31 December 2008

From this morning's Journal

So to recap all of this change you can believe in: A Kennedy and Cuomo are competing to succeed a Clinton in New York; the skids are greased for a Biden to replace a Biden in Delaware; one Salazar might replace another in Colorado; and a Governor charged with political corruption in Illinois wants one of his cronies to succeed the President-elect. Let's just say we're looking forward to 2009.

Oh to be a late night comic show writer!

Hamas and Oil

From the Wall Street Journal

Spare a moment for a rogue trio of economic victims -- Hugo, Vladimir and Mahmoud. Their dreams of world domination and tight grips on power are eroding as the price of oil falls. If there is a silver lining to global recession . . .

The downturn is pulling back the curtain on these oil-drunk, self-styled wizards of Venezuela, Russia and Iran. At $140-plus a barrel, Messrs. Chávez, Putin and Ahmadinejad could bully their neighbors and their people. With crude now hovering around $40, they are smaller autocrats sitting atop wobbly regimes and distorted economies.

Oil made these three -- and could be their undoing. Assuming prices would stay high, they shunned reforms that would diversify and open their economies and nurture a large, entrepreneurial middle class. Their petrobillions were devoted to subsidies and welfare, in the hopes that people don't notice that select insiders pilfered their way to riches, as well as to stirring up trouble abroad.

Pegged to a per-barrel oil price of $60, Iran's and Venezuela's budgets are feeling the strain. Mr. Chávez planned to increase spending 23% next year and now will have trouble meeting those obligations. Inflation is already 36%, a punishing tax on the masses Señor Chávez claims to champion.

Iran relies on oil for 60% of its budget, half of which is spent on welfare. Starved for money, Mr. Ahmadinejad proposes to free some consumer prices and cut spending. Corruption, mismanagement (inflation at 25%) and unmet populist promises already made Mr. Ahmadinejad unpopular at home. Now the austerity talk is raising the domestic temperature. In October, a strike by bazaar merchants forced the government to delay a sales tax. The universities are restive again (see "Iran's YouTube Generation," Dec. 15) and the government wants to push through a hated gasoline rationing plan.

In spite of the differences that Shia and Sunni have, Iran is one of Hamas' chief sponsors. And Hamas is currently making trouble with Israel, which always drives up the price of oil. Do you suppose the Hamas, which is being ridiculed and criticized by other Palestinians and Arabs for doing this, is doing it a Iran's behest to stabalize the government of the Mullahs?

Just wondering...

30 December 2008

Minnesota (Not) Nice, part 2

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota voters won't know who won the state's U.S. Senate race this year, and it's looking more likely that the new Congress will be sworn in before the race ends between Democrat Al Franken and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.

The state Canvassing Board on Tuesday scheduled a Jan. 5 meeting and its chairman said the panel's work could spill into Jan. 6 -- the day the next Congress convenes.

Democrat Al Franken leads Republican Sen. Norm Coleman with an increasingly small number of ballots yet to consider. Franken finished the day up 47 votes, according to a preliminary report by the secretary of state's office. An earlier report by the office had placed the margin at 48 votes but the Canvassing Board made one correction costing Franken a vote.

How could this be, you ask? Because of some clever mind reading by the Canvassing Board. (I have a friend who is serving thereon, and I am going to have to ask him about this after all is said and done.)

This vote did not count as a vote for Coleman, because after filling in the ballot, the voter went back and put an x over the mark. Interestingly, this was not counted for Norm Coleman:

But this was counted for Al Franken.

There are also cases of double votes, and missing ballots and and and...

This will end up in court, and no matter how it turns out, the joke is on the people of Minnesota.

This is GREAT!

How do you not just love this move by Rod Blagojavich?

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich named former state Attorney General Roland Burris to fill President-elect Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat on Tuesday, stunning lawmakers both in his home state and in Washington, where Senate Democrats vowed to block the appointment.

Blagojevich, at a press conference in Chicago, called Burris a candidate of "unquestioned integrity" and urged the public not to "allow the allegations against me to taint this good and honest man." He said he was obligated by law to fill the vacant Senate seat and he did not want to deprive Illinois of having two senators on Capitol Hill.

The best thing about this is that it completely screws Harry Reid and the Senate Dems.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush also stepped to the podium and endorsed Burris, who is black, as a "worthy" and "esteemed" candidate. Rush had been urging Blagojevich to select an African-American to replace Obama, who had been the only black in the Senate.

But Senate Democrats, who have been urging Blagojevich to step down since his arrest earlier this month, released a statement just prior to the governor's announcement saying they would not seat any candidate he sends to Washington.

Either they back down, or the 99 white Senators tell the one lone black guy that he can't come to the party.

If the Senate Republicans are smart, they will unanimously vote to seat Burris, and make the Dems act like a majority.

29 December 2008

You are kidding, right?

Maybe that Russian futurist is right. Maybe the United States is on our way to collapse. What evidence is there, you ask? A Foxnews story has a sentence that begins:

Melissa Berry, a 24-year-old rookie linebacker with the Tampa Breeze franchise of the Lingerie Football League, ...

What more evidence do you need. The fact that there even is an LFL is almost enough to make me google painless suicide techniques.

My only question is, does victorsleeps already have tickets to the Lingerie Bowl, or did he have to click the link....

My house burned down, so yours is obviously next!

MOSCOW -- For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument -- that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. -- very seriously... Mr. Panarin posits, in brief, that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar. Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces -- with Alaska reverting to Russian control.

Well, first, look out Gov Palin. You are going to need that foreign policy experience with the Russians, because you will be looking at them a lot closer now, apparently.

I am also very pleased to see that, as this guy sees us, we are so neat and orderly that even when we disintegrate, we will do so along existing state borders.

For my money, the Chinese can have California; boy are then in for a rude awakening. But Mexico taking over the Texas Republic? Been there, done that, didn't work out. Besides if this guy knew anything about football, he would realize that Texas and Oklahoma are not going to be in the same country if they have a choice.

I look forward to being part of the Central-North American Republic and being absorbed by Canada. We won't have to import Canadian oil, so we'll have plenty. And Canada, you see, has a population of 33 million people. Just three of the states of the C-NAR (Michigan, Ohio & Illinois) outnumber them! So after the first election, we can institute normal size football fields, back-burner hockey and ban French, and we will still have our country, without California, Washington, DC or the Dallas Cowboys. This works for me.

Seriously, I wonder if this guy has ever been to the USA and met any of us. Does he realize that we are one country, and what happened to his beloved Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union simply will not happen here?

The Gaza mess

Aside from the tragedy and sadness over the loss of life, two comments come to mind regarding the current mess in Gaza.

First, the Israeli's are working to destroy tunnels that militants use to bring in the rockets that they fire at Israel. From the BBC:

Israel has bombed supply tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip in a second day of intense air raids aimed at forcing Hamas militants to halt rocket fire...

A major tunnel bringing fuel into Gaza from Egypt was among three destroyed, Palestinians say. But Israel says its jets bombed more than 40 tunnels.

Israel accuses Palestinian militants of using the tunnels to smuggle weapons into Gaza.

As jets pounded the southern Gaza Strip hundreds of Palestinians stormed over a fence on the Gaza-Egypt border, but Egyptian security forces fired shots to prevent them entering.

So as I look at the map, it appears that the tunnels that the Israelis are trying to bomb shut come from Egypt. Egypt can keep the border fence from being overrun but they can't shut down the tunnels?

Maybe Israeli jets ought to go after whatever Egyptian politicians or generals are taking the bribes to keep the tunnels open.

My second thought concerns Israeli tactics. I think they should hold back the ground forces and airdrop some leaflets into Gaza. Let the people know that for every rocket or mortar shell that flies into Israel, they will destroy two houses, one near the border, until there is a sufficiently large dead zone that the terrorists have no cover to fire from, and another chosen at random from anywhere in Gaza.

And on the leaflets publish the list of addresses which will be targeted in what order, so people have an opportunity to clear out of their houses before the strike. The popular uproar might cause the people to punish Hamas. One can only hope.

How dare they?

Her Majesty's government twice fought wars which directly resulted in the deaths of uncounted thousands of dead in order to secure the right to sell addictive narcotics in a foreign country.

More recently, Her Majesty's government went to war with a foreign government over control of 12000 sq km, populated by 509,140 British subjects, 500,000 of whom were sheep, and 6000, cattle. The resulting war cost 907 lives.

Now, the Palestinians of Hamas have fired 3000 rockets out of the Gaza strip into Israel this year, up through December 17. That is when Hamas unilaterally ended a six month cease fire. (Yeah, 3000 rockets fired during a "cease-fire.") Since then, there have been hundreds more attacks.

(This is nothing new. Google the words "how many rockets israel gaza" and you will see stories that detail that this has been going on since Israel pulled out of Gaza 3 years ago.)

Angela Merkel gets it. Barack Obama gets it. (Or at least he did last summer, saying, "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”)

So how come her majesty's government, with its stellar history of morality and tolerance of attacks by foreigners, call on the Israelis to stand down?

If they try to tell you anti-semitism is dead in Great Britain, don't believe it.

Another idea stolen ...

I really ought to put a copyright at the end of all my posts and other statements. More on that in a moment.

First, what did Rick Warren really say? He is accused of

More recently, he even compared same-sex marriage to incest, pedophilia and polygamy.

Did he say that? Yes and not really. Yes, if you take it out of context. But in context, this is the relevant portion of the interview:

BELIEFNET: What about partnership benefits in terms of insurance or hospital visitation?

WARREN: You know, not a problem with me.

The issue to me, I'm not opposed to that as much as I'm opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.

BELIEFNET: Do you think those are equivalent to gays getting married?

Oh , I do. For 5,000 years, marriage has been defined by every single culture and every single religion - this is not a Christian issue. Buddhist, Muslims, Jews - historically, marriage is a man and a woman.

[Warren later offered some corrective passages that I have omitted, but are on the Beliefnet web page linked. There is also video there.]

In context, what Warren said is that redefining marriage to include incest, etc would be the same as redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. Not his most artful turn of a phrase, but not what he is accused of.

In defending Rick Warren, Mona Charon over at NRO makes a point I have made all over the place at church meetings for years:

[T]he point Warren was making was a valid one. Once you abandon the traditional definition of marriage to suit the feelings on an interest group, by what principle do you stop redefining marriage? Gays and lesbians argue that their same-sex unions are loving, committed relationships. Fine. But there are, or could be, other loving, committed relationships involving more than two people. Supporters of gay marriage say this is a ridiculous slippery slope argument.

But consider the name that many gay activists have adopted. You no longer see gay and lesbian alone. Instead, the new terminology is LGBT — lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Lesbians and gays say that without gay marriage, they cannot fully express themselves as they really are. But what about bisexuals? I ask this not to poke fun or to hurt anyone’s feelings, but in all seriousness. How does gay marriage help a bisexual? I assume that if you are bisexual, you believe that you need to have sexual relationships with both men and women. If you are a bisexual man married to a woman, don’t you need to break the marriage bond to express your bisexuality? If you choose to express just the homosexual side of your bisexuality, then aren’t you gay? Likewise, if you choose to express only the heterosexual side, how are you a bisexual? Why is bisexuality not a recipe for infidelity? As for transgender people who believe that they are “assigned” to the wrong sex, their sexuality seems a deeply complicated matter. According to Wikipedia, the term “transgender,” which is always evolving, today encompasses “many overlapping categories — these include cross-dresser (CD); transvestite (TV); androgynes; genderqueer; people who live cross-gender; drag kings; and drag queens; and, frequently, transsexual (TS).” We are now in the realm of a multitude of sexual deviances.

Where do you draw a line? Once traditional marriage — supported by centuries of civilization and the major Western religions — is undermined in the name of love, there is no logical or principled reason to forbid polygamy, polyandry, or even incest. Gay activists recoil from incest. But on what grounds exactly? Suppose, after we formalize gay marriage, two 25-year-old sterile (to remove the health of offspring argument) twins wish to marry? Let’s suppose they are loving and committed. What is the objection? That it offends custom and tradition? That it offends God? Isn’t that just bigotry?

When asked which was a greater threat to marriage, divorce, or gay marriage, Rick Warren laughed and replied that it was a no-brainer — divorce. He was right. But there are very solid reasons to oppose any redefinition of marriage — and it isn’t bigoted to say so.

The part she stole from me, even if she didn't know it, is in italics above. What exactly would a committed, monogomous, bi-sexual relationship look like?

Does he or doesn't he?

According to this website, Barack Obama is not for Gay marriage:

Although Barack Obama has said that he supports civil unions, he is against gay marriage. In an interview with the Chicago Daily Tribune, Obama said, "I'm a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman."

Several liberal politicians and gay marraige advocates are upset by Obama including Rick Warren in the inaugural festivities. A couple of them seemed to say (sorry, not link or quotes) that Obama was in favor of gay marriage and that is why Warren's inclusion was such a shock to them.

Byron York over at NRO offers a list of Obama's actions and positions that seem to give them hope:

[W]hy are gay groups so angry, knowing that Obama opposes gay marriage? In the end, it seems that the reason for the anger is that, no matter what Obama says, a number of gay activists appear to believe the president-elect is, deep down, with them on the issue. “He’s stated his support for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, he spoke out against Proposition 8, he’s against the Federal Marriage Amendment, he’s for full civil unions and domestic partnerships, he’s for the repeal of Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell,” [Human Rights Campaign spokesman Brad] Luna said. “He’s with us on all the issues of concern to our community except classifying relationships with the term marriage.” So what if Obama says he believes marriage is between one man and one woman; his positions, especially his support of repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, seem to suggest otherwise.

If it walks like a duck ....

Big Government Defined

Mary Anastasia O'Grady on the Journal Editorial Report the other night was asked whether the 2008 election was a "realigning election in the sense that it changes the fundamental relationship of the American people to their government, a lot like 1980 did, although this would be in reverse."

O'Grady redefined the promise of big government in a wonderful analogy:

I see a parallel here with Bernard Madoff, believe it or not... People went to Madoff because he was giving very steady returns year after year, even though they weren't out of the park, they were there consistently. And what Obama is offering people, what the left is offering people is, you know, during a time of a lot of insecurity about the financial meltdown and rising health-care costs, he says I'm going to expand entitlements. And I think that's what people voted for... I think people are especially concerned about health care. And I think what we need to see is how long is it going to take the American electorate to understand that this also is one of the biggest Ponzi schemes that has ever been foisted on them, the idea that these entitlements can grow and protect everybody at no cost.

27 December 2008

A Solution to the Gitmo Problem!

Everyone is fretting over what to do with the people at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.

Especially problematic are the 50 or so prisoners who cannot be returned to their home countries because they would be tortured or face other retribution.

Naturally, the Left is very concerned about these folks. Some want them released into the U.S. Fortunately, apparently President elect Obama is not one of them.

But since the Left is so concerned, I have a solution. March them right to the gates of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and set them free. In Cuba.

After all, the Left simply loves Cuba, and Fidel. Check out these quotes:

  • "Viva Fidel! Viva Che! Castro is the most honest and courageous politician I've ever met." --Jesse Jackson.
  • "Very selfless and moral. One of the world's wisest men." --Oliver Stone.
  • "Cuba's Elvis." --Dan Rather.
  • "Castro is at the same time the island, the men, the cattle, and the earth. He is the whole island." --Jean Paul-Sartre.
  • "A dream come true!" --Naomi Campbell.
  • "If you believe in freedom, if you believe in justice, if you believe in democracy, you have no choice but to support Fidel Castro!" --Harry Belafonte.
  • "A genius." --Jack Nicholson.
  • "Fidel, I love you. We both have beards. We both have power and want to use it for good purposes." --Francis Ford Coppola.
  • "The first and greatest hero to appear in the world since the Second World War." --Norman Mailer.
  • "Socialism works. I think Cuba might prove that." --Chevy Chase.
  • "Castro is an extraordinary man. He is warm and understanding and seems extremely humane." --Gina Lollobrigida.
Other fans of Fidel and the Communist government include Robert Redford, Steven Spielberg and Ted Turner, to say nothing of Sean Penn and Michael Moore.

So let's release them into the worker's paradise! Who could complain?

Yeah! What he said!

Dennis Miller gets it just right:

And you know something? He's my president now. And I am not going to do what the left did to Bush. I find it unbecoming. I hope that Barack Obama does so well that four years hence, I am salivating to vote for him. I want this all to work, because I love my country.

Or, if you prefer it in Dennis' classic style, here it is:

Really Stupid Stuff, part 685

A beginner is defined as "an inexperienced person."

Someone who has never done something before is unlikely to be very good at it. For this reason, the Supreme Court has overturned the death penalty in cases where the defense attorney had never tried a case. (Sorry, old memory, no link.) In the same way, people studying to do psycho-therapy first observe, and then practice under a mentor for hours and hours before being certified to do this on their own. Likewise surgeons.

Really, would you want a surgeon operating on you who had never done this before?

So the other night, I happened to catch an old song on a commercial. If the are claiming that the girl is a good dancer, why would they describe her as "dancing like she never danced before"?
BTW, some things do, evidently, get better with age.

In Hoc Anno Domini

When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.

Everywhere there was civil order, for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.

But everywhere there was something else, too. There was oppression -- for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people. There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. There were executioners to quiet those whom the Emperor proscribed. What was a man for but to serve Caesar?

There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.

And the voice from Galilee, which would defy Caesar, offered a new Kingdom in which each man could walk upright and bow to none but his God. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. And he sent this gospel of the Kingdom of Man into the uttermost ends of the earth.

So the light came into the world and the men who lived in darkness were afraid, and they tried to lower a curtain so that man would still believe salvation lay with the leaders.

But it came to pass for a while in divers places that the truth did set man free, although the men of darkness were offended and they tried to put out the light. The voice said, Haste ye. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you, for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

Along the road to Damascus the light shone brightly. But afterward Paul of Tarsus, too, was sore afraid. He feared that other Caesars, other prophets, might one day persuade men that man was nothing save a servant unto them, that men might yield up their birthright from God for pottage and walk no more in freedom.

Then might it come to pass that darkness would settle again over the lands and there would be a burning of books and men would think only of what they should eat and what they should wear, and would give heed only to new Caesars and to false prophets. Then might it come to pass that men would not look upward to see even a winter's star in the East, and once more, there would be no light at all in the darkness.

And so Paul, the apostle of the Son of Man, spoke to his brethren, the Galatians, the words he would have us remember afterward in each of the years of his Lord:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

This editorial was written in 1949 by the late Vermont Royster and has been published annually since.

He said what?

Gay activists are angry at the Pope. For instance:

The Rev Sharon Ferguson, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, described the Pope's comments as "totally irresponsible and unacceptable in any shape or form". She said: "It is more the case that we need to be saved from his comments. It is comments like that that justify homophobic bullying that goes on in schools and it is comments like that that justify gay-bashing.

She thinks someone is going to listen to the Pope ... and then go beat up gays. Somehow, she does not hear the disconnect in that. from the same article ....

Pam Spaulding, a leading lesbian blogger from the United States, was even more direct. She said: "The Prada Papa Ratzi opens his trap again, and the homophobia stinks like trash piled up during a NYC garbage strike."

Even Sky News piles on:

But, do you notice that the anchor and the reporter say very different things about what the Pope actually said!

So what did the Pope actually say? If you can read Italian, check it out here. Otherwise, it is available in an unofficial English translation here. The infuriating passage is below:

When the Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman and asks that this order of creation be respected, it is not the result of an outdated metaphysic. It is a question here of faith in the Creator and of listening to the language of creation, the devaluation of which leads to the self-destruction of man and therefore to the destruction of the same work of God. That which is often expressed and understood by the term “gender”, results finally in the self-emancipation of man from creation and from the Creator.

Man wishes to act alone and to dispose ever and exclusively of that alone which concerns him. But in this way he is living contrary to the truth, he is living contrary to the Spirit Creator. The tropical forests are deserving, yes, of our protection, but man merits no less than the creature, in which there is written a message which does not mean a contradiction of our liberty, but its condition. The great Scholastic theologians have characterised matrimony, the life-long bond between man and woman, as a sacrament of creation, instituted by the Creator himself and which Christ – without modifying the message of creation – has incorporated into the history of his covenant with mankind. This forms part of the message that the Church must recover the witness in favour of the Spirit Creator present in nature in its entirety and in a particular way in the nature of man, created in the image of God. Beginning from this perspective, it would be beneficial to read again the Encyclical Humanae Vitae: the intention of Pope Paul VI was to defend love against sexuality as a consumer entity, the future as opposed to the exclusive pretext of the present, and the nature of man against its manipulation.

Not a single mention of "gay", "lesbian", "homosexual" or "homosexuality" in the entire speech. Really.

Do you see anywhere what this loony claims the Pope said:

Her views were echoed by the Reverend Dr Giles Fraser, the vicar of Putney and president of Inclusive Church, the pro-gay Anglican movement. "I thought the Christmas angels said ’Fear not’. Instead, the Pope is spreading fear that gay people somehow threaten the planet. And that’s just absurd ... Can’t he think of something better to say at Christmas?"

What has everyone so upset is, the TimesOnline says, that:

The Pope's speech was also seen, however, as a denunciation of "gender theory" – the study of how gender assignments affects the behaviour of individuals. The Catholic Church has repeatedly spoken out against gender theory, which gay and transsexual groups promote as a key to understanding and tolerance.

In other words, the Pope espoused church doctrine, and the gay rights groups are upset. Damien Thompson at the Telegraph sums it up nicely. The Pope is trampling on the favorite alternative passion of the Gay and progressive communities:

In the other hand, he does say that humanity needs saving from "outmoded metaphysics" that blur the distinction between men and women. The destruction of traditional heterosexual relations is part of the wider destruction of God's creation.

The liberals will hate that juxtaposition. In the view of the secular world, and more than a few Tabletistas, "saving the planet" has become an alternative or successor project to the defence of the family. Pope Benedict has had the nerve to argue, in effect, that marriage is yet another aspect of the planet that needs saving.

So it boils down to this, really. Pope Catholic, shock horror.

26 December 2008

Quotable Captain Benjamin L Willard

The idea that Rod Blagojavich should be charged with corruption in Illinois just reminded me of this quote:

[Crap] ... charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500.

All is not lost

The WSJ has an article today by Zachary Karabell who asks a simple question. Given that no economic forecasters foresaw the level of difficulty we are in now, "Why then is there so much conviction in today's forecasts of a dire future?"

He points out a couple of positive signs that may lead us out of a deep recession in the nearer term:

...[C]onsumers in many parts of the world are in relatively good shape. That statement might strike many as absurd, given the mantra of "consumers have been living beyond their means." But it's not just the third of American households that have no mortgage, or the 50% savings rate in China, or the still massive wealth accumulation in the Gulf region, Brazil and Russia. It's that the credit system, even at its most promiscuous, didn't allow consumers to take on the obscene leverage that financial institutions did. Millions of people who shouldn't have been lent money were, either in mortgages or through credit cards. But they couldn't be levered 40-to-1 as investment banks and funds were.

People have also reacted swiftly to the current problems, paying down debt and paring back purchases out of prudence or necessity. That's a short-term drag on economic activity, but it will leave consumer balance sheets in good shape going forward. Low energy prices and zero inflation will boost spending power. Even if unemployment reaches 9% or more, consumer reserves in the U.S. and world-wide are deeper than commentary would suggest. Household net worth in the U.S. is down from its highs but is still about $45 trillion. As the credit system eases, historically low interest rates also augur debt refinancing and constructive access to credit for those with good histories and for small business creation in the year ahead. Entrepreneurs often thrive when the system is cracking.

Am I too optimistic if I believe he is right?

25 December 2008

No culture war here

I wish you happy holidays, including a Blessed Christmas!

At right: Nativity, by Vanes, in the style of Van Gogh

A most excellent Christmas idea!

On the Wall Street Journal's editorial page, Mark Bowden suggests:

As a holiday gesture, President Bush ought to ask the Iraqi government to pardon Muntazer al-Zaidi -- the Iraqi journalist who tried to hit him with his shoes.

Sometimes a small outrage affords an opportunity for a grand gesture. The president was not harmed by the stunt. He had the grace to joke immediately afterwards that the missiles were a "size 10." Video of the shoe-throwing, which went viral on the Internet and has been seen now by just about everyone on the planet, has mostly elicited laughter.

But already the consequences have been no joke for Mr. Zaidi. By most accounts, he has been roughly treated in prison, where he was taken after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's guards were seen beating him after he threw the second shoe. He now faces as many as 15 years in prison, one for every one of his 15 minutes of fame.

This is clearly out of proportion... [But] With its national pride at stake, the Iraqi government is unlikely to cut the journalist a break. If a gesture is to be made, it has to come from Mr. Bush.

Pardoning him would be the fair thing to do, and would cost nothing...

It would also be a small way of acknowledging that Iraqis have borne by far the greatest measure of pain in this war, and that America's handling of the country since chasing Saddam Hussein from power, while trending in the right direction currently, has not been a singular and shining success. Many Iraqis have come by their anger toward the U.S. honestly.

Magnanimity is a strong prerogative, too seldom used. It is a chance for the man to be as large as the office. No one was better at this than Abraham Lincoln, whose frequent public acts of forgiveness, from promoting his political rivals to commuting the death sentences of Union soldiers, earned him an enduring legacy of kindness and humility.

I wish I had thought of it, but Mr Bowden's suggestion is also the right thing to do. In fact, if you want to see just how conflicted many people are about America, offer al-Zaidi asylum.

23 December 2008

The Ice Age is Coming

From the Boston Examiner:

The "scientific consensus" that Al Gore and his fellow global warming alarmists rely upon to force radical changes in how Americans live and work is being unraveled by Mother Nature. In addition to the recent freak snowstorms in Malibu, Calif., New Orleans and Las Vegas, Arctic ice is expanding this year -- not shrinking -- and there were 115 record-low temperatures reported in the United States in October, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Despite rising carbon dioxide levels, the Earth has actually been cooling -- not warming -- since 1998, when the warming trend peaked in conjunction with heightened sunspot activity.

It appears that 2008, the National Climatic Data Center now says, will go down as the coldest year in a decade.

"For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming?" asked David Gee, chairman of the 2008 International Geological Congress' science committee.

That's an excellent question for President-elect Barack Obama, who promised mandatory caps on carbon emissions and a new international global warming treaty. After meeting with Gore recently, Obama proclaimed: "The time for delay is over; the time for denial is over. We all believe what the scientists have been telling us for years."

Which scientists? Does Obama believe more than 650 current and former members of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who are now publicly questioning the non-scientist Gore's major premise? Or Norwegian Nobel physicist Ivar Giaever, who declared himself a global warming skeptic, as did Joanne Simpson, the first woman in the world to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology? Or the scientists who point out that "100 percent" of the 20th century global warming signal comes from man-made "adjustments" made to a computer model at NASA's Goddard Institute?

There is no scientific consensus that human activity is causing global warming. The IPCC's own climate change models predicted rising temperatures for this year, but those actually recorded fall short of the predictions.

Defense, Special teams and Luck.

Offense? We don't need no stinking offense!
Bears 20, Packers 17.

More Ecclesiastical Lies

Katharine Jefferts Schori is the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. She is an extreme "progressive" who is presiding over the dissolution of TEC.

Last week she repeated one of the most stupid attacks that those who wish to criticize Christianity for use.

Asked at a National Press Club speech whether the biblical institutions for marriage apply to same-sex couples, Jefferts Schori replied with some sarcasm:

“Oh, which biblical institutions for marriage? Solomon’s many, many, many wives? The concubines? The slaves who bore children for their male masters? There are some very odd images of family life in the Bible. And when people talk about family values, I want to know which ones.”

This is bologna, and Shori ought to know it. It is on par with the sort of silly "criticisms" that Madeline Murray O'Hair and her ilk used to spew. The Biblical principles that are set forward for human behavior are never lived up to, in Scripture or out of it. The purpose of the stories is to show us God's faithfulness, not to serve as templates for human relationships.

I wonder if she is really this cynical, or if she just does not know.

If this is what New York City does to you ...

... I am glad I do not live there. I looked for evidence that this was satire. I found none.

In the years that followed, my affection for “It’s a Wonderful Life” has never waned, despite the film’s overexposure and sugar-sweet marketing, and the rolling eyes of friends and family.

Lots of people love this movie of course. But I’m convinced it’s for the wrong reasons. Because to me “It’s a Wonderful Life” is anything but a cheery holiday tale. Sitting in that dark public high school classroom, I shuddered as the projector whirred and George Bailey’s life unspooled.

Was this what adulthood promised?

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation.

What a sad man.

Update: Looking for the picture, it turns out he is not alone, as evidenced here and here.

Update: I watched it today. I still cried.

22 December 2008

A Canadian on the Ball

Canada Free Press has published an interesting article by climatologist Dr Tim Ball. Excepts follow:

How many failed predictions, discredited assumptions and evidence of incorrect data are required before an idea loses credibility? CO2 is not causing warming or climate change. It is not a toxic substance or a pollutant...

Proponents of human induced warming and climate change told us that an increase in CO2 precedes and causes temperature increases. They were wrong. They told us the late 20th century was the warmest on record. They were wrong. They told us, using the infamous “hockey stick” graph, the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) did not exist. They were wrong. They told us global temperatures would increase through 2008 as CO2 increased. They were wrong. They told us Arctic ice would continue to decrease in area through 2008. They were wrong. They told us October 2008 was the second warmest on record. They were wrong. They told us 1998 was the warmest year on record in the US. They were wrong it was 1934. They told us current atmospheric levels of CO2 are the highest on record. They are wrong. They told us pre-industrial atmospheric levels of CO2 were approximately 100 parts per million (ppm) lower than the present 385 ppm. They are wrong. This last is critical because the claim is basic to the argument that humans are causing warming and climate change by increasing the levels of atmospheric CO2 and have throughout the Industrial era. In fact, pre-industrial CO2 levels were about the same as today, but how did they conclude they were lower?

In a paper submitted to the Hearing before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Professor Zbigniew Jaworowski explains,

The basis of most of the IPCC conclusions on anthropogenic causes and on projections of climatic change is the assumption of low level of CO2 in the pre-industrial atmosphere. This assumption, based on glaciological studies, is false.”

Ice cores provide the historic record and data collected at Mauna Loa the recent record. Both records are drastically modified to produce a smooth continuous curve with little variability. This was necessary to confirm the evidence falsely concluded from many 19th century measures that pre-industrial levels were approximately 280 ppm and didn’t vary much. So how did they engineer the smooth curves and ignore the fact the 19th century record shows a global average of 335 ppm and considerable variability from year to year.

Most people don’t know that thousands of direct measures of atmospheric CO2 were made beginning in 1812. Scientists took the readings with calibrated instruments and precise measurements as the work of Ernst-Georg Beck has thoroughly documented. Guy Stewart Callendar ... rejected most of the records including 69% of the 19th century records and only selected certain records that established the pre-industrial level as 280 ppm. ...

...as with all known records the temperature changes before the CO2, in this record by approximately 5 years.

In another article, Ball contends:

[Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections] are based on the unproven hypothesis that human produced CO2 is causing warming and or climate change. The evidence is based solely on the output of 18 computer climate models selected by the IPCC. There are a multitude of problems including the fact that every time they run them they produce different results. They use an average of all the runs. The IPCC then take the average results of the 18 models and average them for the results in their Reports...

So they create an appearance of certainty about a human cause of warming. But what is the reality? The only place where CO2 is causing temperature increase is in the IPCC computer models. In every record of any duration for any time period in the history of the Earth, temperature increase precedes CO2 increase. So an incorrect assumption that a CO2 increase will cause temperature increase is built into the computer models. That is damaging enough, but the computer models themselves are completely inadequate to represent global climate or make any predictions about future climate. But don’t believe me. The IPCC Technical Report (“The Physical Science Basis”) produced by Working Group I and released in November 2007, says so.

And we are going to completely remake our economy on the basis of this "science"?

My future is, apparently, grim...

... if Phred Phlamm has anything to say about it.

This response was posted to an article I will comment on in another post.

Ten years from now, when it is obvious that humans have caused huge and deleterious changes to our planet, I would support using Google and other online resources to identify climate change deniers who were thoroughly debunked and, on the basis of this evidence, rounding them up and feeding them into wood chippers, feet first. Slowly. Then use the resulting mulch to fertilize some ground and grow a tree. Let them do some good in death, as they certainly did none in life.
Posted by Phred Phlamm on 12/19 at 03:55 PM | #

I once responded read a newspaper letter to the editor where the author claimed that "liberals are magnanimous." Once again, I would suggest that greatness of spirit is a far from universal trait among liberals.

Two Views of the Same Man

The Washington Times has an interesting article about the weight of a responsibility that the Commander in Chief has chosen to undertake:

For much of the past seven years, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have waged a clandestine operation inside the White House. It has involved thousands of military personnel, private presidential letters and meetings that were kept off their public calendars or sometimes left the news media in the dark.

Their mission: to comfort the families of soldiers who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and to lift the spirits of those wounded in the service of their country... But the size and scope of Mr. Bush's and Mr. Cheney's private endeavors to meet with wounded soliders and families of the fallen far exceed anything that has been witnessed publicly, according to interviews with more than a dozen officials familiar with the effort.

"People say, 'Why would you do that?'" the president said in an Oval Office interview with The Washington Times on Friday. "And the answer is: This is my duty. The president is commander in chief, but the president is often comforter in chief, as well. It is my duty to be - to try to comfort as best as I humanly can a loved one who is in anguish."

Mr. Bush, for instance, has sent personal letters to the families of every one of the more than 4,000 troops who have died in the two wars, an enormous personal effort that consumed hours of his time and escaped public notice. The task, along with meeting family members of troops killed in action, has been so wrenching - balancing the anger, grief and pride of families coping with the loss symbolized by a flag-draped coffin - that the president often leaned on his wife, Laura, for emotional support...

Mr. Bush also has met privately with more than 500 families of troops killed in action and with more than 950 wounded veterans, according to White House spokesman Carlton Carroll. Many of those meetings were outside the presence of the news media at the White House or at private sessions during official travel stops, officials said...

Mr. Cheney similarly has hosted numerous events, even sneaked away from the White House or his Naval Observatory home to meet troops at hospitals or elsewhere without a hint to the news media.

For instance, Mr. Cheney flew to North Carolina late last month and met with 500 special-operations soldiers for three hours on a Saturday night at a golf resort. The event was so secretive that the local newspaper didn't even learn about it until three days after it happened.

Mr. Cheney and his wife, Lynne, also have hosted more than a half-dozen barbecues at their Naval Observatory home for wounded troops recovering at Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed and their spouses and children.

The vice president said Mr. Bush "feels a very special obligation to those who he has to send in harm's way on behalf of the nation, and a very special obligation to their families, especially the families of those who don't come home again."

"He, in his travels, spends time with the families of the fallen. If he goes down to Fort Bragg, he'll often times pull together the families of guys who were stationed at Bragg and killed in action, and spend time with the families," Mr. Cheney told The Times in an interview last week.

Today I was in a business where the owner had sign posted bearing a slogan I have seen on a bumper sticker around town:

I hope President Obama will change his ways and be such an "idiot."

Update: Great minds think alike. Victorsleeps has this same article at Views from my Window.

21 December 2008

I do not think it is THIS bad ...

... but we are all going to have to be vigilant to make sure it does not go this way!

20 December 2008

Bad Girls Club

A t-shirt I once saw read:

Good Girls Go to Heaven; Bad Girls Go Everywhere.

Including, apparently, the Illinois Attorney General's office.

I am still looking for some good guys in the Blagojavich mess. Attorney General Lisa Madigan will not be one of them. The Illinois Supreme Court appropriately spanked her, turning her motion down with a one sentence denial, and Charles Krauthammer tells us why:

You've got to love this story and you have to love this state.

We know what the governor's like. But here you've got the attorney general, who supposedly is the good guy, on the side of truth and justice, who brings a suit that is not only ridiculous, but is lawless.

The idea that the attorney general should strip the governor of his powers on the grounds of disability, as Fred indicated, in a law that clearly is aimed at a guy who is in a coma, is what happens in a Banana Republic. Presidente is disabled, and all of a sudden he disappears. Or Khrushchev when he was deposed, it was announced that he resigned for reasons of health. It's not supposed to happen in America, but I guess it happens in Illinois.

Actually, Charles, it did not happen in Illinois. But the fact that Madigan wanted it to and tried to make it happen removes her from the list of potential heroes.

Oh Goodie!

WASHINGTONPresident-elect Barack Obama on Saturday named a Harvard physicist and a marine biologist to science posts, signaling a change from Bush administration policies on global warming that were criticized for putting politics over science.

Both John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco are leading experts on climate change who have advocated forceful government response. Holdren will become Obama's science adviser as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Lubchenco will lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees ocean and atmospheric studies and does much of the government's research on global warming...

"From landing on the moon, to sequencing the human genome, to inventing the Internet, America has been the first to cross that new frontier because we had leaders who paved the way," Obama said in announcing his selections in his weekly radio address. "Leaders who not only invested in our scientists, but who respected the integrity of the scientific process."

"Because the truth is that promoting science isn't just about providing resources — it's about protecting free and open inquiry. It's about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology," he said. "I could not have a better team to guide me in this work."

But what if Global Warmism is itself an ideology and not science? As Hudson Institute senior Fellow Dennis Avery points out,

"We have had a Greenhouse Theory with no evidence to support it - except a moderate warming turned into a scare by computer models whose results have never been verified with real-world events," said co-author Singer. "On the other hand, we have compelling evidence of a real-world climate cycle averaging 1470 years (plus or minus 500) running through the last million years of history. The climate cycle has above all been moderate, and the trees, bears, birds and humans have quietly adapted."

Back to the AP:

In their posts, the four scientists will confront challenges in global warming after years of inaction by the Bush administration, which opposed mandatory cuts of greenhouse gas pollution. Last year, former Surgeon General Richard Carmona testified to Congress that top Bush administration officials often dismissed global warming as a "liberal cause" and sought to play down public health reports out of political considerations.

Unless Bush is right, and global warming is a "liberal cause" and then it is the left that is putting ideology over science. Consider this "fact" from the AP article:

Since 1993, summer Arctic sea ice has lost the equivalent of Alaska, California and Texas, and global warming is accelerating. The amount of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere has already pushed past the level some scientists say is safe.

But that is not the whole story. The University of Illinois Cryosphere Project reports:

We've been hearing the frightening predictions for a few years now that the Arctic was soon going to be "ice free". The past 18 months the media has been full of reports that the arctic was going to be "ice free in 2008 for the first time".

* "North Pole Could Be Ice Free in 2008" - This is the headline that ABC News ran back in April of this year.
* "North Pole May Be Ice-Free for First Time This Summer" - From The National Geographic

This didn't happen. Not only did it not happen but the Arctic actually gained up to 30% more ice in 2008 over the same period in 2007. Now that summer is over in the Arctic it is quite obvious that the North Pole won't be ice free this year.

Hat tip to Scott at Views from My Window.

In fact, follow this link, and look at the July 19 (an almost randomly chosen date) satallite photos from 1993 & 2008. See the dramatic drop in sea ice? Neither do I. There is more ice in some places, and less in others. That is the hallmark of a cycle!

One more point on this: There is this claim of consensus among the top scientists. Skeptics of Global Warmism are compared to Holocaust deniers and have their livelihoods threatened to try and silence them to create the notion of consensus.

The late Michael Crichton, medical doctor, author and film and television producer had this to say on the matter:

I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.

Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period.

Let's face it: if Global Warming could be scientifically proven, somebody would be 1/2 Million Dollars richer.

19 December 2008



A really, really good idea

Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Credit Suisse Group AG’s investment bank has found a new way to reduce the risk of losses from about $5 billion of its most illiquid loans and bonds: using them to pay employees’ year-end bonuses.

The bank will use leveraged loans and commercial mortgage- backed debt, some of the securities blamed for generating the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, to fund executive compensation packages, people familiar with the matter said. The new policy applies only to managing directors and directors, the two most senior ranks at the Zurich-based company, according to a memo sent to employees today.

“While the solution we have come up with may not be ideal for everyone, we believe it strikes the appropriate balance among the interests of our employees, shareholders and regulators and helps position us well for 2009,” Chief Executive Officer Brady Dougan and Paul Calello, CEO of the investment bank, said in the memo.

The securities will be placed into a so-called Partner Asset Facility, and affected employees at the bank, Switzerland’s second biggest, will be given stakes in the facility as part of their pay. Bonuses will take the first hit should the securities decline further in value.

This is brilliant. Don't take away the bonuses managers and directors earn ... just make them earn them!

Hat tip: Best of the Web Today

18 December 2008

The end is coming, the end is coming!

USA Today, hardly a conservative rag, has a wonderful article. It compares the attitudes and pre-occupations of certain Christians who focus on the Book of Revelation and the End Times (Christians who are usually regarded as nuts by the left) and those members of the Environmental Left itself.

Tim Krattenmaker, who works at Lewis & Clark University in Portland, Oregon, alma mater of Monika Lewinsky, offers us a wonderful new word.

Jim Proctor, head of environmental studies at Lewis & Clark ... is also a teacher and researcher with academic training in religion as well as environmental studies. Through many intense conversations with Proctor, I've begun to suspect that secular liberals who joke about right-wing Christians' doomsday scenarios fall for some of the same unproductive thinking and believing.

Waiting for the rapture has its secular analog in a phenomenon you might term "dystopian dread": a growing sense of imminent ecological collapse — the ecopocalypse, if you will. Particularly ascendant here in the lush green and relatively unchurched Pacific Northwest, the narrative offers a form of secular theology that resembles aspects of the Left Behind scenarios. Instead of God, nature unleashes its wrath on "sinful" humanity; instead of the savior's second coming, ecotheology awaits a green utopia in which electric cars, locally grown organic food and post-consumer-culture sustainability rise in the ashes of disaster.

So for you, gentle reader, I offer a challenge: try to use ecopocalypse (or ecopocalyptic, or some other form of the word) at least once a week in regular conversation. If the Global Warmists are going to act like religious nuts, let's label them what the same language.

Party of the Common Man

The Democrats are always touting themselves as the party of the common guy, the little man, the average person ... while Republicans are the party of the fat cats.

So consider this list:

4/24/08 $2,300 Merkley, Jeff (D)
3/25/03 $2,000 Wyden, Ron (D)
3/25/03 $2,000 Wyden, Ron (D)
12/20/99 $2,000 Securities Industry Assn
11/3/00 $2,000 Securities Industry Assn
12/20/99 $2,000 Securities Industry Assn
5/21/96 $1,000 Ackerman, Gary L (D)
11/28/95 $1,000 Wyden, Ron (D)
1/13/00 $1,000 Clinton, Hillary Rodham (D)
6/22/94 $1,000 Fields, Jack M Jr (R)
6/16/94 $1,000 Fields, Jack M Jr (R)
6/22/94 $1,000 Fields, Jack M Jr (R)
2/18/04 $1,000 Lautenberg, Frank R (D)
8/24/99 $1,000 Corzine, Jon S (D)
1/17/96 $500 Oxley, Michael G (R)
8/4/98 $500 Crowley, Joseph (D)
12/4/95 $500 Dodd, Christopher J (D)
3/31/98 $300 Schumer, Charles E (D)
10/15/04 $250 Hooley, Darlene (D)
10/18/04 $250 Matheson, Jim (D)
8/26/98 $-500 Crowley, Joseph (D)
6/20/94 $-1,000 Fields, Jack M Jr (R)
5/4/07 $25,000 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte (D)
9/12/08 $25,000 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte (D)
5/9/05 $25,000 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte (D)
9/30/06 $25,000 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte (D)
4/11/94 $5,000 Securities Industry Assn
7/10/07 $2,300 Saul, Andrew Marshall (R)
7/20/07 $2,300 Lautenberg, Frank R (D)
9/23/03 $2,000 Gephardt, Richard A (D)
6/17/04 $2,000 Markey, Edward J (D)
6/17/04 $2,000 Markey, Edward J (D)
6/16/94 $2,000 Fields, Jack M Jr (R)
5/5/98 $1,000 Tauzin, W J "Billy" (R)
10/30/98 $1,000 Victory in New York
5/22/98 $1,000 Schumer, Charles E (D)
10/23/98 $1,000 Rangel, Charles B (D)
3/10/00 $1,000 Obey, David R (D)
4/20/00 $1,000 Fossella, Vito (R)
5/15/98 $1,000 Markey, Edward J (D)
4/28/95 $1,000 Fields, Jack M Jr (R)
9/21/98 $1,000 D'Amato, Alfonse M (R)
8/18/04 $1,000 Schumer, Charles E (D)
8/18/04 $1,000 Schumer, Charles E (D)
9/17/96 $1,000 Frisa, Daniel (R)
11/8/93 $1,000 Dingell, John D (D)
6/29/94 $1,000 Markey, Edward J (D)
8/4/96 $1,000 Markey, Edward J (D)
4/8/02 $1,000 Schumer, Charles E (D)
4/8/02 $1,000 Schumer, Charles E (D)
8/30/01 $1,000 Rangel, Charles B (D)
5/22/98 $700 Schumer, Charles E (D)
5/18/93 $400 Gillmor, Paul E (R)
7/20/07 $300 Lautenberg, Frank R (D)
10/15/04 $250 Frost, Martin (D)
10/13/94 $200 Ackerman, Gary (D)
12/5/07 $-2,300 Saul, Andrew Marshall (R)
9/22/05 $5,000 Securities Industry Assn
10/17/06 $5,000 Securities Industry Assn
5/24/07 $5,000 Securities Industry & Financial Mkt Assn
8/20/08 $5,000 Securities Industry & Financial Mkt Assn
7/8/04 $5,000 Securities Industry Assn
4/26/99 $1,000 Bradley, Bill (D)

What is this list, you ask? The complete list of campaign contributions that opensecrets.org attributes to one Bernard Madoff.

That is an awful lot of "(D)"'s.

There is nothing wrong with this, of course, but it does put the lie to the party's claims.


When my buddy Scott sends an emil, under his signature, the following appears:

War never solved anything. Well, except...

Tyranny, slavery, oppression, fascism, communism, naziism, and we're working on terrorism.

Other than that, it's never solved anything.

Yeah. What he said.

I wish I could figure out how to put pithy sayings on the end of my emails. Maybe if I went back to the evil empire, and used Outlook Express ...

I really hope ...

That there turn out to be some good guys in this Blagojavich story. I hope that Jesse Jackson Jr understands how wrong it is to shake people down and has not picked up his father's ways. As a result, I hope that he really is partly responsible for the charges that the US Attorney has brought.

And since it seems that the President-elect's chief of staff designate has had 21 phone conversations (on tape) with the miscreant governor (and there is nothing wrong with that!), I hope that if he got wind of Blago's plans, that he also notified the U S Attorney.

At least I hope that there are some good guys in all this.

Quotable Ben Franklin

When I heard this quote in my youth, it was phrased, "Nine men in ten are suicides; some are just slower than others." It was a caution about drinking and driving, eating unhealthy foods, etc. The actual quote is:

"Nine men in ten are would be suicides."

Apparently that also includes some women. One of those would be Kim Matuska, pictured right. Another would be one Christine Raines, who is the subject of this story:

CHICAGO - Drew Peterson's lawyer says Peterson has not yet filed for divorce from his missing wife Stacy even though he is now engaged to a 23-year-old woman.

Peterson, who was named more than a year ago as a suspect in his wife Stacy's disappearance, is engaged to be married.

Not only that, but Newsradio 780 is told by a source close to Peterson's family that the 23-year-old woman proposed to Peterson and that she made the proposal a couple of times before Peterson said yes.

The Chicago Sun-Times, citing a police source, identifies the woman as Christina Raines. Her father insists his daughter is engaged to Peterson.

16 December 2008

... support and defend the Constitution of the United States ...

"I, James Anthony Lang, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

With those words, my oldest son became an airman in the USAF today. The oath was administered by Brigadier Gen Dennis Schulstad (Ret), a good friend of my father-in-law.

Interesting to witness the level of respect that was shown to this retired general by every senior officer there. ("If you have a moment when we are done, General, I'd like to speak with you, sir.") And on his departure from the lobby, a "ten-hut" was called out, and every man in uniform there, from every service, snapped to attention.

But for us, the main event was Tony joining up. Family pics of Tony before and after the swearing in follow.

Tony and his recruiter, Sgt Haggedahl (sp?), Rice Lake, Wi.
Me and my boy.
Tony and his grandparents (mom's side.)
Grandpa, little brother Matt, Tony & Uncle Jim.
Tony & Gen Schulstad.
Gen Schulstad, Tony, Aunt Beth and mom.

Now he is off to Lackland AFB, Texas. And I could not be prouder of him.

Free agency in Iraq!

I think that the most un-reported aspect of this story is that Nouri al-Maliki is eligible as a free agent to any NFL team suffering injuries at cornerback.

Just watch him break up this pass.

13 December 2008

Lying Headline Writers

The headline reads:

Bible probably not true, says George Bush.

I know that headlines are limited in their ability to convey nuance, but based on what the article actually says, I think that this headline is a deliberate distortion by the Telegraph. Here is the full text of the article.

"I think you can have both," Mr Bush, who leaves office January 20, told ABC television, adding "You're getting me way out of my lane here. I'm just a simple president."

But "evolution is an interesting subject. I happen to believe that evolution doesn't fully explain the mystery of life," said the president, an outspoken Christian who often invokes God in his speeches.

"I think that God created the Earth, created the world; I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an almighty and I don't think it's incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution," he told ABC television.

Asked whether the Bible was literally true, Mr Bush replied: "Probably not. No, I'm not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it."

"The important lesson is 'God sent a son,'" he said.

That is actally not bad theology.