Friday, April 28, 2006

Hillary-ous Poll Results

Actually, it's the poll itself that had me laughing. The Anchoress reports on a new poll released by CNN/USA Today:
You need a subscription to read the whole thing, but here is the gist of it:

Hillary Rodham Clinton is more popular among voters than plain Hillary Clinton, a CNN/USA Today poll has discovered.

The addition of the senator’s maiden name, which has been the subject of much discussion among voters both married and single, seems to distance her somewhat from her husband President Clinton, the poll finds.

Yeah, CNN/USA Today just felt like spending money on this question, because it's vital.

Especially when the candidate involved is married to someone who once polled where they should go on vacation. Polling on the name...that's beautiful. That's what we want in charge, someone who won't even tell you a name until it's been focus-grouped and submitted for popular approval. In a serious and troubling age, we should elect that president. Al Qaeda will love that president.
Ain't politics grand?

Moron Washington Politics

This is the kind of political idiocy that will bite you on the bum every time:
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Ill., center, gets out of a Hydrogen Alternative Fueled automobile, left, as he prepares to board his SUV, which uses gasoline, after holding a new conference at a local gas station in Washington, Thursday, April 27, 2006 to discuss the recent rise in gas prices. Hastert and other members of Congress drove off in the Hydrogen-Fueled cars only to switch to their official cars to drive ... the few block[s] back to the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
UPDATE: Ian of Expose the Left has the video of Brit Hume's FOX News report, which exposes even more gas-guzzling hypocrisy, mostly from the Democrats.
After gathering at a Capitol Hill gas station yesterday to condemn President Bush for rising gas prices — some Democratic senators hopped into cars for the one-block trip back to their offices. According to The Washington Post, California's Barbara Boxer got into a Chrysler LHS, and New York's Chuck Schumer hopped into a Hyundai Elantra.

Similarly after voting on the Senate floor yesterday — Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Evan Bayh of Indiana, and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts all got into cars for the trip back to their offices — across the street.

(With apologies to Brainster for the title.)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Day for Heroes

As I turned on the PC this morning for my first check of the day's news, the first two stories that caught my eye were a quick indicator of the way this day is going to go. In my book, anyway, today is going to be a day for heroes. Heroes of different walks of life, both past and present.

As my morning schedule had limited time allotted for surfing, I have only captured a few such stories here. If you happen to know of other recent stories, post a link in the comments. I would love to highlight as many as possible today.

A Day for Heroes, chapter 1: Alvin York

One of America's greatest wartime heroes of all time distinguished himself during the "war to end all wars." Many of you, as did I, first learned about the valiant exploits of the "conscientious objector" of World War I from the movie starring Gary Cooper. Recently, Sgt. Alvin C. York made headlines again as the Stars & Stripes featured a search for the exact location of his heroic deeds:
Sgt. Alvin York; photo courtesy of the U.S. National ArchivesSgt. Alvin York, then a corporal and a crack shot, did indeed take out a group of German machine-gunners, killing 25 German soldiers and capturing 132 others with only seven other surviving U.S. soldiers, a Springfield rifle and a .45-caliber pistol for help.


According to biographies, the devout Christian who once applied for status as a conscientious objector remained ambivalent about killing enemy soldiers and said he did so only to save more lives.
But precisely where in the French Argonne region, near the little town of Chatel Chehery, York performed his feats in October 1918 has never been known.
One U.S. Army officer and a separate group of Tennesseans and other academics are both working to locate the spot for history's sake. The French mayor of Chatel Chehery is supporting both groups' efforts, mostly in the hopes for increased tourism to the region.

A Day for Heroes, chapter 2: Martin Richburg

Staff Sgt. Martin Richburg; photo by Monte Morin, Stars and StripesA much more recent example of heroism also saved the lives of soldiers and civilians alike in Al Kisik, Iraq. U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Martin Richburg — "a heavy-vehicle mechanic assigned to the 142nd Maintenance Company" — was off-duty, relaxing in the cab of his tuck and talking to his wife on a cell phone, when he spotted "an Iraqi civilian pacing nervously near the camp's crowded Internet cafe."

As Richburg watched, the man climbed up on a chair and placed a plastic-wrapped package on top of the cafe's A/C window unit, then "took off running." Richburg immediately sprinted after the man, subduing the suspect with a tackle and his 9mm sidearm. Quickly discovering that the suspicious package was indeed a bomb, Richburg headed straight back to the cafe.
Dragging the insurgent in one hand and waving his pistol in the other, the burly mechanic rushed to the cafe entrance and began shouting at everyone to get out.

Shocked by the sight of Richburg waving a pistol and swearing at the top of his lungs, a dozen soldiers and five civilians piled out of the cafe. The mechanic yelled at them to take cover behind a line of concrete blast barriers.

The soldiers braced themselves. After roughly 15 minutes, the package exploded with the noise of an artillery shell. The windshield of Richburg's truck "crystallized" by the blast, and a Porta-John was flung into a nearby meadow. The window of the Internet cafe was destroyed, driving glass and shrapnel deep into the walls and computer booths.

Since the cafe had been cleared, nobody was injured.
Staff Sgt. Richburg, who has been nominated for a Bronze Star for his life-saving actions, responded to interviews with true heroic humility. "I suppose anyone else would have done it, too."

A Day for Heroes, chapter 3: Rick Monday

Tuesday marked the 30 year anniversary of another heroic event that captured the hearts of Americans across the nation. Rick Monday served his country for six years in the Marine Corps Reserves, but what he will always be remembered and revered for was done in a different sort of uniform.
Rick Monday; photo by James Roarke, APMonday was playing center field for the Chicago Cubs on April 25, 1976, at Dodger Stadium when he noticed two protesters kneeling on the grass in left-center, intending to burn the American flag. He immediately bolted toward them and snatched it away.
"Whatever their protest was about, what they were attempting to do to the flag — which represents a lot of rights and freedoms that we all have — was wrong for a lot of reasons," Monday said. "Not only does it desecrate the flag, but it also desecrates the effort and the lives that have been laid down to protect those rights and freedoms for all of us."
"I know the people were very pleased to see Monday take the flag away from those guys," recalled Manny Mota, Monday's teammate that season and now a Dodgers coach. "I know Rick has done a lot of good things as a player and as a person. But what he did for his country, he will be remembered for the rest of his life as an American hero."
I actually remember this happening, as we prepared to celebrate the American Bicentennial in the small town where I grew up. My grandfather was an avid baseball fan, and partly due to his influence I was just beginning to become a fan of the great American pastime as I approached my teenage years. And while Monday's efforts may not have saved lives, as Captain Ed points out his actions went a long way toward fanning the flames of patriotism that were so visibly absent in that lean year.
For those too young to recall, the nation had reached what we thought was the depth of our national crisis of confidence. A year earlier, we had watched on television as the last Americans in Saigon had to be airlifted out by helicopter from our doomed embassy as the North Vietnamese overran the allies we abandoned in 1973. Two years earlier, our President resigned from the office he disgraced, taking the credibility of the national law-enforcement and intelligence agencies with him.

With the bicententennial of the Declaration of Independence coming up, the country had started a celebration of the event that overloaded on red, white, and blue. The nation tried to put on a coat of faux patriotism it didn't really feel, and the entire effort felt commercialized and hypocritical. With Independence Day two months away, many already had had enough of the celebration.

However, when Monday took off with the flag, all of the cynicism and defeatism of the past two years melted away. Watching Monday rescue the flag from two lunatics who tried to hijack a baseball game for their protest, which would have provided the perfect nadir of American morale at that time, the crowd did something no one expected. Lasorda recalled in his book that starting softly, the crowd started singing "God Bless America", completely unprompted, until all of the tens of thousands of Dodger fans had joined together to sing it. It was one of the few unscripted and spontaneous patriotic displays in our Bicentennial, and one of the most moving at any time.
Even in my little town in rural Texas, everyone was rooting for the Cubs and Rick Monday that year.

UPDATE: My buddy Brainster just posted a link to this video coverage of Monday's historic play to rescue the flag. The video report also includes a recent interview of Monday talking about that day. — Songbird, 05/26/2006

A Day for Heroes, chapter 4: Franklin Graham

A different sort of hero, but a hero of mine nonetheless. In case you have never heard of him, let me introduce you to Franklin Graham, international evangelist and man of God.
Graham, who has taken over the ministry of his ailing father the legendary Rev. Billy Graham, 87, is sweeping through the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast with a rousing series of revival festivals.

He also is speaking out on the Katrina disaster - and many issues his father would not have, from abortion, to gay marriage, to the Muslim faith.

Central to Graham's voice is Jesus Christ - his teachings and his way as an example to lead us from our troubles.

For sure, Graham's father had that message, too. But Graham seems more eager to apply the "Jesus" answer to some of America's and the world's most pressing problems.

He stresses his vision of a Jesus that is indeed alive, not simply one who was crucified for our sins. There is much more to the Jesus story, Graham suggests.
In addition to the worldwide witness that he has become, Franklin Graham has been very active in the move to help the war-ravaged people of the Sudan.
...[H]is organization, Samaritan Purse, has been working in southern Sudan for years. The Samaritan Purse hospital in the region is the largest around and has endured more than a half-dozen bombing attacks by the Khartoum regime.
The NewsMax article gives an excellent introduction to this outspoken man of God and his dedication and commitment for taking the Word to the world.

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."Matthew 28:16-20

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Quote of the Day

There are no phantom taxpayers. Even those who talk about taxing business would be wise to remember an observation once made by President Reagan: businesses don't pay taxes, people do.
—Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, 2004

Believe it or not, that oh-so-true statement was made just two short years ago by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the same man who just this week railroaded through the Texas House a new business tax that dwarfs the old Anne Richards Franchise Tax in its scope. The full text of Perry's "no new taxes" speech, delivered back in February of 2004, is available to read on the governor's web site. Here is the relevant part:
To raise taxes in the name of education sounds nice, but it is counter-productive. Tax hikes that kill jobs also kill the tax revenue that fund schools and other priorities. It is simple economics 101 summed up by an old saying: "don't bite the hand that feeds you."

Those who embrace higher taxes should be courageous enough to say who it is they think is not paying their fair share. There are no phantom taxpayers. Even those who talk about taxing business would be wise to remember an observation once made by President Reagan: businesses don't pay taxes, people do.

Higher taxes on employers get passed on in the form of higher prices for the customer. Or maybe the employer is forced to sustain a smaller profit margin, meaning someone often loses their job. Either way, when taxes get raised on employers, real men and women pay the price, not some faceless entity.
Who was that masked man? Apparently, someone just pretending to be a fiscal conservative in order to get reelected.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Unmitigated Gall!

That's the first thing I thought when I read this latest idiocy from the Texas House of Representatives:
The House version of Gov. Rick Perry's tax overhaul says that the secretary of state — an office that has little involvement in tax policy — will write a letter and ... send it out to taxpayers around Oct. 1. The letter would tell voters, er, taxpayers about the property-tax reductions that, presumably, the Legislature will have just passed.

Some lawmakers said this is simply a government-funded political advertisement a month before an election. "When we tax people and we charge them a tax, we don't ever send them a notice," said Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston.
So let me get this straight. They are:
  1. bragging about giving us a big property tax cut, when that "cut" will be wiped out in one to three years by the annual 10% increases in appraisal because they still refuse to lower the property appraisal caps (even though Republican Primary voters passed a ballot initiative supporting lowering said caps with approximately90% of the vote);
  2. creating a brand new business tax that will hurt many small to medium-sized businesses, and will eventually be passed on to consumers (i.e., Texas taxpayers);
  3. refusing to consider spending cuts as a way to cover property tax cuts, instead of raising the business tax (see above);
...and now they have the audacity to use our own money to proclaim their "good deeds." Oh, and it just happens to be scheduled for just in time for the November elections!
"It's for transparency, it's to make sure everyone is aware of what we have done," said Rep. Beverly Woolley, R-Houston, a proponent of sending a letter authored by the secretary of state.
Well, I have to give her credit. It's pretty transparent, all right.

Take This Blog and Shove It

Okay, Songbird is really gonna get me for that one, but you've got to read this poster's lament over at Squawkbox Noise. Here's an excerpt to wet your whistle:
Better not try
and stand in my way
as I'm a loggin
out this time

Take this blog and shove it
I aint postin here no more

Quote of the Day

This enemy doesn't have 'surrender' in their dictionary. We can't have 'retreat' in ours.
David Beamer

Hat-tip: Brainster

True Grit

"Only a fool argues with a skunk, a mule or the cook." —old farm saying

I've heard this one numerous times ... usually after foolishly arguing with the cook. This was just one of the old phrases that brought back some good memories in the PBS Test Your True Grits test. Not that I ever worked a ranch, but I have handled my share of Texas cattle before. I was a bit surprised at my score: 9 out of 10. (I missed the one about the lady's wisdom. Go figure!)

Monday, April 24, 2006

BlogSpot Problems

Apparently the posting function of BlogSpot is down, and has been down all morning. Hopefully my posts from this morning will magically appear at some time during the day today....

(Why do these things always seem to happen when Songbird is out of town?)

McKinney In the News Again

For poor Representative Cynthia McKinney, it seems to be swiftly becoming a habit. All the hullabaloo over her assault of a Capitol Police officer (which she referred to yesterday as a "discrete incident") still has not died down, and yet she's already jumping back into the fires of controversy again.

After abruptly walking out of a press conference this weekend in which reporters continued to question her about the capitol offense, McKinney apparently forgot that her lapel microphone was still attached and active. After leaving the room, McKinney was overheard uttering some derogatory remarks. But the truly remarkable part was her response immediately after:
"Oh, crap! Now, you know what?" McKinney asked an unidentified aide. "They lied to Coz and Coz is a fool!"

Realizing that her microphone was still on, McKinney returned to the room where the interview was being conducted and, knowing that she was on camera, told Starzyk: "Anything that is captured by your audio, that is captured while I'm not seated in this chair, is off the record and is not permissible to be used. Is that understood?" McKinney said.
Once again, just as in DC last month, McKinney's first response was not to apologize or even take responsibility for her words or actions. Instead, she immediately attempted to turn the tables and cry fowl. In the DC incident, it took weeks before her fellow politicians basically forced her into making a non-committal, non-repentive half-baked apology. I wonder how many community leaders and fellow Democrats will stand beside Ms. McKinney today to blame the reporter for her own lack of discretion.

UPDATE: You can see CNN's video report, including McKinney laying down the law to reporters, at Expose the Left. -- 4/24/06, 8:58am

Scram Cruise

It seems the entire world has been scrutinizing Left Coast couple Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes for the past nine months in anticipation of their first baby. Now that baby Suri has arrived, it looks like the public scrutiny will continue. After all the uproar over the bizarre birth traditions of Cruise's Scientology creed, the focus has now shifted ... to the couple's odd choice of a name.
Suri, the name chosen by Hollywood couple Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes for their newborn daughter, is raising more than its share of interest in Israel.
A Cruise family spokesman said last week that Suri has its origins in ancient Hebrew, as a variant on Sarah, the biblical matriarch. But that pronunciation is all but unknown in Israel.
"I really don't know what they were thinking when they chose this name. It's a term that denotes expulsion, like 'Get out of here'," said Gideon Goldenberg, a linguistics professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "It's pretty blunt."

Yaron London, a cultural commentator for Israel's Channel 10 television, had this rhetorical question for Suri's proud parents: "Why didn't you just go back to your ancestors' language, and call the kid 'Scram Cruise'?"
Of course, everyone knows Hollywood is famous for rewriting history. Why not rewrite an ancient foreign language, while they're at it? Luckily, there are plenty of other international interpretations of the name:
It's also a Nubian tribe, the word for "rose" in Persian, "sun" in Sanskrit and a term for a form of Alpaca's wool.
Poor kid. When her parents call, she won't know whether they're telling her to "get out of here!", or just summoning the family's pet llama.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Guest Blogging for a Week

My beautiful lady wife (the lovely Shebird) and I will be leaving town tomorrow night for a week in Colorado.

To regular readers: Regular updates to the blog will continue in my absence with a little help from a friend. Content may be a little light, as Kyle's job does not allow him the luxury of surfing or blogging during the workday, but then this is not usually a high-traffic site anyway. (By the way, thank you again to Kyle for once again agreeing to back me up in my absence.)

To friends and family: "Auntie" Rachel will be staying here with the kids while we are away. If anyone needs to get in touch with us while we are away, just call the house, or check in with Ma'am and Pops. They will all know how to find us.

Have a great week, all!

Quote of the Day

Only two things are necessary to keep one's wife happy. One is to let her think she is having her own way, and the other is to let her have it.
—Lyndon B. Johnson

Free Press vs. Personal Responsibility

Sometimes you just have to wonder at the things that come out of their mouths. Or from their keyboards, as the case may be.

A case in point: Washington Post staff writer Dana Priest — who won a Pulitzer Prize earlier this week for breaking the story of the secret CIA prisons for terrorist suspects in Europe (which now appeared to have likely never existed at all) — had this to say about the media's responsibility, or lack thereof, concerning the release or reporting of classified documents and information:
Well, actually, the media is not breaking the law by publishing classified information. That's still a safeguard we have in the law. The person/s who turn it over are breaking the law, technically. But the courts and the body politic have always looked at this as the cost of democracy and that is one huge reason why reporters have not be pursued previously. It's the trade off for having a free press.
Taken to another level, it is not the fault of the drunk driver who hit and killed a car full of innocents; it is the bartender who sold him that last drink who should be liable. Or the gun manufacturer, rather than the gangbanger who fired the shot. Or the government, rather than the homeowner who refused to leave when warned of a major hurricane on the way. Or the teacher, rather than the student who refused to study, or the parent who lacked the love or commitment to use discipline or become involved. Or, or, or.

Why has it become so acceptable in our society to abandon personal (or corporate, or media) responsibility? And when did it become acceptable for the nation's media to shirk the law and sometimes even endanger the public by revealing classified or security-sensitive information? Or to make up news or supposed "facts," all in the name of profit and readership?

One last bit from the online discussion caught my eye. While Ms Priest seemed willing to expound on the lack of responsibility needed by the press, this later follow-up question seemed to hit a nerve:
Rockville, Md.: Congrats on the Pulitzer. Do you agree with Bill Bennett's claim that you and others writing on matters of national security using leaked material from anonymous sources should be jailed for your work?

Dana Priest: ah, no.
Two more quick replies, then suddenly Dana had to go.

Earth Week

My youngest daughter's class has been celebrating Earth Week at school this past week, which means that the teachers have been indoctrinating them about all the evils of man and how we are all striving to destroy the world we live in. One of her brothers remarked last night at the dinner table that with all the "Save the Earth" and "Stop Deforestation" handouts they sent home this week — anywhere from five to a dozen per night, per student, apparently school-wide — that one school probably cleared out close to an acre of trees from some owl-infested forest somewhere.

Since we have been discussing all these negatives at the dinner table all week, we decided last night that this weekend's home-homework assignment would be a different sort of Earth Week celebration. The kids will each find some examples online not of the evils that mankind is afflicting on the earth, but instead of the glories and beauty of God's marvelous creation.

My daughter definitely got into the spirit of the assignment first thing this morning and, with the help of Mom, found some wonderful sites featuring wildflowers and her favorite — hummingbirds. These two in particular were her favorites, and she wanted me to share them online:
I hope you get as much enjoyment out of viewing God's creation on this beautiful spring morning as we already have!

Friday, April 21, 2006

NOW They Get It Right

The ever-diligent bureaucrats of the U.S. government have finally done it. They finally managed to stop a terrorist hijacker from entering the country! Sort of.
An Iraqi actor who plays a hijacker in a new film about the September 11 attacks on the United States complained on Friday he had been denied entry into the country for the movie's premiere.


[Lewis] Alsamari stars in "United 93," a film about the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania which has sparked intense debate about whether Americans are ready to see an on-screen portrayal of the events.
I am stepping out on a limb here, but my guess is that it's W's fault.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Republican Racism

John Hawkins of Right Wing News put together a great list yesterday showing just how racist conservative really are. Or not...

After the obligatory (but accurate) references to Abraham Lincoln, Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, Hawkins includes some pretty good points, including:
9. Republicans oppose the school choice and vouchers that the...majority of blacks support. Oops, my mistake again - Republicans support them while Democrats oppose them.

10. Well, at least the majority of blacks are pro-choice, right? Nope, most

11. Well, at least most support gay marriage. Sorry, my mistake again. Once more, Republicans are more in line with majority black views than Democrats.
All in all, not a bad list.

Pet Peeves

Fox Trot, by Bill Amend

'Nuff said

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Local Racial Un-profiling

It seems the local media is so afraid of charges of racial profiling and discrimination that it now resorts to removing all mention of race, along with other identifying descriptions, when reporting on a recent shooting involving a school bus filled with children. Anne Linehan of blogHOUSTON reports that, although Houston police provided the following description to the local media:
The students on the bus described the suspect as a black male, in his late teens or early 20s, with a "thick" build, wearing a red shirt with black pants.
...the only part of the description that made it to the paper or television news was the description of the suspect's clothing.

Says Ms Linehan,
So, there is someone on the loose who shot at a school bus filled with children, yet local media won't give the public the information provided by eyewitnesses that could help apprehend him.
And political correctness continues to run amok, to the detriment of society and our children's safety.

A Real American Hero

United States Army Staff Sergeant Juanita Wilson lost her left hand and part of her arm to an IED in Iraq almost two years ago. Two weeks ago, she showed her devotion and dedication to serve her country by reenlisting in the army.
While recuperating at Walter Reed, one option Wilson would not consider was leaving the Army, despite the long road to recovery that lay ahead of her.

"From Day One, my decision was, 'I'm not getting out,'" Wilson said, adding that she still has things she wants to accomplish in the military. "My support channel has been there for me and I'd like to give that back to the soldiers of the future."
Wilson, originally from Clarksdale, Miss., now lives in Maryland and works at Walter Reed. The 32-year-old volunteers as a peer visitor for other soldiers in situations similar to hers.

More than 600,000 patients a year pass through the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and its clinics; it's the Army's largest healthcare facility. Walter Reed boasts more than 1,600 full-time physicians, nurses, and other health care providers. Its Orthotic and Prosthetic Appliance Laboratory constructs artificial limbs, correction braces and other devices.

Now, nearly two years after the IED attack in Iraq and after therapy, numerous operations and a new prosthetic hand, Wilson made good on her decision to stay in the Army. She and 37 others re-enlisted in a ceremony held on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on April 6.
For more insight on the giving, serving nature of this amazing woman, peruse this article from The Honolulu Advertiser that profiles several different servicewomen who have been injured in the Iraq war.

Hat-tip: Brainster

A Unique Perspective on a Nuclear Iran

My fellow Lone Star Times blogger Ree-C Murphey has a very unique perspective on the pervasive topic of Iran's nuclear program and intentions.
The Iranian government had their own set of things they wanted from a student. These things were requested through The Snitch. It seems that every semester, an engineering student would be asked to take a class in nuclear physics. The intent was to find someone that could “figure it out”. The “it” in this case, was a “nuclear bomb”. He stopped for a moment and let that sink in.

He then turned to me and said, “They only need two; One for Israel and one for the United States.”
A long post, but well worth the read!

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Jobs No Americans Will Do

Undocumented workers are needed to do the jobs that no Americans are willing to do.

That still seems to be one of the top arguments used by the President and the myriad senators and congressmen who support his proposed plans for amnesty and "guest worker programs" for Latin American immigrants who are here illegally. But many — from both sides of the political spectrum — refuse to believe that argument. In a recent speech to AFL-CIO union leaders, Sen. John McCain was booed when he put forward that very point:
McCain responded by saying immigrants were taking jobs nobody else wanted. He offered anybody in the crowd $50 an hour to pick lettuce in Arizona.

Shouts of protest rose from the crowd, with some accepting McCain's job offer.


"Most of us don't agree with him on immigration, but I give him credit for trying," said Chris Schoenbeck of Milwaukee.
One of the problems with this "conventional wisdom" so espoused of late is, as highlighted by Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael L. Williams, that it does not take into account the segment of our citizenship who has the most to lose from this argument: the lower class and uneducated, who traditionally have been the ones to perform such menial jobs, and the majority of which is still made up of members of the black community.
Conventional wisdom is often wrong. Concerning immigration reform it definitely is wrong. That hasn’t stopped everyone from President Bush, Vicente Fox, members of Congress, Latino leaders and even my mother from suggesting that illegal immigrants “do work that Americans won’t do”. Doing work that Americans won’t do suggests that illegal immigration is akin to what former Los Angeles Laker legendary play-by-play announcer Chick Hearn used to say about minor contact, “no harm, no foul”. Somehow illegal immigration isn’t so bad because immigration is not only inevitable, but necessary.
Commissioner Williams points to this recent report for proof:
The argument that America needs illegal aliens and high levels of legal immigration only makes sense if one ignores the plight of less-educated native-born Americans. We find little evidence that immigrants only do jobs natives don’t want. Detailed analysis of 473 separate occupations shows that there are virtually no jobs in which a majority of workers are immigrants, let alone illegal aliens. The overwhelming majority of workers in almost every single occupation, even the lowest-paid, are native-born.

We find some direct evidence that immigration has adversely impacted natives. In areas of the country with the largest increase in the number of less-educated immigrant workers, less-educated natives have seen the biggest decline in labor force participation. Native unemployment also tended to be the highest in occupations with the largest influx of new immigrants. While it would be a mistake to assume that every job taken by an immigrant represents a job lost by a native, it would also be a mistake to think that dramatically increasing the number of less-educated immigrant workers has no impact on less-educated natives. This study calls into the question the wisdom of proposals to allow illegal immigrants to remain in the country, or to increase legal immigration still further. The plight of less-educated Americans has generally not been an important consideration for most political leaders in the ongoing debate over immigration. The findings of this report suggest that it should be.
Of course, this idea is nothing new, as it was an issue that plagued Barack Obama in his 2004 Senate campaign.
The Democrats need the votes of both Latinos and Blacks to win in November, yet this victory may be brought at the expense of Black Americans. Barack Obama cannot talk about this, because to do so he will have to alienate one group or another.

The fact of the matter is, illegal immigration, especially illegal immigration from Mexico, is hurting Black Americans. If Democratic candidates ever getting around to speaking the truth, they will have to tell Black voters that illegal immigration is taking jobs away from Black Americans, cutting into resources available for welfare, and restructuring public schools and many urban areas. In short, the votes of Latinos are brought by the Democrats at the expense of Black America.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters recently touched on the problem in an interview with NPR's Ed Gordon:
...Mexican immigrants, for example, take jobs where they're exploited and their employers are paying lower than minimum wage. African-Americans do want jobs. It is not that immigrants are taking jobs that African-Americans don't want, but African-Americans know what is a fair wage. What is minimum wage? They know the law. And so they want these jobs to pay a decent wage, a livable wage and, you know, comply with minimum wage laws and all of that. It's not that they don't want the jobs, they just want what they have ... which they should have coming to them.
What Ms Waters was so ineloquently trying to say is that the problem is not that Americans will not do these jobs. It is that Americans have come to expect a certain level of pay (at the very least minimum wage, which the Democrats continue to try to raise year after year) and a decent working environment. It is not the jobs that Americans refuse, but the job conditions that they are unwilling to accept.

Unfortunately, too many so-called black leaders are unwilling to look at this aspect of the illegal immigrant issue. Rep. Waters herself offered the following argument against tougher immigration laws:
You have, you know, some right wing conservatives who are digging in at this time with crazy bills like the Sensenbrenner bill that literally talks about making felons out of all of the undocumented.
[Of course, the opponents of this idea all seem to forget that until the unholy reign of President Jimmy Carter, illegal entry into the U.S. was a felony. But I digress...]
That is not realistic, that's not gonna happen! We don't have the money, the jails, the personnel, none of that, to deal with it that way. And then they talk, kind of, you know, about somehow just punishing the employers so the jobs will dry up. Many of these jobs are in the underground economy. You have Mexican workers and other immigrant workers who don't go to, you know, the traditional places to find jobs. They clean out the yards. They paint for, you know, Ms Jones down the street. They put up fences. They do all kind of work. And a lot of that money is in the underground economy. So when you talk about you're gonna drive the jobs from the employers, you know, they're thinking about the traditional employers, but many of the employers are, you know, the lady down the street, the man, the church around the corner. So, you know, immigrants learn how to survive and they earn money doing all kinds of jobs and that's not gonna go away and they're not gonna go back because somehow you gonna fine Wal-Mart for hiring immigrants. They're gonna still be here.
Interestingly enough, those were the exact same kinds of jobs that my brothers and I did during our teenage years, and my older kids have done as well, to earn a little money and experience during the summer months.

Other black leaders have put their mark of approval on the ideas of amnesty and the "guest worker" program, and some even on the recent immigration rallies that have flooded our nations streets in the past weeks — some have even gone so far as to equate the illegal immigration issue with the civil rights uprising of the 1960s — including Sen. Barack Obama, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, the NAACP, and even such fringe groups as the New Black Panthers.

For more on the effects of illegal immigration on employment opportunities for blacks, see this excellent post from The Independent Conservative.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Good Friday on NBC

I love Friday holidays. We get to sleep late without worrying about early meetings at the office, Saturday morning soccer or baseball games, or scrambling to make it to church on time. At this point in my life, breakfast at 8:00 while still in pajamas is a rare luxury.

Of course, kids seem to live on an inverse timetable from their parents. The same little urchins who have to be dragged out of bed almost every morning were up yesterday before the crack of dawn, plopped on the couch with the remote control in one hand and the TV guide in the other, planning their entire morning around the unfamiliar schedule of weekday morning cartoons. That's when the trouble started.

I woke up to the sounds of giggling and shushing, and the "Dad-sense" quickly began buzzing in the far back reaches of my brain. Stumbling into the family room, I found my two youngest giggling conspiratorially over the Houston Chronicle TV guide. When I asked to take a look at the source of the amusement, my third grader showed me this listing for Friday's primetime line-up:

click to view larger imageClick on the image and read the 7:00 pm entry for Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate.

Not only do we have to censor most of what is shown on network television during prime family time, we now have to apply the parental censor to the TV guide itself!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

What Woud Mexico Do

...with protesting illegals? Deport them on the spot, reports Heather MacDonald of the City Journal.
The Mexican government constantly hectors the American people about how we should treat its illegal migrants. President Vicente Fox, Foreign Secretary Ernesto Derbez, and Mexican consuls in the United States insist that Americans should be grateful for the hundreds of thousands of surplus Mexicans who break across our border each year. ...

Fine. If Mexico wants to dictate our immigration policy to us, let's follow their example to the letter. That example is particularly relevant on this further day of protests demanding amnesty for illegals. Among the demonstrators in at least 60 cities nationwide will undoubtedly be thousands of border lawbreakers. What would Mexico do? The answer is easy: deport them on the spot. In 2002, a dozen American college students, in Mexico legally, participated peacefully in an environmental protest against a planned airport outside of Mexico City. They swiftly found themselves deported as law-breakers for interfering in Mexico’s internal affairs.

If Mexico was willing to strip these students of their duly-obtained travel visas, imagine what it would have done had the students broken into the country surreptitiously—not just summary deportation but undoubtedly howls of complaint to the U.S. government for winking at this double violation of Mexican sovereignty.

Hat-tip: La Shawn Barber

Quote of the Day

Thunder is impressive, thunder is loud … but it is the lightning that does the work.
—Mark Twain

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

The network news shows Monday night and all day Tuesday were filled with scenes of peaceful "undocumented" protestors, "wearing white to show their solidarity," and carrying American flags "to show their patriotism and undying love" for this land of opportunity. But there were plenty of scenes that somehow did not make it onto the six o'clock news, such as this image highlighted by blogger Michelle Malkin:
I saw a lot of American flags dragged on the ground, worn as capes, crumpled in plastic bags, and flapped around carelessly as sun canopies at the illegal alien demonstration on the Mall in D.C. yesterday. But this obnoxious use of an American flag by a thug protester in Los Angeles wins the most offensive prize...

When did it become acceptable for non-citizens — people who are in our country illegally — to publicly demand more rights and entitlements than our own hard-working, tax-paying citizens receive? And all while abusing the patriotic symbol of our nation? I am frankly amazed that we have not yet been favored with a good, old-fashioned flag-burning at one of these rallies.

For other images of Monday's rallies that the American media does not want you to see, check out the California Conservative, Expose the Left, or back to Michelle's.

And in case you weren't yet feeling a little topsy-turvy from that bit of non-news, a student group from Berkeley has been protesting again. But this time, they are on the right side of the issue! That's right — Berkeley students on Monday were protesting in support of the enforcement of current immigration laws, the toughening of border security and closing the border to illegal immigration.

In the eternal words of the great Mel, "It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world!" Or maybe it's all just a dream...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Mugging for the Cameras

It appears the Reverend Jesse Jackson is having quite a day today, mugging for the cameras. Several of "the guys" from the office went to a local sports bar for burgers today at lunch. Within a ten minute span, I saw Jackson's mug yapping on three different television sets, three different stations. The first was set to FOX News, where the good reverend was shown in an inset over views of the Duke Lacrosse team practicing their sport. Just minutes later, his enraged countenance filled the screen on one of the sports networks (possibly ESPN?), filling us in on some relevant point of the latest Barry Bonds scandal. And just as I turned my head from that, I spotted a stock photo of Jackson being displayed on another news station, quickly followed by tape footage of one of the myriad of recent protests around the country by illegal immigrants waving (almost exclusively) Mexican flags.

Luckily for my digestive process, all the televisions in the place were muted. I just closed my eyes and enjoyed the rest of the meal.

Living the Good Life at 74

Cheeta and TarzanThe news was all over the networks and new sites last week about octogenarian Hugh Hefner's extravagant 80th birthday celebration at the fabled Playboy Mansion. But another renowned celebrity is busy celebrating a milestone birthday this week. And though his party may not have boasted quite as many scantily clad beauties, Hollywood celebrities or bejeweled rock stars, he still seemed to enjoy having his cake and eating it, too.

Cheeta, the original co-star to such jungle he-men as Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe, turned 74 years old on April 9th, celebrating his big day with sugar-free birthday cake and diet sodas.
Cheeta has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest chimp. Chimps rarely live past the age of 40 in the wild, but can reach 60 in captivity.
The life of retirementCheeta spent his birthday weekend living the life of luxury at the desert primary sanctuary that bares his name — the C.H.E.E.T.A. Primate Sanctuary — where he has lived since 1992.

Monday, April 10, 2006

It's a Monday!

Please forgive the light blogging today. We unexpectedly "lost" a team member today, and I have spent most of my day looking through closets and under desks for the guy. (Okay, so actually he just got temporarily transferred to a higher priority project, but that just doesn't have quite the same intrigue.) Anyway, the pursuit of "obscene profits," as my LST buddies would say, have once again intruded on the blogging. Hopefully things will be a little closer to "normal" (whatever that may be) by tomorrow.

In the meantime, Lone Star Times has posted a great little photo gallery of one of my (least) favorite local politicians, the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee. Just how desperate is Queen Sheila to get her face in front of a television camera? See for yourself.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Kennedy Nebula

We always knew Teddy Kennedy was not from around here. Looks like astronomers may have finally pinpointed his place of origin:
Astronomers say they have spotted a cloud of alcohol in deep space that measures 463 billion kilometres (288 billion miles) across...

Insuring Freedom in Iraq

Some interesting insurance news came across my desk last night in the form of the "Connected Enterprise" newsletter from Insurance & Technology magazine. This month's Message from the Editor highlighted a new insurance offering that has been made available in the newly liberated Iraq:

An extreme (and somewhat depressing) example of responsive product development was provided last month in The New York Times, which reported about a new terrorism insurance policy being sold by the Iraq Insurance Company. It includes a one-page rider specifying coverage for "the following dangers: 1) explosions caused by weapons of war and car bombs; 2) assassinations; 3) terrorist attacks." That guarantee, according to the article, "appears to be the first off-the-shelf terrorism policy in the world."

The state-owned Iraq Insurance Company began selling terrorism insurance about one year ago and so far has sold about 200 individual terrorism policies. The executive who came up with the idea for the product, Abbas Shaheed al-Taiee, told The Times, "We have expanded the principles of life insurance to cover everything that happens in Iraq." Although the payout is the same, the price for the coverage is negotiated once a client agrees to buy a policy — less for "safer" professions such as teaching than for riskier jobs such as police.
An interesting new illustration of how freedom and capitalism are slowly moving forward in the formerly violently repressed country.

UPDATE: I found the original referenced article from the New York Times. (Paid subscription required to view the entire article.)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Jesus Walked on ... Ice?

According to the latest scientific report, that is.
Rare conditions could have conspired to create hard-to-see ice on the Sea of Galilee that a person could have walked on back when Jesus is said to have walked on water, a scientist reported Tuesday.

The study, which examines a combination of favorable water and environmental conditions, proposes that Jesus could have walked on an isolated patch of floating ice on what is now known as Lake Kinneret in northern Israel.
Of course, if this were the case you would think that Jesus' disciples — several of whom were professional fishermen and very familiar with the area and the sea in question — would have made note of the presence of an ice floe large enough to carry a man. Especially Simon Peter, who "got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus." At least, until his doubting human "intellect" realized what he was doing and caused him to look away from his Lord in panic.

Pandering to the (Non-)Voters

This is just ludicrous. Apparently the honorable long-faced senator from Massachusetts feels he has finally found his new political base: the illegal — excuse me, undocumented — immigrant population that has been so visible in the American media over the past two weeks. And he is so giddy about this new discovery that he has begun broadcasting his liberal lies in Spanish to his newfound friends.
"The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bi-partisan immigration bill that: 1) provides a path toward citizenship for undocumented immigrants, 2) re-unites families, and 3) strengthens border security.


"We stood up to the Republicans who saw immigration reform as a chance to punish immigrants. We eliminated provisions that would criminalize immigrants and anyone who would help them. This was an important step, given the fact that the House Republican approved bill passed in December would allow the prosecution of clergy, hospital workers, charities or anyone else who would help thy neighbor. Cardinal Mahoney from California was right to take a stand against this punitive measure, and we Democrats were able to defeat it.
Ooh, nice little tug on the Catholic strings there, Mr. Kerry!
"Democrats were able to achieve all of this, despite attempts by Senate Republican Majority Leader Frist to cater to the narrowest interests in his party and impose a wrongheaded enforcement only bill."
You can see the full transcript (in English) or hear the original radio spot (in Spanish) at Expose the Left.

Quote of the Day

I don't care how poor a man is — if he has family, he's rich.
—Harry Morgan as Col. Sherman T. Potter, M*A*S*H

Marriage Is for White Folks

I have seen plenty of stories and studies about the decline of the traditional family in the black community, but I have never before seen the subject viewed in quite this perspective. A fascinating discussion of a very disturbing trend.
I was pleasantly surprised when the boys in the class stated that being a good father was a very important goal to them, more meaningful than making money or having a fancy title.


"Oh, no," objected one student. "We're not interested in the part about marriage. Only about how to be good fathers."

And that's when the other boy chimed in, speaking as if the words left a nasty taste in his mouth: "Marriage is for white people."

He's right. At least statistically. The marriage rate for African Americans has been dropping since the 1960s, and today, we have the lowest marriage rate of any racial group in the United States. In 2001, according to the U.S. Census, 43.3 percent of black men and 41.9 percent of black women in America had never been married, in contrast to 27.4 percent and 20.7 percent respectively for whites. African American women are the least likely in our society to marry. In the period between 1970 and 2001, the overall marriage rate in the United States declined by 17 percent; but for blacks, it fell by 34 percent. Such statistics have caused Howard University relationship therapist Audrey Chapman to point out that African Americans are the most uncoupled people in the country.
"Marriage is for white people"? Don't tell Shebird that! (Or Ma'am, for that matter. She is likely to wash out your mouth with soap just for suggesting such a ridiculous statement.)

Hat-tip: Michael L. Williams

UPDATE: There is an excellent post on this same article over at The Independent Conservative. — Songbird, 04/10/2006

Idiot Tags

I do not know who first came up with this comedic idea — my brother-in-law first told me about it several years ago — but I have to admit I am liking it more and more each day I labor through Houston traffic.

The idea goes something like this: Every licensed driver is issued a dart gun and a handful of "idiot tags." Any time you see someone driving like an idiot, you shoot their vehicle with an idiot tag. The better your own driving record, the larger your allotment of idiot tags. Then when the cops spot someone sporting 5 or more tags, they pull them over and relieve the idiot of their license and vehicle.

As I began to draw near my exit on the way to work this morning, I saw young woman in a minivan pull out of the right-hand exit lane into the next lane over, then move slowly back into the same spot she had just vacated. The exit lane was moving much slower than the rest of the freeway traffic (perhaps 30 mph), so this maneuver did not sit well with the non-exiting drivers. She received a couple of approving honks, and probably got her first idiot tag of the day.

Then this moron apparently decided the exit lane still was not moving fast enough for her, so she pulled the same stunt again — except this time she went over two lanes to the left. Of course, by the time she was able to weave her way back to the right, her spot had closed and the exit lane was beginning to back up. So she stopped with her right turn signal on, waiting to get back into the exit lane. Problem was, she was now stopped on the freeway, completely blocking one (non-exit) lane and partially obstructing the next lane over, with horns blaring and fingers pointing the other drivers' appreciation for her antics. The results of her efforts? She moved back in line for exiting the freeway by three spots.

At first I was inclined to give the poor lady the benefit of the doubt, thinking she was probably just going somewhere for the first time and had gotten confused by the two or three large-lettered signs we had passed that alert drivers of the exit cross-streets. But when I ended up immediately behind her I realized this was someone who works in the same office building as I, and has worked there for several years. (I know this because I followed her into the parking lot for our building, and watched her park her baby blue minivan crooked — halfway over the yellow line — in the same spot as she does every day, sporting the same "Kerry / Edwards 2004" and "Selected not Elected" bumper stickers that I have secretly wanted to rip from her back bumper for at least three years now.)

Tag, lady. You're an idiot.