Friday, September 29, 2006

'First you gotta do the truffle-shuffle'

A classic line from a classic movie...

Topics for this week were:

A special thanks to those who commented this week--I think three seperate commentors in one week is probably a Vent Pipe record. As usual, feel free to discuss any of the above topics through the comment area of this post.

Light posting (if any) over the weekend as I will be limited by time and motivation (how do I know I'll have limited motivation? I just can feel it...)

Apparently some of the bugs with Blogger Beta are worked out, so for the moment I can show video directly in a post... With that said, until next time enjoy Chunk and his famous 'truffle-shuffle' from The Goonies:


African AIDS and the Religious Agenda of GW Bush

President Bush final got a hit of recognition for all he's done in the global "War on AIDS" through the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief. From a speech in Great Britain:

The star turn in that debate was Bob Geldof, the Live Aid founder, who provided the most controversial moment of the day when he gave his backing to the anti-aids programme espoused by Mr Clinton's successor, President Bush.

The Bush Administration launched the $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepar) in 2003 but it has been criticised because around one-third of the funds go to faith-based groups that smack of Christian fundamentalism.

Sir Bob told delegates that Aids had stabilised in Africa - partly because of condom distribution, but added: "Pepar, which is Bush's almost personal response to the Global Fund, is a highly effective Aids combatant mechanism. It works. It's uncomfortable for people to speak these unspoken truths but a lot of that stuff is working."

He continued: "In general in rural Africa women have no power. They also cannot refuse sexual favours.

"What this if you like fundamental Christian agenda - and believe me I'm an atheist so I'm not going along with that - what it has done is I've seen marked in chalk on these rural huts - safe sex, fidelity. It's giving women a weapon they can use."

Who'd a thunk it--a program that actually works. I'm shocked that absitence gives people a "weapon they can use."

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Personal ads we never knew existed...

Shocking. Who knew there was an internet personal ad site for Islamist extremists? From Common Sense & Wonder, but originally appearing on The Daily Mail:

One of Britain’s most infamous Islamist extremists is seeking three more wives through the internet.

Omar Brooks, who described the 7/7 suicide bombers as "completely praiseworthy" and heckled Home Secretary John Reid in a high-profile confrontation last week, has signed up to a Muslim marriage website.

Although already married with three children and reportedly living off £700 a month in state benefits, the 31-year-old is seeking more wives, with the intention of fathering more than nine children.

On the site, Brooks — using his Muslim name Abu Izzadeen — describes himself as the "life of thee party" and admits to watching "a lot" of Al-Jazeera TV, the satellite network which has broadcast video messages from Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

He says he is looking for a "second, third or fourth wife" and does not care about their ages as long as they are older than 16 and younger than 40.

Sounds like he cares to me...

Under the category "My Personality", Brooks boasts that he is "passionate, bold, protective, witty and sensitive". He says the "best aspect" of his personality is that he is "very funny loving [sic] and humble towards the believers inshallah [if Allah wills it]".

He prays, he says, more than five times a day, fasts at Ramadan and has
performed hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. Born Trevor Brooks to a Jamaican family
in Hackney, he adds that there is "nothing except Islam".

Brooks says his most attractive physical feature is his long beard — although he adds that it "doesn’t grow beyond a certain limit". He describes himself as "muscular", 5ft 11in tall, with hazel eyes.

He enjoys kung fu, going to the gym and studying in the local mosque. When contacted by the Evening Standard, Brooks refused to discuss the website.

He said he now only gives live interviews to radio or television because he does not trust any other form of media. Asked about the website, he put the telephone down. It is thought his current wife is of Arabic origin.

Brooks’s appearance on the website has become the subject of some ridicule in internet chatrooms. Last week, the BBC was criticised for allowing him "to rant for a rage-filled 12 minutes" on Radio 4’s Today programme.

One blogger suggested interviewer John Humphrys could have better used the time by questioning him about his quest for more wives.

The radio interview followed a confrontation with Mr Reid, in which the Home Secretary was shouted down by Brooks and his supporters at the launch of a
government drive to warn Muslim parents to check their children were not falling
under the influence of fanatics.

Brooks, who lives in a council house in Leyton, was leader of extremist group al-Ghurabaa until it was outlawed this year.

He has been closely linked to Omar Bakri Mohammed, the radical cleric now living in Beirut. Since Bakri’s decision to go to Lebanon and the jailing of hate preacher Abu Hamza, Brooks is arguably Britain’s most prominent Islamist extremist.

Last year he provoked protests when he praised the 7/7 bombers. He told BBC2’s Newsnight: "What I would say about those who do suicide operations or martyrdom operations is they’re completely praiseworthy. I have no allegiance to the Queen whatsoever or to British society, in fact if I see mujahideen attack the UK, I am always standing with the Muslims, never against the Muslims.

"I would never denounce the bombings, even if my own family was to suffer, because we always stand with the Muslims regardless of the consequences."

Brooks, a trained electrician, converted to Islam at the age of 17. He is thought to have become radicalised after meeting Bakri and Hamza at the Finsbury Park Mosque in the mid to late Nineties.

He speaks fluent Arabic and once claimed he had attended terror training camps in Afghanistan., whose tagline is "Muslim matrimonial introduction made easy", said the website has about 14,000 members worldwide and it is not uncommon for subscribers to seek more wives.

"Traditionally many Muslim men have one, two, three or four wives," said founder Mandar Maratha. "We have many women who want to be a second or third wife. They couldn’t get married under UK law but they could get married under Islamic law."

Boy oh boy. We definately need 9 or 12 of these lovely buggers running around...


7-Eleven Drops Citgo

Heard this on Brit Hume tonight...more from Yahoo News:

DALLAS - 7-Eleven Inc. dropped Venezuela-owned Citgo as its gasoline supplier after more than 20 years as part of a previously announced plan by the convenience store operator to launch its own brand of fuel.

7-Eleven officials said Wednesday that the decision was partly motivated by politics. Citgo Petroleum Corp. is a Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela's state-run oil company and 7-Eleven is worried that anti-American comments made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez might prompt motorists to fill-up elsewhere.

Chavez has called President George W. Bush the devil and an alcoholic. The U.S. government has warned that Chavez is a destabilizing force in Latin America.

"Regardless of politics, we sympathize with many Americans' concern over derogatory comments about our country and its leadership recently made by Venezuela's president," said 7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris.

Others are less than convinced that the switch has anything to do with politics:

"This has nothing to do with Chavez," said Oil Price Information Service director Tom Kloza. "They (7-Eleven) just didn't want to be tied to one supplier."

Kloza said all 7-Eleven did was seek out suppliers who could sell it the cheapest fuel and "that was not Citgo."

"Certainly Chavez's position and statements over the past year or so didn't tempt us to stay with Citgo," she added.

Well, at least now I don't have to boycott 7-Eleven, but all the rest of you Citgo sellers are still on the list...


Darfur v. Iraq

As some may remember, last year I wrote a bi-weekly column for The Picket, our campus newspaper, in an attempt by them to become "more balanced." They asked me to beging writing the column after I sent a long and heated letter-to-the-editor about how they had (in the middle of September) not had a single conservative writer.

With this year, as I discussed in the 'back to school' post, my bi-weekly column was done away with. Instead, they asked that all conservative writers (particularly who are associated with the Shepherd Republicans) to contribute to a weekly pool. This week was my turn.

Here is the essay promt: "The situation in Darfur: Have the U.S. and the U.N. done enough? What should the U.S. foreign policy be on international humanitarian crisis?" Last week they ran a piece on the situation which outline (in a relatively objective manner) the current state of things in Darfur, as well as a little history lesson.

Here now is my column (with a title provided by The Picket staff):

The world must step up to aid the atrocity

The Sudanese region of Darfur has been transformed from a once stable region of mostly peaceful villages to a war torn wasteland in the past three years. Beginning in 2003, a rebel group known as the Janjaweed has been armed by the Sudanese government in order to put down those not faithful to the current Sudanese government. In these three years, an estimated 45,000 to 500,000 have been murdered and 1.8 million have been forced out of their homes and into refugee camps in neighboring regions.

The situation, or rather the response, offers a strange sort of parallel to the situation the world faced just over three years ago as the Bush Administration led the effort to force the United Nations to enforce past resolutions against Iraq. In 2002, President Bush gave a speech making the case for a war with Iraq. In that speech, he said, “Failure to act [to enforce UN resolutions against Iraq] would embolden tyrants. The United Nations would betray the purpose of its founding, and prove irrelevant to the problems of our time.” This statement could easily be applied to the current situation in Darfur: the United Nations has failed yet again to act and thus is proving its irrelevancy.

Just as in the 2002 buildup for the Iraq war, the Bush administration is diligently working to alleviate the crisis and find a lasting, stable peace. The White House has outlined a two prong plan: firstly, Bush explains that the United States and other nations must act to prevent and ease the humanitarian crisis that has resulted in the region; and Bush has met this goal. Under the current administration, the US government has provided some $1.33 billion dollars in aid, accounting for 85% of the total amount given.

This spawns the question: how is the rest of the world helping? In short, they’re not and they must do more. The second component of the plan calls for Americans and others to increase security in Darfur. It is at this point that the plan seemingly falls apart.

Just as was the case prior to the Iraq war, Bush has repeatedly called on the United Nations to act. On August 31, 2006 the UN passed Resolution 1706 which calls for the placement of approximately 20,000 troops to act as peacekeepers. This, though, has been met with distain by the Sudanese government who says that such action will jeopardize Sudanese sovereignty. They have subsequently refused the entry of the peacekeeping force. Just as before the Iraq invasion, the United Nations has remained silent and refused to enforce its own resolution.

The true difference between the lead up to Iraq and the current situation in Iraq lies in the response to the United Nations’ silence. When they refused to act on Iraq, the Bush administration pressed on with war plans. These plans were met with protests from anti-war activists led by Hollywood liberals who labeled Bush as a power hungry war criminal. The silence this time, though, has been met with an uproar of publicity (again led by Hollywood liberals) calling for immediate action—even if it means unilateral action on the part of the United States.

Why the difference in reaction? How is stopping the killing of Africans in the Darfur region somehow a more noble cause than toppling a ruthless dictator? Are the lives of those slaughtered by the Janjaweed somehow more valuable than those murdered by the regime of Saddam Hussein? Does stopping the genocide in Darfur offer some benefit that was not to be found in Iraq? These questions must be answered, and those who have reacted so differently to the idea of unilateral action must be held accountable for their ighly varied reactions.

More importantly, though, than any debate about reaction to the UN’s lackluster performance, is the debate on how to move forward. Who should take the lead? What should be done? These questions are of more value, but are unfortunately not so easily answered.

The United States cannot act alone, but the United Nations is clearly not capable to, or perhaps simply not willing to, deal with the situation.

Some see UN reform as the answer, but this is not a timely response which would see results in Darfur. Still others, such as former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich recommend that, “…we should be actively trying to create alternatative institutions that matter…[and] take virtually nothing to the [UN] Security Council.” This seems to be a more probable course of action, yet even this would be difficult to do in a timely manner.

Regardless of which course of action is taken, something must be done now. Citizens of the world—not simply the United States—must stand up and demand action from the United Nations. If they continue to fail to act, then we—citizens of all nations—must hold them accountable, even if that means completely dissolving the UN. Then and only then may we hope to finally find legitimacy in a world body.

Is it the most comprehensive coverage of the situation? Probably not, but given NO MORE than 800 words, it was difficult to keep this bad-puppy slim and I did indeed tip the scales at 834 words (which they let me squeek by with).

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More and More

So I just wrote a quick note on hockey yestarday, it's true. But as October approaches, I can promise that more and more NHL/New York Rangers news will be slid in here. Why? Because hockey is one of the few things I enjoy more than reading/discussing and analyzing politics...

This from

Rangers forward Jaromir Jagr has been cleared to practice for the first time since undergoing surgery on his dislocated left shoulder nearly five months ago.

"We got a very good report from the doctor," said smiling New York coach Tom Renney after the Rangers lost 5-2 to the New York Islanders in a preseason game Monday night. "He is ready for a full practice and everything that is involved with that."

When Jagr might be able to play in a game will be determined by Renney and the rest of the coaching staff. Jagr will need to build up his endurance and practice time before taking the next step.

"He is cleared to practice, and then it is up to me," Renney said of Jagr, who set team records last season with 54 goals and 123 points. "He's got to practice."

Is it just me, or does Renney sound like Jagr's dad? "He's got to practice...he is cleared, then it is up to me."

Anyway, this is good new for Rangers fans worldwide. Jags is--even with the addition of Shanny and Cullen--the single most important player on the New York Rangers this year. He has got to be healthy. He has got to have another year like he had 05-06. If he does, the Rangers will be a dominating force. If not? Well...maybe we don't do so well. (And yes, I say we when refering to the Rangers...after watching them suck for 9 years, I feel I've earned the right).


The Politics of Abortion

A great blurb from the Evangelical Outpost on abortion and the politics thereof:

Princeton professor Robert George -- one of the smartest men in America -- explains he cannot support the Democratic Party:

I find no cause for joy in this. I wish that it were possible for pro-life citizens legitimately to support Democratic candidates. I wish that the party of my parents and grandparents had not placed itself on the wrong side of the most profound human rights issue of our contemporary domestic politics. I wish that the killing of embryonic and fetal human beings by abortion and in biomedical research were resolutely opposed by both parties so that we could cast our votes based on our assessments of the candidates’ and parties’ competing positions on taxation, immigration, education, welfare, health-care reform, national security, and foreign policy. It is hardly satisfactory that pro-life citizens—representing a variety of views on the range of issues in economic, social, and foreign policy—find themselves bound to the Republicans because the only viable alternative is a party that has abandoned its commitment to the weakest and most vulnerable members of the human family by embracing abortion and embryo-destructive research.

Every Christian has to follow their own concience. But for the reasons George lists, I cannot fathom how a Christian can justify supporting the Democratic Party. They have placed themselves on the wrong side of morality and history and until they repent and find their way back, they don't deserve the support of pro-life citizens.

Sometimes I feel guilty for it, but I have to say that I agree whole heartedly with the last paragraph there. I have always said, "How can you be a Christian and vote democrat?" I am by no means suggesting that the Repubicans are somehow 'more Holy' or 'righteous' or even "more christian." Yet it stands to reason that if one is a Christian at all concerned with doing right, then voting for a party that stands so solidly in support of such a horrid practice as abortion has a knock against it before we are even able to examine other issues.

Robert George also makes a good point...the Dems are seemingly putting themselves in a bit of a pickle by (almost) always supporting unregulated abortion. By doing so, they're losing out on a voting bloc that is pro-life, but stands for many if not all of the other staples of the Dems platform. I've said before that I could never vote pro-choice--republican or democrat--on a state or national level. Maybe that's just me?

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Monday, September 25, 2006

On the Pope

A lot of bloggers and right-wingers like to compare liberals to the Islamo-facist terrorists (or whatever it is we're calling them this week). I don't know that it's really appropriate in all situations (e.g. I don't think that most democrats/liberals want to see the US destroyed in the same manner that terrorists do) but there is at least one characterization which fits...and that it hypocrisy.

The dems--though I praised them for it--jumped all over Chavez for the personal attacks on Bush, but they themselves say the same (or worse) on a near daily basis. Don't believe me? Just listen to anything Howard Dean says. Or take a look at people like Noam Chompsky, who condemns the US government military, though he took significant amounts of money from the Pentagon (see Peter Schwizer's Do as I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy).

The Islamo-nutjubs share this trait. They burn flags, attack embasies, kill, mame and generally spread havoc because of a picture of Mohammed. Then they do this (from Little Green Footballs):

Here’s a lovely cartoon from the current issue of Palestinian weekly Al Risala, a Hamas publication, courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch. The Arabic script reads, “The Pope and those who live under his cloak.”

It just goes to show, the standard they hold us to is different than their own...much like the libs.

As a side note, do we hide under the cloak of the Pope? Hmm. Points to ponder?

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More on Clinton's rant

Clinton's rant was just that's being covered by everybody, but my favorite--and probably the most thought provoking--is from the blog Christian Conservative:

BUSH: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including all the left-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight years to try. They did not try. I’m trying.So I tried and am failing [to get bin Laden]....but I'm making a comprehensive anti-terror strategy with the best guy in the country, Donald Rumsfeld, whose charicter is attacked on a daily basis.So you did CNN’s bidding on this show. You did your nice little liberal hit job on me. What I want to know is…

CNN: Well, wait a minute, sir.

BUSH: No, wait. No, no…

CNN: I want to ask a question. You don’t think that’s a legitimate question?

BUSH: It was a perfectly legitimate question, but I want to know how many people in the Democrat Party you asked this question of.I want to know how many people in the former Clinton administration you asked, Why didn’t you do anything about the Cole?I want to know how many you asked, Why didn’t you fire Dick Clarke?I want to know how many people you asked…

CNN: We asked — we asked…

BUSH: I don’t…

CNN: Do you ever watch CNN, sir?

BUSH: I don’t believe you asked them that.

CNN: We ask plenty of questions of…

BUSH: You didn’t ask that, did you? Tell the truth, man.

CNN: About the USS Cole?

BUSH: Tell the truth, man.
The man makes some good points. Some really good points. What would the reception have been if Bush had acted like a spoiled two year old?



What? Third? In the Conference? Oh yes!

Last year, the New York Rangers were picked by ESPN, Sports Illustrated and numerous other sports organizations to finish last or near last in the LEAGUE. This season? A totally different story has emerged.

Scott Burnside at has predicted the Rangers will finish FIRST in the Atlantic Division and THIRD in the Eastern Conference:

The Rangers had the division and home-ice within their grasp until a late-season woon. This season, they won't sneak up on anyone, but that shouldn't matter as they finish first in the Atlantic and third in the East.

For fans of the New York Rangers, this is awesome. But at the same time, it's almost annoying. Three seasons ago, the Rangers were criticized of "trying to buy a championship." Then, in an attempt to change their ways, they traded away veterans and such for youth prospects and draft picks. Still, the 'pros' said the Rangers were just trying to weasle their way out of old habbits and that such at attempt would never work. Last year, the first of the Rangers rebuild process, the pros picked teams like Pittsburgh (who signed a crop of over paid free agent veterans in a very Rangeresque fashion) to finish higher than NY and said the Rangers just didn't have what it would take to make it in the new NHL. But the Rangers pushed on and (nearly finished third) completed the season 6th in the conference, giving way to the first playoff berth since 1997. Though the season ended with a fizzle, it was a big step for the Rangers.

Now, the pros are kissing major Rangers butt. Talking about how great their young goalies are. How wonderful Petr Prucha is. How Jagr is going to "have a career season" and that veteran Brendan Shannahan--who by all accounts contacted the Rangers about playing for them--is
"playing like a rookie again." This from Burnside:

...the New York Rangers are for real. How do we know this? Because unlike Rangers teams of the past, whose future was only as good as the next aging free-agent signing, this team is building on its foundation rather than tearing it down. Instead of remaking itself in the offseason, the Rangers have added parts that complement coach Tom Renney's hardworking squad that recaptured the imagination of fans who watched their team become a caricature after winning a championship in 1994.

I don't care about the butt kissing. It's nice to hear good things about my team for a change. Let's go Rangers. Third place? That'll do...but first place would be better!


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Conservative Hit Job

I missed Chris Wallace's interview this morning (I was at church) but I caught it this evening on the 6pm showing.

Clinton seems to think that he did plenty in that:

"after the Cole I had battle plans drawn [to invade Afghanistan] but we needed basing rights in [and] the CIA refused to certify that bin Laden was responsible...I'd have had to use a few hunred special forces and refuel at night.."

Clinton continued that he had planned to draw up 20,000 troops. He said he launched numerous missiles after the Cole, but was accussed of 'wagging the dog' and so he quit. Doesn't this illustrate the whole problem with Clinton's handling of the situatino? A) He had plans to do something, but the bottom line is that he didn't actually do anything. B) He was afraid of the public opinion--even Richard Clark said that--and so he quit. That's the real difference between his administration's and George W. Bush's: Clinton quits when the public reacts less than friendly, but Bush does what has to be does.

So why even ask the former President about his failure to deal with bin Laden? Well, Clinton says that Wallace

"...set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because [News Corp. Chairman] Rupert Murdoch's supporting my work on climate change. You said you'd spend half the time talking about what we did out there to raise $7-billion-plus in three days from 215 different commitments. And you don't care."

A pretty big assertion from the former President. He went on to say that it's all a "right wing hit job" and that the American people only ask about what Clinton did/didn't do because the "right wingers" put it on our minds. Crazy.

Brit Hume just put it best, "nobody did enough." That's the bottom line. Bush, Clinton, Bush II...nobody.

Snippets of the interview are available on the site. It's definately worth a quick view...

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Tell it like it is

Well I had something really special picked out for today. But that new blogger beta crap doesn't support YouTube, so I'll have to just give a link instead. First, a review of the week:

And now, for this weeks funny. As I noted above, the Blogger Beta is kicking my butt (and the butts of anybody else who hates this stupid Dashboard text editor and who likes using third party stuff such as YouTube) and so I can link to YouTube, but I cannot embed the actual video.

So here's the link to see Mr. Bill Clinton's take the the 2004 Democratic nomination for Vice President. Bill tells it like it is. Good stuff. Go watch. I mean it!

Don't forget, feel free to use this post to discuss any of the above topics or anything else.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Jerry Mays

Last week I posted a quick review of a speech by Senator John Unger, Democrat 16th Senatorial District, WV.

Today, I bring you a quick review of a speech by Unger's competition, Mr. Jerry Mays, Republican Candidate:

On Tuesday, September 21, 2006, Republican candidate for WV’s 16th Senatorial District Jerry Mays addressed a small audience on campaign issues and the general state of West Virginia’s government. He discussed campaign contributions, committee chairmanships, taxes and what to look for in a political candidate. He also participated in a brief question/answer segment.

Mr. Mays began his presentation with a brief biography of himself. He began his career in politics in the military. After several years, he became employed by the NSA. He is also a self-proclaimed ‘import’ to West Virginia, leaving the DC area for the Panhandle.

Mays suggests that West Virginia’s politicians should first and foremost be concerned with improving the quality of life for all West Virginians, something he is not sure his competition, John Unger, is convinced of. “The voters in the 16th Senatorial District [aren’t] getting the services they need. John [Unger] seems to be more concerned with developing his own resume.”

I don't know that Unger is really not concerned about the people of the Panhandle. What I do believe, though, is that Unger has other things (like earning his law degree) on his mind which prevent him from doing his best.

Mays accurately pointed out that—for better or for worse—the state of West Virginia has basically been in a democratic stranglehold for the better part of 80 years. This, he said, attributed to the state missing its opportunity to join the modern world at the close of World War II.

“The southern end of the state is poverty stricken,” he stated. “This is because the [democratically controlled] legislature has prevented the creation of a business friendly environment.”

Mays echoed the sentiment of many West Virginians when he said that there is simply “no excuse” that West Virginia should, “be at the top of all the bad categories, and the bottom of all the good ones.” He theorized that the powers-that-be in Charleston want to keep power and control concentrated in their hands. To do this, Mays is seemingly convinced that they will stop at nothing—even if it means keeping parts of the state in poverty by essentially killing all business.

To change the climate, Mays suggests an update to the tax code (which dates back to the 1930’s when ‘coal was king’) is needed. “Coal is no longer our most valuable resource…our children are.”

Mays pointed to what he called a “democratic monologue” as being key in analyzing the difficulties that West Virginia is currently facing. “We don’t need a monologue,” he stated. “We need a dialogue that results in progress.”

For me, this was a very effective metaphor. We do need a dialogue, and it's something that we haven't had in my lifetime, nor the lifetime of most West Virginians alive today (except maybe Bob Byrd). Mays pointed out that the majority of the productive bills which have been passed have been driven by what he called a "spunky class of freshmen republicans," which just so happens to include my very own State Senator Clark Barnes.

Mays fielded a wide ranger of questions. He answered them thoroughly and gave his honest opinion. In regards to locality pay for teachers in the Panhandle area, Mays supports the idea, but says that with a majority of representatives coming from democratic areas were the school board is the chief employer, passing any sort of reform is going to be a difficult task.

Just as was the case with Senator Unger, Mr. Mays did not have to worry about impressing me—I don’t sit in the 16th Senatorial distract and cannot vote for or against him. What I can say, though, is that Mr. Mays seems to represent a sort of conservatism that is not common in the West Virginia legislature and that if he is sent to Charleston to represent Berkeley County, I can rest assured that he will work for all West Virginians to the best of his ability.
I don't get to vote for Jerry Mays, but if I could I would.



This from Little Green Footballs:

Nancy Pelosi and Charles Rangel came out with statements against Hugo Chavez today; Allahpundit has a vidclip: Rangel warns Chavez not to attack “my president”.

Some might say this calls for the flying pig, but I think I’ll keep the porker in her hangar. I don’t want to cheapen that noble symbol by applying it to such a cynical political maneuver by people who have said the very same things Hugo Chavez is saying.

UPDATE at 9/21/06 1:46:48 pm:

I almost want to applaud Tom Harkin for having the guts (sometimes indistinguishable from stupidity) to acknowledge that Chavez is a kindred spirit (i.e. deranged with hatred for George W. Bush): Harkin defends Venezuelan President’s U-N speech against Bush. (Hat tip: MoonbatBane.)

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, today defended Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s United Nations speech in which Chavez called President George Bush the devil. Harkin said the comments were “incendiary”, then went on to say, “Let me put it this way, I can understand the frustrion at, ah, and the anger of certain people around the world because of George Bush’s policies.”

Rangel and Pelosi should be commended for--even if not as sincere or passionate as it should be--at least defending Bush.

Harkin, on the other hand, is absolutely disgusting.

I am not a fan of the United Nations--never have been and without serious reform, I never will be--but this is just beyond any logical defense. The UN has now transformed from simplying being an irrelevant body of uselessness to a stage for big mouthed terrorist thugs like Chavez or Iran's president. These mad men were permitted to come to my country stand in then center of New York City and call my President "the devil." Unacceptable.

I just watched the 11 showing of O'Rielly (actually it's on right now) and that mouthpiece Al Sharpton was just on. He said that he things Chavez was out of line, but that it's difficult to feel to bad for Bush when he 'essentially did the same thing' when he used the "Axis of Evil" reference in his speech.

The UN has to go. I read on another blog just a second ago which said (to paraphrase) "Let's ponder a world without the UN. It would probably be a lot like the world with the UN only a lot cheaper." Yea, a lot cheaper and we wouldn't have a stage for mad men like Chavez.

Disband the UN or--if they must continue to exist--abolish them from this country forever. Those are our only real options...


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Jerry Mezz

Well the game seems to be coming to a close. This from the Charleston Gazette:

Mezzatesta indicted
Former delegate, ex-superintendent face federal charges

Former House Education Chairman Jerry Mezzatesta and former Hampshire County schools Superintendent David Friend were indicted Tuesday on federal charges of defrauding the school board and misappropriating public funds.

A federal grand jury in Martinsburg charged the ailing Mezzatesta, 59, of Romney, and Friend, 59, of Morgantown, with conspiring to misapply public funds between January 2004 and June 2005, Acting U.S. Attorney Rita Valdrini said.

Friend’s attorney, Wes Metheney of Morgantown, defended his client from what he called “a Mezzatesta witch hunt’’ and called the indictments “a shame.’’

The charges center on a $75,000 grant that Mezzatesta, a nine-term lawmaker, sought in March 2003 for the Special Services Workshop in Romney. Mezzatesta had agreed not to use his legislative office to seek money for the Hampshire County school system where he was employed as an administrator.

In 2004, Friend asked state officials for permission to spend the money instead on Red Cross and emergency services training facilities in Romney and Springfield.

State officials who approved the change said the list included equipment, infrastructure for the Future Farmers of America at the Hampshire County fairgrounds and supported employment opportunities for the Special Services Workshop.

The list did not include $5,000 distributed by the county to the Capon Bridge Library and $5,000 each to six volunteer fire departments in Augusta, Capon Bridge, Capon Springs, Levels, North River and Slanesville.


If convicted on both counts of the federal indictment, Mezzatesta and Friend could each be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay as much as $500,000 in fines.

Fifteen years and $500,000 in fines for what? Diverting money into volunteer fire companies and improvements to facilities at the Hampshire County Fairgrounds which are used by Hampshire County Schools?

The man has lost his seat on the legislature. He has basically marginilized in the community. He (apparently) has cancer and is not doing well. He paid a $2,000 fine a few months ago. How can this continue on?

I hate to agree with Superintendent Friend's lawyer--because Friend did deserve to lose his job, but should not go to jail for any amount of time--this is a "Mezzatesta witch-hunt." Unfortunately, his sister was basically forced out of a job, thereby removing one of the best educators Hampshire County Schools has ever known. Now Friend faces this harsh sentance. For redirecting funds? With the approval of unnamed State Officials? This is simply ludicrous.

Jerry did wrong. There's no doubt about it. Things should have gone differently, he--much like Clinton during the sex scandle--should have stood up and apologized. He should have taken the blame and maybe he should have even stepped down from the legislature. But when is enough enough?

I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but I can't help but think that this could certainly be one. Jerry had carved himself a nice little piece of the "power pie" from the elite in Charleston. They didn't like it, and now he--and anybody loosely associated with him--must pay. Why? Because the self proclaimed "real West Virginians" from the Charleston/Huntington area have to teach us easterners a lesson--try to take power from us, and you'll pay. That's the bottom line.

I'm rooting for you, Jerry. I stand firmly in your corner on this one. Go get 'em and God be with you as you recover from your ailment.

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Joseph E. Onek: "Follies and Failures: Constitutional Checks and Balances after 9/11"

As promised, here's a review of the speech I attended last Thursday:

Last week Shepherd University held the Second Annual Tom E. Moses Speech on the Constitution as part of their Constitution Day events. The series began last year with a speech by Senator Byrd (D-WV) and continued this year with a presentation by Joseph N. Onek titled “Follies and Failures: Constitutional Checks and Balances after 9/11.”

Onek began with a quick overview on the intent of the Founding Fathers in creating the Constitution, pointing out that the ultimate goal was to prevent executive tyranny. He also pointed out that the legislature should, “compliment the executive with wisdom and responsibility.” In doing so, he said, the Congress would “prevent foolish actions.”

Then he began his lecture on the current state of checks and balances. “Some suggest,” he said, “that the current president is somehow an example of what the Founders hoped to prevent. It is hyperbolic, however, to say that we are facing a tyranny.”

To illustrate his case, Onek turned to the situation in GuantanamoBay, Cuba. “Guantanamo Bay has become a world wide rallying cry for Jihadists,” he explained. He then launched into the much over stated belief that the Bush administration has some how burned up the mythical surplus of support and love that the world had for the US in the aftermath of 9/11 in establishing the POW camp (if we are to call it that).

He did, though, admit that it was more humane than the alternative: simply to kill all the “bad guys.” “Guantanamo Bay is a negative symbol in three ways,” he said.

The first item Onek pointed to was that Bush used a military order to establish military commissions. He explained that Bush modeled the commissions on Franklin Roosevelt’s declaration in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. Onek condemned the facility at Guantanamo Bay as being “contradictory to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” He pointed to the use of secret evidence, the use of “evidence obtained through coercion,” and the inability of the prisoners to appeal through our civilian court system as being the most negative aspects of using Guantanamo Bay.

He cited the selection of who should or should not be held as the second glaring mistake in the establishment of Guantanamo Bay. Onek pointed out that we used military tribunals on the actual battlefield during the Gulf War to decide who was/wasn’t an enemy. In this case, though, he stated that we just “took everybody” thus sweeping up “many innocents.” He also pointed out that Pakistan and the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan turned over POW’s. He was somewhat cynical in believing that a majority of those turned over by these two groups were innocents. The Pakistanis, he said, were friendly to the Taliban regime and more than likely protected the true bad guys. The Northern Alliance, though, was at the opposite extreme: they, he suggested, probably turned over anyone who did not pledge allegiance to them, even if these individuals had no ties to the Taliban.

The final point Onek made was to say that the use of coersion in obtaining information is “simply unacceptable.” By denying the rights outline in the Geneva Convention, Onek believed that Bush established the conditions for the “gross prisoner abuse” which “has occurred at Guantanamo.”

The next portion of Onek’s presentation was by far his strongest. He posed a question that most Americans who disagree with Bush’s policies should have been asking for that last six years: “Where has Congress been during all this?” Congress should have been ‘checking’ Bush’s power all along, yet they have remained totally inactive. When Congress has spoken up, they have “simply sided with the president thereby weakening their own power and rubber stamping the President’s agenda.” This is arguable. Folks like Onek never consider the possibility that Congress has approved of the “Bush Agenda” (if such a thing really exists) because the “Bush Agenda” is right? Isn’t that at least partly possible?

So why has Congress essentially been “asleep at the wheel?” According to Onek, our legislators are to blame for not checking Bush because the Republicans are in control—and they have a united front. The democrats, he said, also have a united front. Both of these points are, again, arguable. John McCain and Senator Warner have both been critical of the President over prisoner rights and treatment of detainees (though I disagree with McCain and Warner). “We can only believe,” he then explained, “that republicans stay quiet because they need Bush as a fundraiser.” This, again, is a weak argument as many republicans are (foolishly?) trying to distance themselves from Bush.

Onek then launched into a speech on the “death of ‘Men of the Senate.’” He said, “Men like Robert C. Byrd don’t exist anymore. Those who run for senate typically see their seat as a springboard through which they can set themselves up for a run for the Presidency. Robert Byrd nobly set aside any chance of running for president and voted against the Civil Rights Act in order to reserve power for the Senate.” For me, this was an unbelievable statement. It was more noble for Byrd to act to protect his own power than it was for him to extend equal rights to minorities?

Onek blamed republicans for a majority of the problems, but then changed his tune and said, “We now have a republican administration in charge, but things would not be totally different with the democrats in charge.”

One would find it difficult to argue against many of the points Onek made. His case was not presented in an overly bias was which sought to place the majority of the blame on Bush. It was clear, though, the he was not a fan of our President. He did paint Bush as being politically incompetent as well as a power hungry leader. He did not, however, perpetuate the notion that Bush is somehow a tyrannical king.

One can, however, continue to argue whether there is even any validity in the illegality of the Guantanamo Bay situation. Most disturbing was the fact that he offered no alternative to the way Bush has carried out the War on Terror, even in the face of his own admission that seemingly the only alternative would be to kill all that are suspected of terrorist activity.

Following his speech, he led a question answer session. The first question right off the bat was, “Aren’t these offenses impeachable and when should we impeach him?” To his credit, Onek answered correctly. Firstly, he pointed out that there is no such thing as an “impeachable offense,” but rather that the House must make a case that he is worthy of impeachment for any particular reason. Secondly, he explained that he sees it as “most unlikely” that the democrats will win control of the Congress thereby enabling impeachment and that “impeachment would be a foolish case of bad judgment” on the part of the democrats.

The second question was, “well since we can’t impeach him, can’t he be tried for war crimes?” In response, Onek addressed Bush’s recent speech calling for protection of higher-ups from such charges. He also, again, said that it would be foolish for anyone to call for such charges, as it would open up opportunity for foreign nations to put out warrants for any number of things they see as “war crimes” or “war crime violations” and arrest, try and sentence a wide variety of leaders from a multitude of nations.

Someone then asked, “You keep saying POW, but these men can’t be POW’s can they? Congress hasn’t declared war?” At this point, Onek defended Bush. “In a very broad sense, they have declared war. Opponents of Bush can’t say that he hasn’t sought Congressional approval. If we seek to blame a specific group, we must blame Congress.”

The speech was informative and overall mostly unbiased. While he left many things unanswered, I can’t truly fault him for the case he attempted to make. Still, as we have seen so many times, it is so easy to outline the mistakes made in the aftermath of a decision, yet offer no alternatives. He truly could have been a spokesman for the entire political left’s biggest fault.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Kick in the butt (Blogger Beta Headaches)

I could kick myself in the butt for jumping to try the new Blogger Beta.

The third party software I frequently used (Hello and Picassa--which, for crying out loud, are owned by GOOGLE and should therefore automatically work with another GOOGLE OWNED PRODUCT--and Qumana) do NOT work with Blogger Beta yet. There is also some talk that YouTube is an iffy sort of situation.

The biggest hurt, though, is that Qumana doesn't work. Which means that it's back to the olden days of editing all text right on Blogger's stupid dashboard, thus--as I'm sure any reader noticed--block quoting and general text formatting looks like poo. Well there's nothing I can do about it yet.

So why oh why did I switch. Well it was unintentional. The instructions say that you can switch your blog to beta, not that the entire account would be switched. With that in mind, I created a temporary blog with the intent of switching it to beta. Well, when I switched that single blog, the entire account was dragged over to the dark side and so here I am, sitting in beta, with nothing to do.

I have emailed Qumana about updating to interface Beta, but they have not--as of 10:34--replied. I will update with news as it arrives...

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Satanists in India

Scary stuff from The Washington Times:

CALCUTTA -- Satan-worshipping groups in the Christian-majority Indian state
of Mizoram are waging an anti-Christian campaign by burning Bibles, vandalizing
churches and defiling cemeteries.

One such group entered a church after midnight on July 24 and burned Bibles, urinated on the pulpit and tore up pictures of the Virgin Mary and Jesus.

"It appears they sacrificed an animal on the pulpit and splattered its blood on the altar and chair of the worship leader," said the Rev. B. Sangthanga, the head pastor of the church in the Kolasib district of the northeastern Indian state.

"Last year, some young men of our village confessed to worshipping Satan. Our investigation has found that the same group is behind this attack on the church."

Mr. Sangthanga said the acts of vandalism "carry signatures of the Mizo Satan followers. ... Now their attack on our church proves that the number of Satanists is growing across the state with village youths joining them."


Some of them conduct midnight gatherings at isolated cemeteries, where they are reported to dance naked, slash their wrists in ritual blood offerings and chant nvocations to Satan. They sometimes write graffiti in their blood, leaving messages such as "dog si nataS" -- the reverse of "Satan is god."

Mizoram church leaders blame high unemployment and "bad Western influences"
for the growth of the groups.

"When, three years ago, a girl-only [satanic group] was caught by village elders while performing some bizarre rituals, the girls, who were all high-school dropouts, admitted that [they had been] influenced by the Hollywood movie 'The Craft,'" said a church leader in the Aizawl district.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Nothing like a little...

jazz flute to add inspiration to an early Friday morning courtesy of the legendary Ron Burgandy.  (NOTE: This was SUPPOSED to be posted this morning, but technical difficulties with blogger prevented this from being posted).

But first, a quick review of a rather modest week of posting:

As per usual, please feel free to use this post as a place to comment on any of the above topics or anything else.  In the meantime, relax and enjoy some "yazz flute."

I have a busy weekend ahead of me (actually, it's all recreational, but it's still pretty packed).  Republican picnic tonight, Shepherd Rams Football tomorrow, and a band competition (I'm not competing, but my girlfriend's cousin is) tomorrow night.  I do have a review of a presentation on "Constitutional Follies After 9/11" to write and post sometime over the weekend or on Monday.

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Test to see if posting works--cuz viewing The Vent Pipe seems to be next to impossible at this moment.


Apparently Blogger got whatever the problem was fixed and The Vent Pipe is now viewable again. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Initial findings...

My report on the initial findings of just how good the new Barenaked Ladies cd is?  Well, I think it's really, really great.  A lot (and I do emphasize LOT) better than their last c.d., which I hated at first but have since grown to love.

For this album, Barenaked Ladies Are Me, the 'ladies return to the label they recorded on over 15 years ago.  And what an improvement.  Lots of old-school 'ladies stuff going on.  Great bass lines.  Witty lines woven throughout the music (i.e. "I can't believe that you'd believe that I would fake it/Wait--unless you count those things I said when we were naked." from track 13: "Wind It Up").  And some of it is even a little bit 'harder' than the usual stuff.

I'm ecstatic to be listening to a new BNL c.d., but the pisser is that the store released c.d. features 13 new songs, including the first single "Easy."  Fans can download the digital copy of the c.d., which includes two bonus tracks, but there is also a digitial "Deluxe" version which contains twenty-eight tracks.  I don't really want to sink $30 bucks into getting all three, but I've already bought the store version.  I'll have to investigate more. 

I've only listened to the cd about 4 times, but I haven't sat down and just listened to it all the way through yet--that is, I've listened to it while I was cleaning the dorm (for room inspections) and studying.  But if I had to pick my top four favorites they would go in this order:

  • 4. Easy

  • 3. Wind It Up

  • 2. Rule the World With Love

  • 1. Sound of Your Voice

Numbers 2 and 1 could easily be switched and probably will be by the time I've listened to the CD several times. 

The stuff written by Ed and Steve (Robertson and Page, respectively) are, great and thankfully they comprise the majority of the album.  The stuff written by Jim Creegan is, well, different.  And Kevin Hearn is just weird (except for "Sound of Your Voice" which is a great song). Overall it's a very good c.d., especially for anybody who's a long-time BNL enthusiast.

Either version is available for download here.  If you're a fan (or a potential fan) visit the official site, which is newly redesigned.

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Oh my

Bill O'Reilly just reported on the Radio Facor (at 12:37ish) that AirAmerica is about to declare bankruptcy and will "restructure" to prevent falling apart.

Maybe they should take this as a hint?  Why keep shelling out the dough if nobody is listening? 

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Forward thinking people

Or should I say, people who forward cheese-ball emails...they make me laugh.

This, today, from my former boss:



It is already impossible to live on Social Security alone. If  they give
 benefits to "illegal" aliens who have never contributed, where  does that
 leave us that have paid into Social Security all our working  lives?
 The Senate voted this week to allow "illegal" aliens access
 to Social Security benefits. Attached is an opportunity to sign a petition
 that requires citizenship for eligibility to receive social  services.
 If  you do not wish to sign the petition yourself, please forward on  to
 anyone you think might be interested.
 PETITION FOR: President Bush
 Mr. President:
 The petition below is a protest against the recent vote of
 the  senate which was to allow illegal aliens access to our social
 We demand that you and all congressional representatives require
 citizenship for anyone to be eligible for social services in the  United
Instructions to sign are at the bottom.

[Followed by 321 signatures]

I don't know of the alleged vote mentioned in the "petition" above.  I read this and couldn't help but laugh.  How can anyone truly believe A) that this is accurate B) that this would work. 

Let's set aside the hilarity of this forward, and just think about the way these email petitions work in general.  Somebody, somewhere, for some reason decides, "Oh, I think I'll start an email petition to change something."  And so they write out the 'petition' on their email client and send it to a bunch of people to forward.  And this is where it loses the sliver of validity it had to begin with. 

So let's say Joan is of the opinion that "they" should change the color of peanut butter from brownish to green, and so she starts a petition.  So she forwards it to Tim, John, Judy and Sara.  John and Sara agree with the petition also, so they add their name to the list.  So that's three on the list, right?  Wrong.  If both John and Sara sign the petition they receive, there are only two signatures total on two separate forwards.  So Joan and John are on one, while Joan and Sara are on the other.  The same email does NOT get forwarded to everyone.  Am I getting through?  Am I making sense?  I think so.

Aside from that, I love the "they" that is invariably in every forwarded petition.  They ought to change the color of peanut butter.  They have to stop illegal immigration.  They should ban smoking.  Who is they anyway?

After the list of 321 signatures, the original writer included instructions for completing the petition:

If you don't forward the petition and just stop it, we will  lose  all
these names. If you do not want to sign it, please just  forward  it  to
anyone who might want a voice.
Thank you!!! To add your name, either click on
"forward" or cut and paste the whole thing into a new e-mail. 

You will be able to add your name at the bottom of the  list
and then forward it to your friends.

THANKS!  Good grief.  How original is that? A quick Google search reveals that is the address listed at the official homepage of the White House as the "best way to contact Mr. President." 

These things are just silly.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tuesday evening funny...

Here's a little funny courtesy of my roommate.

If con is the opposite of pro, then what is the opposite of progress?


Hahaha.  It took me a minute for that one.  It wasn't one of my quicker moments (but common, I think I'm getting a cold and it's been a stressful week, sometimes you just have to forgive a man).

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Speaker Review: WV State Senator John Unger (D-16th District)

Now I'm not one to take up for a majority of democrats, especially in a democratic strong-hold like West Virginia.  But this guy really is something different. I wrote my "speaker review" for class (ok, so it's not an example of my strongest writing).  I tired to keep in objective, so I will treat it like a news article and it (the review) will be block quoted with my opinion threaded through as commentary. Here we go:

Senator John Unger, the democratic state senator representing the 16th district, visited with my State/Local Gov. class on Thursday, September 7, 2006.  He offered insight into duties of a state senator and discussed some of "the issues."

Using Abraham Lincoln as a model, Unger began his presentation with an outline of the importance of voting from one’s conscience, rather than voting as the polls dictate saying, “if Abraham Lincoln had listened to what the polls said, he probably would not have voted to pass the Emancipation Proclamation.  We (politicians) have an obligation to do right, even if it’s unpopular.” 

Excellent point, John.  This is much of the reason that we so called "Bushies" support the President.  The public may not approve of the tactics being used to interrogate terrorists, but that doesn't mean it isn't still acceptale. The war in Iraq may not be a "popular war" but that doesn't mean we aren't doing what needs to be done. 

Unger took time to elaborate on why he got into public service.  He explained that he wanted to open the government system up to the people.  He also proclaimed that he “won’t be senator forever, [and] probably shouldn't be.”  Echoing the words of Ronald Reagan, Unger stated that people believe that government is the solution to all problems, but that it is actually the problem; the people, he stated, are the solution.  He elaborated on this, saying that it is for this reason that we (the electorate) must hold all elected officials responsible.

Wow!  Is Mr. Unger a D-WV or an R-WV in disguise?  It sure sounds like he could be an R...or maybe he's just an example of that moderate democrat we hear so much about but rarely see...

Perhaps most surprisingly, Unger expressed his belief that the federal government is actually devolving and therefore shifting much of its power to the state government.  He cited No Child Left Behind (NCLB) as evidence of this shift.  This seemed strange and somehow illogical.  Many proponents of education and of state’s rights cite NCLB as doing the opposite; most see this as an example of how the federal government is seizing power from the state.  This view seems more logical and correct: when the federal government dictates to the state what they must achieve, it (the federal government) is taking power, not giving it. 

NCLB is criticized as taking state's rights.  Bush is criticized as grabbing power from the states.  Am I missing something?

Senator Unger provided a brief overview of just what it is that our representatives do.  Specifically, he explained that our state senate is compromised of 34 members.  These 34 members are given plenty of opportunity to serve in various committees. Through these committees, senators are able to carefully review proposed bills, thereby eliminating “bad bills” in committee, rather than waiting to debate each and every bill on the senate floor.  Other responsibilities Unger outlined include constituent services, such as workers compensation, voter registration, etc.. 

Previewing the upcoming election, Unger cited what he sees as the two single most important campaign details: campaign finance and having a chairmanship in the senate.  Unger seemed to take issue with contributions made to his compititoin, Jerry Mays, from big coal companies, but he didn't give specifics.  Further more, he didn't outline why the contributions would be wrong/unethical.  His chairmanship argument was more logical (we shouldn’t replace him because it may take Jerry Mays a long time to earn a chairmanship) yet still weak: we shouldn’t keep a representative simply because of the perks that come from that particular representative.

The question and answer session was the most interesting.  As an education major, the prospect of working in WV where I will make $10-$20,000 less than if I were to travel to Virginia or Maryland to teach.  Mr. Unger proudly proclaimed his support for locality pay, even if that means taking on the WVEA.  He used the argument, “are teachers professionals?  Do all professionals in other professions make the same amount of money?  Then why should teachers?”  This is an excellent argument, and I took much comfort in his very apparent disapproval of the WVEA and his pledge of support for local educators.

Surely a DEMOCRAT was not heard being critical to any union, let alone the teachers' union!!  It's possible, I think, that Mr. Unger could very well be ensuring his political death by combating the WVEA.  On the other hand, Jefferson and Berkely counties are not union strongholds and they are certainly the biggest benefactors of the proposed locality pay issue.

Finally, it was clear to see that Mr. Unger represents the feelings, if not the precise positions, of many residents of the Eastern Panhandle and its nearby counties:

“I view Charleston in this way: there is the Kingdom of Kanawha, and then there are 54 colonies which it rules.” 

I think this echoes the thoughts and beliefs of much of WV, particularly, though, the Eastern Panhandle. 

Yes.  Yes yes yes  That is exactly how anybody who studies--even slightly--WV politics ought to feel.  Charleston doles out money and authority according to who is loyal to the King--that is, who helps keep the people of Charleston in power. Shelly Moore-Capito (R-WV) of the House of Delegates [typo] Representatives is NO better, even though she sits on a federal level.  She and esteemed WV delegate Mollohan are practically neighbors in the Huntington/Charleston areas, yet they claim to represent all of WV.  It's a sad truth...I'm not saying I don't like her, but come on.

As I am not a resident of District 16 and can therefore not vote for or against Mr. Unger, it is not important that he should have convinced me that he is the best candidate.  However, I can say that if I were eligible to vote in his district, after hearing his “lecture,” I would have to be crazy to not at least consider him as a serious contender for my vote.

It'll be interesting to see how all this pans out.  Jerry Mays is supposed to speak to the class this week or next, so I'll follow up with that.

For more on John Unger, has an intriguing piece on him and his accomplishments.  You can also visit his (partially completed) homepage.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

"Bush Confesses to War Crimes"

I didn't want to write about politics today.  The day should be reserved for the victims of 9/11.  But when the press continues to blast America and the President, how can anyone who is proud of the United States  and supports our President remain silent.

"Bush Confesesses to War Crimes" screams a headline placed in a rather prominent location on the Netscape homepage.  How disturbing.  I followed the link to an article at The Online Journal, whose tagline "Established 1998 to provide uncensored and accurate news, analysis and commentary" should be changed to "Established 1998 to provide partisan assertions which further divide the already split nation, disrespect the Presidency and protect terrorists' rights over the lives of Americans." 

The gist of the article is that President Bush is a liar who (personally?) tortures people in heinous war crimes.  Then he begs congress to change the rules and retroactively protect him. 

George W. Bush's speech on September 6 amounted to a public confession to criminal violations of the 1996 War Crimes Act. He implicitly admitted authorizing disappearances, extrajudicial imprisonment, torture, transporting prisoners between countries and denying the International Committee of the Red Cross access to prisoners.

These are all serious violations of the Geneva Conventions. The War Crimes Act makes grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and all violations of Common Article 3 punishable by fines, imprisonment or, if death results to the victim, the death penalty.

Without a doubt, liberals would abandon their anti-death penalty stance and Howard Dean would be leading the angry mob, rope in hand, ready to lynch Rummy, Cheney, Bush et. al.

At the same time, Bush asked Congress to amend the War Crimes Act in order to retroactively protect him and other U.S. officials from prosecution for these crimes, and from civil lawsuits arising from them. He justified this on the basis that "our military and intelligence personnel involved in capturing and questioning terrorists could now be at risk of prosecution under the War Crimes Act . . . ," and insisted that ?passing this legislation ought to be the top priority? for Congress between now and the election in November.

His profession of concern for military and intelligence personnel was utterly misleading.  Military personnel charged with war crimes have always been, and continue to be, prosecuted under the Universal Code of Military Justice rather than the War Crimes Act; and the likelihood of CIA interrogators being identified and prosecuted under the act is remote -- they are protected by the secrecy that surrounds all CIA operations.

This would probably be a fairly plausible statement.  However, it seems likely, if not probable, that some certain members of the liberal persuasion would personally identify CIA interrogators and front the money to prosecute them.

The only real beneficiaries of such amendments to the War Crimes Act would be Bush himself and other civilian officials who have assisted him in these crimes -- Rumsfeld, Cheney, Gonzales, Rice, Cambone, Tenet, Goss, Negroponte and an unfortunately long list of their deputies and advisors.


One prong of the U.S. government's attack on the Geneva Conventions has been the assertion that they do not provide a laundry list of what techniques of treatment and interrogation are permitted or prohibited. This is, of course, because the Geneva Conventions instead contain blanket prohibitions on torture, cruelty and humiliation. It has only been the efforts of U.S. officials to encroach on these prohibitions that may have raised doubt among U.S. personnel as to what is and is not permitted.

Why is this?  Why does the US government need a detailed list of what is/is not torture?  Because left wing nuts think it is appropriate to proclaim from the top of their lungs that sleep deprivation, extra cold air conditioning or repeatedly playing music by The Red Hot Chili Peppers is, in effect, torture.  Is this torture?  No.  It is not.  Is it so terrible that a detained terrorist only gets 20 minutes of sleep in three days and in exchange the United States gets a tip that could protect even a single American citizen from such a fate as that which our loved ones suffered five years ago? No.  One saved American is worth one tired terrorist.

For five years, U.S. government officials have justified unlawful actions with political arguments that have no legal merit.  Now that the political tide is turning, Bush and his associates are behaving like other war criminals throughout history, marshalling what power they have left to shield themselves from the legitimate consequences of their actions.

Can this person be serious?  War crimes set aside, how can anybody with any mental capacity believe that the "political tide is turning?"  Thanks to Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Republicans need only maintain the status quo to hold their seats.  The tide is not turning.  Bush is not a war criminal.  How we have changed in five years. I want these lefties to stop for ten minutes and think about the anger they felt after watching the towers fall.  What happened to the zeal?  What happened to our resolve to, not only stop, but annihilate the Islamists (or Islamofascist or Muslim or whatever the correct term is) enemy that brought this carnage to our home front.  God help us if we don't get that zeal and passion back.

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Where were you?

Alan Jackson's "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" is one of the best representations of 9/11 sentiment that I can think of.  It really hits home with me.  Watch the video below.  I'm going to write about where I was, and I encourage you--if you need a place--to leave a comment talking about where you were, what you were thinking and how you've held up since, or any other thoughts/feelings you have as we remember back five years ago.

I--like so many others--can remember exactly where I was when I first heard the news.  I was sitting in my 10th grade keyboarding class.  Somebody had heard rumor of the happenings, but nobody had confirmed anything at this point. As I left that classroom and headed for the bandroom--with wild reports of planes dropping out of the sky into Dulles, DC and Pennsylvania, but not yet any information on the World Trade Center or on who had done it--I headed to the band room hoping that my family members--many of whom work around the DC/Metro area--would be safe.

The band room was buzzing with speculation, but nothing had been confirmed.  The misinformation that was spreading quickly through school was highly inaccurate and only served to help complicate the situation.  The classroom TV's and radios were left off--whether this was by mandate from the "higher ups" or just teacher discretion is still unclear.  While the logic--don't scare the kids any more than they already are--is understandable, all leaving us in the dark really served to do was to perpetuate teh spreading of rumors and speculation. 

When I arrived home, I knew something had happened, but still was unsure of what.  I remember saying, "I don't want to hear any more about this from anybody but the news." Mom had been watching CNN all day, so it was already on.  We watched Aaron Brown who, for all his current faults, covered the situation with strength and resolve.

September 11, 2001 did not "change" me, but it did serve to wake me up and strengthen my beliefs.  Though at 15 I didn't have a huge grasp on politics, prior to 9/11 I was NOT a fan of President Bush (though I respected him as the President)--that all changed with 9/11.  I took comfort in Bush's speech shortly after 9/11:

Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America.

I suppose my biggest concern five years later is that many Americans have forgotten the brutal slaying of 3,000 of our brothers and sisters.  We have forgotten that it was an unprovoked attack against the heart of our economy and our military.  We have forgotten what it felt like to watch those planes smash into the towers and the Pentagon.  And in our forgetfulness, we have lost the passion and the resolve that it is going to take to stop those who hate us.  This is a continuing war.  We're not done yet, and most of us understand why.

Listen to the song provided above.  Think back to 9/11.  Remember those feelings.

God Bless the United States.  God Bless the President and our troops.  Thoughts and prayers to all who were lost, and to all who remain as we remember five years after September 11, 2001.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lamb Taco

After a week of eating the stuff folks try to pass off as real food all week via the campus Dining Hall, the chance to spend a Saturday afternoon in the kitchen (and then in front of the grill) cooking and eating is a much welcomed event.  After this past weekend, I can assure you that lamb tacos are just delicious. How do I know? 'Cuz I made them using a recipe from Bobby Flay. Here's a picture of the plated product (which, in this instance, was enjoyed with an ice-cold Stella Artois).

I made the sauce, the corn guacamole (which is quite heavenly, though I think it was missing something...maybe a little extra lime juice and some scallions?), and the salsa all from scratch.  The recipe is available on this page.  Be sure to get everything on the list.  (Just for those not good with conversions, the 4 cups of red wine vinegar is equal to TWO 16oz bottles. I had to substitute raspberry vinegar, though it tasted just fine.  Also, if you can't find goat cheese (or you don't like it) don't substitute Feta because--as good as feta is--it doens't quite mix with the rest of this recipe's ingredients).

Definitely take the 3+ hours it takes to cook this if you have the chance.  It's well worth the time spent. Happy cooking (and eating).

Friday, September 08, 2006

A public service announcement

I'm proud to present you a public service announcement on behalf of Monty Python's Flying Circus.  But first, a review of this week's posts:

For anybody who reads this blog (if there is anybody who reads this blog) feel free to discuss any of the above topics.  If you don't want to discuss, hell, just leave a comment.  It'd be nice to know that somebody out there is stopping by...

And now without further adieu, I give you "something completely different:" (Please pardon the [German?] subtitles),

Have a good weekend, all...

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Al Fresco Dining

Just a quick one...It's 11:30 and I'm about beat. The friends, girlfriend and I went out to eat tonight. Due to our pressing Thursday schedules, we dined inside Shepherdstown again this week.

To the left is an outdoor dining area at the local place, the Blue Moon Cafe', where we ate tonight (even though we ate inside). I had a "Mediterranean Wrap" and a side of pasta salad (rigatoni with roasted red peppers, big delicious olives and a sort of balsamic vinaigrette) and a diet Pepsi. The entire meal was quite scrumptious. Afterwards, we went to Mimi's Icecream (their cake batter ice cream is so good it should probably be outlawed in most states) and then on to the Republican meeting.

In unrelated news, we had another guest speaker in State/Local government today. A democrat incumbent for state senate for the 16th district. I'll have a speaker review up tomorrow or Monday.

More tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

That's me

Traditional Culture Warrior--yep, that's me, or at least so says Bill O'Reilly via his new "Are you a Culture Warrior" test on his site.  The test, obviously, is to play up his new book.

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Maybe its something in the name?

Many Bush supporters have been lamenting for some time now about the lack of the Administration's offense against his liberal attackers.  Finally they have stricken back. Blogs for Bush has the story, but here are a few highlights of Chief of Staff Joshua Bolton's fiery reply to a letter from Harry Reid demanding a "new direction in Iraq."  Maybe it's something in the 'Bolton' name?

Thank you for your September 4 letter to the President. I am responding on his behalf...

First, you propose "transitioning the U.S. mission in Iraq to counter-terrorism, training, logistics and force protection." That is what we are now doing, and have been doing for several years.

Second, your letter proposes "working with Iraqi leaders to disarm the militias and to develop a broad-based and sustainable political settlement, including amending the Constitution to achieve a fair sharing of power and resources." You are once again urging that the Bush Administration adopt an approach that has not only been embraced, but is now being executed.

Third, your letter calls for "convening an international conference and contact group to support a political settlement in Iraq, to preserve Iraq's sovereignty, and to revitalize the stalled economic reconstruction and rebuilding effort." The International Compact for Iraq, launched recently by the sovereign Iraqi government and the United Nations, is the best way to work with regional and international partners to make substantial economic progress in Iraq, help revitalize the economic reconstruction and rebuilding of that nation, and support a fair and just political settlement in Iraq -- all while preserving Iraqi sovereignty. This effort is well under way, it has momentum, and I urge you to support it.

Here's the longest--and arguably most important--piece.  It just happens to be my personal favorite part:

On the fourth element of your proposed “new direction,” however, we do disagree strongly. Our strategy calls for redeploying troops from Iraq as conditions on the ground allow, when the Iraqi Security Forces are capable of defending their nation, and when our military commanders believe the time is right. Your proposal is driven by none of these factors; instead, it would have U.S. forces begin withdrawing from Iraq by the end of the year, without regard to the conditions on the ground. Because your letter lacks specifics, it is difficult to determine exactly what is contemplated by the “phased redeployment” you propose. (One such proposal, advanced by Representative Murtha, a signatory to your letter, suggested that U.S. forces should be redeployed as a “quick reaction force” to Okinawa, which is nearly 5,000 miles from Baghdad).

Yea, I don't know that anybody but Murtha understands that...

Regardless of the specifics you envision by “phased redeployment,” any premature withdrawal of U.S forces would have disastrous consequences for America’s security. Such a policy would embolden our terrorist enemies; betray the hopes of the Iraqi people; lead to a terrorist state in control of huge oil reserves; shatter the confidence our regional allies have in America; undermine the spread of democracy in the Middle East; and mean the sacrifices of American troops would have been in vain. This “new direction” would lead to a crippling defeat for America and a staggering victory for Islamic extremists. That is not a direction this President will follow. The President is being guided by a commitment to victory -- and that plan, in turn, is being driven by the counsel and recommendations of our military commanders in the region.

And as for Rummy?

Finally, your letter calls for replacing Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. We strongly disagree.

Secretary Rumsfeld is an honorable and able public servant. Under his leadership, the United States Armed Forces and our allies have overthrown two brutal tyrannies and liberated more than 50 million people.

The full letter can be viewed at the Drudge Report.

That'll do, Chief, that'll do.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Today in my Education class, I led the discussion on convergent (questions with just one right answer.  They typically begin with --who, what, when etc.) questions v. divergent (questions with multiple answers such as what were the causes of the Revolutionary War) questions.  After my presentation, the professor (who is never satisfied with student responses and always feels the need to add 10 or 15 minutes worth of explanation to a student answer) felt the need to go around the room and have each student ask a convergent question and a divergent question which pertained to the student's field of study. 

One student, a fellow Social Studies Ed. major, used (something close to) the following divergent question:  "What are some elements of discrimination today and have you ever experience discrimination?"  The following (paraphrased as accurately as possible) dialogue ensued:

Teacher:  Excellent question!  That would certainly bring about a multitude of responses.  Just for curiosity, how many of you feel that you have, at some point, been discriminated against?

Students: (One or two students put their hands up.  Mine remains down, though technically I suppose I am discriminated against on the basis that I am one of the few vocal Republicans on campus.)

Teacher: Well, we won't go into personal stories, but I can see that it's only the females who put their hands up.  That's good.  Terry, Jeff, Paul and Randall couldn't really put their hands up as they--and myself--are white men and therefore we aren't discriminated against, we are, instead, the discriminator.

While historically white men may be the biggest culprits, it just seems to me that this statement was totally uncalled for, unprofessional and unneeded.  I don't discriminate against anyone based on group stereotypes.  That is, I don't look at a black man and say, "Oh he's stupid because he's black" or "he's lazy because he's black."  Now, if I meet a lazy black woman who is stupid I might say, "she's a stupid, lazy woman."  Does that mean I'm racist?  Sexist? By definition no, it just means I have identified a stupid women who is black.  Will I be perceived  racist or discriminatory?  Oh, I'd say it's safe to be that I would be.  I'm sure it would be met with something hateful that might go something like this: "Take that back.  You are a racist republican bigot.  Go to hell you fascist Nazi pig."

Today's Moral: In the past I've used this sort of format to express what I see as lessons learned from life.  It's applicable today, so I'll use it again.  If we can learn anything from this, it is that discrimination is something which can, if not through definition than through practice, only be exhibited by whites, specifically white, male, straight Christians.  These are the bad, evil ones who can say nothing--regardless of how true the statement might be--about anyone but themselves. Simply because I was born white, male and straight and because I have chosen to be Christian, I have some sort of unfair privilege and should therefore carry some sort of "white-man's guilt" that can never be over come.  There is a professor on this campus who is infamous for saying, "I can't be racist, I'm black."  That, unfortunately, is the sad mentality of many blacks, feminists and members of other minorities. It is only when this mentality is overcome that we shall achieve the equality whom these folks so vigorously claim as their sole purpose in life.  I don't know that I'll live to see it...

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