Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Iraq Yardstick

How are things going in Iraq? The barometer I use is reports from the troops over there and coming back from there. The way I see it, if there was wide-spread dissatisfaction with how things were going, some sizeable minority of our military would be bitching about things and the liberal media would be focused on it like they were on Abu Gharib. That is not what I hear from the military. All the negatives are from democrat politicians and other Bush haters such as the main stream media.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Gift Cards

More and more shoppers are deciding to just give those little plastic cards implanted with a dollar amount that the recipient can use to select merchandise at the store of origin. There are some advantages for the giver in that shopping is greatly simplified and wrapping is not a hassle. It implies more thoughtfullness than cash since you went to the specific store to get the card. The recipient is usually pleased to get the freedom to go shopping for something desired instead of returning something not wanted. These facts pale in comparison to how happy the store is to sell gift cards. First, most of them are used in the month following Christmas and the season is thereby not only extended, but the purchase is usually for more than the value of the card. So, the retailer wins with two store visits rather than the one. In addition, some 10% of the total amount spent on the cards (about $50 billion this year) is never redeemed. Depending on the state laws, this eventually becomes revenue for the retailer. How sweet is that?

Bush's New Ideas

Bush touted "an innovative approach" that returns Mexican illegals closer to their hometowns so they will be less likely to sneak in again. But the Border Patrol started doing it more than 50 years ago.

"Technology can help an individual agent have broader reach and more effectiveness," the president said, citing the surveillance value of UAVs. What he didn't mention was that the government was shamed into using these drones by ordinary citizens frustrated with federal inaction who, more than two years ago, built their own drones and posted the aerial images on the Internet.

Dick Armey's Take On His Party

The Wall Street Journal has an Op-Ed piece written by Dick Armey who was the House Majority Leader from 1995 to 2003. I don't have a link to the article, but he mainly pointed out many of the things I have complained about in the past months. When the Republicans try to match the Democrats in spending and raising taxes, they are not only mismatched, but doomed to failure. He points to Colorado where the Governor, Bill Owens joined the dems in overturning the limit on state spending previously imposed by their constitution. Armey concludes that this killed any chance for Owens to run for President. It was here that Armey advanced one of his axioms. "make a deal with the devil and you're the junior partner".
Armey, who was one of my heroes along with Newt Gingrich, goes on to point out that these runaway spending binges by Bush and the other Republicans were caused by political considerations. Bush didn't want to run for office being bashed by the dems for starving someone or some program. This lead to Armey's next axiom. "you can't get your finger on the problem if you've got it in the air."
At the end of the piece, Armey points out that we who call ourselves conservative and Republican have to support permanent tax cuts, repeal the death tax, and control spending. It is obvious that for liberals to be elected they have to move toward us. Notice Hillary Clinton? This prompts the question of why Republicans want to act like them? A final Armey axiom. "when we act like us we win. When we act like them, we lose."

Bush Misses Illegal Alien Boat Again

Neal Boortz nailed the Bush speech yesterday on our immigration "policy". He started out building up the patrols on the border and then mentioned sending them home again. Here is some of it. Read it all.

Same old, same old. It is impossible to stand there and say you're going to crack down on illegal immigration while at the same time say that you are going to reward people who broke our immigration laws. The president says it's not amnesty. Ok, now we've finally caught the president in a lie. OF COURSE it's amnesty! When you tell someone who has broken the law that you are not only going to ignore their illegal conduct, but you are actually going to reward them for it, then you have more than plain old garden variety amnesty, you have amnesty with perks!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bush falls back into Harriet Meirs mode

This is going to help Bush with his base not at all.

President Bush today will call for a crackdown on illegal immigration, a move aimed at further rallying conservatives who recently cheered Mr. Bush's tough talk on Iraq and the Supreme Court. But the president will also renew his call for a program to allow Mexicans who have already entered the U.S. illegally to remain here for up to six years. That initiative has long angered conservatives who equate it with amnesty.

Liberals won't like this.

NEW YORK -- New York City public schools must let religious groups rent space for meetings on the same basis as other organizations, a federal judge ruled. The city's law department said it will appeal.
Bronx Household of Faith, an evangelical congregation, has sought for years to rent space for Sunday worship in Public School 15. In May, the Justice Department's civil rights division filed a brief supporting the church.
Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York earlier had taken the opposite side in the case.
She based her latest ruling on the 2001 Supreme Court precedent in another New York case, Good News Club v. Milford Central School. There, the high court said schools' denial of rentals for after-class Bible clubs was unconstitutional under free-speech guarantees.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Iraq Elections

The elections in Iraq are coming on the 15th of December and the campaign has heated up. Unfortunately, it appears to be taking on a decidely American flavor. Here is an exerpt from an Iraqii which supports this view. You can read the whole thing here.

"... people in the street think that candidates should focus more on their political platforms rather than on exchanging accusations and allegations.

The other battlefield of electoral campaigns can be seen in the posters war. Tearing posters of other parties has become so common that there are specialized contractors who get paid to do this! And they either tear the posters or paste their client’s poster over them.
One man who works in this field said to me “there are no more walls left in Baghdad and we had to buy a new set of tall ladders in order to reach the highest spots possible…” while a taxi driver felt sorry for the “money being wasted on these posters” and added “if they used this money to offer free clothes to the poor in this winter I’d give them my vote”.

Aside from what parties put on their posters or say in the speeches they make, the people themselves are also using a portion of the walls to write whatever they like with or against this or that list; one funny line I saw yesterday said something that translates like this:

Vote for Allawi and your wife will buy malawi (heavy bracelets of gold) and vote for the I’tilaf (the united alliance) and you’ll go back to the tlath-talaf (3,000 in reference to the old poor salaries that Saddam paid us). "

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Sounds good to me



Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks. A day after a group of mainstream Muslim leaders pledged loyalty to Australia at a special meeting with Prime Minister John Howard, he and his ministers made it clear that extremists would face a crackdown.

Treasurer Peter Costello, seen as heir apparent to Howard, hinted that some radical clerics could be asked to leave the country if they did not accept that Australia was a secular state and its laws were made by parliament. "If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you," he said on national television. "I'd be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia, one the Australian law and another the Islamic law, that is false.

If you can't agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country which practices it, perhaps, then, that's a better option," Costello said. Asked whether he meant radical clerics would be forced to leave, he said those with dual citizenship could possibly be asked to move to the other country.

Education Minister Brendan Nelson later told reporters that Muslims who did not want to accept local values should "clear off". "Basically, people who don't want to be Australians, and they don't want to live by Australian values and understand them, well then they can basically clear off," he said.

Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Mideast Protests

Mark Steyn makes the very good point that we are seeing large protests in Jordan against Zarqawi but if the "occupation" is so unpopular in Iraq, where are the mass demonstrations against that? I'm not talking 200,000, or even 100 or 50,000. But, if there were just 1,500 folks shouting "Great Satan, go home!" in Baghdad or Mosul, it would be large enough for the media to do that little trick where they film the demo close up so it looks like the place is packed. Yet no such demonstrations take place.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hope this is correct

The Elaph Arab media website reported on Sunday that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of the al-Qaida in Iraq terror group, may have been killed in Iraq on Sunday afternoon when eight terrorists blew themselves up in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

The unconfirmed report claimed that the explosions occurred while coalition forces surrounded the house in which al-Zarqawi was hiding. American and Iraqi forces are looking into the report.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Water Boarding

Several times I have read that the liberals are all upset with the nasty Bush administration because they subject terrorists to a form of "torture" known as waterboarding. I didn't know what that was exactly until recently. Here is the description. You can decide if it so cruel that we should never use it to save American lives.

Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.

According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said al Qaeda's toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last between two and two-and-a-half minutes before begging to confess.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Not Again!

Well, it has really started. Yesterday, Congressman Murtha, a Viet Nam veteran from Pennsylvania, called for the U.S. to pull the troops out of Iraq. I thought we learned not to fight wars we didn't intend to win and that our troops can't be defeated but our politicians can be. Iraq citizens watch this stuff and since our disgraceful abandonment of the Kurds and others in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, they are bound to be skittish about committing to fight the insurgents who are certain to be keeping lists of those who collaborate with us now. If they decide to sit back and wait to see if we perservere, it will be harder to reach the stated objective of having Iraq fight their own insurgency. The problem is not so much a lone Congressman but the sad fact that we have an inarticulate President who can't seem to muster the words and tactics to rally the public to his cause. I am depressed by it all.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Happy Birthday to William Buckley

I just read a tribute to William Buckley. He is turning 80 and I just wish we could count on 80 more from this most talented observer of the scene in America. Here is one of my favorite anecdotes, but you can read the others here.

In his speech to a large student crowd, Buckley talked at length about the China trip. I had just read his National Review article about the trip and observed how he artfully incorporated pieces of it into his speech. He fielded student questions following the speech from a microphone placed on the floor below the podium. One of my classmates, visibly drunk, approached the microphone to ask Buckley a killer question.

"Mr. Buckley, Mr. Buckley, Mr. Buckley," he said as he warmed to his theme. "Do you really think the American involvement in Vietnam is right, or do you recognize that it's an imperialistic war where we're pursuing our own interests at the expense of the Vietnam people with no justification except the higher interests of American business and its friends in the Nixon administration..." and so on, at slightly greater length.

"The former," Buckley responded.

Trial Lawyers Again

Several times I have pointed out how the slimy trial lawyers think more about their ability to garner greedy profits than the health of the rest of us. This is particularly apparent now in their opposition to indemnification of vaccine producers who are being asked to produce a vaccine to the avian flu. The bill in the Senate now is being opposed by Democrats at the behest of the slimy ones. You can read it here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bridges to nowhere

Back when the appropriations for next years transportation projects were released, there was a lot of noise generated about a bridge in Sitka, Alaska which would cost some $220 million to build and connected an island with 50 inhabitants to the mainland and took the place of a 5 minute ferry ride. Of course, Senator Stevens was the big foot for this boondoggle in Congress with Congressman Young from there helping since he is Chairman of the Transportation Committee in the House. There was a lot of controversy about this, especially after Katrina caused so much damage that we seem obligated to make right at great expense. As I have blogged on before, my favorite Senator, Colburn of Oklahoma, tried to get the earmarked money for this infamous bridge removed and the money sent to Louisiana instead. No go. Senate voted it down flat.
That move was tough to swallow politically since all logic was stood on its head. The guys in Washington are not stupid however. They have now removed the earmark. That is right. There is no more a designation that the money being sent to Alaska to build that bridge. Here is what you may not see in the fine print. The money is still going to Alaska to build that bridge, but it is up to the state to decide whether or not to build it. They could do something else with the money. Now, doesn't that make you feel better?

Budgets Washington Style

Well, here is where we are in Washington. Congress is trying to pass a budget and if you read the papers you would think there is this giant clash between Republicans and Democrats over some heartless cuts the Republicans are trying to impose on the poorest and most helpless of our citizens--those whose very lives are threatened by cuts in entitlements. These are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, student loans, food stamps, farm subsidies and other things which go up every year unless slowed legislatively. There are two important aspects to this. First, the Democrats want nothing to do with changes in the growth of such programs. Next the nasty Republicans are proposing nothing meaningful. Over the next 5 years the total Federal budget is expected to $13.855 trillion. The Republican plan would hack it all the way down to $13.800 trillion or 0.25% in 5 years. The new prescription drug plan adds some $300 billion to the budget over this time period. This is 6-times what this so-called deficit reduction plan would save. It is tryly laughable for the Republicans crow about their fiscal efforts and even more laughable for the Democrats to protest so loudly.

Sand Sculpture

This is a sand sculpture made by Chuck Ritchey, Sr. on the beach at Ocean City, Maryland. Since this is public land, the ACLU will surely be in court soon. Even though the tide takes them away every day, he is right back making another one.

Good News

A summit focusing on narrowing the digital divide between the rich and poor residents and countries opened Wednesday with an agreement of sorts on who will maintain ultimate oversight of the Internet and the flow of information, commerce and dissent. . . .

Negotiators from more than 100 countries agreed late Tuesday to leave the United States in charge of the Internet's addressing system, averting a U.S.-EU showdown at this week's U.N. technology summit.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Here we go again

Michael Newdow, the guy who tried to get the Pledge of Allegiance banned, is now filing a suit to remove the phrase "In God We Trust" from our coinage.

The atheist who’s spent years trying to ban recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools says he’ll file a new lawsuit this week.

Michael Newdow says he’ll ask a federal court to order removal of the national motto “In God We Trust” from U-S coins and currency. He says it violates the religious rights of atheists who belong to his “First Amendment Church of True Science.”

We are all getting bored with this idiots lawsuits. We need someone to take great issue with religious symbols on government property like the crosses marking graves of service men and women which are so prevalent in military cemetaries. Surely that offends somebody somewhere. Some of them have the Star of David on them. Draw up the legal papers and file them in the 9th District out there in San Francisco.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sounds like a good declaration to me.

From Peter Costello, the treasurer of Australia:
If you are somebody who wants to live in an Islamic state governed by sharia law you are not going to be happy in Australia, because Australia is not an Islamic state, will never be an Islamic state and will never be governed by sharia law.

We are a secular state under our constitution, our law is made by parliament elected in democratic elections.

We do not derive our laws from religious instruction.

There are Islamic states around the world that practise sharia law and if that’s your object you may well be much more at home in such a country than trying to turn Australia into one of those countries, because it’s not going to happen.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

This is a bad sign

Chinese officials revealed that pigs have tested positive for bird flu in Xiangtan County, Hunan Province, where a bird epidemic is raging and one human death, possibly from bird flu, has already occurred, reported Phoenix TV on November 10. Hunan Province Bureau of Agriculture officials tested samples of pig oral secretions to assess the possibility that bird flu was responsible for the death of a 12-year old girl on October 17th. The girl was cremated the same day that she died, and her ill brother is still in quarantine.

If this is true it shows that the H5N1 strain has jumped to pigs and its lethality in humans is not limited to the very old or the very young. Epidemiologically this greatly increases the likelihood that the virus could establish a reservoir in multiple species and greatly increase its ability to infect humans. China needs to close down that Province.

More of this is needed

President Bush's administration has threatened to sue Southern Illinois University, alleging its fellowship programs for minority and female students violate federal civil rights laws by discriminating against whites, men and others.

Read the article here.

The way I read the siuation, it seems pretty clear to me that discrimination on the basis of skin color and gender is fairly obvious in this situation.

Friday, November 11, 2005

USS Reagan Passing the Arizona Memorial


  • Top speed exceeds 30 knots
Powered by two nuclear reactors that can operate for more than 20 years without refueling
  • Expected to operate in the fleet for about 50 years
  • Carries over 80 combat aircraft
  • Three arresting cables can stop a 28-ton aircraft going 150 miles per hour in less than 400 feet

Towers 20 stories above the waterline

  • 1092 feet long; nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall
  • Flight deck covers 4.5 acres
  • 4 bronze propellers, each 21 feet across and weighing 66,200 pounds
  • 2 rudders, each 29 by 22 feet and weighing 50 tons
  • 4 high speed aircraft elevators, each over 4,000 square feet


  • Dec 8, 1994 Contract awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding

  • Feb 12, 1998 Keel laid

  • Oct 1, 2000 Precommissioning Unit established

  • March 4, 2001 Christened by Mrs Nancy Reagan

  • May 5, 2003 First underway

  • July 12, 2003 Commissioned

  • July 23, 2004 Arrived at homeport in San Diego, CA


  • Home to about 6,000 Navy personnel
  • Carries enough food and supplies to operate for 90 days
  • 18,150 meals served daily
  • Distillation plants provide 400,000 gallons of fresh water from sea water daily, enough for 2000 homes
  • Nearly 30,000 light fixtures and 1,325 miles of cable and wiring
  • 1,400 telephones, 14,000 pillowcases and 28,000 sheets
  • Costs the Navy approximately $250,000 per day for pier side operation
Costs the Navy approximately $2.5 million per day for underway operations (Sailor's salaries included

Mark Steyn nails it again.

I do think that what's pathetic about all Western countries, including the United States, including France, including Canada, and a lot of other countries, is that they make these sort of high school sophist arguments about terrorism, as if it's some sort of theoretical debate. It's not. We're dealing with a very difficult situation here. And if you accord to terrorists all the rights of somebody who gets arrested for holding up a liquor store in Des Moines, you are going to lose to the terrorists, because when you accord them the full rights of somebody who is a criminal, you make it impossible to prosecute this as a war, which is what it is.
Read the whole interview here.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Buchanan appraisal of Bush performance

Pat Buchanan has never really seen things the same way Bush did and now he really doesn't. Pat is an old school conservative and Bush is a so-called newer version of conservativism which largely likes foreign entanglements, war and big government more than many of us. Here is the way Buchanan put it.

Under Bush I, taxes were raised, funding for HUD and Education exploded, and a quota bill was signed under which small businesses, accused of racial discrimination, were made to prove their innocence, or be punished, in true Soviet fashion.

Under Bush II, social spending has exploded to levels LBJ might envy, foreign aid has been doubled, pork-at-every-meal has become the GOP diet of choice, surpluses have vanished, and the deficit is soaring back toward 5% of GDP. Bill Clinton is starting to look like Barry Goldwater.

Blair's Dilemma

Until this week, the proposed anti-terror bill in Great Britain included a plan to extend the period for which police can hold terror suspects without charging them, from 14 to 90 days. But on Wednesday, November 9th, in Mr Blair’s first major parliamentary defeat since becoming prime minister in 1997, the House of Commons voted down the measure by 322 to 291. This is part of a struggle facing not only the British, but the U.S., Australia and other countries which treasure their liberties.
Benjamin Franklin wrote that “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” He presaged an argument that is raging almost two and a half centuries later. What precisely are the essential liberties which, when given up, make a liberal society unworthy of the name?
We are faced with struggles over aspects of the Patriot Act where persons deemed particularily dangerous could be held forever and the British are going to settle on a 28 day holding period. There will be cases where any given number doesn't fit the circumstance. For example, with the shorter 28 day period, we may well see things like unsubstantiated charges being leveled which might be avoided if things proceded more deliberately. On the other hand, forever seems like along time to some of us. Terrorism makes rule making tough.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Only in the movies

I ran across 40 things that are only seen in the movies. They are pretty funny and I am sure we could all add to the list if we were clever enough. Here are some I thought especially apt.

All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red digital displays so you know exactly when they are going to explode.

The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place. Nobody will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building undetected.

One man shooting at 20 men has a better chance of killing them all than 20 men firing at once (it's called Stallone's Law).

This pig won't fly

The Washington Post looked at the situation in France and came to the conclusion that what the French need to do was put in some good old affirmative action. So, they have a stagnant economy and 10% unemployment. In the face of this, they should start giving nonexistant jobs preferentially to those burning Paris down. It is hard for me to see what this would do except change the source of the riots from the minority to the majority citizens of that pitiful country. I think they would wind up with what is commonly called civil war.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

This could be handy

The US government has unveiled a "non-lethal" laser rifle designed to dazzle enemy personnel without causing them permanent harm. But the device will require close scrutiny to ensure compliance with a United Nations protocol on blinding laser weapons.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) believes the weapon could be used, for example, to temporarily blind suspects who drive through a roadblock. However, the DoD has yet to reveal details of how the laser works.
The PHaSR may attempt to address safety concerns by automatically sensing its distance from a target. The limited information released by the DoD includes mention of an "eye-safe range finder", which may mean the laser's power is adjusted depending on the distance to the target. The system is also said to incorporate a "two wavelength laser system", which may be designed to counter goggles that can filter out certain wavelengths of laser light.

Athletic Role Models

I am not a fan of the Hip-Hop culture which black athletes continue to offer as a model for urban kids to emulate. I realize that I am supposed to accept the nonsense that all cultures are equal and one is not superior to another, but I just can't get there. A recent flap over the dress code for black players in the NBA reinforced my distain for these overpaid and selfish parasites. It would be easy to just condemn them, but I started looking for some athletes who could and should be alternatives to the Iversons in the NBA. Two I came up with were Tiki Barber of the New York Giants and Warrick Dunn of the Atlanta Falcons. These two running backs seem to excel off the playing field as well as on it. Barber dresses appropriately and speaks in complete sentences which suggest an above average intelligence. Warrick devotes a large amount of his time and money to charitable activities instead of bling bling and absurd bopping from one mindless activity to another. There are probably others, but I doubt the youth in the hood will notice them.

Musical Breasts?

Musical breast implants

Computer chips that store music could soon be built into a woman's breast implants.

One boob could hold an MP3 player and the other the person's whole music collection.

BT futurology, who have developed the idea, say it could be available within 15 years.

BT Laboratories' analyst Ian Pearson said flexible plastic electronics would sit inside the breast. A signal would be relayed to headphones, while the device would be controlled by Bluetooth using a panel on the wrist.

According to The Sun he said: "It is now very hard for me to think of breast implants as just decorative. If a woman has something implanted permanently, it might as well do something useful."

The sensors around the body linked through the electrical impulses in the chips may also be able to warn wearers about heart murmurs, blood pressure increases, diabetes and breast cancer.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Amazing church finding in Israel

A mosaic and the remains of a building uncovered recently in excavations on the Megiddo prison grounds may belong to the earliest church in the world, according to a preliminary examination by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

One of the most dramatic finds suggests that, instead of an altar, a simple table stood in the center of the church, at which a sacred meal was held to commemorate the Last Supper.

Photographs of three Greek inscriptions in the mosaic were sent to Hebrew University expert Professor Leah Di Segni, who told Haaretz on Sunday that the use of the term "table" in one of them instead of the word "altar" might lead to a breakthrough in the study of ancient Christianity. It is commonly believed that church rituals based on the Last Supper took place around an altar.

I think we knew this

The U.S. Department of Defense sees urban schools as ones of its biggest recruiting obstacles. Not because leftist teachers in some of those schools try to keep recruiters out, but because so many potential recruits have to be turned down because of the poor education they have received in those schools. While only 21 percent of Americans live in rural areas, 44 percent of the qualified recruits come from these areas. What’s strange about all this is that the rural areas spend much less, per pupil, on education, but get much better results. Part of this can be attributed to differences in cost of living, but a lot of it has to do with simply getting more done with less. Per capita, young people in rural areas are 22 percent more likely to join the army, than those of the same age in urban areas.

Mark Steyn sums up France

The notion that Texas neocon arrogance was responsible for frosting up trans-Atlantic relations was always preposterous, even for someone as complacent and blinkered as John Kerry. If you had millions of seething unassimilated Muslim youths in lawless suburbs ringing every major city, would you be so eager to send your troops into an Arab country fighting alongside the Americans? For half a decade, French Arabs have been carrying on a low-level intifada against synagogues, kosher butchers, Jewish schools, etc. The concern of the political class has been to prevent the spread of these attacks to targets of more, ah, general interest. They seem to have lost that battle. Unlike America's Europhiles, France's Arab street correctly identified Chirac's opposition to the Iraq war for what it was: a sign of weakness.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


It will be interesting to see if anyone in France will fight for the country.

"Somebody was telling me about the French Army rifle that was being advertised on eBay the other day -- the description was, 'Never shot. Dropped once.'" Rep. Roy Blunt (MO)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Bring it on

The more I hear about the coming trial of Scooter Libby, the more I am convinced that certain folks who once thought these were really cool indictments may change their mind. Let's wait until Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, Judy Miller, Tim Russert, Matt Cooper, and others perhaps some in the CIA have their notes and E-mails subpoenaed and they have to testify under oath about all of these matters. From what I read, Ted Wells, Libby's attorney is tough. Libby is a big favorite to be found not guilty.

Not much sympathy out there

I have been reading a number of comments related to the situation in Paris on the internet web site hosted by Lucianne Goldberg. It is hard to find much in the way of sympathy for the French. As a matter of fact, the most common reaction is let them burn and rot in hell. The truth of the matter is the French had better get this right the first time. If the Muslims send out a cry for help there are a lot of willing supporters in nearby Germany, Holland, etc and the French simply aren't given to serious suppressive or even defensive activity.

Chickens come to roost

Back in the 1990s, the French sneered at America for the Los Angeles riots. As the Chicago Sun-Times reported in 1992: "the consensus of French pundits is that something on the scale of the Los Angeles riots could not happen here, mainly because France is a more humane, less racist place with a much stronger commitment to social welfare programs." President Mitterrand, the Washington Post reported in 1992, blamed the riots on the "conservative society" that Presidents Reagan and Bush had created and said France is different because it "is the country where the level of social protection is the highest in the world."

Read the entire editorial here.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

New CBS Poll

There is a new CBS poll out today which shows that the job approval for Bush is at an all time low of 35%. That will be the headline and the basis for subsequent discussion.

Now look at the weighted sample:

Republicans: 223 (23.80%)
Democrats: 326 (34.79%)
Independents: 388 (41.4%)

See how often you hear anything about the internals of polls such as this.

Joe Wilson's Truthfulness??

The following is great ending to a column published by Larry Elder questioning the lying by Joe Wilson which is now obvious as we look back on the Libby indictment for lying to the FBI and giving divergent testimony to a Grand Jury. You can read it here, but here is the end of the essay:

Question: How serious is lying to a federal investigator?

Answer: Ask Martha Stewart.

Question: How serious is perjury?

Answer: Ask former President Bill Clinton.

Question: Why don't some in the mainstream news media raise stronger questions about Wilson's credibility?

Answer: Ask someone else.

Larry Elder is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and publishes a monthly newsletter entitled "The Elder Statement."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Washington still leaky!

There is an article in the Washington Post this morning which is entitled

CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons

If you go read the article it doesn't take much sleuthing to figure out that the entire article is directly sourced by material from the CIA itself and there is not likely to be a special prosecutor to investigate the specific source of the material. I am saddened by the fact that someone is providing this information for publication, but I am sure glad the prisons are out there somewhere and we have some terrorists locked up there.

Energy Facts

Here in Georgia gasoline prices are coming down rather nicely. We are seeing regular at about $2.20/gallon and it is a little cheaper across the river in South Carolina. Most of this is attributed to imports from Asia and Europe. Such is not the case with natural gas. You can tell it is going to be rough when folks in the north and northeast start having to pay $600/month to heat their houses. The way you can tell is the politicians--even the Republicans like Senator Frist--are complaining about the greedy energy companies. The fact, however, is the politicians got us in this situation long ago. There was an oil spill off the coast of California near Santa Barbara in 1969 which precipitated a move to anti-business, pro-environment policies which lead to our current deficit being a "crisis" in the eye of those affected. First there was a ban on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico (think Florida beaches) that deprived us of 58 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our annual consumption in the U.S. is about 5 trillion. The Rocky Mountain Front was declared out of bounds for drilling and there went access to 11 trillion cubic feet. Clinton took 5.6 million acres of federal land out of play and there went another trillion feet. Given the fact that gas wells do not produce oil spills which spoil beaches, the price for these political realities is going to be high.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Something for Northeastern Senators to Think About

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) applauds President George W. Bush on his nomination of Samuel A. Alito Jr., a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, to the position of associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.Judge Alito, whose father immigrated to the United States from Italy, is highly respected in the judicial community for his constitutional knowledge and his impeccable character.President Bush has chosen an individual whose intellect and qualifications are above reproach. We are proud and fortunate that he shares our Italian heritage. Washington, D.C. Oct. 31, 2005.

The large Italian-American population in New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Rhode Island, etc. will be very interested in the vote of one of their senators against Sam Alito.

I am not sure about this.

A paper due for publication this week in the journal Nature found that a combination of three drugs applied topically in monkeys prevented infection with a virus similar to the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS. The results are among the most promising to date in tests of this approach and point toward a prevention strategy that could save many lives.

This sounds good, but I wonder how practical it will be. If you are the type of woman who would willingly have sex with someone who may have AIDS and you are not sure, you might not have enough sense to use the product. If you are willingly having sex with someone you know has AIDS, will you trust the gel? If you are a woman in Africa, for example, who is unable to convince a man to use a condom, will you be able to delay sex long enough to use a vaginal gel? Maybe it will have some marginal benefit and I guess that makes it worthwhile to some extent.


You don't need a law for everything. Mary Flowers is an idiot.

Many kids grow up learning they cannot come to the dinner table until they've washed their hands. But in the rush of a school day, not only is hand-washing not mandated, it often is not even possible. A bill introduced this month by Democratic Illinois state Rep. Mary Flowers would change that. Her legislation, to be voted on next session, would mandate that every student washes or otherwise sanitizes their hands before eating lunch at school. “When you think about all the things your hands touch — before you even enter a room you touch a doorknob that's been touched by hundreds of thousands of people before and who knows when it's been washed,” said Flowers, who represents the southwest side of Chicago. “Students are playing volleyball, football and basketball between classes without washing their hands. They're touching money that came from who knows where, different states or countries.”

Star Anise

Star anise is a green 8-pointed star shaped fruit grown in Southern China. Until recently, star anise was used as a cooking spice although it has been used for thousands of years as a Chinese cold medicine. More recently, the value of star anise has increased remarkably. The reason for the financial windfall Chinese farmers are experiencing is related to the fact that the star anise berries are chock full of an organic compound called shikimic acid. At one time I knew a little organic chemistry and shikimic acid is somewhat familiar in that it was on the pathway to an amino acid I used to have to learn about. Now it has become more glamorous since Roche needs large quantities of shikimic acid to make Tamiflu which is able to treat avian flu and thus is being hoarded by governments all over the world. There is a fermentation process which can be used to produce shikimic but extraction from star anise is much more efficient and there are a lot of happy farmers in China as a result. The irony is the area where shikimic acid is produced in China is the same where the disease originated.

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