Monday, January 31, 2011

Helping explain soccer's lack of popularity over here

Via Left Coast Rebel.

Some pretty incredible footage of the protests from Egypt last week.

Though the video shows only 10 minutes of the confrontation between the protesters and the riot police, we have it on good word that no soccer matches broke out during the unrest.

And if the protests/demonstrations are good for Egypt then they ought to cure what ails us as well, right?

Here is one such gentleman from this past weekend demonstrating at a conservative conference in Rancho Mirage, CA.

So, he wants to run Obama out of office? That would be rather intemperate now wouldn't it? In keeping with the new tone of civility, we'll wait for the opportunity to do it in another 21 months.


A round-up of news items, columns and blog posts that caught our eye last week (yes, we're a little late with our usual weekend feature).

B-Daddy at The Liberator Today sees parallels between benefits-related teachers' union messes here in Southern California (National City) and that of Central Falls, Rhode Island.

There's a juicy little twist to the story out here, however, that would lead one to believe there is more going on than what meets the eye. Read about it here.

Over at Flight into Egypt, Leslie has updates with respect to Kermit Gosnell, the butcher of an abortion doctor in Philly, here.

So abortion and specifically this Gosnell case are not tea party issues? Perhaps. But ask yourself something: Even if you are pro-choice and even if you are not opposed to the tax-payer funding of abortion, should not one expect those tax-payer subsidized services to be provided in a safe, sanitary and legal manner? Certainly the Gosnell case has exposed a network of willful ignorance and dereliction of duty that should alarm (and sicken) any tax payer. The fact that we shouldn't allow our tax dollars to brutalize the defenseless transcends any tea party litmus test, does it not?

So, this must be more of that new civility we keep hearing about from the Liberal-left...

Use of Nazi symbols at a protest outside a conservative conference sponsored by the Koch Brothers over the weekend in Rancho Mirage, California and which was attended by Rep. Eric Cantor (D-VA), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Rush Limbaugh among others.

According to an eye-witness who contacted me by e-mail, protesters shouted "traitors," held signs that said "Koch Kills" and chanted "No justice, no peace" outside the hotel.

A Koch representative whom I contacted had this comment on the day's events: "This is the kind of 'civil debate' the left wants to have after Tucson?"
Read more about it here.

Good news: Social Security now running a deficit and expected to go flat broke in about 25 years.

Social Security's finances are getting worse as the economy struggles to recover and millions of baby boomers stand at the brink of retirement.

New congressional projections show Social Security running deficits every year until its trust funds are eventually drained in about 2037.

This year alone, Social Security is projected to collect $45 billion less in payroll taxes than it pays out in retirement, disability and survivor benefits, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday. That figure swells to $130 billion when a new one-year cut in payroll taxes is included, though Congress has promised to repay any lost revenue from the tax cut.

The massive retirement program has been feeling the effects of a struggling economy for several years. The program first went into deficit last year, but the CBO said at the time that Social Security would post surpluses for a few more years before permanently slipping into deficits in 2016.

The President paid Social Security reform some lip service during his State of the Union speech last week but a person for whom not taking strong leadership positions and voting present seems to be his M.O., don't expect any real action towards reform. With a Democratic President and a Republican House, it would seem that this would be the time to make it happen. Shame that it won't.

Photo above was attached to the linked article and we think it's suggesting that counting on Social Security is a risky proposition, a gamble, if you will. If only that were the case. We know exactly the condition and trajectory of Social Security.

More on the "new civility" front: Cat Vomits on Sofa; Climate of Hate Blamed.

Our buddy Harrison wonders what a state bankruptcy may look like should it occur.
We can expect a soap opera to play itself out over the coming 2-3 years as state budgets head for a crash and legislatures and governors beg for Washington to help make up the difference, sort of a GM-style bailout for them. Republicans will certainly oppose this and Democrats and Big Union will play the only card they have left: call for civil disobedience on the grounds that the American way of life is being destroyed by evil Conservatives.

The same thing is playing out in Europe as Big Union thugs firebomb banks, set fire to cars, attack police, and conduct work slowdowns and strikes which disrupt the economy and hurt private businesses.

The bankruptcy cramdowns of Chrysler and GM have provided a template for how it may go down. And as for optics: Union thugs "protesting" in front of private residences? Ho-hum. Private citizens peaceably assembling on behalf of free markets and limited government? Why, they're a bunch of subversive and bigoted nut jobs prone to violence.

And finally, file this one under "Imagine if Bush had tried this":

A controversial bill handing President Obama power over privately owned computer systems during a "national cyberemergency," and prohibiting any review by the court system, will return this year.

Internet companies should not be alarmed by the legislation, first introduced last summer by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), a Senate aide said last week. Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"We're not trying to mandate any requirements for the entire Internet, the entire Internet backbone," said Brandon Milhorn, Republican staff director and counsel for the committee.

Instead, Milhorn said at a conference in Washington, D.C., the point of the proposal is to assert governmental control only over those "crucial components that form our nation's critical infrastructure."

Why does the fact that it appears to be a bi-partisan effort worry us even more?

Clean-up in K through 12....

We all tend to agree that letting the federal government run our grocery stores would be a bad idea so why then do we let it anywhere near our schools?

John Stossel on choice, competition and the Department of Education in our public schools:

(if embed no worky, please click here)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Standing by idly while a segment of our society slowly spins down the drain

Brave and good parenting? Denied.

A 40-year-old Ohio mom is heading to jail for trying to sneak her kids into a better school.

Kelley Williams-Bolar pretended her two daughters lived with her father -- their grandpa -- so that they could attend the better, safer school in his district. She and the girls were then trailed by detectives hired by the school to videotape where they really lived: A housing project. Ah ha!

Bringing this case, including the private eyes' fees, cost the district $6,000.

Still, that's less than the $30,000 the district says Williams-Bolar, a school aide, defrauded them of by letting her kids infiltrate their classrooms. After all, those lessons are paid for, in part, by local taxes and those taxes are only supposed to benefit local kids. So the authorities hauled Williams-Bolar into court where she was found guilty of a felony, sentenced to 10 days in jail, given 80 hours of community service, and told that she can forget about finishing up her teaching degree.

Obviously, what is needed is some sort of amnesty program for these illegals seeking a better education here in our country.

Does the word "Amnesty" rub you the wrong way? Well then, how about something like "Comprehensive Education Reform for those wanting to save their children from schools that suck"?

Go to the link for video and the rest of the story where you will see Big Education is not concerned at all with education but rather missing out on revenue.

The matter of our failing school systems, particularly those in the inner cities, is the civil rights issue of our time, yet where are our civil rights leaders?

Don't hold your breath waiting for Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or the like to jet in and agitate on behalf of Williams-Bolar.

Quote and video clip of the day

"Soccer fans constitute a well-organized and feared pillar of the marshalling grassroots coalition,"

The Muslim Brotherhood? Labor unions? Sure, these two groups may be major factors behind the unrest in Egypt, currently. But who, really, can get their rowdy on like soccer fan?

After all, this is what they look like when they're happy as displayed after a 2010 World Cup qualifier victory.

Gawker has more, here.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Because it's never too early to start obsessing over this stuff...

The Draft Mitch Daniels ad:

RightKlik of Left Coast Rebel has a great round-up of pro/con Mitch Daniels opinions, here.

Why the surprised look?

Shocked, shocked that California lags in political activism and community/voluntary participation.

From Alexander Heffner's column from yesterday, California Is Failing at Civic Engagement:

One government failure and apathetic citizen at a time, civic illiteracy is eroding the Golden State. That’s the forecast for California, according to data recently collected on civic involvement in the democratic process.

Start with the recently published California Civic Health Index that revealed that the state’s population is threatened by languor. Apathy is deadly for civic activity from volunteerism to voting to community service. Nonprofits California Forward, the Center for Civic Education and Pepperdine University’s Davenport Institute for Public Engagement collaborated to gauge civic proficiency statewide.

The index reveals that only a quarter of citizens have participated in a non-electoral political event (be it a rally, protest, demonstration or public forum) and roughly the same fraction is partaking in volunteer work. Only 8 percent report working with neighbors to resolve a community problem, and only 9 percent attend town halls or similar meetings.

Then there is continued lack of electoral enthusiasm. In 2008, voter turnout in California ranked 42nd in the nation. This past November, even with the grass-roots tea party furor, turnout slipped even further, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

The fact is that California is no longer instilling civic values, virtues or anything of the kind.

And when we Californians do get off our collective ass to vote, we tend to vote for the same damn statist "solutions" that have got this state into the fiscal, debt-ridden, employer-fleeing mess it is in now.

Why this apparent state of being of waiting for someone else (i.e. the government) to solve our problems should not be seen as a self-fulling act is certainly a mystery to us.

We're not in 5th grade so we cannot comment on the deplorable state of Civics 101 in the state's classrooms as Heffner contends so, as always, we welcome the comments of those in better position to opine on the same.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Radio KBwD is on the air

They just don't make'm like these guys anymore. We forgot where we first heard it but they were once described as the Smithsonian of American popular music which was rather ironic as only 1 of the 5 members were native to this country (the other four were Canadian).

Ladies and Gentlemen from the best concert movie ever, The Last Waltz and with horn arrangements provided by Allen Toussaint, it's The Band performing "Ophelia".

Blog headline of the day

When is this stuff going to stop?

Pimply 17-Year Old Boy Rejected by Cheerleader; Climate of Hate Blamed

Young Billy is a 17-year old boy who enjoys math riddles, glee club and has plans to run for student body President. All that changed in an instant.

Last week Billy asked popular cheerleader Shannon to the prom. He was rejected. In a cold-blooded utterance that can only be described as “terroristic in intent” Shannon told Billy that he “wasn’t her type.”

Now a devastated Billy stays in his room playing online video games, occasionally taking time out to mow the lawn or read the Bible.

The backlash against Shannon and her hate-filled rejection of Billy is intense. Many local residents blame talk radio.

As it was Reagan who was in office when we were in high school, this goes a long way towards explaining our abject dating failures at that time.

Go to the link above to read more of the of the incivility of our times at Conservative Hideout 2.0.

Link of the day

B-Daddy of The Liberator Today has been doing some real yeoman's work on the local San Diego political scene and it has not gone unnoticed.

First, check out his article here on two pressing issues of the day in San Diego (and perhaps your city also): pensions and the potential construction of a new city hall.

And with respect to not going unnoticed, City Beat, the local leftie sheet has a very nice write-up on our boy here in the context of new-born citizen activists.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Free Captain Elliott's Party Boats Pt. IV

You turn your back just for a moment and this is what happens...

The Department of Health and Human Services last reported there were 222 union locals and businesses representing over 1.5 million people that had been granted waivers from having to comply with ObamaCare back on December of 2010. Since then... well, since then, let's just say there has been a slight uptick in activity. From The Hill:

While some 500 groups got waivers for a healthcare reform provision setting annual coverage requirements, about 50 requests for such exemptions were denied, the Department of Health and Human Services told The Hill Thursday.

A week after Republicans announced an investigation into reform law waivers, HHS made public on Wednesday new waivers for more than 500 groups that would not be able to meet the reform law's new requirement for annual coverage limits in 2011.

The law gives HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the flexibility to grant waivers to avoid disruption in the insurance market, but Republicans say the waivers are either gifts to Democratic allies in unions or proof that the reform law isn’t working. A large number of businesses have also received waivers.

The waivers are typically granted to so-called "mini-med" plans that offer limited annual coverage — as low as $2,000 — to employees. The waivers are designed to preserve stability in the insurance market until new state-run insurance exchanges open in 2014.

This would now bring the total of unions and business entities fleeing for the exits to a whopping 729 representing 2.1 million people. Full list for ObamaCare exemptees can be found here.

As the title of the list suggests (Helping Americans Keep the Coverage They Have and Promoting Transparency) we're not quite sure the granting of waivers was what the President had in mind when he told us that if we liked our health insurance, we could keep it. Besides, Ms. Sebelius would have to be considered some sort of miracle-working administrator to ask that question of 2.1 million people.

And as for that transparency part, it begs the question: just how does a company get itself off the ObamaCare hook? That's the big mystery, now isn't it? From the same article:
"We are committed to making the waiver process transparent to the public and to make sure workers with mini-med plans are informed about the limited nature of their coverage," Steve Larsen, director of oversight in HHS's Office of Consumer Information and Insurance, said in a statement.
And that's a wrap. End of story. End of article.

Now, we are not suggesting anything untoward but it didn't appear to dim the prospects of three unions that had donated 27 million dollars to Obama's campaign back in '08 in their quest to be exempted from a law they supported.

That 729 most likely represents the final tally as the list link above from the Department of Health and Human Services said all requests had to be in by Jan. 1st when the law took effect. We'll be looking for two things now, a) whether or not there will be waivers for the waiver for those businesses begging out after Jan. 1st and b) how many businesses will dump coverage because they underestimated the cost of having to comply with ObamaCare and didn't bother submitting a waiver request.

With a law this vaguely worded and many of its provisions left to the whims of one person in Kathleen Sebelius, the possibilities are endless.

Video clip of the day

Don't know who these guys are or what it was they were trying to accomplish but, yeah, the reciprocal action was definitely warranted.

These kids need to bear in mind that it was Tom Petty who said: "It's rock'n'roll. It's not supposed to be good."

H/T: Kurt from Facebook

That train don't stop here


We hate public transportation. There, we said it. And, yes, we probably are drowners of little baby kittens and enemies of Gaia to boot but we cannot shake that innate feeling that whenever we step onto a bus or a trolley it is, to us, a demoralizing, demeaning and dehumanizing experience.

Of course, we're somewhat products of our environment in this respect as we have spent all but 4 years on this planet living in Southern California, the hands-down capital of car culture in America and the world. As such, instead of familiarity it is indeed unfamiliarity that breeds our contempt.

Having to comply with someone else's schedule when we deal with that enough as it is... fear of hopping onto the wrong train or bus... fear of missing our stop... being mildly claustrophobic... just not getting there freaking fast enough... have you ever been able to double-back on a bus when you see a pretty girl walking down the street? (in our youth... in our youth)... no choice in the matter of traveling companions... not being able to figure out the token machines... having ZERO control over the radio

... the list goes on.

In short, public tranportation is the antithesis of freedom. Your individual desires and wants are secondary to that of the collective and central planning which is why it such an anathema to us.

Well, you'd be singing a different tune if you lived in a densely populated metropolis, champ?

Would we?

Click on over to our blog-buddy Harrison's place, here, and listen to his tale of woe being car-less in that statist paradise of San Francisco.

Related: On the way home from work yesterday, our beloved hoopdie ('99 Toyota Tacoma) rolled over.

Look at her. Our freedom rider. 200 large and only a clutch and timing belt replacement to show for it. Could you ever love a bus in that way?

* That's the view entering Monument Valley from the south out of Kayenta, Arizona.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MAXED OUT... (so it begins)

As promised, the following is our inaugural installment of a weekly Wednesday feature where we let our good friend Max muse on the glories and wonders of the hop, unchecked and unabridged. Without further ado...

In an age where my toaster can cook an egg and my phone does most of my thinking for me, I find that there are two things that I enjoy that my ancestors may have as well: sex and beer! And while I am no expert at either, for the rest of the year I will be here once a week to talk about my true lover (sorry, Jules), BEER! For the next forty some-odd weeks, I will be counting down my top ten favorite beers. While I'm no math major, I'm pretty sure that leaves several weeks in which to talk about my favorite beer bars, new beers on the market as well as three cities that I will be visiting over the next calendar year that are known for their pubs and brews: Portland, Chicago and San Francisco. And, if you and I are lucky, Denver.

So who am I and why would you want to hear what I have to say about beer? Well, my name is Christopher Michael McClain but you can call me Max. I'm a 28 year-old beertender at a pretty damn good beer bar in the new Mecca for all things hoppy, San Diego, CA, which some might say is qualification enough. I can recall the first time I ever had a "good beer". It was my 21st birthday and up until that point if it wasn't Bud Light, I wasn't interested. But then I went to the City of Sin! And while everyone else was banging away on the slot machines and black jack tables, I was in a microbrewery enjoying my very first Hefeweizen. That sweet and zesty clove-filled flavor quenched my thirst brought about by the 130 degree weather that is Las Vegas in August. It was love at first pint.

Eventually, I met Miss Rachael Steele. She knew beer the way Peyton Manning knows the Titan's secondary - inside and out - and she shared as much information with me as she could. I was living in San Francisco at the time and working for one Brahmabutta Swami at an Irish Pub and Curry House called "Kennedy's". Thirty-three draft beers, some 150 more in bottle and the best freakin' Indian food you'll ever have (which is not always the best combination the morning after, if ya know what I mean). After a couple year stint there, I moved my new found "expertise" to a boutique beer distribution company where my portfolio consisted of everything from Stone and Bear Republic to Allagash and Ommegang. My job was to go around, pedaling the thousands of beers that I sold to bars, restaurants, liquor stores, etc., etc. One can only handle waking up at 7 A.M. every day for so long, so after a couple year stint there (yes, it's a running theme, just go with it), I moved back to San Diego and found a job at the illustrious K&B Wine Cellars where, with the help of the Adam Parker, they have put together a tap line up of thirty-two mostly stellar beers as well as a bottle selection that one must see to believe. And after a, say it with me, couple year stint there, I wound up at Hoffer's Beer, Wine & Cigar Bar where I pour beer for a living and couldn't be happier.

While I'm no Michael Jackson (the beer god, not the pop god), I know a thing or two about a thing or two and would love it if you'd join me in my adventure into Hopland. I'd also like to hear any feedback that you might be willing to give me in the comments section or on Facebook, or just email me at

Until next time, my beer-loving brethren, have a beer for me.

Next stop... Madera?

California's high-speed rail system will be getting underway in America's vegetable basket.

So now we know, if it begins, it will be “in the heart of the state’s Central Valley.”

The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board today picked the starting location for the first 65-mile stretch of track in the Los Angeles to San Francisco rail system. LA to San Francisco would be a 418-mile rail trip. The time is expected to take 2 hours, 27 minutes, according to the Rail Authority's website.

Construction will start north of Fresno, near Madera, and include the construction of two new stations – one in downtown Fresno and the other east of Hanford – continuing to Corcoran, north of Bakersfield, according to the Rail Authority.

This segment will use about $4.15 billion of the available $4.3 billion to build the two stations, acquire rights of way, construct viaducts, prepare the site, grade, restore vegetation, build rail bridges, realign roadways and relocate existing railways and utilities.

The choice of the Central Valley was hardly a surprise. The Federal Railroad Administration issued a mandate in October that directed that all current federal funding for the project be dedicated to a portion of the project in the Central Valley.

several other sites were considered, says the Rail Authority, but none would spend out as much of the funding as this one.

Let it be known that travel time from San Diego to San Francisco via air is about an hour and a half.

As laid out in the video below, this notion of needing a high-speed rail here in California always had more than a whiff of snake oil and boondoggle about it.

“But Main Street’s still all cracked and broken!”
"Sorry, ma, the mob has spoken"

Eh, unfortunately that "mob" was the California voter who approved this dubious enterprise back in November of 2008 via the initiative process.

H/T: Instapundit

Chicago longing for the Mike Tomczak era?

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bear QB and possessor of both a sprained MCL and questionable mopey expression on the sidelines during the Bears' loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game was reported to have taken the stairs instead of the elevator at a Chicago steak house after the game.

Deadspin commenters take it from there...

Donnie Iris: Things got ugly when his girlfriend sent her steak back to the kitchen and said, "This thing is tougher than my date."

norbizness: What a disgrace to the enduring legacy of stalwart Bears starting QBs, including Mike Phipps, Vince Evans, Bob Avellini, Jim McMahon, Steve Fuller, Rusty Lisch, Greg Landry, Mike Tomczak, Doug Flutie, Peter Tom Willis, Will Furrer, Erik Kramer, Steve Walsh. Dave Kreig, Rick Mirer, Steve Stenstrom, Moses Moreno, Shane Matthews, Cade McNown, Jim Miller, Chris Chandler, Henry Burris, Kordell Stewart, Rex Grossman, Jonathan Quinn, Craig Krenzel, Chad Hutchinson, Kyle Orton, and Brian Griese.

Smooth JA: If Cutler wants to lose this image of being a petulant, heartless, a**hole, he's going to need to start fighting some dogs or raping women so that when he comes back to the league, people will talk about how he's a much better person now.

Hatey McLife: Lawrence Philips just chimed in that stairs are for girls

Whiskerbrisket: ...and our spies tell us that he took the stairs rather than the elevator.

"Big deal."


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kicking the can down the road (UPDATED)

(please scroll to bottom for update)

In advance of the President's speech tonight and with respect to a massive and unsustainable entitlement program, consider this an opportunity lost.

More than two months after his deficit commission first laid out a plan for reining in the national debt, President Obama has yet to embrace any of its controversial provisions - and he is unlikely to break that silence Tuesday night.

While Obama plans to stress the need to reduce record budget deficits in his State of the Union address, he is not expected to get into the details and will instead call for members of both parties to work together to tackle the problem, according to congressional and administration sources.

Democratic lawmakers said that approach makes sense as the White House begins a delicate dance with resurgent Republicans over government spending, tax reform and the other difficult issues that will shape the debate into the 2012 presidential campaign. Until Republicans signal a willingness to work with Democrats to raise taxes as well as cut spending, the lawmakers said, it would be a mistake for Obama to endorse painful policies that could become the target of political attack.
The direction of Obama's speech became apparent over the weekend, when the White House informed Democratic lawmakers and advocates for the elderly that he would not endorse the commission's recommendation to raise the retirement age and make other cuts to Social Security - the single largest federal program.

Liberals, who have been alarmed by Obama's recent to shift to the center and his effort to court the nation's business community, applauded the decision, arguing that Social Security cuts are neither necessary to reduce current deficits nor a wise move politically. Polls show that large majorities of Americans in both parties - even in households that identify themselves as part of the tea party movement - oppose cutting Social Security benefits.

Granted, Bush got absolutely shelacked when he broached the idea of Social Security reform back in 2005 which included privatizing merely up to 10% of one's social security account but 5 years can make quite a bit of difference.

As opposed to 5 years ago, we now have a much greater appreciation for debt burden caused, in part, by deeply-entrenched entitlement programs but in '05 when the Republicans controlled the Oval Office and both houses, Bush's plan was smeared as a right-wing power grab and a blow to the American dream as seen through the statist eyes of FDR.

While it is appreciated that welfare reform is relatively low-hanging fruit as opposed to a program that touches the lives of nearly every American, President Obama, instead of leading and perhaps seizing his own Only-Nixon-Could-Go-To-China moment, is choosing to kick the can down the road for future generations (and administrations) to deal with.

For a man who said he would rather be a great one-term president than a mediocre two-termer, there is a re-election campaign to start preparing for and with a bump in his polling numbers... mediocrity awaits!

H/T: Hot Air

(UPDATE #1): The President's SOTU speech can be found here.

Like you all needed any encouragement, now you don't have an excuse. Now go out for dinner or better yet, stay in and make dinner for your better half and drink heavily.

However, that the SOTU has become prom night, that train wreck element may be too difficult to resist.

Also, about that tea party response to the SOTU? Eh, who thought that would be a good idea? Too third-partyish. Again, the best value of the tea party is to beat the Republican Party about the head and shoulders. A separate response may give some wobbly Republicans the idea that they will not be held accountable for their actions there in D.C.

Programming Alert

Starting tomorrow, Beers with Demo will unveil a new weekly feature penned by our good friend "Max" who has forgotten more about beer than we'll ever know.

Now, we just kind of gave away the subject and content matter of this feature as we're giving the young man free rein to muse on all things hop-related both here in San Diego and abroad.

We're pretty stoked about this as it opens things up a bit, content-wise, hopefully without straying too far from our core competencies, whatever those may be.

Please give Max a warm welcome tomorrow, won't you?

Your decline of Western civilization update

We meant to get around to this last week but never got the chance. By now, you are aware of the charges being brought against the Philadelphia abortion doctor, Kermit Gosnell, so consider the following a bit of a refresher.

A West Philadelphia abortion doctor, his wife and eight other suspects are now under arrest following a grand jury investigation.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, faces eight counts of murder in the deaths of a woman following a botched abortion at his office, along with the deaths of seven other babies who, prosecutors allege, were born alive following illegal late-term abortions and then were killed by severing their spinal cords with a pair of scissors.

Here is one of the introductory paragraphs from the grand jury's report:

This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy — and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels — and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it.

Because he destroyed so many of his records no one knows for sure just how many babies he murdered. So, how was he able to get away with it? The grandy jury report (which can be found here) details the following:

● The Pennsylvania Department of Health knew of clinic violations dating back decades, but did nothing.

● The Pennsylvania Department of State was “repeatedly confronted with evidence about Gosnell” — including the clinic’s unclean, unsterile conditions, unlicensed workers, unsupervised sedation, underage abortion patients, and over-prescribing of pain pills with high resale value on the street — “and repeatedly chose to do nothing.”

● Philadelphia Department of Public Health officials who regularly visited Gosnell’s human-waste-clogged offices did nothing.

● Nearby hospital officials who treated some of the pregnant mothers who suffered grave complications from Gosnell’s butchery did nothing.

● An unnamed evaluator with the National Abortion Federation, the leading association of abortion providers that is supposed to uphold strict health and legal standards, determined that Gosnell’s chamber of horrors was “the worst abortion clinic she had ever inspected” — but did nothing.

Hey, look. A pricing menu. How thoughtful.

A cock-fighting ring would not have received such generous treatment.

Our good friend Leslie of Temple of Mut has started up an alternate faith-based blog where she intends to take on the culture of death that surrounds this particular case and which informs much of the debate on the pro-abortion side. Please go check out her post on the subject at Flight into Egypt.

The liberal-Left wanted desperately for the Tucson shooter to be a tea-partier and when they had to settle for him merely being an apolitical loon, they still insisted that a culture of incivility bred by the right wing spurred him to his violent and murderous act. Epic fail on both counts.

However, after decades of this abortion clinic butcher shop existing and operating in the manner it was and with full knowledge of the authorities who still did nothing about it - how can this whole sick and wretched situation not be ascribed to the culture of death bred by the abortion-industrial complex in this country?


Addendum #1: Via KT, commenter flataffect at Chicagoboyz:

Here I thought the benefit of legalized abortion was that women wouldn’t be forced into the butchery of back-alley abortions, but could go to clean, professional facilities. Now it turns out that the thing was really just about killing babies, after all.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Free Captain Elliott's Party Boats Pt. III

It's Waiverpalooza...

Three local chapters of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), whose political action committee spent $27 million supporting Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, have received temporary waivers from a provision in the Obamacare law.

The three SEIU chapters include the Local 25 in Obama’s hometown of Chicago.

The three SEIU locals, covering a total of 36,064 enrollees, are covered by the federal waivers, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS gave a waiver to Local 25 SEIU in Chicago with 31,000 enrollees on Oct. 1, 2010; to Local 1199 SEIU Greater New York Benefit Fund with 4,544 enrollees on Oct. 10, 2010; and to the SEIU Local 1 Cleveland Welfare Fund with 520 enrollees on Nov. 15, 2010.

So far, the Obama administration has issued waivers to 222 entities, including businesses, unions and charitable organizations. Of that total, 45 were labor organizations.

That last paragraph may be a little misleading as that 222 figure reflects only what the Department of Health and Human Services has reported as of December 3rd of last year. We understand HHS will only be reporting out on who has been granted waivers on a quarterly basis.

Maybe now were getting a look at what qualifies for being exempted from the annual limits provision of ObamaCare. Now we don't doubt these unions would be adversely effected by having to comply with ObamaCare but for an administration that is seen as being way too cozy with unions, this represents horrible optics.

Again, governing by waiver is no way to govern.

Video clip of the day

We know it's Monday, the first day of the work week and that we should be posting serious, grown-up stuff, leaving the frivolity for the weekend. We get it but we just couldn't resist posting what we believe is the greatest infomercial of all time (short form category).

As you will soon find out, the guy's name is Vince which is uncanny as this guy so reminds us of Vince Vaughn minus about 80 lbs. and circa Swingers.

Trust us, you are going to love his nuts.

Whither Walmart

In Sunday's Union-Tribune, Erik Bruvold makes the case for Walmart, or perhaps more precisely, the case against a San Diego city ordinance many feel unfairly targets supercenters like Walmart.

A petition drive has been mounted which, if successful, the city council will have 10 days to rescind the ordinance or San Diego voters will decide its fate at the ballot box.

Ironically, the businesses and their employee unions that have pushed hardest for the big-box ordinance, the traditional grocers such as Albertsons, Ralphs, Stater Brothers and Vons, are themselves strongly focused on innovation and change. Supporters of the ordinance conveniently forget that as these grocers have increased the volume of sales from alcohol, baked goods and prepared foods. This has threatened certain wine merchants, bakeries and restaurants. Maybe in the spirit of the big-box ordinance the San Diego City Council could next try to prohibit the grocers from further disruptive innovations. After that, the council could take up the concerns of buggy whip makers over these new contraptions called automobiles.

Seventy years ago, Joseph Schumpeter popularized the idea that capitalism involves creative destruction as firms rise and fall, innovate or die. No doubt the marketplace can be scary. Small-business owners put their heart, soul and dreams into their stores. Consumers who are here today may be gone tomorrow. Preferences change and new competitors enter the marketplace.

The pro-ordinance argument can be found here.

The Liberator Today is all over this as well, countering the pro-ordinance argument found at the link above:

Here is the core of her argument, Superstores have unknown and potentially economic impact, so they should be required to submit to a special analysis before being approved. News flash, all new businesses have an unknown economic impact. If they didn't then the central planning of the former Soviet Union would have made it the richest nation on the planet. Further, even if an analysis is performed, it is unlikely to predict the true effects of any new business. After scaremongering and passing along numerous lies regarding Walmart, she accuses the business of "bullying" the City Council with its petition drive. Bullying? Really? Exercising constitutional rights when being subjugated by local government is bullying?

Requiring businesses to assess their economic impact on the businesses around them is an exercise in absurdity and paperwork (though the two are not mutually exclusive). This ordinance appears to be nothing more than a disincentive to entities such as Walmart that provide good jobs and quality products at low prices.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


A round-up of news items, articles, columns and blog posts that caught our attention from this past week.

David Harsanyi of the Denver Post: Hey, let's not get all freaked out about China.

Gawker TV has a round up of the 65 top videos of the week, here.

Included is what apparently what broad swaths of the East and Midwest are doing for entertainment and their high school physical science classes.

On the 50th anniversary of the event, E.J. Dionne fondly remembers JFK's inaugural speech:

And Kennedy advisers Harris Wofford and Louis Martin won the insertion of six words and helped change history.

In the original draft, Kennedy declared that the new generation for which he spoke was “unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today.”

To which Wofford and Martin got Kennedy to add, “at home and around the world,” thus marrying the struggle for freedom abroad with the cause of domestic civil rights. There would be no turning back.

Perhaps I should acknowledge that I fell in love with this speech when I was young, purchasing a long-playing record of Kennedy addresses for 99 cents at the supermarket and listening to it over and over after Kennedy’s assassination.

You might say that I still hear its trumpet summoning us again. And when Kennedy said, “I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation,” I knew — millions of others felt this way too — that he was speaking for me.

David Brooks weighs in on the hot cultural topic du jour: Amy Chua is a wimp.

Her critics echoed the familiar themes. Her kids can’t possibly be happy or truly creative. They’ll grow up skilled and compliant but without the audacity to be great. She’s destroying their love for music. There’s a reason Asian-American women between the ages of 15 and 24 have such high suicide rates.

I have the opposite problem with Chua. I believe she’s coddling her children. She’s protecting them from the most intellectually demanding activities because she doesn’t understand what’s cognitively difficult and what isn’t.

Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with 14-year-old girls. Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self and group — these and other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale.

A little bit more on China: saw this article and the closing paragraph addressing human rights in China.

And China typically defines human rights in terms of improvements in quality of life such as higher incomes and better living conditions, rather than civil liberties such as freedom of speech that define such values in the West.

We don't think it's coincidence that the American and international left view human rights in a very similar fashion as China, though they more often refer to it as "social justice".

The Pardonater's shameful exit interview:

Arnold Schwarzenegger is pulling no punches in his first formal interview since leaving office, claiming that the highest office in the state left him “addicted” to its power.

In a recent sit-down the former governor granted to the Austrian newspaper Krone, Schwarzenegger estimates that his seven years as governor cost him about $200 million – $70 million of that in lost movie roles.

Schwarzenegger also laments the fact that Hollywood salaries have dropped since he left the business.

He said his abysmal popularity rankings were “just a snapshot” and that “they would have rocketed to the top” had he not been forced out of office by term limits.

Nowhere in the transcripts from the interview posted on the newspaper’s website did Schwarzenegger face any questions about alleged favoritism in his decision to grant clemency to the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez.
Too bad he wasn't addicted to competence as well. Pathetic.

We hesitated even providing a link to this guy's article as it was that atrocious but in the interest of, you know, fairness and context somebody named Joe Lambiet provided his take on the Tucson shooting with this particular insight with respect to the political leanings of Gabby Gifford's surgeon's parents:

Ironically: Among their favorites are some of the very people whose controversial rhetoric and campaigns are said to provide fertile ground for Jared Loughner who allegedly injured Giffords and killed six others in Tucson.
(italics, ours)

"... are said..."?

Nothing like a firm stand on journalistic integrity, huh?

Congratulations, Joe. It's still way early but you have established yourself as a front-runner in BwD's absolute worst column of the year contest.

B-Daddy has a nice round-up of what has been a very busy first two weeks for the 112th Congress, here.

And finally, the most e-mailed 'New York Times' article ever:

It’s a week before the biggest day of her life, and Anna Williams is multitasking. While waiting to hear back from the Ivy League colleges she’s hoping to attend, the seventeen-year-old senior at one of Manhattan’s most exclusive private schools is doing research for a paper about organic farming in the West Bank, whipping up a batch of vegan brownies, and, like an increasing number of American teenagers, teaching her dog to use an iPad.

That big tent just got a little smaller

From Politico:

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint will skip this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, making him the most prominent conservative figure yet to express objections to what critics see as a pro-gay, libertarian tilt to the 38-year-old event.

"With leading conservatives organizations not participating this year, Sen. DeMint will not be attending. He hopes to attend a unified CPAC next year," DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton said in an e-mail.

Prominent social conservatives have dropped out of the event and criticized it for its inclusion of the gay conservative group GOProud. Rep. Jim Jordan, who heads the House's Republican Study Committee, also has joined the boycott.

As ones who could be described as socially conservative (among other perjorative terms) and fans of Senator DeMint, we find this to be a disheartening development.

Forgive us for thinking that CPAC should be for the exchange of ideas, debate and finding common ground rather than for a display of ideological purity.

To stand with others for the cause of limited government, free markets and individual liberty does not also carry with it a condonement of any particular personal behavior.

Though we believe marriage is that between a man and woman you will never see us at a rally demonstrating for the same as we believe the real threat in this whole debate is judges fashioning "rights" out of thin air in order to advance an obviously personal agenda.

If same-sex marriage ever becomes the law of the land (or state) by popular demand via the ballot box then so be it.

Again, when we should be coalescing around the battle against an authoratative regulatory regime, we are allowing a bit player in the grand scheme of things to apparently stall progress and momentum.

From the Michael Barone political demographics perspective, conversations with fellow SLOBS (San Diego Local Order of Bloggers) and other personal observations, this reveals the geographical split in the conservative big tent where there is much more of a libertarian streak in the Goldwater sagebrush conservatism out West than that of our more so-con-minded brethren in the South.

H/T: Left Coast Rebel

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Knowledge is good...

... when you can find it.

From USA Today:

Nearly half of the nation's undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don't make academics a priority, a new report shows.
Instructors tend to be more focused on their own faculty research than teaching younger students, who in turn are more tuned in to their social lives, according to the report, based on a book titled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Findings are based on transcripts and surveys of more than 3,000 full-time traditional-age students on 29 campuses nationwide, along with their results on the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test that gauges students' critical thinking, analytic reasoning and writing skills.

After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.

Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago, the research shows.

The article goes on to explain that students have little problem navigating their way through Slacker U. as students in the study averaged a 3.2 GPA.

How to improve the situation? Thankfully, any sort of federal intervention appears to be ruled out.
The Department of Education and Congress in recent years have looked for ways to hold colleges and universities accountable for student learning, but researchers say that federal intervention would be counterproductive.

"We can hope that the (new research) encourages rather than discourages college faculty to learn more about what works in terms of fostering higher levels of student learning," said George Kuh of the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University.

Would it be too much to expect the parents footing the bill for their children's tuition to step up and demand that these schools teach some life/career skills? And whatever happened to voting with your pocketbook?

And instead of broaching the question of federal intervention, why not go to the nation's employers to see how they feel about these developments and how they are coping with apparently clueless new hires.

Via KT:

The parody above may be recognizeable to some but it is a different planet to us as we were expected to complete our B.S. studies in three years as the Seminary we attended required six months in our sophomore and junior years each to be spent in the field doing mission work.

We would love to hear from parents out there whose children are of age and who will be or have already dealt with the circumstances described above.

Video clip of the day

Something to get your Saturday off on the right foot.

There is really no rational explanation for this except for copius alcohol consumption, we suppose.

(mild NSFWoH warning as there is brief yet obscure junk exposure on the return trip)

New follower update: Full Metal Patriot is in the house!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Radio KBwD is on the air

A few weeks back, we pretty much laid the current bland and formulaic state of country music at the feet of Ray Charles and specifically his landmark album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music and as a result we have been feeling guilty about it ever since. Not for being wrong, however, but rather in doing so, it implied that Modern Sounds is somehow an inferior album when it is anything but.

To atone for any potential negative impressions we may have transmitted, we offer up a cut from that album.

Ladies and Gentlemen, from Greenville, Florida via the Dick Cavett Show, it's Ray Charles and the Raylettes performing Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You":

And just to make sure we've got our bases covered, here's Ray performing "Born to Lose" followed up by Johnny Cash's take on the song:

It bears repeating...

Leslie at Temple of Mut reminds us of why this call for "civility" is just so much B.S. and merely a poorly-disguised attempt to thwart dissent and also a trial run for the 2012 Presidential elections.

As per Legal Insurrection:
In the vile attempt to tie Palin to the Tucson shooting we have witnessed the test run for how the left-wing blogosphere will target Republican candidates and propel false narratives into the mainstream media, and how the mainstream media will take those narratives and run with them. If Palin is taken down politically over the Tucson shooting, there is not a single Republican candidate who can survive the coming onslaught.

Always remember...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

All that is old becomes new again

A couple of days ago the junior Senator from Illinois wrote an Op-ed piece for the Wall St. Journal kicking off his campaign for Presidency by praising this country's free market system while cautioning that an effective, if restrained, regulatory system was necessary to check the excesses of that same free market system.

The opening two paragraphs are as follows:

For two centuries, America's free market has not only been the source of dazzling ideas and path-breaking products, it has also been the greatest force for prosperity the world has ever known. That vibrant entrepreneurialism is the key to our continued global leadership and the success of our people.

But throughout our history, one of the reasons the free market has worked is that we have sought the proper balance. We have preserved freedom of commerce while applying those rules and regulations necessary to protect the public against threats to our health and safety and to safeguard people and businesses from abuse.

We can nit-pick specific elements of the piece but on the whole it sounded like the Senator that spent a very short time in the Senate and who possessed a very liberal voting record, at that, was positioning himself quite nicely as a pragmatic centrist after a bruising primary against Hillary Clinton.

Unfortunately, it was not the junior Senator from Illinois who wrote that and who did indeed sound like that back in 2008 during his successful bid for Presidency. Rather it was the current sitting President, a President who has chosen to enact health care reform which, in the very antithesis of the free market, forces people to buy health insurance whether they want to or not. This same health care reform increases mandates and regulations to the point that companies are dropping certain coverages for their employees and/or are seeking waivers to exempt themselves of this increased regulatory burden.

The same author has granted the Department of Health and Human Services (a single person, actually, in Kathleen Sebelius) unprecedented bureaucratic latitude for formulating and implementing as-yet-developed regulations because Congress couldn't be bothered with it as political expedience trumped the process of sober, prudent and transparent legislation.

This is also the same President that has green-lighted the EPA to regulate green house gas emissions in an end-around Congress - in effect, regulation by bureaucratic fiat as Congress has exclusive constitutional authority to make laws.

In short, his actions do not match the words in that WSJ Op-ed.

File this one under "Fooled us once..." as what would've sounded hopeful in 2008 lacks any sort of serious credibility in 2011.

Doctors pretty excited about ObamaCare...

... as revealed in a poll conducted by Reuters.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. doctors surveyed fear healthcare reform could worsen care for patients, by flooding their offices and hurting income, according to a Thomson Reuters survey released Tuesday.

The survey of more than 2,900 doctors found many predict the legislation will force them to work harder for less money.

"When asked about the quality of healthcare in the U.S. over the next five years, 65 percent of the doctors believed it would deteriorate with only 18 percent predicting it would improve," Thomson Reuters, parent company of Reuters, said in a statement.

The U.S. House of Representatives began debate Tuesday on efforts to repeal President Barack Obama's overhaul of the U.S. healthcare industry.

Repeal of the bill is likely to fail in the Senate.

Polls show consumers are divided about the impacts of healthcare reform and the House debate has presented an opportunity for many groups to make their arguments for or against it.
(italics, ours)

Of course, allowing for health care reform to receive a proper airing in Congress would've been a swell idea before it was passed into law. But now we know we had to pass it first to then find out what was in the damn thing.

222 businesses representing 1.5 million people seeking and being granted waivers from having to comply with ObamaCare and now baby-boomer doctors already leaning towards the exit are inclined to sprint towards it exacerbating a looming doctor shortage... ObamaCare not off to such a hot start. And to think we've still got until 2014 before it's fully operational.

Random Facebook observation of the day

The "Chat" function on Facebook is simultaneously annoying and creepy at once.

You are effortlessly and mindlessly skimming over the waters of FB Nation when, out of the blue, you hear that "pop" and see the chat window... "What's up?"

"Well, I was mindlessly surfing Facebook (and now I'm forced to drop everything in order to engage and respond to your hopelessly open-ended query in a manner that would indicate that I'm pleased to have this opportunity to interact with you."

The "chat" function on Facebook, is the cyber-equivalent of "dropping-by" a friend's house un-announced. It could turn out to be a really welcome surprise but it is still a surprise none the less.

Best not to take any chances. All things being equal, call or email first.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oddly enough, the first week of the new "civility" era wrapping up about as you would expect

Ah, the good ol' days...

Late last night on the floor of the House, Steve Cohen (D-TN) compared Republican opponents of ObamaCare to... you guessed it... Nazis!

Seeing as how this came less than a week after the President's make-nice speech at the Tucson memorial/pep rally, this has to set some sort of Godwin's Law record.

In an extraordinary outburst on the House floor, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) invoked the Holocaust to attack Republicans on health care and compared rhetoric on the issue to the work of infamous Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

“They say it's a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels," Cohen said. "You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually, people believe it. Like blood libel. That's the same kind of thing. And Congressman Cohen didn’t stop there.

“The Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it--believed it and you have the Holocaust. We heard on this floor, government takeover of health care. Politifact said the biggest lie of 2010 was a government takeover of health care because there is no government takeover," Cohen said.

We're actually breathing a sigh of relief as we weren't quite sure how it was we were going to manage all the civility and magnanimity that had been flowing our way of late. The Congressman from Tennessee has rendered our concerns moot.

And in other "new civility" news today:

A group of Washington, D.C. protesters upset about the possibility of a Walmart store coming to their area is hoping to send the potential developer of the proposed store a message. So much so that they‘re planning to march to and protest at the developer’s personal residence. The group has even gone as far as to circulate the man’s home address.

The group is called Wal-Mart Free D.C. and describes itself as “a group of DC residents who have come together to say NO to Wal-Mart.” In order to make its point, a flyer on the group‘s website say it’s organizing a march to harass the potential developer — Dick Knapp of Foulger-Pratt Development (the company has yet to sign a contract with Walmar)t. The flyer sets the march for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and includes Knapp’s address.

But the address may not be the flyer’s only controversial element. Ironically, it also contains a target symbol — a similar picture to the one seen on a district map created by Sarah Palin and that’s sparked outrage from the left in the wake of the shootings in Tucson. And what‘s worrying is that the group’s symbol is connected to specific event at a private residence.

Any idea what this "protest" might look like? We got a sneak preview last May when a mob of SEIU thugs terrorized the home of a banking executive in suburban Maryland.

Nazi references, targeting, union goonery... ahhhh... it's just good to know that this end-of-business-as-usual and new era cooperation and bipartisanship promised to us by our President is truly back.

Females in combat units? (UPDATED)

(please scroll down for the update)

This should prove to be interesting.

A military advisory panel appears poised to recommend allowing female troops to serve in combat units without any restrictions, calling the current prohibition an out-of-date idea that unnecessarily discriminates against women.

If approved by military officials, the move could open front-line posts to military women for the first time. Until now, either U.S. law or Pentagon policy has prohibited female troops from serving in any unit whose primary mission is direct ground combat, although they may serve in combat support roles.

The Military Leadership Diversity Commission, established by Congress two years ago, issued the recommendation as part of a draft report on diversity in the services. The final report is due to lawmakers this spring, and commission members are meeting this week in Virginia to debate final changes.

First of all, was there any chance that something called the Military Leadership Diversity Commission wasn't going to recommend that females be allowed to serve in combat units?

That snark aside, we have serious reservations about this. Issues of logistics, physical strength and endurance and unit cohesion all immediately spring to mind.

Also, since war-fighting has, over the years, become more public-relations intensive, does this nation have the stomach to see its wives, sisters, daughters and mothers return from the battlefield maimed or in body bags?

We've been plenty wrong before but we just don't have a good gut feel about this. Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments.

(UPDATE #1): No real update. We were liking the comments this post was receiving so we wanted to keep it going by not letting it get buried for the benefit of those who only swing by BwD every two-three days or so.

Karl Marx probably never rode a dirt bike

The intellectual arguments regarding collectivism/statism vs. free market democracy have raged for decades. One would think that empirical evidence should have settled the debate long ago but old dreams of creating a heaven here on earth die hard.

But academic and intellectual exercises aside, there is one thing, over the years, that has occurred to us and that is collectivism/statism just doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun.

Seriously, what sort of curb appeal does "command and control", "top-down" and "redistribution" really have? Does that sound like much fun? It's like kindergarten without the nap time.

The founding fathers, then, were on to something with "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". It was their gift to us: "Constitutional Republics for Dummies". It was there way of saying, "Don't sweat the small stuff...go ahead and do whatever you want and we'll set up these rules here to make sure no one messes with you". Now, that sounds like fun.

Over-simplification? Perhaps, but it works for us and that's all that matters.

So, with that in mind please click on over to fellow SLOB (San Diego Local Order of Bloggers) Shane Atwell's blog for his book review of Tony Judt's Ill Fares the Land

Pedro from housekeeping wouldn't be blamed for thinking there oughta be a law

The employees at an indoor mall witness, via security monitors, one of the hazards of modern life.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This would explain a few things

Maybe reading the Constitution to open the 112th Congress wasn't such a bad idea after all.

First, the bad news: Americans given a basic Constitution/American civics quiz by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute failed miserably.

And now, even worse news: as bad as the general public performed on the quiz, elected officials fared even worse.

For five years now, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute has been conducting a national survey to gauge the quality of civic education in the country. We've surveyed more than 30,000 Americans, most of them college students, but also a random sample of adults from all educational and demographic backgrounds.

Included in the adult sample was a small subset of Americans (165 in all) who, when asked, identified themselves as having been "successfully elected to government office at least once in their life" -- which can include federal, state or local offices.

But those elected officials who took the test scored an average 5 percentage points lower than the national average (49 percent vs. 54 percent), with ordinary citizens outscoring these elected officials on each constitutional question. Examples:

•Only 49 percent of elected officials could name all three branches of government, compared with 50 percent of the general public.
•Only 46 percent knew that Congress, not the president, has the power to declare war -- 54 percent of the general public knows that.
•Just 15 percent answered correctly that the phrase "wall of separation" appears in Thomas Jefferson's letters -- not in the U.S. Constitution -- compared with 19 percent of the general public.
•And only 57 percent of those who've held elective office know what the Electoral College does, while 66 percent of the public got that answer right. (Of elected officials, 20 percent thought the Electoral College was a school for "training those aspiring for higher political office.")

Words cannot describe how horiffic these results are. We can almost understand the failing grades of the unwashed masses given the state of our education system but for the political class who felt the call of public office to perform this poorly is downright frightening.

Full disclosure: we felt comfortable running that smack after taking the quiz ourselves.

So, whaddya say, gang? Want to take a crack at it? The 33 question quiz can be found here.

We scored 31 out of 33. We botched the Lincoln/Douglas debate question and a question later on about taxes where we just got lazy. Too bad. Two wrong is two wrong.

Let us know how you did.

Exit question: Was there an explicit limited government/free market slant to the questioning in the quiz?

Exit cheap shots: Wonder how our old friend Phil Hare, the Illinois Democrat who was voted out of office this past November, would fare on the quiz?

Maybe that was a little to "uncivil" for you. Perhaps our friend Pete Stark (D-CA) would do a little better.