Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Fountain of Love

This blog post comes about after reading a post by Clint at Milwaukee ID10T entitled “Self Esteem.” Surprisingly enough, I don’t agree with Clint, but this time, not in the adversarial sense … merely because I think that while his intentions are good, I think he misses a larger point.

He writes how his eight-year old daughter beat him at Connect Four. I’ve played this game and it is challenging. Clint says that she and he had played 10-15 times previously … all victories for Dad. But this time he could tell she was looking a few moves ahead and when she did defeat him, he was very proud and he could tell that her confidence had grown ... and her self esteem.

In this sense, Clint is correct. Anytime a child is victorious in game playing will a boost to self esteem occur. Playing is the way children learn and positive experiences are the desired result. But being victorious is not the only way in which improvements in self esteem occur, as Clint hints at. What about the 10-15 times that she was not victorious at Connect Four? According to Clint’s statement, her self esteem should not have improved. She did not win.

Now, in a sense, that’s not fair because I’ve no doubt that Clint loves his daughter very much. Just the fact that he is playing games with her, teaching her how to hit a baseball, how to ride a bicycle, taking the time to be with his daughter … all are signs of a deep love. I’ll bet that during those times that his daughter was unsuccessful at hitting a baseball, fell off her bike or was defeated at Connect Four, Clint was right there offering advice and encouragement.

It’s so sad that more children have not had the opportunity to experience the love that Clint’s daughter has experienced in her short life. She knows she is worthwhile and she is beginning to learn that she can accomplish anything to which she bends her mind or will. How does she know this? She know this because of love. Love is the fountain from which self esteem flows.

It’s sad that our schools have been forced to acknowledge that a lack of self esteem is so apparent in so many of its students, and it’s sad that the schools have even had to try to rectify this deficiency. Think of all the turmoil in Milwaukee’s inner city. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Unfortunately, artificially encouraging self esteem in school usually does not overcome the lack of nurturing at home.

A child that is not nurtured and cared for will not have self esteem … no matter how many victories that child may achieve. I wonder if Mike Tyson, who achieved greatness for a short period of time, wouldn’t be willing to give all that up for parents who cared.

So, I am not going to get into the ulterior reasons why Clint wrote his post, even though I suspect it was not all about his daughter succeeding. Rather, thank you, Clint, for the look into your life and the lives of your family. I hope the self esteem your daughter is developing will be enough to ward off all the hate in the world and help her to find that which is good and to contribute good to the world.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Good Night

Can't take credit for this ... but I forget where I saw it.

This should come as no surpise to those who read or listen to the hapless Jessica McBride. Islamofascist, their newest fun term for terrorists (I think it's used to divert attention from some conservative's love of jack boots) is a contradiction in terms, i.e.: fascism is a corporate government state, and Islamic fundamentalism is a call for an Islamic theocracy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Wednesday Ruminations

Been busy this week preparing the house for the invasion of the general contractor. Thursday is a walk-through for the big event starting Monday ... the removal of the roof over the garage. Eventually, an entire second floor will be added ... two bedrooms (master bedroom included) with huge walk-in closet and master bathroom. Very exciting. With luck all will be finished before the turn of the new year ... then baby will arrive in January.

Consequently, not much time for blogging. A couple of notes.

Peter at Texas Hold'em Blogger and I actually had a cordial turn at commenting over at Boots and Sabers (during the McBride/Robinson spat). There may be hope for the world. Have not heard from Clint for awhile. Oh well.

Chris and I are no longer friendly. Oh stop kidding ... we never were.

I think that Mike at Pundit Nation has a great site and it's getting better as he practices more. I especially like Anne's comments and the ongoing look at Mandy (the poor suck) Jenkins blog.

James wins tongue-in-cheek award for 2006 hands down (even with four months to go).

Mixter and Billiam are becoming fast friends. Enjoy their comments.

And, free advice: Enjoy those simple moments. Gave my five-year old daughter a bath today. We both had a good laugh looking in the mirror and making horns and other shapes with her shampoo-heavy hair. The giggling of children is fine music.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Another Wacky Tale from Ian

It happened last Saturday. Evan and I were camping in my back yard. We were telling jokes and eating pizzas when we heard an odd, large noise coming from the television. We thought it sounded like a talking penquin.

Bravely, Evan farted to the penquin. I heard tiny music and fell to my friend. Right before my eyes I saw Evan disappear and then reappear as a peculiar, 259,000,000–foot dog. I drove! But then the dog punched and said, “I'm starving. Got any pop tarts?”

“Wa-wah-where's Evan?” I stammered.

“What's wrong with you? I am Evan!”

That's when I fainted.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Where's the Beef?

I really don’t know where to begin. I read Jessica McBride’s sophomoric take on the warrantless NSA wiretapping case in Saturday's Waukesha Freeman and came away thinking, before finishing this sentence, that I was wrong calling her take sophomoric. Juvenile is more apropos.

Her beef is with the decision by Judge Anna Diggs Taylor that the National Security Agency’s (NSA) program of warrantless wiretapping was illegal. Heady stuff. Quite possibly a decision that will have far-reaching implications regarding the right to privacy, freedom of speech and how broad is a president’s power during a time of national duress.

But rather than engage in a thoughtful review of the decision, she chooses instead to begin her long rambling screed with an ad hominem attack and silly ideological rant: Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, who ruled against the government, was appointed by Jimmy Carter. Therefore, her ruling is incorrect.

All right, I’m convinced. It was Jimmy Carter’s fault after all! Snicker.

Anyway, leaving aside that Judge Diggs probably has three times the intellect of pinhead McBride, the real issue in this case is what she did not address. Namely …

Warrants are required for wiretaps! It’s the law. And, these can only be issued by judges and there has to be a pretty darn good reason (otherwise known as probable cause). Are you following, Jessica? This is really not that hard.

Also, there are these pesky things called federal statutes. One of these says that the government must obtain a warrant to wiretap. Said warrant can be obtained from a federal district court. Or, the warrant can be obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISA court) if a foreign government is suspected to be the employer of the person to be wiretapped.

But there’s the rub. The Bushies get annoyed when little legal safeguards like judges, FISA, the Bill of Rights, get in their way. According to McBride, we Americans should not worry because if we are not breaking the law, who cares if our calls are broken into. Sounds like the argument used in Germany in the ‘30s and ‘40s … “Those Jews must have done something wrong if they’re being taken away.”

The problem with McBride’s argument and that of the government is documented well by Erwin Chemerinsky (the Alston & Bird professor of law and political science at Duke University):

The president’s claim of executive authority to ignore the Fourth Amendment and violate federal laws in the name of protecting national security has no apparent limits. Under the Bush administration’s argument, federal law enforcement could seemingly go into anyone’s home, at any time, without a warrant by claiming that it might better catch terrorists. There is simply no obvious stopping point, and that’s what makes the president’s claim of broad executive power so alarming. Nor is there any reason to believe that warrantless wiretapping is needed to protect national security. The administration could have gone to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves 99 percent of all government requests for warrants. Under the procedures of the court, it even could have gotten the warrant after the surveillance had been done.

Well, you get the idea. The Bush administration doesn’t think itself bound by law. Nor does McBride think law necessary, which is surprising. She calls herself a journalist, a member of the Fifth Estate. Her duty is to ensure that government does not overstep its authority and report when it does to the citizens of the nation. Instead she rambles on about smarminess, and dismisses the plaintiffs because they are groups or members of groups she does not agree with. For goodness sake, one she heckles is Christopher Hitchens, a conservative writer for Vanity Fair. Of course, his credentials are reduced to being called an annoying and snobby magazine scribe by the inimitable McBride. Such a legal beagle!

If McBride had dug a little deeper, she would have found that Hitchens is not the only conservative to have issues with the Bush administration. Former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) praised the decision striking down the warrantless wiretap program, writing in an August 17 statement on his personal website:

"This is a win for all Americans -- Judge Taylor has upheld the Constitution in her ruling and has defended the privacy rights of all Americans against overreaching federal power." Barr added: "[W]hile we all support the Administration in its efforts to discover and thwart possible terrorist acts, including listening in on al Qaeda communications, our laws provide for a legal way for the government to proceed, and perhaps in light of this ruling the Administration will actually follow those laws."

Washington Post columnist George F. Will wrote in a December 20, 2005, column:

On the assumption that Congress or a court would have been cooperative in September 2001, and that the cooperation could have kept necessary actions clearly lawful without conferring any benefit on the nation's enemies, the president's decision to authorize the NSA's surveillance without the complicity of a court or Congress was a mistake. Perhaps one caused by this administration's almost metabolic urge to keep Congress unnecessarily distant and hence disgruntled.

She is at her worst (being sarcastic) when she wonders why Hitchens and his cohorts are even communicating with suspected terrorists, and why haven’t they informed the government of where these terrorist are. Oh, I get it. Al-Qaeda contacted the ACLU and Christopher Hitchens to disclose their plans for the big follow up to 9-11. Oh my, those darn card-carrying anti-Americans.

That she probably doesn’t believe a thing she writes is demonstrated in these two sentences:

The obvious questions are why Hitchens and his cohorts are communicating with suspected terrorists anyway and why they aren’t telling the government where they are.

And …

Which still makes one wonder why Christopher Hitchens wants to call a bunch of Islamic fascist terrorists.

Well, let’s see. We went from communicating with suspected terrorists to calling a bunch of Islamic Fascist terrorists. Suspected terrorists. Real terrorists. Which is it, Jessica?

The real problem with the decision is one that McBride lightly steps on … the appeal of the matter before the 6th Court. Here McBride displays a mighty effort of intellectual curiosity and journalistic acumen … “Many legal experts believe the 6th Circuit is going to overturn the ruling anyway.”

That’s it! Earth shattering in its simplicity. Snicker, again.

She might have looked up a fine piece by Reynolds Holding entitled, “Why the Wiretapping Ruling Is Vulnerable.” He reckons that:

…Taylor's opinion is remarkably thin on legal reasoning, leaving it vulnerable to getting reversed by the generally conservative Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Worse, the opinion's provocative, almost dismissive, language gives weight to criticism that this decision was more about politics than the law.

The article is worth reading. And, I happen to agree with his conclusion. One hopes that the 6th Circuit (conservatives outnumbering liberals 8-6) will discover some independent thinking and continue to rule against the Bush administration’s abuses to our rights.

Ah, independent thinking. Will there ever be a day when Charlie, er, McBride, exhibits any? Likely not.