duminică, 30 ianuarie 2011

The Pledge Is Unconstitutional

Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.
The Supreme Court dismissed the case last year, saying Newdow lacked standing because he did not have custody of his elementary school daughter he sued on behalf of.
Newdow, an attorney and a medical doctor, filed an identical case on behalf of three unnamed parents and their children. Karlton said those families have the right to sue.
Newdow hopes that will make it more likely the merits of his case will be addressed by the high court.
"All it has to do is put the pledge as it was before, and say that we are one nation, indivisible, instead of dividing us on religious basis," Newdow told The Associated Press.
Of course, Newdow's egocentric crusade has had the net effect of doing precisely what he stated he wished to alleviate by filing suit: dividing America on religious basis. In this case, the division is pretty stark, as Ian Schwartz points out:

Athiests account for 902,000 or 0.4% of the US population. Those who believe in a God or some sort of a higher being account for over 86% of the US population. It is amazing that such a small minority can rule over a large majority.
Not so amazing when you think about it, though. On his 9/14 WABC radio program, Mark Levin noted that there are only around 1,000 federal judges, and as demonstrated by Karlton's ruling, they exercise far more power than even the tiny minority that Newdow belongs to.
We have reached a point where groups of Americans who are out of the mainstream and account for a miniscule percentage of the population have gained the ability to game the entire system by appealing to an even more infinitesimal minority, the federal judiciary, to force their views on the better part of 300,000,000 people.
The judicial confirmation hearings going on now, and the ones that will be going on in the very near future, mean everything because the people being considered, if confirmed, are empowered to ultimately rule on what constitutes the American way of life itself. As it stands, that sure ain't what it used to be.
I've got a lengthy plane trip planned for next month. I'll be purchasing this and reading it on the ride.

Cindy Sheehan Relocates, Dumb Rhetoric Follows Her

Cindy Sheehan, apparently unaware that her media cycle and resultant 15 minutes are so over, weighed in at the Huffington Post, the vanity project that specializes in publishing the unhinged and uninformed leftist rants of various quasi-celebrities.

Friday (9/16), Sheehan, who still refers to whatever her current location is as some variation of "Camp Casey," reported from "Camp Casey III," otherwise known to Americans who have not lost their minds as Covington, LA:
The people in LA who were displaced have nice, if modest homes that are perfectly fine. I wonder why the government made them leave at great expense and uproot families who have been living in their communities for generations.
Gee, perhaps large numbers of people were forced to leave because said nice, modest homes were being overrun by several feet of water, and the alternative to leaving was to become one of the floating corpses the media so desperately wants to exploit by publishing them in every imaginable outlet. (This sort of exploitation of the dead is something Sheehan should by now be quite familiar with.)

Sheehan then tells of a trip she and her Veterans for Peace supporters took to the Algiers section of New Orleans:
Algiers had no flooding. All of the damage was from winds. There are trees knocked over and shingles off of roofs. There are signs blown over and there was a dead body lying on the ground for 2 weeks before someone finally came to get it. Even though Algiers came through Katrina relatively unscathed, our federal government tried to force (mostly successfully) the people out of the community. Malik Rahim, a new friend of ours and resident of Algiers, told us stories of the days after the hurricane. The government declared martial law, but there was no effective police presence to enforce it. Malik said the lawlessness was rampant. People were running out of food and water and they were being forced to go to the Superdome. They didn't want to go to the Superdome, because their homes were pretty intact: they wanted to stay and have food and water brought to them.
A few things worth noting:
  • Cindy's new "friend", Malik Rahim, is a former Black Panther and general all-around radical.
  • No matter how often fools like Cindy Sheehan repeat it, the fact of the matter is that martial law was never declared in New Orleans.
  • Sheehan and her Veterans For Peace friends did not just choose Algiers by accident. Algiers appears to have become the de facto headquarters for left-wing radical groups and other attention vampires who smell media coverage and have headed down to New Orleans to capitalize.

    Why Algiers? I'd guess that for one thing, they are drawn to Rahim, an ideological comrade. Another not-so-small consideration is that Algiers has running water that has been cleared as safe for drinking and bathing in. Natural gas service has also been restored. In fact, starting Monday, Mayor Nagin will be reopening Algiers to the population. So, compared to other more hard-hit areas, Cindy and the VFPers can take advantage of amenities not available elsewhere.
  • When you consider the dire situation in other areas of New Orleans compared to the Algiers section, which was not flooded, is it any wonder that relief supplies and rescue personnel were going to other areas first?
Note that Sheehan also points out the rampant lawlessness that took hold of Algiers and the rest of the city. How do you deal with lawlessness? With the police or the military, who have the ability to put an end to it. All that considered, the following statements by Sheehan are rather incredible:
One thing that truly troubled me about my visit to Louisiana was the level of the military presence there. I imagined before that if the military had to be used in a CONUS (Continental US) operations that they would be there to help the citizens: Clothe them, feed them, shelter them, and protect them. But what I saw was a city that is occupied. I saw soldiers walking around in patrols of 7 with their weapons slung on their backs. I wanted to ask one of them what it would take for one of them to shoot me. Sand bags were removed from private property to make machine gun nests.
So, the city was lawless, but seeing uniformed military patrolling the streets and keeping peace is not comforting for Cindy. Especially when the soldiers' rifles are slung menacingly over their backs.


Finally, I know that the D-Day museum is in New Orleans, but the idea that the Army has set up machine gun nests in neighborgoods, using sandbags stolen from private individuals no less, smacks of extreme exaggeration at best, and, more likely, outright falsehood at worst. New Orleans as Omaha Beach? I don't think so, Cindy.

Sheehan's recent history of anti-military, anti-soldier statements and antics remove the benefit of the doubt as far as I'm concerned. I don't buy her nonsense, because there is nothing this woman won't say to advance her agenda.

In the end, Cindy reminds us all of what a one-trick pony she really is. She's not really concerned about Louisiana. As usual, everything winds up being about Iraq:
George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power. The only way America will become more secure is if we have a new administration that cares about Americans even if they don't fall into the top two percent of the wealthiest.
Earlier in her post, Sheehan refers to President Bush an imbecile. Look in the mirror, lady. The imbecile is looking right back at you. It is Cindy Sheehan who needs to stop talking, excuse herself from the spotlight, and let more informed adults with a better-than-childlike understanding of the situation handle things.

If a future need arises for a has-been, America-hating, anti-Semitic hippie with the intellect of a pencil to provide commentary on current events, we know we can track down Cindy Sheehan tagging along on the Veterans For Peace Partridge Family Bus Tour.

Short of that, Cindy, do shut up. As several people have noted, you have jumped the shark. It's over.

Addendum: Looks like Cindy and the Veterans for Peace are leaving Louisiana. Oh, how they'll be missed.

Update 9/19: Looks like everyone may have to leave Algiers anyway .Ray Nagin has called off the "repopulation" of N.O. in the face of criticism from USCG Adm. Thad Allen and President Bush, and the ominous presence of hurricane Rita, which could make landfall in the area by Wednesday, depending on how she tracks.

GM Unveils 2007 Chevy Tahoe!

Never mind leveling the playing field. Instead, with the unveiling of their new full-size trucks and SUVs, GM just leveled the competition. The first truck to have the wraps pulled off is the 2007 Chevy Tahoe. Its is, in a word, spectacular.

The look of the new Tahoe is evolutionary in nature, with a very attractive, crisp-looking front fascia. The clean lines extend everywhere, creating a neat package that makes the truck look more compact (in photos, at least) than it is.

The tech specs, as reported by AutoWeek, are as follows:

The SUVs will come in two wheelbase lengths—116 inches and 130 inches—three bodystyles and 12 different models, including light-and heavy-duty versions. Three plants share production of the new SUVs: Arlington, Texas; Janesville, Wisconsin and Silao, Mexico .
The new range of V8 engines includes:
  • 4.8-liter, 290 hp
  • Two 5.3-liters (one aluminum block and one iron block), with Displacement On Demand, 320 hp
  • 6.0 liter heavy-duty with variable valve timing, 350 hp
  • 6.0-liter with Displacement On Demand and variable valve timing, 355 hp
  • 6.2-liter with variable valve timing, 380 and 400 hp
Don't let the big V8s fool you. The new GM trucks are set to be the stingiest vehicles in their class, when it comes to fuel consumption. This is made possible in large part by GM's use of their Displacement On Demand technology (similar to the Multi-Displacement System Chrysler has built into their 5.7L HEMI V8s). Basically, how it works is this: under certain conditions, such as highway cruising, the the engine will shut down half its cylinders, thereby contributing to increased fuel economy.
Are we talking compact car numbers? No. Nor will this win over the enviro-conscious hybrid crowd. But these numbers are pretty darn good for a full-size SUV: 20.4 mpg for 2WD models, and 20.1 mpg for 4WD models. GM says that the new body's low drag coefficient helps make these numbers possible. To put the numbers in perspective, my 2WD Passat with the 2.8L V6 gets around 20mpg combined city/highway. Sometimes less, if I do more local driving. Considering that I am giving up a minimum of 100hp to the smallest engine GM offers (the 4.8L), and that my car weighs much less, the 20mpg numbers GM claims for the new trucks are very, very impressive.
A month or so ago, I had the opportunity to drive an '05 Chevy Silverado Crew Cab pickup for a day. Power delivery with the smallest V8 was excellent, and the truck rode like a Lincoln Town Car. The interior, however, was the worst cheapo fisher-price GM disaster you could imagine. Ergonomics were lousy, and the interior surfaces were dominated by unbelievably cheesey-looking and feeling plastic.
Well, I'm happy to report that those days are over. At right, you see the all-new interior GM has bestowed upon the new Tahoe. It's logical, attractive, and is a 180-degree turn from the old interior, which was basically terrible.
GM has been working very hard at improving their interior quality the last couple of years, and now it's starting to pay off. Corvette and Cadillac led the way, with the higher quality now appearing in more GM products, such as the Cobalt and HHR from Chevy, Solstice and GTO from Pontiac, and Lucerne from Buick.
GM, a punchline for a long while, is getting its act together. The product is improving notably, and the new full-size trucks, based on what I see in this new Tahoe, are going to exceed expectations in almost every way. One can only imagine how nice the new Escalade is going to be, based on what we see in the new Tahoe.
Expect pictures of the rest of the line to be released any day now. GM is sending everyone a message.
It's back.
Update: The Car Connection's Paul Eisenstein reports that GM is working with DaimlerChrysler and BMW to jointly develop a new hybrid option that it would offer on its full-size trucks and SUVs:
General Motors' new full-size SUVs will get hybrid power options in the 2007 calendar year, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz announced on Tuesday. The technology, being developed as part of a joint venture with DaimlerChrysler and BMW, is aimed to be both lower cost than comparable Japanese hybrid systems, and more fuel efficient at highway speeds. According to Lutz, the two-mode system should deliver a real-world boost of about 25 percent, without sacrificing either performance or towing capacity.
A 25% boost in fuel economy? Let it be so. I'm interested in seeing how much power the automakers can derive out of a hybrid powertrain. Honda showed with its Accord V6 Hybrid that you can have a greener engine with higher horsepower, as it produces 255hp, more than even the gasoline-only v6. If GM and it's German partners can come up with hybrid power options that deliver the big horsepower people buying trucks that size expect, they would be well-positioned to remain big players in the market with the full-size trucks, regardless of rising fuel costs.

Daschle '08?

Tom Daschle just dropped $500K into a new PAC, and is giving a big speech in Iowa on Jefferson-Jackson Day (which I believe is in November.)
Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's interest in public office isn't necessarily latent: he has set up a new political action committee and plans a Jefferson-Jackson Day speech in the politically pivotal state of Iowa.
Daschle, who was considered a possible candidate for president in 2004, has quietly eschewed most publicity since his defeat to Republican John Thune last November. But Steve Hildebrand, director of the new committee and Daschle's former campaign manager, said the well-known Democrat from South Dakota "is not going to rule out opportunities to play important roles in public service."
"It could be president, it could be vice president, it could be something else," Hildebrand said. "It could be nothing."
Politicians don't schedule major speeches in Iowa unless they are thinking of campaigning for the Presidency. Daschle, whose ego has probably not fully recovered from losing his Senate seat to John Thune, probably fancies himself a viable option. And really, when you consider how far to the left certain forces are trying to pull the Democrats as a party, why wouldn't a big lefty like Tom Daschle want to throw his hat in the ring.

Daschle's flack tries to temper expectations:
But Hildebrand insisted that Daschle's appearance is not about running for the presidency. It is about supporting his Democratic friends in Iowa, he said.
"He is not today looking at his options for higher office," Hildebrand said.
Yeah, right. Not today.Politicians always aspire to higher office, because that's where the power is. Congressmen aim for the Senate. Senators lust after the Oval Office. That's politics, and Tom Daschle, no matter what anyone says, is a politician to the core.
Daschle and his people can say what they want, but the fact is that if Daschle's newly-raised profile has any kind of traction with Democrat voters, he should probably be considered in any discussions about potential 2008 Presidential candidates.
Think of how much fun it would be to see Daschle and Hillary go at each other in a no-holds-barred primary knife fight...

Rita Strengthens to Category 5

With winds measured at up to 165mph, Hurricane Rita is now a loaded gun aimed (for now) at Texas.
Forecasters said Rita could be the most intense hurricane on record ever to hit Texas, and easily one of the most powerful ever to plow into the U.S. mainland. Category 5 is the highest on the scale, and only three Category 5 hurricanes are known to have hit the U.S. mainland — most recently, Andrew, which smashed South Florida in 1992.
I was huddled in a hallway in the University of Miami's Pearson Residential College when Andrew struck. I remember thinking that not heading north might have been a mistake when the entire building shook as Andrew's winds buffeted the structure. And Miami didn't even get the brunt of it. Was it bad? You bet. But it wasn't Homestead. That was bad.

And so here we are, with a furious Category 5 storm in the Gulf of Mexico. As I said, Texas looks like it's going to be on the receiving end. Once again, as we saw with Katrina, the destruction will be massive wherever Rita makes landfall. Even if she "softens" down to a Category 4 or 3 storm, she's still a major hurricane.

People will probably get killed, property will be destroyed, and the looters will be out in force. Again.

Allow me to digress for a moment on the looting aspect: Contrary to the left-wing hysterics in the MSM, who would have you believe that the term "looter" and the act of looting were racist right-wing constructs invented in the wake of Katrina, looting after storms like this is nothing new. It happened after Andrew. It happened in Louisiana and Mississippi after Katrina, and it's going to happen in Texas if Rita lands there. There are bad people everywhere, and they will take advantage of others' misfortune. That's reality.

All that's left to do now is wait and pray. If you're in an evacuation zone, by all means get the hell out. You don't want to hang around to see what happens when Rita makes landfall.

It could be the last thing you ever see.


As she did with Katrina, Michelle Malkin is blogging extensively and aggregating info from other bloggers covering Rita. Her most recent roundups are here and here. Read them.

LA Official Distributes Relief Supplies To Self

A case study in why people don't trust government officials:
Police found cases of food, clothing and tools intended for hurricane victims at the home of the chief administrative officer for a New Orleans suburb, authorities said Wednesday. Officers searched Cedric Floyd's home because of complaints that city workers were helping themselves to donations for hurricane victims. Floyd, who runs the day-to-day operations in the suburb of Kenner, was in charge of distributing the goods.
Police plan to seek a charge of committing an illegal act as a public official against Floyd, and more charges against other city workers are possible, police Capt. Steve Caraway said.
The donations filled a large pickup truck four times. "It was an awful lot of stuff," Caraway said.
It's like looting, just more organized. Instead of going out and finding stuff to steal, Cedric Floyd, whose responsibilities include coordination of emergency management procedures, waited for the relief supplies to arrive, and then kept them handy so that he could supply them to himself and other city workers.

Disgusting. The AG has said that once all the materials collected are processed as evidence, they'll be distributed to hurricane victims who desperately need them.

Cedric Floyd better get himself a talented lawyer, because he is really, really screwed. Have fun finding a sympathetic jury. I wonder how many of the cronies who were in on this will flip and testify against him.

Strangely, a spokesman for the mayor tried to throw a little political cover Floyd's way:
Philip Ramon, chief of staff to Kenner Mayor Philip Capitano, has said city officials were investigating the alleged pilfering but added that many employees were themselves hurricane victims.
Note to Philip Ramon and his boss, Mayor Capitano: Everyone in Kenner was a hurricane victim. That doesn't give the ones on the city payroll the right to help themselves to a private stash of donated relief supplies that the chief administrative officer has set up in his home.

New Orleans 9th Ward Taking On Water

As rain bands from Hurricane Rita reach New Orleans, some of the greatest concerns about the repaired levees holding up to additional punishment appear to be coming true.

Via the AP:
Water poured over a patched levee Friday, cascading into one of the city's lowest-lying neighborhoods and heightening fears that Hurricane Rita would re-flood this devastated city. "Our worst fears came true. The levee will breach if we keep on the path we are on right now, which will fill the area that was flooded earlier," Barry Guidry with the Georgia National Guard.
Dozens of blocks in the Ninth Ward were under water as a waterfall at least 30 feet wide poured over a dike that had been used to patch breaks in the Industrial Canal. On the street that runs parallel to the canal, the water ran waist-deep and was rising fast.
Awful. The article goes on to point out that the flooded area had only recently been pumped dry. All that effort, and now this happens.

For the residents of the area and the relief workers who have worked so hard to get it dry, this must be utterly demoralizing. All everyone can do is watch and pray that the levee does not breach again.

On top of all that, Hurricane season doesn't end until December 1.

Update: In the updated version of the AP's coverage, we learn that LA Gov. Kathleen Blanco is suddenly a proponent of the Magic Marker Strategy for people who still refuse to evacuate:
As for those who refuse to leave, Gov. Kathleen Blanco advised: "Perhaps they should write their Social Security numbers on their arms with indelible ink."
Funny. Some people on the left freaked out when John Tierney's Magic Marker Strategy column first appeared on September 5. What will they say now that the governor of Louisiana, a Democrat, seems to be embracing the idea?

Update II: Paul at Wizbang hammers the MSM account, pointing out that that since water is already coming over the levees, the media descriptions of the levees being "intact" are nothing more than an exercise in semantics. For the people affected by this, flooding is flooding, no matter how it's presented by the media.