20 July 2009

Islam: Religion of Peace

From the Jerusalem Post, which published an interview with a member of the Basij, Iran's black shirted stormtroopers:

He said he had been a highly regarded member of the force, and had so "impressed my superiors" that, at 18, "I was given the 'honor' to temporarily marry young girls before they were sentenced to death."

In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a "wedding" ceremony is conducted the night before the execution: The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard - essentially raped by her "husband."

"I regret that, even though the marriages were legal," he said.

Why the regret, if the marriages were "legal?"

"Because," he went on, "I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their 'wedding' night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die.

"I remember hearing them cry and scream after [the rape] was over," he said. "I will never forget how this one girl clawed at her own face and neck with her finger nails afterwards. She had deep scratches all over her."

15 July 2009

Army? We don't need no stinking army!

Apparently, we did not need an entire army to win WW2.

We just needed several Ted Kenna's, strategically place, each with a rifle and one bullet per enemy soldier.

The headline brags about what he did with a Bren gun, but he got really effective when he grabbed a rifle.

On his own initiative and without orders, Kenna stood up in full view of the enemy less than 50 yards away and engaged the bunker, firing his Bren gun from the hip. Fire was returned at once, bullets passing between his arms and his body but somehow missing him. Undeterred, Kenna continued to fire at the enemy until his ammunition was exhausted. He then discarded his Bren gun, called for a rifle and despite intense machine-gun fire killed the enemy gunner with his first round.

When a machine gun opened up on him from a second position, Kenna, who had remained standing, killed the gunner with his next round. The bunker was captured without further loss, the company attack went forward and the enemy position was carried.[Emphasis added]

Rest in peace, hero!

30 June 2009

And they thought W was out of touch?

This little snippet from Obama's energy speech this week:

We know the benefits. In the late 1970s, the state of California enacted tougher energy-efficiency policies. Over the next three decades, those policies helped create almost 1.5 million jobs. And today, Californians consume 40 percent less energy per person than the national average -- which, over time, has prevented the need to build at least 24 new power plants. Think about that. California -- producing jobs, their economy keeping pace with the rest of the country, and yet they have been able to maintain their energy usage at a much lower level than the rest of the country.


Does this man read the news?

As Taranto points out:

We seem to remember hearing stories of "rolling blackouts" in California a few years ago. Today, with unemployment approaching 12%, California's economy is hardly "keeping pace," and the state's fiscal affairs are such a wreck that they almost give New Yorkers reason to feel good about their state's government.
And this from the folks who accused President Bush of being out of touch.

23 June 2009

A Prescription for better health

Since President Obama wants everyone to be in better health, in order to contain costs for national health care reform (cost containment is one of the two "lines in the sand" he has drawn, along with universal coverage), I have a suggestion.

Numerous studies have shown that people who attend religious services once a week live longer and are in better health.

As a cost containment measure, I propose that the Obama administration mandate weekly church attendance.

Is this Love or Just a Confusion?



The local paper carried a story about a singer coming to town to perform. The singer, Namoli Brennet, who is repeatedly and consistently referred to as "she" in the article (it would be redundant to say "small town paper" and "fawning") The singer has released several cd's.

Upon seeing the singer's picture, I was thought her the victim of some cruel divine joke, until I saw that the name of "her" first cd was "Boy in a Dress."

She.

Hmmm.

Since our paper is willing to refer to a man as a woman because she feels that way and wants to be called that, I expect that all future references to me will include the honorific, "His Gracious and semi-divine Imperial Majesty" because I am now the Emperor and Demi-god of Wisconsin.

Because I feel that way, and I want to be called that.

And your chauvenistic physiology and reality be darned!

What exactly is going on?

A Flat Tax for California?

The Governator goes back to his roots as a reformer.



Wyden's Third Way

The Oregon senator questions the wisdom of a government health insurance plan.




When did theses guys come to their senses? Wow.

22 May 2009

A Conservative with Smarts ... and Principles

Like most states, Minnesota has been facing a huge budget shortfall -- an estimated $4.6 billion over two years. These dire financial straits didn't deter the DFL-controlled legislature (the DFL is Minnesota's chapter of the Democratic Party), which got to work on big new spending bills. Included were not just the usual increases in appropriations but gems like $1.2 million in grants for TV and film producers and $200,000 for a youth environmental education program. Recession? What recession?

To fill in the hole they'd blown in the upcoming fiscal budget the DFL then proceeded to float every tax hike known to Garrison Keillor. A short list: A new top income tax rate of 9% (the fourth highest in the nation); across-the-board income tax increases; sales taxes on Internet downloads; the end of the local property tax cap (enacted only last year); alcohol taxes; cigarette taxes; eliminating the deduction for an organ donation (no joke); and killing the home mortgage interest deduction.

Throughout this spectacle, Mr. Pawlenty kept voicing three simple principles. "Number one, we must have [because of the constitution] and should have a balanced budget," he told me. "Number two, the state government needs to live within its means, just like everybody else. Number three, we shouldn't raise taxes in the worst recession in 60 years." Minnesota already has one of the highest tax burdens in the nation.

The DFL wasn't listening. As the clock wound down (the session ended at midnight this past Monday), the legislature sent Mr. Pawlenty one large spending bill after another. The assumption was he'd veto them, be forced to call a special session, and then be negotiated into tax hikes. That's when the governor got Minnesota nice.

Upon receiving the last spending bill, he announced that he would exercise the power of "unallotment," which has been on the books since 1939 and which has been used four times. Under it, the governor is allowed to "unallot" (take away) any state spending for which there is no money to pay. Panicked, the DFL passed tax legislation to cover its blowout spending bills, 10 minutes before the session's end. Too late. The governor said he'd veto the bill and would not be calling back the legislature to do any more mischief.

Mr. Pawlenty is now free to strip $2.7 billion from state spending to balance the budget. Tax hikes are dead.


Go Tim Go!

Seriously?


I never actually saw the movie whose poster is above. Just missed it I guess.

But apparently these little creatures are guilty of more than should be seen in a family movie:

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer Monday came up with a new explanation for the prostitution scandal that forced him out of office: It was the gremlins!

Discussing his propensity for high-priced hookers in detail for the first time, Spitzer told Matt Lauer on the “Today” show: “I have tried to address these gremlins and confront them.”

I wonder if his poor wife is buying that ...

14 April 2009

Except When They Do

When in seminary, most of us are required to go through something called Clinical Pastoral Education. CPE usually involves assignment to an institution such as a hospital, nursing home, hospice, etc. In the program, you function as a chaplain and spend time in small groups evaluating your experience. Some people hate it; apparently some programs are awful; many of us found it useful.

I have a friend who described a colleague who faced this situation: a baby was born at a Catholic hospital. For what ever reason, the baby was in distress following delivery. The nurses did what nurses in Christian hospitals have done for a very long time when a baby is in distress and possibly about to die: they baptized him. This is in keeping with the institution's faith and mission.

Fortunately this baby recovered. At the time of discharge, the parents were given all the paperwork and the newborn kit, and the discharge nurse said, "and here is his baptism certificate." The parents looked at the nurse in horror. "We are Jewish."

Now first, this is a major "oops." But one of the CPE students was assigned by the chaplain to write a letter to the parents stating that nothing had happened except that some water had been put on the child's head with an eye dropper.

I would've failed that CPE unit. I would have written a letter that said, " Christians believe that baptism is efficacious because Jesus is Lord. If you do not believe that Jesus is Lord, then you cannot believe that baptism is efficacious. If you are concerned about your child was baptized, then apparently, on some level, you must believe that Jesus is Lord."

Okay. Maybe I wouldn't have written exactly that. But that's the sentiment that I would like to convey, and I could not have written the letter the CPE student was assigned to write.

The story came to mind when I read about this in England.

More than 100,000 Britons have recently downloaded "certificates of de-baptism" from the Internet to renounce their Christian faith... John Hunt, a 58-year-old from London and one of the first to try to be "de-baptised," held that he was too young to make any decision when he was christened at five months old. The male nurse said he approached the Church of England to ask it to remove his name. "They said they had sought legal advice and that I should place an announcement in the London Gazette," said Hunt, referring to one of the official journals of record of the British government. So that's what he did -- his notice of renouncement was published in the Gazette in May 2008 and other Britons have followed suit.

My response? Well, Christians believe that baptism is efficacious because Jesus is Lord. If you do not believe that Jesus is Lord, then you cannot believe that baptism is efficacious. If you are concerned about your child was baptized, then apparently on some level, you must believe that Jesus is Lord.

After all, if there is no God, then what happened to these people was nothing more substantial than when small children decide to form a secret club and enact some silly, childish ritual by which one becomes a member of the club. But if Jesus is Lord, and you don't like that, then your baptism actually makes a difference ... but only if Jesus is Lord!

Which means that if you're going to the trouble of having yourself and de-baptized, you are not an atheist, but a rebellious Theist.

You see, atheists don't believe in God ... except when they do.

There was one other interesting statement in the article linked above:

Michael Evans, 66, branded baptising children as "a form of child abuse" -- and said that when he complained to the church where he was christened he was told to contact the European Court of Human Rights.

This brought to mind the words of James Taranto, author of the Best of the Web Today column at Wall Street Journal online:
We are not a religious believer. What's more, we used to be a militant atheist, from roughly age 5 through 17, when we realized that militant atheism is silly and that being a militant atheist is tantamount to, well, being a jerk...Now, it's true that religious people can be jerks too...But one can at least understand the overeager Christian: He thinks he's trying to save your soul. The militant atheist wants to make sure you know you don't have a soul.

Why the Left Scares Me!

Actually, kudos to Senator Charles Schumer for telling the truth: the "progressive"/Democratic Left despises traditional values and President Obama is "going to talk bipartisanship to the American people" but do something completely different.

Freedom Isn't Free


Marilee Carlson wrote a piece in the WSJ on the cost of the war in Iraq, which included the life of her son. She closes with these poignant and powerful words:

In America, we often think that this transformation happened solely by the work of our American heroes. But the Iraqi people have worked very hard to transform their country and to take back control.

I remember meeting Brig. Gen. Ismael Alsodani, the Iraqi defense attaché, when he visited Arlington National Cemetery and Michael's grave last year. He leaned next to my older son, Dan, and said, "I've lost my brother too."

Those five words changed Dan's life. He had been living in a chasm of grief for Mike, and suddenly his perspective opened up. He was able to look beyond his personal grief and recognize all who have fought for freedom in our country, in Iraq, and around the world.

Our military is the most effective military in the world. We give thanks to each and every man and woman who has served and helped to change the world in which we live. They have given hope for the new Iraq and for the future of its people.

Many have died for the sake of our freedom. May their memories be a blessing among us.

12 April 2009

Appropriate for Easter


This was sent to me by a friend who served as a POW for 6 years in the midst of his USAF career. It seemed best reproduced in its entirety.

Sunday morning at the Hanoi Hilton was church time. To gather our “congregation,” the Senior Ranking Officer (SRO) tapped “cc,” quietly on his wall. Each cell in turn tapped “cc,” and soon all have been alerted to Church Call. The service was a prayer and a reciting of Bible verses. If I was lucky, I was in a cell with one or two other POWs, and we could pool our knowledge of the Bible.

A failed rescue attempt led to the most memorable of our church experiences. It happened on November 20, 1970, when U.S. Special Forces staged a mission to rescue the POWs believed to be at Son Tay, one of the small prisons the North Vietnamese maintained outside Hanoi. The raid was brilliantly planned and executed perfectly. Our men landed at the prison in helicopters and came home without the loss of a single American. There was only one problem: All the POWs had been moved out of Son Tay about four months before the rescue effort so none of us went back with our rescuers. The mission still turned out to be a huge success for us, however.

Realizing that such rescue attempts could happen again, the North Vietnamese brought us in from outlying prison camps into the main Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi: the Hanoi Hilton. Within hours of the raid, we were moved into large cells — 43 of us in my cell. It was the greatest day of our prison life. For the first time, we were meeting POWs whose names we had memorized years earlier. Many of us had formed intense friendships through the tap code with men we’d never seen. As we met that night, “So this is what you look like” was heard over and over throughout the cell.

We compared our treatment, and it seemed important to each of us to tell one another of our torture experiences. I’ve never seen more empathy in anyone’s eyes than when telling a fellow POW about being tortured. We each needed to tell our torture story — once. We never told them again to the same POW.

The handshakes, back slapping, and bear hugs went on and on. Some of us had been tortured for the protection or benefit of a “tap-code buddy.” Now there was love and respect to be repaid. No one slept that first night; too much joy, excitement, and talk. The next morning, we needed to determine the SRO. The highest rank in our cell was O-4, which is a major. (“O” stands for officer, so O-1 is second lieutenant or ensign, O-2 first lieutenant, O-3 captain, O-4 major, O-5 lieutenant colonel, O-6 colonel, O-7 brigadier general, and on up to O-10 for a four-star general.) We put all the O-4s together and then compared the date when the rank was attained and arrived at a hierarchy. We did the same with the O-3s, the O-2s, and the O-1s. When we were done, all 43 of us knew exactly where we stood in the command structure.

Our SRO turned out to be Ned Shuman — a really good Naval aviator. The first Sunday in the large cell, someone said, “Let’s have church service.” Good idea, we all agreed. One POW volunteered to lead the service, and we started gathering in the other end of the long rectangular cell from the cell door. No sooner had we gathered than an English-speaking Vietnamese officer who worked as an interrogator burst into the cell with a dozen armed guards. Ned Shuman went to the officer and said there wouldn’t be a problem; we were just going to have a short church service.

The response was unyielding: We were not allowed to gather into groups larger than three persons and we absolutely could not have a church service.

During the next few days we all grumbled that we should not have backed down in our intention to have a church service and ought to do it the coming Sunday. Toward the end of the week, Ned stepped forward and said, “Are we really committed to having church Sunday?”

There was a murmuring of assent throughout the cell. Ned said, “No, I want to know person by person if you are really committed to holding church.”

We all knew the implications of our answer: If we went ahead with the plan, some would pay the price — starting with Ned himself because he was the SRO. He went around the cell pointing to each of us individually. “Leo, are you committed?” “Yes.” Ned then moved to Jim and asked the same question. “Yes,” Jim responded. And so on until he had asked each of us by name.

When the 42nd man said yes, it was unanimous. We had 100-percent commitment to hold church next Sunday. At that instant, Ned knew he would end up in the torture cells at Heartbreak. It was different from the previous Sunday. We now had a goal, and we were committed. We only needed to develop a plan.

Sunday morning came, and we knew they would be watching us again. Once more, we gathered in the far end of the cell. As soon as we moved together, the interrogator and guards burst through the door. Ned stepped forward and said there wouldn’t be a problem: We were just going to hold a quiet ten-minute church service and then we would spread back out in the cell. As expected, they grabbed Ned and hauled him off to Heartbreak for torture.

Our plan unfolded. The second ranking man, the new SRO, stood, walked to the center of the cell and in a clear firm voice said, “Gentlemen,” our signal to stand, “the Lord’s Prayer.” We got perhaps halfway through the prayer, when the guards grabbed the SRO and hauled him out the door toward Heartbreak.

As planned, the number three SRO stood, walked to the center of the cell, and said, “Gentlemen, the Lord’s Prayer.” We had gotten about to “Thy Kingdom come” before the guards grabbed him. Immediately, the number four SRO stood: “Gentlemen, the Lord’s Prayer.”

I have never heard five or six words of the Lord’s Prayer — as far as we got before they seized him — recited so loudly, or so reverently. The interrogator was shouting, “Stop, stop,” but we drowned him out. The guards were now hitting POWs with gun butts and the cell was in chaos.

The number five ranking officer was way back in the corner and took his time moving toward the center of the cell. (I was number seven, and not particularly anxious for him to hurry.) But just before he got to the center of the area, the cell became pin-drop quiet.

In Vietnamese, the interrogator spat out something to the guards, they grabbed number five SRO and they all left, locking the cell door behind them. The number six SRO began: “Gentlemen, the Lord’s Prayer.” This time we finished it.

Five courageous officers were tortured, but I think they believed it was worth it. From that Sunday on until we came home, we held a church service. We won. They lost. Forty-two men in prison pajamas followed Ned’s lead. I know I will never see a better example of pure raw leadership or ever pray with a better sense of the meaning of the words.

— Leo Thorsness is author of Surviving Hell: A POW's Journey, from which this chapter is excerpted.

08 April 2009

Obamisms 2

This one goes back to the campaign, but it simply did not get enough attention.



As Oprah said, this man has a new vision for America.

In other words, watch out Canada!

07 April 2009

Why is GM in trouble?

Radaronline.com has this picture. The cars lined up in the parking lot are:

From left: Acura, Saab, Saturn, VW, Hummer, Chevy, Buick, Ford and Mercedes.

The building behind is a the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan.

Guess those engineers want to drive quality cars.

06 April 2009

The Finale











Several years ago I stopped watching ER. It didn't really jump the shark, but sometime after the death of Dr. Mark Greene, I just got bored with the characters, especially the new ones and the soap opera feel it took on.

It was a show with some great moments. Probably my very favorite sequence in the entire show was the series of episodes around Bishop Stewart, played by James Cromwell, in which the character of Luca confronted his faith and the issues around the death of his family. It was very well done, and represented some of the best theology on TV in a long time.

I thought that the finale episode was all well and good. A little odd to have Carter hanging around the ER that much when it didn't work there, but you have to suspend disbelief.

The one thing that I found disturbing was that they had an hour of reflections by present and former cast members that ran before the finale. With the exception of Julia Margulies, they only interviewed actors who play doctors. They left out the fact that there are at least six characters that IMDB reports were present on the series for all 15 years of the show: Jerry, Frank, and the nurses, Lydia, Haleh, Malik, Lily & Chuney. So here is a tribute to them, including one of the prettiest women on television, Laura Ceron, at the far right, who played Chuney.

Apparently Even Episcopalians Have Lines they Won't Cross


Who would've guessed?
The Episcopal Church has defrocked Ann Holmes Redding, the Seattle Episcopal priest who announced in 2007 that she is both Christian and Muslim...

Redding, who had formerly served as director of faith formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral on Capitol Hill, announced in June 2007 that for more than a year, she had also been a Muslim — drawn to the faith after an introduction to Muslim prayers moved her profoundly.

It was an announcement that perplexed many, though Redding said she didn't feel a need to reconcile all the differences between the two faiths, believing that at the most basic level they are compatible.

Yes, that's right. The Episcopal Church church has finally found something intolerable! This may actually represent a breakthrough for TEC.

On the other hand, it is sufficient commentary on the dismal state of theological education in the mainline denominations that this woman could serve as "director of faith formation" at a cathedral church, and believe that Islam and Christianity are "at the most basic level... compatible."

One step forward, three steps back.

Obamisms


The press never tired of logging and recording "Bushisms" in order to further the notion that President Bush was somehow stupid.

I think it is time to start doing this with Pres. Obama, since it is clear that the press, which is still carrying a torch for him, is unlikely to be fair and balanced in this matter. So today we begin a series.

From the Associated Press:

Obama said he was "extraordinarily impressed" by the quality of leadership he witnessed at the organization's 60th anniversary meeting.

"It was also interesting to see that political interaction in Europe is not that different from the United States Senate," said Obama, a former senator. "There's a lot of — I don't know what the term is in Austrian — wheeling and dealing, and, you know, people are pursuing their interests, and everybody has their own particular issues and their own particular politics."

That's right, Austrian. I wonder if this is just the President's impression that Austrians speak Austrian, or if this is a staff issue as well. Can you imagine the poor staffer running around frantically before the president's first Latin America trip trying to find translators who speak Mexican, Brazilian and Uruguayan?

Hat tip: Best of the Web Today

03 April 2009

Wobal Glarming


Let me say two things about the subject of environmentalism.

First, I do not believe that we should wantonly abuse the planet or its resources. I believe in conservation. I believe that the Genesis text calls us to be stewards, not exploiters, of the world. I do not litter. I recycle. I print on the back of old paper before I throw it away.

Second, I have, seen no evidence that leads me to believe that human beings are the primary cause of the so-called climate chaos/global warming that many claim is the apocalypse that man is bringing upon himself. I believe that much of the so-called green movement, and the environmentalists and the global warmists are a mask for an extreme left socialist agenda. This is not an original idea; I first heard it from Vaclav Klaus, president the Czech Republic.

Much of what passes for environmentalism holds a disdain for other human beings and the tremendous amount of illogic... or hypocrisy. I recall being at a Bonnie Raitt concert at the Target Center in Minneapolis a number of years ago. Between songs, as part of her shtick, she stood there and railed against nuclear power. Of course, she was doing this building electric heat, speaking over electric power amplification system, lit up by electric lights, and 24% of Minnesota's electricity comes from three nuclear power plants.

The environmental left does not want us to burn coal, does not want us to damn streams, is afraid that wind turbines are going to kill bats and birds and does not want nuclear. I have not seen any of them turning off all their lights.

one of the benefits of putting that silly widget on the side of my blog has been exposure to the blog Death By a Thousand Papercuts. In a recent post he links to two articles, and you can follow the links from the blog link above. The headlines tell the story for this post:

The Available Evidence Does Not Support Fossil Fuels as the Source of Increasing Concentrations of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

and

Ozone Hole Fluctuations Caused By Cosmic Rays, Not Chlorofluorocarbons?

Like I said, I've seen no evidence, and after all these years I'd think they'd be chomping at the bit to show us some if they had it.

31 March 2009

Really Stupid Stuff, Part 689


The Sauda blog has the above picture with the question "Is this racist?"

They link to the Fox 50 website in Raleigh, North Carolina, and possibly elsewhere. One Anthony Bartkewicz reports:

A Russian ice cream company is taking criticism for using an image resembling Barack Obama to advertise a chocolate and vanilla ice cream bar, according to a Reuters report. The ad for an ice cream called Duet features a computer-generated cartoon of Obama in front of the White House with the slogan "The flavor of the week! Black in White!"

I have no particular opinion on whether or not this is racist. If you have to ask, I kind of doubt it. The really stupid stuff?

1. Other than being a cartoon representation of a black male in a suit, in what way does this resemble Barack Obama? I thought we were long past the notion that "they all look alike."

2. A quick Google search indicates that Mr. Bartkewicz is apparently an American writer who lives in the New York City area. A friendster.com profile indicates that an individual with this name living in this area is a 35-year-old male who describes himself as a "grammar and spelling Nazi." You might also want to become more educated in the identification of significant American landmarks if he is going to continue to serve as a journalist. The article identifies the building as the White House; it is the Capital.

Debt Forgiven?


It seems that some moron in Washington state got a traffic that he thought was excessive. To protest, he filled a plastic bag with coins, urinated in it, and mailed it to the clerk of courts office. The clerk of the court returned the bag saying,
that said they couldn't be taken because "the pile of coins emitted a strong, pungent odor of stale urine."
Since the article goes on to state that it is not illegal to send bodily fluids through the mail, it would seem to me that this moron, whose behavior I find reprehensible, has satisfied the debt.US 31 section 5103 reads:
United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.
And I was heard that if someone refused to take legal tender, you did not ultimately money unless they had previously posted conditions which they would not accept it under (such as "no large bills after eight PM, etc.)

I recall that some of the young people I worked with at Washington State youth camp were imprisoned for assault when all they had done was spit on someone. It would seem to me it would have been smarter to have accepted the money, and then arrested the guy for assault. Right now, I don't think they have a case.

H/T BotWT

Quotable Brewer


"No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders."

-- Samuel Adams 4 November 1775

29 March 2009

From the Bottom Up


Bill Clinton's Labor Secretary, Robert Reich, has a piece extolling Obamanomics in the Wall Street Journal.

He has taken a break from calling for discrimination against white male construction workers to repeat the stupid canards against de-regulation:

Energy markets were deregulated and we wound up with Enron. Food and drug safety has been neglected, resulting in contaminated products that have endangered consumers and threatened whole industries. Financial markets were deregulated and we now have a global meltdown. Obamanomics, by contrast, views appropriate regulation as an essential precondition for sustainable growth.
First, Mr Secretary, neglecting standards is not the same thing as deregulation.

Second, the financial markets did not melt down because of deregulation, but because of mandates to make unsustainable, "sub-prime" loans; mandates put in place by the Donkeys in Congress, and your old boss.

Third, apparently "appropriate regulation" is going to include telling someone not only the minimum they can pay employees, but the maximum.

Finally, we have this little closing argument:

Under Reaganomics, government was the problem. It can still be a problem. But a central tenet of Obamanomics is that there are even bigger problems out there which cannot be solved without government. By building the economy from the bottom up, enhancing public investment, and instituting reasonable regulation, Obamanomics marks a reversal of the economic philosophy that has dominated America since 1981.

Building the economy from the bottom up. In other words, the workers control the means of production! What a clever, original idea.

Or maybe not.

28 March 2009

Really Stupid Stuff, Part 688

I took this picture today at the local grocery store:That's right, folks. For a limited time, you can get them for $1 each, or, as a Green Tag Special, you can get 5 for $5!

27 March 2009

Earth Hour! Counterrevolution

March 27, 2009 -- 4:30 p.m.

Turn On, Tune In

Cast a vote for freedom by switching on the lights Sunday night!
By JAMES TARANTO

A Web site called EarthHour.org, apparently unconcerned about the carbon footprint of majuscules, urges global warmists to "VOTE EARTH BY SWITCHING OFF YOUR LIGHTS FOR ONE HOUR" starting at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow. We were tempted to make fun of this, as many people in the site's comment section have done, but then we remembered what President Obama said about cynics who fail to understand that the ground has shifted beneath them. So instead of being consumed by the stale political argument that this protest is silly, we're going to do something positive: organize a counterprotest.

Reader, if you are against global-warming hysteria, high taxes, socialized medicine and a weak foreign policy, Sunday is your day. Show how you feel about the issues by turning on your lights in the evening and leaving them on until you go to bed. If you go out for a drive after dark, make sure you turn your headlights on too.

Granted, the EarthHour people have a head start on us. They started planning this months ago, whereas we're giving you all of 48 hours notice. Yet we think the outlook is bright for this effort. Tell your friends, tell them to tell their friends, and so on, and we'll bet millions of people across the country will turn their lights on Sunday night.

If no one will listen to the silent majority, let's at least make sure they see us.

26 March 2009

Thin Ice




In the Times, Christopher Booker reports on an expedition to measure the thinning of the polar ice cap, which would be proof of Global Warming:

What a wonderful parable of our time has been the expedition to the North Pole led by the explorer Pen Hadow. With two companions, he is measuring the thickness of the ice to show how fast it is “declining”. His expedition is one of a series of events designed to “raise awareness of the dangers of climate change” before December’s conference in Copenhagen, where the warmists hope to get a new treaty imposing much more drastic cuts on CO2 emissions...

The idea is that the expedition should take regular radar fixes on the ice thickness, to be fed into a computer model in California run by Professor Wieslaw Maslowski, whose team, according to the BBC, “is well known for producing results that show much faster ice-loss than other modelling teams”. The professor predicts that summer ice could be completely gone as early as next year... The latest reading given by a typical sensor shows that since last March the ice has thickened by “at least half a metre”.

Hmmmm.

I KNEW it!


Global Warmism is a religion!

A London employment tribunal has ruled that Tim Nicholson, right, was wrongly dismissed as a property firm’s “head of sustainability” because of his fervent commitment to “climate change”. Mr Nicholson had fallen out with his colleagues over his attempts to reduce the company’s “carbon footprint”. The tribunal chairman David Neath found the company guilty of discriminating against Mr Nicholson under the 2006 Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations, because his faith in global warming was a “philosophical belief”.

James Taranto and others at the WSJ have commented on this in the past, and now we have legal proof! Of course, most civil rights protections only go one way. The author closes with this statement:

Recalling how “eco-psychologists’’ at the University of the West of England are pressing for “climate denial” to be classified as a form of “mental disorder”, one doubts whether the same legal protection would be given to those who fail to share Mr Nicholson’s “philosophical belief”.

23 March 2009

In poor taste, and completely inappropriate!


I once proposed telling this jokeas part of a Vaudeville-style routine in connection with a local melodrama called Shanghaied in Astoria. The director nixed it because he did not think it would add to the comic, festive atmosphere of the show to have the audience think about death. Jaakko & Eino (pronounced yak'-ko and ay'-no) are archetype comedy figures who would be the Finnish counterparts to the dumb and dumber of Norwegians, Sven and Ole.

Please understand that I have nothing but sympathy for the families of those who died in this tragic plane crash. It is now been revealed that likely an entire family has been wiped out. That is awful.

But just in case anyone has any question as to what a terrible person I am, I confess to the following:

Last night I flipped on the news, and the story of the Butte, Montana plane crash came on. It was "Breaking News" at that point, and there was an awful lot of information that was known incompletely, and it turns out later, wrongly. I was thus reminded of a joke.

The initial reports from the scene were that there were 17 dead at the scene, and that the plane had crashed into a cemetery adjacent to the Butte airport.

There were also some discussion with aviation experts on the phone as to what sort of aircraft this was and how many passengers it could carry. The consensus was that this plane could carry 10 to 12 people, and yet there were 17 reported dead. Which is what reminded me of this joke.
Did you hear about the terrible accident? It's the worst disaster in county history. A single engine, two-seat plane crashed in the Astoria Cemetery. Clatsop County search and rescue coordinators Jaakko & Eino report that the body count currently stands at 183, and is expected to rise as digging continues.
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

But sometimes, especially in the midst of tragedy, you've just got to laugh.

Finally, some Good News


Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner has an editorial in today's Wall Street Journal. In it, he proposes the best news to come out of the Obama administration on the economy so far: we're going to let the market decide the value of assets!

However, the financial system as a whole is still working against recovery. Many banks, still burdened by bad lending decisions, are holding back on providing credit. Market prices for many assets held by financial institutions -- so-called legacy assets -- are either uncertain or depressed. With these pressures at work on bank balance sheets, credit remains a scarce commodity, and credit that is available carries a high cost for borrowers.

Today, we are announcing another critical piece of our plan to increase the flow of credit and expand liquidity. Our new Public-Private Investment Program will set up funds to provide a market for the legacy loans and securities that currently burden the financial system.

The Public-Private Investment Program will purchase real-estate related loans from banks and securities from the broader markets. Banks will have the ability to sell pools of loans to dedicated funds, and investors will compete to have the ability to participate in those funds and take advantage of the financing provided by the government.

The funds established under this program will have three essential design features. First, they will use government resources in the form of capital from the Treasury, and financing from the FDIC and Federal Reserve, to mobilize capital from private investors. Second, the Public-Private Investment Program will ensure that private-sector participants share the risks alongside the taxpayer, and that the taxpayer shares in the profits from these investments. These funds will be open to investors of all types, such as pension funds, so that a broad range of Americans can participate.

Third, private-sector purchasers will establish the value of the loans and securities purchased under the program, which will protect the government from overpaying for these assets.

Now we can just get Congress to drop this fetish for regulating income, the market may actually have a chance to pull us out of this mess that extra market vehicles like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac let us down the garden path into at Congress's behest.

17 March 2009

Just Another Small Town


When I lived in Washington state, I became aware of an interesting law. It is true that the state of Washington has a number of interesting laws, but this particular one made a great deal of sense: in a school district of less than 400,000 residents, it is unlawful for a teacher to be married to a school board member.

This one makes sense because of the opportunities for conflict of interest and mischief that could take place. For instance (and I am not accusing anyone of anything appropriate), when I lived there, one of our school administrators had been raised in the community, and had relatives who were members of the school staff and board. After he left and took a job at another school district, I heard he was happy as a clam not having to deal with those sorts of entanglements.

What is the point? Well, one of the many interesting things that came up in the news recently occurred during the consideration of former Sen. Tom Daschle for the post of Chief of the Secretariat of Socialized Medicine... I mean, Secretary of HHS. It seems that Mr. Daschle's wife is a lobbyist for the Airline and aircraft industry. A former Miss Kansas, she worked for the Federal Aviation Administration in the Clinton administration and now represents the interests of airlines and aircraft manufacturers before Congress. She began her work as a lobbyist while her husband was the Senate majority leader.

I was wondering how common this was, so I googled a number of terms regarding legislator, senator, representative, spouse and lobbyist. I came up with only two articles on the entire Internet, one from Washington Monthly from 1995, and the other a 2007 piece from the Washington Post.

I do not believe that any of those listed in the 1995 article are still in office. The WaPo article mentions as lobbyists the spouses of Senators Byron Dorgan, D - North Dakota, Elizabeth Dole, R - North Carolina, Ted Stevens, formerly R - Alaska, and Kent Conrad, D - North Dakota. I think it's also safe to say that even though he never registered as a lobbyist, the spouse of Hillary Clinton, formally D - New York was also a engaged in lobbying.

House of Representatives members whose spouses are also registered lobbyists include Roy Blunt, R - Missouri and Stephen LaTourette, R - Ohio.

As the fallout from Mr. Daschle's appointment, we also learned that there individuals who work for law firms and lobbying firms who claim to have duties other than lobbying, and therefore are not registered lobbyists. These would include the spouses of Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R - Texas, and Richard Durbin, D - Illinois.

The article does discuss an attempt by Sen. David Vitter to bar the practice of Senate spouses lobbying the Senate. (Sen. Vitter apparently has reason to keep his spouse far from his office.) That paragon of virtue, Sen. Harry Reid, said that he would support this legislation as long as it grandfathered/grandmother in all the spouses currently lobbying. The legislation has gone nowhere.

This of course completely ignores the issue of children of legislators, etc. etc.

Given how little attention this matter has gotten from the press over the years, I was led to a further question in my mind: do journalists not report on such things because they don't want the careers of their spouses examined? How many journalist spouses are involved in lobbying in Washington DC?

The Washington Post article does go on to say,

Typically, according to their offices, those Senators with lobbyists-spouses do not let their spouses lobby them with their staff personally.
Well isn't that noble of them? "Hi senator. I'm a lobbyist. Of course, I do not lobby my husband directly. You know my husband, don't up? He's the Senate majority leader?"

But really, isn't official Washington, especially Capitol Hill, just a metropolitan version of a small-town? Shouldn't our Senators and Representatives hold them selves to least as high a standard of avoiding conflict of interest as a small-town Washington school board?

The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations



Interesting piece. Breitbart does ok, but he fails to note the most stunning aspect of the conversation. What Maher and Dyson both do (in addition to 2-on-1, which is the essence of bullying) is to equate liberal political thought and government action (the Nanny State) with the interests "Black culture."

As Bush 43 used to put it, in a wonderful turn of phrase, this is "the soft bigotry of low expectations."

I would love to see Maher and Dyson try this tact with Thomas Sowell. But then Sowell is probably to classy to do Maher, and Maher would be too terrified to have him on!

Kind of curious to see what Maher goes on to say about the need to break the teacher's union, which I agree with, but not curious enough to put up with any more of Bill Maher.

H/T ConservativeExpress.

The Difference Between...

... Republican and Democrats, is, in part, this:



The Honorable Richard Cheney was a United States Congressman, Secretary of Defense and the Vice President of the United States. Regardless of what you think of his opinions, or even think of the man personally, in formal circles, there is a certain dignity with which one treats the men who have held those offices.

On the Tonight Show and the Late Show, etc. etc., standup comedians do their work, and no one expects them to treat the subjects of their humor, often high elected officials, with any dignity at all.

One of the differences I would note between Republicans and Democrats is that I do not ever recall even Jimmy Carter, and some of his ridiculous statements, being treated with this sort of disdain by the Press Secretary of the last two Republican POTUS.

Perhaps I'm wrong, and would retract this if I'm shown so.

But to the larger point, it seems that Mr. Gibbs is incapable of distinguishing between entertainment and political leadership. Letterman is an entertainer. Gibbs is a (representative of a) political leader.

This inability to distinguish these would explain the Obama administration's preoccupation with Rush Limbaugh.

16 March 2009

Good? Really?


You learn some interesting things and you study Greek... or when you Google etymology on the Internet.

For instance, the Greek prefix "eu" means "good or happy." The word "pheme" is a form of the verb "to speak." That means that a "euphemism" means to "use of a favorable word in place of an inauspicious one." In other words, a euphemism is happy talk in place of what people do not wish to speak or hear about.

Another instance is when you take that same Greek prefix and attach it to a form of the word "thanatos" which means "death." "Euthanasia" then, is a "happy death." Or at least a happier way of saying, I killed him to put him out of his misery.

This is brought to mind by a story from the Portland, Oregon NBC affiliate, which I used to watch regularly, KGW NewsChannel 8.

BONNEVILLE, Ore. – A second sea lion recently trapped as part of an effort by wildlife managers to protect endangered salmon and steelhead has been euthanized.

Authorities said the California sea lions were trapped because it had been regularly feeding in the waters below Bonneville Dam.

Euthanized? Do you suppose the sea lion regarded this death as a "happy one"? Is this really euthanasia ... or just euphemism?

15 March 2009

Top _____________ (Fill in the blank)


One of my favorite pick-me ups over the years was to walk through the checkout stand and see what was on the cover of the Weekly World News. This was (is?) a tabloid that takes neither itself nor its readers seriously.It is a magazine preoccupied with a child it claims is a hybrid of man and bat. In a move that presaged tabloid TV, and the way that genre has affected/infected regular news programming, the victim of any terrible accident that occurred was always reported as being a "Mom."

It was also in the Weekly World News that I learned that Aliens are political pragmatists, without any particular party loyalty.


But one of my favorite cover stories was the one pictured below. A copy of the front page hung on my office wall in Washington state for several years.
The article inside quoted several (10 if I recall correctly) individuals that I had never heard of, and even included their pictures. They were described as "top Bible experts."

Now the theological community is a big one, and so it is not surprising that I had not heard of one or two of these people being quoted, but the fact that I had heard of none of them surprised me some. But then this was a fake news story, and one of the ways I have come to identify fake news stories is the use of unnamed or unknown individuals who are identified as "top experts."

So while this article would not have surprised in the least if I found it at The Onion, or Scrappleface, or even in the Weekly World News, I showed my naïveté in that I was a little surprised to discover that the AP would begin a story,

COPENHAGEN – Top climate scientists warned Tuesday that sea levels could rise twice as much as previously projected as they presented the latest research on global warming.
Is it any surprise the story goes on to quote three guys, two of whom I've never heard of (the other I have reason to distrust), and I consider myself reasonably well-informed on "climate change" claims.

I think I'll dump AP and go back to reading the Weekly World News!

UPDATE: CNN has jumped onto this hyperbole train:
The world is facing an increasing risk of "irreversible" climate shifts because worst-case scenarios warned of two years ago are being realized, an international panel of scientists has warned.
Scientists tell us that several billion years ago the earth was caught up in a spate of volcanism which caused the atmosphere to resemble that of Venus, dark, gritty and toxic. Sixty-five mission years ago, an asteroid obliterated the sun in the sky and killed off most living things, including the most successful animal family of all time. About 730,000 years ago, the Earth's magnetic field shifted, again. The environmental effects are believed to have been dramatic, and it could happen again. As little as 100,000 years ago, the lot upon which my home sits was covered by as much as several hundred feet of ice.

All of these effects were overcome by nature's own mechanisms. And yet CNN claims that we are now capable of creating "'irreversible' climate shifts"!

The word "irreversible" is in quotes in the article, so it is apparently someone else's word. That would make its use acceptable if the article went on to comment that this is all speculative, and that it is not a unanimous, and perhaps not even a majority, opinion among scientists. But it does not. It serves as a piece of cheerleading for global warmism.

So the earth can overcome all the disasters that have come about is making, but we humans are going to do something that is a reversible!

Can you say hubris? I knew you could.

10 March 2009

Reality Check


When I let my Newsweek subscription go a few years ago, one of the things that I missed was Robert J Samuelson. I know, I can get him on the net now, but I can't read that in the ... um ... library.

I was never able to figure out Samuelson's political leanings from his columns(I am sure I could look them up); he simply seemed interested in the facts and was appropriately skeptical of everybody. I especially like the reality check he offers this week:

Presidential Double-Talk

To those who believe that Barack Obama is a different kind of politician—more honest, more courageous, more upfront—please don't examine his administration's recent budget. If you do, you may sadly conclude that he resembles presidents stretching back to John F. Kennedy in one crucial respect. He won't tax voters for all the government services they want. That's the main reason we've run budget deficits in 43 of the past 48 years.

Barack Obama is a great pretender. He constantly says he's doing things that he isn't, and he relies on his powerful rhetoric to obscure the difference. He has made "responsibility" a personal theme, and the budget's cover line is "A New Era of Responsibility." He claims that the budget begins "making the tough choices necessary to restore fiscal discipline." It doesn't.


09 March 2009

Islam: Religion of Peace part 2 (The Pre-quel?)


How did I miss this story?

In 2005, Cronulla Beach, Sidney was rocked by a series of minor, but very disturbing, confrontations between Muslim street gangs and surfers. While the Australian mainstream media discouraged accurate reporting in order to protect delicate Australians from realizing that primitive savages had begun to assert themselves, other news outlets ultimately let the truth out:

It seems that gangs of Muslim youths had taken to frightening bikini clad females sunbathing, threatening them with rape, being lewd and gross, and generally threatening the surfers and sunbathers who sought to make them go away.These youths were openly racist and very creepy. The media and police blamed the victims, of course. Eventually three off-duty life guards were beaten up by a Muslim gang. The police deferred doing anything.

People got angry. And as the Prime Minister whined about multicultural values , a crowd of 5,000, many drunk, gathered to protest the Muslim behavior. That gathering turned into a riot when the crowd was threatened by a Muslim with: ‘I’m going to blow youse all up.’

That was only the beginning of a jihad against white Australians. Open racist hatred broke out, chronicled by the media that could not deny the fact that Muslim street gangs were attacking men and women because of race, screaming “Allah” this and “Allah” that.

Days of rage followed, with Tit for Tat, church burnings, assaults on Aussie women, and assaults on Muslim youths. Many arrest followed, and the authorities got control of situation.

Death by a 1000 Papercuts, a blogger, has an update on the story. But what fascinates me about this is the utter logical disconnect that seems so prevelent among Muslim males. It seems to go like this:

  • I am a good Muslim.
  • As a good Muslim, I reject that which is overtly sexual as lewd and inappropriate.
  • You are being overtly sexual and lewd.
  • Therefore, I will rape you.
  • I am a good Muslim.
Huh?!? How?

It is either a complete loathing of women or just a total disconnect that seems to occur in Muslim men. This is not new. The first time I was aware of the existence of Islam as a religion was when the Bangladesh war of independence hit the news almost 40 years ago. (I was a Huntley-Brinkley junkie at an early age.) The first "facts of life" talk I got from my parents was when I asked what the reporter meant by "mass rape" being used as a means of war by the Pakistani army. And then there is the fact that at least some of the 9/11 hijackers spent the last evenings of their life in strip clubs.

For a religion of peace which is based entirely on works, this seems particularly counterintuitive. Perhaps someone can enlighten me.

(Picture not related, but I do like it.)

Peace In Our Time
























WASHINGTON - President Obama said the U.S. is not winning the war in Afghanistan and suggested trying to engage moderate elements of the Taliban in reconciliation talks.

"Our troops are doing an extraordinary job in a very difficult situation," Obama told The New York Times in an interview. "But you've seen conditions deteriorate over the last couple of years. The Taliban is bolder than it was."

Obama said the U.S. should try to identify Taliban moderates just as they did Sunni Muslim insurgents in Iraq a practice credited with helping to ratchet down the violence there.

The problem is that identifying a moderate Taliban is going to be a lot like a definitive diagnosis of Alzheimers. You will only be able to confirm it after the victim is dead. ("See, we only shot him. We did not cut off his head. We are moderate Islamists!")

Dear Mr President: General Petraus negotiated from a position of strength. You need to do the same thing. Do not initiate conversations with the mythical moderate Taliban until you can punish - if not defeat - them and protect those who come to our side. Otherwise this really is going to look like Vietnam.

In the meantime, somebody get the President a fedora and an umbrella.





07 March 2009

Projection

Ann Althouse, a Professor at the UW Law School has a popular blog. She is moderate to liberal, having voted for Bush in 2004 and Obama in 2008.

She had this interesting comment about Rahm Emmanuel and Hillary Clinton both having said recently that "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."


Althouse comments:

What if George Bush or Dick Cheney had said something like that openly? It's the kind of line that people used to imagine Bush people saying in secret.
One of her commenters replies:
The left engages in massive projection. That which they accuse, they are. Now Bush made his own mistakes, but the idiotic accusations of the left come from their own approach and shadow.
Given the claims that the Right wanted to stifle our freedom of speech (through the Patriot Act) and the fact that it is the Left that is jonesing for the fairness doctrine to return, (and I could go on and on), all I can say is Amen to that!

Protected Class


The CourierPost, a newspaper somewhere in New Jersey reports

Authorities are looking into whether an attack on a 5-foot-tall inflatable pink Easter bunny in the New York suburbs was bias-related.
Advertisement
The bunny with the big eyes and black line for a smile was left punctured and deflated in the snow-covered yard of the house where Isabel Gonzalez and her husband live in Cortlandt, N.Y.

I knew that unconstitutional (it is contra the XIV Amendment) hate crime legislation had gotten out of control, but exactly which class is protected in NJ, Inflatable, Pink or Bunny? (You can bet it ain't Easter ...)

Mark this on the calander!


Something happened this week that I did not ever think would. I called Senator Russ Feingold's office and told him that I supported him and to please continue to stand firm against the omnibus spending bill that would increase spending by 8% for the rest of the fiscal year, in addition to having 8000 earmarks in it!

If he keeps this up, I just might vote for his re-election.

Unfortunately, I am not sure I can expect that cause, so he should probably not expect that effect.

What A Bunch of Maroons


As Daffy Duck used to say ...

A group of energy company executives got involved in climate change legislative planning, Kim Strassel reports. They were supporting a cap and trade system to stem global warming. They figured everyone would get an allotment of carbon atoms they could release and then be able buy and sell them. As Strassel reports,

But the political question was always how that first batch of permits would end up with companies. Corporate support rested on the belief they'd be "allocated," for free. This would allow them to delay the day when they'd have to pass costs on to consumers, and ignore, for now, the "tax" question.

It didn't take long for the pols to figure out they could auction off permits and spend the loot. President Obama's auction bonanza would earn the feds $650 billion in 10 years, according to the administration's budget estimate -- and that's a low, low, low estimate.

Politicians figuring out how to charge us a fee to do something we have always done for free? I am shocked. Shocked!

Any energy company exec who got involved in this process is not a victim, but a volunteer.

On the upside, if the Elephants and the business community do their job right, we may be able to kill this thing outright.


06 March 2009

Plato Speaks


Time Magazine whines:

Last Friday, Vice President Joe Biden and seven White House Cabinet members traveled to Philadelphia to kick off the inaugural gathering of President Barack Obama's Middle Class Task Force. The task force will convene monthly in cities across the country to confront the problems faced by average Americans. It's an admirable goal — in light of rising costs, stagnant wages and job cuts, a Pew Research study found that 78% of self-described middle-class Americans have trouble maintaining their current standard of living.

have a better shot at making ends meet than at influencing the Middle Class Task Force. That's because no member of the Middle Class Task Force is actually middle class. While defining America's most beloved demographic group has never been an exact science, most academics agree that the term refers to anyone earning between $30,000 and $100,000 a year. (Median household income in the U.S. hovers around $50,000.) Every member of the President's task force — from Biden ($227,000) to Council of Economic Advisors Chairwoman Christina Romer ($172,000) to Energy Secretary Steven Chu ($191,000) — makes well over $150,000, putting them in the top 5% of wage earners.
Why is Time complaining. Haven't they read Plato's Republic? As Plato pointed out in the Parable of the Metals, some people are just destined to rule - those of Gold - while we mere middle class folks are only Brass, or maybe Iron. It is not our place to command and decide. That is why we live in an oligarchy.

05 March 2009

American Idol Mis-Steps

I am not a huge fan of AI, but I did watch some of the last couple weeks (the Top 36!) with my wife.

I cannot figure out what the judges see in this one. She is an ok singer, and maybe they have tattoo envy (I find it excessive and gross). But the thing about the performance that got into the top 12 (by juducial fiat, not audience votes) is exactly what bugged me most about this performance: she wiggles like a 4-year-old who has to go to the bathroom.