Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
McCain was always the leader among moderates, Republican liberals (yes, there are some, more than you might think), and true Independents.
But McCain lacked support from the "established" conservatives that dominate the Republican Party.
Rush Limbaugh actively campaigned against McCain. Michelle Malkin blogged incessantly against McCain. And so did many other Conservatives.
So tonight's win was really critical to the Arizona Senator. And win he did! McCain won in a "closed" primary which prohibited cross-over voting.
This victory is huge.
Now Limbaugh and Malkin and other conservatives will have to decide if they will back McCain or usher Bill and Hillary back into the White House on a red carpet.
Of sure, I'm still hoping Barack Obama will win the Democrat nomination. In fact Clinton's shrill speech in Florida tonight was distasteful. But the pundits still think Hillary has a lock on the nomination.
I think Obama can attract more Independents than McCain. But not Clinton. She'll yield the Independents to McCain. And, very likely, the election.
So the Wizard will take his victories where he can find them. And tonight I'll savor the McCain win.
Take a few minutes to read about recent events in Europe where modern liberalism may face its strongest real challenge since the fall of communism, as millions of fundamentalist Muslims immigrate into western European countries.
This resulting clash of two cultures, two lifestyles, two religions (or one fundamentalist religion against a generally secular society), is having its greatest impact at the fragile edges of modern Europe, the Gay and Lesbian community.
I encourage you to read Bruce Bawer's First They Came for the Gays
|Not very long ago, Oslo was an icy Shangri-la of Scandinavian self-discipline, governability, and respect for the law. But in recent years, there have been grim changes, including a rise in gay-bashings. The summer of 2006 saw an unprecedented wave of them. The culprits, very disproportionately, are young Muslim men.
It’s not just Oslo, of course. The problem afflicts most of Western Europe. And anecdotal evidence suggests that such crimes are dramatically underreported. My own partner chose not to report his assault. I urged him to, but he protested that it wouldn’t make any difference. He was probably right.
The reason for the rise in gay bashings in Europe is clear – and it’s the same reason for the rise in rape. As the number of Muslims in Europe grows, and as the proportion of those Muslims who were born and bred in Europe also grows, many Muslim men are more inclined to see Europe as a part of the umma (or Muslim world), to believe that they have the right and duty to enforce sharia law in the cities where they live.
Such men need not be actively religious in order to feel that they have carte blanche to assault openly gay men and non-submissive women, whose freedom to live their lives as they wish is among the most conspicuous symbols of the West’s defiance of holy law.
Even more frightening than the anecdotal stories presented by Bawer is the amazing twin approaches of denial and accommodation by many European governments who seem willing to trade away long cherished freedoms and rights for women in an effort to appease the growing Muslim communities who demand Sharia Law.
Look for this clash of cultures to grow.......
Saturday, January 26, 2008
After Iowa I opined that I was surprised and impressed with Mike Huckabee. Kind, affable, quick witted and self effacing, Huckabee was a wonderful surprise. Not someone I would support for President, but someone I could both like and respect.
And after New Hampshire I expressed my very favorable impressions of both winners, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. I went so far as to say it was a great day for America with the two most qualified candidates leading the race.
After Michigan I wrote extensively about Mitt Romney and my comments were not very favorable toward either Romney and the state of Michigan. Romney the chamellion lizard has certainly fallen further in my view since then.
To be fair I've favored both Clinton and McCain for a long time, but held off endorsing either. But I did think they were the best and brightest of their respective parties.
I am ready to do something I had not intended to do. I am formally endorsing John McCain for the Republican nomination for President.
And I'm formally endorsing Barack Obama for the Democrat nomination for President!
Hillary lost my support on her own. Her performance in the last Democrat debate was unpleasant to say the least. She simply didn't display the temperment, the candor, the leadership or the honesty I'd like to see in a President. And Barack Obama did!!
And as Hillary became more panicked about her sliding popularity, husband Bill became obnoxious and overbearing. When Barack Obama wondered aloud which Clinton was actually running for Presidnet, he echoed my feelings. And, I must admit, I found myself wondering who would actually be the President, Hillary or Bill.
A co-Presidency will not work.
And Bill's comments today comparing Barack Obama to Jessie Jackson and further injecting race into the election in the worst possible way is underhanded and inexcusable. Former President Clinton has done a great deal to tarnish his own personal legacy in South Carolina this week.
Plus, lets all be honest. Barack Obama is more genuine, more honest and more of a leader. And he is more likable. And it is unwise to underestimate the likability factor.
So, I respectfully change my view. The Democrats need fresh leadership. The Democrats deserve Barack Obama.
And America will be best served by a McCain versus Obama election this fall.
Friday, January 25, 2008
HINT: It DOESN'T MEAN a continuation the partisan warfare and gridlock that puts politics ahead of the public good. And, as of today, I believe there is only one candidate who can genuinely bridge the gap between the two political parties.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
For those who are appalled by the treatment of women in Islamic societies, it is important to note that article in question specifically criticized the Koran's teachings about women.
Kambakhsh didn't write the article, he just made copies and discussed the articles with fellow students. It's exactly the kind of intellectual discussion and debate encouraged by institutions of higher learning around the world.
Can you imagine not being allowed to discuss the role of women at an American University?
Can you imagine a journalism school forbidding reading of any article or report?
Reporters Without Borders was outraged that Afghan judges completely ignored the new Afghanistan Constitution that specifically protects Freedom of the Press.
“We are deeply shocked by this trial, carried out in haste and without any concern for the law or for free expression, which is protected by the constitution,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Kambakhsh did not do anything to justify his being detained or being given this sentence. We appeal to President Hamid Karzai to intervene before it is too late.”
But Afghanistan officials defended the verdict and even went so far as to threaten other reporters who might protest the decision with arrest.
"This was not a violation of human rights or press freedom, not a violation of rights of a journalist," Balkh Province Attorney-General Hafizullah Khaliqyar says. "[Kambakhsh] violated the values of Islam. He did not make a journalistic mistake; he insulted our religion. He misinterpreted the verses of the Koran and distributed this paper to others. All ulama [Islamic clerics] have condemned his act."
Khaliqyar added that the trial was conducted in a "very Islamic way."
If all this sounds terribly familiar, you probably have been reading my entries in this blog about Abd'al-Karim Nabil Suleiman. Suleiman, a blogger who used to write under the name Kareem Amir, has been fighting for his freedom in Egypt for committing almost exactly the same crimes as Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh.
It seems questioning the plight of women in an Islamic society is an unpardonable crime. But Kareem is far luckier than Kambakhsh. Living in modern Egypt, Kareem was only sentenced to five years in prison. He did not face a death sentence like Kambakhsh faces in Afghanistan.
Pressure does need to be placed on Afghanistan President Karzai from the US government, the international press and the world wide blogosphere to commute the death sentence on Kambakhsh.
And we must continue our efforts to free Kareem Amir.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
It's happening every day in virtually all Islamic countries, but especially Saudi Arabia.
The Associated Press reports, in what is just the latest horror story from the Kingdom, Forced annulment keeps couple apart:
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Two years ago, a knock on Fatima and Mansour al-Timani's door shattered the life they had built together.
Isn't it fascinating that the family IS NOT DISGRACED by having their sister and daughter held in jail or forced to live in a orphanage, in absolute poverty, but the family IS DISGRACED by having her live with a loving, caring and supportive husband from a lower caste?
Isn't it equally fascinating that most American Women's Rights groups are cowered into absolute silence by the plight of Islamic women?
I would just love to provide a link to the statement from the National Organization for Women...... but they have declined to issue one.
And I would love to link to a listing of all the posts by the over 100 so-called liberal bloggers over at The Huffington Post, but not one single blogger has issued one single comment. Not one.
Saudi women deserve a strong, unequivocal voice for freedom and basic human rights in the world forum.
For me this case and the thousands just like it are the strongest argument for energy independence.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Barbour made one of the most outrageous statements I've heard in recent years. Barbour stepped way over the politically correct line and dared to suggest we move our morality back to about 1955, the days of Lucy and Desi, Beaver Cleaver and Father Knows Best.
Barbour would have us bring back the scarlet letter, the shame 0f unwed pregnancy, the sin of motherhood without benefit of marriage.
And Barbour had the gall to do it smack dab in the middle of the biggest and most important speech of the year, his Inauguration Address!
"....we must not only improve education and workforce skills but also combat and reduce the scourge of illegitimacy. It is virtually impossible for significant economic progress to take root where there has been major decline in the family structure."
The Scourge of Illegitimacy? As a religious liberal and a social liberal I thought we had moved beyond casting shame upon a woman who finds herself in a difficult situation. Finally, at least in Western Society, an unwed pregnant girl is allowed to hold her head up high, complete her education, have a career and a future.
The turning point in our society's attitude is often considered the episode of the landmark television series Murphy Brown, when the successful, very single, reporter decides to have and raise a baby without having a husband!
Reviled and mocked by Republicans and conservatives and Evangelical Christians, the show was still the turning point in society's attitude toward unwed motherhood. If Candice Bergen's Murphy Brown can raise a child and pursue a career without being married, then any woman can!
And, as it turns out, 20 years later, many, many woman do.
But the societal change that was supposed to liberate women, also freed men from the responsibility of marriage. And it cleared one of the very last obstacles to premarital sex.
And so illegitimacy rates have exploded. While rates among blacks has stabilized at an astonishing 68% of all birth, rates among whites and other races are rising rapidly. Overall, the percentage of children born outside of wedlock is 33.5%
Sadly, what today's women haven't been able to duplicate is Murphy Brown's career and financial success. In fact, illegitimacy has become a financial disaster for the women and for society itself.
The facts are terrifying.
Children in one-parent families are twice as likely to drop out of school as those in two-parent homes.
Boys in one-parent families are much more likely to be both out of school and out of work.
Girls in one-parent families are twice as likely to have an out-of-wedlock birth.
Children raised in single-parent homes are more likely to be suspended from school, to have emotional problems, and to behave badly.
Boys whose fathers are absent from the household have double the odds of being incarcerated. This is true even when other factors, such as race, income, parents' education, and urban residence, are held constant.
Family structure is even more important than income. Each year spent without a father in the home increases the odds of future incarceration by 5 percent, so that a child born to an unwed mother is 2.5 times more likely to end up imprisoned, versus 1.5 times for a boy whose parents split up when he was a teenager.
But, in spite of these and dozens of other facts from studies over the last 20 years, it is still politically incorrect to say what Haley Barbour said.
But it is a real problem. And, in our society we don't stop for a second to legislate controls and prohibitions against behavior much less damaging that illegitimacy. Seat belt laws, child restraints and booster seats, and limits or outright prohibitions against smoking, drinking and drugs are common.
Laws are routinely passed to protect the welfare and health of children. And yet politically correct society dare not even mention the single factor that has been proven to place the child at risk of poverty, failed educational outcome, drug addiction, criminal behavior, incarceration and even worse.
At least until Haley Barbour did the unthinkable. He came out and said illegitimacy was a serious problem that must be addressed.
Haley Barbour's complete Inauguration Address can be found here.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Detroit has lost fully 50% of their population. Unemployment is the highest in the nation. Corruption rivals levels found in third world countries. And Michigan routinely enacts legislation that would drive any business from the state while raising taxes to certifiably insane levels.
And Mitt Romney, after completely changing his core values for Iowa and then changing them again for New Hampshire, put on an entirely new persona for Michigan, but this time it worked.
Romney became "Young Doctor Kildare." Boyish, Handsome. And dispensing the latest "miracle cures."
They say a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down, but Young Doctor Romney simply left out the medicine entirely, feeding heaping spoonfuls of sugar to the voters of Michigan. He promised a chicken in every pot and a new car factory in every town.
Just swallow Romney's magic elixir and you'll be young, good looking and irresistible to the opposite sex.
Unfortunately the only person that got well was Mitt Romney. And tomorrow he'll leave the state, shed his white Doctor's coat and probably try to become a "Southern Baptist Preacher," Brother Mitt, for the voters in South Carolina.
His promises of a miracle cure for Michigan will be forgotten.
But Young Doctor Romney wasn't the only person dispensing sugar tonight. There was enough syrup at the debate in Nevada tonight to induce a diabetic coma.
If tonight's long heralded Nevada Debate was a championship boxing event, we would have to assume Barack Obama threw the fight.
It's one thing to call a truce in the race war; it's quite another to concede defeat and surrender the troops.
Hillary looked Presidential. Obama came off like a star struck teenager.
There was more syrup in the debate than at your neighborhood House of Pancakes. Whenever Barack wasn't pouring syrup on Hillary, Hillary was copying the Young Doctor Romney prescription and pouring syrup all over Nevada.
Hillary told the people of Nevada exactly what they wanted to hear. Of course Nevada has all the wealth and prosperity that Michigan lacks. And Hillary was well prepared and had the facts and issues at her fingertips. But promises flowed freely off her lips, just like syrup.
At least I felt like she was a real doctor, capable of dispensing real medicine if the situation had warranted it.
But, for those of you who might be interested in the single most unfair abuse of power in Washington today let me simply refer you to today's issue of Radio and Internet News (RAIN)'s analysis of current events: CRB denies SX for more satellite money, but where's fairness for webcasters?
The bottom line? The Copyright Royalty Board (an agency of the US Government and an appointed board created by Congress) has granted an absolutely sweetheart deal to the monopoly of satellite radio, Sirius and XM Radio.
Without any competition and on the verge of merger, Sirius and XM are securely in the pocket of the RIAA, ignoring independent artists and following the hit making, payola laced, guidelines of the major record labels.
What does satellite radio bring to the table in return for the bargain basement royalty deal? Two companies, perhaps a half dozen program directors, no competition and no innovation.
Meanwhile Internet Radio which used to offer over 10,000 stations and 10,000 program directors and all the innovation and all the support for new, emerging and independent artists is forced by the same Copyright Royalty Board to pay royalty rates so high stations are now going off the air or into bankruptcy at an alarming rate.
Who are the "Losers" referred to in the title of today's post? The pubic, of course. Music lovers. Independent artists. Society in general. Exactly the people Congress is "supposed" to serve and protect.
Please read Paul Maloney's complete article in RAIN.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
I've been a long time fan and supporter of John McCain and have quoted him (often reprinting entire speeches) approvingly here in this blog. I'm a supporter of the surge in Iraq and believe McCain has been on the right side of the entire Iraq issue from day one.
In addition I've also been a strong supporter of McCain's position in Immigration, which mirrored George Bush's position and most Democrat's positions. From campaign finance reform to immigration to a host of other issues McCain is often on the Democrat's side of the issues or at least genuinely willing to compromise.
Likewise I've been an early and frequent supporter of Hillary Clinton. While I've stopped just short of endorsing her for President, I am on record in predicting she would win the office in 2008.
I genuinely believe these two candidates are the best qualified Presidential candidates in their respective parties. The country would be well served in a Clinton versus McCain race this fall.
So I must admit I'm pleased with the results of the New Hampshire primary tonight.
Still, both parties races are up for grabs. Giuliani is still in the race. Obama is still the electrifying rock star of 2008. Huckabee is still a folksy dark horse, almost a cult stealth candidate.
But, if we are really lucky, Edwards and Romney are finished. I'd be thrilled to see the race down to Obama, Clinton, McCain, Giuliani and Huckabee with everyone else gone.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
The inevitability on Hillary Clinton is now gone. And the plastic, poll driven, slogan of the week, position of the week, politics-as-usual candidates all lost.
But Iowa is a caucus state. What will happen when the Obama and Huckabee wave of populism crashes onto the shores of reality in New Hampshire?
But I take one thing away from today for sure. I really, really like Mike Huckabee. Not his positions. Not his religious dogma. Not his positions on "choice" or homosexuality. Not his bizarre "fair tax" program. I just like the guy.
It all started this morning when Huckabee appeared on the Don Imus radio program. Imus has been literally savaging Huckabee all this week. And Imus side kick Charles McCord brought up Imus' histrionics first thing in the interview. But Huckabee was absolutely unflappable. He was light hearted, funny and, most importantly, consistent in his positions.
Huckabee was as kind and friendly and Imus had been mean and sarcastic. You can bet there will be many more Huckabee appearances on the Imus program.
And it continued tonight. On network after network, all the way from friendly FOX to openly hostile MSNBC, Huckabee won over every critic and came across as a real and genuine guy. He handles the toughest questions with charm and candor.
Huckabee certainly didn't win over Keith Olbermann, but he did manage to disarm him.
So while I still believe Huckabee cannot win the Republican nomination and absolutely cannot win the Presidency, I find the man totally refreshing.
On to New Hampshire.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
On one hand (lets call this one the right hand) we have a most amazing breakthrough from the Warner Music Group. Warner, after a decade of leading the fight against digital music, has actually agreed to place their entire catalog of onver one half million songs on Amazon in the totally unrestricted mp3 format, long despised by the music industry.
Warner joins Universal and EMI, bringing the total number of tracks available on Amazon to 2.9 million. 2.9 million!!
There are no silly DRM (digital rights management) restrictions on the Amazon tracks. No limits to the number of CD's you can burn or the mixture of tracks. And, most important, there are no compatibility issues. An Amazon mp3 track plays on virtually every device sold today.
This means there are absolutely no restrictions on the tracks purchased through Amazon. You can burn them to CD's, make custom mixes of tunes, transfer them to your iPod and to any other mp3 player. You can download them to a computer and then transfer them to other computers. No restrictions! You are actually allowed to enjoy the music you legally purchased at home, in the office, at the beach or in your car.
Warner Music Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Edgar Bronfman Jr. explained the decision this way:
In an e-mail obtained by The Associated Press and distributed to Warner employees Thursday, Bronfman noted that selling downloads without DRM would helpWarner was the last holdout among the majors. Now ever label sells DRM FREE tracks somewhere, some via iTunes and others on their own web site.
spur new types of online music applications and foster competition among online retailers.
"By removing a barrier to the sale and enjoyment of audio downloads, we bring an energy-sapping debate to a close and allow ourselves to refocus on opportunities and products that will benefit not only WMG, but our artists and
our consumers as well," Bronfman wrote.
Life is good.
But... on the other hand (let's call this one the left hand) the Recording Industry Association of America's (the RIAA) lawyers have now filed a lawsuit claiming that it is illegal to copy music from any legally purchased CD onto any device, anytime, anywhere or in any format!
Here is the news as reported by The Washington Post:
In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.
The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.
Clearly the left hand is totally unaware of what the right hand is up to. The left hand is in court attempting to convince a judge that a consumer cannot ever make any copy of any legally purchased recording. No copying to the computer. No copying to an iPod. No copying to an mp3 player. All copies are illegal.
If the RIAA wins this lawsuit, it will wipe out the entire digital music industry and end competition and innovation. In other words the RIAA might defeat everything Warner Music is trying to accomplish.