Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Today is a sad day indeed

I just saw on the internet that legendary science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke, died today at his home in Sri Lanka.

Arthur C. Clarke was the last of the writers that formed what I regard as the "Holy Trinity of Science Fiction" (the other two being Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein). Clarke's passing marks the end of an era, truly.

On a personal note, he was one of my favorites and I will mourn his passing. Hopefully, his spirit is now free to roam this wondrous universe and explore all those places he imagined and invited us to imagine with him.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm shocked - shocked!

So, now Al Sharpton is against counting votes? I could have sworn he was one of the ones leading the cry in 2000 that all votes must be counted since not counting them would "disenfranchise" blacks (a misuse of the word since no-one was prevented from voting).

This item from the New York Sun says that Sharpton is threatening to sue the Democratic National Committee if they seat the Florida delegates from the Democratic primary. Recall that the DNC ruled that if Florida and Michigan held their primaries before Iowa and New Hampshire, their delegates would not be tallied.

Wait. It gets worse:

Rev. Sharpton is traveling to Florida today to compile lists of residents who skipped the January contest because they thought their votes would not count. He plans to have those residents sign affidavits saying they would be disenfranchised by the seating of the Florida delegation, in the event the Democratic Party allowed that to happen.

There's that word again. However since this is was a party primary and not a genuine election, again, no-one was disenfranchised. (Someone please get this man a dictionary.)

Now, what do you suppose is the reason for the abrupt about-face? It couldn't be because counting those delegates would benefit Hillary Clinton (who is white) and would be to the disadvantage of Barack Obama (who is not), could it?

No. Couldn't be. We all know Al Sharpton to be such a principled individual.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A little levity

I received a nice comment on my last post from 'AtypicalHeroine'. In order to return the favor, I checked out her blog and found this. She posted this in response to the Eliot Spitzer sex scandal and I just couldn't resist!

Not too shabby, huh?

Unfortunately, her blog doesn't allow comments, so a "Thanks, 'Heroine'!" is the best I can do.

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Thoughts on the judicial confirmation process

I just finished reading an excellent book, "Supreme Conflict" by Jan Crawford Greenburg. Greenburg is an attorney and Supreme Court analyst for Newshour with Jim Lehrer and CBS' Face The Nation.

It's a good read that focuses on the recent history and controversy over the confirmation process for federal judicial nominees and Supreme Court Justices in particular. It starts with Sandra Day O'Connor and continues on through the confirmation of Samuel Alito.

I was left with one searing impression: my contempt for Senate Democrats is confirmed and strengthened. What a feckless, unprincipled lot they are, led by the likes of Patrick Leahy, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin and Ted Kennedy.

I won't go into the infamous and scandalous attack on Robert Bork by Ted Kennedy (the infamous "Robert Bork's America" speech). That was a shameful episode, but it set the stage for all that comes after.

Instead, I want to compare and contrast the judicial confirmation process during the Clinton administration with a Republican-controlled Senate and the Bush administration with a Democrat-controlled one.

Bill Clinton appointed two Justices to the Supreme Court: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Neither were pilloried by any Republican on the Judiciary Committee or in the Senate as a whole. Neither were vilified for their left-wing judicial philiosophies. Ginsburg was not dragged through the mud for her work as General Counsel of the ACLU. Rather the issue before the Senate during her confirmation was her suitability as a Justice. Did she have the academic credentials and work experience to do the job? It was easily determined that she did, and she was easily confirmed. 93-7, if I am not mistaken. Likewise, Breyer had a relatively easy time of it.

Now contrast that with the scurrilous treatment of so many of the Bush appellate nominees, and the rhetoric from Democrats in reference to the Roberts and Alito nominations. The Democrats decided, unilaterally, to change the rules. No more would the judicial confirmation process be about a nominee's suitability for the bench. Now the issue would be the nominee's judicial philosophy.

This, and the misuse of the filibuster, really makes me angry. It is understood that one of the prerogatives of being president is the power to nominate judges and justices whose philosophy most closely matches the president's. It's absurd to suggest that a Republican president must nominate someone who is ideologically acceptable to Democrats. Certainly that thought never crossed Bill Clinton's mind when he nominated Ginsburg and Breyer.

And, yet they got away with it. The reputations of sterling nominees like Miguel Estrada were dragged through the mud at the behest of People for the American Way and the Alliance for Justice because Estrada was a Hispanic who dared to be conservative.

Of course, the Democrats were ably aided and abetted by the major news media organizations in this effort. But even more disappointing than that was that Republicans were so ineffectual in countering these despicable tactics. I ached for someone, anyone, to say, "Well, of course the President nominated conservative jurists. It's one of the things he was elected to do." It never happened. Instead we got John McCain and the Gang of Fourteen.

This game of "one set of rules - anything goes as long as we say so - for us, and another for them" is why I have zero respect for most Democrats.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Write your Congress critters

I just read that S.C. Senator Jim DeMint's bill calling for a one year moratorium on earmarks failed by a vote of 29-71.

I was very disappointed to learn that one of my Senators, John Warner, voted against the bill. (I expected it from Jim Webb.) I just visited both Senators' web sites and registered my disappointment. I urge you to see how your Senators voted and do the same, if need be.

FYI, Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama all voted for the bill.

More on the Obama-Ferraro kefluffle

"Folks are hatin' on Barack Obama. He doesn't fit the mold, he ain't white, he ain't privileged. Hillary fits the mold. Europeans fits the mold. Giuliani fits the mold. Rich, white men fit the mold. Hillary never had a cab whiz past her and not pick her up because her skin is the wrong color. Hillary never had to worry about being pulled over in her car as a black man. I am sick of Negros who just do not get it.

"Hillary was not a black boy raised in a single parent home, Barack was. Barack knows what it means to be a black man living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich, white people! Hillary can never know that. Hillary ain't never been called a nigger. Hillary has never had her people defined as non-persons. Hillary ain't had to work twice as hard just to get accepted by the rich, white folk who [indiscernible] everything just to get a passing grade when you know you are smarter than that C student sitting in the White House.

Oh, I am so glad that I have a God who knows what it's like to be a poor, black man in a country, in a culture that is controlled and run by rich, white people. He taught me, Jesus did, how to love my enemies. Jesus taught me how to love the hell out of my enemies and not be reduced to their level of hatred, bigotry and small-mindedness. Hillary ain't never had people say she wasn't white enough. Jesus had his own people siding with the enemy. That's why I love Jesus, y'all. He never let their hatred dampen his hope."

- Reverend Jeremiah Wright, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ where Barack Obama has been attending services for some 20 years

Oh, for Goodness' sake! Again with the old canard about cabs not picking up black people? First of all, as black men commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime, cab drivers have a perfectly rational reason for being reluctant to pick up black men. Second, if not being able to hail a cab is the biggest challenge facing black men in America, then I think we have the racism problem licked.

Also, I wasn't aware of any Europeans in the race for president. To my knowledge, all the candidates are American. It's kind of a prerequisite for the job.

Some tongue-in-cheek humor about the Ferraro kerfluffle

"Former Congresswoman and Walter Mondale's choice for his Vice Presidential running mate in 1984, Geraldine Ferraro, pointed out in a speech that Barack Obama is Black saying: 'If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position.' (She) was forced to step down from the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign for those remarks, a decision which I wholeheartedly endorse. What she should have said was: 'If Obama WERE a white man.' It is that kind of grammatical error up with which I will not put."

- Rich Galen of

Oh for Pete's sake!

With all due respect to my sister Beth, who is a librarian, (which means I am getting ready to say something really bad about librarians) but if librarians as a group are confused as to why our government needs (but has yet to exercise) the power to examine library records authorized under the Patriot Act, I give you exhibit A.

Now, just what important civil liberty was Biesterfield's [sic] supervisor defending?

From an employment standpoint, the fired librarian probably does not have a legal leg to stand on. The library and the county will claim that she was fired for disobeying her superior's directive and not for reporting a suspicious male viewing pornography in a public place.

(Why isn't that illegal, by the way? I can recall a similar incident when I worked at Arthur Andersen in Washington. Our company did a lot of work for the city government. I helped set up for an event at a DC public library once and my colleagues and I were shocked to see a boy of about 12 browsing hard core pornography right under the noses of the librarians! They could see what he was doing and either they didn't care or were precluded from doing anything (more likely). Heck, not only was he viewing the material, he was printing it out! And at his age, what he was doing was patently illegal.

I forgot. The men and women of our military fight and die to defend the right of adolescents to view pornography.

By the way, not being a library employee, it wasn't against the rules for me to tell the little fella to shove off, so I did.)

This kind of bad publicity may very well make the library rethink its decision and re-hire her (assuming she would even want to work there again). After all, who is going to want to patronize a library that is 'pedophile friendly'?

OTHER than pedophiles, I mean.

Sacrificed on the altar of political correctness

I could give two figs about Geraldine Ferraro. Prior to being plucked from obscurity by Walter Mondale, she was a nobody. After she became Mondale's running mate in 1984, she became a footnote in history.

Now it looks like she may rate a second footnote. Ferraro was just fired by the Clinton campaign. What was her transgression?

She told the truth.

Ferraro was sacrified on the altar of political correctness for saying that Barack Obama would not be where he is [at the threshold of the Democratic nomination for President] if he weren't black.

Excuse me? This is news? Eight years ago Obama was a state senator from Illinois. In just under 10 months he could be our 44th President. Americans, as a whole, don't give fast-track promotions like that to just anybody. We generally don't award the highest job in the land to first-term Senators.

Given the level of Obama's rhetoric and policy prescriptions, I don't think anyone could seriously argue that he is where he is because of his race.

The irony here is that Hillary wouldn't be where she is if it weren't for the fact that she's a woman.

Go figure.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ding, dong, the witch is dead!

I can barely contain my glee at disgraced NY governor's Eliot Spitzer's resignation. This should effectively kill any ambitions Spitzer may have had for national elective office (i.e. the Presidency).

On another note, did you see that Spitzer was shelling out $4,300 (plus trainfare, cab fare and mini-bar costs) for a tryst with "Kristen"? Holy schnikes! For $4,300 a throw her t*ts better have hot-and-cold running cocaine.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Deconstructing crap

I came across this article on Yahoo! about a couple of highly-touted books that were recently exposed as fakes.

What prompted me to post was this quote from one of the authors who has been exposed as a fabricator (fabricatrix?), "It is not my true story but it is my reality, my way of surviving" (emphasis added).

This kind of psychobabble makes me a bit crazy. I got a news for you, crazy Belgian lady: there is no "my" reality, no "your" reality, no "his" reality. There is only REALITY. Punto. End of story. This is deconstructionist crap worthy of Jacques Derrida. (Figures a Frenchman would concoct this pablum!)

At the risk of sounding sexist, it's usually women one hears talking like this. And it's just plain silly. And we should all do our part to discourage it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I know this is wrong of me

There is a great German word, schadenfreude. I am not going to consult a dictionary, but I believe a good working definition of schadenfreude is "happiness at the misfortune of others".

Let me say straight off that I know that schadenfreude is unhealthy and probably morally wrong. I mean, what does it say about someone who derives pleasure from the suffering of others?

Which brings me to New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.

I just got a CNN Breaking News e-mail alert that Spitzer is being investigated for meeting with a prostitute. According to CNN, Spitzer has apologized to his wife, his family and the public. In politics-ese that means, "He did it."

I couldn't be happier. Eliot Spitzer is a moralizing git who loves nothing better than to use the coercive power of government to beat others over the head with his vision of how they should live their lives.

Recall that it was Eliot Spitzer - and not the shareholders of the New York Stock Exchange - that decided that the retirement package awarded to outgoing chairman Richard Grasso was too much.

He seems to have a penchant for going after the powerful and wealthy in society (even though he himself is a member of that group, having grown up in the wealthy Riverdale section of the Bronx and attended Princeton and Harvard Law).

He has pursued numerous investigations of corporations, even when they were not strictly within his jurisdiction (read he was grandstanding). In 2005 the president of the US Chamber of Commerce said of Spitzer's approach as New York Attorney General, "[his is] the most egregious and unacceptable form of intimidation we've seen in this country in modern times".

The real icing on this cake as far as I am concerned is that hopefully this will kill any (and I am sure he has them) ambitions Spitzer may have for national office.

Oh, how the mighty are falling!

A bit of levity from my friend Nick Keck

My friend Nick Keck sent out the following little quiz to determine what kind of sports car the respondent is:

Here's my result. (And, before you ask, yes, I answered the questions honestly.)

I'm a Porsche 911!

You have a classic style, but you're up-to-date with the latest technology. You're ambitious, competitive, and you love to win. Performance, precision, and prestige - you're one of the elite,and you know it.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Monday, March 03, 2008

This really ticks me off

Check out this article on the Washington Post's website. "Saturday Night Live" is taken to task. What was their offense, you ask? They picked a white cast member to play Barack Obama.

I don't like the fact that too many reporters and politicians use race as a convenient brick bat with which to beat their enemies. I think most of America is tired of it, too. Witness the high negatives of black leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Shartpon.

I thought Obama was the candidate who "transcends race". If that is the case, why does it matter the race of the actor who portrays him? Also, Obama is half black. What is the other half? Blue?

Let's consider the question of who should play Obama from a practical standpoint. Here is a link to the cast members' bios. Look at the photos of the cast members. They have one black male cast member: Kenan Thompson (of Nickelodeon's "Kenan and Kel"). Not only is Thompson considerably darker than [the half white] Obama, he is also considerably heavier and at 5'8" tall almost half a foot shorter than Obama. In short, he looks nothing like Barack Obama. In contrast, Fred Armisen, the cast member who was chosen to play Obama, looks considerably more like the candidate.

The article reprints several criticisms of other columnists for SNL's move. When they do address the issue of Thompson's lack of resemblance to Obama, this is only done so as to highlight the dearth of black cast members on SNL.

Oh, of course.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

An oldie but a goodie

It's a lazy Sunday afternoon and I am on the couch with the greatest movie of all time, "Lawrence of Arabia". I am catching up on e-mail and came across this. This joke has been making the rounds of e-mail servers in the US for some time now, but it's a good one.

(And as tempting as it might be to want to give credence to this story, remember that no self-respecting Marine would be caught dead at Berkeley.)

A United States Marine was attending some college courses at UC Berkeley between assignments. He had already completed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the courses had a liberal professor who was an avowed atheist and a member of the ACLU.

One day the professor shocked the class when he came in, looked to the ceiling and flatly stated, "God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I'll give you exactly 15 minutes." The lecture room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop.

Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, "Here I am God. I'm still waiting."

It got down to the last couple of minutes when the Marine got out of his chair, went up to the professor, and cold-cocked him, knocking him off the platform. The professor was out cold. The Marine went back to his seat and sat there, silently. The other students were shocked and stunned and sat there looking on in silence.

The professor eventually came to, noticeably shaken, looked at the Marine and asked, "What the heck is the matter with you? Why did you do that?" The Marine calmly replied, "God was too busy today protecting America's soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid stuff and act like an idiot. So, He sent me."