Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

Science == Prosperity

28.06.2007 (10:27 pm) – Filed under: Science,Technology ::

The National Academies of Science recently produced a report titled “Condensed-Matter and Materials Physics: The Science of the World Around Us” and in it says that the U.S. has failed to increase funding for CMMP research at the same rate as our competitors and that we have all but lost our position of leadership in the field.

But what in the heck is CMMP, you ask? Essentially its the study of the intersection of matter and energy as applied to making things that are useful to humanity. Sounds vague, but what label can be more specific and still apply to fields as wide-ranging as nanotechnology, quantum computing, super-conductivity, and cutting edge electronics?

In other words, CMMP research points the way to the future of technology. Clearly the U.S. needs to be a leader in this field in order to remain relevant in the second half of this century. The NAS says that we’ve been doing a piss-poor job of it for the last decade and more.

Writing about this report at Ars Technica, John Timmer says:

…government funding has not kept up with the rising costs of research at the same time that the corporate-funded research lab system has collapsed. As a result, US scientific productivity has stagnated at a time when funding and output are booming overseas. The report makes a series of recommendations that it hopes will get US physics research booming again.

Based on publications in Physical Reviews B and E, the US contribution to papers has remained flat over the last decade, while papers originating from other countries have nearly doubled. The report predicts that this reduced output will ultimately exact a price on the American economy.

It suggests that all interested parties, ranging from industry through the Department of Defense and Energy to the academic world, should meet and determine what’s needed to recreate the research environment they once fostered. Unfortunately, beyond calling for these discussions, the report is remarkably vague about how to resuscitate these now moribund labs.

Readers of Thomas Freidman will not be surprised by this. In “The World is Flat“, Freidman so clearly painted a picture of America’s failed future – the very same future that is being starved even now by the billions of dollars wasted in Iraq and at home on self-indulgent welfare programs – that I immediately began to include education as one of my top priority blogging subjects.

Can you imagine a future in which Indian and China dominate the technology fields? I mean really dominates them, not merely at a low-cost manufacturing level – any country with millions of dirt poor people can do that given the political will – but at the design capabilities level where inventions – and progress – is really made?

I can and it scares the hell out of me. Not for my sake – I’m halfway to the finish line and the U.S. will hold up long enough for me to reach the end of the line (unless the Muslims pull some lunacy in Israel, in which case this post won’t matter much). No, my concern is for my children’s sake, not my own.

In the end, that’s why we scratch, claw, work, and compete the way we do in American – to provide a better life for our children than the one we had. At least it is for the sane. I propose to speak only to and for them anyway, the loons being totally irrelevant.

Therefore, I’ve reduced the equation to one that even losers like Paris “Tilt In” Hilton can understand:

Science == Prosperity

Not too difficult, is it? Even an elected official, say someone with a vote in the way that federal expenditures are allocated to the various worthy and unworthy causes that have their hands out and voices raised, ought to be able to understand something so obvious.

Yet in the last 5 years the probability of a university researcher getting a grant application funded has been cut almost in half while those of new researchers have fallen even further. Meanwhile the cost of supporting students has increased more than the size of grants. Small wonder that U.S. authors have seen their output in terms of publishable works stagnate while their foreign competitors have doubled theirs.

Scientific research in fields like CMMP and space exploration is where the hundreds of billions of dollars poured into Iraq should have gone.

(While it’s too late to cry over spilt milk and we have to remain engaged there until some conclusion is reached, that fact doesn’t change the truth of the previous paragraph.)

George Bush purports to support scientific research but his actions show otherwise. Using perhaps the most visible example, NASA’s budget has not increased markedly during Bush’s administration. The space shuttle is still being flown and no crash program to replace it has been initiated. Americans have not returned to the moon nor left for Mars.

In short, we have done nothing to advance ourselves. How long can this blaise approach to the business of high-tech competition be allowed to continue? Not long, in this writer’s opinion.

Elder Care

26.06.2007 (3:39 pm) – Filed under: Society ::

Reading Ken Connor’s article “Embryo to Elderly—A Consistent Life Ethic” I was reminded of my great-grandmother. She lived with my grandparents during my early childhood and I recall clearly the summer days when school was out. I’d often get to spend a week or two there and I’d spend most of my time inside playing cards with Granny.

Sadly, thirty-odd years later I have no idea what her name was, only Granny stuck in my mind. I also don’t remember when she was put in the rest home and was certainly never told why. But I do remember not wanting to visit her there after the first time. What is was that made me hate that place I can no longer say. Perhaps it was the white-clad authorities who ran the home. Or perhaps it was the way Granny seemed so much smaller, even pathetic, there. Or perhaps Ken’s article offers some other insights that my young self could only intuit.

We’re told that elder abuse is on the rise (PDF), statistically speaking. This is not my field, but I see no reason to doubt those whose it is.

We hear sporadic stories about elder abuse in the media but it is hardly on the tip of anyone’s tongue, as Connors pointedly points out:

If this sort of neglect and abuse were happening to prisoners at Guantánamo, there would be no end to the media outcry. If it happened in day care centers, politicians would immediately demand answers and reform. Yet although these kinds of incidents happen regularly in nursing homes across America, few people know about it, and fewer still seem to care.

In other words, it’s not a topic that brings in votes. Why is that? And why does the media downplay this subject when many news organizations and reporters publicly aknowledge that it’s their agenda to promote the rights of the have-nots? Indeed, who has less than an elderly person confined to a nursing home that provides poor or even negative care?

I would suggest that the elder neglect issue does not play well with the press for several reasons. One of those is that it is an issue that cuts across all divisions in society. There’s no one particular group to demonize, which makes it less fun to report on.

Another might be that the trend of working adults who neglect and/or abuse their parents has taken off during a time when liberal policies were implemented throughout American society.

One could easily draw the conclusion that the social policies that circumscribe Christianity and promote the welfare state contribute to the problem of elder abuse. Removal of personal responsibility does that, it should be understood, because lack of responsibility breeds lack of interest and ultimately disdain. One need look no further than public housing projects to see the truth of this.

Consider: if you were being put in a nursing home, would you prefer a for-profit, a generic not-for-profit, or a Christian-run facility? That, friends, is a no-brainer.

The last reason I’ll discuss today for elder abuse being a media and political non-issue is the legitimate question of whether the elderly in question may deserve the mistreatment they receive.

How could that be? I have a couple of friends who can tell tales about their upbringing that would make your trigger finger start to twitch if I were to write about their stories. Perhaps someday I will, if they desire it. But that will almost certainly not happen.

What sort of care do the parents of these good people have the right to expect from the children they abused? Who is to say that they are wrong if for turning an abusive parent over to Joe’s Nursing Home and walking away? As ye sow, so shall ye reap, no?

One close friend did just the opposite by rising about the pain of childhood and caring for an elderly parent all the way to the end, an often unpleasant journey that took several years to complete after the parent was bedridden. That’s very commendable, in my book, which is one reason why I am such an admirer.

Politically there’s simply no mileage to be made from this issue and so it is ignored.

Connors makes his solution clear in his closing paragraph:

The church must find its voice and speak out against the injuries and indignities suffered by our frail elderly. If the character of a culture is measured by the way it treats its most vulnerable members, what does the epidemic of abuse and neglect of our elders say about our society? A culture of life should extend dignity, compassion and care to those who are at the end of their lives, no less so than to those who are at the beginning. Until we do, we cannot be said to have embraced a consistent life ethic.

That may be a viable solution. Churches have been forced out of many areas of American life. But elder care is an issue that fits with Christianity’s mission of caring for others and that no one seems to care about enough to take away from them. It is certainly preferrable to another big-budget government program and more likely to lead to happier endings for people at the end of their lives.

Republicans Fumbling Immigration

23.06.2007 (9:48 pm) – Filed under: Immigration ::

Republicans have been whining and dragging their feet on this topic for years.  I fail to understand why, unless their support for American businesses extends to providing a free flow of illegal laborers.

By failing to enact immigration reform during the first 6 years of the Bush administration, Pubs made a serious mistake.  Now, faced with the possibility of having to accept a Democratic plan their complaining has reached new levels (depths).

The Senate’s immigration bill get another shot at life next week but will have to be re-animated without the support of either of the Texas Republican senators:

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, who has been pressured heavily by the White House and Republican leadership to support a sweeping immigration overhaul, announced Thursday that she nevertheless will vote against reviving the bill when it returns to the Senate floor next week.

As No. 4 in the Senate GOP hierarchy, Hutchison is the highest-ranking Republican to break with her leadership on a domestic policy issue of signal importance to President Bush.

Less than three hours after Hutchison denounced the legislation as an unacceptable amnesty offer to illegal immigrants, fellow Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn said he, too, would oppose bringing up a bill he deemed “deeply flawed.”

Says Kay Bailey Hutchinson, one of my favorite senators (because she does next to nothing and therefore causes few problems for her fellow Americans), said:

“I’m not going to vote to let this bill go forward with this kind of amnesty in it,” Hutchison said. “I think that would just be a mistake for Texas and for the long term for our country.”

Hutchinson and her partner in crime John Cornyn, belonging as they do to the conservative’s “the illegals will magically just go home” club, have a problem with the so-called amensty aspect of the bill:

The legislation has sparked outrage among conservatives who contend it gives amnesty to lawbreakers, and has been met with deep suspicion by Republicans who say their constituents have no faith that laws cracking down on illegal immigrants will be enforced.

Get a clue.  The illegals who are already here aren’t leaving and it doesn’t matter how long and how hard Republicans posture.  It isn’t going to happen.  Republican efforts to “strip amnesty out of the bill” are a waste of oxygen.

This is particularly true given Republicans’ failure to pass their own immigration reforms when they had control of Congress and their even more glaring failure to fund and enforce existing immigration laws during that same period.

What Republicans are saying is that because they failed utterly to secure the borders during their reign they are suspicious of future efforts to correct their ineptitude.  Well, I do see their point…

To their credit, Republicans have put forth a couple of reasonable ideas, such as deporting and permanently barring visa holders who overstay their welcome and requiring a background check prior to illegals changing status:

New requirements to track down, deport and permanently bar people who overstay their visas would be added to a broad immigration bill under a GOP bid to attract more Republican support.

The amendment, which also would prevent illegal immigrants from gaining lawful status until they pass a background check, is one of those the Senate will consider next week when it returns its attention to the immigration measure.

By all means, let’s do that.  Sounds a bit like a plan made of Swiss cheese, but if that’s what it takes to get the elephant party’s rears in gear, let’s do it.

Though their reasoning is all wrong, Republicans are right about one thing:  American leadership must get serious about enforcing immigration laws before the flow of illegals will stop.  They are correct, but you know the old saying about a broken clock…

So far I haven’t heard about any proposals to significantly punish businesses who hire illegal laborers.  A casual examination of the supply/demand relationship would immediately reveal that this approach would be a step in the right direction.

Of course, few Republicans would be able to accept this sort of amendment to the bill, let alone propose such a thing.  Even though they realize that American has to get serious to stop illegal immigration, Republicans are not prepared to do that if it means offending their base.

But the fact is that sometimes the base has to be offended in order to do what is right.  That’s why our representatives are in Washington, to do what’s right for America, not to cultivate votes for next year’s harvest. 

(See my previous post for an example of the one thing the Dems are doing right – they’re not pandering to the psycho progressives who represent a big part of the vote they have “locked up”.)

Why Won’t Congress Do What I Want?

23.06.2007 (12:24 pm) – Filed under: Liberalism,Politics ::

That’s the question that’s burning up, that’s literally on fire at many of the so-called “progressive” – liberal – chatterbox blogs these days.  It’s an interesting question, actually, because Democrats were recently elected to a majority in Congress based primarily on the fact that they weren’t Republicans.

So why won’t the Dems do the things they said they would do when they were on the campaign trail?  And why won’t they do the things that their most motivated constituents, the progressive liberal kids, want them to do?

The answers to these questions are very different.  Indeed, though they seem very similar, these are two entirely different questions.

Yesterday’s Promise

Congress’ approval rating is now at an all time low of 27%.  Why?  Because the Dems took over with the American people already unhappy at the way Republicans were running the institution and made a bad thing worse.

How?  The usual way – by failing to live up to their promises.  Dems most recent trail of tears includes but is not limited to:

  • Not stopping the war in Iraq
  • Not bringing the troops home
  • Not appointing ethical leadership
  • Not being fiscally responsible
  • Not enforcing more open, accountable government
  • Not reforming immigration
  • Not reforming health care
  • Not passing stem cell research (damn veto powers!)
  • Not engaging in bi-partisan politics
  • Not refraining from anti-Bush witch hunts

Democrats at various levels promised to do all of these things once they were elected.  Of course most of these promises were never going to be kept.  We should have known that, Dems say with a knowing wink.  Shame on you for getting fooled again.

I admit that I felt a certain sense of justification when the Dems won the election.  Like many others I’d seen it coming and even felt like it was necessary.  Sometimes you have to tear down before you can build again.  Unfortunately Pelosi and Co. did not tear down at all.  They simply grafted their new, no-better-than-the-other-guys leadership onto Congress’ already listing superstructure.

One could see that this was happening immediately during Pelosi’s first no-win situation, the House Majority Leader race between Stoyer and Murtha, two bad choices if ever I saw them.

In fact, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington listed Murtha in its report, “Beyond DeLay: The 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and five to watch).”

As reported in the study and by the news media, Murtha has been involved in a number of pay-to-play schemes involving former staffers and his brother

Yet he was endorsed by Nancy Pelosi for a leadership position.  More of the same indeed.

Democrats, in other words, have not changed their political or ideological stripes from the ones that were so roundly rejected during the Clinton years when the Republic revolution took place.

Small wonder then that the American people do not approve of the job they are doing.  They/we have never approved of the tax-and-spend liberal platform; 2007 is no different than 1987 or 1997 in that regard.  This, ultimately is the Dems’ downfall:  people simply don’t like their ideas.

“But We Want Them Anyway”

Liberals refuse to accept that the majority of Americans reject their policies.  It’s difficult medicine to take.  No one likes to hear that their baby is ugly.  But liberal positions on abortion, taxation, wealth redistribution, immigration, and Iraq are bad positions. 

Yet the Democrats were elected anyway.  So why aren’t they doing what the progressive element of their party is so busy agitating for? 

The prototypical example of this non-implementation of the progressive agenda is seen in the Dems inaction on Iraq.  Democrats were elected largely because they weren’t Republicans and said they would pull American troops out of Iraq.

This, of course, was a lie.  Dems have no intention to pull out of Iraq because they understand that doing so would be the absolute height of irresponsibility.

In a way, being elected to the majority was a bad things for Dems because that forces them to accept responsibility for their rhetoric, something they did not have to do when Republicans were in charge.  This is a problem because their words, particularly about Iraq, were and are utterly empty.

Ultra-liberal positions on abortion – “we have the right to kill up to the moment of birth” – and fiscal policy – “we have the right to take wealthy people’s money and use it as we see fit” – are equally irresponsible.  Progressive policies cannot be implemented, even by Democrats, because they are bad ideas. 

What the progressive platform really is about is mob rule.  It’s about creating a perception of injustice – climate change, for example – and rallying the mob around the new idol while telling them repeatedly how important it is to worship it.

But while the idealists at the microphone have their agenda and a certain about of knowledge about the subject of their idolization, the mob knows nothing of science, politics, or even war.  Mobs know destruction and murder, not justice, as in this case in Austin, Texas:

An angry crowd beat a man to death after a vehicle he was riding in struck and injured a young boy in a public housing parking lot, police said Wednesday.

A car in which David Rivas Morales, 40, was a passenger had entered the lot Tuesday night when it struck a 2-year-old child, said Austin Police Commander Harold Piatt. The child was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

There were conflicting accounts of how many people were in the area. Police originally estimated 2,000 to 3,000 in the area and a woman who lives at the complex said hundreds who had been at a Juneteenth festival filled the parking lot and street.

Are these the people who should be managing the war in Iraq, deciding who should pay how much in taxes, and implementing our nation’s immigration policy?  The same people who show up at every G8 conference, ransack the host city, and call it a political rally?  Hardly.

Even the Democratic leadership knows that the progressive element is not fit for leadership.  That’s why their policies do not get implemented.  For this we should all be thankful.

Earmarks, the Other Pork Flavor

21.06.2007 (4:41 pm) – Filed under: Politics ::

Speaking of politicians who change their tune as soon as they reach office, what ever happened to Democrats’ promises to run an open and transparent government?  CNN says not much:

Despite the new Democratic congressional leadership’s promise of “openness and transparency” in the budget process, a CNN survey of the House found it nearly impossible to get information on lawmakers’ pet projects.

Initially, staffers for only 34 of the 435 members of the House contacted by CNN between June 13 and 15 were willing to supply a list of their earmark requests for fiscal year 2008, which begins on October 1. Some of those 34 staffers simply pointed callers to Web sites where those earmark requests were posted.

Granted more have complied since then – they usually do, once the story starts to go against them – but what about this:

When Democrats regained control of Congress last fall, they promised to create the most honest, open Congress in history.

“We will bring transparency and openness to the budget process and to the use of earmarks,” Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi said in December 2006, “and we will give the American people the leadership they deserve.”

Liar.  It’s a new party but the same old same old.  The proof is in the pudding.  Today David Obey’s House Appropriations Committee Thursday approved $153 million in pet projects:

…rewarding both powerful and not-so-powerful lawmakers alike with 377 cherished “earmarks” for their home districts.

The unusual session was made necessary after Republicans forced Democrats to reverse plans to insert pet projects into bills before House debates rather than add them in closed-door House-Senate talks when it would be too late to challenge them.

Small wonder that the Democratic Congress has earned – earned, I say- the lowest approval rating of all time.

One bright spot in the debate over the despicable process of pork-barreling for the folks back home comes from Barack Obama, again: 

Democrat Barack Obama on Thursday revealed the 113 budget items he has requested in the Senate — known as “pet projects” or “pork” in the language of budget reform — and challenged his fellow presidential candidates to do the same.

Obama’s more than $300 million in earmark requests range from $33 million made along with other senators for a nationwide project to promote civics among students to $125,000 to add turn lanes and traffic lights at an intersection in rural Oregon, Ill.

“As a matter of transparency and good government, Obama thinks it’s important that voters know who their candidates are, what their sources of income are and whether they have any potential conflicts,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton said. “We would hope that other candidates follow suit in disclosing their earmarks as well.”

Good for you, Mr. Obama.

Seems like Obama is on a bit of a roll lately.  How exactly did he do that? 

Let’s see…  Seems like he simply told the truth about American fathers and the failure of men to fulfill their duty.  Then he followed up by revealing what he’d been trying to accomplish for his home state. 

All of our representatives ought to do the same thing, without us having to ask.  When you get down to it, this should be a requirement of the job.

Conservatism

21.06.2007 (12:08 pm) – Filed under: Politics ::

Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard says that Republicans desperately want to become fiscal conservatives again:

In the good old days when Republicans ruled Congress, their instructions for President Bush were: no vetoes, especially of spending bills.

Republican leaders — House Speaker Denny Hastert, for one — made it clear a Bush veto would cause ill will on Capitol Hill. So over a six-year period the president vetoed exactly one bill. And it was a bipartisan bid to increase funding for embryonic stem cell research.

Meanwhile, spending increased, the number of pork barrel expenditures known as earmarks skyrocketed and Republicans lost their reputation as skinflints. “We lost our brand,” says a Republican official.

They want it back. And they are willing to be pilloried by Democrats as pitiless, cruel, unfeeling, callous, uncaring, coldhearted and Scrooge-like to get it. That’s how important it is to Republicans to be seen again as politicians who can be counted on to restrain or, better yet, slash government spending, even in the case of popular programs.

If only it were that easy.  I am very much a fiscal conservative and have bemoaned George Bush’s lack of financial discretion to various people during his terms in office.  In fact, from my perspective W’s lack of budgetary restraint is one of the most bothersome aspects about his reign of terror in the White House.

“Very disappointing” were the words I used to describe his domestic agenda in a recent off-line converstation about Bush.

Now Republicans want to be thrifty again?  Why should I believe them now?  I mean, they had 6 years in which they could have cut the floated Fedocracy down to size, kept the budget balanced, and undone decades of Democratic fiscal folly.  So what did they do?  Spent more than any group of legislators in history.

No wonder they didn’t get re-elected in 2006.

George Bush isn’t immune from the desire to get back to what got him elected in the first place:

“The American people do not want to return to the days of tax-and-spend policies,” Bush said in his radio address.

The House of Representatives on Friday passed a $37 billion budget for the Department of Homeland Security, but Republicans rallied enough votes to uphold a promised veto from Bush.

The measure — one of several annual spending bills that Congress began to consider this week — exceeds Bush’s request for the department by $2.1 billion.

The administration, hoping to appease Republicans who demand fiscal restraint, has pledged to keep overall spending to the level in Bush’s proposed budget in February.

The president has had uneven success.

Most recently, Democrats added $17 billion to an Iraq war funding bill, money not sought by Bush. All told, Democrats plan spending increases for annual agency budgets of about $23 billion above the White House budget request.

House GOP conservatives have pledged to come up with the votes needed to uphold any Bush vetoes.

“I am not alone in my opposition,” Bush said, stressing that 147 Republicans in the House have pledged to stand with him. “These 147 members are more than the one-third needed to sustain my veto of any bills that spend too much.”

It’s about damn time.

The Republican legacy of the naughty aughts is that you can trust either party equally – as long as they’re out of power.

One can look at the current Dems and see the same shoe on the other foot.

Stem Cells

21.06.2007 (6:47 am) – Filed under: Medicine,Science ::

It’s not popular to say that Bush’s veto of the recent bill promoting embryonic stell cell research is for the best.  But I’ll go on record saying it anyway.  Bush said:

“If this legislation became law, it would compel American taxpayers for the first time in our history to support the deliberate destruction of human embryos,” Bush said. “I will not allow our nation to cross this moral line.”

Indeed, there are moral lines that should not be systematically crossed, the deliberate creation and destruction of human life perhaps first among them.

The bill itself states that embryos used for research would not be specifically created for that purpose:

The president and other critics condemn the legislation as morally offensive because it would lead to the destruction of human embryos to derive stem cells.

But backers note the legislation would only permit scientists to use embryos left over from fertility treatments that would otherwise be discarded. They also say it could clear the way for possible medical advances that could help millions of people suffering with debilitating diseases.

But that position is rather transparent.  Given a demand, economics dictates that there will come into existence a supply, whether through leftovers, as the bill suggests, or from deliberate fertilization for research and profit motives. 

Is that wrong?  Personally I do believe it is wrong.  But I do not know.  Can anyone be certain?  In the area of human life and the possible implications of creating and destroying it on a massive scale it seems best to be conservative.

I am all for legitimate scientific research.  But I am not convinced that embryonic stell cell research is even scientifically necessary or ethically desirable.

Consider the recent discovery by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston showing that adult stem cells could produce insulin and potentially cure type 1 diabetes.

Clearly we haven’t even come close to exhausting the possibilities presented by adult and umbilical sources of stem cells.  If anything we’ve barely begun studying the potential applications of adult stem cells and have little idea what advances might be derived from them. 

From the article:

Denner said this research, which reflects a fruitful collaboration with co-authors Drs. Colin McGuckin and Nico Forraz at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in the United Kingdom, used human umbilical cord blood because it is an especially rich source of fresh adult stem cells and is easily available from donors undergoing Caesarian section deliveries in UTMB hospitals. “However,” he added, “embryonic stem cell research was absolutely necessary to teach us how to do this.”

Note the last.  Cleary American scientists are have been envious of their foreign counterparts who work in countries with less restrictive laws regarding embronic stem cells research.  As Denner states, many scientists believe they need embryonic stem cells to show them the way.

So do many individuals and publications support the research.  Newsweek/MSNBC allowed Patti Davis to run a caustic, rambling anti-Bush, pro-stem cell research diatribe from which this drivel was culled:

But apparently, the destruction of fertilized eggs—flushed away as if they’re useless—doesn’t count as murder. Only using those fertilized eggs for valuable scientific research that could eventually save people’s lives counts as murder in this president’s mind. No one in this administration, with all their wordplay and posturing, has been able to dance around that stunning lack of logic.

We are being asked to believe that this president’s opposition to embryonic stem-cell research has deep moral, religious and ethical roots. As we heard, the word “murder” is tossed around freely.

Yet this is a president who led us into a war with a patchwork quilt of lies. Thousands of American soldiers have died. Thousands more have returned horribly wounded, and we don’t even know yet what toll posttraumatic stress disorder will take on those who obeyed their commander in chief and went to fight in Iraq. We may never know the complete death toll of Iraqi citizens, but we certainly know that some were raped and brutally executed. There have been many beheadings, sometimes of Americans who simply went to Iraq to help the people there, not to fight. Let us please not forget 26-year-old Nick Berg who was beheaded in May 2004. Where is President Bush’s grief over all those deaths? He directs his moral outrage instead to the idea of using fertilized eggs, that would otherwise be destroyed, for potentially life-saving scientific research. He tells us it’s because he cares so deeply about life.

Where was his care in the aftermath of Katrina? This president, when he finally did touch down in Louisiana, made a smirking remark about the good times he used to have in New Orleans. As if alluding to his hard-partying past was appropriate while people were suffering and dying in the Superdome, while bodies were lying bloated in the streets.

Wow.  That’s very inciteful, Patti.  </sarc>

That bit of anti-Bush rabble-rousing may motivate the liberals to take up arms and pitchforks but it does nothing to prove the case for the research itself.

The pro-research position also leaves open the question of whether or not humans should seek to extend their life spans beyond what nature has allotted them.

We all want to live longer, healthier lives.  And we all want our loved ones the do the same.  And it would be great if crippled people like Christopher Reeve could rise and walk again.

But should we – on a global basis – attempt to live 10 or 20 years longer?

There are certain realities in the physical world that say otherwise.  Listening to the environmental lobby makes it clear that a significant number of people believe that the Earth’s environment is breaking down.

Whether that’s proven is another matter.  But the same people who blame industrial progress and growth – the natural condition of living men and women – for ruining the Earth seek to extend our lives well beyond what we have today.  Where is the logic in those contradictory positions?

The truth is that all things die and that humans are and should be no different.  Death is part of humanity’s renewal process.  If the old never leave them how can the young ever truly grow up, take over, and reach their potential?

Overpopulation is a very real problem and one that has been discussed for decades.  Proponents of embryonic stem cell research would produce wondrous cures with the knowledge they expect to gain from their experiments, cures that would only exacerbate this fundamental problem.

It’s unclear how they resolve these and other ethical dilemnas.

As for me, I think I’ve made my position clear.

Liberalism Distilled

18.06.2007 (11:52 am) – Filed under: Liberalism ::

It’s humbling to realize that after all of the posts I’ve written in the past few years that I’ve never managed to properly capture the true essence of American liberalism and what is wrong with it.

There’s just something elusive about the movement’s illogic that defies description. Just as particle physicists have difficulty tracking the movement of subatomic particles, so have thoughtful writers such as myself had pinning down exactly what liberalism is and what parts of it, if any, make sense to integrate into our beliefs.

Thankfully, it’s come to my attention that liberals actually exist in the world and can be observed – unlike subatomic particles – without altering their unpredictable behavior.

Thusly, let us turn to New York City where a common bare-breasted liberal has been spotted:

A Manhattan artist arrested by police when she went on a topless stroll two years ago has accepted a $29,000 settlement from the city, her lawyer says.
Jill Coccaro, 27, was charged briefly with indecent exposure despite a 1992 state appeals court ruling that concluded women had the right to be topless if men were allowed to take off their shirts.

Her attorney, Jeffrey Rothman, told the Daily News for its Sunday editions that his client won the civil rights settlement from the city, which did not admit or deny wrongdoing.

“We hope the police learn a lesson and respect the rights of women to go topless,” Rothman said.

Feeley told the New York Post for its Sunday editions that she was not treated well after her arrest. She claimed in an October lawsuit that a police officer yanked her out of a patrol car by her hair and police took her to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

Hah! A psychiatric evaluation? Imagine that! And the punchline:

The city settled on June 4.

“I felt like I deserved it,” Feeley said.

“I felt like I deserved it.” And there it is, readers, the very distillate of liberalism, exposed for everyone to see.

I felt like I deserved it. Those are exactly the words I’ve been looking for all these years. Jill, I will always be indebted to you. Thank you so much for clarifying matters for me. I’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. Now I believe it!

And as for that judge back in 1992…

Border Security

17.06.2007 (10:22 pm) – Filed under: Immigration ::

Charles Krauthammer says that there’s only one thing Americans agree on when it comes to immigration reform: fixing the border.

At least that’s one thing that all of our representatives in Washington are saying they support.  But do they really?

David B. doesn’t think so.  Referring to the immigration bill that was recently defeated he says:

When Senator Coburn (R-OK) brought up an amendment that would have reaffirmed the commitment of the US government to enforce existing immigration laws, it also was defeated 54-42.  I called Senator Hutchison (R-TX) to try and find out why she voted against it, but her office said that she had not commented on why she would oppose enforcing our laws.

The problem with this is that the laws America already has on the books are sufficient to secure the border if the national commitment exists to do so.  As David suggests, the vote on Coburn’s amendment means that the Senate does not take that commitment seriously.

Krauthammer doesn’t think so either:

Why not start by passing what everyone says they want? After all, proponents of this comprehensive reform insist that the current situation is intolerable and must be resolved. It follows, therefore, that however much they differ in the details of how the current mess should be resolved, they are united in the belief that such a mess should not be allowed to happen again. And the only way to make sure of that is border control.

Because for all the protestations, many of those who say they are deeply devoted to enforcement are being deeply disingenuous. They profess to care about immigration control because they have to. But they care so little about the issue that they are willing to make it hostage to the other controversial provisions, most notably legalization.

Why am I so suspicious about the fealty of the reformers to real border control? In part because of the ridiculous debate over the building of a fence. Despite the success of the border barrier in the San Diego area, it appears to be very important that this success not be repeated. The current Senate bill provides for the fencing of no more than one-fifth of the border and the placing of vehicle barriers in no more than one-ninth.

Everyone understands that enforcing a non-porous border is the keystone around which all the other particulars of immigration reform will be built.  In my previous discussions of the immigration reform bill I assumed – naively, perhaps – that Congress would act according to their obligations and secure our borders.

And it is absolutely their obligation to enforce our existing immigration laws.  No senator or representative who votes otherwise deserves re-election, regardless of party.

Krauthammer continues:

A fence announces to the world that America is closed to … illegal immigrants. What’s wrong with that? Is not every country in the world the same? The only reason others don’t need such a barrier is because they are not half as attractive as America, not because we are more oppressive or less welcoming.

Fences are ugly, I grant you that. But not as ugly as 12 million people living in the shadows in a country that has forfeited control of its borders.

Not as ugly as today’s situation, in essence.  But those 12 million are already here and not going anywhere.  Keeping them “in the shadows” will only serve to foster an unnecessary cycle of poverty and crime.

By all means, secure the bloody border.  Build an American version of the Berlin wall, if necessary, Congressmen, but do your jobs and stop the tide of illegal immigrants coming to America.

Better yet, do it as part of a comprehensive package that deals with the millions of illegals Clinton and Bush invited here via their incompetent management of the southern border.

Obama on Fatherhood

16.06.2007 (3:55 pm) – Filed under: Politics,Race ::

Here’s an example of why it’s great to have Barack Obama in the presidential primaries:

“There are a lot of men out there who need to stop acting like boys; who need to realize that responsibility does not end at conception; who need to know that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise a child”

“Too many black men simply cannot afford to raise a family — and too many have made the sad choice not to,” Obama said. “A fatherless household takes its toll. Children who grow up without a father … are five times more likely to live in poverty and nine times more likely to drop out of school”

Two points are immediately obvious. First, no other major candidate could say this and live to tell the tale, politically speaking. Not Hillary, not Richardson, and certainly no one in the Republican party.

Second, Obama is right on the money. Blacks are failing their children at an extraordinary rate and it’s largely – but not exclusively the fault of the male gansta mentality.

Ultimately more black Americans have to move themselves beyond the dream-limiting mindset of victimization. If Obama was to win the presidency I wonder if his victory could be the blow that shatters the myth that blacks cannot succeed in America. I think it could, although young black males – the very people who need Obama to succeed the most – are likely to reject him because of his success.

I wish him luck. Win, lose, or draw, all Americans will benefit from having had a mainstream black candidate in the race because the truth has to be spoken before it can be acknowledged for what it is and addressed.

If I were a Democrat, I’d be looking hard at Obama as my candidate of choice.