Friday, April 30, 2010

PA-12 Update

I'm going to keep posting on this race. Next Wednesday Tim Burns and Mark Critz will debate each other without the other 3 candidates from this week's forum. At this time I plan on being at that debate as well.

Robert Stacy McCain writes more about this race here and here.

Also, here's a map of the district, indirectly via

View PA-12 in a larger map

Cross-posted at RedState.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

More of Burns and a flustered Critz

I made a further edit of my video from last night's PA-12 debate. This clip shows the notable closing statements*, including Tim Burns's linking of Mark Critz and Nancy Pelosi, and Critz's bizarre and stunning apology to the Burns camp for ads he'd run attacking Burns's position on taxes.

*I've left out Bill Russell, Don Mackell, and Ryan Bucchanieri who are running in the primary on the same day but not the special election.

Cross-posted to RedState.

PA-12 candidates debate

I took this video last night at the debate between the PA-12 candidates on the ballot May 18 at Westmont Hilltop High School near Johnstown. Robert Stacy McCain was on hand, and here's a bit of his reporting on the race.

If you haven't been following this race, there are actually 2 separate elections: first, the more prominent special election between businessman Tim Burns and John Murtha staffer Mark Critz to serve the remainder of Murtha's term, and second, GOP and Democrat primary races for the November general election. (The GOP primary is between Burns, Bill Russell, and Ron Mackell, and the Dem primary is between Critz and Ryan Bucchanieri.)

Below are the candidates' closing statements. Burns is on from about 3:30 to 5:05, and Critz from 6:10 to 8:15. Critz's apology for positions he'd attributed to Burns, which stunned members of the Burns campaign, starts at around 6:50.

Also, I've got some Q&A sessions for the candidates uploaded here and here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thoughts on Organ Sales

This article on a proposal by a lawmaker from New York caught my eye:

ALBANY, N.Y. - A New York assemblyman whose daughter is alive because of two kidney transplants wants his state to become the first in the nation to pass laws that would presume people want to donate their organs unless they specifically say otherwise.

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky believes the "presumed consent" measures would help combat a rising demand for healthy organs by patients forced to wait a year or more for transplants. Twenty-four European countries already have such laws in place, he said.

It goes on:
Brodsky's interest in organ donation is personal; his 18-year-old daughter, Julianne "Willie" Brodsky, received a kidney four years ago from a donor who was struck by lightning and an earlier transplant from her mother.

"People's survival should not rest on acts of God alone," said the elder Brodsky, a Westchester County Democrat.

Advocates say the availability of healthy donor organs is low just about everywhere nationwide, where 106,000 people are on a waiting list that averages three to four years for each type of organ. (emphasis added)
I'd add that in 2008, in the U.S. alone, 5000 people died waiting for a kidney transplant. This isn't a theoretical problem by any means, and it's personal to me because a friend of mine died 2 months ago as an indirect result of the faulty system for organ allocation that we have today.

I'm much more inclined to support allowing compensation for organ donors or their families, which has been against the law since the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984. Though presumed consent could reduce the shortage of organs, it's got moral problems of its own - people are going to be offended that their relative's organs are taken without their consent.

I've discussed this issue with many people who tend to recoil at the idea, because it's viscerally repugnant to think about people buying and selling body parts. I've had one friend say it "incentivizes murder", and I can't recall a single instance where the reply was "yeah that's a great idea!".

Usually, though, people have found it persuasive that it's not wrong for families of the deceased to be able to better pay funeral expenses or medical bills, or for a living organ donor to receive compensation given the pain and risk of undergoing surgery. And the estimated costs of a donor organ are far less than the cost of continued dialysis, as Alex Tabarrok's op-ed linked above points out.

And as mentioned above, this issue is not abstract to me. My friend was on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. She also worked in a doctor's office, and was well aware of how donor organs are allocated, and that a cancer diagnosis would move her to the bottom of the waiting list. So she hid the lump on her shoulder as best she could, figuring that she'd get her transplant and then treat the cancer.

She was in one of the top 5 slots on the waiting list when she collapsed, had to be taken to the ER and couldn't hide the cancer any longer. 2 months later she was dead at 35. I can't help but wonder how many others have had their lives cut tragically short by the same misguided law.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the South Park censorship

If you're not familiar with her, she's a native of Somalia, former member of the Dutch Parliament, and outspoken critic of Islam. I've read her book Infidel, which was quite eye-opening (few passages in any book that I've read are more graphic and painful to read than her description of undergoing genital mutilation.) She also co-produced "Submission" with Theo Van Gogh, who was later murdered by an Islamist for making said film.
Ali has an op-ed in today's WSJ on the South Park Muhammad controversy.

I recommend reading in its entirety, but her argument could be summarized as follows:

  • Though RevolutionMuslim seems like a fringe group making idle threats (I described them that way in my previous post on the matter), previously obscure Islamists killed Theo Van Gogh and instigated riots over the Danish cartoons published in 2005.
  • RevolutionMuslim's threat isn't just the rants of a lunatic, it's an informal fatwa using the basic principle in Islamic scripture of "commanding right and forbidding wrong", which is an obligation on all male Muslims.
  • Since there are a sufficient number of male Islamists to carry out this threat, Parker, Stone, and Comedy Central should take it seriously and protect themselves.
She offers suggested responses including, interestingly enough, do stories of Muhammad where his image is shown as much as possible. These stories do not have to be negative or insulting, they just need to spread the risk. The aim is to confront hypersensitive Muslims with more targets than they can possibly contend with.

Another important advantage of such a campaign is to accustom Muslims to the kind of treatment that the followers of other religions have long been used to. After the "South Park" episode in question there was no threatening response from Buddhists, Christians and Jews—to say nothing of Tom Cruise and Barbra Streisand fans—all of whom had far more reason to be offended than Muslims.

A bunch of folks have decided to make May 20 "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day". I think that's a great idea and I'd participate myself if I could draw worth a damn.

Thanks to Stacy McCain and Bob Belvedere for linking my previous post.

UPDATE: The Jawa Report with a reason to keep laughing at Zach Chesser, aka Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee: "Confirmed: Guy Who Threatened South Park Creators Lives in Mom's Basement"

Also, the always hilarious Frank J. offers his thoughts.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Comedy Central surrenders to petty thugs

I'm a huge South Park fan. It probably helps that the creators' generous streaming of every episode online works well for someone like me who doesn't DVR or watch TV as scheduled very often. So naturally, I find it absolutely appalling that Comedy Central has censored the most recent episode.

What disgusts me even more with this incident is that the group "Revolution Muslim" "warning" South Park creators that they'll end up like Theo Van Gogh are absolute nobodies. They're nothing but talk. And Comedy Central's creators have given into their threat, which is absolute cowardice, especially considering that these clowns are 5 or 6 steps from being willing and able to do actual harm to anyone.

If anyone's interested in letting these fools know what you think, contact info for Revolution Muslim (their website is down, I got this from the cached version):

Contact info for Comedy Central:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Some links I like

I've been trying to blog more, and these recent sites have been open in Firefox for basically the whole weekend. I thought I was going to make an individual post on each but I don't have the time and other work and school requirements are beckoning, so I'll share quickly.

Walter Williams has a great syndicated column this week, "Parting Company". Worth reading in its entirety but this might be the key paragraph:
The problem that our nation faces is very much like a marriage where one partner has broken, and has no intention of keeping, the marital vows. Of course, the marriage can remain intact and one party tries to impose his will on the other and engage in the deviousness of one-upsmanship. Rather than submission by one party or domestic violence, a more peaceable alternative is separation.

I'd add (and Dr. Williams seems to share the sentiment in the last sentence of his piece) that the best alternative of all is restoration, as hard as it might be.

Andrew McCarthy criticizes David Petraeus for statements he recently made about Israel.

A fascinating new phenomena: the "retrosexual." Apparently it's now cool for guys to dress so as to evoke the men their grandfathers were. (This link came via my friend Adrienne Royer who amusingly described this style as "Guys playing dress-up.")

Going through my bookmarks, I came across the opinion of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Bradshaw v. Unity Marine. No idea how I found this, but it's absolutely hilarious.

Last, a video from Caleb Brown, a George Mason University Econ student, describing the risks a couple in Alexandria, VA took to start a business. (HT Don Boudreaux)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

BREAKING: Men eager to view topless women

No, this isn't from the Onion:

About two dozen women marched topless from Longfellow Square to Tommy's Park this afternoon in an effort to erase what they see as a double standard on male and female nudity.

A group of women and men who had shed their tops march down a Congress Street sidewalk from Longfellow Square to Tommy's Park. They were promoting the freedom of women to be topless in public. The group attracted many amateur and professional photographers.

The women, preceded and followed by several hundred boisterous and mostly male onlookers, many of them carrying cameras, stayed on the sidewalk because they hadn't obtained a demonstration permit to walk in the street. About a thousand people gathered as the march passed through Monument Square, a mix of demonstrators, supporters, onlookers and those just out enjoying a warm and sunny early-spring day.

I loved this reaction from one of the organizers, too:

Ty McDowell, who organized the march, said she was "enraged" by the turnout of men attracted to the demonstration. The purpose, she said, was for society to have the same reaction to a woman walking around topless as it does to men without shirts on.

Right. Because there's no difference between male and female anatomy, is there? None that I can think of, at least. Theoretically.

Dr. Helen and Instapundit have commented on the same. (HT to The Other McCain for the links.)

Friday, April 02, 2010

And the children shall lead them

I was going to make some kind of reference to The Emperor's New Clothes, but my friend Alexa beat me to the punch. So I'll just share my favorite pic of the day and get my blogging drought over with:

You can read the article here, but the pic pretty much says it all.