Elvira Arellano Arrested

Elvira Arellano, perhaps America’s most famous illegal immigrant, was arrested earlier today in Los Angeles. Arellano had been holed up in a Chicago church for nearly all of the past year after defying the Homeland Security Department’s deportation order and fleeing to Adalberto United Methodist Church instead.

Since then Arellano has been a vocal public critic of America’s immigration policy. The Washington Post recounts a few of her activites thusly:

She has reignited an interest in a sanctuary movement across the U.S., gone on hunger strikes, written dozens of letters and sent her son with other activists to Mexico and Washington to talk to lawmakers.

Recently Arellano defied the U.S. government’s right to enforce these laws, saying:

“If this government would separate me from my son, let them do it in front of the men and women who have the responsibility to fix this broken law and uphold the principles of human dignity.”

Today that is exactly what happened. The Chicago Tribune says:

In a statement released Sunday night, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that its “officers in Los Angeles today arrested criminal alien and immigration fugitive Elvira Arellano.”

“Arellano, who was taken into custody without incident, is being processed for removal to Mexico based upon a deportation order originally issued by a federal immigration judge in 1997,” the statment said. “Arresting and removing criminal aliens is one of ICE’s top enforcement priorities and the agency will continue to pursue these cases vigorously.”

By arresting Arellano ICE made a liar out of Debbie Schlussel, one of the agencies many vocal critics. But somehow I don’t think that Debbie will mind being wrong this time.

More from the Trib:

“Everyone knew it was probably a question of when, not if ” she would be arrested, said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “It just made me feel really sad because she knows she’s looking at time in prison. I feel bad for her and for her child and for all the other people in that situation.”

Hoyt said he met Arellano nearly three years ago after she was arrested in a sweep of undocumented immigrants working at O’Hare International Airport.

Arellano had been cleaning planes at night, he said. At the time –“before she was famous,” Hoyt noted–she was afraid, intimidated and ashamed because she had been arrested by federal agents in front of her son.

“She was really emotional and really hurt. She was deeply offended that she would get arrested in front of her child and be treated like a criminal,” Hoyt said. “She thought someone who comes here to work hard at night so she can support her child is not a criminal.”

Not true. Being in the United States – or any other country – illegally is a crime and illegal immigrants are by definition criminals. Illegals do get arrested every so often, even in the U.S. But there is one sure way to avoid the “offense” of being apprehended: stay in one’s country of origin.

Hoyt again:

“I think she’s an incredibly brave person who’s put a human face on the suffering of the undocumented in this country and because of the cowardice of politicians, many more families are going to be destroyed and many more people are going to die on the borders,” Hoyt said. “America needs to look itself in the face and ask if we want to be that kind of country.”

She may be very brave. But courage is no excuse for criminal behavior and the risks that illegals run crossing our borders is no excuse for not enforcing our country’s laws.

My take on Arellano is that she deliberately chose an aggressive stance to either force the U.S. government to back down and reverse its stated immigration policy or to become a public martyr for the cause of illegal’s rights.

The former was never going to happen. It’s particularly telling that many illegals decry Arellano’s actions as counter-productive to their cause. Now Ms. Arellano will apparently fall into the latter category, justice having been served.

Kudos to ICE for acting in the face of a potential public relations disaster and doing the right thing.

Cross-posted at The Van Der Galiën Gazette.

Romney on Education

Mitt Romney had some good things to say about education yesterday:

Romney said he would work hard to improve schools but did not elaborate. When a woman asked him about how he would support arts and music programs that often are the first to be cut from tight school budgets, he said he was wary of too much federal involvement in education.

Recalling fondly his own high school glee club days, Romney said arts and music education spurs creativity that carries over into adulthood. But he said the federal government shouldn’t mandate such programs.

“While it would be tempting to say all schools should have the following programs, that worries me that someday there’d be somebody up there with very different views telling schools what they should and shouldn’t do,” he said. “I’d like to have local school boards recognize that they need to be concentrating of course on English, math and science, but also some of the cultural elements that make us a society of creative individuals.”

Makes sense. Our students are not competitive on an international level and it’s pretty obvious that our system is not getting it done, even in regards to the basics. Yet it’s very important to keep kids’ minds and bodies active and that means not letting them get bored. That can’t be done from Washington, only local creativity can keep kids engaged and and I’m glad to see that Romney knows that.

Unfortunately, Romney also said this:

“I’m really concerned that schools in inner cities are failing our inner city kids largely minorities and those kids won’t have the kinds of skills to be able to be successful and competitive in the new market economy,” he said. “The failure of inner city schools, in my view, is the great civil rights issue of our time.”

Romney is right, many inner city school districts are not educating or graduating competent students. But who is failing who? The teachers who are afraid to work in these districts for reasons of physical security? Or the students who threaten them? The children who refuse to attend school and disrupt classrooms when they do? Or the parents who condone or are unable to control their bad behavior?

In my opinion, Romney’s characterization of the problem is incorrect. A civil rights issue is one that is caused by systematic and inappropriate application of law or allocation of resources to the detriment of segments of society. The fact that some neighborhoods are poorer than others or even poor in absolute terms is not inherently discriminatory, it simply is.

The graduation rates of American inner-city schools are despicable, make no mistake. In Detroit, only 22% graduate high school. 22%. I can barely fathom that level of failure, let alone put myself in the place of a professional educator working in that environment.

I imagine that Detroit has a hard time getting and keeping teaching talent. Accordingly, salary.com says that the median salary for a teacher in Detroit is around $55,000. That’s quite a bit of money compared to what teachers make in Texas. Funding, apparently, is not a problem. So much for the civil rights issue.

Teachers I know and trust tell me that children are different than they once were, less able to accept instruction, less willing to accept discipline, less willing, it seems, to be students or even children. The education system cannot fix this fundamental problem, caused as it is by the society and homes in which they live.

Ultimately it is up to parents and children – of every race, creed, and color – to take responsibility for their own lives, decide that they value education, and make the most of the opportunities they are given. The current generation’s failure to do so is their own self immolation; nothing is being forced on them except their will and values.

I know there’s no political hay to be made from saying so, but still I’m disappointed in Romney’s position on the issue. He played to the crowd rather than being truthful and a presidential candidate should be above that sort of thing.

Cross-posted at The Van Der Galiën Gazette.

Religious Expression

In Texas this week, Governor Perry celebrated the June passage of the state’s Religious Viewpoint Anti-Discrimination Act in a ceremonial signing with schoolchildren at Clements High School in Sugar Land.

According to Perry:

“In a society where lawsuits long-ago replaced honest discussion, a culture of fear has led to limitations on our freedoms,” said Gov. Perry. “This trend has been especially troubling in our public schools; places created for the exchange of ideas, the expression of values and the shaping of lives.”

In one case, a school prohibited students from wishing a “Merry Christmas” to troops serving overseas. Another school reprimanded a first grader for invoking the name and image of Jesus when she was asked what she thinks of when she thinks of Easter.

“It is my hope that this bill and its guidelines for preserving freedom of faith-related speech will lower the tension level in our schools. Under its clear guidelines, teachers can teach and administrators can lead, knowing they are following a sensible, time-honored, and legal approach to self-expression,” said Gov. Perry.

Kudos to Texas legislators and to Governor Perry for creating and passing this measure – it was long overdue. The act’s text is brief and to the point and is perhaps best represented by Article V:

Students may organize prayer groups, religious clubs, “see you at the pole” gatherings, and other religious gatherings before, during, and after school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other noncurricular student activities and groups. Religious groups must be given the same access to school facilities for assembling as is given to other noncurricular groups, without discrimination based on the religious content of the group’s expression. If student groups that meet for nonreligious activities are permitted to advertise or announce the groups’ meetings, for example, by advertising in a student newspaper, putting up posters, making announcements on a student activities bulletin board or public address system, or handing out leaflets, school authorities may not discriminate against groups that meet for prayer or other religious speech. School authorities may disclaim sponsorship of noncurricular groups and events, provided they administer the disclaimer in a manner that does not favor or disfavor groups that meet to engage in prayer or other religious speech.

Not everyone will agree, I am sure. But that’s to be expected. The churches of atheism and liberalism have long held sway in America’s public schools and will not appreciate having to accomodate Christian student groups.

Indeed, it wasn’t long after the bill’s passage that Steven Schafersman, among others, began to work the drums of fear in a strident rhythm:

The following is a letter sent to all members of the Senate Education Committee before their debate and vote, explaining why HB 3678 is illegal (unconstitutional), disingenuous, anti-scientific, and mean-spirited. Despite the entreaty, the Howard-Chisum stealth bill was passed and ultimately signed into law by Governor Rick Perry on June 15, 2007. Once the effects of this poorly-thought out statute are in force in Texas, an enormous amount of First Amendment litigation will occur. The bill–now a law–is an example of the powerful Texas radical religious right’s aggressive program to promote and force their sectarian religious beliefs into the public school environment using the power of the state. They do this to counter the Constitutional secular and neutral nature of the public school system, and to reinforce the almost pervasive religious proselytization of children in Texas society. The religion promoted and forced into the public schools by this new statute will be, of course, Protestant Christianity. The new law will obligate captive audiences of tens of thousands of school children to listen to Protestant Christian prayers and mini-sermons under the guidance and direction of state authorities (school administrators).

Dear Senator, I urge you to reject HB 3678, the so-called “Religious Viewpoint Anti-Discrimination Act,” that is being considered by the Senate Education Committee. The bill is a stealth bill whose true purpose is to promote religious discrimination and proselytizing in public schools, with the additional purpose of damaging science education in biology courses.

The bill is written to appear to be neutral and lawful, but First Amendment Constitutional law already protects legitimate student expressions of religion. The purpose of this bill is to allow students to aggressively state their beliefs about creationism in science and Protestant Christianity in history, health, and other classrooms without fear of contradiction by teachers.

The bill creates an officious and burdensome framework that every school district must create and adopt to carry out the stipulations of the bill. This is an authoritarian and even draconian solution to a non-existent problem. The bill’s analysis by Rep. Howard is flatly wrong. He writes, “School children are being censored and reprimanded at school, leaving them in fear of punishment for their religious beliefs. Due to hostility toward religious expression, children are being forced to defend their First Amendment rights in courtrooms all across Texas, and throughout the nation. School districts’ practices and policies continue to violate the free speech rights of students, regardless of court decisions to the contrary.” This is all untrue.

Howard and Chisum’s religious expression bill is a sham; it is a stealth bill designed not to permit legitimate and proper religious expression (which is already protected), but to promote creationism and encourage sectarian proselytization by extreme right-wing Protestant Christians. If enacted, the new law will create an adversarial environment in which intimidation of religious minorities will become commonplace. The bill will certainly lead to massive amounts of litigation as religious minorities are increasingly affected.

Typical anti-Christian dogma, in other words. Evidently Schafersman envisions a veritable army of teenage preachers holding sway during biology class and the nation falling apart as a result.

What nonsense. The harm done to American college students by a single semester’s political science class – 50 hours of state-mandated indocrination in the alleged virtues of leftist liberalism – is much greater than the sum of all high school kids bold enough to stand up in front of their peers and profess their faith.

Who’s going to get beat up after school? The pack of ne’er-do-wells sniggering in the back of the classroom or the boy who stands up at the front alone and lays out his beliefs for all to see and accept or ridicule?

Schafersman also makes a point about the expense to Texas taxpayers when the inevitable First Amendment lawsuits are filed. This is a valid concern as there is no shortage of litigation-happy fools in this country, Texas being no exception.

Speaking about the law, Perry says this:

“For years, our children have not been able to share their faith and beliefs for fear that they’ll end up in the principal’s office. That’s sure not the American way and that’s sure not the Texas way.”

That’s exactly right. Read the Constitution if you think I’m wrong. Liberals hinge their argument against school prayer, nativity scenes, plays, WWJD bracelets, etc. on the First Amendment. This reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, …

Where is the silver bullet that’s been used to exclude religion from public life? Not in that phrase, surely. Russell Miller, a left-leaning liberal blogger I’ve had discussions with in the past, invokes the 14th Amendment to bolster the 1st. Yet the 14th merely states:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, …

As an argument against public religion this is anemic at best. Worse still, it’s only marginally relevant, particularly when contrasted against the powerful clarity of the 10th:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The 14th Amendment is only relevant if the 1st is assumed to apply – it provides no support whatever to the validity of the 1st. Therefore, the issue is strictly a question of the 1st Amendment versus the 10th. Perry, a politician I don’t care much for, gets this issue exactly right.

Cracking down on kids for speaking about their faith is NOT the Texas way. Furthermore, contorting the 1st and 14th Amendments does not justify the federal government in restricting our citizens from expressing their faith, young or old, in school or out.

I hope that when related cases inevitably reach the Supreme Court that the justices will recognize the state’s right to determine its own standards, as guaranteed by the 10th Amendment. But I doubt that they will.

Regardless, in all respects but that of taxpayer expense – a cost Texas legislators undoubtedly considered and found acceptable – the anti-Christian lobby gets it completely backward. In fact, they seem to have utterly missed what should be the biggest controversy about the new law: minority religious expression and the friction it will create.

What will happen when Muslim students decide to organize a Religion of Peace club at the local high school?

As to that we can only wait and see.

Cross-posted at The Van Der Galiën Gazette.

Space Non-Race

I received an email from a friend today that made the following claim:

Planet Mars will be the brightest in the night sky starting in August. It will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. This will culminate on Aug. 27 when Mars comes within 34.65M miles of earth. Be sure to watch the sky on Aug. 27 12:30 am. It will look like the earth has 2 moons. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287.

Perhaps proving at once the power and fallibility of the Internet, this is not the case.

However, it so happened that we watched Apollo 13 last night, the Ron Howard adaptation of the true story of one of NASA’s greatest missions, and this, coupled with the Mars prank and yesterday’s successful space walk and repair of a gyro on the international space station, made me again contemplate America’s failure to explore space exploration.

It must be unfathomable to the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts that we have not set foot on the moon in almost 35 years. Nor have we made significant any effort to reach Mars or the asteroid belt in that time, President Bush’s interest notwithstanding.

Our failure to keep the initiative in this area is certainly a great mystery is to me. In fact, I rate it as a national failure, almost an embarrassment, that we’ve done so little.

The space program led directly to numerous advances in technology that we take for granted today and indirectly to who can say how many more?

The program brought America’s greatest minds together with a purpose, one they accomplished with aplomb and to increasing public apathy.

There are many Americans who ask, “What will I get out of sending men to the moon or to Mars?” That is a fool’s question. What does Joe Sixpack get out of watching Paris Hilton’s bony butt gutter-talk through a barn yard on cable TV? Or from guzzling down a 12-pack watching 22 gargantuan, steroid-enhanced freaks of nature move a little brown ball down a field?

What we would get, Joe, is an investment in the future that will – not might, will- pay off in ways that you can’t even imagine. More advances in technology would come. But more important would be the fact of undertaking a difficult, even dangerous challenge and, in the face of a doubting world, accomplishing it.

Challenges like space exploration are important because they prove the national character and give every American something to be proud of, regardless of whether they “get something” out of it or not.

In fact, an investment in space technology would constitute perhaps the most valid use of federal authority there is, being an actual investment in the future of the country, an investment we can expect to see a return from, as opposed to the welfare programs we constantly fund at a net loss.

It would be a welcome change to see the government acting more like a responsible steward of American’s tax dollars than a social worker with no concept of where his program’s funding comes from and no interest in anything but his right to spend it furthering his agenda. Acting, in short, more like a business, in which only investments that provide benefits to those who fund them are undertaken.

Those that inspire us, create greatness, and improve our lives are must-do’s. The space program is one such.

There those who say that we can’t afford to get sidetracked while we’re busy fighting:

  • poverty
  • illiteracy
  • Islam

I say that investing money and directing men toward scientific research and exploration is an answer to all of these problems.

Islam? Yes. Why do you think they hate America? Because we put our infidel boots on the sands of their deserts?

Hardly. They hate us because our way of life threatens to make theirs obsolete. After all, any society that can do something like this

will inevitably drive those that deliberately keep all of their people ignorant and enslave their women into extinction – unless the greater nation is beaten back with raw animal force.

In the field of space exploration and many others, now is the time to press ahead as hard or harder than ever, simply because we can, because doing so increases us, and because it shows the world what is possible in the absence of medieval oppression.

Newark Follow-up

It seems that Jose Carranza, suspected of being one of the Newark killers, is an illegal alien already known to the justice system and had been indicted for the sexual assault of a 13 year old.

(Carranza turned himself in, causing Mayor Booker to say that he thought he’d be safer in prison.)

Do I really need to rant about this? I just wrote about a similar case in Washington state last month, yet here we are again. As I said in reference to Nathan Tabor’s article:

Every crime of this sort is sickening, but Tabor is exactly right when he says that fact that it was apparently committed by an illegal who is a sex criminal – a man who would have been deported by any competent law enforcement agency – makes it that much harder to bear.

Incompetence particularly excruciating when it results in tragedy. It demands correction, doesn’t it?

The question I’m asking myself is this: Exactly what does a scumbag have to do in order to get kicked out of this country? Or, at the very least, be held pending trial and deportation?

Carranza had already been indicted for “sexually assaulting and threatening to kill a 13-year-old” and “an array of assault and weapons offenses”.

So why was he roaming around the streets of Newark with a gun?

If I exhibited one one-thousandth of the level of incompetence consistently displayed by the justice system at my place of employment I would be out on the sidewalk wondering if I’d ever see my personal effects again in a heartbeat

Due process? Innocent until proven guilty? It’s hardly a question of that. Rather, it’s a need to do what is right. We’ve got an illegal alien not only charged with but also indicted for the sexual assault of a minor and weapons possession – let’s hold him. Simple.

If I were the lawyer who got Carranza sprung on bail I’d be thinking about a new line of work, at the least.

Party Time

Ah yes, election season is being thrust upon us. Tomorrow is the date for the Iowa Republican straw poll, and for some reason, I started thinking about our party system and how we all identify ourselves, politically.

For a long while, I had thought of the party system as one of the problems with our political climate. It is simply to easy to lump everything into Republican vs Democrat against which we base our decisions. There are too many people out there that would never vote for a Republican just because they were a Republican, and vica versa with those that are Democrat.

This is a problem.

Take myself, for example. I strongly support state rights, gun rights, lower taxes, less federal government, the repeal of Row v. Wade, and getting the US out of the UN. Some people might think this makes me a Republican outright.

They would be wrong.

I’m also in strong support of repealing the drug laws, revoking capital punishment, and a foreign policy that stops the meddling in the affairs of other countries.

My point is that I’m a hodge-podge, if you will, of various political points of view that could be construed as Republican in one light, and Democrat in another. What if I decided one day to run for office? Into which category should I go? History has shown that other parties will not succeed, and I would want to succeed, thus, I would have to choose one of the two main parties.

On those days that I’m waxing philosophical, and pipe dreams are allowed, I envision the day where there is no straight ticket voting option, no party affiliation next to the candidate, and the voter is actually an educated voter and fully knowledgeable about the individual on whom they are about to vote.

But, I wake up, reality sets in, and I’m stuck with the realization that the party’s over.

Newark Executions

Earlier this week in Newark, 3 college students were executed in a neighborhood schoolyard. Another student was shot was through the back of the head, escaping death by fractions of an inch.

Killed in the attack were Terrance Aeriel, 18, Dashon Harvey, 20 and Iofemi Hightower, 20. Aeriel’s 19-year-old sister was wounded and is expected to recover. All four were shot in the head and found behind Mount Vernon School in Newark’s Ivy Hill section.

McCarthy said the victims – all current or entering students at Delaware State University – did not know their attackers, a group of at least five men.

James Harvey, Dashon’s father, joined Booker at the press conference and said he did not blame the mayor. Nearly sobbing, the father said the blame rests with parents who don’t teach their children right from wrong.

“Innocent kids are dying needlessly,” James Harvey said. “America, this has got to stop.”

Truer words were never spoken. But what will make animals stop killing? That is what animals do, after all.

There is a certain ideological group in America that I won’t name – one wouldn’t want to be overly direct by telling them how utterly wrong they are, after all – that believes that killers such as these deserve our mercy and possess the inalienable right to live at our expense for the remainder of their natural lives, regardless of the depravity of their crimes.

This view is utter nonsense. Many of America’s inner cities are insanely violent and no place that I, a white middle class male in the prime of his life, would go sober. Yet these urban neighborhoods are home to many good people, of which James Harvey and his late son are only two examples, people who need to be defended, not left to fight a low-level war with the packs of cold-blooded murderers that roam their streets.

What the unnamed ideology fails to understand is that framing their anti-death penalty rhetoric as a human rights issue is an oxymoron. Murderers in the first degree are not human by the most important measure of all. They fail to recognize and respect the sanctity of human life and thus descend to the level of a common beast. The death penalty issue really is a question of the victims’ human rights, not the rights the animal(s) who killed them forfeited as a result of their crime.

Terrance Aeriel, Dashon Harvey, and Iofemi Hightower were winners, good young people who had worked hard in difficult circumstances to better themselves, had gotten themselves in a position to do something more with their lives than those around them.

More:

The schoolyard victims, [Newark mayor] Booker said, were “our success stories” — four young friends who had all blazed paths leading out of Newark, their families said.

Harvey and Natasha Aeriel, both entering their junior years at Delaware State University, were majoring in psychology and excelling in school. Terrance Aeriel and Hightower were about to enter their first year at the Dover, Del., school. She worked at an assisted-living facility, with an eye toward business, and he was an ordained minister and mentor in his community.

“He was really something special,” said James Harvey, Dashon’s father. “He was what a young man is supposed to be.”

Exactly. And yet he and his friends were killed for no good reason. Why? James Harvey doesn’t know.

“For him to be killed on the streets of Newark needlessly is very unacceptable,” he said at a news conference.

“They’re out here hurting innocent kids,” he added. “Innocent people are dying needlessly, unnecessarily and for what?”

These youngsters deserved to be protected against the skulking brood of hyenas who executed them.

The attackers, described as at least five young men, first shot a young woman, police said. They then marched the other three victims down an alley, lined them up against a wall and forced them to kneel, police said. Then they shot each one in the head.

“We are absolutely devastated and frustrated,” Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said, stressing that police regularly patrol in the area of the attack. “It’s not a lack of resources. It’s young people out there armed to the gills with no respect for human life.”

Fontoura is exactly right. Animals, of which murders are a particularly vicious sub-species, have neither respect for human lives or humanity. They understand only their malevolent will, fear, and punishment.

But where do they come from? This James Harvey does know.

“I blame you guys — the parents of America. If you raised your kids better this world would be a better place to live.”

Parents are, after all, where the buck finally must stop when looking for causes. Yes, there are other causes of bad behavior. But it all comes back to the parents. Kid hanging around bad people? Get her butt home after school. Neighborhood unsafe? Move. Kid disrespects elders? Wash his mouth out with soap. Whatever it takes, that’s parenting.

The weight of punishment, however, belongs entirely on the shoulders of the criminals. Victims don’t invite crime. Parents don’t force children to become murders, regardless of their (in)competence. Criminals choose to act and the punishment should fit the crime.

The murders of 3 young people whose little fingers have more value to society than the killers’ entire beings is particularly heinous. It is a crime that demands a response that both punishes the offenders and frightens those of like mind.

Only one thing frightens animals – the threat of death. Only one thing keeps them frightened – its implementation per the law.

Does that form of justice seem cruel? If so, imagine yourself as the fourth and final victim of the scum. Imagine the press of a hot, smoking gun barrel against the back of your head. Imagine the sound of the hammer cocking. Imagine the end of your every hope and dream at the hands of a brutal beast with a pistol.

Now, answer the question again.

Convienent Lies?

I was wandering around on the site of a favorite author of mine, James P. Hogan, when I came upon a link to an article put out last year by Marlo Lewis, a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in response to Al Gore’s “documentary, ” An Inconvenient Truth. You can find that article here: Inconvenient Truths for Al Gore.

In it, Marlo gives a point by point response to the assertions that the former Vice President makes in his film. Admittedly, I have not yet had a chance to read the entire document, but in reading the very first section, I was amazed by a fact that would point out the amount of misinformation coming out of the whacko liberal left.

Marlo states:

Comment: Water vapor, not carbon dioxide (CO2), is the most important greenhouse gas. Computing the exact contribution of each type of greenhouse gas to the overall greenhouse effect is complicated, because the gases “overlap” in some of the spectra in which they absorb infrared radiation. Taking the overlaps into account, RealClimate.Org concludes that “water vapor is the single most important absorber (between 36% and 66% of the greenhouse effect), and together with clouds makes up between 66% and 85%. CO2 alone makes up between 9 and 26%, while the O3 and the other minor GHG absorbers consist of up to 7 and 8% of the effect respectively.”

Gore editorializes when he says that we have “vastly” increased the amount of CO2. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is so small that CO2 is referred to as a “trace gas.” Over the past century and a half, atmosphere CO2 levels have risen from about 280 parts per million (ppm) to about 380 ppm – from roughly 3/100ths to roughly 4/100ths of one percent of the atmosphere.

So, in essence, Marlo is stating that CO2 has risen by the amount of 1/100th of one percent of the atmosphere in the last century.

Let’s put that in perspective.

Say the atmosphere is a giant vat filled with 10,000 marbles. In the last century, the amount of CO2 has risen from 3 marbles, to 4. A whopping grand total of a single marble.

Yet, when you hear the whacko left talk, they speak as if the air is saturated with CO2, and you NEVER hear any discussion on the effects of water vapor. The first I heard of it was reading the article that I’ve linked. Granted, I may not be the worlds most informed individual (the Beatles are still together, right?), but it seems to me that there should be some discussion on this. Of course, when people do bring up opposing arguments, they’re vilified and accused of manipulating the information.

The main problem as I see it is that there are too many political agendas and an utter resistance to consider the opposing view.

I guess they’re all afraid to lose their marbles.

The "3 P’s" Blog Award!

Pete Abel over at Central Sanity recently listed Black Shards as one of his picks for the Pissant Partisan Provocateur award and I couldn’t be happier about it!

(Well, actually, I wouldn’t mind having a Techorati a bit higher than the present 280,190, if we’re telling the truth and all…)

At any rate, Pete is a really good writer with politics I admire and is one of the most sensible, fair-minded contributors to The Moderate Voice, my favorite blog to read. I truly do appreciate the recognition.

In turn, here are my 5 favorites who meet the criteria of the (dreaded) 3 P’s:

  1. American Future by Marc Schulman – Not only do I like the coolness factor of his first name, but Marc is a very strong thinker who can and does really drill into the meat of an issue. One of my favorite posts of his was titled “Orwell, the Left, and 9/11“. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the problem with modern liberalism.
  2. Michael P.F. van der Galiën – Michael is another strong writer and thinker who provides an interesting European perspective on issues. I’ve recently found his posts on Turkey to be really interesting, particularly because of the strategic importance of that nation to the West.
  3. Sister Toldjah – You go, girl! Author of many “Sister Toldjah moments”, she is highly opinionated, strongly conservative, and a woman secure enough to accept that men have a place in the world too. The only thing is that ST is really too popular to truly deserve this particular award…
  4. Melanie Phillips – Melanie’s articles and diary entries are both very strongly written, logical, thoughtful, pro-West, and pro-democracy blogs. She’s severely under-appreciated in terms of her blog’s ranking. Severely. I have not had a chance to read her book “Londonistan” yet but eagerly await the opportunity to do so.
  5. RiderX by Eric Gunnerson – Now for something completely different. I originally started reading Eric’s programming blog but came to appreciate his cycling posts more and more. Eric’s descriptions of the endurance rides he makes around the Pacific Northwest are so detailed it’s almost like I’m there riding with him (but without the pain, sweat, and tears).

Ladies and gentlemen, congratulations and keep up the great work!

Nutrition Gap

The Chronicle ran a story last month about Americans and how we’re losing our height advantage over the rest of the world.

Like many human traits, height is determined by a mix of genes and environment. Experts agree that, aside from African pygmies and a few similar exceptions, most populations have about the same genetic potential for height.

That leaves environment, specifically the environment children experience from conception through adolescence. Any deficiency, from poor prenatal care to early childhood disease or malnutrition, can prevent one from reaching his or her full height potential.

“We know environment can affect heights by three, four, five inches,” said Richard H. Steckel, an Ohio State University economist who also has researched height trends.

All of this means a population’s average height is a very sensitive indicator of its most vulnerable members’ welfare.Rich countries tend to be taller because they have more resources to spend on feeding and caring for children. But wealth doesn’t guarantee a society will give its children what they need to thrive.

Indeed it doesn’t, as one can plainly see by visiting an American elementary school or McDonald’s restaurant and observing the number of overweight children per capita. Disturbing. We may not be growing taller but we’re certainly growing rounder.

John Komlos, an economic historian at the University of Munich who has spent the past quarter-century compiling data on height, is perhaps the foremost expert in the field. The New Yorker ran a similar article back in 2004 in which his comments, along with those of Steckel and Barry Bogin, were key.

In the early nineteen-seventies, when the anthropologist Barry Bogin first visited Guatemala, the country’s two main ethnic groups seemed to live on different social planes. The Ladinos, who claimed primarily Spanish ancestry, were of average height. The Maya Indians were so short that some scholars called them the pygmies of Central America: the men averaged only five feet two, the women four feet eight. The Ladinos and the Maya shared the same small country, so their differences were assumed to be genetic. But when Bogin, who now teaches at the University of Michigan, began taking measurements he soon found another cause. “There was an undeclared war going on,” he says. The Ladinos, who controlled the government, had systematically forced the Maya into poverty. Whether they lived in the city or in the countryside, the Maya had less food and medicine, and they had much higher rates of disease.

A decade and a half later, after civil war had erupted and up to a million Guatemalans had fled to the United States, Bogin took another series of measurements. This time, his subjects were Mayan refugees, between six and twelve years old, in Florida and Los Angeles. “Lo and behold, they were much taller than the Maya in Guatemala,” Bogin says. By 2000, the American Maya were four inches taller than Guatemalan Maya of the same age, and about as tall as Guatemalan Ladinos. “As far as I know, it’s the biggest increase of its kind ever measured,” Bogin says. “It shows that they weren’t genetically small. They weren’t pygmies. They were suffering.”

As America’s rich and poor drift further apart, its growth curve may be headed in the opposite direction, Komlos and others say. The eight million Americans without a job, the forty million without health insurance, the thirty-five million who live below the poverty line are surely having trouble measuring up. And they’re not alone. As more and more Americans turn to a fast-food diet, its effects may be creeping up the social ladder, so that even the wealthy are growing wider rather than taller.

Wider rather than taller – exactly. That’s no surprise: Scientists have nailed down the relationship between nutrition and health and height. That seems to be relatively well known.
To wit, the average American man is now 4 centimeters – an inch and a half – shorter than the average Dutch male, whereas 50 years ago they were shorter. Our growth has stagnated during that period while theirs has accelerated.

But what should be done about it, if anything?

The Chronicle article enumerates the following points:

  1. Benjamin E. Lauderdale of Princeton University says, “Furthermore, the European welfare states provide a more comprehensive social safety net including universal health care coverage.”
  2. In the U.S., an estimated 9 million children have no health insurance.
  3. Komlos’ most recent data indicate a small uptick in the heights of white Americans born between 1975 and 1983, suggesting the gap may be closing. But there has been no increase among blacks, underscoring inequality’s role.

In other words, their opinion is that more government resources should be dedicated to the problem.

But that is not necessarily so. The federal government already spends billions on food subsidies for the poor – as noted previously, the food stamp program’s budget alone is 40% larger than all of NASA’s combined. This fact plus the dietary research discussed above and my observation of our eating habits leads me to the conclusion that Americans, rich and poor alike, simply do not value nutrition enough to consume the right foods and/or supplements.
This is probably caused by ignorance as much or more than lack of funds. For instance, I have an advanced degree from an expensive private college but had no idea whatever about this piece of information that might have come in handy a few years back when my kids were in their formative years:

“Iodine deficiency alone can knock off ten centimeters and fifteen I.Q. points”

15 I.Q. points? Seems like an outlandish claim. But I have no basis for asserting that. American’s health education knowledge is rather pitiful; it could be true and I would have no idea.

America’s obesity problem is mostly ignorance coupled with a mindset that says consequences don’t matter. Throwing more billions at the problem through another government program won’t help. But making our students’ health class more informative certainly would.

In the final analysis, the government is not responsible for what I eat. If I choose to stunt my children’s growth by feeding them white bread, potato chips, and mac and cheese, that’s my own business and responsibility. Likewise if I decide to eat myself into a diabetic coma.

Beyond ensuring that parents and children have the facts about nutrition and exercise there is no proper role for government to take in this matter, regardless of whether Lauderdale’s claim of economic inequality as a cause is true or not.