Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Democrat Blasts Rob Reiner

Dan Perata, a leading Democrat in the California state legislature, has gone on the record strongly criticizing Rob Reiner's use of taxpayer dollars to advertise his universal preschool initiative.

My only question is: What has taken so many in the media and politicians so long to speak up about Reiner's should-be-illegal preschool ads?

Previous stories have been few and far between, but the information has been available since at least December, when the Sacramento Bee ran a story on the issue.

(Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt.)

The Fake CBS Poll

CBS is at it again, making up the news they want to broadcast.

That new poll that has incredibly low numbers for the President and Vice President (Cheney at 18% approval ratings?) -- well, it was just that, incredible. The total number of Democrats and Independents polled greatly outweighed Republicans -- at total odds with how the political parties actually break down in the American populace.

Moreover, the poll was not of "likely voters" or even "registered voters," but simply of U.S. adults.

One can't simply write this off as "bias" -- it's fake agenda-driven news, pure and simple.

Further analysis at The Corner.

NewsBusters has more.

How appropriate that today we read about the President and Karl Rove saluting the blogosphere. Without the alternative media, CBS would have actually gotten away with their anti-Bush agenda. Hopefully CBS will also be thwarted in its current attempt to persuade the American public that the President's poll ratings are so far down in the tank.

Update: Kellyanne Conway somewhat defends CBS's methodology. She suggests that if the polling were split equally between Democrats, Republicans, and independents, the President's numbers would only improve from 34% to 37%. But do independents really make up 33% of voters? (Of course, as mentioned above, the poll doesn't profess to sample voters.) And the numbers are still way off from other polls.

CBS defends their polling.

Further Update: Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters on "Exempt Media Math."

Monday, February 27, 2006

Coast Guard Raised Port Security Concerns

Michelle Malkin has a great roundup of links.

The Coast Guard has responded, in part: "The Coast Guard and the entire CFIUS panel believed that this transaction, when taking into account strong security assurances by DP World, does not compromise U.S. security."

The Coast Guard is giving their go-ahead based on "strong security assurances by DP World," rather than our own security assessment? What are "strong security assurances," and what are they worth?

And if I hear one more talking head suggest that we have or should have the exact same relationship with the United Arab Emirates that we have with our longtime democratic ally, Great Britain, I'm going to be sorely tempted to throw something at the TV. Being called an Islamophobic, xenophobic racist if you don't support the deal is beyond outrageous.

Update: For a detailed pro-ports point of view, check out Power Line. I respect this site very much so was interested to read their latest take, although they haven't sold me. (I didn't like China taking over the running of the Port of Long Beach, either...)

Tuesday Update: As Sean Hannity has reported on his radio show for the last several days, the UAE is anti-Israel. Michelle Malkin has collected a variety of links on this subject. The UAE's company, Dubai Ports World -- the same company that would be managing ports here in the U.S. -- enforces the boycott of Israel.

How is it that critics of the port deal are "Islamophobic," but the same critics aren't mentioning that the UAE is anti-Semitic?

"Preschool is the New Kindergarten"

The L.A. Times had an interesting opinion column today about "kindergarten burnout."

A concerned parent writes: "So if we are being advised to wait until age 6 to begin school, and the first-grade curriculum is now taught in kindergarten, the kindergarten I once knew has effectively been eliminated... Preschool is the new kindergarten... But at what cost to the kids?"

The author zeroes in on one of my biggest complaints about the current state of public elementary schools: the solution to educational woes is too often seen as pushing children to perform at younger and younger ages, before many of the children are developmentally ready. In California, one of the reasons for the push for universal preschool is because, as the columnist above suggests, preschool is seen as the replacement for kindergarten. The schools need to have high standards, but at the age-appropriate levels.

A child who struggles with multiplication tables in 2nd grade isn't going to end up any "better educated" in the long run (or better off in high school classes, for example) than a child who easily picks them up in 3rd grade (the age many parents of my own generation learned them) or even 4th grade (when some of my parents' generation learned them). But that young child who is pushed too soon is in for an unnecessarily negative educational situation -- which often includes hours of "remedial" homework when the child struggles -- when there is still so much he could be learning, and loving, at age 7.

At the same time, it needs to be recognized that children all develop very differently, particularly in the early years. One of the drawbacks to the public school system is the need to push all children through the process in lockstep, without addressing their varying developmental stages or learning styles. For instance, if a child is ready to read in kindergarten, he or she should be encouraged. On the other hand, if a child struggles with memorizing all the letter sounds in kindergarten, they should be able to ease up until 1st grade. (I've had children in each situation, so I've seen both ends of the spectrum.) Unfortunately, many schools these days refuse to separate children into groups by developmental ability because of concerns about damaging children's self-esteem or because of a lack of staff resources.

All in all, I feel the current situation with elementary grade level standards, at least in California, is a mess.

Carnival of the GOP Bloggers 2

The second edition of the Carnival of the GOP Bloggers is now up. Check it out for interesting commentary on varied topics by conservative bloggers.

Thanks again to GOP Bloggers for hosting the Carnival!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Tuesday DVD Releases

Tuesday, February 28th, is the DVD release date for 2005's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (linked above) and WALK THE LINE. WALK THE LINE is also available in a 2-Disc Collector's Edition.

Happy movie watching!

Rob Reiner Preschool Update

I was happy to open my Sunday Long Beach Press-Telegram and find their editorial page taking Rob Reiner to task:

"...$23 million in taxpayers' money spent on what amounts to a self-aggrandizing, crony-coddling political campaign that is wrong, and either is illegal or should be. What's worse, the very heart of the campaign is damaging to the cause of early childhood education."

The San Jose Mercury-News came out today against the preschool initiative, pointing out:

"The net effect is that Reiner would raise enrollments by just 6 percent, or 32,000 4-year-olds statewide, at a cost of $2.3 billion a year."

$2.3 billion for 32,000 children?!

Last summer the L.A. Times ran an interesting article raising the scary prospect of government bureaucrats setting statewide "standards" for all preschools. It's worth revisiting this article in light of the current controversy and pending ballot measure.

Stay tuned to Hugh Hewitt this week, he's been doing a great job staying on top of this story.

Fred Barnes on the President, Immigration and the Ports

This Fred Barnes piece ties in well with the thoughts posted here Friday about President Bush and the problems he's having with his positions on immigration and the ports controversy.

Barnes does miss one point when he writes:

"Most of the criticism focused on the notion that an Arab country with past al Qaeda ties would be in charge of security at the six ports.

This isn't true. Security would remain in the hands of the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs Service. And the personnel operating the ports would be the same. Only the company owning the terminals would change."

Yes, but to my understanding the company owning the terminals would necessarily have to have complete access to all information regarding our security operations.

Despite this quibble, the article is a worthwhile read.

As the ports controversy has developed in recent days, I think one of the additional things that is troubling me is that the President has unnecessarily given the political opposition ammunition to use against him. As with the Harriet Miers nomination, the White House seems to have a certain blind spot when it comes to anticipating how its loyal supporters will react to issues of national significance.

New Bill Sammon Book

One of my favorite political writers, Bill Sammon, follows up his AT ANY COST and MISUNDERESTIMATED with a new book, STRATEGERY (linked above).

More information can be found at The Drudge Report, including the news that Bill is leaving The Washington Times for The Washington Examiner.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Tonight's Movie: Tender Comrade (1943)

We've been doing a lot of movie watching around here lately! Having seen movies from 1932, 1952, and 1962 within the last week, perhaps we should have tried for 1942 this evening -- we came close, though, with a 1943 film, TENDER COMRADE, starring Ginger Rogers.

The film was about several women working at Douglas Aircraft during WWII who share a house together while their husbands are off fighting. It was clunkily scripted and pretty sappy -- you could see the ending coming from five minutes into the picture -- but Ginger is always great. She made us cry at the end. :)

One interesting thing we noticed was that some of the dialogue about the war seemed relevant to our country's situation today, including a discussion of whether it was "worth it" for the men to be fighting and whether their serving in faraway countries would actually help our country here at home.

TENDER COMRADE is not of the quality of another of Ginger's WWII homefront films, I'LL BE SEEING YOU (1944), which was also quite serious but unexpectedly wonderful -- but as a Ginger fan, I'm glad to have seen one more of her movies.

The film might be hard to find affordably on video but, like some of the other films we've recently enjoyed, it's part of the Turner Classic Movies library. I've had quite a bunch of taped movies piled up and am glad to have had the chance to catch up with some of them recently!

A side note: some sources list TENDER COMRADE as a 1944 movie; although it went into general release that year, it premiered in December 1943.

May 2018 Update: This film will be released on DVD by the Warner Archive in June 2018.

February 2019 Update: My review of the Warner Archive DVD may be found here.

Today's Movie: If a Man Answers (1962)

IF A MAN ANSWERS is a great example of the late '50s and '60s romantic comedy genre, what with assumed identities, candybox-colored sets, and gorgeous dresses, including gowns by Jean Louis. The producers of the delightful DOWN WITH LOVE, which pays tribute to this film genre, surely must have studied this one along with all of Doris Day and Rock Hudson's films.

Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin, who were married at the time this was filmed, aren't quite Doris and Rock, but they're very entertaining, particularly Dee, with her charming, bubbly naivete. (The scene where she's recently arrived in New York City and goes window-shopping rather reminded me of Renee Zellweger's entrance in DOWN WITH LOVE.) French actress Micheline Presle is impressive as Dee's elegant, clever mother. The solid cast is rounded out by Stefanie Powers, John Lund, and Cesar Romero.

As with most films of this type, it sometimes skirts up to the edge of raciness without ever quite crossing the line. The ending sequence is a bit strange, but not enough to mar enjoyment of the film as a whole.

IF A MAN ANSWERS is available on widescreen DVD. No extras are on the disc other than the trailer.

I also highly recommend the aforementioned DOWN WITH LOVE, which is great fun, especially for movie fans familiar with the films which inspired it.

Rob Reiner Taking a Leave From CA Commission

Rob Reiner, who has been under increasing conflict-of-interest fire, is taking a leave as chair of California's "First Five" Commission. The Commission has spent many millions on pro-preschool advertising at the same time Reiner has been sponsoring a ballot initiative for "universal" taxpayer-funded preschool, which has qualified for the June ballot. The leave was announced in the wake of a bipartisan call for a state audit of Reiner's commission.

Hugh Hewitt has been posting on this all week. He also had a humdinger of an interview with a decidedly uncurious Los Angeles Times reporter, Dan Morain. Fortunately reporters such as the Sacramento Bee's Dan Weintraub and Bill Bradley of L.A. Weekly have taken the story more seriously.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Ongoing Port Controversy

Like me, David Limbaugh has been scratching his head over the disconnect between the President's strong terror policies and lack of interest in securing our borders. Limbaugh feels this disconnect is one reason the President's base is so suspicious about the deal for the United Arab Emirates to run our ports:

"I submit that if the president had previously convinced his base that his immigration policy augmented, instead of undermined, his campaign against the enemy, he would be experiencing far less fallout over the ports issue."

David does a good job setting forth the pros and cons of the ports deal. As the week has gone on, I've come to think that one of the other "disconnects" between the President's anti-terrorism policies and the homefront is that our port security is already considered to be fairly weak, with inadequate inspections of cargo containers, etc. Will the UAE having access to our port security weaken us further?

Earlier this week Hugh Hewitt, who has been blogging up a storm on this issue, took at look at the Internet job ads for Dubai World Ports. He sees a great opportunity for someone to take a job working with the company and do an "inside job" which could damage our nation. He agrees this could happen with any company running the ports, but feels the chances would be greatly increased under Dubai Ports.

Rush Limbaugh has come out strongly in defense of the President this week, but despite my admiration for both the President and Rush, I remain unconvinced that having our ports run by the UAE is right for our national security. Some pundits, such as Charles Krauthammer, have made good cases for the need to reward those nations who are cooperating with us, or at least we need to be careful not to damage the relations we have established. However, nagging issues remain. First, agreeing to the deal because of concern about damaging relations puts us dangerously close to operating out of a position of fear, rather than strength; we need to be thoughtful about our alliances, but our number one concern needs to be our homeland security. We don't necessarily want allies who could be easily offended acting as gatekeepers to our country.

And along with uncertainty about the UAE having access to all our port security information, there is the little matter that the UAE has anti-Israel policies.

One thing that I find discouraging is that some analysts I respect, such as Larry Kudlow and Morton Kondracke, charge that those with concerns over the deal -- which is now almost universally acknowledged to have been hastily put together, without the input of top administration officials -- are "Islamophobic." I find that kind of name-calling distasteful in the extreme.

Further, arguments by writers such as Kudlow that "No one has proven that the security-vetting process of the executive branch is flawed" put the shoe on the wrong foot. American citizens have the right to have a clear case presented to them about why this deal is not a security issue, rather than being forced to prove there was something wrong in order to have a valid point.

Frankly, I think there was something wrong with a vetting process in which the President learned who would be controlling our ports from a newspaper.

Story of the Day

If you only read one news article today, it should be this wonderful story of an autistic basketball manager who suited up to play in his high school team's last game -- and what a game! He scored 20 points, including 6 three-pointers.

A little more here, including a couple of photos.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Dodgers Return Player Names to Uniforms...

...in 2007. Vin Scully has been campaigning for the return of the names...which are particularly necessary given the huge turnover on the team roster the last couple years (wry grin).

Thank you, Vin!

Spring must be near...two baseball posts here in two days!

(Hat tip: L.A. Observed.)

Thomas Sowell on the Summers Resignation

Dr. Sowell on Lawrence Summers, who has resigned as President of Harvard: "His fatal flaws were honesty and a desire to do the right thing. That has ruined more than one academic career... Despite incessant repetition of the word 'diversity' in academe, the tragic fact is that the academic world is one of the most intolerant places in America when it comes to diversity of ideas. Even the president of Harvard dare not step out of line."

More than one pundit has noted this week the irony that a member of the liberal Clinton cabinet was too conservative for Harvard!

Barry Casselman has also written a good article on the subject, published by The Washington Times.

Tonight's Movie: Just This Once (1952)

JUST THIS ONCE is a fun piece of fluff in which Janet Leigh plays a lawyer hired to straighten out the finances of a playboy (Peter Lawford) who can't seem to stop frittering away the fortune he inherited. Before long, Leigh is introducing Lawford to the joys of the Automat and Central Park. Will he learn that some of the best things in life are free?

The film has a script by Sidney Sheldon which gives a fresh spin to what might have been a predictable romantic comedy, and the plot unfolds in a brisk 90 minutes. The supporting cast includes Lewis Stone (Judge Hardy of the Andy Hardy series, Stone is typecast here as a judge) and a very young Richard Anderson. As usual, MGM production values are evident even in a "B" movie, including a lovely wardrobe for Janet Leigh. There are several back projection scenes, however, which are amusingly bad, especially in a scene where Lawford is supposed to be lounging on the beach in Honolulu. Apparently the budget only stretched so far!

JUST THIS ONCE is part of the Turner Classic Movies library.

Scooter Libby Prosecution "Kafkaesque"?

Clarice Feldman follows up her earlier article on the strange case against Scooter Libby. A very informative read.

Says Feldman: "The indictment of Scooter Libby raises the question whether you can indict someone for purportedly giving false information to a grand jury about a matter which never met the statutory prerequisites for proceeding to an investigation in the first place."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Watch Sasha Cohen Skate Online

If you missed Sasha Cohen's impressive short program the other night, as I did, you can watch it online at NBC's Olympics website.

(Hat tip: Mary Katharine Ham at Hugh Hewitt's website.)

Happy News for Dodger Fans

Vin Scully, the voice of the Dodgers since 1950, will remain with the team for the next three years.

Scully's contract originally expired after 2006. It is now expected he will retire after the 2008 season, when he will be nearing 81.

We in Southern California are very lucky to have had Vinnie's voice as part of the soundtrack of our lives for so long. It's rather remarkable that he's been the voice of the Dodgers my entire life -- and for many years before that.

John Stossel on Teacher Unions

This week's entry in Stossel's ongoing series on public schools is, as usual, worth a read.

There's a teacher at our local high school who is badly in need of firing. It's clear to parents that the only reason he's still employed is the school and/or the district doesn't want to go to the trouble and expense of letting him go. They'd rather deal with a parade of parents making appointments to complain and, on occasion, pulling their children out of his class, than face dealing with the process of firing him. It's a sad situation.

If parents had school choice, at least they could have an impact on the retention of bad teachers by leaving for another school...currently the only taxpayer-funded school choice available in most situations is opting for a charter school.

Update: Speaking of school vouchers, Michelle Malkin reports that Hillary Clinton has come unhinged on the subject of school vouchers, charging that freedom of choice would lead to a "School of the Church of the White Supremacist" or a "School of the Jihad."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Can't Figure Him Out

As much as I admire President Bush, there are a couple issues where I just can't figure him out. Lack of seriousness about controlling the borders is one such issue. Handing over control of our ports to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates is another. The President's willingness to look the other way on these issues is completely at odds with his otherwise admirably tough stance on fighting terrorism and protecting our country.

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters zeroes in on the main issue troubling me: even if security at the ports continues to be provided by the Coast Guard and other American agencies, the UAE will have to have access to all details regarding port security in order to manage the ports -- and there's no telling where that security information will ultimately end up. This one angle in particular simply doesn't make sense to me, and I find it baffling that the President doesn't seem to understand the burgeoning bipartisan concerns regarding this issue.

If there is a reasonable case to be made that American security won't be compromised in any way, President Bush needs to make that case to the American people in very specific terms, not simply talk about not discriminating against an ally. Frankly, I don't think the case can be made, but I'd be happy to be persuaded otherwise.

In the meantime, I agree with Ed Morrissey: "Handing operational control over our ports to a state-owned corporation from the same region that generates the terrorists seems like an exceedingly bad idea at this time, and the administration has not done any work until now to make a case for the opposite."


Just when I think I've heard it all about the public schools in my county...I learn that the Santa Ana Unified School District is using thousands of Spanish-language textbooks provided by the Mexican government.

One such book is called "Our Constitution." The U.S. Constitution? Nope. Mexico's!

Another book chronicles the "disastrous" Mexican-American War and depicts the United States flag as the enemy flag.

Rosemarie Avila, a member of the Santa Ana Board of Education, writes that a majority of school board members refuse to hold a public vote on whether or not to continue accepting and using the books.

The Mexican government explains why it invests in this program: "Since one-sixth of Mexican nationals live abroad, we have an obligation to educate them."

Hmmm. Instead of providing divisive curriculum materials designed to promote Mexican nationalism and slow down cultural assimilation, if the Mexican government really wants to educate its citizens, perhaps it could reimburse California taxpayers for the thousands upon thousands of Mexican nationals in this country illegally who are receiving a free public education at our expense.

Will it happen? Of course not.

Monday, February 20, 2006

This Weekend's Movies: Andy Hardy Series

Although I'm a big fan of classic films from MGM, somehow I'd never caught more than a bit of an Andy Hardy movie. I made up for that over this holiday weekend by viewing the first two films in the series, A FAMILY AFFAIR (1937), linked above, and YOU'RE ONLY YOUNG ONCE (1937).

These movies were the beginning of a long-running franchise of well over a dozen films. They are relatively short "B" movies -- A FAMILY AFFAIR was just 69 minutes and YOU'RE ONLY YOUNG ONCE was 78 minutes -- but despite originally being made for the bottom half of a double bill, MGM's high-quality production values are still evident, including eye-pleasing sets and costumes.

The cast of the original film included Lionel Barrymore as Judge Hardy, Spring Byington as his wife, and Julie Haydon as married daughter Joan, while Margaret Marquis played neighbor Polly Benedict. In succeeding entries, beginning with YOU'RE ONLY YOUNG ONCE, Judge Hardy was played by Lewis Stone, Mrs. Hardy by Fay Holden, and Ann Rutherford was Polly Benedict. The character of Joan appears to disappear from the series after the first film. Sara Haden played Aunt Millie throughout most of the Hardy series, although the part was taken over on two occasions by Betty Ross Clarke. Andy, of course, was played by Mickey Rooney.

I found A FAMILY AFFAIR amusing but a bit top-heavy with political intrigue and daughter Joan's marital troubles. YOU'RE ONLY YOUNG ONCE was much more pleasing, with the Hardys enjoying a Catalina vacation. (As far as I could tell, the Catalina setting was all stock footage; I doubt the actors left the lot!) I especially enjoyed Lewis Stone's portrayal of wise Judge Hardy, who finds interesting ways to teach his children important life lessons.

There's a nice "postscript" to YOU'RE ONLY YOUNG ONCE in which Judge Hardy invites the audience to return for JUDGE HARDY'S CHILDREN (1938). I'll be watching that one next.

The first three Hardy films are not currently available on video or DVD, but are part of the Turner Classic Movies library. Some of the later films in the series, which included guest stars such as Judy Garland, Esther Williams, Kathryn Grayson, and Donna Reed, have been released on video.

Barrie Maxwell of The Digital Bits reported last week that an Andy Hardy DVD set is rumored to be in the works, so perhaps we can hope that in time all of the Hardy films will be released in that format, with the films easily available in chronological order. Mickey Rooney and Ann Rutherford are still living so it would be wonderful if they were able to contribute to some extras regarding the series.

Update: YOU'RE ONLY YOUNG ONCE is now available on DVD-R in the Andy Hardy Collection, Vol. 1 from the Warner Archive. A FAMILY AFFAIR is out from the Archive in the Andy Hardy Collection, Vol. 2.

Hugh Hewitt Critiques L.A. Times Article on Preschool Ads

Hugh Hewitt has written a lengthy article analyzing today's Los Angeles Times article on conflicts of interest between pro-preschool advertising paid for by the "First Five" state commission chaired by Rob Reiner and Reiner's "Preschool for All" initiative (Prop. 82) which will be on the June ballot.

There are some interesting bits of info in the Times article, but Hugh points out the article's numerous deficiencies and the author's willingness to include info absolving Reiner while not undertaking an analysis of how state funds were spent.

It appears that there's much more digging which could be done by an enterprising reporter. Is there such a journalist among the members of California's mainstream media?

An "Enormous Penchant for Secrecy"?

The Clintons continue to claim that the Bush Administration is unusually secretive.

This from the President and First Lady of an administration that brought us the cattle futures windfall, the disappearing and reappearing billing records, the Travelgate scandal, Hillary's brother being paid off in exchange for Presidential pardons, the questionable investigation into Vince Foster's death, and, of course, Monica. And that's just a partial list.

The Clintons also perfected the excuse that events in their personal lives didn't deserve scrutiny. Of course, when the Vice President waits a few hours to tell a member of the press about a hunting mishap which occurred on his personal time, which was immediately reported to law enforcement, the Clintons think that's different.

States Address Eminent Domain

An update from USA Today about pending legislation addressing the issue of eminent domain being used to transfer private property to private developers.

A related article is here.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Mark Steyn on "Reporters and Other Unruly Mobs"

As always, Mark Steyn has an amazing way with words. A brief excerpt of his latest column:

"The Washington Post had that wise old bird David Ignatius to put it in the proper historical context: "This incident," he mused, "reminds me a bit of Sen. Edward Kennedy's delay in informing Massachusetts authorities about his role in the fatal automobile accident at Chappaquiddick in 1969"...

"...One can only hope others agree with Ignatius' insightful analogy, and that the reprehensible Cheney will be hounded from public life the way Kennedy was all those years ago. One would hate to think that folks would just let it slide, and three decades from now this Cheney guy will be sitting on some committee picking Supreme Court justices and whatnot."

The entire column is excellent.

Mary Matalin's Common Sense

Mary Matalin today on MEET THE PRESS:

"You think the Secret Service would let the vice president out, tanked up, with a loaded gun, or let him be around anybody who’s drunk with a loaded gun? It just defies common sense that the press would even go there."

And answering David Gregory's complaint that the Vice President went to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times:

"What if I called David, instead of Katherine calling the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and said, "I’m just going to talk to you." I suppose David’s first reaction, or any of his colleagues would be, "No, let’s go through the process. Let’s call the pool. Let’s get everybody involved here.""

Noel Sheppard has the entire transcript at NewsBusters.

Today's Movie: Life Begins (1932)

This pre-Code era film, which depicts a day in a hospital maternity ward, was apparently considered fairly daring in its time for tackling the subject of childbirth. In fact, according to the entry at Internet Movie Database (IMDb), linked above, the film was banned in London.

However, for modern audiences accustomed to such TV programs as A BABY STORY, the film seems very tame. The women in the labor and delivery ward (quaintly termed the Waiting Women's Ward) don't seem to have a single labor pain!

The movie is short (70 minutes) and fairly entertaining. Loretta Young plays a girl serving a prison term for murder or manslaughter (it's never made quite clear) who comes to the hospital to have her baby. I always enjoy Young, who is very sympathetic in this role. Aline MacMahon comes off particularly well as a kind nurse.

The film's portrayal of some of the attitudes of the time toward medical patients is quite interesting; in one scene a nurse says she's not supposed to tell a patient what the medicine she's been given is for!

LIFE BEGINS does not appear to be currently available on video or DVD, but is part of the Turner Classic Movies library. (I taped it several weeks ago.) The film was remade in 1939 as A CHILD IS BORN, with Geraldine Fitzgerald in the Loretta Young role.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Countdown to Daytona

The L.A. Times has a fun "tick tock" about what it's like to get ready for a race, featuring one of our favorite drivers, Dale Jarrett.

After a very amusing five-year series of commercials, Jarrett will "race the truck" in his TV ads this year, in a UPS truck specially altered to go 140 MPH.

My family usually finds the new commercials which air during the Daytona 500 to be much more entertaining than those which air during the Super Bowl.

Let's go racing, boys! :)

Disney's Marty Sklar Retires After Half Century

Disney Imagineer Marty Sklar, who learned the Disney business under Walt Disney himself, is retiring as Principal Creative Executive at WDI (Walt Disney Imagineering).

Sklar will have a new, as-yet undefined role as "Ambassador" for Imagineering.

Elite Private School Tuition Hits $25,000 in L.A.

The Los Angeles Times provides a rather fascinating peek into the world of elite private schools.

Says one mother, bemoaning rising tuition prices: "We have quit the country club, we drive older cars and don't take the vacation unless it has something to do with the children's education. We don't have a nanny; we gave that up. It's daunting."

Cry me a river...

I wonder if some of the parents with multiple children in these schools have considered that their children would probably get a better education at home with a private tutor for a whole lot less money? Probably not...this kind of school seems to be as much a lifestyle choice, with the Ivy League as the end game, as it is about actual education.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Defender of the Constitution?

Bill Clinton, who swore to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution," which includes freedom of the press, apparently doesn't believe Europeans deserve the same freedoms as Americans.

In condemning the publication of the cartoons which have offended many of the Islamic faith, former President Clinton said that "religious convictions of the people should be defended and respected at all costs." World Net Daily also reports he said that "media should not be permitted to criticize other faiths."

I had to read the article twice as the first time I was sure it must be satire.

(Hat tip: Holy Coast.)

Tonight's Dessert: Fudgy Brownies

When I make brownies from scratch, I usually make the brownie recipe I learned in the '70s from BETTY CROCKER'S COOKBOOK FOR BOYS AND GIRLS -- which, by the way, is a fine cookbook. The Molasses Crinkles recipe is one of the all-time great cookie recipes.

Tonight I decided to launch the holiday weekend by trying something new: the fudgy brownie recipe from MARTHA STEWART'S BAKING HANDBOOK.

The Martha Stewart brownie recipe calls for (gulp) four times as much baking chocolate as the Betty Crocker recipe! Needless to say, they had a good chocolatey taste. However, despite cooking the brownies for the lowest suggested time, 40 minutes, they came out more dry and cakey than fudgy. I'll try this recipe again but start checking for doneness after 30 minutes.

The BAKING HANDBOOK is filled with "can't wait to try them" recipes, not to mention gorgeous photography. I think I'll make the baking powder biscuits with dinner tomorrow night...

The Influence of Small Blogs

While visiting La Shawn Barber's Corner today, I came across an interesting statement by Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost on the potential influence of smaller blogs:

"If you have a blog that is read by more than a few dozen readers, then you are making a bigger impact than you probably realize. If you have 50 people reading your blog, then you have more people in your ‘classroom’ than most professors at Harvard. If you have 90 readers, then you have more people in your ‘pews’ than most pastors have in their churches every Sunday. And if you have more than 1,000 readers a month, you have a larger ‘circulation’ than most poetry and short story magazines."

A very thought-provoking perspective, particularly if one considers that at least a couple of the people who read a particular post might share the information or opinion they've read with another person.

Hugh Hewitt writes a bit about a related issue in BLOG: UNDERSTANDING THE INFORMATION REFORMATION THAT'S CHANGING YOUR WORLD. He says that David Sifry of Technorati taught him about "the power of the tail."

"The tail" is comprised of low- or medium-traffic blogs which may get anywhere from ten to a hundred to a few hundred visitors a day. Hewitt says there is a huge audience in the tail and that if a point of view from a large blog makes it way throughout the tail, the audience for that point of view will far surpass that of the biggest blogs.

Hewitt goes on to say that "low- and medium-traffic blogs generally enjoy the trust of their visitors" (who are often friends and relatives) and suggests commentary on a smaller blog might actually have a greater impact on its readers than the effect a high-traffic blog might have on a brand-new reader.

I Can't Believe...

...I actually agree with Senator Charles Schumer about something, but handing over control of six major United States ports to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates simply cannot be allowed to happen.

Michelle Malkin, as usual, has done a great job rounding up information. More links at Michelle's site can be found here.

Univ. of Washington Creates Boyington Scholarship Fund

Earlier this week the University of Washington suffered a public relations fiasco when student leaders at the university childishly refused to honor World War II hero Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, with one student also stating she didn't think that "a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce."

Michelle Malkin reports that the University of Washington has now created a scholarship fund for Marines and their children in Boyington's honor.

Good move.

"Quell the Quailgate"

Dr. Krauthammer on the week's goings-on.

We can only hope that now that Mr. Whittington has been discharged and made a gracious statement expressing sorrow for what Vice President Cheney has gone through this past week, the matter will soon finally be put to rest.

Unfortunately, members of the mainstream media have kept up their carping today, as chronicled at NewsBusters.

Chris Matthews showed the depths to which members of the MSM have sunk this week: "They dressed up Mr. Whittington rather well, with a lot of make-up...but he walked right back into the hospital again. What was that?"

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Tonight's Dinner: Lemon Chicken With Croutons

I spotted this recipe when paging through Ina Garten's BAREFOOT IN PARIS: EASY FRENCH FOOD YOU CAN MAKE AT HOME at a bookstore last weekend and had to try it.

This was a big hit and a nice change of pace, which was relatively simple to prepare. Recommended! A nice green salad and you're all set for a great meal.

A tip: we found one baguette made more than enough croutons for our family of six. Next time I'll use about 2/3 of a baguette to make the croutons. If you're cooking for two, half a baguette should be plenty.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer carried a Scripps Howard article this week suggesting family dinners are gone for good. I'm happy to report that's not the case in our home. In fact, as I've written here before, over the last year I've been consciously working to polish my cooking skills and provide a wider variety of homecooked meals -- and have had fun doing so.

As Julia Child would say, "Bon appetit!"

Howard Kurtz on Brit Hume

Howard Kurtz wrote an article on Brit Hume, how he got the interview with the Vice President (the V.P. called Hume on his cell phone), and reaction. Worth a read, especially if Brit Hume is your favorite newscaster -- he definitely ranks that high in my book. :)

Southern Cooking Expert Edna Lewis Dies at 89

Edna Lewis was the author of THE GIFT OF SOUTHERN COOKING, among other titles.

More from The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times.

I've printed out the recipe for Lewis's Very Good Chocolate Cake.

Thomas Sowell: "Spoiled Brat Media"

Dr. Sowell is always worth a read.

Meanwhile, over at Hugh Hewitt's site, Mary Katharine Ham's father, a journalist, asks the question I asked earlier this week: why wasn't a reporter sitting outside the ranch? White House reporters have apparently become used to simply having their stories handed to them.

Justice Alito Hires Experienced Conservative Clerks

Justice Alito has chosen older clerks who can help him "hit the ground running" to finish out the current Supreme Court term.

The clerks' resumes include clerking for Justices Thomas and Rehnquist and assisting John Ashcroft.

This quote by liberal law professor Erwin Chemerinsky should warm the hearts of conservatives: "I think what's notable is that he's picked individuals who are so defined on the right ideologically. That tells us who Samuel Alito is."

And this is a bad thing, Erwin? :) :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Unhinged: Lawrence O'Donnell

Yesterday Lawrence O'Donnell suggested on his blog that the Vice President was drunk at the time of the shooting accident.

This afternoon Hugh Hewitt interviewed O'Donnell, who came across as completely unhinged. An excerpt from the transcript posted at Radio Blogger:

"LO: No. Hey, stop lying about what I'm saying. Get this straight. Lawrence O'Donnell has no idea, and has never suggested whether or not the Vice President was drunk. I've never said it, and I never will, because we will never know...

"HH: Well now, let's pause on that, Lawrence. Let's pause on that.

"LO: ...because the Vice President made sure that you weren't going to be able to put a breathalyzer up to his mouth. He made sure of it.

"HH: You said we've never...you said just now, you've never suggested that, but of course, the first line in your post is, the L.A. Times is edging closer to the most likely reason for the 18 hour delay.

"LO: It is the most likely reason."

Got that? Here's a bit more:

"HH: Lawrence, you just said you never suggested he was drunk.

"LO: I've never suggested that he was drunk, no. I've suggested it's a likelihood."

All I can say is that with a routine like this, O'Donnell had better be awfully careful in future about throwing around charges of heavy drinking, or people might start speculating about him.

Update: Power Line reacts to the Hugh-O'Donnell interview: "Reading the transcripts of Hugh Hewitt's interrogation of liberal media sophists and scoundrels is becoming addictive..."

Captain Ed also refers to O'Donnell as "unhinged," going on to say: "With absolutely no evidence whatsoever, O'Donnell spins a paranoid fantasy of drunken binges, local police conspiracies, and other wild-eyed assumptions. The man gives another fresh dimension to the label 'creepy liar.'"

"Meet My Teachers: Mom and Dad"

Business Week has an article on homeschooling in its February 20th edition.

The article asserts that homeschooling is a growing trend among the "educated elite," with some parents who could afford private school choosing homeschooling instead, because, among other reasons, they want to be a bigger part of their children's lives.

From the article: "The popular perception is that people homeschool for religious reasons. But the No. 1 motivation, research shows, is concern about school environments, including negative peer pressure, safety, and drugs. In some circles homeschooling is even attaining a reputation as a secret weapon for Ivy League admission.

"Homeschooling is also more prominent in the popular culture, which is helping to de-stigmatize the choice and lend it some cachet among kids and their parents."

Many thanks to Missy of Missyisms for sending me the above link.

Meanwhile, in a rather negative editorial on homeschooling for The Columbus Dispatch, Professor William Bainbridge concludes by saying: "While home schooling appears to meet the needs of some familes, society must consider whether it erodes support for public schools." (Hat tip: Spunky Homeschool.)

And Professor Bainbridge's point is...? Why must society consider that issue? Do we live in a country of individual rights, as the Founding Fathers intended, or does society have the right to choose how every child is educated -- even when it often doesn't work?

Fox News Not Acceptable to Mainstream Media

Sure enough, the media couldn't wait to sneer about Vice President Cheney giving a sit-down interview on the hunting accident to Brit Hume of Fox News Channel.

Brent Baker of NewsBusters has a roundup of the snide reactions from members of the MSM.

Radio Blogger has the transcript of the rather appalling interview with Jack Cafferty of CNN, wherein he repeatedly referred to Fox News Channel as the "F-word network" and to Brit Hume and Vice President Cheney as Bonnie and Clyde.

Of course, none of the other networks want to mention that one reason the Vice President might have gone to Fox is their high ratings (grin). And is there honestly a more respected network news anchor than Brit Hume, with decades of Washington experience?

Hugh Hewitt notes: "The Veep went on the most watched network likely to give his interview a complete airing."

Michelle Malkin has a new column today, American Clown Journalism 101.

Cheney Interviewed by Brit Hume

Vice President Cheney will be interviewed today on Special Report with Brit Hume. The interview will be recorded a few hours before airtime.

Of course, as Rush Limbaugh said today, in the eyes of the mainstream media, Cheney appearing on Fox News Channel is no better than news being broken by a paper in Corpus Christi.

Meanwhile, don't miss Hugh Hewitt's The MSM Campaign Against Cheney. A Washington Post columnist, remarkably, has compared this incident to Ted Kennedy at Chappaquiddick. Hugh writes: "The MSM is unhinged, a victim of its Bush hatred...and the American people know it."

Carnival of the GOP Bloggers

Yours truly is among the bloggers featured in the very first Carnival of the GOP Bloggers at the GOP Bloggers website.

Check it out for links to posts by conservative bloggers on a wide variety of interesting topics.

The Carnival is planned to appear every Wednesday. Thanks to our hosts at GOP Bloggers for a great idea.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Tony Blankley on "The Shooting Party"

The entire column is excellent. Blankley ticks off the important stories going on in the world and then discusses the petulance of the reporters who had their dignity injured by not being immediately spoon-fed the latest "news"; he describes the White House press as "not reporters, but receivers...with the prerogative to re-write and re-package the material before they deliver it to the public."

He concludes: "...we have in the White House at the most elite level of American journalism, self-absorbed, self-important men and women who stand on their prerogatives even over marginal and inconsequential matters."

Pot, Meet Kettle

Anyone who knows anything about the Clinton Administration will doubtless be sadly amused to hear that Hillary Clinton is complaining of a "pattern" of "secrecy" in the Bush Administration...

Where does one even begin to catalogue the Clintons' pattern of secrecy? We could start with the strange investigation into the shooting/suicide of a man who actually died, Vince Foster...

"The Politics of Negation"

Michael Barone's essay ties in well with the Thomas Sowell piece posted here last night on "temper tantrum politics."

Barone writes: "American politics today is not just about winning elections or prevailing on issues. It's about delegitimizing, or preventing the delegitimization of, our presidents."

(Hat tip: Power Line.)

"Cartoons, Cowardice and Dishonesty"

Dennis Prager writes: "When it comes to taking on conservatives, Catholics, evangelicals and the like, liberal news media are Supermen. When it comes to confronting real evil, however, the news media are Mickey Mouse."

I think more highly of Mickey Mouse than I do most of the news media...

And the Cheney Flap Goes On...

Could any liberal be more mean-spirited and hysterical than Lawrence O'Donnell? (See above.)

The L.A. Times saw fit to headline above the fold on Page 1 that Vice President Cheney lacked a $7 license fee. However, nowhere in the article do they mention that the Vice President overpaid a $15 license which he already had. The Times does at least mention that the missing license fee was a brand-new requirement which has caught other hunters unawares.

When I think of all the legitimate scandals that the Times and other papers have ignored... Amazing. Just amazing.

Univ. of Washington Disses Pappy Boyington

The University of Washington's student senate has refused a memorial in honor of alumnus Gregory "Pappy" Boyington. Boyington, recipient of the Navy Cross, tied the record for the most enemy aircraft destroyed by an American pilot during WWII. He was also shot down and spent 20 months in a Japanese POW camp.

A student senator said of one of World War II's greatest heroes that she didn't think "a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce."

Another student objected that the university already honored "rich white men," ignoring that Boyington did not grow up as a rich white man, and ignoring the complete lack of connection between financial background and military heroism.

Yet another student amended a resolution honoring Boyington to eliminate his war record, because he didn't want to honor Boyington "killing others."

These students are apparently so oblivious of world history that they don't recognize that without brave men like Pappy Boyington risking their lives and "killing others," the students wouldn't have the freedom today to say such asinine, idiotic, stupid things.

Yes, my blood is boiling. Sometimes there just...aren't...words.

Wednesday Update: Michelle Malkin has a post up on this story today.

Happy Valentine's Day

Today I received Barry Manilow's new No. 1 album, GREATEST SONGS OF THE FIFTIES, from my dear husband. Looking forward to playing it!

Hope everyone has a very enjoyable Valentine's Day. :)

Power Line on Cheney

John Hinderaker today: "...knowing what I think I know about Cheney, there is no one in North America who I'd rather hunt with."

I couldn't agree more.

Incidentally, isn't it interesting that the media has focused on this trivial "scandal," yet ignored former Vice President Gore slandering his country?

Update: Rush Limbaugh muses this morning that the press has come to think they're a co-equal branch of government, hence some of their outrage over not hearing about the accident immediately.

I'm still wondering why there wasn't a lonely pool reporter parked outside the ranch, who would have noticed law enforcement and medical activity...perhaps it's because the press expects to be spoon-fed the news without lifting a finger to find it themselves?

Katrina Relief Paid For Luxury Hotels

More in the Hurricane Katrina follies...it seems our tax dollars paid for luxury hotel bills for some victims, at a cost of several hundred dollars per night.

Typically, Democrats blamed the hotels for "price gouging." I would, instead, blame the hurricane victims for showing terrible judgment and gouging taxpayers, and I also blame the government for blindly agreeing to pay the bills without setting a cap at the outset.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Thomas Sowell: The Consequences of Temper Tantrum Politics

Dr. Sowell laments the phony "crises" used in an attempt to undermine the President "at all costs," which have the result of weakening the President and our country internationally.

He notes: "Hundreds of raw FBI files on Republicans were sent to the Clinton White House, in violation of laws and for no higher purpose than having enough dirt on enough people to intimidate political opponents. But domestic spying against Republicans did not shock nearly as many people as intercepting phone calls from terrorists."

"The truly dangerous aspect of this temper tantrum politics is its undermining the government of the United States in its dealings with foreign powers and international terrorist networks...That is the real crisis that is being overshadowed by the phony political crisis."

Read the whole thing.

It strikes me that the media is complicit with Democrats in this undermining process; witness today's outrage that a paper in Corpus Christi got the "scoop" on the Vice President ahead of the D.C. press corps. It's Watergate, for sure! (Sarcasm off now...)

Fishing Not Luring Young

It seems that fishing's slow pace can't compete with computer games. Fishing is said to be seen by many youngsters as "boring."

Hmmm...I know in our case the only reason our oldest son doesn't fish more than on our summer camping trips is because there aren't any freshwater streams or lakes immediately available! Could it be that the need to spend several hours on the road for freshwater fishing is a culprit?

Our young teenage son loves computer games, but there is nothing he loves more than our annual week in the Eastern High Sierras, where he spends hours clambering up and down a stream fishing for Rainbow Trout. He rises at dawn with the dedicated longtime fishermen and is usually one of the last to leave the creek at dusk. He's even learned to clean them himself! He takes pride in being able to provide "dinner" for the entire family. (The rest of the family likes to fish, but not with his dedication.)

We've also noticed how generous experienced fishermen are sharing their time and experience and passing on tips to the kids along the creek. One year our son even came home with a stack of Field and Stream magazines donated by the fisherman in the next campsite. :) Fishing has been a positive experience in his life, and it's a shame if more kids aren't able to enjoy the same.

Katrina Aid Recipients Wasted Millions of Dollars

Fox News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume reported today that some of the debit cards received by victims of Hurricane Katrina were used for items such as "adult entertainment," tattoos, or to pay off old traffic tickets.

I can't tell you the warm, fuzzy glow it gave me to know that my hard-earned tax dollars were transferred to others so that they could access pornography.

The Flap Over the Cheney Accident

Michelle Malkin's got a big roundup of links on the Vice President's unfortunate shooting accident this weekend. The press, of course, is having a field day and screaming about not having been called immediately after the accident.

Byron York and John Podhoretz seem to me to have been a little too fast to pile on and wag their fingers at the Vice President.

With regard to York's concern over the length of time it took to inform the press, I'm wondering: Where was the press? (Rush Limbaugh asked a similar question on his show this morning.) And why should Cheney do a mea culpa about the shooting in front of the press, as Podhoretz wishes, when we don't even know yet if it was actually his fault? We already know he feels terrible about it. Some reports, cited in Malkin's post, indicate that Mr. Whittington may have walked into the line of fire without informing his companions. Jonah Goldberg has noted the same thing.

So: it was an accident, which may not have been the Vice President's fault, which was promptly investigated by law enforcement; and the Vice President suggested the ranch owner inform the curiously absent press of the incident within 24 hours of the event. (I wonder if the V.P. had expected word would go to the press earlier than it did, via either the sheriff's department or the hospital.) We'll learn more about all the circumstances in due course. In the meantime it seems as though everyone, conservative pundits included, needs to chill out.

The mainstream media, of course, delights in this event; their over-the-top carrying on at today's press conference was an embarrassment. Mark Levin puts it in perspective: the same press that is in a frenzy about the public's "right to know" doesn't believe the public has a right to see the cartoons which have led to violence throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Update: Andrew McCarthy thinks that moments in which the media or Democrats reveal their partisan selves may be good for the Bush Administration: "...the unrestrained glee in reaction to a mishap is over the top even by Washington standards. Normal people look at this and see in a froth over an accident the same people who couldn't summon up a pulse over President Clinton's INTENTIONAL misconduct."

Power Line also comments: "The press corps' over-the-top reaction to this event reflects two things, I think: the reporters' detestation of the administration, and their ignorance of firearms."

Over the course of the day I've been reflecting on this being yet another example of the press's rabid desire to find the next Watergate scandal -- just as long as the "scandal" involves a Republican administration, of course -- and in their quest for "Watergate," the press loses all sense of proportion.

Tuesday Update: Mark Steyn visited the Corner to take on John Podhoretz's hand-wringing. Steyn: "Democrat/media hysteria only underlines their estrangement from the average red-state male...."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

For Valentine's Week

I loved this touching story about British war brides of WWII.

Grace=Michelle Kwan

I was greatly saddened to learn that Michelle Kwan will be unable to compete in the Olympics in a final attempt to win a gold medal.

In bowing out, Michelle has once again proven herself to be a class act. Gold medal or not, she will always be first in the hearts of many like myself who love figure skating.

Update: Michelle has refused an offer from NBC to work in their broadcast booth, as she does not want her change in roles to be a distraction to her teammates.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Second Golden Age of Television

Someone trying to judge the year by the television shows we've been watching of late could be forgiven for thinking it's the 1980s, or, at the outside, 1990.

Thanks to the wonders of DVD, this weekend's viewing has included HILL STREET BLUES, MOONLIGHTING, and NORTHERN EXPOSURE. There are just a couple of current primetime shows which interest our family, but we don't miss having "new" shows to watch at all when there is so much great television available on DVD.

I'm finding that although I remember vague outlines of the plots, I've forgotten many details, due to the passage of time. Much else about these older shows still seems fresh and new -- in many ways these programs haven't "dated," other than in minor ways, such as the absence of cell phones in 1981's HILL STREET BLUES (they would have solved problems in a couple of episodes!) and offhanded cultural allusions in MOONLIGHTING. NORTHERN EXPOSURE, the most recently produced of the three shows, always had a timeless, Brigadoon-ish quality, and feels as though it could have been filmed this year.

We've been trying to convey to our teenagers how groundbreaking and "different" these shows were when they first aired. Now the overlapping, rapid-fire dialogue of HILL STREET and MOONLIGHTING is commonplace, seen again on programs such as THE WEST WING and GILMORE GIRLS. MOONLIGHTING, in particular, was known for its outside-the-box creativity -- I remember how our jaws dropped the first time we saw the episode "Atomic Shakespeare," a takeoff on THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, with a rhyming script, musical number, and hordes of extras. NORTHERN EXPOSURE'S quirky small town of Cicely, Alaska, was a bit of a forerunner for Stars Hollow, Connecticut, of GILMORE GIRLS. HILL STREET BLUES presents remarkable character studies of imperfect people doing their best to cope with difficult circumstances. All are substantive, literate, and inventive shows which give the viewer an experience akin to reading a good book or watching a classic movie.

The interesting book THE SECOND GOLDEN AGE OF TELEVISION (subject link) by Robert J. Thompson examines all three of the shows we've been enjoying this weekend, along with a number of other programs of the '80s and early '90s.

Now if only THIRTYSOMETHING and HOMEFRONT would come out on DVD...

Friday, February 10, 2006

In-N-Out Burger at the Crossroads

Joe Christiano muses on the future of In-N-Out Burger in the L.A. Times' new West Sunday magazine.

(Hat tip: L.A. Observed.)

Who Elected President Kollar-Kotelly?

Opinion Journal has posted an editorial on "President Kollar-Kotelly":

"Why is an unelected judge such as Ms. Kollar-Kotelly making these decisions? Under the Constitution, those calls ought to be made by the President, who swears to defend the U.S. and can be held accountable by the voters if he fails. Under the current FISA court process, Judge Kollar-Kotelly answers essentially to no one."

(Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt's radio show.)

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Goes Home

As part of a complicated deal that sends Al Michaels to NBC for football coverage, Disney has reacquired the rights to Walt Disney's very first cartoon character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Disney made 26 Oswald cartoons in 1927, but did not retain rights to the character, which led to his creation of Mickey Mouse.

Diane Disney Miller said: "When Bob [Iger] was named CEO, he told me he wanted to bring Oswald back to Disney, and I appreciate that he is a man of his word."

The Los Angeles Times calls the trade "the first known swap of a primo sportscaster for a geriatric cartoon critter."

President Bush 41: "I Thought It Was Kind of Ugly"

Former President George Herbert Walker Bush has spoken frankly about his feelings on the political slams made at the funeral of Coretta Scott King.

Peggy Noonan wasn't as offended as I was by the funeral's politicization, seeing it as a great example of "free speech," but she did note, as I did the other day, this uncomfortable moment with President Clinton: "Yes, he caused a quarter-second of awkwardness when he said of the beautiful Coretta that even at age 75 she still had the goods, but in moments of exuberance we all forget our own history."

Well, those of us who noted the leering tone in Clinton's voice at that moment certainly hadn't forgotten.

Netflix: Limiting Unlimited DVDs?

An interesting article on Netflix, which seems to have a deliberate policy of sending its most frequent customers movies at a slower rate than it sends films to more occasional renters.

To date, I haven't tried Netflix, as I instead prefer to invest in building my own DVD library -- or borrow from my dad's extensive collection -- but I've been intrigued by their creative rental system and the idea of having a pre-set "queue" send me out movies as quickly as I return them. I've thought about trying it in future if I ever have more viewing time than my current schedule allows.

Though it's not likely I'd actually want to check out more than a movie a week, the "throttling" practices described make it sound a little less intriguing than it used to...

There's Still Only One Baseball Team in Los Angeles

Due to Little League duties, my husband has recently had occasion to talk with the nice folks in the Anaheim Angels ground crew department.

We were all rather amused when we received a call from their field maintenance department and the gentleman introduced himself as being from "the Anaheim Angels...um...I mean the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim." We wondered how many times a week Angels staffers find themselves stumbling over that!

I've been following the trial coverage fairly closely and frankly am quite surprised the jury came to the decision that Angels owner Arte Moreno did not violate his contract with the City of Anaheim when he renamed the team. The jurors were instructed: "You must decide what the parties intended at the time the contract was created. You may consider the usual and ordinary meaning of the language used in the contract as well as the circumstances surrounding the making of the contract."

Based on the testimony of key players such as Disney's Tony Tavares, who no longer has "a dog in the hunt," I'm quite surprised the jury came to the conclusion it did. Jurors are bound by law to follow the judge's instructions, whether or not they agree with them, but although the instructions said the jury "must decide what the parties intended," the Register's Frank Mickadeit writes that one juror said, "Most of the other jurors just didn't want to talk much about intent."

Though I'm first and foremost a Dodgers fan, I'm also a longtime Angels fan -- the more so since a favorite former Dodger is the Angels manager. And until he gave his team the absurd new name "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim," I was very admiring of the positive changes Arte Moreno brought to the Angels when he bought the team from Disney.

Moreno's decision to name his team after two cities, when the Angels only play in one, is now legally sanctioned by a jury. In my personal opinion, however, the jury can't change the sad fact that in this matter Moreno has been tacky, at best, and unethical, at worst.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

35 Years Ago Today

The Sylmar Earthquake certainly ranks as one of the most memorable news events of my childhood. I remember being awakened by the shaking very vividly. Here in Orange County there wasn't any particular damage, as far as I recall. School went on as usual that day...as usual as it could be with everyone talking about the earthquake.

I also remember the odd coincidence that at school that morning the story scheduled for our reading lesson was about the Alaska Earthquake!

Judges Acting as President?

Hugh Hewitt called attention to this most interesting Washington Post story today. It's worth the time to read not only the entire Post article but all of Hugh's posts today on this subject, which do an excellent job of concisely explaining the issues.

The thing that troubles me is that it appears that the FISA court judges -- for the most part one judge -- are unilaterally setting our country's national security/surveillance policies, without so much as review by a higher court. In a convoluted way, we have an unelected judge acting as Commander in Chief, laying out the "rules" for the wiretapping on her own initiative.

Meanwhile, the duly elected Commander in Chief is accused of an untoward power grab, or worse, when he attempts to exert his lawful executive authority to protect our nation.

Something is really wrong with this scenario. Or, as Hugh wrote today, "This is a very odd situation." I'd say that's an understatement.

Someone needs to dethrone Queen Kollar-Kotelly and reinstate the Presidency.

Friday Morning Update: Hugh Hewitt has a new post on the subject this morning, headlined "President Kollar-Kotelly."

Cake Batter Ice Cream Returns to Cold Stone!

I've apparently been out of the loop on this one (grin) -- looks like the new Cake Batter recipe debuted last fall!

Time for a trip to Cold Stone soon!

The Failed Plot Against Los Angeles

The details released today by the President about the planned attack on Los Angeles are chilling. A close family member worked in the building immediately next door to this tower during the time period for which the attack had been planned. Scary to even contemplate if the attack had not been prevented.

This certainly brings home more than ever the importance of ongoing surveillance of our enemies -- including wiretapping.

Although this particular attack was planned to take place from the air, the California destination also provides yet another reminder of the desperate need to secure our borders before tragedy strikes. It would be all too easy for terrorists to enter our country from Mexico or Canada.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Eminent Domain in California

Another amazing eminent domain story: Yolo County, California, is seizing working ranch and farm land to make sure the landowners don't develop the land in future. What's more, Yolo County isn't footing the bill; they're letting an Indian tribe pay for the land directly with casino money. Supposedly there have been no promises made to the Indians, but needless to say the arrangement raises all sorts of additional questions.

The landowners say that this could be the first time the "government got into the business of trying to run an existing business."

If the government succeeds, there's nothing to stop the government from taking over anyone else's business in future.

(Hat tip: Betsy's Page.)

Stossel and School Choice

In this week's entry on the public school system, John Stossel addresses the refusal of legislators and educators to try "unproven" school choice.

As we have seen across the country in far too many circumstances, state employees would prefer to keep pouring money into a "proven" system -- that is, a school system that is proven not to work.

Stossel raises a question I always wonder about when listening to school choice alarmists: how could trying something new for our country's educational system possibly be any worse than what we have now? What's the worst thing that could happen? I, for one, would like to find out.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"The Growing Role of Bloggers"

National Review's Jim Geraghty has written a piece for The Washington Times on the growing role of political bloggers -- on the right, pushing against Harriet Miers and for Samuel Alito, and on the left, pushing Democrats ever further leftward.

Geraghty concludes: "Republicans can find strength and success by listening to their like-minded bloggers; Democrats can find strength and success by ignoring theirs."

Politics Alaska-Style

Here at home the three younger children are working this week on some geography, specifically memorizing the locations of all 50 states. As part of that, today we discussed some of the history of Alaska, also once known as Seward's Folly.

Thus, it was with particular interest that I came across the above-linked John Fund article at Betsy's Page.

I was dismayed by Republican Senator Ted Stevens' recent grandstanding on the Senate floor in favor of his state's pork barrel projects, specifically "the bridge to nowhere." (Stevens threatened to quit if the funding was pulled from the budget.) Fund's article gives a great deal more background on Alaska politics. Sadly, it doesn't seem there are any real Republicans there willing to stand up for fiscal responsibility.

Low-Fat Diet Not the Key to a Longer Life?

A major new study shows that, contrary to what we've heard for years, low-fat diets do not protect women against heart attacks, strokes, or cancer.

"...Willett and other researchers fear that the findings will leave the public skeptical about all health advice..."

With good reason. Over the last few years we've learned that hormone supplements are dangerous, there's no link between diet soda and cancer, and so on. Time after time the "conventional wisdom" regarding health issues is turned upside down. And who's to say a future study won't contradict this one?

Wellstone Funerally, Part 2

Sadly, some Democrats have shown an appalling lack of taste at today's lengthy services for Coretta Scott King.

As Rush Limbaugh said early on, "The King funeral has gone Wellstone."

A minister, Joseph Lowery, chose the occasion to insult the President of the United States, referring to him as a "weapon of misdirection."

Former President Carter continued his graceless retirement by using the funeral to slam President Bush over the NSA wiretaps and response to Hurricane Katrina.

I heard a bit on the radio and cringed when former President Clinton referred to President George Herbert Walker Bush as one of the "frozen chosen" and then went on to praise Mrs. King's looks.

A live thread posted at Free Republic contains reaction as events unfolded.

What a regrettable and ugly way to "remember" Mrs. King.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Groupthink in Schools of Education

George Will recently wrote a troubling column in Newsweek about political correctness in schools of education, where teachers are expected to have the correct "disposition" -- meaning "progressive" political beliefs.

Sunday's Washington Post had more on this subject in a column by Frederick Hess titled "Schools of Reeducation?" (Hat tip: The Corner.) Hess describes how "teachers colleges have begun to regulate the dispositions and beliefs of those who would teach in our nation's classrooms."

Scary stuff.

Senators Durbin & Kennedy Meet "Pajama Line"

Don't miss the series of posts at Power Line today about Paul Mirengoff's chance to question Senators Durbin and Kennedy during a break at the NSA hearings.

A flustered Durbin's parting shot was that he would try to check out "Pajama Line" -- mixing up the names Power Line and Pajamas Media -- to which Mirengoff replied that "Dan Rather knew something about the outfit."

The blogosphere has been buzzing about the exchange. Read the whole thing, and then head over to NRO's Media Blog for more.

The Senators are clearly not used to having to deal with actual questions of substance from someone who thinks quickly on his feet -- Mirengoff is a lawyer -- and we can only hope we see a lot more of this kind of "new journalism" in the future.

Changes Coming to Disney's Pirates Ride

Long-rumored additions further tying the classic ride in with the films have now been officially announced.

The changes will take place at both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World versions of the rides. Both rides will be closed for the renovation beginning in March and will reopen in late June/early July, corresponding with the release of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST on July 7th.

Paying Children to Attend School

This is just...pathetic. Schools across the country are now paying students to attend school -- often at taxpayer expense.

A couple questions immediately come to mind: one, if these incentives are encouraging troublemakers who don't want to be in class to show up, that makes learning harder for everyone else. Two, this encourages sick children to attend school, or penalizes children who are ill and shouldn't be anywhere but home in bed.

When my younger children were still in school, I found the push for ill children to at least show up for morning attendance extremely annoying. (Schools in California receive state funding based on daily attendance.) As a parent, the last thing I wanted was for other sick kids to show up and pass their bugs on to my children, and if my kids were sick I sure wasn't going to send them to school just so the school would get a few more dollars in the budget.

Paying children who regularly show up at school anything from iPods to toys to automobiles raises so many more questions I hardly know where to begin. My thoughts circle back to my idea that parents should keep their tax dollars that go toward public education and use that money to educate their children where they see fit. Somehow I think the "need" to pay children to attend school would vanish.

(Hat tip: Spunky Homeschool.)

States Review Eminent Domain Practices

At least 40 states are reviewing eminent domain policies in the wake of the controversial Kelo decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the town of Weare, New Hampshire, turned down a plan to use eminent domain to condemn Justice Souter's home and replace it with the Lost Liberty Hotel.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Brit Hume on Muslim Rioters' Priorities

Brit Hume made an excellent point today on FOX NEWS SUNDAY: why are so many Muslims rioting over a five-month-old cartoon, yet they don't protest atrocities committed in the name of their religion? As Brit said, "The really great sins are ignored. And this trivia is protested."

NewsMax (above) and Michelle Malkin have the quotes.

Bill Clinton: Democrats Treated Like "Sharecroppers"

Bill Clinton has jumped on Hillary's plantation bandwagon and agreed with her comment about Congress being run by Republicans like a "plantation," adding that he'd say the Democrats were more "sharecroppers" than slaves.

Funny how the Democrats are upset about what former President Clinton has called the "arbitrary and complete exercise of power and control" by Republicans. Somehow I don't think the Democrats were too worried about that issue when their own party had complete control of the House of Representatives for four decades, or during the time the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.

But when election results aren't to Democrats' liking, they bring out racial demagoguery. A truly sad commentary on the current state of politics, or at least the current state of the Democratic Party.

Today's Movie: Easy to Wed (1946)

This was yesterday's movie, actually. :) EASY TO WED is a lightweight but entertaining remake of the classic screwball comedy LIBELED LADY (1936). This time around the William Powell, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy, and Jean Harlow roles are played by Van Johnson, Esther Williams, Keenan Wynn, and Lucille Ball.

EASY TO WED can't compare with the original film, but taken on its own terms it's very enjoyable. Williams is always fun to watch, even when she isn't swimming -- there's not very much water action in this picture -- and she and Johnson are an appealing team. They went on to costar in THE DUCHESS OF IDAHO, previously reviewed here, and EASY TO LOVE.

As always, the MGM sets and costumes (not to mention Lucille Ball's hair!) are colorful. The highlights include a rather odd -- yet fun -- musical number featuring organist Ethel Smith. The supporting cast includes Ben Blue, Cecil Kellaway, and June Lockhart.

At present the film is only available on video.

Update: This film is now available on DVD in the TCM Spotlight set Esther Williams: Volume 1.

The Anger of Hillary Clinton

Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican Party, today described Hillary Clinton as having "a lot of anger" and suggested Americans are unlikely to elect a President of that nature.

Kathleen Parker (subject link) noted that Hillary was unable to smile when President Bush made a pleasant joke about her husband during the State of the Union address. She suggests that that moment showed Hillary wasn't "human, gracious, and humorous."

I think that telling moment did show, however, what Mehlman has zeroed in on: Hillary is angry. Whether the anger is with the President, Republicans, or her unreliable husband -- or all three -- we don't know, but as things currently stand it's hard to imagine that Hillary is a woman Americans want to have front and center for four to eight years as President of the United States.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Scooter Libby: The Case Crumbles?

Clarice Feldman at The American Thinker analyzes why the case against Scooter Libby should be dismissed.

The trial, if it takes place, will not begin until 2007.

Friday, February 03, 2006

"Incursions" Continue Along the Mexican Border

One wonders exactly how long it's going to take Washington to wake up to the need to do something about the serious dangers resulting from our porous border. "Fact-finding missions" alone just aren't going to cut it for the long haul.

I continue to be amazed that an administration which has been so commendably committed to fighting the War on Terror shrugs at the threat to our nation posed by open borders.

Tony Blankley recently wrote that Washington's attitude inexplicably seems to be "What goes on at the border, stays at the border."

"Incursions" by the Mexican Army, drug dealers, and illegal immigrants are bad enough, not to mention underground invasions. But if the Administration doesn't decide to start taking the threat seriously, someday, inevitably, the "incursion" will be terrorists with WMDs. I find it terribly frustrating that that tragedy will have been foreseeable and preventable.

When Hillary Talks...

...people don't want to listen. :)

Dick Morris, a man who knows the Clintons well, points out that whenever Hillary Clinton is front and center, her poll numbers tank.

Morris says Hillary is acting as though it's 2008 already: "..the pace is wearing off the artificial veneer of civility she had managed to paint over her partisan fangs and leaving her image back in the dog days of Healthcare Hillary. Too soon, she is unveiling her true personality. She is getting overexposed...the more she raises the political pressure, the more she grates on America like nails on a blackboard."

We can only hope that she keeps right on grating on America.

John Podhoretz weighs in with a somewhat different take.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Latest on Plamegate

Byron York has some interesting new information at National Review.

It's rather curious that the prosecutor has made no assessment of any damage that might have been done by the exposure of Valerie Plame as a CIA employee. He also doesn't believe that information showing that Plame did not work covertly for the past few years would help Scooter Libby's case...because Libby is not charged with disclosing her identity.

This has to be one of the biggest non-stories of the last decade. Meanwhile, the Clinton White House is charged by a Special Prosecutor with using the IRS to impede an investigation and the press yawns and looks the other way.

Justice Stevens Retirement Speculation

With Justice Alito confirmed, it's hard not to wonder if the President will have at least one more opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court Justice over the next three years.

Justice Stevens, at 85, seems to be the most likely retirement possibility, although the names of Justice Ginsburg and Justice Souter also pop up during discussions at legal blogs.

Curiously, although he's very liberal, I've heard the rumor in multiple places that Justice Stevens wishes to retire under a Republican President, as he was appointed by a Republican. NewsMax is the latest source to repeat this story (above).

Confirm Them features a long chat thread on this subject, which is fun if one enjoys Supreme Court guessing and gossip.

Wisconsin Quarters

A fluke error by the Denver Mint has state quarter collectors on the hunt for Wisconsin quarters with an extra leaf on the ear of corn.

Each of our children has a collection of the state quarters -- we'll be looking them over carefully this weekend. :)

Did the New York Times Break the Espionage Act?

That is the question being discussed around the blogosphere today, in reaction to a Commentary piece by Gabriel Shoenfeld, which concludes:

"If information about the NSA program had been quietly conveyed to an al-Qaeda operative on a microdot, or on paper with invisible ink, there can be no doubt that the episode would have been treated by the government as a cut-and-dried case of espionage... The real question that...the Justice Department should be asking is whether, in the aftermath of September 11, we as a nation can afford to permit the reporters and editors of a great newspaper to become the unelected authority that determines for all of us what is a legitimate secret and what is not. Like the Constitution itself, the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of the press are not a suicide pact."

Power Line contains a link to a recent Daily Standard article on the subject by Scott Johnson.

I suspect that the Justice Department lacks the political will to battle the NYT, but I would like to be pleasantly surprised otherwise. If the government complains but otherwise looks the other way, newspapers and other members of the media will be encouraged to commit similar irresponsible acts in future.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hewitt on Preschool

Hugh Hewitt weighs in on a story discussed here on several past occasions -- the taxpayer funding of pro-preschool ads, via the First Five Commission chaired by Rob Reiner, at the same time Reiner has put the Preschool for All initiative on June's ballot.

Hugh says the L.A. Times is digging into the story. I won't hold my breath...

Louisiana Turned Down Federal Help

Louisiana's top health official testified before Congress this week that he refused an August 28th offer from the Health and Human Services Department to help the state transfer hospital patients out of the path of Hurricane Katrina.

Louisiana's transportation secretary also testified that he had not developed an evacuation plan because he didn't agree with the assignment and didn't think the state had the resources to carry out such a plan.

The extent to which Louisiana's government officials simply sat on their hands -- and then turned around and blamed the federal government for the state's incompetence -- continues to amaze.

Happy Birthday, Charles Lane

One of the great character actors recently turned 101.

I particularly remember him from countless episodes of BEWITCHED when I was growing up.

Mr. Lane has certainly had a long and distinguished career.

John Stossel on Public Schools

John Stossel has another interesting entry in his ongoing series of articles on public schools.

One of the issues he addresses is the lack of "customer service" attitude in public schools. I have certainly experienced that firsthand in the past. The attitude is generally that the parents and families are there to serve the school, rather than the other way around. Our private school experience was precisely the opposite.

Stossel also shared an anecdote in which he tells of ABC News paying to send a 12th grader who could barely read at 1st grade level to Sylvan Learning Center. The student's reading ability went up two grade levels after 72 hours of tutoring.

It's simply wrong that the government forces parents to hand over tax dollars for schools and then doesn't provide an adequate educational experience, when parents could be using their own hard-earned money to provide their children with a much better education in the school or homeschool environment of their choosing.

The Sylvan anecdote also illustrates one of the many reasons homeschoolers usually do well academically: one of the most important factors in a child's educational success is the child receiving personal attention from someone who is vested in helping the child learn and succeed.

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