Friday, March 30, 2007

Driving while undocumented

A couple of days ago the Moline Dispatch published an article about the bill just passed by the Illinois House to allow issuing driver’s “certificates” to illegal immigrants. There have been more than 126 comments posted online many of them similar to the following:
Relax--if they are here illegally they will not sign up for any driving certificate because the feds will be knocking on their door to send them back home. Also if they are here illegally they probably can't afford or won't spend the money on insurance. Results--illegals will still be on the road without insurance. If they cause an accident good luck. They will be back to their old country before anything can be done about it and we will be left to pay for the damage.

If they are illegal why are they still here?

Do you really think these illegals are going to be getting insurance? Get real. Hopefully, the fingerprinting and address verification will be the best part of this. When the raids come looking for them they will be easier to find.

ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? They are illegals. They need to be rounded up and shipped back to where they came from. This is just one more piece of proof that our so called lawmakers are insane. Rename Springfield as Stupidity Inc.

Let's read between the lines..."and get to work without being stopped and thrown into jail." This is another attempt to limit a powerful law enforcement tool that led to easier deportation. Shame on our spineless politicians.

The people who wrote these comments are obviously not involved in any way with law enforcement or our courts because illegal immigrants are arrested every day for driving without a driver’s license and insurance. None of them are being deported as a result of coming to the attention of the authorities in this way. Most local authorities do not consider it their jobs to enforce immigration laws and besides if they did call ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) nothing would happen. ICE does not have the resources to come get every illegal immigrant in every local jail in the country, and currently seems to be focusing on deporting immigrants with multiple felonies and staging raids on companies who systematically and knowingly hire large numbers of illegal immigrants.

It is not surprising to me that people without a clue will post comments online, but it is a little surprising that none of the thousands of people who are in a position to know posted comments injecting a little reality into the discussion.

Ten million immigrants are not going to be rounded up and deported whether or not Illinois issues them driver’s certificates. If we are going to have illegal immigrants driving it would be better to have them apply for documentation, pass a test and obtain insurance than not. Putting pressure on Illinois lawmakers to prevent this bill from passing will not deport a single illegal immigrant. It will just make driving less safe.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Gov. Symington believes he saw an extraterrestrial

This short blurb in today’s NY Times fills me with wonder and awe.
Former Gov. Fife Symington trotted out an aide dressed as an alien 10 years ago to spoof the frenzy surrounding mysterious lights in the Phoenix sky. Now, he says he saw the lights, too, and believes they were extraterrestrial. He said he did not acknowledge his encounter at first because he did not want to cause a panic. He discussed the sighting with a documentary filmmaker and in interviews this week. He told CNN that the craft he saw March 13, 1997, “just felt otherworldly.” The Phoenix lights, which appeared in a V shape as they moved across the sky, were widely explained as flares dumped by a military training flight.

I can understand a strong emotional reaction to seeing something mysterious in the sky at night. I have a harder time understanding an elected government official publicly scoffing at beliefs he privately holds. But what I find utterly beyond comprehension is that an adult, educated American could conclude that he saw a spaceship that had come from somewhere else in the universe to Earth simply because of an emotional reaction he had, an "otherworldly" feeling, to seeing something he did not recognize in the night sky. This strikes me as such a bizarre leap of logic I am tempted to declare that I find it more likely that Gov. Symington is an extraterrestrial than was whatever caused those lights in the sky.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sylvan Island in March

On Sylvan Island ice and snow can persist in shaded spots even when temperatures have been well above freezing for days. That's Arsenal Island in the background.

The view from a scenic overlook on Sylvan Island.

Gulf of Tonkin Incident for War with Iran?

According to an AP story by Jim Krane:
Iranian naval vessels on Friday seized 15 British sailors and marines who had boarded a merchant ship in Iraqi waters of the Persian Gulf, British and U.S. officials said. Britain immediately protested the detentions, which come at a time of high tension between the West and Iran.

Is this the "Gulf of Tonkin" incident that will be the trigger (excuse) for Britain and the United States to go to war with Iran? The increasingly heated rhetoric from the Bush Administration about Iran has been very similar to the public disinformation campaign about Iraq and Saddam Hussein leading up to the 2003 start of the war with Iraq. It seems clear that some in the Bush Administration are eager to go to war with Iran and it is equally clear that the public would very reluctant to start another war absent some provocation from Iran. Has Iran obliged with that provocation, perhaps in response to an as yet unreported initial provocation from us? Or perhaps as in the original "Gulf of Tonkin incident" this news report is more fiction than fact? Stay tuned. We live in interesting times.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Campaign of half measures

This quote from President Bush printed on the QC Times editorial page this morning caught my eye:
Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force. And I assure you, this will not be a campaign of half measures and we will accept no outcome but victory.

President George W. Bush, March 19, 2003

Four years ago the President promised this war would NOT be a campaign of half measures. Since there are still many Americans among us who lived through World War II we all know what a total national effort to win a war would look like. It would not involve tax cuts for the rich and encouragements to go out shopping. Even the 27% of Americans who still support this war must surely agree that what the President delivered was the exact opposite of what he promised in the above quote.

The President obviously feels no inner moral imperative to say what he means and mean what he says. How did we end up with a president who operates more like a con artist than a statesman?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Early morning blogging

One of the advantages of reading other blogs and writing and posting my blog very early in the morning as I do is that because most people are asleep the internet is very fast and the house is very quiet. Very early on Friday morning when I went to the QCOnline QC Bloggers page I discovered that the top (most recent) blog entry listed was for the QCMedia blog which had apparently just been hacked and redirected to a very nasty porn site. Wanting to warn people whose computers and sensibilities might not be protected against the nasty things at that site I posted a blog entry warning about the situation that I knew would appear directly above the QCMedia blog link on the QCOnline QC Blogger page. The Inside Dope had already noticed and posted about the situation but because he had then posted on other subjects his warning no longer appeared on the QCOnline QC Bloggers page.

A few hous later, presumably after the Dispatch staff arrived for work at 8:00 A.M., the links to the QCMedia blog were removed. I don’t know if my warning decreased or increased the number of people clicking that link but at least those who clicked it knew what to expect.

Later Friday morning, QCMediaghost, the anonymous owner of the QCMedia blog, sent an email message to QCOnline, me and the Inside Dope, asking us to temporarily remove links to his blog, vowing to restore his blog and to track down and prosecute those responsible for hacking it. Two days later I notice that the hacked entry at the QCMedia blog has not yet been removed. (If you turn off JavaScript in your browser you can go to the QCMedia blog without being redirected to the porn site.) Apparently QCMediaghost is having trouble reclaiming his blog account from the hackers.

The week previous to being hacked the QCMedia blog had attacked the Inside Dope blog in a very crude, rude and unfair manner. (No links -- the blog is gone.) When I and others posted comments opposing the attacks QCMediaghost attacked us in similar fashion. I have no way of knowing whether the hackers attacked the QCMedia blog because they opposed what was currently being posted or for reasons independent of the blog’s contents. Perhaps QCMediaghost made a mistake which allowed the hackers to find out the password to his blogger account. Or possibly the blog was corrupted because of a bug in the blogger software totally unrelated to the blog’s contents and without QCMediaghost making any mistakes which revealed his password.
It would be nice if only blogs which were unethical and unfair were corrupted or hacked. It would be nice to think if we do not attack people the way QCMediaghost did our blogs will never be hacked as his was. But that does not seem to be the way the world works. Even if you are a good and decent person any thing you have can be taken from you. Your blog, or anything else you have, can be gone in an instant.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Quad City letter receiving national exposure

A letter to editor written by Cecilia O'Brien of Moline about Barak Obama’s recent appearance in Davenport has been published in the QC Times and has also been noticed by the New Media team at Barak Obama’s campaign website.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Is Roger Ailes doing Casey Stengel imitations?

In one of his essays for Natural History magazine the late Stephen Jay Gould wrote about a logical fallacy called the Bateson’s fallacy of categories in which a particular member of a class is equated with the class itself. To illustrate this fallacy he used a story from his beloved world of New York baseball:
Casey Stengel… was roundly criticized for blowing the Mets's first pick in the expansion draft on a particular catcher of quite modest ability (one Hobie Landrith by name). Casey answered by invoking the class of catchers in general--"you have to have a catcher, because if you don't, you're likely to have a lot of passed balls."

Fox News Channel CEO Roger Ailes has been committing the same fallacy. He has been claiming that in refusing to talk to Fox reporters or refusing to appear in a debate hosted by Fox News, Democratic candidates for president are somehow attacking journalism itself:
Recently pressure groups are forcing candidates to conclude that the best strategy for journalists is divide and conquer, to only appear on those networks and venues that give them favorable coverage...If you are afraid of journalists, how will you face the real dangers in the world?
Of course you see the fallacy. They are not refusing to deal with the class of journalists in general – just the particular journalists who work for Fox News.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Blog Against Sexism

The Taking Place blog has asked blogs that do not normally talk about women’s issues to write at least a little something against sexism or for women’s/gender liberation on March 8 – the International Women’s Day.

I have been reading recently about Lucretia Mott, the famous Quaker minister, abolitionist, social reformer and proponent of women’s rights. My brother and aunt, who are in the process of writing a book about our family genealogy, told me that a few of our ancestors who were Quaker abolitionists knew Lucretia Mott and other famous abolitionist leaders.

In the same way that Quakers came to believe that slavery was wrong and starting working for its abolition earlier than the rest of society, they also believed that women had the same right to an education and the right to speak in public as did men. Unfortunately not all of the anti-slavery movement felt the same way. When Lucretia Mott attended the International Anti-Slavery Convention in London, England in June 1840 as a delegate she was not formally seated and had to speak from a roped-off women’s section out of view of the men. Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton returned from England determined to hold a convention and form a society to advocate for the rights of women.

We have made a lot of progress in woman’s equality since those days, at least in the North America and Europe. We have removed most of the legal and institutional barriers to equality. But there is still a lot of work to be done, much of it within people’s own psyche and expectations. Hollywood no longer makes movies about young girls passively waiting for their prince to come, but many young women seem to think their physical appearance, rather than their education, skills and talents determine their career choices. Why does my teenage daughter pay so much more attention to women like Anna Nicole Smith than to women like Nancy Pelosi, or Drew G. Faust, the first woman president of Harvard?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Blog Against Sexism, March 8, 2007

Blog Against Sexism DayI will be participating in "Blog Against Sexism Day" this year by writing on the subject of sexism on March 8. Click on the graphic to find out what it is all about. I encourage other Illinois political blogs to also join in.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Huckabee warns, "Don’t mess with me"

According to a story in the NY Times, Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, making reference to fellow Republican candidate for President Mitt Romney's disclosure last week that he had only recently joined the National Rifle Association, said:
I'm not a latecomer to the N.R.A. I was the first governor in America to have a concealed carry permit, so don't mess with me.

Are they running for President of the United States or of the N.R.A.?

Nationally televised conservative political analysis

On March 2 Ann Coulter gave a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). She was introduced by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and several other Republican presidential candidates were in the audience. Vice President Dick Cheney also attended. She concluded her remarks with this penetrating political analysis:
Oh, and I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards. But it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word "faggot," so I'm -- so I'm kind of at an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards. So I think I'll just conclude here and take your questions.
Did Mitt Romney and other Republican Party notables walk out at this point? No. In fact, according to reports, there was enthusiastic and sustained applause from the audience.

These remarks were not simply hateful sentiments posted on an unofficial blog somewhere or sent as an anonymous email. These words were said in an official speech, introduced and attended by Republican presidential candidates. The speech was recorded and shown nationally by CSPAN.

And yet conservatives and Republicans still like to claim that Democrats and liberals are the ones who use hateful rhetoric.

The New York Times is now reporting that Senator John McCain of Arizona, Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts today (Saturday March 3, 2007) have all denounced Ann Coulter's remarks.

Of the major Republican candidates, only Mr. McCain did not attend, but he denounced her remarks on Saturday morning. “The comments were wildly inappropriate,” said his spokesman, Brian Jones.

Mr. Giuliani said, “The comments were completely inappropriate and there should be no place for such name-calling in political debate.”

Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Mr. Romney, said: “It was an offensive remark. Governor Romney believes all people should be treated with dignity and respect.”

Mr. Romney preceded Ms. Coulter at the event and mentioned that she was speaking later — he jokingly referred to her as a “moderate.” But he was not in the room when she spoke, Mr. Madden said.

I applaud the belated statements by the leading Republican candidates for president. A good next step would be for them to announce they will never again appear at the same podium as Ann Coulter or anyone else who engages in hate speech.