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December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003


Carnival of the Vanities
Gotta Have This
Department of Peace?
Giving the Bird to the Poor
Bush: Not Playing Politics
I'm Back...
Wet Vs. Dry
Fox News Link
Teacher Time Off
Jackson: Understanding the Understandable
Hollow Victory
Bush: Cut and Run
Schools Fighting Human Nature
Whacko Jacko Indeed
Same-Sex Marriage Outrage
60th COTV
HOA: The American Way
Rock 'n Roll Repentance



November 26, 2003

Carnival of the Vanities

Setting the World to Rights is hosting the Thanksgiving week Carnival of Vanities.

Go there now.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 03:48 PM | Discuss (0) | TrackBack


With parents in town and time off from work, I'll not likely post much until Monday.

I'm thankful for your visits and hope you have a great holiday weekend.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 04:03 AM | Discuss (1) | TrackBack

Gotta Have This

Ain't technology great!

Great gadget, great price.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 03:52 AM | Discuss (0) | TrackBack


There's something just not right about this.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 03:22 AM | Discuss (0) | TrackBack

November 25, 2003

Department of Peace?

Here’s an interesting proposal from the Pentagon:

The Pentagon has begun to look seriously at creating military forces that would be dedicated to peacekeeping and reconstruction after future conflicts, defense officials said.

The idea is to forge deployable brigades or whole divisions out of units of engineers, military police, civil affairs officers and other specialists critical to postwar operations.

The move marks a reversal for the Bush administration, which came into office strongly resistant to peacekeeping missions and intent on trying to get Europeans and other allies to shoulder more of that burden.

… In Iraq, U.S. forces have struggled to deal with insurgents and other postwar challenges, and help from other foreign countries has fallen far short of initial U.S. expectations. Facing widespread criticism for poor postwar planning, and concerned that peacekeeping may become more of a norm for the U.S. military, senior Pentagon officials are being driven to consider alternative ways of organizing troops for postwar operations.

And didn’t we all laugh at kooky Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich when he proposed a Department of Peace?

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:21 AM | Discuss (3) | TrackBack

Giving the Bird to the Poor

Phoenix is suffering from a food bank turkey shortage just as Thanksgiving approaches.

One of the Valley's largest food banks is nearly out of turkeys for the Thanksgiving holiday and other agencies are seeing shortages as well, which could leave needy families without a holiday meal.

St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix planned to distribute 7,000 emergency food boxes filled with turkey and trimmings like cranberry sauce and vegetables, as well as other non-holiday staples. But by midday Monday, the agency had given out all the turkeys it had, roughly 3,000.

"If we don't get enough turkeys to go out in our boxes, then we're going to have to put alternative items in there," said St. Mary's spokeswoman Cynde Cerf. "For now, the plan is chicken. But if we run out of those chickens . . . .the worst possible case scenario would be tuna and hot dogs."

What’s that saying about looking a gift horse in the mouth?

Frankly, if you’re totally unable to put food on your table, you should be giving thanks for having the above mentioned tuna and hot dogs.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 01:31 AM | Discuss (2) | TrackBack

Bush: Not Playing Politics

President Bush met privately with the family members of fallen troops in Colorado Monday to mixed reviews.

The Army invited family members around Colorado who have lost loved ones in Iraq to meet privately with Bush.

Fort Carson has lost 28 soldiers in Iraq, including six this month alone.

Many soldiers here said they remain committed to the U.S. role in Iraq, despite increasing casualties. But others said they want more answers from the president.

"My only problem with the administration and the country’s campaign in Iraq is they could have done a better job of explaining why we’re over there," said 1st Lt. Ted Stutz, 26, of the 4th Finance Battalion.

Anna Pikor, whose fiance, Spc. Johnny Vasquez, is in the military police, said the only thing Bush could say to make her feel better is to announce troops will be coming home.

"He needs to be more sympathetic," Pikor said. "He doesn’t care, not for the families who send loved ones away, who come home for six months and have to go back." Lori Hartman, 22, said it seemed like situation in Iraq is getting more dangerous. She and her husband, Spc. Corey Hartman, have a 7-month-old son. He returned from Cuba three months ago and is scheduled to leave for Iraq in February.

"I’m scared to death about that," she said, then turned her attention to Bush’s visit. "What makes me mad the most is past presidents have gone to funerals and he hasn’t gone to any," she said. "It’s like he wants to turn his back and not realize what’s really going on."

During last week’s memorial for Spc. Darius T. Jennings, his mother criticized Bush because he did not stop to speak with her family when he visited her home state this month.

Harriet Johnson of Cordova, S.C., said Bush’s action left her with the feeling that her son was important enough alive to be sent to war, but not important enough dead to warrant the president’s attention.

"I wanted something for the family," she said in an interview last week. "I understand he may not be able to talk to each one of them direct. He was in my hometown. Something should have been said." Johnson had been visited at home by Democratic presidential candidates Al Sharpton and Wesley Clark.

Stan Cooper of suburban Thornton, whose stepson Marine Lance Cpl. Thomas Slocum was killed in Iraq on March 23, said his wife was "kind of bothered" that Bush visited with families of slain British soldiers last week, but she understood.

"We realize there are a lot of families going through this. If President Bush were go to every family, it would take too much of his time, and if he sees one, he has to see them all," Cooper said. "I think he’s doing everything that he can. I know he feels personally responsible for what happens." Melissa Givens’ husband, Pfc. Jesse Givens, was the first Fort Carson soldier to die in Iraq. He was killed May 1 when the tank he was in fell into the Euphrates River.

Emphasis added.

Clearly President Bush is in a no-win situation here. Or, at least a situation where he can’t please everyone.

If he invited TV cameras with him during his family visits, he’d be accused by liberals of exploiting their pain and suffering for political purposes. Even though, as Lee at Right-Thinking points out, former President Clinton never felt anyone’s pain without being seen publicly doing it.

And, as this article points out, if he doesn’t invite the TV cameras, he’ll be accused of covering up their pain and suffering.

I am the last conservative that can be accused of being a Bush toady, so it is with some objectivity that I can express my admiration for not making every single episode in life a photo opportunity.

Is it possible that some of the family members would have read Bush the riot act and he didn’t want a video record of that happening?


But, I think Bush really understands that these are real people suffering real grief over their lost loved ones and their pain and suffering is a private matter, not public. Plus, I'm sure all media would show up if any of these families held a press conference to slam Bush.

Critics assail his intelligence (or lack of), but no one has ever questioned his credentials as a loving and compassionate man who surely suffers with each death and injury on his watch.

I’ll question Bush’s signature on this Medicare expansion until I’m blue in the face, but I’ll never question his care for the men and women who faithfully follow his orders in war.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 01:04 AM | Discuss (2) | TrackBack

November 24, 2003

I'm Back...

The problem with being a day sleeper is that if my site goes down, I won't typically find out about it until the evening when I wake up.

As was the case today.

It seems that with each time I've backed up my site, I've failed to take the download files off my server. This morning before I went to bed, I backed up my site and it pushed me over my size limit.

I've since deleted the downloads off my server and rebuilt my site and it seems to be in working order.

Thank goodness...

So, sorry for being down all day. As my IT guy tells me at work, "The problem is in my chair..."

Posted by Joe Kelley at 08:37 PM | Discuss (0) | TrackBack

Wet Vs. Dry

While thumbing through the TV channels over the weekend, I saw a commercial for Cottonelle Folded Wipes.

The commercial said something about using it in conjuction with dry toilet paper. That's when it struck me that they weren't talking about wet wipes for your hands.

Wet wipes for your bottom!

It's kinda' like a bidet in a box.

It seems that a number of people have been using this wet approach for years, but I never got the memo. It's human nature to be slow to accept change, but even though I've been using the same method for my entire adult life, I'm prepared to put that tradition behind me.

I use wet wipes on my 3-month-old daughter, so why not me?

I'm buying some on the way home from work today and am looking forward to the maiden voyage of the wet wipe.

Who's with me?

UPDATE: Check this out.

UPDATE: I bought the aforementioned device ($4.99) and have installed it in my master bathroom. Now, I'm simply waiting for nature to take its course...

UPDATE: Damn. Well, Mother Nature called, but I was ... um, playing an away game, if you know what I mean. I didn't have the home field advantage, so I wasn't able to try out my new toy. I doubt I can convince management to install one at work...

UPDATE: Houston ... the Eagle has landed!

Or, rather, splashdown!

At exactly 8:42 am CST Tuesday, I was finally able to sample my new Cottenelle Wet Wipes. Using the dry-wet-dry approach, I was quite delighted with the refreshing feeling.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:06 AM | Discuss (1) | TrackBack

November 21, 2003

Fox News Link

Thank you to topflight Edu-blogger Joanne Jacobs for linking her report this week to this The Sake of Argument post.

Welcome to readers!

Posted by Joe Kelley at 08:15 PM | Discuss (0) | TrackBack

Teacher Time Off

My 13-year-old son's 8th grade math teacher has Thursday and Friday of this week off with a substitute filling in. Since next week is all vacation due to Thanksgiving, she'll have 11 straight days off.

I'm not entirely sure where she is or what she's doing. I'm very fond of her as his teacher, but I'm still stuck with a general question:

What's with the time off?

She has three months off during the summer and has every weekend off.

She's off one week at Thanksgiving and two weeks during Christmas.

And, of course, she's off for a week during March for Spring Break.

Oh, and she's off every official government holiday

Are teachers allowed vacation days during the school year?

I can understand illnesses and emergency situations, but regularly scheduled time off?


Even without, I've read numerous studies that conclude that teachers are - contrary to popular opinion - paid quite well when the number of actual days worked are taken into consideration.

UPDATE: Curious, I asked my son if he knew where she was. It seems she's at the state capitol today accepting an award with the principal on behalf of the school.

What kind of organization would pull teachers away from the school to present them an award while classes are in session? Why not do it during the many times in which teachers are off?

I've worked in radio for over 20 years and we're clearly not permitted to take any days off during key ratings periods - 6 months out of the year.

Shouldn't the school year be held in the same regard for teachers and administrators?

Or am I just an unreasonable grumpy-grump?

Posted by Joe Kelley at 06:52 AM | Discuss (8) | TrackBack

Jackson: Understanding the Understandable

This Michael Jackson fellow has been arrested in California.

Michael Jackson, with his hands cuffed behind his back, was led into the county jail here on Thursday afternoon and booked on charges of child molesting, beginning what promises to be one of the biggest legal spectacles in years.

As Mr. Jackson was being photographed and fingerprinted inside the Inmate Reception Center at the Santa Barbara County Jail, his lawyer, Mark Geragos, stepped before a small forest of microphones and called the charges against the entertainer "a big lie."

"He is greatly outraged by the bringing of these charges," Mr. Geragos said. "Michael has given me the authority to say on his behalf these charges are categorically untrue. He looks forward to getting into a courtroom, as opposed to any other forum, and confronting these accusations head-on."

The authorities set Jan. 9, 2004, for an arraignment before a judge in Santa Barbara Superior Court. Mr. Jackson posted $3 million bail and surrendered his passport before he was released, officials said.

Damn, that’s the freakiest mug shot I’ve ever seen.

Which got me to thinking – is there any real reason, other than SOP, to mug shot Michael Jackson?

Isn’t he the most recognizable guy on the planet?

Is it even remotely possible that Jackson could be confused with any other living human being?

Also, as much as I was amused by the Jackson perp-walk, what’s the necessity of handcuffing a man who’s surrendering himself to authorities?

I’m not suggesting that Jackson is worthy of special celebrity treatment, but if a suspect’s intention is to surrender voluntarily and peacefully to authorities, what is gained by handcuffing?

Jackson’s 5’11”, 120lbs – what’s he gonna do?

On another Jackson note, I heard some reactionary, frothing-at-the-mouth talk radio host predictably calling for Jackson’s head on a platter, ignoring the possibility that this peculiar man could actually be innocent, and blasting a caller who expressed sympathy for Jackson.

It’s very easy to mock things we don’t understand.

I’d suggest that very few of us understand Michael Jackson.

But, let’s just assume, for The Sake of Argument, that Jackson is guilty and that he’s a rabid pedophile.

Is it possible to find a reason for his behavior without excusing it?

For example, Tim McVeigh surely had a reason to destroy the federal building in Oklahoma City, but no morally or legally justifiable excuse.

By understanding the motives of criminals, we can better predict their behavior and better protect our society.

I’ll now attempt to understand Michael Jackson through my powers of arm-chair psychoanalysis.

Jackson likely has no recollection of anything that would resemble normal as most of us would define it.

He claims to be have abused by his father physically and was a major childhood celebrity. If you think about many abuse victims and childhood stars, many have great difficulty transitioning to adulthood.

As a result of Jackson’s fame, he couldn’t do normal things like you and I do. He can’t go anywhere on Earth without being mobbed. Everyone wants (wanted) a piece of Michael Jackson.

I think in his situation it would be totally understandable why he’d appreciate young children because they have an innocence and ignorance in regards to fame. Unlike adoring adults, children are totally honest in their feelings and are more likely to like or dislike Jackson based upon his personality than his fame.

As an adult, it is also understandable that Jackson would seek an outlet for his instinctual sexual needs.

It is this combination where Jackson (again, assuming he’s guilty for The Sake of Argument) crossed the line.

The same openness and innocence that understandably attracted Jackson to the children was viciously exploited and betrayed by a grown man that turned from compassionate confidant to predator.

To explain is not to excuse.

If Jackson is proven to be guilty then no amount of incarceration is adequate. If Jackson is guilty, he is the worst type of deviant that mankind has to offer.

Let’s not feel schadenfreude for Jackson, because desiring to see this bizarre man go to jail would mean that we desire that a child has been raped.

I pray that these charges are false.

For the sake of the boy, not Jackson.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:59 AM | Discuss (4) | TrackBack

November 20, 2003

Hollow Victory

I've been very excited to see my traffic increase significantly over the past several days.

Then I realized that they were almost all visiting this post.

I'm sure you can figure out why.


Posted by Joe Kelley at 06:11 AM | Discuss (4) | TrackBack

Bush: Cut and Run

President Bush has altered his plans in England due to heckling, it appears.

GEORGE Bush was last night branded chicken for scrapping his speech to Parliament because he feared being heckled by anti-war MPs.

The US president planned to give a joint address to the Commons and Lords during his state visit to Britain.

But senior White House adviser Dr Harlan Ullman said: "They would have loved to do it because it would have been a great photo-opportunity.

"But they were fearful it would to turn into a spectacle with Labour backbenchers walking out."

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn said: "This is yet another slight on this country by the president of the USA.

"The least he could do is subject himself to questions from MPs."

And colleague John McDonnell said: "Bush might be able to run from the protesters, he might be able not to see the banners.

"But he must not be able to hide from the anger felt across the country at this unjustified war."

Tony Blair gave a joint address to the American Senate and Congress in July.

The protocol and demeanor of Parliament is significantly different than our Congress.

Parliament more closely resembles a Rocky Horror Picture Show crowd than a civilized modern debate.

Congress doesn’t boo, hoot, or whistle at any speakers. The worst you’ll see in Congress is non-attendance (most sessions) or no applause or ovation (SOTU); both of which are passive by nature.

But, isn’t is standard international protocol to adopt the rituals of host nation?

When in Rome?

When Prime Minister Blair addressed Congress earlier this year, it gave all of America an opportunity to see what brilliant a speaker and patriot he was. Shouldn’t Bush take advantage of a comparable opportunity to state his case before the British people? If the facts and logic are on your side, which I believe they are, then Bush should be able to competently argue his case before Parliament, in spite of opposition. His speech at Whitehall Palace was brilliant.

It’s basic human nature, though, to be comfortable in familiar territory and speaking to Parliament would surely be far outside Bush’s comfort zone.

Bush speaking to Parliament now would be comparable to tossing a kitten into a cage of pit bulls. But, even with that kitten, the fight or flight mechanism kicks in. I would have preferred Bush to fight, rather than flee – he has the winning argument on his side.

Matthew Stinson argues that the change in plans is associated with security concerns.

Yet, that’s not what senior White House adviser Dr. Harlan Ullman said:

”They were fearful it would to turn into a spectacle with Labour backbenchers walking out.”

Fear of embarrassment is not a reasonable excuse for avoiding this speech as far as I’m concerned.

Though, I do agree with both Stinson and Balloon Juice that complaints about the size of Bush’s entourage in England (700) are petty, off-base and hypocritical.

President Bill Clinton, accompanied by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and an entourage of 800 government officials and press people, made a 12-day visit to six African countries--Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Botswana, and Senegal--in March of 1998.

With the well documented expectation of rabid opposition to all that Bush stands for, he can’t have enough fellow Americans accompanying him – particularly security. That wasn’t the case for Clinton in Africa.

(Via: Talk Left)

Posted by Joe Kelley at 01:51 AM | Discuss (1) | TrackBack

November 19, 2003

Schools Fighting Human Nature

Apparently, 8th graders struggle with peer acceptance during school lunches.

Sounds like a problem that needs fixed!

Ask eighth-graders at one Bergen County middle school who sits where in the cafeteria, and you get a detailed map.

The "band geeks" sit over here. The "popular" girls hang over there, with the "popular" boys nearby. The "rejects" go to this spot. The "middle kids" have a section of their own.

At age 13, when cliques dominate social life and a rigid pecking order determines who's cool, lunch is often the most intense, and possibly excruciating, part of the day.

It's been that way in school cafeterias for years, with kids divided by walls built by habit, prejudice, status, and fear. But now, some students and teachers are trying to break down those barriers - for at least one day every November.

On Tuesday, about 7,000 schools nationwide - and more than 200 in New Jersey - are joining the second-annual "Mix It Up at Lunch Day." Organizers say hundreds of thousands of kids will swap seats to eat with someone new, and, hopefully, get to know someone they've seen in the hallways but never bothered (or dared) to talk with.

"If I tried to sit with those people over there, they'd be like, 'What are you doing here?''' says one girl at the Bergen County middle school.

"It's an unwritten rule,'' her friend adds. "Everyone has their own table.''

What if you don't have a group to eat with?

"Then there's the reject table,'' says another girl. "They pretty much just sit alone."

The subject is so emotionally charged that several North Jersey districts declined to allow students to be interviewed for this article. One Bergen County middle school agreed, and a reporter spent four lunch periods with the eighth-grade class. At the request of anxious parents - who were upset by some of the teenagers' comments and did not want their children's names used - administration officials also asked that the identity of the school be omitted.

This story was particularly amusing to me since I do have a 13-year-old 8th grader who routinely shares with me his struggles to fit in during lunch. He has bounced around to several tables already this school year seeking acceptance. It breaks my heart. At the same time, I recognize that not only did I endure the same ritual, but so did every other kid ever.

So, should the school have an annual day to address this ‘problem?’

As a grown adult with accomplished social skills, I don’t find that I can fully establish a new relationship in a 15 minute period (the average length of a school lunch these days). For socially clumsy 13-year-olds, there’s no hope.

In fact, I suggest that pairing up children outside their normal peer group for such a short period of time will likely widen the chasm that exists between them since they’ll only have enough time together to recognize stereotypes, not explore similarities.

It will be particularly amusing to see how the school administrators facilitate this program. Who will actually get to decide which group is the “geeks” or “brains” or “jocks” or “band geeks” or “Goths” or “popular kids?”

Can you imagine when the principal walks up to a table and informs them that they’re the “geeks” and they should go sit with the “popular” kids? How do you suppose the parents would react when the principal tells your son he’s a geek?

Most adults have zero self-awareness. Even fewer children do.

The schools are fighting a peer group system that has existed throughout the 6-million years of human evolution. Even as adults, we tend to gravitate towards our ‘own kind.’ Visit any employee cafeteria anywhere around the world and you’ll see the same phenomenon that exists in middle schools – peer groups. Whites largely sit with whites, blacks with blacks, managers with managers, secretaries with secretaries, women with women, etc.

Atlanta has become ground zero for black Americans who are moving there en masse to be with other black Americans.

Lewiston, Maine has become the American hub for Somali immigrants – so that they can be with others like them.

Homosexuals in San Francisco.

Separatists in Idaho.

Mormons in Salt Lake.

Liberals in D.C.

You get the idea.

These do-gooder, feeling school officials are fools.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 03:48 AM | Discuss (3) | TrackBack

Whacko Jacko Indeed

It seems like 1993 all over again for Michael Jackson.

The whole world knows by now that the Santa Barbara sheriff’s department and other arms of the law have been combing over Jackson’s Neverland Ranch since early Tuesday morning. The Santa Barbara district attorney, I am told, “is determined to make a case stick.” He is even said to have sequestered the family of a 12-year-old boy who may have made a complaint against Jackson.

Rumors of an arrest warrant for Jackson, who has been in Las Vegas for three weeks filming a new video, began to swirl by Tuesday evening. Calls to Jackson’s lawyer and the Santa Barbara sheriff’s office were not returned.

Jackson clearly knows he already has a shady reputation as a possible child molester. Any reasonable person would recognize the continued hazard in sleeping with pre-teen boys and proudly proclaiming so on international TV.

Michael Jackson is either the most deviant sexual predator in pop culture since Roman Polanski, or he’s just criminally stupid.

Either way, when someone has a shadow of child molester cast over them, would you allow your children to spend time alone with them?

Overnight visits?

In the same bed?

Those parents are either completely ignorant of previous molestation charges (not likely) or they’re trolling their kids as bait seeking another multi-million dollar payout, or they’re just so blinded by celebrity that they have lost all ability to make rational decisions.

In any case, shame on them.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:38 AM | Discuss (1) | TrackBack

Same-Sex Marriage Outrage

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts made a significant ruling Tuesday regarding gay marriage rights.

A divided Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled yesterday that same-sex couples have a right to civil marriages under the nation's oldest state constitution, declaring that "the right to marry means little if it does not include the right to marry the person of one's choice."

Never has a state's high court ruled so conclusively on same-sex marriage. The Massachusetts decision went further than the 1993 finding by Hawaii's high court that marriage laws were discriminatory, in that yesterday's decision directly redefined the meaning of "civil marriage" in Massachusetts law. And it exceeded the 1999 action by Vermont's highest court that required marriage-like benefits and protections for same-sex couples but did not entitle them to marriage licenses.

The court delayed its order for 180 days to allow the state legislature to react.

This will no doubt be a court ruling that will consume talk radio, the Blogosphere, newspaper editorial pages and church pulpits around the country.

To me, though, this is much ado about nothing.

Try as I might, I can come to no rational reason to oppose gay marriage.

First, and foremost, I have yet to hear a reasonable argument for why I should oppose it.

I’ve heard meaningless rhetoric from people like President Bush, who claims that “marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman.”

What does that mean?

Surely there’s a better argument than that.

A similar debate is quickly brewing in Arizona. That state’s assistant AG is arguing that the reason for limiting marriage to a man and a woman is centered on their ability to procreate.

Under that argument, I also have no right to marry, as I was rendered infertile in my teenage years following several years of radiation and chemotherapy to battle cancer. The only way I’m able to ‘have kids’ is to clone, adopt or use donor sperm. (Incidentally, I’ve used two of those methods to help my wife and me have two great kids today.)

Since most states now allow for homosexual adoptions, they need the same access to the legal system as heterosexuals to provide for custodial issues. So, any arguments about banning same-sex marriage cannot be based upon the claim that it’s about procreation.

I think most people find themselves in opposition to gay marriage because of their disapproval of homosexuality. Opposition is largely predicated on fear, hatred and ignorance. While I’m largely ignorant of homosexuality, I neither fear nor hate it.

A new Pew Research Center Poll indicates that that the majority of Americans disapprove of gay marriage. Well, I also disapprove of it, but I don’t oppose it; much the same way I disapprove of rottweilers, motorcycles and CNN, but don’t oppose any of them.

Homosexuality strikes me as wholly unnatural and unhealthy.

Yet, and this is the most important part, what other people do with their marriage has no bearing on mine.

Those who tout the “institution” of marriage are Chicken Littles screaming about he sky falling. Marriage is not an institution, it’s an intimate and personal arrangement you have with the person you love.

As Radley Balko argues:

Marriage is a contract. It’s an agreement between two people to love and support one another, to share resources and to perhaps share in the responsibility of raising children. Let’s start treating it that way.

I couldn’t say it any better.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:03 AM | Discuss (3) | TrackBack

60th COTV

Peaktalk is hosting the 60th Carnival of the Vanities. It's available here.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 12:40 AM | Discuss (0) | TrackBack

November 18, 2003

HOA: The American Way

Yet another homeowner’s association versus American flag dispute.

A neighborhood association in Manassas, Va., has ordered a family to remove a plastic American flag from their mailbox.

Brian and Debra Murray said they put the flag on their mailbox in February when her brother-in-law, a Marine lieutenant colonel, shipped out to Iraq. But the neighborhood association wrote the couple a letter ordering them to remove it because it violates local covenants.

The Murrays said they appealed, explaining that Debra Murray's brother had also been sent overseas and that their daughter, son and son-in-law all are in the military. Brian Murray, too, is a retired Marine Corps major.

But the property owners' association denied the appeal. They said allowing the flag to stay could start a precedent that leads to other images adorning mailboxes. Stephen McConnell, president of the association did say that they could fly a flag attached to their house.

The family has yet to remove the flag and Brian Murray said he has no plans to take it down until after his wife's brother returns from Iraq.

Those damned homeowners association Nazis!

That’s the popular sentiment, at least.

But I love them.

Some people claim that they’re un-American by banning American flags. In reality, HOAs are perfectly American because they define self-rule. HOAs are not governed by some foreign body of iron-fisted tyrants. They are controlled by the people who make up your community - your next door neighbors.

A homeowner’s association is made up of like-minded individuals who all seek to maintain (and increase) the value of their most-prized investment.

Everyone who moves into a community governed by a HOA agrees to live under the guidelines established by the community. Those guidelines are routinely fluid and can change with public sentiment.

I have no pity for anyone who whines and complains about their HOA. You have three options: comply, petition to change the rules, or move.

It is the HOA that prevents your neighbors from leaving cars in the driveway on cinderblocks, from painting their house purple, from paving over their front yard or from installing 80-foot flag poles.

I wouldn’t live in a neighborhood without one.

Hip Hip Hurray for self-rule!

Posted by Joe Kelley at 03:51 AM | Discuss (4) | TrackBack

Rock 'n Roll Repentance

Jethro Tull, meet the Dixie Chicks.

The frontman of British band Jethro Tull has apologized for remarks made in a newspaper interview that seemingly criticized displays of the Stars and Stripes.

In a posting on Jethro Tull's Web site, Ian Anderson further explained what he meant when he told the Asbury Park Press, "I hate to see the American flag hanging out of every bloody station wagon, out of every SUV, every little Midwestern house in some residential area."

Anderson said his concern was not specifically displays of the U.S. flag but "the flag-waving mind-set" across the world.

He said he regretted the tone of the statements and apologized for "any perceived slur on the Stars and Stripes."

"I really didn't understand -- even after 35 years of visiting the USA on a regular basis -- that this symbol had such fierce resonance for so many people as is now apparent to me," Anderson said.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to care about Jethro Tull. Hell, I’d all but forgotten that they even exist prior to Anderson’s bone-headed comments. He can’t actually Dixie Chick himself since no one actually cares about Jethro Tull anyway.

I only bring this up after reading Ian Anderson’s attempt at an apology.

Here’s the line that caught my attention:

Anyway, I was out of line on the flag thing and I am sorry for it.

Flag thing?


Damn, even his apology is contemptuous.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:58 AM | Discuss (3) | TrackBack

Live by the Donut, Die by the Donut

A large Cleveland woman is disgruntled.

The city's public housing agency is trying to resolve a lengthy dispute by accommodating the needs of a 772-pound tenant immobilized by her weight.

Carmen Bowen, 44, has been involved in a two-year dispute with the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority over how much work must be done to help her move around her apartment.

The agency is about to provide her with a handicapped-accessible apartment with extra space to allow an oversized wheelchair to turn. Bowen lives with her 19-year-old son and a caregiver.

Still, Bowen filed a discrimination complaint, saying the agency took too long. Housing officials responded that the agency went well beyond what federal disability law requires at a cost of about $15,000.

"Her special condition requires special equipment," acting Executive Director George Phillips said last week.

The modifications include removing doors and walls, installing an automatic door operator and panic device, demolishing the existing bathroom and installing a special shower, and putting in a sidewalk to the front door. Bowen could move in next month.

In her current apartment, Bowen can't move from a medical bed in the middle of her living room.

In August, 22 firefighters and emergency medical technicians worked for 2 1/2 hours to move Bowen from her apartment so she could have dental work. Emergency crews had to help her back when she returned. The authority widened the door in October.

My views of the morbidly obese are well documented and well assailed.

This report fails to indicate the precise reason why she’s so obese. Odds are that she’s this obese due to consuming more calories than she expends.

Either way, as Lee at Right-Thinking points out, it would be cheaper to have obesity surgery for this woman than to make all these changes to her public housing. For slightly more than the $15,000 she could have bariatric surgery and hopefully be on her way to self-sufficiency.

Pragmatically, though, it may be cheaper long term to renovate her public housing unit and leave her to her own devices – she can’t live too much longer at 772-pounds.

But of course, compassionately, I would love to see her live a long a happy life.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:22 AM | Discuss (1) | TrackBack

Fraternity Water Torture

A possible hazing stunt puts a Dallas college student in the hospital.

A 21-year-old student at Southern Methodist University remained hospitalized in critical condition Monday after chugging water in an off-campus competition with fraternity members.

Braylon Curry, a pledge with Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, drank an unknown amount of water from a gallon container early Saturday morning and was hospitalized hours later after becoming dazed and incoherent, Dallas police said.

Authorities said they were continuing their investigation but had not ruled out hazing.

According to a police report, some alcohol was consumed at the competition but Curry drank only water.

The fraternity, which only this spring was reinstated at SMU after a three-year suspension for hazing, has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation, Caswell said.

Excessive consumption of water can be fatal, causing pulmonary edema, a condition in which water enters the lungs, and hyponatremia, a sodium imbalance brought on by excess fluid consumption.

The average person can consume up to 15 liters of water in a 24-hour period, but drinking too much too quickly can swell brain cells and cause head pressure, said Dr. Greg Blomquist, an emergency room doctor at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

This is surely a tragedy for the college boy involved and police should determine if criminal charges are applicable in this case.

Yet, unless prosecutors can prove that Curry was literally held down against his will and water was funneled into his mouth against his will, I think this is just a foolish self-induced injury rather than a criminal event.

The more likely scenario is that this college student desired acceptance by his peers and by this fraternity and he willfully participated in a water drinking contest. Based upon my experience in college with fraternities, Braylon Curry likely had the opportunity to walk away at any time without any consequences short of verbal ridicule.

I pledged to the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity during my second year in college. I spent my first year deriding the fraternity concept and resisting assimilation.

Yet once I acquiesced and decided to join, I started one of the most cherished times of my life developing the best friends that I have to this day. Just this week I hosted a couple of fraternity brothers at my home, nearly twenty years after joining my fraternity.

And we were ‘hazed’ during our pledge semester.

And I’m certain that the ‘hazing’ brought us all closer as friends and associates. Any time you endure adversity with others, you’re drawn closer to them – that’s the whole concept behind victim support groups.

I won’t detail the exact means of hazing utilized on us, but I will tell you that at no time did I ever feel that my life was in danger and a no time did I ever feel that I wasn’t free to walk away at anytime. Most fraternities operate the exact same way.

Occasionally, individuals from fraternities (or a systemic attitude from a specific fraternity chapter) get carried away and move from hazing to assault, battery or even murder. But those cases must be defined by an action taken against an individual, not an action taken on by an individual.

Sometimes the desire for acceptance is so great that fraternity pledges will risk their own lives to impress others. As far as I’m concerned, that is no different than when a guy does wheelies on his motorcycle to impress his girlfriend – it’s not the girl’s fault when he kills himself.

One last point - while the ill effects of alcohol are well documented and well known, the ill effects of water poisoning are largely only known to doctors and marathon runners.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 01:02 AM | Discuss (6) | TrackBack

November 17, 2003

The Extended Death Penalty

A natural death on death row?

A death row inmate whose execution by firing squad was put on hold earlier this year died in prison Saturday, apparently of natural causes, officials said.

An autopsy was planned for Roberto Arguelles, but there was nothing suspicious about his death, said sheriff's spokeswoman Peggy Faulkner.

Arguelles, 41, was on death row for kidnapping, sexually abusing and murdering a woman and three teenage girls while on parole in 1992.

He had requested execution by firing squad and was scheduled to die June 27. The execution was stayed after Department of Corrections officials questioned Arguelles' mental state and a state court judge ordered a full competency evaluation.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed last month that Arguelles' lawyer could pursue an appeal over his client's objections.

As I’m the rare conservative who doesn’t support the death penalty, this is a prison death that I can really appreciate.

Instead of being put to death in front of a press contingency and making front page news, Arguelles died largely alone without any ability to make final statements or gain notoriety.

A natural death after a lifetime behind bars is the best means of issuing the death penalty. I like to think of it as the extended death penalty.

Regrettably, though, he didn’t live to 80.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 04:06 AM | Discuss (4) | TrackBack

Free Hinckley?

The man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 is closer to limited release from his mental institution.

Lawyers for John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot President Reagan in 1981, will ask a federal court Monday to let their client take day trips to his parents' house in Virginia and stay overnight with them.

Federal prosecutors are fighting the request, arguing in a pre-hearing memorandum last week that Hinckley cannot be trusted and would represent a danger to the community.

"No one knows what Mr. Hinckley is thinking. He has boasted that he can fool medical experts, and he continually has been proven deceptive about important matters throughout the years of his hospitalization," a government court document said.

Herein lies the problem with finding people not guilty by reason of insanity – what to do when they’re no longer deemed insane?

Surely, many conservatives will shriek in horror at the notion of letting the man who tried to kill Reagan out free. Yet, we shouldn’t let anger be our guide on dealing with Hinckley.

Hinckley’s lawyers have argued that he’s not a danger to himself or others.

But, I have to wonder whether others may pose a danger to Hinckley.

Surely some whacko out there would love to coldcock (or worse) Hinckley much the way he did to Reagan.

That’s the x-factor; the variable that can’t be predicted.

It’s comparable to what would happen if (when?) Charles Manson is paroled. They’re both such infamous criminals that their notoriety would draw people to them – from reporters to degenerates.

Prosecutors should argue that Hinckley should be kept institutionalized for fear of his own safety.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 03:48 AM | Discuss (1) | TrackBack

Witches Are Americans, Too

Apparently, witches are people, too.

Pagans can pray, too, a federal judge ruled Thursday in a case brought against county officials by a Wiccan who was barred from saying a prayer to open board of supervisors meetings.

U.S. District Court Judge Dennis W. Dohnal said the Chesterfield County board discriminated against Cyndi Simpson when it prohibited her from joining a list of clergy who deliver the invocations.

Wiccans consider themselves witches, pagans or neo-pagans, and say their religion is based on respect for the earth, nature and the cycle of the seasons.

"Chesterfield's nonsectarian invocations are traditionally made to a divinity that is consistent with the Judeo-Christian tradition," County Attorney Steven L. Micas wrote in a letter to Simpson in September 2002.

The judge said the board violated Simpson's constitutional right of equal and free expression of her religious beliefs, while allowing Christians to practice theirs by delivering the "legislative prayer," which has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court for use by a governing body.

Sheesh, next thing you know these witches are going to demand that they get to put a 2-ton granite monument to Wiccans in the courthouse rotunda…

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:58 AM | Discuss (1) | TrackBack

US Troops Test Positive for Drugs

It’s reported that a number of US troops tested positive for drug use prior to deployment.

Twenty-one Iowa National Guard troops who tested positive for drug use on the eve of their deployment were sent overseas anyway, despite the Army's "zero tolerance" policy. Now the Army must decide how to deal with them when they return.

Officials at Fort McCoy, Wis., which serves as a multistate jumping-off point for Reserve and Guard troops, said about 13 soldiers from other states who tested positive for drugs were also sent to Iraq.

Fort McCoy officials said some of the soldiers apparently used the drugs with the intention of getting caught and sent home.

"On a certain level, it would be perverse to throw people out because of their misconduct, when other people who did not engage in that misconduct are having to put their lives on the line," said Eugene Fidell, a military law expert with the National Institute of Military Justice.

The prospect of punishing troops who return after months of military service has attorneys at Army bases pacing the hallways. Under current policy, soldiers with three or more years of service often are discharged for positive drug tests. Younger soldiers sometimes opt for rehabilitation at the discretion of their commanders.

"The official policy is, you don't have a whole lot of latitude," said Mark O'Hara, a 31-year Coast Guard veteran and spokesman for the Judge Advocates Association in Washington, D.C.

"Maybe it's going to be tough if the guy comes back a hero," O'Hara said.

Yes, quite a double-edged sword we have here – if we kick these druggies out before deployment, we’re just giving them what they want.

Yet, if we send them to war (which is what we did), you’re sending the signal that there is a tolerance for illegal drug use amongst our troops and we’re putting the least reliable and least stable soldiers in the field with committed professional soldiers.

Frankly, I don’t like either of those options.

I’m ignorant to all the minutiae of the UCMJ, but surely there are criminal charges that could have been filed against these troops prior to their deployment.

I’m sure if word got out to other like-minded drug-inclined troops that there were harsh penalties for this type of behavior, they’d think otherwise.

I’d suggest no less than twice the jail time for whatever their regular deployment would have been.

Oh, and repay any benefits they received.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:20 AM | Discuss (0) | TrackBack

US Allies in Iraq

The AP produced a list of the 32 countries besides the United States that are assisting in postwar Iraq.

Here are some of those countries and what they’ve contributed:

Kazakhstan -- 27 troops.
Latvia -- 106 troops.
Lithuania -- 90 troops.
Macedonia -- 28 troops.
Spain -- 1,300 troops, mostly assigned to police duties in south-central Iraq.
Thailand -- 400 troops assigned to humanitarian operations.

I know that it’s important for the Bush Administration to claim they have a broad coalition of support in postwar Iraq, but I can’t imagine that the small number of troops from countries such as Kazakhstan and Macedonia would justify the logistics necessary to implement them.

Twenty-eight troops?

That’s an 8th grade classroom.

A very small Boy Scout Troop.

Kazakhstan and Macedonia have both contributed less than .025 percent of the 120,000 troops that the US has sent.

All of the troops from Kazakhstan and Macedonia could fit on a standard-sized yellow school bus (they hold 60).

Really, what’s the point?

Posted by Joe Kelley at 01:20 AM | Discuss (2) | TrackBack

November 14, 2003

Monkeys Get It Right

Social baboons make better mothers? What does that mean to us?

Among baboons, moms with lots of female friends are the most successful parents, according to a new study that supports the idea that social support is an essential part of being a baboon -- or a human.

The study, appearing this week in the journal Science, found that baboon mothers who formed networks of female friends were about a third more successful at raising their young than were females who spent more time alone or isolated.

"We don't know how sociability helps females, but we do know that social females do better at raising their young," said Susan C. Alberts, a Duke University researcher and co-author of the study. "It suggests that social bonds are an important part of being primates."


It does take a village!

Well, more specifically, it takes a family.

During our parents and grandparents generations, most of them lived in the same community and same house for their entire life. Their children grew up and started their lives in the same community also. Getting family support and help was just a couple houses away.

Today, when buying a house, who actually thinks they’ll see the end of a 30-year loan? The average person today lives in a house for less than 5 years.

We’re mobile and transient.

Moreover, even the immediate family unit is deteriorating as moms and dads have an all-time high divorce rate. Minor children, in too many cases, don’t even live in the same state as both their parents. Some kids couldn't even pick their dads out of a lineup - which is where some of them have been.

Instead of spending time with grandma and aunts and uncles, today’s children are stored with strangers working for minimum wage at the nearest day care facility.

For the past 6-million-years, our early human ancestors lived their lives much like the social baboons of today. Only in the past several decades have we deviated from our natural evolution to move away from familial support.

It’s only a matter of time before the baboons proclaim, “Get your hands off me you damned dirty human!”

Posted by Joe Kelley at 03:23 AM | Discuss (1) | TrackBack

Elder Abuse by Car Dealership

An Iowa man claims he was sold a pickup against his will.

A man has filed a lawsuit against a car dealership claiming the company sold him a pickup truck that he thought he was only taking for test drive.

Robert Michalec, 78, of Keystone, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Johnson County District Court. He claims Carousel Ford, in Iowa City, sold him a pickup truck against his will.

Michalec said he went to the car dealership on June 19 and told a salesman he was looking for a Ford Ranger with a six-cylinder engine and extended cab. The salesman showed him a truck without those features, the lawsuit states.

The salesman took Michalec to see the credit manager and then went out and removed the plates from Michalec's van, the lawsuit claims.

Michalec was then pressured to complete several forms, including a purchase agreement.

He claims the salesman told him to drive the truck home to try it out.

Michalec said he returned the truck on June 23 to retrieve his van but was told it had been sold and the dealership refused to accept the truck, the lawsuit states.

There’s a reason why I drive a 6-year-old sedan with 106,000 miles on it – I hate car salesmen.

Oh, I’m also really cheap.

But disdain for sleazy, commission-driven car salesmen is the major factor.

Yet, in spite of my contempt for car salesmen, I have a hard time believing that, short of having a gun placed to your head, anyone can buy a car against their will.

He may have buyer’s remorse, but against his will?

Not likely.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:33 AM | Discuss (2) | TrackBack

Don't Speaky? No Jail!

A North Carolina man had his DWI charge dropped over a language barrier with the arresting officer.

The light turned red just as Carlos Estudillo Pineda drove through the intersection, and within seconds the flashing blue lights were behind him. The Raleigh officer who pulled him over early one morning in September 2002 spotted three Bud Lite cans in the car's rear and smelled alcohol.

Officer Mike Inguanta had Pineda perform the usual battery of sobriety tests, which the 27-year-old Chapel Hill man failed miserably.

Walk nine steps in a straight line, turn around and walk back, Inguanta ordered. Pineda cried as he continued past nine steps without turning. Stand on one leg, Inguanta instructed. Pineda lifted a leg -- and marched. Next was a trip to the Wake County Public Safety Center, where he was cited for refusing to take an alcohol breath test after none of his three attempts to blow into the machine registered.

On Oct. 31, a judge found Pineda not guilty of all charges. Defense attorney Scott Holmes successfully argued that Pineda, a restaurant worker who barely speaks English, didn't understand what police asked him to do that morning. Inguanta even noted in his report, "Did not understand English."

Message to all Hispanics: You can’t be convicted of DUI if you just claim you don’t speak the language.

That’s a great message to send.

No police officer can be expected to speak the language of every possible resident.

While support for an official language in America hasn’t materialized, maybe we should at least insist on basic English skills as part of the drivers license test.

(via Howie Carr)

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:06 AM | Discuss (1) | TrackBack

Judge Moore Bounced

An Alabama Supreme Court Justice was bounced from the bench Thursday for refusing to follow a federal court order over a Ten Commandments monument.

A judicial panel on Thursday banished Chief Justice Roy Moore from the bench, rejecting his argument that he was upholding his oath when he ignored a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama judicial building.

The nine members of the Court of the Judiciary handed out the harshest penalty possible, saying Moore left them with no choice by repeatedly insisting he would never obey a federal judge's order to move the 2-ton block of granite from the courthouse rotunda.

The Court of the Judiciary -- a panel of judges, lawyers and others appointed variously by judges, legal leaders and the governor and lieutenant governor -- began hearing testimony Wednesday on Moore's defiance and issued its ruling Thursday. The panel could have continued the suspension or reprimanded Moore.

Moore, 56, had been suspended since August but was allowed to collect his $170,000 annual salary.

While this case has rallied emotions across the country, it really is quite easy to figure out.

Clearly, the Court of the Judiciary made the only reasonable decision available to them by tossing Judge Moore off the court. Moore refused to abide by a lawful court order. As such, Moore is no longer qualified to sit on a bench and cast judgments to others when he has shown such contempt for law and order.

Even those who support Judge Moore’s Ten Commandments crusade surely can understand that by flouting a lawful court order, the Court of the Judiciary had no other choice but remove him.

On the larger issue of Judge Moore’s Ten Commandments crusade, I support the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that the monument violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Bottom line: No government agent has any business promoting any religion as part of his/her official government capacity.

As expected, many of Judge Moore’s hysterical supporters have hyperbolized that the US is turning into a Godless nation. Yet, no one action has taken place that would alter God’s function in our culture.

Ask yourself this question: When Justice Moore placed that Ten Commandments monument at the Alabama Supreme Court, how did your relationship with God change?

And when it was removed?

No change.


Those that believed in God before still do. Those who went to church before still do.

In America, you have the ultimate freedom to worship any religion you want, at any time you chose, in any location you seek. The Supreme Court has even ruled that you have the freedom to sacrifice live animals if it is part of your religious worship. The only exception to that freedom is that you’re not permitted to do it in or from an official government status.

God doesn’t need the state to endorse Him. He’s bigger than Uncle Sam.

Nor do we want to see government officials promoting Buddhism, Islam, Voodoo or any other religion or philosophy.

Fear not about Roy Moore. He’s just another elected politician who consciously chose to break the law, regardless of intentions. Moore has sacrificed his current job for his beliefs. That's his right.

He’s made a name for himself by pandering his Ten Commandments crusade to scared southern Christians who care little about Constitutional law and fear the rise of homosexuality, pornography and violence.

Yet, all the 2-ton government Ten Commandment monuments in the world will do nothing to alter our culture if we as individuals don’t modify our behavior.

I wonder how many of Judge Moore’s breathless supporters (not just those on the courthouse steps, but across the country) are in church every Sunday, pray in the morning, over dinner, and dedicate their lives to God? Sure they say they believe in God, but many are just paying lip service as religion in America has been gauged to be broad, but not deep.

We, as individuals, have the ability to change the degrading culture of our society and we don’t need government agents to help us – we simply need them to stay out of our way.

As conservatives, we should know better than anyone that the answer to the problem is NOT the government, but the individual.

Incidentally, here's something that should increase the level of difficulty for this debate and indicate that a Supreme Court ruling will ultimately be needed. Hmm, and what does it say over the SCOTUS?

Posted by Joe Kelley at 01:24 AM | Discuss (4) | TrackBack

November 13, 2003

Gore Saves Our Democracy

Former VP Al Gore blasted the influence of television in America on Tuesday.

Gore, speaking on "Media and Democracy" at Middle Tennessee State University, told attendees the decline of newspapers as the country's dominant method of communication leaves average Americans without an outlet for scholarly debate.

Gore said democracy in America flourished at the height of the newspaper era, which "empowered the one to influence the many." That changed with the advent and subsequent popularity of television, he said, noting that the average American watches four hours of television a day.

"What does it do to us that has relevance to democracy? Does it encourage passivity? Is it connected to the obesity epidemic? ... If people are just staring at a little box four hours a day, it has a big impact on democracy," he said.

Gore said a remedy to television's dominance may the Internet, a "print-based medium that is extremely accessible to the average person."

I have led a campaign (in my household, particularly) to ban the TV or at least severely limit its use. My philosophy is that I can sit on the couch and watch people do things or I can get up and actually do things myself.

Yet, I find Gore’s comments amusing for implying that “our democracy is suffering.”

What, exactly, does that mean?

Are we not having our regularly scheduled elections?

Are we having difficulty finding people to fill elected and appointed positions?

Is there not a constant debate taking place in every corner of this country dealing with events across the spectrum?

Gore’s Chicken Little comments about our democracy flourishing at the height of the so-called newspaper era and suffering today in the TV era are utter nonsense.

There is absolutely no way to quantify those comments – which, of course, means nothing to the crowd he spoke to.

It’s also amusing that Gore asserts that the Internet will be the savior of the democracy in terms of accessibility to debate.

Yet, to partake in the online debate, an American would need a computer, phone line and an internet subscription. In many cases, in order to foster an online debate, you’d also need to pay a server to host your debate-oriented site (like this one).

It seems to me that better and easier medium for ‘saving our democracy’ is through the very accessible medium of Talk Radio. All that’s needed is a radio and a telephone and you’re sharing your opinion with an audience up to the millions.

Of course, Gore wouldn’t mention Talk Radio because of the number of hosts who hold conservative views. Yet, as such a host myself, I can assure Gore that the majority of conservative talk radio hosts will gladly take a call from a liberal first because an argument is more entertaining than hearing someone say, “Yeah, I agree totally, Joe!”

Listen to Talk Radio today and help save the democracy … whatever that means.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 04:59 AM | Discuss (3) | TrackBack

G.I Jane Forgets What G.I. Means

Another American soldier has found herself in trouble for talking smack about the president.

An Illinois National Guardsman at home on leave blasted the President today on a Rockford area radio show, saying the President lied about his reasons for American military going to Iraq.

Sergeant Jessica Macek of Rockford, Illinois has been serving in Iraq for six-months with the National Guard's 333rd MP Company, and while home on leave, during an interview on WNTA 1330 AM Radio in Rockford said she believes that President Bush lied about the reasons for going to war.

"I believe it is in the forefront in the minds of many soldiers that we were lied to about the reasons for going to war," Macek told the radio audience.

The bulk of Macek's criticism comes over what she said was a lack of evidence of weapons of mass destruction. "We have been there for six months now, and we have not found any weapons," said Macek. "If there were weapons it seems we should have found them by now."

Macek was on leave for nine days and was scheduled to go back to Iraq on November 8th, where according to her she is located 80 miles south of Baghdad.

Macek's strident criticism of President Bush may have opened her up to disciplinary action according to US Central Command Spokesmen Major Pete Mitchell based at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa Florida.

"If she has said these things about the Commander-in-Chief she has opened herself up to disciplinary action," said Mitchell. "Just what that action is would have to be determined by her unit commander."

Macek said her criticism of Bush is her right as a private citizen and that she said she is happy to do her duty in Iraq. "As an American I have a right to speak out against the war if I choose," said Macek.

Sgt. Macek is ill-informed if she thinks she’s a “private citizen.”

Can you imagine the scenario where a commander-in-chief would have to first convince his troops before sending them into war. Ultimately, he wouldn’t be able to sell every conflict to all of his troops, so would he only send those who agree? Partisanship would take over the military and they would soon render themselves useless.

Fortunately, that’s not the case.

The President, Congress, Pentagon, intelligence officials, and foreign policy experts working frequently with their counterparts in other countries spend their entire lives toiling over world conflicts, while some low-ranking, part-time sergeant from the Illinois National Guard who's been in Iraq for six months knows better?

Arrogance and ignorance defined.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:52 AM | Discuss (6) | TrackBack

November 12, 2003

COTV #60

Dead Ends is hosting the Carnival of the Vanities this week.

It's a good place to check out a great variety of blogs all in one location.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 04:43 PM | Discuss (0) | TrackBack

Troops Denied Compensation

While former POW Jessica Lynch is basking in the glow of celebrity, some former POWs from the first Gulf War are fighting the Bush Administration over $1 billion.

The Bush administration has blocked compensation for US soldiers captured and tortured during the first Gulf war, arguing that the money was now needed for Iraq's reconstruction, veterans' lawyers said yesterday.

Seventeen former prisoners of war were awarded nearly $1bn (�600m) in compensatory and punitive damages by a US federal court in July.

The awards were supposed to have been paid out of $1.7bn in seized Iraqi assets, but the administration stepped in to prevent them receiving the money on the grounds that it had been confiscated from the Iraqi government in March and was therefore the property of the US government.

The civilian head of the US-run occupation in Iraq, Paul Bremer, testified in the case with a sworn statement: "These funds are critical to maintaining peace and stability in Iraq. Restricting these funds as a result of this litigation would affect adversely the ability of the United States to achieve security and stability in the region."

"No amount of money can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of brutal regime," the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said in a press briefing.

But he added that the assets no longer belonged to Iraq, and were needed for the reconstruction effort.

With reports of morale problems with our current Iraq deployment, I’d think the Bush Administration would be more sensitive to these types of issues and would seek to create goodwill with our current crop of troops by taking better care of troops from our last Iraq war.

This report was published in the Guardian UK and I’ve not been able to find it in any other news source. I suspect it doesn’t have legs as a news story, so that’ll be good news for the administration.

This report was published on the same day that Bush placed the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown for Veteran’s Day.

Does anyone else get the sense that our troops are viewed as simple disposable assets much like tanks, helmets and boots?

Posted by Joe Kelley at 04:52 AM | Discuss (7) | TrackBack

It Doesn't Take A Village

A Connecticut minister has been acquitted of assault charges in the spanking of two boys.

A minister who said he was upholding God's law when he beat two children with a belt because they disobeyed their mother was acquitted Monday of assault and risk-of-injury charges.

The Rev. Walter Oliver, 66, embraced his attorney as the verdict was read.

It took a six-member jury about 1� hours to find Oliver not guilty of two counts of risk of injury to a minor and two counts of third-degree assault for hitting the boys, who were 11 and 12 at the time.

Pamela Paige of West Haven asked Oliver for help with her sons, Marcus Bailey and Anthony Bailey, after their stepfather died suddenly.

The boys were out of control, acting up at school, refusing to do chores and refusing to come home on time, she testified.

Paige said she had beaten the boys with a belt, and she gave Oliver permission to beat them. But his beatings went too far, she said.

Each boy signed what Oliver called "discipline contracts" that spelled out how they were to behave and what the consequences would be if they did not. The boys were warned several times before each beating happened, the contracts showed.

The boys, who are now 14 and 15, also testified. Their stories differed in many details, but they both said they were in pain from the beatings, and Oliver would sometimes hold them down to hit them.

This is a curious case in that the man administering the spanking was not the father (or even a relative) of the boys being spanked.

If this man had spanked them without the knowledge and consent of a parent, I’d be pretty torqued and he’d like be convicted.

But, the reverend was not only asked by the mother to spank her kids, but she spanked them too. Moreover, he had the forethought to draw up a “discipline contract” that clearly spelled out the punishments for poor behavior. He seems to have documented warnings issued to the boys prior to each beating as well.

While I have never used corporal punishment on my kids, I am not opposed to it. As such, based upon the information available from this published report, I support the jury decision in acquitting the reverend.

This should also serve as a warning to the mother who couldn’t control her kids – if you didn’t live under the “It Takes A Village” parenting mentality, you’d have handled this situation yourself without involving outside influences.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 03:38 AM | Discuss (2) | TrackBack

November 11, 2003

Guard Dog on Duty

I just had to show you this picture of my two-month-old daughter and my basset hound, Flash.

Since the day we brought baby Sierra home, Flash has watched over her like a Secret Service agent watches over the president. In fact, we've dubbed our girl the Nuclear Football (since she constantly has to be by our side) and Flash has been extraordinarily protective of her.

If I step away from a baby monitor, his big ears will pick up the sound of her crying and he'll come get my wife or me and lead us to her nursery. When we put her on the ground near him, he'll gently put his big snout in her face and just sniff away. The whiskers tickle her little face, but she always smiles when he's near.

This picture really says it all.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 06:29 AM | Discuss (2) | TrackBack

Jessica Lynch - Nudie Girl

Operation Iraqi Freedom’s most known celebrity soldier, Jessica Lynch, may have posed topless for pictures before leaving for Iraq.

Flynt said he plans to run the photos he says he has in Hustler's February issue, which goes on sale the first week of January.

He claimed they show Lynch topless and cavorting with two men stationed with her at Fort Bliss, Tex., before she shipped off to Iraq last spring.

According to two people who have seen them, the person they identify as Lynch is wearing just jeans in one photo and a blue thong in another.

Flynt said the pictures - which he claimed to have gotten from two former soldiers who served with Lynch - would prove "she's not Joan of Arc."

"I'm not interested in bashing Jessica Lynch, who really was a victim in this," Flynt insisted. But he said the Lynch book and movie "should have been an honest portrayal of her role in the war. Everyone wanted a hero from this war."

Calls to Lynch's lawyer were not returned.

Flynt said Hustler consulted an outside "photo enhancement lab" to establish that the woman in the photos was Lynch. "You think I'm going to publish nude pics that aren't her?" asked Flynt, who is believed to have paid six figures for the shots. "I like owning my company."

It’s very easy (and very accurate) to describe Larry Flynt as a total scumbag. I'm sure leftist Flynt takes great pleasure in tarnishing the biggest celebrity from this 'Bush' war.

But, the bottom line is that Flynt wouldn’t have the opportunity to exploit Jessica Lynch had she not taken off her clothes in a group of people where pictures were being taken.

When Lynch suffered tremendous injuries in Iraq and tremendous myth-making in the media, she was victimized by others.

But, she really has only herself to blame if these pictures turn out to be real.

Being responsible for your own actions is sometimes a painful lesson to learn.

But, I’m sure Lynch could never have predicted that she’d be so high-profile one day that she’d be a household name and that nude pictures would haunt her. Though, she did claim that she wanted to be a schoolteacher, so nude pictures were just a bad idea.

Since Lynch is really only famous for being a victim, I doubt this latest incident will harm her any.

UPDATE: Now Flynt claims he bought the pictures to take make sure that there were never published - to protect Lynch.

How noble...

Posted by Joe Kelley at 03:33 AM | Discuss (6) | TrackBack

Transcribe, not Translate - Conclusion

I've previously discussed the Denver Police Department and their use of ethnic spelling when transcribing police interviews.

But when dealing with something as important as life and death issues of criminal law, words have meaning. The speakers exact words should be written as heard and lawyers can wrangle later about their exact meaning.

I’m sure the NAACP would flip flop and scream bloody murder if some lowly transcriptionist wrote what he thought was meant by a speaker, only to error in favor of the prosecution.

In spite of sound logic supporting the Denver Police Department, political correctness wins the day and the policy has been changed.

The white flag has been raised on common sense -- I'm sorry, the non-specific colored (or not colored) flag that represents "giving up" has been raised on common sense.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:34 AM | Discuss (0) | TrackBack

Ultimate Guy Movies

Men’s Journal magazine has presented their version of the Top 50 Guy Movies.

They are:

1. Dirty Harry
2. The Godfather
3. Scarface
4. Die Hard
5. The Terminator
6. The Road Warrior
7. The Dirty Dozen
8. The Matrix
9. Caddyshack
10. Rocky

Here’s how Men’s Journal describes their rules:

At first there were no hard and fast restrictions; we just knew one when we saw one. But over time basic criteria emerged. Violence trumps sex, war beats peace, and you better have a very good reason to oppose anything with Steve McQueen in it.

As far as I’m concerned, a good guy movie has big explosions, fast-paced violence and car chases, female nudity without being engaged in sex with a man (example: Halle Barry naked without doing it with Billy Bob Thornton in Monster’s Ball), and a good storyline.

Braveheart comes pretty close to that criteria, and the Thomas Crown Affair (the new version with Pierce Brosnan) was also close.

Virtually any James Bond movie also comes close to that criteria.

Beverly Hills Cop pretty much nails it – topless dancers, big explosions and violence, funny and a decent story.

Otherwise, I’m largely stumped.


Posted by Joe Kelley at 01:51 AM | Discuss (5) | TrackBack

Incomplete Data

A new poll gauges whether the Iraq war was worth it.

Amid increasing attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq, a growing number of Americans, including men and independent voters, say the war in Iraq was not worthwhile, according to a survey released Monday.

Half of Americans, 49 percent, say the war was not worth it, compared to 48 percent who say it was, according to a survey conducted this month by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

That's a change from results in October, when 52 percent of Americans polled nationwide said the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over, while 43 percent said it was not.

It is absolutely not possible to accurately determine whether the Iraq war was worth it or not since our involvement there is not finished.

Time and history will judge its worthiness, but it’s far too early to be able to assess that now.

That would be comparable to the Florida Marlins being asked after Game 3 if they thought the World Series was “worth it” – it was just too soon to tell.

Likewise for the Iraqi war.

We can support it or oppose it, but we just don’t yet know if it was worth it.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 01:06 AM | Discuss (0) | TrackBack

Path of Least Resistance

With the national Do-Not-Call list kicking in, there is an increase in door-to-door sales.

Now that the national do-not-call list makes it impossible to reach millions of potential customers, some marketing companies are returning to an old-fashioned alternative: door-to-door salespeople.

That puts Michael Mullen on marketing's new frontier. He knocks on doors in the Nashville area, makes his pitch and, in a good week, earns about $650 selling discount coupon books.

While they may not be as effective as telemarketing, door-to-door sales calls are growing in importance. For now, however, they appear concentrated among certain types of businesses, especially telecommunications.

Other factors besides the do-not-call list have prompted companies to put sales staff back on the street. Unsolicited e-mail annoys most computer users, and improved spam-blockers make the tactic less effective. And it's hard to persuade customers to visit a company's Web site.

The do-not-call list has lead to an increased interest in door-to-door sales?

I should have seen that one coming.

Oh yeah, I did.

I’m also fearful of the Law of Unintended Consequences – if marketing companies cannot make money through phone sales, how long until they revert back to door-to-door salesmen? I find door-to-door salesmen much more annoying than phone salesmen. Will the FTC stop them, too?

Sometimes I hate when I’m right.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 12:32 AM | Discuss (3) | TrackBack

November 10, 2003

Defining Adultery

The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled last week that lesbian sex cannot amount to adultery.

If a married woman has sex with another woman, is that adultery? The New Hampshire Supreme Court on Friday said no.

The court was asked to review a divorce case in which a husband accused his wife of adultery after she had a sexual relationship with another woman.

Part of the problem is that adultery is not defined in New Hampshire’s divorce laws.

Looking at a dictionary and old case law, the court determined that the definition of adultery requires sexual intercourse. The judges point to a Webster’s dictionary definition that mentions intercourse and an 1878 case that refers to adultery as "intercourse from which spurious issue may arise."

Clearly the New Hampshire state legislature needs to start the ball rolling on better defining what is and what is not adultery.

Though, this might end up being similar to that definition of what is obscene: I’ll know it when I see it.

So where does adultery start? In the mind, of course, but we can’t (and shouldn’t seek to) prosecute people based upon their thoughts.

Is adultery a series of clandestine lunches, phone chats and email exchanges? Personally (that is, in my relationship with my wife), I think it is. But, that doesn’t mean I support it being used as a definition of adultery – too hard to quantify.

Kissing is next on the list. Again, while I personally feel that kissing is adultery, I would have a hard time supporting that as legal evidence of adultery.

Seeing another person nude would seemingly be next. If that were deemed to be adultery, than countless men would be guilty from visiting all-nude bars and R rated movies. Not adultery.

Touching genitalia with any part of my body would, as far as I’m concerned both legally and morally, be adultery. That is definitely the line at which I think crossing makes you an adulterer. Though, it might be difficult to prove.

Oral sex and any penetration with and into any body part with any other body part of foreign object also is adultery. No brainer.

It would certainly be an interesting session at the State House, but one that must take place. They must better define what constitutes adultery.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 03:48 AM | Discuss (2) | TrackBack

Veterans Day Parades Lacking

Tuesday is Veterans Day and the AP reports there will be far fewer parades than years past.

The problem: Not enough troops, tanks and HumVees to wow the patriotic crowds.

"With the large number of active and reserve units called up, a lot of them that would normally be available are on duty," said Bill Smith, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Washington.

Some cities are depending on boy scouts and other non-military marchers to fill the gaps. In California, several small towns have joined the bigger San Jose parade, said Lee Harris, a spokesman for the American Legion in Indianapolis.

The military has 131,600 troops deployed in Iraq, in addition to troops serving in Afghanistan. War equipment usually available from state armories and military bases has been shipped out with troops.

Deployments aren't the only problem. While a dwindling number of retired veterans are available, younger veterans often have to work on Veteran's Day, Harris said.

I hate parades. Can’t stand them.

There are rarely good parking opportunities. Traffic to and from is routinely congested due to the parade route being closed to traffic. You have to get there really early to get a good spot and then you have to sit around a dirty city street waiting for something to happen. Once the parade finally starts, it moves too damned slowly.

I cannot imagine a scenario for which I’d attend any parade EVER.

So, while I’m displeased at the reason for lack of parades, there’s clearly no love loss for me personally.

Frankly, I think we need to get this notion that a parade is the best way to honor our veterans out of our heads.

After several failed attempts, Hallmark is now producing 24 different designs for Veterans Day cards. We all have at least someone in our lives that is a veteran. Our fathers, brothers, husbands and wives would surely cherish lunch and a card with your personal thoughts and thanks. That would surely mean more to them than some impersonal parade.

Flying your American flag on Tuesday is also a great way to show your veteran support. (Check with your Homeowners Association, first.)

There are countless websites that offer the opportunity to write to troops serving right now.

I’m sure our veterans would also appreciate passionately worded letters to the editors of America’s newspapers expressing support and admiration for our veterans.

We are resourceful, tenacious Americans and we’re not going to let the cancellation or reduction in stupid parades diminish our love, admiration and support for our great American veterans

Oh, you can also express how much you love and appreciate veterans on your weblog.


Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:22 AM | Discuss (2) | TrackBack

Teen Hickey Controversy

A 13-year-old North Texas boy is in trouble for giving a girl a hickey at school.

School police issued the teen a citation on Sept. 26 for assault by contact after the girl's parents reported the incident to the school, officials said. Her family could not be reached by telephone.

The boy's mother, Patricia Singh, said her son has been punished by a three-day suspension from school.

"Boys and girls have been doing this in middle school forever," Singh said. "Some people should probably be behind bars if this is assault."

The teen, who is not being named by the Star-Telegram because he is a juvenile, is expected to meet with a Richland Hills prosecutor in December. The Singhs hope to get the charge dismissed or the fine waived. If not, they'll try to win his case in a municipal court trial, Singh said.

Assault by contact is a Class C misdemeanor, similar to a traffic citation, police said. The fine is $283, Singh said.


The boy is accused of grabbing the girl at the end of the Sept. 25 school day and giving her a hickey, according to police reports.

In a statement, the girl wrote: "I had leaned over to get my backpack when I stood back up he bit me on the left side of my neck and then started sucking on the right side of my neck. I tried to get away, but he put his arms around my backside and locked."

The boy's mother, however, said her son and the girl had been kissing and hugging throughout the day. The boy called the girl's statement a lie.

Much like the Kobe trial, this appears to be a case of he said vs. she said.

Both have believable justification for lying: He to cover up his crime, and she to cover up her behavior.

I’m particularly amused by the reporting of this incident. The first 10 paragraphs (out of 20) make no mention that the boy ‘hickied’ the girl against her will. For half the article, I was certain the school overreacted.

As the girl tells the story, I think the charges against the boy are warranted.

As the boy tells the story, I think that criminal charges are unnecessary.

I’m particularly amused by the boy’s mother’s statement:

But, she said, "I don't see paying nearly $300 for a hickey. It doesn't make sense. You have kids in Dallas schools having oral sex. This is a hickey."

The mom was referring to the argument I made previously here.

The difference though, mom, is that the oral sex was reportedly consensual; whereas your son reportedly left physical marks on a resistant young lady. (Not that I’m defending the oral sex, just pointing out the differences).

Since there is not a consensus on exactly what happened in this case, I think it’s best to charge the boy and allow the prosecutors the opportunity to prove their case. Whether this boy was previously amorous with this teen girl should be easy to establish and should weigh heavily on the outcome of this case.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 01:05 AM | Discuss (2) | TrackBack

Police: I'm Telling Your Mom!

Maryland police have a new tactic to battle bad teen drivers.

Under a new policy announced yesterday, troopers will contact the parents and guardians of teenage drivers stopped for traffic violations — including motor vehicle infractions, violations of seat-belt or provisional-license regulations, or fault in a collision, state police said.

Teenager drivers will have to provide troopers with the names of their parents and contact information, and will be told their parent or guardian will be notified.

"This is a unique effort to keep teen drivers alive and help make them safe drivers," Col. Edward T. Norris said. "We believe parents of teen drivers will be effective partners with us in our efforts to address the fact that the leading cause of death among 16- to 20-year-olds is motor vehicle crashes," Col. Norris said.

One of the teenagers uses this rationale for agreeing to the new law:

"I think it's a good idea," said Maria Luckynova, a senior.

"Most teens don't pay for their automotive experience. Parents are the ones paying for the cars and insurance, so they should know what they're paying for. [The parents] are the ones responsible and liable if their kid has an accident, so they should know what's going on," the 17-year-old said.

Under that same argument, should non-working spouses (who don’t pay their own bills) also have to be reported to those who pay the bills?

I think this idea is rather convoluted. If the state sees fit to legally license these teen drivers, why would they be treated any differently than any other legally licensed driver?

If the state truly wanted to do something about the disproportionately high rate of teen driver deaths, they have the power to change the legal driving age or introduce graduated licensing; both of which I’d support.

But, because these young people still live with their parents or have their bills paid by someone else, doesn’t mean that the should be treated like children when they’re legally licensed to be in control of an automobile.

More: I do, though, believe that parents should be able to access their minor child's driving record if requested. And parents who truly care about their child's driving habits will oversee their driving closely even to the point of using one of many devices that allows for the monitoring of their car. Or, concerned parents can circumvent the law and prohibit their kid from driving until they're 17 or 18.

But, this just strikes me as an extension of the Nanny State - where legislators are doing my job as a parent. Good parents don't need the state to tell them where their kids are or what they're doing.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 12:23 AM | Discuss (1) | TrackBack

November 07, 2003

Pentagon Frequent Flyers

Taxpayers are getting soaked again.

The General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative agency, said Pentagon officials improperly used government credit cards to buy 68,000 first- or business-class airline seats in the 2001 and 2002 budget years.

Several high-ranking political appointees were among the 44,000 people who bought premium tickets that cost $124 million over the two years. The GAO report did not estimate how much extra money that meant. Coach tickets can cost anywhere from a few dollars to thousands of dollars less.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, one of three lawmakers who requested the report, said reform is badly needed.

In the private sector, we’d see 44,000 people (and their bosses) standing in the unemployment line for improper use of company resources.

In the protected ruling class, we’ll see 44,000 people get their federally mandated annual pay increase.

Where’s the outrage?

Posted by Joe Kelley at 03:35 AM | Discuss (1) | TrackBack

Hating the Pleasant

Could the so-called Green River Killer be a “pleasant man?”

Lawyers for confessed serial killer Gary Leon Ridgway -- who admitted in a plea deal Wednesday to killing 48 women -- said their client is a polite, pleasant man.

"He's really a very pleasant man, one-on-one, at this day and age," said attorney Mark Prothero in an interview on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" television show Wednesday night. "He was always very polite, never displayed any anger. We got along very well, and he was a very nice client."

On Wednesday, Ridgway pleaded guilty to 48 counts of aggravated murder and agreed to provide information to help locate remains lost for nearly two decades in exchange for prosecutors agreeing not to seek the death penalty.

Is it a contradiction that a mass murderer of 48 women can be “pleasant?”

I’m reminded of the jail-house interviews with Timothy McVeigh. Afterwards, I thought to myself: “Hmm… He seems kinda’ like a nice guy. If I had met him and known nothing about his murderous behavior, I’d probably like him.”

Yet, I felt dirty thinking those thoughts.

I think we want all mass murderers to take on the Charles Manson persona – wild eyed, freaky, outrageous, swastika on forehead. Easy to hate.

But, when mass murderers turn out to be “pleasant” people (the proverbial man next door), it throws a wrench in our cog of understanding human behavior.

I don’t want my mass murderers to be pleasant.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:35 AM | Discuss (3) | TrackBack

GOP: Crazy Like A Fox?

The Senate GOP has issued an ultimatum to the Senate Democrats over that leaked intelligence memo.

Senior Senate Republicans said yesterday that unless Democrats disavow a plot to use the traditionally nonpartisan intelligence committee to wage political attacks on the Bush administration, they would consider taking away Democrats' power-sharing privileges.

Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said that if Democrats expect cooperation from the White House in the investigation of intelligence failures that preceded the war in Iraq, "they've got to stop the politics."

"If they don't, I think we have to change the whole [nonpartisan] nature of the committee," Mr. Santorum said.

A memo written by a staffer for committee co-chairman Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia Democrat, and leaked to the press Tuesday, suggested Democrats "pull the majority along as far as we can," then "take full advantage" of committee rules to "among other things, castigate the majority for seeking to limit the scope of the inquiry."

The memo suggested that the best time to "pull the trigger on an independent investigation" of the Bush administration would be next year, when the president will be campaigning for re-election.

"Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public's concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq," the memo says. "The approach outlined above seems to offer the best prospect for exposing the administration's dubious motives."

While the Blogosphere is chock-full of quality pundits and great sites, from time to time I think we all are pleased to discover a site previously unknown to us that really stands out above the crowd.

I have made such a discovery this week with Bill Hobbs’ site HobbsOnline A.M.

On the Intelligence Memo issue, Bill writes:

Democrats have touted the leaked Rumsfeld memo as some sort of evidence that the war is going badly. But contrast Rumsfelf's memo with the leaked Democrat memo. The goal of Rumsfeld's memo is winning the war by asking honest questions. The goal of the Democrat memo is winning the election by dishonestly politicizing the nation's intelligence-gathering.

He summarizes the issue with this statement:

I have read and re-read the controversial leaked memo from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and come to a sad conclusion: It is evidence of a conspiracy to commit treason for the sake of partisan political advantage.

I surely don't put it past the Democrats to do something as dastardly as write a memo with these intentions; particularly in light of incidents like this when California Assembly Democrats were caught conspiring to prolong the state energy crisis for political reasons.

But here’s an intriguing thought (from me, this time): If you were a GOP Senate member (or staffer) who was interested in making a political preemptive strike against any legitimate Democratic claims of manipulated intelligence, wouldn’t you think about "leaking" an "anonymous" memo from some "Democratic Senator" indicating that they’d put politics over integrity?

You could kill two birds with one stone – cast dispersions aspersions (damn public school education) anonymously upon Senate Democrats and take the wind out of the sails of any Democrats who would seek to use legitimate intelligence findings to criticize the president.


Posted by Joe Kelley at 01:19 AM | Discuss (1) | TrackBack

November 06, 2003

Uncle Sam Riding in the Front Seat

A new tool in the fight against terror.

Satellite Security Systems (S3), a global provider of asset security and logistics control, in cooperation with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and InterState Oil Company, dramatically demonstrated the first wireless remote shutdown of a fully loaded moving petrochemical tanker truck.

From S3's headquarters in San Diego -- 530 miles from the demonstration site -- satellite communications were used to disable the truck in seconds, proving S3's GlobalGuard(TM) and FleetGuard(TM) a viable solution to the challenge of controlling rogue hazardous waste vehicles that could pose a threat to homeland security.

The event, conducted on CHP Academy grounds in Sacramento and administered by the CHP, addresses ongoing concerns about the affordability of effective security technology, stealthiness of such a security device, and how GPS monitoring can be incorporated safely into law enforcement protocol.

The need to secure trucks carrying hazardous-waste or petrochemical products is of paramount concern to trucking companies, California Independent Oil Marketing Association (CIOMA) members, and State and Federal departments. While the California state government may be voting as early as January on Assembly Bill (AB) 575 (requiring truck disabling devices, global positioning or other "location reporting systems" on hazardous material haulers), the CHP has been tasked with researching various technologies to support these regulatory initiatives.

In theory, this seems like a pretty good plan: If Abdul Jihad hijacks a tanker truck full of highly explosive jet fuel with the intention of slamming it into the U.S. Capitol, cops could stop the rig dead in it’s tracks and apprehend Mr. Jihad.

But, like with many (most?) government regulations, it’s fraught with problems.

First, as I always say, if man designed it, man can defeat it. How long until the little Jihadis figure out how to hack into the system and defeat the entire program? Or worse, how long until they figure out how they can disable one of the trucks themselves and use it as a method to hijack them?

Also, it wouldn’t be too hard for anyone familiar with a truck to simply hijack a non-hazmat rig that doesn’t have the remote kill switch and swap trailers with a hazmat load.

Any terrorists could also simply get a Commercial Driver’s License and blend into the trucking community and cause great damage before anyone would even know there was something wrong.

California state legislators would also do themselves a favor in remembering the name Tim McVeigh. McVeigh, as you no doubt recall, destroyed the Oklahoma City federal building with a truck that was not hazmat, was not an 18-wheeler, was not a tanker, and did not require a CDL or any experience to drive. The vehicle that damaged the World Trade Center in 1993 was a simple cargo van.

Will California also require satellite tracking on rental vehicles, SUVs and minivans?

I can easily see how the state legislatures would become disenchanted a few years after passing this law when they realize that they’ve caught no bad guys and stopped no significant crimes. Having spent millions on the program, they’re going to seek a way to expand it to justify it. Next, we’ll see truckers being ticketed based upon their satellite-tracked movements. And we’ll see an effort to place similar devices in personal vehicles.

Incidentally, if you have OnStar, you already have such a system in your car to enable the disabling of your vehicle. Don’t think legislators haven’t thought of ways to use OnStar to stop dead-beat dads, parole violators and speeders, and don’t think that creditors haven’t thought of how to use OnStar to disable cars of people who’ve not paid their bills.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 03:48 AM | Discuss (1) | TrackBack

Probability of Re-creating Death

Some fancy shooting from a Detroit bar owner has left two suspects dead.

Two suspected robbers are dead after a former police officer and owner of a Detroit bar fired a single shot, Local 4 reported.

Police say the 49-year-old woman who owned the restaurant -- a retired Detroit cop who was a former member of Mayor Coleman Young's security team -- tried to hold the suspects in the parking lot until police arrived. But when the two men attempted to speed away, and nearly ran over one of her employees, she fired a single shot that apparently struck both men, according to police.

"We've had some robberies in that area. We have some evidence now that may indicate that someone was robbed there and assaulted there. There attempted to be another assault against one of the employees, before the owner of this establishment fired one shot in an attempt to stop a fleeing felon," said Detroit police Inspector Marilyn Hall-Beard.

The two men -- Dorian Gordillo, 22, and Rosalio Becera, 33 -- were later found dead from a bullet wound in a car parked on the Interstate 75 service drive, according to police.

One of the men was reportedly still holding a beer in his hand.

You’d think I’d take issue with this report because of the questionable circumstances in which this bar owner used lethal force against these two suspects.

You’re wrong.

Instead, I’m fascinated by the concept of “dumb luck” versus “by design,” as in – was her successful killing of two suspects with one bullet by design or just dumb luck?

If she was a skilled marksman who intentionally tried to kill both with one bullet, I suppose I could argue that their deaths were by design. Yet, the likelihood of the bar owner being able to recreate the death shot is extraordinarily low. Plus, the likelihood that she ever trained to kill two suspects with one bullet in a moving car is also extraordinarily low.

As such, I’m inclined to believe that this is a case of dumb luck.

(That is, of course, presuming that she didn’t line these two dudes up butt-to-gut like people standing in line at the bank and shoot at point blank range or use a .50 cal that would just plow through all flesh in a twenty block radius.)

Imagine it this way: If I tee up at a par 3 golf hole and manage to get a hole-in-one, is that dumb luck even though I was trying to get a hole-in-one?

I’m a mediocre golfer, so I’d say it’s just dumb luck.

But, what if Tiger Woods did it? Since the likelihood of Tiger getting a hole-in-one is much greater than it is for me, wouldn’t it be by design?

What if Tiger was shooting over a blind bunker and couldn’t see the pin placement, but had a general idea of where the green was; if he sank that ball, wouldn’t it be dumb luck?

(Note: We had an amusing hour-long debate on my talk radio show on this issue.)

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:05 AM | Discuss (3) | TrackBack

Michael Moore - No Love for USA

John Hawkins (Right Wing News) shares the latest Michael Moore comments about America.

Michael Moore continues to have unkind words for his fellow countrymen. On his international book tour, the author of “Dude, Where’s My Country?” was asked what he thought of Americans. “They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet ... in thrall to conniving, thieving, smug pricks,” he replied. “We Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance. We don’t know about anything that’s happening outside our country. Our stupidity is embarrassing.”

How can anyone label these comments anything other than un-American and unpatriotic?

So many times we hear lefties complain that when they speak out about the Bush Administration that they’re labeled as un-American and unpatriotic. As someone who routinely criticizes the Bush Administration and government in general, I obviously disagree with any type of notion that my actions are un-American or unpatriotic. I feel the same way about lefties who make criticisms – it’s perfectly American and patriotic to criticize your government

But, the key difference between my criticisms of Bush and our government and Moore’s is that mine are balanced with praise for Bush and Congress.

There is no such balance from Michael Moore.

Moore spews nothing but hatred and anger for America and government officials. Granted, the next time a Democrat takes the Oval Office, Moore will surely change his attitude. So, Moore, et al, love America only four years at a time, dependant upon who’s at the helm.

Whereas most of us love America every minute of every day of every year, and fight to make it even better by campaigning for politicians who we think are best prepared to make America even better.

Is Michael Moore a patriot?

He can’t be.

The same goes for everyone else whose love of country is predicated upon who holds office.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 01:04 AM | Discuss (8) | TrackBack

November 05, 2003

Knee-jerk Racial Claims

More racial political correctness controversy at a public school.

The e-mail scuffle arose after a secretary at Azevada Elementary School sent a note to the district's "everyone" e-mail list saying some items had been stolen from campus recently.

Two principals -- Barbara Lowe of Mission San Jose Elementary and Robin Riley of Warm Springs Elementary -- replied that their schools, too, were targeted last year.

"When we were hit at MSJE last year, we saw that they were 2 African-American women -- one older than the other," Lowe wrote.

Both Lowe and Riley have apologized, saying they were trying to help and not to racially profile. The women were seen exiting a kindergarten classroom by the classroom teacher, Lowe explained Thursday. The teacher escorted them to the office to sign in, she said. They asked if there were openings in the third grade, used the restroom and left, driving away in a silver car, she said. A purse later was discovered to have been stolen from the classroom.

Riley's e-mail followed Lowe's.

"Warm Springs was hit last year also," she wrote. "Before the missing credit cards were discovered, I had talked with a tall African American woman about 35 years of age and a man in his mid-20s. ... I saw them get out of an older, beat up, silver Toyota."

The e-mails elicited a deluge of angry accusations of racial profiling from teachers and administrators, some of whom are black. One teacher called the e-mails "blatantly racist." Another said one of notes had "cut like a knife."

Among the respondents was Doug Gephart, assistant superintendent of personnel, who wrote that it was "inappropriate and eminently unfair to characterize any problem based on racial profile," and said the e-mails violated school board policy.

Emphasis added.

There is a difference between racial profiling and racial description.

To profile would be to automatically stop and search all blacks because of the belief that they’re more likely to commit a crime because of the color of their skin.

Instead, what these school administrators did was interview witnesses to a crime and provide a possible description of the suspects.

It’s neither racist nor profiling.

Sadly, each time hysterical blacks make hysterical, bogus racial claims like this one it diminishes real instances of racism that does exist in our society.

Don’t you remember the moral of the boy who cried “wolf?”

(Hat tip: Tongue Tied)

Posted by Joe Kelley at 03:52 AM | Discuss (4) | TrackBack

CoTV #59

Wizbang is hosting the 59th Carnival of the Vanities.

You'll love the election theme. I do.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 01:52 AM | Discuss (0) | TrackBack

Clinton Fails to Draw a Crowd

A charity fund-raiser featuring former President Bill Clinton failed to produce a profit for the sponsors.

A charity fund-raiser for Seattle Hebrew Academy and two local arts groups, which brought former President Clinton to town, was a financial bust — though not for the 42nd president.

The September event at Marion McCaw Hall cost organizers $290,000 but brought in just $288,000, according to organizers — a shortfall of $2,000 sponsors blamed on sluggish ticket sales.

It's not known how much Clinton was paid, but he did charge for his Seattle appearance, according to his office. Neither his spokeswoman nor Foolproof Performing Arts, which produced the event, are talking about his fee. But in 2002, he charged no less than $100,000 for all but one of his speaking appearances, earning $9.5 million for the year, according to Sen. Hillary Clinton's personal financial disclosure form filed in May.

I suppose many of us conservatives will feel a little schadenfreude upon hearing about this story. I must admit that I, too, chuckled when I first heard this story.

Yet, as much as I’d love to point my finger-of-blame at Bill Clinton, we must blame the Hebrew Academy and the two arts groups for over-estimating the popularity of the former president.

While he earns far more than most of us do, Bill Clinton has just as much a right to earn a living as any of us, and he is under no obligation to surrender his earnings just because event planners couldn’t create enough demand to meet their supply.

Many of us have been involved in business ventures previously that have lost money and I’ll be damned if I’m going to give back my money just because of bad business planning from someone else.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 01:37 AM | Discuss (5) | TrackBack

Euthanizing a Police Officer

A police dog in Edmonds (WA) was put to sleep Monday.

Nico, an 8-year-old German shepherd with the Edmonds Police Department, has been euthanized after attacking a female jogger, the fifth innocent person the dog had bitten since 1997.

Nico was removed from his handler Oct. 24 and quarantined by the Snohomish County sheriff's office. The day before, the dog escaped from a backyard kennel at Officer Linda Binkley's house in Marysville and attacked the jogger, who suffered substantial injuries to her legs, shoulder and back.

Police Chief David Stern told The Seattle Times that he decided to have Nico put to sleep after the dog's veterinarian said the animal was likely to continue to attack innocent victims.

At least two of the dog bite victims have sued the city of Edmonds. One of them, Adam Taylor, 19, a community college student, filed a $1 million damage claim last year, saying he was bitten 10 times by Nico.

I’ve always had an awkward feeling about police dogs.

First, I’m frequently amused when I read about funeral and memorial ceremonies for police dogs. Other dogs and handlers fly in from remote cities to show their support and share in the grief of the loss of a dog. Yet, the dogs are surely incapable of knowing WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!

Beyond that, I can't bring myself to agree with the laws that assert that a police dog is parallel to a human police officer.

For example, there are many laws on the books that claim that assaulting a police dog carries the same punishment as assaulting a police officer.

I think this story, better than any other, illustrates the differences between human cops and dogs – if a human cop performs poorly, there’s absolutely no chance he’ll be euthanized.

Police dogs are disposable law enforcement assets, much like that of cars, batons and guns.

If a police dog over-reacts with a suspect and violently rips flesh from bone, I think the suspect is perfectly justified in acting in self-defense by assaulting the dog. Much like police officers (humans) are responsible for capturing and detaining suspects, not punishing them (that’s the function of a court, judge and jury), police dogs should only apprehend, not punish.

Two further thoughts – yes, I’m a dog lover and no, I don’t expect anyone to agree with me.

I’m sure the prevailing sentiment is that all suspects deserve whatever heavy-handed (or heavy teethed) treatment they get from police dogs and their handlers.

I, though, am a firm believer that we’re all innocent until proven guilty by a court of law and that police dogs should assist in apprehending, not punishing, suspects.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 12:31 AM | Discuss (3) | TrackBack

November 04, 2003

Tower Toppler Turns Self In

The suspect in the sabotage of electrical towers along the West coast has turned himself in to police.

A Spokane, Wash., man wanted in connection with sabotage of up to 10 West Coast high-power electrical towers by removing or loosening their support bolts was arrested in Sacramento on Sunday when he visited a California Highway Patrol office, seeking directions to an FBI office where he reportedly planned to surrender.

A CHP employee recognized Michael Devlyn Poulin, 62, from his wanted poster when he stopped at a patrol office in south Sacramento around 9 a.m., seeking directions to the FBI’s Sacramento office, said FBI Special Agent and spokeswoman Karen Ernst in Sacramento. He did not resist arrest – and earlier had called The Associated Press, claiming he was only trying to show security deficiencies in the nation’s electrical grid system.

Crews last Thursday had found bolts removed from three of four legs of a high-voltage power line tower south of Sacramento. It was the week’s second case of sabotage in that area and the 10th such incident along the West Coast in 10 days, as the FBI intensified its search for Poulin.

Bolts were discovered missing at a transmission tower operated by the Western Area Power Administration near Elk Grove Boulevard and Waterman Road in Elk Grove, Calif., just south of Sacramento, FBI agents said.

The FBI’s Sacramento Division last month obtained a federal arrest warrant charging Poulin with damaging or attempting to damage an energy facility, said Portland FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele. That carries a potential 20-year prison term, if convicted.

Some may argue that this case resembles that of Nathaniel Heatwole, the 20-year-old college student who, last month, was discovered to have placed box cutters, bleach and modeling clay on two Southwest Airlines flights in an attempt to demonstrate airline security weaknesses.

But, while I argued previously that the Feds should give Heatwole a pat on the back and move on, the differences in this case warrant prosecution.

The primary difference is that Heatwole’s act endangered no lives or property. He hid the box cutters and bleach so well, that they went undiscovered for nearly five weeks until cleaning crews discovered them. This tells me that the likelihood of these weapons being found and used are extraordinarily slim.

Yet, Michael Devlyn Poulin’s act of removing bolts from massive power lines created a situation where lives and property were clearly at stake.

Unlike Heatwole, there’s no evidence that Poulin’s sabotage was well telegraphed to government officials in advance of this action.

Also unlike Heatwole, Poulin didn’t leave his name and phone number behind for police to immediately find him. Instead, law enforcement officials had to waste countless resources to try to track him down.

Instead of the actions of a truly concerned citizen methodically documenting, planning and executing a means of demonstrating government inefficiency, Poulin appears to just be a bitter, anti-government nutcase worthy of public scorn and prosecution.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 02:31 AM | Discuss (0) | TrackBack

Reagan Mini-Series Moved

The CBS vs. Ronald Reagan controversy has momentarily subsided.

nder pressure from Republican and conservative groups, CBS is expected to announce as early as today that it is canceling its plans to run a two-part mini-series in November deconstructing the Ronald Reagan presidency, two people close to the decision said last night.

They said the film would most likely instead be handed over to CBS's pay-cable sibling, Showtime.

The announcement would perhaps the first time a major broadcast network has ever removed a completed project from its schedule because of political pressure and under the threat of an advertising boycott.

CBS executives have been reworking the film over the last week, trying to fix what many critics - none of whom had seen the film and were relying mostly on a report in The New York Times about its contents - called inaccurate and unfair portrayals of the former president.

The CBS chairman, Les Moonves, became concerned amid those complaints and ordered a revision of the film, several people close to the process said.

Showtime, which like CBS is a division of Viacom, does not have the same advertising and ratings concerns as does the broadcast network.

There is an amusing level of buzz over this movie that virtually NO ONE has yet seen.

Many liberals are fuming at this “censorship” brought on by conservative outrage. I heard Alan Colmes whining on the radio just a few hours ago.

Frankly, I have no pity for the CBS officials who put this movie together.

If you’re going to put together a movie depicting an extraordinarily significant world political power, you have an obligation to portray the character in as honest a light as possible. Officials involved with the production of the movie have admitted that some of on-screen Reagan’s most controversial comments were not based upon official records or witnesses of the real Reagan.

It’s particularly distasteful that CBS would produce and seek to air this film at a time when former President Reagan has no ability to recall his words or actions and no ability to defend himself.

With so few people actually studying history and consuming volumes of books available on Reagan and other presidents to gain perspective, a film produced by people with a hatred for Reagan will be the only historical perspective that many people would have about him.

It’s sad that a silly little production by CBS is so important, but revisionist history should never be taken lightly.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 01:19 AM | Discuss (6) | TrackBack

Flag Draped Controversy

It’s not often you hear of a coffin controversy.

The U.S. military said Monday it was sticking to a policy forbidding television camera crews and photographers from filming coffins of soldiers killed in Iraq at a U.S. air base in southwestern Germany.

Officials at Ramstein, a major U.S. air base which serves as a transfer point, had allowed media access in the past to honor guard ceremonies and transfers of American-flag covered coffins onto U.S.-bound military transport planes. But rules banning coverage were strictly enforced just before the Iraq war began.

While U.S. officials say the policy was created out of respect for relatives, others criticize the lack of media access, arguing its aim is to prevent the public from seeing large numbers of coffins that could turn public opinion against the war.

Journalists seeking access to Ramstein to film coffins of 15 Americans killed Sunday in Iraq when their helicopter was shot down were told that Department of Defense policy was still "No." Only coverage of injured soldiers was permitted.

A Defense Department official denied there was any censorship and said the purpose of the policy was to protect the privacy of families "during their times of greatest loss and grief." The rule has been in effect since 1991 and was reaffirmed in March, he said.

First, and foremost, the media has no right to cover flag draped coffins being offloaded from planes.

It’s also important to recognize that the government will not and cannot prevent media coverage of the funeral ceremonies once these fallen soldiers are delivered to their families. At that point, the individual families can decide to what extent they want their soldier’s death exposed in the media.

When issues relating to government control of media pop up, I typically support the right of the media to tell the story and let the public decide what to do with the news. While I do believe that the Bush Administration has a political interest in preventing video images of dozens of flag draped coffins from being viewed on TV, I also believe that there’s merit in seeking to keep the process private for the sake of the families.

As such, I believe that the decision by the Bush Administration is reasonable. Particularly since the Bush Administration has not (and arguably cannot) stifle news and information regarding the actual deaths of the soldiers.

It is, after all, the deaths of the soldiers that is newsworthy, not the transportation of the soldier’s bodies.

One is news, the other is just drama.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 12:35 AM | Discuss (2) | TrackBack

November 03, 2003

Oral Sex for Pre-Teens

A couple of middle school students in Dallas are being investigated for having oral sex in class.

School officials are investigating reports that a 12-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy engaged in oral sex during a science class at Robert T. Hill Middle School.

The activity allegedly took place Tuesday in the back of a classroom while the teacher was away at a parent-teacher conference, leaving an adult security monitor in charge, Dallas school district spokesman Donald Claxton said Friday.

At least four students said they witnessed the activity and reported it Wednesday when their teacher returned, Claxton said.

Claxton said he was told that police filed a sexual assault charge against the boy. Investigators could not be reached to comment.

Disciplinary action was also taken against the students, Claxton said. He would not comment on the discipline, but he said the district's punishment for such activity would range from suspension to expulsion.

It's unclear how sexual activity could go unnoticed by an adult, Claxton said.

Claxton estimated that at least 20 students were in the classroom when the incident allegedly occurred. He said that the situation is deeply disturbing.

"It's even more disturbing in society that a 12-year-old youngster is cognizant of such activity," he said. "The fact that it happened in a classroom while an adult was present is almost inexcusable."

Two questions:

Why is it just the boy who is charged with sexual assault? Doesn’t it take two to engage in oral sex? If she didn’t do it willingly, why not a rape charge?

And, the principal said, “The fact that it happened in a classroom while an adult was present is almost inexcusable.”


What would have to happen to get a label as “wholly inexcusable?”

OK, I guess that was five questions.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 01:21 AM | Discuss (1) | TrackBack

November 02, 2003

Top October Referrers

Thank you very much to the following blogs:

1. The Spoons Experience
2. Rhetoric Rhythm
3. Kem White
4. ScrappleFace
5. Electric Venom
6. Boots and Sabers

These were the top six blogs sending readers to The Sake of Argument in October 2003.

Thank you very much.

Posted by Joe Kelley at 08:11 AM | Discuss (0) | TrackBack