Sunday, January 29, 2012

Newt's comments weren't tactful, but they were factual -- and needed

    A year ago South Carolina’s lieutenant governor caused quite a ruckus when he suggested that welfare recipients who fail drug tests or refuse to attend parent-teacher conferences should lose their benefits.
    Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who was raised in a working-class family, quoted his grandmother: "My grandmother was not a highly-educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem. If you give an animal or a person ample food supply, they will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that, and so what you gotta do is you gotta curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better."
    It’s important to note that Bauer never said anything about whites on welfare, or Indians on welfare, or blacks on welfare. He was only talking about the problem of welfare dependency and irresponsible behavior in general.
    Even though Bauer’s comments had nothing to do with race, they were immediately denounced by the Greenville, S.C., chapter of the NAACP, which said there was no need for him to apologize. The only acceptable action on his part would be to withdraw from the governor’s race. Why? What does welfare have to do with the NAACP?
    In Flint and Detroit, Mich., the NAACP protested a five-year limit on welfare payments. Other NAACP chapters have denounced efforts to limit welfare payments.
    When Valerie Jarrett spoke at the Martin Luther King memorial service at Ebenezer Baptist Church she politicized the event by criticizing Republicans for not supporting President Obama’s proposal to spend federal tax dollars to hire local policemen, firefighters and teachers. The congregants went wild.
    The fact is, of course, that not so much as one cent of federal money is ever supposed to be spent hiring local police, firefighters or teachers. These people are hired only through state and local taxes, not federal oppression. And yet Ms. Jarrett and the wildly cheering Ebenezer congregants have attempted to turn this purely political difference into a black-white issue.
    When a white politician tries to address this, he is suddenly branded a racist. Newt Gingrich dared to say that the NAACP should tell blacks they need paychecks, not welfare checks. A bunch of blacks acted insulted, but they shouldn’t be. It’s their own chapters that have promoted welfare.
    Newt said there were families and even neighborhoods where children were never exposed to honest work, and that the only role models they had were drug dealers. Racist, racist, racist! Or so the politically correct crowd roared. Anyone who thinks this is racist needs to read about the infamous Cabrini-Green project in Chicago, where a survey found that 29 percent of residents were employed full time and another 11 percent were employed part time. What the survey showed was that most residents were single mothers not working. The only work their kids saw anyone doing was the dealing of drugs. It’s just a fact, and it’s not racist to point it out.
    Most of Cabrini-Green has been torn down, with the last building coming down last year. And that’s a good thing! But there are other projects out there that are just as bad. And it should be noted that there are areas of eastern Kentucky and West Virginia where a culture of sloth, drug use and immorality have also taken hold of very substantial portions of the white community. It’s a problem, and if a black person wants to take note of the fact that it is a problem I offer them only thanks, not name-calling.
    There are dysfunctional pockets of poverty in this country. In urban areas the residents tend to be black. In rural areas outside the South the residents tend to be white. Frequently the behavior of these people perpetuates their poverty. That’s just a fact.
    If, as a society, we can’t even mention the fact that we have a problem we certainly aren’t going to begin to solve it. I will admit conservatives could sometimes use a little more tact in discussing these things, but I’d much rather support a candidate who talks about finding a solution to our nation’s problems than one who talks about how to be tactful about it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Obama just made Jan Brewer a best-selling author

    Although I am a great admirer of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, I didn't know she had written a book -- a life story and political memoir. I know now.
    She greeted President Barack Obama to her state on Wednesday, and Obama wasted no time in criticizing some of the things the book said about her efforts to control the plague of unlawful immigration afflicting her state and our nation. She defended herself, of course, and at one point wagged her finger at him. He then then turned away while she was still talking.
    I've found that if I disagree with someone, it's best not to bring up that disagreement while we're trying to be cordial. Obama apparently doesn't agree.
    Gov. Brewer has nothing to be mad about, though. I predict sales of her book will increase dramatically. In fact, they apparently already have. I had never heard of the book, but as of today it is ranked as Amazon's first or second ranked book on politics or social policy and 56th overall. According to one website that apparently tracks such things, yesterday Gov. Brewer's book came in as Amazon's 311,472th best seller.
    Thanks Mr. President!

Sen. Rand Paul should bring defamation action against lying airport goons

    Sen. Rand Paul recently refused a TSA patdown at the Nashville airport after he set off a metal detector. Apparently these detectors are set to give false positives to force patdowns of people who don't really set off the machine. He wanted to just walk through again.
    An incident report describes Paul as acting in an "irate" manner. Yet a video of the entire incident shows Paul standing calmly inside a glass cubical. In other words, either the TSA or law enforcement officers intentionally lied about Paul's behavior for the purpose of defaming him.
    I do not believe their false and defamatory statements are privileged. There is no privilege for a law enforcement officer to file a false police report. Paul needs to file a defamation action against these goons.
    I respect that TSA officers have been given a job to do. But when they and police lie about innocent citizens they cross the line. They must be held to account.

Nancy Reagan said husband passed torch of conservatism to Newt

    We've had to put up with a lot of bull malarkey recently about how Newt Gingrich "insulted" Ronald Reagan.
    And make no mistake: There were times when Newt Gingrich was highly critical of Reagan and the Reagan administration. The same is true for Ron Paul. Newt's criticism was based on the fact that he thought Reagan was being too liberal. I admire both Gingrich and Paul for holding Reagan's feet to the fire.
    Now think about it. We're constantly being warned that we shouldn't vote for Gingrich because he's a closet liberal. Now we're being told that we shouldn't vote for Gingrich because he thought Reagan was too liberal.
    In the world of politics, we sometimes criticize those with whom we agree. Over the years, Gingrich was one of Reagan's biggest supporters, and was one of the biggest supporters of the conservative cause. He was a maverick before John McCain knew what that word meant. When the rest of the Republican party was mucking about trying not to make waves he was screaming bloody murder. And more than anyone, he deserves the credit for engineering the Republican takeover of 1994, the effects of which are still being felt to this very day.
    Here's a video made long after Gingrich had "insulted" and criticized Reagan, in which Nancy Reagan claims that Barry Goldwater passed on the conservative mantle to Ronald Reagan, who in turn passed it on to Newt Gingrich.
    I grew up idolizing Ronald Reagan, but that doesn't mean I wasn't sometimes irritated with him. Gingrich's criticism of his rare liberal meanderings makes Gingrich more qualified to be president, not less.
    Oh, and here's the Youtube video of Nancy Reagan claiming that Ronald Reagan passed on the conservative mantle to Newt.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Now is time to plan for summer academic camp

    If you are thinking about signing your kids up for a summer enrichment camp, now is the time.
    Two or three weeks at a summer enrichment camps generally costs a fraction of the price of a traditional summer camp. They offer a great time, and some education to boot!
    Lucy will be attending Concordia Language Villages for the fourth summer this year. She's attending Lac du Bois, which is the French village at Bemidji, Minn. They also offer programs at Hackensack, Minn., but my understanding is that the facilities at Bemidji are better.
    Concordia offers language immersion camps for all ages, from one-week camps for 7-year-olds to month-long camps offering high school and even college foreign language credit. In addition to common languages like French, Spanish and German, Concordia offers such languages as Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, and Swedish.
    The only bad thing I can say about Concordia is that it shouldn't have to exist at all. French, German, Chinese and Japanese ought to be available at every elementary, jr. high and high school in the country. But since that is not going to happen, Concordia is the next best thing.
    You owe it to yourself to visit the Concordia Language Village website. Each village is designed with architecture designed to reflect that of the country whose language is being taught. There are some videos and photos from last year posted as well. Lucy has had a blast every year and is looking forward to another year of fun.
    A couple of years ago Lucy also attended Jr. Vet Camp at Auburn and really enjoyed it. Last year we waited too late to sign up and got shut out. This year the dates conflict with her language camp, so again she can't go. But she highly recommends it. Auburn has a beautiful campus, and the grounds around the residence halls are actually far prettier than at Ole Miss.
    Ash has not been interested in Concordia because he's been afraid he might learn something. But Ole Miss is offering a Summer Academy this year that offers actual high school credit to rising eighth-, ninth- and tenth-graders that is attracting his interest. Among the courses offered for his age cohort are Mississippi Writers, Environmental Chemistry, and Astronomy.
    Admission to the Ole Miss program is limited to students with a "B" or higher average in their four core subjects for the past three years and the Fall 2011 semester. They must have permission from their school principal and two teacher recommendations. The cost of the three-week program is $695 for day students and $1,460 for boarders. Ash told me he wanted to sleep in his own bed, to which I said, "Hooray!"
    There are lots of other academic programs out there, but you have to look a bit harder for ones that serve in the middle school bracket. But they are out there and worth looking for. If you are interested, sign up SOON! These programs tend to fill up quickly.
    Oh, and if anyone knows of a good creative writing program for rising seventh-graders, please let me know. I think Lucy is a star just waiting to shine.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My iPhone is dying and I want a decent-size phone, not a Chiclet

    I need a new smart phone.
    Now wanting and needing are two different things. I've wanted a new cell phone for well over a year now. My iPhone 3GS has served me fairly well for the past three years or so, but more than a year ago the screen messed up a bit. I lost about an eighth of an inch on each side. Kind of annoying when the letters get cut out of text, but it's still worked just fine.
    The volume toggle fell off a few months ago. But I've still be able to adjust the volume, so just another hassle to live with.
    But now the "silence" toggle has broken. From time to time, the phone will ring even though in "silent" mode. And it constantly vibrates as if I'm switching it back and forth between silent and regular mode.
    I've been able to silence the ringer manually by going in to setting and cutting the volume down. But this is time consuming and means I don't hear calls if I don't stop to turn the volume back up. Bottom line is if your phone won't go to "silent," you can't go to church, funerals, picture shows, restaurants, or you name it.
    I've even decided what kind of phone I want: THE BIGGEST PHONE MADE! That may be the Galaxy Note, soon to be released for AT&T. It has a paltry 5.3-inch screen; bigger than the iPhone by far, but still way too small.
    Attention Cell Phone Makers! We aren't just using our phones to talk these days. We need to use them to navigate, to surf the web, and to take lots of notes. In other words, we need a really big screen.
    The Galaxy Note has been a big success in Europe, but prior to its release a lot of people were going around complaining that it was "too big," particularly that it was too big to fit in a pocket. What a crock! I can fit my Kindle Fire with its 7-inch screen in most of my pants pockets, so a teeny-tiny Galaxy Note will fit with no problem. I just wish it were bigger.
    When it comes to design, the rule is that "form follows function." What that means is that the form a thing takes should be determined by what its function is. Back when we were all merely talking on our cell phones it made sense to make them as small as possible. No longer. We use our phone for big things and thus need big phones.
    Most readers of this blog will perhaps fondly remember their first cell phone. Remember the large bag phone, the size of a very large lunch box. Remember how easy it was to carry it to a meeting or whatever when you needed to? Some people even had them built into briefcases, Maxwell Smart style. I loved my bag phone; it had great reception and the size simply was not a problem.
    Then came the "brick" phone. It was a huge cell phone that was designed to be more portable than a bag phone. No way was that thing going in a pocket, though. And the signal had a weaker wattage than the bag phone.
    If you were to see someone with a "brick" phone today, they would look goofy. But they didn't look goofy back then. We envied those lucky people.
    So the phone manufacturers need not worry about making their smart phones too big. Build them we enough power and we will come.
    Meanwhile, I'm eagerly awaiting the official U.S. launch of the Galaxy Note. Unless, of course, something larger and better comes along first.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book describes horror of Dust Bowl and Hoover's unwitting role

    In my recent post on Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover's
Secret History of the Second World War
and Its Aftermath
I mentioned that Hoover had a role in causing the Great Depression by advocating a $1 per bushel guarantee on the price of wheat in 1917 when he was head of the U.S. Food Administration.
    Woodrow Wilson had appointed Hoover to that position as the United States was entering World War I. Hoover was known at that time as one of the world's leading humanitarians. Hoover's proposal did exactly what it was designed to do in 1917 and the years afterwards: It dramatically increased crop production so that for the next several years the United States was able to feed both itself and Europe. Mass starvation was averted.
    In 1917 America was still an agricultural nation, and these high prices set in place one of the greatest financial booms of all times. The "roar" in the Roaring 20s came from the unprecedented farm profits shouting their way through America's economy.
    Prices stayed high for several years, but eventually the bottom fell out. The problems with American banks that surfaced in the 1930s had their beginnings in the farm crash of the mid-1920s. As farm prices fell farmers tried to raise more and more, making both the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s much worse.
    My source for this information, and much more, was The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, by Timothy Egan.
     I read this almost five years ago, and it is one of the better books I've read. It describes the economic and ecological disaster that was the Dust Bowl. I've always heard of the Dust Bowl, but this book explains what it was really like and to some extent why it happened.
    I had never heard of "dust pneumonia," for example, but it was apparently not uncommon at the time for a child to be sitting a classroom one day where he would cough up some blood. A few days later he would be dead.
    If this book made enough of an impression on me that I'm still thinking about it almost five years later, obviously it is a good book. If you love learning about our nation's history, or just love a great story, this book is for you.
    I'm not sure I want to share all of this information with my Dad. He grew up blaming Herbert Hoover for all of the nation's ills. If he could lay credit or partial credit for the Dust Bowl on Hoover I don't think I could ever get him to "zip it," as Mort Downey used to say.
    On a self-serving note, if you should buy the book by using my link, I think I will earn a small commission. It won't cost you any more. So help the Colonel!

Ole Miss accounting school ranked 10th in nation

    The Mississippi Business Journal reports that the most recent Public Account Report ranks the University of Mississippi School of Accounting as the 10th best in the nation.
    The master's and doctoral programs rank 11th and 12th respectively in those rankings.
    The Ole Miss Patterson School of Accounting is the only SEC school in the top 10. Other SEC schools ranked in the top 30 are the universities of Georgia (12), Florida (17), Alabama (20) and Tennessee (29).
    The survey also ranked schools for the first time by discarding all votes from those who ranked their own school as best in the nation. In that ranking, Ole Miss comes in either third or fourth place in each category.
    Ole Miss sure does mighty well for a bunch of slow-talking Southern boys! (And girls, of course),

Newt on Obama's Main Street town hall meeting

    Newt can be a funny guy, as when he talks about Obama holding an invitation-only town hall meeting on Main Street -- in Disney World. You may have to put up with an anti-Newt ad to see the video; you can skip the ad after five seconds.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bettors drop Romney's S.C. victory odds from 93% to 38% in two days

    Back in 2004 I had a lot of fun betting on political outcomes on, which allows the trading of shares in the happening of certain events. I didn't bet that much money, but won a little and had a pile of fun.
    At the end of the election season I withdrew my money. The government cracked down on Internet betting and so I can no longer place an Intrade bet with a credit card. I don't care enough about it to send them a check or wire transfer, so all I can do is watch.
    But Intrade is interesting to watch, because it tends to be ahead of the curve in predicting political outcomes. As well it should be, since people are having to put their money where their mouth is, by buying shares in outcomes.
    That doesn't mean Intrade shares can't be very volatile. Two days ago Mitt Romney was the overwhelming favorite to win the South Carolina primary. A "share" of Mitt Romney cost $9.30 and would return $10 on his victory. In other words the market was giving him a 93 percent chance of victory.
    Tonight a "share" of Mitt Roney is going for $3.78; the market is giving him only a 38 percent chance of winning. Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, is now given a 64 percent chance of South Carolina victory. Rick Santorum and Ron Paul both come in a two-tenths of one percent, so for you longshot players, there it is. (Note that Newt's total and Mitt's total exceed 100 percent. That's because each is traded individually. There is actually an opportunity for arbitrage on the Intrade system, although it requires far more money and faith than I have to spare.)
    So as of now, Newt Gingrich is the favorite to win in South Carolina. If anyone should tell you otherwise, tell them to put their money where they mouth is.
    But check the board before actually booking the bet!

Democrats propose 100 percent tax on 'unreasonable' profits

    If you wonder why I fear Democrats, a recently filed bill that would tax "unreasonable" oil company profits ought to be reason enough.
You can read the story, Dems propose 'Reasonable Profits Board' to regulate oil company profits for yourself.
    This bill would tax oil profits over 105 percent of a "reasonable" level at 100 percent (in other words, more than five percent higher than the government target). That's right, the government will establish a "reasonable" amount of profit and anyone daring to make more will pay the entire amount to the government thourgh a 100 percent tax. According to The Hill, the proposed law would set up a Reasonable Profits Board made up of three presidential nominees that will serve three-year terms.
    The bill doesn't establish what a "reasonable" profit is, or how a "reasonable" profit is to be calculated. Is the driller of a 2-barrels-a-day stripper well to be taxed the same amount on his oil as the driller of a thousand-barrels-a-day gusher? Is a "reasonable profit" to be the same for someone who already has a well in production at the time of a price spike as it is for someone who rushes out and drills a spec well? If so, won't that be a disincentive for drillers to work to solve oil shortages?
    I hate high oil prices as much as the next guy, but if you look at the past several years you'll see that Obama's unprovoked attack on Libya has had as much to do with the increase in oil prices as any other factor. If a price must now be paid for Obama's folly, it should be done by levying a tax on his supporters, not by taxing the patriots who are supplying our country with oil. If the government wants lower oil prices, approve Arctic Wasteland drilling, approve offshore shallow-well drilling (not dangerous ultra-deep wells), approve the Keystone pipeline, approve oil share extraction.
    Instead the Democrats can only think tax, tax, tax, and they've finally come up with a tax rate they can live with: One Hundred Percent.
    It's heresy to say it these days, but it must be noted. Most oil companies are publicly traded, and every citizen can buy in and benefit from rising oil prices. Of course, they run the risk of falling oil prices, too, not to mention the outside possibility of an ecological disaster that will destroy their investment. If the government is going to confiscate "unreasonable" gains, shouldn't it be required to repay anyone who suffers an "unreasonable" loss?
    It's also grist for another column to note that programs such as this actually tend to produce the opposite of the desired effect. In other words, price caps turn into price floors and price floors turn into price caps. Look what happened to agricultural prices when the government quit supporting prices. If the government really wants to lower oil prices, then guarantee oil producers a minimum price of $70 per barrel for the next 10 years. That will get folks drilling and effectively cap oil prices at $70.
    If you want to know how this will turn out if this bill ever becomes law, the book has already been written. It's called Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. If you haven't read it or read it lately, read it. Because we're living it today.

Herbert Hoover pens new book on secret history of WWII. Yes, Hoover!

    I have a new book on my book list.
    The book is Freedom Betrayed by Herbert Hoover. That's right, Herbert Hoover. It's subtitle says it all: "Herbert Hoover's Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath."
    Hoover apparently began writing the book prior to World War II and continued writing through the 1950s. The book was almost ready for publication at the time of Hoover's death in 1964. Instead of publishing the book his heirs decided to put the book on ice for almost 50 years.
    I'm not sure what motivated the heirs, but perhaps it is because the book doesn't toe the official line of America as a White Knight out to do good in the world. Hoover apparently believed we could have easily stayed out of WWII, and simply allowed Hitler and Stalin to tear each other to shreds. He believed we intentionally goaded Japan into attacking, which we did. Hoover felt even more strongly about America's decision to become an imperial power after WWII, a decision which has depleted our treasury and ended or destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of our nation's young men.
    Old-timers blame Hoover for the Great Depression, and they are right, but not for the reasons they think.
    Hoover was extremely active as a humanitarian all of his life. Prior to the U.S. entry into World War I he was a leader in European relief efforts. When the United States entered the war Woodrow Wilson appointed him head of the U.S. Food Administration. It was in that post that Hoover championed a price guarantee of $1 per bushel for wheat, which set into action an unprecidented agricultural boom that would only bust in the mid-1920s. It took several more years for the crisis to hit the financial sector, but when it did the Great Depression had begun.
    Also unknown by many is that Hoover attempted to increase government spending to soften the economic downturn. His efforts were thwarted by Democrats, who wanted economic conditions to remain as bad as possible in order to help them win the White House.
    In any event, Hoover's book is a must-read for anyone wanting to know the truth about what really happened before, during and after World War II. Those who only want the official self-serving version of history can likely give this book a pass.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Steve Sailer: Cruise liner captains don't go down with their ships

Steve Sailer's iSteve Blog: Cruise liner captains don't go down with their ships...

    Steve Sailer once again comes up with a great story. This one is about a 1991 cruise ship disaster where the captain abandoned ship, leaving the passengers aboard. Sound familiar?
    The hero of the ship? A magician on board as an entertainer!
    Click the link above the read all about it.

Marianne Gingrich: Newt lucky to be rid of this hag

    Marianne Gingrich has given another interview in which she tells the world what a cad her former husband Newt is.
    But it's a funny thing about Marianne. My guess is she won't spend much time talking about how she refused to move to Washington, even though Newt was one of the city's power players. Think of the uproar that was caused when it was revealed that Michelle Obama thought about not moving to Washington for six months so the kids could finish the year in Chicago. Newt needed her and she let him down every single day she sat on her duff in Georgia.
    Then there's the fact that Marianne abandoned Newt for six years. That's right, he came home and everything was gone, including her. After six years they reconciled but in the end it just didn't work out. Apparently during the long separation Newt had begun seeing his current wife, and even though Newt and Marianne attempted a reconciliation, it didn't work.
    And oh, my! It seems that it's just fine for Marianne to walk out on Newt, but let Newt be the one to decide he can't take it any more and suddenly he's the goat. And he did have the decency to talk to her. She just went missing.
    Marianne Gingrich is a horrid, wretched woman who is merely bitter because she didn't get the chance to do the dumping as she had done once before. Newt beat her to it. And dear friends, that for her is a bitter pill to swallow. Bitter, bitter, bitter.
    He's lucky to be rid of the hag.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

We'll see how making the Coq au Vin ahead of time works

    I'm ready to stick a roasting pan of Coq au Vin in the oven. Of course, it's after 10 p.m., which makes things a little late.
    I was at Sam's Club the other day and bought a big package of chicken legs, which is what I use for Coq au Vin. This dish has to be prepared a bit ahead as it needs from two to five hours to cook. As a practical matter it means I have to prepare it in the morning, when I'm not at my best. On Monday and Tuesday I had a terrible cold, and on Wednesday I just never got around to doing it.
    I wasn't about to let roughly 24 chicken legs go bad. So tonight I fixed the kids the Mahatma Saffron Rice and cream of mushroom soup casserole. I then immediately started on the Coq au Vin, which I stuck in the fridge to await our next evening meal.
    I'll cut to the chase. Tomorrow's supper is ready. All I have to do is stick it in the over. The only question in my mind is whether it will be as good after sitting for 15 hours in the fridge. It might be better!
    I'll post a comment to let anyone interested know how it turns out.

Pardon final step in rehabilitation, but many want only punishment

    I admit to some surprise over the massive round of pardons issued by outgoing Mississippi's Gov. Haley Barbour. Yet the outrage also raises another question: Do we want our penal system to rehabilitate prisoners or merely punish them?
    Historically we wanted our penal system to do both. Yet the comments I've read in social networking and news sites suggest that most people want punishment, and after that more punishment. And then more. They aren't interested in rehabilitation.
    We all know that in many -- maybe even most -- cases rehabilitation isn't possible. A lot of the people who go to prison are just bad eggs. They can't be rehabilitated. Yet most of the people pardoned by Gov. Barbour seem like prime candidates for rehabilitation. In fact about 90 percent of those receiving pardons were already out of jail. Some had been out for 20 years or more. They are, by definition, rehabilitated. All the pardon did was allow them to hunt, vote and perhaps get a professional license.
    One of the things that is most troubling to all of us is to see a murderer go free. Yet the fact is that there is a fine line between murder and manslaughter, and many murders are the only crime a person ever commits. They become enraged and act out. Someone who is in prison for a first offense of murder, said murder not being committed for the primary purpose of theft, and who behaves as a model prisoner, is one of the least likely people in the jail to commit another crime.
    The Florida Bureau of Prisons produced a report on prisoner recidivism. I didn't study it at length, but it appears to have some interesting statistics. I've reproduced below a chart from the report showing factors affecting, both positively and negatively, male (but not female) recidivism rates. Note that the female chart is different. For example, black males have a higher-than-average recidivism rate but black females have a lower-than-average rate. More time in prison increases the recidivism rate for males while lowering it for females. (Yes, I know I've misspelled "ameliorating" in the chart.
    Our of Barbour's more than 200 pardons, my guess is that after the dust settles there will only be a dozen or so that really rankle. It just doesn't bother me for someone who has been out of jail for many years to get a pardon.
    This doesn't mean I'm not scratching my head over some of these pardons. I am. In some cases I disapprove.
    But this ought to give us a chance to ask ourselves some questions about our penal system and what we want it to do. Do we want it to rehabilitate prisoners or merely punish them. We ought to want both. But if we refuse to allow fully rehabilitated prisoners to return to society then we've decided that all we really want our penal system to do is punish and not rehabilitate.
    We need to do both.

(Click to enlarge chart)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Facebook apparently just wants to make us all really mad

    I guess when an Internet company gets popular they have to start making people really mad. So it is with Facebook.
    For example, Facebook has something called "Timeline" view. I'm not sure what it is, but it is a terrible thing, and if you ever change to it you can't change back. Do a Google search and read (hear) the screams of anguish.
    Now Facebook has blocked the sharing of Blogger posts. No kidding. When I recently tried to share a post I was told my blog had a link that was "too spammy." Well, it turns out virtually everyone who uses Blogger is considered "too spammy."
    I've figured out a temporary workaround to the Facebook block. Apparently it only blocks Blogger status updates and shares. You can still post a blog post as a comment to an existing status update. So I guess that's what I'll do for now; I'll create a status update and then comment with a link to my post.
    Keep working at it Facebook. If you try hard enough you will kill the goose that laid the golden egg for you.
    Of course, you could treat us like valued customers! I suppose that's too much to ask.

Taxing other people for public good is not Christianity

    It's been increasingly common in recent years for liberals to suggest that people who don't support lavish government spending aren't good Christians, or even can't be Christians.
    I actually attended a funeral in Oxford back in the 1990s where the pastor of one of Oxford's largest churches stated that he didn't see how anyone could consider themselves to be a Christian and not vote Democratic in the upcoming election. The comment came in reference to the fact that the deceased was a "Yellow-dog Democrat," but it is evidence of just how nutty some members of the Religious Left are.
    If you read the Bible, it's clear that Christ instructs all of us to help the poor, the sick, and to help each other. And Christ did just that in his personal life.
    What I have not been able to find in the Bible is Christ instructing people that it is good to force other people to help the poor, the sick or to help each other. Christ never agitated for forced charity.
    We know that Christ helped the sick and dying. But there were countless millions of sick and dying during Christ's time and he didn't help them all, even though he doubtless could have. Does that make him a bad Christian? (See, by the way, On Borrowed Time to understand the implications of doing away with death).
    We know that Christ could take a few loaves and fish and feed a multitude, which he did not because the people were in need but because he wanted them to stay and listen to his sermon. Yet the fact is that life at the time of Christ was hard and millions were starving. Christ did not feed them, even though he could have.
    Today's liberals would say this makes Christ a "bad Christian." I disagree.
    Let's consider what would have happened if Christ had simply handed out free food to everyone from the time He turned 13 until His crucifixion at 33. This could have been done by having Mana fall in the mornings, just as it did for the children of Israel during their 40 years in the Sinai.
    Yet what would have happened if Christ had done this? We know that in a subsistence society such as existed at that time population explodes when the food supply increases. Assuming a world population of 200 million on Christ's 13th birthday, it's safe to say that population would have increased to 600 million by the time of his death and the cessation of his miracles -- at which point 300 million to 500 million would have starved to death.
    Today's liberals would have berated Christ for being a bad Christian for not just feeding everyone willy-nilly. But as a matter of public policy Christ was right and the liberals are wrong. He was right not to have caused the starvation of hundreds of millions of people, even if it meant making hard choices.
    None of this is to say that welfare programs are good are bad. I think some are good and some are bad. Sometimes the programs are good but the rules are bad. But I support or oppose them on public policy grounds, not because I think being for or against them makes me a good or bad Christian. Likewise, I don't consider others to be good or bad Christians based on their support or opposition to these programs.
    It's not my job to rate the piety of others. But it doesn't make one a good Christian to support the taxation of others to carry out one's Christian duties.
    The fact is that two Christians can have differing opinions about what policies are in the best long-term interests of society. As long as they are sincere, their viewpoints are valid reflections of their Christian faith. They can have opposite views and still be good Christians.
    In the arena of politics and government, decisions ought to be made based on good long-term public policy, not by making baseless charges that one's opponents aren't good "Christians." There is a place for religion in politics, but that place is in one's own heart, not by publicly challenging and denouncing the faith of others.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

They can't ban Tebow's Bible verses

    Miracle man Tim Tebow pulled out another overtime victory, this time against the the New England Patriots. Tebow's 80-yard touchdown pass on the first overtime play was the fastest overtime win in history.
    Tebow passed for a total of 316 yards. 316? 3:16. Looks like the Bible verses are back.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dictator Obama has arrived; will we allow him to stay?

    The dictatorship has arrived. The only question that remains is whether true Americans will stand up and throw Barack Obama out of office. It will not be easy -- he and his socialist supporters are willing to stop at nothing in their quest to have a one-time feast on America's seed corn.
Let me sidetrack my blog post here. I've called Obama a socialist. Whenever someone does this they are often ridiculed or called paranoid. Obama seems to deny being a socialist, and in his defense he does behave like a crony capitalist at times.

But the fact is that Obama and the Democrats constantly want to make America more like Socialist Europe, even though Europe's left-wing social experiments have thrown it into chaos. But whether socialism is good or bad is beside the point. My wife and I both have friends in Europe who are socialists. Everyone or virtually everyone in the Labor party in Britain is a socialist. Tony Blair is a socialist. Europe is full of socialists and they call themselves socialists. Obama's political views are certainly as liberal as those of Tony Blair's and those of other Europeans and therefore he is, by definition, a socialist.

    After Congress refused to pass the Obama-supported DREAM Act, which would have simply granted amnesty and citizenship to young illegal aliens who claimed they were attending college (merely enrolling anywhere would get them a 10-year reprieve), the Obama administration simply ordered the Immigration and Naturalization Service not to enforce the law. Essentially the administration passed the DREAM Act by executive order. (Another sidetrack: I'm all for allowing brilliant people to stay in American no matter how they got here; but allowing any moron who can shamble into a community college and register free citizenship is an affront).
    Now Obama has made four "recess" appointments to positions which require the advice and consent of the Senate during a time when the Senate was not in recess -- one to the new Consumer Protection agency and three to the decidedly anti-Southern National Labor Relations Board. Admittedly the Senate was only in pro forma session, but this has been used by Democrats to block Republican recess appointments and as a senator Obama was on record as supporting the tactic. As president he's changed tunes.
    As a practical matter I believe either the Constitution or Senate rules should be changed to require an up or down vote on each and every nomination presented by the president. Neither party should be allowed to "bottle-up" an appointment indefinitely. But the Democrats started this business of refusing to act on nominations and the Republicans only followed suit. Whoever's to blame, it's not good for the country.
     The problem is deciding which party gets the benefit of the new rule. Democrats deprived George Bush of his fair share of judicial nominations, for example. For things to be even Republicans have to prevent Democrats from being appointed. Whatever party is in power when the new rule is adopted will get a windfall of new appointments. But surely some compromise can be made where some bipartisan appointments can be made.
    But just because I believe the system should be changed doesn't I support violating the law. Obama has ignored the rule of law by purporting to make recess appointments while the Senate is not in formal recess. His "We Can't Wait" campaign is a threat not only to the Constitution, but to every American.
    We Can Wait. In fact, We Must Wait. We can support the Constitution. And we can throw this dreadful thug out of office.
    Senate Republicans have a duty to the Constitution not to allow a another Obama appointee to any position to be confirmed and to remain truly in session until this man is cast out of the presidency. We Can Save America.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I found details of long-ago bike trip up the Mosel and Rhine

(Click to enlarge)

    When I was 14 I took a bicycle trip of Europe with a group out of Florida. It was a three-week trip loosely affiliated with a Baptist church out of Sarasota, Fla., under the direction of the Rev. Tom Watson and his two sons. I suppose I saw their advertisement on the bulletin board at the Holly Springs First Baptist Church Activities Center. I stumbled across my tour materials recently.
    It was a fun trip. There was a devotion time every night, and personally there was a little too much religious emphasis for me. But if you sign up to go it's something you put up with. Patricia Kennedy from Holly Springs also went and had a good time. Her sister, Sylvia, who was 19 or 20, went and was unaware of just how much of a church trip it was. She stayed for a week and then had enough of nightly devotions and went home.
    Our trip started in Luxembourg, and fresh off the plane we visited the American World War II cemetery. We then took a bus to our campsite, in Remich, on the Mosel River, which divides Luxembourg from Germany. From there we rode up the Mosel and then the Rhine, and made good time, as we made it to Cologne in four days. By comparison, some of the Mosel bike tours suggest Trier to Koblenz in six days; on that schedule it would have taken us at least eight days to reach Cologne.
    It looking at our itinerary, shown above, it looks like the trip organizers tended to bunk us down in out-of-the-way towns. I'm sure it was cheaper! We stayed exclusively in campsites, in four-person tents. Some of the campsites were actually pretty nice.
    The first part of the trip was easy biking. We rode up the Mosel and then the Rhine, so it was almost all flat land. It was only after Brussels, when we visited the site of the Battle of the Bulge, that things got tough. I think they call it the "bulge" because there is a "bulge" that you have to go over. No fun! On our first day we peddled 22 miles. On our last day we went more than 60. So we did increase in stamina as we traveled.
    Sites I remember: Trier, Burg Eltz Castle, Cologne, Holland countryside, Amsterdam, Brussels, Waterloo, Bulge, lots of neat, little villages.
    I'm not sure what happened to the Spinning Spokes program. It survived for a number of years. They were doing three tours a year, owned bicycles and had a couple of vans that would take the tents and kitchen gear. I guess nothing lasts forever.
    I'd love to take another bike trip up the Mosel and along the Rhine. There are companies that will sell you a bike trip for top dollar, but for the price they're charging I'd want a limo. I'd like to just take off and stay at youth hostels -- after all, they do have family rooms. Jinny informs me they aren't for our family!
    It was fun once. My guess is that it would be fun to do part of it again.