Common Name, Uncommon Valor

There have been many acts of heroism in the Iraq War and continuing liberation that have gone under- or unreported by the media. One such underreported act is that of Paul Ray Smith, the only Medal of Honor winner of the conflict. Sergeant First Class Smith gave his life near the Saddam Hussein International Airport on 4 April 2003, defending his comrades and the wounded in a nearby aid station. Ralph Kinney Bennett has the story.

Double down

For the seventh time in the history of the two tournaments, one school will have a team in both the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Final Four: LSU.
GEAUX TIGERS!!!

Beatles, meet the Cluetrain

Damien Barrett:

Sesame Street taught me to understand the differences between similar things, but it also taught me that greed is bad and that underestimating people is a mistake. I would love to see the statistics on the little search box that Apple Computer includes in their iTunes program. How many people do you think are searching the ITMS every day for Beatles music to buy? I’m willing to bet it’s a very large number. Every day that Beatles music isn’t available for sale on the iTunes Music Store is a day that you lose. Get a clue and release your substantial and popular music library to the iTunes Music Store and stop beating that dead legal horse. Few, if any, of your customers care about the name of your record label or that it’s similar to the name of a popular computer company.

20

Twenty years ago, I was fifteen, and a high school sophomore in Baton Rouge. I had been going to LSU football games for the past five to six years, with the Tigers not doing much on the gridiron worthy of national recognition. Likewise, Skip Bertman still had another five years to go before he would lead LSU’s baseball team to their first College World Series win.
But in March of 1986, a man named Dale Brown was leading a team of talented but not exceptional basketball players to the height of college basketball: the Final Four. There was no Shaq on this team, no Stanley Roberts, no Chris Jackson. Those players would come later, and without the success of this team. This team had Blanton, Redden, Wilson, Vargas, Jovanovich, and Williams.
This LSU basketball team began the tournament of 64 ranked eleventh in their bracket. Twenty years later, they remain the lowest seed to ever make it to the Final Four.
I had grown up in Baton Rouge, having moved there when I was five. While only 60 miles away, New Orleans could have been on the other side of the universe as far as Baton Rouge was concerned. When it came to sports, I lived and breathed LSU athletics. I pretty much still do.
I remember watching the Tigers’ miracle run on television. The joy of the players when they beat number-one Kentucky to advance to the Final Four in Dallas. The tears of Ricky Blanton on the bench as time wound down in their national semifinal loss to Louisville. Coach Brown comforting Blanton and other players after the buzzer had sounded. So close. So far.
Three days ago, the Tigers of 2006, a group of talented but not exceptional young men, knocked off number-one Duke. Duke, ranked number one not just in the bracket they shared with LSU, but ranked number one out of the entire field of sixty-four. Last night, they toppled number-two Texas, and on the anniversary of the last LSU Final Four team, find themselves on their way to Indianapolis with a shot at the national title as they take on UCLA.
So close. So far.
GEAUX TIGERS!!!

They’re still around?

I’m sure some of you will respond to this revelation with a “Well, duh!”, but CompuServe is still around.
One of the ladies in our minichurch has a cs.com e-mail address, and suddenly curious as to what that domain was, I punched it in to Safari’s address box. Lo and behold, it’s CompuServe.
Which is now owned by Netscape.
Which is owned by AOL Time Warner.
Weirdness.

You want equal health care for all? You got it.

The bad news, surprise, surprise, is that it’s not as good as we think it is.
Jeff Donn, for the AP:

Startling research from the biggest study ever of U.S. health care quality suggests that Americans – rich, poor, black, white – get roughly equal treatment, but it’s woefully mediocre for all.

[…]

The survey of nearly 7,000 patients, reported Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, considered only urban-area dwellers who sought treatment, but it still challenged some stereotypes: These blacks and Hispanics actually got slightly better medical treatment than whites.

While the researchers acknowledged separate evidence that minorities fare worse in some areas of expensive care and suffer more from some conditions than whites, their study found that once in treatment, minorities’ overall care appears similar to that of whites.

“It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor, white or black, insured or uninsured,” said chief author Dr. Steven Asch, at the Rand Health research institute, in Santa Monica, Calif. “We all get equally mediocre care.”
Too bad this won’t shut the left up on wanting government-run, socialized medicine.
[Via Stones Cry Out.]

Thomas Jefferson: Porkbuster

Stephen Moore, Political Diary:

During last week’s debate about the federal earmarking process — which is used to distribute pork to congressional districts — House Appropriators struck back. The appropriators, of both parties, complain that fiscal conservatives in the House are trying to ruin a time-honored congressional tradition of passing out bacon by demanding full transparency for pork spending. In a letter to his colleagues, Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson went so far as to argue that the Framers wouldn’t have approved of this effort to curb Congress’s power of the purse and even claimed “earmarking is virtually required by article 1 section 9 clause 7 of the Constitution.”

So we did some checking on the writings of the founders to shed some light on their view of the domestic pork process. The first budget ever passed by Congress approved roughly $100 million of funds in today’s dollars. There were no Lawrence Welk Museums or Cowboy Hall of Fame earmarks in the bill — which was only a few pages long. The founders believed that if a government function wasn’t listed in the Constitution under the enumerated powers clause (Article I, Section 8), the right to spend money didn’t exist. Pork was hardly an issue.

The biggest opponent to federal spending on parochial projects was Thomas Jefferson. Here is what Jefferson wrote in a letter to James Madison: “I view [road building] as a source of boundless patronage to the executive, jobbing to members of Congress & their friends, and a bottomless abyss of public money. You will begin by only appropriating the surplus of the post roads revenues, but the other revenues will soon be called into their aid, and it will be a scene of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get most who are meanest.”

To be sure, there were defenders of congressional funding of local projects, most notably Alexander Hamilton. But back then the stakes and dollar amounts were much smaller. Given what’s happening today in Congress with highway bills larded up with thousands of special projects, we’d say that Jefferson’s warning was amazingly prescient. We’d also say that the founders would be mighty disgusted with the way Republicans and Democrats have been serving as guardians of the public purse.