Archives for the Month of May 2008 on Through the Magnifying Glass
Republican establishment becoming the Grand Old Power of Few Party
The old farty party bosses of the Republican Party boasted that their political organization has always been the Party of fresh ideas and new thinking. They even encourage debate on the major issues of the day, and consistently act in accord with the greatest values of our country - freedom and opportunity for all.
(This is what they state in the 2004 Platform.)
However, this would only be true if their agenda and neocon bias is the dominant force.
At various state conventions across the country, party bosses have been on the offensive against Ron Paul supporters and those that have libertarian-leanings. Even some fiscal conservatives are also targeted.
It is obvious that Ron Paul supporters are trying to show up in large numbers at the conventions, use procedural motions to suspend the rules, remove the convention leadership, and start over again with their faction in control -- ALL WITHIN THE RULES (of course).
However, the party bosses are changing the rules by executive decision.
At the Nevada State Convention in Reno, the sitting chairman adjourned the proceedings altogether when it looked obvious that the Ron Paul faction was stronger than the McCain delegation. Now it would appear that the Nevada GOP will try to stage the convention at a secret date and location in order to rubber-stamp a McCain slate.
RP supporters also managed to take over the Texas Senate District 25 delegation.
These two events have caused state party bosses to change the way conventions are run. Examples include:
1) Reducing direct input from delegates and motions from the floor
2) Measures to remove anyone who could be "against" the party platform
3) Using special credentials committees to disqualify RP delegates
4) Use scripted motions to ensure that one platform would be passed without debate
5) Use physical force to prevent non-supporting delegates from reaching the speaker's microphone/podium
6) Ruling legal motions as out-of-order without reason
Essentially, these changes would make delegates into observers without any or little participation.
If you check news articles on Maine, Hawaii, Georgia, and Nevada, you would discover draconian measures that were taken to ensure that only one faction (obviously the McCain group) would succeed.
Freedom? It does not exist.
Opportunity? Only if you support the party line.
New ideas? They are pretty much fresh out.
New thinking? Only if it preserves their power.
The GOP establishment thinks there will be no backlash. There will be. With former Republican Bob Barr confirmed as the Libertarian presidential candidate, I expect a more interesting general election. I really think the actions of the party establishment will drive away independents and moderates since they will see that the neo-conservative wing refuses to budge from their pulpit of arrogance.
It will be the beginning of the end of the Republican Party.
The neo-conservatives will form the GOP War Party.
Another faction will form the Constituional Republican Party.
I look forward to it.
Where is Ron Paul?
The MSM have been largely quiet.
Did you know Idaho held their Republican primary yesterday?
Of course McCain won, getting 70 percent of the vote.
But 24 percent (nearly 30,000) voted for Ron Paul. Six percent went to uncommitted.
Is Harvard's endowment just too big?
Case Western Reserve University's endowment is at a respectable $1.8 billion (as of June 2007). If you did not know, an endowment is a gift that is held in perpetuity and invested in a manner that protects the principal from inflation. The investment income would provide a stable funding source for scholarships, professorships, lecture series, and research centers.
In most cases, university endowments are quite important to have. They provide an income stream, promote excellence, and is a secured source since they are held for the financial long-term.
As for spending, universities will try to spend a portion depending on performance, rate of inflation, and other factors. For FY '05, Case's endowment contributed $72.8 million, or 10%, of their operating budget.
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But when folks compare Harvard Univeristy, their endowment is at a staggering $35 billion, the largest in the country. While they are enjoying good investment returns and pay no taxes, the school has raised tuition costs, citing rising expenses as the need to keep the fees on the upswing.
Of course, being a Harvard student now costs more than $47,000 per year. Just imagine if Harvard spent less than 1% of their endowment, every student that year would not have to pay tuition, room, and board.
Yes, folks will say that donors will give donations with restrictions; money earmarked for a particular discipline, or for a buildings fund. Others may say that big number may look great, but it is the many funds that make up that number.
But you do have to agree with Financial Adviser Christiane Delessert (link) who believes that "endowments were created to supplement tuition to pay for all of these wonderful things that colleges wanted but could not afford based on tuition alone. They were given tax-free status because the colleges were perceived as being poor and needing help."
If these endowments are performing in double-digits, then we should expect a higher-than-average spending to take advantage. Especially during not-so-good economic periods.
Perhaps alums and other donors should give without any restrictions.
Maybe it would be interesting to know if the endowment managers at Harvard are manipulating the oil price.
AA to charge $15 on first checked bag
American Airlines has taken the next great step to screw airlines customers royally.
Even after most of the airlines have started charging customers $25 for checking a second piece of luggage, American Airlines announced it will charge $15 for checking the first piece of luggage starting June 15th.
It also plans to increase fees for pets and unaccompanied minors.
Ron Paul: 15% in Oregon Primary
Even if you expect McCain to win the Oregon Republican Primary, most would expect almost 100% commitment to the frontrunner.
Instead, 15% of Republican primary voters picked Ron Paul.
In Kentucky, Paul managed 7%, 3rd place behind McCain and Huckabee (who already dropped out).
Georgia GOP pushes through McCain slate for the convention
Party convention in protest of being shut out of delegate spots to the national convention.
But the vocal Paul backers were outnumbered among the several hundred delegates on the floor of the Columbus Civic Center, and party leaders succeeded in electing a slate of delegates who are united behind the presumptive presidential nominee, U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Hawaiian Republican Convention clampdown on Ron Paul supporters
McCain-backed party leaders worked to limit the rights of Ron Paul supporters from speaking during the state convention.
Party leaders allowed no room for free thought and quickly cut off debate or discussion.
(I saved a copy in case the GOP cloak-and-dagger insiders tell the Hawaii Reporter to take it off.)
RADAR article: Continuity of Governance program encompasses national emergency plans that would trigger the takeover of the country by extra-constitutional forces
Penn and Teller explain flag burning trick
More Magic Tricks at 5min.com
SNL Election Commercial Parody
Democratic Party caught at their own lies
I remember when the Democrats promised fair voting tallies during votes on bills in the Congress. When they were in the minority, they always accused Republicans of keeping the vote open past the 15-minute window in order to ensure that the "proper" result has been made.
On August 2, 2007, Democrats were caught doing the same thing.
The Morning After the Stolen Vote
Ron Paul's forces ready to slug it out at the GOP convention
Ron Paul has not gone quietly in the night.
Even though it is pretty much impossible for him to clinch the Republican nomination since McCain already exceeded the number of delegates required, he is intent to bring change to the GOP party through his followers.
The forces of Rep. Ron Paul have been organizing across the country, appearing in great numbers at Republican state conventions with one goal: to take control of local committees, boost their delegate totals, and influence platform debates.
With hopefully enough votes, Paul's supporters will try to fight the neocons who have usurped the party's platform.
Clearly, the GOP establishment is not pleased with these folks trying to mess up the status quo. Yet, there are some who are not confident with McCain's conservative credentials.
In Nevada, the GOP state convention ended in chaos, as Paul supporters were poised to be elected to a majority of the 31 state delegate slots before party leaders abruptly adjourned the gathering without picking the national delegates. Paul supporters cried foul and shouted that the process was rigged. There are now fears that the GOP state party will hold another convention but will try to block any Paul supporters from attending.
In Utah, about 100 people have filed to run for national delegate, many of them for the first time, and many of them professed Paul supporters.
In Minnesota, Paul loyalists managed to capture seven delegate slots at congressional district meetings.
In Maine, Paul's activists managed to pick up one of the 18 delegates at stake.
In Missouri, where activists will elect at-large delegates at a state convention at the end of May, a credentials challenge to as many as 300 Paul supporters is underway after his acolytes nearly swept several big county conventions that chose delegates to the statewide gathering. On some Internet sites, Paul supporters have contended they are being discriminated against by the party's establishment.
Of course, the MSM are too busy to cover Ron Paul. They are busy reporting Barack Obama wearing jeans and talking on a cell phone on vacation. What a great use of time.
Salt Lake Tribune - Surprise GOP rule switch?
LA Times Blogs - Ron Paul's forces quietly plot GOP convention revolt against McCain
LA Times Blogs - Ron Paul's troops quietly take over some local GOP groups
Boston.com - Infighting rains on McCain's party
Boston Herald - Establishment outvotes Paul supporters at Maine GOP convention
Clinton rejects latest Michigan Delegate Plan
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday rejected a compromise plan to seat Michigan's delegates to the national convention that would give 69 delegates to Clinton and 59 to Barack Obama.
"This proposal does not honor the 600,000 votes that were cast in Michigan's January primary. Those votes must be counted," Clinton spokesman Isaac Baker said.
The Michigan Democratic Party had approved the plan and intended to submit it to the Democratic National Committee meeting on May 31. Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer said in a statement that the plan was a "good step toward a solution that unites Democrats and ensures that our state will not face a McCain presidency."
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) had stripped Michigan of its delegation to the Democratic National Convention because the state party scheduled its Jan. 15 primary in violation of national party rules. Several plans have been proposed to find a way to seat Michigan's delegation.
Clinton's campaign has maintained that the delegation should be allocated according to the vote in the Jan. 15 primary (73/55) but Obama's campaign had argued the delegation should be split between the two candidates (64/64) because he was not on the ballot. Clinton won that contest with 55 percent of the vote but most of the other major party candidates, including Obama, had removed their names from the ballot because the state violated national party rules.
Since any plan must be approved by all the players -- the state and national parties and both candidates -- it is unclear what will happen now.
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This goes to show that the Clinton campaign is desperate. They do not really care about voters being disenfranchised. All they care about are the original results giving Clinton the win. She got 55 percent, but since she was the only candidate left on the state ballot, her supporters are demanding that she should get all the Michigan delegates.
What a pity.
School District accuses teacher of wizardry
A substitute teacher in the Pasco County school district was dismissed from his position from Rushe Middle School in Land 'O Lakes for wizardy.
Apparently, he did a 30-second magic trick where a toothpick disappears and reappears.
When the local news crew asked the school for a further explanation, the district also alleged that the teacher had performance issues, including "not following lesson plans" and allowing students to play on unapproved computers.
Of course, these additional reasons were not known to the teacher.
I bet they did not wanted to be embarassed for firing a person because of a simple magic trick.
I guess I can cross off Land 'O Lakes as a place to live in.
Greek Disgrace at San Diego State
A model student who was recently praised in a university publication was found out to be an alleged drug dealer. Another was just a month away from earning a master's degree in homeland security and had worked with the campus police as a security officer. A third was also close to receiving his criminal justice degree.
In total, 96 young men -- including 75 students and the three I have stated above -- were arrested on a variety of drug charges as a result of Operation Sudden Fall, which infilitrated seven fraternities on Fraternity Row and Fraternity Circle at San Diego State University.
Law enforcement agents seized two kilograms of cocaine, 350 Ecstasy pills, marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, hashish oil, methamphetamine, illicit prescription drugs, several guns, and at least $60,000 in cash.
Several members of the Theta Chi, Phi Kappa Psi, and Delta Sigma Pi fraternities were arrested.
San Diego State announced that six fraternities have been suspended -- Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Kappa Psi, Phi Kappa Theta, Theta Chi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and Sigma Alpha Mu -- pending a hearing into their involvement in the drug dealing.
The raid occurred when a prominent drug dealer on campus announced a fire sale on cocaine in the coming days in a mass text message which was intercepted by the authorities.
The member sent out a mass text message to his "faithful customers" stating that he and his "associates" would be unable to sell cocaine while they were in Las Vegas for a fraternity formal, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The text promoted a cocaine "sale" and listed the reduced prices on bulk quantities.
"Attn faithful customers both myself and my associates will be in Vegas this coming weekend," the 19-year-old student wrote in the text message, according to the DEA. "So stock up, we will be back Sunday night."
Also, another sad thing is when one of the individuals was arrested, he inquired whether or not his arrest and incarceration would have an effect on his becoming a federal law enforcement officer.
Duh! It would be very obvious that the individual would end up in prison for a long time and have no chance of even joining ANY law enforcement agency.
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For any SDSU Greek student found to be involved with drug dealing and all of that should be stripped of their membership in their respective fraternity. For the chapters that were involved, their status would require a thorough investigation. Suspension or loss of charter may be the likely result.
Of course, the actions of these people do not represent the image of fraternities nationwide. I am sure all of us condemn their actions and their Greek involvement should be severed as quickly as possible if they are found guilty.
Clinton / McCain: Drop the Federal Gas Tax Holiday Scheme
Stop this gas tax relief scheme! Both Senator Hillary Clinton and John McCain are offering motorists a federal "gasoline tax holiday."
The tax they are referring to is the 18.4 cents per gallon levied by the federal government as well as the 24.4 cents per gallon tax on diesel. McCain suggested the idea on April 15, and Clinton made a similar proposal on April 25.
The Clinton campaign claimed that the proposal, to last between Memorial Day and Labor Day, would save each driver $70. Of course, they could not explain how they came to that amount.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation estimates that the total savings for the average American motorist works out to about $28; for a two-car household, $54.
But it is based on the assumption that gas prices would immediately drop by 18.4 cents. It is very likely that the price you will pay at the pump WILL NOT CHANGE! Even if you cut the price by that amount, it will stimulate demand for more gas, and eventually, that price discount would quickly disappear and we would revert to the normal supply and demand pressures.
Besides, the period they are suggesting for the holiday is during the summer where most motorists will be driving the most. Given the full capacity of our refineries converting a barrel of crude oil into gasoline, gas prices will still continue to go up.
Most economists agree that the federal gas tax scheme will not help gas prices. The Clinton campaign cannot even produce an economist who would agree with their plan.
Also, remember where that 18.4 cent per gallon tax is going to. It is being deposited directly into the Highway Trust Fund, which is used to pay for upgrades to roads and bridges. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the 3-month gas tax cut holiday could cost as much as $8.5 billion dollars.
Would you want the Highway Trust Fund lose $8.5 billion of needed funds to keep our bridges and roads intact and kept safe for all American motorists? Of course not.
The Clinton and McCain campaigns fail to disclose this fact.
Drop the scheme and focus on something more meaningful to the voters.