Archive for November 2008

Totally Frivolous Yet Totally Awesome

November 17, 2008

My birthday present, the Oregon Scientific atc2k “Waterproof Hands Free Action Cam:”

It mounts to either your helmet or bike. That means I can now post video of my rides, instead of just descriptions.

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This Would Be The Kiss Of Death Anywhere Outside The Confederacy

November 17, 2008

Dick Cheney to appear at Fleming fundraiser.”

Hey Congress, Save The Economy, Pay Off My Student Loans

November 14, 2008

As the trough widens to include makers of crappy cars, I figured out the solution to our economic problems. A bailout of student loans, plus five grand in cash, but only if the bailee promises to use the five grand and the extra money they will then have in their budgets to buy a new car from Ford, GM, or Chrysler.

It would be perfect.

Who knows what it would cost, but it has to be less than three quarters of a billion dollars. There’s probably thousands of people with student loan payments equal to a decent car note. So it seems expensive. But costs would be cut at the bottom. The purchase requirement would weed out anyone who doesn’t really need the bailout; you probably would not take the deal if you only owed a few grand in student loans.

It wouldn’t be that hard to administer. As proof of purchase, the government could require a copy of your new registration within six months of receipt of the funds. Failure to make the purchase means you have to repay the bailout, with interest.

It would reward positive behavior. People with student loans did the responsible thing. They worked hard and got an education so they could have good jobs and not be burdens on society. Don’t we want to encourage that? These aren’t greedy investment bankers, crooked insurance companies, incompetent auto makers, reckless home buyers, or any of the other poorly behaving people and entities we’re currently rescuing. There’s no moral hazard here.

It would also save the auto makers. I’m not sure they need saving. They’re dying because they deserve to die. They make lousy cars, and have for years. If they made a better product, they would not need help. But if we have to save them, at least this would be a little closer to a free market than simply handing over bucket loads of taxpayer dollars. This way, I get something in return.

And it would also be a great way to finally end all government aid to the Big Three. If not enough folks take the deal, what does that say about those companies? Their cars are so crappy that people won’t take them even for free? If this doesn’t work, no one needs to feel bad about letting GM, Ford, and Chrysler die.

So how about it Congress? Everyone else is getting a handout, how about us responsible people for a change?

The Ten Commandments v. The Seven Aphorisms

November 13, 2008

Public display of the former is the cause celebre of demagogues everywhere. Public display of the latter is, I think, a stunt to prove the hypocrisy of the demagogues: That as soon as the issue changes from the power of the state to put Ten Commandments monuments in schools or courthouses to the power of the state to put other religions’ symbols in those places, their tune would change, too. The stunt worked.

Some podunk town in Utah let some God and Country group put a Ten Commandments monument in a park. Some God and America Hatin’ group sued, saying it was a violation of the establishment clause. The town, defended by, inter alia, Jay Sekulow and the American Center for Law and Justice, won the case and the monument stayed put.

Enter some crackpot religious group with their own goofy list, called the Seven Aphorisms. They said, “hey, if the town can have a monument to one religion on its land, it has to treat them all equally, and we want our monument up there, too. If the establishment clause means anything, it means the government can’t favor one religion over another.” The town said no. Guess who is helping them defend the power to endorse one religion and not others, to make a completely content based decision over what kind of religious monuments to approve? Yep, Jay Sekulow and the American Center for Law and Justice, always ready to ignore the establishment clause and defend religious freedom, so long as “religious” is defined as “Christian” and “freedom” is defined as “government power.”

Round one, in the District Court, went to the town. Round two, in the Circuit Court went to the crackpots. Yesterday, the two squared off in the Supreme Court, and it looks like it could go either way.

(BTW, I posted about this case after the Circuit Court decision. That post is a bit more serious, and has all the relevant links.)

I Still Would Never Vote For Her, But I’d Sure Watch Pro Wrestling Again

November 12, 2008

I haven’t watched it since fourth grade, when, in a revelation more harmful than the truth about Santa Clause, I discovered it was fake. This might make me a fan again:

If Sarah Palin still wants to be a running mate, she’s got options.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling — TNA to fans — is making the Alaska governor and former vice presidential candidate a $50,000 offer to take an honorary position in the company.

Fittingly, the not-unattractive Palin would join the “Beautiful People” stable of wrestlers, currently headlined by bombshells Angelina Love and Velvet Sky.

Fox Sports has a poll asking what her finishing move will be called. I voted for the current leader: The Wassilla Thrilla. I liked the Bridge to Nowhere, too. Here’s Fox’s top ten reasons she ought to join. My favorite? Either number six:

Sure, wrestling’s fake. But it’s more sporting than shooting wolves from helicopters.

Or number five:

After years as a self-proclaimed “hockey mom” she’s interested in getting involved in a more mainstream sport.

Or number two:

Part IV of the Katie Couric interview to be held on pay-per-view … in the steel cage! I got an answer to your “follow-up question” right here, Katie.

All I can do is hope.

How About Sponsors On The Uniforms, Too?

November 12, 2008

Yes, schools need cash:

The Ouachita Parish School Board has asked its purchasing manager to check into the possibility of selling advertising space on school buses.

According to the story, the state Board of Ed has a regulation prohibiting ads on buses, so it probably won’t happen. Too bad. Not only would it make money for schools, but it would make it easier for kids to remember what bus they ride. Instead of “bus 87,” it’s “the Viagra bus.”

Having A Black POTUS Means We’ve Got That Race Thing All Settled

November 12, 2008

Er, or not:

An Oklahoma woman who was invited to a rural Louisiana campsite for a Ku Klux Klan initiation ritual was fatally shot after she asked to be taken back to town, the sheriff of a New Orleans suburb said today. . . .

The woman, whose identity has not been released, was recruited over the Internet to participate in the ritual then return to her home state to find other members for the white supremacist group, [St. Tammany Sheriff Jack] Strain said.

But Strain said the group’s leader, Raymond “Chuck” Foster, 44, fatally shot the woman Sunday after a fight broke out when she tried to leave. Foster is being held without bond on a charge of second-degree murder.

How About We Fire All The Administrators?

November 11, 2008

Gotta love the “positive” plans to improve Caddo Parish’s ten failing schools:

[Caddo Superintendent Gerald] Dawkins proposed to board members last week that all jobs in the district’s academically unacceptable schools be posted for applications and the schools be reconfigured.

Right. We should fire all the teachers – letting them reapply for their old jobs, of course – because everyone knows the real problem at Angola Prep Woodlawn High School is that hundreds of superb teachers are banging on the door, hoping to work there, but the Old Guard of Tenured Teachers won’t let them in.

Or not:

Four more to go.

Slowly but surely, the Filipino teacher recruits are arriving to take spots in Caddo public school classrooms where long-term substitutes have filled in the gaps. Ten of the educators start work today after arriving in Shreveport on Friday evening.

Caddo is so desperate for teachers – mostly at failing or close to failing schools – that they’re bringing in people from the Phillipines to fill the empty spots. But if we just fire all the teachers at the failing schools, suddenly, out of the sky, a swarm of super teachers will descend upon Caddo, to save us all.

On the other hand, qualified teachers could continue to flee Caddo for surrounding parishes, where they do not have to worry about being shot by students, or fired post mortem by administrators who are mad because the teacher did not take the gun prior to being shot by it.

Those failing schools are incredibly difficult places to teach. Most of the students will arrive for class without anything to write with or on. If you give them notes, those who did come prepared will probably ignore you. Of the few who do scribble something down, many will lose them before even leaving class. If you give a homework assignment, you might have ten per cent of the kids return it. You’ll be cussed, threatened, and harassed daily. If you call the home of a student, you won’t get an answer, and if you do, it will be something like “he yo’ problem at school.” If you toss one of the thugs out of class, you will be reprimanded and the student returned to class. The students know this. Your roof might leak. The air probably won’t work. You better not bring anything you value to school, because it will be stolen. Half your students will be absent every day. When all  of them do come, there won’t be enough books or desks. In addition to the stress of the classroom, you have school bureaucrats, school board bureaucrats, and state bureaucrats second guessing and micro-managing everything you do. And when most of the students fail the standardized tests, it’s your fault.

Now, according to the Superintendent, for enduring all of this, your thanks at the end of the year is a pink slip. But you can reapply for that wonderful job. Yeah, that’ll attract qualified teachers to Caddo Parish.

Anyone Wanna Bet None Of These Guys Attended Either School?

November 11, 2008

After Saturday’s LSU-Alabama game, I almost put up a post asking if it was a moral victory or a bitter defeat. For the victims of this alleged crime, it was a bitter defeat:

Authorities say an argument over Saturday’s Alabama-LSU football game led to the shooting deaths of a couple at a home in southern Alabama.

Prosecutors identified the victims as Dennis and Donna Smith of Brewton. The shooting happened about 7 p.m. Saturday at the home of Michael Williams in the rural community of Owassa.

Williams was arrested and charged with two counts of murder.

Investigators told the Press-Register newspaper in Mobile that Dennis Smith, an LSU fan, called Williams, an Alabama fan, after Alabama’s 27-21 overtime victory and an argument ensued.

The Smiths went to Williams home. Investigators said Smith had a pistol and Williams had a shotgun and fired.

We take SEC football seriously down here. Still, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that maybe something else was involved.

John Fleming, Idiot

November 10, 2008

Nice post at CenLamar discussing Fleming’s website and candidacy for the 4th district.

Particularly ignorant is the section of Fleming’s website entitled “America’s Religious Heritage and Religious Freedom.” The whole thing is such a load of crap, I really don’t know where to start.

Maybe the first sentence:

Historical revisionists want you to believe that the United States was never a Christian nation.

Guess what? This has never been a Christian nation. It has always been a nation in which most people claimed to be of the Christian religion. But you ain’t gonna find Jehovah, Jesus, or any other deity in the Constitution. Which is remarkable considering how theocratic some of the state constitutions were at the time the founders wrote the national constitution. It is a totally secular document, and it was intended to be so. No surprise, then, that the nation it created is also, or ought to be, totally secular.

It gets no better from there.

America was founded on the Christian principles contained in the Word of God.

Again, no one who has read both the Bible and the Constitution could possibly find any influence of the former on the latter. (Other than the whole slavery thing.) Just ask yourself how many of the Ten Commandments would violate the First Amendment if they were ever the law of the land.

Then comes the manufacured victimhood:

The American people, in the vast majority, are a profoundly religious people. We must never allow the noisy liberal minority and radical groups like the ACLU to impose their secular vision on the majority. We must resist the oppression of religious liberty.

Nice mischaracterization of your opponent’s position. No one from the ACLU or any “noisy liberal minority” groups wants to force anyone to believe anything. What they, and I, want is a society in which the government has nothing at all to do with religion. Every individual is free to think, believe, and worship as they choose. That is what the Constitution and fairness requires.

For example:

I will vigorously defend the rights to display the Ten Commandments in our schools, city halls, courthouses, and other public venues. He will stand up for the right of public officials to acknowledge God.

I support the right of students to pray in our schools. I support the rights of students, parents, teachers, and members of the community to pray at graduation ceremonies and school sports events.

All the bogeymen would argue just as vigourously that students ought to be able to pray in schools. We’d also argue that they can pray at graduation ceremonies. The Constitution draws a line, though, when anyone tries to “acknowledge God” as a public official. I don’t want my kids to have to pray to Allah, so I won’t let anyone make them pray to Jesus, either.

And, finally, no screed is complete without attacking those evil judges:

We must stop radical judges from legislating from the bench, destroying revered American religious traditions and religious symbols that have been part of American life for 230 years.

All I can say here is that I thank God for judges who aren’t scared to uphold the Constitution. Otherwise, we’d all be at the mercy of religious demagogues like John Fleming.