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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Monday, December 13, 2004

College Prof Advocates Violence

In a report from University of Louisville student columnist Brian Yates, who writes for the Louisville Patriot, a U of L prof has advocated taking up arms and killing ... Christians. The university has responded by revoking his contract.

U of L rescinds professor's contract

December 13, 2004

The University of Louisville said in a statement released over the weekend that it has withdrawn the contract of sociology lecturer Dr. John McTighe for at least the spring semester.

McTighe was quoted by student columnist Brian Yates as saying "It was the religious zealots who say they were voting on morals. I think we should all buy AK-47's and shoot them all! That's what I would suggest, if it were allowed." [my emphasis] (link)

I know these guys hide each day behind the cloistered walls of academe and, after a time, veer off into Rod Serling's dimension, where generally they try to be 60's radical but are, more often than not, harmless.

This, however, crosses the line. This joker needs to further his sociological studies in prison. For the life of me, I do not understand how, with all the evil that lurks in the world, a seemingly intelligent person like this college professor can find an enemy in Americans who profess their faith in God. Somebody needs to explain this to me.

Stone Drops Like a Rock

Oliver Stone's incredibly costly epic flick, "Alexander" dropped to tenth place among movies currently playing in theaters after its third week of release. The three hour saga, produced at a cost of a staggering $155 million grossed only $1,479,348 for the week and has brought in a paltry $32,594,911 since its debut.

Generally the Hollywood crowd rallies around whatever bilge Stone produces but not this time. Suddenly he can't seem to find anyone who has a kind thing to say about "Alexander." Except perhaps for the Pixar people who must be thankful that Stone has driven masses of people away from his film and into theaters showing "The Incredibles," which has brought in a whopping $232,573,246. Not bad for a cartoon. (link)

To add insult to injury, three of the movies outperforming Alexander are animated flicks. They are: The Incredibles - $232,573,246; The Polar Express - $109,826,809; The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie - $109,826,809.

InstaPunk Has Some NHL Thoughts

Chain Gang over at InstaPunk brought this to my attention with regard to the National Hockey League. Puck Punk seems half crazy but then most hockey fans are.

These guys need the NHL and the players union to settle their labor dispute or I fear for our country.


Update 1 - I have been informed that the puck punk is, in fact, a guy. The chain gang over at InstaPunk.com actually referred to him as a "little guy." I'm not sure what to make of that other than the fact that the only little hockey fans I've ever met were French Canadians out of Quebec! Probably a Montreal Canadiens fan! When we lived in Detroit my daughter was a rabid Wings fan and would beat up Canadiens fans in the local taverns if they were able to slip past the federal drug screening at the Windsor border. Perhaps we are learning too much about this Puck Punk. Eh?

Update 2 - I called puck punk half crazy in my original post but at least he knows how to link to someone else's weblog! I fixed the link (above). I encourage you to go check out the crazy "little guy."

Go Ahead. Move to France

For those of you who decry the trampling of the Bill of Rights here in the good old KKKUSA, and intend to move to France (Have Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin provided a forwarding address yet?), where the political atmosphere is less oppressive than here under Bush and his neo-nazi band of rapists and thugs, I say, "Go ahead. See how much more 'free' you'll be over there in the land of 1000 cheeses."

France Orders Al-Manar off French Airwaves

By Elaine Ganley Associated Press Writer Published: Dec 13, 2004

PARIS (AP) - France's highest administrative body on Monday ordered the TV station of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group off French airwaves within 48 hours for broadcasting hateful content in some shows and posing risks to public order.

The decision came after a Nov. 23 Al-Manar program quoted someone described as an expert on Zionist affairs warning of "Zionist attempts" to transmit dangerous diseases like AIDS to Arab countries. Another program the same day glorified attacks against Israel, the administrative body said.

The Council of State ordered Paris-based satellite operator Eutelsat to stop broadcasting Al-Manar within two days or pay a fine of $6,600 a day. (link)

The French are not only accustomed to their nanny state directing the most minute aspect of their lives (including the monitoring of how much English is spoken in public, which is totally unacceptable), they are somehow comforted when their government cracks down on "free speech rights," in an effort to protect the citizenry, of course.

So pack your bags and be off.

But be forewarned. You'd better be able to communicate in the native tongue or you'll be banned too.

Don't Get Any Ideas ...

I wish the Associated Press would refrain from giving Howard Dean, John Kerry, and Al Gore any ideas.

A Timeline of Events Related to the Poisoning of Viktor Yushchenko

The Associated Press Published: Dec 13, 2004

A timeline of events related to opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko's dioxin poisoning:

- Sept. 5: Yushchenko has dinner with Security Service chief Ihor Smeshko and his deputy Volodymyr Satsyuk.

- Sept. 6: Yushchenko falls ill. Ukrainian doctors treat him for food poisoning.

- Sept. 10: The candidate is rushed to the Rudolfinerhaus clinic in Vienna, Austria. (link)

I think President Bush needs to hire Michael Moore as his official food poisoning tester. From the looks of him, Mr. Blimpy would be amenable and be willing to take the risk if there was a free meal to be had.

Rumsfeld Gets Vote of Confidence

I feel more comfortable with the job Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is doing. Senator John McCain has come out against him.

McCain Says He Has 'no Confidence' in Secretary of Defense

By Beth DeFalco Associated Press Writer Published: Dec 13, 2004

PHOENIX (AP) - U.S. Sen. John McCain said Monday that he has "no confidence" in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, citing Rumsfeld's handling of the war in Iraq and the failure to send more troops.

McCain, speaking to The Associated Press in an hourlong interview, said his comments were not a call for Rumsfeld's resignation, explaining that President Bush "can have the team that he wants around him."

"I have strenuously argued for larger troop numbers in Iraq, including the right kind of troops - linguists, special forces, civil affairs, etc.," said McCain, R-Ariz. "There are very strong differences of opinion between myself and Secretary Rumsfeld on that issue." (link)

McCain, you see, has a better understanding of the military situation on the ground in Iraq. After all, he flew a Navy fighter forty years ago so he is qualified to talk about troop strengths and to speak more authoritatively than all the Generals in theater.

And I thought he was only an expert on steroid use in major league baseball. What a man!

Dawn of a New Age

I read yesterday that there are now over five million active weblogs in the United States. If you have the time (and the fortitude), you can surf the internet seeking information on any subject and, lo and behold, someone is devoting his or her life to the subject matter. Some of it is readable. Some of it is juvenile. Some of it is vulgar. But all of it contributes to the global dialogue.

Many bloggers concentrate on politics, presumably for the same reason I touch on it most days. It gets me riled up. Although it is not my intention to convert the heathens amongst you, if my point of view sways yours, humility aside, all the better for both of us. You are, after all, part owner of our government too and have as much say as to how it is going to be run as onyone else.

There are weblogs that focus only on political issues. Some narrow their interest even further and concentrate only on one particular politician or on one campaign. One of the more interesting stories to have come out of the recent election has to do with the Tom Daschle saga in South Dakota. Daschle, a liberal Democrat, was running for reelection in an extremely conservative state. He's always managed to win for one reason: his views and any news regarding his antics in Washington DC were filtered through the only statewide newspaper in South Dakota, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader (believe it or not). The management team at the Argus Leader has always been (allegedly) in the pocket of Daschle and the Democratic party; he and they therefore had a monopoly on thought in the state - until 2004.

There arose this year a counterforce to the "party machine" in the state. Weblogs. And they wreaked havoc on the status quo.

How Daschle Got Blogged

And how online journalism is transforming politics.

John Fund; Monday, December 13, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST (link)

Bloggers received a lot of attention for helping to expose the fake documents backing up Dan Rather's "60 Minutes" story on President Bush the Texas Air National Guard. But that's only one of the interesting ways in which the Internet is empowering people and shaping political coverage.

Indeed, the real power of bloggers in politics is how they interact with their mainstream media counterparts. Online journalism gives critics of the media a way to talk back, a platform from which to point out bias, hypocrisy and factual errors. And if the criticisms are on target, old-media institutions can't help but take note. That's exactly what just
happened in South Dakota's epic Senate race between Minority Leader Tom Daschle and his GOP challenger, John Thune.

South Dakota Republicans decided that the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, which dominates the state's media since it's the only paper with a statewide circulation, was hopelessly biased in favor of Mr. Daschle. "The ability to use the Internet to circumvent concentrated media power became a 21st-century updating of 19th-century Dakota populism," says John Lauck, a history professor at the University of South Dakota who was allied with Mr. Thune. Mr. Lauck and several of his friends collaborated on blogs that constantly reminded voters of contradictions between Mr. Daschle's voting record
and his statements in South Dakota, as well as the Argus Leader's refusal to acknowledge them.

"South Dakotas have for the first time been hearing a few things about 'ole Tom' that have surprised," reported The Wall Street Journal's Kim Strassel from South Dakota last October. "Mr. Daschle has assured voters he supports a state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Yet in July he voted against a similar constitutional amendment that two-thirds of South Dakotans support. He was a free trader, but now he's not. He's for legal change, but blocked every tort bill. He beats up on drug companies, though his wife, Linda Daschle, lobbies for them."

Of course the powers that be in the state didn't take this challenge lying down. They did what most liberals do. They called the bloggers nazis.
Patrick Lalley, the Argus Leader's assistant managing editor, acknowledges that the blogs had an impact on how his paper covered the Senate race. They certainly got under the skin of some of the paper's executives. Randell Beck, executive editor of the Argus Leader, called some of the bloggers work "crap" and said they represented an organized effort by conservatives to discredit his paper. In July, he explained to readers that "true believers of one stripe or another, no longer content to merely bore spouses and neighbors with their nutty opinions, can now spew forth on their own blogs, thereby playing a pivotal role in creating the polarized climate that dominates debate on nearly every national issue. If Hitler were alive today, he'd have his own blog."

In the end, it was probably Randell Beck's arrogance as much as Daschle's positions that gave rise to Dakota weblogs.

The blogging of South Dakota began in late 2002, after Mr. Thune lost a Senate race to incumbent Tim Johnson, a Daschle protégé, by 524 votes. Republicans felt that both the campaign and subsequent allegations of voter fraud had been unfairly covered by the mainstream media. Jason Van Beek, a student at the University of South Dakota, launched a site called South Dakota Politics. Mr. Van Beek declared he would monitor the "biased coverage" he detected in the Argus Leader. Indeed, in the spring of 2004, Mr. Van Beek publicized memos he had discovered written in the 1970s that revealed the Democratic connections of David Kranz, the Argus Leader's chief political writer. In the memos, aides to Democratic former senator James Abourezk refer to Mr. Kranz as a "good Democrat" whom their office should use to push stories.

You can expect a whole lot more of this in coming years. It started at the national level, worked its way down to state races, and will in the near future affect local races as well. Party politics in the past was, in many ways, the determining factor in local races. If the Democratic party in Chicago, say, nominated a candidate for a particular post, well, he must be okay. The party, and the Chicago Sun Times, say so.Well, we might say otherwise. Welcome to the dawning of the new age of journalism.

Republicans Talk Tough

A prerequisite for being a Republican in the United States Senate is that you have to be a wienie. With the exception of Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, I can't think of another GOP member of the upper chamber of Congress who does to the Democrats what the Democrats are most famous for; beating up on the Republicans.

So many names come to mind. Orin Hatch. Arlen Specter. Trent Lott. My senator John Warner. Major wienies.

So when I hear a Republican senator talk tough, I say to myself, "Yeah, sure." But it may be that Bill Frist isn't the wienie that I've always considered him to be. Today's tough talk:

GOP May Target Use of Filibuster
Senate Democrats Want To Retain the Right to Block Judicial Nominees

By Helen Dewar and Mike AllenWashington Post Staff Writers

As speculation mounts that Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist will step down from the Supreme Court soon because of thyroid cancer, Senate Republican leaders are preparing for a showdown to keep Democrats from blocking President Bush's judicial nominations, including a replacement for Rehnquist.

Republicans say that Democrats have abused the filibuster by blocking 10 of the president's 229 judicial nominees in his first term -- although confirmation of Bush nominees exceeds in most cases the first-term experience of presidents dating to Ronald Reagan. Describing the filibusters as intolerable, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has hinted he may resort to an unusual parliamentary maneuver, dubbed the "nuclear option," to thwart such filibusters.

"One way or another, the filibuster of judicial nominees must end," he said in a speech to the Federalist Society last month, labeling the use of filibusters against judicial nominees a "formula for tyranny by the minority."

We'll see if this guy has any hair on his chest. The Democrats - lead by Charles Schumer of New York - will continue to filibuster Bush judicial nominees. And the one man who can put a stop to their antics is Bill Frist. There are rumblings about his seeking the presidency in '08. He'll go a long way toward getting my vote if he stands up to the Democrats and beats them over the head if they get in his way.

Follow this one closely.

The Grinch Has Stolen Christmas

There are no sports fans like Wings fans. Or former Wings fans might be the most appropriate way of putting it, as there are no Detroit Redwings on the ice right now or for the foreseeable future. The NHL has locked them and all other team players out.

The fans must be in deep depression about now.

NHL ready to kiss its season goodbye
Owners, players still are deadlocked over a salary cap as a mid-December deadline looms.

By Ted Kulfan and Louis Aguilar / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- The NHL season is on the brink of elimination.

And everyone loses -- players, owners, the NHL's image, fans and the city of Detroit.
The league is expected to announce in the next few weeks that it is canceling the remainder of the season, barring a miracle. That's unlikely since there have been no negotiations between the players and owners since the lockout officially began on Sept. 15.

Players are bailing out and going overseas to play. (link)

And if that's not bad enough, it seems most people outside Detroit don't even care.

Outside of Detroit and a few key cities, few people seem to miss the game. A Hockey News poll revealed that 56 percent of U.S. sports fans didn't even know there is a lockout.
My sympathies go out to the fans. I know they live and die by the performance of Yzerman, Federov, and Shanahan and winter in Michigan must be particularly harsh this year for the fans, having to deal with all that snow and - no NHL hockey.

There'll be no Merry Christmas in Detroit this year. The grinch is in contract negotiations.

Missing The Point

I now understand how it is that a once-powerful company like Kmart could tumble into bankruptcy. Its leaders know how to massage money but they don't know the first thing about what made the king of the bluelight special the number two mass merchant in the 1980's. It's called retailing. I just read this article written by Kmart's Vice President for advertising and public relations and found his defense of the company's current leader, Julian Day, to be so missing the point that he might as well wave a red flag and tell potential shareholders, "Hey. We're not what we appear to be. Buy at your own risk."

Here is the problem:
Consider these facts: Kmart's market capitalization has grown from its post-emergence low of just over $1 billion to more than $8 billion on the date of Day's departure. Under Day's tenure, the company reported profits for the first time since 2000; financial controls and discipline were established that had been crucially lacking under previous management; and real financial stability was achieved based on strong cash flow and strict employment of resources according to what creates the most value for our company and its shareholders. All of this was done to ensure the sustainability of Kmart's operations as a retailer, and as an employer in the communities we serve.
Of the facts that are mentioned, is there anything stated regarding issues relating to Kmart's ability to retail? Sales increases? Marketshare? Gross profit on goods sold improvement? Same store sales and profit improvement?

No.

Here is the truth: Kmart, under Julian Day's leadership (he's announced that he's stepping down but will remain on the board), has turned the company into a five-and-dime, a la SS Kresge days. It is no longer a mass merchant. Julian Day and a succession of managers before him have created a shell of a company with piles of cash on hand brought in from the sale of assets; a company that no longer even pretends to compete with the likes of Wal-Mart.

For those of you enamored of the Kmart/Sears merger and who are thinking of investing in the new company, Sears Holdings, be careful. Be very, very careful.

Oh by the way, you might be interested in knowing that Julian Day was chief executive for the company for all of ten months and will "retain 778,882 stock options worth about $60 million and fully vested options worth about $30 million. He also is to get $2 million by signing a release agreement with Kmart and much of his regular $1 million annual bonus for this year. And he will collect bonuses of $978,000 in 2007 and $479,000 in 2008 if Kmart meets goals for the next three years." (link) Not bad for a guy who paved the way for another wave of store closings in coming months.

I can't remember the last time I made $90 million dollars in ten months.

A Cure For Aids?

This could be an interesting development:

RUTGERS CLAIMS RX KILLS HIV

December 13, 2004 --
Researchers at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., have developed a trio of drugs they believe can destroy HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to a medical journal report.

The drugs, called DAPYs, mimic the virus by changing shape, which enables them to interfere with the way HIV attacks the immune system.

Tests conducted in conjunction with Johnson & Johnson have shown the drugs to be easily absorbed with minimal side effects.

They also can be taken in one pill, in contrast to the drug cocktails currently taken by many AIDS patients. (link)

I hope the drugs prove to be what these scientists say they are. Aids in Sub-Saharan Africa is at epidemic levels already and will only get worse if a cure is not found.