Monday, January 30, 2006

Timeless Advice

Now that we have transparency in the Palestinian political environment, Frank's editorial advice from September still rings true.

Higher Education Fails

The results of a literacy study reveal that the our education system is failing us big time.

The results cut across three types of literacy: analyzing news stories and other prose, understanding documents and having math skills needed for checkbooks or restaurant tips.

What worries me more it that the things measured should be (and in the past were expected) to be accomplished in high school. There was no measurement of actual knowledge about history, philosphy, culture, civilzation or anything related to a classcal education. What we have now is glorified trade schools designed solely for the purpose of preparing students to work for the government which runs, or controlls most employers in the US. You never used to think about going to college to learn accounting, programming, or other technical business skills. You went to open your hoizons to ideas and knowledge. To help you understand and find a place for yourself in the world, to fulfill yourself in all the higher human functions. In the pst 50 years higher education has been devalued and debased and our students have been robbed of their opportunity to receive a classical education and the very idea of classical education has been called irrelvant by cultural relativists.

College education was never intended as a universal requirement. Not everyone wants or needs it. But we have turned a college education into something that everyone must have and by doing so have made it something that has to cope with the remediation of the inadequacies of the lower education system and then to teach the trades. And then there is the cost of this effort. Truely the only way in which 'higher' is an accurate descriptor for our colleges and universities.

The Amercan Spectator has a thoughtful analysis of this report

IT IS DIFFICULT NOT to conclude that we are doomed, educationally, to a nationwide network of defective mental trade schools, where our "kids," who at the age of 25 once ran businesses and dressed like adults, are being diseducated at both ends. Lacking the lower-order skills that get a person successfully through their daily life without getting suckered into bankruptcy or stuck on the freeway without any gas, today's students are short of higher-end skills -- rational thought, analytical discrimination, the spark of life called nimble reason -- to the point of deprivation.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Going Dutch

The Netherlands have been showing backbone about getting immigrants to assimilate into Dutch culture and society. More evidence here.

From 1 March onwards people who want to settle in the Netherlands (e.g. to join family members or to marry someone living there) will have to pass a preliminary test at the Dutch embassy in their country of origin. In this so-called “integration test” the immigrants have to prove that they have sufficient knowledge of the Dutch language and the geography, history and political system of the Netherlands. The fee for taking the test is 350 euros. Those who do not pass are not allowed to enter the Netherlands. Those who do pass have only taken the first hurdle. After their arrival in the Netherlands they will have to pass a second – more difficult – exam.

HT Stephen Green

Tough Call for Lincoln

Lincoln Chaffee, reknown RINO faces a dilemma on the vote to confirm Judge Alito.

Asked about the seeming conundrum, Chafee campaign manager Ian Lang said that "from a purely political standpoint this is a lose-lose situation."

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Will Franklin is Back

And he is all over taxes.

You worked 70 days last year to pay for the Federal Government.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

This didn't Turn Out Quite Like I Expected.

I'm a Chevrolet Corvette!

You're a classic - powerful, athletic, and competitive. You're all about winning the race and getting the job done. While you have a practical everyday side, you get wild when anyone pushes your pedal. You hate to lose, but you hardly ever do.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

I never liked my wife's '76 but then maybe Corvette has changed....
or maybe it's me.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

What did Jack Abramov do wrong?

Here is my challenge: explain to me, in one succinct sentence, or short paragraph at most, what Abramoff and his cohorts did that was wrong.

Shuttle to Nowhere

Ground State reminds me how convinced I have become that the
space shuttle is a committe-designed vehicle that does nothing usefull to advance the space program and has tied up money, resources and good will for over 25 years while carrying supplies to a useless space station. Notice that all the progress is coming from the private sector.

Recycling Truth

I have long been aware that recycling makes no economic sense. But by now, it has become one of the "universal" truths embraced by our government-run schools and indoctrinated into our kids who certainly are not about to believe their parents when everybody knows that recycling as a necessary part of "saving the planet". Well today I find another exposee about the economic lunacy of recycling programs and a demonstration of how Seattle has taken recycling to a new high. Now, they are ticketing households who fail to recycle by checking their trash and issuing tickets.

On January 1, placing more than 10 percent recyclable materials into a garbage bin became illegal in Seattle. An offending bin is tagged with a bright yellow slip that announces, "Recycle. It's not garbage anymore." The un-emptied bin is then left at the curb in hopes that the homeowner will learn the lesson and remove the reusable material by next week's collection. Businesses that offend three times are fined $50.

Cities end up paying the difference between what they recover from selling the recycled materials and the program costs. That means local taxes go to this end, to the exclusion of other programs or tax reductions. And the recycled materials are not in any danger of depletion.

Finally, households spend 16 minutes per week preparing recyled items. What is your time worth?

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Global Warming Update

Al Gore has a new book coming out and as usual his timing is good.

HT Tim Blair

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To

Usually mass mailings get trashed rather than reviewed but this one got my attention. The envelope shows an elephant and It's My Party Too in the upper left corner.

The letter is from Christine Todd Whitman saying that too many Republicans want to narrow the tent and have the temerity to break the Reagan commandment not to speak ill of any Republican. The only issue she mentions is embryonic stem cell research so that is the only clue about her effort here. She is asking for contributions to a PAC (IMP-PAC) to "take our Party back from the influence of single-minded extremists who seem to care more about excluding people than furthering a commonsense Republican agenda."
From their website, this statement of their platform:

It's My Party Too PAC or IMP-PAC is a political action committee dedicated to supporting fiscally conservative, socially progressive Republican candidates at all levels of government. Additionally, we will work to advance the issues that help define moderate members of the Republican Party.

I know there is a problem with the Republican Party but never in my wildest imaginings did I think that party members are too mean to Republicans who don't support the Republican agenda. Look at the party funds being spent to fend off a challenger to Lincoln Chaffee. The only mean words for that RINO come from frustrated bloggers, not the party which seems happy to welcome anyone who wants to call themself Republican, no matter what they actually support.

I suspect that I am one of the far-right extremists which Christy acuses of "violating traditional Republican principles but are also holding the party back from acheiving a true and viable majority" despite not being a born-again Christian. I am certainly not socially progressive as I understand it.

I frankly am troubled that Christy is troubled. I have always viewed her as an old school, nobless oblege, rich Republican. I never saw her as a viable candidate for national office or as a fiscal conservative. If she sees herself as one, I am happy to have her in the party particularly since we currently have so few practicing fiscal conservatives. And if she wants to support progressive (liberal) programs, I will live with it. But where does she stand on defense?. She is completely silent which makes me suspicious.

My bottom line conclusion is that she believes that by attacking the (religious) far-right extremists, she will find a groundswell of support from a silent majority of non-religious, fiscally responsible and socially progressive folks that will carry her off to new glory. I think the response to her PAC will prove that I have her pegged.
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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Turning to the People to fix Politics

Dan Weintraub in today's Bee calls attention to two timed-out California legislators that have been doing what I expect legislators to do - working to fix problems for the people. The two are Keith Richman , a Republican and Joseph Canciamilla. , a Democrat.

While their efforts have usually attracted praise from outsiders, the pesky pair have been at best tolerated by legislative leaders and at times scorned. At this point, Richman says, "They really can't think any more lowly of us."

As a last effort they are exploring a referendum to create a "citizen's assembly".

The two lawmakers are pushing a constitutional amendment that would create a "citizens assembly," chosen at random like a local grand jury, to work for a year on reforms to the way the state elects its legislators and statewide officials. The product of the assembly's work eventually would go on the ballot and, if passed by the voters, could fundamentally change politics in California.

It could propose changes in laws, amendments to the constitution and even more sweeping constitutional revisions, which normally require the convening of a constitutional revision commission. The only restriction would be that the changes focus on the electoral process.

I have never heard anything about these two or their proposals but it says a lot about our State Government that no matter how serious the crisis, it doesn't change. I will be watching for more news and I wish Richman and Canciamilla success.
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Friday, January 20, 2006

Backbone is Contagious

Denmark is standing firm about publishing pictures of Mohammed and the results are encouraging.

HT Instapundit.

RINO Watch - DeWine

Mike DeWine, Senator from Ohio, is not the worst RINO out there, but once you make the cut, the degrees don't matter. The latest Zogby poll has him down.

If the election were held now, the survey found that, of the 33 U.S. Senate races on ballots around the country this year, Democrats would pick up a net gain of one seat. They could knock off Ohio Republican Mike DeWine, a two-term incumbent moderate who has angered his home-state base by going against President Bush on judicial nominees,

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

RINO's Damage Republican's Ability to Govern

When will Republican leaders require that RINO's support at least some of the Republican agenda in order to receive party funds and support and leadership positions?

Jim Kouri wants to know.

RINOs are a great asset to the Democrat Party and the news media. These people know they have little credibility, therefore when they wish to make a point they mention that Republicans also want what they want. By Republicans they mean RINOs. Democrats believe Iraq is another Vietnam? Well, so does Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. Democrats are fearful that a Justice Alito may overturn Roe v. Wade? Well, so does Republican Senators Arlen Specter, Olympia Snow and Lincoln Chaffee. The Democrats fear we might be "abusing" terrorists? Well so does Senator John McCain

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Perfect Law

Prestopundit shares some wisdom from Friedrich Hayek.

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Ahead of the Curve

From LA to El Dorado likes to think of itself as ahead of the curve and sometimes the facts actually support this thesis. Today the LAT discovers the Bruin Alumni Organization and its website which I discussed on Wednesday last week.
UCLA's response in the article is measured but stern.
UCLA administrators say they are planning no immediate legal action, other than to notify Jones and to alert students that selling course materials without the consent of the instructor and Chancellor Albert Carnesale violates university policy. Patricia Jasper, a university lawyer, said UCLA would reserve the right to take legal action if any students engaged in unauthorized selling of materials.

To which Instapundit retorts:
On the intellectual property question I'm not sure, though it strikes me as absurd to claim that taping classes is illegal. Students do it all the time, and if UCLA enforces that rule only with regard to critics, I doubt it will stand up. Plus it's just lame.

Peter McLaren, identified as the Number One Professor from the Dirty Thirty called the group's tactics "beneath contempt".

I think they are pretty good myself.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Jerry Brown's Legacy - Gridlock

Dan Walters reminds us how 30 years ago, Governor Moonbeam stopped highway construction and created the statewide gridlock we deal with today. He says Arnold may finally break the logjam on road work in California. Read it here.

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The end of the hamburger

The LA correspondent for the UK Timesonline has a fearless predicion for 2006.

Yes, you heard it here first: the United States will next year find itself mourning the "End of the Hamburger".

He goes on to explain that the hamburger has gone as far as it can go and like the internal combustion engine will disappear as a cultural icon.
If you are wondering what will replace the hamburger - at least from this Brit's reckoning you probably already know.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Why the crowds aren't shouting to spare an aged death-row inmate

From LA Weekly a discussion of the reasons that Clarence Ray Allen is no Tookie.

Another reason is that Allen, though old and weak, is in many ways the poster boy for death-penalty advocates. He gives them the single best reason to extort the virtues of the death penalty over a life sentence.

Bryon Schletewitz’s family had this to say.

“If justice would have been done 25 years ago, if he was given the death sentence for his first murder, Bryon would be alive today and he would be the one who could have grown old,” said Clayton Schletewitz, 71, a farmer and former Quaker minister. “The administration of justice is so long in coming, it’s become an injustice. This whole thing has been outrageous. The death penalty doesn’t seem to be working because we really aren't implementing it.”

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

An Appeal for Republicans in the House

N.Z. Bear is heading an effort to support full discolsure of ties to and money or perks from Abromoff and other lobbyists and an agenda to restrict and expose them to public scrutiny. I support the effort.

We are bloggers with boatloads of opinions, and none of us come close to agreeing with any other one of us all of the time. But we do agree on this: The new leadership in the House of Representatives needs to be thoroughly and transparently free of the taint of the Jack Abramoff scandals, and beyond that, of undue influence of K Street.

We are not naive about lobbying, and we know it can and has in fact advanced crucial issues and has often served to inform rather than simply influence Members.

But we are certain that the public is disgusted with excess and with privilege. We hope the Hastert-Dreier effort leads to sweeping reforms including the end of subsidized travel and other obvious influence operations. Just as importantly, we call for major changes to increase openness, transparency and accountability in Congressional operations and in the appropriations process.

As for the Republican leadership elections, we hope to see more candidates who will support these goals, and we therefore welcome the entry of Congressman John Shadegg to the race for Majority Leader. We hope every Congressman who is committed to ethical and transparent conduct supports a reform agenda and a reform candidate. And we hope all would-be members of the leadership make themselves available to new media to answer questions now and on a regular basis in the future.

See the bloggers who have sign on here.
and do what you can to support the effort.

Things that should be Supreme

An Alito Repeato. Neato! Right here.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

4 Minute Survey

An unidentified caller asked me to take a four minute survey tonight about politics. I said that four minute would be ok and let her proceed.

She asked me if I was familiar with a list of names and did I have a favorable or unfavorable impression of each.

The list as I recall:

Tom Delay
Doolittle (I never remember his first name)
George Bush
Abramov (whatever his first name is)
other names were later identified as the Mayor of Auburn and an Army General but I did not know them and had no opinion.
I gave everybody including Arnold a favorable with the exception of Abramov and the two I did not know.
She then gave me the negatives about Doolittle and his connection to Abramov and a positive spin saying Doolittle was white as the driven snow and asked me who I would vote for.
So far all I hear are allegations and I refuse to condemn until the facts are clear so I bit my tongue and said Doolittle.

I am trying to figure out who is asking. My suspicions are with the Mayor of Auburn but I wonder who is giving him money. Maybe it is the Democrats hoping to damage Doolittle in the primary. I will bet the RC has the answer.

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Nothing Compasionate Here.

The great pooh bah of Daily Kos suggested that Mrs. Alito's tearful retreat from the Senate Hearings was a PR stunt.
Comments were even more venemous. Right Wing News has collected some of the most vicious.

One example:
Pacified: and do we want a judge who would marry such a weak-willed b*tch?

And yet the tell us that Republicans are mean-spirited.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Dangerously Overeducated.

My 21 year old gave me a shirt with 'Dangerously Overeducated' on the front for Christmas. Whether I am guilty or not remains under discussion but I do have three degrees from three universities. The last was from UCLA giving me a football team to follow and, up to this point, no noticable academic embarrassment. Now I discover, a hitherto unknown alumni group with an agenda to expose UCLA's most radical professors.

Welcome to, a project of the Bruin Alumni Association. As our motto attests, is a long-term project dedicated to exposing UCLA’s most radical professors. The extensively researched profiles you will find here are proof of an increasingly radical faculty. As a large number of the profiles also demonstrate, these professors are actively proselytizing their extreme views in the classroom, whether or not the commentary is relevant to the class topic.

The radical of the week is Philosophy Professor Douglas Kellner who had this to say about the Bush administration: a response to the September 11 terror attacks, the Bush administration has answered with an intensified militarism that threatens to generate an era of Terror War, a new arms race, accelerated military violence, U.S. support of authoritarian regimes, an assault on human rights, constant threats to democracy, and destabilizing of the world economy. The Bush regime also provides political favors to its largest corporate and other supporters, unleashing unrestrained Wild West capitalism, exemplified in the Enron scandals, and a form of capitalist cronyism whereby Bush administration family and friends are provided with government favors, while social welfare programs, environmental legislation, and protection of rights and freedoms are curtailed.

Read the whole story here.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

It's all Bush's Fault

One of the reasons to continue reading the Sacramento Bee is that it still covers local news. One example is Suday's story about Cindy and Sean lashing at the President's policies in Iraq. The effects on Sean are particularly devastating.

Penn said Bush and the war in Iraq have made it hard for him to give up his addiction to cigarettes. "It makes it very difficult to quit smoking under this administration," he said.

Hearing Haiku

If you missed the opening day of the confirmation hearing for Samuel Alito, it was mostly hot air from the Senators trying to look important. You could find the transcripts or watch the TV coverage. But here is a better idea. The Hotline has summarized the opening statements from the participants as haiku. All the substance and no hot air. Here is one example.

Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE)
You're Conservative
"We Can Pretend That's Not True"
But, Judge, Bro, it is.

The rest are here.

One Year Anniversary

One year ago, I began blogging at the inspiration of Bill at Palos Verdes Blog. I was not sure what I would be blogging about or if I had anything to contribute but I was certain that I was ready to begin. Here is my first post.

Monday, January 09, 2006

McCain from the Dark Side

The LA Weekly provides a liberal take on John McCain.

He’s every liberal’s favorite conservative, but since McCain has his sights set on running for president again in 2008, let’s not forget that the senator from Arizona has his wingnut bonafides. McCain is a crypto-conservative whose principled stands put him on the side of reason every so often. But the rest of his principled stands are the opposite of progressive. Here’s a balance sheet of McCain’s policy sins and redemptions.

Reading this is like looking in a mirror but the interesting point is that should he get the nomination, liberals have many issues where they can turn on him.

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Thursday, January 05, 2006


I have been robbed of two days while greedy sociopath weasels questioned me regarding my views and responsibilities and and my involvement and opinions about over one-hundred documents which might be associated with me during my previous employment. This was on behalf of their associated partners in the lawsuit.
Their obvious intention was :
1. to gather from me enough statements to allow them to establish my incompetance in a court room at a later date.
2. ro establish that my former employer was bound by no more responsibility to their customers than to, at their whim, charge whatever they felt they could get away with for their services.
3. to implicate as many of my co-workers as possible in this chain of incompetant and rapacious bumbling.
I, of course, had no legal counsel because it would be my expense. The weasels are not after me because I have no money so it isn't a matter of protecting me from legal action. I do, however, take offense at their attempts to use me to get at the deep pockets of my former employer with a case built upon illusion and inuendo. I am, in general an optomistic person who assumes the best in people that I meet. I am smart enough,however, to realize that in this case, the people I have been thrown with, are not my friends, however they might attempt to appear harmless and pleasant.
So, for those of you have missed the experience of being deposed, here is what my last two days have been like.

First you must understand that I must appear if they ask and that any wages or other loss from complying are my generous contribution to their pillage. So I arrive at 9:30 accompanied by an attorney of my current employer to prevent, or at least, have knowledge of any attempts by the weasels to mine me for information about my current employer for possible follow up action. Remember that he is not my attorney either. He is protecting our employer.
Now you might think that the weasels would like me to feel comfortable and well-treated. Instead we meet in a too small stuffy conference room in the Attoney Generals Building in Sacramento. (The State is the Prime name in the title with the weasel taking second billing.) There is no water available except at the fountain in the hall and they have me talking for seven hours a day, two days in a row. They do tell me that they will be happy to break whenever I ask. Initially, they smile, shake my hand and make pleasantries. I excuse myself and go wash my hands. These people are not my friends.
They start (actually only one weasel does the questioning) and to my dismay, it is from a four page list of single space entries. First my employment and education history, then some questions about my job functions currently and at my former employer. This takes us to lunch and some decompression. We are barely one-quarter down the first page of notes but I am still optomistic.
After lunch we start with the documents. If you are old enough, you may remember a popular TV show in the 50's called 'This is your life'. In it celebrities would listen to voices from their past and be asked to remember who they are and what event they are talking about. That is a rough analogy for the remander of the deposition. They apparently threw every document they could find relating to my job during the years of my employment. Did I recognize the document? What did this part of it mean? Did I agree with this statment. Many of these documents were produced by other persons and organizations and while they may have intended to describe processes and activities accurately, they would unintentially garble and misstate. I needed to be careful not to agree with what they actually said but state what, if they said it correctly, I would agree with. Needless to say this kind of careful attention to actual words rather than the intended meaning, is mentally tiring. My coworkers had unintentially provided opportunity for challenge to our processes and the weasels were mining the documents for opportunities to catch me in contradictions which they could use to destroy my credibility later. I had to continally correct statements, qualify my agreement by defining terms left ambiguous and expressing flat footed bewilderment as to what the documents might be trying to say in some instances due to lack of documentation for numbers or terms which could not be pinned down.
This session continued until at 5:00, the questioning weasel offered me the choice of continuing on tonight in order to shorten tomorrow or stopping. I was still conscious and not yet slurring my speech so I said "Lets continue". At 6:15, we stopped and I staggered home to lick my woulds and collect my energy for today.

I won't bore you with details of the second day because it was the afternoon repeated and repeated and repeated. At 4:30, they ran out of documents, just when I was learning that if I told them I had never seen or heard of the document and could only speculate about its meaning or intent, they moved on. I was under oath, however, and I am no Bill Clinton (in just about any way you might choose to make that comparison) so I did not lie. Then came time for my former company's attorney to question me. Only a few questions and I was free to go at about 5:00. After that more handshaking and nicemaking and, getting into the spirit myself, I told them, smiling all the while, that it was nice to meet them and if it was up to me I never wanted to see any of them again. But now nobody paid me any attention. I was old news and they had more plunder to persue.
To the restroom again for a hand wash and then home to my sweetie for a hug and some sympathy. I guess our legal system is like our government. It's a pretty poor thing but still the best in the world.

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