Evangelism in the Science Classroom.

The other day Randy Barnett posted to The Volokh Conspiracy saying that a Republican candidate who believed in Creationism could never be elected President.    A couple of people wrote him nice e-mails explaining that “creationism” can mean nothing more extreme than that God set evolution in motion.   Now he has posted a clarification.

Of a God enabled evolution Barnett says this:

There is absolutely no reason why THIS position would be taught in schools at all, much less in science classs; so

And this is where he is wrong.    Not so much in the statement as in the assumptions behind it.    Should the matter of God be brought up in a science classroom?  No.  I don’t think it should.   But is there REASON to do so?   Yes, there really is.

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Houston’s Own Mortgage Bailout Bad Idea

Kinda. Basically the city of Houston wants to take public money and give it to private individuals to help them pay off loans and improve their credit scores to help them get approved for a mortgage loan. Judging from the comments, the public is not reacting positively to this.

Credit scores do actually mean something and they are used for a reason. They’re a reflection of your financial trustworthiness and giving people tax payer money to improve their score isn’t going to magically make them actually responsible and trustworthy. Government can’t just treat loan standards and credit scores like some game where they’ve found the cheat code, it creates problems, just ask Freddie and Fannie Mae and their subprime loans.

Edit: Mayor Bill White has removed the city council’s agenda.

Council members are now professing their “embarrassment” about the proposal, which has hit the national news circuit, including drudgereport.com.

“This issue has hit a nerve across this country,” said Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck. “Not just here in the city of Houston. Giving people the ability to increase their credit score artificially because we’re allowing them to pay off their credit cards is exactly what got us into this (national economic) crisis in the first place.”

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Picture of the Day

This is a statue from outside Denver International Airport.

and Hell followed with him

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Idea Man

To see an interview with Bobby Jindal is to be bombarded with unconventional policy ideas in rapid succession…and most of them would be best punctuated with a ‘WTF’. As in: ‘we dump our dredged silt in the Gulf. WTF. Let’s use it for wetlands restoration.’

It has been said, in reference to Maxwell and electromagnetism, that true genius does not involve comprehending the complex, but in making the complex comprehensible. That could apply on a lesser, political level, to Jindal’s ability to translate often arcane policy agendas into a vernacular pitch. A useful art, for which the New Statesman selected Bobby as one of their ten most likely to change the world last month. A choice that may end up being as well considered as their 2005 selection of Barack Obama.

“Bobby.” Despite being far from Louisiana, I note I find myself increasingly using his given name alone, with everyone immediately knowing who I am talking about. I also note this is similarly done with “Sarah.” It seems we’re on a first name basis with the two primary contestants for the 2012 Republican nomination. That level of familiarity and connection should make for a titanic battle. Quite a welcome experience, after that “whom do you despise the least?” contest in the 2008 primary fight.

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Chicago Tea Party

Rick Santelli just went off on Obama’s housing proposal live on CNBC from the commodities trading floor in Chicago.

It’s now the headline on Drudge:

VIDEO: ‘The government is promoting bad behavior… do we really want to subsidize the losers’ mortgages… This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage? President Obama are you listening? How about we all stop paying our mortgage! It’s a moral hazard’… MORE…


Who is John Galt?

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Texas Bill Introduced to Reassert 10th Amendment Rights

H.C.R. 50 has been introduced to the Texas House. Authored by Texas State Representatives Brandon Creighton, Bryan Hughes, and Leo Berman, it reasserts Texas’s rights of sovereignty under the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution.

RESOLVED, That the 81st Legislature of the State of Texas
hereby claim sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise
enumerated and granted to the federal government by the
Constitution of the United States; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That this serve as notice and demand to the federal
government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective
immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these
constitutionally delegated powers; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That all compulsory federal legislation that
directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal
penalties or sanctions or that requires states to pass legislation
or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed; and, be it

It was only introduced yesterday, but it will be very interesting to see if this passes.It would be really amazing to see a resurgence in the 10th Amendment.

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The Permission for Resistance

Brief except of a talk at the 92nd Street Y between Salman Rushdie and Irshad Manji, discussing the possibility of reform against extremism in the Islamic faith. Rushdie draws a fine parallel with the experience of the Western left during the Cold War. Specifically, its attempt to create a distinction between their non-existent idealized socialism, and the actuality of a destitute, totalitarian nightmarescape on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

At issue is the extent to which the Western left sought to resist criticism of existing socialism in the name of defending it as an ideal. Commendably, Rushdie has little faith in this project reapplied to Islam, much less as a promise to actualize reform.

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Not only is she a Bonneville record holder, but Leslie Porterfield also used an innovative new skin wrap on her bike. While I would suspect the claims of any company, a personal endorsement such as the following holds weight enough for me. A 3mph gain at top speed with no other change to the bike, that’s incredible.

Where can I get me some of this…


“I had excellent results with the FastSkinz on my motorcycles. Both bikes set records this year. I made several runs on the Honda at the Texas Mile. We had the opportunity to test all weekend, and change bodywork out for comparison. I had a consistent 3mph gain on top speed at the end of one mile.

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Abrogation of the Soul

Somewhat tortuously, the State Department has congratulated the victory of Hugo Chavez’s referendum to revoke term limits on his rule as a victory for participatory democracy, while faintly recommending a new respect for multiparty pluralism. Consider for a moment if you were to receive official foreign congratulations for your civic virtue, upon learning that a president of the United States had just succeeded in repealing the 22nd Amendment, allowing him to serve forever as permanent head of state. A cold experience, surely.

Congratulating this referendum is an insult to liberal forces in Venezuela which have been battling mightily against long odds and at risk of arrest, to preserve some semblance of a liberal society in a country deeply mired in the grip of crypto-fascist hysteria.

One of the most regrettable ideas of the Bush years was the then president’s bizarre belief that any political outcome was ultimately justifiable if it were arrived at by course of a general election. Something that even the experience of an elected Hamas government in Gaza apparently failed to completely dissuade him of. It’s a pity to learn that we’ve traveled even further down this misbegotten path with a new administration.

It should be understood that it is the liberal dispossition –one that supports and informs constitutional restraint on state power– not the democratic procedure, that distinguishes Western democracy from being the will of a fanatical mob. Liberalism is the soul that makes democracy moral and viable. The United States should not praise any democratic outcome as instinsically worthwhile, as Bush once did. What it should praise are liberal democratic outcomes….and Chavez’s coupling of potential permanence with his already near autocratic authority, is no victory for liberalism.

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Pitchfork Time?? How about Shovel Time!

Glenn Reynolds ponders “IS IT PITCHFORK TIME? Dang, I don’t own a pitchfork. Oh well, they’re not too expensive. Maybe mail a bunch to Congress, first . . .”

I think shovels would be a more appropriate gift to send to our Congressmen. They must be standing knee deep in cow manure to believe their doing what’s best for the nations economy. And it would also give them a head start on their “shovel ready” projects.

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Late Night in the Halls of Congress

Well, the final text of the spendathon bill is out, looks like it was a late night in the halls of Congress.

Interesting that they chose not to create a searchable PDF, but scanned in a printed version, with markups.

hr1_legtext_cr.pdf - Created 2/12/2009 11:44:51 PM Modified 2/13/2009 12:40:12 AM
hr1_legtext_crb.pdf - Created 2/12/2009 11:55:17 PM Modified 2/13/2009 1:19:36 AM

hr1_cr_jse.pdf - Created 2/12/2009 10:22:08 PM Modified 2/13/2009 1:02:34 AM
hr1_cr_jseb.pdf - Created 2/12/2009 10:22:44 PM Modified 2/13/2009 1:26:21 AM

So much for promises of transparency by the Obama administration.

So much for the post-partisan Presidency.

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A Rose By Any Other Name

Sounds like they want the Fairness Doctrine to me. If they want this fight, then broadcast TV ought be included. More over at QandO.


“If markets cannot produce what society really cares about, like a media that reflects the true diversity and spirit of our country, then government has a legitimate role to play,” he said.

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Name That Party

Any guesses what party this state rep. belongs to? Answer after the break.


While local and national media swarmed Henrietta Hughes for interviews, Chene Thompson, wife of State Rep. Nick Thompson, grabbed Hughes’ hand and offered them a house.

The house is in LaBelle, the first home Chene Thompson bought after law school.
“Just give me the opportunity to help you,” Chene Thompson told her.

Politician doing a good deed. No mention of party.

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The irresistible allure of Sarah Palin

I view this as near proof positive that Sarah Palin has a real, concrete, chance at being President some day.    2012 if Obama messes up too badly, and 2018 otherwise.  I just can’t conceive of any other reason for her to provide such an obvious fascination for so many people.

It seems that Sarah didn’t just energize the Republican base, she energizes Huff-Po as well.

You can just about hear the valley-girl squeal;  Omygawd, Todd is like, destroying the Earth, dude.    And he’s, like, on that snow machine, like, in the snow.    And like, I’m not going to say anything, like,  uncool, but… woah… Sarah must really be a bitch.

The constant criticism of Sarah Palin is so gratuitous that I can only assume that “no publicity is bad” applies.    No one with a brain could take this seriously, and it will get her name out in front of the “other side” and keep it there.    And it will solidify criticism OF her, as being baseless.    A couple of years of this and nothing bad anyone will say about Palin will stick.


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I Love Fast Women!!!

I think it’s great that there are fast women in the world. Fast on the 1/4 mile, fast on the Speedway, fast on the road course, and fast on the Salt Flats. If you thought I meant something else, you have a dirty mind.

Let me introduce Leslie Porterfield who holds 3 land-speed records, and is the fastest woman on a motorcycle in the US. 234.197 MPH

234.197 MPH !!!!

That would be really freakin’ fast in a car, and she did it on a naked bike. I first learned of her amazing feat while watching a Discovery Channel program, “Land Speed Records: Bonneville Salt Flats.” What is especially amazing to me is that Leslie returned to the Salt Flats to take the record after crashing at 175 MPH in 2007. She suffered several broken ribs, a punctured lung, and lots of bruises.

Next meet, Jessica Zalusky, who won #2 overall in the Central Roadracing Association Expert Championship.

Put Jessica in your prayers, as she suffered a stroke last year. Looks like she’s making a good recovery though.

I think both of these women (in fact all racers,) show tremendous courage when they sit behind the wheel or on top of a motorcycle. There’s always the chance that things will go wrong. And you have to be tough to recover from spills, accidents, or twists of fate.

So, why do I like seeing women in racing? It’s more then just wanting to see a pretty face in the pits and on the winners platform. My wife has done a little bracket racing, and one of the most inspiring things was seeing a little girl tug on her mom’s jeans saying, look, a girl is racing. I think it’s important to open up the possibilities for young women.

Racing isn’t just a mans game.

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Gitmo Hunger Strike

According to Talk Left, anyhow.

It seems that conditions have deteriorated so badly that a large number of inmates have begun a hunger strike.   They are dragged forcefully from their cells, strapped to chairs for hours to be force fed, and then beaten.

The comments are sort of a fun read.

Because you’ll notice what I said up there…  the hunger strike is a response to the deteriorating conditions?

I don’t think I’m particularly brilliant.   I don’t think that I have particular insight.   But it seems obvious to me that the reason for a mass hunger strike *now* is that the inmates at Gitmo sense weakness… or at least they are testing for it.    A hunger strike just about guarentees that anyone who doesn’t respond with “let them die” is going to assume (like the commentators at Talk Left) that there are legitimate grievences… that the hunger strikers are in the right.

But that isn’t so.    They are doing it *now* because they think it possible that our new president can be manipulated by the public opinion that will follow.

The only question is… are they right?

h/t Instapundit

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Bring Back Welfare, Please

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 11.6 million unemployed persons in the United States today. Meanwhile, the current estimate of the total cost of the spending package passed to alleviate this distress is $827 billion.  President Obama has framed his defense of this expenditure largely on job loss grounds. Lately he has gone so far as to warn that without passage of the package in full, the unemployment rate  (currently at 7.6%) could hit double digits.

Let’s assume he’s right. Let’s even assume the total unemployment figure doubles to 23.2 million persons — a number which would likely require massive business failure and the collapse of entire industries to achieve. But for the price of the recovery package to head this off, we could afford to pay each of these 23.2 million future unemployed persons over $35,000 a year…which is almost exactly what the average individual income in the United States was in 2008. But here’s the thing, we wouldn’t have to pay them that, because there aren’t 23.2 million persons unemployed yet. Maybe there will be at some point in the future, but then again maybe there won’t.

The staggering expansion of government spending we are witnessing from those who used to restrict their advocacy to social safety nets for if someone happened to fall, is enough to make you nostalgic. Nostalgic for the days of profligate and wasteful welfare benefits, which seem positively frugal compared to this new invoice. Bring back the caricature welfare queen says me, with her Cadillac in a public housing garage. Incidentally, the base price for a Cadillac CTS is about $35,000 too. We could buy every currently unemployed person two of them with that recovery bill’s price tag.

Looking backward, the great value of the welfare system is that it is reactive, individual and conditional. That is to say, you have to personally lose your job in order to receive federal benefits. Now we’re apparently shifting to a model where massive indirect economic assistance is rendered for people who are currently still employed, because they might become unemployed at some point in the future. I prefer the old model in retrospect.

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Bleh, Sullivan.

Just when I was thinking that Andrew Sullivan must have hit some sort of moral and intellectual bottom by now, I read his retrospective on neoconservatism. It turns out the philosophy was actually a vast Zionist conspiracy:

The closer you examine it, the clearer it is that neoconservatism, in large part, is simply about enabling the most irredentist elements in Israel and sustaining a permanent war against anyone or any country who disagrees with the Israeli right.

Yes, it’s merely a matter of a guarded preface and a few adjectives that distinguishes this sort of thing from the photocopied rants of an ‘anti-Zionist’ street corner pamphleteer. But what’s most amusing about Sullivan’s post is his insistence that “America is not Israel”, and should not be made into a garrison society to wage permanent war against the adversaries of the Jewish state. As always, it’s a convenient formula for Sullivan to attack, given that no one appears to have actually advanced such an argument. Excepting people like Pat Buchanan in denouncing it as a hidden purpose (someone who Sullivan is now strangely in perfect alignment with in this post).

Whatever may be wrong with the neoconservative perspective on foreign affairs (and there is a great deal), at the very least I can say I’m at pains to think of a neoconservative who is as enterprising as Sullivan in inventing conspiratorial opponents, or as promiscuous in choosing new political bedfellows.

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Two Cows Theory of AIG Implosion

I always love these explanations.

Hat Tip: Megan McArdle

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Mr Bad Example

Isn’t there an energy crisis or something that we all have to worry about?

Guess, we can just call him “Mr Bad Example,” and be done with it.


The capital flew into a bit of a tizzy when, on his first full day in the White House, President Obama was photographed in the Oval Office without his suit jacket. There was, however, a logical explanation: Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat.

“He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”

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Sarah Palin in the Eye of the Beholder

With news that Governor Palin started her own political action committee at SarahPAC, she has entered the punditry discussion again, and yet again provokes strong responses, though as Josh Painter shows, little consensus. Many of the descriptions have to be read together to get the full effect of the dissonance.

So, is Sarah Palin the right wing extremist McCain staffers and leftists believe her to be? Is she the fundie theocrat secular leftists say she is?  Is she the “neocon” portrayed by careless conservatives? Is she a populist, as some liberals claim? If the governor is a populist, is that populism as disingenuous as the looser cannons on the left insist it is? Is she a leftist, as Big Oil’s useful idiots would have us believe? Is she the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan that his own elder son sees? Or is Gov. Palin a centrist, as the Alaskan pundit says she has governed? Did Pat Buchanan hit it closest to the mark of all the pundits quoted here, calling her a traditionalist?

It’s a question unfortunately, that will need to be answered to the public. James Pethokoukis of U.S. News & World Report’s Capital Commerce blog has some homework ideas on how to do this. I would also love to see more writing and commentary like this. I think it will be important to remember that when answering this question to the public, the response needs to come in many parts, only one of which should be in the traditional media. She could take a few pointers from Fred Thompson and Jon Henke with the other parts using the new media and youtube and other social sites.

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Torture: Let’s just *say* we don’t.

I’d heard this opinion often enough from liberals when they discussed torture but have to thank Matt Damon for giving me a nice quote:

”Look, the best line about torture I’ve heard came from [retired CIA officer turned war-on-terrorism critic] Milt Beardon,” Damon says. “He said, `If a guy knows where a dirty bomb is hidden that’s going to go off in a Marriott, put me in a room with him and I’ll find out. But don’t codify that. Just let me break the law.’

“Which I think is right. You can’t legalize torture. But anybody would do it in that situation. You’d do it to me in that situation; you’d pull out my fingernails if you thought I knew something like that.”

How lovely!

They aren’t anti-torture. They just want to pretend, to lie, to have some fig leaf to hide behind.

I’ve got a better idea, Matt… Let’s *not* but say we do.

h/t to Big Hollywood.

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Obama Snubs MOH recipients

In a sense, this is surprising to me. I thought Obama had more political sense to him then this. It might have been his handlers fault. That’s being generous though.


In this case, the American Legion, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the Paralyzed Veterans of America, as well as other veteran’s groups, were sponsoring their gala that has coincided with the inaugural evening since Eisenhower took office in 1953. In total, nine presidents and 56 years have gone by, and each inaugural evening the new president arrived to thank the veterans and Medal of Honor recipients in attendance. As one of the “unofficial” balls, it meant quite a bit to have the president show up and make an appearance.

Except this time.

The president and first lady, for the first time in those ensuing 56 years, did not make an appearance at the Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball. In attendance at the gala were 48 of the 99 living recipients of our nation’s highest honor. Of the 99 who are still with us, not even half are in any condition or possess the wherewithal to travel to such an event. And by the next inauguration, likely half of those won’t be with us.

This ball was hosted by the Medal of Honor Society.

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David Cay Johnston Puts on his Bad Idea Jeans

(Edit: Mr. Johnston graciously replies in the comments section. It seems the invasion was a bit of a modest proposal that I failed to pick up on. While there are things to disagree with in the rest of the article, I think it does a good job of showing the need for a much simpler tax code.)

That’s the only explanation for this column by Pulitzer prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston in Mother Jones.In it, Johnston advocates invading countries who’s laws we don’t like. Not laws like treating women like property, stoning homosexuals, or systematic oppression of minorities. No, laws like having low taxes and vibrant banking systems.

In 1983 just 10 percent of America’s corporate profits were funneled through places that charge little or no corporate income tax; today more than 25 percent of profits go through tax havens. The Obama administration could tell the Caymans—now fifth in the world in bank deposits—to repeal its bank secrecy laws or be invaded; since the island nation’s total armed forces consists of about 300 police officers, it shouldn’t be hard for technicians and auditors, accompanied by a few Marines, to fly in and seize all the records. Bermuda, which relies on the Royal Navy for its military, could be next, and so on. Long before we get to Switzerland and Luxembourg, their governments should have gotten the message.

The rest of the article is also filled with some bad ideas, but this is the one that stands out. Many on the right have been called blood thirsty and warmongers for advocating less against actual military enemies of the US.

(H/T Radley Balko at Reason)

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Is Today “Historic?”

In one sense, today is an historic day. We’ve now sworn in our 44th President, in yet another peaceful transition of the leadership of our government.

But it seems to me that the only other way to see this day as historic is to view Obama based on his skin color. Isn’t that exactly the opposite of what MLK was getting at.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I think the celebration is over the top, both in cost, and extravagance. The liberal double-standard is in play, as President Bush spent less on his parties, and was derided more. But, such is neither here nor there.

I expect President Obama will not meet the rather high expectations of his supporters, nor the worst fears of his detractors.

May God keep President Obama and our country safe.

Some other interesting quotes that come to mind right now.

I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.

* Speech in Detroit, Michigan (1963-06-23)

Man is man because he is free to operate within the framework of his destiny. He is free to deliberate, to make decisions, and to choose between alternatives. He is distinguished from animals by his freedom to do evil or to do good and to walk the high road of beauty or tread the low road of ugly degeneracy.

* The Measures of Man (1959)

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Tracking Obama’s Campaign Promises

Here’s a site to add to your bookmarks and check every once in awhile. It’s a site called PolitiTruth.com set up by the St. Petersburg Times to keep track of all 510 of might as well call him President now Obama’s campaign promises. He’s already got 2 listed as completed and none as broken. So far so good. No. 502: Get his daughters a puppy is still listed as “in the works.” though. Guess he hasn’t decided whether to follow through with that poodle poll yet.

(H/T Ronald Bailey at Reason)

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How to Show Off Your Conservation Credentials

Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) decided he wanted to show off how green he was by driving an electric car being developed in his district to his swearing in at the Capitol in D.C. Of course no electric car actually has enough juice to make the 300 mile trip. So what’s a feel good conservationist to do?

Massa drove one fuel cell car while a hybrid SUV towing an additional SUV followed along. Once he got half way, he switched to new fuel cell car. The empty fuel cell was then towed back by the first SUV. As he continued on his journey, the second SUV followed. Once Massa arrived in DC, the second SUV then towed the second fuel cell car back to NY.

I have to wonder if at any point while hatching this stunt that someone didn’t tell Rep Massa that by showing off his green technology he was wasting a ton of energy and polluting? Was he just too dense to know or just too callus to care?

(H/t: Radley Balko)

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What Does It Take for a Police Officer To Get Fired?

Radley Balko compares two police officer firings and finds that it’s pretty hard for an officer to get fired, unless they go easy on marijuana users.The first officer kind of reminds me of Alaskan State Trooper Mike Wooten from Sarah Palin’s silly “Troopergate” fiasco.

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Resolution to Repeal the Twenty-Second Amendment

Rep. José Serrano introduced a bill to do just that last week. Not sure why. I would think it had something to do with Obama being president, but he also introduced the same bill in 2005.

(H/T: Euguene Volokh)

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Rejecting Hamas

Here’s a bit of good news from earlier. As you may have seen, reports have been swirling about a plan by Obama to open direct talks with Hamas. Those reports are evidently groundless, as a statement from Brooke Anderson was quite strong:

“The President-elect has repeatedly stated that he believes that Hamas is a terrorist organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction, and that we should not deal with them until they recognize Israel, renounce violence, and abide by past agreements. The President elect’s repeated statements are accurate. This unsourced story is not.”

A question would then enter though. If it is so unacceptable to negotiate with Hamas absent these conditions, why is it forgivable to open diplomatic dialogue with its chief sponsor, Iran? It can’t escape notice that Iran similarly fails Obama’s preconditional test: it does not recognize Israel, nor does it renounce violence.

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Abuse and Confession

While I’m certainly not in disagreement that maintaining a ban on torture techniques in military interrogations should be an objective of the incoming Obama administration, Joe Klein’s pitch for it in his latest column takes us somewhere far beyond the overwrought. In it, Klein openly fantasizes about watching Donald Rumsfeld stripped naked and abused, as punishment for his part in incurring the permanent national stain of Abu Ghraib. How permanent is the stain according to Klein? He wants to erect a memorial monument to the victims of sleep deprivation on the National Mall. Yeah.

But this isn’t merely theatrical, it’s a confessional revenge fantasy. By his own admission, the mere mention in a newspaper of a prisoner standing in a stress position has Klein ready to torture former government officials as an act of retribution. It should be within his capacity to imagine that in a combat theater, inspiration for reciprocal abuses is even easier to obtain.

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Gaza War Arrives in Second Life

And amid the protests, obscenities, and intolerance we find a scene that you’d only find virtual worlds like Second Life:

An American Jew, Canadian Muslim, and a cute bunny

An American Jew, Canadian Muslim, and a cute bunny

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Taxation without Representation

The current bailout mania, and the long going practice of spending our way into debt, ought to be considered the highest form of “taxation without representation” as the government is taxing the future revenue of people who, at the moment, can not vote, may not even be born, or who currently are not US citizens.

The injustice of it all!!!

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The Rise of Decline

You know you’re in an American recession when British observers start reflecting on the inevitability of American decline, and volunteering their allegedly privileged perspective gained from the fall of the British Empire (Mark Steyn, as always, excepted). So it is that Matthew Parris joins an old tradition and writes this of the incoming Obama administration:

Though he may not yet know it, the role for which the US President-elect has been chosen is the management of national decline.
(The Times)

It should still be within our memory of course, that it was widely believed that Richard Nixon held this dubious distinction in 1968. Indeed, Nixon himself believed it, and his assessment that the United States had passed into decline informed almost all of his foreign policies. Mr. Parris’ countryman, the historian and strategist Paul Kennedy, had thought even more seriously on this issue and concluded in 1987 that the apex of American power had been reached in the 1970s, after which the United States had passed into another ultimately nonexistent long-term decline.

Retrospectively, this is all rather embarrassing. The United States is naturally vastly more powerful today than it was in the 1960s or 1970s, and the structure which enabled those gains commercially, socially and politically, remains unassailed. Given past experience, it’s entirely likely in coming years that we will feel similarly embarrassed by the current declinism.

But Mr. Parris is obliquely correct on one matter though:

Mr Obama will have to find a way of being honest with Americans about their country’s fall from predominance. Reading, as I often do, the furiously chauvinistic online reaction from US citizens to any suggestion that their country can be beaten at anything, I quail for him.
(The Times)

The experience of Nixon –pursuing policies to cushion the fall of an America which was just beginning to scale new heights– might suggest that it doesn’t really matter what Obama thinks. But if Americans themselves genuinely started to believe in their impending decline, and shelved their ambitions in favor of the crowded retirement home of great powers, they could actualize the prediction.

As with American greatness in light of her continental scale, vast and growing labor force, enormous capital resources and limitless dreams, a prophecy of American decline is largely contingent on whether or not Americans can be persuaded to self-fulfill it. If they cannot, that faint light on the horizon is another dawn, not an inevitable sunset. After all, the retirement home for the false futurists of American decline is an even more crowded house.

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New Chili Pepper on the Block

The Dorset naga:

Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket chain, recently added a new pepper to its vegetable shelves: the Dorset naga. Inhaling its vapour makes your nose tingle. Touching it is painful; cooks are advised to wear gloves. It is the only food product that Tesco will not sell to children. By the standards of other chilies, it is astronomically hot. On the commonly used Scoville scale (based on dilution in sugar syrup to the point that the capsaicin becomes no longer noticeable to the taster) it rates 1.6m units, close to the 2m score of pepper spray used in riot control. The pepper that previously counted as the world’s hottest, the Bhut Jolokia grown by the Chile Pepper Institute at the New Mexico State University, scored just over 1m. That in turn displaced a chili grown by the Indian Defence Research Laboratory in Tezpur, which scored a mere 855,000. The hottest habanero chilies score a wimpy 577,000.

The naga, originally from Bangladesh, was developed commercially by Michael Michaud, who runs a specialist online chili supply firm in south-western Britain. Having spotted it in an ethnic-food shop in the coastal town of Bournemouth, he bred a dependable and much hotter strain and had it tested. “I sent the powder to a couple of labs. They didn’t believe the reading. They thought they had made a mistake,” he recalls. Jonathan Corbett, the buyer who handles (cautiously) specialist chilies for Tesco says that the naga makes a standard hot curry “taste like a bowl of breakfast cereal”.

The article also deals with the reason we like things spicy:

TASTELESS, colourless, odourless and painful, pure capsaicin is a curious substance. It does no lasting damage, but the body’s natural response to even a modest dose (such as that found in a chili pepper) is self-defence: sweat pours, the pulse quickens, the tongue flinches, tears may roll. But then something else kicks in: pain relief. The bloodstream floods with endorphins—the closest thing to morphine that the body produces. The result is a high. And the more capsaicin you ingest, the bigger and better it gets.

I also wonder if anyone has any anecdotes with how recipes and food has gotten spicier over the years/generations. I find myself adding Tabasco and/or jalapenos to almost everything nowadays, and buffalo wings are probably my favorite food. Is it a bad sign that just reading about these peppers literally has my mouth watering?

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Frank Miller’s Geostrategic Theory

Frank Lovece sat down with Frank Miller for Newsday to discuss his upcoming film The Spirit. Toward the end of it Lovece asked Miller about remarks he’d made in 2007 in support of the Iraq War, and offered him an opportunity to clarify/retract. Miller was unapologetic:

Miller: When the U.S. was attacked at Pearl Harbor, we didn’t just declare war on Japan, we declared war on Germany. It was an international fascist effort. And so when I said that the attack on Iraq made sense, it was the same way we had to attack not just Afghanistan. Instead we had to attack the center of Islamofascism.

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