Right Thinking From The Left Coast
We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time. - Vince Lombardi

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mission Improbable

Better late than never.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House said Wednesday that President Bush has paid a price for the “Mission Accomplished” banner that was flown in triumph five years ago but later became a symbol of U.S. misjudgments and mistakes in the long and costly war in Iraq.

Thursday is the fifth anniversary of Bush’s dramatic landing in a Navy jet on an aircraft carrier homebound from the war. The USS Abraham Lincoln had launched thousands of airstrikes on Iraq.

“Major combat operations in Iraq have ended,” Bush said at the time. “The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on Sept. 11, 2001, and still goes on.” The “Mission Accomplished” banner was prominently displayed above him - a move the White House came to regret as the display was mocked and became a source of controversy.

After shifting explanations, the White House eventually said the “Mission Accomplished” phrase referred to the carrier’s crew completing its 10-month mission, not the military completing its mission in Iraq. Bush, in October 2003, disavowed any connection with the “Mission Accomplished” message. He said the White House had nothing to do with the banner; a spokesman later said the ship’s crew asked for the sign and the White House staff had it made by a private vendor.

“President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific and said ‘mission accomplished’ for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said Wednesday. “And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year.”

She said what is important now is “how the president would describe the fight today. It’s been a very tough month in Iraq, but we are taking the fight to the enemy.”

I wonder if Bush still has one of these.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/30/08 at 08:29 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Leave The Trans-Fats, Take The Canola

So how well is that war on Trans-Fats going?

A spike in food prices is spurring some restaurants to switch back to cooking oils containing trans fats and driving up prices for menu items across the country, according to industry members who warn that the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.

There has been a significant push across Canada to get restaurants and food manufacturers to eliminate the use of hydrogenated oils, which contain trans fats and may pose an increased risk of heart disease and other health problems.

But an increasing number of restaurants are finding it tough to use healthier alternatives, including canola and other vegetable oils, which have been steadily rising in cost in recent months. Some restaurants and industry associations say prices for various types of vegetable oils have risen from 10 to 50 per cent in the past few months, and expect they will continue to go up as demand increases.

“We started getting phone calls. Approximately 20 restaurants have indicated they’re having difficulty or they’re switching to a shortening,” said Robert Greene, program resource manager of Effective Resource Management Inc., which collects used vegetable oils from restaurants to convert into alternative fuels. “It’s usually the smaller restaurants that are having the difficulties.”

So, once again, simple economics has come into play. Or, as the restaurant owners themselves have discovered:

But the situation reflects a larger problem that is taking shape across Canada as restaurants and other food providers struggle to cope with sharp increases in the price of cooking oil, a base ingredient in many menu items.

“Absolutely, it is a challenge,” said Tony Elenis, president and chief executive officer of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association.

Although he has not witnessed a widespread move back to cheaper hydrogenated oils, Mr. Elenis said it may be inevitable for some members of the industry if prices continue to climb.

“It’s going to be a threat. It all depends on each individual business,” he said. “If that becomes a long-term item, then some of our smaller restaurants might look at this business model [of using non-hydrogenated vegetable oils] as very hard to move forward with.”

Many restaurants are instead jacking up prices in order to deal with the rising price of cooking oil, in addition to higher costs for grain and other menu staples, according to one company that processes and distributes canola oil.

“We’ve seen restaurants, unfortunately, they don’t like doing it, but they have to put their prices up or else they go out of business,” said Lloyd Watt, manager of food service in British Columbia for Canbra Foods Ltd. “Their food costs have just probably gone right through the roof.”

Of course now the restaurants can be blamed by the lefties that run Canada’s Great Social Engineering Experiment for raising their prices, and thus it will give them even more of an incentive to run the economy themselves. Of course the restaurants will be forced to go out of business, but at least Canadian liberals can pat themselves on the back for another job well done in the name of protecting people from themselves.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/30/08 at 04:08 PM in Those Wacky Canadians  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Victorious Opposition

This is quite possibly the sweetest thing i have ever read in recent history and you’ll never guess where it came from. Barack “Uncle Tom” Obama (from the Dailykos!)

I have been a huge supporter of Barack.  He is the guy I’ve been behind for quite awhile now.  Check my older diaries if you wonder about that.  And while I’ve been steeling myself for a Barack loss in November, because I think the Repug machine is too good for him to beat, [-heh heh] I had resigned myself to still working hard for him and for the Progressive cause!

But today something changed for me…

Today, the scales fell from my eyes and I saw Barack Obama for what he truly is: a weak man and a standard politician. I really never thought I would say this…

But I am disgusted with him!

Mwahhahahahhahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahaha!!!!!! Damn, teh Kidz© finally got something right! Before some of us, even!! Let’s celebrate with another “What’s Barack’s middle name game!!

You readers are given the task to design the Barack pin that he won’t wear because he doesn’t need to wear his button to express his desire to be president. So this is a middle name, and a tag line. I hope something catchy, and I’ll front page the best one!

Posted by Manwhore on 04/30/08 at 03:44 PM in Fun and Humor  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Science Doesn’t Kill People, People With Science Kills People

Just holy crap.

In an interview with the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Ben Stein said the following amazing thing in an interview with Paul Crouch, Jr.

Stein:  When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers [i.e. biologist P.Z. Myers], talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.

Crouch:  That’s right.

Stein:  …Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

Crouch:  Good word, good word.

You can see the whole shameful thing here. It’s a pity Crouch didn’t invite the Rev. Jeremiah Wright into the studio for a three-way conversation. It would have elevated the tone.

That’s right-science equals Nazism. Ben Stein has not only jumped the shark, he has flown so far off the deep end he ain’t never coming back.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/30/08 at 03:36 PM in Religion and Sky Pixies  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Free Market Medicine

It’s a good idea at heart:

TAMPA, Fla. — Senator John McCain detailed his plan to solve the nation’s health care crisis in a speech here Tuesday, calling for the federal government to give some money to states to help them cover people with illnesses who have been denied health insurance.

Mr. McCain’s health care plan would shift the emphasis from insurance provided by employers to insurance bought by individuals, to foster competition and drive down prices. To do so he is calling for eliminating the tax breaks that currently encourage employers to provide health insurance for their workers, and replacing them with $5,000 tax credits for families to buy their own insurance.

His proposal to move away from employer-based coverage was similar to one that President Bush pushed for last year, to little effect. And his call for expanding coverage through market-based competition is in stark contrast to the Democrats’ proposals to move toward universal health care coverage, with government subsidies to help lower-income people afford their premiums.

This is one area where I was in agreement with Bush-market-driven, not government, health care would allow people more choice. At the same time, I am worried about what would happen to those with pre-existing conditions. Still, this does provide an alternative to the steady drumbeat for socialized medicine we hear from Clinton and Obama.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/30/08 at 03:25 PM in Health Care  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Running On Fumes

WVR blogged before on the stupidity of the gas tax holiday, which has to be the pandering nadir of Election 2008 (so far).  But in addition to the tiny ($30) savings it would induce; in addition to the depleting of the Highway Trust Fund; in addition to the deficit spending aspect of it (what, two fictional tax cuts weren’t enough this year?); and in addition to the near-certain price spike that will be induced, there’s this:

Don’t both senators support imposing a cap-and-trade market on carbon emissions to combat man-made global warming? In a Washington Post op/ed last year, two RAND researchers calculated that a relatively modest $30 per ton of carbon price would boost gasoline prices by 35 cents per gallon (and household electricity bills by 20 to 30 percent).

I’m sure that the public would just love to hear some “straight talk” about that.

For years, greens and libs of all stripes have told us that gas was too cheap and we were using too much of it and the price needed to go up because otherwise the polar caps would melt and AAGGGHH! It’s the End of the World!

Well, now the price is up.  The price is up far more than any carbon tax would ever have done.  And consumption is down.  And ... they’re having a hissy fit.  Why?  Because they’re not getting the revenue.  Despite telling us for years that a carbon tax or whatever was about the planet, not about revenue, it was really about revenue all along.

I have to credit Obama for refusing to buy into this nonsense—for the moment, at least.  Although not too much credit since he once supported a similar holiday in Illinois.  But Hillary’s proposal is not only extra stupid but a lie as well.  She’s proposing to “pay” for the cut with windfall tax hikes on the oil companies (8% profits now being “obscene").  Um, Hill?  What do you think the oil companies are going to do when you raise their taxes?

(Hillary is even dumber/more totalitarian than this.  She wants the government to monitor and control oil prices as well.  We all saw—well the older ones among us saw—how well that worked in the 70’s.)

It’s not just politicians flogging bad policy.  Sometimes it’s the truckers:

Truck drivers honked horns, waved placards and shouted through bullhorns at the Capitol on Monday to protest rising fuel prices they say are hurting their livelihood.

Members of Truckers and Citizens United circled the National Mall before parking their rigs at RFK Stadium. From there, about 100 protesters marched and took shuttles to the Capitol, where an afternoon rally was held.

“The high price for oil is hurting our economy,” organizer Mark Kirsch said. “It’s hurting middle class people.”

The national average price of a gallon of regular gasoline is a record $3.51, according to a recent survey of stations by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. The price for diesel - used to transport most food, industrial and commercial goods - is $4.20 a gallon.

Dave Gares, an independent trucker from Lebanon, Pa., said the $1,400 it costs to fill up his tractor-trailer with 220 gallons of diesel fuel has been a drain on his income.

William Lockridge of the Washington Metropolitan Area Truckers Association said independent truckers are barely breaking even. “If the truck stops, the economy stops,” he said.

This is fine.  I understand they’re hurting.  I don’t know enough about the industry to know why they can’t simply pass this along to the consumer like everyone else does.  So if someone familiar with industry can enlighten me, I’ll move it above the fold.

No, I’m sympathetic truckers in general and to this problem specifically.  The dumb part is not their protests.  The dumb part is their solution.

The truckers are urging Congress to stop subsidizing big oil companies, release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, and end exports of oil from Alaska, among other things.

A lot of the “subsidies” are given to all American businesses.  I’m not sure how cutting their subsidies will lower prices.

I’m agnostic on the SPR for the same reason I’m agnostic on ANWR and Continental Shelf drilling.  New domestic oil supplies do not get automatically shunted to domestic users.  They get added to the worldwide flow of oil and drop the price slightly.  I’m not sure it’s wise to do this now when oil is $115 a barrel rather than later when it’s $200.  But, whatever.  It’s a free country.  Or should be.  Drill away.

That third point takes the cake, however.  Restricting the free flow of oil is only going to increase the price.  Because instead of oil following the consumer, it will follow diktats from Washington.  Domestic oil could crowd out foreign oil that is actually cheaper.  If Japan or Canada or China or whoever is forbidden from buying oil from Alaska, their prices will go up, the world price will go up and we’ll be worse off than we were before.

The way to get oil cheaper is to cut demand or increase supply.  The best way to do that is the way we’re doing it right now, let the high price drive the consumers and producers.

I don’t know where Americans got the belief that among are unalienable rights are life, liberty, property, pursuit of happiness and, oh yeah, cheap gas.  But this has got to stop.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/30/08 at 02:01 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Boo Hoo

I’ve noticed some whining around these parts for a little while about the state of the US dollar. For lack of having only a layman’s opinion on the matter, I’ve generally refrained form pouncing on this particular viral strain of Bush hatred for sometime now. I have, however, said that whether we all know it or not, this single handedly will be the best thing that the GOP will do to while being chased out of the window of the White House.

Now before we get this party started, let me preface this post by saying, this is by no means a carte Blanche defense of George Bush. He couldn’t have dreamed this up by himself, nor has he ever really claimed he did. He survives by his advisers (much like anyone else). However, in the litany of offenses now attributed to the GOP due to the Bush legacy, this is hardly a crime, IMO. I’ve noticed that it’s been added to the laundry list of reasons that Bush has brought about the Apocalypse, and I’m here to prove you all are ass backwards about it.

Ladies, and germs, I bring you Teh Whine-anator!

On those awkward occasions when he is asked about his nation’s currency, President George W. Bush has a simple response. “We believe in a strong-dollar policy,” he’ll say--or words to that effect. For his Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, the mantra is, “A strong dollar is in our nation’s interest.”

The dollar hasn’t been paying much attention, apparently. It has lost 41% of its value against the euro, its main global competitor, since Bush took office in 2001. And Paulson, when he’s not busy battling financial crises here, can usually be found in China beseeching the authorities there to let their currency rise against the dollar.

It should be pretty obvious, then, that the U.S. doesn’t have a strong-dollar policy. What’s more, it almost certainly shouldn’t have one. The huge trade deficits that the country has been running for the past decade seem like a pretty good indication that the dollar was overvalued in global currency markets and needed to come down.-emphasis mine

i know that this might be an alien concept, but *gasp* maybe the dollar falling isn’t Bush’s fault!! Taking the idea a step further, a weaker dollar might put us at a competitive advantage in the world market. What, what, what, you say?

Which brings us back to a basic question: How strong a dollar do we actually want? Over time, a currency’s value reflects an economy’s fundamentals--how well a country allocates resources, how productive its workers are, how it contains inflation, etc. So in that sense, a strong currency is reflective of a strong economy. It’s something any country would want.

But for years on end, currencies can move in directions that seem to have little to do with fundamentals. They overshoot their correct values, in part because nobody is ever sure exactly what those correct values are. In this medium-term cycle, it’s just as bad to have an overvalued currency as an undervalued one. Worse, actually, because it means a fall is inevitable.

When your currency is in the declining part of the cycle, as the dollar has been since 2002, that puts upward pressure on inflation, spooks investors and generally leaves people feeling cranky. It eventually gives an important boost to the economy by stimulating exports, but that takes years. During an upswing, by contrast, everything feels good. But it’s the downswing that makes the upswing possible.

The difficulty is that it’s hard to distinguish a cyclical downswing that’s clearing the way for good times ahead from the wheezing of a currency and a nation in decline. Pessimists look at the budget deficits being run by the Bush Administration and the easy-money policies of the Federal Reserve and see a dollar that will never recover, leaving Americans permanently poorer. [hmmmm, why is this so deliciously written? I wonder....-ed]

Economists who study currency movements aren’t so sure. They figure the usual cyclical ups and downs are a big factor in the dollar’s fall. How much of a factor? Who knows? “I try not to talk to reporters too much these days,” says Menz Chinn, a University of Wisconsin economist who is one of the nation’s leading academic currency watchers. “Because, frankly, I’m confused.”

So what should U.S. dollar policy be? Probably something along the lines of “We’d like it if the dollar got a bit cheaper, especially against the Chinese yuan and a few other Asian currencies, but then stopped falling.” Can you blame the President for not wanting to say that at his next press conference?

This is exactly what I have been saying for sometime now. I lived in Europe when the dollar first started to take a dive. When I first moved to Sweden in 2003-2004 the dollar was 11SEK, and when I left out dollar was around 6SEK. Had I been “vacationing” in I might have felt a little upset (ie. whiner) about the development. I certainly took my share of potshots for the development, but i started to notice a trend that was the dish revenge. All of the people harping and wailing about this being the end of my country were also doing something else I found telling. they were taking thier hard earned Swedish Kronor and investing it in ours. Why? I think you can answer that question.

Even my friends visiting from England laughed as they purchased electronics at half what they would be charged in thier home country. I have to imagine the Chinese felt the same way when we waltzed into thier country waving greenbacks. This will work out for us, and we’ll drag all of the whiners kicking and screaming back into an upswing economy in a couple of years.

C’mon into the Thunderdome©!! the water’s red!

(note: Yeah, I’m back. Sorry about the lack of posting)

Posted by Manwhore on 04/30/08 at 10:33 AM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Assassination Was 68% Mary Todd’s Fault

Um, OK:

A state appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the Port Authority was liable for damages caused by the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, because it knew about but chose to ignore “an extreme and potentially catastrophic vulnerability that would have been open and obvious to any terrorist who cared to investigate and exploit it.”

The ruling unanimously upheld a jury’s verdict that the agency was 68 percent liable for the bombing and the terrorists 32 percent liable. Under state rules, because the Port Authority’s liability was more than 50 percent, it can be forced to pay all the damages to injured survivors and to relatives of those killed.

In its decision, the court noted that the Port Authority, a bistate New York and New Jersey agency that owned the trade center, did not argue that the bombing was unforeseeable, only that it was unlikely, since its own consultants and an internal study group had predicted “with exact prescience” how an attack could be carried out.

Andrew Carboy, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, estimated on Tuesday that the Port Authority faced more than $100 million in damages for the 50 personal injury and dozen business-interruption cases remaining. Apart from its fiscal effect, the unanimous, 35-page decision signified the first time that a body of judges, versed in the nuances of the law and legal precedent as well as the evidence, had ruled on a seminal moment in New York history.

After the jury’s verdict, in 2005, the Port Authority called the notion that the agency would be more at fault than the terrorists “egregiously incorrect” and “bizarre.” The appeals court disagreed.

How exactly, do you measure these percentages?  Well, for one, you know that the Port Authority’s percentage has to be greater than 50% so that you can plunder their deep pockets.

Does anyone really think the terrorists would have done nothing if the Port Authority had closed the parking lot?  They could have just rolled up on the street like Timothy McVeigh.  Or they could do what the eventually did and crash planes into it.  Stand by for lawsuits on that—hey, an episode of the Lone Gunmen predicted it!

Why on Earth would anyone ... oh.

Yet unlike its actions after the Sept. 11 attack, the federal government did not create a fund to compensate victims of the first bombing, and they have waited 15 years without a trial on damages. If Tuesday’s ruling stands, the remaining plaintiffs can go to trials for specific dollar awards.

I told the 9/11 fund was a bad idea.  Now every terrorism victim is going to expect millions.

I like this part.

The lead lawyer who argued against the Port Authority in the 1993 bombing trial, David Dean, said on Tuesday that he was “elated” by the appellate ruling.

I bet he is.  Especially, the lawyers’ cut is likely to be in the neighborhood of $30 million.

What’s really driving this is that the Port Authority was told about a potential bombing of the parking lot and chose to ignore it.  Part of the reason was because of the money they were making off parking.  You can argue that this was dumb or greedy or both.  But responsible for 2/3 of the explosion?  Really?!

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/30/08 at 01:18 AM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Like A Rock

Even more proof that people will literally buy anything.

NEW YORK — It may look like a geologic find, but a three-pound red and white fossil heading for auction Wednesday is actually a pile of dinosaur dung.

Bonhams New York is putting the prehistoric deposit up for sale along with a 30,000-year-old woolly mammoth tusk, expected to sell for up to $50,000. The auction house predicts the 50,000-year-old skull and jaws of a giant beaver will sell for about $20,000.

The dinosaur dung, identified by the auction house as Jurassic era coprolite, looks like a rock on the outside and a colorful mineral inside. It is 130 million years old and is expected to sell for between $350 and $450. It has lost any original odor.

Bonhams is expecting an array of bidders to show at the auction, from celebrities to interior decorators.

“Fossils are now becoming more of an accepted decorative piece with designers, especially on the west coast,” said Tom Lindgren, the auction house’s consulting director of natural history. “A number of fossils have a very sculptural appeal.”

“The rarer the specimen, the more ferocious the specimen, the more beautiful the specimen, the more competition between celebrities” over it, said Lindgren.

A fossilized piece of crap millions of years old is for sale. You may insert your own John McCain joke here.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/29/08 at 07:08 PM in Etcetera  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Are We Not Men?

Are we ready for Monkey Fever?

A LEADING scientist has warned a new species of “humanzee,” created from breeding apes with humans, could become a reality unless the government acts to stop scientists experimenting.

In an interview with The Scotsman, Dr Calum MacKellar, director of research at the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, warned the controversial draft Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill did not prevent human sperm being inseminated into animals.

He said if a female chimpanzee was inseminated with human sperm the two species would be closely enough related that a hybrid could be born.

He said scientists could possibly try to develop the new species to fill the demand for organ donors.

Leading scientists say there is no reason why the two species could not breed, although they question why anyone would want to try such a technique.

This doesn’t sound so far-fetched. You could argue that the apemen are already among us:

PS: Sorry if I spoiled anyone’s dinner, BTW.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/29/08 at 04:33 PM in Science and Technology  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Enter The Young

As an update to Hal’s post about the widening generation gap between younger voters and the GOP, it does appear that the Elephant is going to be screwed for the next few elections at least:

Trends in the opinions of America’s youngest voters are often a barometer of shifting political winds. And that appears to be the case in 2008. The current generation of young voters, who came of age during the George W. Bush years, is leading the way in giving the Democrats a wide advantage in party identification, just as the previous generation of young people who grew up in the Reagan years—Generation X—fueled the Republican surge of the mid-1990’s.

In surveys conducted between October 2007 and March 2008, 58% of voters under age 30 identified or leaned toward the Democratic Party, compared with 33% who identified or leaned toward the GOP. The Democratic Party’s current lead in party identification among young voters has more than doubled since the 2004 campaign, from 11 points to 25 points.

Since 2004, identification with the Democratic Party has increased across all age groups. Four years ago, 47% of all voters identified with or leaned toward the Democratic Party, while 44% identified with or leaned toward the GOP. In surveys from October through March, Democrats held a 13-point party identification advantage (51% to 38%).

Perhaps the most striking change since 2004 has come among voters born between 1956 and 1976—the members of Generation X and the later Baby Boomers. People in this age group tended to be more Republican during the 1990s, and the GOP still maintained a slight edge in partisan affiliation among Gen X and the late boomers in 2004 (47% identified with or leaned toward the GOP while 44% described themselves as Democrats or leaned Democratic).

Currently, 51% of voters in this age group affiliate with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic compared with 39% who describe themselves as Republicans or lean toward the GOP. Thus voters in Gen X and the latter part of the Baby Boom—the most Republican age cohort four years ago—now are about as Democratic as are older age groups, the early Baby Boomers and the so-called Silent Generation.

Ouch. And here’s Sullivan’s take on the generational meltdown:

This, by the way, is the fruit of an alleged political genius, turdblossom himself, a shamelessly effective tactician, but one of the worst political strategists in modern times. He has helped kill the Republican brand - and poison it for a generation.

I have to say I agree with him here. Rove’s tactics may have worked with the older voters who tend to come out during the primaries, but today’s younger voters don’t really have the great ideological battles of the past to draw from. The Republican Party they know is the one that got us into Iraq and which has come to be seen as homophobic, anti-immigrant, fundamentalist and authoritarian. Is it any wonder more young conservatives tend to identify themselves as independents or right-of-center libertarians rather than as party idealogues? Yet the GOP has squandered, in fact, largely ignored, the next generation. They’re like the Pat Boone of politics-they’ve become uncool in the age of a Democratic Elvis. And becoming uncool is a death sentence, as any ageing rocker can tell you.

Update by Lee: I love the title to this post.  Having a tendency to exclusively date women who are ten years or more younger than me I tend to “enter the young” quite often.  :)

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/29/08 at 03:57 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The War On Dolls

Iran’s government has discovered the real enemy:

Iran’s top prosecutor has called for restrictions in the import of Western toys, saying they have a destructive effect on the country’s youth.

The Prosecutor General, Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabadi, said that toys such as Barbie, Batman, and Harry Potter would have negative social consequences.

Mr Najafabadi wants measures taken to protect what he called Iran’s Islamic culture and revolutionary values.

Correspondents say Western culture is becoming increasingly popular in Iran.

Mr Najafabadi’s comments were made in a letter addressed to Iranian Vice President Parviz Davoudi, and quoted in several Iranian newspapers.

“The displays of personalities such as Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter… as well as the irregular importation of unsanctioned computer games and movies are all warning bells to officials in the cultural arena,” he wrote, according to a copy of the letter seen by Associated Press.

“The irregular importation of such toys, which unfortunately arrive through unofficial sources and smuggling, is destructive culturally and a social danger,” he said.

It must be the fear of foreign competition. I guess the Jihad Jimmy doll wasn’t as big a seller as they’d hoped.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/29/08 at 03:37 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The King’s Special

The rich are different from you and I-even their fast food:

FAST food chain Burger King are to serve up the world’s most expensive takeaway – costing a whopping �85.

There’s no common old meat in this burger. It will contain top-quality Kobe beef from Japan. And instead of ketchup and cheddar, it will be garnished with foie gras – a goose delicacy – and rare blue cheese.

But BK customers will still be able to buy regular fries and a fizzy drink to help it down.

It will be launched in selected branches next month, with London’s upmarket Kensington and Chelsea tipped to get the posh burger first.

With a price tag like that, I have to wonder if BK offers valet parking and a waiter to go with it.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/29/08 at 03:24 PM in Europe and the UK  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Vanna Montana

By now you’ve all heard that innocence is totally lost. Young girls are running wild through the sprinklers in the yard in...gasp!...two-piece swimsuits! Meanwhile, Disney executives are trying to figure out how to keep their biggest star a child forever.

Ya, you got it. I don’t agree that the manufactured outrage is proportional to the issue.

“You get the best of both worlds,” Miley Cyrus sings in the theme song of her hugely popular Disney Channel show, “Hannah Montana.” It’s a reference to her character’s secret double life as both a rock star and a normal schoolgirl.

Offscreen, though, this 15-year-old phenom is starting to learn how hard it really is to have the best of both worlds: as a G-rated Disney superstar and a teenager with an eye on a long career.

Clearly the Cyrus family knows that this Hannah Montana gig will end soon and if Miley wants to have a career beyond that, they need to begin the transition. Here are my thoughts:

- I know young girls are sexualized in our society but I don’t see that bedsheet photo as that bad. I don’t see sex when I see it (not conciously anyway). I see a teenage girl waking up. If you’re outraged by these pictures, you need to ask yourself if children should even be performing in front of people at all.

- I’ve seen more sexuality in some of Hannah Montana’s dance moves.

- My girls love Miley/Hannah. They think she’s the bomb. They don’t know any of this is going on and likely wouldn’t care. I don’t care. There are elements of the show that are more of a concern like how the characters interact. These photos don’t change anything for me. It’s not like she’s knocked up.

- While Miley is only 15, she is 15. Teens do crazy stuff like showing their bra to a web cam. They’ve always done stuff like this except now it’s captured for all the world to see. We tend to have a false sense of innocence anyway. Teens know and do way more than we know.

- I’m pulling for Miley. I think she has a number of things going for her. First, her parents are always around her and she works with her dad. Second, she can sing and I’m amazed at how mature a performer she is. Third, she strikes me as having more of a brain than the average teen pop star.

The best thing that she could do for her transition into an adult music career is focus on the music. Music, music, music. She needs to totally immerse herself in that. She needs to be writing her own songs and improving on her ability to sing and play other instruments. If she does that, she won’t have time to be bothered with all the trappings of pop stardom and people will be more inclined to take her seriously as an adult performer. Then again, sometimes people need to step away from the spotlight for a while to reinvent themselves.

I won’t disagree with comments about over-sexualization of young girls in our society. However, I think what we have here is people reacting to the biggest teen sensation getting older and moving on. Disagree?

Posted by on 04/29/08 at 11:01 AM in Life & Culture  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

No Vote Left Behind

Below, I mentioned that one of Bush’s few accomplishments was getting two good justice on the Court.  It’s starting to pay off:

The Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter identification law on Monday, concluding in a splintered decision that the challengers failed to prove that the law’s photo ID requirement placed an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.

The 6-to-3 ruling kept the door open to future lawsuits that provided more evidence. But this theoretical possibility was small comfort to the dissenters or to critics of voter ID laws, who predicted that a more likely outcome than successful lawsuits would be the spread of measures that would keep some legitimate would-be voters from the polls.

Voting experts said the ruling was likely to complicate election administration, leading to both more litigation and more legislation, at least in states with Republican legislative majorities, but would probably have a limited impact on this year’s presidential voting.

The issue has been intensely partisan, with Republicans supporting increased identification requirements for voters and Democrats opposing them. In what the court described as the “lead opinion,” which was written by Justice John Paul Stevens and joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the court acknowledged that the record of the case contained “no evidence” of the type of voter fraud the law was ostensibly devised to detect and deter, the effort by a voter to cast a ballot in another person’s name.

But Justice Stevens said that neither was there “any concrete evidence of the burden imposed on voters who now lack photo identification.” The “risk of voter fraud” was “real,” he said, and there was “no question about the legitimacy or importance of the state’s interest in counting only the votes of eligible voters.”

Stevens wrote that?  Stevens?!  I’m beginning to like him in his old age.  First Lawrence, now this.

I said earlier that I suspect this will have little impact on elections.  The sleaze and corruption tend to balance out.  One of the most frustrating aspects of the Election 2000 Florida debate was the people who wanted to account for Republican-favoring stuff (butterfly ballots, exaggerations about the strike list) but not Democrat-favoring ones (the early call).

But I see no reason why people shouldn’t have to identify themselves to vote.  It seems imminently sensible to me.

Next step?  Giving people a handstamp or finger ink so that they don’t identify themselves as voters twice.  Or creating a national database to keep people like Michael Moore from (apparently) being registered in two places at once.  This was a favorite of the college Dems back in my day.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/29/08 at 08:18 AM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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