasis added, will return to this topic later] — were wreaking havoc in large areas of Iraq. A year later, Coalition and Iraqi forces have killed or captured hundreds of militia fighters. And Iraqis of all backgrounds increasingly realize that defeating these militia fighters is critical to the future of their country.

When we met last year, al Qaida had sanctuaries in many areas of Iraq, and their leaders had just offered American forces safe passage out of the country. Today, it is al Qaida that is searching for safe passage. They have been driven from many of the strongholds they once held, and over the past year, we have captured or killed thousands of extremists in Iraq, including hundreds of key al Qaida leaders and operatives. Last month, Osama bin Laden released a tape in which he railed against Iraqi tribal leaders who have turned on al Qaida and admitted that Coalition forces are growing stronger in Iraq. Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working, but among the terrorists there is no doubt. Al Qaida is on the run in Iraq, and this enemy will be defeated.

When we met last year, our troop levels in Iraq were on the rise. Today, because of the progress just described, we are implementing a policy of "return on success," and the surge forces we sent to Iraq are beginning to come home.

The news of the impending death of our war capability have been greatly exaggerated.

We are also standing against the forces of extremism in the Holy Land, where we have new cause for hope. Palestinians have elected a president who recognizes that confronting terror is essential to achieving a state where his people can live in dignity and at peace with Israel.

Uh, how many terrorists has the government of Mahmoud Abbas killed or apprehended? I'll be optimistic when Palestinians and the IDF are conducting joint military operations.

We are also standing against the forces of extremism embodied by the regime in Tehran. Iran's rulers oppress a good and talented people. And wherever freedom advances in the Middle East, it seems the Iranian regime is there to oppose it. Iran is funding and training militia groups in Iraq, supporting Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, and backing Hamas' efforts to undermine peace in the Holy Land. Tehran is also developing ballistic missiles of increasing range and continues to develop its capability to enrich uranium, which could be used to create a nuclear weapon. Our message to the people of Iran is clear: We have no quarrel with you, we respect your traditions and your history, and we look forward to the day when you have your freedom. Our message to the leaders of Iran is also clear: Verifiably suspend your nuclear enrichment, so negotiations can begin. And to rejoin the community of nations, come clean about your nuclear intentions and past actions, stop your oppression at home, and cease your support for terror abroad. But above all, know this: America will confront those who threaten our troops, we will stand by our allies, and we will defend our vital interests in the Persian Gulf.

I call this the Lukewarm War - cold war with occasional flashes of hot war instigated by Iran through its proxies (Hezbollah, Iraqi guerillas) against the United States, which chooses not to retaliate militarily against the mullahs.

One of the most important tools we can give them is the ability to monitor terrorist communications. To protect America, we need to know who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning. Last year, the Congress passed legislation to help us do that. Unfortunately, the Congress set the legislation to expire on February 1. This means that if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger. The Congress must ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted. The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America. We have had ample time for debate. The time to act is now.

The opposition painted this as "domestic surveillance." Foreign calls into the US are not domestic communications.

America is leading the fight against global poverty, with strong education initiatives and humanitarian assistance. We have also changed the way we deliver aid by launching the Millennium Challenge Account. This program strengthens democracy, transparency, and the rule of law in developing nations, and I ask you to fully fund this important initiative.

Sigh. Money doesn't strengthen democracy. Political reform strengthens democracy. Some can be accomplished through top-level diplomacy, some require guns, some can take place through private-sector social influences.

America is leading the fight against global hunger.

Refer to what I said about poverty.


Monday, January 28, 2008

And On The Republican Side...

Dick Cheney's daughter Liz is working for the Romney campaign, "as a senior foreign policy adviser." If she ever gets stumped by an issue, she can always call Dad.

The article concludes:

Liz Cheney previously supported former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, who dropped out of the race last week.

Note what I said here:

Considering that Fred's base is dominated by some the staunchest of GOP conservatives, [his departure from the race] can't be good news for McCain or Huckabee.

Update: Blogger Ed Morissey has thrown his support to Romney. Here's part of his rationale:

First, I want to have someone who supports conservative values. In this, we have no perfect candidates. Fred Thompson came closest, but he quit, and I'm not going to cast my vote for someone who has already dropped out. Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, and John McCain all have some claim to a portion of the conservative mandate based on their accomplishments. Of the four, I trust Romney and Giuliani most to continue supporting conservative principles in the face of opposition -- and in fact I'd probably trust Giuliani a little more.

So why does Romney win out?

Third, we face a tough election if the economy turns south, even mildly. We saw this in 1992 and lost when Bill Clinton successfully convinced people that he had the best ideas for a turnaround. We have one candidate who has undeniable success in the global markets, who understands them and the players that run them. Romney gives us an advantage as the nominee that none of the others can match in this regard.


Big Problems For Hillary

Obama whomps the opposition in South Carolina with 55% of the vote. Hillary and Edwards got 27 and 18 percent, respectively. On top of that, the Illinois senator gets a key endorsement, from Massachusetts dinosaur Ted Kennedy.

Speaking of Mrs. Clinton, last Thursday was the tenth anniiversary of her Vast Right Wing Conspiracy speech. Maybe she'll blame the VRWC for Obama's win.


Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 13, "The Thunder"

Robert Spencer has the installment here. The general theme is the grandeur of Allah.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Reinventing The Car Door



Let's Hope The Methodist Are Disunited On This Issue

UMC national leadership is considering jumping on the Israeli disinvestment bandwagon.

Emperor Misha is predictably displeased. I left this comment:

Can the UMC find a government without sin in whose country it is worthy to invest?

Are the people behind the Israeli disinvestment movement consistent? Have they supported disinvestment in clearly disreputable nations such as the former and current Communist countries, or the slavery-legalizing Islamic nations of Sudan and Mauritania, or (going back some years) Peron's Argentina and Francisco Franco's Spain? Do they support continuing the embargo against Cuba, the most evil government in this hemisphere?

Also, do these schemes distinguish between businesses with government contracts and businesses that trade exclusively with the private sector? Do they regard a McDonald's in Tel Aviv to be just as evil as a shipment of Stinger missiles to the IDF?

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Biofuel That Reduces Food Crop Yields Must Die



Did Putin Find A Super-Secret Hidden Clause In The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact?

Or did Senator McCain just misspeak?

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Unclear Of The Concept

John Kerry says Obama is getting swiftboated.

Funny, I didn't know that Obama was making statements about his past, and being fact-checked in commercials by others who were a part of that past.


Fred Thompson Drops Out Of Race

He's gone.

Considering that Fred's base is dominated by some the staunchest of GOP conservatives, this can't be good news for McCain or Huckabee.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Oscar Nominations Are Out

Ans the trend toward semi-famous and obscure films continues.

Has anyone outside of the entertainment world even heard of Michael Clayton?

I'm rooting for Ratatouille.


Monday, January 21, 2008

The War On Small Business

Someone is trying to kill an Arizona restaurant/dance venue. I wonder if this sort of thing ever happens in Belarus.


Just Another Sign That Communism Is Dead In Eastern Europe

Belarus, former Soviet Socialist Republic and current banana republic, is imprisoning a journalist for three years for offending Islam.

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Happy Civil Rights Day!

Two years ago I mulled over the idea that instead of having a Martin Luther King Day we should have a Civil Rights Day, so that we can have a single holiday for all civil rights crusaders, and, for symbolic reasons, it shoudl be set on July 5, the day after we celebrate out nation's independence. As stated in that post, I had originally considered that Civil Rights Day replace Labor Day, but I have long since settled on the latter holiday giving way to Commerce Day, a day for celebrating all the contributors to our economy and not just labor.

A July 5 holiday for any reason is even a bigger pipe dream than Commerce Day, and the MLK Day tradition is already firmly entrenched, so from this day forward I will recognize the third Monday of January as Civil Rights Day. Dr. King will always get a little extra notice for being the one to inspire the holiday, but the table of honor will feature all civil rights leaders past and present.

Following is my original argument for the holiday:


For years I'd heard news stories about debates over whether or not to establish an official Martin Luther King holiday, and never did anyone report the arguments against. I always suspected that one was that we had way too many day-off-of-work holidays as it was. Having one three weeks after Christmas does seem a bit superfluous. MLK Day would be only the third national holiday named after a person, the others being Christmas and Columbus Day, commemorating the chief catalyst for Western culture and the chief catalyst for extending Western culture to the Americas. (In the case of the latter, make that Western cultures; English and Iberian influences were vastly different.) Some, I imagine, feel that only those rare individuals who have had such a radical impact should have holidays named for them. Dr. King isn't in that league; the only Americans who are are the Founders; their holiday is July 4.

Here's my argument against making January 15 [Update: MLK Day is celebrated on the third Monday of January, which happens to fall on the 15th in 2003] an official holiday: it's not fair to everyone else involved in the civil rights movement. Independence Day isn't just about one guy. We have a holiday for all those who made the Declaration of Independence happen. We should have a federal holiday called Civil Rights Day. It would be like Memorial Day, honoring leaders of past civil rights struggles instead of soldiers of past wars.

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Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 12, "Joseph"

Robert Spencer has the installment here.

This sura retells the Biblical story of Joseph, the son of Jacob whose sentence to slavery would eventually bring him to great power in Egypt. The Koran adds its own embellishment, of course, including this spin on the tale of Joseph's dealings with Potiphar's wife:

The wife [of Aziz/Potiphar] then holds a banquet for the women of the city, who are so awed by Joseph's good looks that they begin cutting their hands (v. 31). Ibn Kathir explains: "They thought highly of him and were astonished at what they saw. They started cutting their hands in amazement at his beauty, while thinking that they were cutting the citron with their knives." The ruler's wife felt exonerated: "When they felt the pain, they started screaming and she said to them, ‘You did all this from one look at him, so how can I be blamed?'"

If they ever do a movie, they can get James Wan to direct.

This sura gives Potiphar the Arabic Aziz, for reasons unknown. Aziz, one of the 99 names of Allah, means "might," "strength," "power." Potiphar means something very different: "he whom Ra gave" - Ra is the Egyptian sun god.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Meanwhile, In Nevada

The big winner is Mitt Romney, with 51% of the Republican votes!

Who won the Dem race? Depends on the meaning of "win." Hillary got more votes (51% vs. Obama's 45%), but Obama edged her in delegate count (13 vs Hillary's 12). Caucuses have different rules than primaries; Obama's suggest is tied to his performance in rural areas.

CNN has results for both the Nevada and South Carolina contests here (via Mark Byron).


Split Conservative Vote Gives McCain Win In South Carolina

The results are in - McCain gets a third of the votes, and 80% of the delegates (19 out of 24). Huckabee came in second with 30% of the votes, and got the remaining five delegates. South Carolina's rules on delegate distribution are deeply flawed.

The linked article has the vote results.


Friday, January 18, 2008

The Clinton Record On Bringing Voting Booths To The Workplace

Vegas casinos set out to host poling places so make it easier for their employees to go out and vote. Lobbyists with Clinton file a lawsuit to block the plan. The lawsuit has been defeated.

Gee, hasn't something a bit similar to this happened once before?

Democrats are clearly nervous about being portrayed as being hostile to the rights of soldiers to vote. Well, they now have another PR challenge. Last year [in 1999], the Clinton Defense Department sent all military commanders a directive ordering that no DOD facility could be used as a polling place, even if it had been planned for use in the 2000 election. The Pentagon eventually retreated, and Congress passed legislation leaving polling places for this year intact, but last month it formally opposed a bill, which the House has already approved, to make clear that polling places are allowed at military facilities. The bill is languishing in the Senate; with the clock ticking on the lame-duck session, the Democratic leadership hasn't responded to Republican requests that they agree to allow it to come to a vote.

The original Pentagon directive, issued by Secretary Bill Cohen's office, warned military commanders "to not allow their installation facilities to be used for polling or voting sites. Locating polling or voting places on a military installation may result in conduct which could inadvertently violate one or more statutory prohibitions."

When commanders asked why they would have to evict voting locations that had been in use for decades, the Pentagon told them it was to prevent the use of the sites for partisan campaigning and to guard against intimidation of voters by military authorities. But laws exist in all 50 states barring electioneering near polling places, and there is no history of voters being dissuaded from voting because men in uniforms are nearby.

(Emphasis added)


Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Envelope, Please VIII

The 2008 Index of Economic Freedom has been released. The free countries (score 80% or better) are: Hong Kong (90.3), Singapore (87.4), Ireland (82.4), Australia (82.0), United States (80.6), New Zealand (80.2), Canada (80.2). Note that all are former British colonies, and that all four of the colonies featuring European-majority populations (US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) are on the list.

From the executive summary I found this graph that tells why economic freedom matters:

The Envelope, Please VII

The 2007 Darwin Awards are out.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Envelope, Please VI

Finally getting around to one of my annual favorites - Media Research Center's Best Notable Quotables of 2007. The Quote of the Year is priceless:

"As Violence Falls in Iraq, Cemetery Workers Feel the Pinch"
- Headline over an October 16 story by McClatchy News Service reporters Jay Price and Qasim Zein.

LGF's Idiotarian of the Year did make it as runner-up for that particular award:

"Everything you said about [withdrawing some troops from] Iraq yesterday, and everything you will say, is a deception, for the purpose of this one cynical, unacceptable, brutal goal: perpetuating this war indefinitely. War today, war tomorrow, war forever!...A man with any self respect, having inadvertently revealed such an evil secret, would have already resigned and fled the country! You have no remaining credibility about Iraq, sir!...Mr. Bush, our presence in Iraq must end, even if it means your resignation, even if it means your impeachment, even if it means a different Republican to serve out your term, even if it means a Democratic Congress and those true patriots among the Republicans standing up and denying you another penny for Iraq, other than for the safety and safe conduct home of our troops. This country cannot run the risk of what you can still do to this country in the next 500 days."
- MSNBC Countdown anchor Keith Olbermann addressing President Bush in a "Special Comment," September 4.

The Damn Those Conservatives Award raises an eyebrow:

"I'm just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That's a fact."
- Host Bill Maher on his HBO show Real Time, March 2, discussing how a few commenters at a left-wing blog were upset that an attempt to kill Vice President Cheney in Afghanistan had failed.

Perhaps more terrorists would live.

Read 'em all.

Update: Note that, along with the transcripts, MRC now has videos of the televised quotes, and images of those from Internet media.


Why Conservatives Are Losing

Cliff Kincaid gives his opinion at Accuracy in Media.

Update: On that note, NRO's Michael G. Franc suggests three issues that conservatives should be putting on the front burner.

Update: Looks like Huckabee has identified a losing policy position worth dumping.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Christianity Quiz

What's your theological worldview?
created with
You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.



Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Reformed Evangelical


Neo orthodox






Classical Liberal


Roman Catholic


Modern Liberal



Flags - The Good, The Bad, And The Wild

Who's got the best and worst flags? Go to Sully's and follow the links. Virginia Postrel discovered this little gem.

I rank Japan's as the best, and Zimbabwe's as the worst.

With that color scheme and the unique play on the hammer-and-sickle emblem, the Angolan flag is just dripping with the aura of despotism and tyranny. Points for truth in advertising.

I would have given the Brazilian flag a much higher grade. Update: Tyler Cowen likes this flag, too.

The Ecuadoran flag looks like somebody chopped off part of its bottom.

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's flag looks like someone took a yellow highlighter to the naval ensign of Imperial Japan.

If you swallow the Jordanian flag, it will look like the Bahamas flag when you throw it up.

Libya really should have a flag-design contest.

Madagascar's flag is what the Texas flag looks like after a 90-mph fastball hits you in the head.

This flag might give some the impression that Morocco's state religion is Wicca, not Islam. (The Wiccan pentagram is enclosed in a circle, though.)

Update: In comments at Tyler's someone mentioned the Maryland flag. I remarked:

The MD flag could induce hypnosis, especially if viewed while it's spinning.

Don't believe me?

You are getting sleepy. You are getting verrry sleeepy...


The Envelope, Please V

The LGF Awards have been presented. General David Petraeus wins the anti-idiotarian award (the Fallaci), and Keith Olberman wins the idiotarian award (the Fiskie).

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Monday, January 14, 2008

For The One Or Two People Who May Have Seen It

My Civil Rights Day post was inadvertently posted a week early. Tune in next Monday.

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Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 11, "Hud"

Robert Spencer has the installment here.

The title individual is not a Paul Newman character :-) but a minor prophet - Wikipedia offers a brief summary of his mission. Also appearing in this sura are the more familiar names Noah, Abraham and Lot, and another minor Islamic prophet named Shu’aib.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

War On The Press, Canadian Edition

LGF posts videos of a hearing before the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Ezra Levant is in legal trouble for publishing the Danish Mohammed cartoons in his magazine, the Western Standard.

This is happening in Canada, not Saudi Arabia or Iran.

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More Huckabee-Bashing

Does anyone remember when Michael Dukakis got nailed for Massachusetts' weekend-furloughs-for-prisoners programs? What else can top that but outright clemency? Emperor Misha posts a YouTube video that slams Mike Huckabee on this issue.

The video is hosted by LittleRockRepublican, whose profile states:

Unlike Mike Huckabee, I haven't let over 1,000 criminals out of prison. Also (unlike Huckabee) I haven't let 12 murders free.

YouTuber victimsvoice hosts a video abut the Wayne DuMond clemency - read about him in his Wikipedia entry. He was paroled in 1999; in 2001 a woman in Missouri was murdered, DuMond was charged, and he was convicted in 2003. DuMond died in his jail cell in 2005; he had been suffering from cancer in his vocal cords.

Note that both Arkansas and Missouri have primaries on February 5. Will political ads be mentioning DuMond in either of those states?

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Who Else Should Be In The Republican Race?

Tammy Bruce has suggestions, and wants you to send yours. I threw this hat into the ring:

Tony Snow - the cancer's in remission, he's a solid conservative, he's a great speaker, he's an experienced pundit, and he's the nicest guy to ever come out of DC.


Thompson Guns For Huckabee

Irish Trojan has lots of links (via Pej), including video of his thrashing of Mike Huckabee.

The LA Times has a complete transcript of the debate. This is what Fred said:

It's an important issue, because I think it demonstrates what we're about here today. I think that Governor Huckabee's campaign manager said it accurately in terms of what they believe. They believe that it is over.

This is a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party and its future. On the one hand, you have the Reagan revolution. You have the Reagan coalition of limited government and strong national security.

On the other hand, you have the direction that Governor Huckabee would take us in. He would be a Christian leader, but he would also bring about liberal economic policies, liberal foreign policies.

He believes we have an arrogant foreign policy and the tradition of, blame America first.

He believes that Guantanamo should be closed down and those enemy combatants brought here to the United States to find their way into the court system eventually.

He believes in taxpayer-funded programs for illegals, as he did in Arkansas.

He has the endorsement of the National Education Association, and the NEA said it was because of his opposition to vouchers.

He said he would sign a bill that would ban smoking nationwide. So much for federalism. So much for states' rights. So much for individual rights.

That's not the model of the Reagan coalition, that's the model of the Democratic Party.

Huck also noted that Reagan raised taxes during his first year as governor.

What this banter doesn't reveal is the net change in tax rates and spending under either Huckabee or Reagan. Not sure where to get that information. I did find a snippet of Huck's fiscal record, via the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration's Office of Budget figures on Actual Agency Expenditures. Unfortunately the data go only as far back as Fiscal Year 2002; Huckabee was governor from mid-1996 to January of this year. Here's the state spending totals for the last five fiscal years of Huckabee's governorship:

2002 - $ 12,243,863,785
2006 - $ 15,608,496,087

Over that period actual state spending rose 27.48%. Not good.

Huckabee should not have opened this Pandora's box:

What I did was I governed. And the people of my state must have liked the way I did it, because they kept re-electing me.

Dude, this is the state that keeps re-electing Democrats to fill both its US Senate seats and three of its four US House seats. On top of that, Dems have a super-majority in the Arkansas General Assembly. You gotta come up with a better endorsement than that, at least when you're addressing Republicans.


Friday, January 11, 2008


A fluorescent green pig has passed its genetically-bred coloration to its offspring.

Frank Oz and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were unavailable for comment.


I Can Hardly Wait For The Conspiracy Theories To Explain...



The Latest PETA Lunacy

What makes this so funny is that vegetarianism is being hawked by anthropomorphic vegetable products.

(Link via the Malkinator)

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Teacher Gets Ten Years For Child Porn Possession

This part of the story catches my eye:

He worked as a high school teacher and girls soccer coach with the Forney school district from Aug. 3, 2004, to May 25, 2005, and with the Frisco school district from Aug. 10, 2005, until Feb. 2, 2007.

Whose bright idea was it to hire a guy to coach a girl's sports class?


Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Surge Worked

John McCain and Joe Lieberman explain.


Obama Gets A Key Endorsement

From John Kerry.

Unconfirmed if John Edwards is fuming, or if he's laughing his head off.


CIA Identity Leaker Dies

No, not Scooter Libby - Philip Agee.

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Vote Early... often.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Al Gore's Travelin' Global Warmin' Show


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Is Winning In New Hampshire Good News?

There have been sixteen New Hampshire GOP primaries in the state. Eleven of the winners went on to be the party's presidential nominee; of those; of those, the only two who were neither an incumbent president nor an incumbent veep were General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1952) and former ceep Richard M. Nixon (1968). The four primary winners who did not make the ticket were a governor (Harold Stassen, 1948), an ambassador (Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., 1964), a former presidential advisor (Pat Buchanan, 1996), and a senator (McCain, 2000).

On the Democratic side of the coin, the success rate for nonincumbents is greater. Of those who were not incumbent presidents or veeps, those who won New Hampshire and made the presidential ticket were JFK (1960), Jimmy Carter (1976), Michael Dukakis (1988), and John Kerry (2004) - two governors, two senators. Those nonincumbents who won NH but lost the presidential bid were: Estes Kefauver (1952, 1956), Edmund Muskie (1972), Gary Hart (1984), Paul Tsongas (1992) - all senators.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Making Out My 2008 Christmas Wish List

Starting with this.


What Is Genocide?

Accuracy in Media says that the number of genocides will be understated in the history books (emphasis in original):

Those human-rights activists combatting genocide in Darfur and lobbying for the Armenian Genocide Resolution would likely be displeased to hear that important massacres and purges may never make the history books as genocide—or be prosecuted—because the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention does not include social and political groups as possible victims of genocide.

Why the oversight? Oh, maybe because the two greatest instigators of such genocides also happen to be veto-wielding permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

The Rest Of The Story

What was it that catapulted oil to ever so briefly rise above $100 per barrel?

On Wednesday, one floor trader bought 1,000 barrels, the smallest amount permitted, and sold it immediately for $99.40 at a $600 loss, said Stephen Schork, a former floor trader on the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) and the editor of an oil market newsletter.

"They absolutely overpaid," he told Radio Four's Today Programme.

"He paid $600 for the right to tell his grandchildren that he was the first in the world to buy $100 oil."


Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 10, "Jonah"

Robert Spencer has the installment here. Topics include eternal torment for non-Muslims, the "miraculousness" of the Koran, more bad things to say about Jews and Christians, and more Mohammedan spin on Noah and Moses.

On top of that, there's the Islamic version of predestination. Verse 100 states that no one will believe Islam unless Allah allows it. So don't blame me for being a heathen kafir.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

"Huck" Rhymes With "Yuck"

If Mike Huckabee's tax record and his softness on enforcing immigration aren't enough to give cause for concern, then consider this: he is endorsed by the New Hampshire National Education Association. (Mentioned by by Rand Simberg and NRO.)

Why? MSNBC reports this remark made by Scott McGilvray, president of the Manchester Education Association (emphasis added):

"[He] was a big proponent, or is a big proponent, of unionized labor and lent his support to the Manchester Education Association in our contract fight earlier in the year and went out and reached out to the mayor and board of aldermen through a letter and conversation and assisted us greatly in that."


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Acrophobes, View At Your Own Risk

Check out the altitude of the staircase in the second photo in this post.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Iowa Caucuses

The results are in:

Barack Obama


John Edwards


Hillary Clinton


Mike Huckabee


Mitt Romney


Fred Thompson


John McCain


Ron Paul


Rudy Giuliani


Duncan Hunter


The Democratic race could lead to a brokered convention if this keeps up.

I got it half right - Dodd is out, but people noticed :-)

Reports of the McCain campaign's life have been greatly exaggerated. The press overstated his popularity in 2000, and they did it again this year. His surge got him only three percentage points ahead of Ron Paul, whose followers are no doubt in full party mode over their candidate gaining triple the votes earned by Rudy Giuliani.

Fred Thompson got in third place without even campaigning - he will be a force to be reckoned with it when and if he ever comes out of the chute.

Update: Iowahawk posted live bloggage of the cauci. Also, check out his conventional wisdom on the candidates.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Envelope, Please IV

John Hawkins has his 40 Most Obnoxious Quotes Of 2007.

I didn't realize that Linda Chavez was such a political bigot:

Some people just don't like Mexicans -- or anyone else from south of the border. They think Latinos are freeloaders and welfare cheats who are too lazy to learn English. They think Latinos have too many babies, and that Latino kids will dumb down our schools. They think Latinos are dirty, diseased, indolent and more prone to criminal behavior. They think Latinos are just too different from us ever to become real Americans.

No amount of hard, empirical evidence to the contrary, and no amount of reasoned argument or appeals to decency and fairness, will convince this small group of Americans -- fewer than 10 percent of the general population, at most -- otherwise. Unfortunately, among this group is a fair number of Republican members of Congress, almost all influential conservative talk radio hosts, some cable news anchors -- most prominently, Lou Dobbs -- and a handful of public policy "experts" at organizations such as the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, in addition to fringe groups like the Minuteman Project.

Stripped bare, this is what the current debate on immigration reform is all about.

Out of curiosity, I checked to see how many of the quotes were nominees for Andrew Sullivan's Malkin and Moore awards for right- and left-wing histrionics, respectively. Keith Olberman is the only Moore Award nominee (the winner, in fact) who made Hawkins' list(16). Sully's other nominees are Internet trolls, a Kos columnist, an Australian professor, and Eric Alterman - that last one really should have made Hawkins' Top 40:

"Bush's preference for allowing poor kids to get sick and die for his own ideological obsession is a fundamental fact of his presidency and of the Republican Party's guiding ideology," - Eric Alterman, Media Matters.

Not a single Malkin nominee made the list. Not even Michael Savage. One conservative other than Chavez made the Top 40 - and deservingly so:

39) "I'd say something about John Edwards, but if you use the word 'f*ggot', you have to go to rehab." -- Ann Coulter

(I blogged on her quote here.)

One quote (28) played the fascist card, and three (15, 20 21) played the Nazi card.

Check 'em all out. Mach schnell!

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What Hannah Montana Should Be Packing This Year

Hello Kitty AR-15 - yes, it's a genuine functioning AR-15.

(Link via Clayton Cramer)


Year 2007 In Review

Dave Barry remembers it a bit differently than most:

In economic news, the Federal Reserve Board, responding to recession fears and the continued weakening of the dollar, votes unanimously to be paid in euros. And in what economists see as an indication of the worsening subprime-mortgage crisis, Russia forecloses on Alaska.

Did the Russians get Ted Stevens in the deal?

Read the whole thing, and pay close attention to the WMD ingredients in the political cartoon near the top of the page.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Predictions For 2008

As the world faces a shortage of polonium-210 this year, would-be assassins of Russian dissidents will resort to poisoning their victims with the lead paint scraped off of Chinese-manufactured Sesame Street figurines.

Lynne Spears' parenting book will be published after all. The foreword will be written by Chris Crocker.

In other publishing news, Rosie O'Donnell will write a civil engineering textbook.

Allegations of widespread use of memory-enhancing drugs will rock the world of spelling bee competitions. George Mitchell will lead the investigation.

Election 2008: Ron Paul will attract criticism for accepting a campaign donation from Andrew "Don't Tase Me Bro" Meyer. Internet spammers will circulate a rumor that Mitt Romney is really a Jehovah's Witness; images of the candidate reading Watchtower tracts will be proven to be fakes. Christopher Dodd will drop out of the Democratic race after the Iowa caucuses, and nobody will notice. A web server hosting both Chuck Norris and Fred Thompson fact sites will spontaneously explode. Barack Obama will challenge Hillary Clinton and John Edwards to a game of Jeopardy!; Edwards will win, and later test positive for memory-enhancing drugs, prompting his exit from the race. The Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will schedule three debates, which will lose out in the ratings to Hannah Montana.


Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 9, "Repentance," Verses 50-80, Verses 81-129

Another double-header - Robert Spencer has the installments here and here, respectively.

Both sets of verses concern the Hypocrites - certain individuals who claimed to be Muslims but disobeyed Mohammed in certain situations. One such occasion involved his planned incursion against the Byzantine city of Tabuk. Some of his followers refused to join because of the heat; the Koran informs its readers that Hell is a lot hotter than the Arabian desert (v. 81). For whatever reasons, the Bedouins backed out, too - the Koran devotes sixteen verses (vv. 90-105) to this affront.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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The Dallas Morning News has named the illegal alien as its Texas of the Year. There's a problem with this: aliens in this state, illegal or not, are not Texans. A Texan is a United States citizen who lives in this state.

If I walk into a teacher's lounge, that doesn't make me a teacher.


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