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

Friday, June 27, 2008

Keith Olbermann is a Moron

Keith Olbermann called Justice Scalia the Worst Person in the World last night - apparently Keith is now a legal scholar. Skip ahead to approx 2:20 in the video:

Unfortunately for Keith, Scalia ridiculued the very point that Keith raises in the piece, namely that the 2nd Amendment only refers to weapons in existence at the time of the Bill of Rights (the flintlock, Chinese hand cannon, etc, etc). If only Keith had taken the time to read the first few paragraphs of the majority opinion, he might not have made a fool of himself.

From Page 8 of the majority opinion:

Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, e.g., Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U. S. 844, 849 (1997), and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, e.g., Kyllo v. United States, 533 U. S. 27, 35–36 (2001), the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding..
I'm sure Keith would say that the First Amendment is only intended to apply to the pamphlet, newspaper, etc and cannot be extended to cover the internet, YouTube, radio, or satellite, cable, or over-the-air television.

What a complete moron.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Baby Alex Parody

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn


Your Co-Conspirator,

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Zimbabwe Is Doomed

We've been watching events in Zimbabwe for some time, especially the coverage provided by bloggers over at Sokwanele. Robert Mugabe's economic policies, the resulting hyperinflation and mass displacement and starvation, and the brutality demonstrated by his regime during the elections have been so predictable.

Genocide Watch has now elevated Zimbabwe to Stage 6, which is the stage preceding mass political murder.

The UN recently issued the following statement:

“The Security Council condemns the campaign of violence against the political opposition ahead of the second round of the Presidential elections scheduled for 27 June, which has resulted in the killing of scores of opposition activists and other Zimbabweans and the beating and displacement of thousands of people, including many women and children.

“The Security Council further condemns the actions of the Government of Zimbabwe that have denied its political opponents the right to campaign freely, and calls upon the Government of Zimbabwe to stop the violence, to cease political intimidation, to end the restrictions on the right of assembly and to release the political leaders who have been detained. The Council urges the international monitors and observers to remain in Zimbabwe while the crisis continues.

“The Security Council regrets that the campaign of violence and the restrictions on the political opposition have made it impossible for a free and fair election to take place on 27 June. The Council further considers that, to be legitimate, any government of Zimbabwe must take account of the interests of all its citizens. The Council notes that the results of the 29 March 2008 elections must be respected.

“The Security Council expresses its concern over the impact of the situation in Zimbabwe on the wider region. The Council welcomes the recent international efforts, including those of SADC leaders and particularly President Mbeki. The Security Council calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to cooperate fully with all efforts, including through the UN, aimed at finding a peaceful way forward, through dialogue between the parties, that allows a legitimate government to be formed that reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people.

“The Security Council further expresses its concern at the grave humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe and condemns the suspension by the Government of Zimbabwe of the operations of humanitarian organizations, which has directly affected one and a half million people, including half a million children. The Council calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to immediately allow humanitarian organizations to resume their services.

“The Security Council will continue to monitor closely the situation and requests the Secretary-General to report on ongoing regional and international efforts to resolve the crisis.”

I'm sure that the MDC supporters who are being murdered, tortured, and starved can sleep comfortably tonight thanks to the strong stance by the U.N.

Pretty soon, "Save Zimbabwe" campaign will kick off, with bumper stickers appearning next to the Save Tibet on the bumpers of well-intentioned idiots across the land. George Clooney will host an all-star, celebrity gala and call for serious - SERIOUS!!! - action.

All while the nightmare that is Zimbabwe continues on...

More coverage on Zimbabwe over at the Wall Street Journal here and here.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sweden - Moving Away from One-Size-Fits-All Statist Education

Excellent article in a recent Economist about the success of Sweden's free market education system.

The Swedish model
Jun 12th 2008 | STOCKHOLM
From The Economist print edition

A Swedish firm has worked out how to make money running free schools

BIG-STATE, social-democratic Sweden seems an odd place to look for a free-market revolution. Yet that is what is under way in the country's schools. Reforms that came into force in 1994 allow pretty much anyone who satisfies basic standards to open a new school and take in children at the state's expense. The local municipality must pay the school what it would have spent educating each child itself—a sum of SKr48,000-70,000 ($8,000-12,000) a year, depending on the child's age and the school's location. Children must be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis—there must be no religious requirements or entrance exams. Nothing extra can be charged for, but making a profit is fine.

The reforms were controversial, especially within the Social Democratic Party, then in one of its rare spells in opposition. They would have been even more controversial had it been realised just how popular they would prove. In just 14 years the share of Swedish children educated privately has risen from a fraction of a percent to more than 10%.
Like IKEA, a giant Swedish furniture-maker, Kunskapsskolan gets its customers to do much of the work themselves. The vital tool, though, is not an Allen key but the Kunskapsporten (“Knowledge Portal”), a website containing the entire syllabus. Youngsters spend 15 minutes each week with a tutor, reviewing the past week's progress and agreeing on goals and a timetable for the next one. This will include classes and lectures, but also a great deal of independent or small-group study. The Kunskapsporten allows each student to work at his own level, and spend less or more time on each subject, depending on his strengths and weakness. Each subject is divided into 35 steps. Students who reach step 25 graduate with a pass; those who make it to step 30 or 35 gain, respectively, a merit or distinction.

Again like IKEA, no money is wasted on fancy surroundings. Kunskapsskolan Enskede, a school for 11- to 16-year-olds in a suburb of Stockholm, is a former office block into which classrooms, open-study spaces and two small lecture-theatres have been squeezed (pictured). It is pleasant, but basic and rather bare. It rents fields nearby for football and basketball, and, like other schools in the chain, sends pupils away to one of two specially built facilities for a week each term for home economics, woodwork and art, rather than providing costly, little-used facilities in the school.

Teachers update and add new material to the website during school holidays and get just seven weeks off each year, roughly the same as the average Swedish office worker. “We don't want teachers preparing lessons during term-time,” says Per Ledin, the company's boss. “Instead we steal that preparation time, and use it so they can spend more time with students.”

Many schools would be horrified to be likened to IKEA, but Mr Ledin goes one better. “We do not mind being compared to McDonald's,” he says. “If we're religious about anything, it's standardisation. We tell our teachers it is more important to do things the same way than to do them well.” He then broadens the analogy to hotels and airlines, which make money only if they are popular enough to maintain high occupancy rates.

One selling point that any parent of a monosyllabic teenager will appreciate is the amount of information they will receive. Each child's progress is reported each week in a logbook, and parents can follow what is being studied on the website. And the braver among them will be keen on the expectation that the children take responsibility for their own progress. “Our aim is that by the time students finish school, they can set their own learning goals,” says Christian Wetell, head teacher at Kunskapsskolan Enskede. “Three or four students in each year may not manage this, but most will.”

Performance monitoring is also important within the company: it tracks the performance of individual teachers to see which ones do best as personal tutors or as subject teachers. It offers bonuses to particularly successful teachers and is considering paying extra to good ones from successful schools who are willing to move to underperforming ones.
Lessons for politicians

Schooling is, in one respect, a very safe business: parents will always want their children educated and future demand is relatively easy to predict. So unsurprisingly the returns are solid, rather than stellar: Mr Ledin quotes an average return on capital of 5-7% a year. But like any business with a single customer, there are risks, too—and when that customer is the state, the biggest ones are political. If a future government, hostile to school choice, changed the rules, that would be the end of this nascent market.

Carl-Gustaf Stawström, the managing director of Sweden's Independent Schools Association, is sanguine. The school reforms are popular with parents, he says, and politicians know they meddle with them at their peril. More plausible would be a change to the rules so that independent schools had to match the methods and curriculum of state schools more closely, or perhaps even a ban on profits.

The latter sounds bad, says Mr Stawström, but would not really amount to much: companies could split themselves into non-profit schools and a profit-making body that supplies services, such as teaching materials and consultancy. And as for competing head-to-head with the state? “We have independent schools now that are sure they can compete on the same ground. They are just very good.”
This coming from a country that has been the leading light of socialized medicine for decades. It seems that the Left is always wanting to emulate the Europeans on the latest fad, but only if it involved increased involvement (in the form of control, spending, etc) by the Federal government.

It would be interesting to compare the Return on Investment (ROI) of these private school versus the ROI for the government run schools. It would also be interesting to compare teacher pay, professional growth, and competence between the two.

Make a profit AND have improved student (and teacher) performance? It's all so unbelievable - if you're a socialist who doesn't have a clue about how the free market works.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wait! I thought BushCo was responsible for lack of Iraq coverage!?

It seems that even the New York Times can't continue to push the lies that Jim Hightower is pushing. This story would appear to refute Hightower's claims that the reason the MSM isn't covering Iraq is because of military restrictions on reporters (despite Michael Yon's excellent, tip-of-the-spear reporting).

Reporters Say Networks Put Wars on Back Burner

Getting a story on the evening news isn’t easy for any correspondent. And for reporters in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is especially hard, according to Lara Logan, the chief foreign correspondent for CBS News. So she has devised a solution when she is talking to the network.

“Generally what I say is, ‘I’m holding the armor-piercing R.P.G.,’ ” she said last week in an appearance on “The Daily Show,” referring to the initials for rocket-propelled grenade. “ ‘It’s aimed at the bureau chief, and if you don’t put my story on the air, I’m going to pull the trigger.’ ”

Ms. Logan let a sly just-kidding smile sneak through as she spoke, but her point was serious. Five years into the war in Iraq and nearly seven years into the war in Afghanistan, getting news of the conflicts onto television is harder than ever.

“If I were to watch the news that you hear here in the United States, I would just blow my brains out because it would drive me nuts,” Ms. Logan said.

According to data compiled by Andrew Tyndall, a television consultant who monitors the three network evening newscasts, coverage of Iraq has been “massively scaled back this year.” Almost halfway into 2008, the three newscasts have shown 181 weekday minutes of Iraq coverage, compared with 1,157 minutes for all of 2007. The “CBS Evening News” has devoted the fewest minutes to Iraq, 51, versus 55 minutes on ABC’s “World News” and 74 minutes on “NBC Nightly News.” (The average evening newscast is 22 minutes long.)

CBS News no longer stations a single full-time correspondent in Iraq, where some 150,000 United States troops are deployed.
Interviews with executives and correspondents at television news networks suggested that while the CBS cutbacks are the most extensive to date in Baghdad, many journalists shared varying levels of frustration about placing war stories onto newscasts. “I’ve never met a journalist who hasn’t been frustrated about getting his or her stories on the air,” said Terry McCarthy, an ABC News correspondent in Baghdad.
Ms. Logan said she begged for months to be embedded with a group of Navy Seals, and when she came back with the story, a CBS producer said to her, “One guy in uniform looks like any other guy in a uniform.” In the follow-up phone interview, Ms. Logan said the producer no longer worked at CBS. And in both interviews, she emphasized that many journalists at CBS News are pushing for war coverage, specifically citing Jeff Fager, the executive producer of “60 Minutes.” CBS News won a Peabody Award last week for a “60 Minutes” report about a Marine charged in the killings at Haditha.

On “The Daily Show,” Ms. Logan echoed the comments of other journalists when she said that many Americans seem uninterested in the wars now. Mr. McCarthy said that when he is in the United States, bringing up Baghdad at a dinner party “is like a conversation killer.”

Why am I not surprised that the weight that is given to a story is determined by how well the topic is received in dinner party conversations in the insular bubble that is New York and D.C.?

I can just imagine:

"The story in Iraq must not be important, because when I brought it up to Buffy and Caroline at the dinner party last night, they started to roll their eyes and looked like they were about to fall asleep in their Foie gras!"

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Barry Obama - I agree that Osama should get more rights than Nazis

Excellent column in the NY Post on how the protections granted to Al-Qaeda terrorists under the recent Boumediene decision are greater than what Nazi leaders enjoyed after World War II.

It also points out how stupid Barack Obama is about history, reality, law, war, terror.... any number of subjects.


June 23, 2008 --

SPEAKING without a text in front of him, Barack Obama betrays a troubling lack of knowledge on important issues - such as the law and terrorism.

In his ABC interview last Monday, for example, Obama attacked the Bush approach on fighting terror. He claimed that, in the case of "the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in US prisons, incapacitated."

As an assistant US attorney, Andrew McCarthy prosecuted the perpetrators of the 1993 WTC attack. He calls Obama's statement "a remarkably ignorant account of the American experience with jihadism."

Writing for National Review Online, McCarthy notes: "While the government managed to prosecute many people responsible for the 1993 WTC bombing, many also escaped prosecution because of the limits on civilian criminal prosecution.

"Some who contributed to the attack, like Khalid Sheik Mohammed, continued to operate freely because they were beyond the system's capacity to apprehend. Abdul Rahman Yasin was released prematurely because there was not sufficient evidence to hold him - he fled to Iraq, where he was harbored for a decade (and has never been apprehended)."

Pointing to the later terrorist attacks on Americans and US assets, culminating in 9/11, McCarthy concludes that the law-enforcement approach to combating terrorism was futile.

But Obama's comments fall short on other grounds, too.
Of course, the Supreme Court just upended those arrangements with its controversial ruling in the Boumediene case, which gave Gitmo detainees the right to challenge their confinement through habeas corpus proceedings in federal court.

Obama approves: He recently asserted that the "principle of habeas corpus, that a state can't just hold you for any reason without charging you and without giving you any kind of due process - that's the essence of who we are."

He explained: "I mean, you remember during the Nuremberg trials, part of what made us different was even after these Nazis had performed atrocities that no one had ever seen before, we still gave them a day in court and that taught the entire world about who we are, but also the basic principles of rule of law. Now the Supreme Court upheld that principle."

Oops. At Nuremberg, an international military commission composed of representatives of the victorious Allies put the top surviving Nazi leaders on trial starting in late 1945.

Yet, in Boumediene, the Supreme Court disapproved of the system of military commissions that Congress had adopted for Gitmo (at the high court's previous urging). Thus, the Nuremberg defendants' "day in court" came before a kind of tribunal found constitutionally inadequate in the decision Obama was praising.

The Nazi war criminals had no access to US courts. The fair-trial provision of the charter governing the trial was relatively skimpy - and the provision on appeal rights was even shorter and sweeter: The defendants had no right to appeal. The procedures the court found deficient in Boumediene, by contrast, provided for appeal rights to the DC Circuit, the most prominent US bench below the Supreme Court.

In short, the procedural protections for Gitmo detainees under the statute before the Supreme Court in Boumediene exceed those accorded the Nuremberg defendants.

Obama's unfavorable comparison of the legal treatment at Gitmo with that at Nuremberg suggests either that he doesn't know what he's talking about - or that he feels free to exploit the ignorance of audiences that don't know the truth of the matter.
Nice job, Scott!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler