July 30, 2003

President Bush's Rose Garden News Conference 7/30/03

Right on, President Bush! Marriage is between one man and one woman. Thanks for taking this stand. It is the only legitimate stand to preserve the core of human society as we know it in the West. Stay the course and the American people will back you. Ignore the interest groups sponsoring a different agenda.

Let the Dems who want it have that issue. It will guarantee you four more years as President.

"Q. Thank you, sir. Mr. President, many of your supporters believe that homosexuality is immoral. They believe that it's been given too much acceptance in policy terms and culturally. As someone who has spoken out in strongly moral terms, what's your view on homosexuality?
A. Yeah. I am mindful that we're all sinners. And I caution those who may try to take a speck out of their neighbor's eye when they've got a log in their own. I think it's very important for our society to respect each individual, to welcome those with good hearts, to be a welcoming country. On the other hand, that does not mean that somebody like me needs to compromise on an issue such as marriage. That's really where the issue is headed here in Washington. And that is the definition of marriage. I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman. And I think we ought to codify that one way or the other. And we've got lawyers looking at the best way to do that."

July 29, 2003

Role of the Judiciary in America and Vermont

A cogent and correct view of the role of the judiciary in America. How far we have strayed from founding principles. Thanks, Glenn Foster, for reminding us of our heritage and the wisdom of our country's founders!!

Burlington Free Press July 29, 2003
"The Federalist is the most thorough explanation of the principles upon which our republic was founded. The Federalist is a collection of papers written by John Jay, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton explaining the rational behind their design for our government. Madison and Hamilton were instrumental in writing the American Constitution, while Jay was the first chief justice of the Supreme Court.

The recent pronouncement by Gov. Jim Douglas that we need less activist jurists is a welcome one, firmly rooted in the text and intent of these founding figures, the delegates at the Constitutional Convention, and those in every state ratifying our Constitution. Those who think otherwise have a vision different from those who wrote and approved the Constitution or simply don't understand it.

Kimberly Cheney pronounced (with reference to nothing), 'Courageous judicial action is a vital part of our American system' (Free Press, July 14). However, even a cursory review of The Federalist will clearly show that the court has (or should have) a relatively minor role in defining what laws the public is subject to.

Hamilton states in Federalist No. 78, 'the judiciary is, beyond comparison, the weakest of the three departments of power.' He concludes that, 'the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the constitution.'

A far cry from the judicial activism lauded by those who jump for joy whenever a new right is finally 'discovered' after more than 200 years. These same people are generally members of a faction that fail to get the majority of the people to agree with their agendas. Too often, however, some court somewhere will take up their cause in the absence of a willing majority.

Cheney cites the failure of the Vermont Legislature "for over 100 years" to correct the perceived problem with education as justification for the courts to impose what ended up being Act 60. There is a very good reason the Legislature "failed." The people didn't want it. How can the power of five people (the Vermont justices) rightfully usurp what has been the will of the majority "for over 100 years"?

"All legislative powers shall be vested in a Congress of the United States." So states the very first sentence of the Constitution's Article 1. The power to impose laws on citizens rests solely with elected representatives put there by those citizens.

Supreme Court justices are not elected. It is very dangerous to a free society to permit a small handful of people, rather unaccountable to anyone, to have such powers. It is sad, if not frightening, that many have lost sight of that fundamental concept.

If it was important enough to the people of Vermont to dictate school spending to the extent the Brigham decision effectively did, or to grant civil unions to unconventional couples, than their wishes would have been borne without court intervention.

Some say that because the people did not wish those things, the courts must step in and act; the court must do what the elected bodies have refused to do. No clearer example can be made that we have abandoned the founders' design.

It is high time we returned to our fundamental principles of a government for and by the people. Gov. Douglas has taken a first bold step in that direction.

Glenn Foster
is a resident of Newport Center.

Pentagon Abandons Plan for Futures Market on Terror

A clever 'outside the box' idea, but a bit much for Congress. Betting with odds on the possibility of likely events. What could we have learned from this? DARPA is a clever organization that sponsors many innovative technologies in addition to the research leading to my ability to do this, i.e., the Internet

The Line Between Cost Management and Fraud

If proof surfaces that MCI has been avoiding access charges, they should be severely punished. Defrauding the local telcos of hundreds of millions is illegal and increases rates for local service.

Equally important is the exposing of the frailty of a regulatory scheme of access charges as a way to encourage competition and pay the costs incurred by the local frailty. Access charges is a playground for crooks, given the billions at stake.

July 28, 2003

Subpoenas Sent to File-Sharers Prompt Anger and Remorse

If a law is to have any effect, it must be enforced. If not enforced, change it or repeal it. I support the prosecution of those who flagrantly abuse copyright laws.

What is the alternative, some ask? pay for the rights to purchase and use. Stealing is not the answer.

July 25, 2003

A Self-described Vermont Environmetalist

Best description I've seen by a 'true' Vermont environmentalist. I must have missed the part about the need for a strong economy. Or is there no need for Vermont's abilty to create jobs and income so folks like this can indulge their passions? Perhaps a trust fund person without financial worries??
From Dwinell Political Report:

"There is only one thing that is extreme in this whole discussion, and that is the venom that the Douglas administration and its supporters are spitting at people who care about minimizing our exposure to pollutants in the name of public health and environmental protection. While I drive a high-mileage car, do not have air conditioning in my home, hang out my laundry to dry, grow most of my own food and live with solar panels, I also care about the larger issues such
as how all the chemicals we are using are making people sick. Until we stop poisoning ourselves, we will continue to see increasing health care costs and unnecessary human suffering. If caring about people makes me an extremist, then count me in"

Vermont Manufacturing Sector Anemic

Certainly not good news for Vermont. Steady decline in manufacturing jobs and IBM is considering moving white collar and engineering jobs offshore. Some of these will likely be from Vermont. IBM is the cornerstone of what's left of Vermont's manufacturing sector. We cannot sustain our public sector spending with this drain of good jobs.

From Dwinell Political Report:

"Jeff Carr said, 'The real threat is the lack of growth in the manufacturing sector. The sectors of job growth are government, education, health services, professional services and retail trade. None of these sectors has significant exports from Vermont to other states or countries like manufacturing does.

'Further, there is spent up demand instead of pent up demand. By that I mean, for example, car dealers have promoted so hard that they have taken demand from the future and brought it into the recent past. Our vehicle fleet is now only 2-3 years old instead of eight years old.'"

Waterbury Companies of Randolph announced that it was closing its doors laying
off seventy employees after operating for over forty years in its plant. "Our
competitors have cut prices. Two of our major customers demanded price
reductions over the long term. The only way to keep customers is by shifting
production off-shore and we made the decision to do that."

An employee was quoted as saying, "You might as well kiss the United States
goodbye because everything is leaving." Another added, "There is nothing else
unless you want to go to McDonalds or Cumberland Farms. You might as well go on
welfare and say the hell with it."

July 24, 2003

The Bill of Non-Rights

Chuckle as truth is mined from cynicism...

* The Bill of Non-Rights *

The following has been attributed to State Representative Mitchell Kaye from GA.

"We the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, and other liberal bed-wetters.

We hold these truths to be self evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim they require a Bill of NO Rights."

ARTICLE I: You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV, or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.

ARTICLE II: You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone -- not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.; but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be.

ARTICLE III: You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful, do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.

ARTICLE IV: You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.

ARTICLE V: You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.

ARTICLE VI: You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat, or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.

ARTICLE VII: You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.

ARTICLE VIII: You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American
means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness, which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an over abundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.

ARTICLE IX: You do not have the right to change our country's history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in one true God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all; with no fear of persecution. The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of our heritage and history, and if you are uncomfortable with it, too bad!!!!

If you agree, share this with a friend. No, you don't have to, and nothing tragic will befall you if you don't. I just think it's about time common sense is allowed to flourish.

July 23, 2003

The Garlic Wars

In fifty or less years, China will be the dominant economic power on earth. The US will be the R&D engine for the world, if we get our education act together.

We are shifting so many jobs offshore and importing so many of our people, products and services, that we cannot sustain our position in the world, particulary so as we spend substantial amounts on war, terrorism control and peace.

I don't want to be pesimistic, but that's the trend I see. I believe Ameica's 'glory days' are nearly over.

The Gorge-Yourself Environment

We are being victimized and lawyerized again! Here's the opportunity for megamillions to line the pockets of lawyers as we are once again protected from ourselves.
"Trial lawyers met in Boston last month to discuss legal approaches to obesity, including lawsuits against fast-food chains and food manufacturers on grounds like false advertising, failure to provide labeling about caloric content or even fostering food addiction.

At least seven such lawsuits have been filed, with varying success, said John F. Banzhaf III, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University. Professor Banzhaf, who led the way in litigation against tobacco companies, is now channeling similar energy into reforming fast food.

The food industry, however, dismisses such suits as a device to deposit more money in lawyers' bank accounts. The onus for eating healthfully, industry spokesmen say, rests entirely with the consumer.

"If you don't want a large hamburger in a restaurant, usually there is a smaller hamburger," said Steven Anderson, the president and chief executive of the National Restaurant Association. "You can get a grilled chicken sandwich in almost any restaurant I've ever been in. There are the options there and it's for the individual to decide.""


July 22, 2003

Uday and Qusay Dead

Good news from Iraq. These villains are dead. Can Saddam's demise be far behind?

Gun Manufacturers Win

It's fascinating that a story National Public Radio aired this morning seems not to have been considered newsworthy by other national media. A judge in New York rightly dismissed an NAACP suit that attempts to blame gun manufacturers for the actions of criminals. For a judge to entertain and waste resources on a lawsuit of this nature is absurd. People who use 'tools' to commit crimes must be held responsible for the crime. Attempting to transfer responsibility to the manufacturer of the tool is way off base.

I am continually dismayed that our society attempts to hold producers of legal products liable for the consequences of individuals who misuse these 'tools.' This attack on gun manufacturers is absurd. Should we prevent the production of guns for a republic that allows the possession and legal use of firearms? I think not.

We like to attribute lack of personal responsibility to 'someone else' and blame corporations for evil in our society and the failures of individuals.

I find the media's unwillingness to cover this story another example of the bias that permeates today's media. Of course, they will argue that other more important stories have taken the limited time and space needed for this story.

Thanks, NPR , for reporting this, though I sensed some bias in your narrative.

July 21, 2003

Developing Systems of Online Payment

Bob Tedeschi's article revisits the micropayment notion describing some of the newer players, Peppercoin and Bitpass. We'll see how this goes, but I'd think eBay's PayPal will want/have a piece of this action. Micropayments are a great idea, the trick is to overcome the transactional overheads, particularly the personal decision-making about whether a purchasee is worth 14 cents.

July 18, 2003

Dick Morris on Howard Dean

"In forcing the party left, Dean is picking up where Jesse Jackson left off, creating a gantlet of liberal litmus tests that a nominee must pass to win the nomination - locking him into positions that invite certain defeat in November. No candidate can win a presidential race advocating gay marriage and opposing the military action in Iraq."

Morris suggests that Dean is killing the Democrats' chances of capturing the White House in 2004 and creating a terrible situation for the other Democratic hopefuls. I agree.

NY Daily News - Ideas and Opinions - Bill O'Reilly: Vatican has gone quiet when we need it most

O'Reilly has it right in his analysis of the paralysis in the Vatican leadership due in no small part to the stifling bureaucracy and the Pope's feeble condition. The American crisis concerning sexually deviant priests has severely impeded the Catholic Church's moral authority to speak into the secular world a message of morality and against evil.

VPR's recent interview with Burlington Bishop Kenneth Angell revealed an elderly leader lacking the power of persuasion and articulate responses to good questions.

Yahoo! News - French Government Bans Term 'E-Mail'

Gotta laugh at the French. Now they don't approve of the term e-mail. Too bad they continue to live and act as though they can control the culture.

Saddam Alive?

With all the tapes that have surfaced since the start of the war that seem to contain Saddam's voice, perhaps he is safely ensconced far away from Iraq. Certainly it's possible that he fled Iraq before the war started and is living palatialy somewhere far away from the action. Consider that he watches CNN and whips off one of his tapes whenever he thinks the pot needs stirring.

Why, with all his alleged doubles, would he stay around in Iraq waiting to be caught? Makes no sense to me that he'd do that.

July 17, 2003

Wait for the Facts (washingtonpost.com)

The most thoughful articulation on the subject of intelligence accuracy about Iraq that I've yet seen. Well done WP!

July 14, 2003

Yet Again The Times Scews Up!

Who are these reporters and editors who apparently don't know or don't pay attention to their business? This is another sorry blot on the Times' "Newspaper of Record" heritage.

Perhaps, Keller, the newly appointed Executive Editor can help.

Sympathy, Anyone?

People who put themselves in harm's way during the Pamplona, Spain bull run deserve little, if any, sympathy. This is a stupid tradition and serves no useful purpose.

July 13, 2003

Gates Aims Billions to Attack Illnesses of World's Neediest

Say what you will about Bill Gates. He has made a ton of money many will argue improperly and perhaps illegally, but we all benefit from the PC revolution. Now Bill is involved in one of the largest philanthropic ventures in history. Public health in developing countries will absorb gobs of cash.

Will it be successful? Certainly it will positively affect millions of lives and relieve some pain and suffering...a good thing from a humanitarian perspective. But will this be sufficient for these people to overcome the societal, cultural, tribal and ethnic barriers that prevent growth and nation building, particularly in Africa?

Reading the Malawi Starvation piece, I wonder what it will take to modernize these societies. What is the proper way to help? Preventing or alleviating traditional disease when Aids, famine and starvation lurk all seems a hopeless task.

Nevertheless, congratulations Mr. Gates for doing the best you can with your billions!

"Dr. Tore Godal, executive secretary of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, a major Gates beneficiary, said it had delivered more than 180 million doses of vaccines since 2000, thus saving more than 100,000 lives. Mr. Gates figures that his philanthropy will have touched more than a million lives by the end of the decade, and his goal is to reach tens of millions more.

"Bill Gates is going to be remembered more for what he did for international public health than what he did for the world of computers," predicted Richard T. Mahoney, a professor at Arizona State University who has wide experience dealing with health issues in poor countries.

Those who think of Mr. Gates as a ruthless billionaire monopolist, the man who was so testy and sarcastic with government prosecutors during the Microsoft antitrust trial, may find it hard to reconcile that image with one of a humorously self-deprecating philanthropist."

July 12, 2003

A Web Site Causes Unease in Police

Another story on the theme of public information and its value when compiled and posted on the Internet. Appropriately, the law does not differentiate between public records and information that are scattered among paper files and that same information neatly organized on a web site.

"The law generally draws no distinction between information that is nominally public but hard to obtain and information that can be fetched with an Internet search engine and a few keystrokes. The dispute over Mr. Sheehan's site is similar to a debate that has been heatedly taken up around the nation, about whether court records that are public in paper form should be freely available on the Internet.

In 1989, in a case not involving computer technology, the Supreme Court did allow the government to refuse journalists' Freedom of Information Act request for paper copies of information it had compiled from arrest and conviction records available in scattered public files. The court cited the "practical obscurity" of the original records.

But once accurate information is in private hands like Mr. Sheehan's, the courts have been extremely reluctant to interfere with its dissemination.

Mr. Sheehan, a 41-year-old computer engineer in Mill Creek, Wash., near Seattle, says his postings hold the police accountable, by facilitating picketing, the serving of legal papers and research into officers' criminal histories. His site collects news articles and court papers about what he describes as inadequate and insincere police investigations, and about police officers who have themselves run afoul of the law."

This debate will continue to rage, but I come down on the side of Mr. Sheehan, though I don't agree with his vindictive motives. If we as a free people have decided that certain information should be public and not private, then the form in which it is made public is irrelevant. If in electronic form for efficiency and easier dissemination, we are better served as a free people than attempting to rely on the notion of "practical obscurity."

July 11, 2003

Why People Still Starve

I've finished the article. Descriptive, well written and in depth analysis of peoples' anguish. Sadly, no answers to the problem except to give massive amounts of money. The culture and the society suggest that it also may be only a short term solution.

Why People Still Starve

"During the past decade or so, the poorest of Africa's poor have suffered as rarely before. Merely to survive, they have sold off their meager assets -- household goods and farm animals and the tin roofs of their homes. Just now, the most urgent need is in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Zimbabwe. But hunger has become a chronic problem throughout the region, often occurring even under the best of weather conditions. The World Food Program warns that nearly 40 million Africans are struggling against starvation, a ''scale of suffering'' that is ''unprecedented.'' Coincident with the hunger is H.I.V./AIDS, which has beset sub-Saharan Africa in a disproportionate way, cursing it with 29.4 million infections, nearly three-quarters of the world's caseload. Very few of the stricken can afford the drugs that forestall the virus's death work, and family after family is being purged of its breadwinning generations, leaving the very young and the very old to cope."

I must read the full story this weekend. My question: Is this tragedy avoidable? If so, how? Or must sub-Saharan Africa always endure this situation? I hope the author has some recommendations rather than a cleverly written chronicle.

Jerry Springer Steps Closer to Senate Bid

Only in America!

Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage

This is a terrible distortion of the facts underlying these Democratic charges. This article should quote the text of the State of the Union speech in which Bush attributes the source of the nuclear material intelligence to the Brits. Why doesn't this appear as part of the story.

Media bias is rampant!

July 10, 2003

Nader, Whom Democrats Saw as 2000 Spoiler, Ponders '04 Run

I hope you run, Mr. Nader. You have a set of ideas that are out of the mainstream, but close enough to Democratic candidates to help Mr. Bush's chances of reelection.

"Speaking to reporters at a morning breakfast, Mr. Nader said his decision would depend, in some measure, on the fortunes of two of the nine current Democratic contenders whose politics would appear to resemble most closely his own — Dennis Kucinich, a House member from Ohio, and Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont."

July 8, 2003

Supreme Court citing more foreign cases Scalia: Only U.S. views are relevant

Scalia, Rehnquist and Thomas are absolutely correct to oppose use of foreign court opinions in US Supreme Court decisions involving constitutional issues, which nearly all, if not all, do.

Stand your ground Justice Scalia!

"Writing for the majority in a landmark decision supporting gay civil rights, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that the European Court of Human Rights and other foreign courts have affirmed the ''rights of homosexual adults to engage in intimate, consensual conduct.''"

July 7, 2003

Blogs in the Workplace

Blogs in the workplace suggest that many are trying blogging inside the firewall as a tool to communicate and retain information that otherwise would be contained in "a thousand emails." To be successful in my workplace would require organization and discipline because the culture thrives on email and would be unlikely to spontaneously embrace blogging as a work tool.

July 1, 2003

Thomas Sowell

Media bias is alive and well, even at the New York Times as Thomas Sowell describes. Too bad truth and factual reporting sometimes are overlooked, willfully or neglectfully, at generally first rate news sources.

Example from Sowell's article:

In the recent Supreme Court decision upholding affirmative action at the University of Michigan Law School, a front-page news story in the New York Times reported the arguments used in Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's majority opinion but simply dismissed the dissenting arguments of Justice Clarence Thomas by saying that he "took as his text not the briefs but his own life story."

Those who doubt the existence of media bias should go on the Internet to find Justice Thomas' opinion (www.supremecourtus.gov) and read it for themselves to see if there is anything anywhere in it that bears any resemblance whatever to the characterization used by the New York Times to keep its readers from knowing what his arguments were.

Atlantic Unbound | Interviews | 2003.06.18

A fascinating interview with the author of an article about America's imperialism and how it plays out on the ground around the world and between the State and Defense Departments.

White House Weighing U.S. Military Mission to Liberia

Sending American troops to this hell-hole would be a serious mistake, despite the Cold War support and history of the nation. A better alternative may be assasination of the chief troublemaker(s).

The White House left the door open today for a possible role by the United States military in bringing peace to Liberia, a West African country that has not known peace for 20 years.

"We're actively discussing how best to support the international efforts to help Liberia return to peace and to the rule of law," the chief White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, told reporters at a morning briefing.

Asked at a later briefing whether he would rule out the possibility of United States troops going to Liberia, Mr. Fleischer replied, "I'm not ruling it out."