Friday, December 19, 2003

Feliz Navidad: I'm taking a two-week vacation to see my friends and family in Dallas over the holidays. Y'all take care and have a Merry Christmas, and I'll be back in 2004!

Standing Tall: It's good to see that a skyscraper will return to the site of the World Trade Center. The earlier designs showing a group of level buildings unnerved me. The Freedom Tower to be constructed will show that we can move on from the tragedy of 9/11 while still reaching for the stars.

It will be a sight to see when completed. I can't wait.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Good Call: Second Washington Sniper Convicted of Murder.

That Was Fast: It truly is a 24/7 world. A toy manufacturer released a doll meant to represent the captured Saddam Hussein merely 24 hours after the real man was announced to be caught. The doll has a scraggly gray beard and is wearing an Ace of Spades shirt -- although the buff/muscular physique is not very representative.

In addition, last night's South Park included a parody of the capture of the Butcher of Baghdad. Except, Hussein was in Canada acting as the prime minister/Wizard of Oz. I couldn't tell if the scene was tacked onto an existing episode or if the show's creators made it from scratch this week.

Regardless, I'm impressed how fast the world reacts to change nowadays.

Use Your Head: This doesn't come as a surprise to anyone. But apparently science has confirmed that men actually become dumber when looking at beautiful ladies. So now whenever I blog something that doesn't make any sense, just assume a beautiful woman walked by while I was typing ...

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Progress: Judging from the new rhetoric from the Democratic candidates, fewer of them are arguing that attacking Iraq was inherently wrong. While they're still finding ways to nit-pick President Bush, many of the Democrats are bragging about their earlier endorsements of the invasion instead of disavowing them as before.

Of course, Dean is still arguing that we never should have gone into Iraq. I'll give him points for consistency, but he is getting hammered for his anti-war stance, and rightfully so.

The fact that this country is so divided over this war really bothers me. We all put our differences aside after 9/11. But partisanship reared its ugly head soon afterwards. It's one thing to disagree with the tactics and to question aloud whether we should have gone into Iraq, but this visceral hatred the Left has for Bush is disconcerting.

It seems that the capture of Saddam Hussein has cast the invasion of Iraq in more of a positive light. Hopefully more people will see the good that will come out of the liberation -- for the Middle East, for the United States, and for the rest of the world.

Then the debate can center not on whether we should aggressively fight the terrorists, but how we should fight them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Door's Still Open: The day Saddam Hussein was captured, Democrats and pundits kept saying that Bush should take this opportunity to "internationalize" the situation in Iraq.

This is obviously an attempt by Democrats to avoid criticizing Bush while raising the expectations for later political attacks.

But their remarks make no sense. Bush has sought to internationalize the war in Iraq from day one. We postponed the invasion for months while we pleaded with the United Nations get involved. The U.N. needed to take a leadership position, but instead it cowered. Back then, Bush warned that if the U.N. didn't act against international threats, as it was designed to do, it risked becoming as irrelevant as the League of Nations. Now that's starting to come to pass.

The United States put together as broad an international coalition as possible. England, Australia, Italy, and Poland are helping, as well as several small countries.

France, Germany, and Russia were invited and strongly encouraged to join the fight. But they backed away. At the time, they argued that we should wait until Israel and the Palestinians find lasting peace. That hasn't happened for generations, so we can't count on it to happen anytime soon. While we definitely want to see that conflict end, we can't put all other international concerns on hold in the mean time.

That was the international picture at the time. So the United States decided to go to war without France. Now that we're succeeding, the Democrats are calling on Bush to change course and do what France wants? That makes no sense.

I think the world should be calling on France to internationalize. The United Nations should be pressured join the fight against tyranny and terrorism.

Instead of pressuring the United States, the United Nations should pressure its other members -- dictatorships like Syria and Iran -- to stop supporting terrorism and to adopt democratic reform.

I keep hearing this phrase that President Bush has "squandered the international goodwill" that blossomed from 9/11. As much as I would like the rest of the world to join our fight against terrorism, I don't think we should be beholden to other countries as to how we wage this war. Of course we should always obey international law and respect humanitarian concerns. But within those parameters, we should still be allowed to do what's necessary to succeed.

Sure, many countries sent us their regards after 9/11. But "international goodwill" should not equate to "dictating what we can do" -- but that's what other countries wanted. If Bush "squandered" that, so be it.

We're the strongest economic and military force in the world, and we provide protection to most other nations -- even those that take us for granted. We would be leading this fight regardless, so it's up to other countries whether they want to join us. All are welcome.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Sic Semper Tyrannis: Saddam Hussein is a slow learner. Right after he was discovered hiding in his rat hole, he told the U.S. troops, in English, "My name is Saddam Hussein. I am the president of Iraq and I want to negotiate," according to The Associated Press. A U.S. Special Forces soldier then replied, "Regards from President Bush."

What, was Saddam Hussein willing to call it a draw? Oh, how life imitates Monty Python.

It took us nine months to invade Iraq, fight a war, topple a brutal regime that had supported international terrorists, and track down a fugitive dictator. All in all, that sounds like good work.

In the coming months, we will continue fighting terrorists in Iraq in our war against terrorism. Osama Bin Laden has announced that Iraq has become Al Qaeda's front line for its war against the United States. This is what we want. I believe the U.S. military is much better equipped to fight terrorists in Iraq than civilians are in New York City. And over time, we will defeat the major terrorist groups.

Now we still have to continue building a democratic government in Iraq, complete with a constitution and an assurance of liberty for all Iraqis. This is the first step to promoting democracy in the Middle East, which will make the region less hospitable for terrorism.

All this will take time. But as we saw yesterday, success can come through patience and determination.

We're going to win this war. It may look ugly now, but the victories are coming. And we'll all be safer in the long run.

Just ask Saddam Hussein about his experience and decision not to fight the U.S. troops who found him hiding, according to The Washington Post:

"Why didn't you fight?" one Governing Council member asked Hussein as their meeting ended. Hussein gestured toward the U.S. soldiers guarding him and asked his own question: "Would you fight them?"

Friday, December 12, 2003

Awww: The Texas Democratic delegates to the party's national convention in Boston complain that they're getting punished for hailing from the same state as President Bush.

While other state delegations are assigned to stay in posh hotels in Beantown, the Texans are the only group told to sleep in the hotel at the airport, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Officials from the Democratic National Committee say that Texans aren't getting snubbed, but that the airport hotel is the only one available to accommodate the size of the delegation.

However, the Committee was able to find nice accommodations in downtown Boston for the large delegations from California and New York.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Clinton/Gore Schism: I'm confused by all the political analyses that say Gore endorsed Dean simply as a way to steal the party back from the Clintons. Some people argue that this sets Gore up for a run for president in 2008. I don't see how that would work.

Gore's big chance to run for the presidency was the 2004 election. A rematch against a president who lost the popular vote makes sense. In each of the three other instances in U.S. history when someone won the presidency even though he lost the popular vote, that person was not re-elected. And for two of those times, the person who unseated him was the same guy who actually won the popular vote the first time.

So Gore missed out. But endorsing a lefty like Dean won't bring Gore back into the action. Because if Dean wins the presidency, Gore won't be able to make a run for the nomination for another eight years -- a lifetime in politics.

If Dean loses to Bush, then Gore will be in the unfortunate position of blowing his candidacy in 2000 then backing a loser in 2004 -- both campaigns being characterized as ultra-liberal. That easily paves the way for Sen. Hillary Clinton and her pseudo-hawkish stance to, again, redefine the Democratic Party back to the center. (Call me cynical, but despite Hillary's calls for Bush to put more troops in Iraq for a longer stay, I doubt she would ever be supportive if Bush were already doing that.)

Which brings up another issue. Assuming Bush wins re-election, I don't see how the Republicans plan on winning in 2008 without replacing the vice president with somebody other than Dick Cheney.

Cheney could never be elected president, considering his health problems and his shady demeanor. So the Republicans would have to nominate somebody else instead. Powell chose not to run before, so I doubt he'll choose to run later. Some people are trying to get Bush to choose National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice as his running mate to set her up for the nomination. That might work.

Right now, Hillary is acting like a hawk to position herself for 2008. If her popularity grows, she may be able to shake off the perception that Democrats are weak on national security. Then she'd be quite a force in 2008. The Republicans are going to need someone of heavy caliber to fight her. That position would best be served as a vice president, instead of a lesser Republican. But I don't think Cheney has the heart for the job.

Joyride: Well, the Dow closed above 10,000 today. It might dip back down tomorrow. But then it would probably creep back up.

Financial analysts also expect 2004 to create record economic growth. Growing the fastest in 20 years.

Oh, and that recession? It really wasn't as bad as people originally thought, which makes sense because it never seemed all that bad. Granted, business slowed down a bit, but I didn't see any bread lines or anything.

As I've said before: the 10,000 benchmark isn't indicative of anything, but politically it will be huge. Republicans will play this to show that the economy is strong.

Democrats will ignore the Dow and will continue to harp on unemployment figures and deficits, making it seem like Bush mishandled the economy.

And I'll continue arguing that neither Presidents Bush nor Clinton deserve neither credit nor blame for the economy. While their policies can provide some influence, the economy is a wild, untamed beast.

Battlefield Tactics: Republicans seem to be ecstatic about Howard Dean's becoming the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. They plan to characterize him as the next George McGovern, set to lose the presidential election by a landslide.

That's a dumb tactic on so many levels. First of all, if Dean goes on to win a handful of states (to McGovern's winning Massachusetts and Washington, DC), it'll look like he beat the odds. Never raise expectations that much. It depresses voter turnout, which only hurts the frontrunner.

More to the point, of all the people to compare Dean to, McGovern is the last one Republicans should pick. Neville Chamberlain, sure. Michael Dukakis, okay. But McGovern is known for losing because of his opposition to the Vietnam War. As it turns out, most people agree that McGovern was right and that the war was a terrible failure. I don't think Republicans need to give Democrats a means to compare Iraq to 'Nam.

Also, McGovern lost to Richard Nixon. As we saw, Nixon's presidency didn't fare so well afterwards.

If Dean wins the nomination, expect him to make a quick dash to the center. His record in Vermont somewhat backs that up: He opposed gun regulations and supported cuts in the growth of Medicare. Granted, he's denounced all that for the nomination fight. He's even arguing for "re-regulation" of business and taking a protectionist stance on free trade.

But as long as he keeps saying that Iraq was a big mistake, he can keep the liberal base while moving back to the center on other issues. This election will center mainly on people's perception of the war in Iraq. We eventually found out that McGovern was right about the Vietnam War. I don't think Republicans want to go around reminding people of that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Discouraging: The Supreme Court actually found the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance-reform law constitutional. In an all-too-common 5-4 vote, Sandra Day "Swing Vote" O'Connor decided that there's too much speech in politics.

I really don't care much about the ban on soft money. No law will ever be able to stop all money from influencing politics, so slowing down the flow of money is nice. This law does place more barriers for non-incumbents and challengers who aren't millionaires from joining the political circus. But it's not like many poor folks are getting much airtime now.

However, the ban on issue ads 60 days before Election Day is terrible. First Amendment protections were designed primarily for political speech. Now speech about politics is getting censored.

Political debate always picks up the weeks before the election. That's when people start paying attention.

The Los Angeles Times didn't run their groper story about Arnold Schwarzenegger until less than a week before the California recall vote. And the revelation of George W. Bush's DUI conviction happened a few days before the 2000 presidential election. That won't be the last time the news media drop a bombshell right before an election. Now political allies won't be able to pay for an ad to defend a candidate as these allegations are made.

Michael Moore plans on releasing a documentary in the fall of 2004 (hmmm) called Fahrenheit 911, making allegations about the Bush family's association with Osama Bin Laden. Depending on when Moore releases the film, it may be illegal for some people to buy ads in reaction to the movie. But since the film is officially a "documentary" and not a political ad, Michael Moore can do whatever he wants.

Although corporations and unions can't pay for ads, news organizations are exempt from the law. But what is a news organization? The only difference between CNN and a press release from Microsoft is the number of viewers. The First Amendment protects freedom of press because the British government would force newspapers to buy licenses in order to publish. If the government didn't like the content of the newspaper, the license was revoked.

Under this law, the U.S. government is deciding what is and what is not a news organization. That goes squarely against the First Amendment. Some schmuck with a pen, paper, and a Xerox machine (or someone with a blog) should have the same rights to free speech and press as The New York Times.

Government shouldn't be telling us what political speech we can and cannot hear. Let the ads air, and we'll make our decisions on our own.

Don't Read This! Memo to Fox News, the U.S. Postal Service, and anyone else who is unhappy with something: If you don't like what entertainers are saying about you, don't draw attention to them.

We saw what happened when Fox News sued Al Franken for using "fair and balanced" in his latest book. The use of the phrase was obviously parody, but the lawsuit rocketed what otherwise would have been an unknown book to the top of the bestseller list.

Now the Postal Service is denouncing a Mad TV skit making fun of postal workers who have, well, gone postal. The kicker is, the skit hasn't even been aired on TV yet. The Postal Service has simply delivered a larger audience than Mad TV would otherwise have gotten.

Trouble: Here's a disturbing Associated Press story:

Mistake No. 1: Impersonating a police officer. Mistake No. 2: Making a traffic stop. Mistake No. 3: Stopping an off-duty state trooper. Shalom Gelbman, 22, of New Square, N.Y., made all three mistakes, state police said.

Gelbman, with a strobe light on his dashboard and his high beams flashing, pulled a car over Wednesday night on the Palisades Interstate Parkway, police said. Inside the car was state Trooper Seamus Lyons, who arrested Gelbman. It was clear to Lyons that Gelbman wasn't a colleague, authorities said, because of his license plate number and the equipment he had in his car.
That's funny and all. But I'm a little perturbed that people go around pretending they're police officers. I don't know what Mr. Gelbman wanted to do with the people he pulled over, but thank goodness a real cop was there to stop him.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

What a Waste: The cover of Jayson Blair's book, titled "Burning Down My Masters' House: My Life at The New York Times", features a mock-up of The New York Times being burned and a stern picture of Blair staring at the camera.

The racial implications of the book's title should be incredibly offensive to any African American. A sociopathic, compulsive fraud is comparing his squandered opportunities at The New York Times to slavery?

Jayson Blair, of course, is the guy who was caught fabricating information and plagiarizing other stories on many occasions during his tenure at The New York Times. A Reuters story said:

Blair, who is black, has cited racism, junk food, and mental illness as the reasons for having invented scores of stories and sources during his four years at the nation's most influential newspaper.
At the time, people said Blair was given so many opportunities, despite his weaknesses, because of affirmative action. But I think affirmative action had little to do with this. There were other minorities who were overlooked as the editors saw promise in Blair. In the end, it was his smarmy charm that opened doors. Instead of excelling, he duped the people who were trying to help him. It went unnoticed for so long because most people couldn't imagine the extent of fraud Blair was perpetrating.

Then he received a $500,000 advance from a publisher to blame his troubles on racism. There are many instances of real racism in America, and we should be vigilant to keep improving racial relations. But Blair's crying wolf and desperately appealing to the black community for help should be rejected. I want to hear black leaders condemn Blair for his insensitivity to his own race.

This guy lied, cheated, used people, and intentionally hurt others. I don't think he has changed his ways. So I have no plans to read the lies he's publishing in his book.

Abandonment: It's pretty sad when Taiwan's one major ally is telling it not to assert its independence from mainland China. But the United States is pressuring the tiny territory not to provoke the Chinese.

The Taiwan/China issue is a complicated one. Taiwan has been acting independent for decades, but China still considers it part of the mainland. The United States has been promising military support to Taiwan while not outright endorsing its right to independence.

I'm not suggesting that we provoke China right now, while we have another war to fight. But we shouldn't politically abandon Taiwan either. This would be a perfect time to not say anything instead of siding with China.

Monday, December 08, 2003

BS BCS: College football has been in desperate need of a playoff system for far too long. Despite the controversies year after year, tradition seems to smother common sense.

There are three teams that deserve to be in the championship game this year. USC, LSU, and Oklahoma. Unfortunately only two teams can play at a time.

This has nothing to do with the fact that Oklahoma lost the Big 12 Championship to Kansas State on Saturday. Even if the Sooners won, USC and LSU would have equal bidding to be the challenger for the title game.

The problem is, a one-game tournament just doesn't cut it. It would be very simple to devise a quick playoff system to determine the national champion, just like every other sport (college and pro) has. Here's my idea:

There are six major conferences. The playoff tournament could include the champion of each conference, plus two invitees. Inviting two additional teams would allow for a situation when independents -- such as Notre Dame -- play well enough to be included. Or when a team in a lesser conference -- such as TCU, if they were still undefeated -- rise up to the occasion. Or when the conference losers have stellar records -- such as Oklahoma this year -- so they can play considering they're still one of the best in the nation.

An eight-game tournament would mean just three rounds of playoffs (not counting the conference-championship game) to decide the winner. The games would be finished by mid-January, providing a minimal amount of extra work for the players.

Granted, there would still be controversy allowing only eight to make the playoffs. But at least the top handful of teams will be included, virtually guaranteeing that the best team will have a chance to prove itself as champion. Also, the NCAA should force each conference to have 12 teams so they could all have a conference-championship game. That would include more colleges in the system. And the Big Ten wouldn't even have to change its name. It already has 11 teams in it.

This isn't the only idea. We could simply use the top-eight teams in the AP poll, or even the top-16. But a playoff system would be fairer, less controversial, and more exciting for college football than the BCS system. It's time to unplug the computer and to settle the national championship on the football field.

Friday, December 05, 2003

No Need for Recounts: When two candidates running for a local Board of Education seat received the same number of votes, 1,141 a piece, school-district officials determined the winner by drawing for marbles. Taking place in Culver City, California, a runoff would have cost the district another $85,000. So the two candidates took turns picking from a bag of red, white, and blue marbles. The first to pull a white marble would be declared the winner. After four rounds, the incumbent, Stewart Bubar, drew the winning marble.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

HAH! President Bush decided to lift the steel tariffs, to no one's surprise. But he said that his decision has nothing to do with the WTO's ruling the tariffs illegal. Oh, no. The tariffs are just not necessary anymore. According to The Washington Post, Bush said:

These safeguard measures have now achieved their purpose, and as a result of changed economic circumstances it is time to lift them.
Nice. Good to know the political spin cycle still operates effectively. But even if Bush decided to get rid of the tariffs independent of the WTO and possible trade war with Europe, he made the right decision. The tariffs were bad economic policy from the beginning.

Not only do the tariffs interfere with free trade, they increase the cost of steel here in the U.S., leading to higher prices in many sectors of the economy that rely on steel.

So Bush may be hurt politically in Pennsylvania for raising giving up on the tariffs, but hopefully he learned his lesson on economics in the process.

Amazing: In Washington, DC, the city council may be on the verge of making a good decision. Instead of enacting an all-out smoking ban, elected officials are leaning towards providing tax incentives for businesses to voluntarily become smoke free.

What would likely happen in such a situation is some bars and restaurants would ban smoking -- attracting those who can't stand smoke -- while others could let their patrons smoke tobacco in peace.

As I've mentioned before, a neighboring county in Maryland enacted an all-out smoking ban, which has nearly emptied its bars and restaurants as the smokers drove a few miles to visit the bars in DC. City Council officials worry that if DC bans all smoking in the city, smokers will simply travel a few more miles to Virginia.

P.S. South Park did a great job attacking the anti-smoking lobby in last night's episode.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Deanism: Howard Dean is venturing into the foreign affairs arena. Here's what he said on Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC:

Iran is a more complex problem because the problem support as clearly verifiable as it is in North Korea. Also, we have less-fewer levers much the key, I believe, to Iran is pressure through the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is supplying much of the equipment that Iran, I believe, most likely is using to set itself along the path of developing nuclear weapons. We need to use that leverage with the Soviet Union and it may require us to buying the equipment the Soviet Union was ultimately going to sell to Iran to prevent Iran from them developing nuclear weapons. [emphasis added]
Howard Dean's mistake of referring to Russia as the "Soviet Union" has gotten some attention among bloggers. Now, I'm sure the good doctor knows that the Soviet Union disbanded in 1991. So his goof isn't that big of a deal. But some people have wondered, "What would happen if Bush had said that?"

We know that Bush would be raked over the coals and called a moron. Honestly, I've been perplexed by the standard of linguistic expertise we require from our current president.

As a journalist, I hear people misspeak all the time. When I quote them, I tend to fix any grammatical faux pas. If someone mispronounces a word, I quote him as if he said it correctly to convey the intent of the message.

Suddenly journalists couldn't do that with President Bush. I covered Bush a good deal when he was governor, but I've moved onto other topics since he's become president. I don't know if his tongue became clumsier once he stepped onto the national stage, but I suspect that he's getting unfair treatment.

True, Bush has made some pretty notable gaffes. I've read the Bushisms of Slate, and some of them are pretty funny:

"There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again."—Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002
Others are understandable mispronunciations we all make every day:

"I'm plowed of the leadership of Chuck Grassley and Greg Ganske and Jim Leach."—Davenport, Iowa, Sept. 16, 2002
And others, I can't figure out why they're considered incorrect:

"Let me tell you my thoughts about tax relief. When your economy is kind of ooching along, it's important to let people have more of their own money."—Boston, Oct. 4, 2002
Perhaps "ooching" isn't in the dictionary, but people make up their own words all the time to make a point. And the conservative argument about taxes is that the government is taking your money. Bush believes tax relief will let people keep more of the money that was theirs to begin with. So then Slate started doctoring the quotes just to make Bush sound stupid:

"[A]s you know, these are open forums, you're able to come and listen to what I have to say."—Washington, D.C., Oct. 28, 2003
Volokh found the whole quote and discovered the Bush was talking about fundraising events and was commenting on how the forums are open to the media so they can report everything he says. Bush even explicitly says afterwards that "there's a difference between that and actually engaging potential opponents in a public discourse in a debate." Yet Slate took the quote out of context to change its meaning.

Whether you agree his policies or not, Bush is a smart guy. If you misunderestimate him, you're just falling for his strategery.

Keeps Getting Better: So now economic productivity increased 9.4 percent in the third quarter this year. That's great, but how many times are they going to readjust that number? Just a little while ago it was 7 percent. Then, oops, it was really 8.1 percent. Then -- dang, wrong again -- now it's 9.4 percent. You almost get the feeling that the Bush administration has a hand in the under-calculation so they can keep reminding everyone over and over again: "Look, the recession is over."

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Another Enhancement: I believe I've added an RSS feed to my blog, via Blog Matrix. The little doodad is at the bottom of the sidebar. Truth is, I know diddly squat about HTML, RSS, and technology in general. So I hope this will do whatever it's supposed to do.

Flip Flop: When Republicans push for a Constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage across the nation, and Democrats argue that Massachusetts should set its own standards of marriage, you might think that the political parties have reversed roles in the states-rights debate.

You'd be wrong.

Nothing has changed. Neither party has ever been the champion of states rights. They use it only when it fits their issue. Republicans may argue for states rights when it comes to allowing prayer in school and prohibiting abortion. But they conveniently ignore it when states support liberal issues.

The Department of Justice under President Bush has fought against the use of medicinal marijuana in California, even though voters legalized it in the state. The Drug Enforcement Agency has been told to prosecute doctors who recommend marijuana to treat ailments. And Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered the DEA to suspend or revoke the licenses of doctors who prescribe drugs to assist with suicides in Oregon, even though the state's population voted to make physician-assisted suicide legal.

On other issues, from education standards to the Patience Bill of Rights to food safety, Republicans have passed federal laws that pre-empt state laws, even ones that offer tougher standards. Getting government "off your back" only means cutting taxes and reducing business regulations -- which is nice, but that's not enough.

Democrats have earned the big-government label for good reason. They created Social Security and Medicare, and now they want to nationalize health care (unless health-care benefits are extended under a Republican administration). But they'll play lip service to states rights when the states are fighting for issues that serve their needs. Just take a look at their arguments on the Florida recount in 2000.

Is having a strong national government inherently bad? I don't think so. A lot of good has come from federal supremacy.

The Constitution was designed to limit the national government, giving it just enough power to make sure the states don't kill each other. But as this country matured, the national government filled the power vacuum, making that the U.S. stronger on the international stage.

States tended to abuse rights, such as by allowing slavery. Eventually the states-rights issue was decided in the Civil War and the subsequent passage of the 14th Amendment, forbidding states from trampling on individual rights.

Issues come up from time to time, including segregation and voting rights. And we usually depend on the national government to come up with a solution. Having uniform laws and standards among the states helps this country. That's not to say the federal government should decide all issues. States are best equipped to handle local issues like education, transportation, crime, etc.

But overall, the national government has done a good job of making sure local authorities don't infringe our rights. They protect 2 Live Crew. They protect the right to protest by burning the flag. They protect abortion rights.

If you ever argue for states rights on an issue, ask yourself this: Would you feel the same about states rights if the situation were reversed and the states were trying to do something you oppose? If you wouldn't, then pick a different argument.

Monday, December 01, 2003

No Picture Available: Zhang Di, a 26-year-old woman, is the winner of the Miss Ugly competition held in China. She was considered the most worthy among the 50 contestants, and she won $16,500 (Australian dollars) in plastic surgery. The pageant was held a week ahead of the Miss World competition, also in China.

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