Friday, June 10, 2005

NR Editors on Global Warming

NR Editors on Global Warming on National Review Online: "The reality that few politicians like to talk about is this: The only way to stop whatever global warming might be caused by fossil fuels is to make these fuels so expensive at the margin that they would be largely abandoned. But the costs of doing so are utterly prohibitive, and would not be justified even by worst-case global-warming scenarios. Unfortunately, no one has the stomach to level with the public about this - so, instead, we get meaningless pledges like those that Schwarzenegger has issued. That may be annoying, but things could be worse."

WSJ's Henniger on the Medical Marijuana, Commerce, Federalism Case

OpinionJournal - Wonder Land: "Liberalism to cancer patients: Drop dead. Meanwhile, dissents on behalf of medical marijuana were written by Sandra Day O'Connor, a cancer survivor, and Clarence Thomas, whose nomination was fought by recreational pot users...

If the Court's four liberals had ruled in favor of state laws allowing medical marijuana, which federal law forbids, that precedent would have helped conservative efforts to reduce federal clout in other areas, such as environmental authority in the West. Thus Justice Stevens wrote that the Controlled Substances Act, a Nixon-era law, "is a valid exercise of federal power, even as applied to the troubling facts of this case." Liberals with cancer should take solace in knowing they will be vomiting to save the snail darter.

In his dissent, Justice Thomas, liberalism's archfiend, noted: "The majority prevents states like California from devising drug policies that they have concluded provide much-needed respite to the seriously ill." And: "Our federalist system, properly understood, allows California and a growing number of other states to decide for themselves how to safeguard the health and welfare of their citizens."

This is an abstruse but important legal debate about the Commerce Clause and federal legal power in the 21st century. Liberals, if they wanted to, could recognize that letting the states take the lead on controversial issues involving behavior among consenting adults--both personal and commercial--might abet their beliefs in this day and age. But they won't. Thus friends sick with cancer must choke down this decision.

Not all cancer patients are interested in the Hundred Years War underway between conservatives and liberals. They probably think common sense should allow Justice Thomas's "much-needed respite." The usual tangle of public policy makes that difficult."

From Thomas, Original Views

Justice Thomas: "Dope is cool."

Justice Scalia: "Let the cancer patients suffer."

If the headline writers characterized Supreme Court decisions the way many senators and most activists and lobbying groups do, that is how they would have characterized the Supreme Court decision this week on the use of medical marijuana in California...

From Thomas, Original Views
: "The real question is never what judges decide but how they decide it. The Scalia-Thomas argument was not about concern for cancer patients, the utility of medical marijuana or the latitude individuals should have regarding what they ingest.

It was about what the Constitution's commerce clause permits and, even more abstractly, who decides what the commerce clause permits. To simplify only slightly, Antonin Scalia says: Supreme Court precedent. Clarence Thomas says: the Founders, as best we can interpret their original intent."

WSJ Takes NY A.G. Elliot Spitzer Down

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "One lesson here is that juries, forced to make a decision about a defendant's fate, want to make sure that the alleged behavior is in fact criminal. Prosecution by press release won't do in court.

The Justice Department has understood this, and has built a record in business fraud cases that has held up in court on Enron, WorldCom and Adelphia. Mr. Spitzer, by contrast, has used New York's overbroad Martin Act to prosecute financial cases of dubious legal merit. Business fraud deserves to be prosecuted, but the criminalization of widely accepted business practices ex post facto is both unjust and offensive to the rule of law. Congratulations to Mr. Sihpol and his jury for reminding Eliot Spitzer that to be convicted of a crime in America you should first have to break the law"

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Peggy Noonan: "Seeing Red"

Peggy Noonan is "Seeing Red - Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean rage against Republicans. It's not a winning approach."OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan: "There is a tradition of political generosity that prevails among the normal people of America, a certain live-and-let-live-ness. That is why Little League games don't break out in fistfights, at least over politics. You don't shun people in the neighborhood because they're Democrats, and you don't inform the Republican in the next cubicle that he is evil, lazy and racist. That just doesn't play in America. There are breaches, exceptions, incidents. We are not angels. But by and large even though we disagree with each other, and even if we come to dislike each other, we maintain, for reasons both moral and practical, decorum. Civility. We keep a lid on it. We don't lower it to the level of invective. We don't by nature seek to divide...

The comportment of Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean is actually not worthy of America. Their statements suggest they are in no way equal to the country they seek to lead. And something tells me that sooner or later America is going to tell them. But in a generous, mature and fair-minded way. "

Milton Freidman on School Vouchers

WSJ-060905 Posted by Hello

OpinionJournal - Featured Article:"Little did I know when I published an article in 1955 on "The Role of Government in Education" that it would lead to my becoming an activist for a major reform in the organization of schooling...

What really led to increased interest in vouchers was the deterioration of schooling, dating in particular from 1965 when the National Education Association converted itself from a professional association to a trade union. Concern about the quality of education led to the establishment of the National Commission of Excellence in Education, whose final report, 'A Nation at Risk,' was published in 1983. It used the following quote from Paul Copperman to dramatize its own conclusion:
'Each generation of Americans has outstripped its parents in education, in literacy, and in economic attainment. For the first time in the history of our country, the educational skills of one generation will not surpass, will not equal, will not even approach, those of their parents.'

Throughout this long period, we have been repeatedly frustrated by the gulf between the clear and present need, the burning desire of parents to have more control over the schooling of their children, on the one hand, and the adamant and effective opposition of trade union leaders and educational administrators to any change that would in any way reduce their control of the educational system.

The good news is that, despite these setbacks, public interest in and support for vouchers and tax credits continues to grow. Legislative proposals to channel government funds directly to students rather than to schools are under consideration in something like 20 states. Sooner or later there will be a breakthrough; we shall get a universal voucher plan in one or more states. When we do, a competitive private educational market serving parents who are free to choose the school they believe best for each child will demonstrate how it can revolutionize schooling."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

"School Choice, No Radical Idea"

John Locke Foundation School Choice, No Radical Idea: "There's nothing perfect about choice-based systems. Some students still fail to learn. Some teachers and schools survive despite lackluster performance. But you don't compare policy proposals to some perfect abstraction. You compare them to the real-world alternatives, which in North Carolina remain unacceptably mediocre and paltry. More than half of our African-American students fail to graduate from public high schools. And many of our graduates, whatever their race, are not really prepared for college, the workplace, or citizenship.

The value of customer choice, the virtue of competition, and the importance of individual responsibility are present in virtually every field of human endeavor. What is truly radical is to suggest that these principles should not also come into play in performing one of our most important tasks: teaching our children when they need to know to survive and succeed."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

William F. Buckley Jr.: "The Court on High"

Medical Marijuana and the Supreme Court on National Review Online: "The Supreme Court did what conservative court-watchers should welcome. It looked the California situation in the face and said: If Congress doesn't like the law, let Congress change it, but don't look to the Supreme Court to improvise on the drug laws.

In his opinion, Justice Stevens hinted that there were two ways to address the deadlock. The first and most obvious, of course, is for Congress to revise the current statute to make the exception for medical marijuana. But there is another approach, namely for the Executive to reclassify marijuana for medical purposes.

How will these sentiments and inclinations fare?

[Poorly according to Mr. Buckley but read his eloquence, and he concludes:]
...the permissivists have an eloquent martyr, the late Peter McWilliams who ardently championed looser laws, who himself depended on marijuana for relief from the nausea caused by AIDS and who died during a period when he was under court scrutiny, pending sentencing, and had to do without the drug.

Taking marijuana when young is a stupid thing to do, but the young generation is not (yet) suffering from cancer and AIDS and other diseases from the ravages of which they might find relief, if they can dance through the congestion of laws and opinions that beset us."

Kerry and Bush at Yale

Kerry at Yale Posted by Hello

Bush at Yale Posted by Hello
Yale grades portray Kerry as a lackluster student - The Boston Globe :
"...Bush and Kerry had a virtually identical grade average at Yale University four decades ago. In 1999, The New Yorker published a transcript indicating that Bush had received a cumulative score of 77 for his first three years at Yale and a roughly similar average under a non-numerical rating system during his senior year.

Kerry, who graduated two years before Bush, got a cumulative 76 for his four years, according to a transcript that Kerry sent to the Navy when he was applying for officer training school. He received four D's in his freshman year out of 10 courses, but improved his average in later years...

The transcript shows that Kerry's freshman-year average was 71. He scored a 61 in geology, a 63 and 68 in two history classes, and a 69 in political science. His top score was a 79, in another political science course. Another of his strongest efforts, a 77, came in French class.

Under Yale's grading system in effect at the time, grades between 90 and 100 equaled an A, 80-89 a B, 70-79 a C, 60 to 69 a D, and anything below that was a failing grade. In addition to Kerry's four D's in his freshman year, he received one D in his sophomore year. He did not fail any courses.

''I always told my Dad that D stood for distinction," Kerry said yesterday in a written response to questions...

...Bush went to Yale from 1964 to 1968; his highest grades were 88s in anthropology, history, and philosophy, according to The New Yorker article. He received one D in his four years, a 69 in astronomy. Bush has said he was a C student.

Like Kerry, Bush reportedly suffered through a difficult freshman year and then pulled his grades up."

CAFTA and Big Sugar

A Bitter Pill for Sugar Beet Farmers: "The specter of CAFTA collapsing over sugar is particularly galling to economists who have long criticized federal restrictions on sugar imports. 'Sugar is a prototypical case of a policy that favors the few at the expense of the many,' wrote Kimberly A. Elliott, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development, in an analysis last month."

...Sugar growers and refiners gave $2.4 million in contributions to Democratic and Republican candidates in the 2003-04 election cycle, more than any other agricultural group, according to Political MoneyLine, an organization that tracks such data. The best-known donors are big sugar cane growers in Florida and Louisiana, especially the Fanjul brothers, who come from a family of sugar barons in Cuba (their holdings were expropriated by Fidel Castro) and now produce cane near the Everglades.

Jose "Pepe" Fanjul, president of Florida Crystals Corp., raised enough money for the Bush campaign to gain entry into the elite group of GOP "Rangers." His brother Alfonso, who specializes in contributions to Democrats, gained notoriety during President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, when it emerged that Fanjul's phone call to the Oval Office had interrupted a presidential meeting with Monica Lewinsky...

...eliminating the distortions created by government policies in the United States, Europe and elsewhere could create 1 million jobs in developing countries that are more efficient sugar producers. And American consumers would benefit; workers in sugar-using industries might benefit, too.

High sugar prices have played a part in the exodus of American candymakers such as Brach's and Fannie May, and of Kraft Foods' Lifesavers plant, to countries such as Canada and Mexico. Although the sugar industry points out the those moves abroad were driven more by labor-cost than sugar-cost considerations, the plant closures have evoked bitterness in candymaking centers like Chicago."

Russell Simmons meets Ken Mehlman

New York Daily News - Home - Lloyd Grove's Lowdown: "DISSING DEAN: I hear that Hip Hop Summit honcho Russell Simmons, a loyal Democrat, met in Washington yesterday with Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, but not with Democratic Party chief Howard Dean. 'When it comes to reaching out to poor people and minorities, I think there's no enthusiasm on Howard's part, while Ken shows a real willingness to listen,' Simmons told me."

Bush Addresses OAS

Bush Predicts Democracy In Cuba: "'Democracy is the rule rather than the exception among nations in the Americas,' Bush told foreign ministers and diplomats from 34 countries gathered here for the general assembly of the Organization of American States, but 'only one country in this hemisphere sits outside this society of democratic nations -- and one day, the tide of freedom will reach Cuba's shores as well.'
Bush, who since becoming president has increased pressure on the government of Cuban President Fidel Castro, quoted the 19th-century Cuban writer and revolutionary Jose Marti in calling liberty a birthright. 'La libertad no es negociable,' Bush said.

Bush's 13-minute speech also had some thinly veiled words for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a close ally of Castro who has become a hero in parts of Latin America by casting the United States as an imperialist power and who has stoked U.S. ire by nationalizing some businesses and stifling political dissent.

Bush said countries of the OAS have a stark choice between two competing visions: one that includes representative government, integration into world markets and a faith in freedom, and another that seeks to roll back democratic progress by "playing to fear, pitting neighbor against neighbor and blaming others for their own failures to provide for their people."

Monday, June 06, 2005

D-Day 61 Years Ago

Normandy Marks D - Day Landings : " On rain-whipped French beaches and in graveyards crowded with white crosses, aging Allied veterans on Monday quietly honored friends who fell 61 years ago during the D-Day landings that changed the course of World War II."
You may recall the numbers of Allied forces going into battle that day were greater than our total deployed in Iraq and the casualties of that battle were horrifically greater than our losses in the Iraq war to date.

Stanley Crouch: No Child Left Behind is starting to work

NY Daily News : "The United Federation of Teachers has said that No Child Left Behind is a measure that has been misapplied since it was enacted. But the recent spike in math and reading scores for states including Delaware, Ohio, Maryland, Illinois and yes, New York, says otherwise. ...For all of the screaming and hollering, however, No Child Left Behind, as recent figures and testimony have shown, is beginning to work because the bill takes the position that failure is no longer an acceptable option.

In capitalism, things change as often because of money as they do because of morality and deep thinking, so it is always smart to attach money to morality and vanguard conceptions. Then the choice of profit over deficit can bring about better results. Once the federal government made it clear that no funds would be forthcoming unless there were improvements in student performance - which meant improvements in teacher performance - things began to change.

We have now been freed from a debilitating illusion, which was that those children unfortunate enough to be born the wrong color or in the wrong class were just incapable of learning. When we get rid of that kind of hogwash, we get ever closer to realizing the potential of our richly diverse population and move closer to putting up a good fight for the world markets that places like China and India intend to take as many of as they can. "

Good Question

New York Daily News - Ideas & Opinions - Stanley Crouch: No Child Left Behind is starting to work: "Dan Rose, a businessman and philanthropist, recently visited China and became aware of the fact that the Chinese are now graduating 10 million high school students a year who cannot speak English, but who can read and write English. His question was, 'I wonder how long it will take the Chinese, at this rate, to end up with more people who can read and write English than we have in the United States?'"

Good News on Stem Cell Debate

Stem Cell Advances May Make Moral Issue Moot: "In recent months, a number of researchers have begun to assemble intriguing evidence that it is possible to generate embryonic stem cells without having to create or destroy new human embryos.
The research is still young and largely unpublished, and in some cases it is limited to animal cells. Scientists doing the work also emphasize their desire to have continued access to human embryos for now. It is largely by analyzing how nature makes stem cells, deep inside days-old embryos, that these researchers are learning how to make the cells themselves.
Yet the gathering consensus among biologists is that embryonic stem cells are made, not born -- and that embryos are not an essential ingredient. That means that today's heated debates over embryo rights could fade in the aftermath of technical advances allowing scientists to convert ordinary cells into embryonic stem cells.
'That would really get around all the moral and ethical concerns,' said James F. Battey, chief of the stem cell task force at the National Institutes of Health. The techniques under study qualify for federal grant support because embryos are not harmed, he noted. And eventually the work could boost the number of stem cell colonies, or lines, available for study by taxpayer-supported researchers."
Read it all; very encouraging.

Laptop Sales

Laptops Outsell Desktops for First Time: "In a sure sign that the era of mobile computing has arrived, notebooks have for the first time outsold desktops in the United States in a calendar month, the research firm Current Analysis says.

After tracking sales from a sampling of electronics retailers, Current Analysis says notebook sales accounted for 53 percent of the total personal computer market last month, up from 46 percent during the same period last year...Notebook prices fell 17 percent during the past year while desktop prices dipped only 4 percent.
Last year, 80 percent of notebooks offered wireless; this year, it's 95 percent, Current Analysis says.

"There used to be a time when people expected a reply to an e-mail within a couple of days. Now they expect a response within 24 hours. People want to stay connected wherever they are," said Bhavnani."

Rather Contrite - Journo's Rather contrite: "Rather admitted he had improperly defended the story after questions arose about the veracity of its documentation..."I was guilty of standing by and standing up for the story," he said. "I accept the panel's criticism that I shouldn't have done that."

The biggest lesson he learned, Rather said, was that the American people are "fair and fair-minded."

Rather, who choked up several times, received standing ovations at the start and end of his 45-minute appearance. He urged the journos to take their watchdog role seriously and said his biggest worry stems from the American public's "increasing lack of understanding" of the importance of First Amendment protections of the press.

He said his greatest surprise as a journalist came in 1968 when President Johnson said he wouldn't seek re-election, adding, "I wouldn't have been more surprised if Fidel Castro had come riding through on a giraffe."
Note that Rather has yet to say the story was a fake CBS aired - he is just sorry he didn't back off quicker - contrite is not apologetic.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

al Qaeda Rule 18: "You must claim you were tortured." John Leo wonders about news that doesn't make the news, why the media ignore some stories (6/13/05): "Mainstream media have been reluctant, in all the coverage of treatment of detainees at Guantanamo, to mention that the al Qaeda training manual specifically instructs all of its agents to make false claims of torture. The New York Times seems to have mentioned the manual's torture reference only once, in a short report from Australia. Several other papers mentioned it as a one-line quote from a military spokesman who pointed it out. But until the Washington Times ran a front-page piece last week, a Nexis search could find no clear and pointed article in the U.S. press like the one by Alasdair Palmer in the London Sunday Telegraph, with the headline 'This is al Qaeda Rule 18: 'You must claim you were tortured.' ' He wrote that the manual doesn't prove 'that the Britons were not tortured in Guantanamo. But it ought to encourage some doubts about uncritically accepting that they were--which seems to be the attitude adopted by most of the media.' Amen to both points in that last sentence."
{HT: InstaPundit}

Amnesty International Recommends Seizure and Trial Of US Officials John Leo wonders about news that doesn't make the news, why the media ignore some stories (6/13/05): "A different omission marred the reporting of Amnesty International's report charging torture in U.S. detainment camps. The group didn't just call Guantanamo a 'gulag,' an over-the-top remark that was universally reported. In a press release that most reporters ignored, the group also invited foreign governments to snatch certain visiting American officials off the streets and bring them to trial for crimes against humanity. The suggested snatchees, should they travel abroad, were President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA Director George Tenet, and other unnamed civilian and military officials. Amnesty International said that 'all states have a responsibility to investigate and prosecute people responsible for these crimes,' just as the British pounced on Augusto Pinochet in London in 1998. The snatching recommendation wasn't new, but the Amnesty press release is a useful reminder of the dangers of signing on to the International Criminal Court."
{HT: InstaPundit}

Dual-Core Chips

Dual-Core Chips Help Processors Share Load: "AMD's Athlon 64 X2 and Intel's Pentium D use 'dual-core' designs that put two processors on a single piece of silicon, divvying up the work between the pair. These models are available in top-of-the-line desktop computers from such vendors as Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Alienware Corp...Contrary to what the dual-core name might suggest, however, these new chips won't deliver twice the speed of their predecessors. The two 3.2-gigahertz cores in a new Intel Pentium D won't necessarily yield 6.4 GHz worth of performance...AMD and Intel say they plan to roll out their new chips aggressively. By the end of 2006, Intel plans to have more than 70 percent of its desktop and laptop processors dual-core, with that figure rising to 90 percent by 2007."