Thursday, December 30, 2010

This Week's Playlist

Final one for this year.  Going to the rocking side of things:

1.   "Honest Man" by The Gracious Few.  Great new stuff by former Live and Candlebox.
2.   "My Kinda Girl" by Chickenfoot.  Another "supergroup" with Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony from Van Halen, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani.  A basic, straightforward rock song very well executed.
3.   "The High Road" by Broken Bells.  This duo created one of my favorite songs of 2010.
4.   "Hard to Handle" by The Black Crowes.  I fell in love with this song when it first came out in 1990 from this Atlanta band.
5.   "Shape I'm In" by Arc Angels.  A little heralded bank, the Arc Angels put together a great album of core rhythmn and blues songs.  This is as basic R&B as you can get.
6.   "Dream On" by Aerosmith.  Great song by great band.  Enough said.
7.   "Bringin on the Heartbreak" by Def Leppard.  The early song that established this Sheffield band as the soundtrack of my middle and high school years.
8.   "Run Back to Your Side" by Eric Clapton.  Eric Clapton's latest single gets back to his famous roots.
9.   "This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race" by Fall Out Boy.  Great writing, well played and and fantastic hook.
10. "High" by Jimmie's Chicken Shack.  From Annapolis Maryland, this band got some early play on MTV but have pushed on.  This was their first really big hit and still gets me pumped up.
11. "I Just Wanna Rock" by Joe Satriani.  One of my favorite artists ever, this is not one of Satch's best songs, but it is a fun song and he does different things with his guitar in this song.
12. "I'm Bad" by The Last Vegas.  With a 80/90's sound, and high quality musicianship, this song got me hooked on the Chicago fivesome.
13. "Back in Black" by Living Colour.  One great band (ironically) covering one of the greatest rock songs ever.  Brilliantly done and Vernon Reid rocks the solos.
14. "Holier Than Thou" by Metallica.  My brother liked Metallica long before me, but the "black" album got me hooked.  My Navy roommate and I played this CD until I thought we would burn it out.
15. "State of Love and Trust" by Pearl Jam.  I got in to Pearl Jam thanks to a girl I knew in the Navy.  This song is just encapsulates this band.
16. "Synchronicity II" by Queensryche.  the "thinking man's metal band" covers the Police.  Supremely well done.
17. "They Say" by Scars on Broadway.  I was never a big fan of System of a Down, but this song by Scars was something that just struck me.
18. "Sin With a Grin" by Shinedown.  One of my favorite new bands, and one of the best bands to come out of Jacksonville Florida since Lynyrd Skynyrd, they simply rock.  This is one of their harder, faster songs, and I love the title.
19. "Riot Act" by Skid Row.  A much older song by Skid Row, but off an album that, from first song to last, demonstrates that a band that a lot people simply didn't credit with much had some musical and songwriting chops.
20. "Black Rain" by Soundgarden.  This band getting back together was good news.  After a solo career and time with Audioslave, Chris Cornell shows that he still has the pipes and this song's hook just drew me in.

Ezra Klein Calls Reading the Constitution a "Gimmick"

And it is too confusing because it was written over 100 years ago.

The last time I checked, the Constitution was written in English--right?

Two new rules will give Constitution a starring role in GOP-controlled House

What?? A Congress who actually reads the Constitution? Did I just feel the Earth shake? I know it is cold, but did Hell just freeze over? According to the Washington Post, Congress will enact two new rules that will give the Constitution some primacy in Congress.
When Republicans take over the House next week, they will do something that apparently has never been done before in the chamber's 221-year history:

They will read the Constitution aloud.

And then they will require that every new bill contain a statement by the lawmaker who wrote it citing the constitutional authority to enact the proposed legislation.
As Gina, Renee Zellweger's character in Empire Records, said: "Shock me, Shock me, Shock me with that deviant behavior." Congress is going to read the Constitution (which may be a first for Congressional Democrats and more than a few Republicans). May I suggest to presumptive Speaker John Boehner regular recitations of Article I, Sec. 8 and the Bill of Rights, I am thinking Daily.

But the second rule, requiring citation of the Constitution provision granting authority to enact the legislation, really warms my heart. But I would suggest an amendment to that rule right now. Don't let Members of Congress get away with a necessary and proper clause citation. They need to cite some other authority--an actual power delegated to the Constitution.

Still, even if the education of Congress is a little late, it is better than never.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Top Three Tea Party Questions

Karl Uppiano, writing at the American Thinker presents "The Top Three Tea Party Questions" that he contends should be asked. Those questions are:
1. Which article of the Constitution gives government the authority to do this?

2. How does this help reduce the deficit and balance the budget?

3. Why does this have to be mandatory and not voluntary?

These are good questions, but these are not just Tea Party questions, they should be questions every American asks of their government a little more. The Framers were suspicous of the accumulation of power, hence the structure of the national government, but also the reliance on the state governments as bodies of power. But there are two questions that Uppiano doesn't ask, and I would name these as 1.5 and 2.5, that should be asked as well.

1.5. Is there a provision in the Constitution that limits or prohibits the government from taking this action? The Constitution is not just a document that grants certain enumerated powers to Congress, it also contains express limitations on the government's power. The difficulty that we as a nation face is that the Framers were not stupid, they realized that Congress would need to have a certain amount of flexibility to legislate their enumerated powers. Thus, the Necessary and Proper Clause. The problem of course is that Congress and the Courts have allowed the Necessary part to go forward, but everyone has forgotten about the Proper part of that clause. Just because an action may be necessary to effect, for example, a regulation of interstate commerce, doesn't mean that it is actually Proper for the federal government to exercise that power. We have to look elsewhere in the Constitution and in the Bill of Rights to make sure that what Congress is doing is not just permitted, but also not prohibited.

2.5. If this action is necessary, what level of government should be doing what ever is being proposed? America is a nation governed by multiple levels of government, from the national government to state government and multiple levels of local government. But more and more, we are asking the federal government or we are allowing the federal government to do more and more and more. What is the point of having state government or local government if we are asking the national government to do all of these tasks we want government to do.

We as a nation are not doing enough to ask ourselves "should government be doing this thing?" The loss of liberty is not a jarring thing, not like an invasion by a foreign power. The loss of liberty in America has happened because we don't ask ourselves and our politicians these questions?

Monday, December 27, 2010

How Does This Happen?

A New York City teacher suspended for allegedly molesting a sixth grade student has been employed for 13 years earning $97,000 plus whiel doing nothing. 13 Years in the 'rubber room' with full pay and benefits is teh headline and I have just one question. Why can't the school system fire him? Why can't they reinstate him? Who knows, but if I could earn $97,000 for sitting around doing nothing or blogging at someone else's expense, then I would be pretty happy.

Friday, December 24, 2010

NOW Hates Hooters

I don't get it, seriously I don't get it.

I don't understand the National Organization for Women.  What is their mission?  NOW describes their mission as this:
Since its founding in 1966, NOW's goal has been to take action to bring about equality for all women. NOW works to eliminate discrimination and harassment in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; secure abortion, birth control and reproductive rights for all women; end all forms of violence against women; eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; and promote equality and justice in our society.
Okay.  I am not sure about all of that, but that is what they say.  Now I looked through that mission statement several time after reading a story on the Daily Caller titled: NOW says Hooters is inappropriate for kids.  According to the Daily Caller:

The National Organization for Women has filed a complaint against Hooters for being an improper dining venue for minors.
A California chapter of NOW argues that Hooters is unsuitable for kids and violates sexual entertainment law regulations, and therefore no one under 18 should be allowed inside select California venues.
“They also display and sell products of prurient nature, including T-shirts in child sizes with statements such as ‘Future Hooters Girl,’” the NOW complaint reads.

What's wrong with that?  Seriously, I want to know.  If Radio City Music Hall sold t-shirts that said "Future Rockette," would that by appropriate?  What if Cosmopolitan magazine or Elle sold t-shirts with the slogan "Future Fashion Model," is that appropriate?  What if NOW sold t-shirts that said "Future Abortion Activist?"  I might find the latter offensive.

Okay, NOW has a problem with Hooters, probably because they think that the short orange shorts and tight T-shirts somehow demean the servers at Hooters, but without actually asking if the Hooters servers are actually demeaned.  In theory, NOW's mission would encompass these "oppressed" Hooter's Girls and try and get them better treatment.

But read through that mission statement again--I don't see the word children, kids or child welfare anywhere in there.  Not once.  So why is this complaint being lodged?  Because NOW thinks they know better than you what is good for your kids.  the last time I checked, that was my job as a parent.

The worst part about Hooters for my kids is not the wait staff or their modest (I have seen more skin displayed in local shopping malls by girls younger than the wait staff at Hooter's--all of whom are at least 18) outfits--but their decidedly unhealthy kids menu.  I don't think we would patronize Hooters as a family, but if we did, I am pretty sure that a complaint by NOW would not change my mind.

I don't know what my reaction would be if my daughters decided to work at Hooters.  But I would not be worried about my daughters moral upbringing if we did go to Hooters.  If I am not worried, why should NOW be worried for me?


Farm Subsidies and School Lunches

Mona Charen, writing in the Washington Examiner, was discussing the manner in which the commentariat on the right took a recent comment by First Lady Michelle Obama out of context when talking about school lunches and healthy eating. A fair number of people, particularly those on the right chastise the First Lady for trying to tell us how we should eat better. I for one think Mrs. Obama's message is a good one, I don't even mind the appearances the First Lady has made in psuedo-PSAs on the Disney Channel (my kids favorite channel) on thinks like eating healthy snacks or managing portion sizes. I believe her efforts come from a good place and I don't really have a problem with the fact that sometimes she and her family like french fries.

Having said that though, I am not a big fan of some of Mrs. Obama's chosen methodology, such as expanding school lunch programs. I became even less enamoured of the idea when I read this bit from Charen's piece:

Obama is correct that school meals are loaded with saturated fat, salt, and sugar. She notes that children receive half of their daily calories from school lunches. Most kids don't eat breakfast at school, which means that school lunches are larded up with calories.
 So let's follow the government's logic here a bit.  As noted by Charen, the government nutrionistas tell us that 1 in 3 American kids are overweight or obese.  That is bad, but then we read that children get half their daily caloric intake from school lunches.  That is one meal out of, presumably 3 meals and snacks probably, and kids get 1/2 of their calories from a school lunch--a government program.  So, partially to blame for the high obesity rate in this country is----that's right, the government.

So naturally, to fix the problem we are going to--expand that same government program that gives our kids half their calories a day.  There are even some people who want to expand beyond just school breakfasts and lunches and go right into dinner as well.  Can you imagine the blobs for kids we would get then?  (And don't get me started on the lack of Physical Education to burn some of those calories off).

Compounding the school lunch problem is the farm subsidies that go along with it.  The government spend $13 billion dollars a year now on the school lunch program buying those fatty, dairy-laden, fat-dripping, high caloric lunches for our ever more obese kids.   We subsidize dairy and meat farmers who then provide the basis for the high caloric school lunches and breakfasts.
How did this happen? Was it just that before the Obamas came to town, the feds were misguided about what was good for kids? Or was it something about the way government operates?
Is it an accident that school lunches are so heavy on cheese and meat?
No. The National School Lunch program, enacted in 1946, was devised with two goals in mind. The first was to subsidize farmers by purchasing huge blocs of "excess" commodities in order to keep prices up.
Only secondarily did the government intend to help feed hungry children. Subsidies are, to paraphrase President Reagan, the closest thing to immortal life in this world.
So while America's children were getting heavier and heavier, particularly low-income children, federal programs continued to heap pizza, French fries, and cheeseburgers onto their plates.
So we pay subsidies to farmers to keep the prices artificially high for their products and then the government, presumably pays those artificially inflated prices--essentially paying twice for the products.  It gets better, Mrs. Obama and the nutritionistas want to expand the the school lunch program by some 35%, adding another $4.5 billion into the program to, I hope, buy more fruits and vegetables for the school lunch program.  That expansion will include, no doubt, subsidies to fruit and vegetable farmers to keep their prices higher and then the government will pay those higher prices.  Of course, the School Lunch Program is not going to stop by the dairy and meat products that it already subsidizes.  The program is just going to add more calories to our kids plates, although it will be healthier calories.

Does anyone else see the folly in this?  Does anyone else see the billions wasted?  I think it terrific that we are looking to trim our collective waist lines and put some healthier food on our children's plates.  But we also need to think about trimming the size of our national wallet and this is not the way to do it.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Texas Gets Four New House Seats

The Census Bureau today announced U.S. Population Growth and how many U.S. House seats will be reapportioend. The Northeast and Midwest all took a hit as they lost seats, but the Sunbelt and Southwest continue to grow.

Texas will gain four new House seats, and Florida will gain two. Gaining one each are Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.
Ohio and New York will lose two House seats each. Losing one House seat are Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Florida will now have as many U.S. House members as New York: 27. California will still have 53 seats, and Texas will climb to 36.

What is interesting is that the states where seats were gained all went against Barack Obama in 2008. The state legislatures will begin the process of redistricting early next year. It will be bitter, it will be bloody and it may very well make a huge difference on who is occupying the White House in January 2013.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Nothing has really changed

When Bill Clinton was elected President, I was in the Navy, in the midst of my four year enlistment. There were two big talking points in my unit about President Clinton's election: 1) that he had never served in the military--the first president in the modern era to have not done so and 2) that he had campaigned to a certain extent about ending the ban on gays in the military.

Interestingly, the first was a much greater concern than the latter. The truth is there have been gays in the military undoubtedly since the Declaration of Independence was signed. Randy Shilts wrote and terrific book on the subject called Conduct Unbecoming describing the lives and careers of gays and lesbians in the military since the Vietnam War. The fact is, ask a military member and chances are they can tell you and probably name fellow service members who are gay. But President Clinton made a pledge to end the ban on openly gays serving in the military.

The military leadership, as to be expected, was opposed to the idea. The fact is that it was a policy decision and like all policy decisions, particularly in the Clinton Administration, it was subject to compromise--which is how we got the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. It was a compromise built on lack of spine by the Clinton White House. In order to get elected, Clinton felt he needed the votes of gays and lesbians (I still don't believe this to be true) and in doing so, promised to do something that was, at least in theory, within his purview. The funny thing is that as someone who had not served in the military, President Clinton didn't understand the fundamental nature of civilian leadership of the military. As the commander in chief, the President could have simply said, "Don't discharge anyone from the military just because they announce they are gay." It is an order, and if the Joint Chiefs didn't like it, Clinton could have fired them, they serve at the pleasure of the President.

But with the Don't Ask, Don't Tell compromise, like most political compromises, you got the worst of both worlds. You continued to have a military leadership who thought they could continue to act like they previously did, discharging soldiers for being gay and, honestly, looking for some rather flimsy excuses. You still had gay service members who enlisted or were commissioned, didn't like the military and then get discharged by simply coming out. In the meantime, the military still had gay service members. Nothing had changed.

Now that a repeal of that dumb law has passed and you can have openly gay service members in the military, what is going to change? Probably nothing. Sure there are same gay activist military members who are going to celebrate, but probably a very small minority. The fact is the push for the repeal of this law didn't come very hard from the gay service members, at least as far as I can tell, not from active service members. Rather the push came from the people who drive "identity politics." Comparing gays in the military to minorities in the military didn't not win the argument, rather what one the argument is the realization that since 1776, there have been gays in the military and there shouldn't be a law that should force someone to hide who they are, even in the military. I would guess that the vast majority of gays in the military will remain closeted, but at least they no longer have to face the end of their chosen career if they are inadvertantly outed or viciously outed by someone else. That is the justice that is deserved.

The truth is, in the military, "identity politics" is based upon the color of the uniform you wear. The identity is Marine, or Navy, or Air Force or Army. Within the services, you might have distinctions based on unit. Identity politics based upon race, or sexual orientation or nationality are a luxury for civilians, because when the excrement hits the wind generating device, it won't matter if the person next to you is a black soldier from Chicago or a white Marine from Moline, Illinois. It doesn't matter to a ground pounder in a firefight in Afghanistan if the Air Force pilot about to drop a 500 lb., laser-guided nasty-gram on the enemy is a lesbian from Long Island or if the Naval aviator is a gay man from Seattle so long as they hold up their end of the bargain and do their job. The assessment of them is based on competence in their job, not what they look like or where they came from or what gender they prefer to sleep with.

A Marine Corp Captain, Nathan Cox said it best in his recent op-ed:
In the end, Marines in combat will treat sexual orientation the same way they treat race, religion and one's stance on the likelihood of the Patriots winning another Super Bowl. I do not believe the intense desire we all feel as Marines to accomplish the mission and protect each other will be affected in the slightest by knowing the sexual orientation of the man or woman next to us.

The only people the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell really matters to are the Human Rights Campaign and other gay/lesbian advocacy groups. Everyday, our nation calls upon our military to lay their lives on the line to give groups like HRC the freedom to espouse their point of view. In the end does it matter if those service members are gay or straight? After all, last week there were gays in the military and this week, those same gay people are still in the military. Nothing has really changed

Music This Week

I like to keep track of the music I am listening too (since I tend to delete playlists from my iTunes after a while).  This week's playlist looks like this:

1.   "War" by Bruce Springsteen
2.   "True Reflections" by Dave Matthews Band
3.   "Cliffs of Dover" by Eric Johnson
4.   "Pretty Vegas" by INXS
5.   "Wormhole Wizards" by Joe Satriani
6.   "Escape" by Hoobastank
7.   "Everlong" by Foo Fighters
8.   "Think Like a Man" by Orianthi
9.   "Hysteria" by Def Leppard
10. "Paloma" by Carbon Leaf
11. "Lily Was Here" by Candy Dulfer
12. "Hard to Handle" by The Black Crows
13. "My Kinda Lover" by Billy Squire
14. "Even Flow" by Pearl Jam
15. "Living in a Dream" by the Arc Angels
16. "Sweet Emotion" by Aerosmith
17. "Flirtin' With Disaster" by Molly Hatchet
18. "Time Stands Still" (Live Version) by Rush
19. "Just Wait" by Blues Traveler
20. "Home Again" by Queensryche

If you check any of these songs (some are quite old and some very new), let me know what you think.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Supreme Court agrees to hear campaign finance law case that could be ‘game changer’ | The Daily Caller - Breaking News, Opinion, Research, and Entertainment

Supreme Court to hear campaign finance law case that will look at the issue of public funding in Arizona's Clean Elections Law which provides that when privately financed candidates expend over set amounts, publicly funded candidates get more public funds to counter the privately funded candidates.

I am generally against the notion of public funding for campaigns. The case could be significant and have implications for the presidential campaign fund. It will be interesting to see how the Court will address this issue in light of previous campaign finance rulings.