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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

In a NY Times story about the booming economy (with caveats) is this bit of information. There's a buried lesson here if you can find it.
By most measures, the economy appears to be doing just fine. No, scratch that, it appears to be booming.

But as always with the United States economy, it is not quite that simple.

Consumer confidence is bouncing back from what was arguably some of its worst readings in years. Gasoline prices-the national average is now $2.15, according to the Energy Information Administration- have fallen because higher prices tamped down demand and supplies in the Gulf Coast have been slowly restored. The latest read on home sales, released today, contradicts virtually every other recent measure of housing activity that generally indicate a slowdown. And yes, manufacturers' fortunes are on the mend, but few besides airplane makers are celebrating.

Let's look at one sentence in particular. "Gasoline prices...have fallen because higher prices tamped down demand and supplies in the Gulf Coast have been slowly restored.

During the period of high gas prices we had here, demand dropped. No surprise there. While that was happening, the pipelines had a chance to ramp up again and prices have dropped again. Supply and demand. No big deal.

But now we're hearing about punishing oil companies for making more money when the prices went up, even Republicans who have historically been against "windfall" profits taxes or price controls. There are so many things wrong with this.

1. Yes, the oil companies made more money in absolute dollars during the high price times, but then every business makes more money in absolute dollars when the prices go up. If you charge a 10% markup on a $5 item, the price is $5.50 and make 50 cents. If you charge a 10% markup on a $7 item, the price is $7.70 and you make 70 cents. Same profit percentage but more absolute dollars. By the way, is a 10% markup a reasonable profit? If so, you'll love the oil companies. Their profits are in the 7-10% range.

2. What happened when the prices went up? "Higher prices tamped down demand" which means more conservation took place. Isn't that what everyone would like to see happen more often? Instead, folks are trying to punish oil companies by suggesting either price controls or "windfall" profit taxes. The latter are really just retroactive price controls; they come with the threat that if you raise your prices by more than we think you should, you'll get nailed for it. But just as higher prices encouraged conservation, artificially lower prices would reduce conservation. Now that the prices have fallen quite a bit, it's almost a guarantee that gas usage has risen. If you want more conservation, don't punish companies for responding to supply pressures, because you're working against your own goals.

3. Let's assume price controls had been in effect during the Katrina aftermath; what would that have done to the gas situation? Demand would not have slackened off. As it was, with demand reduced, some gas stations still ran out of gas. Imagine what would have happened if demand just kept its usual pace. We would have had a far more serious gas crisis than just a few stations out of regular unleaded. It was the higher prices that actually kept the inconvenience from becoming a panic.

So the "solution" to this "problem" is to tax 7-10% profits as "windfalls", discourage conservation, and make the crisis worse next time around. Your government at work.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Iraq Not Seen: This article from the Christian Science Monitor tells (once again) the story of an Iraq full of hope, and a media that are intent on not showing it.
Cpl. Stan Mayer has seen the worst of war. In the leaves of his photo album, there are casual memorials to the cost of the Iraq conflict - candid portraits of friends who never came home and graphic pictures of how insurgent bombs have shredded steel and bone.

Yet the Iraq of Corporal Mayer's memory is not solely a place of death and loss. It is also a place of hope. It is the hope of the town of Hit, which he saw transform from an insurgent stronghold to a place where kids played on Marine trucks. It is the hope of villagers who whispered where roadside bombs were hidden. But most of all, it is the hope he saw in a young Iraqi girl who loved pens and Oreo cookies.

Like many soldiers and marines returning from Iraq, Mayer looks at the bleak portrayal of the war at home with perplexity - if not annoyance. It is a perception gap that has put the military and media at odds, as troops complain that the media care only about death tolls, while the media counter that their job is to look at the broader picture, not through the soda straw of troops' individual experiences.

This cover story for the media is preposterous. There have been plenty of "soda straw" stories about the pain and anxiety of some soldiers and their families, as there should be. But Cindy Sheehan's soda straw, and others like her, have been magnified far above any good news a Cpl. Mayer might like to bring. The much-missed Good News from Afghanistan and Iraq articles that Arthur Chrenkoff used to gather and dispense were huge tomes that would cover just 2 weeks. But from the media, only one side of the broader picture ever emerges; human interest stories, but specifically and almost exclusively the tragic ones.

Indeed, you can find military personnel that are dour about the Iraq situation. They do exist. But there are most definitely in the minority (64% to 32%). You would think that when doing "soda straw" stories from Iraq, about 60% of them would be about good news. But you'd be wrong. Tellingly, the split among news media folks as to whether we'll succeed in Iraq or not is almost precisely the opposite of the military.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

Good job, Lowe's.
One day after a WorldNetDaily story brought national exposure, the home-improvement retailer Lowe's dropped references to "Holiday Trees" in favor of "Christmas Trees" only.

As WND reported, a Lowe's store in Austin, Texas, featured a banner that referred in English to "Holiday Trees" but in Spanish said "Christmas Trees."

The American Family Association says its supporters contacted Lowe's to express their displeasure.

The company responded in a statement: "To ensure consistency of our message and to avoid confusion among our customers, we are now referring to the trees only as 'Christmas Trees.' We have also removed a banner that read 'Holiday Trees' from the front of our stores."

There's no need to fear religion in the marketplace. If you're offended by displays of an even slight religious nature (i.e. calling Christmas trees what they are), you're in the wrong country. "Free expression" and all that, even by company presidents.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

UPDATE: The national Christmas tree has also reassumed its actual name.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - a chant based on calcium carbonate [#7 on Overture]

When being politically correct, make sure you're multilingual about it.
As the battle over Christmas continues across America this year, consumers are taking notice for themselves.

In Austin, Texas, for instance, a banner was displayed this weekend at a new Lowe's home-improvement store.

In English, the sign reads: "Now Here! Fresh Cut Holiday Trees."

But in Spanish, the sign reads: "Now Here! Fresh Cut Christmas Trees."

"It's OK to offend all the English-speaking Christians, but no, not the Spanish speakers. They may be just visiting," a WorldNetDaily reader in Austin said.

"By the way," the reader noted, "they only had 'Christmas' tree stands for their fresh cut 'Holiday' trees."

C'mon, we all really know what they are. They're not Hanukkah nor Kwanzaa nor Ramadan trees, because there are no such things. Is it really offensive to walk past something labelled a Christmas Tree, but calming to the soul if it's labelled a Holiday Tree? This is what passes for liberal "tolerance" and "sensitivity". What it is, is simply foolish.

When I commented on the Hunter resolution last week, I said:
This display of hypocrisy ought to settle the whole "bring the troops home now" thing. It ought to take the wind out of the sails of the Sheehan entourage, and make the media look silly for giving it such overhyped play.

So far, it looks like that's happening.
The Washington Post reported the scene this way: "Sheehan found herself addressing a crowd of only about 100 on Saturday afternoon. The large tent where supporters had erected a stage hung with the banner 'Speak Truth to Power' was only partially full. Earlier, Sheehan signed copies of her new book for an even smaller crowd."

When all but 3 Democrats (and all the Republicans) vote against what you're promoting, then you're really marginalized.

Homespun Bloggers Radio, Program #11, released!

In this edition of HBR:
  • Andrew Ian Dodge of Dodgeblogium brings the London Report, a tribute to the pioneer blogger "Mama Bear", and his experience with the digitial distribution of music.
  • At Andrew's suggestion, we have a song by a friend of his, Mitch & the Distractions, about celebrities who like to get photo ops of them "Wavin' at the Poor".
  • Jay Dean, of The Radical Centrist and The Bird's Eye View, warns that politicians tend to package up a problem and a solution to that problem in a way that is more often self-serving
  • Yours truly gives my post-mortem on the vote to bring the troops home now. The Democrats got what they asked for, but not what they wanted.

You have 3 ways to listen to HBR:
  1. Streaming audio (click here or on the HBR button on the left for the current show, or click here for some of the recent previous shows)
  2. Download the show (click here)
  3. and the Podcast (click here or on the "Podcast" graphic on the left, copy the URL into your podcast software)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hunter Resolution Post-Mortem

Last Friday we had some political gamesmanship in the House of Representatives. In a move like Democrat Charlie Rangel's own "reinstate the draft" proposal, which he introduced just to make a point but voted against, Republicans gave the Democrats an opportunity to "put their vote where their rhetoric was". (Thank you, Bill Bennett, for that turn of a phrase.) Unlike the Rangel situation, however, where no one had ever really wanted to bring back the draft, Democrats got caught saying one thing and voting another.

First of all, let's be clear the the resolution put forth by the Republicans was not specifically the Murtha plan. However, it dealt with the major lynchpin; pulling out of Iraq now. And by "now" I mean "right now". Here's Murtha's own words the day before the vote (emphasis mine):
My plan calls for immediate redeployment of U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces, to create a quick reaction force in the region, to create an over-the-horizon presence of Marines, and to diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq.

There are 3 parts to this, and they were enumerated in Murtha's proposal, but the latter 2 parts were predicated on the first part; the immediate redeployment of US troops. Now, as much as the Left would like to think that the Hunter resolution bore "ZERO resemblance" to the Murtha one, we can compare the relevant portions to see that, indeed, they are the same, especially in light of Murtha's own description.

The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.

The bolded words say the same thing precisely. So much for "ZERO resemblance". Now, the Murtha version added that they should be redeployed ASAP, so while both resolutions had the "cut" part of "cut and run", Murtha added "and run immediately". And if you wish to do some word-parsing, you could say that the Republican version could be construed to mean that no additional troops will be sent but says nothing about the current ones. Hence, the Hunter resolution was less drastic than the Murtha one, and yet Democrats couldn't even vote for that. It's that rhetoric vs. vote thing again, and the disingenuousness just drips from their press releases.

But let's continue with the Murtha proposal. He's described it above, and here is the text from the latter 2 sections.
A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S Marines shall be deployed in the region.

So he believes that 150,000 troops in-country are useless against the terrorists, but 15,000 based in Kuwait, would somehow be better? Remember, the terrorists are increasingly going after Iraqis and their new duly-elected government. Our departure wouldn't stop those attacks. Murtha wants us to leave a much smaller force "over the horizon" to be available for...what, exactly? If we can only deal with one or two hotspots, or even 7 or 8, and if the Iraqi army isn't prepared for handling the rest (which it currently isn't), of what good is that? An immediate bail-out with no provision for training (and, if we're word-parsing, Murtha's proposal says nothing about that), you're setting this up for failure.

And finally...
The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy.

Diplomacy? With whom? Zarqawi? Zawahiri? Think we can negotiate Iran into asking all their citizens in Iraq to lay down their arms and come home? The instability in Iraq comes from folks for whom UN resolutions make good bird cage liner. Nice words, but meaningless.

So eliminating these last two sections (which, in essence, eliminate themselves), the two resolutions are, at their base, the very same thing. As I said, the Republican version is simply a portion of the Murtha one, but the portion that is the prerequisite for anything else. And yet all but 3 Democrats voted against this. And yet Nancy Pelosi called the Republican resolution "a disgrace" and Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland said of it, "The rankest of politics and the absence of any sense of shame." These are strong words from Democrats for the very basis of their own man's proposal.

This display of hypocrisy ought to settle the whole "bring the troops home now" thing. It ought to take the wind out of the sails of the Sheehan entourage, and make the media look silly for giving it such overhyped play. It may do that for a little while, but it'll be back soon enough. "Bring them home NOW" is a chant too near and dear to the anti-war crowd's heart, and the Democrats can't afford to lose that constituency. You'll no doubt hear it from Democrats again. They hope you'll miss the irony.

Now let's look a closer look at the reasons Murtha wanted to pull the troops out now. These are all the "whereas" clauses at the beginning of his resolution that give the justification for it.
Whereas Congress and the American People have not been shown clear, measurable progress toward establishment of stable and improving security in Iraq or of a stable and improving economy in Iraq, both of which are essential to "promote the emergence of a democratic government"

No measurable progress? Only if you don't count the on-time turnover of sovereignty to the provisional Iraqi government, and if you don't count the nearly-on-time drafting of a Constitution, and if you don't count the on-time election of a legislature. The last step, the training of an Iraqi military and police force, is moving right along. Bush said that as they stand up, we will stand down. How much clearer and measurable can those steps of progress be? And let's not forget that the Left was all for postponing those checkpoints in light of the violence at the time, especially the turnover of sovereignty. As a comment on noted:
The "plan" for the creation of new governments in Japan and Germany did not proceed as rapidly as the Iraq plan. What more do you want?

Now all of a sudden the Left are sticklers for timetables. Returning to Murtha:
Whereas additional stabilization in Iraq by U. S. military forces cannot be achieved without the deployment of hundreds of thousands of additional U S. troops, which in turn cannot be achieved without a military draft

Talking point and opinion only.
Whereas more than $277 billion has been appropriated by the United States Congress to prosecute U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan

Wars cost money? Who knew?

Consider this: If this resolution were to pass, terrorists would know just how much monetary damage to inflict on us before we cut and run. Do we really want to give them that sort of leverage? And I think what we really need from Murtha is how much is too much to pay for a stable democracy in the Middle East. Liberals are fond of defending their nanny-like regulations by saying, "If it saves just one life, it's worth it". Compared to the death that was going on while Hussein was around, we've save a whole lot more than one life. The Middle East has been a knotty issue for decades; do you really want to just throw that investment away by pulling out?
Whereas, as of the drafting of this resolution, 2,079 U.S. troops have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom

War has casualties? Who knew?

See above. Now terrorists would know how many to kill to get us to turn tail. And bailing out before the job's done would be a true disservice and do incredible dishonor to the men and women who gave their lives for this purpose.
Whereas U.S. forces have become the target of the insurgency

"Hey, if the enemy starts shooting back, we're outta there."
Whereas, according to recent polls, over 80% of the Iraqi people want U.S. forces out of Iraq;
Whereas polls also indicate that 45% of the Iraqi people feel that the attacks on U.S. forces are justified

First of all, Rep. Murtha needs to understand that Iraq is a representative democracy now. USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup aren't in charge.

Secondly, if you look at the poll results, you'll find a lot of self-serving results. Sunnis and Shi'ites are grumpy, Kurds are happy. There are huge disparities in opinion, and unless you think that the coalition soldiers are angels in the north and devils in the south, the poll really doesn't tell us anything. But it makes good legislative copy.

What I find interesting is that, while the Sunnis and Shi'ites generally find the whole deal a bad thing from then to now, the majority of them say they are either the same or better off than before the invasion. I'm not a big fan of polls at all, and this one just confirms my distrust of them.
Whereas, due to the foregoing, Congress finds it evident that continuing U.S. military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the people of Iraq, or the Persian Gulf Region, which were cited in Public Law 107-243 as justification for undertaking such action

Again, pure opinion. If a stable democracy in the Middle East isn't in our interests, or if one less safe haven for terrorists isn't in our interests, or if cutting off the funding of Palestinian terrorists isn't in our interests, I don't think Rep. Murtha is on the same planet. Does he not think that military protection in anticipation of a home-grown force isn't in the best interest of the Iraqi people?

So those are the reasons that Murtha gave for his proposal to leave the Iraqis out in the cold before they're ready to take on the challenges of defense of their nation and protection of their democracy. I'm thoroughly unimpressed.

Yes we do need to leave, but now, or in Murtha's idea 6-month timeframe, isn't when it should happen. Paul Seale at says this:
Murtha was right that the answer is a political one. The catch is, though, without our support there can be no political organization. I know we would all like to wave a magic wand and the Iraqi forces would be ready to fight. That is not the case though. Is the Iraqi army getting better? Yes, but it will take some time. The answer is not to tuck tail and run and give the enemy an important victory.

I can only wonder what some of these Democrats would be saying during the Battle of the Bulge or Iwo Jima. Both were vital to the war effort and were costly battles. Niether was resolved over night. Would have they called for Eisenhower or Mc Author’s resignation and our withdrawl from the war?

Before any Democrats answers "of course not", remember we took a lot more than 2000 deaths in WWII, and that specific count is one of Murtha's reasons to hightail it outta there.

There are so many other comparisons that could be made as well--pulling out of Vietnam early and the resulting carnage that followed come to mind--and the thought is that those who don't remember history are condemned to repeat it. But do these guys really not remember the end of the conflict they keep comparing this war to? If they do remember, why do they insist on doing the exact same thing this time around? I find it hard to believe that it's an ignorance of history, but the alternative is that it's a purely political move to try to make a President of the other party look bad, in spite of what that my mean to the Iraqi people they say they care so much about.

Friday's vote put the lie to the rhetoric of the Democrats. I'd say it's time to MoveOn and get the job done.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out, and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Next time you hear a Democrat express shock about the over-spending in Congress, just remind him or her about today's vote for "modest but politically painful cuts" today. Not a single Democrat voted for it.

Leon at notes that this will probably be cast by Democrats as hurting the poor, but he has a comeback question.
The Democrats (and their willing accomplices in the Media) are attempting (as they always do) to paint a reduction in the rate of Medicare growth as a "cut in programs for the poor." This opens up the door for Democrats to utilize the excuse - "We really would cut spending, honest! We just wouldn't be like the evil Republicans and do it at the expense of the poor!"

Well, we've already hacked to death the argument that this is any sort of cut whatsoever (it's merely a growth cap), but if we were to provisionally grant that these were cuts, and the Democrats were opposed to them on that basis, what sorts of cuts could we imagine that the Democrats would support?

Well, they've already shown that they'll accept no cuts in Medicare or Medicaid, or any social program - they won't accept cuts in farm subsidies - they won't accept cuts for pork projects in Alaska (for fear that their own pork will be targeted next) - they won't accept cuts for the department of the Interior - they won't accept across-the-board cuts in discretionary spending (because that would target many of the above). All of this leaves me very confused. Apparently, spending is out of control under the Bush administration. Which part of this spending don't they like? Which part of it should go?

When the Republicans put out their Contract With America, they laid out just what they wanted to do. It was a bold move for the minority party. But be sure that the Democrats will do none of that. They talk the talk but they won't vote the vote. Howard Dean said that since they're the minority party, "it's not our job to give out specifics." That is to say, all they'll do is say "No" and promise that they would do better; trust the Stealth Party. So any horror at Congressional spending by them is utterly disingenuous until they come up with a plan.

In response to the poor showing of President Bush among blacks, Larry Elder has some history that may (but ought not) surprise you.

I mentioned this one quite a while back, but an article today about an experiment in Sept., 2004 has bolsters this claim. There are those that say that oil is not solely a "fossil fuel", but can be created abiotically in the Earth's mantle. Seems farfetched, but the results of the experiment give it a little more credence.
In 2004, Henry Scott of Indiana University in South Bend, together with scientific colleagues from Harvard University, the Carnegie Institute in Washington, and the Livermore National Lab, designed an experiment to test Thomas Gold's theory of abiotic, deep-earth oil as expressed in his 1998 book, titled "The Deep Hot Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil Fuels." The research team included Dudley Herschbach, a Harvard University research professor of science and recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

The scientists wanted to see if they could synthetically produce methane in a laboratory without using organic materials of any kind.

The research team decided to squeeze together iron oxide, calcium carbonate, and water at temperatures as hot as 500 degrees Celsius and under pressures as high as 11 gigapascals (one gigapascal is equivalent to the pressure of 10,000 atmospheres). Simply put, the scientists were trying to see if iron oxide, calcium carbonate, and water would produce methane if they were combined under pressures and temperatures comparable to those experienced in the Earth's upper mantle.

The article has links to details about the experiment. How did it go?
Remarkably, the experiment worked. The scientists found they could easily produce methane, the principal component of natural gas, at temperatures around 500 degrees Celsius and at pressures of 7 gigapascals or greater. Inorganic chemicals (iron oxide, calcium carbonate and water) had been combined to produce an organic chemical – methane.

They further showed that this methane would be stable in conditions in the mantle. Methane is a hydrocarbon, as is oil. While it is a simpler compound, it does show that hydrocarbons don't have to come soley from organic matter.
While this experiment generated only methane, not the more complex hydrocarbon structures required for petroleum, the scientists involved stated their conclusion that their results encouraged them to believe that the more complex hydrocarbon structures could also be created in an abiotic manner.

But just because they've only done it once (and the article cite a similar inorganic-to-organic experiment in 1828), don't write them off.
"Fossil-fuel" theorists can respond by arguing that the experiment does not rule out the possibility that methane and other hydrocarbon fuels could be generated from protoplasm and flora. Still, the burden of proof has shifted. Thomas Gold himself made the point on page 85 of his 1998 book: "Nobody has yet synthesized crude oil or coal in the lab from a beaker of algae or ferns."

Good point. I don't think there's a need to take a position one way or the other on this at this point, but it is an interesting area of scientific study. Well, to me it is, but apparently not to the media or the scientific community. Searching Google News for "abiotic oil mantle" returns 7 entries, 5 from WorldNetDaily, which Media Matter consistently pairs with the adjective "right-wing". It's time now for the left-wing media to step up and give this science a hearing.

(Cross-posted at Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

Welcome denizens of Dean's World! (And the comments with the referral post are a very good read on the subject as well.)

You may have noticed over to the left that I've signed up for the free BlogAdSwap program. It's an swap program where you show ads on your site while your ads show on other sites. You can (for free) have your blog advertised on other blogs, even choosing what types of blogs to have your ad shown on. When you sign up, you get 500 free displays of your ad, and then for every 2 ads displayed on your blog, yours is shown once on another. If you wish, you can buy more displays of your ad for a pittance ($5 for 10,000), or you can just stick with the free program. Graphically challenged? The main site has a simple graphic creator or they have a group that'll make one for you ($10 for a text ad, $15 for a graphic one) and if you're a graphics designer you might want to sign up as a designer as well.

Click-throughs for me are running slightly less that 1 in 100 impressions, which is not bad considering the price. (Did I mention that it's free?)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

We may have a sign that the tide of African-American voting patterns may indeed be changing. But first, a look at where we are now. Bush's poll numbers among blacks have plummeted. Dan Froomkin noted in October:
In what may turn out to be one of the biggest free-falls in the history of presidential polling, President Bush's job-approval rating among African Americans has dropped to 2 percent, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

However, Froomkin himself, likely unwittingly, demonstrates why I think very little of polls. Too many of them are simply a measure of emotion, not philosophy or policy.
A few months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Bush's approval rating among blacks at 51 percent. As recently as six months ago, it was at 19 percent.

But Bush's bungled response to Hurricane Katrina -- seen by many blacks as evidence that he didn't care about them (see my September 13 column ) -- may have brought support for the president in the African American community down to nearly negligible levels.

Polls after 9/11 were as much or more a measure of personal patriotism than support for the President's policies. Similarly, polls after Katrina reflect emotion and horrible circumstances. A big reason many blacks saw the Katrina response as "evidence" was because that's how the media portrayed it. When all local and state officials (primarily Democrat) focused on Washington, the media followed along. Froomkin himself is still apparently considering Bush the prime bungler, and thus perpetuating the meme that FEMA is somehow a first-responder. So again, the polls are measuring feeling and emotion (often related to how news stories are couched) more so than philosophy or policy

Which brings us to today's Orlando Sentinel. Scott Maxwell's column has this startling revelation.
For decades, Republicans have struggled to reach out to black Americans. But now in Orange County, the GOP has to reach no further than the NAACP.

As of this week, Derrick Wallace, head of Orange County's NAACP, has switched parties -- to become a Republican.

"I've thought about this for two years," Wallace said Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours after returning from the elections office. "This is not a decision I made yesterday."

It is, however, a decision that rang out like a shot among political circles.

This is not a measure of emotion, this is a carefully considered switch made over the course of two years. In those 2 years we've had the Iraq war issues, the "BUSH LIED" meme, and Katrina, and still this leader of the African-American community in Orange County has decided to cast his lot with the Republicans. According to the article, this change is partially business-related and partially image-related. But part of it is policy related. Wallace has supported Republicans for Mayor of Orlando the last two times.

Is this a sign of a turnaround, or a just a historic one-off? Hard to say. But just a word of advice to Mr. Wallace; according to some, you're now a fair target of racist remarks. Hang in there.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out, and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

Welcome, readers from the Captain's Quarters!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The White House fisks a NY Times article! That's rather "new media" of them, eh? They make some of the same points that Rev. Sensing made, but refer to additional sources.

Don Sensing says "enough is enough". He's tried not to get political about the war, but when the Democrats call for investigations into whether the pre-war intelligence was doctored, that was too much.
I don’t have a problem with inquiring whether the intelligence was “bent” by the administration. But it’s been done. The Senate Intelligence Committee addressed at this issue in its “Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq.”
The Committee found no evidence that the IC’s [Intelligence Community’s] mischaracterization or exaggeration of the intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capbilities [sic] was the result of political pressure.

The Committee detailed the many failures of the intelligence community, but there was no misuse of the intelligence assessments by the administration.

Also making appearances in his extensive post are Hans Blix, Sen. Jay "I'm not responsible for my votes" Rockefeller, Sen. Hillary Clinton, and the Duelfer Report. Rev. Sensing lays it all out quite plainly. In spite of all this, Democrats are demanding still more investigations in order to keep the whole "Bush LIED" meme from falling apart altogether. Bush puts forth evidence that everybody had the same intelligence and everyone came to the same conclusion, and Chuck Hagel calls that "demonizing". What it really is is setting the record straight.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Bryan Preston at Junkyard Blog has been doing the pushback from the "Bush lied" meme a lot longer than Bush himself has. There are now a couple of graphics for use in getting folks to Google "Clinton Iraq 1998", and I've got one on my sidebar now. If you really think Bush lied about the intelligence, please click on it and find out what the Clinton administration was saying. (Hint: exactly the same thing.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The "Bush LIED" meme is dealt another blow in the latest video from the RNC. Quotes from 1998 up until 2002, all from Democrats, show that everyone thought that Hussein had WMDs and WMD programs in place. When folks say "Bush lied, people died', and when we hear Bill Clinton say the same things that Bush has said about Iraq's WMDs, I guess they mean that it's OK to lie as long as you don't intend to act on your words.

Those homemade remedies don't always smell the best, y'know.
Sauerkraut, the dish adored in Germany but much maligned in Britain, could prove to be a secret weapon against the threat of bird flu, experts revealed yesterday.

Scientists believe that the traditional recipe, which is made from chopped cabbage that is fermented for at least a month, contains a bacteria that may combat the potentially fatal disease.

Their findings follow a study in which kimchi - a spicy cabbage dish popular in South Korea and similar to sauerkraut - was fed to 13 chickens infected with bird flu. Just one week later, 11 of the birds showed signs of recovery from the virus.

Beats a 50% mortality rate, though. Not to mention that the amount of Tamiflu we have for the US isn't nearly enough. So I guess we'll all be spending a bit more time here.

Heh heh.
Make us a slogan we can't refuse, the state of New Jersey said. We got your slogan right here, the people replied.

A push to come up with a new slogan for the Garden State has become an excuse to crack New Jersey jokes. Among the not-so-serious entries:

"New Jersey: You Got a Problem With That?"

"NJ: How You Doin'?!"

And "Most of Our Elected Officials Have Not Been Indicted."

Gotta love it when folks don't take themselves too seriously.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Michael Newdow has a new target.
"I am about to file to get 'In God We Trust' off the front of our currency," he told the Oklahoman. "I plan to do that this week."

Newdow, of Sacramento, Calif., made the remarks Saturday night shortly before addressing the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma Foundation Bill of Rights Celebration.

"The key principle is that we're supposed to treat everybody equally especially in terms of religious belief," Newdow told KWTV in Oklahoma City. "Clearly it's not treating atheists equal with people who believe in God when you say 'In God We Trust' or we are a 'nation under God.'"

Newdow's claim is that a government that says "In God We Trust" cannot, by his definition, still treat people equally. Is it then also true that a Christian employer cannot ever treat all his or her employees equally regardless of their religious beliefs? Are all Hindus prejudiced by definition? Indeed, are all atheists predisposed to favor those without religious belief over those with it in all their daily dealings?

If this were so, then Mr. Newdow might have a point. But, of course, it isn't true. And if it's not generally true for individuals, then it is even less true of a government that is filled with people of all religious and nonreligious stripes. Further, a national motto mentioning God is a far, far cry from what the First Amendment prohibits; an officially-sanctioned national religion that politicians must pledge to. To suggest otherwise is to not understand what the Pilgrims and others were fleeing; the official entanglement of religion and government (not religion and politics, by the way).

Michael Newdow has no idea what an established religion looks like. And he can thank those mostly Christian Founding Fathers for that.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out, and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Zarqawi really missed the mark in the Jordanian hotel bombings. He may have been gunning for the West and Israel, but his aim is way off.
Calling the al Qaeda in Iraq leader a "lowlife," Jordanians on Thursday flooded the nation's capital in bitter protest of the triple suicide bombings that shook the city a day earlier and killed at least 56 people, most of Arab descent.

"Burn in hell, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi!" hundreds of protesters shouted, denouncing the terrorist network's leader -- a Jordan native -- after an Internet posting stated his group was responsible for the attacks.

Zarqawi has killed his countrymen and people of his own religious group in this bombing. He now has those people protesting in the streets against him. On Anderson Cooper last night, the Queen of Jordan noted that he killed innocent Muslims, and thus this was a sin against Islam.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a real quagmire, and al-Zarqawi is the one up to his armpits in it.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Welcome, JYB, Clayton Cramer, and One Hand Clapping readers!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Al-Qaida seems to be having PR issues, exacerbated by poor aim.
Al-Qaida claimed responsibility Thursday for three suicide bomb attacks on Western hotels that killed at least 56 people, linking the deadly blasts to the war in Iraq and calling Amman the "backyard garden" for U.S. operations.

Who were the victims?
[Government spokesman Bassel Tarawneh] said the victims included 15 Jordanians, five Iraqis, one Saudi, one Palestinian, three Chinese, one Indonesian; 30 others hadn't been identified.

Who were they aiming for? (Ellipses in original except the last one)
The al-Qaida claim, posted on a militant Internet site, said Jordan became a target because it was "a backyard garden for the enemies of the religion, Jews and crusaders ... a filthy place for the traitors ... and a center for prostitution."
The hotels, frequented by Israelis and Americans among other foreign guests, have long been on al-Qaida's hit list.

So far, looks like they missed. Remember the intercepted inter-office memo between Zarqawi and Zawahiri that mentioned the fact that killing more and more Arabs wasn't really helping the cause? Looks like Zarqawi's concerns were well-founded. These guys can no longer tell when they're gaining or losing. Their hate has consumed them.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I'll be incommunicado for pretty much the next 2 days, so blogging will be non-existent. You would be incommunicado too, if you were celebrating your 20th wedding anniversary. >smile<

This sounds hopeful.
Randell Mills, a Harvard University medic who also studied electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claims to have built a prototype power source that generates up to 1,000 times more heat than conventional fuel. Independent scientists claim to have verified the experiments and Dr Mills says that his company, Blacklight Power, has tens of millions of dollars in investment lined up to bring the idea to market. And he claims to be just months away from unveiling his creation.

There's just one small problem. Science says it's impossible.
The problem is that according to the rules of quantum mechanics, the physics that governs the behaviour of atoms, the idea is theoretically impossible. "Physicists are quite conservative. It's not easy to convince them to change a theory that is accepted for 50 to 60 years. I don't think [Mills's] theory should be supported," said Jan Naudts, a theoretical physicist at the University of Antwerp.

I heard a phrase once; "Those who say doing something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it." Hopefully, this can happen, and isn't just a "cold fusion" kind of thing.

Mark Steyn nails it.
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.

Weakness in that they were afraid of what their non-assimilated Muslim population might do in response. Well, doesn't seem to have helped.

(Some have said that this violence is related to economics; that it's the poor rebelling. Well, why is it that the poor Christians, Jews or Hindus aren't a major part of this? As Steyn notes, the "Arab street" is indeed exploding, just not where the anti-war folks thought it would.)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - fashion trends post revolution america [#10 on Yahoo! Search]

(Man, these things are coming fast and furiously!)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - fatten up fiction [#182 on Google]

UPDATE: Even odder - Two hearts with names novelty license plate [#3 on Yahoo! Search]

Nathason lied, 40 million died. Please read "Confessions of an Ex-Abortionist". Yes it's 8 years old, but it's a fine look from a co-founder of NARAL into the playbook of those who seek to remove all taboos from society, and how powerful The Big Lie can be.

Ah, those principled defenders of free speech.
Enraged homosexual activists, shouting obscenities and chanting "Shut it down," amassed outside a Baptist church in Boston to harass and intimidate attendees of a Focus on the Family conference on recovering from homosexuality through the power of God.

Can't you just feel the love?
The protesters – present from 8 a.m. Saturday until the event ended in the evening – yelled, screamed and defiantly waved signs at the Tremont Temple Baptist Church in Boston, prompting police to order conference participants to remain inside, reported Article 8 Alliance, a group campaigning against same-sex marriage. As the conference began to wind down, Article 8 said, more activists converged – aided by a sound truck – and completely blocked the street, prompting a "near-riot" as Boston police continued to stand and watch.

"The anger, rage and hatred were indescribable," said one conference participant, according to a report by the Christian Civic League of Maine.

Apparently the irony of chanting "This hatred thing is getting old. This hatred thing has gotta go." was lost on the protestors.

If children can't get any medical procedure without consent of their parents, nor body-piercings (including simple earrings) nor tattoos, nor legally smoke, drink alcohol or watch an R-rated movie, and if their parents are notified if they get in trouble at school or get arrested, why in the world does it make sense that they should be able to get an abortion without parental notification?

Planned Parenthood thinks this makes sense, however. They claim that it will create an large underground market for abortions. What it will more likely do is expose more statutory rape that PP doesn't report. Also it will likely cause minors to consider the ramifications more of having sex, which would reduce the need for abortions in the first place.

Follow the money.

Why do we need judicial reform? Because of rulings like this:
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday against parents who sued their local school district after their elementary-age children were given a sexually charged survey, saying there is "no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children."

Here's a federal court telling parents that they are no longer the sole arbiters of how their own children will be taught a particular subject. The contention is that there is no "claim upon which relief could be granted" because there is no such fundamental right.

Unless there's some state law regarding this right, it's reserved for the people. Now, what the Ninth Circuit says essentially is that since it's not enumerated as a right, you don't have it. Talk about standing the Constitution on its head!

If you ever thought that you'd homeschool if not for all the time it takes, consider this; do you have the time to police the public schools?

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Jeff Jacoby chronicles the press' accentuating of the negative and virtually ignoring the positive. As I figured, big coverage of American losses, hardly a peep about the victories. Jacoby concludes:
Every death in Iraq is heartbreaking. The 2,000th fatality was neither more nor less meaningful than the 1,999 that preceded it. But if anything makes the death toll remarkable, it is how historically low it is. Considering what the war has accomplished so far -- the destruction of the region's bloodiest dictatorship, the liberation of 25 million Iraqis, the emergence of democratic politics, the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, the abandonment by Libya of its nuclear weapons program -- it is hard to disagree with Norman Podhoretz, who notes in the current Commentary that these achievements have been ''purchased at an astonishingly low cost in American blood when measured by the standards of every other war we have ever fought."

But that isn't a message Big Media cares to emphasize. Hostile to the war and to the administration conducting it, the nation's leading news outlets harp on the negative and pessimistic, consistently underplaying all that is going right in Iraq. Their fixation on the number of troops who have died outweighs their interest in the cause for which those fallen heroes fought -- a cause that advanced with the ratification of the new constitution.

Some disingenuousness to note among the Democratic reaction to Alito. But first, some background.

Democrats had no qualms about replacing a moderately conservative Byron White with a liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In spite of ideological differences, and respecting the fact that Clinton had the right to choose who he wished as a result of winning the election, Republicans voted for her 96-3. Ginsburg was not an ideological replacement for White; she was a shift to the left. In addition, according to the paper here (PDF format, see page 9), Justice Stephen Breyer was even further to the left of who he was replacing--Blackmun--than Ginsburg was. (Note: I make no claim regarding the methodology used in that paper in rating the justices; I'm just using it as a general indicator of ideology.) Blackmun was quite conservative while Breyer shows up as a centrist on the chart. Again, Republicans didn't invoke ideology, and confirmed Breyer 91-9.

So in summary; Clinton's two Supreme Court nominees were both significantly to the left of those they were replacing, and Republicans confirmed them overwhelmingly anyway.

Fast forward to today. Chuck Schumer said that the replacement for Sandra Day O'Connor should be in her mold, invoking ideology. This wasn't an issue before, but now Democrats are all over Alito for his ideology with very little being said about his actual qualifications.

Thus Democrats are completely ignoring how well they were treated by Republicans in the 90s, and they are the ones that have politicized the process. When they demand that Bush nominate an ideological clone of O'Connor, they're being just a tad disingenuous.

(What's sad is that Democrats weren't always like this. Scalia was confirmed 98-0 by the Senate.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

From a commenter at Stones Cry Out:

That was then...
"You have obviously had a very distinguished record, and I certainly commend you for long service in the public interest… I think it is a very commendable career, and I am sure you will have a successful one as a judge." - Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass), in 1990 on the confirmation of Judge Alito in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

...this is now.
"If confirmed, Alito could very well fundamentally alter the balance of the court and push it dangerously to the right," – Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass), October 31, 2005 on the prospect of Judge Alito’s confirmation as an associate Justice of the SCOTUS.

Yes, the original remarks were made 15 years ago, but has Alito shifted that far to the right in that time? Has he changed that much?

Not according to his mother he hasn't.