MrSpkr's random thoughts . . .
Monday, January 31, 2005
Enlightened European Socialism? Only if 'enlightened' means forcing citizens to (literally) whore for benefits
Hat tip, Drudge Report.
A German woman, a laid off IT professional, has been threatened with losing her unemployment benefits if she does not take a job as a prostitute.
You see, in Germany, prostitution is legal. And, under German 'welfare reform', any woman under 55 who refuses to accept a job to which she is referred by an employment agency can have her benefits cut.
"There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry," said Merchthild Garweg, a lawyer from Hamburg who specialises in such cases. "The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits."
What's worse, the employment centers cannot refuse to send women to such potential employers.
Employers in the sex industry can also advertise in job centres, a move that came into force this month. A job centre that refuses to accept the advertisement can be sued.
So how bad can these "jobs" be?
At one job centre in the city of Gotha, a 23-year-old woman was told that she had to attend an interview as a "nude model", and should report back on the meeting.
Wow. It used to be illegal to force people to be whores (or at least to smuggle them into Germany from other countries).
I guess now the benevolent and enlightened German government has decided to take that power for themselves.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Check out MoverMike!
MoverMike sent my a line earlier about a political post. His blog is a bit like this one (or at least, like this one would be if I had lots more time to put into it), and worth the read. Check him out!
Oh, and if you need new furniture and live in the Portland, Oregon area, check out his wife's store, LandFair Furniture. I'm glad Amy and I don't live near there, or we would probably spend enough at that store to put one of his Mike's through college!
Victor Davis Hanson does it again
Great article on why Republicans must lead, and not merely be content to occupy the majority chair for the time being.
Friday, January 28, 2005
Beer Saves Lives!
Monday, January 24, 2005
I wish they would do this more often . . .
prosecute, that is. This kind of electioneering crap is both beneath the pale and beneath where we should be as a democracy.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Another icon of my youth has passed. Rest in peace, Mr. Carson.
Friday, January 21, 2005
This story reminds me of Gary Hart's decision . . .
to challenge the press to find evidence of adultery (wa-a-ay back in 1987).
Senator Hart lived ot regret that decision. "Monkey Business" with Rice, anyone?
Sloan out as Baylor President
Interesting. Sloan has been a leader in advocating a Christian Liberal Arts education at the University level, with a decided conservative slant. One wonders what will happen now to this fledgling program at Baylor.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Moon the motorcade?
Not a wise idea. Probably a great invitation for a Republican to deliver a boot to the malefactor's hindquarters.
Hat tip, the Corner.
Congratulations, Mr. President!
His inaugural speech touched mainly on foreign policy issues.
"The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."
Amen. This is a very Wilsonian speech; however, unlike Wilson, Bush is willing to do what he believes is right rather than wait for international approval.
"So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
Good. Democracies do not go to war with one another.
"Some have unwisely chosen to test America's resolve, and have found it firm."
Is he thinking of Iraqi insurgents, or maybe Iranian mullahs?
"America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies. We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people."
Amen. A shot across the bow of Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and China.
"In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and their can be no human rights without liberty."
"Liberty for all does not mean independence from one another."
A shot at Libertarians, perhaps? I would certainly think so.
Overall, a very good vision for America's foreign policy future.
I recently Read Norman Podhoretz's latest essay on World War IV (available through Commentary Magazine's website). This speech confirms many of Podhoretz's assertions: that George W. Bush will not back down on his foreign policy agenda in his second term. Here's hoping that is true.
Perhaps they don't understand the fundamental difference . . .
between Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush.
More on the terrorism alert in Boston . . .
Chinese and Iraqis? What the heck is going on?
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
"Jury Pool from Hell'? He won, didn't he?
A defense attorney in Memphis, TN, described a recent jury pool as "the jury pool from hell" full of admissions of bias, prior criminal conduct, etc., etc.
But they found his trailer-park client not guilty of bashing her brother's girlfriend in the face with a brick, so maybe that wasn't the 'jury pool from hell'.
Maybe it was simply a "jury of her peers".
What if John Kerry and AlGore threw a party
and nobody came?
Irony has a funny way of showing itself.
Hat tip, OpinionJournal:
In September the Daily Nebraskan, the student newspaper at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, published a column by Derek Kieper that argued against mandatory seat-belt laws:As laws become increasingly strict for seat belts, fewer people will respond positively by buckling up in response to the laws. There seems to be a die-hard group of non-wearers out there who simply do not wish to buckle up no matter what the government does. I belong to this group. . . .
Telling me to wear my seat belt is the same as making sure I have some sort of proper education before diving into a swimming pool. If I want to dive in without knowing how to swim, that is my right. And if I want to be the jerk that flirts with death and rides around with my seat belt off, I should be able to do that, too.
Today's Lincoln Journal Star reports the sad ending of the Kieper story:Kieper, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, died early Tuesday morning when the Ford Explorer he was a passenger in travelled off an icy section of Interstate 80 and rolled several times in a ditch. . . . Derek, who was thrown from the vehicle, was not wearing a seat belt.
When you flirt with death, you run the risk that death has something more serious in mind.
There's more that OpinionJournal did not publish:
Two others in the vehicle, including the driver, Luke Havermann of Ogallala, and the front-seat passenger, Nick Uphoff of Randolph Air Force Base in Texas, sustained non-life threatening injuries.
Havermann and Uphoff were wearing seat belts at the time.
I guess you can say that he died for what he believed in . . .
Just heard on ABC radio . . .
that FBI and other officials are roaming the streets of Boston after receiving what has been deemed a credible threat of detonating a "dirty bomb" in the city tomorrow.
Scary times. My prayers go out to Bostonians that this will not happen.
In case you need a lawyer in Colorado . . .
don't use these guys -- but they are good for a laugh.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Saddam thought the same thing. Twice.
Someone forgot to tell these folks.
My favorite part:
[A local resident] said Embarrass had been prepared for bitter cold as early as last Thursday. "It only got down to 28 below, and that's nothing. That's no big deal," she said.
If you say so. IMHO, anytime the outside temperature is colder than my freezer, that's a BIG DEAL.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Odds on whether they make a new internet movie of him?
Maybe that will wake some people up to the kind of enemy we face.
Then again, none of the other flicks have, so why should one more make any difference?
The unipolar Democratic world . . .
The race for DNC chair is getting ugly. Now, one front runner, Tim Roemer, is being excoriated for being *gasp* pro-life.
It seems that the Democrats are eating their own over this (and several other) social questions.
One pol says it this way:
Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, a group that advocates for abortion rights, said she considered running for the job after Roemer entered the race, but opted against it.
"I will spend the next month leading a vigorous effort to ensure that when the DNC elects its new leader, it selects someone who stands forthrightly for a woman's right to choose," Michelman said.
"I will also urge DNC members to make an unequivocal statement that choice is both a fundamental value of the Democratic Party and an essential component of our winning message."
In other words, if she has her way, pro-life folks won't be welcome in the Democratic party (except, of course, to cast their votes for folks who will promptly ignore their views on that issue after the polls close).
I remember the Democrats claiming to be the "big tent" party full of a variety of ideas and values when I was growing up. Republicans, it was said, were all either religious fanatics or rich.
Things have changed. Now, the Republican party is much more accepting of divergent views than the Democrats. Look at the speaker's lists for the 2004 political conventions. Which party had a wider divergence of views and people?
I think this is one aspect of modern liberalism that is most distressing: the tendency to desire suppression of any speech with which the modern liberal disagrees. From hiring practices at colleges and universities to the classroom itself; from big media outlets to the Congress; liberals seem to have far less toleration for divergent views than classical liberalism would suggest is desirable.
It is tragic in that it leaves the Republicans without a truly national party / ideology with whom to compete. Competition in politics, as in other human endeavors, generally results in a better final product.
For example, were the Democrats competitive on the Congressional level, Republicans might be much less inclined to suffer ethical lapses, spend profligality, etc., etc. Republicans, in other words, might have some reason to stick to traditional Republican principles rather than becoming professional politicians interested only in being re-elected.
Former McDonald's CEO Bell dies - Jan. 17, 2005
Here's the part that got me:
A charismatic leader who said he ate a McDonald's product most days, Bell was diagnosed with colorectal cancer just weeks after being named to the company's top job in April.
Probably just a coincidence, right?
Don't get me wrong -- I like McDonald's food. But eating it every day? That's asking for trouble, IMHO.
Las Vegas weatherman fired after on-air racial slur
Slip of tongue? You decide.
But things like this are one reason (among others) that the advice against EVER using profanity or ethnic slurs is well taken.
For all we know, he simply heard a racist joke before his first broadcast. He was new on the job, got a little flustered, and screwed up.
Or he was racist, who knows?
In any event, I think the station did the right thing.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
One of my favorite pasttimes . . .
has always been wargaming. I cut my teeth on Avalon Hill's PanzerBlitz and 1776 as a kid, and through all the original versions of the classic series, Squad Leader.
Great games, great times. I couldn't find a computer game as good as the old board games until I discovered Battlefront.com's tremendous Combat Mission four years ago. I've been hooked ever since.
Now, a CM player has taken the graphics from the latest version of CM, Combat Mission: Afrika Korps, and turned it into a "digital comic book" description of a battle. Very nicely done, and a great way to showcase the magnificence that is CM.
BTW, any of you three regular readers want to have a PBEM match, drop me a line.
Friday, January 14, 2005
Great career advice?
At least he didn't suggest the students consider moving to Nevada and being a legal whore . . .
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
And now a review of my 2004 predictions
1) Howard Dean will win a majority of the Democratic delegates (and thus the nomination) by mid-March. Attempting to pose as a moderate, Dean will select either Indiana Governor Evan Bayh or Iowa Senator Bob Kerrey as a running mate. The Democrats' convention in Boston will be particularly rancorous, mostly behind the scenes, but with some notable exceptions, as people beholden to the Clintons struggle with Dean supporters for the reins of power.
The long rumored entry of Hillary Clinton into the race will remain just that -- a rumor.
The 2004 general election campaign will be marked by increasingly histrionic attacks by Governor Dean, and calm, aloof responses from the White House. With the economy hitting on all twelve cylinders and the war on terror going well, Bush will easily gain re-election, winning an absolute majority of votes cast and 45 states (he will lose Vermont, Oregon, Washington, California, and New York).
Well, this one was a real mixed bag. Dean's scream blew out his chances for the nomination as Democrats scrambled to nominate someone "electable" as opposed to someone with whom they passionately agreed. They settled for neither and ultimately nominated John Kerry, who, by the way, served in Vietnam.
The struggle for the soul of the Democratic party continues, with Howard Dean the current front runner for the DNC Chair. Current party insiders are now asking Terry McAuliffe to stay on until they can find someone to replace him (other than Howard Dean, it would seem).
Hillary stayed out, as I predicted, preferring to bide her time until 2008 (at which time she will likely secure the nomination, but lose the general election).
Kerry did unleash increasingly histrionic attacks on the White House, along with Michael Moore and the usual suspects. It wasn't enough.
By election time, the war on terror seemed to be going well, with some high profile captures in Iraq and no new major terrorist incidents leading up to the election. The economy, though talked down by the press, was running at or above many of the positive indicators from the "Clinton boom year" of 1998.
I was also correct in predicting Bush would win with a majority of votes cast (the first time that has been done since 1988), but he lost a few more states than I suspected. In addition to Vermont, Oregon, Washington, California, and New York, Bush lost New Jersey, Maine, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, Delaware, New Hampshire, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania (the last five by very tight margins).
2) Mullah Omar will be captured.
Argh. Unfortunately, this one was close, but still wrong. As of mid-December 2004, coalition forces were squeezing the one-eyed Mullah into a box somewhere along the Afghan-China border.
3) There will be at least four more publicized attempts on Pakistani President Musharraf's life. None will succeed.
Musharraf made the list because of two assassination attempts made on his life in late 2003 (the last was on Christmas Day, 2003). Although there have not been (to my knowledge) any attempts on Musharraf in 2004, there was one against his Prime Minister Designate.
4) Republicans will pick up at least ten U.S. House seats and five U.S. Senate seats. Tom Dashcle (D-SD) will be unseated by Republican John Thune.
Very close on this one. Republicans gained nine net seats in the house, and four net seats in the Senate. Tom Daschle ignored his constituents one time too many, and was narrowly ousted by Thune. After the presidential election, I was happiest about Daschle's loss.
5) There will be highly publicized arrests and/or civil fines for violations of the Campaign Finance Reform law.
Okay, so this didn't happen. There was a kerfluffle over Michael Moore's offering gag prizes to college students in return for promises to vote for Kerry (a violation of state law), but not much else.
6) The House will pass a Constitutional Amendment stating that no state shall have to recognize a marriage other than one between a man and a woman. The Amendment will remain stalled in the Senate until after the election.
Nope -- but eleven states passed amendments to their state constitutions banning gay marriage.
7) There will be a minor (less than 25 dead) terrorist attack in the United States. Leftist groups will claim it is in response to American unilateral and imperialist actions in Iraq.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
8) Republicans will split on a major Presidential initiative regarding illegal aliens. The measure will pass and become law, primarily due to Democrat votes.
Republicans wisely punted this issue to 2005 (and it WILL be a major issue this year).
9) Upon Bush' re-election, Sandra Day O'Connor and William Rehnquist will announce their retirement from the USSC. Conservatives will cheer as Bush nominates Antonin Scalia for Chief Justice.
Chief Justice Rehnquist has all but announced his retirement and that he has thyroid cancer.
10) The Dow Jones will close above 12,000 on Election Day. The NASDAQ will close above 2500.
Ouch. Election day, the Dow Jones closed at 10,035.73; the NASDAQ, 1984.79.
11) Saddam Hussein will be tried, found guilty, and executed by the new Iraqi government. In addition, as the new Iraqi government begins interrogating captured members of the Iraqi resistance, we will gain more intelligence information than before as the resistance members become unsure as to the amount of "persuasion" their fellow Iraqis will use to get information.
Hit and miss, here. We are getting more intelligence, particualrly after the post-eleciton assault on Fallujah; however, Saddam is still in Pre-Trial proceedings.
12) Blair will win his election.
Yuck. Blair didn't even HAVE an election .
13) Pope John Paul will die and be replaced, after much rancor, by an Italian-born Vatican bureaucrat.
Well, John Paul is alive, if frail. The leading candidate to replace him is, however, Italian.
14) Walter Cronkite will die.
Nope, he's still ticking -- although, it seems his brain departed this realm some time ago, judging by this statement.
15) The Cubs will break the curse and win the pennant.
Okay, I chose the wrong curse to be broken.
16) The Oklahoma Sooners will win the 2004 Sugar Bowl and the National Championship as Michigan pounds USC. The Sooners will be invited to return to the Championship game in 2005.
Ugh. We not only lost 2004, we lost 2005 as well. Glad I haven't made my predictions for this year yet.
17) The last American WWI veteran will die.
Nope. At least one of them made it to New Year's Day.
18) The Iranian people will, with outside help, overthrow the Mullahs. The United States will send substantial aid and renew relations with the new government.
Wrong again, though regional groups of Iranians have risen against the government a few times. Sigh. Hurry, please.
19) The French and German economies will tailspin into crisis as the over-valued Euro causes higher levels of inflation and hurts overseas sales of French and German products. The financial crisis will cause several members of the EU to significantly rethink their involvement with that organization.
Nope, the Euro is doing fine, though the eastern Europeans remain wary.
20) Colin Powell will resign as Secretary of State. He will be replaced by Condoleeza Rice.
I tagged this one. Condi will be confirmed by the Senate as the first concert pianist (and incidentally, the first black woman) to serve as Secretary of State.
Well, that about does it. I'm overdue for 2005 predictions - I should have them up in the next few days.
I almost forgot . . .
my deadpool picks for this year:
1. Rehnquist, William; October 1, 1924; Chief Justice, United States Supreme Court
2. Byrd, Robert C.; November 20, 1917; U.S. Senator (D-WV)
3. Ford, Gerald R.; July 14, 1913; 38th President, United States of America
4. Albert, Eddie; April 22, 1908; Actor, most known for starring role on television show “Green Acres”
5. Helms, Jesse; October 18, 1921; U.S. Senator (R-NC)
6. Thatcher, Margaret; October 13, 1925; Prime Minister, United Kingdom of England, Scotland and Wales
7. Reagan, Nancy; July 6, 1921; First Lady, United States of America
8. Strawberry, Daryl; March 12, 1962; Professional Baseball Player, dedicated drug addict
9. Westmoreland, William; March 26, 1914; General, United States Army, most known as Commander, US Forces in Vietnam
10. Flynt, Larry; November 1, 1942; Pornographer, founding publisher Hustler Magazine
11. Wiesenthal, Simon; December 31, 1908; Holocaust survivor, Founder of Simon Wiesenthal Center
12. Doohan, James; March 3, 1920; Actor, most known for role of “Scotty” in “Star Trek”
13. Biggs, Ronnie; August 8, 1929; UK prisoner most famous for role in the Great Train Robbery of 1963
14. Singh, Vivek; August 1, 1967; Hockey Player for India at Seoul Olympics
15. Stevens, John Paul; April 20, 1920; Justice, United States Supreme Court
Of course, given that I was in a 19-way tie for last place (out of around 120 participants) in 2004 (the only guy I got right was the gimme, Ronald Wilson Reagan), each of the aforementioned individuals is likely to see the ball drop in Times Square at least one more time.
At least this year, rather than just looking for old, famous dudes (he/she's old, I mean, they HAVE to be about ready to die, right?, I spent a little time looking for folks whoe are either ancient or in poor health or, preferably, both.
Yes, it's macabre. But someday, maybe someone will be picking me -- then I can have the pleasure of outliving their predictions and laughing at their low score.
The Problems with the European Right
. . . is that they have been pushed so far out of power, that fringe fanatics like LePen can get in charge.
"In France, at least, the German occupation was not particularly inhumane, although there were some blunders, inevitable in a country of 550,000 sq km."
Interestingly, the French are considering charging him with a criminal offense for this admittedly offensive statement. That too, in my opinion, is extreme and unnecessary. All criminal charges will serve to do is focus more attention on him, and make some at the fringe wonder why this man is not allowed (by force of law) to speak his mind.
Better the American system, where such bozos can be heard and ridiculed in public.
I've had this conversation many times with a young man in Belgium who sees no distinction between freedom of speech and democracy on the one hand and making some political speech criminal on the other. I do not believe the government should EVER be allowed to criminalize pure political speech. The only reason to do so is that it offends some group. The problem is not that the group is offended, but that changing mores and values (as well as changes in political power) make it extremely likely that the government's definition of offensive speech will change amd grow broader over time.
Should Democrats or Leftists who compare Bush with Hitler, and Republicans with Brownshirts, be charged with a crime? How about Republicans who charge Leftists with being commies etc., etc.?
No, I say. Let the sides make the charges, and let each side defend themselves. Anyone familiar with history recognizes the recklessness of the "Bush=Hitler" charges, and recognizes how ridiculous such a statement really is. Those who aren't and don't would only be encouraged by government suppression (why is the government suppressing those thoughts? What is it that they don't want me to know?).
Better to let free speech reign, and the chips to fall where they may.
I just watched the launch of the Deep Impact space probe (Lords, that sounds like the name of a bad porn movie -- who names this stuff, anyway?) with my youngest son, Joe.
I can still remember my mom and dad getting me up at Gawd-awful hours in the early Seventies to watch the Apollo missions. I remember watching, awestruck, as men walked on the moon.
I am sure I was watching Neil Armstrong's initial visit to the moon, but I was only two and a half, so I really don't remember that one.
But I remember others. I remember seeing the Lunar Rover, and even wanting a model of that buggy. I remember a visit to NASA in 1976, and seeing the Apollo capsules, the old-style space suits, the enormous Saturn V rocket (I even got a model of that rocket to play with at home).
I can remember going out to my back yard at night, staring at the moon, hoping to see the astronauts (what do you want -- I was six or seven at the time!).
It was all very neat. I felt like the folks in the space program were the new cowboys of my era, and felt enormous pride in being part of a nation that could do such things.
Now, however, it is all so blase' to my son. Joe (four years old) was less than impressed with it all. To him, rockets to to outer space were little more than routine.
Now I can begin to understand how my grandparents must have felt about passenger airplanes, or the thought of taking one-week vacation to florida, 1500 miles away.
Progress is good, but it makes me wonder -- what will happen next? What immense undertaking will my children take pride in? What will fuel their energies, their imaginations?
I can only hope that, whatever it is, it will impact them the way the Apollo program impacted me.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Thanks, Steven den Beste
This is a series of posts by Steven den Beste of the U.S.S. Clueless blog. They explain why the site is no longer being updated and the perils of popularity in the Blogosphere.
I'll keep you in my prayers, Steven (yes, I know you're an atheist, but while there's breath there's hope). Clueless was one of my daily "must check" sites long before I began this humble blog, and it is a shame to hear of Steven's misfortune.
That all being said, I have been contemplating where to take this blog. My long-term readers (you know who you are -- all three of you) may have noticed posting has been erratic as of late. There are two reasons for this. First, work has been hellaciously busy. Second, I find myself wondering what to talk about next. I mean, where is this experiment in digital commentary going? Right now, it feels like a road trip without a destination, and, while that can be fun at first, anyone who's taken a family vacation knows what a relief it is to get out of the car at the end of the trip and be able to look forward to sleeping in your own bed at night.
I owe a few posts to people -- for example, I promised my friend Joe Shaw a response to his questions about my view of modern liberalism, and I will get those posts soon. Promise.
But I need a long term goal, or this tiny light in the blogosphere will soon burn out.
Monday, January 10, 2005
Thank you sir, may we have another?
The most amusing part of this story is this quote:
The independent investigators – former Republican Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and Louis Boccardi, retired president and chief executive officer of The Associated Press – said they could find no evidence to conclude the report was fueled by a political agenda.
Did they try looking under Dan Rather's office desk?
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
This says it all. . .
ESPN.com - NCF/BOWLS04 - Forde: Sooners couldn't quite cross the finish line: "surprising fragility within an undefeated team. Oklahoma had not faced an appreciable deficit all season and lacked the composure to deal with it.
Freshman hero Adrian Peterson looked slower than he had all year against the swift USC defense. Oklahoma's vaunted offensive line "
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
OU is down 38-10 at halftime.
Who are those guys in the white jerseys and what have they done with my beloved Sooners?
Tommy Tuberville Loses Touch With Reality
Ahh, Tommy. Face it -- you aren't number one. You didn't make it to the big dance. And, quite frankly, what you are suggesting is little different than taking your sister to prom and calling her a 'date'.
Somebody -- the Football Writers Association perhaps -- will crown Auburn No. 1, Tuberville believes. And when they do, he said the team will receive national championship rings.
"I've got a subscription to Golf Digest. I'm going to call them and ask them if they'll vote us No. 1. It means as much as the other ones. I'm telling you, when you went 13-0, you should be national champion. There's no doubt about it. We've done all we can do."
Check that. It's little different than taking your sister to prom, calling her your 'date', then trying to get a good night kiss when you bring her home.
Don't get me wrong -- Auburn had a good run.
So did Utah -- who, by the way, beat the crap out of their opponent and never had to 'hold on' to win the game.
Neither are national champions.
That title is reserved, of course, for my beloved Sooners, who will win their EIGHTH national title this evening.
The Sooners will deserve to wear the rings. The Tigers won't -- and no amount of softshoeing will change that simple fact.