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

Monday, September 10, 2007

What Was This Guy Thinking?

I can get away with this. Anyone reading this weblog regularly knows how low my standards of decency and propriety are. But for someone writing (or drawing) for the University of Virginia student newspaper to be so callous, well, does he have a death wish or what?
Cartoons no laughing matter
By Michael Paul Williams, Richmond Times-Dispatch Columnist

Charlottesville - The comic strip in The Cavalier Daily was as perplexing as it was offensive.

Titled "Ethiopian Food Fight," it featured bald men in loincloths pummeling each other with stools, chairs, boots and pillows. (link)
I don't get my undies in a bunch when off-color or (in this case - idiotic) racial/ethnic jokes are told, like Michael Paul regularly does - or professes to. Some of them can actually be quite funny, including the one I posted to the weblog yesterday. I've even been known to reproduce a few choice Ethiopian jokes here. Good ones, however. And there are some side-splitting Appalachian jokes floating around. Heard the one about the hill jack who ...

We here try to maintain a sense of humor. About ourselves as well as everyone else.

But a college newspaper? What on earth was this kid thinking?

How About Providing Us With An Alternative

I knew there was something I didn't like about Republican Congressman Tom Davis (R-11th District, northern Virginia). The Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning categorizes his voting record by comparing him - favorably - to Senator John Warner.

Is the Republican Party also going to be looking at a conservative Republican to replace the liberal Warner I wonder? Or are we going to have to endure another election where the most inviting candidate (for whom I can never find that lever) is NONE OF THE ABOVE?

Here's Some 'Nebulous' Reasoning

This morning we find out that the Roanoke Times is opposed to political parties having nominating conventions. The boys there would rather continue the current practice involving open primaries, where any registered voter can come in and decide who a party's candidate is going to be.

Why, you ask?

Well, it's hard to say. The reasoning behind the opposition gets a bit ... nebulous:
Editorial: Hold a primary to choose candidates

Last year, Democrat Jim Webb narrowly defeated Republican George Allen to represent Virginia in the U.S. Senate. Overnight, the commonwealth became competitive. [ Mark Warner - otherwise referred to as Potted Plant - must appreciate that - the editor]

Yet some people want the election process to be anything but competitive, especially in the primaries. They would hold party conventions or some other closed-door process to choose who appears on the ballot in November 2008 to replace retiring Sen. John Warner.

Party hacks trot out nebulous fears of cross-party interference to justify a private selection process. Virginia has an open primary, which means Democrats may vote in the Republican primary and vice versa. Independents, too, get to participate. (link)
Let's not discount the argument that primaries are extremely expensive. But beyond that ...

The fears are far from nebulous. Just ask Republicans up in Emmett Hanger's senate district, where a relatively small number of Democrats decided, by crossing over and voting in the GOP primary, who those Republicans would have on the ballot in November. Turns out the GOP candidate is a pretty good imitation of a Democrat. Go figure.

Setting that aside, here's where it gets really ... nebulous:

The real reason many partisans prefer to hold a convention or similar event is that it empowers party extremists to choose a candidate who reflects their views. Even more so than primaries, conventions advance right- and left-wing candidates. Come the general election, voters find no moderate option, the sort of person who might reconcile a closely divided state like Virginia.
I wish the fella who wrote that would have backed it up with an example or two. In those states where conventions are held, like Michigan, is there a history of extremists being nominated to run for office? Any? Ever? And aren't "extremists," by definition, outside the norm? Aren't they therefore in a distinct minority, prohibiting their ability to choose any party candidate whatsoever?

Here's the truth: To the people who write for the Times, all Republicans (except RINOs like Emmett Hanger) are extremists. So they'd prefer that independents* and Democrats continue to choose candidates for them.

Can't blame them for wanting it so. I'd bet their list of "extremists" they'd not want to see elected to high office is mighty long. And growing.

A question: Do you suppose the Roanoke Times would still oppose change if the Republican Party maintained its primary system but went to a closed primary instead of a convention? Is the Pope Polish German?

I count myself among the ranks of independents.

I Wouldn't Rule Out Senility

The Washington Post asks a probing question this morning regarding the presidential candidacy of former Alaska senator (and really odd guy), Mike Gravel:

"He is rock bottom in fundraising and the presidential polls, best known for comparing himself to a potted plant. What makes Mike Gravel run?"

I looked up his condition - the one that explains his bemusing and bemused run for the office - in my handy dictionary:

"Mental infirmity as a consequence of old age; sometimes shown by foolish infatuations."

You asked ...

How Transparent Can They Be?

General Petraeus is delivering a favorable report on the war? Well, he is persona non grata and we never trusted him. We prefer this other guy's opinion. And if he comes to us with a glowing report, we'll dump him as well until we find the expert who sees it our way.

This is getting to be humorous:

The Iraq Report's Other Voice
Ambassador's Appraisal May Carry a More Lasting Weight
By Karen DeYoung, Washington Post Staff Writer

What lawmakers will hear from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, has been the subject of frenzied speculation for months. Armed with four-star authority and a stack of charts, he is expected to say that expanded U.S. military operations show signs of success and merit more time.

Yet despite the spotlight focused on what has become known as the Petraeus report, the testimony of the man sitting beside Petraeus at the witness table, Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, may carry far more import for the long-term future of Iraq and the U.S. presence there. With little progress to recount ... (link)
2005: "The war can't be won."

2006: "The war is lost."

2007: "The war doesn't matter."

For the love of God.

'A Fool And His Money ...'

On that growing trend involving clueless liberal-minded college graduates wanting to save the planet who, in the attempt, fly off to foreign lands to help the poor, befriend the downtrodden, hug the environment, and do God-knows-what, they are finding their illusions delusions shattered by the real world:

'Voluntourism' scams do-gooders
London Daily Telegraph

Gap-year volunteers may be better off spending their time traveling than help- ing out on spurious schemes abroad that can do more harm than good, according to Voluntary Service Overseas, an international-development charity.

Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) said badly planned so-called "voluntourism" schemes by companies making a business out of channeling public sympathy were having a negative impact on young people and the communities they worked with.

Eva, 26, a volunteer who only gave her first name, paid $4,000 to spend six months volunteering with environmental projects in Mexico.

But when she arrived, she found there was little for her to do and instead of getting involved in rural projects where she felt she could make a difference, she spent the majority of her time inputting data to spreadsheets.

Another gap-year student was asked to survey an endangered coral reef in Madagascar, only to find that the work was pointless because the reef had been surveyed 200 times by other volunteers, recording no useful data and probably further damaging the reef.

A teenager who went to Calcutta to help feed homeless street children discovered that the man running the program expected the children to fend for themselves from Friday to Monday because he preferred not to work weekends.

The VSO said that in the worst instances, unskilled teenage volunteers from Europe and the United States can do more harm than good, draining host communities of resources if the volunteers need training or constant support. (link)

Just remember, it's not about actually accomplishing anything. It's all about making the spoiled, rich American kid feel good about herself.

"Constant support." I can just picture the groan that goes up when a planeload of giggling teenagers - iPods in place, iPhones in purses - come down the ramp, ready to feed the starving of Darfur ...

They've Also Lost The Ability To Slaughter Others

Gitmo Prisoners Are Losing Hope

This Seems A Bit Harsh

I inadvertently missed the MTV telecast of the Video Music Awards last night. But someone at the New York Post didn't. Apparently though, when Britney Spears performed, the headline writer wished he had. Missed the awards that is.

The blaring headlines this morning:

Britney Jeers: Porky Pop-Tard Bores And Jiggles Like Jell-o At Underwhelming MTV VMA's

and ...

Britney a Bust: Lard And Clear Loser At VMA's


Photo courtesy of the New York Post

Not That Anyone Was Paying Attention ...

It strikes me as at least noteworthy that the Democrats who are vying to be President of the United States refuse to appear on Fox News but jump at the chance to debate each other on a Miami-based Spanish-language-first TV network.

A political calculation, one would presume. There are votes they seek and votes they shun.

I guess, since I don't habla ...

The British On The Virginia Tech Panel Recommendations

This from Richard Munday, writing in The Times of London:
Wouldn’t you feel safer with a gun?

Despite the recent spate of shootings on our streets, we pride ourselves on our strict gun laws. Every time an American gunman goes on a killing spree, we shake our heads in righteous disbelief at our poor benighted colonial cousins. Why is it, even after the Virginia Tech massacre, that Americans still resist calls for more gun controls?

The short answer is that “gun controls” do not work: they are indeed generally perverse in their effects. Virginia Tech, where 32 students were shot in April, had a strict gun ban policy and only last year successfully resisted a legal challenge that would have allowed the carrying of licensed defensive weapons on campus. It is with a measure of bitter irony that we recall Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia, recording the words of Cesare Beccaria: “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

Virginia Tech reinforced the lesson that gun controls are obeyed only by the law-abiding. New York has “banned” pistols since 1911, and its fellow murder capitals, Washington DC and Chicago, have similar bans. One can draw a map of the US, showing the inverse relationship of the strictness of its gun laws, and levels of violence: all the way down to Vermont, with no gun laws at all, and the lowest level of armed violence (one thirteenth that of Britain). (link)
For those of you who hold that the Europeans are of superior brainpower, more enlightened societal conventions, and never do anything wrong, this should give you pause.

A Good Line

Glenn Reynolds on the anti-war left's mounting frustrations with the way the war against the war is being fought:
THE POLITICO: "Antiwar leaders stymied, frustrated."

Best sentence: "It shows the tightrope Democrats have to walk with an angry group of liberal organizers who are sensing defeat.” Defeat is not an option! Except, you know, in the war. Where it's not just an option, but a goal. (link)
Without doubt.

As It Should Be

This isn't going to please the military strategists and tacticians that sit on the New York Times editorial board:

Americans Feel Military Is Best at Ending the War
By Steven Lee Myers and Megan Thee, The New York Times

Americans trust military commanders far more than the Bush administration or Congress to bring the war in Iraq to a successful end, and while most favor a withdrawal of American troops beginning next year, they suggested they were open to doing so at a measured pace, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

The poll found that both Congress, whose approval rating now stands at its lowest level since Democrats took control from the Republicans last year, and Mr. Bush enter the debate with little public confidence in their ability to deal with Iraq. Only 5 percent of Americans — a strikingly low number for a sitting president’s handling of such a dominant issue — said they most trusted the Bush administration to resolve the war, the poll found. Asked to choose among the administration, Congress and military commanders, 21 percent said they would most trust Congress and 68 percent expressed most trust in military commanders. (link)

Let it be duly noted: The percentage of American people who trust the Times editorial board to deal with Iraq is zilch.

The article reads like the reporters are startled by the news. "The American people believe our military commanders are best at winning wars? Who would have thought?"

Good Lord.

And Then There's Hillary

Someone should tell Bill's wife that the American people believe our military leadership are best suited to lead the war effort, not ill-prepared houswives-cum-Senators (see poll results above).

She, of course, thinks otherwise:
Bring The GI's Home: Hillary
By Nedra Pickler, AP

September 10, 2007 -- Coral Gables, Fla. - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton insisted last night it's time to start pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq as she and her Democratic rivals debated the war on the eve of a much-awaited assessment by U.S. commanding Gen. David Petraeus.

"I believe we should start bringing our troops home," she said. "We need to quit refereeing their civil war." (link)
As to how that ensures victory in the war on terror, the American people are scratching their heads.