Archive for June, 2007

Cold cash

June 29, 2007

Another group of downtrodden in danger of losing its rights:

Just because a celebrity is dead, doesn’t mean she can’t try and earn a living. Take, for example, Marilyn Monroe. Since the blonde bombshell’s estate teamed up with the talent giant CMG Worldwide, Inc. (“CMG”) in 1996, the licensing of Marilyn Monroe’s name and image has pulled in over $30 million in revenues. Forbes Magazine routinely ranks Monroe as one of the top grossing dead celebrities; in fact, she earned a cool $8 million just last year alone. Not bad for someone who has been dead almost 45 years. Thanks to CMG’s efforts, Monroe’s name, voice and likeness are used to sell a vast array of products, including refillable lighters, vodka, cars, wine, leather furniture and jeans.

But May 2007 was not a good month for Monroe. Courts in both New York and California dealt her estate a crippling blow, ruling that Monroe’s rights of publicity died when she did and, therefore, her estate did not own (and could not license through CMG), Monroe’s name, voice, image and/or likeness. In addition to potentially devastating the estate’s and CMG’s future revenue stream from Monroe-related goods and advertising fees, the rulings may have wide implications for the rights of other deceased celebrities and New York’s right of publicity law may be drastically amended as a result.

The “rights of dead celebrities” — there’s a concept for you. The dead cannot be libeled, but they can still earn a good living. Marilyn earned $8 million just last year. To earn that much would take me — well, I’ll have to wait until my next raise to make the calculation. Indiana, in case you didn’t know, is in the thick of all this:

Not surprisingly, Indiana is the home of CMG, which controls the publicity rights of numerous other celebrities, both alive and dead, such as James Dean, Ingrid Bergman and Babe Ruth, and has one of the most sweeping right of publicity statutes in the nation. Most notably, Indiana provides for a right of publicity that survives 100 years after a person’s death and applies to any act or event that occurs within the State of Indiana, regardless of where the person seeking to invoke Indiana’s law resides or is domiciled.

I hear our law may be amended, though. Marilyn will lose her benefits because she smoked and James Dean because he didn’t wear a seat belt.


Ignored, not broken

June 29, 2007

The immigration bill is dead, at least for now, and who would have thought it would be Bayh rather than Lugar who took the more conservative course?

Republican Sen. Richard Lugar voted for an unsuccessful effort to move the overhaul of immigration laws toward final passage while Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh voted with the majority against it.

Bayh said he was concerned that the bill wasn’t tough enough on making sure illegal immigration was controlled before setting up a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here.

Lugar’s spokesman said the senator’s votes “have attempted to be constructive in this process as he agrees with the president that the status quo is not acceptable and we must find a realistic solution to illegal immigrants living in this country.” 

If a solution is just going to make a problem worse, the better course is to do nothing. Suppose there is any chance officials will now start enforcing current immigration law instead of ignoring it and calling it “broken”?


June 29, 2007

This is a new one to me, culinary plagiarism:

Lower Manhattan, New York, which has long regarded itself as the world’s ultimate trend factory, has spawned a new pastime that could spread like wildfire through America and beyond: suing over the culinary equivalent of plagiarism.

Rebecca Charles, the creator and owner of the wildly popular Pearl Oyster Bar in the West Village, this week lodged a legal suit with the New York courts that charges her former sous-chef with taking her menu and interior styling and recreating it nearby.

[. . .]

What seems to have upset Ms Charles in particular is Ed’s Caesar, a $7 (£3.50) salad that she alleges in the legal action was taken from her own recipe. But Ms Charles acquired the recipe from her mother, who, in turn, wheedled it out of a chef in Los Angeles.

I don’t know. Recipes seem to me like folk songs. You pass them around and add to them and subtract from them and keep creating new things. But I can understand restaurants’ vigilance in protecting their secrets. There are certain recipes I’d love to have and would not alter a bit: Casa’s salad dressing, the Rib Room’s sauce, Hartley’s sauteed mushrooms. Now I’ve gone and made myself very hungry. Wonder if I can rustle up a bologna sandwich, Paris Hilton’s favorite?

Out of balance

June 29, 2007

This has huge implications for Fort Wayne, or at least it should:

In a decision of sweeping importance to educators, parents and schoolchildren across the country, the Supreme Court today sharply limited the ability of school districts to manage the racial makeup of the student bodies in their schools.

The court voted, 5 to 4, to reject diversity plans from Seattle and Louisville, Ky., declaring that the districts had failed to meet “their heavy burden” of justifying “the extreme means they have chosen — discriminating among individual students based on race by relying upon racial classifications in making school assignments,” as Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the court.

In response to a lawsuit, Fort Wayne more or less dismantled its school system and rebuilt it, with racial balance of each school the primary goal. FWCS entered its racial-balance agreement in 1989; the agreement expired in 1997, but the school system still goes by it. Now? We’ll see. This is what I wrote last June when the Supreme Court agreed to take the two cases:

“Schools strengthened by their diversity” is what supporters of the FWCS program usually say. But you usually hit what you aim at. If diversity or “racial balance” is the goal, that is what you will achieve; if you get any educational advances as a side benefit, all well and good, but they’re certainly not guaranteed. Diversity is a societal goal, not an educational one (yes, yes, I know, they can overlap). I’d still like to see public schools primarily concerned with producing students who can read, write, do arithmetic and think clearly. I notice that supporters of all the heroic efforts to achieve racial balance seldom point to clear educational advantages. How can they, since public schools have been disintegrating for decades? Even if gains could be documented, which is doubtful, how does that balance against the elimination of the neighborhood school, which was an institution that held some challenged neighborhoods together?

In Brown vs. Board of Education, a black parent sued because his child was bused all over creation, just because of race, instead of being able to go to the school in the neighborhood. That was wrong. It has taken us more than 50 years to get it right that it is just as wrong to subject a white parent in one of thse cases to the same thing: a child bused all over creation instead of being able to go to the school next door, because of race.

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. Amen. For more than 50 years, we have been trying to make schools compensate for the way we have chosen to live, in our racial enclaves. It has been a social experiment, not an educational one. Let’s get back to just teaching our kids.


June 28, 2007

1. For those of you who have kept track of Opening Arguments with the RSS feed, that feature is now here at the new site. Keep scrolling down and look in the left column to find it.

2. I’m rebuilding my blogroll, with an emphasis on news sites and local and state blogs. Let me know if you want your blog added.

Paris in the summer

June 28, 2007


A great American newspaper creates a thoughtful display of one of the most vital issues of the day.

The comedian

June 28, 2007

Most people think they can be funny, but when it comes right down to it, few really have it in them:

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Condemned prisoner Patrick Knight was executed Tuesday evening for the deaths of an Amarillo-area couple without delivering on a promise to tell a joke in his final statement.

[. . .]

Randall County Sheriff Joel Richardson, who watched Knight die, said the joke plan seemed to be a ploy by Knight to draw attention to himself.

“Despite all the hype about his joke, it turns out he’s not much of a comedian,” he said. “He’s simply an executed cold-blooded killer.”

Boy, talk about a serious case of stage fright. And that sheriff, talk about judgmentalism . . .

A blue day for schools

June 28, 2007

I have resisted predicting the outcome of the Blue vs. Yellow FWCS bond issue petition drives, because I’ve thought it could go either way. On the Blue, anti-project side is the fact that this will be the most expensive public project in local history and the fact that people are feeling a little put upon by one government initiative after another. But the Allen County Public Library showed that an army of volunteers can get an expensive project through, and the school system can tap into even more volunteers. And ballot initiatives, with the signatures being public, tend to work in favor of those seeking the money. Bond issues get voted down a lot more often when there is a secret-ballot referendum process. I have been wrong before and can be again, but I think this tips things in Blue’s favor:

The city’s newest residents can expect to see a 57 percent increase in their property taxes, according to information from the Allen County Auditor’s Office.

Residents who were annexed into the city Jan. 1, 2006, in what was known as the Aboite Annexation or the Southwest Annexation will see the largest jump in their property taxes when tax bills are sent out in mid-July. Auditor Lisa Blosser said the average increase for the city is 14.44 percent and the increase for the county is 12.31 percent.

This will just add to the anti-tax mood already out there. The FWCS bond issue is the wrong project at the wrong time.

The News-Sentinel has not explicitly said people should run out and sign the Blue petitions the way The Journal Gazette has been pounding the drums for Yellow. But we’ve published an editorial saying we wish we could enthusiastically support the project but can’t, for many of the reasons you know if you’ve been folliwng the debate.

If this does go down, the school system will have to wait a year before resubmitting something. Perhaps it will do then what it should have done this time — a project that really does just address critical needs, not what is essentially a $500 million blank check.

An F for Plan B

June 28, 2007

More criticism of Sen. Richard Lugar’s Plan B, from Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard:

His second and more important mistake is misunderstanding the effect an American pullback in favor of a diplomatic offensive would have. Lugar insisted the new approach would help achieve America’s “four primary objectives” in Iraq. These are: preventing the creation of a terrorist haven, curbing sectarian violence, preventing Iranian dominance of the region, and “limiting the loss of U.S. credibility in the region.” These are worthy goals. The problem is his Plan B would not achieve them–quite the opposite.

It’s the surge that’s designed with these four goals in mind. Abandoning the surge strategy would cause the opposite of what Lugar wants. It would leave al Qaeda and Baathist diehards with a staging area, either inside or near Baghdad, for their attacks. It would mean sectarian violence in Baghdad and elsewhere would increase, particularly because Iranian agents would be free to provoke it. Iran’s role in Iraq would grow. As for American credibility, Lugar’s plan would have the same impact on it that the pullout from Somalia had in 1993 and the retreat from Lebanon a decade earlier. Our credibility would plummet. Al Qaeda would gloat and declare victory.

Lugar said a smaller American force in Iraq would be available to deal with terrorist threats, protect the oil pipelines, and “help deter a regional war.” But why would a smaller force be able to do this when the current larger U.S. force has its hands full with these same goals in mind? He doesn’t answer that question. He can’t. His strategy simply doesn’t make sense.

Reality returns

June 28, 2007

At least one Hoosier might get something out of Muncie’s silly decision to let a reality show infiltrate its police department:

OZZY OSBOURNE’s son JACK has been named in a lawsuit filed by an angry Indiana housewife who was the victim of a botched police raid during the filming of flop reality TV show Armed + Famous.

[. . .]

The authorities were on the hunt for a fugitive and reportedly mistook Clements’ home for his hide-out. They handcuffed the housewife in her nightgown and her embarrassment was caught on camera and aired on th e CBS reality show.

I’ve never gotten hoooked on reality shows, but that one was so cheesy I just had to watch a couple of episodes, and it was creepily fascinating. Say, maybe they could make a reality show out of her lawsuit.

Let’s get started

June 27, 2007

I heard Pat White on WOWO on the way home last night, talking about this guest column in The Journal Gazette by Daniel Young, Central Catholic graduate and a retired policy analyst for the state of Wisconsin:

It’s time for the mayoral candidates, both Tom Henry and Matt Kelty, to step up to the plate and discuss the issues.

[. . .]

It’s been six weeks since the primary. Since then, both candidates have chosen to campaign in the dugout, privately attending to their campaigns. But this must change. There is a critical election coming up.

[. . .]

Except for the campaign finance issue, we have been diverted from learning about the candidates. Of course, we could go through the motions and vote perhaps guided by flipping a coin. Or we could vote based on non-issues, such as voting for a pro-life candidate although that’s irrelevant as a mayor, or voting for a candidate who doesn’t’ ruffle feathers, which is also irrelevant in challenging times. Or we could vote as the founding fathers intended by exercising our right to make an informed choice.

The problem is that the candidates have not been “out there” as they normally would be, discussing issues and future directions via speeches, discussion forums, Web-site updates, debates, group forums, press releases; and the news media have not been reporting on candidate public statements on issues because there haven’t been any (except for the campaign finance one).

I think Young is wrong that the candidates would normally be “out there” if we hadn’t had the campaign-finance distraction. Campaigns here don’t usually start until Labor Day. That’s just the way we are. White made that point several times. But I think White was wrong, too, for more or less calling Young delusional for even bringing it up. We’re in the middle of extraordinary debates and media coverage of the 2008 presidential election, 17 months before we will be able to actually vote. If there were ever a year when people would be ready to talk about the mayor’s race a couple of months early, this is the year. And Young is absolutely right that the race is important enough to be talking about now.

(By the way, Daniel, if you were at Central Catholic while I was at Central, and you were one of the ones who taunted us back when we taunted you, I can probably find out where you live. Everybody sing along now: “Beer, beer, for old CC High; you bring the whiskey, I’ll bring the rye . . .”)

Bring it to me

June 27, 2007

A luxury hotel tries to lure us out of our living rooms:

Another trendy and tech-oriented hotel is planned in Plainfield, where the hospitality industry is booming.

Dora Hospitality is planning an 85-room, four-story Hotel Indigo at the Ind. 267 interchange of I-70, just west of the entry to the new terminal under construction at Indianapolis International Airport.

Hotel Indigo, featuring bright and bold architecture and décor, is one of the newest brands in upscale hotels. It caters to travelers looking for fashionable amenities such as swimming pool, plasma TVs, fitness spa and wireless communications.

My sister got back yesterday from a four-day trip to Baltimore, where she lived for a while. She and a friend had a good time there, including a trip to the ocean, but the flights were delayed going both ways, so she spent an unbearable amount of time in airports (where else are we more trapped?), and while she was there, it was unseasonably hot, and every place they wanted to visit required a longer car trip than they had realized. “I’ve just gotten to the point where I hate to travel,” she told me on the phone. “It’s no fun anymore.”

Amen. There are still plenty of things I’d like to experience — a sidewalk cafe in Paris, a campfire in Montana, a sail around the Caribbean islands — I just don’t want to GO there. So I’ll have to wait for them to bring the places to me. As a “Star Trek” fan, I realize the science isn’t there yet for the transporter — “Beam me to the Hard Rock Cafe in London, Scotty!” — but virtual reality is getting better and better. Any day now, I hope to go to the Holodeck in my converted dining room and program in a certain night from long ago in Tokyo.  Come to think of it, though, that’s probably one I’d actually travel for.

Up in smoke

June 27, 2007

I saw a report on WANE-TV last night about a group of  bar and restaurant owners who say their business is tanking, and they plan to seek some kind of compromise from the city, such as maybe going to the county model that lets businesses declare themselves adults only and thereby permit smoking. Good luck with that. City officials talk about the economic impact (usually by saying that other communities that have gone smokeless turn out OK), but I suspect they might really feel like the more-honest officials in Louisville, also going to a total ban:

Attorneys for the metro government concede that some businesses are likely to lose money because of the smoking ban.

But Scott Lilly, assistant Jefferson County attorney, told Clayton that economic loss doesn’t trump a law intended to protect public health.

“Does government have the authority to do this?” Lilly said. “I don’t think there’s any question it can. The mere fact that some economic damage may occur, that’s insufficient to overturn the regulation.”

Maybe a Fort Wayne business should try this solution:

For pub-goers who enjoy a cigarette with their drink, next week’s ban will make England a very different place.

So one landlord has claims to have found a loophole to fight the new law – by declaring his pub to be part of a different country.

The Wellington Arms in Southampton is set to transform itself from a public house into the official embassy for a tiny Caribbean island.

Let’s see. There’s the Gas House, just downstairs from Takaoka, named for our sister city in Japan, which surely could use an embassy here. Or maybe the Rib Room could be the Fort Wayne presence of Greece.

Lugar’s change of heart

June 27, 2007

Sen. Richard Lugar is getting a lot of press for his speech breaking with President Bush’s Iraq policy. But he’s not likely to be recruited by the anti-war activists — he’s still against the Democrats’ timetable, and he also opposes an abrupt pullout or total withdrawal, which he says would not be in our best interests. He’s also looking ahead to the post-Iraq era, realizing we have to deal with the world the war has created, not the imaginary world we would have had by not going to war:

A first step is working with like-minded nations to establish a consistent diplomatic forum related to Iraq that is open to all parties in the Middle East.   The purpose of the forum would be to improve transparency of national interests so that neighboring states and other actors avoid miscalculations. I believe it would be in the self-interest of every nation in the region to attend such meetings, as well as the United States, EU representatives, or other interested parties.  Such a forum could facilitate more regular contact with Syria and Iran with less drama and rhetoric that has accompanied some meetings. The existence of a predictable and regular forum in the region would be especially important for dealing with refugee problems, regulating borders, exploring development initiatives, and preventing conflict between the Kurds and Turks. Just as the Six-Party talks have improved communications in Northeast Asia beyond the issue of North Korea’s nuclear program, stabilizing Iraq could be the occasion for a diplomatic forum that contributes to other Middle East priorities.

I don’t know. Lugar goes from “Iraqis care more about their tribes than they do about being Iraqis” to “We can all sit down in the Mideast and work this out,” and I’m sure how you get from one to the other. But since it has become obvious that we are going to leave Iraq, no matter what, his suggestions at least offer a way to discuss holding on to our national security interests. Maybe I’m geopolitically naive, but I continue to think that solidifying the reputation we already have for not finishing what we start will not be helpful.

Fat-free fair

June 27, 2007

We all knew this was coming, didn’t we?

The Indiana State Fair is removing all trans fat-laden cooking oils from its deep fryers in what is believed to be the first policy of its kind for any fair in the country.

Elephant ears taste better cooked in sunflower and canola oils? Uh huh.

Lennon’s Law

June 26, 2007

A three-judege panel has ordered the death-sentence hearing tossed out and  reheard in the case of Christopher M. Stevens, whose murder of 10-year-old Zachary Snider led to Zachary’s Law and creation of the Indiana Sex Offender Registry in 1994. The reason borders on the bizarre:

Judges Diane Wood and Kenneth Ripple ruled Stevens’ attorneys owed their client a constitutional duty to use a “mainstream” psychologist in their defense against the death penalty instead of the “quack” they presented.

The judges said Dr. Lawrence Lennon did several bizarre things during Stevens’ trial, including revealing to the judge and jury that Stevens had engaged in a sex act with the boy’s corpse before dumping it off a bridge — a detail the doctor had never revealed to the defense before he said it on the stand.

When Stevens’ lawyers questioned Lennon about his actions, the doctor said he had intended to “turn this all around” on the prosecution, similar to Marlene Dietrich’s character in the film, “Witness for the Prosecution,” Wood wrote.

Ripple went one step further, saying in a nonbinding minority opinion that the entire case against Stevens should be retried because of his lawyers’ use of Lennon in the case.

Maybe the General Assembly should consider new legislation — let’s call it Lennon’s Law — specifying slow torture for psychologists who yearn to be movie stars.

No big secret

June 26, 2007

A wildly popular self-help book that’s mostly delusional nonsense?

The scenes unfold in “The Secret,” a 90-minute-long DVD advocating the power of positive thinking that has sold 2 million copies. More than 5.2 million copies of the book of the same name are in print.

While “The Secret” has become a pop culture phenomenon, it also has drawn critics who are not quiet about labeling the movement a fad, embarrassingly materialistic or the latest example of an American propensity of wanting something for nothing.

Some medical professionals suggest it could even lead to a blame-the-victim mentality and actually be dangerous to those suffering from serious illness or mental disorders.

“It’s a triumph of marketing and magic,” said John Norcross, a psychologist and professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania who conducts research on self-help books. He believes some are very useful when backed by science and focused on specific problems, such as depression.

” ‘The Secret’ has earned my antipathy for its outrageous, unproven assertions that I believe go beyond the ordinary overpromises of most self-help books into a danger realm,” he said.

Shocking. We’re just recycling earlier entertainments and making them ever bigger and sillier. “Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour” becomes “American Idol.” And “The Secret” is just Norman Vincent Peale’s “Power of Positive Thinking” for people who don’t really think.

Flag of our fathers

June 26, 2007

Pictures never lie, except when we come to believe they represent something they don’t. The iconic World War II Iwo Jima photo we all know was not of the actual raising of the flag. It was a re-creation of the event:

FlagCharles W. Lindberg, one of the U.S. Marines who raised the first American flag over Iwo Jima during World War II, has died. He was 86.

[. . .]

Lindberg spent decades explaining that it was his patrol, not the one captured in the famous Associated Press photograph by Joe Rosenthal, that raised the first flag as U.S. forces fought to take the Japanese island.

[. . .]

By Lindberg’s account, his commander ordered the first flag replaced and safeguarded because he worried someone would take it as a souvenir. Lindberg was back in combat when six men raised the second, larger flag about four hours later.

Rosenthal’s photo of the second flag-raising became one of the most enduring images of the war and the model for the U.S. Marine Corps memorial in Washington.

Though the photo doesn’t depict quite what we thought it did, it has become important as a larger truth. It has come to represent what the war meant to us and the world, and we use it to remind ourselves of who we are and what we stand for. But Lindberg and his fellow Marines deserve remembering for who they were and what they stood for. If our ideals are important, we need to honor not only them but the best among us who lived up to them.

Talk it up

June 26, 2007

It’s usually one step forward, one step back for the First Amendment. In the good news, The Supreme Court decided a couple of cases yesterday that help reaffirm the core function of the amendment to protect political speech as a vital component of a constitutional republic. In one case, the court loosened restrictions on ads that advocacy groups can run close to elections, which will weaken the despicable McCain-Feingold act. In the other, the court decided that schools have legitimate reasons to restrict student speech. The article has a good quote from Justice Scalia (from a dissent in an earlier case) underscoring the crucial difference between political and non-political speech, a distinction that has largely been lost:

Who could have imagined that the same Court which, within the past four years, has sternly disapproved of restrictions upon such inconsequential forms of expression as virtual child pornography, tobacco advertising, dissemination of illegally intercepted communications, and sexually explicit cable programming, would smile with favor upon a law that cuts to the heart of what the First Amendment is meant to protect: the right to criticize the government.

The bad news is the renewed interest of congressional Democrats (and, apparently, some Republicans such as Trent Lott) in the Fairness Doctrine

WALLACE: So would you revive the fairness doctrine?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I’m looking at it, as a matter of fact, Chris, because I think there ought to be an opportunity to present the other side. And unfortunately, talk radio is overwhelmingly one way.

This is stupid in so many ways. The Democrats are obviously most concerned about conservative-heavy talk radio, but they can’t dictate “balance” for just one medium. They’d have to control TV, too, and if they get started, does anybody think they’ll quit before they get to the Internet? And trying to bring out the “other side” of debates will make our public arguments even more simplisticly either/or than they are already. The only way to get to all the information in our political discussions is to have robust arguments from all sides, and the only way to have that is to keep the government out.

We have that robust discussion now, with more information available than at any time in the world’s history. You can find the liberal arguments and the conservative and libertarian ones and the contrarian ones that have no label. You can also find “just the facts” with no political spin on them. Leave it alone.

At the movies

June 26, 2007

Happy 25th to “Blade Runner,” one of the best science fiction movies ever. Sometimes you like a movie and you don’t know enough to say why, except that the special effects were outrageously good and still hold up. It’s nice to have an expert come along and explain it to you:

Watch this opening pan across the Los Angeles skyline —  there’s nearly nothing else like it. This is something I think Ridley Scott does better than almost any other director. Whether he’s shooting a fantastical movie like Alien (1979), or a realistic one like Black Hawk Down (2001), you always know where you are in the movie’s physical space. Blade Runner is unmatched by any other sci-fi film in terms of feeling like you’re in an environment you understand. This isn’t the kind of sci-fi where everyone wears silver suits.

I love movies, and every time I learn something about what goes into making them, I wish I knew more. I saw an interview with Billy  Wilder the other day, filmed back in the 1980s, in which he explained how you have to pace comedies. He was using a short scene from “Some Like it Hot” to illustrate the point and said that the one page of dialogue had to be shot as if it were three pages (or maybe even five), because you have to leave some space for the audience to laugh so they don’t miss the next piece of dialogue. But you can’t just have the characters standing around — you have to have them doing something logical that makes the scene flow without dead spots in case the audience doesn’t laugh where you expect it to.

You may now pause to reflect upon the brilliance of this post.

You may now resume reading. Oops, I’m done.

Comment, please

June 25, 2007

At my new home here, I’m moderating comments, but only on a limited basis. The first time you comment, I have to approve it. After that, all your comments will be posted without my checking them. This is my attempt to keep some quality control over things like spam without causing too much hassle for regular visitors. I’ll check my e-mail frequently and try not to keep people waiting too long for that first comment post to appear. As always, you comments are welcomed, if not always cherished.

Faith heeling

June 25, 2007

What history of Christianity has he been studying in order to come to the conclusion that faith once brought us together?

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Sen. Barack Obama told a church convention Saturday that some right- wing evangelical leaders have exploited and politicized religious beliefs in an effort to sow division. “Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart.

It got hijacked,” the Democratic presidential candidate said in remarks prepared for delivery before the national meeting of the United Church of Christ.

Funny, I thought it was Islam that had been hijacked by extremists.

Older and smarter

June 25, 2007

At first I was worried about my younger brother and sister seeing this and having their self-esteem destroyed. But, after all, they’ve been dealing with the reality ever since they were born:

The eldest children in families tend to develop slightly higher I.Q.s than their younger siblings, researchers are reporting, based on a large study that could effectively settle more than a half-century of scientific debate about the relationship between I.Q. and birth order.

The difference in I.Q. between siblings was a result of family dynamics, not biological factors like changes in gestation caused by repeated pregnancies, the study found.

The report says the oldest child is more “dutiful” and “cautious.” It doesn’t say so explicity, but that would make the younger children more “rebellious” and “reckless.” Yep, sounds just like us.

Same old, same old

June 25, 2007

Good to see Indiana freshmen congressmen are getting in on the vote buying earmarks:

Freshman Congressmen Joe Donnelly and Brad Ellsworth of Indiana have obtained half- million-dollar grants for pet projects in their home districts.They were part of the 377 earmarks totaling 153 million dollars approved by the House Appropriations Committee Thursday.Earmarks were cut in half this year, but Democrats agreed to some requests by freshmen lawmakers facing potentially difficult re-election campaigns.

New address

June 25, 2007

You should be able to find Opening Arguments at this new address. We’re still working on some things, such as getting the archives moved, so posting will be light today.

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