ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Saturday, March 04, 2006

"Drive-By Media"

I was listening to Rush Limbaugh at work the other day, and he said something that caught my attention. He described what is going on with MSM as "drive by media." The more I thought about that, the more I came to agree with his assessment.

His thinking was sparked by an article by Dan Henninger in the WSJ. Henninger asked whether or not the Washington press corps had gone crazy with its coverage of the Bush administration. Nothing is out of bounds or too ridiculous these days. The press just continues to snipe at the president day after day after day. And they seem to think that is a just fine thng to do.

I have noticed that I have not had much to say of late and as a result I have not been doing much posting either here or at California Conservative where I am also contributing writer. I think I have a pretty good idea why: I've let the MSM get under my skin.

I have let the drive-by media, the information terrorists, shake my morale. That's what terrorists do. They grind people down with unrelenting, in this case, terrible and slanted news. The object is to get the other side to give up like the British in Ireland, the Americans in Vietnam. It is not that the objects of the terrorism are defeated, it is that they finally wear down and go away.

The media just keeps sniping away no matter what the administration does. They have even tried to make the nuclear technology deal Bush worked out with India look like something nefarious. They focus on the lunatics in the street in Pakistan rather than the president's gumption in going there. Any news about Bush in Afghanistan?

So, enough already.

Time to get back in the saddle.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Friday, March 03, 2006

Real Life Horror Can't be Turned Into Movie

From the Beeb...

Cannibal film banned in Germany
A German court has banned the screening of a film based on the case of self-confessed cannibal Armin Meiwes.

The state court in Kassel upheld a complaint from Meiwes, 44, against the film Rohtenburg, which was due for release in Germany on 9 March.

The court ruled that Meiwes' rights as an individual outweighed artistic freedom and that he should not become the object of a horror film.

Meiwes, jailed for eight-and-a-half years in 2004, is facing a retrial.

He admitted that in March 2001 he killed a 43-year-old man and partially ate him. He was jailed for manslaughter.

Meiwes says he simply carried out a willing victim's instructions.

But last year, an appeal court ordered a retrial after state prosecutors argued Meiwes was guilty of murder.

If found guilty, Meiwes could face a life sentence.

Meiwes, a computer technician, killed and ate Bernd Juergen Brandes after posting an advert on the internet asking for a willing victim in 2001.

The film Rohtenburg, directed by Martin Weisz, stars Thomas Kretschmann in the leading role.

Well, we must be sensitive to the desires and individual rights of a psychopathic killer, mustn't we? I mean, if we can't protect his right to not have his real life horror scenario dramatized into a fictional horror movie, who will be next? slippery slope and all that, I'll tell you...

In case you don't recall, this is the Kraut that put out a classified ad for someone who'd be willing to be his dinner - literally. Several people answered, but many asked him to stop before he went too far - and he did. The last guy kept egging him on, as Meiwes began to cut away the guys body parts and put them in stews & such... while the guy was alive. Meiwes filmed the whole process - and if I recall, submitted much of the tapes as evidence that the victim was a willing participant. So, the guy can shoot his own horror movie for his own personal twisted purposes, but no one else can make a horror movie out of the concept.

Oh, and I'd like to point out that this is the SECOND news story today which prominently featured single sentence paragraphs. It's almost as if they've given up on the concept of tying their ideas together into a coherent whole.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

MO House Resolution Gets Immanentized

King of the Open Thread (aka Atrios at Eschaton Blog) links to this article by KMOV TV here in St Louis (CBS affiliate):

State bill proposes Christianity be Missouri’s official religion
12:28 AM CST on Friday, March 3, 2006

By John Mills, News 4

Missouri legislators in Jefferson City considered a bill that would name Christianity the state's official "majority" religion.

House Concurrent Resolution 13 has is pending in the state legislature.

Many Missouri residents had not heard about the bill until Thursday.

Karen Aroesty of the Anti-defamation league, along with other watch-groups, began a letter writing and email campaign to stop the resolution.

The resolution would recognize "a Christian god," and it would not protect minority religions, but "protect the majority's right to express their religious beliefs.

The resolution also recognizes that, "a greater power exists," and only Christianity receives what the resolution calls, "justified recognition."

State representative David Sater of Cassville in southwestern Missouri, sponsored the resolution, but he has refused to talk about it on camera or over the phone.

KMOV also contacted Gov. Matt Blunt's office to see where he stands on the resolution, but he has yet to respond.

Now, KMOV and Atrios/Eschaton/Lord of the Open Thread don't link to the actual Missouri House Resolution... nor do they provide a link. After about 2 minutes, I was able to locate the pending resolution and the wording of the resolution is much different than how it is described by KMOV and Atrios.

Note that KMOV said that the resolution says that only Christianity received "justified recognition." No where in the resolution do the words "justified recognition" appear. If they are quoting someone or some source other than the resolution, they should reference the source.

Here is the text in full:
House Concurrent Resolution No. 13


Whereas, our forefathers of this great nation of the United States recognized a Christian God and used the principles afforded to us by Him as the founding principles of our nation; and

Whereas, as citizens of this great nation, we the majority also wish to exercise our constitutional right to acknowledge our Creator and give thanks for the many gifts provided by Him; and

Whereas, as elected officials we should protect the majority's right to express their religious beliefs while showing respect for those who object; and

Whereas, we wish to continue the wisdom imparted in the Constitution of the United States of America by the founding fathers; and

Whereas, we as elected officials recognize that a Greater Power exists above and beyond the institutions of mankind:

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the members of the House of Representatives of the Ninety-third General Assembly, Second Regular Session, the Senate concurring therein, that we stand with the majority of our constituents and exercise the common sense that voluntary prayer in public schools and religious displays on public property are not a coalition of church and state, but rather the justified recognition of the positive role that Christianity has played in this great nation of ours, the United States of America.
Emphasis mine...

A couple of things:
  1. Apparently, KMOV's standards on writing is that there is no such thing as a two-sentence paragraph. Meanwhile, Atrios' writing standards are true to form (no lengthy commentary provided - that's left up to the commenters).
  2. This is a resolution, not a bill... resolutions are unbinding and typically filled with idiotic things
  3. I'm against this resolution as written. Strike the first "Whereas" and I'd consider it.
It's clear that the purpose of this resolution isn't the establishment of Christianity as an official religion of the State of Missouri... rather, its purpose is to express the sentiment of the Missouri House that voluntary prayer in schools and religious displays on public property should be allowed. Keep in mind that this is NOT a bill... it's a resolution.

Are KMOV and Atrios (by extension) being disingenuous? Could they (and should they) have provided the full text of the resolution to their readers?

Is this the "Taliban wing of the Missouri Republican party imposing its will on the people?

See these posts by other nutters that demonstrate the problem of not researching what the hell you're talking about:Kudos to Abnormal Interests, who actually provides the text of the resolution, provides appropriate contexts, and (like me) comes out against the resolution (although from a different angle).

There has been much talk about bloggers being simple copy/pasters and whining about issues... Well, the "progessives" in the blogosphere (except for Abnormal Interests) have all done just that.

Blogger Scott Paeth points out that the words "justified recognition" do appear in the resolution and I'd like to thank him for pointing that out. Apparently, I must've had a typo when I did a search. However, I would like to point out the context of what's in the resolution vs. how KMOV (and Atrios by extension) portrayed it.

From KMOV (and Atrios):
[...] only Christianity receives [...] "justified recognition.

The meaning implied is that only Christianity can justifiably be recognized (to the exclusion of other religions)

Here is what is in the actual resolution (helpfully pointed out by Paeth):
[...] justified recognition of the positive role that Christianity has played in this great nation of ours

The clear meaning is that the positive role of Christianity in our country is being recognized. Not the religion, but its positive effects throughout American history.

Of course, if your view of religion (and Christianity in particular) is negative, I can see how you might object to such language. You'd be wrong, but I can see how you might object.


And, from my response to Scott Paeth's post (which I would say was somewhat even-handed, so perhaps the term "nutter" doesn't apply to him - I apologize to him for lumping him in with Atrios, who were quick to claim that the State of Missouri was baby-steps away from a theocracy or that this was some Rovian plot for 2006 midterms.):
It's clear that this non-binding resolution is in response to increased pressure on state & local governments to remove religious displays from public property, disallow prayers before football games, graduations, etc... not by school administrators, but by students themselves.

[The Florida town that allowed Hanukkah displays on public property, but prohibited Christian symbols comes to mind...]

The thrust of my post was that Atrios (true to form) did not do any legwork to even find the text of the resolution, and simply implied that the state of MO is moving toward theocracy. He relied on KMOV to frame the resolution... and both could have served their readers better.

Perhaps in the future, you'll be more careful [with] what little "content" Atrios provides.

If only I could get payola for posting Open Threads & copying/pasting!

***UPDATE 2***
This is starting to get traction in the blogosphere, apparently. A Technorati search reveals a lot of ill-informed opinions about the matter...with 171 posts as of 5pm EST on Sunday.

I seem to recall something about a lie traveling half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes...


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The "Progressives" & their failures in the Red States

As long as the "progressives" continue to look at the Midwest as some alien landscape (in addition to this post, check out this book), they're unlikely to get traction...

The Homo Movie

I saw this CNN piece yesterday and I was floored:

This is a year when smaller, more independent films are being recognized in a big way, films with controversial theme, political themes, gay or transgender themes, but outside of Hollywood are the Oscars and the films that are honoring. Are they relevant to middle America? Well, I took a trip to Kansas to find out.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Far from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood lies Lebanon, Kansas, population 250 people, median age 52. A place where three houses recently sold for a grand total of $11,000 on eBay.

Many have asked the question, is Hollywood out of touch with middle America? What better place to find out than the middle of America. This is the geographic center of the continental United States in Lebanon, Kansas.

RANDY MAUS, LEBANON RESIDENT: Out here, at least in rural America where you could say it's the Bible belt, we're still looking for movies that have creative substance and a storyline.

ANDERSON: Randy Maus is a Lebanon transplant from the Boston area. He, along with other Lebanon residence, including the ladies in the Methodist Church bell choir, aren't exactly thrilled with the films the Oscars are honoring.

Has anybody seen "Brokeback Mountain?"


ANDERSON: Anybody want to see it?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just not interested in all the sex and skin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just not my style of life.

ANDERSON: What kind of movies do you want Hollywood to make?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about "The Sound of Music" and some of those?

LADIES: Right. Right.

ANDERSON: We stopped by the Lebanon hotspot, Ladow's Market, where one local told us Hollywood just can't relate to a farming way of life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've never been back in here to know what it's like to actually have to make a living doing this.

ANDERSON: The closest theater is 12 miles away in Smith Center, Kansas. One movie theater, one film shown per week, and none of the movies nominated for best picture have played here.

Quelle Horreur!

And I think Atrios/Eschaton/King of the Open Thread should be ashamed of his homophobic title for the post. If that's how he characterizes the movie as a "progressive," what kind of example is he to the down-to-earth folks in Lebanon, KS? (I assume he's not paraphrasing the residents of Kansas, since none of them even came close to using that adjective.)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Story about Unintended Consequences

A Story about Unintended Consequences

The Wall Street Journal has this great (but tragic) story about how GM was hoodwinked back in 1984 into paying workers to do nothing (subscription required).

Idle Hands
Detroit's Symbol of Dysfunction:
Paying Employees Not to Work Cost Tops $1.4 Billion a Year As Layoffs Fill 'Jobs Bank';
A Dismal Facility in Flint
Mr. Mellon Takes a Long Nap
March 1, 2006

FLINT, Mich. -- In his 34 years working for General Motors Corp., one of Jerry Mellon's toughest assignments came this January. He spent a week in what workers call the "rubber room."

The room is a windowless old storage shed for engine parts. It is filled with long tables, Mr. Mellon says, and has space for about 400 employees. They must arrive at 6 a.m. each day and stay until 2:30 p.m., with 45 minutes off for lunch. A supervisor roams the aisles, signing people out when they want to use the bathroom.

Their job: to do nothing.

This is the "Jobs Bank," a two-decade-old program under which nearly 15,000 auto workers continue to get paid after their companies stop needing them. To earn wages and benefits that often top $100,000 a year, the workers must perform some company-approved activity. Many do volunteer jobs or go back to school. The rest must clock time in the rubber room or something like it.

It is called the rubber room, Mr. Mellon says, because "a few days in there makes you go crazy."

The Jobs Bank at GM and other U.S. auto companies including Ford Motor Co. is likely to cost around $1.4 billion to $2 billion this year. The programs, which are up for renewal next year when union contracts expire, have become a symbol of why Detroit struggles even as Japanese auto makers with big U.S. operations prosper.

While GM often blames "legacy costs" such as retiree health care and pensions for its troubles, its Job Bank shows that the company has inflicted some wounds on itself. Documents show that GM itself helped originate the Jobs Bank idea in 1984 and agreed to expand it in 1990, seeing it as a stopgap until times got better and workers could go back to the factories.
About 7,500 GM workers are now in the Jobs Bank, more than double the figure a year ago. The bank added 2,100 workers last month when the company closed a truck-assembly plant in Oklahoma City. Each person costs GM around $100,000 to $130,000 in wages and benefits, according to internal union and company figures, meaning GM's total cost this year is likely to be around $750 million to $900 million.

One way employees in the Jobs Bank can fulfill their requirements is to attend eight- or 12-week classes offered by GM. In these classes, Mr. Mellon has studied crossword puzzles, watched Civil War movies and learned about "manmade marvels like the Brooklyn Bridge," he says. One class taught him how to play Trivial Pursuit.
Every day for a week Mr. Mellon got up at about 4:30 a.m. to make the 45-minute commute to the rubber room from his home in Otisville, Mich. At first he read the newspaper or magazines lying around, such as Reader's Digest. He talked some with acquaintances. After conversation dried up, he says he spent hours staring at the wall, hoping time would move faster.
Battling the new competition, GM developed a plan to spend $24 billion improving factory automation and copying Japan's efficient production methods. "Our workers were frightened -- scared, of course, of robots," says former UAW President Douglas Fraser, who retired from the union in 1982 and continues to teach labor history.

That was the backdrop when the UAW contract at GM came up for renewal in 1984. Papers in the Walter Reuther Library at Detroit's Wayne State University, an archive of labor materials named for the famed UAW leader, document what happened next. At about 4 p.m. on Aug. 8, 1984, GM put forward a one-paragraph memo proposing the creation of an "employee-development bank." The idea was to help train or find jobs for senior UAW employees who would "otherwise be permanently laid off" because of better technology or higher productivity.

Once the idea was on the table, GM agreed to expand it as the UAW ratcheted up pressure for a deal. A strike at a few locals was gradually spreading to engulf more than half the company. GM's first proposals, noted in documents from early September 1984, described a three-year program for employees with 10 years of experience costing no more than $500 million in total. The union sent back a demand that the program cover workers with six years on the job, run for six years and cost as much as $1 billion. GM agreed, and later said even one-year workers could join.

Reaching a Deal

The two sides reached a deal to end the strike on Sept. 21, 1984. The UAW told its workers their jobs were "more secure than ever in history." The UAW view, which continues to this day, was that the Jobs Bank would force GM and other auto makers to find work for union members because no company would keep paying people not to work.

Ford made a similar deal shortly afterward. A former Ford executive in labor relations, John Slosar, recalls: "We just focused on matching each other back then, not 'Hey, this will disadvantage us to the Asian auto makers.' "

Letters between GM Vice President Alfred S. Warren and the union show GM was confident it could afford the Jobs Bank and fight off its Japanese rivals because it had new versions of the Pontiac Grand Am and Buick Riviera in the works as well as plans to introduce the Saturn line of cars.

Most of these products fell short of their targets, however, while the Jobs Bank got bigger and more expensive. When the six-year pact expired in 1990, GM and other auto makers expanded it to include not only those workers affected by technology improvements but also those affected by slow sales. GM boosted funding to $1.7 billion for three years.

This is the worst possible outcome for both GM (and the other automakers) AND the workers that get sent to the "Rubber Room." In addition to being costly to GM, it's demeaning to the workers. In addition, they could be doing more productive tasks for society... instead, they're driving a meaningless commute to sit on their duffs all day.

This also is an example of why GM and Ford are in a death spiral. It's clear that even in the 1980s, as they were getting their clocks cleaned by foreign automakers, that management did not know the extent of the problem or its effects on the strategic direction of the company. To agree to create a job bank and justify it because of the new Grand Prix model that's going to be released is just idiocy. The expansion of the Job Bank in the 90s demonstrates again that years after they were established, management still did not have any strategic vision for the company. No doubt the UAW thought they had done a bang-up job in negotiating when they got the Job Bank established. But, little did they know that without GM, their union members would suffer - and suffer they will.

With businessmen like these, it's no wonder that our auto industry is in shambles. It's sad to see that many that head to the Job Bank every day don't take advantage of the pay and the time to actually better themselves and obtain skills that might be useful in today's economy. They are a drain on our economy...

Fortunately for me, I'm not an investor in any of these companies. If I were, I'd be calling for an immediate closure to the Job Bank or, at a minimum, actually take advantage of the human capital that is tied up there to improve my business through retraining.

Here's a story from October 17th, 2005 on the Job Bank program in the Detroit News Auto Insider.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Unreasonable Limits on Abortion

I mean, come on... womyn should not be forced to wait 24 hours for a medical procedure involving the removal of a lump of tissue from their body.

24-hour wait for abortion is upheld in Missouri
By Matt Franck
Tuesday, Feb. 28 2006

The law
The measure, which passed in 2003, requires doctors to mention any "physical,
psychological or situational" risk factor associated with an abortion. It also
requires a 24-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion.

The ruling
The Missouri Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the waiting period is
constitutional and that doctors may use their own judgment to decide what risk
factors to discuss with a patient.


The Missouri Supreme Court upheld on Tuesday a state law requiring women to
wait 24 hours for an abortion, dismissing claims that the statute is too vague
for physicians to interpret.
The continued disagreement centers on exactly what doctors must discuss with
patients who are waiting for an abortion. The 2003 law requires doctors to
mention any "physical, psychological or situational" risk factors associated
with the procedure.

Lawyers for Planned Parenthood have argued that the law's requirements are
vague, making it necessary for doctors to discuss an "infinite array" of issues
to avoid being prosecuted.

But the Missouri high court rejected that assertion in its ruling, saying the
law lets a doctor "exercise his or her professional judgment" in deciding what
risk factors to discuss.

The ruling essentially shifts the legal battle to federal court, which is still
considering whether the law provides clear directives to doctors.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright ruled that until the matter can
be resolved, portions of the law should be placed on hold. Wright did, however,
allow the 24-hour waiting period to be enforced.
Alison Gee of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region said that without that
clarification, doctors have been fearful that they would be unable to satisfy
every requirement of the statute.

But Gee said she is disappointed that the 24-hour waiting period was upheld.
She said such a wait places "barriers in the way of women who are seeking a
legal medical service."

In ruling in favor of a 24-hour waiting period, the court stated that the
provision does not violate the Missouri Constitution. The Missouri high court
also cited a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld a similar Pennsylvania

The Missouri law passed in September 2003 after the Legislature overrode a veto
by then-Gov. Bob Holden. Since that time, the law has bounced around the
courts. For most of the past two years, judges have ruled that the law could
not be enforced.


Some day, the sheeple in this country will wake up and realize that they're living in a fascist state.

Oh, and speaking of waiting periods, is there any chance that we can extend the current 7-day waiting period to 14 days for gun purchases? Even some Constitutional rights (that are clearly spelled out) require restrictions.

(Objections to these types of reasonable restrictions on abortion are what demonstrates the extremist positions of the "progressives.")

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bhagwati & Why I'm Long on the Anglosphere

Jagdish Bhagwati has this excellent article as to why you should invest in Indian companies vs. Chinese ones... link requires subscription, get one!

As long as India was mired in policies that produced little growth, the poor had seen few benefits and their numbers had increased, with the consequence that the poor kept voting in the ruling Congress Party because they regarded their poverty fatalistically -- a phenomenon I have called, on these pages, the "non-revolution of falling expectations." Once the reforms that the left likes to call "neoliberal" -- in contrast to their prescriptions which might, in riposte, be called "neanderthal" -- took root, poverty declined; and the poor, who had improved their incomes, began to ask for more, precipitating a "revolution of perceived possibilities" (or a "revolution of rising expectations").

These aspirations had little to do with inequality between rural and urban areas; it was almost entirely self-referential: If I had become less poor, then I believed that I could do even better if I elected a government that promised me more. India's democracy, with its nearly three million NGOs, opposition parties and a functioning judiciary, translated these aroused aspirations into politically effective demand, resulting in the loss of elections by nearly all incumbent state governments.

By contrast, China's greater economic success has led to increased social protests in the rural areas; we hear constantly of "land grabs" leading to disruptive demonstrations. A concerned Chinese government has translated these protests into the erroneous view that they are primarily the result of rural-urban inequality. But, this explanation is a witless repetition of the mistaken focus on inequality as the prime mover in political reaction. In China's case, it is evident that if a commissar's cronies grab your land, a phenomenon that may reflect also the fact that increased prosperity makes land more valuable to grab, there is no redress because there are hardly any NGOs, no opposition parties, no free press and no independent judiciary. So you turn to the streets. The Chinese rulers cannot face up to the fact that their antidemocratic structures are at the heart of the problem of increasing rural unrest; they cling to the self-serving view that economic inequality is the cause.

India's democracy and the institutions that go with it give her the edge in long-term stability and sustainable growth, relative to authoritarian China. Economic and political freedoms make a powerful cocktail: President Bush, who values democracy and economic freedom (in the sense of a judicious use of markets and embrace of freer trade), will find in India's experience a confirmation of the fundamental soundness of this approach to development.

Mr. Bhagwati, University Professor of Economics and Law at Columbia and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is author of "In Defense of Globalization" (Oxford, 2004).

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

USAToday: Feb 27

Yes, I'm traveling this week, meaning that I'm reading USAToday. Here are a few articles from yesterday which I wanted to highlight, but didn't get an opportunity to because of limited connectivity.

If it moves within your jurisdiction, tax it!

Tax on business travelers?
State levies on visiting athletes, telecommuters suggest more to come.

Even big golf fans might not have heard of Sue Ginter. Her $240,577 over eight years puts her 305th on the LPGA tour's list of career winnings. That hardly makes her a household name. In fact, at an average of $30,000 a year, it barely pays the bills.

But she is well known to state tax collectors who've been fighting over her income as if she were superstar Annika Sorenstam. Ginter has paid income taxes to as many as seven states in a single year as she competes in tournaments around the USA.

Ginter is just one example of the absurd levels that about 20 states and some cities are reaching to collect taxes from people who are just passing through. It's also a warning to business travelers, some of whom might be next on the tax man's list.

Ginter pays what are informally known as “jock taxes” — an extension of commuter taxes to visiting athletes and entertainers. They were originally sold as a way to get money from mega-wealthy stars, whose income was high and whose travel schedules were transparent. But time and technology have enabled states and cities to reach deeper, and so they are.

New York and Massachusetts, for instance, are demanding travel records from corporate executives.

Some states are even going after individuals and businesses that never set foot within their borders. New York has a law, upheld last year by its highest court, that allows it to tax telecommuters as if they lived there. Several other states are eying “economic nexus” laws that would tax out-of-state businesses if they have customers in state.

These types of taxes allow states to grab ever larger shares of their budgets from people with no vote — and no way of complaining about the paper work they face. There's an expression for this: taxation without representation.

USAToday then goes on to give bullets on why this isn't a good idea... I've got one - It's WRONG!!! If the telecommunication law sn't countered, this could be a death knell to our economy. I've got a co-worker who moved to Phoenix instead of working in Manhattan purely because of the cost of living. He still works on Eastern time, which means that he has some very early mornings. If both New York and Arizona were able to tax him, he would lose any benefit of living where he chooses to.

I'm happy that USAToday is with me on this one...


This article about the Dubai Ports World deal being delayed and how it is being handled by the UAE press is informative. It describes how the UAE is more about business than politics. But I loved these closing lines... it's important to note that Dubai is the Vegas of the Middle East... "Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy" (but without the democracy).
It's a city based on commerce. “Politics doesn't interest me,” says Mohaned Dawooud, 36, a Syrian executive at Dubai Holding Company, who was enjoying the nightlife Saturday. Alcohol consumption is legal here, unlike in many Arab and Muslim countries.

“I want to have a good job, beef up my bank account, marry a pretty wife and have pretty children,” he says. “That's it.”

But in the side streets, away from the rumbling Ferraris and bumping discos, is an underclass of foreigners eking out a living in poverty. Bukhash estimates that foreigners make up about 80% of the city's population.

Some expatriate laborers have a different view of the ports dispute.

Efforts to kill the deal show “America's racism towards Arabs and Muslims in general,” says Yamin Suwedan, 34, a Syrian.

Where have I heard references to American discrimination / racism against Arabs before? Oh, right.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, February 27, 2006

Education & Standards

I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal (requires subscription). It basically contends that NCLB may be receiving pressure to alter the way it measures progress and academic achievement.

Basic Instincts
February 27, 2006

U.S. students lag behind their peers in other modern nations -- and the gap widens dramatically as their grade levels rise. Our high school pupils (and graduates) are miles from where they need to be to assure them and our country a secure future in the highly competitive global economy. Hence, any serious effort at education reform hinges on our setting world-class standards, then candidly tracking performance in relation to those standards. Even when gains are slender and results disappointing, we need the plain truth. Which is why recent attempts by federal and state governments to sugarcoat the performance of students is so alarming.

Our most rigorous standards are those of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a federally funded testing program that began in 1969. At a time when many states, responding to the accountability prods of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, are embracing low performance norms for their students -- and pumping out misleading information about how many youngsters are "proficient" and how many schools are making "adequate yearly progress" -- NAEP functions as an indispensable external benchmark. It unblinkingly reported that only 29% of eighth grade public school pupils were "proficient" in math and reading in 2005. It also showed starkly that the results reported by many states are far too rosy. Observe (in the adjacent chart) the contrasts between what states claimed and what NAEP found.

Not surprisingly, NAEP's role as honest auditor makes state officials squirm. Since NCLB expects each state to set its own academic norms and choose its own tests, the temptation to dumb them down is irresistible; NAEP is the main antidote. Congress knew that in 2001 when, as part of No Child Left Behind, it required all states to take part in NAEP reading and math tests in grades four and eight. (Previously, state participation was voluntary.) Since 1988, NAEP's standards and policies have been set by the independent, bipartisan National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). In 1990, that body promulgated three achievement levels for reporting NAEP results. These it labeled "basic," "proficient" and "advanced."
The WSJ article contends that both states and NCLB champions are starting to dumb down the standards, seeking to only show achievement at the "basic" level.
Is No Child Left Behind corrupting NAEP? It's too soon to be sure. But it's clear that, for those in the Bush administration and on Capitol Hill whose own reputations hinge on the perceived success of NCLB, NAEP results now carry consequences, just as they do for states.

Just how demanding is "proficient" anyway? Here's how NAGB defined it for fourth grade math: "Fourth graders performing at the proficient level should be able to use whole numbers to estimate, compute, and determine whether results are reasonable. They should have a conceptual understanding of fractions and decimals; be able to solve real-world problems in all NAEP content areas; and use four-function calculators, rulers and geometric shapes appropriately." Is this too much to expect? Hardly. America's great education problem is that for years we settled for "basic skills" rather than true proficiency. The Bush administration does a disservice to the nation if it tells educators and state officials that "basic" is acceptable. You can be sure that our competitors aren't doing any such thing.

Some day, this will become a serious issue. However, hoping that state & federal bureaucrats will take the education of your child as serious as you is foolish. If the US is going to continue to lead the global economy (not a sure thing in my opinion), our educational system has got to change.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, February 26, 2006

For Ashley

All I have to say is "ABJG"

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler


Stupid Country (that apparently thinks we're stupid) seriously asks whether articles of impeachment are necessary.... and points to...


Ramsey [haahaahaahaa] Clark's ImpeachBush.Org...

hahaha...sorry, that's just hilarious. I've been aware of the site for some time, but didn't think that anyone actually took it seriously!!!

Even StupidCountry recognizes that Ramsey is a nutjob... or, to put it more diplomatically, "out there":

Draft Articles of Impeachment

So is there a real case for impeaching George W. Bush? To some of us it seems there is, and that the only things standing in the way of impeachment are the Republican Majority in the House and failure of will among the Democrats. John Conyers' resolution demanding a full investigation of the NSA spying program and consideration of impeachment grounds now has 27 co-sponsors -- a small minority including some decided flakes, but a start.

I've been wondering whether someone might draft Articles of Impeachment, for consideration and discussion, and it turns out that former Attorney General Ramsey Clark has taken a whack at it. Just to invite discussion, I have snarfed these articles from (with many thanks). Clark gets pretty far out there at times, but he surely has the credentials to draft a straw man such as this. Have at it.

Ramsey has been pushing impeachment for quite some time, so I'm not sure why his "movement" would all of a suddent take off. I know, the "corporate" media is unwilling to spread his rational message to the proletariat... how can I be so blind?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Identity Politics and Isolationism

Saw this today at NRO's The Corner:


Mass immigration has all kinds of harmful effects, from bigger government to security vulnerabilities to slowing mechanization in low-tech industries. But perhaps most dangerous is that its the fuel that allows white nationalism to spread, helping deconstruct the American nation. There's a piece in today's Post on a white nationalist conference near DC -- most hilarious is the left's fulminating over it, hilarious because white nationalism just the logical corrollary of multiculturalism ("identity politics for white people," as Ramesh wrote in a slightly different context). Now, some conservatives have claimed that immigration isn't the problem, and the solution is to continue mass immigration but get rid of multiculturalism (Ron Unz argued just that, here, though last time I talked with him, his views on immigration seemed to be changing). That may make sense in an undergraduate bull session, but in the real world, multiculturalism and mass immigration are inseparable, and the spread of white-identity politics can only be prevented by slowing immigration, as Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain argued in The New White Nationalism in America.

While I agree with Ramesh that white nationalism is just a natural extension of the Left's multiculturalism, I think it's just as destructive. Mass immigration and multiculturalism are not inseparable (as Krikorian asserts)... nor can the rise in white-identity politics only be halted by slowing immigration. Rather, recognizing that there is an American experience which transcends the color of one's skin or one's cultural heritage is the best way to stop the balkanization of America. America is a shining city on the hill and it is a beacon to people from around the world. Refusing to let others experience the joy that is America is the best way to reinforce white-identity politics... Exposure to people of other cultures, ethnicities, and skin color who shrae the exact same goals and motivations breaks down barriers. What better way to shatter these idiotic sentiments than to demonstrate that an Indian from Bombay has the same dreams and aspirations (with, dare I say, more of a determination to make them a reality?) as the white bread country-boy down the street?

The multiculturalist aims of the Left are destructive... that is clear, since it creates clear boundaries between groups on racial and ethnic criteria. But so is the establishment of a fortress America that Krikorian seems to promote.

Let's focus on eliminating the destructive identity politics of the Left, not the immigrants that are eager to become a part of the great American experience.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler